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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 06 Oct 2020 04:20:21 PST

Pennsylvania: Federal Judge Says Fired Worker Can Sue After Being Terminated for Use of Medical Cannabis

Harrisburg, PA: A judge for the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has determined that a medical cannabis patient may pursue legal action against her former employer after she was terminated for failing a job-related drug test.

The judge denied a motion by the employer, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Inc., to dismiss the plaintiff's suit. The plaintiff, a former security analyst for the company, registered with the state's medical cannabis access program while recovering from spinal surgery. She was subjected to a drug screen upon her return to work and was fired after testing positive for the previous use of cannabis. The plaintiff argued that the action taken by her former employer was discriminatory and violates civil rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Although the suit may go forward, reporting from Bloomberg News indicates that the plaintiff must refile her lawsuit under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance.

In recent months, courts in various other jurisdictions - including Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey - have issued similar opinions affirming the rights of employees to lawfully use medical cannabis while off-the-job.

The case is Hudnell v. Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Inc., No. 2:20-cv-01621.

FBI: Marijuana Arrests Decline Year-Over-Year, But Still Outpace Arrests for All Violent Crimes

Washington, DC: The total number of persons arrested in the United States for violating marijuana laws declined for the first time in four years, but still outpaces arrests for all violent crimes, according to data released today by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, police made 545,602 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2019. That total is nine percent higher than the total number of persons arrested for the commission of violent crimes (495,871). Of those arrested for cannabis-related activities, some 92 percent (500,395) were arrested for marijuana possession offenses only.

'Police across America make a marijuana-related arrest every 58 seconds,' NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said. 'At a time when the overwhelming majority of Americans want cannabis to be legal and regulated, it is an outrage that many police departments across the country continue to waste tax dollars and limited law enforcement resources on arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens for simple marijuana possession.'

Year-over-year, marijuana arrests decreased some 18 percent. Much of the national decline resulted from a drop off in marijuana arrests in Texas in 2019, which experienced over 50,000 fewer marijuana-related arrests last year as compared to 2018. Overall, marijuana arrests are down significantly from their peak a decade ago, when police made over 800,000 marijuana-related arrests annually. Since 2012, eleven states and Washington, DC have enacted laws legalizing the adult use of marijuana.

According to the FBI, marijuana-related arrests were least likely to occur in western states - most of which have legalized the substance - and were most prevalent in the northeast, where they constituted 53 percent of all drug arrests.

Study: Cannabis Use by HIV Positive Patients Associated with 'Better' Cognitive Performance

New York, NY: HIV positive subjects who use cannabis exhibit similar or greater cognitive performance than do non-users, according to data published in the journal AIDS Care.

Researchers affiliated with Fordham University in New York examined the relationship between cannabis use and neurocognitive performance in 138 patients living with HIV. Among the sample, 47 participants had a history of cannabis use while 91 subjects did not.

On average, subjects with a history of cannabis consumption possessed 'better processing speed, visual learning and memory, and dominant hand motor ability' compared to those with no prior history of marijuana use.

Authors concluded: Subjects' cannabis use history 'did not negatively impact neurocognition in a primarily Latinx sample of PLWH [people living with HIV]. … Findings suggest PLWH with past cannabis use have similar or better neurocognition across domains compared to PLWH without past use.'

Full text of the study, 'The neurocognitive effects of past cannabis use disorder in a diverse sample of people living with HIV,' appears in AIDS Care. Additional information regarding cannabis and HIV is available from NORML.

Survey: Nearly One-in-Three Migraine Sufferers Have Used Cannabis for Symptom Management, Most Report It to Be Effective

New York, NY: Nearly a third of patients with migraines have tried cannabis for symptom management, and the majority of those who have done so report it to be effective, according to survey data compiled by the healthcare technology provider Healint.

Researchers surveyed over 9,800 migraine patients in the United States and Canada who had downloaded a migraine tracking application (a/k/a Migraine Buddy). They reported that some 30 percent of migraine patients had used cannabis to mitigate migraine pain. Among medical cannabis users, 82 percent reported it to be effective at providing migraine relief.

The high percentage of migraine patients reporting efficacy from cannabis in the Healint study is consistent with prior survey data. For example, data published this summer in the Journal of Integrative Medicine reported that 94 percent of migraine sufferers who inhaled cannabis experienced symptom relief within two hours. On average, patients enrolled in the study experienced a reduction in symptom intensity of 3.3 points on the ten-point scale.

Separate data published in the June edition of the journal Brain Sciences reported that the inhalation of cannabis long-term was associated with reductions in migraine frequency. Another study, published in 2019 in the Journal of Pain, reported that 'inhaled cannabis reduces headache and migraine severity ratings by approximately 50 percent.' Data published that same year in the journal Neurology reported similar results - with subjects reporting a 42 percent decrease in average monthly migraine frequency following their use of cannabis. A 2016 study of 121 migraine sufferers reported that the frequency of headaches decreased from 10.4 to 4.6 migraine headaches per month following the initiation of cannabis.

Study: Use of Cannabis Long-Term Not Associated with Cognitive Differences in Older Adults

Haifa, Israel: Older adults who consume cannabis for chronic pain show no differences in cognitive performance as compared to non-users, according to data published in the journal Drug & Alcohol Review.

Israeli researchers assessed the cognitive capabilities of 63 long-term medical cannabis consumers versus 62 non-using controls. (Medical cannabis is permitted by prescription in Israel.) Participants in the study suffered from chronic pain and averaged 61 years of age. Cognitive tests used in the study assessed participants' memory recall, reaction time, and ability to learn new information, among other performance measures.

Investigators identified 'no significant differences in cognitive function' between the two groups. They wrote: 'In this sample of individuals with neuropathic pain, no significant differences were found in cognitive performance between non-MC [medical cannabis] licensed and licensed patients, and evidence for lack of an association was stable and moderate. In addition, no significant associations of various aspects of MC use patterns, including THC/CBD concentration, frequency and length of use, dosage and length of abstinence with cognitive performance were detected. Moreover, both MC licensed and non-licensed patients performed relatively similar to a standardized population with no chronic pain.'

Authors concluded: 'More accepting public attitudes and policies related to cannabis use, in addition to increasing life expectancy, are expected to result in increasing numbers of middle- and old-aged individuals who use cannabis for long periods. Considering the accumulating evidence showing efficacy of cannabis use for multiple health conditions common in older individuals, the lack of adverse effects on the brain in the current sample of individuals with chronic pain who were older than 50 years can contribute to a better risk-benefit assessment of MC treatment in this population.'

Recently compiled demographic data shows rising cannabis use among the elderly. In addition, several recently published studies - such as those here, here, here, and here - report that medical cannabis use by seniors is relatively safe and effective at mitigating pain and improving self-reported quality of life. Most recently, the findings of a literature review published in the September issue of the Canadian Geriatrics Journal determined, 'low-dose, short-term medical cannabis does not carry significant risk of serious mental health and cognitive adverse effects in older adults without prior psychiatric history.'

Commenting on the study's results, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: 'With greater percentages of seniors both turning to, and returning to, the use of cannabis, it is important that scientists begin to focus greater attention on this unique and frequently overlooked group of consumers. We already know that many seniors suffer from ailments that may be effectively treated with cannabis, and this emerging data suggests that they can do so in a manner that poses little if any risk to their cognitive well-being.'

An abstract of the study, 'Medical cannabis and cognitive performance in middle to older adults treated for chronic pain,' appears online.

Hawaii: Governor Legalizes Sales of Edible Products by Licensed Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

Honolulu, HI: Patients enrolled in the state's medical cannabis access program will be able for the first time to purchase cannabis-infused edible products from licensed dispensaries, under legislation recently signed into law by Democratic Gov. David Ige.

The legislation, House Bill 2097, allows licensed dispensaries 'to manufacture and distribute edible cannabis products.' Though enacted some two decades ago, Hawaii's medical cannabis law had previously not allowed for dispensaries to engage in the sale of cannabis-infused edible products.

The state's Department of Health will oversee the establishment of rules governing the production, labeling, and packaging of edible cannabis products.

Separate provisions in the new law permit dispensaries to 'provide, disseminate, and publish educational and scientific materials related to medical cannabis and its approved products and sponsor events about medical cannabis.'

Governor Ige signed the measure into law earlier this month. The new law takes effect on January 1, 2021.

Texas: Marijuana Arrests Soar to Record High in 2018, Fall Significantly in 2019

Austin, TX: Texas police made just under 100,000 marijuana-related arrests in 2018, the highest total ever reported in the state.

According to an analysis by Texas NORML of Department of Public Safety data, police in 2018 made a record 96,130 arrests for marijuana violations. That total is 15 percent of all of the marijuana-related arrests made in the United States that year, and represents a nearly 20 percent increase in arrests since 2015.

Of those arrested in Texas in 2018, 80 percent were arrested for possessing less than two ounces of cannabis - the lowest state-level marijuana offense. Under state law, low-level marijuana possession is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days incarceration, a $2,000 fine, and a criminal record.

By contrast, marijuana-related arrests fell significantly in 2019, when police reported just over 45,000 marijuana-related arrests. The year-over-year decline followed the passage of House Bill 1325, which established rules and regulations for the production of industrial hemp. Absent a field test to distinguish between hemp and traditional marijuana, some police departments temporarily suspended making low-level marijuana-related arrests. However, various researchers claim that new technology will soon be available that will readily be able to distinguish between low-THC hemp and marijuana.

Commenting on the arrest totals, Jax Finkel, Executive Director of Texas NORML, said: 'While other states are saving taxpayer dollars by no longer criminalizing the possession of marijuana, Texas has maintained the status quo. With Texas facing a $4.6 billion budgetary shortfall, a change in criminalization of marijuana would bring about necessary cost savings. During this pandemic, we are having to re-evaluate how we operate as a state and marijuana laws are a significant part of this conversation.'

Michigan: Lawmakers Send Marijuana Expungement Legislation to Governor's Desk

Lansing, MI: House and Senate lawmakers approved legislation last week facilitating the expungement of past, low-level marijuana convictions.

House Bill 4982 permits those with one or more misdemeanor marijuana-related convictions to petition the courts to have their convictions set aside. In cases where the convictions are for marijuana-related activities that are no longer classified as criminal under the law, they will be automatically expunged and will no longer be present on a criminal background check.

Michigan voters legalized the possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana to adults in 2018.

The measure now awaits action by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has previously expressed her support for vacating the records of those with marijuana-related convictions.

In recent months, over a dozen states have enacted legislation explicitly permitting or facilitating the process of having past marijuana convictions expunged, vacated, otherwise set aside, or sealed from public view.

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