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Hemp 110: Donald Trump’s response to the opioid epidemic ignores Big Pharma’s complicity in creating the epidemic, ignores the benefits of switching opioid users to CBD, and resorts to threats of the death penalty.

In Hemp 110, we discuss how President Donald Trump’s response to the opioid epidemic has been slight, has been marked by a series of unqualified and conflicted Drug Czar appointments, ignores Big Pharma’s complicity in creating the opioid epidemic, ignores the benefits of switching opioid users to CBD, and resorts to the same criminal threats, including threats of the death penalty, that have marked the failure of the War on Drugs for fifty years
The opioid epidemic.
After being in office nine months, on October 26, 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national health emergency, but he failed to propose any additional federal funds be directed toward solving the problem, and no laws were proposed to toughen the responsibility Big Pharma has to keep massive amounts of opioids from being shipped to pharmacies in small towns where the supply greatly exceeds the prescribed demand.  The few government outpatient opioid treatment centers that have been created were financed by individual states.

On October 26, 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national health emergency.

Fourteen months into office, Trump’s March 19, 2018 proposed answer to the opioid crisis was to beef up southern border security, tell kids “just don’t start,” and liberally apply a new federal death penalty.  Border security has been beefed up, but that hasn’t come close to solving the problem.  Trump’s just-don’t-start campaign never went anywhere same as Nancy Reagan’s just-say-no campaign.  Congress has not considered imposing the death penalty for people caught dealing in drugs, a solution that would inevitably target minorities in far greater percentages than whites as has historically been the case.

At a March 19, 2018 rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, Trump said, “[I]f we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, we’re wasting our time. . . . And that toughness includes the death penalty.”

Trump claims a southern border wall will stem the flow of drugs into the United States, but such a border wall would probably be an expensive failure.  The idea of a tall, continuous wall is mostly symbolic as there is no particular reason to believe a wall would be more effective than the present fencing, sensors, armed patrols, aerial surveillance, and other means by which America’s southern boarder is presently secured.  No wall can be so high no ladder can scale it.  No wall can be sunk so deep no one tunnel can be dug beneath it.  No wall can be made so thick no one can break through it.  In consideration that net immigration from Mexico has dropped to nearly zero, there is little need for further border security to stem illegal immigration as most undocumented workers legally enter the United States through ports of entry and overstay their visa.  As for people seeking asylum, America has historically taken those people in.

The wall would also be an ecological disaster.  A February 14, 2016 article published in Newsweek written by Melissa Gaskill who has a Bachelor of Science in Zoology from Texas A&M University, lists the following ecological problems with the present fence barrier (which is much less intrusive than a wall):  (1) it looks like a “scar across the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, (2) it bisects and isolates public and private lands since twists and turns in the Rio Grande River cause the barrier to not follow the actual border but to sit “as far as several miles north” of the border, (3) parts of the barrier cross where the Rio Grande turns, (4) land in the United States has “ended up on the Mexican side of the barrier, including private homes, a former Audubon Society sanctuary, parts of several state Wildlife Management Areas and significant portions of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Laguna Atascosa and Santa Ana national wildlife refuges, (5) it has resulted in the reduction by as much as 75 percent the numbers of some animal species that have already been “listed as endangered or threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature,” (6) it has disrupted the movements and distribution of various species of animals reducing the “exchange of genetic material and makes the animals more vulnerable to disease,” (7) it could mean “the loss of certain species, including those that people have spent decades working to protect” and, (8) it “threatens millions of dollars of commerce and cross-border relationships nurtured for generations.”

Some people might be willing to have this country pay $22 billion to erect a border wall to create the perception of better southern border security and to send a message for people south of the border to stay put.  For some Americans, this trade off has merit despite the environmental consequences since, after all, former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff already needed to waive a number of environmental laws for the construction of the present barrier fence.  But a wall would require the waiver of many more environmental laws, and if one thinks a border wall will be an effective means of fighting the opioid epidemic, they probably should think again.  The real solution to the opioid problem is to reduce demand and not let people get hooked on opioids in the first place.  This is where wider distribution of CBD can greatly help.

According to an October 31, 2013 article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, more than 180 tunnel attempts were disrupted from 1990 to 2013, and those are just the ones that were found.  By design, the proposed border wall would be sunk five feet into the ground.  Some tunnels are 30 feet below ground, extend half a mile, and have sophisticated rail, lighting, and ventilation systems.  This particular tunnel was discovered west of the Otay Mesa border crossing.  Photo credit:  Policia Federal.

For Trump to lay most the blame for the opioid epidemic on Latins crossing the southern border is naive when the demands for heroin and fentanyl were caused by doctors and drug companies right here in America overly prescribing and overly supplying opioid drugs.  Fentanyl if 50 times more potent than heroin.  A great deal of the illicit fentanyl is now coming in directly from China, and some of the fentanyl and heroin is coming across the Canadian border.  Fentanyl overdose deaths now exceed heroin overdose deaths in America.

Heroin and fentanyl are being smuggled into America over the Canadian border same as over the Mexican border.

Qualified professionals are needed to address the opioid epidemic.

Donald Trump is still lobbying to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that would deprive millions of Americans access to addiction treatment programs, and Trump has failed to appoint an experienced, qualified professional in charge of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, otherwise known as the "Drug Czar."  On March 28, 2017, Trump appointed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to solve the opioid epidemic.  After not doing anything of any significance to address the problem, Kushner was relieved of duty.  The federal response to the opioid epidemic then fell from bad to worse.

President Trump's son in law, Jared Kushner, was relieved of his assignment to "solve" the opioid epidemic.  Kushner had no qualifications particular to the task and apparently did nothing in furtherance of his mission.

The Taylor Weyeneth fiasco:

According to a January 14, 2018 Newsweek article,

“The Trump administration office in charge of combating the opioid epidemic has been hit so hard by departing staff members that officials elevated a 24-year-old to help get the job done.

“A year after finishing college at New York’s St. John’s University, Taylor Weyeneth was promoted to deputy-chief-of-staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the office responsible for the government’s billion-dollar anti-drug campaigns and fighting the opioid epidemic.  Citing The Washington Post.

“Before shooting to the top of ONDCP, Weyeneth acted as a White House liaison, and his only prior professional experience was working on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.  The Post also uncovered Weyeneth falsely stated he had a Masters degree in Political Science from Fordham University on three of his résumés.  He has yet to complete his degree, according to school officials.”

Twenty-four-year-old Taylor Weyeneth had no qualifications to earn his appointment to national Drug Czar. Weyeneth lied about having a Master's Degree on three of his resumes and was fired from his previous job for being a no call, no show.

The Washington Post later reported,

"While in college, late in 2014 or early in 2015, Taylor Weyeneth began working as a legal assistant at the New York firm O’Dwyer & Bernstien.  He was 'discharged' in August 2015, according to Brian O’Dwyer, one of the partners at O’Dwyer & Bernstien.  O’Dwyer told The Post he hired Weyeneth in part because both men were involved in the same fraternity, and that the firm invested time training him for what was expected to be a longer relationship.  Instead, Weyeneth 'just didn’t show.'”

By the end of January 2018, Weyeneth’s history had been revealed, his lack of qualifications had become an embarrassment, and he stepped down from his position as national Drug Czar.

Trump goes with Big Pharma’s pick.

Trump then nominated as Weyeneth’s replacement Representative Tom Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican.  Marino’s appointment as national drug czar in change of battling the opioid epidemic was outrageous in consideration of Marino’s previous legislative work on behalf of Big Pharma.

Representative Tom Marino is one of the best friends Big Pharma ever had.  His price for screwing the American public on behalf of Big Pharma was nearly $100,000.00.

Marino was among 23 congressmen who received a total of $1.5 million from Big Pharma to sponsor and lobby for passage of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 (EPAEDEA) which greatly weakened the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to prosecute Big Pharma or suspend their large opioid shipments.  Marino himself received nearly $100,000 in Big Pharma campaign contributions.

Marino introduced EPAEDEA in the House of Representatives on May 21, 2014.  Its summary description said it was “[a] bill to improve enforcement efforts related to prescription drug diversion and abuse.”  In truth in fact, EPAEDEA was written by Big Pharma to hinder law enforcement efforts against it related to prescription drug diversion.

Previously, drug distributors suffered fines if they ignored DEA warnings to end suspicious sales of opioids.  In addition, the DEA could freeze a shipment of opioid drugs if it posed a “substantial likelihood of an imminent danger to the public health and safety.”

Following passage of EPAEDEA, the DEA could no longer freeze an opioid drug shipment unless it posed a “substantial likelihood of an immediate threat.”  Although the Department of Justice and the DEA had for years opposed softening their oversight of Big Pharma, by the end of Big Pharma’s lobbying campaign, EPAEDEA was signed by President Obama into law because there was no objection from either the DOJ or the DEA, the bill had easily passed both houses of Congress, its summary description was misleading, and it was proposed as only a clarification and definition of terms.

Few lawmakers understood the impact passing EPAEDEA would have on stemming the flow of opioid drugs.  According to Politico, “The White House was equally unaware of the bill’s import when President Barack Obama signed it into law, according to interviews with former senior administration officials.”

Now that EPAEDEA has been revealed for what it really is, a Big-Pharma-Stay-Out-Of-Jail-Free-Card, Trump should propose rescinding those provisions of EPAEDEA that were designed to protect big opioid-producing drug companies from the legal consequences of their actions, but he has not done so and, instead, Trump nominated Tom Marino, the sponsor of EPAEDEA, to the office of Drug Czar.

Opponents of the EPAEDEA have been forced out of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Joe Rannazzisi has a law degree and a pharmacy degree, and he headed the Office of Diversion Control for the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Rannazzisi was responsible for policing doctors, pharmacies, drug manufacturers and distributors.  Big Pharma considered him a tough cookie, and Rannazzisi felt the only way to stem Big Pharma’s reckless oversupply of opioids under suspicions circumstances was to prosecute some Big Pharma CEOs.

Reannazzisi raised Tom Marino’s ire when he told a congressional conference with respect to Marino’s proposed EPAEDEA bill, “You’re going to protect defendants that we have under investigation.”  In response, Marino told then-DEA Administrator Michele Leohart that Rannazzisi had accused the bill’s sponsors of “supporting criminals” (which they were), and Marino asked the Department of Justice to investigate Rannazzisi by claiming Rannazzisi was trying to “intimidate” Congress.  This was Trump’s future Drug Czar nominee slandering a public servant for blowing the whistle on the EPAEDEA because it was designed to protect Big Pharma from prosecution for its role in creating the opioid epidemic.  The Department of Justice investigation of Reannazzisi came to nothing, but Rannazzisi said, “It destroyed me.”  Rannazzisi then resigned from his job at the DEA after dedicating himself to governmental service for 30 years.

Joe Rannazzisi was forced out of the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control because he wanted to prosecute Big Pharma executives for their role in creating the opioid epidemic.

After passage of EPAEDEA, Rannazzisi said, “The drug industry, the manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and chain drugstores, have an influence over Congress that has never been seen before.  I mean, to get Congress to pass a bill to protect their interests at the height of an opioid epidemic just shows me how much influence they have.”

Later, Rannazzisi told CBS’s 60 Minutes, “This is an industry that’s out of control.  If they don’t follow the law in drug supply, and diversion occurs, people die.  That’s just it, people die.”

Marino withdrew his nomination for Drug Czar when his sponsoring of EPAEDEA became known.
The White House received a lot of flack over Marino's nomination.  Marino being Big Pharma’s servant became known, and he probably would not have survived his congressional hearings.  His nomination to be national Drug Czar became a national embarrassment.  On October 17, 2017, The New York Times reported,

“President Trump’s nominee for drug czar withdrew on Tuesday in the wake of reports that as a congressman he did the bidding of the pharmaceutical industry, leaving the White House without a leader for its fight against opioid abuse just days before the president was planning to roll out a new strategy.

“Representative Tom Marino, a Republican from Pennsylvania who had been tapped to lead the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, pulled out after news stories about his efforts to pass an industry-supported law aimed at undercutting enforcement efforts at the same time opioid abuse has mushroomed into a national epidemic.”

The detrimental effect of the EPAEDEA was made clear in a DEA Administrative Law Judge’s law review article.

The passage of the EPAEDEA when the opioid epidemic was increasing was considered so contrary to the interests of the United States, the Chief Administrative Law Judge at the United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, John J. Mulroney, II, co-authored a law review article for the Marquette Law Review entitled “Current Navigation Points in Drug Diversion Law:  Hidden Rocks in Shallow, Murky, Drug-Infested Waters.”

Chief Administrative Law Judge John J. Mulroney, II, was so appalled by passage of the EPAEDEA, he co-wrote an article for the Marquette Law Review heavily criticizing its passage.

Judge Mulroney’s article states in pertinent part,
“Under the [Controlled Substances Act], the DEA Administrator has authority to immediately suspend a registration, and to keep that registration suspended during the pendency of administrative revocation proceedings, in any case ‘where he finds that there is an imminent danger to the public health or safety.’  The EPAEDEA created, for the first time, a statutory definition for the phrase ‘imminent danger to public health and safety.’

“. . . . that language . . . was broad enough to afford the Agency head with latitude to make a determination as to whether, informed by the Agency’s expertise and experience, particular conduct or circumstances posed such a threat. . . . the courts have historically sustained the Administrators’ pre-EPAEDEA determination of an imminent threat to public health and safety.  It is equally remarkable that, notwithstanding the dearth of court review of this public-safety tool, or any other readily apparent reason, Congress determined that the “imminent danger to public health and safety” standard required a statutory definition that imposed a dramatic diminution of the Agency’s authority to issue Immediate Suspension Orders (ISOs) at a time when, by all accounts, opioid abuse, addiction, and deaths were increasing markedly.”  See Mulrooney, John J. II., and Katherine E. Legal, “Current Navigation Points in Drug Diversion Law,” 101 Marquette Law Review 13-14.

Judge Mulroney effectively asked the question why Congress would restrict and tighten the ability of the DEA to issue an Immediate Suspension Order when the DEA needed additional powers to fight the opioid epidemic, and when interpretation of the phrase “imminent danger to the public health and safety” had created little to no controversy in the courts.  The answer is the EPAEDEA was passed to protect Big Pharma from opioid over-distribution investigations.  Judge Mulroney further wrote,

“In an effort to supply additional definition to the phrase 'imminent danger to public health and safety,' EPAEDEA enhanced the required showing to secure an ISO with the following language:

“‘[T]he phrase “imminent danger to public health or safety” means that, due to the failure of the registrant to maintain effective controls against diversion or otherwise comply with the obligations of a registrant under [the Controlled Substances Act], there is a substantial likelihood of an immediate threat that death, serious bodily harm, or abuse of a controlled substance will occur in the absence of an immediate suspension of the registration.’”

“. . . . it is all but logically impossible, due to the obvious attenuation between the distributor or manufacturer registrant and the potential victims, to make the requisite showing up the production chain, in the case of a distributor or manufacturer.  Stated differently, there are simply too many levels between distributors and manufacturers to logically establish any causation of death, serious bodily harm, or abuse to a specific patient down the chain to support an immediate suspension after the EPAEDEA.  If it had been the intent of Congress to completely eliminate the DEA’s ability to ever impose an immediate suspension on distributors or manufacturers, it would be difficult to conceive of a more effective vehicle for achieving that goal.

* * * *

“. . . Congress has surgically pared back the evidence that may be considered by the Agency . . . by narrowly redefining ‘factors as may be relevant to and consistent with the public health and safety,’ and created a definition of ‘immediate danger to the public health and safety’ in a manner that renders Agency utilization of an immediate suspension order against those types of registrants all but impossible to defend in the federal courts.  Whatever the relative merits of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016, there is little that can be distilled from the legislation that either ensures patients enhanced access to controlled medication or makes drug enforcement more effective.”  Id. at 15, 113.

After Marino withdrew his drug czar nomination, Trump tweeted,

“Rep. Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar.  Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!”  

Did Trump know Tom Marino had protected Big Pharma when their false advertising, pay-offs, and massive release of opioid drugs were causing Americans to become addicted to opioid drugs resulting in the deaths of over 50,000 Americans every year?

D. Linden Barber, an attorney working for Cardinal Health, one of Joe Rannazzisi’s former targets, wrote the EPAEDEA specifically to protest Big Pharma.

The EPAEDEA was written by D. Linden Barber, a Big Pharma attorney working for Cardinal Health who use to work for the DEA as a senior attorney.  Barber also testified in favor of the legislation.  Having worked for the DEA, Barber best knew how to protect Big Pharma through subtle definitional changes designed to slip through ordinary scrutiny.

Before selling out to Big Pharma, Barber targeted drug companies that failed to report suspicious narcotic orders, and the DEA brought 17 cases against 13 drug distributors and one manufacturer resulting in $425 million in fines which, for a large part, Big Parma considered the cost of doing business.  Since 2000, at least 56 DEA and DOJ officials have gone to work for Big Pharma.

The DEA has become more concerned with protecting Big Pharma than with the public good.

According to Jonathan P. Novak, a former DEA lawyer, most of his colleagues were more concerned with catering to Big Pharma than they were with working for the good of the public, and most of them appeared to be “auditioning for the [Big Pharma] industry.”

On June 21, 2018, Jonathan P. Novak tweeted, “My last friendly colleague from my time at DEA has stopped talking to me because I referred to working for the good guys trying to stop the bad guys, like Purdue and McKesson.  This is a black hat behavior."

Trump appointed a new Drug Czar, but where is he now?

After Tom Marino withdrew his nomination, Trump temporarily appointed Jim Carroll as the nation's new Drug Czar.  Carroll has since  temporally served in that position since February 2018.  For three months Carroll previously served as Trump’s deputy chief of staff under John Kelly.  Carroll is an attorney whose sole qualification for Drug Czar appears to be his claim that one of his family members has an opioid addiction problem.  Trump formally nominated Carroll to be the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy on April 24, 2018.  The Senate has not acted on Carroll's nomination for more than three months at the time of this writing.

Jim Carroll has been nominated by Trump to be Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.  He has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.

Trump’s former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, who also has no qualifications in the opioid addiction field, then took charge of fighting the opioid epidemic relying on the advice of her political staff rather than drug policy professionals.  Conway has excluded professionals from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and from her decision making process.  Conway’s only strategy to solve the opioid problem has been building Trump’s border wall and repeating Trump’s slogan “just don’t start.”  On March 22, 2018, Conway said at a meeting she had with young people at the White House, “I guess my short advice is, as somebody double your age:  eat the ice cream, have the french fry, don’t buy the street drug.  Believe me, it all works out.”

Why Trump's final campaign manager and now Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, was assigned to assist Tom Marino as Drug Czar has not been made clear.  Neither Morino nor Conway have been making any news with respect to battling the opioid epidemic, and Trump’s battle against the opioid epidemic appears to be among his lowest priorities.

Kellyanne Conway has been convening an "opioid cabinet" in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building where she sits around once a week talking with employees from the Office of National Drug Control Policy who upon leaving these meetings wonder where Conway gets any of her ideas and when any of their recommendations are going to be put into action.  So far the opioid cabinet has met once a week for over six months while issuing nothing in writing and seemingly has accomplished nothing.

There is no record of Trump having lobbied for any increased funding to battle the opioid epidemic, and he made matters worse by appointing unqualified people to address the problem.  An August 8, 2017 statement released by the Democratic National Committee commented,

“Trump promised he’d come to the aid of communities ravaged by the opioid epidemic, but so far he’s done nothing for them. . . . In fact, Trump’s budget proposal and the Medicaid cuts he supported as part of the Republican health care repeal would both make this crisis even worse.”  That was more than a year ago, and nothing has changed.

Trump’s "solution" to the opioid epidemic which he announced at an August 8, 2017 press conference was to step up law enforcement and increase prison sentences, a solution that has not worked since Nixon announced his War on Drugs.  Those time-worn policies have only benefited the private prison industry, law enforcement employment, the alcohol and tobacco industries, and Republicans seeking to take away the voting rights of minorities (who are more likely to vote for Democrats) by having them adjudicated felons for drug use or sales.

Stockholders in the private prison industry were the primary beneficiaries of the War on Drugs and mandatory, minimum, federal prison sentences for drug trafficking.

People of color are more likely to be in private prisons than whites.  Experts suggest this is because private prison disciplinary proceedings discriminate against inmates of color resulting in them serving longer prison sentences.  There is an inherent conflict of interest when personnel working for a private prison are able affect the length of a prisoner's sentence.

There are means to fight the opioid epidemic Congress and the President should consider.

There are means to fight the opioid epidemic Congress and the President should consider which include standing up to Big Phrama and the introduction of new treatment methods designed to switch opioid users to nontoxic, sound treatment alternatives.

First, repeal those portions of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 designed to protect Big Pharma.

Second, legalize all cannabis products nationwide, encourage the production and marketing of medical marijuana with as few regulations as possible, and encourage the production and marketing of CBD from industrial hemp with as few regulations as possible.

Third, free up the ability to perform cannabis research and direct the Department of Health and Human Services to perform extensive clinical studies on the effectiveness of cannabis based medical remedies as a substitute for opioid-based medications.   Speed up the approval of applications for growing research grade cannabis for performing FDA approved scientific studies.

Fourth, step up medication-assisted opioid addiction treatments in prison.  CBD may be helpful in this regard.  According to a study published in the medical journal Addiction, offering medication-assisted treatment in prison reduces overdose deaths in addicted prisoners (about half the prison population) by 85 percent in the four weeks following their release when they are most likely to fall back into their opioid habit.

Fifth, establish and maintain the freedom to market cannabis-based medical remedies as such marketing is instrumental in battling the opioid epidemic by offering a non-addictive, non-toxic, pain-relieving alternative.

Sixth, immediately fund to supply every police officer and paramedic in the nation with the opioid overdose antidote, Naloxone Hydrochloride, which should also be made available to the patient and people who have a family member taking opioids.

Naloxone Hydrochloride is a opioid overdose lifesaver that should be carried by all first responders.

Eighth, intercept the deadly opioid fentanyl, 50 to 100 times the strength of heroin and used to make fake heroin and prescription pills, by developing fentanyl-sniffing machines for use by the United States Postal Service through whom most fentanyl is shipped into the United States from China.

Because cannabis has been used as a medical remedy for 5000 years proving it to be the safest of all medical remedies, because it is nonaddictive (especially CBD which no one can claim as psychologically  addictive), and because of the wide acceptance of cannabis among the public, with almost two-thirds of all Americans favoring the complete legalization of marijuana, marijuana should be removed from the Controlled Substances Act’s drug schedules.  Cannabidiol extracted from industrial hemp is already considered exempt from DEA control.  However, additional legislation would be helpful in making clear to every state’s attorney general what is already the law – that industrial hemp products grown in states with industrial hemp pilot programs may be legally sold and shipped to customers in all states and territories and taken without a prescription.  See our letter brief in this regard.

Congress has acted to battle the opioid epidemic even though the President’s administration has not.                

Prior to Obama leaving office, the Republican controlled Congress after a three-year process, finally passed the 21st Century Cures Act that appropriated $1 billion to battle the opioid epidemic.  The money was to be spent over two years and sent to states hardest hit.  Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law on December 8, 2016.

On April 24, 2018, the Senate passed the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 (OCRA) and appropriated $1 billion of funds to be used over a period of two years which is an inadequate amount to truly address the opioid epidemic by a factor of ten.  It may seem like a lot of money but not in consideration that in both 2016 and 2017, the opioid epidemic killed more Americans in each of those years as died in the Vietnam War – just to place things in perspective.

There are 58,318 names inscribed into the 144 marble panels making up the Vietnam Memorial honoring all American soldiers who died as a result of the Vietnam War.  In Trump's first year in office, 64,000 Americans died from opioid related deaths, 5,682 more Americans than died as a result of the Vietnam War.  America stationed troops in Vietnam for more than eight years.  In Trump's second year in office, 71,568 American died from opioid related deaths.  Inaction has it's consequences.

After meeting with House members, the amount allocated to fight the opioid epidemic was $6 billion over two years, which was passed as part of the consolidated budget agreement.  It represents about 1/30th of what we spent on military operations from 1965 to 1972 in Vietnam.

On June 22, 2018, the House of Representatives by a vote of 396-14 passed the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT for Patients Communities Act).  The bill calls for a review of all current opioid prescriptions and for screening all Medicaid and Medicare patients for opioid use disorder as part of their “welcome examination.”  The bill seeks to reduce trafficking in fentanyl smuggled in from China.  It did not include Trump’s death penalty or Trump’s southern border wall.  It also seeks to expand access to treatment and recovery services and seeks to intercept illegal opioids sent through the mail.

Chinese operators have up to now smuggled fentanyl into the United States by simply placing it in the mail, a practice that may be exceedingly hard to stop without bringing normal trade and communications to a standstill until automated, fentanyl-sniffing equipment is developed and installed.  The SUPPORT for Patients Communities Act directs federal agencies to prioritize opioid crisis training, support recovery centers, and expand research.  One provision is designed to encourage developing opioid alternatives for pain treatment, but cannabis based remedies are not specifically mentioned.  The National Institutes of Health are suppose to develop nonaddictive painkillers.  The bill will not become law until passed by the Senate and signed by the President.

Cannabidiol (CBD) may end up being the best, non-addictive, safe substitute for opioid medications, but the federal government delayed all research into cannabis based medical remedies for 80 years and is still hindering cannabis medical research.  Credit Wikipedia.

If members of Congress were more educated by the cannabis industry and less educated by Big Pharma, they would already know the most effective, nonaddictive substances presently serving as alternatives to opioids are cannabis products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and/or cannabidiol (CBD). Congress should fund a wide range of clinical trials using THC and CBD to treat a wide variety of medical ailments. This is the least the government can do to make up for it holding onto its synthetic CBD patent and doing nothing with it for almost 20 years and its failure to advance CBD as a medical remedy and for the DEA and the FDA suppressing all research into cannabis based medical remedies for 80 years based on false and racist propaganda.  All findings should be released into the public domain as they become available.

If the Trump administration was really interested in treating pain without having people becoming addicted to opioids, his administration would lift the restraints the federal government has placed on researching the pain relieving benefits of THC and CBD, both of which are effective and nontoxic at any level.  Instead, the Trump administration has indicated an intent to go to war against cannabis derived medications with the issuance of Sessions’ January 4, 2018 Memorandum withdrawing the Cole Memorandum and refusing to approve any further Food and Drug Administration approved cannabis growing facilities.

Although the House passed legislation, the Senate was very slow to act, and it takes passage in both houses of Congress before the bill can be presented to Trump for his signature.  On October 3, 2018, the Senate finally passed their version of the bill by a vote of 98 to 1 with only Senator, Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, voting against explaining on his website, "we cannot afford to waste precious funds on programs which likely won’t work.”

One key feature of the Senate version is that it requires the United States Postal Service to screen packages for fentanyl shipped from overseas.  Looks like they may have invented that fentanyl-sniffing machine after all.

PharmaXtracts sells the finest, purest CBD products at the lowest prices you will find anywhere.  With over three decades of combined experience in the CBD industry, PharmaXtracts is a Band of Brothers who decided the CBD market needed a serious intervention.  No longer could we stand by and let false information be perpetuated and insignificant dosages be taken by people in need of CBD’s many benefits.  It was time for us to bring clarity to a once shady world.

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