P3 update delivered to state lawmakers at Kentucky Horse Park


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For Immediate Release

October 20, 2016

P3 update delivered to state lawmakers at Kentucky Horse Park

LEXINGTON—Three attorneys from different state government agencies gave lawmakers a look today at how Kentucky’s new public-private partnership law will be put to use.

The attorneys—one from the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, one from the Finance and Administration Cabinet and one from the Transportation Cabinet—explained that long-term partnerships allowed under 2016 House Bill 309 will combine private investment and public resources to meet state and local government needs. Other states have used P3s to improve schools, water systems, bridges, state parks and more.

The testimony was offered today at the Kentucky Horse Park during a meeting of the General Assembly’s Labor and Industry Committee, the Economic Development and Tourism Committee, and the Special Committee on Tourism Development.

With over $100-plus million in maintenance needs at Kentucky’s state parks, public-private partnerships, known as P3s, are expected to help reduce the parks’ deferred maintenance while employing a strict system of check and balances built into HB 309, said Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet General Counsel Leigh Powers.

“We’re not selling off state parks. We’re finding ways to make them better,” said Powers. The framework for P3s proposals, both solicited by agencies and unsolicited, will ensure that “the Commonwealth gets what it bargained for,” she told lawmakers.

A handout provided by all three attorneys explained when P3s should be used and what considerations should be taken into account before approval for a P3 is given. Some of those considerations include benefits gained or not gained, timeliness and risk. McLain explained additional considerations for transportation P3s includes, but is not limited to, compliance with federal requirements and investment-grade credit ratings.

The attorneys also explained that approved P3s must be part of competitive negotiation—meaning the contract will be awarded to a “responsible and responsive” party, per the handout. The handling of unsolicited proposals—P3 proposals that are not sought by the state or local government agency and instead independently generated, for example—will also include a 30-day waiting period for the proposal and 90 days of public notice before further action can be taken, with procedures differing slightly for transportation projects.

Neither Powers or Finance and Administration Cabinet General Counsel Gwen Pinson shared details on P3s that may be pending in their respective agencies, although both said proposals have been received. Assistant General Counsel Megan McLain also did not offer info on any specific proposals. 

Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, who cosponsored HB 309 with House Majority Caucus Chair Sannie Overly, D-Paris, said the framework the new law provides is considered “the most transparent in the country.” She said HB 309 makes Kentucky one of around only seven states with such comprehensive P3 legislation that can be used for a wide range of public needs, said Combs.

“I do believe that as we said earlier, this is an opportunity for us to acquire infrastructure services across the Commonwealth. This is a new vehicle, a new financing tool,” she said.

The joint meeting of the committees also included an overview of what’s happening at the Kentucky Horse Park from park director Laura Prewitt and an update from AT&T Kentucky on infrastructure and investments made following the passage of 2015 HB 152. That was the telephone deregulation measure sponsored by House budget chairman Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, which AT&T says has spurred telecom modernization in the state.

Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, who had proposed telephone deregulation legislation in prior sessions, said HB 152 has accomplished much of what it was designed to do. Hornback said the legislation is designed to move Kentucky forward by “making sure we didn’t have outdated regulations in place.”






Letter from Sen. McConnell: (RE:) WRDA of 2016 (S. 2848) This legislation supports several projects in Kentucky



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Dear Ms. Krider;

Thank you for contacting me regarding America’s waterway infrastructure. I appreciate your taking the time to make me aware of your concerns, and I welcome the opportunity to respond. 

I have long been a tireless advocate for more than 15,000 inland waterways jobs in Kentucky and have used my position as a senior member of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee to advance Kentucky’s inland waterways projects, including the Olmsted Locks and Dam project and the Kentucky Lock and Dam project, among others. You may be interested to know that I was honored by the American Maritime Partnership by being awarded the Champion of Maritime Award in 2014.

As you may know, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) undertakes projects to maintain and restore the nation’s waterways, which are authorized by Congress in Water Resources Development Acts (WRDA). Additionally, WRDA provides for the conservation and development of water resources and authorizes various projects for improvements to rivers and harbors in the United States.

In your correspondence, you expressed your support for the WRDA of 2016 (S. 2848). This legislation supports several projects in Kentucky, including one that will transfer aging infrastructure along the Green and Barren Rivers in Kentucky over to state and local entities so they can determine the best use of this infrastructure, and one that will help the citizens of Paducah better protect themselves from flooding from the Ohio River by helping complete repairs to the city’s flood protection infrastructure.

This legislation also includes assistance for the families affected by lead poisoning, like those in Flint, Michigan, including $100 million for drinking water emergencies, $70 million to subsidize loans for water infrastructure projects, $50 million to help communities comply with drinking water standards, $30 million to reduce lead exposure among children, and $20 million to develop a national lead exposure registry.

Like you, I am very appreciative of the importance of our nation’s inland waterways and flood mitigation infrastructure to our nation, and to the Commonwealth. I am also aware of the importance of WRDA to workers and businesses that rely on our nation’s waterways. For this reason, I was proud to support the WRDA of 2016, which passed the Senate by a vote of 95-3 on September 15, 2016. You may be interested to know that the House of Representatives passed their version of WRDA (H.R. 5303) on September 28, 2016 by a vote of 399-25. Please know that as the House and Senate work towards resolving differences between the two versions, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind. 

Again, thank you for contacting me about this important issue. If you would like to receive periodic updates from my office, please sign up for my eNewsletter at http://mcconnell.senate.gov/, become a fan of my page on Facebook by visiting http://www.facebook.com/mitchmcconnell or follow my office on Twitter @McConnellPress. In the meantime, I hope you will continue to keep me informed about issues important to you.




The Forest Service invites public review and comment on potential environmental remediation at the Rock Creek abandoned coal mine sites.(Rock Creek abandoned coal mine sites remediation)


Rock Creek

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is a beautiful stream, with magnificent boulders, riffles, glides, and pools. Flowing through southeastern Kentucky on Stearns Ranger District, it is both a Blue Ribbon trout fishery and a Kentucky Wild River. However, highly acidic water flowing from abandoned mine lands left the stream virtually dead from White Oak Junction to the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. The acid mine drainage had killed most of the vegetation and aquatic life in the stream.

The Rock Creek Task Force was formed with the cooperation of ten state and federal agencies and Trout Unlimited to tend to the needs of the Rock Creek watershed. Restoration work began in 2000 to improve water quality, sustain aquatic life, and bring back the beauty of the steam.

Innovative wetlands were constructed to treat the mine flow heading into the stream. Limestone sand was placed in Rock Creek to neutralize the acidic water coming from the mines. Tons of coal refuse material was removed, treated, and relocated to designated storage locations. Limestone rock was placed along the channels as they enter Rock Creek to boost alkalinity.

Monitoring of Lower Rock Creek has shown an improvement in water quality and aquatic life. The charts below show how acidity has been reduced and alkalinity increased at several sites.

Fish surveys at lower Rock Creek have yielded multiple species in good and improving numbers. A July 2001 fish survey collected a brown trout and a blackside dace, each found in different parts of the Rock Creek watershed. The most optimistic sign of all is the presence of anglers who have returned to fish the lower portion of Rock Creek.

Water Tank Hollow, a three-acre site located on the north bank of Lower Rock Creek, was once used for dumping mining refuse. Secondary acid forming minerals were observed in the refuse as shown in the chart below. About 20,000-30,000 tons of coal refuse material was removed, treated and deposited in a safe location.

Water Tank Hollow, Rock Creek



The Forest Service invites public review and comment on potential environmental remediation at the Rock Creek abandoned coal mine sites.

The Rock Creek Mine Sites are located in the Daniel Boone National Forest, Stearns Ranger District, McCreary County, approximately five miles west of Stearns, Kentucky.

The U.S. Forest Service is examining this site to:

  1. evaluate the environmental impacts;
  2. assess public health risks; and
  3. minimize the impacts associated with historic coal mining activities in this area.

Additional information about this project

Project Fact Sheet (pdf)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service invites public review and comment on potential environmental remediation at the Rock Creek abandoned coal mine sites in McCreary County, Ky. This action is in accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidance under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980.                       

An Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) summarizes possible alternatives to reduce or remove acid mine drainage impacts at the abandoned coal mine locations. This draft document and other project-related reports will be available soon for review at the Daniel Boone National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Stearns District office, and online at www.fs.usda.gov/dbnf/. Office addresses can also be found on that web page.

Public comments on the draft EE/CA will be accepted in the near future for a period of thirty (30) days. Tentative plans are to make this draft EE/CA available for public review and comments sometime in November, 2016. Comments and responses will be summarized and included in open records. Written comments may be sent to the Daniel Boone National Forest Supervisor’s Office or emailed to:

comments-southern-daniel-boone@fs.fed.us with CERCLA as the subject line.

KY: Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program now taking applications for 2017

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New measures set to enable sustained growth of the program

FRANKFORT (October 11, 2016) Kentuckians interested in participating in the industrial hemp research pilot program in 2017 are invited to submit an application with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

“The pilot research program will continue to build on the successes of the previous administration by developing research data on industrial hemp production, processing, manufacturing, and marketing for Kentucky growers,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. KDA’s objective is to expand and strengthen Kentucky’s research pilot program, so that if the federal government chooses to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, Kentucky’s growers and farmers will be positioned to thrive, prosper and ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production.”

The KDA operates its program under the authority of a provision of the 2014 federal farm bill, 7 U.S.C. § 5940 that permits industrial hemp pilot programs in states where hemp production is permitted by state law. Participants planted more than 2,350 acres of hemp in 2016 compared with 922 acres in 2015 and 33 acres in 2014, the first year of the program.

Applicants should be aware of important new measures for the 2017 research program, including the following:

· To strengthen the department’s partnership with state and local law enforcement officers, KDA will provide GPS coordinates of approved industrial hemp planting sites to law enforcement agencies before any hemp is planted. GPS coordinates must be submitted on the application. Applicants must consent to allow program staff and law enforcement officers to inspect any premises where hemp or hemp products are being grown, handled, stored, or processed.

· To promote transparency and ensure a fair playing field, KDA will rely on objective criteria, outlined in the newly released 2017 Policy Guide, to evaluate applications. An applicant’s criminal background check must indicate no drug-related misdemeanor convictions, and no felony convictions of any kind, in the past 10 years. Staff with the KDA’s industrial hemp pilot project program will consider whether applicants have complied with instructions from the department, Kentucky State Police, and local law enforcement.

· As the research program continues to grow, KDA’s hemp staff needs additional resources and manpower to administer this tremendously popular program. The addition of participant fees will enable KDA Hemp Staff to handle an increasing workload without needing additional taxpayer dollars from the General Assembly. Program applicants will be required to submit a nonrefundable application fee of $50 with their applications. Successful applicants will be required to pay additional program fees.

Grower applications must be postmarked or received by the KDA marketing office no later than November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST. Processor or handler applicants are encouraged to submit their applications by November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST.

For more information, including the 2017 Policy Guide and a downloadable application, go to kyagr.com/hemp.


Kentucky Marijuana Eradication; a timeline of news and information clips; 1990 – 2016

KY: Reginald L. Thomas, State Senator, Fall Update…

Summer seemed to come and go at a brisk pace, and, even though it has just arrived, fall appears also to be moving just as quickly. I enjoy the changing of the seasons. It presents a fitting opportunity to reflect on completed tasks as well as to focus on tasks that still need attending. The season change also serves to remind me that the 2017 Legislative Session is drawing close.

With that January 3 date looming, I have had several pieces of legislation drafted and have already pre-filed three bills. Brief synopses of the pre-filed bills are:

  • BR 138, an act relating to wages. It would increase the minimum wage incrementally, from $7.25 an hour to $8.20 beginning July 1, 2018, then to $9.15 in July 2019 and finally to $10.10 the following year. The bill would increase the minimum hourly wage for tipped workers. The employer must pay $2.13 an hour beginning on the effective date of this bill. As of July 2018, the employer would be required to pay not less than $3.05 an hour, then $3.95 in July 2019 and $4.90 in July 2020.
  • BR 97, an act relating to general principles of justification. A provision of the bill is to amend Kentucky law to require a reasonable belief that defensive force is necessary before it is justified.
  • BR 103, an act relating to oaths. It would amend KRS 6.072 to require witnesses appearing before a committee, subcommittee, or task force of the Kentucky General Assembly to take an oath prior to giving testimony.

You can assess all the pre-filed bills by clinking on the following link: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/17rs/prefiled/prefiled_sponsor_senate.htm.

In preparation of the 2017 Legislative Session, I utilized my summer trying to get more in tune to the issues that concern you. I traveled around the district and the state, attended meetings, and met with experts on an array of topics. Issues we have looked at in the past six weeks include accountability in education, non-traditional instruction days, the Zika virus, aerospace/aviation industry, and job development. A summary of some of the legislative meetings I attended in August and September follows:

  • At the August Interim Joint Committee on Education meeting, the Kentucky Commissioner of Education Stephen L. Pruitt discussed the state’s efforts to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) enacted in 2015. The ESSA was designed to allow creativity and innovation among the individual states as well as support the sovereignty of states to govern their own education policies. ESSA also provides an opportunity for each state to create a new accountability system that will be more meaningful for children.

Measures of accountability must include at least four academic indicators such as proficiency on state tests, progress on English language proficiency for ELL students, assessing student growth in elementary and middle schools, and examining the graduation rates among high school students. Commissioner Pruitt stated that Kentucky is now in the process of drafting regulations to satisfy the ESSA requirements. The Kentucky Department of Education will seek public comments on its proposed education system and related regulatory framework in November with the intent of having a new education system approved by the United States Department of Education by August, 2017.   

  • In September, the Interim Joint Committee on Education held a discussion on the Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) Program offered to Kentucky school districts. The NTI Program, or “Snow Bound Pilot” as it is sometimes called, gave districts that had missed an excessive number of school days due to weather or other emergencies the opportunity to conduct school through virtual or other non-traditional means on days that the district would normally cancel school. School districts originally eligible for this program must have missed an average of 20 school days over the previous three years. In 2014, the law was amended to delete the 20-day requirement and make all Kentucky school districts eligible to apply for the NTI Program. For the 2016-17 school year, 72 school districts have been approved by the Kentucky Department of Education for participation. In implementing the NTI Program, most districts use a blended model of instructional delivery that allows for students to chose online coursework or paper assignment delivery. The major benefit of the program is the maintenance of a continuity of learning among students.

Some of the challenges of the NTI Program are households with multiple students but only one computer and students who lack any internet access. At the end of school year 2015-16, 94% of eligible students participated in the NTI Program and 99% of all eligible teachers participated in the program.

  • The August Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare meeting focused on the impact of the Zika virus in Kentucky. Zika is a viral infection primarily spread by the bite of a mosquito. To date, there have been 18 cases of Zika reported in Kentucky, but none of these cases occurred by local transmission within the state. Symptoms of the Zika virus include rash, fever, joint pain, and red eye. The greatest risk from Zika is to pregnant women or women who become pregnant while infected. Zika has caused birth defects in newborn children and presently there is no specific treatment for the ZIka virus.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health is coordinating a response plan for the Zika virus. Steps taken by the Kentucky Department for Public Health include the following: (1) emphasizing mosquito prevention and control, (2) warning Kentuckians of the risks for travel to countries where disease transmission is actively occurring, and (3) informing pregnant women or women who are seeking to become pregnant of the risks to newborn children caused by the Zika virus.

  • The primary topic at the September Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare was the state’s social workers crisis. For several decades, Kentucky has experienced numerous and recurring problems with the service of its social workers, including a lack of accountability, secrecy in its operations, unmanageable caseloads maintained by social workers, excessive work hours, and injuries and death to social workers while performing their duties. Administrators for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services testified before the Committee that while these problems have existed, attempts are being made to correct these concerns. Administrators did admit that while state law mandates that the proper caseload for a social worker should be 12 cases, today social workers around the state are carrying an average caseload of 23 cases.

The Cabinet for Family and Health Services further mentioned that as of this month, Adult Protective Services had 4,623 cases of which 567 were past due cases, Child Protective Services had 8,801 cases of which 5,810 were past due cases. Many current and retired social workers spoke and elaborated on the heavy workload and safety problems encountered by social workers. Also, the social workers lamented that the elimination of kinship care severely reduced the number of children who were placed with relatives after being removed from the home.

  • The Interim Joint Committee on Labor, Industry, and Economic Development in August discussed the aerospace/aviation industry in Kentucky. As has been reported previously in these legislative updates, the aerospace industry is the largest manufacturing export industry in Kentucky, exporting $8.77 billion in goods in 2015.

As of June 30, 2016 the total value of goods exported by the aerospace industry in Kentucky had already exceeded $5 billion. Since 2011, there have been 51 new or expanded facilities projects in Kentucky in the field of aerospace. In 2016 alone, there is anticipated $677 million in project development resulting in 2,318 new jobs. Back in 2014, I spoke of a cutting-edge start-up company affiliated with the University of Kentucky known as Space Tango. In the last two years, Space Tango has built space platforms and orbital vehicles for use by NASA. The company has now established its own offices in downtown Lexington.

Unquestionably, the most exciting new innovation by Space Tango is the study of “exomedicine,” i.e. research of medicine in space. Space Tango is looking at how the absence of gravity can be used to find new treatments in medicine, such as in the area of cancer.

  • In September, the Interim Joint Committee on Tourism and Economic Development traveled to Shelby Valley High School in Pike County to discuss the job development currently taking place in eastern Kentucky. There was some discussion of new trails being designed in the region and of renovating and rebuilding our state parks. Jared Arnett, executive director of the Saving Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative, gave an interesting summary on Kentucky’s broadband expansion. However, the highlight of the meeting came from the questions posed by the Shelby Valley students. These young people were quite concerned about the economic despair shrouding eastern Kentucky and queried the legislators about the absence of jobs and the large number of families leaving the area to find work. The students correctly noted that it is unlikely that employment in coal mining will return, but felt that the plight of the residents had been ignored by the state.

I shared with the students three courses of action which are needed immediately to rebuild eastern Kentucky: (1) the construction of an interstate highway through eastern Kentucky connecting Pikeville with Beckley, West Virginia and Bowling Green, Kentucky, (2) the creation a state university with a research component, and (3) industrial parks that are easily accessible by commercial trucks and rail.

Stay in Touch

As the weeks continue to fly past us, I want to remind you that I value your input as I have discussions with other legislators, agencies and individuals pertaining to public policy. Please share your ideas and suggestions with me. As always, thank you for your continued support, and if I can be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to email me.

Wishing you and your family all the best,

Reginald L. Thomas

State Senator

Debate on Foreign Policy, War and Peace, scheduled for September 30th in Lexington and will include Democrat, Republican, Green Party and Libertarian Party Leaders in Kentucky

Debate in LEXINGTON KENTUCKY: Foreign Policy, War and Peace


Kentucky Green Party  Image result for Libertarian party kentucky  Image result for democrat party kentucky  Image result for republican party kentucky


See Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1804070499806582/

The panel debate will be on Friday, September 30 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm in Lexington on the campus of the Bluegrass Community & Technical College (BCTC) on Cooper Drive – Oswald Bldg. Auditorium, Room 230.

Four of the 6 participants have already confirmed, so the show will definitely go on and they include the following:

Ken Moellman, Libertarian Party

Bernadene Zennie, Green Party

Jason Belcher, a Democrat who will represent the positions of Hillary Clinton and the DNC,

T.J. Litafik, a Republican who will represent the positions of Donald Trump,

Others who have been invited are Senator Rand Paul (R) and someone designated by the Jim Gray (D) campaign as well. If Sen. Paul cannot make it, he is invited to send a surrogate.

There will be a neutral moderator and a timekeeper. All media are invited to cover the action. Initial questions will have time limits of 3 to 4 minutes per person, and will deal with topics such as the following:

“The US has approximately 700 to 900 military bases all over the world. No other country does. Is that the way things should be, and why or why not?”

Was the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney a good idea, or was it a case of illegal aggression?

Many Democratic and Republican members of Congress and candidates are expressing hostility to Russia. Is that wise?

What should the US be doing with regard to the conflict in Syria, which has been going on for the last 5 years?

Was President Obama’s bombing of Libya in 2011, which was supported by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a case of international aggression?

Should our defense budget be decreased, increased or kept about the same?”

There will also be cards for members of the audience to write questions on, if time allows. Panelists will be encouraged to rebut things other panelists say.


Moderator: Dr. Michael Benton, BCTC
Sponsors: BCTC Students for Peace & Earth Justice
Central Kentucky Council for Peace & Justice

Yours in Peace,
Geoff Young
Member, Peace Action Task Group
Central Kentucky Council for Peace & Justice
(859) 278-4966

U.S. Attorney General addresses opioid, heroin addiction during Richmond town hall



RICHMOND — U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch spoke to a crowded auditorium at a Town Hall meeting in Richmond as part of the Obama Administration’s newly designated National Prescription Opium and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.

The audience, mainly consisting of young people, was addressed on the dangers of heroin and opioid addiction, the pathways that lead to destruction, and the redeeming hope that help is available.

“I want to hear your questions, I want to hear your comments, I want to hear your ideas about how we can solve this (crisis), and about how we can prevent this,” said Lynch on Tuesday at Madison Central High School. “It’s not just putting people in jail, its about stopping it before it happens. And making sure people that do have a problem get treated.”

In her opening comments, Lynch asked the nearly 500 students if they had been considering where they would go to college, what careers they had planned for their futures, whether as journalists, doctors, law enforcement, teachers or fashion bloggers.

Then, Lynch told the students to look around at their classmates and friends and asked them to consider that last year, in Kentucky, approximately 12,000 died from opioid and heroin abuse overdoses.

“Imagine if all of you and others who fill these chairs were suddenly gone,” said Lynch. “And then that each of you had a friend, just one of your friends each, all gone. That’s what happened last year in Kentucky. That’s why this is so important.”

The chief law enforcement officer in the U.S. spoke about not only the problem of substance abuse and how to stop it, but also how to prevent it from even starting.

Lynch also put out a call to action to the students.

“We are talking to young people like you, because you have a role in this effort,” she said. “We want you to understand the issues, we went you to understand how serious it is, and we went to give you the information you need to make good choices in your own life. We also need you to look out for each other.”

During a question and answer session with local high school students, Kayla Greene, who lost her son to overdose, Tonya Snyder, MCHS social worker, Alex Elswick, a recovered addict, and MCHS student Julia Rahimzadeh, joined Lynch onstage.

Later in the day, Lynch traveled to make remarks at the University of Kentucky. Both events were part of the awareness week and the President’s Cabinet and Federal agencies’ focus on work being done/new efforts to address the national prescription opioid and heroin epidemic, according to a release by the Office of the Press Secretary.

The release also noted that Federal agencies are currently taking actions such as:

Expanding substance abuse treatment in the TRICARE system so that it includes intensive outpatient programs and treatment of opioid disorders with medication-assisted treatment.

Working with the Chinese government to combat the supply of fentanyl and its analogues from entering the U.S.

Increasing patient limits from 100 to 275 for practitioners prescribing buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorders.

Support programs that increase access to healthcare, substance abuse treatment, and educational opportunities in rural areas, such as telemedicine and distance learning.

Currently, the President is seeking $1.1 billion in new funding to combat opioid abuse.

During a press conference following the town hall meeting, Lynch told The Register, that one of the ways the Department of Justice funding specifically would assist communities on a local level would be through a grant making process that provides assistance to law enforcement through grants for additional officers, resources to help states improve their prescription drug monitoring programs and provide examples of programs that are working efficiently and consistently.

Lynch reiterated that administration wide, when treatment is spoken of, they are referring to improving and increasing the availability of treatment facilities and also treatment within local hospitals.

Critley King writes for The Richmond Register.


The Law of Unintended Consequences: Illicit for Licit Narcotic Substitution

Image result for heroin plant

Originally written July 15, 2014 at LINK below

Martin R. Huecker, MD and Hugh W. Shoff, MD, MS


The dealers will not use it. Heroin dealers have explicit knowledge of the addictive properties of their product. The heroin addict is no longer the desperate character living under a bridge. She is a 17-year-old high school senior who runs out of her grandmother’s oxycodone. He is the stockbroker who weighs the economics of purchasing one oxymorphone on the street for $100 or ten doses of heroin for $200. Because these people are ingesting and injecting products of unknown composition and unfamiliar potency, they can potentially overdose. If lucky, they end up in the emergency department rather than the morgue.

Kentucky ranks third in the nation in drug overdose mortality rate per 100,000 persons, with opioid pills making up the majority.1 In response to these statistics, the State of Kentucky passed House Bill One (HB1) in April 2012, effective October 2012. Also known as “the pill mill bill,” HB1 contains provisions intended to limit opioid prescriptions by pain management physicians and by other acute care providers such as emergency physicians. To prescribe narcotic pain medications, physicians must perform a full history and physical, prescribe only a short course, educate the patient on risks of controlled substances, and obtain a report from a statewide prescription monitoring program (PMP) (Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting [KASPER]).2

As a result, the number of registered KASPER users in Kentucky has gone from 7500 to 23,000 from December, 2011 to November, 2012. Reports are up from 3300 to 17000 in the same time frame.3 According to the same press release, Kentucky witnessed a decrease of 10.4% total prescriptions in the first six months since HB1 was enacted.3

Mandating PMP reports, as sixteen states currently do, leads to an increase in reports, but so far no statistical difference in opioid overdose mortality.1,4,5,6 In fact, this legislation may not even lower the rate of opioid consumption, rather may shift which opioids are being prescribed.6

Researchers in Ohio looked at the impact of real time PMP information on opioid prescriptions. With PMP data, providers changed prescriptions in 41% of cases; 61% giving fewer opioids but 39% prescribing more opioids.7

House Bill One was intended to and has reduced opioid prescriptions in Kentucky. Forty-four pain clinics in Kentucky closed overnight.8 Preliminary analysis at a large, metropolitan emergency department has shown a decrease in prescriptions for hydrocodone and oxycodone, along with a decrease in ED administration of these medications. This type of “pill mill” legislation has been passed in Louisiana, Florida, Texas and California with varying results.9

Florida had a sharp decrease in opioid prescriptions after similar legislation. Having 90 of the top 100 physicians on the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) 2010 list of top opioid purchasers, Florida saw the number decrease to 13 in 2011, and zero as of April 2013.10 In 2011, Ohio passed a “pill mill bill” to crack down on pain management clinics.11 This legislation led to seizing of 91,000 prescription pills with 38 doctors and 13 pharmacists losing their medical licenses. In the end, 15 medical professionals were convicted on diversion charges.11 With all of this, pill overdose deaths began to decline, but heroin overdoses “skyrocketed.”11

The unintended but foreseeable consequence of such measures has been increase in distribution, abuse, and overdose of heroin. Heroin has gained market share in a similar way in the past. In 2010, Purdue Pharma began manufacturing a reformulated OxyContin after a $600 million fine for misrepresentation.12 Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. followed in 2011 with an Opana ER reformulation. This resulted in making the pills harder to crush into powder for snorting or injecting.13,14 States such as Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, and Utah have seen patients turn to heroin after crackdown on prescription opioid availability.11,14

The New England Journal of Medicine warned us of what would be a two-fold increase in heroin use after the reformulation of Oxycontin.15 In the 2010 ODLL report, the United States DEA also attempted to warn health care organizations that Oxycontin users might switch to heroin.16,17 The first paper we know of to report this warning was published 3 years later in 2013.16 This paper, a qualitative study of the transition of opioid pill users to heroin users, provides insight into the economic and convenience factors associated with the switch. The researchers interviewed a small sample of heroin users, forty-one in all. All but one of the 19 heroin users aged 20–29 started with pills and progressed to heroin – “termed pill initiates.”16

Numerous popular news reports directly implicate decreased opioid pill availability in the rise of heroin abuse and overdose.16 However, very little discussion of this phenomenon has entered the emergency medicine literature.

The drug cartels have capitalized on the United States opioid appetite and now decreased supply of pills. The route from Mexico to Detroit, then south through Ohio, ends up in northern and central Kentucky. The Kentucky State Police recovered 433 samples of heroin in 2010. In 2012 the number was 1349.13 In Lexington, KY, the eight total heroin arrests in 2011 exploded into 160 in the first 6 months of 2013.18,19 Undercover narcotics officers in Lexington find it easier to buy heroin than marijuana.

Heroin-related overdoses in Kentucky increased from 22 cases in 2011 to 143 cases in 2012, and 170 in the first 9 months of 2013.8,20,21 Kentucky’s percentage of overdose deaths involving heroin went from 3.2 in 2011 to 19.5 in 2012 and up to 26 in 2013.8.21 This phenomenon has occurred in Florida, California, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Washington and Ohio.11,2224

The emergency medicine literature has minimal recent discussion of heroin overdose management in the ED; nor have we discussed secondary prevention. Supportive therapy suffices in the ED, with liberal naloxone use and airway protection. State and federal actions to curb heroin deaths can be effective. Good Samaritan laws, present in only one third of states, protect from prosecution those lay individuals attempting to help themselves or companions in overdose situations.

Also present in only one third of states are laws to expand community access to reversal agents such as naloxone. Twenty-two states have laws requiring or recommending education for opioid prescribers. Medicaid expansion to cover substance abuse treatment has occurred thus far in less than half (24) of states.1

As more states enact measures intended to reduce total opioid prescriptions, legislators and healthcare providers alike must be aware of the predictable and devastating rise in heroin sales, abuse, and overdose. Funding for this legislation should include monies allocated toward substance abuse treatment programs and availability of naloxone. Similarly, pill mill bills could universally be coupled with Good Samaritan laws in anticipation of the increase in parenteral opioid overdoses. Funds could be allocated to lay population education via public service announcements. Stricter punishments for drug traffickers could accompany such legislative changes. Many of these measures have been presented as interventions to combat prescription opioid abuse and can now be applied to the subsequent heroin abuse and overdose dilemma.9

At the first line of medical care, emergency physicians must be involved in efforts to minimize collateral damage in this long-term process of curing America’s addiction to opioid drugs and their horrible consequences.


Mike Lewis and the Growing Warriors

By Andrew Baker  – Sep 20, 2016



One of the things I love most about our industry is that it’s constantly being shaken up. Everywhere you look, there’s an individual or a company taking things to a previously unprecedented level. What’s even more amazing is the pace at which things are moving; a pace that’s only going to increase in speed as the industry becomes more open and recognized.

To help illustrate what I mean, think about this: If you have kids that are, say 5 years old or younger, there is a good chance that you won’t need to teach them how to drive. At least not the way you or I learned. It’s entirely possible that our kids will never have to grab a steering wheel or press a gas pedal.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait while you go ahead and put your brain back together.

But you see, these types of technological advancements aren’t being made in exclusivity. Strides like what I described above aren’t possible simply because the automobile industry is so advanced. The technology that would go into a self-driving car could be repurposed, tweaked just a little bit, and put to use in something like virtual reality. It can, and often does, work the other way around as well.

The cannabis industry is no exception, as we’re starting to see. I really enjoy tech — and I’m obsessed with entrepreneurship — so the flood of cannabis startups is an exciting thing to watch. Typing all this out makes me realize two things. One, I haven’t tackled this sort of topic in any of my previous posts. Two, I’m eager to do so for you guys.

But that’ll have to wait.

What? You thought all of that was to lead up to me covering some sort of futuristic weed tech? Nope. I just needed a good segue to what I’ll be talking about in today’s post. Who, actually, not what.

His name is Mike Lewis and he’s shaking things up in a simple but powerful way and he’s doing it with just his hands and his voice.

Mike Lewis! Who? Mike Lewis!

Aside from any readers I have out of Houston, who got the song reference?

In all seriousness though, Mike Lewis is a name you’ll come to know quite well if you don’t already. We’ll start with the basics. Mike is a proud husband, father, veteran of the United States Army and Kentucky farmer. In 2012, he established Growing Warriors, the first veteran-oriented food security organization. 

There are about one million veterans and active duty military personnel receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly referred to as food stamps. It’s also no secret that the unemployment rate among veterans is unacceptably high. (To be fair, it is declining at a considerable rate.)  Mike’s answer to this issue? Teach them how to grow and preserve their own food while banding together within their communities. This was accomplished by forming partnerships with cities, veteran hospitals, educational institutions, and community based organizations in order to provide veterans with hands on, curriculum-based learning opportunities. Since it’s inception, Growing Warriors has been able to help dozens of veteran families produce tens of thousands of pounds in organic produce.

Keep in mind that I’m just giving you a brief introduction. Mike’s, and the Growing Warriors’, efforts extend across multiple states and I could easily fill out the rest of this post by diving deep into everything they’re doing. For today, though, I want to bring your attention to what Mike and the Growing Warriors are doing for our industry, specifically the industrial hemp side of things.

Harvesting Liberty With Growing Warriors

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this short documentary film, Harvesting Liberty. Backed and presented by Patagonia, this film aims to address and shed light on the legalization of industrial hemp in the United States. Seriously, stop reading this, open that link in another tab, take the next 12 minutes of your day to watch it, then come back here to finish up and talk to me about what you think.

A couple of years ago, President Obama signed the Agriculture Act of 2014 — the Farm Bill — into effect. There’s a section of this act titled Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research. Basically, this section allows for universities and state departments of agriculture — in states where hemp is legal to grow — to grow hemp for research or pilot programs. Back in the 1800’s, Kentucky dominated the industrial hemp market. So, it’s quite fitting that a group of Kentucky farmers, Mike and the Growing Warriors, were given permission to cultivate 5 acres. 

As soon as they got their seeds, Mike “threw ‘em the ground really quickly before anybody changed their mind.”

American Hemp Flag

I found two things to be really interesting while watching that documentary and doing further research afterward.

First, the way Mike and his team go about processing the harvested hemp into useable materials. Get this: it’s done entirely by hand. When you think about it, that actually makes sense. Industrial hemp hasn’t been cultivated in America since it was listed as a Schedule I controlled substance, so of course there’s no hemp processing machinery just laying around waiting to be used. Even if there was, Mike wanted to use traditional methods to weave what he had in store. More on that in a moment, though.

They begin by using a process known as retting. Put simply, retting is the natural process of allowing moisture and microorganisms to remove the sugars in the stalk that hold all the fibers together. Once the plant has been retted completely, it’s moved to the barn for drying. What follows is called breaking, or decorticating. The hemp stalk is run through a hand powered machine that crushes the stalk and separates each of the fibers. Once separated, the fibers are spun together using spinners that are, once again, hand powered.

The second thing that really caught my interest (and by that I mean it had me grinning from ear to ear) is what they decided to make with the materials that came from this first harvest.

An American Flag. (Not sorry if I’m spoiling anything because I told you to stop and watch the documentary!)

“We made this American ingenuity with people from all walks of life. Life and society are not uniform or standardized in any way. This flag represents the bumps and ridges in our society and the great things that happen when we accept differences and work to solve problems. It represents all of us and our future.”

Nationwide Legalization of Industrial Hemp

On the 4th of July, Mike delivered that flag to Congress along with a speech in support of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015/2016. This act proposes the nationwide legalization of industrial hemp cultivation, something I’ll be digging into in a later article.

Mike takes a stance that you don’t see often in this industry and its activists. While he’s obviously in full support of legalization and bringing industrial hemp farming back to America, he also recognizes the need to take it slow. There’s a lot of mistakes left to be made and we need to let those kinks get worked out before attempting to blow up the market. Not only that, but there’s a ton of misinformation out there when it comes to hemp. Most of the public still doesn’t understand that hemp isn’t the same as its THC-laden counterpart cannabis.  

There’s a lot that can be said about Mike Lewis and all the work he’s putting out into the world. If I had to pick one thing, it would be that he’s solid proof that you don’t have to be a high tech startup out of San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, or Denver to effect real change on the cannabis industry. Those types of businesses have their place and I’m rooting for them. I just think it’s important that you don’t forget that there’s a place for you outside of an office space, if that’s where you’d rather be.

Interested in growing hemp or getting involved? You can learn more over at the National Hemp Association and the Hemp Industries Association.