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Should Medical Marijuana in Florida Block Gun Ownership Rights?

Should Medical Marijuana in Florida Block Gun Ownership Rights?

Author: Justin Mckibben

Recently the big election season of 2016 came to a close. Not only do we have a new president, but also a few new states with big marijuana reforms. Florida is among the states to turn the tide and legalize medical marijuana, with specific restrictions of course. But one restriction that could be imposed most people probably don’t know about with medical marijuana is one on gun-ownership. So when taking a look at what some U.S. courts have ruled in the past, should medical marijuana block your gun ownership rights? How could this impact medical marijuana in Florida?

Rowan Wilson VS 9th U.S. Circuit Court

The case of S. Rowan Wilson, a Nevada resident, is what recently brought this subject to light. In 2011 Wilson attempted to purchase a handgun but was denied when the gun store owner recognized her as a medical marijuana cardholder. She insisted that she only obtained the card as a political statement in solidarity with legalization. In court Wilson maintained that she does not herself use marijuana.

In August of 2016 Wilson’s hopes were shot down. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided in a 3-0 vote that if you have a medical marijuana card, you can’t buy a gun. This result came based on the idea that medical marijuana:

“-raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated.”

This isn’t only limited to regular marijuana users or even specifically addicts, but to anyone who has a medical marijuana card. According to the court, this ruling actually does not violate the 2nd Amendment. They claim to be in agreement with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, saying that firearms retailers should assume that medical marijuana card holders use the drug, even if they do not. This courts jurisdiction includes:

  • District of Alaska
  • District of Arizona
  • Central District of California
  • Eastern District of California
  • Northern District of California
  • Southern District of California
  • District of Hawaii

So how will it play out now that there is medical marijuana in Florida?

The 4th Circuit and the Federal Level

Federal law already prohibits gun purchases by those who are described as:

“-unlawful user and/or an addict of any controlled substance.”

Back in 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms insisted that the law applies to marijuana users-

“regardless of whether [their] State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes.”

This makes sense, since even though many states are legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use, marijuana remains illegal for any purpose under federal law. So medical marijuana in Florida is subject to the same idea of federal regulation.

In the case of United States v. Carter in 2014 the connection between marijuana and violence came as the court cited a number of studies suggesting a significant link between drug use and violence. This included marijuana. In the words of the 4th Circuit, those studies found:

  • “Probationers who had perpetrated violence in the pastwere significantly more likely to have used a host of drugs — marijuana, hallucinogens, sedatives, and heroin — than probationers who had never been involved in a violent episode.”
  • “Almost 50% of all state and federal prisoners who had committed violent felonieswere drug abusers or addicts in the year before their arrest, as compared to only 2% of the general population.”
  • “Individuals who used marijuana or marijuana and cocaine, in addition to alcohol, weresignificantly more likely to engage in violent crime than individuals who only used alcohol.”
  • Among adolescent males, “marijuana use in one yearfrequently predicted violence in the subsequent year.”

The 4th Circuit argues that the question of correlation vs. causation doesn’t matter. They insist it was not the government’s responsibility to prove a causal link between drug use and violence. Simply put, they didn’t need to prove if drug use causes violence or if violence causes the drug use. To ban someone from owning a gun all they need is to make any connection.

Which, when you think about it, seems almost lazy.

Medical Marijuana in Florida VS Other Substances

So what we want to ask is- should using medical marijuana keep you from owning a gun?

Essentially the courts say that anyone who uses medical marijuana or any substance has an increased chance of risk behavior. They say that if someone has a medical marijuana card, basically they are too dangerous to allow a firearm.

But given this logic, it should apply to every substance. There are plenty of other drugs that technically fit the bill, and not just illegal ones.

Tobacco

Drug policy researchers Mark Kleiman, Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken have pointed out that research also indicates that tobacco users also are more likely to engage in crime relative to the general population. The team published a book in 2011 called Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know. In this publication they wrote:

“Compared with nonsmokers, cigarette smokers have a higher rate of criminality,”

“Smoking in and of itself does not lead to crime, but within the population of smokers we are more likely to find individuals engaged in illicit behavior.”

Alcohol

Then of course there is the obvious other substance that should be on the chopping block; alcohol. The authors wrote that there’s a much stronger link between violent behavior and alcohol than there is for many illegal drugs,

“There is a good deal of evidence showing an association between alcohol intoxication and pharmacologically induced violent crime,”

The truth is, alcohol is probably one of the most dangerous drugs in the world, yet because it is “socially acceptable” it is not under nearly as much restriction. So if we are going to consider medical marijuana in Florida as means to restrict our 2nd Amendment, shouldn’t we see it the same for alcohol, or even other prescription medications?

We have said it time and time again- a drug is a drug. If we truly believe any substance, legal or not, that can be abuse is equally dangerous in terms of addiction and risk behavior than should we treat them equally? Should we restrict the right to own a gun for anyone who uses anything? Does medical marijuana make someone too dangerous to own a gun? Or is this discrimination?

Overall, the issue of marijuana reform is an increasingly complex issue and in the future, solutions to the problems of legalization will be addressed. But for those who struggle with addiction marijuana can still be a dangerous substance. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

The World’s First Cannabis Inhaler Hits Mainstream Market

The World’s First Cannabis Inhaler Hits Mainstream Market

Thanks to the recent upsurge of marijuana reform in many states there are now more ways than ever to use marijuana. Both through medical and recreational means. Electronic cigarettes are now a commonly used method of smoking cannabis oils, while some have converted the substance to capsules. Edibles and beverages also make up part of the marijuana menu these days. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more diverse, a new product emerges- the cannabis inhaler!

The world’s first-ever cannabis inhaler is starting to make its way to mainstream markets. The name of the first official brand of cannabis inhaler is Vapen Clear, and they claim there is nothing else out there like it.

What is Vapen Clear?

The Vapen Clear title product looks like a typical asthma inhaler. The product is also used in the same way too. The difference is Vapen Clear isn’t loaded with the medicine albuterol.

The cannabis inhaler releases THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, instead of asthma prescription medication. The makers of the cannabis inhaler state:

“It packs a powerful 10mg expenditure per puff, which equals to 100 total puffs per cartridge but can be toned down to meet your needs.”

The makers of the cannabis inhaler also point out the aspects of their product that sets it apart from other marijuana accessories. With the vaporizer pens that have become increasingly popular the device heats the contents in order to create smoke. With the Vapen Clear the makers say it doesn’t heat the THC. Instead, the cannabis inhaler uses a propellant to blast the “medicine” directly into the lungs.

This would probably make the most sense for the individuals who are trying to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Some people want to avoid the smoke entirely, and it can’t be good for you anyway.

Cannabis Inhaler Marketing

The Vapen Clear cannabis inhaler is already at an advantage for being the first of its kind. Still, the marketers have decided to expand the strategy, and utilize the preferences associated with marijuana to sell different brands of the Vapen Clear. So far they advertise three different designs based on a different marijuana strain. For example:

  1. The “Daytime” inhaler comes with THC from a Sativa strain, because they claim Sativa marijuana produces energy.
  2. The “Nighttime” inhaler comes with an Indica strain to provide a more mellowing effect.
  3. The “Afternoon” inhaler is described to provide a more steady feeling from a hybrid (blended strain) of the two.

So far, the Vapen Clear cannabis inhaler is only available in Arizona at select specialist centers. However, their site claims that soon the new Vapen Clear products will be available in multiple other states, including:

As enterprises involved in the expanded market of legalized marijuana evolve, there is sure to be more and more developments such as this to expose a wider population to various means of marijuana consumption. The only question is, is this necessarily a good thing for everyone?

The Cons

While there is a fair amount of support for the progression of marijuana reform, especially for medical reasons, there is still a fair amount of risk involved.

For one, does it make it easier for the drug to be abused? Not only does the design keep it discrete for those who might have legitimate access to it, but also for those who do not. Then, with the new method of administration, will there be an increase chances of abuse?

Also, with this new method of consumption, could there be unforeseen health risks?

With any drug there are risks, even if there is a movement to legalize and de-stigmatize marijuana. Marijuana may not be considered as dangerous as heroin or other illicit narcotics, but to addicts a drug is a drug. Could there be an adverse impact resulting from this new cannabis inhaler? Is this new device a piece of drug-abuse-enabling technology?

Any substance can be abused and develop into an addiction, even marijuana. If you are struggling with marijuana addiction, do not hesitate to get help today. You are not alone! If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.

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Fentanyl Maker Donates $500,000 to Anti-Pot Legalization Campaign

Fentanyl Maker Donates $500,000 to Anti-Pot Legalization Campaign Author: Shernide Delva

A pharmaceutical company that manufactures a form of the painkiller fentanyl made a $500,000 contribution towards an anti-pot legalization campaign. Pro-marijuana reform advocates believe the company may be trying to “kill a non-pharmaceutical market for marijuana in order to line their own pockets.”

It would be hard to imagine a more controversial donor than Insys Therapeutics Inc. The company, based in Chandler, Arizona, makes a fentanyl sublingual spray called Subsys. Many argue that drug companies like Insys Therapeutics Inc., are eager to keep cannabis illegal to dominate the market with their often dangerous and addictive drugs. The donation from Insys Therapeutics Inc. makes up more than a third of all the funds raised by the group. Advocates for marijuana legalization criticized the contribution, citing a variety of legal issues around the company Insys.

Advocates for marijuana legalizations criticized the contribution, citing a variety of legal issues around the company Insys.

“[Our opponents] are now funding their campaign with profits from the sale of opioids—and maybe even the improper sale of opioids,” said J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

“We hope that every Arizonan understands that Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy is now a complete misnomer. Their entire campaign is tainted by this money. Any time an ad airs against Proposition 205, the voters should know that it was paid for by highly suspect Big Pharma actors.”

In addition to selling Subsys, Insys Therapeutics Inc. has developed Syndros, a synthetic version of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The drug received approval from the FDA in July 2016 for the treatment of AIDS and cancer patients.

Still, while the contribution is a victory for the opposition, the initiative itself remains a contest for either side to claim. A recent poll found that 50% of Arizona voters favor

While the contribution is a victory for the opposition, the initiative itself remains a contest for either side to claim. A recent poll discovered 50 percent of registered Arizona voters favor legalization, 40 percent oppose the measure, and 10 percent are undecided

Insys said in a statement that its opposition to the legalization of cannabis was “because it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.”

Furthermore, there have been studies revealing some negative health effects of marijuana. Some of these studies link marijuana to a variety of side effects.

In a report from the American Medical Association, they stated:

“Heavy cannabis use in adolescence causes persistent impairments in neurocognitive performance and IQ, and use is associated with increased rates of anxiety, mood and psychotic thought disorders.”

Many in opposition to marijuana legalization believe the drug can be addictive for some people. Also, some worry about the easy-access child may have to the drug if legalized.

Proposition 205: The Final Verdict

On November 8, 2016, Arizona residents will vote on the ballot regarding Proposition 205:

  • A “yes” vote supports this measure to legalize the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are 21 years of age or older.
  • A “no” vote opposes this measure to legalize the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are 21 years of age or older.

Marijuana legalization will continue to be a hot topic across the country.  Many believe marijuana legalization would put a strain on the recovery community. Still, when it comes to sobriety, it is up to the individual to commit to the lifestyle of recovery. If you are struggling with any form of addiction, legal or illegal, we can help. Call toll-free today.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

CDC Urges Doctors to Stop Testing Patients for Marijuana

CDC Urges Doctors to Stop Testing Patients for Marijuana

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not believe doctors should test  patients for marijuana. As a result, they have revised their screening guidelines to ensure that physicians only focus on the problem at hand.

Earlier this month, the CDC changed their policy because the marijuana tests presented unnecessary costs. They also are relatively unreliable. A report by the Pain News Network reported in the past that 21 percent of positive results are false and 21 percent of negative results are positive. The CDC found that testing for marijuana resulted in few health benefits and more potential legal consequences for the patient.

“Clinicians should not test for substances for which results would not affect patient management or for which implications for patient management are unclear,” says the updated CDC guideline for prescribing opioids. “For example, experts noted that there might be uncertainty about the clinical implications of a positive urine drug test for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).”

In the past, routine drug tests were done to chronic pain patients to monitor abusive behavior. However, the CDC has now made it clear that physicians should only drug test on chronic pain patients when it is necessary.

“Restricting confirmatory testing to situations and substances for which results can reasonably be expected to affect patient management can reduce costs of urine drug testing, given the substantial costs associated with confirmatory testing methods,” the CDC added.

A 2014 analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that states with medical marijuana laws had a 24.8 lower annual opioid mortality rate compared to states without medical cannabis laws.  Research shows that many use marijuana as an alternative to opioid painkillers. Chronic pain patients may find they have to take less opioid or stop taking them all together. The Journal of Pain found that chronic pain patients who had access to legal cannabis had a significant decrease in opioid use, an increase in quality of life, and fewer side effects.

All of these studies suggest that marijuana could be a safe alternative to pain killers for some patients. Also, cannabis has no lethal overdose level, while opioid overdoses are killer close to 19 Americans each day.

With all that said, CDC spokesperson Ellen Komp, states that a positive test for THC may not be helpful information for a doctor and could pose legal ramifications for the patient. She continued in saying that testing for marijuana would not “inform patient care decisions” and has more adverse effects than good.

Just like any mind-altering substance, marijuana can be addictive; however for those with chronic pain, marijuana can be a safe alternative to opioid painkillers. Pain is a complex phenomenon made up of various physical, mental and social components. Pain is our body’s way of signaling that something is wro­­ng. However, when that pain does not go away despite treatments, that pain is known as chronic pain.

Chronic pain can have a range of causes and the reasons for chronic pain have been debated for years in the medical community. Pain medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often the first approach to treating pain. They are non-addictive and relatively efficient. However, NSAIDs are not always strong enough, and that is when more powerful painkiller medications known as opioids are used. Unfortunately, these opioid pain medications have a tendency to form dependency in many people.

The use of marijuana for pain relief has a long history. However, recently cannabis has received increased attention after several clinical trials reveal the benefits marijuana had on managing pain for chronic pain sufferers.

Still, we are just at the beginning of understanding the benefits of using cannabis for pain management. Therefore, do you agree with the new CDC guidelines? Clearly, it could be a potential harm reduction strategy to reduce the amounts of overdoses occurring due to opioid painkillers. Only time will tell. Remember if you are struggling with any form of substance dependency that you are not alone.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

4 Hopes for Drug Policy Reform in 2016

4 Hopes for Drug Policy Reform in 2016

Author: Justin Mckibben

About this time in 2014 I wrote how many experts expected 2015 to be a huge year for Harm Reduction programs in America, and gave 3 examples of big changes in this class of addiction programs. Well 2015 did prove to present an extraordinary shift towards a health-based approach to drug abuse and addiction on both the federal and local level in drug policy.

We have witnessed the slow agonizing death of the failed War on Drugs that has fed off the stigma and corruption, while costing the country a trillion dollar price tag and had some pretty unsettling results including:

  • Millions of casualties on both sides of the law
  • A devastating public health problem
  • Largest incarcerated population in the world
  • Addiction rates as high as ever
  • Record-breaking overdose death rates

Thankfully we can now see the subtle changes that are great victories of 2015 including:

  • The largest number of states ever passing naloxone access laws
  • A push for justice with the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Historic Congressional deal to roll back mandatory minimum sentencing
  • Release of 6,000 nonviolent drug offenders from prisons

The big hope now is that since we have seen how Harm Reduction Programs and more compassionate treatment options for addicts are in our best interest maybe 2016 will bring with it even more life-saving reforms on drug policy in America. Here are 4 signs of drug policy progress in 2016.

  1. Ending Marijuana Prohibition?

2016 will absolutely be a pivotal year for the marijuana legalization movement growing all over the country. So far several states have approved some level of legalization legislation including:

  • Colorado
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Alaska

Numerous other states are considering similar legislation or ballot initiatives, including:

  • California
  • Nevada
  • Arizona
  • Vermont
  • Rhode Island
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts

Many suspect that if even just a few of these states legalize marijuana, it could be the tipping point for the rest of the country to follow.

The thing about marijuana legalization is that most advocates insist ending prohibition and creating more liberal drug policy is less about increasing access to marijuana and more about cutting back on the collateral consequences of criminalization like over-populated prisons.

Marijuana arrests account for more than half of all drug arrests in the United States and according to an ACLU study, 88% of those arrests were for possession only. The hope of many is that legalization will allow millions of people to avoid a jail cell or a label of stigma attached to a criminal record.

  1. United Nations Special Session on Drugs

In 1998, the United Nations called a special session on drug policy entitled, “A Drug Free World: We Can Do It!” This was when the general idea of addressing drug policy was increasingly harsher penalties for even simple possession, a philosophy that only exacerbated the drug issue in the late 80’s and 90’s.

In the 17 years since a lot has changed… and thanks to these archaic ideals, not much of this change was for the better.

The next round of this special session was originally scheduled for 2019, but leaders in countries that were especially ravaged by the War on Drugs put forth a petition to have the date moved up, including:

  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • Guatemala

The petition co-sponsored by 95 countries, and has now gotten the session scheduled for April 2016 in New York City. Just in time if you ask me, considering America itself has been wrecked in recent years by the opiate epidemic and overdose death outbreaks.

Drug policy advocates around the world are holding planning sessions to ensure that the mistakes of the past two decades are not repeated.

  1. Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Programs

I want to start off with one area that has become a constant source of controversy- law enforcement. But instead of focusing on the ugly side, I want to celebrate the programs being created in law enforcement and police offices that are actually making incredible progress and saving lives.

One of the most encouraging drug policy reforms of 2016 that we can look forward to hopefully changing our world is called Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD). The LEAD program is designed to divert low-level drug and prostitution offenders from jail to social services where they can be connected to resources to help them reform and rejoin society including:

  • Housing
  • Career development
  • Drug treatment

Police departments in several areas including Seattle have already launched LEAD programs with promising results. Evaluations of the Seattle program have revealed:

  • Participants in LEAD are 58-87% less likely than non-participants to be re-incarcerated after joining the program
  • The annual criminal justice costs incurred by LEAD participants also dropped about $2,000, while non-participants costs rose by almost $6,000

Donnie Varnell, coordinator for an upcoming LEAD program in Fayetteville, North Carolina stated:

“These programs are designed to identify subjects who would be better served by treatment programs than by incarceration. We [law enforcement] have all dealt with particular subjects that due to their addictions are constantly being arrested for petty charges. By using one of these LEAD programs, these subjects have the chance to find treatment and resources that can break the cycle of arrest.”

In 2016, seven more cities will join LEAD, including:

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Bangor, Maine
  • Camden, New Jersey
  • Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Programs like this have created a new ideal of what it means to be an addict and how law enforcement can address these individuals and actually help them. In 2015 we saw revolutionary programs in Boston and other areas that were geared toward taking addicts who turned themselves in or got caught with drugs and giving them drug treatment instead of locking them up.

Again- compassion and shattering stigma can help us save lives and actually change them for the better. The old drug policies kept people sick and dying, hopefully now our police forces will be better equipped to improve the lives of people they protect and serve.

  1. Presidential Election

Then we get to the main stage when it comes to drug policy reform and take a look at what could arguable be THE MOST important event of 2016  concerning the future of drug policy reform- the 2016 presidential election.

The people are looking to see what kind of philosophy the new “Leader of the Free World” will have concerning drug policy and addiction treatment. The candidates for the next Commander and Chief have various positions on drug policy.

Some like Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders are in favor of letting states decide whether to legalize drugs.

Then on the opposite end of the spectrum candidates like Ben Carson and Jeb Bush don’t think the current War on Drugs is punitive enough (which personally sounds like neither one of them has been paying much attention to the reality of the opiate epidemic or the overdose death crisis in our country).

Others, such as Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz, sit somewhere in between the liberal and the radical; these individuals want reform, but not too much reform.

Donald Trump… eh, I’m not even going to touch that one.

The deal is for 2016 the next President of the United States will hold considerable influence over whether or not the drug policy reforms of the last few years will continue to progress in productivity or be cut short of success. Luckily this particular element of drug policy reform is one that allows every person in the United States to directly influence the outcome. Probably a good thing since again, it is probably the most profound part of this change to take place this coming year.

Ladies and gentlemen- this coming November your vote may make a greater difference than you think in so many ways relating to all politics, including the way addiction and drug abuse is viewed and addressed in America.

2016 is going to be a big deal in a lot of ways. The tragic part is more people than ever aren’t going to see the New Year because of substance abuse and addiction. Hopefully we can all inspire change. Every day men and women from all over America find a solution to escaping addiction and changing their lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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