The law office of Anderlini and Emerick is located in San Mateo, California south of the San Francisco Airport and the firm practices personal injury law in addition to other areas of civil law with each founding partner having more than twenty five years of individual experience.
Admitted to the California Bar in 1970, partner P. Terry Anderlini devotes seventy percent of his practice to litigation and ten percent to vehicle dealerships, business formations, and wills and trusts. Mr. Anderlini is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell, a peer review rating system, and was past president of the San Mateo Trial Lawyers Association. He is also a current member of the Consumer Attorneys of California and the American Bar Association.
Merrill G. Emerick, a member and past president of the San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association, was admitted to the Oregon Bar in 1972 and the California Bar in 1985 and devotes seventy percent of his practice to litigation with the rest comprised of civil appeals and business transactions. Mr. Emerick is also a member of the Consumer Attorneys of California and the American Bar Association.
Along with managing partners Anderlini and Emerick who have been named two of northern California’s Super Lawyers, also on staff at the firm are Robert M. Desky and Patrick McGovern. Desky, who was admitted to the California Bar in 1952, devotes twenty five percent of his practice to litigation and specializes in real property, litigation, corporate, and business transactions while McGovern was admitted to the Bar in 1984 and practices in areas including internet and e-commerce law, arbitration and mediation, as well as real estate, construction accidents, and intellectual property.
The areas of personal injury practice handled by Anderlini and Emerick include: – Automobile accidents – Bicycle accidents – Brain injuries – Elder abuse – Motorcycle accidents – Pedestrian accidents – Premise liability suits – Public transportation accidents – Truck accidents – Wrongful death suits
Anderlini and Emerick have represented clients filing all types of personal injury claims, large and small. With fatal accidents, the firm represents the surviving family members of the victim in order to recover ample compensation for their loss.
In addition to all facets of personal injury law, Anderlini and Emerick are also experienced in matters of arbitration and appeals, real estate law, estate planning and litigation, business and employment law, elder law, and medical malpractice law. In terms of medical malpractice, the firm is experienced with cases involving anesthesia mistakes, injuries sustained during the birthing process, failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis, and also pharmaceutical and surgical errors.
Anderlini and Emerick operate their law office on a contingency basis and collect no fees from clients unless they are successful in recovering damages.
During the Civil War, the Union army received inadequate supplies by dishonest tradesmen. Frequently they received sick horses, dead ammunition, and rotten rations. It is believed that this type of trickery was the motivating force behind the creation of the False Claim Act, or the FCA. Under the FCA, a non-government affiliated entity can sue a federal contractor for making fraudulent claims. Filing this type of suit is frequently referred to as “whistleblowing.”
If you have suffered retaliation because of whistleblowing, or exposing fraud, you may be eligible to pursue compensation. Contact the San Antonio employment lawyers of Melton & Kumler, LLP to discuss the details of your case. Call 800-681-6932 today to schedule a free case evaluation.Fraudulent Billing In the 21st century, the False Claims Act mostly pertains to government programs that receive federal funding. Most commonly, false claims are filed in the realms of health care, military contracts, and education programs.
If a government program reports that it is spending more money than it really is, this deception is referred to as a “false claim.” Generally, the leftover money is spent on non-work related items.Blowing the Whistle In order for a company or contractor to be caught in the act of money laundering, an insider must inform another person, who can then pursue legal action against the fraudulent company. Once a lawsuit is filed, federal officials will begin a thorough investigation of the program’s documented spending. If fraud is found, the person who filed the claim may be able to receive up to 25% of the damages.Contact Us
If you are aware of fraud, or if you have been the victim of retaliation, contact the San Antonio employment lawyers of Melton & Kumler, LLP to discuss your legal options. Call 800-681-6932 today to speak with an experienced attorney about your case.
A person, who intends to choose a family lawyer, must be careful especially because many things, such as personal properties and even life, may depend on this professional. A mediocre professional will not be able to help an individual to win a lawsuit, which indirectly means that the person in cause might lose a lot.
In case that you have to find a good family lawyer any time soon, the best thing that you can do is to take your time to do this thing properly.
These days, finding an attorney, who can defend you or your family when needed, is quite difficult especially because there are many unprofessional lawyers. Some of them are quite new in this field while others do not have the necessary expertise and experience to win a lawsuit.
Therefore, prior to approaching a family attorney, you should pay attention to the professionalism of the lawyer. In order to help you to choose a good family lawyer, the following paragraphs reveal seven important tips on finding a suitable attorney for you.
1. Building a List. Prior to approaching a particular lawyer, you should build a list with the lawyers who are recommended by your friends and relatives. As well, you can put on the same list the names of the lawyers that you have used before. After you have a complete list, you should check the experience and expertise of every single lawyer and approach those professionals who have won numerous lawsuits. It is also important to verify how many lawsuits are pending and, if you have the time, it would be a good idea to assist in a pleading. Additionally, you should know that choosing a lawyer who has numerous lawsuits is not a great idea especially because he or she might not have time to take proper care of your case.
2. Check the Certificate. In some states, the family lawyers are able to obtain a specific certificate in the family law. Therefore, if you want to make sure that a lawyer is specialized in a specific area of the law, you must verify whether he or she presents the right certificate or not. In most cases, a certified lawyer passes through a series of tests, thing that actually means that this professional is really well trained. Additionally, the certified lawyers receive regular training, continuing their education within the family law. In case that you wish to hire such a lawyer, you must be prepared to cover significant fees but your chances to win the lawsuit are definitely very high.
3. Specialty Area. A family lawyer must be specialized in all the areas that relate to family law. Only this way, he or she can really handle your case with professionalism. Additionally, you should know that some lawyers interact with their clients often, explaining every single aspect of a lawsuit, while others only maintain a minimal contact. Obviously, the best attorneys are those who belong to the first category.
4. Explaining the Terms. It is very important to have a lawyer who uses layman terms to explain the implications of your lawsuit. In most cases, the lawyers are tempted to speak in legalese terms in order to make a good professional impression. However, most people do not comprehend any of these terms. This thing actually means that understanding different aspects with regard to their lawsuits is quite difficult.
5. Sensitivity. This is a very important characteristic that a lawyer should present. Regardless whether your lawyer is a man or a woman, he or she must be sensitive especially to the needs of your children. A lawyer, who really cares about your family, will help you to take the best decisions while fighting for your legal rights.
6. Find Out Essential Details. It is important to find out a few details about a lawyer prior to hiring him or her. This thing is essential especially because your lawyer should be a truly great professional, admired by judges. If you are going to choose such a lawyer for your case, you will get some truly great benefits.
7. Trust. Regardless of the professional you hire as your lawyer, you should be able to trust him or her. This is because your lawyer will not only handle your personal data but also will find out everything about you. Therefore, choosing a trustworthy lawyer is very important in order to feel safe. By considering the aforementioned points, you will be able to find a truly good family lawyer, who is going to help you to win the lawsuit and bring justice into your life.
At the Redlands, California, divorce and family law practice of attorney Lenita Skoretz, it is my mission to provide my clients with both the knowledge and the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the process of finding a legal resolution to their family law concern.
In California, child support is decided based upon very specific statutory child support formula that takes into account the income of both parents as well as the time each parent is in custody of the child. A child support order can be modified if family situations substantially change. Spousal support is far more complex. A spousal support (“alimony”) agreement will need to be made either by the couple themselves or by a family law judge in divorce court.
I assist my clients with the full range of divorce-related legal actions, including alimony agreements. When appropriate-when couples are cooperative and demonstrate a desire to work together-I encourage my clients to use collaborative law divorce or the mediation process to achieve their goals with greater speed, more privacy, and far fewer bad feelings.
Contact me if you and your partner are considering a cooperative divorce. Litigation for Spousal Support
There are two primarily questions involved in a support decision: how much income is there, and how much support should be given to the spouse with the smaller income.
It can be just as complicated to determine income as it is to divide marital assets, especially when a spouse is a business owner, is self-employed, has multiple employers, or has other sources of income. It may require the help of a tenacious and experienced attorney and the expertise of a forensic accountant to reach a fair calculation.
Did you help put your spouse through law school, medical school, or some other graduate degree program before they asked for a divorce? We may need to hire a career counselor to advise the court on your spouse’s income potential and how that should relate to your support payments.
The court will also have to determine the amount of support needed for the lower-income or no-income partner to get on their feet. As a general rule, the court will order support for the lower-wage-earning spouse for half the length of time of the marriage. The court will expect that each party will become self-supporting in time.
We will examine the costs associated with helping the low-wage earner to become self-supporting, including the possibility of school or other professional training. Sometimes more support early on to improve the employability and self-sufficiency of the low-wage-earning spouse can reduce spousal and child support payments later.
Contact the law office of Lenita Skoretz, a spousal and child support lawyer, for an aggressive investigation of income and marital assets and a just division of property in your divorce case.
Attorney Lenita Skoretz provides legal counsel to individuals and families in Redlands and Riverside counties in California, including the cities of Redlands, San Bernardino, Yucaipa, Fontana, Loma Linda, and Riverside.
Ever since my late client Dean Lesher insisted that we tender the defense of a straightforward antitrust case to his CGL insurance carrier — a decision which ultimately won him a decisive jury verdict in Travelers Ins. Co. v. Lesher (1986) 187 Cal. App. 3d 169 — I have always reviewed insurance policies for my antitrust clients in the hope of finding coverage language which might allow the tender of such formidable litigation to the insurers, but never found much to lend me hope. I was thus very interested in a recent case where coverage was sought, but denied, in a false advertising case because of an “antitrust exclusion.” The case was decided by the First Circuit under Massachusetts law; but it is a rare bird and deserves this comment.
The case is Welch Foods, Inc. v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. (2011) 659 F. 3d 191; but the short per curiam opinion relies almost wholly on the District Court’s decision granting the insurer’s motion for summary judgment, which is not much deeper in its analysis. It can be found at 2010 WL 3928704. The complaint alleged that a competitor and a consumer class had accused Welch of engaging in “false and misleading advertising” and “false advertising and deceptive labeling” in advertising its pomegranate juice. Welch sought insurance coverage under the advertising coverage provisions of its insurance policy, on the ground that “Welch’s statements that its product contained ‘pomegranate juice’ (if in reality, the juice was primarily comprised of apple and white grape juice) could be deemed to be ‘misleading statement[s]’ and thus fall within the ambit of the policy.”
The opinions do not state the nature of the policy under which Welch sought coverage; but it was likely a D&O. The District Court denied coverage because of a policy provision that was captioned “Antitrust Exclusion,” which excluded coverage for claims “alleging, arising out of, based upon or attributable to, or in any way involving either directly or indirectly, antitrust violations, price fixing, price discriminations, unfair competition, deceptive trade practices and/or monopolies, including actions, proceedings, claims or investigations related thereto ….” I had not previously seen this exclusion.
The District Court denied coverage, reading the exclusion broadly: “[T]he plain language of the exclusion is broad enough to include a variety of anti-competitive behavior. Nothing in the text of the exclusion limits it solely to antitrust claims. ” I can’t quarrel with the court’s grammatical analysis: “deceptive trade practices,” taken literally, would be something that happened in business or commerce (“trade practices”) and that is deceptive, i.e., “apt or tending to deceive.” That would cover virtually all business torts, and make much of the “personal injury” coverage illusive, especially the advertising coverage.
But there is another approach to this issue: the rule of noscitur a sociis, or “a word is known by the company it keeps.” If so read, the exclusion for unfair trade practices would be considered in the well established context of that phrase in the antitrust world. Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, known widely as the “little Sherman Act,” is generally thought of as the fountainhead of “unfair business practices” in the antitrust context. It prohibits “unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.” It seems fair to say that a knowledgeable lawyer, reading the “antitrust exclusion” of this insurance policy, would think that it addresses “trade practices which conflict with the basic policies of the Sherman and Clayton Acts,” as the Supreme Court held in FTC v. Brown Shoe Co. (1966) 384 U.S. 316, and would think that the insurer must defend other commercial cases which assert improper advertising and the like.
Indeed, in California the courts have at times required that exclusionary clauses be read in their context, perhaps most prominently in MacKinnon v. Truck Ins. Exchange (2003) 31 Cal. 4th 635, where the court stated that “[a]lthough examination of various dictionary definitions of a word will no doubt be useful, such examination does not necessarily yield the ‘ordinary and popular’ sense of the word if it disregards the policy’s context. [Citation]. Rather, a court properly refusing to make “‘a fortress out of the dictionary,”” [citation] quoting Justice Learned Hand’s dictum in Cabell v. Markham (2d Cir.1945) 148 F.2d 737, 739) must attempt to put itself in the position of a layperson and understand how he or she might reasonably interpret the exclusionary language.” By that reasoning, the California Supreme Court read the absolute pollution exclusion, now virtually universal in liability insurance policies, to apply only to the conduct which led to this exclusion, i.e.,to conduct “commonly thought of as pollution, and not to a landlord’s negligent use of ordinary pesticides (p. 655).
I have mixed feelings about having an insurer defend an antitrust case for the insured. But the reasoning of the Welch case seems dangerous, and mistaken to boot. I would like to think that in California, the outcome would have been different.
Medical marijuana refers to medical treatment and therapy using parts of the cannabis herb, or synthetic forms of the herb, per a physician’s recommendation. The history of marijuana as medicine is longer and richer than its history as an intoxicant. As early as 2,737 BCE, Chinese Emperor Shen Neng prescribed cannabis tea for medical treatment of malaria, gout, rheumatism, and poor memory. Cannabis treatment stretched through Asia and the Middle East, then down Africa’s eastern coast. Ancient texts reveal that the Chinese were aware of, and sometimes used the drug for, its hallucinogenic effects, but this use of the drug was largely discredited during a political overtaking and change of dynasties. Cannabis remains one of the “Fifty Fundamental Herbs of Chinese Medicine,” along with such innocuous substances as cinnamon and mint. The ancient Egyptian medical text Ebers Papyrus contained recommendations for medical use of marijuana, written around 1,550 BC. Historians believe that marijuana was used and prescribed by Egyptians many years before this more formal recommendation was written. Today, far more people use marijuana (for recreational or medicinal reasons) than other illicit drugs, with at least ten times as many worldwide users than cocaine and heroin.
Marijuana has been a presence in America since colonial times when the plant was introduced to Jamestown in 1622 and became a profitable crop. Irish doctor William O’Shaughnessy helped increase marijuana’s popularity in America and England, claiming that the drug could reduce nausea, pain, and discomfort. In the late 1700’s, American medical journals even recommended cannabis to treat venereal disease, incontinence, and inflamed skin. Even the British Queen Victoria treated menstrual discomfort with cannabis. However, when aspirin arrived in America and the U.K., cannabis use declined as aspirin became the primary treatment and prescription for pain. Marijuana use did not become popular again until the Prohibition era of the 1920’s, where the plant was prevalent in speakeasies and jazz clubs as an intoxicant. Up until the 1903’s, doctors even prescribed marijuana for various ailments. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics then began to campaign against marijuana, claiming it was an addictive “gateway drug” that was dangerous to the public. By 1942, marijuana was illegal in the United States. Although the plant’s medicinal qualities began to reemerge in the United States in the 1970’s, President Reagan’s tough drug policies in the 1980’s targeted marijuana, among other drugs. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified, and continues to classify, marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. In 1997, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy asked the Institute of Medicine to research the effects and potential medical benefits of marijuana. The Institute of Medicine found that marijuana contained some therapeutic value that could potentially treat serious medical conditions, and some similar studies followed suit. Recently, several states have recognized legal uses of marijuana for medical treatment.
Today, most countries outlaw medical marijuana use. However, some countries, including the United States, permit low doses of synthetic cannabis to treat certain conditions. For example, legal prescription drugs Dronabinol (Marinol) and Nabilone (Cesamet) contain synthetic cannabis and are available in the United States to orally treat nausea and vomiting. Marinol fuses sesame oil and synthetic THC. The human bloodstream absorbs more THC through Cesamet than Marinol, although the degree of THC actually absorbed varies from person to person. Also, Canasol is a legal prescription drug containing cannabinoids used to treat glaucoma.
Medical marijuana supporters contend that cannabis has several medicinal benefits, such as stimulating hunger in AIDS and chemotherapy patients, lowering intraocular eye pressure in glaucoma patients, ameliorating vomiting and nausea, and relieving many forms of chronic pain. In 1988, studies identified cannabinoid receptors in the human brain and nerve cells, and two years later discovered that the human body produced natural THC. The Colorado Constitution recognizes cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, HIV, cachexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, and muscle spasms as qualifying debilitating medical conditions that may justify the medical use of marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.
It is difficult to measure the precise effects and benefits of the different compounds in cannabis because there are 483 distinct compounds. Anywhere from 30 to 100 of these compounds are cannabinoids, which are used in medical and scientific studies and act as antiemetics, antispasmodics, and appetite stimulants. Five important cannabinoids are: tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”), cannabidol, cannabinol, ß-caryophyllene, and cannabigerol. The concentration of THC and other cannabinoids highly varies based upon the plant’s genetics, growing conditions, and how the plant is processed after harvesting.
THC is a psychoactive compound effective at treating pain and improving memory and sleep. THC is quickly metabolized and remains active for two to six hours in the blood. Cannabidol is not psychoactive, constitutes 40% of medical marijuana extracts, and is used to treat anxiety, nausea, inflammation, and cancer, among other illnesses. Studies suggest that cannabidol reacts with THC to induce sedation. Cannabinol is a therapeutic compound that is also produced as a breakdown product of THC. ß-Caryophyllene aids to reduce tissues inflammation by activating the cannainoid receptor called CB2. It can be found in concentrated form in cannabis essential oil. Cannabigerol is not psychoactive and is used to treat glaucoma by relieving intraoccular pressure.
There are also two different common bud strains of cannabis, Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. These different strains of cannabis buds are grown and combined for a variety of marijuana plants. Cannabis Sativa contains four to five times more THC than Cannabis Indica, the former triggering a cerebral high, the latter possessing more sedative and relaxing qualities.
Recently, studies have linked medical marijuana to effective treatment of numerous conditions and diseases. The drug’s effective treatment of nausea, weak appetite, glaucoma, and chronic pain has been confirmed, and new areas of benefit have also begun to surface. Studies now link cannabis-based drugs to relief from migraines, fibromyalgia, and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. Additionally, recent studies suggest that cannabis could help treat alcohol abuse, asthma, depression, skin tumors, sickle-cell disease, colorectal cancer, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, glioma, hepatitis C, Huntington’s disease, atherosclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, collagen-induced arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, sleep apnea, anorexia, pruritus, posttraumatic stress disorder, leukemia, psoriasis, Tourette syndrome, and more. Throughout these studies, marijuana’s calming, relaxing, and sedating qualities were found to help patients adhere to a strict medication regimen, enhance appetite, improve mood, and inhibit excitability. Cannabis’s anti-inflammatory effect also helps inhibit cancer cell invasion and induces cancerous cell death. Treatment with medical marijuana can also minimize stressors or triggers and manage pain without the adverse side effects of other drugs and treatment options.
Patients can treat with medical marijuana through several methods, such as smoking dried plant buds, eating extracts, swallowing capsules, drinking, vaporizing, or smoking. Although smoking dried plant buds is the fastest way to deliver THC to the bloodstream, the smoke can be harmful, containing carcinogens similar to those in tobacco cigarettes. The American Society of Addiction Medicine claims that marijuana smoke deposits up to four times the amount of tar in human lungs as tobacco cigarettes. Most medical reports that advise against medical marijuana treatment emphasize the dangers of smoking the plant. However, there is debate among researchers as to whether marijuana smokers face the same grave risks of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (“COPD”) as tobacco smokers. There is some consensus that combining marijuana and tobacco smoking drastically increases one’s risks, while studies conflict about the risks of marijuana smoking alone.
Vaporizing is a safer delivery system of cannabis. Dispensing the drug through a vaporizer releases higher amounts of THC, the active medical ingredient, through a heating device with far fewer dangerous compounds than inhaled when smoking. Edible marijuana is another delivery system safer than smoking, but presents dosage issues because there is no immediate sensation like there is with smoking or vaporizing. Before any method of delivery, scientists recommend baking marijuana in a home oven at 150 degrees for five minutes to kill any harmful bacteria and fungi living on the plant from its cultivation. This does not degrade the quality or quantity of the plant’s THC.
Clinical studies show that smoking cannabis reduces intra-ocular pressure by 24% in glaucoma patients with visual-field changes, making medical marijuana as effective as current prescription treatments. However, the downfall is that smoked cannabis only maintains its effect for about three and a half hours.
Controlled trials tracking the effect of cannabis on multiple sclerosis patients showed potential anti-inflammatory and antispastic benefits, but researchers noted that the drug’s mood improvement effects could have essentially tricked patients into believing their tremors were improving. Similar effects have been reported for those suffering from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
The Scripps Research Institute in California has revealed research that THC prevents brain deposits associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The chemical effectively blocks protein clumping, which causes memory loss and inhibited cognition in Alzheimer’s patients.
Cannabis may also stop the spread of brain and breast cancer, according to studies at the Complutense University of Madrid and the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, respectively. For breast cancer, cannabidol blocks Id-1, a gene that causes cancers cells to aggressively spread away from the original tumor location. For brain cancer, cannabis chemicals were found to increase the death of cancer cells by promoting the process of autophagy, where cells feed upon one another. Amazingly, THC treatment killed cancer cells while leaving healthy cells undisturbed. Thus, medical marijuana could be a less harmful alternative treatment to chemotherapy for certain cancers.
A 2007 study at Columbia University showed that HIV/AIDS patients experienced substantial increases in appetite and food intake with little to no discomfort after inhaling cannabis four times per day. Marijuana has also been linked to pain reduction in HIV/AIDS patients who were unable to manage their pain with other medications and treatments, according to the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. In fact, cannabis is suggested to be the only effective drug to manage pain and pain perception in HIV/AIDS patients. Plus, marijuana has the added benefits of mood and sleep improvement. THC injections may also be a safe and effective alternative method to eliminate opiate dependence. A French research team, after removing rats from their mother at birth and providing the rats with morphine and heroin, observed the rat’s extreme dependency on the opiates. However, rats that were injected with THC before exposure to the opiates were less likely to become dependent because THC counteracted addiction and dependency triggers in the brain. Studies with humans show that addicts who couple recovery treatments with cannabis use are more likely to overcome opiod dependence. Interestingly, these studies are similar to results reported in 1889 by Edward Birch that opiate addiction could be treated with cannabis.
Marijuana use has been shown to be safe, even if not treating a medical condition, and even if frequent and long-term. Only collateral harms from smoking harmful compounds in dry bud smoke have some harmful effects. Also, recent studies have disproven that marijuana acts as a “gateway drug” to other, more harmful narcotics and illicit drugs. Studies now also reveal that marijuana use does not kill brain cells or cause sterility in male or female reproductive systems. However, potentially negative effects include marijuana’s interference with other prescription drugs, drowsiness, impairment, and sedation. The drug’s effect on the human immune system and blood pressure is debated and unclear. Marijuana is far less addictive than other illegal drugs and tobacco. Only one fatal dose of marijuana has ever been reported, as opposed to hundreds of thousands of deaths caused annually by prescription medications and harder narcotics. Some countries have even decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana, including Portugal, Mexico, Argentina, and some Australian states.
There is debate surrounding marijuana’s link to mental disorders such as schizophrenia. Although some studies have suggested that cannabis use causes schizophrenia or other psychoses, another reasonable conclusion from the results is that people with certain mental disorders chose to use marijuana at a higher rate than the rest of the population. Also, a recent British study found that instances of schizophrenia and psychoses have dropped in recent years, although cannabis use has not seen such a drop. Because marijuana is known to decrease anxiety and improve mood, scientists believe it could actually help treat mental disorders. The American Medical Association admits that research is minimal in the medical marijuana field, largely because the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, limiting researcher’s ability to legally perform trials and obtain test subjects wary of prosecution for their use.
The American Medical Association, American College of Physicians, and numerous organizations dedicated to the eradication of cancer have publically declared support for further research into the medical benefits of marijuana. The first step toward increasing the volume of medical studies is to urge the federal government to reconsider its classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, which makes it incredibly difficult for researchers to obtain the drug, even for controlled studies. However, some organizations, such as American Society of Addiction Medicine, have publically asked physicians to stop recommending medical marijuana, citing the drug’s Schedule I classification and its high potential for abuse.
In America, marijuana, whether used for medical purposes or not, is illegal under federal law. Specifically, the Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, which is the strictest possible classification. Other Schedule I controlled substances include LSD, ecstasy, and heroin. The Drug Enforcement Administration supports this classification because cannabis has: no currently accepted medical use, a high potential for abuse, and a lack of accepted safety for use. The Federal Food and Drug Administration does not condone the use of smoked marijuana to treat any disease or condition.
These federal laws and agencies are in apparent conflict with eighteen U.S. states that have, to some degree, legalized the medical use of marijuana. Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia permit certain patients to use and possess personal amounts of marijuana without the risk of state prosecution for violation of drug laws. Additionally, in Maryland a state court may consider a defendant’s use of marijuana for medical purposes as a mitigating factor in state prosecution. As of 2008, California’s medical marijuana industry has generated a staggering $2 billion per year and about $100 million in state sales taxes.
In October of 2009, Deputy lawyer General David W. Ogden responded to the explosion of medical marijuana laws by issuing a “Memorandum for Selected United States lawyers” directing federal prosecutors to focus their time and resources on large drug cartels and trafficking, and not individuals using small amounts of marijuana to treat debilitating diseases in compliance with their state’s law. This Memorandum did not change any law; the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana remains wholly illegal under federal law, even if for purportedly medical purposes. The United States Supreme Court held in both Gonzales v. Raich and United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Coop that the federal government could regulate marijuana and prosecute its use for any purpose, even if state laws legalize the drug for medical treatment. However, the United States Department of Health and Human Services holds the patent to cannabinoids for medical research. The patent states that cannabinoids have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and other medically beneficial effects. Some commentators and bloggers have asserted that this patent reveals the federal government’s hypocrisy by completely outlawing medical marijuana and asserting it has no medical benefits on the one hand, while holding a patent for its medical use on the other.
In 2000, Colorado voters approved Amendment 20 to the Colorado Constitution, now found in Article 18, section 14. The Amendment provides primary care-givers and qualifying patients an affirmative defense to state prosecution if the patient has been diagnosed with a debilitating condition, was advised by his doctor to treat his condition with medical marijuana, and both the care-giver and patient only possessed a limited amount of marijuana permitted by the Amendment. Also, in another section, the Amendment permits patients to lawfully use and possess no more than two ounces of a usable form of marijuana, and no more than six marijuana plants, with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants. Colorado maintains a confidential registry of individuals who have both applied to be, and who are licensed medical marijuana patients. However, the Amendment forbids patients from using marijuana in a way that endangers the health of the public or in public view.