Search Results for: Gov. Jay Inslee

Washington Gov Inslee Issues Executive Order Changing How State Will Regulate Vaping Industry

WASHINGTON: Gov. Jay Inslee announced an executive order at a Seattle press conference Friday that changes how agencies will regulate, monitor, and communicate about a variety of vaping products. Other state leaders, including Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Washington State Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman, joined him at the event.

“We aren’t waiting for Big Tobacco to tell us what is in their products,” Inslee said. “We aren’t going to take health guidance from them, because we know that their goals are to make money and create new customers. That is what they are interested in. We are interested in ensuring that adults and young people have known and regulated ingredients in vaping products. Everyone deserves to know what is in the vaping liquid they are inhaling into their lungs.”

The announcement comes after medical professionals reported seven cases of severe lung illness in Washington from vaping devices or e-cigarette products. The Center for Disease Control has reported at least 12 deaths nationwide, as well as more than 800 cases of lung injury possibly related to these products.

Read the rest of the story on the governor’s Medium page.

Inslee Signs Recreational Marijuana Reform Bill

WASHINGTON:  Washington state’s recreational marijuana law has a new tax structure under a measure signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jay Inslee.

The new law eliminates the current three-tier tax structure and replaces it with a single excise tax of 37 percent at the point of sale – a change sought by the legal-pot industry. To encourage more cities and counties to allow marijuana businesses, the bill directs the state to share pot revenue with jurisdictions that do so. It also allows them to adopt more flexible zoning for where pot grows and stores can be located.

The passage of Initiative 502 in 2012 allowed the sale of marijuana to adults for recreational use at licensed stores, which started opening last year. Earlier this year, the Legislature passed and Inslee signed into law a measure that regulates the state’s medical marijuana system and reconciles the two markets.

The tax structure change is significant for marijuana businesses. Previously, pot shops charged their customers 25 percent as required so they could pass that money along to the state. But because of the way the law was written, they had to pay federal income tax on that money they collected from the customer, even though it didn’t go toward their bottom lines.

WA Gov Inslee To Sign Bill Changing Medical Marijuana Rules

WASHINGTON: Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign into law an overhaul of Washington’s medical marijuana market that seeks to eliminate unregulated dispensary sales now that the state’s recreational market is in place.

Among the provisions of the measure Inslee was to sign Friday afternoon is the creation of a voluntary database of patients. Unregistered patients wouldn’t be allowed to possess the same amounts of marijuana or enjoy similar tax breaks that registered patients would.

The passage of Initiative 502 in 2012 allowed the sale of marijuana to adults for recreational use. Recreational businesses have complained that they’re being squeezed by medical dispensaries that have proliferated in many parts of the state.

Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Insleee Call For Banking Flexibility For Marijuana Businesses

COLORADO: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee wrote to federal regulators Wednesday asking for flexibility in federal banking regulations so state-licensed marijuana businesses have access to the banking system. [Read more…]

Seattle City Council To Gov. Inslee: Appropriately Regulate Medical Pot

WASHINGTON: On Monday the Seattle City Council sent a letter addressed to Gov. Jay Inslee, state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and state Rep. Roger Goodman asking for “further action from the State to appropriately regulate medical cannabis.” The letter was signed by all nine members of the Council along with City Attorney Pete Holmes. [Read more…]

AG Ferguson Sues One Of The Nation’s Largest Opioid Manufacturers Over Washington’s Opioid Epidemic

WASHINGTON: Attorney General Bob Ferguson today filed a lawsuit accusing OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma of fueling the opioid epidemic in Washington state, embarking on a massive deceptive marketing campaign and convincing doctors and the public that their drugs are effective for treating chronic pain and have a low risk of addiction, contrary to overwhelming evidence. This deceptive marketing resulted in the deaths of Washingtonians and devastation to Washington families.

The lawsuit contends Purdue conducted an uncontrolled experiment on the American public without any reliable clinical evidence that opioids are effective at treating chronic pain. To doctors and patients, Purdue consistently downplayed the risks of addiction from long-term use and deceptively represented opioids as safe for treating long-term chronic pain.

Purdue’s deception yielded the company billions of dollars in profit nationwide from its opioid drugs. Ferguson’s lawsuit seeks to force Purdue to forfeit the Washington portion of those profits.

The City of Seattle filed a separate lawsuit today against Purdue, in addition to Teva Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Allergan. The city and Ferguson announced their lawsuits together.

Both suits, filed today in King County Superior Court contend that Purdue’s illegal conduct contributed to excessive prescriptions and addiction, causing many addicted patients to look for other ways — including illegal means — to get more pills or to get heroin. A 2014 study found that nearly 80 percent of heroin users reported using prescription opioids prior to heroin.

By filing the state’s lawsuit, Ferguson has ended his participation in a multistate coalition investigating opioid manufacturers nationwide. Several states that have filed similar lawsuits are using outside attorneys to handle their cases. Washington is only the second state to handle its case internally.

“Purdue Pharma ignored the devastating consequences of its opioids and profited from its massive deception,” Ferguson said. “It’s time they are held accountable and pay for the devastation they caused.”

“I stand together with Attorney General Ferguson in fighting for justice for patients who were prescribed opioids and became addicted, because they were not irresponsible; they were deceived,” Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said. “Addiction to opioids and heroin does not stop at Seattle’s city limits. This is the city’s problem, the state’s problem, and everyone’s problem.”

“Most of our health care professionals want to do the right thing for patients, but some corporations sought to boost their bottom line to peddle opioids on false promises, which, in great part, created this crisis. These corporations must be held accountable. I appreciate the Attorney General taking this important step today,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “This will help with some recompense so we can implement our state’s opioid response plan and my executive order with the goals to prevent the next generation from becoming addicted, to prevent overdoses and to treat people who have opioid use disorder, a true medical condition with an effective medical treatment.”

Purdue falsely claims that opioids improve long-term function, have a low addiction risk that can be managed or prevented and that increased doses of opioids do not pose significant additional risks to patients.

False claims of the safety, effectiveness of long-term use

Purdue aggressively marketed its opioids for chronic pain from conditions like headaches and low back pain, despite a lack of clinical evidence that they are effective and safe for long-term use. Despite Purdue’s efforts over more than two decades, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) noted in its 2016 guidelines that “there is no good evidence that opioids improve pain or function with long-term use.”

Other, safer options — like acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen — are effective and carry fewer risks, the CDC added.

False claims of low addiction risk and “pseudoaddiction”

Among its marketing claims, Purdue distributed thousands of videos and pamphlets claiming that opioid addiction occurred in less than 1 percent of patients. The number was not based on a clinical study, but rather a 1980 letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine. The actual addiction rate is as high as 26 percent, according to the CDC.

A study sponsored by Purdue asserted that “opioids were well tolerated with only rare incidence of addiction,” and the need for higher and higher doses as patients built up a tolerance to opioids “was not a clinically significant problem when managing patients with opioids long-term.”

When signs of addiction appeared in patients, Purdue persuaded doctors that what appeared to be addiction was actually under-treatment of their pain, and to respond by increasing opioid dosages.

In marketing materials, Purdue told doctors and policymakers that “pain-relief seeking behavior can often be mistaken for drug-seeking behavior.”

The concept, called “pseudoaddiction,” was coined by Dr. J. David Haddox, who later became a Purdue executive. His theory was based on the case of a single cancer patient. No study has validated the theory of “pseudoaddiction.”

Despite a lack of evidence of “pseudoaddiction,” Purdue pushed this theory to convince doctors to give more drugs to patients who displayed signs of addiction, such as asking for early refills on their prescriptions or “doctor shopping” for additional prescriptions.

False claims on risks of overdoses

Opioids are most dangerous when taken long-term and when taken in high doses. In 2013, the FDA noted that research shows that risk of misuse and abuse is great for extended release long acting opioids and observed that these drugs are often used chronically.

Accordingly, the CDC recommends that physicians carefully reassess increasing opioid doses beyond 50 morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs), and avoid exceeding 90 MMEs per day. 

Overdose risk for opioids begins at very low doses and doubles when the daily dose is between 20 MMEs and 49 MMEs. By 100 MMEs, the risk of death increases by nine fold. Overall, 1 in every 550 patients started on opioid therapy died of opioid-related causes a median of 2.6 years after their first opioid prescription. That number increased to 1 in 32 for patients receiving 200 MMEs per day.

Purdue’s sales representatives were trained to reassure prescribers that there is “no ceiling” on the amount of OxyContin a patient could be prescribed.

Ignoring red flags

Purdue sales staff kept detailed records of prescriptions in Washington by prescriber, drug strength, quantity and other factors. Purdue then used that data to aggressively market its drugs to the highest prescribers in the state.

Washington state medical boards sanctioned some of these prescribers for failing to follow rules related to opioid prescriptions and putting patients at risk. The lawsuit alleges that, in several cases, Purdue salespeople ignored red flags and continued to target these providers with sales pitches.

Details of specific interactions between Washington state providers and Purdue representatives are redacted from the complaint because Purdue contends the information is competitively sensitive. Ferguson plans to file a motion to unseal this information to reveal to the public additional details about these interactions.

Violating previous court order

Purdue has faced court action before over its deceptive marketing of OxyContin.

A 2007 court order resulting from a consent judgment with Washington and 25 other states prohibited the company from making misleading statements regarding abuse, addiction or dependence in its marketing materials for OxyContin. Purdue also promised to create an Abuse and Diversion Detection Program to detect and take appropriate steps upon detecting “atypical” prescribing patterns — including reporting “pill mill” doctors to the authorities.

Despite the court order, Purdue has continued to engage in deceptive marketing and has remained silent about suspicious prescribers it should have reported.

Washington’s epidemic

Prescriptions and sales of opioids in Washington skyrocketed more than 500 percent between 1997 and 2011. In 2011, at the peak of overall sales in Washington, more than 112 million daily doses of all prescription opioids were dispensed in the state — enough for a 16-day supply for every woman, man and child in Washington. More than 18.2 million daily doses of oxycodone were distributed in Washington in 2015.

Geographic areas in Washington with higher rates of opioid prescriptions show a strong correlation with higher overdose rates.

For example, Cowlitz, Clallam, Mason and Snohomish counties had the highest opioid overdose death rates in the state, according to the state Department of Health. Those counties also had some of the highest opioid prescription rates in the state.

Between 2009 and 2014, Washington saw a 60 percent increase in opioid-related hospital stays, the fourth-highest increase in the nation, according to a June study by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.

In 2015, the number of overdose deaths in Washington exceeded the number of deaths from car accidents, or deaths from firearms — whether from suicide, homicide or accidental. The majority of drug overdose deaths in Washington between 2010 and 2015 — more than 6 out of 10 — involved an opioid.

Relief

Ferguson’s lawsuit seeks civil penalties and damages. Ferguson also asks the court to order Purdue to give up the profits it made in Washington as a result of its illegal conduct. Sales of Purdue opioids are worth billions every year nationwide, and Washington’s portion is expected to be in the millions.

The surrendered profits will be used to remediate the effects of Purdue’s misrepresentations of opioids, possibly funding treatment, education and more.

Assistant Attorneys General Tad Robinson O’Neill and Kate Barach are leading the case for Washington.

Earlier this year, the Attorney General’s Office hosted a summit on Washington’s opioid epidemic in partnership with the Washington State Patrol and the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

WA NORML 2017 State Of The Session Report

By Bailey Hirschburg

While the special session called by Gov. Jay Inslee wrapped up on July 20th, the majority of Washington NORML’s lobby work was completed in early May. The best summary of our WA NORML’s legislative impact and agenda process is that it was appropriately ambitious. While several goals, personal cultivation for adults and social use, remain unaddressed, valuable progress towards consumer safety, patient access, industrial hemp, and marijuana research was achieved. Changes for licensees have varied from useful to burdensome, but overall the state legislature is invested in maintaining legal access and possession for adults.

As an advocacy group, WA NORML is gaining greater standing and familiarity, with legislators who have begun recommending us to constituents with questions about cannabis issues, to legislators speaking frankly about their own cannabis use or impressions of their districts, or with our position on the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB)’s Cannabis Advisory Council. Today, other groups have represented the medical patient or licensee community longer, but WA NORML has grown to be the most experienced recreational consumer lobby in the state.

Beyond the direct lobbying of the state legislature on nearly two dozen bills, throughout the session I represented WA NORML at events, organized a lobby day and reception, engaged with media coverage, wrote editorial articles and legislative updates to Exec. Director Kevin Oliver and board members, developed familiarity/relationships with specific lawmakers, staff, fellow lobbying groups, and engaged with LCB enforcement, legislative, and rules staff on current practices and active legislation. There are also clear ways to improve PAC effectiveness with a set meeting schedule or issue-focused workgroups.

The future of legal cannabis in Washington is secure. State agencies and key officials are committed to state legal access and economic footprint. The voices for prohibition or criminalization of personal use in Olympia are few and isolated. There is lawmakers receptiveness to every key issue we’ve addressed. Some, like legal sharing/gifting of cannabis had enough support to move this year. Other issues, like access for student-patients, and personal cultivation moved some distance, while social use legislation didn’t find a sponsor in time.

However, sharing/gifting and removal of industrial hemp from the controlled substances act are positive changes that represent “low hanging buds” of positive reforms. Personal cultivation and social use face stronger opposition. Both are divisive within law enforcement and even the legal marijuana industry. Our developing mission to include small, local marijuana business is gradually being incorporated as we develop a portfolio of relevant lobby issues.

Nonetheless, WA NORML is well positioned to speak more forcefully for consumers going forward. Through a seat on the Cannabis Advisory Council organized by the LCB, and through rallying stakeholder testimony and shaping a public narrative as the LCB’s personal cultivation report progresses. Finally, we’re identifying lawmakers to fundraise for or make direct contributions to in the upcoming election cycle. In short, we’re growing in all the ways a successful lobbying operation should.

There is always ways to learn and improve. The two significant ones are to get an earlier start scheduling our events and anticipating legislation’s trajectory.

As I was hired the first day of this year’s session and spent some time identifying who to meet with, only to find their calendar full, or significant legislation already introduced. Scheduling also impacted our lobbying day, which drew a large crowd and allowed us to press for action on a variety of issues, but was past a cutoff for new bills to be introduced, and had lawmakers working late and largely unable to attend our evening reception.

A better posture towards initial scheduling will further our influence on bills. And such a schedule should take into account not only legislation’s current position but who or what bodies it will need to clear in the following days and weeks. Because next year’s legislative session is short, the schedule for progress is similarly shortened. While the lobby proposal budgeted for 18 hours a week, the future may necessitate more hours each week for a shorter session.

These changes allow direct lobbying efforts to focus on priority issues. Some board members have already contributed in the ways described, but this will have greater impact as it becomes routine.

On a personal note, I’d like to thank you all for your support and trust in this project. I’m not a big cannabis social media personality. I don’t think we need more of them as badly as we need more regular lobbyists, in more statehouses, speaking up for more consumers. The word revolution is thrown around a lot in politics. That said, WA NORML’s lobby efforts are a revolution that blooms from NORML’s tradition of citizen activism to include regular consumer lobby efforts.

The cannabis consumer has lots of reasons not to speak up. I work a second job, and overheard one coworker recently tell another “Sure, I smoke pot, but I’m not going to, like, talk about it.” I know exactly why they were hesitating, because I have too. There are many reasons not to speak up. But we deserve to be heard in government, even if speaking entails risk. Thanks to WA NORML, you have given all consumers, and me, a louder voice than ever in the pot politics of Evergreen State. I’m humbled, and simultaneously certain better changes can be achieved.

NORML Responds To Steve Cook Addressing Marijuana Policy At The Department Of Justice

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: In response to the Department of Justice detailing Steve Cook to address marijuana policy, Justin Strekal, Political Director for NORML stated:

“Steve Cook and Jeff Sessions are advocating for the failed policies of the “Just Say No” era — policies that resulted in the arrests of millions of otherwise law abiding citizens who possessed personal use amounts of marijuana. At a time when the majority of states now regulate marijuana use, and where six out of ten votes endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or cultural perspective to try to put this genie back in the bottle. It is high time that members of Congress take action to comport federal law with majority public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status.”

The Cole Memo, a Justice Department memorandum, authored by US Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2013 to US attorneys in all 50 states directs prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale, provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use, among other guidelines.

During a Q and A with reporters in Richmond, VA in March, Jeff Sessions  said “The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid,”

But while the Justice Department contemplates its next move, state politicians are taking action. Recently, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) issued a letter to the new U.S. Attorney General and to Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin calling on them to uphold the Obama Administration’s largely ‘hands off’ policies toward marijuana legalization, as outlined in the Cole Memo.

“Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences,” the governors wrote. “Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states.”

“Given that Sessions has recently reiterated that the Cole Memo is valid, Steve Cook would be wise to maintain the current interpretation and not interfere with the right of states to set and enforce their own marijuana policies,” concluded Justin Strekal, Political Director of NORML.

OmniCannabis II: The amending

by Bailey Hirschburg

This is a follow up to an earlier story reported by MJNewsNetwork: OMNICANNABIS: The WA State Senate Made Behemoth Pot Legislation, And It May Be Too Big To Fail

In the end, my observation in the first omnicannabis article was omniscient, “in rushing to remove the band-aid from this wound, Washington Senators sacrificed transparency and quality for quantity and speed. ” And this is just what happened.

Don’t get me wrong, SB 5131, the omnicannabis bill currently awaiting the signature of Governor Jay Inslee, has some good, bad, and ugly in it. If he doesn’t sign or veto it by May 16th it becomes law.

Gov. Jay Inslee can also veto specific sections, but there’s been no word on what, if any, parts he opposes. In a bill containing consulting contracts & financial disclosures, seed/clone sales to patients by producers, tribal and port notification, Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) staff immunity, an organic-equivalent certification for products, gifting/sharing of cannabis, hemp and recreational regulations, required personal cultivation study, and advertising restrictions, there is a lot Inslee could put on the chopping block. But the bill is too big to fail; a veto will create more problems for the already extended legislative session.

With dramatic amendments on the floor of the state house banning marijuana retailer billboards in 2018, expanding a grace period for inactive licenses, and adding language for licensing and rules for industrial hemp use in marijuana products or for consumption, 5131 was more divisive than its unanimous adoption in the state senate. The billboard amendment, sponsored by Rep. Joyce McDonald, passed narrowly. The senate then decided to take the bill to a conference committee where three senators and three representatives created a final compromise amendment for their chambers to vote on.

The compromise removed McDonald’s billboard ban amendment, and added a report on personal cannabis cultivation by the LCB to the legislature by the end of the year, focusing on the policies compliance with the federal Cole memo on marijuana legalization.

Back to my, “sacrificed transparency and quality for quantity and speed” comment. Between house amendments and the conference committee, a loophole emerged in cannabis seed/clone sale language. One sentence saying patients registered in the state database could buy both seeds/clones, and the following sentence saying qualifying (but unregistered) patients could buy seeds.

Cannabis patient/VIPER PAC lobbyist John Novak brought the discrepancy to Sen. Ann Rivers’ staffs attention, who promptly submitted a bill in the special session, SB 5933, making sure authorized patients cannot buy seeds. The bill says it’s “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions,” how this topic meets any definition of that is unclear.

LCB staffer James Paribello testified that the board could likely set rules with or without 5933’s passage. Does this mean banning unregistered patients buying seeds through a rules process, or adapting those rules to allow both registered and unregister to buy seeds?

In my first article I pointed to River’s description of 5131 being like the senate removing a band aide all at once. SB 5933 is essentially picking at the scab. I told the Senate Healthcare committee (and Sen. Rivers) just that during 5933’s public hearing, urging them not to pass this restrictive effort to coerce participation in a database patients aren’t interested in, and empower black market for seed sale.

The committee moved promptly on 5933 from public hearing to executive session (usually they’re separate to collect further testimony or address questions) and voted to pass it, but not without a strong dissent from Senate Majority Whip Maureen Walsh, who openly questioned the necessity of the bill. Walsh, and Sen. Steve O’Ban voted against it, with Sen. Barbara Bailey voting without recommendation, a type of abstention.

Whatever Gov. Inslee’s decision, SB 5131 represents a turning point in Washington marijuana laws. It has a broad scope, compromises from most players, and defies a simple characterization as being a good or bad bill. Its just like any other issues in that way. But aside from 5131’s components, it’s size is a cautionary tale for those who hope to make good laws on the fly or en masse.

They say laws are like sausages because the public doesn’t want to watch them made. That may be, but also like sausages, bite off too much and you’ll likely to choke.

You can read the bill as delivered to Gov. Inslee here: