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If You're A Vet In California, Here's How The New Marijuana Laws May Affect You
Well, it’s official, the sale and use of recreational marijuana is now legal in the Golden State.
With the 2016 passage of Prop. 64, Californians voted to legalize the sale of marijuana to anyone over the age of 21, small-scale personal grow operations, and the possession of up to one ounce of pot. As of 2018, the state’s recreational pot market is now open for business, but for the 1.7 million veterans who call California home, this raises some questions.
Though veterans overwhelmingly support medical marijuana research, the drug remains illegal at the federal level — and considering that the Veterans Health Administration provides medical care to some 9 million veterans, this can place those patients in the middle of the state versus federal debate over pot use.
With an eye toward how to safely, and legally, blaze now that California’s gone green, here’s what you need to know:
Where and when can I buy legal weed?
While recreational pot is legal across the Golden State, would-be pot purveyors can’t set up shop just anywhere, as a number of cities — such as Bakersfield, Fresno, and Riverside — have banned the sale of recreational cannabis, according to USA Today. However, you can still travel out of town to buy your weed, or grow up to six plants at home for personal use.
Roughly 90 retailers have received licenses so far to begin selling recreational cannabis — though not all of them will start right away, due to hang-ups getting city ordinances passed in time, USA Today reports. Currently, the majority of licensed weed retailers are concentrated in San Diego, Santa Cruz, the larger San Francisco Bay Area, and Palm Springs.
Additionally, recreational cannabis cannot be sold between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. — which may put a damper on those late-night plans of a post-bar bong hit.
How much pot can I buy?
Depends, how much cash do you have in your bank account? That’s the major limit — well, that and how much you can walk around with: One ounce of marijuana, or 8 grams of cannabis concentrates.
But the cost is a big prohibitor, considering that state and city sales taxes are expected to raise the price of cannabis by more than one third, the Los Angeles Times reports. (While those who buy from medical cannabis dispensaries will get a break on sales taxes, they can still expect to see a price increase by as much as 25% in some cities.)
Okay, but what about my guns?
While weed may be legal in California, cannabis remains a Schedule 1 substance under federal law — “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. So, when it comes to owning a firearm, “California’s recreational market makes absolutely no difference on the restrictions on gun ownership,” David Mangone, a legislative analyst with Americans for Safe Access, told Task & Purpose in an email. “When there is a federally licensed firearms sale (which includes sales at gun shows) a dealer can’t sell to anyone using a controlled substance.”
This dates back to a 2016 ruling from the California-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court, which upheld that a Nevada gun store owner had the right to prohibit a medical cannabis card-holder from buying a firearm, according to LA Weekly. Because of cannabis’ classification as Schedule 1, users are federally prohibited from purchasing a firearm.
“Language appearing on [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] forms indicates ‘the use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside,’” Mangone told T&P.;
In short, if you’re looking to buy a new firearm and there’s a box on a federal form that reads “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana?" and you check, “yes,” then you won’t be able to purchase that gun.
Will smoking pot recreationally cause problems at the VA?
On Dec. 8, the Department of Veterans Affairs passed new guidance designed to encourage an open and honest discussion between doctors and patients who use state-legal medical cannabis.
The new policy still bars physicians with the Veterans Health Administration — the VA’s medical arm — from recommending or prescribing cannabis, but it gives doctors the all-clear to take a veteran’s pot use into account when it comes to mapping out a treatment plan. (Task & Purpose previously detailed the new policy, as well as the series of loopholes and grey areas it shored up.)
“By encouraging doctors to bring it up in discussions both from a medical and recreational standpoint it will at the very least give patients an opportunity to discuss their use without some of the existing apprehension,” Mangone said.
One major aspect of this policy is that care providers can take a patient's weed use into account when it comes to a narcotics agreement — a contract which mandates that a patient submit to a urinalysis in order to receive a narcotics prescription. Under the new policy — VHA Directive 1315 — veterans and their care providers can account for their pot use, meaning, on a case-by-case basis, doctors and patients can reach an agreement so that screening positive for medical pot won’t result in having their other prescriptions cut off or curtailed.
However VHA Directive 1315 only applies to patients in state-run medical marijuana programs, and at this point, it's unclear how recreational pot use will figure in to those conversations with care providers — and whether recreational smokers will be granted the same flexibility, say in the case of a patient self-medicating with recreational weed to help with sleep or pain. California was also the first of 29 states, not including the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico, to legalize medical cannabis.
“Now, the guidance specifically states that VHA benefits won’t be denied for an individual’s participation in a state medical cannabis program but remains silent about recreational use,” Mangone told Task & Purpose. “Currently, I think you’re going to see recreational users continue to be denied benefits particularly for anyone in narcotic agreements which obviously creates issues for vets.”
If you’re a veteran in California and have talked to your VA doctor about using marijuana recreationally, I’d love to hear about it. Email me at James@taskandpurpose.com.
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.
Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.
Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.
Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.
Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."
Minnesota Democratic Party staffer under fire for calling USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul a 'murder boat'
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."
"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.
William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
'We are there to deter aggression' — Pompeo addressed CENTCOM on Iran mere moments before Shanahan announced his departure
TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.
Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.
Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."
President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."
Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.