DOJ Issues Guidance on Legal Protections for People on MAT, NJ Recreational Pot Sales Coming Soon, More... (4/12/22)

An Oklahoma psychedelic research bill advances minus a decriminalization provision, Mississippi regulators roll out initial guidelines for the state's medical marijuana programs, and more.

The DOJ issues guidance on legal protections for people undergoing medication-assisted treatment. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

New Jersey Regulators Okay First Recreational Marijuana Sales. The state's Cannabis Regulatory Commission on Monday opened the way to recreational marijuana sales by approving seven medical marijuana dispensaries to sell to anyone 21 or over. The commission's executive director, Jeff Brown, said retail licenses could be issued within a month, once dispensaries pay fees and undergo compliance checks. The move comes more than a month after the state blew through a February 22 deadline for dispensaries to begin selling to adults. The commission had been concerned about maintaining adequate supplies for patients, but those concerns seem to have been assuaged. "All of the (dispensaries) here, we believe have proven and have shown that they have adequate supply for their medical patients, that they are willing to put in place the necessary mechanisms to protect that supply, and ensure that medical patients are not impacted,” Brown said.

Medical Marijuana

Mississippi Medical Marijuana Program Rules and Regulations Released. The state Health Department on Monday released preliminary rules and regulations for the state's nascent medical marijuana program. These beginning measures address qualifying conditions, obtaining registry and identification cards, and how to certify as a practitioner, among other things. The list of qualifying conditions includes cancer, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, muscular dystrophy, glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, sickle cell anemia, Alzheimer’s, agitation of dementia, PTSD, autism, pain refractory to opioid management, diabetic/peripheral neuropathy, spinal cord disease, or severe injury; chronic medical treatment that causes cachexia or wasting, severe nausea, seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms, or chronic pain. Patients may only get recommendations from doctors with whom they have an existing relationship and will pay $25 for a 1-year ID card. Those applications will be available on or before June 2.

Psychedelics

Oklahoma Senators Approve Psilocybin Research Bill but Remove Decriminalization Language Approved by House. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously Monday to approve a bill passed by the House that would allow eligible research and medical institutions to cultivate and administer psilocybin for research purposes, but only after amending it to remove a provision that decriminalized the possession of the drug. House Bill 3414 "came over [from] the House—it had some decriminalization elements in there," Sen. Lonnie Paxton (R) said on Monday, adding that lawmakers had "worked a lot with it, trying to make sure that we clean it up." They did that by erasing the decriminalization provision. “That no longer exists," he said. "This is just for a university study."

Drug Treatment

US Department of Justice Issues Guidance Concerning Legal Protections for Individuals Recovering from Opioid Use Disorder. The Justice Department published guidance last week explaining how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people who are in treatment or recovery for opioid use disorder (OUD), including those who take prescription medications as part of that treatment. The guidance says those people are considered disabled under the ADA, that they may be prescribed medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone, among others; and that employers may not discriminate against them if they are in treatment and using those drugs. The guidance also notes that while employers may conduct drug testing, they may not fire or refuse to hire people legally using those medications—unless the use renders the person unable to safely or effectively perform the job. DOJ said the guidance "is part of the department’s comprehensive response to the opioid crisis, which promotes prevention, enforcement and treatment" and lists several civil rights lawsuits it is pursuing over such discrimination.

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DoJ guidance on legal protections - thank you and question

Thank you so much for fighting for the rights of those on MAT! I am a person in long-term recovery (5 years) and over the past two years I have worked very hard to earn my PRS certification as well as Recovery Coach, MRT facilitator, Living Free Ministries facilitator, SMART recovery facilitator, and more. When the Executive Director of the Coalition I've been working with during that two years, recommended me to join their "sort of" sister non-profit, I interviewed for their Group Coordinator position (full time w/ benefits) in February. At the end of that interview the Director said, "We'll get an offer drawn up and get it to you next week". That was on a Friday so I was elated all weekend as it was the first job I'd have since being laid off from a CRO seven years before. I enjoyed that 13-year job but there's something about coaching others to recover and enhance their original selves that tells me I'm exactly where I belong. Come Monday morning I received the news, from the Direcotor of the coalition I work for, the one who's seen my growth, that the other organization changed their mind because they are a faith-based organization that does not hire anyone that isn't completely abstinent. My credentials and experience made no difference whatsoever but what's even worse than that is the fact that I am a Christian (and was before befocming addicted to opioids) and have not had any illegal substance or even a sip of wine in five years. Yet the position went to a woman who has never dealt with active addiction or recovery; she'd never even led a group session. Many people have told me I should sue but I don't know if I have enough information. The Director who recommended me was there when the interviewer told me she would "draw up an offer" but that is the only proof I have. Do you feel I have enough to take action? If I do, will you please tell me what my next step should be? Again, thank you for fighting for ALL of us trying to better our lives! 

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