Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Clearing the air: Medical marijuana workshop for employers

Rick Coates - February 21st, 2011
Clearing the Air: Medical Marijuana Workshop For Employers
By Rick Coates
While the State of Michigan continues to be in somewhat of a “cloud of
smoke” over the Medical Marijuana Act of 2008, many employers have asked
where they stand legally on the issue with their employees who might have
medical marijuana cards. The Northwest Michigan Council of Governments
hopes to shed some light for employers this Wednesday, February 23, with a
workshop, “Medical Marijuana - The Law and How it Impacts Your Business &
Employees” from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City.
The panelists include Thomas S. Gilbert, an attorney and former judge who
is with Touchstone Intervention & Prevention Specialists in TC; Dr. Darryl
Lesoski, medical director of the Occupational Health & Medicine Department
at Munson Healthcare; and Grand Rapids attorney Donald Lawless, who
specializes in employment and labor law.
Each presenter will speak on their area of expertise followed by a round
table discussion.
“Each of us will come in armed with the latest information in our
respective areas,” said Dr. Lesoski. “The challenge is that from an
employer’s perspective in Michigan the law has not been tested yet in the
courts. So without case law to address specifics it is challenging.”
But Dr. Lesoski says this workshop will help educate and prepare employers
to develop policies.
“Certainly, I encourage employers to have a clear-cut substance use policy
that is enforced consistently,” said Dr. Lesoski. “Often employers think
about policies for illegal drugs and don’t take into consideration
prescription drug use and alcohol use. These policies are important.”

Tom Gilbert launched his TouchStone Professional Services five years ago
to help those who need intervention from drug and alcohol dependency.
Gilbert a former judge in the area was nicknamed the “pot smoking judge”
after he was spotted smoking pot at a Rolling Stones concert in 2002. He
sought rehabilitation at the encouragement of his wife and friends and
after not seeking re-election chose to help others. Gilbert will bring a
variety of perspectives to the panel discussion.
“We have an excellent attorney joining us already and Dr. Lesoski is
covering the medical end of it. My focus will be to identify abuse and to
discuss how to incorporate an effective intervention in the workplace if
necessary,” said Gilbert. “The people of Michigan have spoken and use of
marijuana for medical purposes is allowed, and as an attorney I would
defend that right. But as a person who has the disease of addiction I know
the other end of the spectrum.
“With alcohol, 90% of the adult population is able to drink responsibly
and I am part of that other 10% and I am sure their is a similar number
with marijuana,” Gilbert adds. So now we are issuing medical marijuana
cards to a certain percentage of the population that is addicted. So my
presentation will be focused on how employers may assist these employees.”
For Gilbert and Lesoski the ambiguity of the law has both employers and
employees confused.
“Certainly, using marijuana on the federal front is illegal and several
jobs will not allow for the use of it even if you have a medical marijuana
card, such as a person with a CDL, a school or public transportation
driver,” said Lesoski. “The way I read the Michigan act is that employers
are not required to accommodate employees who use medical marijuana. So if
your employer has a strict drug use policy that includes marijuana use,
they do not have to make an exception for you if you have a card.”

Interest in the workshop has went beyond the organizers’ expectations. The
Economic Training Council of the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments
has been spearheading the one-day workshop.
“We are now getting calls asking us if we can take this on the road to
other parts of the country. Not sure if that is feasible, but we
anticipate offering this again in the region,” said Sharon Gordon of the
Dr. Lesoski will take workshop attendees through the testing process and
how his department interprets test results. He will also give those in
attendance signs to look for to determine if an employee is high or
“The challenge an employer is going to have is if they have a medical
marijuana acceptance policy and also have a drug testing policy,” said
Lesoski. “Since marijuana effects each individual differently it might be
difficult from a testing perspective to determine if a person is high
while working or used medical marijuana the night before.”
Dr. Lesoski did address the issue that had been floating around the
medical marijuana community that Munson had issued an order that its
doctors could not make medical marijuana referrals.
“I have never seen such a document and no one has told me that at Munson,”
he said. “In talking to several of my colleagues in the medical
profession, there are differing views. The challenge is that medical
marijuana has only been around for 20 years. What I mean by that is in the
medical community we have only been studying the medical aspects of it for
a short time. We still do not know all the potential positive or negative
aspects of it.”
As for his perspective, Dr. Lesoski has mixed opinions.
“My biggest problem is we are handing out these medical marijuana cards
like they are candy,” said Dr. Lesoski. “I am not arguing the fact that in
some cases where every possible form of treatment has been tried that some
people find there only relief for pain is with medical marijuana. But
there are several health risks that go along using marijuana. Certainly
some jobs in the workplace a person would not be able to perform if their
mind is altered from drugs or alcohol.”

For info on the Medical Marijuana Workshop call 800-442-1074, or visit
nwm.org/ETC.asp. Registration is available online and is $75 per person.
This workshop is approved for 4 HRCI credits, includes continental
breakfast and lunch, and is recommended by area chambers of commerce.

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