Surgeon General Jerome Adams calls for ‘cultural shift’ in talking about opioids

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams called for a “cultural shift” in how Americans talk about opioid addiction, saying stigma is one of the leading reasons only one in four people with a problem get the treatment they need.

Dr. Adams said opioids were involved in 48,000 of the 72,000 drug-overdose deaths in the U.S. last year, yet polling suggests barely more than half of Americans consider the epidemic a “major concern.”

In a new “Spotlight” report, the Health and Human Services Department details ways families, doctors, educators and business leaders can open up about addiction or prevent it from taking hold in the first place.

For instance, it urges companies to reduce work-related injuries that could lead to opioid misuse and calls on family members to be “supportive (not judgmental)” in prodding an addicted loved one to get help. It also says family members should carry overdose-reversing naloxone.

Dr. Adams has tried to lead by example by talking about his younger brother, who cycled in and out of prison due to opioid misuse.

Read more here.

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Audit finds problems with medical marijuana program rollout in Ohio

For children with Epilepsy, terminal cancer patients and others struggling with health issues we’ve repeatedly heard how access to medical marijuana can make each day more manageable.

But as delays mount in getting Ohio’s medicinal marijuana program off the ground, a shocking new report reveals where the Department of Commerce is falling short with sick Ohioans stuck in the middle.

Continuing news coverage of questions surrounding the implementation of Ohio’s medical marijuana program as well as phone calls prompted the state auditor to take action.

“I asked my staff to take an initial look. We found some issues,” said Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost.

Among them were inconsistent application standards for those seeking cultivating licenses, Yost said.

“It’s tough to roll out a new government program for sure, but other states have managed to do this without the kinds of problems we saw in Ohio’s program,” Yost said.

According to Yost, the Department of Commerce also exceeded its legal authority when it handed out two more licenses than permitted.

He believes the move was an attempt to correct some of the agency’s errors and inconsistencies.

Continue reading this article.

Toledo medical marijuana grower could lose Ohio cultivation license

Ohio regulators are in the process of revoking a medical marijuana cultivation license from a small-scale grower awarded a provisional license in November.

OhiGrow LLC, which received a license to grow 3,000 square feet of marijuana, hasn’t made “a good faith effort” to establish its facility in Toledo, according to Ohio Department of Commerce officials.

Mark Hamlin, policy director at the Ohio Department of Commerce, said the company was generally non-responsive and said in its extension request it would begin construction in July — weeks shy of the deadline for provisional licensees to be operational.

“We determined that didn’t meet the standards for the director to grant an extension,” Hamlin told the Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee during its meeting Thursday.

OhiGrow can appeal the department’s decision.

OhiGrow is owned by Carl Boyar, who owns a medical marijuana dispensary in Illinois, according to license application records. Boyar did not immediately return a request for comment.

The department awarded provisional licenses to 12 small-scale growers and 12 large-scale growers in November 2017. Each had nine months to build and set up their facilities to meet the law’s obligations to begin growing medical marijuana. The department awarded an additional license in May to an applicant affected by a data entry error and one in July to an applicant that appealed its rejection.

Read more here.

 

Normalizing Marijuana

The perception of marijuana changes daily to one of being natural, healthy and a miracle cure for almost anything.

Nationally, only 1 in 5 adolescents perceived it as harmful according to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The older generation remembers marijuana at extremely low levels of 1-4% THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, and think of it as a nonthreatening substance. But over the years the plants have been genetically modified to increase the average THC levels up to 13% to 35% THC or more. While the plants’ characteristics are changing to a more potent substance, the necessary research to keep pace has not taken place, leaving too many unknowns.

Meanwhile, the cannabis industry is engaging in an all-out social norming campaign to normalize cannabis into mainstream everyday life. Now to cement the normalization, mainstay companies in our culture are considering adding to their bottom-line by exploring infusing marijuana into their products.

It is a perfect storm. Genetically modifying a substance to make it more potent, a lack of comprehensive research to identify consequences of use, a robust marketing campaign to normalize the drug, and industries willing to commercialize the product and jump on the bandwagon of what is believed to be the twenty-first century gold rush in hopes of keeping their bottom line booming.

Raise your voice. Voicing disapproval over the proliferation of cannabis-infused products will help send clear messages to our youth. When companies like Coca-Cola consider entering this market, it sends confusing messages to everyone, especially our youth. Our advocacy and education about this drug are needed more than ever.

Prevention Action Alliance
September 25, 2018

Did you see the new data?

There is new data out from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and it paints a bleak picture for the future of our country should the marijuana industry become successful in its attempt to be the next Big Tobacco.

In short, there are now twice as many daily or near daily marijuana users in the country than just a decade ago. Additionally, there are now over 8,000 new marijuana users each day and 22% of 18 to 25-year-olds are currently using the drug – the highest number for all three stats in recent memory. Worse, annual use by ages 16 and up has significantly risen since last year.

Marijuana use has skyrocketed in our country as the perception of harm has plummeted. The marijuana industry, just like Big Tobacco years ago, continues to glorify marijuana as a cure-all substance that offers no risk to anyone.

The reality is this: if it were not for marijuana, overall drug use in the country would be going down. Mental health issues are rising, more people are dying due to marijuana-impaired drivers, and positivity rates among our workforce are up. None of this will help our country succeed and be productive.

But this fight is far from over, friend. Contrary to the lies of the industry, marijuana legalization is not inevitable. This year alone, SAM and our affiliates have been successful in defeating marijuana legalization and commercialization efforts in five different state capitols: Rhode Island, Illinois, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy’s promise to legalize marijuana within his first hundred days in office has stalled as our allies in the Legislature have dug in their heels against this reckless proposal. The Senate is considering putting the bill to a vote in the coming weeks, but many are predicting that the votes simply aren’t there.

In response to increasing pressure in New York, we have opened an office in Manhattan and are actively organizing the resistance to let the lawmakers in Albany know that legalization would be a disaster for the Empire State.  In addition, we are continuing to form a grand coalition in the Midwest from our new hub in Chicago, Illinois.

Outside of state legislatures, we are working hard in Michigan and North Dakota to defeat marijuana legalization at the ballot box. And polls are tightening up, with one poll showing us ahead by a few points in Michigan.

In North Dakota, we are thrilled to be partnering with a coalition of health professionals who are opposed to the measure, which is perhaps the most far-reaching legalization proposal I have ever seen.

Dr. Kevin Sabet
Founder and President
Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action

About SAM Action

SAM Action is a non-profit, 501(c)(4) social welfare organization dedicated to promoting healthy marijuana policies that do not involve legalizing drugs. SAM Action engages in high-impact political campaigns to oppose marijuana legalization and commercialization.

New Report on Fake IDs Makes a Case For Better Training

A recent report: Fake IDs in America: Challenges of Identification and the Critical Need for Training” reminds us that the issues around fake ID go beyond the problem of kids getting into clubs. The author, Susan Dworak, discusses the kind of issues that are created when fake ID is used.

While some may see it as a rite of passage, or think “what’s the harm of a college kid buying a six-pack from time to time?”, the implications and economic costs of fake ID go beyond that, to what Susan Dworak refers to as, “the legal, financial and social consequences resulting from underage drinking”.

The use of a fake ID can affect the person using it, the person checking it, the licensee, and possibly other patrons. As Susan Dworak puts it in this report: “Just one use of one fake ID can result in life-altering consequences for many people.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s factsheet on underage drinking states that 11% of alcohol is consumed by 12- to 20-year olds. Though it’s not known how much of this alcohol is acquired using fake ID, it stands to reason that less alcohol would be consumed–and possibly fewer of the negative consequences of underage drinking would occur– if there were fewer fake IDs around.

Continue reading this article here.

What Does Medical Weed in the Workplace Mean for Ohio Employers?

Employers should anticipate changes since Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016.

Legal marijuana is reported to be a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S.—its growth and size are now on par with other well-established businesses. It is no wonder that Ohio has now joined at least 28 other states that have legalized some form of marijuana. The new Ohio law, signed in September 2016, stipulated that the program be ready to service Ohio residents on September 8, 2018.

So what does this mean for Ohio employers and their drug-free workplace policies?

Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program

On September 6, 2016, Ohio legalized medical marijuana with the passage of House Bill 523. This law authorizes Ohio licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana to individuals diagnosed with one of 20 qualifying conditions or diseases. The law strictly limits medical marijuana use to only consumable oils, edibles, patches and vaping; smoking marijuana is still prohibited.

Although the new law states that Ohio authorities will not prosecute marijuana users with a valid doctor recommendation, there is still no guarantee that users will be free from federal prosecution. This conflict between the federal law and a growing number of state laws is likely to remain a conundrum and a real risk for medical marijuana uses for the foreseeable future.

Read more here.

‘Budtenders,’ edibles chefs among fastest-growing jobs in multi-billion dollar legal cannabis industry

Help wanted: budtenders, cannabis chefs, flavor scientists, extraction technicians.

Those are just a few of the new job categories opening up in the budding legal cannabis industry in Ohio and more than two dozen other states where the drug is legal for medical or recreational use or both.

A quick scan of online help-wanted ads in Ohio shows cannabis companies are seeking a slew of new employees with all skill types, ranging from office managers to accountants to CEOs.

But many of the positions posted on job sites such as Indeed.com and Vangsters.com – billed as the cannabis industry’s largest hiring platform – require cannabis-specific skill sets.

Those jobs include “budtenders,” the industry term for salespeople who, like bartenders, greet customers from across the counter at retail dispensaries.

In Ohio, 56 licensed dispensaries will hire budtenders to help medical cannabis patients select the best strains to treat each of 21 conditions that qualify for cannabis therapy in the state.

Continue reading here.

Marijuana Legalization Debated By Ohio And New Mexico Gubernatorial Candidates

Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates in Ohio and New Mexico clashed on the issue of marijuana legalization during televised debates on Wednesday night.

In Ohio, Democrat Richard Cordray said for the first time that he would support an initiative to legalize cannabis if it were put before the state’s voters.

Distancing himself from a “deeply flawed” and “monopolistic” cannabis legalization proposal that Ohioans resoundingly defeated in 2015, he said he would support placing the issue back on the ballot, would vote yes and would implement it if passed.

Republican Mike DeWine, currently the state’s attorney general, took a different stance on ending prohibition, which he claimed has been an “absolute disaster” in Colorado.

“I’m against it,” he said. “I will veto it.”

Cordray, a former director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, shot back, accusing his GOP opponent of “living in the past” on cannabis issues.

“Marijuana has been legalized in numerous states now and they’re working through these issues,” he said of DeWine’s concerns about the impacts of legalization.

But the Republican criticized Cordray for at first not directly responding to the question of whether he would support ending prohibition and instead pivoting to how he would implement it if approved by voters.

“You’re really a profile in courage,” DeWine said. “You’re not going to take a position at all on recreational marijuana? I will.”

That’s when Cordray revealed his personal support for legalization.

Earlier in the debate, the two candidates butted heads over a current state ballot measure going before voters in November that would reclassify some felony drug possession crimes as misdemeanors with no jail time.

Cordray said he supported “more efforts for treatment in the community and less emphasis on jailing drug users,” while DeWine argued the measure would “put a star on Ohio and every drug dealer in the country will come here.”

Read more here.

Ohio’s medical marijuana growers will have to start their first plants illegally: Capitol Letter

A wink and a nod: Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, so how are newly licensed medical marijuana growers in Ohio supposed to get their first crop? Ohio law is silent on the issue, and regulators are taking a hands-off approach to the topic, cleveland.com’s Jackie Borchardt reports. One licensee told Borchardt their marijuana will come from another state where the plant is legally grown.

See full article here.