Remembering Anthony Bourdain: Cooking, Traveling and Giving Up Heroin

Remembering Anthony Bourdain: Cooking, Traveling and Giving Up Heroin

Anthony Michael Bourdain, born June 25, 1956, was a man with a rich and vibrant legacy. He took us on exotic adventures to explore the world and tried to expand the view of the audience on culinary arts and culture. He was much more to so many than a celebrity chef.

Anthony Bourdain was an author, travel documentarian, and television personality. He used programs like A Cooks Tour and No Reservations to travel across the globe, focusing on the international culture, cuisine, and the human condition. He has sat down for humble lunches with President Obama, and his explosive personality has even been featured in cartoons like The Simpsons and popular FX series Archer. Bourdain has taken us to some of the most secluded corners of faraway places to chat with the locals and enjoy a simple dessert. Anthony Bourdain was widely regarded as one of the most influential chefs in the world.

On June 8th, 2018 the world was shocked to hear that Anthony Bourdain had died at 61 years old. Even more heartbreaking was to learn his death was a suicide. Over the last several days, his passing has sparked a continuous stream of dialog about mental health and the need for treatment resources. Over the years the famous traveling chef fought against drugs like heroin, as well as depression. As we remember who Anthony Bourdain was, and as we call for letting go of stigma and pushing forward with helping those in need, it is important to look at the whole story.

Kitchen Confidential

Anthony Bourdain first fought his way up the kitchen ladder in New York to become a long-time chef at Brasserie Les Hallas. Around this time, he wrote his breakthrough memoirs titled Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, which took him beyond the cutting boards to carving his way through the literary map.

Part of this first memoir describes the long journey that brought him to become a chef, and a notable element of his story is extreme excursions into drugs, strung out over years. In the book Kitchen Confidential he wrote about his experiences back in 1981 working at a restaurant:

“We were high all the time, sneaking off to the walk-in refrigerator at every opportunity to ‘conceptualize.’ Hardly a decision was made without drugs. Cannabismethaqualone, cocaine, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms soaked in honey and used to sweeten tea, secobarbital, tuinal, amphetamine, codeine and, increasingly, heroin, which we’d send a Spanish-speaking busboy over to Alphabet City to get.”

Later, Bourdain became more open about discussing his drug use. He’d even said some of these problems should have killed him in his 20s. In 2014, he did an episode of his show Parts Unknown that highlighted the ongoing opioid epidemic in Massachusetts. During the episode he says,

“Somebody who wakes up in the morning and their first order of business is (to) get heroin — I know what that’s like,”

Parts Unknown went on to be honored with five Emmy awards.

Eventually, Anthony Bourdain found himself kicking heroin in the 80s in drug rehab. When talking about finally getting clean he said,

“And we’re the lucky ones. We made it out alive. There are a lot of guys that didn’t get that far. But you know, I also don’t have that many regrets either.”

However, he admits to still worked long hours in New York kitchens interspersed with binges that consisted of cocaine and alcohol. Following rehab that Bourdain had cleaned up his act, although he continued drinking alcohol. He later wrote,

“Most people who kick heroin and cocaine have to give up on everything. Maybe because my experiences were so awful in the end, I’ve never been tempted to relapse,”

On June 8, 2018, Bourdain was found dead of an apparent suicide by hanging in his room at the Le Chambard hotel in Kaysersberg, France. At the time he had been traveling with friend Éric Ripert. Ripert reported that he became worried when Bourdain missed dinner and breakfast. According to the public prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny du Fayel, Bourdain’s body showed no signs of violence. At this point there has been no official word on toxicology tests to determine whether drugs or medications were involved in his tragic death.

Legacy

It is hard to put into words the life and legacy of a man as dynamic as Anthony Bourdain. He wasn’t just a face on TV, he was a voice trying to tell us to embrace more of the delicious variety in life. It is easier to just look at some of his many accomplishments. Bourdain wrote multiple bestselling nonfiction books over the years, including:

  • Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
  • Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook
  • A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal
  • The Nasty Bits

His articles and essays appeared in many publications, including:

  • The New Yorker
  • The New York Times
  • The Times
  • Los Angeles Times
  • The Observer
  • Gourmet
  • Maxim
  • Esquire

He even co-wrote an original graphic novel titled Get Jiro! For DC Comics/Vertigo.

Between 2002-2018 he hosted a number of shows, including:

  • A Cook’s Tour
  • No Reservations
  • The Layover
  • Parts Unknown

He worked on various other television shows, doing everything from judging to producing.

With the sudden news of Bourdain’s death, people from all across the world have paid homage to the man who did so much to try and share the beauty of diversity with us all. In the days following Bourdain’s death fans paid tribute to him outside his now-closed former place of employment, Brasserie Les Halles on New York City’s Park Avenue.

Fellow celebrity chefs and other public figures expressed sentiments of condolence, including Gordon Ramsay and Andrew Zimmern.

Beyond his amazing adventures of cooking in different countries, Bourdain also believed in making a difference for those less fortunate. He championed industrious immigrants from places like Mexico, Ecuador, and other countries in Central and South America.

He became a big advocate in the fight against sexual harassment in the restaurant industry in 2017, calling out other celebrity chefs and people in Hollywood.

Depression and Suicide

Anthony Bourdain had also been open about his struggles with depression. In 2016 he did an episode of Parts Unknown where he traveled to Argentina for psychotherapy. At one point he tells the camera,

“I will find myself in an airport, for instance, and I’ll order an airport hamburger. It’s an insignificant thing, it’s a small thing, it’s a hamburger, but it’s not a good one. Suddenly I look at the hamburger and I find myself in a spiral of depression that can last for days.”

While the passion he had for his work is quite obvious, traveling around 250 days of the year can take a toll. More than once he described his life as lonely. During an interview with People magazine, he said he was living the dream, but admitted that it did come at a cost. That cost may have had something to do with the ups and downs of marriage and divorce he experienced over the years.

Only a few months ago, when discussing his 11-year-old daughter Ariane, Bourdain had said he felt he had to “at least try to live” for her. Although he explained he also felt he did have things to live for. Sadly, it seems that over time, the iconic chef started losing his battle with the feelings he wrestled with on the road.

Anthony Bourdain’s death is another tragic loss in a trend we have seen a spike over the years, including among celebrities. Only three days before Bourdain’s own death, fashion designer Kate Spade took her own life. Suicide is a growing problem in the United States. According to a survey published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Suicide rates increased by 25% across the country over nearly two decades ending in 2016.
  • 25 states have experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%

While Anthony Bourdain may have been clean for decades, there was still pain there. While overcoming drugs may have been a huge victory in his inspiring legacy, other fights can still wear us down.

There is Help

As we remember the incredible impact that Anthony Bourdain had as an adventurer and advocate, we emphasize the importance of supporting those who need it the most. Sadly, we don’t always know when people need help. But we should always work to make sure people know that there is help, no matter what they are struggling with.

“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

Anthony Bourdain

June 25, 1956 – June 8, 2018

Mental health is an important part of recovery for people who struggle with drugs or alcohol. Fighting depression and suicide prevention means supporting well-being and fighting for mental health support. For those struggling, treatment for mental health disorders and addiction is not always the easiest thing to seek out, but as we as a nation continue to evolve the conversation and raise awareness more people are finding out about the amazing pathways to a life in recovery that are out there. We urge you to seek yours. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, please call toll-free now. You are not alone.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

DEA Orders Big Pharma Opioid Distributor to Shut Down Sales

DEA Orders Big Pharma Opioid Distributor to Shut Down Sales

For the first time in six years, the DEA has ordered a suspension on a pharmaceutical wholesaler, and it’s a Big Pharma opioid distributor- Morris & Dickson.

We now know that officials all over the country, both at the state and federal levels, are joining forces to go after Big Pharma companies for pushing powerful opioid painkillers that contributed to one of the greatest addiction outbreaks in American history. While not everyone agrees on the role prescription drugs played in the opioid crisis, many believe the questionable marketing and distribution practices is reason enough for real intervention.

Lawsuits against opioid makers are taking place all over the US, and distribution companies are finding themselves in the hot seat.

DEA vs Opioid Distributor

This latest news comes following an investigation into Morris & Dickson. Allegedly, the investigation uncovered evidence that the Big Pharma opioid distributor neglected to inform the DEA about large quantities of addiction painkillers being bought up by independent pharmacies.

This is a problem because, according to The Hill, reporting such information to the DEA is a requirement.

Back in October of 2017 the investigation into the opioid distributor out of Shreveport, Louisiana got kicked off after reports came in that Morris & Dickson had sold narcotics to five of the state’s top 10 drug-purchasing pharmacies, but never filed any suspicious activity reports in any of these cases. In a statement Friday, the Justice Department revealed that according to the DEA investigation, independent pharmacies were allowed to purchase six times the amount they would normally order from the opioid distributor.

For the record- pharmaceutical distributors like Morris & Dickson are legally required to report unusually large shipments of narcotics to the government as a safeguard against prescription medications from making their way to the illicit drug market. DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson said in a statement:

“Distributors have an obligation to ensure that all pharmaceutical controlled substances their customer’s order are for legitimate use, and it is their duty to identify, recognize and report suspicious orders to DEA,”

“This is another reminder that DEA will hold accountable those companies who choose to operate outside the law.”

The Big Pharma opioid distributor will have the chance to appeal the suspension during an administrative hearing.

Morrison & Dickson Fight Back

Let the record show that Morrison & Dickson are definitely not taking these charges sitting down. The opioid distributor has struck back against the suspension with a federal lawsuit. They adamantly hold that they will fight the suspension. Company president Paul M. Dickson released his own statement, saying:

“Sadly, in this case, the DEA has gotten it wrong. We would’ve proved that to them had they given us the chance.”

They already asked a judge last Thursday to overturn the DEA suspension. In the legal claim against the DEA order the opioid distributor states:

“Make no mistake—this is a life and death situation. Morris & Dickson services 30-40% of the hospital drug market in Louisiana and Texas alone. If Morris & Dickson cannot ship needed medications to these hospitals, these hospitals may face immediate drug shortages.”

The company president also maintains that the opioid distributor has already greatly reduced its circulation of opioids. Dickson emphasizes that the company provides medications that many patients do desparately need. He also acknowledges the devastation caused by the opioid crisis, saying:

“Everyone in the Morris & Dickson family has been touched by the opioid crisis. That’s why we’ve taken aggressive and effective voluntary measures against any potential opioid diversion from medical use. We have reduced our opioid distribution dramatically. And it’s why we’re so proud of our history of 177 years with no outside enforcement actions against us.”

At this point, only time will tell if the company will have to adhere to the suspension for much longer.

Some people argue that moves like this from the DEA are too aggressive or an over-reach. However, given the circumstances, this seems like a logical response. Looking at the massive shipments of Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, it seems like it shouldn’t be too much to ask they notify the DEA.

What is Next?

Big Pharma executives testified for Congress yesterday, answering questions about their role in the prescription drug problem. The Washington Post reports that this could be a defining moment for the opioid industry. Witnesses for the hearing included high ranking executives from:

  • Miami-Luken, INC
  • McKesson Corporation
  • Cardinal Health
  • AmerisourceBergen Corporation
  • HD Smith Wholesale Drug Company

During the hearing, Congressman Gregg Harper of Mississippi states:

“We have learned much from the investigation but still have many questions,”

“Why did the distributors repeatedly fail to report suspicious orders of opioids or exercise effective controls against diversion?”

He goes on to explain that the DEA identified opioid distributor companies as a key element to combating the diversion of drugs to the black market. He states that distributors have often claimed that they were too limited to properly address these issues, as they do not understand the whole scope as the DEA does. However, he argues that distributors do have a great deal of data collection, and should be aware of their impact.

According to Congressman Harper, distributors also frequently argue that they are simply providing a service. They do not control the demand, but simply offer the supply based on the prescriptions from physicians. This argument seems a bit of a cop-out, and almost sounds like something a street-level drug dealer would say.

The committee also adds that over the course of 6 years, opioid distributor companies filled the state of West Virginia with over 780 million Hydrocodone and Oxycodone pills, while 1,728 people in West Virginia fatally overdosed on those two painkillers.

In their opening statements, each Big Pharma distributor representative acknowledged the devastation of the epidemic. However, when asked by Chairman Harper if they believed their companies contributed to the opioid epidemic, except for the chairman of the board for Miami-Luken Dr. Robert E. Mastandrea, they all said no.

In fact, Dr. Mastandrea seemed to be the only one consistently willing to admit that Miami-Luken had made mistakes that helped create the opioid crisis.

While it will take time to determine the impact of these testimonies, one thing we can say now is that drug distribution companies are quickly finding themselves on the chopping block when it comes down to the efforts to curb prescription opioids abuse.

For now, a crucial part of fighting the opioid epidemic is going to be providing safe and effective addiction treatment. It may not be easy to put a stop to the spread of addiction, but there are programs that can help you break out of the cycle of drug and alcohol abuse. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Dave Aronberg Talks How to Fight Fraud in Treatment Industry

Dave Aronberg Talks How to Fight Fraud in Treatment Industry

8 months ago, Florida was home to 953 licensed drug treatment centers, and 207 were in Palm Beach County. As of April 1, there are now 185 in Palm Beach, with 771 in the whole state. This decrease is due to the crackdown on fraud by Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office, which has led to 45 arrests in the last year and a half. So far, those arrests have led to 16 convictions. For State Attorney Dave Aronberg there is no sign of slowing down.

Recently, Dave Aronberg spoke with Opioid Watch to talk about the work his office has been doing to try and strengthen the addiction treatment industry. Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson also sat down to talk about how Palm Beach County is fighting to protect those who are coming to Florida for help. Johnson heads the office’s Sober Homes Task Force.

Dave Aronberg VS Purdue Pharma

 According to Aronberg, he got involved with opioid-related issues back in 2001, when he was an assistant attorney general. Aronberg says he was asked by his boss, Bob Butterworth, to investigate Purdue Pharma. This Big Pharma giant is the producer of OxyContin. This powerful prescription opioid has been credited with making a heavy contribution to the opioid crisis. Dave Aronberg was to examine the marketing practices of Purdue Pharma, and is quoted in the interview transcript stating:

“I believe we were one of the first in the country.”

Of course, now Purdue Pharma is one of many big name pharmaceutical companies being accused in lawsuits across America. In fact, Delray Beach, Florida recently filed its own case against the company.

When asked about what he found, Aronberg said that Purdue was marketing the product like it was Advil. Purdue has been repeatedly accused of pushing this product as if it was far less dangerous than it actually was. In 2002, Dave Aronberg was elected to state senate, and shortly afterward the case against Purdue was settled. In the edited interview transcript, Aronberg is quoted:

“Purdue also offered $2 million to the state to establish its first prescription drug monitoring program. I worked in the state senate to get the PDMP enacted into law. But some conservatives refused to go along. They thought it was Big Government. So Purdue’s $2 million went away, because the offer expired. We didn’t get the PDMP till 2011. By then the carnage was horrific.”

Furthermore, Opioid Watch notes that a Purdue spokesperson confirmed that the state failed to implement a PDMP by July 1, 2004, which was the expiration of the companies offer.

Dave Aronberg Goes to Congress

In December of 2017, Aronberg went in front of Congress to testify concerning fraud and abuse in the addiction treatment industry. In this meeting, they discussed various issues with shady facility operators in Florida and made suggestions on how the law could step in to change it and protect patients. The interview transcript quotes Aronberg:

“In recent years, we’ve had an influx of unscrupulous operators who enrich themselves by exploiting those in recovery. As a consequence, we’re attracting thousands of young people from throughout the country into fraudulent rehab centers. (We’re talking about some, not all. There are good rehab centers, too.)”

Again, Aronberg found himself at battle with shady marketing practices. While investigating the treatment industry, Aronberg’s office discovered illegal operations that not only manipulated insurance providers but put patients at extreme risk.

From patient brokering, where illicit actors would sell patients with insurance to the highest bidders, to illegal kickback schemes being run by sober homes to outpatient treatment programs. Chief Assistant State Attorney Alan Johnson added information about the exploitation of urine analysis costs, and even some programs that began billing insurers for allergy and DNA testing. Aronberg states:

“We have a doctor who billed $7 million in nine months for allergy tests.”

Needless to say, the task force and state officials had their work cut out for them.

The ACA, ADA, and FHA

When talking about the many scams being run by various illegitimate businesses, the conversation came back to insurance and how these cons run. Here Dave Aronberg talks about his beliefs on how the law should step in and help restructure the current system.

“Number one: Change the Affordable Care Act’s fee reimbursement model to an outcome-based reimbursement model. Where the good providers are rewarded and the bad ones are paid less. Right now, the opposite occurs, so the more times you fail, the more money you get. There’s an incentive for more services and for more relapse. That shouldn’t be.”

After talking about the issues with the ACA, he talked about the ADA and FHA.

“The second change we need is this: the Americans with Disabilities Act and Federal Housing Act have been misused and exploited by bad actors who own flophouses.”

He went on to say,

  “Local governments are largely prohibited from overseeing the sober home industry. If they want to require mandatory inspections, certifications, and registrations, they’re likely prohibited under federal law.”

In essence, Aronberg believes the law should allow local governments to create their own guidelines for health, safety and the general welfare of the patients. None of these demands seems outlandish, and with reasonable regulation, the reputable and effective providers in this industry can continue to best serve the South Florida recovery community.

Aronberg also points out that the problem is not only in Florida. Recently, he went to Orange County, California to meet with officials dealing with the same situation. Next for Dave Aronberg is leading the national task force of 34 prosecutors in 30 states. Their goal is to produce a working paper for setting best practices for prosecutors all over America concerning these issues. The task force also intends to make suggestions for changes to federal and state laws.

What might be most surprising though is the mention of harm reduction strategies?

“It’s about prevention, drug treatment, and innovative strategies. I think it will be powerful because it’s going to be prosecutors talking about needle exchanges and disposal and safe injection sites. People assume prosecutors are going to be focusing only on mandatory minimums and longer sentences. That’s not what this is about. I think it’s going to surprise people.”

While needle exchanges and safe injection sites have been proposed in numerous states, it is not the most popular idea. San Francisco is actually on track to open the first safe injection site in America, with Philadelphia not far behind, and Seattle and Baltimore in the conversation as well.

With Aronberg and the task force working to make a difference, hopefully, we will see the right change soon. We hope it will make the recovery community stronger as a whole. Reputable and respected providers are also doing their part to refine their practices while implementing innovative and effective resources to ensure that those who with drug or alcohol addiction always have a safe place in Palm Beach County to get the help they need. With the opioid crisis ongoing, having real resources for opioid treatment is still an essential part of overcoming the problem.

Palm Healthcare Company is a leader in holistic addiction treatment with over 20 years of helping people from all over the country heal mind, body and spirit. Providing safe and comprehensive care should always be a focus in the effort to overcome the drug problem, and preservation of life should always be a priority. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Trump Makes Promise to Support a Law Protecting Cannabis Industry

Trump Makes Promise to Support a Law Protecting Cannabis Industry

When the Trump administration’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in January he was determined to “return to the rule of law” in America, with the intention of enforcing federal prohibition of cannabis in all 50 states, it created quite a bit of backlash. Many officials in states where marijuana had been legalized either medically or for recreational use spoke out against it.

Just a few days after former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner endorsed decriminalization, it seems there is more big news concerning cannabis.

Now, it seems President Trump himself is turning on Sessions. A recent report states that Trump has promised to support legislation that will protect the marijuana industry in states that have already legalized the drug.

Trump and Cannabis

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump was relatively inconsistent about his own position on cannabis. At one moment, he would pledge that he was going to respect state’s rights when it came to legalized marijuana. Then, he would criticize legalization and imply that it had to be stopped.

In 2015 at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he said recreational pot was “bad.” He even criticized Colorado, which was the first American state to legalize recreational marijuana sales, saying:

“They’ve got a lot of problems going on right now in Colorado – some big problems,”

But then a year later, on the campaign trail, Trump changed his tune during an interview in Colorado, saying:

“I’m a states person, it should be up to the states, absolutely.”

While it isn’t impossible to be opposed to recreational use while still supporting a state’s right to decide for themselves, many were still blindsided when Sessions made his announcement back at the beginning of the year that he doing away with the Obama era policy of non-interference with state laws on cannabis. At the time, Sessions stated:

“The previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission.”

One person in particular who was taken aback was Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner, who said Sessions had promised him he’d do nothing to interfere with Colorado’s growing marijuana market.

Gardner Fought Back

Senator Gardner was not prepared to sit this one out, either. In protest of Sessions, Gardner used his power as a senator to block all appointments to the Department of Justice. Gardner’s pledge is especially impressive as a Republican fighting an administration run by members of his own party.

It did not go unnoticed. Other GOP members were not happy about Gardner’s insistence. Last month Gardner actually allowed some nominees to proceed as a show of “good-faith”. For months the senator has been meeting with the Justice Department to discuss the issue. Now it finally seems it may be all paying off for Gardner.

Following a promise from the Trump administration, Gardner said he would be fully releasing his holds on DOJ nominations. Gardner states,

“Late Wednesday, I received a commitment from the President that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole Memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.”

Gardner also states that President Trump has promised Gardner-

“-that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the administration’s position and said that Senator Gardner’s statement was accurate.

Currently, the drafting of legislation to protect states with legalized marijuana is underway. Some speculate it may be modeled after another Obama era budget amendment that prevented the Department of Justice from spending money to enforce federal laws against states where marijuana had been legalized, permitted the state law was being followed.

While at this time Sessions has not made a public statement about this development, sources familiar with the topic report that the Justice Department was not consulted before the phone call between Trump and Gardner.

So the next question is, will President Trump follow through on this promise? What kind of legislation is he willing to support? What language will be used to ensure that states have the ability to decide their own legal status and regulations for cannabis?

Help for Marijuana Abuse

While the legal status of cannabis may change as the government adjusts to new policies, the fact remains that it is still possible to abuse marijuana. Even when drugs are legal, there are still plenty of risks. We know this because there are drugs that have been legal for decades but still manage to negatively impact thousands of people. Habitual substance use can be extremely harmful, especially to someone who struggles with substance use disorder. Even marijuana can have adverse effects on the quality of life for someone with a substance abuse problem.

Cannabis is not commonly considered to be as dangerous as other illicit drugs, such as heroin or methamphetamines. However, people who use the drug can still experience different levels of dependence. Marijuana may not be as physically destructive and addictive as other “harder” drugs. However, psychiatrists also believe the psychological impacts of substances do make a difference. Psychology effects can be just as detrimental.

Getting help for marijuana abuse starts with a secure environment that offers a variety of therapeutic opportunities. Developing a healthy lifestyle without relying on the use of drugs is a crucial element of treatment for marijuana abuse. So as policies and public opinions change regarding cannabis, we should also make sure that there are always resources to help those who struggle with substance use disorder.

There still needs to be resources available to help people who suffer from abuse. Supporting addiction recovery means breaking the stigma and offering holistic and effective solutions. Palm Healthcare Company is here to help. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

John Boehner Talks Change of Heart and Joining Cannabis Company

John Boehner Talks Change of Heart and Joining Cannabis Company

Anyone who pays attention to politics has a lot to talk about this week. There is plenty going on in the world of government, from Facebook and Congress to scandals and controversy. But one bit of surprising news comes from someone who has stepped away from politics for some time now. John Boehner, well-known figure in the Republican Party, recently has made a dramatic shift in support of cannabis legalization.

Who is John Boehner?

Just to provide a little background, John Boehner is an American politician who served as the 53rd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 2011 to 2015. He served on behalf of Ohio’s 8th congressional district from 1991 to 2015. This district includes rural and suburban areas near Cincinnati and Dayton.

For a long time, John Boehner was known for his hard-line stance against marijuana legalization. At one point he was even quoted as saying he was “unalterably opposed” to legalizing marijuana. While serving in government, Boehner was never an ally for marijuana advocates, and the only vote he ever cast on the topic of legalization was in 1999 when he fought against medical marijuana in Washington.

In fact, one advocate remembers Boehner as being in strong opposition to marijuana while in office. The executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Erik Altieri, said Boehner has actually opposed “even the mildest of marijuana law reforms.”

So many have seen this sudden endorsement from John Boehner for marijuana reform as a sign of the times, and how much the political landscape has changed.

Acreage Holdings

Acreage Holdings is a company that cultivates, processes and dispenses cannabis in 11 states around America. On the company website they state:

“These combined markets represent $9 billion in potential revenue by 2020, and we’re ready to move forward as legislation allows.”

The website also states:

“2018 is going to be a record-breaking year for Acreage, as we expect production to increase in several lucrative states including New York, Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Maine. We’re looking beyond this year, however, with a comprehensive strategy that will make us the world’s largest fully-integrated cannabis company.”

With recent reforms the cannabis industry has a growing potential for profit. So there is no wonder John Boehner is now going to be joining the board of advisors at Acreage Holdings.

To sum it up, the company works to “make cannabis available to any patient who can benefit from safe and reliable access.”

Pro-Cannabis Change of Heart

So why the drastic change of heart? According to a tweet from Boehner:

“I’m joining the board of #AcreageHoldings because my thinking on cannabis has evolved. I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.”

In one interview on the subject, Boehner stated:

“Over the last 10 to 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically. I find myself in that same position.”

Boehner said his change of heart really started when he watched cannabis help a close friend deal with their back pain. Then, he said, “you begin to really scratch your head” when looking at how many people are in prison for marijuana possession.

Still, Boehner maintains he has NOT tried using cannabis and does not intend to.

There is another name from the Republican Party standing with Boehner; Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld is also joining the board of Acreage Holdings. In a joint statement, both men say they think it is time for consideration of shifting federal marijuana policy. They pointed out the specific value cannabis could hold for veterans for treating things like:

Opinions from Advocates

Erik Altieri says that having John Boehner in their corner could be a huge help to marijuana advocates. Altieri believes it is crucial for Republican leaders like Boehner to take charge on this issue, stating:

“If this is only led by Democrats, we will continue to see no forward momentum on this issue. We really need to present this as the bipartisan issue it really is.”

Other advocates are still saying Boehner should be using his influence to work with people still in office toward better policy. Morgan Fox, a spokesman for Marijuana Policy Project, said:

“[Boehner] should be actively working to reform federal marijuana laws to allow states to determine their own policies, rather than just consulting with a business to navigate the conflicts between state and federal law.”

Talking about head scratching- it’s too bad he didn’t have that realization while still in office. Especially when you consider nearly half a million people were arrested for selling marijuana during his term as speaker.

New York Times also reports that Morgan Fox stated:

“[Boehner’s] positions on the issue while in House leadership most likely slowed progress for marijuana reform legislation, and he owes it to anyone whose life has been negatively impacted by a marijuana arrest to use his considerable influence to make up for that.”

According to a recent Gallup poll, the United States is currently at a record high for support of marijuana, with:

  • 64% of Americans said marijuana should be legalized
  • 72% of Democrats support it
  • 51% of Republicans support it

Needless to say, stock in the cannabis industry mainstays saw a decent spike following the announcement from Boehner. Some argue that Boehner is just selling his influence to cash in on the up-and-coming cash crop. However, others say either way it is good for those hoping for an end to the old policies of prohibition.

As cannabis reform continues to evolve, there should also be resources available for those who do struggle with drug or alcohol abuse. Even as the substance becomes more widely accepted or even legalized, there will still be people who suffer from substance use disorder. As we support progressive changes in drug policy, we also need to make sure people have access to drug and alcohol treatment.

Supporting addiction recovery means breaking the stigma and offering holistic and effective solutions. Palm Healthcare Company is here to help. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The Trump Opioid Plan: the Good, the Bad and the Border

The Trump Opioid Plan: The Good, the Bad and the Border

The fight against prescription opioid abuse, heroin, and fentanyl in America continues to intensify. Our political landscape may soon see even more drastic shifts because of it. Controversy and conjecture have surrounded many ideas brought to the table on both sides. Even the President himself has been behind some pretty divisive propositions. Then Monday, President Trump unveiled his plan for combatting the ongoing opioid crisis in America while in New Hampshire.

During his speech, the President talked up a few key elements of his plan; some we have heard of before, and others have only recently become a serious topic of conversation. As the administration puts the final touches on their proposals, we thought should take a look at some of the highlights and see which of his plans could actually work, and why experts and advocates believe others probably won’t.

Arguably, there are some pretty good ideas here… and some pretty bad ones, depending on who you ask.

An Opioid Vaccine

Let’s kick this off on a high note.

The Trump opioid plan includes supporting the search for a vaccine. This honestly seems like a good ambition to get behind, but will it work? Researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the National Institute on Drug Abuse developed an experimental heroin vaccine back in December. So far the compound has been tested with rats and mice. Their latest breakthrough found that antibodies in the vaccine bound to the heroin before crossing the blood-brain barrier. This reaction effectively prevents the euphoric effects of the drug.

While this is an exciting development, it is still a vast leap to go from treating mice to treating humans. We still have a long road ahead before this possible vaccine could be approved. However, more funding and resources from the federal government could make a big difference.

Even so, it is important to note that this vaccine will not be a cure-all answer that fixes everything. After all, we have seen opioid blocking methods before. Drugs like Vivitrol and other implants were also developed to hamper the effects of opioids, and they still haven’t stopped the crisis from growing. Experts are already saying this vaccine will only work in the short term and require repeated doses. It is expected to be an incredibly expensive treatment, and it may only be another variation of the Vivitrol shot. Still, some believe this vaccine, used alongside other treatment methods, could be a crucial tool in fighting opioids.

Big Pharma and Prescription Drugs

The Trump opioid plan also takes a look at prescription opioids. The President acknowledged the contribution of pharmaceutical companies and prescription drugs to the opioid crisis. In his statement, he indicated that this administration support research for opioid alternatives.

“That includes federal funding for the development of non-addictive painkillers.”

In talking about prescription drugs, President Trump said the administration also planned on addressing the issue of overprescribing addictive medications. He even touted the Justice Department’s new task force that may soon be fighting Big Pharma companies in court.

“Our Department of Justice is looking very seriously into bringing major litigation against some of these drug companies. We will bring it at a federal level.”

He acknowledges the recent work at the state level to hold Big Pharma accountable. President Trump said his administration will be working to reduce opioid prescriptions by 1/3 over the next three years. Hopefully, as time goes on there will not only be more accountability to those manufacturing these potent medications, but also more options for the thousands of people suffering from chronic pain who do need pain management.

Commercial Campaign

This show we have seen (fail) before. The crisis probably isn’t going to get fixed with re-runs and reboots.

For a long time, Trump has been talking about creating a media campaign to try and combat the opioid crisis. In his remarks on Monday, the president said,

 “We are thinking about doing a really large-scale rollout of commercials that show how bad it is for the kids… Scare them from ending up like the people in the commercials.”

Trump said he would spend a lot of money and direct people to make the commercials depict “pretty unsavory situations” claiming that this strategy has worked before with cigarette smoking.

Sadly, the reality is that we have tried this before. Using anti-drug messaging that specifically targets kids and young adults is exactly what was done with the “Just Say No” ad campaign of the 1980s and early 1990s, and the DARE program of the same period. Neither program was proven to be particularly effective in reducing drug use. Some have even argued it did the opposite and actually intrigued young people into drug use.

This is just one part of the Trump opioid plan that reminds people of the ideas pushed in the failed War on Drugs that already destroyed countless lives and only ended up making the problem worse.

So how will this new campaign be different?

The Border

The President also mentioned the importance of combatting the flow of illicit drugs like fentanyl and heroin into the country. He became particularly energized of course when talking about his proposed border wall with Mexico, saying,

“90% of the heroin in America comes from the southern border, where eventually the Democrats will agree with us and we will build a wall to keep the damn drugs out.”

However, many are not so convinced that the wall will be especially effective in stopping drug traffickers. Support for the wall experiences ups and downs as negotiations over immigration continue. Then the President took the opportunity to scrutinize sanctuary cities, calling out California and claiming these places were harboring the most terrible kinds of criminals, including drug dealers.

If part of the Trump opioid plan is to apply even more pressure to sanctuary cities, we may see more back-and-forth when it comes to compromises on immigration policy reform. Recently the Republicans were using DACA as a bargaining chip with Democrats to get the infamous border wall built, but now Trump says Democrats are holding onto it so they can use the issue during the election cycle.

Death Penalty for Drug Dealers

Now, THIS proposal is the one part of the Trump opioid plan that is causing the most controversy, and understandably so.

UPDATE: Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent out a memo Wednesday officially asking federal prosecutors to pursue the death penalty in drug trafficking cases “dealing in extremely large quantities of drugs”. So the administration is now implementing President Donald Trump’s plan to ramp up “tough on crime” punishments in response to the opioid crisis.

In his speech, the President brought having the death penalty for drug traffickers to the forefront. This is an extreme even some of his supporters believed was more tongue-in-cheek than actual proposed policy. The details on this proposal were still pretty scarce at the time. Some support Trump pushing for the death penalty, saying this punishment would only apply to high volume, kingpin-level dealers. But what we should consider is this:

  1. The federal death penalty is available for a few drug offenses. This includes violations of the “drug kingpin” provisions in federal law.
  2. Reports indicate that Trump wants Congress to pass legislation that will reduce the amount of drugs needed to trigger mandatory minimum sentences for traffickers.

So should we assume that the President intends to expand what qualifies as “drug kingpin” activity to make the death penalty easier to enforce? If so, what does that mean exactly? And what does it mean for further enforcing other mandatory minimums?

The Justice Department has said it would seek the death penalty “when appropriate under current law.” While drug-related murder is already a capital offense, no one has ever been executed by those rules. However, President Trump says that he and the Justice Department are working very hard to change the laws. To do so would require an act of Congress, and many believe Congress is highly unlikely to expand the federal death penalty. So will any of this be changing soon?

In his comments, President Trump stated,

“If we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, we are wasting our time. And that toughness includes the death penalty.”

President Trump’s call for the death penalty is being strongly met with condemnation. The proposal’s critics range from treatment advocates to law enforcement officials and civil liberty organizations.

Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, executive director of Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement,

 “If this administration wants to save lives, it needs to drop its obsession with killing and locking people up, and instead focus resources on what works: harm reduction strategies and access to evidence-based treatment and prevention.”

Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington office, said,

“Drug trafficking is not an offense for which someone can receive the death penalty,”

McCurdy is referring to a Supreme Court precedent that puts constraints on using the death penalty for a convicted person who did not commit murder.

Furthermore, there are plenty of arguments that this kind of policy is not practical. Some say it would either be so broad it became unconstitutional, or so specific that it would be obsolete. This aspect of the plan has sparked nationwide debate. Americans everywhere are arguing whether or not a drug dealer should be responsible for the deaths of customers.

Sadly, this is so frustrating because past data does not hold with the idea that getting ‘tough’ on drugs is more effective than offering treatment opportunities. One of the best studies backing this is a 2014 study from Peter Reuter at the University of Maryland and Harold Pollack at the University of Chicago. Researchers determined that while simply prohibiting drugs to some extent does raise their prices, there’s no good evidence that tougher punishments or harsher supply elimination efforts do a better job of driving down access to drugs and substance misuse than lighter penalties.

In fact, many addiction advocates argue that harsher punishments can actually be counter-productive because they end up punishing people who need treatment, not incarceration. So the need for a more comprehensive approach to opioid addiction treatment is paramount. Hopefully, this administration will see the need to focus on support for treatment, instead of a primarily punitive focus.

Trump Opioid Plan on Treatment

This is a critical and commendable element of the Trump opioid plan, and I applaud some of its intentions. However, I wish we could talk a lot more about this and a lot less about captial punishment.

Still, I give them credit for saying they want to increase access to addiction treatment and adopting harm reduction. There isn’t much detail to go on though, as far as how this will happen. One aspect is to increase the use of medications such as methadone and buprenorphine.

As another highlight, Trump also asks Congress to repeal a rule blocking Medicaid payments to larger treatment facilities, which could provide a boost in the billions to inpatient clinics. Hopefully, this is one factor of the Trump opioid plan that will pan out, because one of the biggest issues the US faces with the opioid crisis is a limited access to adequate treatment options. If the White House allows Medicaid to reimburse larger treatment facilities, more people will be able to get effective care. Still, it is unclear how many resources the administration is willing to commit to treatment resources.

Hopefully, the Trump opioid plan will evolve and we will see a resurgence of resources going toward helping get people suffer the help they need. It is understandable to want to curb the rise of addiction through anti-trafficking measures and raising awareness, but we already have thousands and thousands of people struggling every day all over America who need help. Preventive steps are crucial, and the President is trying to push for them. But it is vital that we also give everyone already struggling more of a fighting chance. The possibility of more people having greater access could help create a huge shift.

Palm Healthcare Company believes in providing innovative and effective holistic treatment options for those who are battling with addiction. Our facilities believe in comprehensive and compassionate care, and our mission every day is to transform as many lives as possible. Together, we can make a difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

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