Legal next week, medical marijuana getting few signups in state

http://www.startribune.com/few-minnesotans-sign-up-for-medical-marijuana/309063941/

Only eight patients signed up in the first week of enrollment. The state has estimated that 5,000 seriously ill Minnesotans might try state-sanctioned medical cannabis in the program’s first few years. The roadblock, for many patients, has been finding a doctor, nurse practitioner or other medical professional willing to certify that they’re sick enough to qualify for the program.

Minnesota’s medical cannabis program is one of the most tightly regulated in the nation. To participate, patients must have one of nine qualifying conditions — which range from terminal illnesses to seizure disorders and cancers. The Health Department is debating whether to expand the program to patients with chronic pain next year.

But first, patients need a health care professional to certify that they have one of the qualifying conditions. Patients are supposed to get certified by their primary care physician or specialist. But participation in the program is voluntary and some doctors and medical practices have opted out.  A Minnesota Medical Association survey this month found that 68 percent of responding doctors said they would not certify a patient to buy medical cannabis.

By the end of last week, 187 health care practitioners had registered with the Office of Medical Cannabis and 176 have been authorized to sign patients up for the program. But there is no easy way for sick patients to find them.

The Health Department, which operates the Office of Medical Cannabis, does not make the names public. Schommer said the Health Department is “aware of and concerned about” patients who have been unable to get certified.

“The whole idea of the program is to help sick people and we want to make sure that’s what the program does,” said Schommer, noting that patients can seek a second opinion if their doctor or medical practice opts out of the program…

Like disabled people have lots and lots of money to go looking for a second, third or fourth opinion.

The first two dispensaries will open in Minneapolis and Eagan on July 1. Six more will open around the state in the weeks after that.

This reminds me of the problems I had when first moving to New Mexico to join its Medical Cannabis Program.  The secrecy of the program made it difficult to not only find a doctor to certify, but also which dispensaries had bud strong enough for chronic pain.  And compared to states like California and Colorado, New Mexico has a much smaller number of dispensaries — very few options for patients.

Even after about 8 years, this program still has some of the same problems.  It’s a program basically for patients with the financial means and ability to find what they need, even though it’s mainly for the disabled.  I can’t tell you how exhausting it was, going from dispensary to dispensary, trying to find the right medicine.  Or how much money I wasted on substandard bud.

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Replies to email scammers

Sure, you can ignore scammers and automatically delete their emails without a second thought…  My mailbox is over the limit and I must click here?  Delete.  My nonexistent PayPal account needs updating?  Delete. Or…

I’ve been redirecting the anger caused by my constant pain to email scammers, with replies like this:  “Freaking scammer. Don’t you have anything better to do with your time, asshole?”  But why be angry at a stranger, even if it is a scumbag?  Perhaps it would be better to just have some fun?

So here are some replies I will be using in the future.  Please feel free to copy and paste to your heart’s content — there’s no copyrighted material on my blog.  It’s free for everyone to use.

1.  When was the last time you bathed?  Dude, I can smell you through my internet connection.

2.  Stop picking your nose.  It’s tacky and disgusting.  (And while you’re at it, try trimming your nose hair.)

3.  What is that smell?  Did you just fart?  Good thing you live alone in the basement.

4.  Have you heard of the new email tracer app?

5.  Just sent your email address to the new Scammer Database in Washington, D.C.

6.  I’ve connected Skype to my inbox, so whenever I open an email from you, I can see who’s sitting in front of your computer screen.

And for all the poets out there:

Email is free
Malware is too
Just sent you a virus
Ironically true

I’ll bet you wish
you had a real job
Instead you’re just
a naked scammer named Bob

Roses are red
violets are blue
you’re causing me distress
I think I’ll sue

Achoooooo!
Just sent you the flu!
and maybe
Ebola too!

Media interest in the war against pain patients?

https://www.facebook.com/PatientsUnitedForDeaReform

Rachel Gotbaum
June 25 at 2:04pm
Hi George– It’s Rachel from NPR Can you please call me? 617 three 7 eight 14 nine 5

https://reason.com/blog/2013/05/10/meet-a-muscular-dystrophy-sufferer-whos

Unfortunately, the DEA has made it incredibly difficult for Floridians in pain to get such drugs, and for pharmacies to sell them. The highly regulated process George Sullivan describes in his op-ed for the National Pain Report is downright sadistic:

For years now, Colleen has been required by law to see her doctor every 30 days, so he can write prescriptions for pain relief medicines. She is forced to make a 50-mile round trip and sit in a waiting room full of sneezing and coughing sick people; while her immune system is suppressed by Cellcept, a powerful drug normally used to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients.

In addition, she must take a state required drug test to prove that she takes her medications. She has passed every one.

Then the next step of the ordeal begins. The hunt. The pharmacy crawl. First, we see the pharmacist at the large chain drugstore where Colleen spends an average of a thousand dollars a month on prescriptions. There’s no problem there, except for the pain meds.

“We don’t have them in stock”… “We’re sold out”… “The DEA won’t let us fill our orders”… is what we are told.

Then we drive to the next pharmacy and are told the same thing.

“We haven’t gotten our orders in a month”… or “Maybe you should see a doctor and pharmacy in Miami.”

That would be a 240 mile round trip for us.

Do we sit and wait, as another pharmacist suggests? Or “stop in on Saturday, to see if anything has come in.”

By then Colleen will be out of the precious medicine that lets her get up in the morning and sleep at night. The meds that make it possible for her to ride in a car when she sees a doctor, or to occasionally go shopping or to a restaurant.

Without the medicine she depends on, Colleen is stuck in pain.

So tomorrow I’ll drive 80 miles up to Key Largo, to see if they have it. The pharmacists won’t tell you over the phone. They are scared and I don’t blame them. The DEA has set so many rules and traps for them, they trust no one.

Because of the hell his daughter has to go through for pain relief, George Sullivan has started a Facebook group called Patients United for DEA Reform. While I wish him the best, the DEA’s approach to fighting prescription pill abuse–even when it involves encouraging law enforcement to circumvent the Fourth Amendment and depriving nursing home residents of pain relief–has near unanimous approval from the White House and Congress.

A proposal for Dr. Katzman and UNM Pain Center

Sun, Jun 28, 2015 11:02 am

From:  painkills2@aol
To:  JKatzman@salud.unm.edu

Dear Dr. Katzman:

While I appreciate the effort mentioned in your last email (below), I don’t think you understand that I’ve given up on doctors and the medical industry. My own research on the UNM Pain Center and your responses to my emails just confirmed my decision. For a 30-year intractable pain patient, I think I have a pretty good idea of what your clinic has to offer, and I don’t believe in paying for services that may do further harm and cannot help me.

However, there may be other chronic pain patients who are interested in the UNM Pain Center, and so I have a proposal. Why don’t you schedule a tour of your facilities for me? Perhaps you could also connect me with current pain patients at your clinic who are willing to talk to me? Then I can report back to the chronic pain community on my blog.

I realize that my case is unique and so my current opinions on your Pain Center could be biased, but I am willing to keep an open mind in the interest of helping other pain patients.

I can’t see any downside in my proposal for either of us. That is, unless the UNM Pain Center is trying to hide something. I read in January of this year that the Pain Center was seeking further funding from the state for training programs, so it seems to me that you should be fine with the transparency inherent in my proposal.

Let me reiterate that I do not have a phone. Communication between us must be done by email.

I curiously await your response.

Johnna Stahl

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/another-response-from-dr-katzman/

How States Are Fighting to Keep Towns From Offering Their Own Broadband

https://www.propublica.org/article/how-states-are-fighting-to-keep-towns-from-offering-their-own-broadband

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission voted to ease the way for cities to become Internet service providers. So-called municipal broadband is already a reality in a few towns, often providing Internet access and faster service to rural communities that cable companies don’t serve.

The cable and telecommunications industry have long lobbied against city-run broadband, arguing that taxpayer money should not fund potential competitors to private companies.

Private companies afraid of competition?  Isn’t that what privatizing is all about?

The telecom companies have what may seem like an unlikely ally: states. Roughly 20 states have restrictions against municipal broadband.

And the attorneys general in North Carolina and Tennessee have recently filed lawsuits in an attempt to overrule the FCC and block towns in these states from expanding publicly funded Internet service…

As the New York Times detailed last year, state attorneys general have become a major target of corporate lobbyists and contributors including AT&T, Comcast and T-Mobile…

And in the insurance industry, Unum, a corporation that is currently sleeping with the attorney general in Maine.