US Policy Clouds Approvals of Medical Marijuana
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US Policy Clouds Approvals of Medical Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on October 09, 2013 at 04:58:30 PT
By Kay Lazar, Boston Globe Staff
Source: Boston Globe
Boston -- Doctors at Massachusetts community health centers have been advised not to authorize any of their more than 638,000 patients to obtain marijuana for medical purposes because the centers fear they would lose their federal funding.The Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers has advised its 36 federally funded facilities to hold off on issuing patient marijuana certifications under the state’s new medical marijuana law, because use remains illegal under federal law.
Health center physicians who believe marijuana might be beneficial for certain patients and authorize its use could be committing a “potential violation of federal law and could result in legal and financial exposure for community health centers,” according to a statement from the League.This disconnect between state and federal marijuana law is cropping up in other areas as well; some rules restrict tenants who use medical marijuana from living in federally subsidized housing, or prevent Veterans Administration hospitals and clinics from authorizing medical marijuana.Voters approved a ballot initiative in November, making Massachusetts one of 20 states, and the District of Columbia, that allow medical marijuana use. Community health centers in other states also have advised doctors against authorizing patients to use marijuana.It is not just federal funding at stake if the centers certify patients for marijuana use, but also loss of malpractice insurance, covered by a federal program known as the Federal Tort Claims Act. Also, should a community health center physician be convicted under federal law for certifying a patient, the physician could be shut out of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, the insurance that covers many who use health centers.The National Association of Community Health Centers is unaware of any center or center physician that have faced federal sanctions for prescribing medical marijuana, but the threat of prosecution or funding loss looms large.“Community health centers have been providing access to care for decades, but there is no assurance that they would not come under federal investigation or that their physicians would not face trouble for certifying medical conditions under state medical marijuana programs, given it is an unsettled area of the law,” said Kathryn Watson, an attorney at Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell, a Washington-based law firm that advises the national group.With health insurance unlikely to cover medical marijuana treatments, state regulators tried to ensure that lower-income people would be able to afford medical marijuana. State-licensed cannabis dispensaries must offer discounted or free marijuana to patients with documented financial hardship, but the community health centers’ stance could undermine that goal.Among these patients is Gary, a 61-year-old disabled former church outreach worker who received a certification for medical marijuana use this year from his primary care physician at the Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center in Allston. A few puffs before meals helps pique his appetite, which, along with his weight, has shriveled because of hepatitis C, a disease that attacks the liver.Gary asked that his last name not be used for fear of losing his publicly subsidized apartment, where medical marijuana use is prohibited.In July, Gary received notice from the health center that his marijuana certification was being rescinded because the center was worried about losing federal funding, which accounts for about 10 percent of the facility’s funding.“I am in a Catch-22 position,” Gary said. “I have a [doctor’s certification] that may or may not be valid.”He has been buying marijuana on the street, bargaining prices between $200 and $300 for an ounce, and eagerly awaiting the opening of dispensaries,where he could get reduced-cost or free marijuana, as well as edible or vapor options, which would be gentler on his scarred lungs.Paola Ferrer, grants and development director at the Allston health center, said the organization cannot risk its federal funding and care for 12,000 patients by writing certifications for a small number.“We are really tied to the federal government and the funding stream, and until the legal issues are adequately resolved, we are not at liberty to do this,” Ferrer said.Regulations issued by the Massachusetts health department in May require people who want to legally buy medical marijuana to receive a physician’s written certification that they have a “debilitating medical condition” that would benefit from marijuana use.Like patients treated at community health centers, those who receive care at Veterans Affairs facilities face challenges obtaining certification. In a 2011 memo, the Department of Veterans Affairs reminded its physicians that it prohibits them from “completing forms seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a veteran’s participation in a state marijuana program.”The memo, however, said department policy does not prohibit veterans who legally participate in a state marijuana program from also receiving other treatment at VA centers.More confusing is a 2011 memo from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to public housing authorities. It directs them to establish standards and leases that prohibit new tenants, and those with new subsidized housing vouchers, from using “state-legalized medical marijuana,” but gives authorities discretion to allow medical marijuana use by current residents and “to determine continued occupancy policies that are most appropriate for their local communities.”An August memo from the US Department of Justice to federal prosecutors has also left many lawyers and health administrators unsettled.The department attempted to clarify its policy by listing eight priorities, such as preventing marijuana sales to minors. The priorities do not specifically mention selling, growing, or authorizing patients to get marijuana for medical use.The department is “committed to using its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources to address the most significant threats in the most effective, consistent, and rational way,” the memo states.It concludes by noting the department still has authority to enforce federal laws “including federal laws relating to marijuana, regardless of state law.”Source: Boston Globe (MA)Author: Kay Lazar, Boston Globe Staff Published: October 9, 2013Copyright: 2013 Globe Newspaper CompanyContact: letter globe.comWebsite: URL:  Medical Marijuana  Archives 
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Comment #9 posted by HempWorld on October 11, 2013 at 14:56:05 PT
That is so ridiculous! Talk about a double standard! And cigarettes actually kill. Cigarettes kill the people around them through 2nd hand smoke, mostly children to the tune of 40,000 every year in the United States alone!Cannabis smoke does not kill!This is reverse logic.Imagine that someone was trying to legalize cigarettes and they would have to explain to the FDA and the Gov't that it even kills people who do not use it, bystanders. Do you think that cigarettes would be legal today?! Yet they are, but cannabis smoke... woaah.Can someone explain the logic here?
Hemp Magazine
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Comment #8 posted by The GCW on October 11, 2013 at 14:29:24 PT
POLL -Please vote
Should Denver prohibit smoking marijuana on private property if it can be seen or smelled from a neighboring property?YesNo
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on October 10, 2013 at 19:24:13 PT
I agree with you. There are a lot of disagreeable smells and we just have to live with them. It's nonsense. I can barely stand the smell of perfume anymore. It is over powering to me. Now the smell of a horse barn is wonderful! LOL!
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Comment #6 posted by The GCW on October 10, 2013 at 19:17:51 PT
I don't think it can pass. Oh the gall it takes to submit such silly stuff...But the smell of a bar in the morning with the doors open is pretty bad. Or BBQ next door, if that upsets someone... Perfume, dry cleaners, breweries... some diesel trucks. But they think it's ok to cage someone for the smell of smoke from a cannabis plant, because someone doesn't like it. CIGARETTES. CIGS are enough to gag a maggot. And they kill, but they don't cause a human to be caged.The smell of prohibitionists is the worst.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on October 10, 2013 at 18:54:16 PT
What are they going to do about the smell of alcohol. That stuff really stinks! LOL! That is crazy. 
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on October 10, 2013 at 18:40:42 PT
that smell
Denver floats new rules that could make even the odor of pot a crimeEven the smell of marijuana wafting from your backyard could be illegal if a new ordinance passes Denver's City Council.Denver officials, responding to fears that public pot consumption could become an ever-present problem in the Mile High City, will propose set of new rules for open consumption and possession of marijuana.Cont.
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Comment #3 posted by museman on October 09, 2013 at 11:09:36 PT
save some word space...
“We are really tied to the federal government and the funding stream, and until the legal issues are adequately resolved, we are not at liberty to do this,”Here it is "Tied to the fed funds." -addicted to money and power."we are not at liberty to do this." -because Amerikan liberty has nothing to do with freedom and everything to do with capitalism.The truth continues to come out, yet the people -over all- continue to believe the liars and thieves, while discounting the people themselves. If you don't have a degree in BS, -or anything else- then who the frack are you to speak up! How dare you counter the established order?Some new terms and definitions being shown;Truth = accepted propaganda.Liberty = number of zero's in your bank account.Expert = number of Phuds on your wall.Fed = control of everything not nailed down, and if its not nailed down, and they find out about it they will send out the 'adjusters.'Citizen = anyone who keeps their mouth shut, goes along with the program, and most importantly goes to work at their mindless labor with a GMO corn-syrup dumbed down 'happy' attitude.Look for the new 'legaleze' dictionary at your local courthouse soon. But don't expect to get a copy, that is reserved for card carrying members of the Fed-worshippers club. You can believe you know whatever you want to believe. When you need adjustment, the local dogs with badges and guns will take you downtown to start the 're-education.'LEGALIZE FREEDOM -translated into the new Amerikan English; hire a lawyer, buy his car, house, boat and fund his bid for office, then crawl on your hands and knees and beg for some, maybe you'll get some of the table scraps. What other kind of 'freedom' is there?
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on October 09, 2013 at 09:30:40 PT
Let's just say?
Say you have a near strangle hold on legislature and key politians? Say they owe their very careers to you?Now say that a law that will unleash your worst nightmares upon you? The revenue loss with start in the millions and climb into the billions in a very short time. What will they do? Every delay is profits earned. Suffering, freedoms, public expense be damned, this here is capitalist AmeriKa!
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on October 09, 2013 at 07:36:21 PT
Rocky please stop torturing American citizens...
How long is this going to go on?This is in the name of profit or eugenics, not humanity, decency, civility, godly, science, compassionately taking care of one-another.
Medical Marijuana For All!
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