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Arizona passes medical-marijuana initiative “upon further review”

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Mark A. de Bernardo
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      Mark A. de Bernardo

      Mark A. de Bernardo is a Partner in the Washington, DC Region Office of Jackson Lewis, a preeminent labor and employment law firm with more than 650 employment lawyers in 46 offices.  He is a nationally recognized expert on workplace drug-testing and substance-abuse-prevention issues, and concentrates his practice in these areas.  He also represents employers on employment litigation and counseling, senior executive personnel actions, labor-management relations, legislative and regulatory issues, alternative dispute resolution, and management of employment-related class actions.
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      Mr. de Bernardo has testified more than 40 times before Congress and various federal and state regulatory agencies and legislative committees on employment and labor law issues.  He has submitted 11 amici curiae briefs to the United States Supreme Court, and nearly 30 amici briefs overall to various courts on behalf of trade associations, business coalitions, and corporate clients.  He has provided legal representation to more than 30 Fortune 200 corporations; five federal executive branch agencies; the states of Kansas, Louisiana, and California; the governments of Japan, Spain, and the Bahamas; and nearly 20 national trade associations.
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      He was the founder (in 1989), and is the Executive Director of the Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace, a national coalition dedicated to promoting and preserving the rights of employers and employees in effective substance-abuse-prevention programs, and is the founder (in 1995), and served as the President of the Foundation for Drug Education and Awareness.
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      Mr. de Bernardo is the author of four state drug-testing laws, and the only workplace drug-testing law endorsed by the President’s Commission on Model State Drug Laws.  Among the many clients he has represented on drug-testing issues are the National Basketball Association, the U.S. House of Representatives, and more than 20 <em>Fortune 200</em> corporations.
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      Mr. de Bernardo is the Practice Leader for the Jackson Lewis Practice Group on Drug Testing and Substance-Abuse Prevention, which includes nearly 15 lawyers in the Firm.
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      On the substance-abuse-prevention issue, Jackson Lewis drafts, reviews, and revises policies and attendant employer documents (including DOT-compliant policies); provides manager and supervisor training; designs and conducts employee education and awareness programs; represents employers in arbitration; litigates in defense of challenges to corporate policies and actions; negotiates collective bargaining agreement provisions; performs compliance audits; and advises employers on state and federal statutory and regulatory requirements.
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      He is the author or co-author of 18 books on employment and labor law topics, primarily on drug testing and substance-abuse prevention in the workplace, including the two-volume, 1220-page <em>Guide to State and Federal Drug-Testing Laws</em>, now in its 15th Edition.
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      He is a frequent speaker at conferences, and has appeared on the <em>Today Show</em>, <em>Good Morning America, Crossfire, Larry King Live</em>, and the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news.  Mr. de Bernardo has been quoted in such publications as <em>Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, </em>and<em> The Washington Post</em>.
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      Mark is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell, and is listed among the best labor lawyers in Virginia by Chambers USA.
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      Mr. de Bernardo is active in a number of professional and community organizations.  He has served as Special Counsel for Domestic Policy and Director of Labor Law for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  He was appointed, and twice reappointed, by the Japanese government as the American management representative to the Japan Institute of Labour.  He is the founder (in 1998), and serves as Executive Director and President of the Council for Employment Law Equity.  He also has contributed a chapter to several ABA publications, and has been a guest lecturer at the U.S. Army War College, NYU, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, George Washington, American, and the University of Kansas.
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      Mark’s community activities include serving on the Board of Directors of the Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales.  He has been a member of the Gonzaga College High School Fathers’ Club, and has served on The Hunger Project’s Global Investment Committee, and on the executive committee of the Lido Civic and Community Club.
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      Mr. de Bernardo is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, and has been active in the American Bar Association.
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      Mr. de Bernardo was awarded a B.A. <em>cum laude </em>from Marquette University in 1976, and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1979.
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      He, his wife Jennifer, and their sons Joseph, Matthew, and Jonathan reside in Vienna, Virginia.

To borrow a football term from the NFL, “upon further review,” Proposition 203 is becoming law — and a bad one at that.

On Election Day, November 2, Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act ballot initiative, Proposition 203, was defeated by 7,200 votes. Eleven days later, as votes were still being counted, Proposition 203 was still losing — by 1,500 votes. On the 12th day after the election, late-counted votes from Maricopa County (Phoenix) pushed Proposition 203 to a new “high.” And on the 13th day, they rested… and perhaps toked up.

Proposition 203, the fourth attempt by legalization advocates to pass an enforceable “medical-marijuana” legalization in Arizona, finally won — after four votes over 14 years,  plus another 12 days of counting and recounting.

The final tally:

FOR – 841,346 (50.13%)

AGAINST – 837,005 (49.87%)

Of 1,678,351 votes cast, the margin of victory was 4,341.

It took twelve days to count the ballots? They must have used an abacus. In Marijuana-toke-us (Maricopa) County, apparently they counted and they counted… until they got the result they wanted.

Advocates of Proposition 203 pushed hard for “compassion” for terminally ill cancer and HIV patients.

However, the Proposition 203 advocacy funding came largely from ubër-liberal billionaire George Soros and his pro-legalization pet organizations — long-time, broad-based marijuana legalization supporters. The real issue is not providing for terminally ill cancer patients, it is accommodating those who grow, sell, and use marijuana for “recreational” purposes.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk underscored this point in an editorial in the September 29, 2010 Prescott News:

I have done the research… consider these statistics from states who have adopted laws to “decriminalize marijuana for terminally ill patients”:  97-98% of medical marijuana cardholders are aged 17-to-35 and suffer from “chronic pain,” while only 2-3% of cardholders suffer from cancer, glaucoma, HIV and other debilitating illnesses.  Under Proposition 203, a “cardholder” is entitled to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks amounting to 140 marijuana joints (10 joints per day).  These large amounts of unmonitored and unregulated marijuana are grown, harvested, and consumed in the community” (emphasis added).

Forget, for the moment, what the medical community widely tells us about there being ample — and safer — alternatives to marijuana for medical relief for these 2-3% who are actually ill. Instead, consider ten marijuana joints a day for 14 straight days… and then a repeat of this cycle over and over. All that for a “debilitating injury”? Sounds pretty debilitating unto itself to me.

Proposition 203 was opposed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R), and U.S. Senators John McCain (R) and Jon Kyl (R), as well as the Arizona Cardinals football team, most major newspapers in the state, law enforcement, the employer community, and many prominent religious leaders.

In fact, Governor Brewer said, “Almost all marijuana recommendations come from a few doctors [who] for, say, $150, prescribe pot to nearly everyone… compassion will quickly turn to capitalism.”

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, Proposition 203 would allow:

A “qualifying patient” who has a “debilitating medical condition” to obtain an “allowable amount of marijuana” from a “nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary” and to use the marijuana to treat or alleviate the debilitating medical condition or symptoms associated with the condition.

Once a “qualifying patient” submits a doctor’s prescription to the Arizona Department of Health Services and receives a medical-marijuana card, the cardholder can obtain up to 2.5 ounces per 14-day period, or if he or she lives more than 25 miles from a dispensary, the holder (or his or her “caregiver”) can grow their own — up to 12 marijuana plants each.

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  • TheBestComment

    To summarize, this guy has 14 arguments why “the law is a lie.”
    1. It took too long to count all the votes and some of them were from a county with a funny name. We should have just stopped while opponents were still winning.
    2. “Advocates of Proposition 203 pushed hard for ‘compassion’ for terminally ill cancer and HIV patients.” And we all know that “compassion” is bad so long as it is in scare quotes.
    3. Law was supported by “ubër-liberal billionaire George Soros” and allows marijuana to be sold in a capitalist endeavor. Successful, compassionate, liberal, capitalist swine!
    4. There are “safer” cancer drugs. Like chemo therapy and radiation? In reality, more people have fatally overdosed on drinking water than on marijuana.
    5. The new law allows people to get marijuana. He has a point. How did voters ever overlook that loophole?
    6. Law does not allow schools to permanently expel students who use medical marijuana under guidance of parents and physicians. How dare uppity stoners learn stuff?
    7. Law brings into doubt whether the United States is still considered an industrial nation. Huh?
    8. Law unjustly removes inalienable right to fire someone for being a marijuana user. That right given by God in the Magna Carta.
    9. Author can remember people celebrating California’s medical marijuana law in 1996. Then pot smoking caused the sky to fall on California and knock it into the ocean.
    10. Law places absurd burden on employers to show that employee was actually impaired while working before marijuana use can be cause for termination. Dirty plaintiff lawyer consipiracy.
    11. Author has seen people smoking pot who, in his expert medical opinion, did not “look terminally ill.” In fact, none of them were nearly as tall as Magic Johnson.
    12. Prohibition on expelling children and firing employees contradicts purported “compassion” aim of law. Tough love is real compassion. Believe it or I’ll spank you with my bible.
    13. Medical marijuana causes litigation. Unlike the drug war which has shaped our justice system into a well oiled machine.
    14. “Marijuana is highly addictive.” This was proven by scientific studies as documented in Reefer Madness.

  • flips

    Mr. de Bernardo prefers the “good old days” when cancer patients were forced to get their medicine from drug dealers on a street corner, rather than from a licensed shop operating under state permits.

    • Supernatural Witness

      Since we are usually adversaries, let me take this opportunity to give you a wink and a nod as we agree on this issue ;o)

  • samac

    The only lies are in the article.

    Read this authors bio- he is a DC lobbyist for the drug war- ginning up business for his law firm by selling fear and bs.

    He’s been peddling the same self-serving rubbish for 25 years, still lying now. But now many fewer people, not even a majority now believe it.

    This author who has managed to get nicely rich as a drug warrior. He has helped gin up the need for a whole drug testing apparatus and counsels employers how they need to comply or they will get sued.

    The author has contributed to squandering hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on a false war, made American business less competitive by requiring tens of billions in useless private sector drug testing requirements. He’s ruined countless lives, sending thousands to jail for nothing less than violating his prohibitionist morality.

    And then he calls someone who smokes pot a criminal.

  • Sidez

    This article borders on the sheer ridiculous naivite` of “Reefer Madness”.

    Honestly, if you’re worried about kids getting their hands on marijuana, then you should be FOR making it legal, because, right now your kids can score a joint WAY easier than they can get their hands on a beer. Make it legal and it can be regulated.

    It is simply illogical to worry that more people will smoke if medical marijuana laws are passed. Anyone that wants to smoke it, CAN smoke it right now.

  • Supernatural Witness

    Why do citizens allow the govt to tell them what medicine they can use what they can eat drink or smoke? There was never a drug problem in history until the US invented drug laws, FDA, DEA, and ATF. Suddenly, citizens have been convinced that drug use should be controlled by doctors and govt agents. Virtually the entire prison, jail, court, police resources are spent on drug users. The cost is enough to pay for Obamacare. Of course, the real cost is families and businesses destroyed by govt oppression. Is smoking dope so bad that it is worse than seizing a man’s house and cars out from under his family and then tossing him into prison? Is that really better for that man than smoking that joint? REALLY, REALLY?

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