drugs

Sheriff fires daughter, son-in-law for using illegal drugs

Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal has fired his daughter and son-in-law last week after discovering communications between them discussing their use of illegal drugs, reports the Johnson City Press.

Shelly Graybeal and her husband, Scott Johnson, who had each worked at the sheriff’s office for more than a decade, were terminated from their employment Nov. 20, Chief Operations Officer Leighta Laitinen said.

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Veteran sues VA staffers, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, over denial of pain medication

A Marine Corps veteran who contends he suffers constant and intense pain from service-related injuries has filed a federal lawsuit against 17 employees of an East Tennessee Veterans Administration hospital and a congressman over a policy limiting pain medication provided by the VA, reports the Johnson City Press.

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Shelby mayor files lawsuit against county commission chair over opioid crisis lawsuit

 

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s administration has sued Board of Commissioners chairwoman Heidi Shafer in Chancery Court, challenging her hiring of a law firm last week to hire to sue pharmaceutical companies over the county’s opioid crisis, reports the Commercial Appeal.

In a news conference Tuesday, Luttrell said he was “irked” by Shafer’s decision to hire New York-based Napoli Shkolnik, the law firm known for winning a huge class-action settlement for sick Ground Zero workers, among others. He repeatedly emphasized that her action was “unilateral,” without input from the full commission or administration, and claimed she violated the county charter by usurping executive branch authority.

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TNDP backs ‘Medicare for all,’ $15 minimum wage and medical marijuana

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party

On Saturday, October 28, 2017, the Executive Committee of the Tennessee Democratic Party passed three resolutions supporting progressive policies. First they weighed in on health care, voicing their support for ‘Medicare for All.’

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Blackburn defends her role in passage of opioid law

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a key player in the passage of a federal law that critics say has made it more difficult to restrain the deadly opioid epidemic, says she has seen no evidence to back up the contentions and that it’s “absolutely absurd” to link political contributions to her support for the questioned law, reports Michael Collins for USA Today.

Blackburn, who is running next year for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Bob Corker, said Thursday her involvement in the law grew out of a sincere effort to make sure that people who have a legitimate need for prescription drugs are able to get them while at the same time cracking down on illicit opioid use.

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Ogles says Trump should fix ‘legislative opioid debacle’

News release from Andy Ogles campaign

Republican conservative U.S. Senate candidate Andy Ogles is calling on President Donald Trump to issue an Executive Order directing DEA and other federal agencies to use all available means to intensify the investigation and prosecution of those engaged in the reckless, illegal and dangerous overprescription and distribution of opioids.

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Blackburn bashed over bill undercutting DEA authority over opioid distribution

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, now running for the U.S. Senate, is cited in a 60 Minutes report as a leading proponent of legislation approved by Congress – after heavy lobbying by the drug manufacturing industry — that apparently undercut the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s authority to oversee distribution of products involved in the national opioid abuse crisis.

The report has brought a round of criticism aimed at Blackburn from Democrats and former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, who is exploring a run against Blackburn for the Republican nomination to U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Bob Corker.

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Medical marijuana task force hears cannabis critics

The first meeting of the legislature’s Joint Ad Hoc Committee on Medical Cannabis ran about five hours with much of the lawmakers’ time spent listening to concerns that legalizing use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is a slippery slope, reports WPLN.

At the meeting, lawmakers were repeatedly told medicinal use of marijuana would lead to abuse. Experts spoke of supplies contaminated with other drugs, the difficulty of keeping legally purchased marijuana from being resold and stories of underage children dying after ingesting marijuana.

The testimony drew pushback from one of medical cannabis’s big supporters.

“You need to be fair,” said state Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby (the committee co-chair). “If we’re going to hold marijuana use for medical purpose to a standard, then compare it to what’s going on right now that’s legal and that’s encouraged by a lot of doctors.”

Faison argued that marijuana is less dangerous than many opioids and psychotropic drugs.

An excerpt from WTVF TV’s report:

The state Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer, David Reagan, said he believes medical marijuana hasn’t been studied enough to legalize in Tennessee.

“We support doing additional research. The FDA, more the DEA from our perspective, has traditionally been, for 100 years, has been an organization that exemplifies getting us safe and effective medicines,” said Reagan. Until marijuana’s schedule one designation changes, Reagan said he doesn’t think it will be studied to the level it needs.

And House Speaker Beth Harwell, who appointed House members of the panel, continues to be asked about the subject as she campaigns for governor. From WJHL TV, reporting on her campaigning in the Tri-Cities last week:

“We’re not talking about recreational at all, I’m not for that. I’m not even for smoking marijuana, that causes cancer,” Harwell said. “I’m for oils and edibles and something that can help a lot of people who are suffering from chronic pain.”

The panel plans future meetings in the Knoxville and Memphis areas.

Tennessean leads National Opioid Task Force set up by state courts

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts

Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Director Deborah Taylor Tate and Indiana Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush were appointed co-chairs of the newly created Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) National Opioid Task Force. The Task Force will find solutions, examine current efforts, and make recommendations to address the opioid epidemic’s ongoing impact on the justice system.

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TN drug overdose deaths increased again in 2016

News release from state Department of Health

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Department of Health data show 1,631 Tennesseans died from drug overdoses in 2016, the highest annual number of such deaths recorded in state history. This is an increase from the 1,451 overdose deaths recorded among Tennessee residents in 2015.

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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