State announces medical marijuana dispensary license applications

The state has announced it will begin accepting applications for 60 dispensaries that will sell medical marijuana beginning next September.

The paperwork for dispensary applications was posted online Tuesday by by the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. Applications will be accepted only from Nov. 3 to 17.

The dispensaries will be the final step in the process of creating a medical marijuana network in Ohio, action triggered by the passage of House Bill 523 last year. The law will allow people 21 and older who have any of 21 specific medical conditions to get up to a 90-day supply of medical marijuana.

In all, 60 dispensaries will be allocated around the state, including five in Franklin County.

The state previously accepted applications to be selected as one of 24 marijuana cultivators — 12 large growers and 12 smaller growers. Decisions on growers will be made in November.

The dispensary applications are next up, followed by testing labs and processors which will turn marijuana into products, including oils, tinctures, patches, edibles and plant material for vaporizing. Medical marijuana is not legal to smoke in Ohio.

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Ohio awards $1.75 million in contracts for medical marijuana program

When Ohio House Bill 523 was passed, legalizing medical marijuana in Ohio, part of the law left many wondering who would test the marijuana so patients could use it by the program’s start date of September 2018.

The law required an Ohio public higher-education institution to carry out the task of testing the product that will soon be available to patients who are eligible to receive medical marijuana if they have one of several approved pre-existing medical conditions, such as HIV, AIDS or cancer.

One state senator, Republican Frank LaRose, said when the bill was passed he intended for Ohio State to take up testing for the state, even going as far to say Ohio State officials were “gung-ho” about the role at first, per Jackie Borchardt of

However, Ohio State made clear a few weeks ago it would not apply to be a test site, pointing to hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding it would be at risk of losing, including both federal research grants and federal tuition assistance such as Pell Grants, Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson said.

“Because of this wave of the number of states that have legalized medical marijuana, with Ohio being 25th, it was anticipated that there would be a relaxing at the federal level,” said Ohio State’s senior vice president of research, Carol Whitacre, in regard to the substance being classified as a Schedule I drug.

A public college or university could be at risk of losing funding if they were to participate in testing a drug the federal government has classified as Schedule I, in the same group as heroin and LSD, among others. Schedule I classification means the drug has no accepted medical use and has a high potential for abuse.

Read the rest of the story here.

Study supports importance of alcohol control policies to reduce homicide

Stronger alcohol policies, including taxes and sales restrictions, have been shown to reduce the likelihood of alcohol involvement among homicide victims, according to a new study from Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Boston University. The study, published online in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, supports the importance of alcohol control policies to reduce violence, including homicide.

Alcohol is an established risk factor for homicide perpetration and victimization. In the U.S., between 40 and 50 percent of homicides involve the use of alcohol by either the victim or perpetrator, and more than half involve people who are significantly impaired by alcohol, which means that their blood alcohol levels are at or above 0.08 percent, the legal limit for driving. However, little is known about how alcohol policies, which include alcohol taxes and the number of places licensed to sell alcohol, relate to alcohol-related homicides.

The new study looked at the relationship between alcohol policies in place and the likelihood of alcohol involvement (either up to the legal limit of 0.08 or above that limit) among the 27,000 victims of homicide from 17 U.S. states between 2003 and 2012. The data analyzed was from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System. State alcohol policies for each year were characterized using the “Alcohol Policy Scale,” a measure of the policy “environment” based on 29 separate alcohol control policies.

Read more here.

Are We Talking About This, Again?

“Mom, do we really need to talk about this again?” My almost-13 year old looked at me impatiently, his voice still cracking when he tried to raise it now that puberty had taken hold of my formerly sweet baby boy with blonde, curly locks. The person standing in front of me looked familiar, but was also a stranger in some ways. Now taller than me – stronger, too – his shape looked more like a man than a boy, and sarcasm was his second language.

“Yes. We are.” I screwed up as much courage as I could and looked him straight in the eye. “I’ll keep talking about it until you’re married with your own kids, and even then I’ll keep talking.”

He sighed, resigned. “OK, fine.” It wasn’t “fine,” but I plowed ahead, anyway.

Moments earlier, his phone buzzed with a news alert. He had been required at school to have the New York Times on his phone for current events, and he got into the habit of reading pieces from the online paper each morning. This morning, while scrolling, he saw another young adult had died due to a drug overdose. (Read more here.) While reading, he gasped – low but loud enough for me to hear in the same room. I couldn’t see the article from where I stood, and asked what was so shocking.

He looked at me, blood drained from his face. “Another overdose. He was thirteen, Mom. Thirteen. My age.” He put his phone on the table and faced me.

It was moments like these that I remembered how woefully unprepared we are to be parents, especially parents of teenagers. I simultaneously wanted to reach out and hug him and never let go . . . and also give him yet another (likely unhelpful) lecture on drug addiction. I settled for making a cup of coffee. I purposefully turned my back to him so my face wouldn’t show confusion, or weakness, or how I was wishing for a time machine to go back to the potty training years.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Why Some States Are Raising the Age to Buy Tobacco

Oregon became the fifth state to raise the age for buying tobacco products to 21.

Under a bill signed by Gov. Kate Brown this week, store clerks who sell traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars as well as those who sell vapes to people under 21 will face fines ranging from $50 up to $1,000 for multiple offenses.

The state joins neighboring California as well as Hawaii, New Jersey and Maine on the list of those that have recently raised their smoking age to 21, part of a nationwide movement to reduce tobacco use among younger Americans.

Rob Crane, President of Tobacco21, which advocates for raising the smoking age to 21, said that stopping people from trying tobacco early may help prevent addiction down the road. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking before the age of 20.

The rest of the article can be read here.

10 Things to Remember When Talking to Your Child About Alcohol

Talking to your teen about the dangers of drinking may be something you’re dreading—but you can’t afford to put it off any longer: 5,000 teenagers die every year from alcohol-related deaths, a sobering statistic that should motivate you to start today. We’re here to help: See what the experts say you should do when you have this important conversation.

Though it may be tempting to launch into a lecture about the dangers of underage drinking, experts recommend that you don’t. Make it part your regular positive interactions with your teen—here’s what kids consider quality time. In order to connect with your teen and make an impact, it’s better to talk as you usually would, but don’t talk around the issue. Maria Ulmer, a licensed marriage and family therapist and chief operating officer at Summit Behavioral Health, advises parents to talk about alcohol the way they would about any normal topic. Ulmer explains,”Parents should work towards open and direct communication with their children regarding use of alcohol. The NIAAA, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, recommends taking on a tone that is comfortable for parents and is a typical style in which you address everyday issues. Talking about the risks and dangers of alcohol use is important for children to hear from their parents—they look to their parents for guidance, and trust their position on hot topics like drinking.” Barbara Greenberg, PhD, a clinical psychologist specializing in parenting and teens, as well as co-author of Teenage as a Second Language, tells Reader’s Digest, “When you make rules for your kids your really need to get them on board—it has to make sense to them, and they need to buy into it. You need to be informative, and set limits. Tell them about the risks and consequences involved.” She adds, “Let them know that you worry and you’re not making random rules. Tell them you’re concerned it might get out of hand with no time to reverse things, as it often happens when drinking is involved.”

Read the rest of the article here.

University of Idaho asks again for alcohol permit

The University of Idaho is asking Idaho’s State Board of Education to amend its alcohol permit policy to allow pre-game alcohol sales in the Fan Zone and tailgating in Kibbie Dome parking lots.

The board will consider a first reading of the proposal when it meets Friday at Idaho State University in Pocatello.

The university’s request to serve pre-game alcohol – as well as a similar request from Boise State University – was denied last year.

Together with BSU, UI officials are proposing the board change its policy to allow Idaho colleges and universities to designate areas – with board approval – where alcohol can be served, including UI’s president’s tent and corporate tents at the north end of the activities field.

The state board, which also serves as the board of regents for UI, also said no to alcohol during tailgating last season, but many fans still gathered in the parking lot west of the dome to hoist a beer before home games. Tuesday, the Moscow City Council unanimously approved an amendment to city code that allows open containers in parking lots near the Kibbie Dome from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on game days.

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The Denver Post’s New Stoned Driving Analysis

Hot off the press is a new Denver Post analysis of stoned driving crashes in Colorado since the state legalized recreational marijuana. We wanted you to see the below press release we just put out:

“Pot-related traffic crashes continue to skyrocket in the era of legalization, while Big Marijuana keeps raking in profits. Colorado is failing to keep its roads safe, yet many state officials insist on keeping their rose-colored glasses on,” said SAM President Kevin Sabet. “It’s clear that non-governmental groups need to start stepping up to raise awareness on the fallout accompanying the widespread commercialization of marijuana. Over the next few months, SAM will convene traffic safety and other prevention and treatment partners in order to spread awareness about the sizable road safety consequences of marijuana legalization.”

The Denver Post’s new analysis finds Colorado saw a 40 percent increase in the number of all drivers involved in fatal crashes between 2013 and 2016, and a 145 percent increase in the number of marijuana-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes in the same period, which The Post notes is a conservative estimate because “state law does not require coroners to test deceased drivers specifically for marijuana use in fatal wrecks – some do and some don’t.”

  • Other key findings from The Post’s analysis include: • Marijuana is figuring into more of Colorado’s fatal crashes overall. In 2013, marijuana-impaired drivers accounted for 10 percent of all fatal crashes. By 2016, it was 20 percent.
  • More Colorado drivers are testing positive for marijuana alone. Of the marijuana-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014, about 52 percent had no alcohol in their system. By 2016, it had grown to 69 percent.
  • In Adams County, Colorado’s fifth-most populous county, marijuana-impaired drivers killed in crashes only occasionally showed THC levels higher than 5 ng/mL in 2015. In 2016, these levels routinely reached more than 30 ng/mL.

The Post quotes Deputy District Attorney of Colorado’s 18th Judicial District Rich Orman, who said “we’ve definitely seen an increase in the number of DUI cases in which marijuana is involved. And that’s been just since the legalization of recreational marijuana.”

Colorado resident Barbara Deckert, whose fiancée, Ron Edwards, was killed in 2015 in a collision with a driver who tested positive for marijuana use and charged only with careless driving, said “I never understood how we’d pass a law without first understanding the impact better. How do we let that happen without having our ducks in a row? And people are dying.”

Over the next year, SAM will continue to monitor this issue in all states and organize relevant partners for action.

In addition to increased drugged driving crashes, research demonstrates that marijuana legalization is producing a significant increase in other health and safety costs. For example, states with legal marijuana are seeing an increase in youth marijuana use. States that have legalized marijuana have also failed to shore up state budget shortfalls with marijuana taxes, continue to see a thriving illegal black market, and are experiencing unabated sales of alcohol, despite campaign promises from advocates promising that marijuana would be used as a “safer” alternative instead.

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A Helpful Tool to Combat the Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis is so complex and so large — drug-related deaths now exceed those caused by cars, H.I.V. or guns — that there is no single solution. Among the partial ones: prescription drug monitoring programs, an approach highlighted in the draft report from President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

The epidemic has led every state but Missouri to establish one of these programs, which allow doctors and regulators to track how many opioid medications and other controlled substances have been dispensed to patients. A new analysis shows that prescription drug monitoring programs can reduce the overuse of narcotics — but that many states have adopted relatively weak versions.

Opioid medications, like Vicodin, Percocet or OxyContin, can be useful in treating pain. But when patients receive many prescriptions — whether from multiple doctors at the same time or from the same one for a long period of time — it can signal a problem. Patients with more pills than they need could endanger themselves or divert them to the black market. Longer-term use increases the risk of addiction and other bad outcomes.

For more information go to this link.

Health Policy Institute of Ohio Update

Given the recent adoption of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program’s final regulations, the Health Policy Institute of Ohio has released its medical marijuana in Ohio resource pageThe resource page includes descriptions of House Bill 523, state regulations of marijuana growth, distribution and use, and state vs. federal legal consideration. The resource page also includes resources on the health and policy implications of changes in marijuana use.

As Ohio’s new medical marijuana program is rolled out and fully implemented, there will likely be opportunities for policymakers to consider additional policy changes to revise or improve current marijuana policy.  The information and resources contained in the resource page are intended to help interested policymakers and other stakeholders understand the current state of the law in Ohio and at the federal level, and the ongoing policy and health implications of the legalization of medical marijuana.

Nick Wiselogel, Vice President, Strategic Communications
Health Policy Institute of Ohio