Jury Finds Pharmacy Chains Contributed to Ohio’s Opioid Crisis

A federal jury in Ohio on Tuesday found that pharmacy giants Walgreens, CVS and Walmart contributed to the opioid crisis in that state, a verdict that could serve as a bellwether for thousands of similar cases pending from coast to coast. The decision is the first verdict returned by a jury that holds a pharmacy retailer responsible for its role in the devastating epidemic of opioid overdoses that has plagued the United States for decades.

In the lawsuit, Lake and Trumbell Counties in northeastern Ohio maintained that the pharmacy retailers had recklessly distributed more than 100 million opioid pain pills in the counties, leading to addiction, death and a strain on public services. Between 2012 and 2016, more than 80 million prescriptions painkillers were dispensed in Trumbull County alone, or about 400 pills for every resident. During the same period, approximately 61 million opioid painkillers were dispensed in Lake County.

“For decades, pharmacy chains have watched as the pills flowing out of their doors cause harm and failed to take action as required by law,” a committee of attorneys representing local governments in federal opioid lawsuits said in a statement. “Instead, these companies responded by opening up more locations, flooding communities with pills, and facilitating the flow of opioids into an illegal, secondary market.”

Counties Say Pharmacies Created a Public Nuisance

Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that the actions of the pharmacies amounted to a public nuisance that cost the counties about $1 billion each to address. Mark Lanier, an attorney representing the counties, said that the pharmacies failed to hire or train enough employees and implement systems to prevent suspicious orders from being filled.

“The law requires pharmacies to be diligent in dealing drugs,” Lanier said. “This case should be a wake-up call that failure will not be accepted.” 

“The jury sounded a bell that should be heard through all pharmacies in America,” he added.

The suit originally also named pharmacy retailers Rite-Aid and Giant Eagle as plaintiffs in the case. Rite-Aid settled in August and agreed to pay Trumbull County $1.5 million in damages, while a settlement amount with Lake County has not been released. Giant Eagle agreed to settle late last month, although terms of that agreement were not disclosed.

The case, which was decided by a 12-person jury after a six-week trial, was returned in one of about 3,000 federal opioid lawsuits being supervised by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland. Adam Zimmerman, who teaches mass litigation at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said that the verdict could prompt other pharmaceutical retailers to settle their pending cases.

“It’s the first opioid trial against these major household names,” Zimmerman told the New York Times. “They have been the least willing group of defendants to settle, so this verdict is at least a small sign to them that these cases won’t necessarily play out well in front of juries.”

Pharmacy Chains Will Appeal Verdict

All three retailers have indicated that they will appeal the jury’s verdict. Walmart said in a statement that the plaintiffs’ attorneys sued “in search of deep pockets while ignoring the real causes of the opioid crisis—such as pill mill doctors, illegal drugs, and regulators asleep at the switch—and they wrongly claimed pharmacists must second-guess doctors in a way the law never intended and many federal and state health regulators say interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.”

Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman characterized the case as an unsustainable effort “to resolve the opioid crisis with an unprecedented expansion of public nuisance law,” adding that the company “never manufactured or marketed opioids nor did we distribute them to the ‘pill mills’ and internet pharmacies that fueled this crisis.”

“As plaintiffs’ own experts testified, many factors have contributed to the opioid abuse issue, and solving this problem will require involvement from all stakeholders in our health care system and all members of our community,” CVS spokesperson Mike DeAngelis said in a statement after the verdict was announced.

The retail pharmacies are not alone in their criticism of the verdict. Dr. Ryan Marino, an assistant professor of the Departments of Emergency Medicine and Psychiatry at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, says that focusing on blaming the pharmaceutical industry, prescribers, and pharmacies ignores the role that bad policies have played in the opioid crisis.

“If retail pharmacies are declared responsible, I ask that we also hold policymakers responsible for their role in driving people to foreseeable death and failing to act to prevent disordered substance use or addiction by failing to provide access to safety in addition to basic things like housing, education, employment, and income, which are well known to prevent addiction in the first place,” Marino wrote in an email to High Times. “The same old approaches have not helped this problem, and in fact, seem to be only making it worse.”

Some drug manufacturers and distributors including Johnson & Johnson have also opted to settle cases brought against them for their alleged contributions to the opioid crisis, which has killed more than 500,000 Americans over the past twenty years. Kevin Roy, chief public policy officer at addiction solutions advocacy group Shatterproof, said that Tuesday’s verdict could prompt other pharmacies to consider a settlement.

“It’s a signal that the public, at least in select places, feels that there’s been exposure and needs to be remedied,” Roy said.

Roy noted, however, that the different courts hearing opioid cases have not been consistent in their judgments and that the details of public nuisance laws vary from state to state. Earlier this month, a California judge ruled in favor of drug manufacturers in a case brought by the city of Oakland and three counties. And in Oklahoma on November 9, the state Supreme Court overturned a 2019 verdict for $465 million against Johnson & Johnson.

“There’s been a variety of different decisions lately that should give us reason to be cautious about what this really means in the grand scheme,” Roy said.

Just how much Walgreens, CVS and Walmart will have to pay Trumbull and Lake Counties remains to be seen. The judge is expected to issue a decision on damages to be awarded in the case in the spring.

The post Jury Finds Pharmacy Chains Contributed to Ohio’s Opioid Crisis appeared first on High Times.

Breaking the stigma: Psychedelic Drugs

There are a lot of negative stigma surrounding psychedelic drugs. A large portion of the population and the government condemn these substances to be dangerous, addictive, and illegal. Although, that may be true when it comes to opiates or stimulants (such as heroin or cocaine). As they are, indeed, physiologically toxic and addictive. Psychedelics, on […]

The post Breaking the stigma: Psychedelic Drugs appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, August 4, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Cannabis, Lies, and Foreign Cash: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey Through the Underground Mask Trade (Pro Publica)

// Tight capital markets – worsened by COVID-19 – derail Schwazze’s cannabis acquisitions (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Black residents made up 97% of marijuana arrests in New York state capital (Leafly (AP))


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// Analyzing Congress’s Latest Vote To Protect Legal Marijuana States From Federal Enforcement (Marijuana Moment)

// FDA approves GW Pharmaceuticals’ cannabis drug for new indication (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Massachusetts Senator Gives Wicked Chill Marijuana Response To Blunt-Smoking Constituent (Marijuana Moment)

// Major Cannabis Companies Shun Oklahoma (Fresh Toast)

// The pandemic is eating away at the illicit marijuana market (Politico)

// Louisiana Law Allowing Medical Marijuana For Any Debilitating Condition To Take Effect (Marijuana Moment)

// Recreational marijuana sales reached almost $61 million in July, setting a record for the third month in a row (Chicago Tribune)


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Tuesday, April 7, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, April 7, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Businesses That ‘Indirectly’ Work With Marijuana Industry Ineligible For Federal Coronavirus Loans (Marijuana Moment)

// Canada’s COVID-19 olive branch for cannabis sector comes with caveat (Marijuana Business Daily)

// FDA Declares Cannabis Drug Epidiolex No Longer A Controlled Substance (Green Market Report)


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// Colorado eases hiring process for cannabis firms eyeing casino workers (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Delaware Officials Allow Medical Marijuana Delivery Amid Coronavirus Outbreak (Marijuana Moment)

// Phoenix marijuana dispensary hawks COVID-19 ‘immunization stabilizer,’ state orders it to stop (AZ Central)

// Illinois governor commutes sentence of jailed cancer patient (St. Louis Today (AP))

// 73% of Cannabis Consumers Get Lit to Relieve Anxiety During Coronavirus Pandemic (Merry Jane)

// iAnthus Capital Defaults On Debt, Investigates Claims Against CEO (Deep Dive)

// Two Marijuana Magazines Owned By High Times Suspend Publication Due To Coronavirus (Marijuana Moment)


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Tuesday, April 7, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, April 7, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Businesses That ‘Indirectly’ Work With Marijuana Industry Ineligible For Federal Coronavirus Loans (Marijuana Moment)

// Canada’s COVID-19 olive branch for cannabis sector comes with caveat (Marijuana Business Daily)

// FDA Declares Cannabis Drug Epidiolex No Longer A Controlled Substance (Green Market Report)


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// Colorado eases hiring process for cannabis firms eyeing casino workers (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Delaware Officials Allow Medical Marijuana Delivery Amid Coronavirus Outbreak (Marijuana Moment)

// Phoenix marijuana dispensary hawks COVID-19 ‘immunization stabilizer,’ state orders it to stop (AZ Central)

// Illinois governor commutes sentence of jailed cancer patient (St. Louis Today (AP))

// 73% of Cannabis Consumers Get Lit to Relieve Anxiety During Coronavirus Pandemic (Merry Jane)

// iAnthus Capital Defaults On Debt, Investigates Claims Against CEO (Deep Dive)

// Two Marijuana Magazines Owned By High Times Suspend Publication Due To Coronavirus (Marijuana Moment)


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Friday, November 22, 2019 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily Newsv

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, November 22, 2019 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// License revoked for California vape maker Kushy Punch after state seizes $21 million worth of products (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Boeing faced only ‘limited’ safety review from NASA, while SpaceX got a full examination (Washington Post)

// Despite the threat of bans, vape companies are doing surprisingly well (Fast Company)


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// Steven Hoffman is ‘pleased’ with the state’s first year of pot sales. Here’s what he expects from year two – and beyond. (Boston.com)

// First Year of Adult-Use Marijuana Retail Operations in Massachusetts Tallies $393.7 Million in Gross Sales, Sets Benchmarks for Growth (Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission)

// In 6 Months, About 57 Tons Of Smokable Medical Marijuana Was Ordered For Florida Patients (WUSF News)

// Virginia Attorney General Hosts ‘Cannabis Summit’ To Advance Reform In New Democratic Legislature (Marijuana Moment)

// Legal Weed Is Making An Impact On The Billion Dollar Sleep Market (Fresh Toast)

// California marijuana taxes will increase New Year’s Day (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Senators Push USDA To Adopt Five Changes To Proposed Hemp Regulations (Marijuana Moment)


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Wednesday, October 16, 2019 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Judge puts Michigan’s ban on flavored nicotine vaping on hold (Detroit Metro Times)

// ‘Gold standard’ bill to legalize recreational weed in Pa. introduced in Harrisburg (Philadelphia Inquirer)

// A ‘Significant’ Number Of Patients Stopped Taking Benzodiazepines After Starting Medical Marijuana (Marijuana Moment)


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// Flowhub Snags $23 Million Including An Investment From Kraft Heinz (Green Market Report)

// Chart: How medical cannabis programs fare in states with recreational markets (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Aphria surges as it posts another profit on higher sales lower costs (BNN Bloomberg)

// Farmers rejoice: Harvest season flips to seller’s market (Leafly)

// Indicted Ukrainian gained solid foothold in Sacramento pot world. Mayor wants new audit (Sacramento Bee)

// For sale: Two Florida medical marijuana licenses. Cost? $95 million (Tampa Bay Times)

// Cops Confiscate More Weed Infused Nerds Rope Issue Another Halloween Warning (Merry Jane)


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Tuesday, July 30, 2019 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, July 30, 2019 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// New York reduces penalties for marijuana possession (Washington Post)

// The St. Kitts And Nevis Government Is Filing A Marijuana Legalization Bill This Week (Marijuana Moment)

// Immigrant Denied Re-Entry Into US After Admitting to Smoking Weed (Merry Jane)


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// Charlotte’s Web Hemp CBD Topical Products Expanding to 1,350 Kroger Stores Across 22 States (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Businesses appeal Utah’s medical cannabis cultivator picks (Marijuana Business Daily)

// CannTrust’s CEO didn’t just lose his job, he likely lost $8.2 million in stock options (Financial Post)

// Cresco rebranding marijuana dispensaries to Sunnyside, with wellness focus (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Legalizing Marijuana Deliveries Can Reduce Impaired Driving, Colorado Governor Says (Marijuana Moment)

// Arizona attorney general OKs digital medical cannabis payments (Marijuana Business Daily)

// USA Today Report: Cannabis Consumers Reduce Use of Pills, Booze (Leafly)


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Tuesday, May 7, 2019 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, May 7, 2019 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// China Cashes In on the Cannabis Boom (New York Times)

// CBD shortage: Retailers struggle to keep cannabis extract on shelves (CTV News)

// Curaleaf Enters Ohio Medical Cannabis Market With $20 Million Acquisition (New Cannabis Ventures)


These headlines are brought to you by Curaleaf, one of the leading vertically-integrated cannabis operators in the U.S. With legal medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation sites, and processing facilities all over the United States, Curaleaf has served more than 150,000 medical cannabis patients and looks forward to helping many more long into the future. Swing over to Curaleaf.com to learn more about this very cool company!


// April medical marijuana sales top $18M in Oklahoma (OKC Fox 25 (AP))

// Mexico’s President Proposes Drug Decriminalization With Legal Supply Via Prescription (Marijuana Moment)

// Amateur Investors are Bullish About Cannabis. That Has the Pros a Little Worried. (Green Entrepreneur)

// Cannabis in Prison Often Gets Inmates Long Bouts of Solitary Confinement (Weed Maps)

// GW Pharma Q1 Revenue Soars To $39 Million as Epidiolex Drives Growth (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Texas House Votes To Expand State’s Medical Marijuana Program (Marijuana Moment)

// New Zealand Government Releases Details Of Marijuana Legalization Referendum (Marijuana Moment)


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