Mail Carrier Caught in Sting Steal Marijuana From Packages

Federal authorities say an Ohio mail carrier has been arrested during a sting operation and charged with mail theft for opening a package containing marijuana

Federal authorities say an Ohio mail carrier has been arrested during a sting operation and charged with mail theft for opening a package containing marijuana.

A court affidavit says Ramon Johnson was arrested Wednesday in Toledo after being caught by investigators from the U.S. Postal Service and Toledo police opening a package containing 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) of marijuana at Toledo’s main post office. The package was outfitted with a tracking device that alerted agents when it had been opened.

The affidavit says Johnson told investigators he’d stolen several marijuana-laden packages since last year and then sold the contents for $1,800 a pound. Johnson was carrying $5,000 when he was arrested. A gun was found in his car.

Johnson’s federal public defender declined to comment Friday.

See the full article here.

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Businesses debate policies for medical marijuana

From a business standpoint, it appears medical marijuana, legal in Ohio this month, will take time to be fully understood and implemented.

“It’ll be a year before the program is truly operational, running at ‘full capacity,’” assessed Andy Joseph, president and CEO of Apeks Supercritical in Johnstown.

Joseph’s company builds the machines that spin the oils out of various things, including marijuana. “We don’t touch the plant material ourselves,” he clarified. “However, our customers use our equipment to do so.”

As for a medical marijuana timeline, Joseph believes it will take a year because it will take that long before “all the hiccups at the testing laboratories and patient access and doctor-patient relationships and licenses and approvals” will be worked out.

Just the oversight of the new law takes three state agencies according to Stephanie Jostomski, the assistant director of communications for the Ohio Department of Commerce. The Ohio Department of Commerce oversees the cultivators, processors and testing labs. The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy oversees dispensary. And the State Medical Board of Ohio oversees doctors and patients.

Continue reading more from the Newark Advocate article.

Should addiction be treated as a spectrum disorder like autism?

In spring 2000, pediatrician Paul Thomas was cleaning out his Portland, Ore., shed when he made a horrifying discovery. It was a vision board he’d made in 1989, when he was 32. At the top of the board, which mapped out his plans for the year ahead, were the words “stop drinking.”

“I froze, because I realized that after 11 years that was still my primary goal,” Thomas, now 61, tells The Post. “Most mornings that past decade, I’d wake up hungover and think, ‘Damn it, I did it again.’”

Looking back on those years, Thomas describes himself as “a functional alcoholic.” Each day after work, he’d swing by the liquor store, fill a Diet Coke can with vodka, make dinner for his wife and nine children, finish off the vodka, then pass out for the night.

“I couldn’t put it down,” he says. “I knew I had a problem.”

But it wasn’t just Thomas — it was most of his family. His wife, Maiya, battled opiate dependence after a series of painful surgeries. Several of their kids began to abuse drugs and alcohol as teens and young adults.

Go here to read more of the article.

Big Tobacco Is Already Eyeing Pot

Cigarette manufacturers seem to be poised to get into the marijuana industry — as soon as it’s federally OK

According to cannabis industry experts, it’s very likely that the country’s largest tobacco companies will get into the marijuana business, in some way, when it is possible. The question becomes how much control these corporate giants will have over the industry, what they will do to marijuana products and how these changes will occur.

For decades, companies like Phillip Morris have wanted to get in on the marijuana action. According to once-secret documents obtained through a lawsuit from tobacco industry leaders in 2014, Phillip Morris, British American Tobacco and other large tobacco companies were making plans to enter the marijuana industry as far back as the 1970s. This was shortly before cannabis became illegal on the federal level, and for a moment there, some tobacco company heads thought it might be legalized.

“While I am opposed to its use, I recognize that it may be legalized in the near future,” then-Philip Morris President George Weissman wrote in a memo in 1970. “Thus, with these great auspices, we should be in a position to examine: 1. A potential competition, 2. A possible product, 3. At this time, cooperate with the government.”

Forty years later, nine states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized cannabis, and the tobacco companies have been aware of how the industry is taking shape. However, the tobacco industry is risk-averse because of its history with battling the U.S. government, according to Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who helped release the tobacco industry documents that were published in 2014. Back in 1998, the U.S. government and five major tobacco companies signed onto what was called the Master Settlement Agreement, which meant the tobacco companies had to pay states billions of dollars a year to cover costs related to the health effects of smoking, because the public had been misled about them.

Read more here.

Like the tobacco industry, e-cigarette manufacturers are targeting children

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration described teenage e-cigarette use as an “epidemic,” echoing the firsthand observations of teachers, social media watchers and the public health community.

Juul Labs, the leading e-cigarette manufacturer, responded with the industry’s well-worn, lawyer-approved denial. “We are committed to preventing underage use of our product,” said Kevin Burns, Juul’s chief executive.

But just like their traditional counterpart, e-cigarettes have always been marketed to kids. And as a result, millions of American teens have become addicted to nicotine before they reach the age of consent, while their brains are still developing.

In the late 19th century, at the dawn of the cigarette age, cigarette firms began placing stiff cardboard inside packaging to prevent cigarettes from getting crushed. Soon, the baseball card was born as a gimmick to entice boys into collecting the roster of their favorite team.

Continue reading here.

What Parents Should Know About Kids Using CBD

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most well-known component of marijuana, and it is the one that “gets you high,” so to speak. But have you heard of CBD? Many parents haven’t, or even if they have, they aren’t sure what to make of it or even understand if their son or daughter is using CBD. What’s certain is that it’s becoming more and more widely available, and like vaping, is often marketed to young people. Below is an overview of CBD, the numerous forms it’s sold in, its efficacy in treating various problems and current knowledge about its relative safety.

What is CBD?

CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is the largest non-psychoactive component of marijuana, and interest in its effects is growing. High levels of CBD and low levels of THC are found in most medical marijuana products, but the CBD industry has started to expand and market their products as “life promoting” to healthy individuals.

There are hundreds of online companies selling CBD, with the market estimated to grow to $2.1 billion by 2020. CBD tinctures, edibles, sprays, vaping liquid, capsules and items such as gels, hand lotions and shampoos are widely available, varying in price and CBD content.

Some of these products are illegal, while others can be purchased in a supermarket by anyone. The legality of CBD comes down to whether it is hemp-derived or marijuana-derived. Hemp and marijuana both originate from the cannabis plant, but cannabis crops grown for their flowers have high THC levels, while when grown for their fibers and stalks are usually called hemp.

Plants with high levels of THC remain illegal at the federal level, although state laws vary. Hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 states and can easily be purchased by anyone in a health store, food market or online. On the other hand, CBD derived from cannabis is not legal in every state, so it’s important to check individual state laws on marijuana usage.

Read more here.

Shot Across the Bow: US Attorney Slams Pot Industry

It’s high time we took a breath from marijuana commercialization

By BOB TROYER | Guest Commentary

September 28, 2018 at 4:51 pm

In 2012 we were told Colorado would lead the nation on a grand experiment in commercialized marijuana. Six years later – with two major industry reports just released and the state legislature and Denver City Council about to consider more expansion measures – it’s a perfect time to pause and assess some results of that experiment.

Where has our breathless sprint into full-scale marijuana commercialization led Colorado?

Well, recent reports from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, from Denver Health, from Energy Associates, from the Colorado Department of Revenue and from the City of Denver should be enough to give everyone in this race pause.

Now Colorado’s youth use marijuana at a rate 85 percent higher than the national average. Now marijuana-related traffic fatalities are up by 151 percent. Now 70 percent of 400 licensed pot shops surveyed recommend that pregnant women use marijuana to treat morning sickness. Now an indoor marijuana grow consumes 17 times more power per square foot than an average residence. Now each of the approximately one million adult marijuana plants grown by licensed growers in Colorado consumes over 2.2 liters of water – per day. Now Colorado has issued over 40 little-publicized recalls of retail marijuana laced with pesticides and mold.

And now Colorado has a booming black market exploiting our permissive regulatory system – including Mexican cartel growers for that black market who use nerve-agent pesticides that are contaminating Colorado’s soil, waters, and wildlife. Marijuana commercialization has led Colorado to these places. It also has led to Colorado’s prominence in other states considering commercialization.

As the U.S. attorney leading other U.S. attorneys on marijuana issues, I have traveled the country and heard what people are saying about Colorado. Do they tout Colorado’s tax revenue from commercialized marijuana? No, because there’s been no net gain:  marijuana tax revenue adds less than one percent to Colorado’s coffers, which is more than washed out by the public health, public safety, and regulatory costs of commercialization.

Do they highlight commercialization’s elimination of a marijuana black market? No, because Colorado’s black market has actually exploded after commercialization: we have become a source-state, a theater of operation for sophisticated international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations from Cuba, China, Mexico, and elsewhere.

Do they promote our success in controlling production or containing marijuana within our borders?  No, because last year alone the regulated industry produced 6.4 metric tons of unaccounted-for marijuana, and over 80,000 black market plants were found on Colorado’s federal lands.

Does the industry trumpet its promised decrease in alcohol use? No, because Colorado’s alcohol consumption has steadily climbed since marijuana commercialization. How about the industry’s claim that marijuana will cure opioid addiction? No, a Lancet study found that heavy marijuana users end up with more pain and are more likely to abuse opioids.

Yet on that last point, the marijuana industry is trying to exploit our nation’s opioid tragedy to push its own controlled substance as a panacea. Why? It’s a profit opportunity.

Which is also how they see our youth. Which is why in Colorado they now sell marijuana-consumption devices that avoid detection at schools, like vape pens made to look like high-lighters and eye-liner.

These are the same marketers who advertise higher and higher potency marijuana gummi candy, marijuana suppositories, and marijuana “intimate creams.” This aggressive marketing makes perfect sense in addiction industries like tobacco, alcohol, opioids, and marijuana. These industries make the vast majority of their profits from heavy users, and so they strive to create and maintain this user market. Especially when users are young and their brains are most vulnerable to addiction.

I’m not sure the 55 percent of Coloradans who voted for commercialization in 2012 thought they were voting for all this.

These impacts are why you may start seeing U.S. attorneys shift toward criminally charging licensed marijuana businesses and their investors. After all, a U.S. attorney is responsible for public safety.

My office has always looked at marijuana solely through that lens, and that approach has not changed. But the public safety impacts of marijuana in Colorado have.

Now that federal enforcement has shot down marijuana grows on federal lands, the crosshairs may appropriately shift to the public harms caused by licensed businesses and their investors, particularly those who are not complying with state law or trying to use purported state compliance as a shield.

We should pause and catch our breath before racing off again at the industry’s urging. Let’s call it “just say know.” Let’s educate ourselves about the impacts of commercialization. Let’s reclaim our right as citizens to have a say in Colorado’s health, safety, and environment. Unfettered commercialization is not inevitable. You have a say.

Bob Troyer became the U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado in 2016 after working as first assistant U.S. attorney for six years.

About SAM

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states. For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit www.learnaboutsam.org

Final hurdle cleared for first medication derived from marijuana

Doing it The Right Way: DEA Reschedules Marijuana Medication

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) today applauded the rescheduling of Epidiolex, an FDA-approved medication derived from the marijuana plant that contains 99.9% pure cannabidiol (CBD).

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published a notice in the Federal Register that moves FDA-approved drugs that contain CBD derived from marijuana and no more than 0.1 percent tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) from schedule I to schedule V.

“The approval of an FDA-approved CBD product is a very encouraging development,” said Kevin Sabet, President of SAM. “SAM has long been advocating for research into legitimate medicines derived from marijuana that can actually be prescribed by physicians. This is how we conduct scientific research and practice modern medicine in America. In contrast, marijuana sold in dispensaries are often contaminated and mislabeled.”

The scheduling system, as established by the Controlled Substances Act, is not an index of harm, but an implementation of international treaty requirements for the acceptable medical use of substances that have a potential for abuse. Because whole-plant marijuana has not been standardized, dosed, and passed FDA clinical trials, the FDA has denied several petitions to reschedule the whole plant, most recently in 2016. A court of appeals recently rejected a challenge to that denial.

The FDA has issued several rounds of warning letters to the producers of dispensary marijuana products, some of which were found to contain no CBD, some with high levels of THC, and some contaminated with mold or pesticides.

“The FDA process protects both patients and doctors by ensuring that the products are made with Good Manufacturing Processes and contain medicine patients actually need. Many doctors are reluctant to recommend dispensary products because they know they are exposing their patients to harmful products and themselves to medical malpractice claims,” Sabet said.

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About SAM

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states. For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit http://www.learnaboutsam.org.

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.

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.