a novel about medicine and morality

Uninformed or Educated? Naive or Aware?

uneducated?

 

Many of us are working at our jobs, or busy with our families, and aren’t aware of the complexity of legalizing medical marijuana and the consequences.

I didn’t even know my state had passed a law legalizing medical marijuana!

And yet I found myself imbedded in the marijuana industry as a security consultant.

I soon realized I was in the middle of a timely subject.

But I thought, how complicated could this controversy be?

My education from hands on experiences and detailed resulted in me developing a detailed opinion about the debate.

The unfortunate thing about this debate is that it’s a debate of complete opposites; very few advocates of either side seem to want to find a middle ground.

In addition, the two sides really don’t seem to like each other.

I learned that based on overwhelming anecdotal evidence and testimonials, there can be absolutely no doubt that medical marijuana can be of great help as a medicine to counteract the effects of certain diseases if not the diseases themselves.  Not uncommon diseases either — but diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, and PTSD.  To deny that treatment option in some cases, especially when dealing with children, is easily seen as cruel at best.

However, because marijuana is still a federal Schedule 1 drug, there has been no legitimate medical research performed using proper double blind studies to show what strains of marijuana with what relative percentages of CBD and THC and in what doses are effective for the treatment of what diseases at what stages.

So how can the medical establishment as a whole be compelled to prescribe and support such medication, especially when doctors are being sued every day for bogus malpractice?

It’s also hard to blame the federal legislature for not changing the law when law enforcement is telling them what the consequences are for addictive drugs hitting the street in force.

And to add to the complexity of the issue, virtually no pro medical marijuana advocates are not also pro recreational marijuana advocates.  This does not help their position.

In most cases they come across as stoners who just want to do what they want and are using a medical reason to support their position.

The legitimate medical marijuana industry doesn’t help either.

In my experience within the industry it is clear that a large percentage of certified ‘patients’ are in fact recreational users who have found a like-minded doctor.   They don’t even try to hide it.  And, the industry itself does not help the medical establishment by publishing what strains and what cannabinoid percentages are working to help what diseases, perhaps for proprietary reasons.

How can they expect the medical establishment to prescribe something when they won’t even share with each other on what works?

It should be no surprise that a large lobby group against the use of medical marijuana is the pharmaceutical companies.

Some politicians are concerned about the addictive qualities of medical marijuana but say nothing about the recreational use of alcohol or cigarettes, where the negative effects are well documentedQuite hypocritical.

Unfortunately, because of the chaos described here, what should be an industry producing a legitimate medicine is being handled in a broken and largely unsuccessful manner.

Meanwhile, real patients are suffering that could be helped.

How can both sides be put in a room with a locked door until a solution is found!

Passion, distrust, and darn right hatred….over a plant!

And thus my novel-based-on-fact “The Marijuana Project.”  I’d love you to read it and hear your opinion!

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Real Life in “The Marijuana Project?”

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My novel is full of real life stories. The stories in “The Marijuana Project” have elements of truth from my personal experiences.

My experience as a security consultant and having taken on a medical marijuana production facility client is what gave me the inspiration to write the book. It also gave me the knowledge to confidently write the content within.

It was very important that this book be realistic.

All the security and medical marijuana elements in the book are real world ideas and practices.

Even the main characters are based on real people in my life. They are changed in some way to conform to the story, which was a lot of fun to do knowing who the character really is, but the essence is the real person. Using real people was probably what was the most fun in the writing process. And, the main character Sam in my novel is based on me.

I never intended to have a writing career.  In fact, I was a math and science guy.

For whatever reason, I’ve developed this creative side later in years.

I’m not sure I see writing as a full-time profession, but I definitely see it as something I will continue to do.

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It’s Unfortunate…A Debate of Complete Opposites

Debatejudith

The unfortunate thing about the medical marijuana debate is that it’s a debate of complete opposites.

Very few advocates of either side seem to want to find a middle ground.

And to add to the complexity of the issue, the two sides really don’t like each other.

Why is this?

It is somewhat understandable if you look at the positives and negatives of these extreme views as objectively as possible.

The Positives:  For the pro medical marijuana position, it’s easy.  Based on the overwhelming anecdotal evidence and testimonials, there can be absolutely no doubt that medical marijuana can be of great help as a medicine to counteract the effects of certain diseases if not the diseases themselves.  And common diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, and PTSD!  To deny that treatment option in some cases, especially when dealing with children, is easily seen as cruel at best.

On the other hand, marijuana is still a federal Schedule 1 drug.  This means there has been no legitimate medical research performed using proper double blind studies to show what strains of marijuana with what relative percentages of CBD and THC and in what doses is effective for the treatment of what diseases at what stages.

None, no matter what the pro advocates say.

How can the medical establishment as a whole be compelled to prescribe and support such medication, especially when doctors are being sued every day for bogus malpractice?

At the same time, it’s difficult to blame the federal legislature for not changing the law when law enforcement is telling them what the consequences are for other addictive drugs hitting the street in force…The notion that marijuana is a potential gateway drug is even debatable.

Here are some other realities: Virtually no pro medical marijuana advocates are not also pro recreational marijuana advocates.  This does not help their position.  So they may come across as stoners who just want to do what they want and are using a medical reason to support their position.

And the legitimate medical marijuana industry doesn’t help either:  it’s clear that a large percentage of certified ‘patients’ are in fact recreational users who have found a like-minded doctor.   They don’t even try to hide it.

 

(image courtesy cannabisdigest.ca)

 


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Marijuana: Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

One day there I was, a self-employed security consultant sitting in his basement office working on who knows what when the phone rang.  A potential client asked me if I wanted to discuss working with him developing the security program for a new medical marijuana production facility in my state.  I didn’t even know my state had passed a law legalizing medical marijuana.  After verifying this was the case and debating whether or not this was the kind of client I wanted, I found myself imbedded in the medical marijuana industry.  This was not something I ever aspired to and I had no idea what it would lead into.

medical marijuana

Time to learn about the medical marijuana debate

After a short time while I was developing an appropriate security program for the facility, I began to realize that the medical marijuana debate was a more controversial one that I had previously known.  Perhaps I just didn’t pay attention before then, but I began to read and see more about the issue and the debate than before.  I certainly was in the middle of a timely subject matter.  Separately, many people over the years have told me that they found my work as a security consultant fascinating.  It occurred to me that the combination of the two would make an interesting story.  That began the adventure of my writing the fiction based on fact novel The Marijuana Project.  My goal became to write a novel entailing a fun suspense story that included security elements and the ethical dilemma surrounding the medical marijuana debate.

When I started I knew I had the security knowledge I needed and also believed that I understood enough about the medical marijuana debate to make it work.  After all, how complicated could it be?  I was wrong.  Most of the book was written while the medical marijuana production facility was my client, and my experiences there more and more over time made it clear to me that I knew very little.  My education about the positives and negatives about the industry from those hands on experiences as well as the detailed independent research I conducted as a result of that realization that I knew little resulted in me developing a detailed opinion about the debate.  My guess is both sides will both like and dislike that opinion.  The conclusions I came to are surprising to say the least.

The unfortunate thing about this debate is that it’s a debate of complete opposites; very few advocates of either side seem to want to find a middle ground.  In addition, the two sides really don’t seem to like each other.  It’s somewhat understandable if you as objectively as possible look at the positives and negatives of these extreme views.  First the positives.  For the pro medical marijuana position, it’s easy.  Based on the overwhelming anecdotal evidence and testimonials, there can be absolutely no doubt that medical marijuana can be of great help as a medicine to counteract the effects of certain diseases if not the diseases themselves.  Not uncommon diseases either but diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, and PTSD.  To deny that treatment option in some cases, especially when dealing with children, is easily seen as cruel at best.

marijuana-

 

However, when looking at the positives of the other side of the argument, the issue becomes less clear.  Because marijuana is still a federal Schedule 1 drug, there has been no legitimate medical research performed using proper double blind studies to show what strains of marijuana with what relative percentages of CBD and THC and in what doses is effective for the treatment of what diseases at what stages.  None, no matter what the pro advocates say.  How can the medical establishment as a whole be compelled to prescribe and support such medication, especially when doctors are being sued every day for bogus malpractice.  It’s also hard to blame the federal legislature for not changing the law when law enforcement is telling them what the consequences are for another addictive drug hitting the street in force, especially with it’s debatable potential as a gateway drug.

The reality is that the advocates of both sides of this debate are their own worst enemy leading to undeniable negatives about both opposing views.  Virtually no pro medical marijuana advocates are not also pro recreational marijuana advocates.  This does not help their position.  In most cases they come across as stoners who just want to do what they want and are using a medical reason to support their position.  Just take ten minutes and look through social media to see the facebook pages, twitter tweets, and websites from these advocates and see what they’re saying and how they’re acting.  The legitimate medical marijuana industry doesn’t help either, in my experience within the industry it is clear that a large percentage of certified ‘patients’ are in fact recreational users who have found a like-minded doctor.   They don’t even try to hide it.   In addition, the industry itself does not help the medical establishment by publishing what strains and what cannabinoid percentages are working to help what diseases, perhaps for proprietary reasons.  How can they expect the medical establishment to prescribe something when they won’t even share with each other on what works?

The other side is no prize either.  Parts of the medical establishment look down on the effectiveness of medical marijuana but have no problem treating patients with debilitating opioids that suck the life out of people.  That hardly seems like doing what is in the best interest of the patient.  It should be no surprise that a large lobby group against its use is the pharmaceutical companies.  Money always talks.  Some politicians are concerned about the addictive qualities of medical marijuana but say nothing about the recreational use of alcohol or cigarettes, where the negative effects are well documented.  Quite hypocritical.

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The sad thing about it all is that I believe most Americans, and by a huge percentage, do not fall on one extreme side or the other but smack in the middle.  I believe most people are in favor of legalization of medical marijuana but not legalized recreational marijuana.  They may not want people to go to jail for simple possession, but they don’t want someone toking next to their child in the park either.  This is certainly not an unreasonable position.  Unfortunately, because of the chaos described here, what should be an industry producing a legitimate medicine is being handled in a broken and largely unsuccessful manner.  Meanwhile, real patients are suffering that could be helped.  What I would like to do is put both sides in a room and lock the door until a solution is found, but that is not reality.

So, is this what I expected to find when I decided to embark on my book adventure?  Lot by a long shot.    The debate doesn’t have the same moral feel as something like the abortion debate; it certainly doesn’t have the same religious overtones.  It has more of a turf war feeling; however to my great surprise it has a similar degree of passion, distrust, and darn right hatred.  Over a plant.  Amazing.  In the end, if for any controversial subject you think you know all there is to know like I did, think again.  Do some research.  Talk to people who have lived it.  Everyone will be better off.   At least my book is actually based on facts.

TMP Stand-Alone Shot --WHITE BACKGROUNDBrian Laslow is the author of The Marijuana Project: a novel about medicine and morality.   He has over 25 years of experience in the security field and holds multiple certifications. Since 2001, he has been an independent security consultant providing risk assessment, system design, project management, and ongoing security management services for a wide range of commercial, industrial, and government clients. The Marijuana Project is his debut novel.


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Fiction Based on Fact: The Marijuana Project

Fact-Fiction

The FDA still lists marijuana in schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the DEA’s most restrictive level. They cite marijuana’s high potential for abuse, that it’s not accepted medical use for treatment, and lacks proper safety measures under medical supervision.

This position is at odds with many groups advocating for its legalization, both for medical purposes and recreational use.

Since 2900 B.C., when the Chinese referred to cannabis as a medicine possessing both yin and yang, the pros and cons of medical marijuana have stymied private citizens as well as state and federal agencies.

With 23 states legalizing at least limited use of medical marijuana, the controversy continues over its status as a gateway drug, posing ethical dilemmas for doctors, government officials and security professionals who must protect it from a variety of internal and external threats.

This is how Brian Laslow entered the picture in 2001 as the owner of a security consulting firm specializing in risk assessment, system design, and project management services for electronic security and operational security management.

Inspired by his findings inside the medical marijuana industry, Brian wrote The Marijuana Project, a fiction-based-on-fact account of his tempestuous conflicted experience while working with the new production facility in the northeast.

” At first, Sam Burnett (the protagonist) realizes that whether he approves of it or not, medical marijuana needs to be protected from ending up in the wrong hands and that taking the job means he can be home much more than before. But even what Sam learns about medical marijuana–that it can help people suffering from a variety of ailments–is at odds with his religious upbringing and his own conservative views about drug use, legal or otherwise.

When his son’s best friend is killed in a car accident caused by a driver under the influence of medical marijuana, Sam reaches his breaking point. He ends up taking matters into his own hands, which leads to a potentially dangerous confrontation with his employers and a group of unknown provocateurs.”

Sam Burnett’s dilemma is indicative of the decision that millions of people in America are currently struggling to make. His story will resonate with all those struggling to make sense of this changing landscape in our society.

The Marijuana Project is fiction-based-on-fact from Laslow’s findings in the medical marijuana industry and as a highly respected security expert, both of which lend realism to an already gripping plot. Brian Laslow’s suspenseful debut novel will educate you on this controversial issue.

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www.themarijuanaproject.org


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Medical Marijuana: Timely and Divisive

Illustration of an USA flag icon with a marijuana leaf

Medical Marijuana is certainly a hot topic today.

My audience includes those interested in the medical marijuana debate, those interested in ethical dilemmas, and those who enjoy a fiction suspense novel.

The main thing I hope “The Marijuana Project”  will add to the discourse is a better understanding that medical marijuana is not a black and white issue.

Both sides of the debate have legitimate points and those differences ultimately need to be accepted and worked out in order for medical marijuana to become a widely accepted form of patient care used to its full potential.

In fact, I believe that most people don’t know anything at all about medical marijuana!

When I took on a medical marijuana production facility as a client, I learned just how complicated the issue of medical marijuana really is and just how little I knew about the subject.

I developed a plot in my mind and used my expertise in security and experience in the medical marijuana field to explain details of both industries and the ensuing ethical dilemmas woven within a suspense story.

My book explores and details both sides of the issue within the contents of a fun suspense novel.

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www.themarijuanaproject.org


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My Inspiration for “The Marijuana Project?”

TMP Stand-Alone Shot --WHITE BACKGROUNDOver the years many people  told me that they found my work as a security consultant fascinating.

When I took on a medical marijuana production facility as a client, I learned just how complicated the issue of medical marijuana really is and just how little I and most others know about the subject.

It occurred to me one day that the combination of the two may make an interesting story.

I developed a plot in my mind and used my expertise in security and experience in the medical marijuana field to explain details of both industries and the ensuing ethical dilemmas woven within a suspense story.

It’s my debut novel and we know the medical marijuana debate is timely and divisive.

www.themarijuanaproject.org

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What Are Employers to Do About Medical Marijuana?

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So, what are employers to do?

First and foremost, any employer in a state that has a medical marijuana law, or has employees that live in a state with such a law, needs to read and fully understand the law.

Each state law is different and may include nuances that affect how an employee should deal with the issue.

Employers should also read and understand their individual states laws and legal precedents regarding drug testing of both potential and existing employees.

Virtually all states allow for pre-employment screening drug testing, including for marijuana.  Some states do not allow for random drug testing of existing employees for invasion of privacy reasons, but most states do allow for ‘reasonable suspicion’ drug testing, including suspected impairment from being under the influence of marijuana or other substances at work such as the employee’s appearance or behavior.

Next, based on the laws in their state and the decision of the employer, a company policy must be developed in writing about the use or influence of medical marijuana on the job and then the company must comply with that policy.


There are a few policy options.

The first option is to allow employees with legal medical marijuana cards to use the drug at work.

This is an option which very few companies choose.  The most obvious reasons for not choosing this option are that it impacts productivity and could pose a risk to others.  The reason the ADA doesn’t allow medical marijuana usage as a reasonable accommodation is that the usage is difficult to control because you don’t know from one session to the next what the reaction to the drug will be.  There may be other more tangible issues with this option depending on the type of work done by the company and the requirements of its employees to operate machinery or interact with clients.  If work is done by the company in multiple states it may be the case that medical marijuana is legal in one but not the other.  Additionally, if any work is done for the federal government or on federal property, that may cause an issue such as loss of contract due to the federal status of the drug.  The employee may not be able to be prosecuted but that doesn’t mean the company may not face consequences.

The second option is to adopt a policy that simply states that the company does not tolerate the use of or being under the influence of any illegal drug during the workday, including medical marijuana.   This zero tolerance policy, if applied equally and in all cases, allows the employer to not hire a prospective employee or fire a current employee for testing positive for marijuana or for being under the influence of marijuana at work, medical or otherwise.  The policy must be in writing and it must be applied equally.  This option may seem heartless when dealing with real people with real medical conditions that are being helped with the use of medical marijuana, but it does protect the good of all the employees by removing a potential workplace risks.  This choice also protects the company from potential litigation that may arise from allowing an employee to work while under the influence.  Many companies choose this policy option.

The third option is a hybrid of the first two and is subjective in nature.  The policy includes the language of the zero tolerance policy but adds a statement such as if the employee has a condition for which he or she is being treated with medical marijuana, the company should be engaged to discuss any possible accommodations.  This leaves the door open to employers working with employees to find a way to get the work done that won’t interfere with the employees ability to perform and allow them to be productive.  It should be noted that the employer is not obligated to do any particular accommodation that the employee asks.  For instance, the employer may still disallow the use of medical marijuana at work even though the employee wishes to, but may change their work schedule to accommodate the times they need to medicate and be under the influence. The subjective nature of this option, and its application, does leave the employer open to potential litigation and employee discord while the other two options do not.  Also, the type of work and clientele of some companies would not allow for such flexibility.  However, many companies have adopted such a policy with success.

As with the issue of medical marijuana use itself, the question of how employers should deal with its use is complicated.  It requires research, soul searching, and decisions that are in the best interest of the company and its employees.

One thing is certain, the issue cannot be ignored.

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As more states pass legalized medical marijuana legislation and the number of patients increase, more and more employers will need to address the issue and the requests from their employees.  No matter how the employer chooses to manage the issue, it is the time to get ahead of the matter, adopt and adhere to a policy, and understand that it’s a brave new world.

Brian Laslow is the author of  The Marijuana Project: a novel about medicine and morality. 

His book is a fictional account about a security consultant’s ethical controversy and experience with a medical marijuana client.   It explores both sides of the medical marijuana debate and security issues surrounding the industry, all in the setting of a suspense novel.

Brian is an independent security consultant and has been in the security industry for over 30 years.  He is an expert speaker in the field of security and holds multiple certifications in the security and consulting fields.

More information can be found at www.themarijuanaproject.org

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Medical Marijuana in the Workplace

BERKELEY, CA - MARCH 25: One-ounce bags of medicinal marijuana are displayed at the Berkeley Patients Group March 25, 2010 in Berkeley, California. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified a ballot initiative late Wednesday to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana in the State of California after proponents of the measure submitted over 690,000 signatures. The measure will appear on the November 2 general election ballot. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

With more and more States adopting medical marijuana laws, new questions are arising for employers regarding their requirements for compliance with the new laws.

Are employers required to allow employees with legal medical marijuana cards to consume marijuana on the job?

Can they be under the influence of the drug while at work?

What about driving or operating machinery?

For that matter, can employers even drug screen potential or current employees for marijuana and use the results for hiring and firing decisions?

These are all legitimate questions that a growing number of employers need to know the answers to because of the continued proliferation of state medical marijuana laws.  To answer these questions, details of both federal law and the state marijuana laws need to be examined.

Starting with federal law, marijuana, for medical use or otherwise, is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act and is federally illegal in all forms.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (http://www.ada.gov/pubs/ada.htm) states that no employers can discriminate against an employee with a disability and must make a ‘reasonable accommodation’ to allow employment.

medical-marijuanaHowever, the use of marijuana is not protected as a reasonable accommodation because its use may pose a health or safety threat.  Therefore, the person with a disability requiring the use of medical marijuana would not be discriminating against if employment were denied or terminated.  So from the federal perspective, no laws are being broken by denying the use of medical marijuana or prohibiting being under the influence of marijuana in the workplace, regardless of its medical use.

Turning to individual state laws, while they all have major differences, they are some common themes.

Universally, the laws ensure that patients who legally obtain a medical marijuana card are not subject to criminal sanctions or prosecution within the state they obtained the card.

Since 2009, the Department of Justice has agreed to not prosecute individuals who are compliant with their state’s medical marijuana law but instead their enforcement priorities are on large scale sales.  Because who is allowed to obtain a medical marijuana card and for what medical conditions varies by state, currently no state but Nevada allows for reciprocity of cards between states.

None of the current state laws dictate that employers must allow employees to either consume marijuana at work or be under the influence of marijuana at work.  In fact, most state laws specifically state that the drug cannot be consumed in public but only in various definitions of private and prohibits activities such as driving while under the influence.  The Colorado law even states that one is not allowed to ski while under the influence of marijuana.

In addition, none of the state medical marijuana laws include provisions that disallow drug testing for marijuana as a pre-employment screening test in consideration of employment decisions, nor such testing as a stipulation for continued employment.

There is precedence in the courts, such as the 2008 California Supreme Court decision of Ross vs. Raging Wire Telecommunications Inc., where it has been ruled that employers can prohibit employees from possessing, using, or being under the influence of marijuana at work, regardless of its legitimate medical usage.

It is treated the same way as being drunk, therefore the legality of the drug outside of the workplace is irrelevant.  However, the courts in cases such as Ross vs. Raging Wire have also stated that employers cannot fire or refuse to hire a person because they have a medical condition they are using medical marijuana to treat.

Illustration of an USA flag icon with a marijuana leaf

That is a very important distinction that employers need to understand, and where it may get tricky in the hiring process, especially with pre-employment drug screening.

NEXT:  What are Employers to do?

Brian Laslow is the author of  The Marijuana Project: a novel about medicine and morality.  

His book is a fictional account about a security consultant’s ethical controversy and experience with a medical marijuana client.   It explores both sides of the medical marijuana debate and security issues surrounding the industry, all in the setting of a suspense novel.

Brian is an independent security consultant and has been in the security industry for over 30 years.  He is an expert speaker in the field of security and holds multiple certifications in the security and consulting fields.

More information can be found at www.themarijuanaproject.org

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Medical Marijuana: Where do you stand?


Proponents of medical marijuana argue that it can be a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma, epilepsy, and other conditions.

They cite dozens of peer-reviewed studies, prominent medical organizations, major government reports, and the use of marijuana as medicine throughout world history.
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Opponents of medical marijuana argue that it is too dangerous to use, lacks FDA-approval, and that various legal drugs make marijuana use unnecessary.

They say marijuana is addictive, leads to harder drug use, interferes with fertility, impairs driving ability, and injures the lungs, immune system, and brain. They say that medical marijuana is a front for drug legalization and recreational use.

In “The Marijuana Project,” Sam Burnett is hired to protect a medical marijuana production facility. Yet Sam, a conservative and religious family man who travels the country as a highly sought after security expert, doesn’t even approve of marijuana and wonders why he’s still working there.

Over the course of two years, designing, implementing and operating the entire security program for his client, MedLeaf, Sam is plagued by an ongoing dilemma: Is medical marijuana a legitimate drug for the chronically ill, or is it merely a gateway to more serious drug use and mental instability?

In the end, Sam must take matters into his own hands and face the dangerous consequences.
This suspenseful novel is about medicine…and morality.

Get it today on Amazon.

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