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Lawsuit Against DEA Over Medical Marijuana Research Dismissed

A federal court has tossed out a lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration that claimed the agency was stalling medical marijuana research.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed a lawsuit filed in June by the Scottsdale Research Institute that claimed the DEA was hampering federally approved marijuana studies by stalling cannabis cultivation applications. Led by Dr. Sue Sisley, the Scottsdale Research Institute had hoped that the lawsuit would force the U.S. Attorney General and the DEA to process its application to grow marijuana for clinical research.

The suit had argued that the DEA has created a monopoly around federally licensed marijuana research by requiring that researchers only use marijuana from the University of Mississippi for their studies. According to Sisley, federally licensed marijuana researchers are limited to low-grade cannabis without proper variety, which can compromise studies about medical marijuana and its effects, and how the plant is realistically grown and used. Sisley says that the poor quality of the official test marijuana affected the accuracy of her studies on the plant’s potential treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Marijuana Deals Near You

It’s been more than three years since the DEA  announced that it was opening the process to consider additional producers, but so far, none have been approved. In August, the agency announced it would begin to “facilitate and expand scientific and medical research for marijuana in the United States” by expediting the review of those applications, but no timeline was given, and no applications have been approved since then. Instead, the DEA announced a public comment period, which ended yesterday, October 28. Now, the DEA has ninety days to rule on the applications.

In dismissing the suit, the appeals court ruled that with its recent actions, the DEA has successfully executed its responsibilities by moving along the application process, making the case “moot.”

But if there are additional delays, one of the attorneys involved in the lawsuit told Marijuana Moment that it could return.


Toke of the Town

Groupons For Medical Treatment? Welcome To Today’s U.S. Health Care

By Lauren Weber

Friday, September 06, 2019 (Kaiser News) — Emory University medical fellow Dr. Nicole Herbst was shocked when she saw three patients who came in with abnormal results from chest CT scans they had bought on Groupon.

Yes, Groupon — the online coupon mecca that also sells discounted fitness classes and foosball tables.  

Similar deals have shown up for various lung, heart and full-body scans across Atlanta, as well as in Oklahoma and California. Groupon also offers discount coupons for expectant parents looking for ultrasounds, sold as “fetal memories.”

The concept of patients using Groupons to get discounted medical care elicited the typical stages of Twitter grief: anger, bargaining and acceptance that this is the medical system today in the United States.

But, ultimately, the use of Groupon and other pricing tools is symptomatic of a health care market where patients desperately want a deal — or at least tools that better nail down their costs before they get care.

“Whether or not a person may philosophically agree that medicine is a business, it is a market,” said Steven Howard, who runs Saint Louis University’s health administration program.

[khn_slabs slabs=”790331″ view=”inline” /]

By offering an upfront cost on a coupon site like Groupon, Howard argued, medical companies are meeting people where they are. It helps drive prices down, he said, all while marketing the medical businesses.

For Paul Ketchel, CEO and founder of MDsave, a site that contracts with providers to offer discount-priced vouchers on bundled medical treatments and services, the use of medical Groupons and his own company’s success speak to the brokenness of the U.S. health care system.

MDsave offers deals at over 250 hospitals across the country, selling vouchers for anything from MRIs to back surgery. It has experienced rapid growth and expansion in the several years since its launch. Ketchel attributes that growth to the general lack of price transparency in the U.S. health care industry amid rising costs to consumers.

“All we are really doing is applying the e-commerce concepts and engineering concepts that have been applied to other industries to health care,” he argued. “We are like transacting with Expedia or Kayak while the rest of the health care industry is working with an old-school travel agent.”

Continued

A Closer Look At The Deal

Crown Valley Imaging in Mission Viejo, Calif., has been selling Groupon deals for services including heart scans and full-body CT scans since February 2017 — despite what Crown Valley’s president, Sami Beydoun, called Groupon’s aggressive financial practices. According to him, Groupon dictates the price for its deals based on the competition in the area — and then takes a substantial cut.

“They take about half. It’s kind of brutal. It’s a tough place to market,” he said. “But the way I look at it is you’re getting decent marketing.”

Groupon-type deals for health care aren’t new. They were more popular in 2011, 2012 and 2013, when Groupon and its then-competitor LivingSocial were at their heights. The industry has since lost some steam. Groupon stock and valuation have tumbled in recent years, even after buying LivingSocial in 2016.

Groupon did not respond to requests for comment on how many medical offerings it has featured or its pricing structure.

“Groupon is pleased any time we can save customers time and money on elective services that are important to their daily lives,” spokesman Nicholas Halliwell wrote in an emailed statement. “Our marketplace of local services brings affordable dental, chiropractic and eye care, among other procedures and treatments, to our more than 46 million customers daily and helps thousands of medical professional[s] advertise and grow their practices.”

Lauren Weber discussed using Groupons for medical treatment on KCBS Radio on Sept. 9.

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to download.

In Atlanta, two imaging centers that each offered discount coupons from Groupon said the deals have driven in new business. Bobbi Henderson, the office manager for Virtual Imaging Inc.’s Perimeter Center, said the group had been running the deal for a heart CT scan, complete with consultation, since 2012. Currently listed at $ 26 — a 96% discount — more than 5,000 of the company’s coupons have been sold, according to the Groupon site.

Continued

Brittany Swanson, who works in the front office at OutPatient Imaging in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, said she has seen hundreds of customers come through after the center posted Groupons for mammograms, body scans and other screenings around six months ago.

Why did the company choose to make such discounts available?

“Honestly, we saw the other competition had it,” she said.

A lot of the deals offered are for preventive scans, Swanson said, providing patients incentives to come in.

But Dr. Andrew Bierhals, a radiology safety expert at Washington University in St. Louis’ Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, warned that such deals may be leading patients to get unnecessary initial scans — which can lead to unnecessary tests and radiation.

“If you’re going to have any type of medical testing done, I would make sure you discuss with your primary care provider or practitioner,” he cautioned.

Appealing To Those Who Fall Into The Insurance Gap

Because mammograms are typically covered by insurance, Swanson said she believes OutPatient Imaging’s $ 99 Groupon deal is filling a gap for women lacking insurance. The cost of such breast screenings for those who don’t have insurance varies widely but can be up to several hundreds of dollars without a discount.

Groupon has long been used to fill insurance gaps for dental care, Howard said. He himself often bought such deals over the years to get cheaper teeth cleanings when he didn’t have dental insurance.

But advanced medical scans involve a higher level of scrutiny, as Chicagoan Anna Beck learned. In 2015, she and her husband, Miguel Centeno, were told he needed to get a chest CT after a less advanced X-ray at an urgent care center showed something suspicious. Since her husband had just been laid off and did not have insurance, they shopped online for the cheapest price. They ended up driving out to the suburbs to get a CT scan at an imaging center there.

“I knew that CT scans had such a wide range of costs in a hospital setting,” Beck said. “So going in knowing that I could price-check and have some idea of how much I’d be paying and a little more control” was preferable to going to the hospital.

Continued

On the drive back into the city, the center called and told them to go straight to the hospital — the scan had discovered a large mass that turned out to be a germ-cell tumor.

Fortunately, Centeno’s cancer is now in remission, Beck said. But their online shopping cost them more money than if they’d gone straight to the hospital initially. The hospital gave them charity care. And although Beck took along a CD of the scans Centeno had found online, the hospital ended up taking its own scans, as well.

“You’re trying to cut cost by getting a CT out of the hospital,” she said. “But they’re just going to redo it anyway.”

WebMD News from Kaiser Health News

©2013-2018 Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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Pagination

WebMD Health

Administration Ends Migrant Medical Care Protection

Aug. 27, 2019 — An exemption that allows immigrants to remain in the United States and avoid deportation while they or family members receive life-saving care has been scrapped by the Trump administration.

The policy change was effective Aug. 7, according to a Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman, and letters were issued to affected people, the Associated Press reported.

The decision could force migrants to seek less effective treatment in their homelands, critics say.

“This is a new low,” Democratic Sen. Ed Markey said. “Donald Trump is literally deporting kids with cancer.”

Honduras native Mariela Sanchez arrived in the U.S. with her family in 2016 and recently applied for the exemption for her 16-year-old son, Jonathan, who has cystic fibrosis, the AP reported.

A denial would amount to a death sentence for her son, said Sanchez, whose family settled in Boston.

“He would be dead,’ if the family had remained in Honduras, she told the AP. “I have panic attacks over this every day.”

In Boston alone, the Trump administration decision could affect about 20 families with children being treated for cancer, HIV, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy and other serious conditions, according to Anthony Marino, head of immigration legal services at the Irish International Immigrant Center, which represents the families.

“Can anyone imagine the government ordering you to disconnect your child from life-saving care — to pull them from a hospital bed — knowing that it will cost them their lives?” Marino told the AP.

The letters sent to applicants for the exemption order them to leave the country within 33 days or face deportation, which could harm their future visa or immigration requests.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

Pot Poisonings Among Kids, Teens Double After Medical Marijuana Law Passed

FRIDAY, Aug. 16, 2019 — Pot-related poisoning calls involving kids and teens more than doubled in Massachusetts after the state legalized medical marijuana, a new study reports.

Calls related to cannabis exposure increased 140% in the years after Massachusetts voted to legalize medical pot in 2012, according to data from the state’s regional poison control center.

This happened even though Massachusetts learned from the example of other states and placed tough packaging requirements to make pot products less enticing and harder to open for kids, said lead researcher Jennifer Whitehill. She’s an assistant professor with the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences.

“It was not the same as it was in Colorado, circa 2013, when there were products labeled to look like candy wrappers,” Whitehill said. “Nonetheless, even despite opaque and tamper-proof and child-proof packaging requirements, we still saw little kids getting into the products and having some bad experiences.”

The new report echoes previous studies showing an increase in marijuana-related medical problems following legalization in Colorado and Washington, the researchers noted.

For example, a March 2019 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that marijuana-related visits to emergency rooms more than tripled at one Colorado hospital between 2012 and 2016.

Based on that example, Massachusetts lawmakers adopted strict mandates for childproof packaging and warning labels on marijuana products, Whitehill said.

To see if those tougher requirements made any difference, Whitehill and her colleagues analyzed poison control center data from 2009 through 2016, four years before and after a ballot initiative legalized medical marijuana in the state.

During the study period, poison control received 218 calls from Massachusetts involving pot exposure in children and teens. The calls represented only 0.15% of all calls to poison control during that period related to kids.

But the incidence of pot-related calls leapt to 1.1 calls per 100,000 population after legalization, up from just 0.4 calls per 100,000 population prior to legalization, the findings showed.

“I had been hopeful that the stricter packaging laws that Massachusetts implemented would have prevented us from seeing some kind of increase,” Whitehill said.

Nearly four out of five calls came from health care facilities and involved exposures that resulted in moderate or minor health effects, the researchers said. There were only four cases with major effects, and no deaths were reported.

In one case, two teenage boys collapsed while playing sports hours after smoking what they thought was marijuana, the study says. The teens, 17 and 18, went into cardiac arrest but were successfully resuscitated.

About one-quarter of the cases were reported as unintentional ingestion, with nearly 20% of those involving children younger than 4.

The results provide parents a “good reminder to be thoughtful and cautious about where they store their cannabis, especially edible products,” Whitehill said.

Teens represented the largest number of cases reported to poison control, with ages 15 to 19 accounting for 82% of all calls related to marijuana.

Experimentation likely spurred most of those calls, Whitehill said.

“Teenagers are clever and crafty,” Whitehill said. “Parents for a long time have thought about where to store alcohol that isn’t easily accessible by their children. As the social norms around cannabis in people’s homes start to change, I think it’s well worth parents thinking about the safer storage of cannabis products.”

These results show that more can be done to keep legal pot out of the hands of children, said Linda Richter, director of policy research and analysis with the Center on Addiction, in New York City.

“Policymakers should ban marijuana edibles that look like regular food products — especially those that appeal to children, such as gummy bears, lollipops, other candy, chocolate or brownies,” Richter said. “In addition to child-resistant packaging, opaque and resealable packaging for marijuana edibles should be required to help prevent young children from being able to see or access the marijuana inside the package, even if it has already been opened.”

Manufacturers also should be required to package marijuana products in small doses so even if a child does get into a package, their exposure will be minimized, Richter said.

As far as teens are concerned, Richter urges parents to set a good example.

“What parents do is just as or more important than what they say to kids,” Richter said. “If they have a cavalier attitude about marijuana, extolling its benefits and conveying how much they need it to relax or have fun, that message comes across much more strongly to kids than any admonitions regarding its harms.”

The new study was published online Aug. 16 in JAMA Network Open.

More information

The Center on Addiction has more about discussing marijuana with your teen.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Guide for using Medical Cannabis

How to use medical cannabis? Cannabis or marijuana has long been considered an effective way to cure different complications. It has a turbulent history in Canada and the United States, and since its legalization in these developed countries, more and more people have increased their dependence on marijuana and other similar products, as they consider it a good way to cure cancer, AIDS, and depression.

Facts about Marijuana

The first fact about marijuana is that it is being used and bought every day by over 60 percent of Americans. You must be one of them; medical marijuana comes from pure indica plant that is grown only in particular parts of the world. If you are in the United States or another developed country, then it will be easy for you to buy marijuana or grow its plant at home. You would be amazed to know that it is easy to be grown in Canada as the environment in this country is quite feasible.

The Case for Medical Cannabis

When some health experts understood the benefits of medical marijuana, they brought this matter to the world’s attention that this product should not be banned from any part of the world. This opened a case for medical cannabis, and with time, more and more people began growing it at home, in farmhouses and other empty places. After its legalization.

How to Obtain Medical Cannabis

With over 100 chemicals, known as cannabinoids in cannabis, there are two major chemicals found in marijuana that are used to treat different illnesses. These are named as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). How to use medical cannabis? You can get best out of the cannabis only if you develop an understanding of how these chemicals are used to cure different diseases  and what are their short term and long term effects. Fortunately, CBD and THC are being used in different Chinese, American and other medicines, as well as in food, as these are said to be giving good results.

Dosing Medical Cannabis

How marijuana helps? This could be of help only when you know how much doses are needed. Ideally, you can go to the doctor to get information on it, but the best way is to use a handful of marijuana to cure cancer, HIV/AIDS and other similar complications.

Choosing a Delivery Method

The delivery method of medical marijuana depends on your physical or mental condition as well as on what the doctor prescribes. For example, they might want you to use it in the form of the vaporizer, or you might be asked to smoke the weed. It is mandatory to select the right kind of method so that you can get good results within days or weeks.

Talking with Your Doctor

As we already said, you should speak to your healthcare expert regarding how much marijuana is needed to cure a specific illness and what is the best time to use it. There is no need to consult a neighbor or an elder, as the prescription or suggestion of a doctor would be the best option.

Shane Dwyer
Author: Shane Dwyer
Shane Dwyer is a cannabis advocate who isn’t afraid to tell the world about it! You can find his views, rants, and tips published regularly at The 420 Times.

Marijuana & Cannabis News – The 420 Times