Author: Justin Mckibben
It seems politicians are telling people- take your pick; guns or marijuana… you can’t have both.
Back in 2016, you may recall that we did an article covering the story of S. Rowan Wilson, a Nevada resident who in 2011 was denied when attempting to purchase a handgun when the gun store owner recognized her as a medical marijuana cardholder. In court, Wilson maintained that she does not herself use marijuana, but in August of 2016, 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.
Recently the ideas behind this case have sparked renewed outrage and discussion over whether or not medical marijuana users should be permitted to own a firearm. The gun control debate is one that is already being consistently argued in the shadow of recent mass shootings and pushing from politicians to address the issue. But drug policy impacting gun policy adds a new perspective to the conversation.
Now there are several states cracking down on marijuana users, and it has some people up in arms about how even though states are legalizing medical marijuana use, federal law and many state governments are cutting them off from their right to gun ownership.
Under Federal Influence
According to federal law, gun purchases are already prohibited to people who are described as:
“-unlawful user and/or addict of any controlled substance.”
Back in 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) insisted that the law applies to marijuana users-
“regardless of whether [their] State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes.”
So it seems the ATF and the federal government are pulling out all the stops when it comes to making sure marijuana users aren’t allowed to own guns.
The decision in the care of Wilson and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals includes the areas:
- 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
The Supreme Court ruled that it is NOT a violation of 2nd Amendment Rights to deny guns to marijuana patients. The impact of that ruling has now begun to spread. It would seem the federal government thus far is standing by this. Special Agent Joshua E. Jackson of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Washington D.C. states:
“There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana used for medicinal or recreational purposes.”
And as far as things look now, there will be no change anytime soon to the federal government’s stance on marijuana. Especially with the current administration emphasizing so heavily a law and order approach to drug policy.
More States Against Marijuana and Guns
Even though there are 29 states and Washington D.C. that have voted to allow patients to have access to medical marijuana, several of these states are choosing to trade that opportunity for a shot at gun ownership. In fact, just this week a few state officials announced their own stance against allowing gun owners to be medical marijuana patients.
In a move that spurred a backlash of viral videos and other reports, Hawaii took a bold step in this effort. Last week the Honolulu Police Department sent letters to medical marijuana users saying that they will need to turn in their weapons within 30 days of receipt. According to Leafly, a copy of one of these letters states:
“Your medical marijuana use disqualifies you from ownership of firearms and ammunition.”
However, the letter also apparently says that the medical marijuana patients can get their firearms back. The stipulation being they would need a doctor’s clearance to do so.
A similar situation happened in Pennsylvania. The state police director of the Bureau of Records and Identification, Major Scott C. Price, made an announcement on Tuesday stating:
“So, in fact, an individual who is issued a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania who is a user of medical marijuana, that individual would be prohibited from purchasing or technically possession of a firearm under federal law.”
So Pennsylvania won’t allow people to even be in possession of a firearm at any time with a medical marijuana card.
Ohio’s medical marijuana program becomes operation in September of 2018. Information from industry analysts estimate that 24% of the state’s population have qualifying conditions; that’s 2.8 million Ohioans. But just this week it was announced that people in the Buckeye State who register to legally use marijuana for medicinal purposes will also be prohibited from possessing firearms.
According to the ATF letter from back in 2011, marijuana users are also prohibited from:
- Possessing firearms or ammunition
So anyone in Ohio who is applying to purchase a gun from a licensed dealer must sign a form attesting her or she is not “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance.”
Under federal law, lying on the form is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Even Joe Eaton, southwest spokesman for the Buckeye Firearms Association says they are confused at this point,
““There is definitely a conflict between the state laws and the federal laws,”
Some Ohio law enforcement officials are also unsure at this point how to enforce these situations as of the moment, and are depending on their prosecutors to provide more clarification through the conflict with state and federal law.
Will Marijuana Users Go Molon Labe?
For those unfamiliar with the term, molon labe is Greek for “come and take [them]”. This declaration has been repeated by many generals and politicians to express an army’s or nation’s determination not to surrender. The motto ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ is on the emblem of the I Army Corps of Greece and the Second Infantry Division of Cyprus, and is also the motto of United States Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT). The expression “Come and take it” was a slogan in the Texas Revolution.
It is also a popular choice of words for many 2nd Amendment advocates.
The question becomes, how will the hardcore 2nd Amendment supporters react to this ruling against medical marijuana and guns? Some actually believe this may actually inspire the National Rifle Association (NRA) to become pro-medical marijuana at the federal level. Will this kind of shift in support turn the tide?
Will avid gun owners come out in strong opposition to taking away guns from medical marijuana patients, or will they agree that drug use should disqualify them from owning or possessing weapons and ammunition?
How should authorities proceed? Is this a safe political sit rep or another war of opinions waiting to happen?
Treating Marijuana Abuse
Whether or not you support gun ownership of medical marijuana patients, we should all be able to get behind having treatment resources for anyone who struggles with substance abuse.
Marijuana, much like any other substance, can be abused and have an adverse impact on the overall quality of life for many people. No matter what the legal status of any drug, it can still have a negative impact on people who grapple with substance use disorder. We know this all too well, as plenty of prescription medications helped create the opioid crisis in America.
There still needs to be resources available to help people who suffer from abuse. Supporting addiction recovery means breaking the stigma and offering holistic and effective solutions. Palm Healthcare Company is here to help. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Drug dealing is not as glorified or malicious as it often seems made out to be in music videos and movies, and the stereotypical drug dealer archetype is not always what you see when you have actually been there and done that.
I sold some drugs in my day, and some of my main suppliers were suburban house moms often supporting a few children close to my age at the time. That is the opposite of what stigma will tell you, and while it does not matter how different our race or age or upbringings were, we faced a lot of the same struggles, including addiction.
Taking all this into account, along with several other elements I will get into later, the idea of denying all convicted drug dealers access to welfare benefits on top of their prison sentencing seems a little intense… and a little unconscionable. There is already a lot being done in defense of nonviolent drug offenders to reform the way the system reprimands them, yet it appears some politicians feel it is necessary to deny welfare to convicted drug dealers, and they may soon make it a law.
Yes. This is probably my next ‘flag ship article’ in the war against addiction stigma. Shall we?
Looking at the Legislation
Republican State Representative Mike Regan sponsored this new legislation in Pennsylvania designed to make it so individuals convicted of drug distribution crimes would be restricted from qualifying for welfare… indefinitely!
Now this isn’t for every drug offense. Drug dealers convicted of felony offenses are the primary target, while summary or misdemeanor crimes would not constitute the same restrictions.
Mr. Regan said.
“This legislation, I’m not trying to be hardhearted. I’m trying to preserve the funds that are not infinite for those that are truly in need.”
Some are worried the qualifying amount of drugs is low; National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) notes that if you sell 2 pounds of marijuana it constitutes a felony with incarceration of up to a year and a $5,000 fine.
2 pounds is a lot, but to anyone who has seen 2 pounds of marijuana in real life they know it doesn’t exactly put you at Escobar levels. It is definitely enough to assume you are a dealer, but I’ve known high school kids to keep more than that in their mom’s basement.
When taking a closer look this is not necessarily a huge step from what the current policy already is, which many insist is enough to deter people from taking advantage of the system. The Department of Human Services already requires welfare seekers who have been convicted of drug felony charges to comply with drug testing to be eligible for these benefits. Florida Governor Rick Scott had tried to implement a similar restriction, but eventually gave it up for results that did not justify its budget.
Regan did say he is not opposed to amending his proposal. Replacing the lifetime ban from welfare assistance with a 15-20 year ban is not completely off the table, and other negotiation can probably be made before signing it into law.
The debate is coming to a head sooner than later, since the bill already passed the House Health Committee with bipartisan support. Now, the Republican Party is hoping for a victory as the bill heads to the House floor, perhaps as early as this week!
Opposition stands strong as Democrats and outside organizations have voiced several concerns, most driven out of the fear the bill could have counterproductive and adverse effects on recovery efforts, not just for individual offenders but the recovery of the system as a whole.
Though Regan is trying to sell this one in terms of fiscal responsibility – and there’s an argument there. The financial questions are important, such as:
“What should be the limits of the public’s generosity?”
“In a time of diminished resources what should be the parameters for those resources for public assistance?”
Half the people reading this might say,
“Why should law-abiding citizens pay to take care of convicted criminals?”
The intent of Regan’s proposal here may be to target major drug dealers. But in my personal experience and opinion, considering a lot of drug dealers have evolved from an individual with their own addictions or a desperate need to supplement income (or both) this would only further exacerbate and perpetuate the destructive cycle of prisons, poverty and drug abuse.
Sure, not every drug dealer does it for these exact reasons, but plenty do, and this kind of law will leave them little alternatives for hope.
Lack of education and opportunity in some communities often becomes a motive, and some say these circumstances in some areas have only gotten worse due to the war on drugs. If someone is caught and sent to prison it’s hard enough already to find honest and stable work. Add a criminal record and forcing them to forgo their welfare assistance seems like it would only create more of a need to revert to dealing again.
Like breaking someone’s legs and telling them to move a mile… without using their arms.
Why would we need to keep kicking someone while their down, especially when we toss them back out into society and tell them to pick themselves up again?
Is it practical to keep punishing people while expecting them to reform themselves? Is it effective to drag people in and out of the criminal justice and prison system to “teach them a lesson?”
Has it worked for us so far?
That is all this writer’s opinion, but in all honestly I think most would agree that a better answer would involve actively treating and supporting the rehabilitation of individuals with drug issues. If we can’t show compassion, we can’t expect any change.
With the toll of the war on drugs being costly on both sides of the fight, how can we improve upon the ideals set forth to fight addiction and drug abuse? We all have a roll in this war, and as part of this culture we all have a chance to help this nation survive this fight. For some it is as simple as choosing to recover rather than suffer, and Palm Partners is a place to begin that transformation. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Ladies and gentlemen, medical pot is on its way to passing into law in Pennsylvania! This is a huge announcement considering the current political climate, and the fact that Pennsylvania is one of the swing states that is essential to sealing the deal on a presidential election.
For anyone who has been living under a rock for the past few years, let me get you caught up on what’s going down. Marijuana reforms and legalization movements have been taking the country by storm, noting that medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states, recreational marijuana is legal in 3, and both are legal in Washington, D.C. the 2014 November midterms set us up for a domino effect of legislation, with anyone wagering against weed coming up empty handed in most cases.
The 2016 presidential election campaigns starting to rev their respective engines in regards to reforms concerning addiction and mental health, and the issue of legalizing marijuana on a state by state basis could be one of the deciding factors for the presidential hopefuls.
Bipartisan Backing Senate Bill 3
Tuesday took the Pennsylvania Senate by storm when an overwhelming bipartisan majority approved the medical cannabis bill according to Democratic State Senator Daylin Leach for Delaware. Leach sponsored Senate Bill 3 from its initial formation, along with Republican Senator Mike Folmer, was just one of the politicians backing it. All in all including:
- 19 Democrats
- 21 Republicans
The measure passed by a 40-7 margin, a total landslide victory in the chronicles of chronic history. Leach said in a press release,
“Today, the Senate showed it stands with the 88% of Pennsylvanians who support medical cannabis. A huge, bipartisan majority supported SB3 because it will allow children suffering from devastating seizure disorders, veterans suffering from PTSD, and cancer patients being ravaged by the side effects of chemotherapy, among others, to get the medicine they need.”
Now by the typical standards of marijuana reform, be it for recreational or medicinal purposes, this is a pretty impressive majority.
Pushing for Pots Potential
Under the regulations set forth by SB3 Pennsylvania residents would be eligible to be treated with medical marijuana for a wide variety of illnesses. But, for everyone getting all excited about breaking out the new bong, the legislation text states they will not be able to smoke it. Leach added that in his opinion, legalizing marijuana is a “moral issue, not a partisan issue.” He also went on to add said in a speech on the floor of the Senate after the bill was passed:
“If any one of us had a sick child, a sick mother, a sick brother, that’s the only thing in the world we would care about. This is going to make a huge difference in the lives of so many people.”
In the past Leach has cited the economic opportunity which legalizing marijuana could present, beyond just medicinal marijuana. During a trip to Colorado in July 2014, he noted in an Op-Ed that marijuana growing facilities employed a number of positions that included:
- Medical technicians
- Mechanical engineers
- Extensive support staff
He talked about how dispensaries created other forms of employment, such as:
- Sales force (known as bud-tenders)
Leach stated that these individuals had to be highly educated about their products, and thus were paid a very respectable salary.
Leach talked about the potential for state income, saying that in Colorado the tax revenues coming into the state are “astronomical.” According to his report in the first 6 months of legal cannabis the State of Colorado estimated to have generated well over $50 million in direct tax revenues, plus millions more from licensing fees, and indirect businesses such as:
Sealing the Drug Deal
Now SB3 must be approved by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives before getting a final signature into law from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. While there is still a possibility this will stop it in its tracks, considering the broad bipartisan support the bill received in the Senate, it would seem a probability that SB3 will pass the House and become legally binding.
However, don’t count the fight completely over. This would be the first time a bill passed through the Pennsylvania Senate just like that only to fail in the home-stretch. In the fall of 2014 another bill similar to SB3 was rejected in the House after passing the Senate, so nothing is guaranteed just yet folks. Opponents of the bill were largely social conservatives concerned with family values, and many are not convinced with the dependability of marijuana’s medical value, some even citing research that contradicts the argument that marijuana is good for seizures, and some saying it actually worsens them.
Still, if this revolutionary new bill becomes a law, Pennsylvania would become the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. And again, with this being a swing state it could influence the path the future president takes, and even the entire country. Only time will tell, now all eyes are on Pennsylvania. Next… Ohio?
Medical marijuana may be uniquely beneficial to many patients in need, but for the addict it can only continue to create an unnecessary risk that could cause even more harm down the line. While there are already plenty of risky medications out there, a drug is a drug and this one can still be abused. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The overdose epidemic in America is at full throttle and blazing a serious trail with no signs of stopping in the immediate future. A disheartening abundance of live continue to be lost as the nation’s leaders and state authorities scramble for resolutions, while some areas experience more destruction than ever at the hands of heroin. Now a new brand has hit Pittsburgh that seems to be responsible for a series of overdoses, and local authorities are attempting to trace it in order to shut it down.
Already 2 people are dead in the largest wave of heroin overdoses in the entire Pittsburgh area since the batch of fentanyl-laced heroin that according to officials killed almost 2 dozen addicts in 2014, and again it seems there’s some connection between these newest cases.
24 Hours of Overdoses
There was one day in particular in Pittsburgh that had authorities in a frenzy. In a 24 hour period between the morning of Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon there were reports of a dozen heroin overdoses. Police Commander RaShall Brackney reported later on Wednesday that thanks to emergency services having access to Narcan, the overdose antidote drug known for reversing the deadly effects of opioid poisoning, ten people who overdose survived when paramedics administered the lifesaving medicine. Most of the incidences occurred on the South Side and in neighborhoods on the West End. Commander Brackney went on to say,
“This huge spike in the last 24 hours is causing us extreme concern,”
Out of the dozen reported overdoses, not all the individuals were so lucky to have been revived. The 2 men that died of suspected overdoses were:
- Patrick Byrnes, 38, of Beechview
- James Nardozi, 31, of Dormont
Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs said that the official cause of death in both cases is still pending, but added that county medical examiner Dr. Karl Williams indicated they appear to be heroin-related.
In Allegheny County alone there were 299 deaths from drug overdoses in 2014, a number that had nearly tripled since the year 2000 when there were 109. In Westmoreland County, 87 people died in 2014, nearly four times the number in 2002. So it is fair to say that a need for more overdose prevention resources and education in this area may be needed while the police try to track down the source of the lethal substance that supposedly is leaving a calling card with stamped bags.
Stopping the Stamps
The police have found a piece of this deadly puzzle to turn their focus toward, as the bags used to package the drugs involved in a number of these cases were stamped with the word “predator” along with the image of a shark, police Commander Larry Scirotto said. But the two deaths were stamped in different bags, including:
- A bag labeled “Chocolate” at the scene of Byrnes death.
- A bag found near Nardozi had the stamp, “Chicken/Waffle”
The Allegheny County Crime Lab is currently examining the stamp bags to verify, but it already appears the heroin came from the same distributor. Commander Scirotto did say,
“It’s hard to predict if this is more potent or if it’s laced with something else,”
With this brand being linked to these deaths, some have asked if the dealer who sold the heroin could face homicide charges, since many states are starting to push for stricter penalties be paid and that dealers be held responsible for the deaths of their customers (if they knowingly sell a tainted product).
Fentanyl is a very potent synthetic opioid that has been highlighted recently for contributing to the overdose deaths of many people, and now the U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating the source of the fentanyl laced heroin in order to remove these intensely dangerous drugs from the market.
Arming Officials with Narcan
Paramedics now regularly carry Narcan to treat suspected opioid overdose victims on the spot, and in some states people are insisting that these same resources be made widely available to prevent further incidents. In Pittsburgh the city paramedics have been armed with Narcan for at least 20 years, and now the talk is to arm city police officers.
The idea of equipping the police is probably one that will pay off. The Westmoreland County Sheriff’s deputies have been carrying Narcan since last year, and it has been reported that state police troopers will carry it soon.
Narcan initially could only be injected with a syringe, but now it is available as a nasal spray, which makes it easier for law enforcement or family members to administer. Pennsylvania is now among at least 24 states allowing expanded use of Narcan, and actually have a law preventing those who respond to and report overdoses from being prosecuted, while allowing friends and family members of people at risk of overdose eligible for a prescription of Narcan to have in case of emergency.
As officials call out for more availability for the overdose antidote, the city of Pittsburgh is being infiltrated by a toxic trade-mark shark that seems to be just one of a series of labeled poison packages killing addicts in the area. Too many more of those 24 hour overdose outbreaks could do some serious damage, but hopefully authorities can cut off the suppliers, or at the very least be ready to treat those in need.
While drug overdose threatens lives in Pittsburgh, people all over the nation are facing the same threats and looking for hope anyway they can. Too many addicts are dying right now because they don’t know a way out, but it is possible and we at Palm Partners want to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
November 2014 was a big month for the marijuana reform movement with midterm election that set the tone for the reshaping of pot policies in America. A handful of states took the opportunity to push for legislation allowing recreational marijuana use, and others saw their voters getting closer and closer to putting similar laws into action. Now it is starting to look as if 2016 could be a big year for pot policy reform as well, especially since according to recent survey results being released the majority of voters in three crucial swing states support legalizing marijuana, a point that could put the issue on the table in the next presidential election.
So far marijuana reform has taken some pretty big leaps and bounds when it comes to legalization. Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C. passed legislation that would legalize recreational use of marijuana, along with possession for anyone 21 and over, and even allowing individuals to grow marijuana themselves.
Other states such as Indiana are still pushing for medical marijuana reform, and the new U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently gave an interview with a television news program during which he openly expressed his support for the medical marijuana movement.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also suggested reclassifying marijuana to a Schedule II drug so that research on the medicinal benefits of cannabis could be researched. Marijuana is currently a Schedule I drug, making it prohibited from being used for medical research. So with all this reform, is it possible that marijuana will soon be rescheduled, and then maybe re-evaluated by more states for its usefulness?
Recent Survey Says
The Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll was released this week by Quinnipiac University, and it shows voters at a 5-1 margin in support of pot policy reform.
- 55% of voters in Florida
- 52% of voters in Ohio
- 51% of voters in Pennsylvania
Those are the voters in favor of allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use, and that is just on the recreational side of the argument. Support for medical marijuana was even higher. In those same states the support for marijuana to be used for medical purpose is:
- 84% of voters in Florida
- 84% of voters in Ohio
- 88% of voters in Pennsylvania
Strangely enough, while this is a great deal of support for passing laws allowing the use of marijuana, not too many of the citizens polled said they would be using.
- 17% of Florida voters say they “definitely” or “probably” would use it
- 81% of Florida voters say they “probably” or “definitely” would not use it
- 14% of Ohio voters say they “definitely” or “probably would use it
- 84% of Ohio voters say “definitely” or “probably” not use it
- 15% of Pennsylvania voters say they are likely to try
- 83% of Pennsylvania voters say no
Some people are already ahead of the game on this one. Florida and Pennsylvania both already have pending bills to legalize marijuana in the upcoming year, and in Ohio the Ohio Rights Group (ORG) is an organization that is trying to get marijuana legalized in Ohio that has currently gathered over one hundred thousand signatures for a petition to get marijuana legalization on the ballot for next year. However the cause needs 385,000 to get it on the Ohio ballot.
What is so important about these states? Well again we are wondering what weight this topic will have on the next presidential election, and because since 1960 no candidate has won the presidential race without taking at least two of these three states.
Drug Climate Change
So far it doesn’t seem like the weed wars are quite yet over, but marijuana reform doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon either. Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states, recreational marijuana is legal in 3, and both are legal in Washington, D.C.
Democratic Presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton was previously opposed to marijuana legalization, but has changed her tune in recent years. She has said in the last year,
“I’m a big believer in acquiring evidence. And I think we should see what kind of results we get, both from medical marijuana and from recreational marijuana before we make any far-reaching conclusions.”
Other surveys have shown that more than 58% of Americans want the consumption of the drug legalized and many activists feel, and marijuana activists expect a huge turnout of young people at the polls, and with nearly 70% of 18- to 29-year-old Americans in support of the legalization of marijuana. So while some are worried about Hillary’s conviction and commitment to the marijuana cause, they have faith in the American people showing up in support of legalization.
So with the possibility of big change coming, and the distant hint that some think marijuana will be legal on a national level, what does that mean to the men and women who still suffer from addiction and drug abuse? Does that mean more temptation, or could it possibly mean less stigma for drug users and more access to drug treatment? Only time will tell it seems.
A drug is a drug. Marijuana is a drug, and alcohol is a drug. Legal or not, they have the ability to impact lives in a way that creates unhealthy habits and can ultimately grow into more serious and life-threatening addictions. But no matter what the drug, there is help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135