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CannaBiz: Troubles with lawyers and MMJ 

Medical malpractice?

There's a new victim in the push-back against the spread of medical marijuana: lawyers.

As first reported Monday by the Denver Post, capital attorney Ann Toney (anntoneylaw.com) was told by her liability insurance provider, Hanover Insurance Group, that it was not interested in covering her for any future terms, "because of the following risk factors: Area of practice involving medical marijuana."

The Indy spoke with Toney by phone on Monday, and though she was reticent to comment too broadly, she did provide this e-mailed statement: "I had informed [Hanover] that the bulk of my practice (70%) is comprised of defending people charged with Driving under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs. The remaining thirty percent of my business is defending people charged with criminal marijuana offenses and advising clients on the Colorado medical marijuana laws. Thus it saddens me that Hanover [made] such a decision based upon a fairly limited percent of my law practice."

Colorado Springs defense attorney Clifton Black (blackgraham.com), who also frequently represents those from the MMJ industry, was taken aback.

"An attorney's job is to advise somebody of what the law is," he says. "So, in my opinion, Ann Toney is doing exactly what an attorney is supposed to do.

"If somebody comes and asks me what the BAC on alcohol for a DUI is, and I explain that law to them, I'm not telling them to go drink and drive, I'm just telling them what the law is."

Suthers speaks, again

When it comes to government, it often seems that if there are budget problems, medical marijuana's the solution; if there are social problems, MMJ's the problem. Here's another case of the latter.

In response to a study recently released by the Partnership at drugfree.org showing a lower perception among teens of risk associated with marijuana use, as well as increased use of the substance among youths overall, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers issued a statement last week saying "the increased availability and acceptability of marijuana in Colorado has dire implications for future drug-use rates."

The study also notes use of prescription drugs among youths is plateauing, though parents are increasingly abusing the drugs themselves.

Pelosi backs patients

In response to pressure from MMJ advocates at home, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a supportive statement Friday, saying she has "strong concerns about the recent actions by the federal government that threaten the safe access of medicinal marijuana to alleviate the suffering of patients in California."

  • Also: Shifting stats in drug use

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