Why states are wary of allowing sports betting on phones

For states looking to profit off the new world of legal sports betting, there’s an app for that. The question for state lawmakers: Should they allow it?

As state legislatures across the U.S. decide whether to authorize sports gambling, lawmakers are debating whether the bets — like almost everything else in daily life — should be allowed to happen online or made only in-person.

Among their concerns is that the accessibility of online betting, especially on mobile devices, could be a pathway for minors to start gambling and make sports betting more addictive.

The debate was on display this past week in Rhode Island, where the Legislature sent a bill to the governor that expands the state’s sports betting law by allowing wagers to take place online.

Rep. Teresa Tanzi, who voted against the bill, said she worries about giving people unlimited access to an activity that can be highly addictive.

“We know cellphones are addictive and gambling is addictive,” said Tanzi, a Democrat. “It’s two corrosive elements together, and we don’t know what those two things together will exponentially produce. I just don’t see that there’s adequate caution moving forward.”

She wants the state to launch a public awareness campaign to educate people about the signs of gambling addiction and to dedicate sports betting revenue to help problem gamblers. Tanzi also said that any mobile app designed to take sports bets should include information about how people can get help if they are developing an addiction.

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Experts say inexperienced marijuana users eat too much because edibles take longer to kick in

Panic attacks, heart attacks, and dangerous behavior in Colorado after people have been eating food that contains marijuana.

While “edibles” account for less than 1 percent of the recreational marijuana consumption in Colorado, it is responsible for more than 10 percent of the hospital visits related to marijuana.

Experts say people who eat the marijuana-laced food don’t think it’s working, so they eat more than they should.

This results in users getting so high that they can have panic attacks, that lead to heart attacks. In other cases, users act irrationally, doing things that can result in serious injuries or even death.

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Why Marlboro Maker Bet on Juul, the Vaping Upstart Aiming to Kill Cigarettes

The biggest U.S. tobacco company has made a $12.8 billion bet on a company whose stated goal is to get smokers to drop cigarettes. The calculated gamble: The move will help the Marlboro maker keep up with a quickly changing market. The risk: It could hasten its own decline.

Facing an accelerating fall in cigarette sales, Altria Group Inc. in December put billions into Juul Labs Inc., a controversial startup whose sleek, nicotine-packed vaporizers have fueled a surge in the e-cigarette market.

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Cannabis-related ER visits in Colorado jump threefold after legalization, study says

Cannabis use in Colorado has been on the rise since medical cannabis was liberalized in 2009 and recreational cannabis went on sale in 2014, and it has led to an increase in emergency department visits, according to a new study.

Although inhaled cannabis leads to more visits overall, new research says, edibles — foods containing cannabis extract — account for more visits for psychiatric and cardiovascular symptoms.

Research has shed light on increasing safety concerns related to cannabis. The researchers identified 9,973 cannabis-related emergency department visits at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital from 2012 to 2016, a more than threefold increase in such visits.

Lead study author Dr. Andrew A. Monte, a medical toxicologist and emergency medicine physician at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, and his colleagues were motivated by their own experiences. “We observed a higher number of visits attributable to edibles than expected, and there was no data to determine if this was indeed true,” he said.

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Walgreens will sell CBD products in nearly 1,500 stores

Walgreens will begin selling CBD creams, patches and sprays in nearly 1,500 stores in select states.

CNBC was the first to report the news Wednesday, which came about a week after CVS announced some of its stores will sell CBD topical products.

CBD, a hemp-derived cannabidiol, is a nonpsychoactive ingredient in cannabis that is becoming increasingly mainstream.

“This product offering is in line with our efforts to provide a wider range of accessible health and wellbeing products and services to best meet the needs and preferences of our customers,” Walgreens spokesman Brian Faith said in a statement to USA TODAY.

The drugstore chain will sell the cannabis-based products in Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vermont, South Carolina, Illinois and Indiana, Faith said.

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Marijuana as a cure for opioid use? Nation’s top drug scientist says she’s skeptical

The head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse said there’s no evidence that marijuana weans people from opioid addiction – and promoting such treatment might deny people a chance at recovery.

The nation’s research agency on drug use wants to assess cannabis ingredients as possible treatments for more than 2 million Americans with opioid-use disorder, NIDA Director Nora Volkow said this week. But there’s not any evidence that marijuana works for opioid addiction, she said.

New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Illinois allow marijuana as a treatment for addiction to opioids such as heroin, fentanyl and OxyContin. The Maryland General Assembly is considering a bill that would add opioid-use disorder to the state’s list of qualifying medical conditions for marijuana.

Volkow said she worries people who substitute marijuana for the Food and Drug Administration-approved medications buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone might be more likely to relapse.

“If you don’t treat it properly, your risk of dying is quite high,” Volkow told the USA TODAY Editorial Board in a wide-ranging interview. “My main concern is by basically misinforming potential patients about the supposedly beneficial effects of cannabis, they may forgo a treatment that is lifesaving.”

Ohio medical marijuana patients will have their first access to processed materials

Tinctures, which are liquid extracts taken orally, will be available at select dispensaries such as Grow Ohio in Zanesville starting Wednesday. Grow Ohio also confirmed they delivered tinctures to The Botanist locations in Canton and Wickliffe and Ohio Cannabis Company in Coshocton. In the coming week, more products are expected to be available.

Previously only raw flower has been available to Ohio patients. The raw flower has been grown by cultivators which, with a special license, have been able to sell that flower directly to dispensaries, after the flower is tested at state labs.

With the state’s first processor, Grow Ohio, getting its Certificate of Operation earlier in March, the dispensary will have tinctures available to patients. Grow Ohio will have a line of medical marijuana products that will include tinctures, oil in syringes, gummies, capsules, and topical creams.

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How can we prevent alcohol-related harm in problem bars?

It seems like every town has at least one problem bar. Regulators are quite familiar with this type of place. They are usually large venues offering live or recorded dance music and close late at night. They serve minimal food and promote drinks that contain a substantial portion of alcohol. Some patrons get drunk to the point of blacking out despite laws against over-service. These types of places use an inordinate amount of enforcement resources every weekend.

In 2006, the federal government issued the 2nd Edition of a Problem-Oriented Guide for Police called, “Assaults in and Around Bars.” Some of the factors the authors identified as contributing to violence and aggression are:

  • Alcohol
  • Culture of Drinking
  • Type of Establishment
  • Concentration of Bars
  • Bar Closing Time
  • Aggressive Bouncers
  • Price Discounting of Drinks
  • Continued Service to Drunken Patrons
  • Low Ratio of Staff to Patrons
  • Tolerance for Disorderly Conduct
  • Availability of Weapons
  • Low Level of Police Enforcement and Regulation

We have known about these factors for some time, so why is it hard to use this knowledge to make change?

The problem is that problem bars often make a lot of money and employ a lot of people. Changing the formula could bring less profit. Fines may not be a deterrent, but just a cost of doing business. Serious consequences, such as long suspensions or revocations require a great deal of investigative work and a long process that can go on for years. Local officials may be reluctant to put someone out of business because it punishes employees, contractors, and suppliers who may not have caused the problems.

So, how can we do things differently and curb alcohol-related problems?

For new licensees, a prevention approach

Since the factors which contribute to violence are well-known, could we use that knowledge to work more intensively with new licensees to ensure they are going down the right path? Could we make sure they have enough staff, use professional security, and engage in responsible serving practices? Could we develop a “risk-based licensing system” that assesses greater license fees for high risk situations like they do in some Australian provinces?

Risk Based Licensing: “It’s an economic tool that’s already used to moderate the behaviour of licensees and mitigate the risks associated with the sale of liquor in the ACT, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.”   Vicki Gillick, Drink Tank, Australia.

For current licensees that are problems, they need to modify some of their current practices. Likely that will require some fairly strong action. Here are some ideas:

Brief Suspensions

In my experience, suspensions are highly effective in changing business practices that create problems. But, to minimize the impact on employees and providers, the suspension should be brief unless the licensee is uncooperative. In Oregon, an emergency suspension is allowed if there is “an immediate threat to public health and safety.” That is a high bar and must be well documented. But, upon suspension, it was our practice to immediately meet with the licensee to discuss how to get back in business. Usually, the licensee was willing to make any kind of change given the prospect of reopening quickly.

In 2016, an emergency suspension provision went into effect in Virginia. It permitted the ABC to “summarily suspend any license or permit if it has reasonable cause to believe that an act of violence resulting in death or serious bodily injury” has occurred on the licensed premises. The process requires an initial investigation within 48 hours of the violence. And, after 48 hours of suspension, the licensee may petition for a restricted license pending results of a more formal investigation. According to Chris Curtis of the Virginia ABC, they have used this provision 16 times in the past 2½ years. Often the licenses are simply surrendered. If allowed to operate, restrictions typically require more staff and curtailed hours. The extra work is worth the effort, if it results in no more violence!

Early Closure

In Oregon, we found that most complaints happened after midnight. Given that, we sometimes constructed a compliance plan that required closure at 11 pm. After a month without problems, they could close at 12 am. After more problem-free months, they could stay open until the required closing time. New Jersey recently required early closure when an underage youth died in a crash after drinking at a licensed bar. In a California case, a premise was issued a 45-day suspension and then three years of probation whereby they had to stop selling alcohol at 12:30 am.

Drink Practices

Problem bars often have serving practices designed to get people very drunk. Many patrons don’t realize that multi-shot drinks can get you past the legal limit to drive after just one drink. Several jurisdictions prohibit multi-shot drinks when a bar gets into trouble. In Oregon, we adopted a rule that prohibited drink specials after midnight.


Sweden requires additional security if a premise wants to stay open late at night– and if they want to stay open later than 3 am– a lot of extra security. This is a recognition that the longer a bar is open, the more some people will get intoxicated. And, there is increased recognition that security should be professionally trained and certified. Aggressive bouncers can actually create problems by being overly forceful.


In some states all servers must be trained and certified so they can judge age, accurately check ID, understand the signs of intoxication and know the science of alcohol impairment (BAC levels, etc.). If training isn’t mandatory, it is often used when bars get into trouble to help them bring their serving practices back on track. In Sweden, training is required for late night operation. Training should also include information on trade practice violations. Violating these regulations can allow the licensee to reduce prices to undercut competitors and can lead to greater intoxication.

But wouldn’t it be great to prevent the deaths, serious injuries and other problems before they happened?

Usually bad things must happen before corrective action can take place. What could we do to keep licensees in business, but insist on compliance? A “risk-based system” is one idea. Another is a regulation prohibiting certain “high volume drink practices” such as drinking games, “all you can drink” for a set price, and “drink specials” after midnight. Some preventive measures can be adopted by statute or rule. In that case, it is usually worth the effort to get licensees and trade associations on board. Regulations prohibiting dangerous practices can level the playing field for all licensees. This means that “problem bars” can’t undercut the good licensee by engaging in dangerous practices.

Last, but not least, is fair, firm and well-funded enforcement. Most regulations won’t work without enforcement. And, remember good enforcement benefits the good licensee who dutifully follows all the rules and doesn’t get undercut by those that engage in dangerous practices.


“Assaults in and Around Bars, 2nd Edition,” by Michael S. Scott and Kelly Dedel, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, COPS, Problem-Oriented Guides for Police, Problem-Specific Guides Series, No. 1, www.cops.usdoj.gov

NLLEA Weekly News Clips: January 23, 2019.

“TCNJ crash: Fatal head-on accident forces changes at bar on campus,” by Nick Muscavage, Bridgewater Courier News, Jan. 12, 2019.

“Paying the price: risk-based licensing,” by Vicki Gillick, drinktank. http://drinktank.org.au/2019/02/paying-the-price-risk-based-licensing/

Villkor Rattsregel, (Swedish regulation on closing hours).

“Fair Trade Practice Regulations,” a Short Report by Pamela S. Erickson, October 27, 2015 available at www.healthyalcoholmarket.com


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Can Anyone Look Cuul Smoking a Juul?

I never got into Juuling. Whenever I tried it, I felt like Leonardo DiCaprio, but not the cool movie version. I felt like Leonardo DiCaprio teething on his e-cigarette at the Screen Actors Guild Awards a few years ago, staring into a glittering void while he considered the emptiness of fame.

I do see the utility of a Juul for a lifelong, addicted smoker: A Juul offers up nicotine without the cocktail of extra cigarette poisons, though this is sometimes obscured by the bad press. But I’ve always fallen into that more frivolous but still concerning category of smoker: the nondaily, or “social,” smoker. Specifically, I only smoke “when I’m drinking,” which is code for “when I’m flirting.” If my doctor asks, I flirt three times a year or less.

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Do drug treatment facilities really lower property values? Finally, an answer

As the opioid crisis rages on, those affected struggle to find treatment. One potential reason? People don’t want rehab centers in their backyards.

The arrival of a substance-abuse treatment center in a new neighborhood can spark protests, heated city hall meetings, and other attempts to block developments. Some homeowners believe the introduction of substance-abuse treatment centers into a neighborhood will also bring crime and other problems that will decrease property value.

But opposition may be unfounded, a study distributed this week by National Bureau for Economic Research found: Substance-abuse disorder centers do not negatively affect property values in areas where they set up shop, the report by researchers at the University of New Mexico and Temple University concluded.

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