Tag Archives: physicians

Embattled Doc Suffers Another Setback in PHS Fight


Pauline Anderson

January 27, 2017

Michael Langan, MD, a Boston-based internal medicine specialist who has fought the Massachusetts Physician Health Service (PHS) and Board of Registration in Medicine for years to reinstate his license, has suffered a setback but is bolstered by a new development.

A justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has denied Dr Langan’s petition to invalidate the 2013 suspension of his medical license for not meeting conditions to have his license reinstated.

However, a new law has enabled Dr Langan to access his records. According to Dr Langan, these documents show that the court did not consider key evidence in his case, as demonstrated by the fact that his hearing occurred before the date of receipt that is stamped on the documents. This may offer an opportunity to reopen his case.

The court decision, which was handed down in December by Associate Justice Geraldine Hines, states that although Dr Langan completed required psychiatric evaluations, he “did not submit a suitable worksite or substance abuse monitoring plan. In combination with his violation of the LoA [Letter of Agreement] meeting requirement, the board’s decision to affirm its prior suspension of petitioner’s license to practice medicine is supported by the record. The board’s decision to deny reinstatement in the absence of an acceptable plan is affirmed.”

“It’s unbelievable; everyone is dumbfounded,” said Dr Langan of the decision.

Dr Langan is appealing the denial of his petition, a process that will take an estimated 6 months.

He maintains that the PHS committed “forensic fraud” and concealed doing so.

“If I couldn’t win with all the direct evidence of felony crimes that you don’t need to be a lawyer to recognize, then I don’t think anyone can,” he told Medscape Medical News.

The PHS is a confidential resource for physicians and medical students seeking help for a variety of physical and behavioral health concerns, which may include difficulties with substance use.

In 2007, Dr Langan was at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard University when he approached the PHS to help him with his dependence on Vicodin, an opioid analgesic.

He became dependent on Vicodin after a bout of chickenpox during residency, when he developed shingles. He stressed that there were no work-related problems associated with use of this drug.

He was an inpatient at the Talbott Recovery Center in Georgia for more than 3 months, after which he signed the requisite 5-year contract with the PHS that included regular drug testing.

According to Dr Langan, there were no problems until mid-2011, when a report from the US Drug Testing Laboratories found he was positive for phosphatidylethanol (PEth), a blood marker for chronic alcohol use.

The level detected was 365.4 ng/mL, which “is the equivalent of drinking a half gallon of whisky a day,” or a sign of end-stage alcoholism, said Dr Langan, who insists he has never had an alcohol problem.

“That the test was invalid at this point should have been self-evident,” said Dr Langan.

Lab Fraud? Continue Reading

Suspecting that there had been “lab fraud” and that he would “end up being admitted for 3 months,” Dr Langan said he requested, but was denied, an independent evaluation outside the 12-step PHP-approved list of facilities. Because his request was denied, he attended one of the approved facilities, Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center, in Minnesota, where he “was cleared.”

“They noted no past or present history of alcohol use or abuse and sent me back after a 4-day evaluation,” he said.

An independent investigation by James G. Flood, PhD, who has been chief of toxicology at MGH for nearly 30 years, concluded in a November 5, 2012, letter to Dr Langan’s lawyer “that there is a purposeful and intentional act by PHS” to show Dr Langan’s test as valid “when in reality this test was invalid and involved both fatal laboratory errors” and inadequate review of the results.

Any confirmatory, positive finding based on the July 2011 test “should be reversed, rectified and remediated,” Dr Flood writes.

Among the “many errors in sample collection, processing and transportation,” said Dr Flood, was that the documentation that was received with the specimen did not have a date and time of specimen collection. Moreover, the person who collected the specimen was not properly identified, the signature of the sample donor was missing, and there was no tamper-proof seal affixed to the specimen.

Dr Flood claims the sample was directed to the wrong laboratory, where it sat for several days. The storage conditions of the sample while at that laboratory were not documented.

Following an investigation by the College of American Pathologists, in October 2012, Dr Langan’s laboratory test result was corrected from having a positive result to being an invalid test, but he said he did not learn of this change until months later.

In a letter to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, Luis T. Sanchez, MD, who at the time was the director of the Massachusetts PHS, said the amended report indicates that the “external chain of custody protocol [for that sample] was not followed per standard protocol.”

Dr Sanchez noted that, on the basis of the revised report, “PHS will continue to disregard the July 2011 PEth test result.”

Dr Langan requested the record of the chain of custody pertaining to his testing. This document showed that the test was “not only invalid but falsely created,” said Dr Langan. He added that it included a fax from the PHS requesting that his identification number be added to an already positive test and that the chain of custody be updated.

“You can’t update a chain of custody, as it is generated in real time,” said Dr Langan. “This is forensic fraud. It clearly shows collusion between the PHS and the lab.”

In an October 2012 letter, Dr Sanchez alleged that Dr Langan did not attend required peer support group meetings, but according to Dr Langan, this claim is “without fact or support.” Dr Langan maintains that he attended all required meetings. He also maintains that the PHS actions were in “retaliation” for requesting the chain of custody record.

Massachusetts PHS Director Dr Sanchez did not respond to a request from Medscape Medical News for clarification.

Medscape Medical News also sought comment on recent developments in Dr Langan’s case from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, which declined to comment.

“The AG’s [Attorney General’s] Office often defends state agencies in litigation and we typically do not comment on behalf of our clients, who in this case is the Board of Registration in Medicine,” Emily Snyder, deputy press secretary, Office of Massachusetts Attorney General, told Medscape Medical News in an email.

Intentional Delay?

Dr Langan alleges that the PHS “intentionally delayed” his efforts to undergo a psychiatric evaluation that was necessary to have his license reinstated. He said the PHS insisted he get this evaluation out of state, even though he suggested three Boston-area board-certified experts.

The Board of Registration in Medicine eventually approved an evaluation by Patricia Recupero, MD, from the Law and Behavioral Health Program at the University of Rhode Island.

Dr Recupero’s November 2013 report determined that Dr Langan “is safe to return to the practice of medicine without further supervision,” that he “has an excellent prognosis and a very low risk of relapse,” and he “has not had an alcohol use, abuse or dependence problem.”

Many of the conflicts between the PHS and Dr Langan revolve around positive test findings, Dr Recupero notes in her letter.

It is “critical to understand” the inadequacies of such tests for physician monitoring for purposes of relapse, she notes. She added that the source of the alcohol in Dr Langan’s test results cannot be determined and that many products – mouthwash and hand sanitizers among them – can create a false-positive test.

Dr Langan acknowledges he used hand sanitizers in the course of his work as a physician. Owing to severe allergies, he also uses prescribed asthma inhalers, which contain alcohol as a propellant.

Dr Recupero also notes that “almost without exception,” Dr Langan’s test findings have been below the minimum level to declare a test positive and that positive findings “are not a sign of relapse.”

It was her opinion that, should he require additional treatment and supervision, the PHS should not be involved. A spokesperson for the PHS confirmed that it has not been involved in matters related to Dr Langan for at least 3 years.

Dr Langan said that since it suspended his medical license, the board has “engaged in a persistent pattern of ignoring my every reasonable effort at trying to be reinstated” and has “abused the administrative law process to accomplish this.”

Medscape Medical News contacted the Massachusetts medical board as well as its counsel, Deb Stoller, but received no response.

“Close to Homeless”

A memorandum to the Supreme Judicial Court, filed May 13, 2016, proposed a settlement between Dr Langan and the board. In return for the immediate reinstatement of Dr Langan’s license, he would be monitored for a maximum of 3 months by Dr Recupero and Timothy E. Wilens, MD, codirector of the Center for Addiction Medicine at MGH.

That memorandum was accompanied by letters from Dr Recupero and Dr Wilens agreeing to the terms, but according to Dr Langan, it has been “ignored.”

“The board did not acknowledge or address the proposals in any way,” said Dr Langan.

Dr Langan maintains that he “never ever” had any patient care or malpractice problems during his 15 years at MGH. In fact, his supervisors and colleagues reported that his work performance has been “superlative” on all counts, he said.

Many in the addiction medicine and psychiatric community support Dr Langan. He has letters from high-profile physicians in the field who verify that he is safe to practice medicine.

A first petition was filed in the Supreme Court on October 22, 2014, but the judge dismissed it because it had not been filed within the required 60-day period. Dr Langan’s most recent petition was filed July 3, 2015.

The past few years, he said, have taken a toll on his family. They have lost their home and health insurance because of his inability to practice his profession.

Disheartened by this latest setback, Dr Langan is looking into the possibility of becoming licensed in another state and leaving Massachusetts.

But Dr Langan has renewed hope. Under Massachusetts’ new Public Records Reform Law, which went into effect January 1, 2017, “the board was forced to comply with my request for records within 10 days,” and has done so, he said.

According to Dr Langan, these records show some irregularities that may bolster his case.

“A letter dated December 15, 2011, introducing exculpatory evidence was date-stamped January 17, 2012, almost 1 month after the hearing where it was submitted as evidence. All of the other documents had either illegible or absent date-stamps,” he said.

CONTINUE READING…

The stark difference in how doctors and the government view marijuana


By Christopher Ingraham August 29 at 11:23 AM

 

Nathaniel P. Morris is a resident physician at Stanford Hospital specializing in mental health. He recently penned a strongly worded op-ed for ScientificAmerican.com on the differences between how some in the medical community view marijuana and how the federal government regulates it.

“The federal government’s scheduling of marijuana bears little relationship to actual patient care,” he wrote in the essay published last week. “The notion that marijuana is more dangerous or prone to abuse than alcohol (not scheduled), cocaine (Schedule II), methamphetamine (Schedule II), or prescription opioids (Schedules II, III, and IV) doesn’t reflect what we see in clinical medicine.”

Here’s Morris’ money quote:

For most health care providers, marijuana is an afterthought.

We don’t see cannabis overdoses. We don’t order scans for cannabis-related brain abscesses. We don’t treat cannabis-induced heart attacks. In medicine, marijuana use is often seen on par with tobacco or caffeine consumption — something we counsel patients about stopping or limiting, but nothing urgent to treat or immediately life-threatening.

He contrasts that with the terrible effects of alcohol he sees in the emergency room every day, like car crash victims and drunk patients choking on their own vomit. Morris points out that excessive drinking causes 88,000 deaths per year, according to the CDC.

ADVERTISING

[Every minute, someone gets arrested for marijuana possession in the U.S.]

The medical and research communities have known for some time that marijuana is one of the more benign substances you can put in your body relative to other illicit drugs. A recent longitudinal study found that chronic, long-term marijuana use is about as bad for your physical health as not flossing. Compared to alcohol, it’s virtually impossible to overdose on marijuana alone. On a per-user basis, marijuana sends fewer people to the emergency room than alcohol or other drugs.

The scientific consensus was best captured in a 2010 study in the Lancet, which polled several dozen researchers working in addiction and drug policy. The researchers rated commonly used recreational drugs according to the harm they pose to individuals who use them, as well as the harm they pose to society as a whole. Here’s what their results looked like:

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 1.09.12 PM

The experts rated marijuana as less harmful to both users and to society than either tobacco or alcohol, or indeed than many other recreational drugs, such as heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine. Alcohol was, by far, the most socially harmful drug the committee rated, as well as one of the most harmful drugs to individual users.

Research like this is one reason surveys have shown a substantial majority of doctors support the use of medical marijuana. And although big medical groups, such as the American Medical Association, haven’t shifted gears on marijuana, other groups, such as the California Medical Association, are now openly calling for marijuana legalization.

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This year has also seen the formation of the nation’s first doctor’s group devoted to legalizing marijuana, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation. The group views marijuana legalization primarily as a public health issue.

None of this is to say, of course, that marijuana is completely “safe” or “harm-free.” As with any drug, using too much weed can lead to dependency on it. And as with any other drug, marijuana can have particularly harmful effects on young, developing minds.

But the federal approach to marijuana has stood at odds with the science on the drug for decades. As far back as the 1970s, an expert report commissioned by Richard Nixon recommended that the federal government decriminalize marijuana use, given the drug’s mild effects.

Nixon, of course, ignored the report’s findings. In the years since, there have been hundreds of thousands of arrests for marijuana possession each year, people have lost their homes and their property over suspicion of marijuana use, and decades of racially biased policing tactics have decimated many minority communities.

How marijuana legalization is working out so far

Play Video1:58

What we can learn about legal marijuana from Washington, Colorado and Oregon. (Daron Taylor, Danielle Kunitz/The Washington Post)

8

Comments

Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.

Follow @_cingraham

CONTINUE READING…

Docs don’t like medical marijuana


The Philadelphia Inquirer

Published: June 22, 2015

 

 

 

State legislatures across the country are legalizing medical marijuana, but the nation’s physicians aren’t requesting these laws. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Society of Addiction Medicine are both against medical marijuana laws. The American Medical Association doesn’t support them either.

Groups representing patients aren’t behind these laws. The American Cancer Society hasn’t demanded them, and the Glaucoma Foundation even warns patients against using the drug.

Instead, the demand comes from groups like the Drug Policy Alliance and Marijuana Policy Project. These are not medical organizations. They are part of a pro-legalization lobby supported by pro-marijuana billionaires. And they’ve apparently convinced state legislators to ignore some very serious problems.

The biggest problem is that medical marijuana laws are responsible for most of the growth in adolescent use. According to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey, teen use in the United States surged between 2005 and 2011. But it didn’t surge equally in all states.

Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that the number of teens who smoked pot over the past month increased by 33 percent in medical marijuana states, but only by 6 percent in the rest of the country. In 2005, only about 20 percent of the U.S. population lived in medical marijuana states, yet those states accounted for more than two-thirds of the increase in adolescent use between 2005 and 2011. If it weren’t for states with medical marijuana laws, teen use would have barely increased at all.

There’s also evidence that even among adults, nearly all the “medical” marijuana goes to drug abuse. The largest survey of medical marijuana patients, published in 2014 in the Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice, found that only 6 percent reported using marijuana for cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s, hepatitis C or ALS. The vast majority, 91 percent, got their marijuana for pain.

While some seriously ill patients are helped by marijuana, there are four prescription cannabinoid medications that are just as helpful.

State legislators who want what’s best for the country should ignore the pro-marijuana lobbyists and instead listen to the AMA, the Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society of Addiction Medicine. If we want to rein in teenage marijuana use and prevent widespread abuse of the drug, instead of passing new state medical marijuana laws, we should get rid of the ones we already have.

DR. ED GOGEK Is an addiction psychiatrist and the author of “Marijuana Debunked: A handbook for Parents, Pundits, and Politicians Who Want to Know the Case Against Legalization,” which is scheduled to be released in August by Chiron Publications. He wrote this for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

CONTINUE READING…

Texas’ New Medical Marijuana Law Could Send Doctors to Jail


By Stephen Young

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

 

Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a law that is intended to make cannabis-based oils with low levels of THC legally available to people who suffer from intractable epilepsy.The problem is, no one is likely to be able to get it.

State Senator Kevin Eltife announced the plan to legalize CBD oil in January. He was careful to emphasize that patients would not be able to get high from the oil, because THC content would be limited to 5 percent. Marijuana advocates and potential patients criticized the law, saying it failed to account for the benefits of whole-plant marijuana therapy and interfered with patients’ and doctors’ ability to seek out the best treatment available for epilepsy or other conditions.

"I’m glad the we’re talking about medical marijuana with some actual sincerity now in Texas, because this entire state is just tragically behind the rest of the country," Shaun McAlister, the president of DFW NORML said. "On the other hand, I’m really nervous about a CBD-only push because, for one thing, CBD-only legislation represents a really shallow understanding of what cannabis actually is and what it can do."

Still, Eltife’s bill snaked its way successfully through the Legislature, despite the objections and language that requires doctors to "prescribe" the oil to their patients.

Unfortunately a doctor cannot prescribe what the federal government considers a Schedule I substance without a DEA license, and CBD is a Schedule I substance. In other states, the “prescription” is referred to as a “recommendation” so that doctors can legally suggest that patients use it, says Amanda Reiman, the manager of Marijuana Law and Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance says.

Tamar Todd, the Drug Policy Alliance’s Director of Marijuana Law and Policy, compared the Texas law to a 1996 Arizona law that did not lead to a single patient getting CBD oil.

Arizona passed comprehensive medical marijuana legislation in 2010. Texas marijuana reform advocates are hoping for a similar evolution in the Lone Star State.

“While this program leaves most patients behind and we’re concerned about its functionality, today is one for the history books. The Texas Legislature is sending a resounding message: Marijuana is medicine. We commend our Texas lawmakers and look forward to continuing this conversation when the 85th Legislature convenes in 2017," Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.

CONTINUE READING…

Make the FDA Advisory, Not Mandatory


You should control what medicines you use, not the FDA. The FDA should make advisory recommendations only. It should NOT have the power to mandate which drugs you can buy, and which you cannot.

  • If pharmaceutical companies value the FDA seal of approval, then they can pay the FDA to evaluate their drugs.
  • If consumers value FDA approval, then they can decide to only buy FDA approved drugs.

If the FDA’s seal of approval is really so valuable, then it does NOT need to be mandatory. No coercion is necessary. Instead, the FDA should be able to sell its services through voluntary means, just like Underwriter’s Laboratory does.

Consumers and doctors should be free to consult available science, and make their own decisions about which treatments to try.

All human beings are unique. Treatments that might be dangerous for one person, could be the only possible solution for another. There is zero chance that one-size-fits-all dictates can possibly account for the vastness of human variability. Patients and doctors must have the flexibility to deal with individual human uniqueness.

The FDA should serve, not rule.

Talking Points:

There are thousands of reasons why the FDA should lose its power to coerce you and your loved ones. Some of these reasons will be listed below, so that you can use them when writing to Congress, or when asking your friends to contact Congress on this issue . . .

The FDA gives consumers a false sense of security. Americans assume that the FDA is actually protecting them, but it is not. For instance . . .

The Union of Concerned Scientists surveyed 6,000 FDA scientists in 2006, and 1,000 of them responded with the following disturbing admissions:

  • 17% admitted that they had been "asked explicitly by FDA decision makers to provide incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading information to the public, regulated industry, media, or elected/senior government officials."
  • Less than half agreed that the FDA "routinely provides complete and accurate information to the public."
  • 47% admitted to being aware of instances "where commercial interests have inappropriately induced or attempted to induce the reversal, withdrawal, or modification of FDA determinations of actions."

The FDA is constantly attempting to expand its powers. The people in that agency are relentlessly pushing into areas that are NOT part of their mandate — even where there is NO problem that needs to be fixed.

For Example: The FDA has made repeated attempts to regulate vitamins and supplements, even though there is no evidence that these things present any danger. Quite the contrary — vitamins and supplements are a powerful example of how health outcomes can be improved, without FDA involvement. The website of the Life Extension Foundation is full of scientific citations to demonstrate this. For instance . . .

A review of 2009 information for "adverse events" reported to the national control center’s data system shows that, NO major adverse events or deaths were reported for . . .

  • Botanical supplements like St. John’s wort, ginseng, and Echinacea
  • Hormone supplements like DHEA, melatonin, and pregnenolone
  • Phytoestrogen supplements
  • The joint- and cartilage-support supplements glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Vitamins A and E, and only one adverse event each was reported for vitamin B6 and C

In total, 41 major adverse events were reported for the entire spectrum of supplements including botanicals, amino acids, and vitamins, and only one was a death.

In contrast, more than 7,000 major adverse events were reported for pharmaceutical drugs, including a total of 496 deaths. And based on previous studies, we know the overall death rate for physician prescribed drugs to be far higher.

The Downsize DC position is pro-choice. The FDA should serve, not rule.

Use the form at right to send your elected representatives a letter about this issue. It’s easy!

  • Your position will be counted by each Congressional office,
  • Will educate the Congressional staffer who reads it,
  • May be passed up the chain of command,
  • May receive a reply (many DC Downsizers get them). If you receive such a letter, please share it with us at Comments@DownsizeDC.org.

 

Send a letter to Congress

We provide the first few words of the letter so that Congressional offices will see the most important point

right at the start, and so that no one can hijack our system for another purpose.

Here’s the part we provide . . .

Make the FDA advisory, not mandatory.

LINK

CONTINUE READING….

Medical marijuana backers lose bid for looser regulations


By Tom Schoenberg, © 2013, Bloomberg News

 

WASHINGTON — An appeals court rejected the bid by medical marijuana backers to ease federal controls of the drug, ruling that the government properly kept the substance in its most dangerous category.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision to maintain marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act because there are no adequate scientific studies finding an acceptable medical use.

“The question before the court is not whether marijuana could have some medical benefits,” U.S. Circuit Judge Harry Edwards wrote in the opinion.

Edwards said the court’s review was limited to whether the DEA’s decision declining to reschedule the drug was arbitrary and capricious. He said the court found there was “substantial evidence” to support the agency’s determination that such studies don’t exist.

The case involves a 10-year-old petition from medical marijuana advocates who asked the DEA to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III, IV or V drug, which would allow for looser regulation. On June 21, 2011, the DEA rejected the request, stating that existing clinical evidence wasn’t adequate to warrant reclassification.

“To deny that sufficient evidence is lacking on the medical efficacy of marijuana is to ignore a mountain of well- documented studies that conclude otherwise,” Joe Elford, chief counsel with Americans for Safe Access, the medical marijuana advocacy


hemp-300x200


organization that brought the case, said in an e-mailed statement.

Elford told the court during arguments in October that there were more than 200 studies that the agency refused to consider.

The group said it will appeal the ruling, according to the statement.

Lena Watkins, a lawyer for the Justice Department, told the court in October that the studies cited by the marijuana proponents were rejected because the research didn’t meet government standards. She said about 15 studies meet the standards, though the government doesn’t have the final results yet.

The court also waved off claims that government blocked efforts to study the medical effects of marijuana, citing the Health and Human Services Department policy supporting the clinical research with botanical marijuana.

“It appears that adequate and well-controlled studies are wanting not because they have been foreclosed but because they have not been completed,” Edwards said in the ruling.

CONTINUE READING…

Medical Marijuana Patients Get Their Day in Federal Court with the Obama Administration


D.C. Circuit to hear oral arguments this October in lawsuit challenging marijuana’s federal classification

Americans for Safe Access - Advancing Legal Medical Marijuana Therapeutics and Research

 

Washington, D.C. — Late last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed to hear oral arguments in Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration, a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value. Ten years after the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) filed its petition, the courts will finally review the scientific evidence regarding the therapeutic value of marijuana. The D.C. Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments on October 16th at 9:30am.

“Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access, the country’s leading medical marijuana advocacy group. “This is a rare opportunity for patients to confront politically motivated decision-making with scientific evidence of marijuana’s medical efficacy,” continued Elford. “What’s at stake in this case is nothing less than our country’s scientific integrity and the imminent needs of millions of patients.”

ASA filed its lawsuit in January, challenging the July 2011 Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) denial of the CRC petition, which was filed in 2002. The DEA is the final arbiter on petitions to reclassify controlled substances, but other agencies are also involved in the review process. Patient advocates claim that marijuana is treated unlike any other controlled substance in that rescheduling petitions are encumbered by politics and therapeutic research is subjected to a unique and overly rigorous approval process.

The announcement of oral arguments comes just weeks after a study was published in The Open Neurology Journal by Dr. Igor Grant one of the leading U.S. medical marijuana researchers, claiming that marijuana’s Schedule I classification is “not tenable.” Dr. Grant and his fellow researchers concluded it was “not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.” The study urged additional research, and stated that marijuana’s federal classification and its political controversy are “obstacles to medical progress in this area.” Marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I substance (along with heroin) is based on the federal government’s position that it has “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

For more than a year, the Obama Justice Department has been escalating its attacks in medical marijuana states, including dozens of new federal indictments and prosecutions. Though U.S. Attorneys often claim that the accused have violated state law in some way, defendants are prevented from using any medical evidence or a state law defense in federal court. If the rescheduling lawsuit is successful and marijuana is reclassified, federal defendants will then gain the basis for a medical necessity defense.

The ASA appeal brief asserts that the federal government has acted arbitrarily and capriciously in its efforts to deny marijuana to millions of patients throughout the U.S. ASA argues in its  brief that the DEA has no “license to apply different criteria to marijuana than to other drugs, ignore critical scientific data, misrepresent social science research, or rely upon unsubstantiated assumptions, as the DEA has done in this case.” ASA is urging the court to “require the DEA to analyze the scientific data evenhandedly,” and order “a hearing and findings based on the scientific record.” The panel of judges assigned to hear oral arguments includes Circuit Judges Henderson and Garland, and Senior Circuit Judge Edwards.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have adopted medical marijuana laws that not only recognize the medical efficacy of marijuana, but also provide safe and legal access to it. Since the CRC petition was filed in 2002, an even greater number of studies have been published that show the medical benefits of marijuana for illnesses such as neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s. Last year, the National Cancer Institute, a division of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, added cannabis to its list of Complementary and Alternative Medicines, pointing out that it’s been therapeutically used for millennia.

AFI: Several patient-plaintiffs are available for interviews

William Britt
Mr. Britt is a 52-year-old resident of Long Beach, California, who developed polio as a child, which caused him to have scoliosis, a fused left ankle, shortened left leg, and bone degeneration in his left hip.  Mr. Britt also suffers from epilepsy, depression and insomnia, and uses marijuana to treat chronic pain in his leg, back, and hip. Marijuana has reduced Mr. Britt’s seizures and depression, and helps him sleep. Although Mr. Britt has taken prescription medication such as Marinol, Robaxin, Soma, and Xanax, none has proven as effective as marijuana.

Michael Krawitz
Mr. Krawitz is a 49-year-old resident of Elliston, Virginia, who suffered an automobile accident in 1984 while serving in the United States Air Force.  Mr. Krawitz has been rated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as being totally and permanently disabled. Mr. Krawitz uses marijuana to treat chronic pain and trauma associated with his accident.  He also use marijuana to treat central serous retinopathy. However, because of Mr. Krawitz’s medical marijuana use, he has been denied pain treatment by the VA.

Steph Sherer
Ms. Sherer is a resident of Washington, D.C. and the founder and Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). In April of 2000, Ms. Sherer suffered a physical attack that has caused her to suffer from a condition that produced inflammation, muscle spasms, pain throughout her body, and decreased mobility in her neck. Because of multiple pain medications she was prescribed, Ms. Sherer suffered kidney damage. After her doctor recommended medical marijuana, Ms. Sherer successfully reduced her inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. This prompted Ms. Sherer to found ASA in April of 2002 to share what she learned about the therapeutic value of marijuana and to change public policy.

Further information:
D.C. Circuit announcement of oral arguments: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/ASA_v_DEA_Oral_Arguments.pdf
ASA appeal brief: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CRC_Appeal.pdf
DEA denial of CRC petition: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CRC_Petition_DEA_Answer.pdf
CRC rescheduling petition: http://www.drugscience.org/PDF/Petition_Final_2002.pdf

Ron Paul Reportedly Considering 2012 Presidential Run on a Third Party Ticket


This article is set to serve as a call to action for all voters that do not want to cast their vote for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. Rumors have caught fire within the last 24 hours that Dr. Ron Paul has not discounted a potential run on a Third Party ticket in 2012.

I know what many of you are thinking. How can he run so late in the game? I have to be honest. I do not profess to know all of the election laws in the United States, but if Dr. Paul says it can happen, then who am I to argue. So let’s sum up the rumors.

Since mid-July, there have been rumors that Gary Johnson would be willing to bring Ron Paul onto the Libertarian ticket as his running mate, and that Judge Jim Gray would oblige, graciously, according to Gary Johnson “insider” Mike Cann.

Almost immediately after the RNC concluded, rumors whispered across the internet that Ron Paul had an announcement to make during his appearance on the Tonight Show on Tuesday September 4th. Those whispers have become screams from “insiders” like Matt Larson.

Now, today, Evan Cutler — a.k.a. Evan Alaska — an Alaska Paul campaign member is claiming to have spoken at length with Ron Paul. He is saying that he has an outline as to what it is going to take to get Dr. Paul running on a Third Party ticket. Here is the message from Evan today:

“UPDATE: September 2, 2012, 2pm PST

The call is at 7:00 PM ALASKA TIME Today – Sunday – That is 8 PM Pacific (California) time, and 11 PM Eastern, for those who might be confused.
_____

I spoke with Dr. Paul yesterday about continuing the fight by running on a third party ticket. I want to share what he said to me and let you know what needs to be done to make this happen. It can happen, but it’s going to take some work. If you are willing to support this effort, please share this event and call in:

NOTE the Free Conference Call number and access code has been changed to a new one as of today:

Conference dial-in number: (559) 726-1200

Participant access code: 811476

From the Last Frontier,

Evan Cutler
Alaskans for Ron Paul 2012 (http://www.alaskans4ronpaul2012.org/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Alaskans4RonPaul”

So what does this mean to us? According to isidewith.com, PolicyMic visitors to the quiz site side with Gary Johnson 73% of the time on all issues. What better place to put a call to action than a website that is in the conscience of such a Liberty-minded group! The call tonight will be at 8pm PT and 11pm ET.

Is it possible that this is all a hoax? Of course it is. However, in light of the people putting it out there, I doubt it. Does it likely promote a monumental task to accomplish? Absolutely. So, if you have any inkling that you may not desire to cast your vote for either of the two main parties, stay tuned. I’ll be back. Until then, For Liberty!

Landmark Prescription Drug Bill Takes Effect; Gov. Beshear Praises Full Throttle Attack on Prescription Abuse


Office of the Attorney General
Landmark Prescription Drug Bill Takes Effect; Gov. Beshear Praises Full Throttle Attack on Prescription Abuse

Press Release Date:
Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Contact Information:
Kerri Richardson
502.564.2611

Just days after a landmark prescription drug abuse law took effect, Governor Steve Beshear joined lawmakers and medical providers to report the law has already effected changes in the medical field and positioned Kentucky as a national leader in battling prescription abuse.

House Bill 1 (HB1), sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, passed in a special legislative session this spring. The bill included multiple elements to prevent the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs and to enhance law enforcement’s tools to investigate illegal prescribing practices.

“The enforcement of this bill began just a couple of days ago, and yet we already know that four ‘pain management clinics’ in Kentucky have waved the white flag and notified us they will shut their doors,” said Gov. Beshear. “We know that more than 9,000 medical providers have signed up for electronic prescription monitoring just since this law passed in April – more than doubling the number registered. The word is out. Kentucky is deadly serious about stopping this scourge of prescription drug abuse, and now we have some of the strongest tools in the country to make that happen.”

Gov. Beshear was joined by Attorney General Jack Conway as well as representatives from medical licensure boards, advocacy groups and law enforcement organizations, for today’s announcement.

HB1 expands the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER) system, the state’s prescription monitoring system, by requiring all prescription providers of controlled substances to register. It requires pain management clinics to be owned by a licensed medical practitioner, and requires professional licensure boards to investigate prescribing complaints immediately. The legislation allows for better coordination between health regulators and law enforcement to address problems of abuse. Finally, elements of HB1 will help prevent Kentucky from becoming a source state for prescription pills.

According to Kentucky’s Drug Control Policy Office, nearly 1,000 Kentuckians die every year from drug overdoses – an annual fatality rate that exceeds deaths from car accidents. More than 5,000 overdose patients are admitted to hospitals annually.

“Let’s be very clear – if you need a prescription for a controlled substance for a legitimate medical condition, you have nothing to fear. You’ll get your medicine. For doctors who worry their ability to prescribe will be compromised, you have nothing to fear. The law is built to protect valid prescribing,” said Gov. Beshear. “But if you’re doctor-shopping, buying extra pills for recreational use, or prescribing pills for cash, you’d better change your vocation or change your location, because we’re coming after you.”

“Prescription drug abuse is killing Kentuckians. Three people will die today from prescription drug overdoses. I believe the provisions in House Bill 1 will save the lives of our friends, our neighbors and our family members,” said Attorney General Jack Conway. “The provisions in this law will help shut down rogue clinics and providers who are poisoning people. I appreciate those in the medical community who have joined with us as responsible providers to be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem.”

“House Bill 1 and the emergency regulations will help stop tragic loss of life to drug abuse. We are working closely with medical professionals to ensure that legitimate pain management cases are not adversely affected,” said Speaker Stumbo. “The joint Implementation and Oversight Committee will be alert to any needed corrections, and we will make sure that all concerns are addressed.”

Lawmakers praised the cooperation of the Cabinets, agencies, and boards who worked together to create new regulations, educate patients and medical providers, and build the necessary computer infrastructure to support the implementation of the law.

HB1 Impact – KASPER enhancements

Effective July 20, all medical practitioners who prescribe controlled substances must register to use KASPER and run a KASPER report before prescribing a patient a controlled substance such as Oxycontin or Xanax.

When the law passed in April, KASPER had 7,911 registered accounts. Since then, another 9,137 providers have signed up for the program, a 115 percent increase.

According to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), which oversees KASPER, 90 percent of all KASPER reports are completed within 15 to 30 seconds. The reports show medical providers what other controlled substances have been prescribed to a patient and in what amount.

“Some providers worried that running a KASPER report would be cumbersome or time consuming, but 9 times out of 10, it will take as much time as measuring a patient’s blood pressure or recording their insurance information,” said Mary Begley, CHFS Inspector General. “It’s a very short investment of time that will become as routine as taking a patient’s temperature. A report can provide crucial information that not only may flag a problem user, but may also warn a provider of otherwise unforeseen complications from drug interactions.”

KASPER’s cache of prescription information will grow more robust as more users add records. Supporters say patient care will become more precise as medical providers review patient prescription history and know more about existing prescriptions.

A 2010 CHFS poll of KASPER users noted that 94 percent of medical providers said that the program is an effective tool in tracking an individual’s prescription history, and nearly 94 percent reported satisfaction with the tool. Nearly 9 in 10 KASPER users reported denying a prescription for a controlled substance to a patient based on information provided by a KASPER report.

To accommodate the steep increase in KASPER use, CHFS has hired additional staff, implemented system upgrades and expanded capacity.

Existing regulations provide that all dispensers (usually pharmacists) report to KASPER when any Schedule II through Schedule V controlled substances are dispensed. For the first time, new regulations provide that all prescribers must request a KASPER report before Schedule II, III and some IVs are prescribed. A list of certain Schedule IV controlled substances, which are known to be used or diverted, is attached.

HB1 Impact: Shared Investigative Information

HB1 requires that when a complaint about prescription abuse is lodged with any of several investigative agencies – the Attorney General, Kentucky State Police (KSP), CHFS, or any of the professional licensure boards – that complaint must be shared with the remaining agencies.

Previously, if KSP was investigating a possible pill mill, the agencies that licensed that clinic were not required to be notified, nor would they be compelled to contribute information to the case.

The Attorney General, KSP, CHFS and the six professional licensure boards have signed a memorandum of understanding to notify the other agencies of prescription complaints within three days of receipt. This will allow the investigators to share information quickly.

The six professional boards – Medical Licensure, Nursing, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Podiatry and Optometry – are required to share reports with the Attorney General, KSP and CHFS but not required to share among each other. This alleviates concerns that the professional organizations would be forced to report information to other boards that have no jurisdiction over the complaint.

HB1 Impact: Regulations Squeeze Offenders, Offer Grace Period for Providers

Regulations for the implementation of HB1 were filed on July 20, the effective date of HB1. These regulations, which interpret how the law is carried out by each agency, board, or office, uphold the intent of HB1 – to reduce the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs.

New regulations mandate that all pain management clinics must be owned by a licensed medical provider or employ a medical director in good standing with one of the professional licensure boards. Clinics will have some time to meet those requirements, but CHFS administrators say that already, four of the state’s pain clinics not owned by physicians have reported that they will close their doors. Another 9 have not yet contacted CHFS regarding licensing, and will be investigated to determine if they are operating illegally.

“Not all pain management clinics are abusing their prescribing authority – many of them are meeting legitimate patient needs,” said CHFS Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes. “However, these regulations are designed to make it very, very difficult to stay in business if your clinic is a pill mill, prescribing high volumes of powerful drugs to people who are addicted.”

Each of the professional license boards has also created an educational period for practitioners through October 1st. Much like other laws such as the seat belt law, providers will have a few months to get accustomed to the new practices before any disciplinary action will take place.

“We don’t want the medical community to be afraid of immediate repercussions if they make an error this early in the process,” said Preston Nunnelley, chair of the Board of Medical Licensure. “We’ll have a few months to learn how the new policies will work, and we’ll be able to correct and guide providers along the way, instead of punishing people for unintentional errors.”