The Coming War: Securing Our Right to Grow our own Cannabis from the Global Corporations

https://scontent.fftk1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/35061190_2177486258934164_956049034210967552_n.jpg?_nc_cat=0&oh=98c73220a11fc8a7f7e5f5c1fbaa3b35&oe=5C281AD4

Bruce Cain·Saturday, June 9, 2018

50 years ago (1968) I was a young Unitarian Hippie of 14 years of age. Despite the Viet Nam War the Hippie Era was well underway, throughout the entire planet. There was a widely held feeling that us Hippies were about the change the world for the better. If you were not alive then it is very difficult to understand how significantly the Hippie Era effected world culture for nearly 10 years (1965 – 1975). So it was in 1968 that I first smoked Marijuana and took my first hit of LSD.

For the life of me I could never understand why anyone would want to restrict adults from using or growing their own Marijuana. It had very little effect on one’s motor skills compared with Alcohol, Heroin and a whole long list of other drugs. So even back then I dreamed of a future society where adults could simply grow their own Cannabis without the fear of government oppression. Fast forward to 2018 I’m not so sure we are very much closer to that goal. In fact that dream of mine may be close to getting dashed forever unless we can foment a global movement to permanently guarantee our rights to grow and consume Cannabis.

In my last essay I made clear that I would not support the latest Marijuana initiative that will appear on the ballot in November of 2018. As I hope you will understand, by the end of this essay, it will probably have no effect either way. There is a much larger agenda at play for the global corporate control of Cannabis: both recreational and medicinal.

So let us start by summarizing the last 10 years of Cannabis activism in Michigan.

* In 2008 we passed Medical Marijuana Initiative by a landslide margin of 63% of the voters and majorities in every county. It was a stunning victory largely financed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) who put up between 2-4 million dollars to collect the signatures and get it on the ballot.

If you wanted to be a grower (e.g, caregiver) you could get 6 licences allowing you to grow as many as 72 plants. Dispensaries went up like Star Bucks Coffee shops and the growers were able to sell their overage to the dispensaries. It was not unussual to see growers rake in $100,000 a year due to the passage of this initiative. It created thousands of jobs and most certainly helped the local economies as they spent their money of food, clothing entertainment etc.

But it did not take long for the state legislature to begin gutting the new law. First they allowed the list of growers to be shared with local law enforcement which was prohibited in the original initiative.

* On September 21st, 2016 Governor Snyder signed to following 3 bills regarding Marijuana.

Here are the bills Snyder signed:

===== * House Bill 4209, now Public Act 281, creates the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act to license and regulate the growth, processing, transport and provisioning of medical marijuana. The House approved it 83-22.

* House Bill 4210, now Public Act 282, amends the voter-initiated Michigan Medical Marihuana Act to allow for the manufacture and use of marijuana-infused products by qualified patients. The House approved it 93-12.

* House Bill 4827, now Public Act 283, creates the Marihuana Tracking Act and a seed-to-sale tracking system to track all medical marijuana. The House approved it 85-20.

Gov. Snyder signs medical marijuana bills clarifying dispensaries, edibles Updated on September 21, 2016 http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/09/gov_snyder_signs_medical_marij.html =====

This action, by Snyder and the legislature, basically paved the way for a “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” and the eventually elimination of “home grows” ability to sell their overage to local dispensaries. In the link above you will find links to all three bills. When these “Corporate Cannabis State Monopolies” are up and running, at the end of 2018, those that continue selling their overage will probably find themselves in prison. And as Kathleen Chippi (activist from Colorado) explained they WILL soon be coming after home grows as well.

===== Kathleen Chippi: It’s a shame people don’t realize that what THEY promise is the opposite of what you get. CO is witnessing the demise of 2 Constitutional Amendments that legally cannot be altered w/o a vote of “we the people”. Home grow after home grow being raided because some new neighbor who moved here complains about the LAWFUL smell of cannabis or some old neighbor who hates you just calling to ‘report’. Wait until the $1,000 dollar a day fines (per plant) start being ‘enforced’. Never thought I would dream the good old days of straight up prohibition. Now the fools who buy the pesticide/mold ridden state licensed weed put millions into funding (un-constitutional) home grow busts and DARE like propaganda–something we rarely read about is now a daily thing and the call it “legalization”.

Kathleen Chippi imho, states that have not fake legalized (ADDED 1,200 plus pages of new pot PROHIBITIONS) will be in a better position IF the Feds ever repeal prohibition-because you will start with a blank slate–states like CO now have to fund/repeal dozens upon dozens of what where un-necessary PROHIBITIONS…. =====

And as this article makes crystal clear the end of “home grows” and the rise of “Corporate Cannabis State Monopolies” is happening throughout the United States. In fact it is happening around the world.

===== But some potential growers believe the ruling will squeeze the smaller operators out of Michigan’s lucrative medical marijuana industry.

“They’re doing everything they can do to shut down the mom and pops,” said Jason Durham, a medical marijuana cardholder and caregiver, who grows medicinal cannabis for five patients, but hopes to be awarded a license to grow up to 500 plants. “They want it to be one corporation that has control so they only have to babysit and monitor one business.”

It will be more expensive for the large-scale growers to get into the business. Everyone seeking a license will have to pay an application fee that will carry a cost of between $4,000 and $8,000 depending on the number of applications received. But the regulatory assessment will carry a sliding scale cost ranging from $10,000 for the smallest grower up to $57,000 for large growers, transporters and dispensaries.

The applicants also will have to prove they have the capital for the operation and carry enough insurance and security.

. .

Applications for the five categories of medical marijuana licenses — for growers, processors, transporters, testers and dispensaries — will be available on Dec. 15, and the Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board will begin awarding licenses in the spring of 2018.

The medical marijuana business, once the newly regulated business is up and running, is expected to generate $711 million in sales a year and $21 million a year in tax revenues for the state.

Robin Schneider, legislative liaison for the National Patients’ Rights Association, which advocates for safe and legal access to medical marijuana, said she understands the department’s desire to stick to the letter of the law, which said the number of licenses can’t be mandated, “But there is the potential that they’ll take away opportunities for smaller business owners.”

In other states, large-scale grow operations are well underway. In southern California, Canndescent, a 9,600-square-foot marijuana grow facility opened in September with plans to expand to 100,000 square feet of growing space now that voters have approved marijuana for recreational use in November. And in Massachusetts, Americann has the option to purchase a 52-acre parcel of land, which would be transformed into greenhouses and processing facilities.

Durham hopes that won’t become the landscape in Michigan.

“It will make it almost impossible for us small guys to get into the market,” he said.

Michigan regulators will allow mega-growers of medical marijuana into the state Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press Sept. 28, 2017 https://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/2017/09/28/michigan-medical-marijuana-growers/714595001/ =====

The 2018 Marijuana Initiative: “Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” (CRMLA)

So I spoke with Josh Hovey, spokesman for CRMLA on June 8th, 2018.

In defense of the ballot initiative he said it would allow adults to have 12 plants without getting a card. While I did think that was better than having to get a “card” I said it is probably not going to matter. It only took 10 years to debase the 2008 Medical Marijuana Initiative and chances are the legislature will soon legislate against home grows as they are currently doing in Colorado and other states. I told him I was not going to support it. Furthermore I said what will it really matter once the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” is up an running by the end of 2018. This initiative will do nothing to stop the destruction of thousands of jobs (growers, trimmers, dispensaries, dispensary personnel etc.). Oddly he did not disagree.

The rise of the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopolies” reminds me of an old joke about “Potentially and Realistically.” And here is the joke:

===== A boy went up to his father and asked him, “Dad, what is the difference between potentially and realistically?”

The father thought for a moment, then answered, “Go ask your mother if she would sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars.”

Then ask your sister if she would sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars, and then, ask your brother if he’d sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars. Come back and tell me what you learn from that.”

So the boy went to his mother and asked, “Would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars?” The mother replied, “Of course I would! We could really use that money to fix up the house and send you kids to a great University!”

The boy then went to his sister and asked, “Would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars?” The girl replied, “Oh my God! I LOVE Brad Pitt I would sleep with him in a heartbeat, are you nuts?!?!? “

The boy then went to his brother and asked, “Would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars?” “Of course,” the brother replied. “Do you know how much a million bucks would buy?”

The boy pondered the answers for a few days, then went back to his dad. His father asked him, “Did you find out the difference between potentially and realistically?” The boy replied, “Yes… Potentially, you and I are sitting on Three Million Dollars..but Realistically,we’re living with two whores and a homosexual.” ======

So potentially you can grow a lot of Cannabis in a year. But since you can no longer sell your overage realistically there is no longer any point in growing any more than you can consume in a year.

For those that know anything about growing Cannabis here is a short summary of yields from indoor growing. The rest of you can skip this.

===== A typical indoor grower usually sets up a sustainable garden consisting of mother plants, veg plants, clones and bloom plants. The grower cuts clones from the mother plant. Once the clones root they are put in soil and grow into veg plants with a 16 hours light cycle. When they are of appropriate height they are put into bloom stage by altering to a 12 hour light cycle.

Most growers use 1000 Watt High Discharge Lamps (HDL’s) for both Veg and Bloom stage growth. You can put a single large veg plant of a few smaller plants under each 1000 Watt Lamp. The bloom cycle is ussually between 8 and 9 weeks. If you are a seasoned grower you can get as much as 1 gram per watt. If you are a rank beginner you can still get about .5 gram per watt. So every 2 months you can basically get between 16 and 32 ounces of bud from each lamp. Yes this is a vast simplification of growing under lamps. Some Sativa varieties can have a bloom cycle as long as 13 weeks. ====

Then I asked him if it was possible to determine who is really putting up the money for this. Both the 2008 and 2016 initiatives are being financed by MPP. But where is MPP getting all the money I asked. So he said I could go to the Secretary of State Campaign database which I did.

The numbers just don’t add up. Not even close. After about a half hour digging through the state website I finally found the list of contributors but the information was sketchy and they don’t even have a total figure. My own guesstimate is that they collected about $217,000.

Here is the document from which I calculated that figure:

Michigan Campaign Statement Contributions Committee Name: COALITION TO REGULATE MARIJUANA LIKE ALCOHOL https://cfrsearch.nictusa.com/documents/453526/details/filing/contributions?schedule=%2A&changes=0

You can also go through all the campaign finance data here:

===== Michigan Campaign Finance Statement Detail Committee Name: COALITION TO REGULATE MARIJUANA LIKE ALCOHOL Statement Type: ANNUAL CS Statement Year: 201 Select the section of the filing to be displayed:

Cover Page Summary Page Contributions Itemized Direct Contributions Itemized Other Receipts Itemized In-Kind Contributions Expenditures Itemized Direct Expenditures Incidental Office Expense Disbursements Get Out the Vote Activities Itemized In-Kind Expenditures Debts & Obligations Fund-raisers

https://cfrsearch.nictusa.com/documents/453526/details?type=web =====

That does not even come close the the 5 to 8 million they expect to spend before November 2018.

===== The group pushing the ballot proposal spent most of the $651,736 it had raised so far on paying the National Petition Management team, which collected the signatures for the ballot proposal.

And the Committee to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol is now in debt to the tune of $257,484 owed to consultants, attorneys and fund-raisers.

“We’re focused right now on paying off our campaign debts. But our fund-raising continues to go strong. We have a lot of large and small donors across the state and country,” Hovey said. “Ideally, we’d like to raise $8 million for the campaign, but we’re aiming at between $5 million and $8 million.”

Marijuana legalization effort vaults a hurdle with no outside challenge to signatures Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press Feb. 9, 2018 https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2018/02/09/marijuana-legalization-effort-signatures/321236002/ =====

So I will press Hovey to provide a complete list of contributors though I highly doubt that will EVER be provided.

The Real Global Forces behind the Corporate Control of Cannabis

The biggest contributor to Corporate Cannabis Legalization is George Soros who has spent over $80 million dollars between 1994 and 2014. He has financed, or help finance, every Marijuana State Initiative since the first Medical Marijuana Initiative: Prop215 (CA, 1996).

===== Billionaire philanthropist George Soros hopes the U.S. goes to pot, and he is using his money to drive it there.

With a cadre of like-minded, wealthy donors, Mr. Soros is dominating the pro-legalization side of the marijuana debate by funding grass-roots initiatives that begin in New York City and end up affecting local politics elsewhere.

Through a network of nonprofit groups, Mr. Soros has spent at least $80 million on the legalization effort since 1994, when he diverted a portion of his foundation’s funds to organizations exploring alternative drug policies, according to tax filings.

His spending has been supplemented by Peter B. Lewis, the late chairman of Progressive Insurance Co. and an unabashed pot smoker who channeled more than $40 million to influence local debates, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. The two billionaires’ funding has been unmatched by anyone on the other side of the debate.

Mr. Soros makes his donations through the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit he funds with roughly $4 million in annual contributions from his Foundation to Promote an Open Society.

Mr. Soros also donates annually to the American Civil Liberties Union, which in turn funds marijuana legalization efforts, and he has given periodically to the Marijuana Policy Project, which funds state ballot measures.

George Soros’ real crusade: Legalizing marijuana in the U.S. By Kelly Riddell – The Washington Times – Wednesday, April 2, 2014 =====

Another article puts his contributions (1994 – 2014) at $200 million.

===== Financier George Soros has become one of the largest supporters of drug reforms ranging from medical marijuana use to the easing of sentencing for drug charges. His foundation has donated about $200 million to drug reforms since 1994, double what most people had estimated until now.

An Inside Look At The Biggest Drug Reformer In The Country: George Soros October 2, 2014 https://www.forbes.com/sites/chloesorvino/2014/10/02/an-inside-look-at-the-biggest-drug-reformer-in-the-country-george-soros/#78d492e31e29 =====

===== George Soros appears to be a hero of the cannabis movement — helping states (and even an entire country) pass legislation for medical and recreational use. But he also has strong ties with the pharmaceutical industry and Monsanto as a major stock holder — the same chemical corporation and biotech giant that developed Agent Orange, DDT, PCBs, toxic pesticides, rBGH, Roundup Ready and genetically engineered Frankenfoods. While the widely circulated urban myth that Monsanto is currently developing genetically modified cannabis is false, if you dig a bit deeper, it turns out the corporation quietly conducts research projects on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana for the apparent purpose of genetically modifying the plant at a future date.

Engdahl believes it doesn’t take a large stretch of the imagination to see that Monsanto could very well be laying the groundwork for a future controlling patented cannabis seeds, especially since Uruguay’s president Mujica has expressed a desire to create unique genetic codes for marijuana within his country in order to undermine the blackmarket. Monsanto could easily step in and accommodate Mujica’s wish, considering the history the biotech corporation has had in Uruguay over the decades growing GMO soybeans and maize.

Back in the United States, it’s interesting to note that the criminalization of both industrial hemp and marijuana has been financially lucrative for a range of industries, like the prison system and military-industrial complex, along with the banking, fossil fuel, timber, cotton and pharmaceutical industries. In light of this, Conrad Justice Kiczenski warns:

“The next stage in continuing this control is in the regulation, licensing and taxation of Cannabis cultivation and use through the only practical means available to the corporate system, which is through genetic engineering and patenting of the Cannabis genome.”

Monsanto, Big Pharma, George Soros, and the Push to Legalize Marijuana https://wakeup-world.com/2016/07/20/monsanto-big-pharma-george-soros-and-the-push-to-legalize-marijuana/ =====

So where is all of this leading?

I predict that the first thing we can look forward too (just kidding) is that State Governments will start cracking down on anyone the tries to sell their overrage. Next they will start instituting “cards,” zoning ordinances, home inspections and various fines for home growers in general. It is already well underway in Colorado where the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopolies” are all ready up and running. At some point expect that they will try to criminalize home growing in general.

The next thing that will happen is that Big Pharma will start patenting seeds, patenting various Cannabinoids (CBD, THC, CBG etc.). Next there will probably be a war between “Corporate Cannabis State Monopolies,” Big Pharma and perhaps Big Tobacco. How that will unfold I have no idea. But what IS clear is the Big Boys are going to have a huge incentive to put home growers completely out of business.

So what do we need to do to stop this?

I think we need to begin working both locally and globally. After all you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight and you don’t fight global corporations through local initiatives. Yes we need to fight this at a global level by uniting Cannabis consumers and producers throughout the planet.

I already did this with International Drug Policy Day (1990 – 1996) which grew to about 66 worldwide protests/teach-ins annually by 1996. Dana Beal continued this tradition in 2000 with the Million Marijuana March which has grown to nearly 800 worldwide events by May 2018. You can read more about that in this essay:

The Global Marijuana March originated with International Drug Policy Day in May 1990 https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/the-global-marijuana-march-originated-with-international-drug-policy-day-in-may-/2393282000697774/

Both IDPD and the GMM occur on the first Saturday in May. I see no need to change the date as there are many good reasons for this particular date. But this time around we need to make very specific demands that are both clear and specific. The most important will be a demand for “True Legalization.” And basically this will mean all adults should have the absolute inalienable right to “grow their” own Cannabis. No “cards,” licences, home inspections, zoning prohibitions etc. The government should have no more control than a dead ghost on a bright sunny day. It might also be nice to develop an open source community to teach the masses as to the best practices for growing, making butter, oils etc.

The second demand should be for a free market for the production of dry herb, oils and anything else individuals might want to produce. I would suggest that dispensaries should be wholly dependent on small growers in order to provide millions of jobs and keeping the profits within local communities. I think we should also eliminate any more taxation, regulation or control over this most sacred plant. This is what I proposed years ago with my MERP Model which is really an extension of the “Hippie Distribution Model” that was wholly responsible for production and distribution between 1965 and 1996. In essence you are not taxed but you cannot write off anything on your taxes: nutrients, electricity, lights etc. And with this model there will be no need for government involvement.

There are also other provisions that should probably be added:

* No patents on seeds or Cannabinoids.

* No GMO Cannabis period. ===== Why it is important to fight against GMO Cannabis and patents on Cannabis seeds, Cannabinoids — anything pertaining to Cannabis — right NOW!

I would not support this bill Trump may support. If you are not going to completely deschedule Cannabis, from the CSA schedule then, as far as I’m concerned, it is Dead on Arrival. IF you read the article carefully it is clear the bill does not do that. LOL

Let us get beyond the Reefer Madness Bullshit. Read my essay above and just think about this for a moment.

Soros has financed every damn initiative back to Prop215 (CA, 1996). In Prop215 “card” were encouraged but not required . . . I do believe. All succeeding initiatives: “cards” required.

I have always suspected the cards to be somewhat of a “poison pill” with origins back to 1996. Perhaps they didn’t see the smart meters coming later, that could achieve the same purpose — identifying home grows when the time came to get rid of them.

So “why” might Soros demanded the “cards.” Could it have been he foresaw monopolizing Cannabis via GMO Cannabis (terminator genes etc.). I mean Monsanto has pretty much done that with the US supply of Soy, Corn etc. And after all GMO farming did begin in the early 1990’s. AND he is heavily invested in Monsanto and favors GMO Cannabis.

Furthermore Rescheduling Cannabis would give great advantage to Big Pharma or even Big Tobacco. That has pretty much been agreed upon from many articles I’ve read.

So then comes the question with Trump . . . who I did vote for by the way. How cozy is he with Monsanto (or whatever it is called now, LOL) and how cognizant is he of the real underlying issues. And even if he is cognizant . . . does he care. Like I said I voted Trump because I could not vote for Hillary. But I do not agree with all he’s done and he is what I call a “blunt instrument.”

Any thoughts on this theory?

President Trump says he’ll ‘probably’ support newly-proposed ‘STATES Act’ marijuana bill https://www.theindychannel.com/nct/national/president-trump-says-he-ll-probably-support-newly-proposed-states-act-marijuana-bill

===== I’m sure I’m missing a few things but this is a good starting point. I would encourage people suggest additions of their own.

During the research for this essay I have found some very informative articles that should help expand and clarify what I have just finished writing here. Please take some time to read through them at your leisure.

===== Ohio’s Weed War: Corporations, Activists Clash Over Legal Pot Why are corporate raiders and old-school activists locked in a battle for the soul of the marijuana movement? 10/23/2015 https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-ohio-weed-war-20151023

An Inside Look At The Biggest Drug Reformer In The Country: George Soros OCT 2, 2014 https://www.forbes.com/sites/chloesorvino/2014/10/02/an-inside-look-at-the-biggest-drug-reformer-in-the-country-george-soros/#78d492e31e29

Monsanto, Big Pharma, George Soros, and the Push to Legalize Marijuana https://wakeup-world.com/2016/07/20/monsanto-big-pharma-george-soros-and-the-push-to-legalize-marijuana/

The War on Weed: Monsanto, Bayer, and the Push for “Corporate Cannabis” https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-war-on-weed-monsanto-bayer-and-the-push-for-corporate-cannabis/5534771

Cannabis -Marijuana: The “War on Weed” Is Winding Down – But Will Monsanto/Bayer Be the Winner? https://www.globalresearch.ca/cannabis-the-war-on-weed-is-winding-down-but-will-monsantobayer-be-the-winner/5532555?

George Soros’ real crusade: Legalizing marijuana in the U.S. By Kelly Riddell – The Washington Times – Wednesday, April 2, 2014 https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/2/billionaire-george-soros-turns-cash-into-legalized/

Michigan regulators will allow mega-growers of medical marijuana into the state Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press Sept. 28, 2017 https://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/2017/09/28/michigan-medical-marijuana-growers/714595001/

Why Pro-Pot Advocates Are Happy Michigan Didn’t Just Legalize Weed (06/2018) https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/michigans-marijuana-law-w521129

The War on Drug Laws: Fundraising in Marijuana Legalization Campaigns by by J T Stepleton | 2016-06-23 https://www.followthemoney.org/research/institute-reports/the-war-on-drug-laws-fundraising-in-marijuana-legalization-campaigns

Marijuana Policy Project https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cycle=2018&cmte=C00389882

The Money in Marijuana: The political landscape https://www.opensecrets.org/news/issues/marijuana/

Marijuana Policy Project https://www.mpp.org/

Marijuana Policy Project From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marijuana_Policy_Project

Marijuana Policy Project cuts staff amid funding challenges Published June 7, 2018 | By Jeff Smith https://mjbizdaily.com/marijuana-policy-project-cuts-staff-amid-funding-challenges/

Marijuana Industrial News http://mjinews.com/ http://mjinews.com/tag/ballot/

New ordinance may cap number of marijuana dispensaries in Detroit Katrease Stafford, Detroit Free Press June 7, 2018 https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2018/06/07/new-ordinance-may-cap-marijuana-dispensaries-detroit/681024002/

Do Lotteries Really Benefit Public Schools? The Answer is Hazy Updated June 12, 2017 https://www.publicschoolreview.com/blog/do-lotteries-really-benefit-public-schools-the-answer-is-hazy

What percentage of lottery money goes to Michigan schools? Kim Russell Feb 12, 2016 https://www.wxyz.com/news/what-percentage-of-lottery-money-goes-to-michigan-schools

Cannabis Prohibition Nullification and the 10th Amendment Posted on September 25, 2013 https://xcannabis.net/2013/09/25/cannabis-prohibition-nullification-and-the-10th-amendment/

I would have never supported legalization if I knew it’d end this way Posted on September 12, 2017 https://xcannabis.net/2017/09/12/not-support-legalization/

Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol https://www.regulatemi.org/

Canada’s Senate votes to legalise recreational marijuana Long-term goal of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party set to be realised after Conservative senators defeated https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/canada-weed-legalised-marijuana-recreational-senate-vote-justin-trudeau-a8388996.html

CONTINUE READING…

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Kentucky State Police to Resume Costly Helicopter Marijuana Eradication Campaign

Thomas H. Clarke | July 1, 2013

OWENSBORO, KY — Kentucky State Police helicopters will return to the skies in search of marijuana fields as part of the agency’s annual marijuana eradication campaign.

Rising fuel costs and a shrinking eradication budget will force the helicopters out of the air sooner than in years past, and the agency plans on reducing blanket flights in search of marijuana fields, instead focusing their attention on areas where marijuana has been found growing in the past.

Police helicopters cost about $200 per hour to fly, making the program an expensive tool in the war against marijuana.

The program, which lasts for about a week in conjunction with the Kentucky State Police and the National Guard will focus on the Eastern part of the state.

Even police officials admit the program barely makes a dent in Kentucky’s underground marijuana growing, which is widespread due partly to the ideal growing conditions in the state.

Kentucky State Trooper Corey King said so much marijuana is grown in eastern Kentucky that most of the plots they find through the program are grown as decoys, while the actual crop is hidden, grown elsewhere.

“They intentionally grow large areas for our suppression team to find,” King said. “It takes the focus off other areas.”

The helicopter program will also investigate suspected marijuana grows as reported by tips from the public.

CONTINUE READING…

“We are asking the Council to adopt a Lowest Law Enforcement Priority for cannabis possession in Jefferson County”

Image may contain: people sitting and indoor

RE: LOUISVILLE METRO COUNCIL AND MARIJUANA                 ENFORCEMENT.

Dan Seum

3 hrs ·

We will be addressing Metro Council this evening at 6:00.

 We are asking the Council to adopt a Lowest Law Enforcement Priority for cannabis possession in Jefferson County.

No more arrests Or citations for simple cannabis possession!

We have support in the council and we need the support of those who are skeptical….Please attend this meeting, and subsequent meetings, to show support for the Ordinance…Below is the written speech that I will use to plea for the ordinance…

Let’s Fill the room!

My name is Dan Seum, Jr.

I represent the majority of Kentucky and Jefferson County Citizens who believe cannabis should be legalized for medicinal and responsible adult use.

Polls throughout Kentucky have proven that the majority of our voting public support cannabis legalization. A most recent poll conducted by WHAS in Jefferson County reported over 85% approve of legalization to help with Kentucky’s pension crisis.

The enforcement of marijuana possession laws needlessly ensnares thousands of our otherwise law-abiding citizens into the criminal justice system and wastes millions of Kentucky taxpayers’ dollars that could be better invested in our communities. What’s more, it is carried out with staggering racial bias. Despite being a priority for police departments nationwide, the War on Marijuana has failed to reduce marijuana use and availability. In any given year Kentucky ranks #1,2, or 3 in marijuana production as well as exports.

All wars are expensive, and the War on Marijuana has been no different. Not only has our state and local governments blown millions that could have been otherwise invested, the personal cost to those arrested is often significant and can linger for years. When people are arrested for possessing even tiny amounts of marijuana, it can have dire collateral consequences that affect their eligibility for public housing and student financial aid, employment opportunities, and child custody determinations.

According to the ACLU’s original analysis, marijuana arrests now account for over half of all drug arrests in the United States. Nationwide, the arrest data revealed one consistent trend: significant racial bias. Despite roughly equal usage rates, Blacks are 4 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana. Most people arrested cannot afford a $500 bond levied upon them and are forced to remain in jail until a formal hearing, which is another tremendous cost to the taxpayer.

There were 678 marijuana arrests in Jefferson County in 2016. That’s more than cocaine, meth and heroin combined. That doesn’t seem like a lot for Jefferson County but it doesn’t tell the whole picture. Even if the police just issue you a citation you still have a record and that record may follow you around for a long time. Defendants are forced into drug classes, which can be costly. There is subsequent drug testing, which is amazingly counterproductive as it incentivizes people to use spice, or opiates that are not detected as long.

Frankfort has failed to advance cannabis legislation year after year. We are asking that Our Metro Council adopt an ordinance making cannabis possession the Lowest Law Enforcement Priority of the Louisville Metro Police Department. We believe your unified voice of approval will send a message to our mayor and to Frankfort. Please lead us as we are determined to end the war on medical and responsible cannabis consumers.

SOURCE LINK

legalize-marijuana-leaf-red-white-blue-flag-300x300BELOW IS THE ORDINANCE AS WRITTEN:

LOWEST LAW ENFORCEMENT PRIORITY ORDINANCE FOR CANNABIS POSSESSION

We the people of Louisville ordain that investigations, citations, arrests, property seizures, and prosecutions for cannabis possession, cultivation or use in the Louisville metro area are the lowest law enforcement priority of the Louisville Metro Police Department. The Louisville Metro Council shall transmit notification of the enactment of this initiative to the state and federal elected officials who represent the city of Louisville, the Governor of Kentucky, The President of the United States of America and The Secretary General of the United Nations.

Findings:

(a) Current federal and state policies needlessly harm the citizens of Louisville. Numerous bills have been filed to remove criminal penalties for cannabis possession in the state legislature over the last five years and the Commonwealth has failed to act.

(b) The Institute of Medicine has found that cannabis has medicinal value and is not a gateway drug. Evidence shows cannabis is actually an exit drug from alcohol and opiate addiction.

(c) Cannabis is incorrectly scheduled and should be removed from federal scheduling.

(d) Louisville should determine its cannabis policies locally and Metro Council would prefer to move away from incarceration. We believe a regulated market that allows adult possession and medical use for minors under a doctor’s care should replace the current failed policies.

(e) Louisville Metro Council believes that current state laws punish medical patients unfairly and fail to reflect the reality of responsible adult use.

(f) Louisville Metro Council believes sufficient evidence exists to conclude cannabis prohibition, especially through drug testing, creates a bias toward alcohol and more dangerous drugs. This bias has exacerbated prescription drug abuse and is casual to the creation/use of synthetic marijuana.

(g) Law enforcement resources would be better spent fighting serious and violent crimes.

(h) Decades of arresting millions of cannabis users have failed to control cannabis use or reduce its availability. Metro Council believes that a regulated market would be more effective than the current black market at limiting youth access.

(i) Cannabis prohibition disproportionately affects low income and minority communities.

Definitions:

For the purposes of this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this section:

a) “Adult” means an individual who is 18 years of age or older.

(b) “Louisville Metro law enforcement officer” means a member of the Louisville Metro Police Department or any other city agency or department that engages in law enforcement activity.

(c) “Lowest law enforcement priority” means a priority such that all law enforcement activities related to all offenses other than adult, personal-use cannabis offenses shall be a higher priority than all law enforcement activities related to cannabis offenses, where the cannabis was intended for adult personal use, other than the exceptions designated in this chapter.

(d) “Cannabis” means all parts of the cannabis plant, whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or its resin.

Directives:

(a) Louisville Metro law enforcement officers shall make law enforcement activity relating to cannabis offenses, where the cannabis was intended for adult personal use, their lowest law enforcement priority. Law enforcement activities relating to cannabis offenses include, but are not limited to, investigation, citation, arrest, seizure of property, or providing assistance to the prosecution of adult cannabis offenses.

(b) This lowest law enforcement priority policy shall not apply to use of cannabis on public property or driving under the influence.

(c) This lowest law enforcement priority policy shall apply to cooperating with state or federal agents to arrest, cite, investigate, prosecute, or seize property from adults for cannabis offenses included in the lowest law enforcement priority policy.

(d) Louisville Metro law enforcement officers shall not accept or renew formal deputation or commissioning by a federal law enforcement agency if such deputation or commissioning will include investigating, citing, arresting, or seizing property from adults for cannabis offenses included in the lowest law enforcement priority policy.

(e) Louisville shall not accept any federal funding that would be used to investigate, cite, arrest, prosecute, or seize property from adults for cannabis offenses included in the lowest law enforcement priority policy. This shall not prevent Louisville from receiving any federal funding not used for purposes contrary to this chapter.

Oversight:

(a) The Louisville Metro Council shall ensure the timely implementation of this chapter by:

(1) Designing, with consultation with the Louisville Metro Police Department, a supplemental report form for Louisville Metro law enforcement officers to use to report all adult cannabis arrests, citations, and property seizures and all instances of officers assisting in state or federal arrests, citations, and property seizures for any adult cannabis offenses. The supplemental report form shall be designed with the goal of allowing the Metro Council to ascertain whether the lowest law enforcement priority policy was followed;

(2) Receiving grievances from individuals who believe they were subjected to law enforcement activity contrary to the lowest law enforcement priority policy;

(3) Requesting additional information from any Louisville Metro law enforcement officer who engaged in law enforcement activity relating to one or more cannabis offenses under circumstances which appear to violate the lowest law enforcement priority policy. An officer’s decision not to provide additional information shall not be grounds for discipline; and

(4) Reporting semi-annually on the implementation of this chapter, with the first report being issued nine months after the enactment of this chapter. These reports shall include but not necessarily be limited to: the number of all arrests, citations, property seizures, and prosecutions for cannabis offenses in Louisville; the breakdown of all cannabis arrests and citations by race, age, specific charge, and classification as infraction, misdemeanor, or felony; any instances of law enforcement activity that the Metro Council believes violated the lowest law enforcement priority policy; and the estimated time and money spent by the city on law enforcement and punishment for adult cannabis offenses. These reports shall be made with the cooperation of the County District Attorney’s Office, the Louisville Metro Police Department, and any other Louisville law enforcement agencies in providing needed data.

(b) Louisville law enforcement officers shall submit to the Metro Council a supplemental report within seven calendar days after each adult cannabis arrest, citation, or property seizure or instance of assisting in a state or federal arrest, citation, or property seizure for any adult cannabis offense in Metro Louisville.

Notifications:

Beginning three months after the enactment of this chapter, the city clerk shall execute a mandatory and ministerial duty of sending letters on an annual basis to the Louisville’s U.S. Representative, both of Louisville’s U.S. Senators, Louisville’s Senators and Representative members in the Kentucky State Legislature, the Governor of Kentucky, the President of the United States and the UN Secretary-General. This letter shall state, “The citizens of Louisville, Kentucky have passed an initiative to de-prioritize adult cannabis offenses, where the cannabis is intended for personal adult use or medical use by minors under a doctor’s care, and we request that State, Federal and International governments take immediate steps to enact similar laws.” This duty shall be carried out until state, federal and international laws are changed accordingly.

Enforceability; Severability:

All sections of this chapter are mandatory. A violation of this chapter is not a criminal offense.

If any provision of this chapter or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the chapter and the application of such provisions to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

Received from Tom Rector Jr.

ADDITIONALLY:

Tom Rector Jr.

Yesterday at 3:18 PM ·

I applaud the the city for taking this step in diverting low-level drug offenses to treatment instead of jail. Our “no arrests for cannabis” ordinance we introduced fits perfectly with this harm reduction strategy. Louisville citizens who possess cannabis don’t need treatment unless other drugs are involved.

I’m feeling really good about getting our cannabis ordinance passed, so come and support us tomorrow night Thursday at 6 p.m. 601 West Jefferson at the Louisville Metro Council meeting. We have three great speakers:

Dan Seum
Matthew Bratcher
Sean Vandevander

Join me and support these folks. Let’s get Kentucky’s two largest cities, Louisville and Lexington, to stop arresting people for cannabis BEFORE the 2019 KGA session!

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Access Louisville: LEAD pilot program @LMPD @voamid @louisvillemayor @JeffCoAttyKY

What is LEAD? LEAD is an is an innovative…

Legal cannabis must be option for pain sufferers, panelists say

He didn’t like the black market, so he cultivated at his home. He was arrested and received five years of probation.

HENDERSON – Advocates for medicinal marijuana said Tuesday the time is now to push for statewide legalization.

They said research is clear that cannabis helps those suffering from a variety of painful conditions, yet, the word marijuana is still taboo for many in society.

Jaime Montalvo deals daily with multiple sclerosis. After being diagnosed, the Louisville man discovered that cannabis improved his quality of life far more than anything else he’d tried.

He didn’t like the black market, so he cultivated at his home. He was arrested and received five years of probation.

“I lost custody of my son for six months, not for cultivation, but for testing positive,” Montalvo said. “So that’s what’s motivated me for the last six years or so, to change the laws and give people safe access to cannabis.”

Montalvo is a cannabis educator and director of KY4MM (Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana). He and others who took part in a panel discussion at Henderson Community College were preaching to the choir; most of the 50 or so in attendance seemed sympathetic to legalization.

The challenge, speakers said, is convincing state legislators.

Lawmakers in Kentucky and Indiana have legalized hemp oil, also known as CBD oil. But speakers said the positive impact of that is very small compared to what legal medicinal marijuana could do.

“You’re just really scratching the surface” with CBD oil, said Ashly Taylor, a Lexington native who is now a cannabis industry entrepreneur living in Colorado. “We’re looking to get legalization so we can help more people.”

Taylor, who used to work in the pharmaceutical industry, explained at Tuesday’s forum what a legalized marijuana industry would look like.

She said in a regulated market, all cannabis grown comes from state-licensed, taxpaying cultivation facilities, monitored from seed to sale.

All plants are tagged and entered into a state regulated tracking system.

They are processed at a state-licensed product manufacturing facility, with OSHA guidelines enforced and a staffed human resources department.

The product would pass testing from a state-licensed facility before being distributed for legal consumption.

“All of the things you see with other big industry, you’re going to see here,” Taylor said.

Legal medicinal marijuana “is not that new of a thing,” Taylor noted. It’s been legalized or decriminalized in a long list of countries, from Canada to Australia and many European countries.

It is legal in 30 states, and Taylor cited a shift in public opinion on the subject: 64 percent favorability according to one Gallup poll. She said those who support legalization show varied political bent.

Sympathy for legalization has reached local elected officials in Henderson. The City Commission recently passed a resolution stating support for medicinal marijuana.

Henderson City Commissioner Brad Staton said he and his colleagues were moved by testimony from many city residents, including a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder who spoke about suicidal thoughts and depression.

“I didn’t think there was any way we would even take a vote much less pass it,” Staton said. “But we said we have people in the state of Kentucky who are suffering, and we can do something about it.” The vote was 5-0.

Forum speakers said cannabis helps with appetite and sleep, in addition to pain relief. They said the addiction potency is comparable to sugar.

A pharmacist in the audience asked the panelists about studies showing negative effects of long-time marijuana usage, and concerns about children’s usage.

Panelists said marijuana already is pervasive in the culture. Montalvo cited a study showing that in Kentucky, about 40 percent of teens have used marijuana.

“We need to decrease that,” he said. “In my opinion the way to decrease it is regulate the product and keep it out of the hands of children. Right now everybody is prohibited, but it’s still everywhere.”

Taylor said Kentucky authorities in 2016 seized and destroyed more than 560,000 plants, placing the state in the nation’s top five.

Kentucky that year spent $56.8 million for marijuana eradication.

“If we can take the money we save and do something better with it, it seems like a win-win to me,” Taylor said.

Grace Henderson would agree. The Henderson resident, an organizer of Tuesday’s forum, suffers from a list of chronic conditions, such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Chron’s disease.

She’s on a list of medications which she said interact and cause other health problems.

Medical cannabis, she said, needs to be a option for people like her who, at times, struggle to simply get out of bed.

“We need a safe, viable alternative that does not kill people,” Henderson said. “And this is it.”

CONTINUE READING…

More: City of Henderson backs medical cannabis resolution

More: Henderson woman tells how cannabis brings relief

As the feds crack down on opioid prescriptions, patients are taking their own lives, doctors are losing their jobs and overdose rates continue unabated.

The Government’s Solution To The Opioid     Crisis Feels Like A War To Pain Patients

By Art Levine

Meredith Lawrence's late husband died by suicide after his opioid pain prescription was severely restricted.

Jay Lawrence, an energetic truck driver in his late 30s, was driving a semitrailer across a bridge when the brakes failed. To avoid plowing into the car in front of him, he swerved sideways and slammed the truck into a wall, fracturing his back. For more than 25 years, he struggled with the resulting pain. But for most of that time, he managed to avoid opioid painkillers.

In 2006, his legs suddenly collapsed beneath him, due to a complex web of neurological factors related to his spinal cord injury. He underwent multiple surgeries and tried many medications to alleviate his pain.

The next year, he began to experience some semblance of relief when his doctor prescribed morphine, one of a class of opioid drugs. By 2012, he was taking 120 milligrams per day.

But this isn’t a story about opioid addiction. Lawrence managed a relatively productive, happy life on the medication for the better part of 10 years.

“This isn’t the life I thought I’d have,” he told his wife, Meredith Lawrence, in December 2016. “But I’m all right.”

Living on disability payments, he could still walk around their two-bedroom trailer home using his cane, take a shower on his own and, on his good days, even help his wife make breakfast.

Then, in early 2017, the pain clinic where he was a patient adopted a strict new policy, part of a wide-ranging national effort to respond to the increase in opioid overdose deaths. 

Citing 2016 guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, her husband’s doctor abruptly cut his daily dose by roughly 25 percent to 90 mg, Meredith Lawrence said. That was the maximum dose the CDC recommends, though does not mandate, for first-time opioid patients. 

The doctor also told Jay Lawrence that the plan was to lower his dose to 45 mg over the next two months, a cutback of more than 60 percent from what he had been taking.

At the end of that traumatic visit, his wife said, Jay Lawrence’s doctor dismissed their concerns and shared his own fear about losing his license if he continued to prescribe high doses of opioids. (When HuffPost followed up, the doctor declined to comment on the case, citing patient privacy.)

For a month, Lawrence suffered on the 90 mg dose. At times, his pain was so bad that he needed help to get out of the recliner, and when his wife looked over, she sometimes saw tears streaming down his face.

He dreaded his next appointment when his dose would be slashed to 60 mg. In the weeks before that scheduled visit on March 2, 2017, Lawrence came up with a plan.

On the day of his appointment, on the same bench in the Hendersonville, Tennessee, park where the Lawrences had recently renewed their wedding vows, the 58-year-old man gripped his wife’s hand and killed himself with a gun.

Meredith Lawrence sits in the living room of the home in Gainesville, Georgia, that she bought after her husband's death

Dustin Chambers for HuffPost Meredith Lawrence sits in the living room of the home in Gainesville, Georgia, that she bought after her husband’s death.

There are at least nine million chronic pain patients in the United States who take opioid painkillers on a long-term basis. As law enforcement and medical regulatory bodies try to curb the explosion in opioid deaths and the rise in illegal opioid use, they have focused on reducing the overall opioid supply, whether or not the drugs are provided by prescription. 

There’s mounting evidence this won’t work ― that curbing patient access to legal prescription opioids does not stem the rate of overdoses caused primarily by illegal drugs ― and that patients are being denied desperately needed relief. There are also troubling indicators that cutting back on opioids increases the risk of suicide among those with chronic pain.

Some chronic pain patients and advocates have even begun compiling lists of individuals they know who have died by suicide after they were no longer able to treat their pain with opioid medication.

“There is no doubt in my mind that forcibly stopping opioids can destabilize some of the most vulnerable people in America,” said Dr. Stefan Kertesz, a professor of medicine and an addiction researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “And the outcomes for those folks include suicide, overdose and falling apart medically.”

I mean, people need to take some aspirin sometimes and tough it out a little. Attorney General Jeff Sessions

For a decade or so, government officials in the U.S. have sought to drive down the opioid supply through a range of tactics ― from increased seizures of diverted opioid medications to state crackdowns on “pill mills.” The Trump administration has embraced the hard-line approach.

In late January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “surge” in Drug Enforcement Administration activity targeting pharmacies and physicians that, in the agency’s view, oversupply opioids. In February, the Justice Department doubled down with the announcement of a new task force that would focus on manufacturers and distributors of opioids. In March, President Donald Trump unveiled a plan to lower opioid prescriptions by a third within three years. And in late June, the federal government arrested 600 people, including 165 medical professionals, for allegedly participating in $2 billion worth of fraud schemes involving opioids.

The Trump administration’s efforts are dramatic even within the context of the CDC’s opioid dose guidelines. The guidelines were originally intended to advise primary care physicians treating chronic pain patients and other pain sufferers. They were urged to exercise caution in prescribing opioids, to use alternatives whenever possible and to prescribe daily doses of no more than 90 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) for new opioid users.

For pain patients like Jay Lawrence who had already been on opioids for years, however, the guidelines simply recommended regularly assessing the harms and benefits of the dosage. They didn’t advise either mandatory cutoffs or any set limits. (The Tennessee Department of Health’s guidelines would also have allowed Lawrence to stay at 120 mg of morphine when prescribed by a pain specialist.)

But “the CDC guidelines have been weaponized,” said Kertesz. The ramped-up enforcement by the DEA and state regulators has led some doctors to choose caution and to overcorrect in their prescribing, lest they lose their ability to practice medicine at all. Kertesz decried these policies as “simplistic” in a definitive new article published last week in the journal Addiction.

In February, Sessions struck a particularly harsh tone by suggesting that the fate of chronic pain patients was not high on his list of concerns. “I am operating on the assumption that this country prescribes too many opioids,” the attorney general said. “I mean, people need to take some aspirin sometimes and tough it out a little.”

Attitudes like that are based on a series of mistaken assumptions about pain, according to Dr. Thomas Kline, a North Carolina-based family practitioner and former Harvard Medical School program administrator. Kline regularly updates a list of pain patients, published on Medium, who’ve killed themselves in the wake of draconian restrictions on pain medication.

“I ask people to imagine the very worst pain they’ve ever experienced in their lives,” Kline said. “And then that they’re denied relief by a doctor with the one medicine proven effective for pain control for 50 centuries.” (Historical records show that people in ancient Mesopotamia cultivated the poppy plant for medical use.)

The CDC guidelines have been weaponized. Dr. Stefan Kertesz

The government’s aggressive focus on doctors and patients is unlikely to address the very real menace of opioid-use disorders and sharply escalating overdose deaths. Fraud ― driven by pharmaceutical company policies ― and diversion ― the phenomenon of prescription medications being sold as street drugs ― initially spurred a wave of opioid abuse in the late 1990s, as some doctors turned their practices into pill mills. But new reports by the CDC and a drug data firm, the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, suggest that prescription drugs play a much smaller role in today’s crisis.

The reports show that total opioid prescriptions dropped 10 percent in 2017 ― the sharpest annual decline in such prescribing in 25 years. While opioid prescriptions peaked back in 2010, the studies found that growth rates in opioid-linked deaths, overwhelmingly due to illegal fentanyl and heroin, have skyrocketed in the last seven years.

Indeed, although two-thirds of the 64,000 overall drug overdose fatalities were linked to opioids in 2016 ― the most recent year for which there is data ― more than 80 percent of those opioid drug deaths came from illegal street drugs such as heroin and fentanyl. Prescription opioid drug deaths alone ― excluding methadone ― amounted to less than 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths, or about 9,500 fatalities.

Still, the CDC’s guidelines have triggered restrictive laws in at least 23 states that mandate ceilings on opioid dosage. (Oregon, in fact, is moving to taper dosages down to zero for all Medicaid chronic patients over a year.) That makes relief less attainable for pain patients and threatens the practices of doctors who treat them. These laws have been augmented by the growth of state prescription monitoring programs that use the software NarxCare, which is designed to flag addiction but can also rope in pain patients based on their prescription history and use of multiple doctors.

And in June, the House of Representatives passed over 50 bills that would establish dramatic new restrictions on opioid prescribing, eliciting alarm among patients and some disability rights groups.

The side effects of the current enforcement efforts are disturbing enough, from patients denied relief to drug shortages to suicides.

No health agency has kept track of all pain-related suicides that may be linked to doctors cutting back on prescriptions. But some preliminary findings from Department of Veterans Affairs researchers indicate that VA pain patients deprived of opioids were two to four times more likely to die by suicide in the first three months after they were cut off, compared to those who remained on their pain medications.

“To protect people, you have to take care of the patient, not the pill count,” said Kertesz, who worked on the VA’s April 2017 study but spoke to HuffPost only as an independent researcher. “The findings suggest that the discontinuation of opioids doesn’t necessarily assure a safer patient.”

Even terminally ill cancer patients are increasingly getting less relief, and there are growing shortages of injectable opioids at local hospitals and hospices, spurred in part by DEA-ordered reductions in opioid manufacturing quotas.

Leah Ilten, a 53-year-old physical therapist who lives in Kennewick, Washington, told HuffPost that as her 86-year-old father lay dying of pancreatic cancer in a hospice, the medical staff ignored her pleas to provide appropriate opioid pain relief, even cutting his dosage in half on the last day of his life. A few days earlier, when he was in the hospital, one nurse explained to her that opioids could lead to an overdose or could potentially cause the man, who lay moaning in pain, to “get addicted.”

“I was horrified,” Ilten said.

In mid-April, the DEA responded to the injectable opioid shortage by lifting production quotas. An agency spokesman told HuffPost that it was “a manufacturers’ problem, not the quotas,” while asserting that progress is being made.

There have been production issues, including Pfizer’s foul-ups with a plant in Kansas. But the DEA’s delay in taking action ― shortfalls were flagged in February in a letter from the American Society of Anesthesiologists and other health groups ― definitely contributed to the shortage, according to Dr. James Grant, president of the ASA. He told HuffPost that quotas were among the factors creating the crisis.

I’m not willing to go back to the state I was in before I started treatment. Anne Fuqua

Faced with the hardline national crackdown on opioid prescriptions, people with chronic pain are trying to raise awareness of the suffering caused by the loss of medications. Some are gathering the names of those patients who ended up taking their own lives, both as a memorial to those who died and as a protest against the health establishment that has seemingly abandoned them. Others are seeking comfort from each other on social media.

Lelena Peacock, who declined to name her southeastern city of residence for fear of retaliation from doctors, is struggling with how to treat the pain associated with fibromyalgia. The 45-year-old found that her social media posts drew other pain patients who turned to her for help.

By her own count, Peacock has thus far convinced more than 70 chronic pain patients to call 911 or suicide prevention hotlines instead of killing themselves.

For Anne Fuqua, a 37-year-old former nurse from Birmingham, Alabama, the motivation for compiling a list of chronic pain-related suicides is to track the damage done by what she sees as policies that have left people like her behind. 

“There’s so many people who have died,” she said. “We have to remember them.”

Fuqua has an incurable neurological illness known as primary generalized dystonia that causes Parkinson’s-like involuntary movements and painful muscle spasms. She started taking about 60 mg of Oxycontin a day in 2000. Her doctor began to limit her access to high doses of opioids in 2014, the same year she started chronicling those friends who had killed themselves or otherwise died after being denied pain medications. Her informal list is now up to roughly 150 people, augmented by lists that other pain patient advocates have compiled.

On July 9, Fuqua joined other chronic pain patients at a meeting at the Food and Drug Administration campus in Maryland to express their fears and outrage at the cutbacks. Sitting in the front row in her wheelchair, she told FDA officials about that list and declared, “I’m not willing to go back to the state I was in before I started treatment.”

Anne Fuqua needs exceptionally high doses to manage her pain because of opioid malabsorption.

Courtesy of Anne Fuqua Anne Fuqua needs exceptionally high doses to manage her pain because of opioid malabsorption.

Fuqua’s own difficulties are compounded by the fact that her body does not respond to even large doses of opioids the way others do ― she suffers from severe malabsorption that hampers her ability to benefit from everything from opioids to vitamin D. Since 2012, she has relied on a strikingly high daily regimen of 1,000 MME of opioids, including fentanyl patches, to manage her pain.

But her physician, Dr. Forrest Tennant, was driven to retire this year after a DEA raid and investigation. The Los Angeles-area physician mailed her a final series of prescriptions, which will run out at the end of July.

“It’s terrifying,” she said looking at her future. “If these were people who had asthma or diabetes and weren’t stigmatized because of opioids, this wouldn’t be allowed to happen.”

Another doctor has quietly stepped forward to continue treatment for Tennant’s remaining patients, Fuqua said, although there’s no assurance that this physician won’t also be investigated in the future.

If these were people who had asthma or diabetes and weren’t stigmatized because of opioids, this wouldn’t be allowed to happen. Anne Fuqua

The raid on Tennant’s home and office last November illustrates the hard-line regulatory and enforcement approach that critics say doesn’t distinguish between pill-mill doctors who deserve to be shut down and legitimate pain doctors who use high-dosage opioids. The wide-ranging search warrant served to Tennant essentially accused him of drug trafficking even though he’d earned a national reputation for deft treatment of ― and research about ― pain patients.

“He’s highly respected and prominent in pain management,” said Jeffrey Fudin, a clinical pharmacy specialist who heads the pain pharmacy program at the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany, New York, and serves as an associate professor at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “Most of his patients had no other options, and they came from around the country to see him.”

Tennant was known for taking on difficult-to-treat patients, including those suffering from pain as a result of botched surgeries and other forms of malpractice. His research included innovations in the use of hormones to alleviate pain and lower opioid use up to 40 percent, as well as work on genetic testing for enzyme system defects that lead to opioid malabsorption.

“The DEA can trigger an investigation every time they misapply the CDC guidelines without paying attention to the population the physician treats or issues of medical necessity,” said Terri Lewis, a patient advocate and a Ph.D. clinical rehabilitation specialist with Southern Illinois University who trains clinicians on how to manage seriously ill patients with incurable pain.

Special Agent Timothy Massino, a spokesperson for the DEA’s Los Angeles division, declined to comment on the agency’s approach to Tennant. “It’s an ongoing investigation,” he noted.

Tennant’s isn’t alone. Physicians must now balance their prescribing obligations to their patients with legitimate fear for their livelihoods.

DEA enforcement actions against doctors have risen some 500 percent in recent years ― from 88 in 2011 to 449 last year, according to an analysis of the comprehensive National Practitioners Data Bank by Tony Yang, a professor of health policy at George Washington University. Even though that’s a relatively small number of arrests compared to the roughly one million physicians in the country, such arrests can have an outsized impact.

“They make big news, and they serve as a deterrent for physicians whose specialties require them to use a lot of pain medications,” Yang said. “It makes them think twice before prescribing opioids.”

Meredith Lawrence shows the tattoo she got after her husband'€™s death. The bluejay represents her husband, Jay; a cup of cof

Dustin Chambers for HuffPost Meredith Lawrence shows the tattoo she got after her husband’€™s death. The bluejay represents her husband, Jay; a cup of coffee is the way she loves to start her day; and the quote is “Sail away with me, what will be will be.”

Dr. Mark Ibsen of Helena, Montana, found himself in a five-year battle against the state licensing board that’s still not over ― even though a judge last month reversed the board’s decision to suspend his license because of due process violations. The court has remanded the case back to the licensing board for potential further investigation of his opioid prescriptions, but Ibsen has decided he won’t resume his medical practice.

That’s bad news for Montana, which has the highest rate of suicide in the country, according to the CDC. What’s more, chronic pain-related illnesses account for 35 percent of all the state’s suicides, as a recent state health department study found.

In the course of his fight with the medical board, the 63-year-old doctor said three of his former chronic pain patients have killed themselves after he and other doctors stopped prescribing opioids. The first of those patients died shortly after attending a hearing to show his support for Ibsen.

The deaths of pain patients haunt those who treated them and loved them. Meredith Lawrence, who sat with her husband to the very end, said, “It was as horrifying as anything you can imagine.”

“But I had the choice to help him or find him dead someday when I came home,” she added.

Lawrence was arrested and sentenced to a year’s probation for assisting a suicide. Now her goal is to fight restrictions on opioid prescriptions.

“If we don’t stand up, more people will die like my husband.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

Art Levine is the author of Mental Health, Inc: How Corruption, Lax Oversight, and Failed Reforms Endanger Our Most Vulnerable Citizens.

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That study isn’t without flaws. Veterans die by suicide at higher rates than average ― currently accounting for 20 suicide deaths a day ― so they are not a nationally representative sample. And the VA study, which was released at a national opioid summit in early April, has not yet been submitted for peer review.

But another study, published last year in the peer-reviewed journal General Hospital Psychiatry, looked at nearly 600 veterans who in 2012 were cut off from dosages after long-term opioid use and found similar results. Twelve percent of the vets showed suicidal ideation or took violent action to harm themselves ― a rate nearly 300 percent higher than the overall veterans community.

“We will be introducing an ordinance for the Louisville Metro Council’s consideration that makes cannabis possession the lowest law enforcement priority of the Louisville (KY) Metro Police Department.”

Tom Rector Jr.

4 hrs ·

It’s official!

We will be introducing an ordinance for the Louisville Metro Council’s consideration that makes cannabis possession the lowest law enforcement priority of the Louisville Metro Police Department.

The Louisville Metro Council meeting is Thursday August 9th at 6 p.m. at 600 West Jefferson in downtown Louisville. This is the next step we need to take at cities across Kentucky. Local councils have oversight authority of their local police departments. The lowest law enforcement priority ordinance (LLEPO) does three things.

1) It directs the Local police to not arrest anyone for cannabis possession or cultivation

2) It creates a process for anyone who does get arrested to have their charges dropped

3) It requires the Metro Council to send a letter annually to Frankfort, Washington and the UN asking them to enact similar legislation.

Cities all over the United States have enacted no fine or decriminalization measures. If anyone wants a copy of the ordinance DM me with your email address and I’ll send you the document. You can modify it for your city. If we can get this passed in Louisville, Lexington, Henderson and other cities it will provide great momentum going into the 2019 legislative session.

The picture was taken the night we got the medical resolution passed in Louisville. Come out and support us on August 9th and let’s get another picture!

Image may contain: 9 people, including Tom Rector Jr., people smiling, people standing

CONTINUE READING…

No automatic alt text available.

THU, AUG 9 AT 6 PM

LLEPO – Louisville Metro Council Meeting

600 W Jefferson St

Feds want to know what you think about Bevin plan to overhaul Medicaid & Kentucky makes Medicaid copays mandatory ‘under the cover of darkness’

Feds want to know what you think about Bevin plan to overhaul Medicaid

Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier Journal Published 3:05 p.m. ET July 20, 2018

The federal government, once again, wants to know what people think about Gov. Matt Bevin’s plan to overhaul Kentucky’s Medicaid.

Less than a month after a federal judge struck down Bevin’s plan that includes work requirements and premiums for some Kentuckians who get health coverage through Medicaid, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is seeking public comments on the exact same plan, known as a “waiver.”

The public comment period began July 19 and ends Aug. 18.

Health advocates who are concerned about the changes say it’s important that people take advantage of the public comment period, as they did last year when CMS previously reviewed Bevin’s plan before approving it in January.

“It really matters that people speak up,” said Emily Beauregard, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health, a coalition of organizations. “This is the exact same waiver.”

During the previous public comment period, about 3,000 people responded, the majority opposed to the waiver, Beauregard said.

Read more: Bevin official rips Democrats, Courier Journal over his dental care cuts

It’s not clear why CMS is seeking comments on the same plan that was rejected June 29 by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, of Washington D.C. The judge vacated CMS’ previous approval of the plan and sent it back to the agency for further review, finding among deficiencies that the agency did not fully consider previous public comments.

A CMS statement said the agency is seeking more comments “to ensure that interested stakeholders have an opportunity to comment on issues raised in the litigation and the court’s decision.”

Some health advocates have speculated it’s part of an effort by the Trump administration to push through work requirements for people enrolled in Medicaid, following public comments by CMS administrator Seema Verma at a July 17 Politico event.

“We are very committed to this,” Verma said, according to Politico. “We are looking at what the court said. We want to be respectful of the court’s decision while also wanting to push ahead with our policy initiatives and our goals. … We are trying to figure out a path forward.”

Adam Meier, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, told a legislative committee Wednesday that Kentucky Medicaid officials are working with CMS to enact the plan.

“Our position is that we’d like to gain re-approval as quickly as possible,” he said.

Health law advocates who successfully challenged Kentucky’s plan in federal court said they intend to argue that, as the judge found, the plan does not conform with the federal Medicaid law, which is to improve access to  health care for vulnerable citizens.

Medicaid is a federal state health plan for low-income and disabled individuals.

“We continue to take the position that work requirements are illegal because they are inconsistent with the Medicaid Act,” said Jane Perkins, legal director of the National Health Law Program in Washington.  “We will certainly be commenting during this re-opened period.”

Perkins’ group has posted additional information about the importance of public comments on its website, www.healthlaw.org.

Kentucky was the first state to win CMS approval of Medicaid work requirements.

They have already been approved in Arkansas, Indiana and New Hampshire, while Arizona, Maine, Wisconsin and Utah are waiting to hear from CMS, Politico reported.

Under Bevin’s plan, “able-bodied adults” among the about a half-million people added to Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would be subject to “community engagement” requirements that they work or volunteer at least 20 hours a week. They also would pay premiums of $1 to $15 per month and could be subject to a “lock-out” of coverage up to six months for failing to meet requirements.

Basic vision and dental benefits would be eliminated for that group though they could earn points to purchase such services through a “My Rewards” account through activities such as volunteering or taking online self-improvement classes.

Kentucky officials said in a statement Thursday that the Cabinet for Health and Family Services has “been working with CMS on details of the re-approval process, including the status of dental and vision benefits.”

The abrupt decision of the Bevin administration to cut dental, vision and non-emergency transportation benefits July 1, two days after the judge rejected the plan, sparked an uproar among patients and health care providers across Kentucky.

On Thursday, the state announced it was reinstating the benefits while it works toward federal approval of its plan.

Here is a link to the public comment page on the CMS website: https://public.medicaid.gov/connect.ti/public.comments/viewQuestionnaire?qid=1897699.

Beauregard said Kentucky Voices for Health will also begin collecting comments on its website, https://www.kyvoicesforhealth.org/, starting July 23 that it will forward to state and federal officials.

Deborah Yetter: 502-582-4228; dyetter@courierjournal.com; Twitter: @d_yetter. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/deborahy.

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Kentucky makes Medicaid copays mandatory ‘under the cover of darkness’

Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier Journal Published 1:43 p.m. ET July 27, 2018 | Updated 1:48 p.m. ET July 27, 2018

After three weeks of turmoil in Kentucky’s Medicaid program, a new complication — the state’s abrupt enactment of copays ranging from $1 to $50 for medical services — has triggered more confusion among patients, some afraid they can’t afford items such as essential medication for diabetes and asthma.

“It seemed to have been slipped in under the cover of darkness,” said Bill Wagner, CEO of Family Health Centers, a network of community clinics in Louisville. “Even though this went into effect July 1, the instructions have not come out.”

At the University of Louisville medical school, Dr. Barbara Casper, an internist, worries state officials didn’t consider the impact of the new copays on the very poor patients she treats in an outpatient clinic, many of them seriously ill.

“Some of our patients can’t even pay $1,” said Casper, who credits Kentucky’s 2014 expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act for providing health coverage for many of the low-income patients U of L sees at its clinics.

“This was a problem before we had the Medicaid expansion,” she said. “We had a $2 copay for our patients to be seen and some of them couldn’t even come up with that.”

The clinic does not turn away patients who can’t pay, she said.

Related: Feds want to know what you think about Bevin plan to overhaul Medicaid

While small copays have long been allowed by Medicaid, Kentucky hasn’t required them in recent years. The sudden announcement that copays were mandatory July 1 caught many health providers and advocates off guard.

“Complete confusion,” is how Sheila Schuster, a longtime mental health advocate described it. “It’s not entirely clear what copays are charged for certain services.”

Adam Meier, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, speaking at a legislative committee meeting July 18, said his agency is “still clarifying” some aspects of the copays. The cabinet did not respond to a request for information for this story.

Health providers say they aren’t sure who has to pay, who is exempt, how to collect the copays and what to do when patients can’t pay.

For example, pregnant women and children generally have been exempt from such requirements. But several health providers say it appears that children covered through Children’s Health Insurance Program, a Medicaid program for children of low-income parents, must now pay copays.

In Kentucky, about 90,000 children are covered by CHIP.

Background: Bevin will reverse cuts to Medicaid dental, vision services, state says

Some health providers are reassuring patients they will still get care if they can’t pay, including Bridgehaven, a day program in Louisville for people with serious, disabling mental illnesses.

“I worry about it causing them additional stress and anxiety when they’re already trying to cope with mental illness and trying to live on an extremely limited income,” Bridgehaven CEO Ramona Johnson said.

The copays come in the midst of upheaval in the Kentucky Medicaid program, which covers about 1.4 million people, including more than 600,000 children.

The state launched the copays on the same day it had planned to launch Gov. Matt Bevin’s sweeping plan to overhaul Medicaid, adding work requirements, premiums and other new rules aimed at “able-bodied” adults.

But a federal judge struck down the plan June 29, forcing the state to abruptly halt the changes that could affect nearly half a million Kentuckians.

Meanwhile, in a separate move effective July 1, the Bevin administration abruptly announced it had eliminated basic dental and vision coverage for up to 460,000 Kentuckians, creating an uproar particularly among patients who arrived at dentists’ offices only to discover they had no Medicaid coverage.

The administration quickly backtracked and on July 19 said it was rescinding the cuts to dental and vision benefits for now.

But the copays remain in place, leaving bewildered health providers trying to figure out with little guidance how to apply them. If the patient can’t pay, it comes out of the Medicaid reimbursement and the provider takes the loss.

“It could become a big issue for providers that operate with a very slim margin,” Johnson said.

Read this: ‘I want to have my teeth’: Bevin’s Medicaid cuts leave Kentuckians in pain

She said that includes her organization, Bridgehaven, whose clients typically visit the center three times a week and may receive three or more services per day, such as a visit with a therapist, a support group and a peer counseling session.

The state says providers must charge $3 per office visit for a service, so that means clients could end up owing $9 a day, Johnson said.

“Three times a day, three times a week, that’s $27 a week,” Johnson said. In addition, Bridgehaven clients will have to pay $3 for visits to a primary care physician or psychiatrist and copays for medication of up to $8 per prescription — medication she said is essential for people with mental illness to remain stable.

“Of course they don’t have that kind of money,” she said. “They struggle to pay their rent, their utilities, buy their groceries.”

Johnson said Bridgehaven will still provide services for clients for now regardless of ability to pay the copay, but the organization could lose up to $100,000 a year from an already tight budget by doing so.

She’s also worried copays will discourage people from seeking treatment.

And in the mental health area, if people don’t get regular services, they wind up homeless, in jail or in far more costly psychiatric hospitals — at state expense, according to mental health advocates.

Casper, the U of L physician, said that also holds true for patients she sees with serious conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, asthma and emphysema.

She worries the patients will wind up in the emergency room or hospital if they skip office visits or cut back on medication because they can’t afford a copay. Copays for Medicaid range from $1 for generics to $4 or $8 for some name brand drugs.

Watch: ‘It’s just wrong:’ Susan Wells talks about how Medicaid cuts affected her

And while physicians try to prescribe generic drugs, some medications — such as insulin for diabetes and inhalers for asthma or other breathing disorders — mostly are available only as name brand drugs, she said.

“It’s not uncommon for some of our patients to be on 10 different medications,” Casper said. “They’re going to be back in the circumstances they were in previously. Do they eat, pay rent, their electric bill, take care of children or get their medicine?”

Casper said the new copays are especially frustrating because they come as patients now receiving regular care through Medicaid are beginning to make important changes in their lifestyles, losing weight, monitoring blood pressure and getting treatment for chronic illnesses.

“It kind of breaks my heart,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot more engagement in their health care by our patients. They’re doing all we want them to to stay healthy.”

Health providers said they are trying to explain the changes to patients and let them know what to expect but are having a hard time doing so absent clear guidance from state Medicaid officials.

“There’s no rhyme or reason as to how co-pays are coming through,” said Michael Lin, pharmacy director for Family Health Centers. “They’re so inconsistent.”

The state has sent out information to people on Medicaid but several providers say patients have brought it to them, unable to understand the complicated, bureaucratic language.

At the Family Health Centers pharmacy in Portland, patients are worried about whether they can afford new Medicaid copays, especially if they have multiple prescriptions for essential medications such as inhalers for asthma or insulin for diabetes.

“They worry about what’s going to happen if they don’t have the money,” Lin said.

The latest: Bevin shrugs off questions about his plans, draws comparison to Trump

Lin and Wagner said the Family Health Centers won’t turn away people who can’t pay, because as a federally recognized “safety net”  health service, their agency is able to get other funding to try to defray the costs.

But they said health care providers in private practice don’t have the ability to sustain losses from patients who can’t pay the copay.

And Wagner said making up the difference will still be a hit to the budget at Family Health Centers and other health care providers.

“It’s going to come off the bottom line,” he said.

Deborah Yetter: 502-582-4228; dyetter@courierjournal.com; Twitter: @d_yetter. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/deborahy.

Medicaid copays

Here are some of the new copays some people covered by Medicaid are being charged, effective July 1.

>> Office visits for physician, dentist, vision care, behavioral health or other health provider:  $3

>> Prescription drugs: $1 for generic drugs, $4 to $8 for name-brand medication.

>> Outpatient hospital service: $4

>> Emergency room visit for non-emergency: $8

>> Hospital admission: $50

>> Durable medical equipment: $4

>> Laboratory or X-ray services: $3

>> Physical, speech or occupational therapy: $3

>> Chiropractor: $3

>> Podiatrist: $3

Source: Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

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