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1 US PA: Patients Lose As Cannabis Industry Barters For Zoning InThu, 14 Sep 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Goldstein, Chris Area:Pennsylvania Lines:113 Added:09/19/2017

A pay-to-play system has developed between state-licensed cannabis operators and municipal governments across the country for local zoning. The same model has quickly materialized in Pennsylvania, and now one town has gone too far.

Muhlenberg Township in Berks County was trying to squeeze a dispensary - - Franklin Bioscience LLC - for 5 percent of its annual profits.

The issue was revealed when the Pennsylvania Department of Health released a letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer from medical-marijuana program director John Collins to the company's CEO, Andrew Weiss, allowing the dispensary to relocate after getting pressured for the cash. Collins wrote:

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2 US PA: DA Candidate Endorses Safe Injection Sites For HeroinThu, 14 Sep 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Whelan, Aubrey Area:Pennsylvania Lines:134 Added:09/19/2017

Democrat Larry Krasner, the front-runner to become Philadelphia's next district attorney, says he supports city-sanctioned spaces where people addicted to heroin can inject drugs under medical supervision and access treatment, a move advocates see as a promising step toward making the city the first in the U.S. to open such a site.

His Republican opponent, Beth Grossman, says she's open to discussions on the matter.

For those on the front lines of the heroin crisis in Philadelphia, both are encouraging stances in a political arena where the idea can still be dismissed out of hand. But recently, cities across the country have begun to consider the possibility of instituting supervised injection sites; several nations, including Canada, have used the approach for years.

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3 US PA: Gov. Wolf: Crackdown On Medical Marijuana Will 'Force MoreThu, 07 Sep 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Wood, Sam Area:Pennsylvania Lines:70 Added:09/12/2017

Federal interference with Pennsylvania's medical-marijuana program would "force more suffering on some of our most vulnerable constituents," Gov. Wolf said in a letter to Rep. Charlie Dent (R., Pa.), who serves on the House Appropriations Committee.

Wolf is alarmed that Congress could eliminate a provision in an appropriations bill that for four years has prohibited federal agencies from cracking down on the implementation of state-approved medical-cannabis programs.

The states considered the provision, known as the Rohrabacher amendment, as tacit protection that gave them permission to launch their cannabis programs.

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4 US PA: OPED: Auditor General DePasquale: Legalize Marijuana In Pa. ToThu, 07 Sep 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:DePasquale, Eugene Area:Pennsylvania Lines:117 Added:09/12/2017

With Pennsylvania teetering on the edge of another budget cliff, it is immensely clear to me that we must get creative in finding long-term revenue solutions to prevent total financial collapse.

Last month, as a short-term fix to the state's cash-flow woes, I cosigned a $750 million loan from Treasury's Short Term Investment Pool. That loan cost the state $141,000 in interest.

What's more, Treasurer Joe Torsella is forecasting the state's general fund balance will hit negative $1.6 billion by mid-September. This is disturbing.

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5 US PA: Pa. Must Reveal Names Of Secret Marijuana PanelistsFri, 01 Sep 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Wood, Sam Area:Pennsylvania Lines:53 Added:09/01/2017

In a decision that could change the way future medical marijuana permits are awarded in Pennsylvania, the state has ordered the Pa. Department of Health to reveal the identities of the panelists who determined the winners to grow and distribute cannabis products.

The Pa. Department of Health in June awarded 12 permits to grow and process marijuana and 27 permits to distribute the medicines in a process that many of the unsuccessful applicants criticized as unnecessarily opaque.

A secret panel, comprised of about a dozen Pennsylvania state employees, reviewed and scored hundreds of lengthy applications for the potentially lucrative business permits, following a model originally set by New Jersey. Other states have followed different selection processes. Ohio, for example, hired an Atlanta-based consultant to determine its winners, according to Cleveland.com.

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6 US PA: Pa.'s Once Vast Hemp Harvest Reemerges From The WeedsThu, 31 Aug 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Wood, Sam Area:Pennsylvania Lines:129 Added:08/31/2017

Not one of the growers had any prior experience cultivating the plant, which grows so quickly it's nicknamed "weed." So some problems were to be expected. However, nobody anticipated one complication.

"We had some projects that really did everything right, but were completely overrun by weeds," -- real weeds, said Russell Redding, the state's Secretary of Agriculture. "You'd have fields that were beautifully green, but overwhelmed by unwanted species."

Sometimes knowledge is hard-won, even in a state with a long history of cultivation dating back to the colonial era and more than a dozen school districts named "Hempfield."

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7 US PA: Norco Drug Forfeiture Program Netted $132k Last YearMon, 21 Aug 2017
Source:Morning Call (Allentown, PA) Author:Yates, Riley Area:Pennsylvania Lines:86 Added:08/25/2017

Northampton County's drug forfeiture program netted $132,000 last year, the district attorney's office announced.

Northampton County's drug forfeiture program seized more than $132,000 in the past year, on par with other years despite heightened scrutiny of the practice nationwide.

In the fiscal year ending June 30, the program brought in $122,000 in cash, plus $9,900 from the sale of forfeited vehicles, District Attorney John Morganelli announced.

The proceeds represented an increase from the $112,000 averaged in the four previous years. But they were well short of the program's record in fiscal 2011, when $283,000 was seized.

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8 US PA: Politicians Line Up Against Proposed Philly MarijuanaMon, 14 Aug 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Wood, Sam Area:Pennsylvania Lines:65 Added:08/14/2017

Political opposition could derail a medical marijuana dispensary slated to open early next year in Philadelphia's East Mount Airy neighborhood.

A zoning hearing Tuesday morning attracted a sizable crowd, including people from eight neighborhood churches among others aiming to force East Mount Airy's TerraVida Holistic Centers dispensary to fold before it opens.

In March, the city granted a zoning permit to TerraVida to operate on the 8300 block of Stenton Avenue at Allens Lane. In June, the state Department of Health awarded the company a highly coveted license to sell cannabis-derived oils, tinctures and lotions at the former bank building, which sits on a commercial corridor that includes a small strip mall, two gas stations, and a Rite Aid pharmacy. Only four dispensary permits were slated for the state's most populous city, though more could be added.

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9 US PA: Conrail Not Ready Yet On Cleanup Of Heroin GulchTue, 25 Jul 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Terruso, Julia Area:Pennsylvania Lines:44 Added:07/25/2017

Cleanup of the Gurney Street railroad gulch in Fairhill, a campground for heroin users and a dumping site for needles and garbage, didn't start Monday as was initially planned.

The city came to an agreement with Conrail last month to fence and clean up the property. A contract calls for work to start by July 31, but Conrail planned to start work Monday.

Jocelyn Hill, a spokeswoman for Conrail, said that fabricating the fencing that will secure the area took longer than anticipated and that the company had hired a second contractor to speed things up. She said the work still will begin before July 31.

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10 US PA: Editorial: Stop Opioids From Being Delivered By The U.s PostalMon, 17 Jul 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA)          Area:Pennsylvania Lines:73 Added:07/21/2017

Within the murky online corners of the so-called Dark Net, drug dealers emphasize the best way to send their goods across the United States is not via FedEx, UPS, or another private mail carrier, but through the U.S Postal Service.

Last year, up to 59,000 opioid-related deaths occurred, making those narcotics the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. Many of the deaths were attributed to synthetic opioids, which have flooded the market through mail orders from China using USPS.

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11 US PA: Audit: Pennsylvania Isn't Evaluating Addiction ProgramsThu, 13 Jul 2017
Source:Morning Call (Allentown, PA)          Area:Pennsylvania Lines:65 Added:07/14/2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- Pennsylvania state government is not measuring the effectiveness of many of its addiction treatment programs that can be helpful in the fight against the epidemic of heroin and prescription drug overdoses, auditors said Thursday.

The audit launched last year by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale recommends that three state agencies -- the departments of Human Services, Corrections and Drug and Alcohol Programs -- do more to assess whether their addiction treatment programs are successful in curing people. It also warns that more money is needed to fund the effort.

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12 US PA: How I Loved And Lost My Fiance - A Heroin AddictWed, 12 Jul 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Bellomia, Corin Area:Pennsylvania Lines:109 Added:07/14/2017

Chris and I were texting Dec. 11, 2016, when at 3:50 p.m. he went silent.

I assumed it was because we were arguing. We were always arguing, ever since his addiction had taken over his life. The signs were there: The man who would write beautiful songs on his guitar became sluggish and angry. He wouldn't spend time with the people who lifted him up and instead sneaked out to see those who enabled his addiction. He stopped going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings and group therapy.

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13 US PA: Partners Have Big Plans For Allentown's Medical MarijuanaFri, 07 Jul 2017
Source:Morning Call (Allentown, PA) Author:Wagaman, Andrew Area:Pennsylvania Lines:149 Added:07/11/2017

Allentown's first licensed medical marijuana dispensary features a partnership between a fifth-generation Lehigh Valley native and a big-time medical cannabis company that has helped secure more than 50 licenses in states across the country.

Mission Partners LLC, a subsidiary of Phoenix-based management consulting firm 4Front Ventures, hopes to open its first Mission Pennsylvania dispensary early next year in a building at 2733 W. Emmaus Ave., Allentown, that currently houses MP Outfitters.

One of Mission Pennsylvania's principals is Ari Molovinsky, a 1997 Parkland High School graduate whose father, Michael, lives in South Whitehall Township and operates the "Molovinsky on Allentown" blog.

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14 US PA: Why Medical Marijuana Shops In Pa. Won't ReekTue, 04 Jul 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Wood, Sam Area:Pennsylvania Lines:113 Added:07/05/2017

Walk into a medical marijuana dispensary in New Jersey and the first thing to hit you is the stink.

Weed's scent is a sour blast that seems to reek of citrus, diesel, and skunk. At the Garden State Dispensary in Woodbridge, Middlesex County, charcoal air purifiers -- encased in gleaming steel and larger than jet engines -- are strategically placed through the facility. It's hard to say whether their presence tempers the odor, which is generated by thousands of cannabis plants growing under lights in the same building.

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15 US PA: Councilwoman Will Try To Block Medical Marijuana DispensarySun, 02 Jul 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Wood, Sam Area:Pennsylvania Lines:60 Added:07/04/2017

A Philadelphia city councilwoman says she will try to block a medical marijuana dispensary from being located in her East Mount Airy district.

"This is not a debate about the merits of medical marijuana -- which the community and I both support -- but it is solely about the proposed use at this location," Parker said in a statement, citing concerns about public safety and security. "I remain vehemently opposed to this site."

State Rep. Chris Rabb (D., Phila.), who lives four blocks from the proposed dispensary, said he was happy to have one in the neighborhood. But Rabb said he believes the two-story structure is "specifically an awful location."

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16 US PA: Where Medical Cannabis Shops Will Be In Pa.Thu, 29 Jun 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Wood, Sam Area:Pennsylvania Lines:63 Added:07/03/2017

Medical marijuana permits leave losers fuming in Pa.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today announced the names and locations of companies that will be permitted to sell medical marijuana in the state.

The reveal came in a news release issued Thursday at 1:15 p.m..

Each of the 27 winners have the right to operate three storefronts. Though there were 81 dispensaries allowed by law, many applicants chose not to ask for additional outlets. As it stands, only 52 will open sometime next year.

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17 US PA: Marijuana Has Been Decriminalized For A Year In Philly How'sTue, 27 Jun 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Farr, Stephanie Area:Pennsylvania Lines:171 Added:06/30/2017

In fact, since decriminalization took effect, police have cited 73 percent fewer people than they arrested for possessing weed during the same time period in the year prior to decriminalization.

And if mayoral candidate Jim Kenney has his way, citations for marijuana users may become a thing of the past, too.

"I'm not interested in issuing citations, either. We'll get to that conversation at the appropriate time next year," Kenney told the Daily News. "As time goes on, I don't know if there's going to be a need for any kind of punishment."

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18 US PA: Lehigh University Looks To Study Cannabis' Effect On AutisticMon, 19 Jun 2017
Source:Morning Call (Allentown, PA) Author:Radzievich, Nicole Area:Pennsylvania Lines:203 Added:06/19/2017

As Pennsylvania prepares to award its first licenses for the fledgling medical marijuana industry, Lehigh University intends to partner with one of the potential growers in the Lehigh Valley to study the effect of the drug on children with autism.

As Pennsylvania prepares to award its first licenses for the fledgling medical marijuana industry, Lehigh University intends to partner with one of the potential growers in the Lehigh Valley to study the effect of the drug on children with autism. (Glen Stubbe/AP File Photo)

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19 US PA: Oped: Don't Call Kensington A 'Hellscape'Wed, 14 Jun 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:O'Donnell, Casey Area:Pennsylvania Lines:79 Added:06/14/2017

Before she died in April, Awilda was the Community Engagement Coordinator at Impact Services Corporation and a tireless champion of Kensington and its residents. Awilda would have loved the Inquirer articles touting the amazing work the librarians at McPherson do every day, but she would have been crushed to see the park described as Needle Park and the neighborhood called a "hellscape."

Calling it Needle Park perpetuates a story about Kensington that reduces everyone here to victims or criminals, further instilling a sense of hopelessness. Awilda worked hard to change the narrative of Kensington so that people would recognize the vibrancy of her neighborhood and the strong spirit of its residents. Her work was part of a collaborative strategy to build collective strength and support a robust social network throughout the community.

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20 US PA: Hemp Takes Root In Pa. For The First Time In 80 YearsFri, 09 Jun 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Wood, Sam Area:Pennsylvania Lines:52 Added:06/09/2017

It marked the first time in 80 years that the cousin of cannabis, once a common cash crop in the state of Pennsylvania, had been legally sown in the state.

"We would have like to have planted it a few weeks ago, but the seeds - from Italy and Canada - were held up in customs," said Diana Martin, spokeswoman for the Rodale Institute in Berks County.

Research scientist Emmanuel Mondi oversees planting near Kutztown on June 9, 2017. It marked the first time the plant has been legally sown in 80 years.

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21 US PA: Mayor, DEA To Hold Opioid Summit In West KensingtonSat, 21 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Wood, Sam Area:Pennsylvania Lines:38 Added:01/21/2017

Mayor Kenney and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration will lead a community summit Saturday to address the opioid epidemic in Philadelphia's Fairhill and West Kensington neighborhoods, epicenter of addiction in the region.

The summit, called "El Barrio Es Nuestro" ("The Community Is Ours"), will give residents a chance to speak in English or Spanish about quality-of-life issues with key city officials, including members of the mayor's recently launched Task Force to Combat the Opioid Epidemic.

"This neighborhood is one of the worst-hit areas in the entire country," Gary Tuggle, the DEA's special agent in charge of the Philadelphia field division, said. "By bringing together health, law enforcement, and community leaders, we hope to come up with a solution."

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22 US PA: Philly Cops Meet With Pot Smokers To Plan A Bust But Don'tThu, 19 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Terruso, Julia Area:Pennsylvania Lines:79 Added:01/19/2017

[photo] Chris Goldstein, right, shakes hands with police top brass after meeting at La Colombe to discuss his planned "smoke-in" protest on Friday in Rittenhouse Square. (Julia Terruso / Staff)

Members of the Philadelphia Police Department's top brass met with marijuana activists Thursday to hash out how pot citations will be issued at a protest planned for Friday.

"So we'll have everyone light up and then line up," said Nikki Allen Poe, talking with members of the Police Department at a corner table at La Colombe coffee shop at Dilworth Park, "and then you'll do the arr-."

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23 US PA: Could Jeff Sessions As Attorney General Hurt MedicalWed, 18 Jan 2017
Source:Morning Call (Allentown, PA)          Area:Pennsylvania Lines:138 Added:01/18/2017

[photo] It's been reported that President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as his attorney general pick. Sessions has been a vocal opponent of the marijuana industry. (Scott Olson/ AP)

President-elect Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to nominate Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions -- a vocal opponent of marijuana legalization - -- to be the country's next attorney general has many in the young but growing legalized marijuana industry deeply concerned.

That includes in Pennsylvania, which legalized medical marijuana this spring. The state is expected to begin accepting applications for medical cannabis grower/processor and dispenser permits early next year, with the goal of making medical marijuana available to patients by 2018.

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24 US PA: Valley Group To Compete For State Pot LicenseTue, 17 Jan 2017
Source:Daily Item (Sunbury, PA) Author:Moore, Marcia Area:Pennsylvania Lines:91 Added:01/18/2017

A group of Northumberland County-based entrepreneurs hope to weed out the competition and get one of the two available licenses for operating a medical marijuana dispensary in the Valley.

The main principals of Medical Marijuana Corp. are William E. Rosini, president of Rosini Enterprises, and Shannon D. Rosini, both of Paxinos; Annette Rosini MacLachlan, a former county resident now living in West Chester; Stephen Jacobs, of Shamokin and Christopher Walters, of Mount Carmel.

The state is offering permits for growers and dispensaries in each of six regions across the state.

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25 US PA: Legal Pot Grower Looks To The Poconos For Growing FacilityTue, 17 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Schaefer, Mari A. Area:Pennsylvania Lines:40 Added:01/17/2017

A California company hopes to grow medical marijuana in Pocono Township.

The company, CannaMed of Thousand Oaks, has asked the Monroe County township's Board of Supervisors to clarify its zoning definitions to allow it to start up a processing operation, PennLive.com reported.

A company representative recently told supervisors the building, would be about 45,000 square feet and would grow the marijuana and process it into forms including pills and oils.

The company expects to employ between 30 to 50 people.

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26 US PA: For Babies Born Addicted To Opioids, Hospitals RecruitFri, 13 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Mccullough, Marie Area:Pennsylvania Lines:139 Added:01/14/2017

[photo] Addy Schultz, 72, cuddling a baby going through opioid withdrawal at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, ( DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer )

Marie McCullough covers health and medicine, with a special focus on cancer and women's health issues.

Study suggests prevention efforts are having an effect on melanoma in Pa., N.J.

As the 13-day-old infant scrunched up his face and squirmed in obvious pain, Addy Schultz tightened her embrace. The baby relaxed in her arms almost instantly.

"When he cramps up, I hold him harder and pat a little firmer," explained Schultz, 72, sitting in a rocking chair in the newborn intensive care unit at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. "They don't like to be stroked or caressed."

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27 US PA: ACA's Repeal Would Devastate Fight Against Opioid AddictionFri, 13 Jan 2017
Source:Morning Call (Allentown, PA)          Area:Pennsylvania Lines:127 Added:01/13/2017

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Thursday that Congressional Republicans are on a "rescue" mission to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and that he and President-elect Donald Trump are in perfect sync with the process of replacing Obamacare. (CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES)

Funding for mental illness and opioid addiction treatment in Pennsylvania will take a big hit if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, according to research published this week by Harvard Medical School.

More than 181,000 Pennsylvania residents with mental and substance abuse disorders will lose access to services made available under the ACA, concluded Harvard health economics professor Richard G. Frank and New York University public service dean Sherry Glied.

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28 US PA: Repeal Obamacare And The Opioid Epidemic Will Get Much WorseFri, 13 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Kraus, Antoinette Area:Pennsylvania Lines:83 Added:01/13/2017

Repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan is dangerous for the health and economic well-being of our Commonwealth. A new Harvard Medical School and New York University study shows that repealing the ACA would have tragic consequences for millions of Americans affected by mental illness and by the devastating opioid epidemic. 180,526 Pennsylvanians suffering from mental illness or substance use disorder will lose access to critical mental health services that the ACA makes possible.

Pennsylvania ranks among the highest in the nation in opioid overdose-related deaths and prescribing rates. Nationwide, the study estimates that more than 4 million Americans with serious mental illness or substance use disorders, of whom about 222,000 have an opioid use disorder, would lose some or all of their insurance coverage.

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29 US PA: 'Our Children Are Dying': Christie Vows To Fight AddictionThu, 12 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Hanna, Maddie Area:Pennsylvania Lines:142 Added:01/12/2017

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, center, arrives in the Assembly chamber of the Statehouse to deliver his State Of The State address Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in Trenton, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

TRENTON - Gov. Christie vowed Tuesday to devote his final year in office to battling drug addiction, skirting other challenges confronting New Jersey as he delivered an unusual and impassioned State of the State address focused almost exclusively on the issue.

Telling personal stories of people affected by addiction - a state employee whose son died from a heroin overdose two days after she celebrated his sobriety at a Statehouse vigil; the son of a state Supreme Court justice, now in recovery and opening a treatment center - Christie said he hoped to make New Jersey an example for the nation on drug recovery.

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30 US PA: Christie's Anti-addiction Campaign Inspired By Recovery OfThu, 12 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Seidman, Andrew Area:Pennsylvania Lines:107 Added:01/12/2017

(AP Photo/Mel Evans) Gov. Christie, holding hands with daughter Sarah Christie, as wife Mary Pat Christie follows, leaves the Assembly chamber of the Statehouse after he delivered his State Of The State address Tuesday in Trenton.

TRENTON - When Haddonfield native AJ Solomon graduated from college in 2012, he landed a job with a longtime family friend: Gov. Christie.

But Solomon, who had abused painkillers and since become a heroin addict, was spinning out of control, buying dope in Camden on his way to the Statehouse. By 2014, he left an Arizona treatment center intent on flying home, saying goodbye to his parents, and killing himself.

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31 US PA: Graphic: Pennsylvania Overdose Deaths SkyrocketWed, 11 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA)          Area:Pennsylvania Lines:26 Added:01/11/2017

Overdose Deaths Up Sharply in Pa.

Drug-related fatalities rose 23.4 percent in Pennsylvania last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration's Philadelphia Division reports in its second annual statewide analysis. Previous years' data come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also relies on death certificates from coroners' offices but has not yet released U.S. or any state numbers for 2015.

The Drug Enforcement Administration found big differences by county. County numbers can change significantly from year to year, so short-term trends may not be meaningful.

[graphic, http://www.philly.com/philly/infographics/386564601.html ]

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32 US PA: Part-time Donora Police Officer Charged With Stealing HeroinWed, 11 Jan 2017
Source:Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Author:Silver, Jonathan D. Area:Pennsylvania Lines:64 Added:01/11/2017

A part-time Donora police officer has been arrested for stealing 133 stamp bags of heroin that were seized as evidence after the execution of a search warrant.

James B. Johnson V, 29, of Monongahela, was charged Tuesday with several drug offenses, theft, obstruction, tampering and misapplication of entrusted property.

The charges were announced today by the Washington County district attorney's office.

Authorities accused Officer Johnson of stealing the evidence following an Aug. 10 seizure.

Police said Officer Johnson admitted to the theft and said he took the heroin "for his personal consumption."

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33 US PA: Fatal Drug Overdoses In Philly Surged To 900 In 2016Wed, 11 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Wood, Sam Area:Pennsylvania Lines:76 Added:01/11/2017

[photo] (JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer) Mayor Jim Kenney speaks to the media after attending a meeting about the task force he's asked to develop a plan to address the opioid crisis in Philadelphia, the meeting took place at 801 Market Street, January 11, 2017.

Drug overdose deaths in Philadelphia surged to 900 last year - nearly a 30 percent increase in a single year - as the nation continued to grapple with an epidemic of opioid use and abuse.

City health officials Wednesday announced the numbers as Mayor Kenney convened a 16-member task force comprised of health and law officials.

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34 US PA: Medical Examiner: Philly Overdose Surge May Have Killed 35Wed, 11 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Sapatkin, Don Area:Pennsylvania Lines:120 Added:01/11/2017

Last weekend's frightening and widely reported string of overdoses in Philadelphia - nine deaths in 36 hours, according to police - was just part of what officials suspect was a devastating five days that left 35 people dead.

It started Dec. 1, when 12 people died between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. "We have never seen that before," said Sam P. Gulino, the city's chief medical examiner.

Then came four more deaths last Friday, seven on Saturday, nine on Sunday, and three on Monday. The total could still rise, as deaths that initially appeared natural are investigated for drug links.

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35 US PA: Havertown Couple Who Lost Fathers To Heroin Now Mourn FriendWed, 11 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Farr, Stephanie Area:Pennsylvania Lines:135 Added:01/11/2017

[photo] (ED HILLE / Staff Photographer) William McMonigle and Amy Zaccario of Havertown, who both lost their fathers to heroin overdoses in Philadelphia, are now planning the funeral of their best friend, Sean Jimenez, who died of a heroin overdose in Kensington on Monday.

At home in Jenkintown, Sean Jimenez had a decent job, a woman who loved him, and two young sons who bore a striking resemblance to Dennis the Menace, just as he did when he was little.

Gallery:

But Monday night on a Kensington sidewalk, Jimenez had nothing but the clothes on his back, a few dollars in his pocket, a cellphone, and a drug addiction that apparently took his life. He was pronounced dead there at 11:10 p.m.

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36 US PA: Philly Doc Linked To 4 Opioid Deaths Won't Get His MedicalWed, 11 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Sapatkin, Don Area:Pennsylvania Lines:85 Added:01/11/2017

[photo] Photo by Don Sapatkin / Staff Dr. Thomas C. Barone, a family physician, practiced in Center City until the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine suspended his license after four current and former patients died of opioid overdoses. Photo taken following his testimony at a reinstatement hearing in Harrisburg on Sept. 16, 2016.

Don Sapatkin covers a wide-ranging public health beat and doubles as deputy health and science editor. He joined the Inquirerin 1987.

The Pennsylvania Board of Osteopathic Medicine refused Wednesday to let Thomas C. Barone, a pain management physician whose prescribing practices were linked to the deaths of four patients, return to his Center City practice.

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37 US PA: Newall: When Will Someone Clean Up Philly's Heroin Camp?Fri, 06 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Newall, Mike Area:Pennsylvania Lines:110 Added:01/06/2017

Charito Morales, a registered nurse and advocate, leads a group through "El Campamento," a camp of homeless drug users under a railroad bridge in Fairhill. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)

Mike Newall has been writing for the Inquirer since 2010. Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., he has been writing about Philadelphia crime, courts, politics, and neighborhoods since 2003. Before joining the Inquirer, he was a staff writer and columnist for Philadelphia Weekly and Philadelphia City Paper. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and dog.

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38 US PA: In Pa., Facing Two Big Challenges: Opioids, ACAFri, 06 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA)          Area:Pennsylvania Lines:54 Added:01/06/2017

Charles Cutler is an internal medicine specialist from Norristown.

Want to know what's important in medicine today?

Ask Charles Cutler, an internal medicine specialist from Norristown who last month was sworn in as the 167th president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society.

The society's 16,000 members are physicians and medical students throughout the state. Among the issues it promotes are leadership, education, and public health.

Cutler, a member for 35 years, belongs to numerous other medical organizations, including the Board of Trustees of the Montgomery County Medical Society. He is a member of Einstein Physicians Norriton, a part of the Einstein Healthcare Network.

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39 US PA: Needle Exchanges Could Stem HIV OutbreakFri, 06 Jan 2017
Source:Morning Call (Allentown, PA) Author:Karczewski, Jim Area:Pennsylvania Lines:175 Added:01/06/2017

[photo] Dr. Deepak Ariga holds a needle favored by drug users in Hammond on April 9, 2015. (Jim Karczewski, Post-Tribune)

An HIV outbreak in Scott County, Ind., has infected 106 people. Can needle exchanges stem the tide?

An HIV outbreak in Scott County, Ind., has infected 106 people thus far, and despite reservations, Gov. Mike Pence green-lit a 30-day needle exchange program to stem the tide.

But public health advocates say the exchange program should be extended to really make an impact and expanded across the state as such programs have been shown to be effective in stemming the tide of HIV and hepatitis C infection among IV drug users.

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40 US PA: Indiana Begins Needle Exchange In County With HIV OutbreakFri, 06 Jan 2017
Source:Morning Call (Allentown, PA)          Area:Pennsylvania Lines:50 Added:01/06/2017

[photo] A sign points to the entrance the Community Outreach Center in Austin, Ind., on April 4, 2015. (Tyler Stewart, AP)

State and local health officials began a needle-exchange program Saturday in a southeastern Indiana county where an HIV outbreak among intravenous drug users has grown to nearly 90 cases.

Scott County's needle-exchange program was created through an emergency executive order signed last week by Gov. Mike Pence in an attempt to curb the state's largest-ever HIV outbreak. That 30-day order temporarily suspended Indiana's ban on such programs, but only for the southeastern Indiana county about 30 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky.

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41 US PA: How An Hiv Outbreak Hit Rural Indiana -- And Why We Should BeFri, 06 Jan 2017
Source:Morning Call (Allentown, PA)          Area:Pennsylvania Lines:147 Added:01/06/2017

A syringe is pictured along West Main Street in downtown Austin, Ind., in Scott County on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. (Christopher Fryer / AP)

Years ago, William Cooke sensed a crisis building. The only doctor in rural Austin, Indiana, noticed that intravenous drug use was soaring in his town of roughly 4,300, where 23 percent of residents live below the poverty line. He feared that people addicted to injectable painkillers might be plucking used needles off lawns, shooting up -- and passing them on.

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42 US PA: Scientists Say They Can Make A Vaccine Against HeroinFri, 06 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA)          Area:Pennsylvania Lines:176 Added:01/06/2017

It's an uphill battle

[photo] (John Dole / Scripps Research Institute) Kim Janda of the Scripps Research Institute is shown in front of a board that depicts molecule drawings of heroin and cocaine, with the structures of vaccines that potentially could target those two drugs shown beneath.

In one picture, H. Joseph "Joey" Ressler is smiling at his mother and lifting her off the ground. In another, a selfie, he's grinning like a little kid as two motorcyclists roar up from behind. He was just 24, and the future seemed limitless for the happy, talented young man.

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43 US PA: Richland Woman Dies Of Heroin Od With 3-year-old Son InThu, 05 Jan 2017
Source:Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Author:Silver, Jonathan D. Area:Pennsylvania Lines:65 Added:01/05/2017

A Richland woman died Wednesday in her apartment from a suspected heroin overdose, leaving her 3-year-old son alone in the residence until police found him.

The woman was identified as Lauren Wilson, 34, of Thomas Village in the 5600 block of Community Center Drive.

Police were called Wednesday afternoon by Ms. Wilson's mother because she was unable to contact her daughter by phone, Northern Regional Police Department Chief T. Robert Amann said today.

Police found Ms. Wilson's body and a syringe.

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44 US PA: The Surge In Narcotic Overdoses Is Affecting EveryoneThu, 05 Jan 2017
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Himelstein, Rima Area:Pennsylvania Lines:97 Added:01/05/2017

Recent headlines tell it all: "9 dead from apparent heroin ODs over weekend in Kensington area"; "Medical examiner: Philly overdose surge may have killed 35 over 5 days"; "New Jersey's overdose nightmare hits a new peak"; and "Growth in the use of opioids is fueling a nationwide epidemic of deaths from drug overdose".

Heroin mixed with fentanyl - or heroin alone - may be responsible for this surge in overdoses. In the past, Philadelphia typically had three overdoses a day and they were not all fatal. Last June, the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office confirmed nearly 700 drug-related deaths in 2015, twice as many deaths as there were from homicides. At the current rate, 2016 will end with even more.

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45 US PA: Hemp Is The New TobaccoSun, 01 Jan 2017
Source:Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Author:Skerritt, Jen Area:Pennsylvania Lines:67 Added:01/05/2017

It looks like pot. It smells like pot. But it's hemp, marijuana's legal cousin, and it's taking over the Bluegrass state.

Across the rolling hills of Kentucky, which just two decades ago was the most tobacco-dependent state in the country, farmers are planting less of the crop after rising health concerns shrunk demand. Instead, they're increasingly turning to hemp and have more than doubled sowings of the cannabis variety in 2016 to become the No. 2 producer in the U.S., trailing Colorado.

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46 US PA: Some State Farmers To Grow Industrial HempSat, 31 Dec 2016
Source:Morning Call (Allentown, PA) Author:Wagaman, Andrew Area:Pennsylvania Lines:246 Added:12/31/2016

[photo] Heather Skorinko had hoped to grow industrial hemp on her North Whitehall Township farm, but the state's restrictive pilot program will lock out most family farms, she said. (APRIL BARTHOLOMEW/THE MORNING CALL)

Industrial hemp returns to Pennsylvania in 2017. So why are advocates so riled up?

Too often in recent years, Heather Skorinko has struggled to make money growing corn and soybeans on her North Whitehall Township farm, which has been in the family for more than 120 years.

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47 US PA: Attention To Opioids May Be Curbing Doctors PrescriptionsFri, 30 Dec 2016
Source:Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Author:Lord, Rich Area:Pennsylvania Lines:116 Added:12/30/2016

Pa. Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine during a meeting with the staff of the Twin Lakes treatment facility near Somerset for people suffering with alcohol and substance abuse.

Pennsylvania's avalanche of opioids that rolled from factories through pharmacies to medicine cabinets, and then tumbled into the streets with tragic results, may finally be slowing thanks to pressure on the prescribing practices of its doctors.

This year, the long-lagging state caught up with the regulatory steps of many of its neighbors, as Gov. Tom Wolf and legislators from overdose-plagued districts wrote new laws. Initial data suggests that attention to the overprescribing of opioids - widely blamed for starting addictions that progress to heroin use - has started to affect doctors' decisions.

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48 US PA: One Day In The Opioid EpidemicMon, 26 Dec 2016
Source:Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Author:Lord, Rich Area:Pennsylvania Lines:394 Added:12/30/2016

The 44-year-old mother who answered the door in Lincoln-Lemington on the evening of Dec. 15 had the "pin point" eyes of "someone who has recently used opioids," a Pittsburgh police officer wrote.

The officer was responding to a 911 call suggesting child endangerment. "I do suffer from using heroin and I'm trying to stop, but I keep using," the woman admitted, according to the officer's affidavit. She led police to the makeup bag under the throw pillow, where they found six stamp bags of heroin and three hypodermic needles, the officer wrote.

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49 US PA: Former Temple University Adjunct Helps Promote OpioidsThu, 29 Dec 2016
Source:Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Author:Avril, Tom Area:Pennsylvania Lines:67 Added:12/29/2016

[photo] Toby Talbot / APWith prescriptions dropping in the United States, companies have started to promote OxyContin and other opioid drugs in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

A former adjunct associate professor at Temple University has helped a leading maker of opioids promote potentially addictive pain medications in new foreign markets that have not yet seen an overdose crisis like that in the United States, a Los Angeles Times investigation has found.

The physician, Joseph V. Pergolizzi Jr., is based in Naples, Fla., and has not been affiliated with Temple since June 2014, the school said.

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50 US PA: Baby Starves To Death After Her Parents Die From OverdoseMon, 26 Dec 2016
Source:State, The (SC) Author:Guerra, Kristine Area:Pennsylvania Lines:75 Added:12/29/2016

Two young parents died of apparent drug overdoses in a Pennsylvania home about a week ago.

Left alone in her bassinet, the couple's infant died three or four days later. Authorities said 5-month-old Summer Chambers died of dehydration and starvation, the Associated Press reported.

She and her parents, Jason Chambers, 27, and Chelsea Cardaro, 19, were all found dead Thursday in a home in the Kernville neighborhood of Johnstown, about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Officials with the Johnstown Police Department were unavailable for comment Saturday.

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