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.
In Colorado, like many states with legal marijuana, driving with a small trace of marijuana (5 nanograms) in one’s bloodstream results in a DUI. This results a legal conundrum: does marijuana in one’s system necessarily mean impairment?
If a recent Colorado ruling in favor of a “stoned driver” is any indication, that answer is a definitive no. Ralph Banks, a 27-year-old Ralph Banks of Lakewood, Colorado, had his cannabis DUI acquitted by a Jefferson County Court jury after a less than 30-minute discussion in the jury room.
Banks’ case dates back to last March (2015), when a missing headlight got him pulled over by the Lakewood police; he was given a roadside test, deemed “under the influence of cannabis”, then cuffed and handed a DUI. A blood test also revealed that Banks had 7.9 nanograms per milliliter of THC in his System, which is 2.9 milliliters over the legal limit.
However, last week’s jury threw the case out and called Banks innocent after a brief huddle, clearly deciding he wasn’t impaired. As one would expect, Banks deemed the whole ordeal a disaster.
“It was a nightmare. It was the worst experience of my life.”
But one man’s temporary nightmare could mean future bliss for medicated or high drivers all throughout Colorado. Banks’ attorney, well-known cannabis litigator Rob Corry seems to think this decision indicates as long as the driver isn’t impaired, he or she will be in the clear.
“Now with this case, it’s perfectly legal to get behind the wheel after consuming marijuana as long as you’re not impaired. And that’s the key. You can do it if you’re not impaired. If you’re impaired, do not get behind the wheel of a vehicle.”
Given this result, Corry’s logic seems at least somewhat believable. However, there are many mitigating factors in any case that can determine one’s guilt, and they all stem from proof of impairment.
Banks’ case was pretty cut and dry, because a missing headlight isn’t like swerving in and out of lanes or stopping at a green light. Perhaps Banks’ headlight was caused by stoner indifference, but it’s more likely it was just an honest mistake warranting a citation, not a roadside drug test.
Still, there is plenty of evidence in favor of the hypothesis that medicated–but not impaired–drivers will continue to win these cases as they arise. Last year, a woman in Colorado also had her DUI acquitted in a very similar scenario; in 2013 a Michigan man set the first precedent for these types of cases when a court also dropped his marijuana DUI charge.
Moreover, numerous studies–even one by the government–have shown empirical evidence that drivers high on cannabis are 60 times safer than those on alcohol. In fact, the government study even claims that drivers on marijuana
“were no more likely to crash than who had not used any drugs or alcohol prior to driving.”
That may be a slight exaggeration, but it’s clearly safe to say that driving on marijuana clearly does not pose the threat driving on alcohol, pain killers, or harder drugs presents. While it’s still not a good idea to get behind a wheel right after consuming cannabis in most circumstances, these recent rulings and science show that you’re not really putting anyone at risk, nor are you committing a crime.
For some medical marijuana patients, like those with Parkinson’s, it’s not difficult to see how cannabis could in fact improve one’s driving. Cannabis (CBD in particular) has the ability to cease shaking and steady hands down.
Would you rather have that driver on his medicine or “stone” sober.
In what may be a landmark case for the future of marijuana dispensaries across the nation, a Colorado judge ruled that damages to a Colorado Springs’ dispensaries finished product may result in an insurance claim for $40,000.
The case, which pits dispensary The Green Earth Wellness Center, LLC vs. the Atain Specialty Insurance Company stems from a wildfire near the Green Earth Wellness center that caused extensive damage to both the dispensaries’ growing and harvested crops.
Green Earth originally sought over $200,000 in damage to its mothers and clones (still in bloom) and another $40,000 in “damage to buds and flowers.” Green Earth’s claim is based on the following premise:
“Smoke and ash from a wildfire overwhelmed its ventilation system and intruded into its growing operation, causing damage to Green Earth’s marijuana plants.”
Smoke, ash, and heat can cause severe damage to plants in bloom, rendering them essentially worthless and un-usable. Hence, Green Earth lost a lot of money because of a circumstance they could not control.
When the insurance company Atain rejected the dispensary’s claim, Green Earth swiftly filed a lawsuit that stated both its growing and harvested buds qualified as “stock”. Since “stock” was covered on the insurance plan, they sought reimbursement for all of the damages.
The Colorado District Court threw out the $200,000 claim on the mothers and clones, refusing to qualify those plants as “stock”. Instead, the Court maintained that these plants were excluded by Green Earth’s policy and rejected the notion that crops need to grow outdoors in dirt to be considered crops.
However, the Court ruled that the agreement between the parties did in fact cover for harvested, dried plants ready for sale. Thus, the Court ordered that Green Earth’s breach of contract claim for the $40,000 in damage to its harvested marijuana buds and flowers must be tried.
Stay tuned and look out for an update as this trial comes to fruition. The result, which sounds as if it will favor Green Earth, could tip the legal scales on many more cases like this in the industry’s future.