Friday, April 16, 2010

A Simple Solution for Oregon Medical Marijuana Users

If you are a medical marijuana user in Oregon, you’ve probably already heard about the recent Supreme Court decision. I’m talking about the ruling in the case of Emerald Steel Fabricators Inc. v. Bureau of Labor and Industries of the state of Oregon. In their infinite wisdom, the Oregon Supreme Court decided that the state’s medical marijuana law does not protect an individual from being fired for failing a drug test. It’s the same old story, federal law trumps state law. In effect, this ruling could potentially scuttle Oregon’s medical marijuana program. Only the unemployed, and those not receiving federal aid or living in federal housing, will be able to take their medicine without fear of reprisal. Could be devastating to a lot of seriously ill people.

But it doesn’t have to be. The solution is simple, and unfortunately I can’t take credit for it. I’m just posting here in hopes more people will be made aware of it. You see, while the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, the FDA has approved Marinol. In case you don’t know, Marinol is synthetic THC (one of the active ingredients in marijuana) that can be legally prescribed by doctors in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Even better, Marinol is classified as a Schedule 3 controlled substance. (If anyone can explain that discrepancy, I’m all ears.) What this means is that employers in Oregon can fire you for taking doctor-recommended marijuana, but they cannot fire you for taking doctor-prescribed Marinol. So the solution is really quite simple: when your doctor gives you a recommendation for medical marijuana, also ask for a prescription for Marinol. No need to ever fill that prescription. Just keep it around in case you ever fail a drug test. Since drug tests can’t distinguish between synthetic and natural THC, just show them your prescription and you will be fine. Problem solved. No one need ever be fired for taking their medicine in Oregon again.

Of course then it will be up to the feds to sort things out. If drug tests can’t distinguish between a prescribed and a recommended drug, then maybe the classification system needs to be reconsidered. Or maybe they need better drug tests. But who really cares. As long as the federal government wants to play these games, people will always find loopholes. Not that they are so hard to find. When you have the same drug classified under two different schedules, there’s bound to be some confusion. But that’s their problem. And that problem is in turn a solution for medical marijuana users in Oregon and across the country. I have a feeling that the number of Marinol prescriptions being written is going to go way up in the near future. Too bad for the pharmaceutical companies the vast majority of those will go unfilled.

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