Free Cannabis Seeds

After reading that article in Consumer Affairs about like-farming on Facebook, I am wary of a website that claims to give away free seeds.  In my experience, nothing is free. But if all you have to do is pay for the postage…

New Cards for Medicare Recipients Will Omit Social Security Numbers

Medicare officials have up to four years to start issuing cards with new identifiers. They have four more years to reissue cards held by current beneficiaries. They intend to replace the Social Security number with “a randomly generated Medicare beneficiary identifier,” but the details are still being worked out…

Service Members Are Left in Dark on Health Errors

“I raised T. J. as a single mother on little income for 19 years, and kept him safe. They had him for nine days and sent him home to me in a box,” said Ms. Holmes, who called the report “garbage.”

“No one,” she added, “has really given me good answers about why.”

Tens of thousands of serious medical mistakes happen every year at American hospitals and clinics. While a handful of health care organizations have opted for broad disclosure amid calls for greater openness, most patients and their families still face significant obstacles if they try to find out what went wrong. But as Mr. Moore’s case illustrates, the nation’s 1.3 million active-duty service members are in a special bind, virtually powerless to hold accountable the health care system that treats them…

Tens of thousands?  Isn’t it more like hundreds of thousands?  Geez, even the New York Times can’t get their facts right.

Ms. Garner was 35 in 2007 when she saw a physician assistant at the Langley Air Force Base hospital three times for breast pain and other symptoms she feared might point to cancer. The physician assistant not only dismissed her fears as irrational, she said, but threatened to place a note in her file that could have damaged her career if she came back again.

Nine months later, Ms. Garner was able to switch her care to a Navy hospital. A doctor there speedily ordered a mammogram — and discovered Stage 2 invasive breast cancer. Her persistence, he told her, had saved her life. A double mastectomy and chemotherapy followed.

After she recovered in late 2009, Ms. Garner filed a complaint against the physician assistant, hoping, she said, to protect other patients. But while sympathetic, the hospital’s chief of medical services told her that she had not been mistreated. Not long afterward, the physician assistant was promoted…

Dr. Hamburg Leaving FDA

Margaret Hamburg, M.D., who became the 21st commissioner of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) almost six years ago, is reportedly leaving the agency. The Washington Post reported on February 5, 2015 that Stephen Ostroff, the FDA’s chief scientist and a former official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will take over as acting commissioner…

But everyone wasn’t gracious in bidding the Commissioner adieu. If industry liked her, she must be suspect. “I’m pleased to see her go,” said Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing and the head of an addiction treatment center in New York. The Post said Kolodny clashed with the FDA over its failure to curb abuse of the powerful drugs. “Her administration consistently put the interests of the drug companies ahead of public health.”

Tell me, Mr. Kolodny, which interests are you putting first?  Your own?  The DEA’s?  Wouldn’t want to risk all those federal dollars that end up in your bank account, right?  Your interests are causing a lot of suffering in the pain patient population, many of whom cannot find a doctor to treat them.  I wonder how many suicides your “advocacy” is ultimately responsible for?

And wouldn’t it be nice if reporters actually investigated their own stories?  Mr. Kolodny is not just “the head of an addiction treatment center in New York.”  How many Phoenix Houses are there now?  I’ve lost count.

Before she arrived, the agency had failed to warn of the dangers of the pain drug Vioxx. In 2005, then commissioner Lester Crawford, who had hidden ownership of stock in companies the agency was regulating, abruptly resigned…

Andrew Kolodny makes money while pain patients suffer

Click to access NCADD-RA-Annual-Luncheon-Registration-Brochure-May-2015.pdf

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence

2015 Annual Luncheon

Keynote Speaker: Andrew Kolodny, M.D.
“Responding to the Opioid Epidemic”

Hey, Mr. Kolodny, are you going to talk about how pain patients in New York can’t find a doctor? How they’ve been abandoned, partly due to your “advocacy” work?  And by the way, how much do you get paid for these speaking engagements?

Why Supposedly Abuse-Proof Pills Won’t Stop Opioid Overdose Deaths

Oral pain pills containing opioid have become a big business, drawing in companies including Purdue Pharma, Pfizer, and Zogenix. But they’ve also become a huge public health problem, leading to record numbers of drug overdose deaths. In 2013, more than 16,000 people died of opiate analgesic drug overdoses, up from 4,000 a decade ago.

So when Purdue, the maker of the category-defining Oxycodone, asked to come by to show me the abuse-resistant technology in its new Hysingla pill, I was game: I hit it with a hammer, squeezed it with wire cutters, and soaked it in water. The pill was almost impossible to make into anything that you can snort or inject.

Hey dude, have you heard of the internet?  Of drug websites?  A microwave?  Did you think it might be considered responsible reporting to look up this information before you wrote this article?  You know, in case you were wrong?

But critics of these narcotic pills say that most patients take the pills by mouth, and that many who overdose initially got the medicines from their doctors, not from the black market. So is this new technology enough? Probably not.

Watch me try to destroy Hysingla, and talk to David Haddox, a Purdue executive, and Andrew Kolodny, who runs addiction treatment facility Phoenix House, in the video below, and watch to the end for my summation of why these new abuse resistant technologies, though neat, are not enough of a step to deal with what has become a giant public health problem.

A “huge public health problem.”  A “giant public health problem.”  Hey, Matthew Herper of Forbes, have you ever considered that when the media distorts this issue, it is part of the freaking problem?  Have you considered talking to pain patients to get their input on how the drug war is affecting them?  Of course not, why should you care?

Carlsbad campaign encourages people to take pictures of bad roads

CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) – Eddy County officials are saying the roads there are so bad that they are asking residents to start taking pictures that can be sent to legislators. The campaign is called “This is My Carlsbad”. City leaders say the wear and tear is being caused by the oil boom, which has brought in more people and vehicle traffic…

Gee, I wonder if the oil boom is to blame for the freaky weather…

Climate change is real — better get used to it.

Here Comes The Pain Storm

The real action ramps up on Sunday. A more powerful storm system across the state comes along with a cold front. The combination of these two features will give us a chance at widespread showers and mountain snow…

The weather can’t decide whether it’s spring or summer here in the Q, and my pain levels are responding by being as freaky as the weather.

(Photo taken 2/21/2015.)

Bird Flu ‘Catastrophe’ Mounts Amid Concern Virus May Be Airborne

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday confirmed that avian influenza was found in 13 turkey flocks in Minnesota with at least 430,300 birds. Since late 2014, the virus has been detected in commercial and backyard flocks with a combined estimate of at least 8 million birds, USDA data show. Migratory waterfowl along a Mississippi River flyway are believed by to be spreading the flu, agriculture officials say…

On Monday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker authorized the state’s National Guard to help agriculture authorities respond to the flu in three counties.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the risk to people from bird flu is low, while infection is “possible.” …

Rand Paul’s Son Charged with Drunken Driving Following Crash

From Vice President Joe Biden’s son’s discharge from the U.S. Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine, to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s daughter’s arrests for drug-related problems, politicians’ loved ones often become part of the story themselves. To that list, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s eldest son has been added…

Before being issued the citation, Paul refused a blood test and then failed a field sobriety test, according to the citation. He was also charged with not having insurance, and a court date has been set for May 12… The citation marks William Paul’s third alcohol-related run-in with the law in recent years…

Like-farming Facebook scams: Look before you “like”

But what is like-farming? Facebook policy forbids it, though of course scammers and con artists by definition tend not to follow the rules. Like-farmers start pages and fill them with content dedicated to collecting as many “likes” or “shares” as possible in the shortest amount of time.

Since Facebook’s algorithms place a high value on popularity (as measured by likes and shares), these highly liked and shared pages therefore have a much higher chance of appearing in people’s “Feeds” and being seen by other Facebook users.

Then, once the page has a sufficiently high popularity rating, the like-farmer either removes the page’s original content and replaces it with something else (usually malware or scam advertising); leaves the page as is and uses it as a platform for continued like-farming in order to spread malware, collect people’s marketing information or engage in other harmful activities; or outright sells the highly liked site to cybercriminals in a black market web forum…

Confession: I fell for a couple such like-farming scams myself, back when I was still new to Facebook. And I didn’t even realize it until a couple weeks ago, when I went on a nostalgia-crawl though my old Facebook “activity log” and was appalled to see that back in 2010 or so, I’d allegedly “liked” a couple pages advertising some scammy pseudo-scientific quack medications.

But of course I never “liked” any such nonsense; I’d actually “liked” posts shared by various friends of mine – probably posts to the effect of “’Like’ to let this little bald girl know she’s beautiful!” or “’Like’ if you’re outraged by this new policy!” – and only later, after the page collected enough “likes” for a high Facebook popularity ranking, did the page owner scrub the original content and replace it with ads for scam products…

Last week, for example, the anti-scam website Hoax-Slayer issued an alert about a fraudulent Facebook page promising to give away 100 Macbook laptops: all you have to do is like and share the post, and specify whether you want a white or black one.

The “Fans of Mac” page has 22,925 “likes” in the screenshot Hoax-Slayer included in its alert; as of this writing, that number had grown to 25,660. The “About” section says that Fans of Mac is “Facebook’s LARGEST and most vibrant Apple community with worldwide fans! If you LOVE Apple … then join us today!” …

Still other like-farming posts are high-tech variants of the old chain-letter scam, promising good though vague results if you forward the post. Just this week, one of my own Facebook “friends” shared a photo showing thick stacks of $20 and $100 bills, over a caption reading “Money will come to you sometime this month say Amen and Share” [sic]. As of this writing, that one single photo and caption has 14,441 “likes” and 284,926 “shares.”

Another insidious form of like-farming presents itself almost as a religious duty: “’Share’ this post if you’re willing to publicly proclaim that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior!” …

ACP: Regulate E-Cigarettes, Ban Flavorings

The American College of Physicians (ACP) wants tougher federal regulation of e-cigarettes, including a ban on flavored tobacco products, to discourage use among young people…

Okay, so next, we’re going to see doctors wanting to ban flavored alcohol, right?  How about those sugary, flavored additives for liquid prescription medications?  (You know, the ones for kids.)  Cherry-flavored cough syrup?  No?  Gee, I wonder why.  (Because they’re hypocrites.)

(Photo taken 3/30/2015.)

Lawyer Suicide


In a January 2014 article, CNN asked the question “Why are lawyers killing themselves?” It was a sobering look into the dramatic rise in lawyer suicides across the United States…

In December 2013, prominent Miami criminal defense attorney Richard S., described as a “quick-witted showman who represented everyone from cocaine cowboys to troubled cops during a long and colorful career, was found dead in his Miami Beach condo.” The news of his death — ruled a suicide by the Dade County Medical Examiner — left the South Florida legal community in shock. Karen M., a former assistant public defender in Lee County, Miami, Tampa, and Collier County, was found dead at her home Ft. Myers in March 2014. Her otherwise successful career had been marred by a struggle with alcohol, eventually leading to a public reprimand and a period of probation. Former Broward Assistant State Attorney Rochelle S. died after falling 15 stories from the roof of a Ft. Lauderdale condo in October 2014, despite her years of community service and advocacy, and certification as a Life Coach and a Mental Toughness Coach. Although a member of many Broward County Bar Association sections and the Legislative Affairs Committee, a member of the Broward County Women’s Lawyer Association, and a recipient of numerous honors based on her legal, leadership, and mentoring skills to the KDA Foundation, there was obviously something else going on inside. In July 2000, Hillsborough State Attorney Harry Lee C. took his own life after an investigation began regarding his longstanding compulsive gambling issue…

Remember, help is just a phone call away:
Florida Lawyers Assistance is a nonprofit corporation formed in 1986 in response to the Florida Supreme Court’s mandate that a program be created to identify and offer assistance to Bar members who suffer from substance abuse, mental health, or other disorders that negatively affect their lives and careers (Bar Rule 2-9.11). FLA is independent of The Florida Bar, although it works cooperatively with the Bar and does receive financial and material support from that organization.

Paramount to FLA is the protection of confidentiality for those attorneys who voluntarily contact FLA for help. Confidentiality in voluntary cases is protected by a written contract with The Florida Bar, which guarantees the confidentiality of FLA records, as well as by Bar Rule 3-7.1(j), F.S. Ch. §§397.482-486, and other state and federal regulations.

Judges, attorneys, and law students who seek the assistance of FLA need not worry that FLA will report them to the Bar, the Board of Bar Examiners, or their employer. Information is shared with these entities only if the participating individual signs a waiver of confidentiality. FLA’s primary purpose is to assist the impaired attorney in his or her recovery.

The Florida Lawyers Assistance 24-hour hotline is 800-282-8981. A compassionate voice is waiting to guide you in seeking the best solutions to your current predicament. In the event the circumstances warrant immediate intervention, contact 911 or The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255), which will connect you to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

We all share in the belief that “No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living.”

Scott Weinstein is a licensed psychotherapist, and FLA’s full-time clinical director. He is available at the FLA hotline or by email at