Lawmakers make major improvements to cannabis policy in 2019.
Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed into law three notable bills to improve cannabis policies this year. Here is a quick overview and why they are so important:
AB 132 prohibits most employers from denying applicants a job if cannabis shows up on a pre-employment drug test. This bill addresses a big concern — cannabis use can be detected for weeks after ingestion, meaning drug screens in no way correlate with impairment. So far, states have been generally unwilling to change employment standards, even when cannabis use is legal outside work hours. This bill is a major development for Nevadans, and MPP wants to see other states take notice.
SB 430 was signed into law last week and expands the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis. The bill adds forms of autism, anxiety, and chronic pain — in addition to severe pain, which was already included. A key addition were those individuals who are "dependent upon or addicted to opioids," making medical cannabis an alternative to anyone at risk while taking prescription narcotic medication. This is part of a trend we see around the country, and it's great to see Nevada added to the list of states offering this important alternative.
AB 192 allows individuals to have their past convictions sealed if the conduct — such as marijuana possession — has been legalized or decriminalized. While this is not as expansive as completely removing the conviction, sealing can significantly reduce the stigma and collateral consequences lingering from the failed war on cannabis.
MPP is proud to have led Nevada's legalization initiative in 2016 and important improvements to the medical cannabis law in 2013. Today, lawmakers are making sensible improvements to those programs, and more importantly, the medical and adult-use programs continue to serve the state and its residents.
Even though it is now legal to smoke marijuana in Colorado, a Denver Broncos linebacker is facing a four-game suspension for allegedly testing positive for marijuana. Under the NFL’s substance abuse policy, players can face suspension and fines of thousands of dollars for using illegal drugs, including marijuana.
Von Miller, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft and is considered by some the Broncos’ best defensive player, is in the process of appealing the decision. He took to his Twitter feed to claim his innocence in the matter, saying, “I know I did nothing wrong. I’m sure this’ll be resolved fairly.”
Regardless of whether Miller used marijuana, athletes should not have to vehemently deny using a substance safer than alcohol or be dragged through the mud by the press and sports executives.
Mason Tvert of MPP commented on the NFL’s policy, saying “Obviously, we don't see professional athletes being punished simply for having a beer or a glass of wine on a weekend during the off-season. So there's absolutely no reason they should be punished for using a less harmful substance."
I just returned to D.C. from a conference in Palm Beach, where I briefly spoke with Gov. Rick Scott (R) about medical marijuana.
When I told him I was representing the Marijuana Policy Project, he responded by saying that he had received only one communication about medical marijuana during these first 14 months of his governorship. (It's likely that he meant to say that he had spoken with only one constituent personally, as opposed to having received only one email message or one phone call from Florida constituents.)
In any case, his comment struck me as odd, because Floridians have consistently been more active via MPP's website than MPP's supporters in literally any other state. This has impressed me, because Florida is only the fourth most populous state, and Florida usually has almost no marijuana-related legislative activity in Tallahassee. So you'd think that Californians or New Yorkers would be more active than Floridians, but this hasn't been the case.
I have no reason to believe that Gov. Scott was trying to fib, because there was no particular advantage or disadvantage to his taking a position on medical marijuana. Indeed, he wasn't even taking a position on the issue.
But I'd like to view my conversation with the governor as a challenge to anyone in Florida who hasn't already called or emailed Gov. Scott to say they'd like him to support medical marijuana legislation in Tallahassee. So, if you haven't already done so, would you please call or email him?
If you live in Florida, you have a greater ability to influence his thinking than I do. And – if you do contact his office – please be polite, because I have the impression that he's open-minded on our issue, at least in the long run.
Attention middle-age marijuana users: you now have one more piece of ammunition to use against people who say that marijuana use is making you slow.
According to a study published last year in the American Journal of Epidemiology, moderate marijuana use, both past and current, has no long-term effects on cognitive function and memory. Of the 9,000 adults around the age of 42 that were surveyed, those that had used drugs in the past (even the recent past) scored equal to or slightly better than those who had never used any drugs when tested at age 50.
"Overall, at the population level, the results seem to suggest that past or even current illicit drug use is not necessarily associated with impaired cognitive functioning in early middle age," said lead researcher, Dr. Alex Dregan, of King's College London.
That is certainly good news, especially for the more than 17 million regular marijuana users in the United States. However, it is important to differentiate between users and abusers, especially considering that harder drugs were included in the survey. Dr. Dregan goes on to say:
"However," he told Reuters Health in an email, "our results do not exclude possible harmful effects in some individuals who may be heavily exposed to drugs over longer periods of time."
It seems safe to say we can add this study to the others showing that cognitive impairment from marijuana is only temporary and will not, as they say, make you dumb.
Another study that this demographic should find interesting was published last year in the Journal of Analytic Toxicology. Many people in this age group often worry that a failed drug test could jeopardize their jobs or put their families at risk. According to this study, zinc is very effective at interfering with standard urine test accuracy when it comes to detecting marijuana and two other drugs. It is also basically untraceable.
Both zinc sulfate and zinc supplements are effective in interfering with the detection of all three drugs by Immunalysis drug detection kits. Also, no suitable method could be established to detect zinc in urine samples. Zinc can be an effective adulterant in urine for some illicit drugs that are commonly screened under routine drug testing.
This information is intended to be educational, and one should certainly never risk his or her employment based on something read in a blog. The noblest option is to tell any employers requesting a drug test that the content of one’s urine has nothing to do with the quality of one’s work. Unfortunately, most people don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing from jobs these days, so this study could provide some food for thought.
When I saw this story in my Google news alerts today, I thought for sure there must be some mistake. Nope, no mistake. Linn State Technical College, a 1,200-student two-year college just outside of Jefferson City, Missouri, plans to require all incoming freshmen to submit to mandatory urinalysis drug testing. The screening will test for 11 drugs, including marijuana, and students who test positive will be kicked out unless they test clean after 45 days and take a drug-prevention course or engage in other unspecified activities. For good measure, students will have to pay $50 for the tests themselves (no word on whether the test actually costs $50) and will not be reimbursed if they pass.
It’s an unprecedented invasion of privacy – no public college has ever required mandatory drug testing of its entire student body. There are some high schools that drug test students, mostly those participating in sports and other extra-curricular activities, as the Supreme Court has upheld suspicionless drug testing in only limited circumstances. Not surprisingly, evidence shows that making students pee in a cup is not an effective deterrent of drug use.
Ironically, the college claims it’s testing its students to help them prepare for their life after school in the United States where it claims most employers drug test. As the ACLU rightly points out, there’s no reason an institution of higher learning can’t accomplish this by, you know, educating their students. And for the record, I’m an attorney, I’ve held at least six jobs since graduating from college, and I’ve never been forced to take and pass a drug test as a precondition of employment.
Speaking of the ACLU, if you or someone you know is a student at Linn State, they’re looking for plaintiffs to help challenge this policy in court. Hopefully some good old-fashioned public outcry will solve this problem without the help of courts.
Once again, the top brass at NASCAR have taken a stand against marijuana users. Yesterday, officials for the racing organization suspended crewmember and former driver Randy LaJoie indefinitely after he tested positive for marijuana. The test was not to make sure that he could be a driver, but that he could be a spotter. For those of you not familiar with racing, the spotter sits in the stands and relays car positions to his or her driver through a headset. Please forgive my ignorance of the details of racing, but it seems as if this is basically a professional spectator, with the enviable bonus of getting to yell at the driver.
Seriously, a drug test is required for this job.
LaJolie now joins the massive ranks of athletes and celebrities forced to apologize for using a substance safer than alcohol.
"I screwed up," LaJolie said in an interview the day he was suspended.
NASCAR’s behavior is not that surprising. Back in March, officials waited until the last minute to deny Cannabis Planet TV the opportunity to sponsor, and place advertisements on, one of the cars. The car was allowed to race, but with different sponsors.
It seems like the world of racing is lining up against marijuana. In a recent press release, the Office of National Drug Control Policy announced the start of a new campaign with Indy 500 racer Sarah Fisher to combat drugged driving.
This is all well and good. MPP does not advocate driving under the influence of any substance, including marijuana. It just seems strange that ONDCP and the racing community would spend valuable resources targeting marijuana in light of a recent study that shows marijuana use has very little impact on driving ability.
To date, NASCAR is still on very good terms with its alcohol sponsors.