Tag Archives: license

Indiana lawmakers pass license to discriminate bill

The Indiana House of Representatives, with a vote of 63-31, passed a bill to allow private businesses, individuals and organizations to discriminate against anyone on religious grounds.

“What these politicians are peddling as ‘religious liberty’ is not real religious liberty,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBT Task Force. “This law is an outright recipe for discrimination and persecution.”

The measure passed the House on March 23, despite objections from a coalition of groups that included civil rights, business, faith-based and community-focused organizations.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence has said he would sign the right-wing bill, which has passed the senate, into law.

“It is a restraint on what government can do,” Pence said last week, according to the AP. “It essentially gives courts guidance going forward.”

In a statement released on March 23, Lambda Legal civil rights group said, “We are extremely disappointed that Indiana’s House, despite knowing the vast implications for all Hoosiers, voted to facilitate religious discrimination in many areas of life for Indiana’s families, workers and others. Once the governor signs this bill into law, women, racial minorities, religious minorities, people living with HIV and many others will be much more vulnerable to the whims of any individual or business owner who refuses services to particular groups of people based on religious objections to who those people are.”

Texas issues 1st marriage license to same-sex couple

Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant became the first same-sex couple to successfully obtain a marriage license in Texas.

The wedding took place in Travis County, Texas, after state Judge David Wahlberg issued an order requiring the local clerk to issue a license to Bryant and Goodfriend, who is sick. The order said, “Plaintiffs have no adequate remedy at law for the damage and the continuing harm that this course of action is causing them and will continue to cause them, and thus the only remedy available to Plaintiffs is the issuance of a temporary restraining order to prevent that ongoing unconstitutional denial of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights.” 

The order follows another decision from probate Judge Guy Herman, who on Feb. 18 recognized the marriage of Sonemaly Phrasavath to her late wife Stella Powell.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit continues to deliberate in DeLeon v. Perry, a federal case challenging Texas’s ban on marriage equality.

An appeals court panel heard oral arguments in the case last month.

On Feb. 19, HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow said in a news release, “There’s no good reason why every loving couple in Texas shouldn’t have access to the same opportunity to marry, and the time is ripe for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to issue its ruling. All couples in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, states covered by the 5th Circuit, should have access to marriage licenses as soon as possible. In light of recent events, we firmly believe that the Texas courts should not issue a stay in the case at hand.”

Gay couple who protested for marriage license fined a penny

A gay couple arrested after refusing to leave a Kentucky county clerk’s office where they had been refused a marriage license have been found guilty of trespassing and fined one cent.

The Rev. Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard and Dominique James were arrested in January after refusing to leave at closing time.

The Rev. Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard and Dominique James were arrested in January after refusing to leave at closing time.

Blanchard told The Courier-Journal after the verdict was returned it seemed the jury understood their stance and called it “a big victory.”

Assistant Jefferson County Attorney Prosecutor Matthew Welch said evidence was overwhelming that the pair trespassed. But he left it to the jury to decide the amount of the fine.

The newspaper reported that the men faced a maximum fine of $250 for the charge of third-degree trespassing.

Newly married lesbian couple seeks pot license in Washington

Kim Ridgway and her wife, Kimberly Bliss, can well envision the shop they plan to open – where they’ll put the accessories, the baked goods and the shelves stacked with their valuable product: jars of high-quality marijuana.

Like many so-called “potrepreneurs” throughout Washington and Colorado, they’re scrambling to get ready for the new world of regulated, taxed marijuana sales to adults over 21 – even though the states haven’t even figured out how they are going to grant licenses.

Farmers and orchardists are studying how to grow marijuana. Some medical pot dispensaries are preparing to switch to recreational sales. Labs that test the plant’s potency are trying to figure out how to meet standards the states might develop.

It’s a lot of work for something that might never happen.

“We don’t want to devote all our time and finances to building a business, only to have the feds rip it out from under us,” Bliss said. “There’s a huge financial risk, and a huge personal risk. We could end up in federal prison.”

While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, both states legalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana last November and are setting up rules to govern state-licensed growers, processors and retailers.

Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Justice Department is in the final stages of deciding whether to sue to block the measures. State laws can be trumped if they “frustrate the purpose” of federal law.

A group of former Drug Enforcement Administration heads and the United Nations drug control group this week renewed calls for the administration to sue, and some legal scholars say it’s hard to see how the schemes would survive a court challenge.

Nevertheless, tempted by dreams of changing people’s perception of pot and making some decent money, Bliss and Ridgway are meeting with lawyers, recruiting investors, sketching store plans and scoping out locations – all in the hopes of a grand opening on their first wedding anniversary.

After 28 years together, they got married in December on the first day the state’s new gay marriage law allowed it. They say they like the idea of becoming pioneers in the cannabis industry, too.

Hilary Bricken, a Seattle lawyer advising those interested in the marijuana industry, said she’s heard from people in many walks of life. Among them are a consulting firm that wants to help state-licensed growers make their operations environmentally friendly; a plant nursery that figures it already has the greenhouses; and a struggling chocolatier who sees financial salvation in “pot chocolate.”

“It’s super-exciting, and it’s a testament to the power of industry,” she said. “It’s a solution for many people that are hurting economically right now, and for better or worse, they’re brave.

“These are the people who are going to push the buck to change the national conversation,” Bricken said.

Her law firm, Harris and Moure, has been advising clients to write business plans that cover everything from where they’re getting their seed money and insurance to their security plans and protocols describing how they’ll treat their employees or shareholders.

Kristi Kelly, owner of the Good Meds dispensary chain in the Denver area, is shopping for real estate and lining up investors for a potentially big expansion to the recreational market while she awaits the DOJ’s decision.

She had some words of caution for green-eyed entrepreneurs looking to cash in on pot, though.

“Whatever you think it’s going to cost, it’s probably going to be 10 times that,” Kelly said.

Since 2009, when Colorado’s medical pot industry was booming, Kelly has seen many growers and sellers go bust. The industry has declined by at least a third since then, thanks in part to federal crackdowns and natural market adjustment.

Josh Chudnofsky, a 32-year-old who grows medical marijuana for patients in Snohomish, northeast of Seattle, wants to position himself to obtain a grower’s license, but isn’t sure how.

“Do I try to get an agricultural license and try to transfer it to a pot license? Do I get a small-business license?” he asked. “I’ve been calling around but nobody has any answers.”

In the meantime, he’s been making tentative plans to expand his 30-plant grow operation. He has lined up investors, checked on industrial and commercial spaces he could rent and talked about buying his own building. He has no criminal record, he noted, and he doesn’t want one. If he doesn’t get a license, he won’t do it.

Ridgway, 50, and Bliss, 52, don’t have much experience in the pot business, but Ridgway is an authorized patient and said she’s been around dispensaries enough to know how they work. She uses marijuana to treat arthritis and severe anxiety; Bliss uses it occasionally to relax after work.

They have another thing going for them, they said: They previously worked at a wholesale meat company run by Ridgway’s family, and know what it’s like to have nitpicking inspections and regulations.

Ridgway hasn’t worked since the company closed in 2010, and Bliss works as a part-time bookkeeper for a restaurant. Opening a marijuana store would give them earning potential they don’t otherwise have as under- or unemployed women in their 50s, they said.

But their primary goal is to help change attitudes by helping to teach people how useful cannabis can be in its medical, recreational and industrial uses. Bliss said it will not only increase state tax revenue but benefit the entire community.

Smiling, she added: “I’m not going to be used to having that kind of money.”

Dermatologist to Michael Jackson sues California medical board

A dermatologist whose clients included Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor is suing the state of California in a dispute over his license to practice.

Dr. Arnold Klein is suing California Attorney General Kamala Harris, the state medical board and the state department of community affairs over a state order that he undergo mental and physical examinations. Klein claims that he has asked the reason for the examinations but has been denied any details.

Klein, according to a Courthouse News Service report on the legal complaint, is a “pioneer in the field of dermatology,” founder of the Elizabeth Taylor HIV Clinic at UCLA and AmFAR and a director at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. In the earliest days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Klein was among the first to diagnose a case of Kaposi’s sarcoma.

The Los Angeles Times reported in January that Klein was bankrupt, a situation he blamed on embezzling former employees who counter-claimed that the doctor’s downfall was due to his luxurious lifestyle and sexual pursuits.

At about the same time that Klein financial troubles were coming to light, the defense for Dr. Conrad Murray, who would be convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death, was seeking to call Klein to testify at Murray’s trial. The defense wanted to present evidence that Klein gave Jackson large doses of Demerol and turned the megastar into an addict. The judge barred Klein’s testimony as irrelevant and potentially confusing to a jury.

But Klein – who has claimed that Jackson had a gay affair with an assistant in the doctor’s practice – remained under scrutiny with the state medical board, which opened an investigation to determine whether the doctor’s license should be suspended.

Klein, in his suit, said the medical board apparently is questioning his competency and wants to know whether he suffers a mental or physical illness. But, the doctor said, he’s been denied any explanation.

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