Marijuana Tax for the Homeless Makes Los Angeles Ballot

Marijuana Tax for the Homeless Makes Los Angeles Ballot

Los Angeles has a homeless epidemic highlighted by downtown’s ‘skid row.’ Marijuana may soon help ease this epidemic.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve a ballot measure that would see medical marijuana tax proceeds go towards the homeless. This proposed tax would aid Los Angeles’ approved nearly $2 billion housing project to help cope with a 12% increase in homelessness the last two years.

The proposed tax would put a

“10% levy on the gross receipts of businesses that produce or distribute marijuana and related products.”

The tax would purportedly generate roughly $130 million a year in tax dollars that would directly go towards helping get the homeless of the streets and into treatment facilities and low-income housing. The measure’s approval needs a 2/3 vote in favor of the tax, so it’s definitely no sure thing.

Detractors of this proposal believe the measure will hurt patients since it will see dispensary prices rise. However, it’s hard to place a moral argument about using cannabis taxes to benefit the less fortunate.

Moreover, California’s upcoming legalization vote this fall truly holds the key to whether or not this tax even matters. The legal medical marijuana alone only would attribute $13 million a year in tax dollars–so legal marijuana would be the biggest donor to the cause.

The state will not be able to collect taxes on that pending legal industry till 2018.

Bernie Canter

New Jersey Firefighter Suspended for Using Medical Marijuana Battles State

New Jersey Firefighter Suspended for Using Medical Marijuana Battles State

Registered medical marijuana patient and New Jersey firefighter Donald Wiltshire has been suspended from his job October 9, 2015 for using medical marijuana to treat his Meige syndrome medical condition. Now, he’s mired in a fiery fight with his former employer.

The Ocean City resident Wiltshire and his attorneys filed a civil lawsuit against the city in February to attempt to gain Wiltshire relief and get him his job back. A judge recently rejected this civil suit, stating that Wiltshire must “exhaust the administrative process” before he can sue the state.

New Jersey is a medical marijuana state so Wiltshire’s use was legal by state law–but apparently didn’t jive with his chief’s personal opinion on cannabis. Thus, a firefighter for 20 years was suspended last fall after he notified his police chief that he was using and needed to use medical marijuana to treat his condition.

That lawsuit appears imminent and will be an interesting one to keep an eye on. Wiltshire’s time as a firefighter may very well be done, but he’s en route to becoming a symbol for medical marijuana employees in New Jersey and beyond.

That condition, Meidge syndrome, is a “rare neurological movement disorder characterized by involuntary and often forceful contractions of the muscles of the jaw and tongue and involuntary muscle spasms.” Cannabis and cannabidiol oil (CBD) can help alleviate that type of pain and make working with that type of pain far more bearable.

Now, there’s a stalemate and an impending lawsuit between Wiltshire and Ocean City. The defendant, Ocean City, must prove that Wiltshire’s use was impairing his ability to perform his job. However, New Jersey’s law does not protect Wiltshire, and the ruling judge could ultimately decide that, as Ocean City Attorney Dorothy McCrosson hopes,

Wiltshire’s use of medical marijuana may be legal in New Jersey, but the law “does not bestow upon him a statutory right to continue to serve as a firefighter while he is using it,”

Ironically, Wiltshire replaced his Kolonopin prescription with cannabis because the prescription drug was making him tired on the job. The defense is also stating that his failure to disclose his Kolonopin use nullifies his claim.

If the following statement from presiding Judge Gibson of the Cape May County Superior Court is any indication, Wiltshire should ultimately have his day in court–and could win. Gibson believes

that the purpose of the 2010 New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is to protect patients from penalties for the use of medicinal marijuana.

If that’s the case, then Wiltshire should be seeing green–the dollar bill kind–if and when this case goes to court.

Bernie Canter

HBO’s “High Maintenance” to Premier This Fall

HBO’s “High Maintenance” to Premier This Fall

The television world will finally welcome its first marijuana-based television this fall when HBO premiers “High Maintenance,” a show about a Brooklyn-based cannabis delivery man. The show that has already aired 19 short episodes on Vimeo will instantly become the first network-based television show to hit the masses.

HBO actually picked up the show over a year ago–on last year’s 4/20–but has taken its time with production and the unveil. Six episodes are planned for the first season, and the premium network service recently posted a trailer to its YouTube page:

HBO didn’t offer an exact premier date, but the show will definitely be airing in a longer format in the network’s fall lineup. The series will follow the same format: follow “The Guy” as he serves up Brooklyn’s marijuana tokers with herb.

But stoners shouldn’t get their hopes up for bong hits or constant laughs.  The show, while well written and well-produced, is more about the people who use cannabis to cope with the strife in their lives than it is about the plant itself.

While there is certainly smoke in the show and cannabis is the show’s catalyst, marijuana is typically not an episode’s focal point–and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The show succeeds in elevating the discussion cannabis and showing real, everyday people who smoke cannabis and still live normal lives.

The show may not be tailored for stoners, but its cult, base audience along with its placement on HBO’s lineup should make it an instant hit.

Bernie Canter

Arkansas to Vote on Medical Marijuana This November

Arkansas to Vote on Medical Marijuana This November

Arkansas will have a chance to become America’s first truly Southern state with medical cannabis come this election.

The Arkansas secretary of state’s office announced today that 77,516 of the Arkansans for Compassionate Care (ACC) initiative’s signatures collected qualified as valid signatures. Thus, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (AMCA), which legalizes medical marijuana dispensaries and allows for home growing, will appear on Arkansas’ ballot come November.

The AMCA would make medical marijuana available to those with chronic and severe illnesses like cancer, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, Chron’s disease, lupus, autism, and Parkinson’s disease. While the bill’s restrictive nature wouldn’t create a full-fledged medical marijuana industry, the AMCA would provide safe access to Arkansas’ patients with the most dire need for medicine.

A competing, more prohibitive measure (the AMMA) that does not allow home growing is expected to submit its signatures for state approval any day. Should that bill also make the ballot, state supporters are concerned the two competing measures will cause both to ultimately fail.

The AMCA constituency has asked the AMMA to drop its proposal so one bill could pass. Sadly, the AMMA appears intent on submitting its signatures and making the ballot–which will spell doom for Arkansas’ patients in need of safe access.

Still, should Arkansas’ voters approve the measure, Arkansas would become America’s 26th or 27th medical marijuana state, depending on your definition of Louisiana’s unrecognized medical marijuana program. However, that number could easily jump to 28 or 29 this fall as Florida and Missouri also have similar medical marijuana measures that voters will decide the fate of this fall.

Bernie Canter

Illinois Judge Orders State to Add PTSD for Medical Marijuana

Illinois Judge Orders State to Add PTSD for Medical Marijuana

Military veteran Daniel Paul Jabs won his lawsuit against the state of Illinois to include post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying medical marijuana condition.

On Tuesday, an Illinois judge ruled in favor of Jabs and demanded that the state accept the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board’s recommendation to include PTSD to the state’s list of qualifying medical marijuana conditions. Illinois now has 30 days to amend its qualifying conditions with PTSD and must comply with Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen’s stern order.

The ruling will forcibly expedite the state’s delayed inclusion of PTSD patients in its medical cannabis program by either making Governor Rauner sign the state’s stalled expansion bill or forcing the state’s medical board to add PTSD to its list. Either action would have the same outcome: PTSD patients (see: Veterans) in Illinois will finally have safe access to medical cannabis.

Moreover, the ruling’s ramifications may go way beyond just PTSD and could severely bolster Illinois’ lagging medical cannabis program. In May, Illinois’s Medical recommended expanding the state’s program to include PTSD and a variety of other conditions to the state’s list of qualifying medical conditions.

Those conditions include chronic pain and osteoarthritis; those are just two of the seven pending, similar lawsuits against Illinois to expand its medical marijuana program. The exact same judge, Neil Cohen, will preside over those similar cases.

Illinois’ stalled medical marijuana program fought the law–and the law clearly won.

Bernie Canter

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