Ohio Doctor Charged With Killing 25 Patients in Fentanyl Overdoses

In one of the largest murder cases in Ohio’s history, a doctor was charged on Wednesday with killing 25 people over four years by prescribing fatal doses of fentanyl, a powerful opioid, to critical-care patients at hospitals in and around Columbus.

The doctor, William Husel, 43, pleaded not guilty at his initial court appearance, and a magistrate set his bond at $1 million. The authorities have not described a motive in the case.

A lawyer for Dr. Husel said that his client had tried to provide comfort to dying people, not to kill them. “I can assure you there was never any attempt to euthanize anyone by Dr. Husel,” the lawyer, Richard Blake, said on Wednesday as his client turned himself in to the Columbus police.

Read more here.

Work Stops At Construction Sites As Industry Calls Attention To Drug Addiction Among Its Workers

Massachusetts construction companies and labor unions held work stoppages at project sites across the state on Wednesday as their industry attempts to confront a high rate of fatal opioid overdoses among its ranks.

Robert Petrucelli, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of Massachusetts, a trade group that organized brief, opioid-focused talks at some 50 work sites from Boston to Springfield, said the local industry wasn’t aware of the extent of the problem until recent studies revealed sobering statistics.

Continue reading the article here.

How the restaurant industry is tackling its substance abuse problem

On a recent Tuesday morning, about two dozen people gathered around a long table in the old brick building that houses the Jacobsen Salt Co. in Portland, Ore. All were somehow connected to the restaurant industry: chefs, line cooks, servers, bartenders, a bouncer, a sommelier, a retired restaurateur. All were also committed to somehow staying sober.

Gabriel Rucker, whose restaurants Le Pigeon and Canard are about a mile away, read a preamble and then opened the only West Coast chapter of Ben’s Friends, an alcoholism and addiction support group for those in the restaurant industry. Rucker talked about the stress of working over the Memorial Day weekend, and the discussion soon broadened to familiar issues of long hours, difficult kitchen situations, wage concerns and the toll the job takes on family life. The thread of not drinking or using drugs wove through the conversation like kitchen twine.

Read more here.

Money laundering penalties made tougher in Ohio sports betting bill

A bill that would legalize sports betting in Ohio was heavily changed Thursday to prevent people from using laundered money in the games.

House Bill 194 also has changes to ensure Ohio conforms with the federal Wire Act, which the U.S. Department of Justice has recently determined it can use to go after online gambling.

H.B. 194 is one of two measures wending through the Ohio General Assembly that would legalize sports betting, which the U.S. Supreme Court permitted in states in a decision about a year ago. The other measure is Senate Bill 111, which is different because regulation would be under the Ohio Casino Control Commission, rather than the Ohio Lottery Commission in HB 194.

HB 194 now specifies it would be a fifth-degree felony on the first offense and a fourth-degree felony on subsequent offenses to try to interfere with a sports betting facility’s submission of reports under the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, the Federal Deposit Insurance Act and state banking laws. Rep. Dave Greenspan, a Westlake Republican who is a bill sponsor, said that the laws help the government trace laundered money and prevent it from getting into the gambling industry.

Read more here.

Ohio employers can fire workers who use medical marijuana

Ohio employers can fire employees who use medical marijuana or refuse to hire them in the first place.

Medical marijuana is legal in Ohio, but it remains illegal at the federal level and Ohio employers are testing for it like they would any other illegal drug.

“Under Ohio law, employers don’t have to currently hire someone who uses medical marijuana and they don’t have to retain an employee that tests positive for medical marijuana,” said Michael Griffaton, an attorney at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP.

Employees can’t sue their employers for taking action based on medical marijuana use, and employees fired under workplace drug testing or drug-free workplace policies are ineligible for unemployment benefits.

“There’s nothing that requires an employer to tolerate an employee using medical marijuana in the workplace. Nothing,” said Sharon DeLay, owner and president of the human-resources firm GO-HR. “At this point, an employer can terminate an employee for testing positive for medical marijuana even if that employee is using it for something like glaucoma or cancer treatment.”

Continue reading here.

Colorado Court Complicates Life For Drug-Sniffing Dogs

The role of police dogs in Colorado to find drugs is changing. The state’s Supreme Court ruled last week that a dog trained to alert to marijuana cannot be used before an officer establishes probable cause. The ruling was over a 2015 arrest where a police dog alerted officers that drugs were inside a suspicious truck. Officers found drugs, a meth pipe and some residue. And the driver was convicted on two drug possession charges.

But the driver’s attorney appealed the sentence, arguing the search was illegal because the police dog could have been alerting officers to the presence of a legal amount of marijuana. And officers otherwise did not have enough evidence to search the truck. The court agreed.

Read the interview with Brian Laas, a police officer in Arvada, Colo., and the president of the Colorado Police K-9 Association.

Tired Of Being ‘Dope Sick,’ A Drug User Gets Help From Police To Get Sober

Two key ingredients came together for Shannon McCarty to get off drugs in late 2017: connections and timing.

“The police showed up because they said they got a call that we were shooting up in the car,” Shannon said.

Everett police officer, Inci Yarkut walked up to window of the car where Shannon was living.

“I explained who I was and what my role in the police department was,” Yarkut said, and she gave Shannon a business card. “[I] said, ‘Hey, if there’s something that we can do for you — because I think there are things that we can do for you, that we can help you — give me a call.”

That connection would prove vital for Shannon to get off heroin and meth. And the timing was right for her as well.

Read more here.

‘Gold Rush’: Cannabidiol Industry Booms Amid Uncertain Regulation

Shea Castleberry works in a time capsule of sorts. He walks through the aisles of the Family Video store he manages in Murray, Ky., a small city surrounded by rolling farmland about two hours north of Nashville.

Next to the movies and popcorn, there’s a new addition to his store that surprises some of his regulars.

“A lot of people are like ‘a video store selling CBD?’ But it really does tie into our values. Which is, we’re here for the community,” Castleberry said.

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is a compound that is increasingly becoming popular because of the alleged health benefits users report, ranging from better sleep, reduced anxiety and pain relief. Yet clinical studies are lacking for most claims.

It’s derived from a type of cannabis called hemp, and the latest Farm Bill signed by President Trump in December legalized the cultivation of the crop at the federal level.

Read more of the article here.

Rob Lowe marks 29 years of sobriety with inspiring message

The actor, author and director gave up drinking at age 26.

Rob Lowe, whose Hollywood career took off after the 1983 release of “The Outsiders,” is celebrating 29 years of sobriety this week.

The actor and director, 55, took to Instagram to mark the milestone and encourage others struggling with alcoholism and drug abuse.

“Today I celebrate 29 years of sobriety,” Lowe captioned an old photograph of himself. “Thank you to all those who have inspired me on this wonderful, challenging and life-changing journey.”

The Golden Globe-winning actor committed to sobriety on May 10, 1990 and in 2014, Lowe told Oprah Winfrey that he loved going to rehab. “I didn’t love the fact that I had to go and it was unbelievably painful but I like the science. I couldn’t have gotten sober without rehab because I needed the science … I needed to do the work. It was like going to law school,” he said.

Lowe now encourages others to seek help to overcome addiction.

Read more here.


More aging Americans are using pot to soothe what ails them

The group of white-haired folks — some pushing walkers, others using canes — arrive right on time at the gates of Laguna Woods Village, an upscale retirement community in the picturesque hills that frame this Southern California suburb a few miles from Disneyland.

There they board a bus for a quick trip to a building that, save for the green Red Cross-style sign in the window, resembles a trendy coffee bar. The people, mostly in their 70s and 80s, pass the next several hours enjoying a light lunch, playing a few games of bingo and selecting their next month’s supply of cannabis-infused products.

“It’s like the ultimate senior experience,” laughs 76-year-old retired beauty products distributor Ron Atkin as he sits down to watch the bingo at the back of the Bud and Bloom marijuana dispensary in Santa Ana.

Most states now have legal medical marijuana, and 10 of them, including California, allow anyone 21 or older to use pot recreationally. The federal government still outlaws the drug even as acceptance increases. The 2018 General Social Survey, an annual sampling of Americans’ views, found a record 61 percent back legalization, and those 65 and older are increasingly supportive.

Read more here.