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NFIA releases new podcast:
Wilson Compton, MD, on “What are Epidiolex, Marinol, Cesamet, and Syndros?”
Wilson Compton, MD, is deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an agency of the National Institutes of Health. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. Dr. Compton works with the director to provide scientific leadership of NIDA’s research portfolio.
Key Points 
  • What’s the difference between nabilone and dronabinol?
  • Is marijuana safer than alcohol?
  • Is Epidiolex the same as CBD sold almost everywhere?
  • Where on the Internet can I find scientifically accurate information? 
Listen to Dr. Compton’s podcast here.

Up Next Week? Ryan Vandrey, PhD, on Marijuana and Opioids 
E-cigarettes went unchecked 
in 10 years of federal inaction

USA Today brings news that in a lawsuit brought by two vaping businesses, one with 20 vape stores around the state, a Michigan judge issued a temporary injunction yesterday against the state’s ban of flavored vapes. “The harm done to vape businesses, which would have to shut down because of the ban, outweighs the interest of the state in stopping youths from using the products,” the judge declared.
Hear that, parents? The vaping business is more important than your kids.
A New York Times article this week makes clear that money is what drives the tobacco and marijuana industries. Both buy laws that thwart the ability of regulatory agencies to do their jobs. Nobody plays by the rules because industries are too busy sabotaging the rules.
The Food and Drug Administration had ten years to crack down on the vaping industry but didn’t. During that time, e-cigarettes and vaping devices became a $7 billion industry. Kids who didn’t need e-cigarettes because they never smoked, vaped nicotine and became addicted. They also vaped THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. Youth vaping skyrocketed (see graph of National Youth Tobacco Survey below). FDA never vetted vaping devices or liquids for safety.
Congress gave FDA the power to regulate tobacco products like e-cigarettes in 2009. But over two presidential administrations, the federal government allowed a largely unregulated industry to emerge, one that is now making so many people so sick and killing some.
Here’s how the Times says that happened: 
  • Two e-cigarette companies sued FDA in 2009 and won, forcing FDA to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products rather than drugs under the newly passed, less stringent Tobacco Control Act.
  • The agency spent the next five years drafting tobacco regulations that could survive legal and political challenges.
  • In 2015, FDA sent its proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final approval. The rule included a flavor ban on both e-cigarettes and cigars.
  • The tobacco industry lobbied heavily against the rule. Altria, which owns a 35 percent stake in JUUL, fought hard against a flavor ban.
  • OMB hosted dozens of meetings, mostly with industry groups opposed to the draft rule.
  • This included a former OMB policy analyst who represented Cigar Rights of America and the e-cigarette company NJoy. He is now JUUL’s director of public policy.
  • When the White House sent the final rule back to FDA in 2016, language describing the flavor ban had been eliminated.
  • The Trump Administration’s FDA chief Scott Gottleib, MD, gave the e-cigarette industry a four-year extension to comply with the new rule. When he became FDA’s head, he ended ties with Kure, a chain of vaping lounges which he supported because he still believed e-cigarettes could help tobacco smokers quit.
  • But when 2018 surveys showed 3 million teenagers were using e-cigarettes monthly, he became alarmed.
  • FDA issued warning letters to vape companies that sold youth-appealing products and began an investigation into whether JUUL marketed directly to kids.
  • JUUL removed its flavored liquids, except for mint and menthol, from the market but continued to lobby the White House, arguing that restrictions would hurt smokers who were trying to quit.
  • FDA announced it would require retailers to wall off e-cigarette products, but even this modest approach has drawn criticism from retailers, conservative groups, and businesses.
  • Last month, President Trump said he would ban flavors, but nothing has happened since then.
  • THC liquids, which three-fourths of those with severe lung disease have vaped, fall into a regulatory vacuum. While marijuana is illegal under federal law, 31 states have legalized the drug for medical use; 10 of those have commercialized the drug. 
Nearly 1,300 people, many of them young, have been sickened by the vaping crisis; 29 have died.
The Sacramento Bee brings news of sabotaging the rules at the local level. The FBI is allegedly investigating whether Sacramento pot businesses bribed public officials for favorable treatment and license approvals. An FBI spokesman neither confirms nor denies it is investigating anyone.
The alleged investigation began before it was disclosed that one dispensary owner has ties to a Ukrainian businessman, Andrey Kukushkin, indicted last week along with two associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney.
Sacramento officials called for an investigation into how the dispensary ownership group with which Kukushkin is associated managed to obtain eight dispensary licenses, far more than any others.
Kukushkin and the Giuliani associates are indicted for allegedly funneling foreign funds to US politicians and for trying to access marijuana businesses in Nevada and other states.
Read USA Today article here
Read New York Times article here.
Read Sacramento Bee article here.
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Realtor Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Georgia Properties, Atlanta.
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Attorney (Ret.), Lakewood Ranch, Florida
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Thomas J. Lawley Professor of Dermatology
Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta
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Founder, Caron Solutions Intensive Outpatient Program, Roswell, Georgia.
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Birmingham, Alabama 
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United Parcel Service, Atlanta.
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