As bad as getting off opioids the first time was, nothing prepared
Briana Kline for trying to come back from relapse. She was in deep,
past the Percocets and other pills. This time it was heroin, even a
close brush with fentanyl. But the medicine that so helped slay her
cravings before didn't seem to be cutting it.
"The Suboxone didn't make me feel the way it usually does," said
Kline, 26, of Lancaster County. "I was struggling a lot with cravings.
I'd go a couple of days, be OK. Then I'd go use again."
[continues 1283 words]
State lawmakers moved Tuesday to reinstate the research provision of
Pennsylvania's medical marijuana law, a month after a court decision
left it in limbo.
The House voted 167-31 to change the law by laying out more explicitly
the goal of its provisions allowing medical schools to partner with
companies that grow the drug and provide it to patients.
"We worked very hard so that indeed real research not only will have
the opportunity to occur, but it's going to be required to occur,"
said Rep. Kathy Watson, R-Bucks, who sponsored the amendment.
[continues 294 words]
All marijuana users are forbidden from operating a car, truck, boat,
or an airplane under Pennsylvania statute. That poses a conundrum for
medical marijuana patients who need to drive and want to stay within
the bounds of law.
Pa. Rep. Sheryl M. Delozier (R., Cumberland) says she aims to fix
Delozier last week announced she'll introduce legislation that will
exempt medical marijuana patients as long as they are not driving
Driving under the influence is a crime in every state. But knowing
when a driver is too high to drive is nearly impossible to tell with a
test. Unlike with alcohol, there is nothing like a Breathalyzer devise
for cannabis that police can use. If an officer suspects a driver is
impaired, he can order a blood tests. But chemical compounds from
marijuana can remain in the blood for 15 days or more after use and
deliver an incriminating positive result.
[continues 171 words]
As legal marijuana spreads and the opioid epidemic rages on, the
number of drugged drivers killed in car crashes is rising
dramatically, according to a report released today.
Forty-four percent of fatally injured drivers tested for drugs had
positive results in 2016, the Governors Highway Safety Association
found, up more than 50 percent compared with a decade ago. More than
half the drivers tested positive for marijuana, opioids or a
combination of the two.
"These are big-deal drugs. They are used a lot," said Jim Hedlund, an
Ithaca, New York-based traffic safety consultant who conducted the
highway safety group's study. "People should not be driving while
they're impaired by anything and these two drugs can impair you."
[continues 987 words]
In Oregon and Denver, where marijuana is legal for recreational use,
activists are now pushing toward a psychedelic frontier: "magic mushrooms."
Groups in both states are sponsoring ballot measures that would
eliminate criminal penalties for possession of the mushrooms whose
active ingredient, psilocybin, can cause hallucinations, euphoria and
changes in perception. They point to research showing that psilocybin
might be helpful for people suffering from depression or anxiety.
"We don't want individuals to lose their freedom over something that's
natural and has health benefits," said Kevin Matthews, the campaign
director of Denver for Psilocybin, the group working to decriminalize
magic mushrooms in Colorado's capital.
[continues 936 words]
A Pennsylvania legislator introduced a bill Monday that would give
medical marijuana patients a chance of expunging a conviction of
marijuana possession if the charge resulted from their use of cannabis
for medical purposes.
The bill is sponsored by State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), and
does not have any support yet from Republicans who control the
legislature. To be expunged, patients would have to prove they had a
doctor's diagnosis for one of the 21 approved serious health
conditions at the time of the conviction. The patient would also have
to provide evidence they were using cannabis to treat the condition.
[continues 106 words]
Pennsylvania is gearing up to become a global center for cannabis
research. Yet for more than a decade, Philadelphia has been on the
forefront of investigations into the medicinal uses of marijuana.
Sara Jane Ward has built a reputation exploring marijuana's effects on
pain and addiction using animals at Temple University's Lewis Katz
School of Medicine.
Ward and her colleague Ronald Tuma, a professor of physiology and
neurosurgery, lead a team of 10 researchers at Temple's Center for
Substance Abuse in North Philadelphia.
[continues 731 words]
Calling it "disruptive" and "unlawful," a group of Pennsylvania
marijuana growers and retailers wants to snuff out the state's
pioneering research program before it is launched.
The first of its kind in the nation, the research program would allow
eight of the state's teaching hospitals to contract with a cannabis
producer. Each contract is estimated to be worth tens of millions of
dollars. The agreements grant the producers a "super-permit" to
operate an indoor grow facility and to open six retail dispensaries
that can sell medical marijuana to any approved patient.
[continues 646 words]
A Pennsylvania marijuana producer is partnering with an Israeli
cannabis pioneer to cultivate and sell proprietary strains of the
plant in the Keystone State.
Ilera Healthcare operates a medical marijuana cultivation facility in
Waterfall, Fulton County. Ilera plans to open its first
state-permitted dispensary in Plymouth Meeting on May 4.
Tikun Olam -- the name means "Repair the World" in Hebrew -- is a
powerhouse in cannabis research. And in Israel, it dominates the
medical marijuana market. The Tel Aviv-based company has developed
dozens of proprietary genetic strains, some of which are designed to
alleviate anxiety, depression, nausea, pain associated with cancer,
and other ailments, a spokesman said.
[continues 272 words]
As the cannabis industry grows, generating an estimated $10 billion in
annual sales, states are increasingly approving medical marijuana
programs and passing adult-use laws.
But for marketing agencies, marijuana dispensaries and cannabis
brands, advertising the pot brings its own hurdles.
Online platforms with prime advertising space like Facebook and Google
do not allow drug, or drug-related promotions on their sites, leaving
a large share of marijuana advertising to blogs and podcasts,
newsletters and print media. And while experts say Facebook and Google
- -- which control the lion's share of digital advertising in the
country -- are unlikely to change their policies until pot is
legalized at the federal level, and television and radio come with
their own sets of rules, industry members are left to navigate a
complex web of state-by-state regulations.
[continues 595 words]
As one of the first lawyers in Pennsylvania to venture into the legal
world of medical marijuana and hemp, I have had the pleasure to work
and assist with the development of Pennsylvania's medical marijuana
program. I could not be happier to see these dispensaries opening and
helping the sick get relief.
However, a problem has developed that will make it very difficult for
many of the patients who most need the medicine to receive it.
The problem stems from the law's requirement that a medical marijuana
dispensary cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a school or day-care
[continues 622 words]
At the height of a heroin epidemic in Vancouver, British Columbia,
Inspector Bill Spearn -- then a rookie cop -- was assigned to a beat
in the heart of the crisis.
It was 1996, and though he had been responding to overdose after
overdose in Downtown Eastside, one of Canada's poorest postal codes,
Spearn wanted no part of the harm-reduction measures the city was
considering to save the lives of people in addiction.
A safe injection site, where drugs could be used under medical
supervision, was out of the question: "I thought it would be a big
magnet," he told a crowd at Temple University Medical School on Monday
night. "I thought it would empower people to use drugs." A few years
later, with the debate still raging, he left the neighborhood for
another position in the police department.
[continues 729 words]
A marijuana advocate who invited hundreds of people to his pot-smoking
party at a Philadelphia warehouse has been fined, ordered to perform
community service and sentenced to four years' probation.
Philly.com reports that Richard Tamaccio Jr. was sentenced Wednesday
after pleading guilty in January to felony drug charges. His lawyer
described him as a "true crusader" for marijuana legalization.
Prosecutors say Tamaccio was charged for facilitating the sale of
marijuana at the party last April and for possessing about nine pounds
of marijuana plants and products at his home.
The city in 2014 made possession of small amounts of the drug
punishable only by a citation and a fine, but marijuana sales weren't
Twenty-one other people were also arrested at the party.
The inspiration arrived in a haze at a Paul McCartney concert a few
years ago in San Francisco.
"People in front of me started lighting up and then other people
started lighting up," said Matthew Springer, a biologist and professor
in the division of cardiology at the University of California-San
Francisco. "And for a few naive split seconds I was thinking to
myself, 'Hey, they can't smoke in AT&T Park! I'm sure that's not
allowed.' And then I realized that it was all marijuana."
[continues 1149 words]
In Kensington, this much is clear: No other neighborhood in
Philadelphia has seen more overdose deaths, or more visible suffering
amid a city opioid epidemic that claimed an estimated 1,200 lives in
2017. Along with neighboring Fairhill, it occupies less than 2 percent
of Philadelphia's land area, but 18 percent of all city overdoses
occurred in that small space, according to an Inquirer analysis of
On Tuesday night, when city health officials arrive in the neighborhood
for a community meeting on the epidemic, they'll come armed with dire
statistics and information on the city's 18-point plan to fight the
crisis. But they won't have an answer to the question that's roiled the
neighborhood since the plan was announced in January: Will Kensington
host the first safe-injection site in the city, and possibly the
[continues 677 words]
The number of Pennsylvanian babies born with drug withdrawal symptoms
increased 10-fold in the past decade and a half, a symptom of an
increasingly deadly opioid epidemic plaguing the country, according to
a new state report.
In fiscal year 2017,15 in 1,000 Pennsylvanian newborns were diagnosed
with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a dramatic increase from fiscal
2001 when only 1.2 in 1,000 newborns had the diagnosis, the
Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council said in the report,
which was released Wednesday.
[continues 225 words]
Pennsylvania's commercial medical marijuana program is set to more
than double in size.
State officials Thursday announced the program was entering its second
phase, expanding from 12 to 25 cannabis producers and adding 23 more
The state also is launching a unique research effort that will run in
parallel to the established commercial program, conducting clinical
investigations into marijuana and selling to the public.
"From what I've seen and heard, there seems to be a high interest in
doing research around pain management and as a replacement for
opioids," John Collins, director of the state marijuana program, said
in a phone conference with reporters.
[continues 411 words]
Midway through a community meeting in Northeast Philadelphia on the
opioid crisis Monday, a man stood up at the back of the room and yelled
out a question to city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley: "Doctor, where
do you live? Can we put a safe injection site next door to you?"
The crowd of 150 in the Fox Chase community center applauded and burst
into shouts in a display that vividly showed the tough sales job the
city is facing as it tries to fulfill a promise to allow a place where
people in addiction can use drugs under medical supervision. As heroin
has been adulterated with the deadlier opioid fentanyl, often without
the user's knowledge, the overdose death rate has soared. Quick
administration of a reversal medicine can save lives.
[continues 678 words]
Is a marijuana dispensary an "unlawful" business? A federal judge in
Philadelphia will decide.
This arcane dispute over language in the deed of a marijuana
dispensary in Northeast Philadelphia could carry outsized
implications: A ruling by U.S. District Judge Gene Pratter could
affirm the superiority of federal law, which considers marijuana
illegal, over state law, where in Pennsylvania and 29 other states, it
Pratter's decision came Thursday in a strongly-worded memo that
described the case as "a fundamental clash between state and federal
[continues 739 words]
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has issued new regulations for
medical marijuana clinical research programs.
The regulations, released Friday, outline the process for an
accredited medical school with an acute care hospital to become an
approved "Academic Clinical Research Center" that can engage in
medical marijuana-related research projects with "clinical
registrants," an entity that can grow, process and dispense medical
The regulations also detail the application process for prospective
clinical registrants, how research studies are reviewed and approved
and how researchers may interact with the commercial medical marijuana
market. The health department will approve a maximum of eight clinical
[continues 270 words]