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ID Lawmakers Move to Ban Weed Advertising, CA Therapeutic Psychedelic Bill Filed, More... (2/7/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1205)

The DEA settles with another opioid distributor, Oklahoma's Republican governor calls for civil asset forfeiture reform, and more.

Billboards like this would be illegal under a proposed Idaho law. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Idaho Lawmakers Move to Ban Marijuana Advertising. Rep. Judy Boyle (R) and Sen. Chris Trakel (R) on Wednesday introduced a bill to criminalize the advertising of products or services that are illegal in the state—like marijuana.

While the state remains staunchly prohibitionist, it borders four legal marijuana states—Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Lawmakers cited a marijuana billboard near the Oregon-Idaho border and newspaper advertisements from North Idaho.

The bill would allow misdemeanor charges for "any person who willfully publishes any notice or advertisement, in any medium, of a product or service that is illegal under Idaho law."

The House State Affairs Committee voted Wednesday to introduce the bill. The bill text is not yet available on the state's legislative website.

Asset Forfeiture

Oklahoma Governor Says Asset Forfeiture "Isn't Fair" and Calls for Reform. In his annual State of the State address Monday, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) called for reforms of the state's civil asset forfeiture laws.

"We need to address civil asset forfeiture," Stitt said. "It's crazy to me that somebody can be pulled over and have their cash and truck taken for an alleged crime, get acquitted of that crime, but they still never get their property back. "That isn't fair, and we need to make sure it isn't happening anywhere in Oklahoma," Stitt continued.

Oklahoma is one of a shrinking number of states that have yet to embrace civil asset forfeiture reform. Civil asset forfeiture laws allow police to seize property and cash they believe is linked to criminal activity even if the owner is never charged with or convicted of a crime.

Opiates and Opioids

DEA Announces Settlement with Morris & Dickson Co., LLC. The US Drug Enforcement Administration announced today a settlement with pharmaceutical distributor Morris & Dickson Co., LLC for failing to maintain effective controls against diversion of controlled substances, including failure to report to DEA thousands of unusually large orders of oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Morris & Dickson, which owned and operated two distribution centers registered with the DEA as distributors of Schedules II-V controlled substances, has admitted to all wrongdoing previously determined by the DEA Administrator and will surrender one of their two DEA Certificates of Registration (COR). Further, Morris & Dickson will maintain a compliance program and will comply with heightened reporting requirements to the DEA for a period of five years. As part of the settlement, Morris & Dickson has agreed to forfeit $19 million.

In a May 30, 2023, Decision and Order, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram found "long-term, egregious failures" by Morris & Dickson "in its responsibility as a distributor to maintain effective controls against diversion of controlled substances." Morris & Dickson "failed to design and operate an adequate [suspicious order monitoring] system," and "failed to investigate or report potentially thousands of suspicious orders of oxycodone and hydrocodone to DEA."

It "violated DEA regulations over a lengthy time period—failing to report a multitude of suspicious orders to DEA and depriving DEA of valuable information about pharmacies and practitioners who might have been engaging in diversion or violating their obligations as DEA registrants, thus contributing to the country's devastating prescription drug abuse problem."

From January 2014 until April 2018, the company shipped potentially suspicious orders to customers without resolving red flags of diversion or reporting the orders to DEA. Morris & Dickson also failed to adequately design and operate a system to alert DEA of suspicious orders of controlled substances and failed to report the suspicious orders in violation of 21 CFR 1301.74(b).

The Controlled Substances Act requires registrants to develop and operate a system to detect and report "suspicious orders" of controlled substances. The company has admitted to and accepted responsibility for its failures to effectively apply its due diligence in assessing orders of controlled substances, implement a suspicious order monitoring system "consistent with best practices for compliance," and adequately resolve red flags on orders that it shipped.

In fiscal year 2023, DEA served 143 administrative actions against doctors, pharmacies, drug manufacturers, and drug distributors who were putting the public at risk by failing to handle controlled substances with the care required by federal law. DEA remains committed to holding registrants accountable to ensure that they fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to them and to prevent the diversion of controlled substances and harm to our communities.

Psychedelics

California Therapeutic Psychedelics Bill Filed. State Sen. Scott Wiener (D) and Assembly Members Josh Lowenthal (D) and Marie Waldron (D) have coauthored a bill to permit the use of psychedelic mushrooms and certain other psychedelics for therapeutic purposes, Senate Bill 1012. The bill was introduced in the Senate Tuesday.

Otherwise referred to as the "Regulated Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Act," the proposed bill would authorize professionals to administer the consumption of psychedelics by individuals over the age of 21.

The bill would categorize dimethyltryptamine (DMT), mescaline, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), ibogaine, psilocybin, and psilocyn as "regulated psychedelic substances" and would create  a regulatory entity "to license and regulate psychedelic-assisted therapy facilitators" who would supervise the administration of these substances.

The bill comes months after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) vetoed a bill that would have legalized natural psychedelics. In his veto message, Newsom expressed his support of the potential therapeutic benefits of the substances once "regulated treatment guidelines" were designed. He also "urge[d] the legislature to send [him] legislation [in 2024] that includes therapeutic guidelines."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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