Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Drug War Retreat

I might be stepping back from blogging for a while as well. Trying to kick the habit.

Related: Drug War Defeat 

Here is the surest sign of it: 

"Are you a drug dealer with stiff competition that is putting a dent in your customer base? The Charlton Police Department is offering to help you corner the market in your neighborhood — well, sort of. In a post on the department’s Facebook page, officers beckon drug distributors to fill out a faux form to tattle on their rivals."

Plus authority doesn't like competition.

Now the state wants to give addicts their drivers licenses back:

"Suspending licenses over drug crimes questioned; 1989 Mass. law leaves poorest unable to drive" by David Scharfenberg Globe Staff  September 05, 2015

WORCESTER — Edwin Melendez was stealing Buicks and snorting cocaine by age 13. And for decades he stumbled in and out of jail, sometimes landing in a homeless shelter here called People in Peril.

Life is different now. Melendez, 45, is married. He volunteers with a ministry that serves food to homeless people every Saturday in his scruffy Main South neighborhood. And he is heavily involved in the drug-addiction recovery movement.

But when he was offered a state job collecting data on substance abuse treatment, he had to turn it down. The work required travel by car, and an old drug-possession conviction carried a lingering penalty: the suspension of his right to operate a vehicle.

“It hurt me a lot,” he said. “Recovery is something I’m passionate about. It saved my life.”

Massachusetts is one of several states that suspend a person’s driver’s license after a conviction for drug offenses — such as possession and distribution — that have nothing to do with driving. The 26-year-old law was designed, in part, to deter drug use.

There’s little evidence it has served as a deterrent. However, it has left tens of thousands of former convicts struggling to find work and do other basic things, like get to the grocery store. On a snow-encrusted day last winter, Melendez had to bundle his infant son to his chest and set out to the hospital on foot when he feared the boy was catching pneumonia.

I was never for the Drug War, but now that we are fighting it.....

Many have been unable to scrape together the hundreds of dollars in license reinstatement fees once their suspensions are up. And some have resorted to driving without a license, putting themselves at risk of extended suspensions, hundreds of dollars in new fines, and even jail time.

All this time and they couldn't find a few hundred?

Advocates for recovery efforts say financial and familial strains make it difficult for offenders to get off drugs and stay out of prison. Nancy T. Bennett, a deputy chief counsel at the state’s public defender agency, said, “If you were going to develop a public policy to promote recidivism, isn’t this just the way you would do it?”

Repealing the measure is a top priority for activists pushing for a broad reconsideration of the state’s tough-on-crime policies of the 1980s and 1990s. The campaign has built some momentum in recent months, with Attorney General Maura Healey backing it and Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg declaring his support.

“Our office has seen no evidence that license suspensions are an effective way to deter drug offenses unrelated to driving,” Attorney General Maura Healey said. “We do see, however, license suspensions as preventing people from getting to work, getting to the grocery store, picking their children up from school, taking their parents or other family members to medical appointments, and fulfilling other obligations.” Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian also pressed for repeal of the law, arguing that it makes it more difficult for convicts released from prison to reintegrate into society. The push for repeal is part of a larger criminal justice overhaul under consideration on Beacon Hill. Lawmakers are also weighing legislation that would drop mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses and overhaul the state’s bail system."

If you ask me am I for it, my reflex reaction is to say yes. Anything that demilitarizes tyranny just a little bit looks good; however, I will make some concerns clear in coming comments below.

Governor Charlie Baker, cautious about changes in criminal justice laws, has indicated he is open to signing a repeal if it lands on his desk.

The debate has plunged the state into a national conversation on the issue. Lawmakers in Delaware and South Carolina in recent years repealed laws requiring suspensions for nondriving-related drug crimes.

Anytime the agenda-pushing pre$$ is plunging me into a debate I get skeptical.

Just last month, the Ohio Legislature took up a bill that would eliminate mandatory suspensions and give judges discretion over the penalty. “It never made any sense to me, frankly, why we should be suspending people’s driving privileges for things that have precious little to do with their driving habits,” said state Senator Bill Seitz, a Republican from the Cincinnati suburbs who introduced the legislation.


How can it not have something to do with their driving, insofar as they may have a relapse or be under the influence next time? I know you say they will then drive without a license so give them it back, but that also carries further consequences.

In Massachusetts, the length of a suspension varies with the severity of the offense. Possession brings a one-year revocation, possession with intent to distribute means three years, and trafficking carries a five-year penalty, the maximum under the law. For an offender without a license, the suspension serves as a temporary bar.

State data suggest the penalty falls disproportionately on those least able to afford it. Forty-four percent of those convicted of the drug crimes that trigger a suspension are minorities. And many live in low-income neighborhoods.

What gets me is -- outside the gay marriage issue -- Massachusetts is one of the most backward and bottom-dwelling states by any measure, be it care of children, education, wealth inequality, government transparency, etc., etc. The deep-blue, liberal, antiwar, progressive Massachusetts is a myth.


Defense lawyers say the tally of suspensions and reinstatements does not tell the full story of the law’s impact. Many clients who would otherwise fight a drug charge decide against it, they say, worried about losing their licenses if convicted.

Instead, they admit to the offense in the hopes of getting something one step short of a conviction, known as a “continuation without a finding,” which allows them to hold onto their licenses but can come with other burdens — months of probation and mandatory drug treatment among them.

“I’ve had clients who vehemently disagreed with the police report and took pleas, sometimes against my advice, merely on the license issue,” said Scott Martin, a Randolph-based defense lawyer who works all over the state. “I’ve had that dozens of times. Probably more.”

Our $y$tem is built upon plea-bargaining, so what is the problem? Your record is a way of controlling you because, well, it's on the record.

Massachusetts lawmakers passed the driver’s license suspension measure in 1989, at the height of a tough-on-crime era here and around the country. Governor Michael Dukakis, at a signing ceremony, said he wanted to crack down on “neighborhood drug dealers who cruise the area looking for business and avoiding police.”

That reminds me, one reason we have so many laws here is because the Probation Office is a jobs program for those on Beacon Hill and their well-connected relatives.

A year later, President George H.W. Bush signed a law withholding a portion of federal highway funds unless states agreed to suspend convicted drug offenders’ licenses for at least six months. The law allowed states to opt out, though, and 36 have done so, including every New England state but Massachusetts.

And there you go again, a complete shattering of the myth.

Where was Deval all this time?

The Bay State repeal effort has been gathering force in recent months.

Thus I'm treated to this front-page, right-corner lead on a Sunday.

Several sheriffs have spoken in support of it. And the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association has come out in favor, stating in a letter to lawmakers that license suspensions and reinstatement fees “add to the difficulty people face when trying to reintegrate into society.”

Not everyone, though, is convinced that repeal is necessary.... 

They get two paragraphs worth, and then “the main force behind repeal,” is given more time. The one-sided coverage is enough to tell you which side of the road Globe is driving the agenda. I feel an almost rote desire to cross lanes and drive the other way.

Part of the problem, advocates say, is that drug-related suspensions leave a permanent mark on offenders’ driving records. And employers frequently check those records when making hiring decisions.

I didn't know they had access to my RMV records.

State Representative Elizabeth A. Malia, a Jamaica Plain Democrat, says employers should no longer have access to information on years-old convictions; the state, after all, recently moved to seal criminal records sooner than it once did in order to give former convicts a better shot at finding work.

Why the worry about them when regular, law-abiding citizens are getting screwed? I suppose more crime in the neighborhood means more the need for authority and police anyway.

So she has introduced legislation that would not only repeal the driver’s license suspension law, but also remove any mention of past suspensions from offenders’ driving records.

Malia says she will fight to keep that provision in her bill, even in the face of business opposition. And there is some business opposition.

Jon B. Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, said a job applicant’s drug history is a legitimate area of concern for an employer selling pharmaceuticals or putting workers on the road.

“I understand that people make mistakes and need to move on,” he said. “But you can’t totally erase history.”

But you sure as hell can try (they took Dukes of Hazzard off the air)!

Michael Earielo lives with his history every day. His heroin use led to a debilitating spinal abscess.

“I just had my second surgery last year,” he said, lifting his shirt to reveal a large scar between his shoulder blades.

Earielo, 45, first felt the back pain while in custody at the Worcester County House of Correction. In a lawsuit, he alleges that the medical staff repeatedly ignored his complaints.

If he wins, he says, he may be able to do what feels like an impossibility now: pay the $1,400 he owes in driver’s license reinstatement fees for a drug offense and other unrelated violations.

“I made a lot of mistakes in my time,” he said. “But I’m trying to turn it around.”

Click on the link below if you want to read about Melendez’s struggle.


The first addict that kills someone after being given a license back will mean the end of this effort.

Related: Behind the fight over mandatory minimum sentences

The new face of addiction:

"Heroin use spikes among women, higher-income groups; Study finds new faces of addiction" by Felice J. Freyer Globe Staff  July 08, 2015

Rebecca Kaczynski doesn’t fit the traditional image of a heroin addict. The daughter of a bank vice president and an assistant school principal, she grew up in a loving, intact, upper-middle-class family in the Central Massachusetts town of Dudley.

That's why the addiction problem is getting such attention and why compassion is being called for to get them help. When it was/is poor wretches dying non the ghetto they are quickly forgotten.

The 23-year-old does, however, fit an emerging demographic described in a federal study of substance use trends released Tuesday: Women, people age 18 to 25, and those with higher incomes and private insurance have been increasingly falling victim to the drug.

What's the gateway?

The data also show that heroin goes hand-in-hand with addiction to prescription opioids.


And that’s how it happened for Kaczynski. She said she started taking painkillers at high school parties and moved on to heroin by age 20, flunking out of college and eventually ending up in rehab.

Tuesday’s report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, which analyzed survey data spanning 2002 to 2013, found heroin use soaring among all groups. Heroin overdose deaths nearly quadrupled during that period, with most of the increase since 2011. 

I'm scared to death of all of that stuff now. My addiction is, sadly, what you are reading here.

Those most likely to turn to heroin still tend to be men, people with an annual household income less than $20,000, Medicaid recipients, and the uninsured.

But the gap is narrowing between those groups and people who historically were less likely to use the drug, according to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Now we know why treatment is all of a sudden an issue. It's finally affecting the elite! 



The federal report “confirms what we know in Massachusetts and what the governor’s working group learned in the listening sessions,” said Marylou Sudders, the state’s secretary of health and human services, referring to the study group that last month produced a 65-step plan for fighting opioid abuse.

Dr. Sarah E. Wakeman, a specialist in substance abuse treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital, said the report reflects her experience in treating addicts. “It highlights the fact that this has become an equal-opportunity disease,” she said. “Basically, everyone I see is white, they’re equally male and female, they’re younger and affluent — a very different demographic.”

Where drug use has always been ignored if not encouraged. The drug laws are for the lower classes. Where do you think all the loot is ending up anyway (after the banks wash it)?

The report found that nearly all people who use heroin take other drugs as well, often three or more. Those who take prescription opioids are most at risk of heroin abuse. But other drugs were also linked to heroin, including cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol.

“Heroin use is increasing at an alarming rate in many parts of society, driven by both the prescription opioid epidemic and cheaper, more available heroin,” Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director, said in a statement.

Where is it coming from (answer: Afghanistan), who is running it (answer: CIA and related entities), and where is the loot going (answer: into banks to boost bottom lines and keep 'em alive)?

To address heroin use, the CDC says, states must combat prescription drug abuse; make treatment more readily available, particularly drugs such as methadone or Suboxone that can quiet an addict’s cravings; and expand access to naloxone, the drug that reverses opioid overdoses. 

The reaction is so different when it is in regard to prescription pharmaceuticals than with the "illegal" drugs.

Btw, the Narcan carries its own ri$k of addiction, kids.

"If a young woman at the Industrial School for Girls had something to conceal, whether it was tobacco or booze, she probably hid it in the privy, said Joe Bagley, archeologist with the city of Boston."

I would check the wall first.

Sudders said that within two weeks, the state will begin soliciting proposals to improve its prescription drug monitoring program. It maintains a database of opioid prescriptions that doctors and others can consult to determine whether a patient is obtaining drugs from multiple providers, but doctors have complained that it is cumbersome to use and not kept up to date.

Governor Charlie Baker, Sudders said, will soon present the Legislature with a package of bills that allow bulk-purchasing of naloxone — widely known by the brand name Narcan — to make it less expensive for municipalities. He also will propose allocating $27 million for new services and prevention programs.

The producers of Narcan raised the price once the overdosing started to spike.

Raymond V. Tamasi, chief executive of Gosnold on Cape Cod, an addiction treatment provider, said he has seen a changing clientele.

“A much greater number of folks who are addicted are now coming from middle, upper-middle socioeconomic brackets. We’ve seen this for some time now,” he said.

Tamasi and others attribute the trend to the rampant prescribing of opioid painkillers over the past two decades. Middle-class and wealthy young people have easy access to pills at home and school and perceive them as less dangerous than street drugs. Those with a biologic predisposition to addiction get hooked and turn to easily available heroin when they can no longer afford pills.

It's got the legal stamp of approval, how bad could it be? On the other side, is the allure of forbidden fruit, the "bad" drugs. What is a kid to do? Just say NO!

“For many years, the stigma associated with addiction, the misunderstanding about addiction, the moralistic perspective that many folks had, really kept it in the shadows of health care,” Tamasi said. Now, with heroin entering the mainstream, the public has come to better understand the nature of addiction, and policymakers are poised to act.

All attitudes pushed by the agenda-pu$hing propaganda pre$$ back in the day.

Though he wishes the change had come sooner, Tamasi said he is “gratified” to see it happen.

Maryanne Frangules, executive director of the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery, a group of people in recovery from addiction and their friends and relatives, also sees a change in attitude. “It seems like there’s a tide that’s turning. People do want to speak up about the value of recovery,” she said.

As for Rebecca Kaczynski, she recently celebrated two years free of illicit drugs....

I'm all for that, I'm all for recovery, I'm not trying to be negative, I'm just pointing out the odd juxtapositions, contradictions, obfuscations, omissions, and double standards within the propaganda pre$$ coverage.


The new face of addiction has Auburn hair.

Also seeWoman allegedly smuggled cocaine in wheelchair batteries at Logan Airport

Coming from the Dominican Republic, and she is lucky she didn't make it into the city.

"The body of a male was found Tuesday afternoon inside a U-Haul vehicle in the area of 844 Main St., the location of the Central Square U-Haul Moving & Storage office, officials said. The cause of death appeared to involve an overdose, Cambridge police spokesman Jeremy Warnick said. Cambridge police and firefighters were called to respond at about 2:37 p.m., and paramedics declared the male dead at the scene."

Stay off the Pike and T, too.

Despite efforts, Mass. opioid deaths on pace to match 2014

"E-scrips seen as a way to combat opioid abuse" by Priyanka Dayal McCluskey Globe Staff  August 12, 2015

Paul Uhrig, chief administrative and legal officer at Surescripts, an Arlington, Va., company that tracks electronic prescriptions and others say eliminating the paper trail for painkiller prescriptions is especially important given the nation’s severe ongoing opioid epidemic.

Yeah, it's not like electronics can be hacked or anything.

In Massachusetts, 1,256 people died from overdosing on prescription painkillers or heroin last year, according to state figures. That was 57 percent more deaths than in 2012.

That is staggering to me, each one a unique life entity despite the trouble.

State officials, public safety agencies, and health care organizations have been developing strategies to curb the opioid crisis, from improving the monitoring of prescriptions to expanding treatment services for addicts.

Notice how interdiction of supply never entered into the equation here?

Addiction can start with pills legally prescribed to help patients cope with pain, such as after a surgery. Once people get addicted, many turn to heroin, which is cheaper.

I think I'd rather just deal with the pain (knock on wood). I have trouble taking an Aleeve, never mind their powerful pills (have felt the allure in the past after dental work and am scared shitless of them).

To cut the paper out of opioid prescriptions, Cambridge Health Alliance will use software developed by Imprivata Inc., a Lexington health care technology company. The software tackles the earliest phase of the opioid crisis, said Dr. Sean Kelly, Imprivata’s chief medical officer, and an emergency physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Glad some software firm is making some money off the crisis.

‘To my mind, one obvious piece that we’re missing is really getting at this problem upstream,” Kelly said. “Once those medicines get out there and get in someone else’s medicine cabinet and get passed around, then it’s a whole world of hurt and cost and death.”

Electronic prescriptions are “much cleaner and more transparent” than paper scrip, Kelly added, and they make it easier for hospital administrators to track prescription patterns and detect if any one clinician seems to be prescribing too many pills.

Why would any doctor do that?

Imprivata’s technology will allow Cambridge Health Alliance doctors to order opioids by entering a password, then typing a temporary code that is sent to their cellphones. The hospital is also testing a hands-free feature that will relay the code through bluetooth technology, so that doctors don’t have to type the second passcode.... 

I sought hackers will be a problem; after all, it's not heroin.


Think I'll get this prescription filled:

"Former Hyannis physician faces opioid charges" by Sarah Roberts Globe Correspondent  July 06, 2015

A former Hyannis physician was arraigned Monday on charges of fraud and illegally prescribing opioids to patients with a history of substance abuse, Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement.

Dr. Mohammad Nassery, 63, was arraigned in Barnstable Superior Court on 11 counts of illegal prescribing, nine counts of Medicaid false claims, and one count of larceny over $250. Nassery pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance under the condition that he surrender his passport, Healey said.

Nassery has entered an agreement with the state Board of Registration in Medicine to no longer practice medicine, prosecutors said. He was formerly a physician at Ariana Pediatric Neurology in Hyannis, according to Healey’s office. The attorney general’s investigation found that Nassery continued to prescribe oxycodone and Percocet to patients with a history of substance abuse. He also ordered urine-drug screens and medical scans known as MRIs before prescribing the drugs as a “cover for his unlawful practices,” Healey said.

The illegal prescriptions also allegedly caused pharmacies to falsely bill MassHealth. In addition, the attorney general’s office alleges that Nassery overbilled MassHealth by using billing codes reserved for complex medical exams to charge for simple office visits. Nassery is due back in court for a pretrial conference on Sept. 24.


RelatedMajor Mass. health plans OK methadone treatment

Better call the paramedics:

"Ex-Boston paramedic in drug tampering case due in court" by Monica Disare Globe Correspondent  August 05, 2015

A former paramedic for Boston Emergency Medical Services admitted in Suffolk Superior Court Wednesday that he tampered with medications on city ambulances during the summer of 2011.

Brian Benoit pleaded guilty to 17 counts of adulterating drugs and one count of larceny by scheme and was sentenced to seven years probation.

His probation comes with conditions, including his resignation from Boston EMS, surrendering his emergency medical technician certifications, agreeing to periodic substance abuse evaluations, and a ban on taking any jobs that involve use of controlled substances without court permission.

“He was an outstanding EMT and paramedic,” Benoit’s lawyer, Kenneth H. Anderson, said in a brief statement after the plea. “He’s putting this episode of his life behind him and moving forward.”

Benoit did not speak except to answer routine legal questions during his guilty plea before Suffolk Superior Court Judge Christine M. Roach.

Benoit admitted he stole controlled substances in the summer of 2011, then refilled the drug vials or preloaded syringes with saline solution or other look-alike substances to conceal his theft, according to Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office.

And some person in pain thought they were receiving relief and got nothing.

When the allegations surfaced, authorities discovered he had tampered with more than 100 vials and syringes, according to prosecutors.

Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Michele Granda said Benoit likely took the drugs to use himself, not to sell.

“Our theory here is that he stole the controlled substances in the vial,” Granda said. “Not that he attempted to create an alternate form of controlled substances.”

Anderson called his client’s actions a “flurry of activity’’ at the end of August 2011 during a difficult time in his client’s life. He did not elaborate.


Maybe you should send that stuff over to the state drug lab:

"State launches probe into handling of drug cases; AG’s office accused of withholding facts" by Evan Allen and John R. Ellement Globe Staff  July 08, 2015

Allegations by defense lawyers that the attorney general’s office under Martha Coakley deliberately withheld evidence are among the potential focuses of a state investigation into the scope of wrongdoing in the case of a fired Amherst chemist who stole drugs from a state lab.


“Any and all accusations, I certainly have to listen to. I certainly have to digest. And then I have to go search for the truth,” said retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis, who has been appointed by current Attorney General Maura Healey to examine the case of former chemist Sonja Farak. “This is going to be a neutral, impartial, and transparent investigation.”

A spokesman for Healey said her office supports Velis’s efforts.

“Judge Velis is conducting an independent investigation into these allegations, and he will provide those findings directly to the court,” said spokesman Christopher Loh.

Farak pleaded guilty in January 2014 to tampering with a handful of drug samples at the now-shuttered Amherst lab, and served an 18-month sentence. She was prosecuted by Coakley, and officials had insisted at the time that there was no evidence that other cases were affected.

See: Drug Addict Worked at State Drug Lab

But in April, the state’s highest court found that top state law enforcement officials had failed to fully investigate the scope of Farak’s wrongdoing, and gave officials 30 days to decide whether to reopen the inquiry into thousands of evidence samples tested by Farak. Healey appointed Velis after the court’s ruling.

By then, defense attorneys were already hunting for more evidence, and two of them, Luke Ryan and Rebecca Jacobstein, obtained Farak’s counseling records, in which she told therapists she had been feeding her own addiction to cocaine, methamphetamine, and other drugs by using drug evidence as far back as 2004.

Not only do defense lawyers contend that Farak’s own words should warrant a wholesale review of the 29,000 samples that she claimed to have tested during her career, but they also allege the government deliberately concealed the “smoking gun” evidence that ultimately led to their discovery in the first place.

They wouldn't do that! Not in AmeriKa, and certainly not in Massachusetts!

“It’s outrageous,” said Jacobstein, who, along with Ryan, represents defendants whose drug evidence was believed to have been tested by Farak. “It’s mind-boggling. That they had this stuff, and didn’t tell the court.”


Velis said he is in the early stages of his investigation and its exact parameters have not yet been hammered out, but Healey has given him “unfettered authority” to independently explore the issues surrounding Farak — including any relevant allegations about the actions of law enforcement.

“[Healey], in the most honorable fashion, sent the message that, ‘Explore anything and everything that the public of Massachusetts needs to know,’ and I’m going to do that,” said Velis.

Jacobstein filed three motions in Hampden County Superior Court late last month outlining her contention that the state’s investigation was marred by “egregious, deliberate, intentional prosecutorial misconduct.”

Actually, that doesn't boggle the mind anymore. It's the rule and has been for decades if not forever.

In her motions, Jacobstein argues for a grant of judicial immunity for Farak so that she can testify about her own misconduct. She also argues for a chance for defense attorneys to seek new evidence of prosecutorial misconduct, and of additional wrongdoing by Farak.

Healey’s office said the judge hearing the motions had requested that the state consider granting Farak immunity, and that the attorney general’s office is considering it.

The motions are accompanied by a more than 200-page appendix containing court filings from both prosecutors and defendants, transcripts of court proceedings, and copies of treatment records found in Farak’s car after her arrest in January 2013.

It is those treatment records that defense attorneys say contained exculpatory evidence about the “timing and scope” of Farak’s misconduct. They were the key to obtaining Farak’s full medical files — and, defense attorneys say, they were deliberately hidden by prosecutors.

The records were listed as “assorted lab paperwork” after State Police searched Farak’s car in January 2013, according to court documents, and defense attorneys were denied access to them until more than a year and a half after their discovery.

When Ryan did view the “assorted lab paperwork” in October 2014, he found treatment notes written by Farak about “urges to use” at work, and admissions of taking drugs, apparently made in late 2011. They contained the names of Farak’s treatment providers, which Ryan and Jacobstein ultimately used to obtain her full medical file.

But before Ryan viewed those notes, when the defense had requested evidence of “any third party who may have been aware of Farak’s evidence tampering” in late 2013, Coakley’s office responded in a September 2013 filing that “there is no reason to believe that a third party had knowledge of Farak’s alleged malfeasance prior to her arrest.”

A prosecutor from the attorney general’s office in an e-mail called the evidence that defense attorneys wanted to view “irrelevant to any case other than Farak’s,” according to court documents. Coakley’s office referred in an October 2013 filing to defense efforts to find evidence that Farak’s tampering began earlier than 2012 as “merely a fishing expedition.”

However, one piece of paper found in the car appeared to note that Farak had used drugs on the very same day that she said she tested a drug sample in one of Ryan’s defendant’s cases, according to court documents.

Ryan and Jacobstein pointed to a June 2015 affidavit by Farak’s attorney, Elaine Pourinski, as evidence that prosecutors were aware of the medical evidence in the car and deliberately kept it secret.

Our system of justice is supposed to rest on full disclosure, and now you know why I call it JU$tus now.

In the affidavit, Pourinski wrote that when her client was arrested, “privileged treatment records were found in Ms. Farak’s car. . . . I was informed by the prosecutor handling Ms. Farak’s case that these sheets were considered by the Attorney General’s office to contain privileged information and thus were not included as part of discovery to those seeking new trials.”

Coakley referred comment to the current attorney general’s office. Pourinski was not immediately available. Farak did not respond to a message left with a family member asking her to call.


RelatedCritics call for independent review of Amherst drug tampering case

The inevitable releases:

"Key figure in heroin bust was freed in wake of Dookhan case" by Jan Ransom Globe Staff  July 10, 2015

Jose Casellas had completed roughly half of his five-to-six year prison sentence in 2012 for drug-trafficking when he saw then-Governor Deval Patrick on television discussing the state’s vast crime lab scandal.

Chemist Annie Dookhan had been accused — and was later convicted — of tampering with evidence at a state drug lab. Her actions compromised thousands of convictions, including that of Casellas. He was released from jail early.

That was the first time Casellas caught a lucky break in his dealing with the law. The second, harder to explain, came a year later, well after he had taken advantage of his freedom to become what police said was a major player in the region’s heroin trade, often hiding in plain sight.

Oh, man that is such an in-your-face laugher!

A month after Casellas successfully challenged his drug cases, he was deported to the Dominican Republic, according to state Department of Public Safety and immigration officials.

But he soon slipped back into the United States and returned to Lawrence, setting up his drug operation in a duplex in a residential neighborhood, next door to a city councilor, police said. Casellas didn’t arouse suspicion, even when he was caught speeding in June 2014, less than a year after he had been deported.

Court records show that State Police stopped Casellas on Water Street in a Nissan Altima and charged him with speeding, operating without a license, giving a false name, and forging Registry of Motor Vehicles document. As with all bookings, his fingerprints were sent electronically to the FBI and to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for a background check.

State Police then released Casellas, a move that would prove to be a mistake.

The next day, Customs officials said, they received a notification from their database that Casellas was the aggravated felon they had deported the year before and should not have been in the country. Reentering the United States after deportation is a federal crime.

But by then, Casellas was gone. He failed to appear for an arraignment and “attempts to locate him after his release were unsuccessful,” said Customs spokesman Khaalid Walls.

It is unclear why State Police released him before immigration officials had identified him. State Police and Customs did not respond to questions about how the case was handled. 

I'm starting to think I know why: more crime and mayhem out there, more need for cops and further security measures.

Casellas’s luck would eventually run out. In late June, just a week shy of his two-year anniversary as a free man, police got a lead on a “significant” heroin-trafficking enterprise and Casellas was arrested. Authorities described Casellas, 37, as a major player whose drug operation extended throughout New England.

All right, they got one!

Had he not caught his earlier lucky breaks, he would not have had that opportunity.

Casellas — known to immigration officials as Rafael Lopez-Carrasco — first landed on Lawrence police radar in 2009, said Police Chief James X. Fitzpatrick

In August of that year, police in Haverhill spotted the 6-foot, 250-pound Casellas inside the Market Basket supermarket at Westgate Plaza one afternoon, selling heroin to a man from Portland, Maine, according to news reports. Police seized 6.5 grams of heroin with an estimated street value of $650 and more than $2,000 in cash. Both men were ordered held on $20,000 cash bail, which Casellas later posted.

Three months later, while police in Lawrence were investigating a home invasion on Avon Street, officers said they saw heroin and cocaine in plain view during a “protective sweep” of a third-floor apartment.

Casellas, who appeared while police were in the apartment, was later arrested. He pleaded guilty in 2010 and was sentenced to five to six years behind bars.

But two years later, as the Dookhan scandal became public, Casellas saw a way out.

“In light of the startling revelation by my Governor, I now realize that I was duped, and coerced into pleading guilty to a crime I didn’t commit, and based on the false allegations of the drug analyst, chemist, Annie Dookhan,” Casellas wrote in his appeal to the court in 2012.

A 2013 Globe review found that 613 so-called Dookhan defendants had either their criminal sentences put on hold, were released on bail pending a new trial, or had charges against them dropped altogether. Scores went on to be arrested again.

Prosecutors would not comment on Dookhan’s affect on Casellas’ case, although Casellas’s defense lawyer was blunt: “He got out because of Annie Dookhan,” John P. Morris said.

“This case illustrates concretely how seriously her actions are hurting public safety. There are a lot more out there like [Casellas],” said Martin W. Healy, chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts Bar Association.

The implication is they are all guilty of something, even if the legal decision had to be release due to taint of evidence.

After Casellas had reentered the country illegally and moved into the duplex on Woodland Street in Lawrence, he introduced himself to City Councilor Sandy Almonte and said in Spanish, “Hi, I’m your neighbor next door.”

An illegal drug dealer in the sanctuary city of Lawrence?

For Valentine’s Day, Casellas bought Almonte’s children chocolate, and, another neighbor said, on Halloween children would stop by Casellas’s house for treats, all the while, police say he was running a “mill operation where heroin and fentanyl were being mixed and bagged for sale.”

“Never, ever, ever did I have a suspicion,” Almonte said. “His kids played basketball with my son. . . . He was just a normal person.”

I'm getting kind of choked up here.

Nancy Morin, 57, who has lived on the block for 30 years, said Casellas was a truck driver who often drove his 18-wheeler to Chicago and Georgia.

Now we know what he was going to get.

After one trip down South, he returned with a box of Georgia peaches for Morin after she told him they were her favorite, she recalled.

“He fooled us,” said Morin.

But Casellas’s historic good fortune ended late last month after a home invasion in Manchester, N.H.

Drugs were found in the victim’s home, and she agreed to work with police who, in a matter of days, had Casellas in their sights.

On June 25, authorities confiscated as much as 35 pounds of heroin with an estimated street value of at least $2 million from Casellas’s Lawrence duplex; three handguns; fentanyl — a chemical additive; cutting agents; mixers; sifters; a scale; and other tools for packaging drugs.

The drug bust was a win for Lawrence, which has long been fighting to keep dealers away, but its proximity to major highways and the borders of Maine and New Hampshire have made the city of just under 80,000 a hub for drug trafficking.

“Lawrence has a different problem than most of the communities in Massachusetts,” said Mayor Daniel Rivera, noting that Lawrence has had only a handful of fatal overdoses, while there were more than 1,000 statewide last year. “People come here and buy the drugs here.”

“We make the best with the resources we have,” said Fitzpatrick, the police chief. “We wouldn’t have drug dealers if we didn’t have drug users.”

It's all the victim's fault now?


RelatedLawrence man arraigned on multiple charges, including drug trafficking

It's the reverse in Florida.

Methuen police launch initiative to offer drug addicts helping hand

Middlesex officials target rise in heroin abuse

More than 100 sent to drug treatment in Gloucester police program

Detox unit urged for inmate drug users

And I quote, “There’s just too many people in jail.”

"Springfield police arrested a “notorious drug dealer” on distribution and trafficking charges on July 25, according to a statement from police. Detectives arrested Jose Barbot, 63, after they observed him make two distributions, the release read. After his arrest, police said they discovered $15,354.00 cash, 580 pills, and approximately 60 grams of crushed pills. Barbot was under surveillance after police observed him making earlier drug distributions, the release said. Police charged Barbot with two counts of possession of a class B drug and one count of trafficking in a class A substance, the release read."

"A Boston man was arrested in Dorchester on Saturday for allegedly selling heroin and illegally carrying a firearm, police said. Police said they saw Alyeri Gonzalez, 21, selling drugs from inside his car. Officers had been in the area of Dorchester Avenue and Taft Street after reports about drug-dealing activity. Officers saw Gonzalez involved in a drug transaction, police said, and pulled him over at the intersection of Auckland and Belfort streets. After searching Gonzalez’s car, officers said they found several small bags of heroin, a loaded Taurus .40 caliber handgun, and about $1,000. Gonzalez was charged with unlawfully possessing a firearm, unlawfully possessing ammunition, distributing heroin, and possessing heroin with intent to distribute."

"A 54-year-old and two 27-year-old men were arrested Friday night in Westminster for heroin trafficking, according to State Police. Edward Lower, 54, of Swanzey, N.H.; Christopher Foster, 27, of Walpole, N.H.; and Joseph Machowski, 27, of Brattleboro, Vt., are being charged with heroin trafficking and possesion of a Class A substance with intent to distribute, a State Police statement said. At about 11:20 p.m., police noticed Lower, who had an outstanding arrest warrant against him, driving a 2006 Cheverlet Malibu, and pulled him over, police said. Police then found more than two pounds of heroin and about 16 grams of cocaine in the car, the statement said."

Taunton son, mother allegedly ran heroin distribution ring

Family business.

Former New Haven man pleads guilty to drug conspiracy

Another reminder of the expanding crisis:

"Overdose kills kin of UMass president" by Peter Schworm Globe Staff  August 11, 2015

The nephew of University of Massachusetts president Martin Meehan died from a drug overdose last Saturday, another reminder of the scope and deadly toll of the state’s drug-abuse epidemic.

Let the grieving commence.

Paul Meehan Jr., 30, died “after many years of fighting his battle with addiction,” according to his obituary. The Tyngsborough resident left three children. 

In this case, the war metaphor is correct.

“Paul was working as hard as anyone ever has to beat a relentless and brutal opponent, and the battle simply wore him down,” the obituary stated. “Now he is at peace with our merciful God in heaven, a peace he never found here on earth. We pray that the hearts and minds of this world open to see that people like Paul are of value, loved deeply, and are worth fighting this epidemic for.”

Through a spokesman, Martin Meehan declined to comment, saying it was a private family matter.

Deaths from opioid overdoses have risen dramatically in recent years. Last year, more than 1,200 people in Massachusetts are estimated to have died from overdoses of heroin and painkillers, an 88 percent increase from 2012, according to the state public health department. More than 300 people are estimated to have died from opioid overdoses in the first three months of this year, a similar pace.

Mushroomed as Patrick's neglectful reign ended.

Over the weekend, there were nine drug overdoses in Lowell alone, one of them fatal, police said. Two people also died of heroin overdoses in nearby Dracut, according to the Lowell Sun.

In Lowell, the number of fatal overdoses rose from eight in 2012 to 29 last year, according to state figures.

“It’s a brutal disease that knows no class lines,” said Bill Garr, chief executive of Lowell House, a treatment and recovery program. “We need to treat this like the epidemic it is.”

Garr said the scope of the crisis requires far more investment in prevention and treatment services.

“We are throwing pebbles in the water when we should be throwing boulders,” he said. “What happened this weekend is probably going to happen more often.”

Garr said young people have little difficulty acquiring drugs, and that dealers have made heroin far more powerful by adding the painkiller fentanyl.


Nationally, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled from 2002 to 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2013, more than 8,200 people died.

In the past decade, heroin use more than doubled among those between the ages of 18 and 25. Almost half of heroin users were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers, according to the CDC....

Yes, we know what the gateway is -- which is another reason that end isn't being focu$ed on too much.


Maybe we could get a clue from.... Kentucky?

"Disparate states, a common horror; Kentucky’s opioid epidemic has warning, lesson for Massachusetts" by Brian MacQuarrie Globe Staff  August 10, 2015

PINEVILLE, Ky. — Viewed from Massachusetts, the opioid scourge here might seem like an exotic tableau from another land. But the search for solutions is something the states have in common, as is a mounting death toll from opioid overdoses: estimates of 1,087 in Kentucky and 1,256 in Massachusetts in 2014 alone.

This unlikely and tragic bond has brought together US senators from the two states — politicians who cannot agree on much of anything — to seek a common solution.

Pineville, population 1,700, is a pin-prick of a place surrounded by steep, thickly wooded hills that conjure images of Daniel Boone and other pioneers who passed through the nearby Cumberland Gap.

Background of poverty

Today, the seat of Bell County does not wear its age well. The downtown has little pedestrian traffic to divert attention from the overgrown lawns and boarded-up windows on tired, vacant buildings that need a coat of fresh paint.

Nearly two-thirds of adults in the county do not have jobs, and addiction to opioid painkillers has metastasized. Miners often turned to painkillers after injuries, and many of their children became dependent on opioids stashed as close as the medicine cabinet. Nearly everyone here knows someone who has become addicted or died from opioids.


Many children are raised by grandparents, some mothers prostitute their daughters, and hospice providers lock medications in theft-proof safes at the homes of the soon-to-be deceased.

“We’ve lost a whole generation of people who would have been paying taxes, and buying homes, and contributing to society,” said Nancy Hale, who leads the drug-prevention efforts in the region.

Micky Hatmaker, a former state trooper and Pineville native, put much of the blame on big pharmaceutical companies for aggressively marketing painkillers, and on unscrupulous doctors and pharmacists who dispense them.

Not such stupid backdoor hicks after all, huh?

“This thing took over Appalachia like a cancer,” said Hatmaker, who works on the drug task force.

As he walked through a small professional building, Hatmaker glanced at a pharmaceutical saleswoman waiting outside a dental office. “You see her?” Hatmaker asked a visitor in a sing-song Kentucky drawl. “That’s the enemy.”

Pineville is minuscule, but it does have five pharmacies.

Lisa Goodin fills prescriptions at one of them. She lost her brother and brother-in-law to fatal overdoses, and the job gives her a front-row view — dispiriting and unavoidable — of Pineville’s recurring, real-life tragedy.

“You can see them walk across the street and sell it,” she said.

Pineville police Sergeant Kyle Dunn sees the fallout nearly every time he leaves his beat-up wooden desk and heads outside.

“We could go out right now and arrest somebody, but I don’t know if that’s a solution,” Dunn said after walking down an alley in search of syringes. “It’s going to take someone smarter than me to come up with one.”

Me, too. I've offered my observations, even broached the horrendous idea of legalization, but I have no solutions to offer, at least, ones that have a chance of being discussed.

Two weeks earlier, his cousin, the son of a coal-mine superintendent, died of a drug overdose.

Search for solutions

Decades of widespread addiction pushed Kentucky to become a leader in the search for solutions.

Kentucky shut down its notorious pill mills — the derisive name for for-profit businesses that dispense painkillers with scant medical oversight. In 2012, the state became the first to enact a strict mandate that physicians check a patient’s drug history before writing new prescriptions.

The effect has been immediate and eye-opening. Prescriptions of oxycodone, a powerful opioid, have dropped 10.5 percent. Prescriptions for hydrocodone — also used to relieve pain — have fallen 11 percent....

The state’s campaign is being complemented by the US Attorney’s Office for Eastern Kentucky, which is aggressively targeting doctors whose practices are designed to profit from addiction.

“We were really just drowning in a sea of pills,” said Kerry Harvey, the US attorney in Lexington.

In recent years, his office has ratcheted up its prosecutions of “physicians who really were just drug dealers in a lab coat, and pharmacists who were just drug traffickers who happened to have a pharmacy license,” Harvey said.

In June, for example, a federal judge in Kentucky handed down a 14-year prison sentence to the owner of two pain clinics, which had unlawfully dispensed hundreds of thousands of prescription pills to thousands of Kentuckians.

At the grass roots, the bulk of the work is being done by Operation UNITE, a large nonprofit group that has carried a drug-prevention message to tens of thousands of students in venues from classrooms to archery camps. More than 3,700 people have received $5,000 vouchers from the group for substance-abuse treatment. And police detectives working with Operation UNITE have removed $12.3 million of drugs from the street since 2003.

The organization also sponsors an annual opioid-abuse summit that draws thousands of participants from across the country who are eager to learn from Kentucky’s experience. When the heroin crisis in Massachusetts took hold in sparsely populated Franklin County, John Merrigan, the register of probate, came to the summit to learn what he could.

I call it home.

Merrigan left impressed by the collaboration among government, law enforcement, and activist agencies like Operation UNITE, but troubled by the intransigence of the opioid quagmire.

“It’s scary to think that they haven’t been able to bring it under control in that region, when they’ve had such strong support,” Merrigan said.

Kentucky’s pain has given it years of experience in the opioid fight. In Massachusetts, a spiraling increase in heroin overdoses seized broad public attention only in early 2014, prompting then-governor Deval Patrick to declare a public health emergency. His successor, Governor Charlie Baker, has made the opioid crisis one of his top priorities.

A prescription-monitoring program for opioids was made mandatory in Massachusetts last year, and funding has been increased for addiction treatment.

Massachusetts also is providing lessons for Kentucky, where officials are pushing for greater availability of naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. That effort is based on the pioneering success of police in Quincy, Mass., where the drug has been used to combat more than 400 overdoses since 2010.

Partnerships between the states are being formed on Capitol Hill, where the ideological odd couple of Senators Edward J. Markey, a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, and Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, are pressing the federal government for more, aggressive action.

The pair — who, McConnell said, “have absolutely nothing in common on virtually every issue you can name” — have asked for a surgeon general’s report on the crisis and detailed answers on how the Department of Health and Human Services will measure progress on opioid deaths and addiction.

“I think we can learn from each other,” Markey said of the disparate states, now bound by a common problem. “We can’t be ostrich-like any longer.”

Message taking hold

Estimates of overdose deaths rose 8 percent in Kentucky in 2014, compared with a staggering 34 percent in Massachusetts. Many Kentucky activists believe their message is taking root among the young. Seventeen-year-old Cheyenne Morgan is one example why.

Morgan is part of an Operation UNITE summer program that preaches to school-age campers that drugs are the enemy.

I dunno. They are a substance to be used ptr abused like anything else. To make them into an "enemy(?)" seems a bit simplistic with a possible ulterior motive to be instilled in the kids.

The program uses Americorps volunteers who, like Morgan, are working to steer the next generation from a fate that has claimed so many of their parents and older relatives.

Recruiting and enlistment office right over there.

It’s a fate that Morgan knows intimately.

Her mother was an opioid addict who, a decade ago, fed her appetite for painkillers while her husband served overseas in the military. In the chaos that was her home, Morgan was transformed from child to caretaker.

“I would wake up in the middle of the night and find her passed out in the middle of the floor,” Morgan said. “I would hit her in the face to try to wake her up.”

Then, at age 10, Morgan did not have to revive her any more. Her mother died in a car crash, and Morgan — like so many children here — moved in with her grandparents. 

She still had her license?

“I wish I could have done something, but I was too young,” said Morgan, who wiped away tears as she recalled the trauma. But even as a child, she said, she recognized the corrupting misery of addiction and “made a promise that I wasn’t going to do that.”

Seven years later, in these strikingly beautiful mountains that hold so much heartbreak, Morgan is helping other Kentucky children make the same promise.

Ends on positive note.



Examining drug issues in depth

Could medical marijuana alleviate the state’s drug epidemic?

Yeah, if they could get it:

"Plan for downtown medical marijuana dispensary in limbo" by Sara DiNatale Globe Correspondent  July 08, 2015

Mayor Martin J. Walsh says he knows medical marijuana dispensaries are coming to Boston and has no intention to try to block them. Yet three years after voters approved the medical use of marijuana, a proposal to open the city’s first — and, so far, only — dispensary in Downtown Crossing remains contentious.

City Council President Bill Linehan said the dispensary should be attached to, or near, a medical provider.

My impression of him is that of a racist and robber, sorry.

“My mother suffered from Parkinson’s for 21 years and just passed months back, so we all know this is something that’s needed in our city, but this is not the right location,” Linehan said.

He said Downtown Crossing is “finally starting to take off” and the dispensary “doesn’t send the right message.”

I say put the joint out, flush it down the toilet, and let sick people suffer.

Kristen Mansharamani, who owns Torit Montessori School, said her school is just outside the 500-foot zone that must separate dispensaries from educational facilities. She said that residents and business owners had fought to eliminate the Combat Zone and its unsavory elements from Downtown Crossing, and they view the potential arrival of a medical marijuana dispensary as a throwback.

I didn't know they were going to have sex shows and people being murdered every night because of medical marijuana facilities. 

Boston police Deputy Superintendent Bernard O’Rourke said at the meeting the police department opposes the location. He said he foresees problems with on-street drug dealing and the “great unknownness” of the location.

They would oppose it wherever you wanted to site it. Authority was opposed to voter approval and has dragged its heels ever since.

Ross said Patriot Care spoke with Boston police and plans to hire off-duty officers to help with security.


Ross also said the dispensary will never shift to selling marijuana for recreational use, even if Massachusetts voters approve such sales.

I will be voting against recreational use. Fool me once.... what's the rest of that saying?

The Midtown Cultural District Residents’ Association conducted a survey of residents and found that of the 86 who responded, 59 percent were against the dispensary.

Rishi Shukla, a leader of the association, said he was concerned that a dispensary would exacerbate parking woes in the neighborhood. The company estimates 100 people will use the facility each day and does not foresee a problem with street parking.

Especially since the stoners have trouble remembering where they parked.

Councilor Josh Zakim, whose father, Leonard P. Zakim , died of cancer in 1999, said he was troubled medical marijuana is still not available in the city, despite being approved by voters in 2012.

“My father was suffering from something that turned out to be terminal cancer,” he said. “Having something like this available, legal, safe, clean, and accessible on the T, and by car, in a central location like this would have made a huge difference.”

I know. That's why you get the sarcasm from me regarding the suffering people who have had to wait to get the joint passed to them.

Can you believe I'm in agreement with a Jew? Must be the marijuana smoke!


Also see:

Different strategies for groups pushing legal marijuana

I'm sorry I voted for medical.

Boston City Council hears criticism of synthetic marijuana

City Council to consider synthetic marijuana ban

Thanks for the trail mix. 

You eat it, right?

"Teen marijuana use not tied to health woes" Washington Post  August 05, 2015

What? After all these years of saying the complete opposite?

With the widespread availability of marijuana in recent years thanks to its legalization in a growing number of states, there has been increasing concern about the long-term health consequences on teens who might be able to get easier access to it illegally.

A study published by the American Psychological Association should alleviate some of the worst fears. 


Aren't those the same guys that signed off on TORTURE?!

Based on other studies in the past that seemed to allude to marijuana use and later development of psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations, the researchers had thought they might find some associations to disease or other health conditions. But there were none.

They also found no link to a wide range of other health issues: cancer, asthma, respiratory problems, depression, anxiety, allergies, headaches, or high blood pressure.

Turns out, pot helps those things.


The results are ‘‘surprising,’’ signaling that the agenda and narrative is being flipped and shifted.

You know, I'm just not connecting with you kids, am I?

"Lawmakers are considering expanding the state’s juvenile offenders center in Manchester to provide substance abuse and mental health treatment for teenagers not sent there by the court system as part of an effort to better use the sprawling space."

They have to do something with you.

"2 men arrested as Lowell police seize 62 lbs. of marijuana" by Felicia Gans Globe Correspondent  August 17, 2015

Two Lowell men were in court Monday facing charges stemming from a “large-scale marijuana distribution operation” with several delivery points within the city, police said.

Brian Leduc and Kevin Ros, both 29, were released on personal recognizance after their arraignments in Lowell District Court, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office.

They were arrested last Friday, when authorities said they seized 62 pounds of marijuana and $5,000 in cash from them.

The arrests were the result of months of “surveillance and intelligence gathering,” police said. Officials said police witnessed one alleged delivery of marijuana Friday, then stopped the men in a vehicle on Westford Street, where 50 pounds of marijuana were reportedly found.

Police said they later found an additional 12 pounds of marijuana in Ros’s apartment on Gates Street.

Both men will return to court Sept. 22.


Better not grow your own, either:

"A North Adams man has been sentenced to prison for growing marijuana that he said was for medicinal purposes. Daniel Chao, 39, pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of fraudulent use of a medical marijuana registration card or cultivation registration and cultivation of marijuana, The Berkshire Eagle reported. A judge sentenced him to up to two years in prison. Prosecutors said police found an indoor and outdoor growing operation in 2013 with about 88 marijuana plants. Police also found scales, grow lights, and other items. Prosecutors said Chao was running a growing operation under a different name, and kept detailed journals with lists of medical marijuana patients (AP)."

So much for all the official smoke regarding relaxed law enforcement on the issue.

Besides, see how addictive it is?

"Demand soaring at state’s lone marijuana dispensary; Facility in Salem reports 1,500 patients in 2 months" by Kay Lazar Globe Staff  September 03, 2015

The executive director of the state’s first and only medical marijuana dispensary said this week that in just two months of operation, it provided cannabis to 1,500 patients — the first measure of consumer demand for the product in Massachusetts.

That dispensary, Alternative Therapies Group in Salem,was granted permission by state regulators on Wednesday to expand its offerings, receiving permission to fill orders for first-time products such as marijuana oils and baked goods, which many patients prefer over smoking marijuana.


Regulators also moved Wednesday to allow a second dispensary to open. A Brockton company, In Good Health, was issued a temporary state waiver to sell cannabis that has not been fully tested for pesticides and other contaminants. Laboratories in Massachusetts are still struggling to complete quality testing required by the state health department under rules considered to be among the most stringent in the country.

Nichole Snow, executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, said the state’s decision to grant a waiver allowing sale of marijuana-infused products in Salem is welcome news, but hardly enough to meet demand.

In its application for a state license, Alternative Therapies projected it would serve about 1,500 patients its first year in business, the number they ended up serving in two months. But the initial estimate was adjusted upward. Far fewer licenses than expected were granted for the first year, increasing demand at the dispensaries that would open. 

I forgot was I was going to say about the heel-dragging.

More than 20,000 people have obtained the required physician certifications to legally buy marijuana for medical use, and nearly 12,000 of them have completed registration to shop in a dispensary, state records show.

After a visit from the federal government, right?

“There are a lot of patients out there who still need access to medical marijuana, and the big concern is that they are getting medicine from an unregulated market,” Snow said. “We want the lab testing to be thorough but not so stringent that dispensaries can’t provide the medicine patients need.”

Fifteen dispensaries have received provisional licenses, but until Wednesday only Alternative Therapies had been approved to start selling marijuana. The company opened June 24 with a long line of patients waiting at the door.

For some reason the Globe let the head fall off of the joint (print paragraph cut from web version):

Yet many patients were stymied as state regulators initially prohibited Alternative Therapies from selling cannabis oil or marijuana-infused products because of the problems with the state's quality testing rules....


Oh, sorry, let the joint go out.

Of course, the meningitis murders and the regulatory conflicts and payoffs there, no prob, people died but.... pot to help suffering people and its a problem.

RelatedMass. needs a sensible marijuana policy

I will be voting against it this time. The state has made legalization for medical purposes such a nightmare that I don't want that stinky stuff here anymore. Sick people can suffer.

"The latest obstacle has been the testing laboratories’ difficulties in meeting state regulations for screening marijuana for pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants. Testing lab owners have complained that the Massachusetts rules are too stringent."


I missed fun when I was young, and now I'm afraid of drugs. All of 'em, pharmaceuticals the most. I don't even like taking an Aleeve for the roaring pain in my fingers after each day of posting.

Really having a problem with those testing labs 'roun' h're.

"The Coast Guard vessel Seneca returned to Boston on Saturday morning after a 15,000-mile deployment to combat international drug trafficking and illegal immigration. A Coast Guard statement said the crew, with the help of a helicopter team, seized 3½ tons of cocaine valued at $63 million while patrolling the Florida Straits and the Pacific. During the ship’s 70 days at sea, the crew also found and cared for more than 100 Cuban migrants attempting to sail to the United States in “unsafe and unseaworthy vessels,” the Coast Guard said."

Might as well end this with a belt:

"Boston bars charged with violating ‘pay-to-play’ rules" by Dan Adams and Taryn Luna Globe Correspondents  September 02, 2015

The owners of some of the most popular bars in Boston received tens of thousands of dollars in illegal cash payments from a beer distributor to stock its craft brews and exclude those of competitors, Massachusetts regulators said Wednesday.

The case is the first brought by the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission to enforce rules dating from the end of Prohibition that ban so-called pay-to-play practices, which can limit consumers’ choices and stifle competition by allowing larger producers to dominate the market.

I don't drink so it doesn't matter.


Mark Dickison, an attorney for the distributor, Craft Beer Guild LLC, J. conceded the distributor had made the payments, telling the commission, “this conduct is not something . . . that we’re proud of.”

Dickison said the company no longer engages in the practice but insinuated pay-to-play is widespread among other companies, adding that the alcohol industry in Massachusetts had “run amok.”

Who was supposed to be overseeing that?

The ABCC accuses the distributor of offering illegal inducements and of violating a prohibition on charging different retailers different prices for the same products.

The commission will rule on the accusations later this year; punishment could range from a fine to a suspension to revocation of the company’s state license.

Earlier Wednesday, the agency cited five bars with violating pay-to-play regulations:

■ Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill, in the Seaport, owned by Cronin Group

■ Estelle’s, a South End bar owned by Wilcox Group

■ Gather, in the Seaport, owned by Briar Group

■ Game On Fenway, a bar near Fenway Park owned by Lyons Group

■ Coogan’s, in the Financial District and owned by Glynn Hospitality Group.

Isn't Remy's closed?

All the companies operate other bars and restaurants in the Boston area. They are scheduled to answer the accusations before the ABCC at a Nov. 3 hearing.

Four of the bar owners declined to comment. Wilcox Group did not respond to requests for comment.

What, they pass out?

In the report, Craft Beer Guild sales manager Craig Corthell admitted the payments were “kickbacks” in exchange for committed tap lines....


Good thing Goldberg is now on the job.


"Ohio teen’s obituary cites heroin" Associated Press  September 06, 2015

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Confronted with the sudden death of their 18-year-old daughter, Fred and Dorothy McIntosh Shuemake made an unusual decision: They would not worry about any finger-pointing, whispers, or family stigma.

They directed the funeral home to begin Alison Shuemake’s obituary by stating flatly that she died of a heroin overdose.

They aren’t the first grieving American parents to cite heroin in an obituary as such deaths nearly quadrupled nationally over a decade, but it’s rare, even in a southwest Ohio community headed toward another record year in heroin-related deaths.

Dorothy McIntosh Shuemake and her husband, a retired Middletown police detective who investigated crimes against children, want to promote a potentially preventive dialogue about what the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls an epidemic.

Their decision has drawn a wide outpouring of support, locally and on social media, with online comments and e-mails from around the world....


I hope it's an open casket -- and look who is driving the hearse.