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Legal Marijuana Coming to New Jersey and Virginia?

Legal Marijuana Coming to New Jersey and Virginia?

Author: Justin Mckibben

The elections held this past Tuesday may not have directly addressed the status of marijuana, but voters in multiple states did elect officials who are adamant about making legal marijuana more available.

Next Year in New Jersey

One of those states is New Jersey, who’s outgoing governor is Chris Christie, chairman of the White House commission on opioids.

Last week Democrat Phil Murphy, who made legal marijuana one of the cornerstones of his campaign, won the state over. This creates a radical change for the state. For years Chris Christie has blocked attempts to legalize cannabis, and even maintains his opposition to it while fighting to help the country get a grip on the opioid epidemic.

Phil Murphy has been pretty open about his support for marijuana legalization. According to Forbes, Murphy even talked about it during his primary night victory speech saying,

“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana,”

“And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”

Apparently, it isn’t just Murphy in the state that is looking forward to pushing this legislation along. The Democratically-controlled state Senate is expecting to bring up legal marijuana as early as next year. In regards to the topic, earlier this year Senate President Stephen Sweeney said,

“We are going to have a new governor in January 2018. As soon as the governor gets situated we are all here and we intend to move quickly on it.”

Voters in Virginia

Voters in the Commonwealth of Virginia also elected an official who advocates for loosening restrictions on marijuana. Current lieutenant governor Ralph Northam is in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession. While it may not be as liberal a stance as Murphy, it is still a big step in a lot of people’s minds. Northam writes,

“We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color. One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana. African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia.”

But it isn’t just about the individuals. Northam also points out the resources going to this issue. He has written to the Virginia State Crime Commission as part of its review of the effects of marijuana decriminalization.

“Virginia spends $67 million on marijuana enforcement—enough to open up another 13,000 pre-K spots for children,”

Again, not that he is pushing for complete legalization, but to stop stiff penalties for those with small amounts of marijuana. Northam also advocates for research into the medicinal uses of marijuana. According to Richmond Times-Dispatch, he has stated,

“As a doctor, I like to make the point to people, over 100 of the medicines that we use on a daily basis come from plants,” he said in an interview Monday. “So I think we need to be open-minded about using marijuana for medical purposes.”

He isn’t alone in Virginia either. Even the Republican state Senate leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. questioned whether or not small amounts of marijuana should remain a crime.

Marijuana in More Areas

But it isn’t just these two offices that indicate there may be more change coming for marijuana policy. In other areas around the country, there are other notable shifts that may dramatically impact marijuana policy.

  • Athens, Ohio

77% of voters in the college town eliminated fines and court costs for possessing or growing up to 200 grams of marijuana.

  • Wayne County, Michigan

In an area that includes Detroit, voters now allow cannabis businesses to operate in more areas and to stay open longer. Michigan is expected to have a marijuana legalization bill on the 2018 ballot.

  • Philadelphia

Lawrence Krasner won the election for District Attorney. Krasner has been outspoken about the benefits of marijuana reform. According to Krasner,

“One of the things we see in other jurisdictions is that, where marijuana is readily available, there’s a 25% reduction in opiate/opioid overdose deaths.”

“So if Philadelphia is looking at 500 opiate/opioid overdose deaths a year, a district attorney, by choosing not to enforce against marijuana usage, can potentially save 125 lives. That’s what a district attorney should exercise his or her discretion to do.”

It seems between lightening the punishments for possession, expanding programs for legal marijuana, and electing officials that will advocate for its use, marijuana may have already seen some real change this November.

What to Remember about Legal Marijuana

It is important to note for anyone who has a history of substance use disorder that the legal status of a substance does not make it safer. You could argue that marijuana is much safer than opioids like prescription drugs or heroin. While marijuana is not as lethal concerning overdose deaths, it still should not ignore the risks.

Marijuana reform has the potential for some positive and negative outcomes. Ultimately voters will have to consider weighing the pros and cons of reform. Either way, it is important to remember that any substance, legal or not, can be addictive. While marijuana may become more accepted on a legal level, it is still unhealthy to abuse this drug. If you find yourself abusing this or any drug it is very important that you seek safe and effective treatment resources.

Because drug abuse is always destructive, marijuana abuse is no exception. If you or someone you love are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please seek help. Regardless of whether a drug is legalized or not, losing control of your use can lead to something much worse. We want to help. You are not alone. Call toll-free now. 

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Drug Testing for Welfare Program Shows Zero Positive Results

Drug Testing for Welfare Program Shows Zero Positive Results

Author: Justin Mckibben

Drug testing applicants for welfare benefits is not a new concept. Over the past few years several states have attempted similar restrictions on providing benefits to welfare applicants. Each time the programs were initiated they were met with opposition and criticism, but as of later 2015 there were 12 states already with legislation requiring drug tests for welfare, and another 14 had proposed similar strategies. However drug testing for welfare does not have very supportive evidence backing it.

One state conducted a controlled study for implementing such a policy. The studies numbers have shown just how ineffective drug testing for welfare can be. For the last year Michigan tried to enforce its own drug test pilot program for welfare recipients. Guess how many people failed.

Go ahead… I’ll wait…

You guessed it (or read the title of this article) – Zero!

The Numbers of Michigan Drug Testing for Welfare

A while back the Michigan Legislature passed a law requiring the department to implement suspicion-based drug testing for cash assistance recipients. After the law was passed the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) created the Substance Use Disorder Pilot. In the year 2000 an earlier attempt at wholesale testing was ruled illegal in Michigan, but the pilot program was permitted to only drug test those who answers on a questionnaire indicated they might be drug users. The program was set up in three counties.

So, to clarify, not every single person who applied for welfare was drug tested. In fact, these numbers only take into account the people in these 3 counties that qualified for the pilot program.  The numbers show that out of 443 potential candidates for the program:

  • Only 27 were identified as potential drug users
  • 10 of the 27 were exempt from testing because they already been enrolled in some type of treatment resource for drug use
  • Of the remaining 17, only one participant was identified as requiring a suspicion-based drug test, but that case was then closed due to “unrelated reasons”

So what it all boils down to is the drug testing for welfare pilot program did not catch a single person in violation of the policy.

Motivation for Testing

One progressive idea in the Michigan drug testing for welfare pilot is that according to legislation, if a recipient tests positive, it does not mean a loss of benefits. However, the individual must agree to substance abuse counseling, covered by Medicaid. MDHHS Communications Manager Bob Wheaton spoke out in defense of the idea, stating:

“Our primary motivation for doing this is to help people who do have issues, so they can find employment,”

“If we’ve found someone has an issue and needs to undergo treatment, it’s because drug use could be a barrier to future job opportunities that would help a recipient stop relying on benefits.”

This is a somewhat refreshing perspective on the concept. Instead of blocking the assistance, the idea was essentially to make other help available. Still, it does almost sound like blackmail for benefits. So far, there has been no confirmation as to whether Michigan will continue the pilot program.

Should People Drug Test for Welfare?

While several states have enacted their own measures for drug testing for welfare, many have denounced it as a practice that enforces stereotypes. The idea that only poor people are drug addicts or are using government money to buy illegal substances is a very controversial narrative. Yet, several similar programs have seen very similar results, meaning a lot of taxpayers have covered the costs of drug testing for welfare, only to find that the programs have wasted far more money than the states ever would have paid out in benefits. Some of these states include:

  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Tennessee
  • Maine
  • Arizona
  • Florida

One organization’s nationwide analysis determined that in 2015, states spent almost $1 million on drug testing for welfare. To add insult to injury, almost all of them found less than 0.4% of recipients were guilty. In some cases, like Governor Rick Scott in Florida, officials threw away thousands upon thousands more to fight courts to keep their ineffective programs. Luckily, Michigan’s pilot only cost the state $700.

So we ask, should there be drug testing for welfare? If you have social media surely you see people make bold statements about drug testing for food stamps and the like.

The truth is results in numerous sections of the nation suggest there isn’t a correlation between drug use and being on government assistance. The statistics simply do not exist to support this prejudice. People can pretend to be better than, but they are missing the facts; that the government has already wasted a lot of everyone’s money trying to prove their point, and they were wrong.

Drug testing for welfare is another way that stigma has prevented progress for many struggling to overcome addiction. However, offering treatment seems like a good resource to offer. Safe and effective treatment can make all the difference, and too many people have to go without such treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now!

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Should Scientology Be Permitted New Drug Treatment Center?

Should Scientology Be Permitted New Drug Treatment Center?

Author: Justin Mckibben

Since drug and alcohol addict has been treated exclusively there have pretty much always been treatment programs that revolve around religious ideals. Narconon’s practices have been invariably derived directly from Scientology’s religious doctrines with only minimal changes to obscure their origins. Now there are plans to build a new Scientology-affiliated addiction treatment center in Maryland on the site of a former presidential retreat, but according to recent reports this new proposal has reportedly been met with opposition.

Notes on Narconon

Narconon is an international drug rehabilitation organization founded back in 1966 which currently claims a presence in 26 countries around the world, but while it also boasts of an alarmingly high success rate it has openly been criticized on these claims due to the details of the studies on the success rates being almost impossibly hard to obtain. Allegedly because Narconon does not seem to want to distribute them even though it publicizes their “conclusions”, which have systematically been misquoted or misrepresented.

The Narconon program uses treatment methods developed by Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Much of Narconon’s critics state that the Narconon “science” is based on provably false scientific statements by Hubbard, and the research which Narconon is allegedly based upon has never been published or scientifically approved. Keys aspects of their programs include:

  • Drug-Free Withdrawal

This is the equivalent to going “cold turkey”, meaning an addict is expected to stopping all drugs at once and deal with the resulting physical and mental pain of detox with vitamin doses and “assists”, a form of spiritual healing.

  • Therapeutic TRs Course

A series of drills performed with another person that is intended to “bring about interaction between the individual and the existing physical universe”.

  • New Life Detoxification Program

Intensive schedule of running, massive overdoses of vitamins and very long sauna sessions, designed to “run out” drugs and radiation from the body (the body cannot sweat out radiation, but Scientology says it does).

  • Life Improvement Courses

Short courses aimed to improve a person’s ability to study, communicate and exercise moral judgments. This kind of treatment seems trapped in the mindset that addiction is a moral dilemma and not a disease.

Controversy

Some have also said that Narconon is based on “bogus science” which puts clients at serious risks for and threatens their safety. These claims got a lot of attention back in 2012, when there were a series of deaths, 3 in a 9 month period, at one of the facilities in near the town of Canadian, Oklahoma.

That controversy came to a head when 2 former Narconon executives spoke out in the news against the program. The former president of the Oklahoma facility and a former executive at a Narconon facility in Michigan came forward to expose what they called deceitful marketing techniques and under-qualified staff, and that shed new light on an investigation that has since tarnished the Narconon name.

Taking all this into account, the bid for them to open a new facility in Maryland is finding it harder and harder to make headway in their efforts to get approval.

Ever since the release of the documentary on HBO Going Clear about exposing the Church of Scientology, which is highly critical of the religion, the organization has been under a magnifying glass. But many celebrities like Kirstie Alley credit Narconon with helping beat their addictions, and have gone on record to defend the church.

The Fight in Maryland

Narconon now fights for their ambitions to establish a “residential drug rehabilitation center” at Trout Run, a 40-acre camp in Frederick County, Md., that was visited by Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower.

Scientology has even been criticized in the past for the various extensions of the church manipulating circumstances to meet its needs, and now the church’s real estate arm and Narconon have requested the property to be designated for historic preservation, which would allow them to make changes otherwise banned by zoning laws.

Many local council members expressed concerns this week based on skepticism about Scientology. One speaker pointed out the power-play by the real estate extension of the church, claiming Narconon is “going through the back end” to get the appropriate licensing for the center, leading residents to regard the organization as dishonest. Frederick County council voted to postpone the decision until April 21 to allow for more public consideration, and at this point it’s not looking too promising.

While opinions on the Narconon program are shrouded with controversy and confusion, hidden behind the exclusivity of its founding religion, there are still many programs out there to help those who struggle with drugs or alcohol to overcome the obstacles they may face in obtaining sobriety, and with a holistic approach Palm Partners is proud to actively help men and women from all walks of life find a path to recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

New Dry Bar Does Big on Opening Night

New Dry Bar Does Big on Opening Night

Author: Justin Mckibben

Friday night is not just for the people who want to get wasted at their favorite club or hole-in-the-wall saloon. Sober people, and even those individuals just looking for something outside the typical bar scene, have a unique brand of ‘turnt up’ that we enjoy. There is so much to do in the world, and so much more than a black-out binge can be accomplished. One person with vision in Michigan took an opportunity to provide another alternative for the sober community. Sober people gotta have fun too.

The abstinent citizen or recovering alcoholic in Ann Arbor, Michigan now have an option that comes in the form of Brillig Dry Bar, a new booze-free pop-up that serves a whole range of non-alcoholic beverages, along with some food, music and fellowship. And judging by interviews their opening night was a raging success.

Brillig Bar Back-Story

Nic Sims is a former chef in the Ann Arbor area who says that she quit drinking 20 years ago, and recently has decided to start the pop-up bar in her husband’s business, which is locally known as Might Good Coffee Bar.

One thing about this enthusiastic entrepreneur, she is an active member of the local recovery community. Sims said that the recovery community has been important to her since her teens, and that it actually includes many of her family members and friends, and this is a creative way to give back to that community.

Nic Sims says she wanted to offer non-drinkers a place to have fun on a weekend night without the ever-present TVs and alcohol in a bar. Her goal was to provide what she described as,

“all the fun of going out with your mates in a safe place where you can drink whatever you like and have no regrets.”

Friday, December 5th during the downtown Ann Arbor Midnight Madness they unleashed their new enterprise on the community, with some live jazz from the Lenny Swanson Trio.

The Menu

The bar’s name is a reference to Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky. Some of the menu’s popular highlights include:

  • Vernors Cranberry Sour, representing Michigan’s favorite ginger ale
  • Brooklyn Egg Cream
  • Pomegranate-Rosemary Soda

This past Friday was the official opening night for Brillig Dry Bar, and the turn-out was tremendously enthusiastic.  The new pioneer said the event was one of the most diverse nights she has ever experienced in the Ann Arbor area. Customers ranging from former drinkers and pregnant mothers, to college students and teens left various comment cards celebrating the atmosphere and unique ambition of the bar.

The Future of the Alcohol Free Bar

Sims stated she has every intention to make this a regular occurrence of at least a minimum of once a month. While there was a slight level of backlash in the community from people assuming that the establishment aimed to take some sort of self-righteous stance on prohibition, the creators insisted that have no intention of being ‘anit-alcohol’ but simple wish to offer alternatives. She added,

“And I love everybody, so why not invite them over?”

The next Brillig Dry Bar event is supposed to be scheduled for December 26th, so hopefully this exciting and innovative experience will have an equally as successful repeat performance. It is always nice for those trying to steer clear of a beer to have a variety of ways to enjoy the start of the weekend.

This kind of ‘dry bar’ could quickly become a hot spot for those trying to have Friday night festivities without going out of their way to spend too much money, yet still be able to socialize and relish in an rousing atmosphere. And a coffee shop is the perfect location for this particular crowd, because most people in recovery know a good coffee shop is never too hard to find.

So order up a stiff glass of whatever fresh club soda, or a round of espresso shots, and enjoy the band and the company your keeping. There are all types of sober spots out there, and with the right people and strong sobriety, any place is one anyway.

While some are able to celebrate their recovery, and stand to help improve the recovery community, others still suffer. A ‘dry bar’ is a place for you to feel safe in sobriety, and a path to that kind of recovery community begins with making a choice to change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Synthetic ‘Cloud 9’ Causing Serious Controversy

Synthetic ‘Cloud 9’ Causing Serious Controversy

Author: Justin Mckibben

Synthetic drugs have become a considerably relevant issue in recent years, with everything from the drug Kratom to Spice, these chemical cocktails are designed to fly under the radar while being solicited to teens as a quick buzz for a small price. But they are far more dangerous than the makers lead customers to believe, and are causing a great deal of harm to those using them. Recent reports show that a new substance referred to as ‘Cloud 9’ is a disguise for Bath Salts, having found a way to slip by authorities undetected as a liquid. This has already caused a few teens in Michigan to be hospitalized, and authorities have begun to take immediate action to halt the drug from spreading.

Finding Balth Salts in Fraser

The newest threat to kids that is making it to more and more high school students is a synthetic drug given the street name ‘Cloud 9’ or ‘Relax’. In Fraser, Michigan there has been a recent outbreak of activity in regards to this new subtle substance that has sprung up among teens in the area. Fraser Public Safety Director George Rouhib was reached for comment in regards to the current circumstances surrounding the ‘Cloud 9’ problem and what they already know about the drug. Rouhib said,

“It has the same affects as cocaine, meth and ecstasy. A person can basically have a heart attack. They’re putting drops on their tongue, or mixing drops with chewing gum candy and soft drinks.”

Police said the students are also using e-cigarettes to vaporize ‘Cloud 9’.

Rouhib when on to state that ‘Cloud 9’ is being purchased at many gas stations, but that it is not visible to the public at most of these locations. The tenants of the establishments that may still carry it keep the substance behind the counter. In the past few months Rouhib noted that there have been allegedly five teenagers to overdose on ‘Cloud 9’. Just last week two students at John Glenn High School were rushed to the hospital after ingesting the drug.

Fraser officials specifically are currently working with local law enforcement officials to develop a plan of action, in hopes of eliminating the threat presented by this new and deadly drugs. Officer Rouhib stated that the ultimate goal would be to make it so distribution of “Cloud 9” products would be a felony charge, and possibly even possession itself.

‘Cloud 9’ in Canton

Canton Township police in Michigan state that four students from Salem High School were rushed to the hospital, and were believed to have inhaled or ingested ‘Cloud 9’, which is so potent the cops handle it with gloves.  It was being distributed at or near Salem High School. One of the four victims was reported to have been behaving erratically the morning of the incident. Det. Sgt. Chad Baugh provided local news with information about the case,

“He was walking around, he bumped into a teacher, spilling coffee on the teacher. The teacher went to address the student and he really was unresponsive to a large degree,”

The day before that particular incident, another 17-year-old girl had become ill. She was still hospitalized when the other three students that had taken the drug required medical treatment. They were suspected to have ingested the ‘Cloud 9’ through a vaporizer commonly used for e-cigarettes.

“By taking eight or nine drops on her tongue which led to what we believe was a medical reaction where the fire department was called to assist her.”

Baugh later spoke briefly about their investigation into the sale and distribution of this new threat, and about the growing concern among the community to stop the spread of this drug at the source by raids done on the local businesses dealing the substance.

“We have a person who we believe has been distributing this ‘Cloud 9’ and we understand probably at least one location that’s selling it,” said Baugh.

Canton Township police are making progress in the investigation, and Canton Township Deputy Police Chief Debra Newsome reached out to comment on the headway, and issued a warning about what these drugs can create as far as harmful physical conditions in those who take them,

“Hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, extreme high heart rate which is causing medical experts a great amount of concern.”

The Canton Township police are on a mission to warn students about the dangers of these drugs, as well as to put an end to the sale. Plymouth-Canton schools are telling parents:

The Synthetic Secret

Like most synthetic drugs that emerge and make serious waves in any underground market, what makes them extremely dangerous is the fact that they are completely legal. Every time a synthetic drug is put together and finds its way public there is always a period of legal sales, which makes the situation worse because more people are exposed to it, and more people run the risk of being seriously affected by the drug before officials can take notice to the danger it poses to the public. But thankfully word is traveling fast to store owners about how dangerous it is, and what kind of trouble is soon to come with it.

The thing that makes ‘Cloud 9’ and other synthetic drugs so dangerous is that they typically remain legal for a while. The fact that these drugs go undisputed for a while leaves more people vulnerable to them. But there are also other drugs that are dangerous and have been legal for a long time, like alcohol. Drugs of all forms can have a serious devastating effect on the lives of those who use them, and when drug abuse is an issue, lives are always at risk. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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