Pennsylvania drug officials have denied accusations of failure to teach medical marijuana, but her claims have not been combined |

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Harrisburg, PA — a leader in a state agency that failed to clarify rules for addiction treatment and medical marijuana — actions with serious consequences — criticized this month while speaking in front of state legislators. I kept denying it.

Jennifer Smith, secretary of the Narcotics and Alcohol Program Department, also explained that she had transferred responsibility to the federal and county authorities, not admitting that both federal and county authorities were disagreeing with her allegations. Doubled.

After asking Smith, John Lawrence, Congressman (R., Chester), told Spotlight PA, “I thought her reaction was completely inadequate.”

A A series of research articles According to last year’s Spotlight PA, state officials were unable to clarify federal rules on addiction treatment funding and the use of medical marijuana, causing widespread confusion among workers at the forefront of the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania. It became clear. In one case, a 24-year-old backcounty man, Tyler Cordero, was mistakenly denied funding for opioid addiction treatment and died a few weeks later from a drug overdose.

A month after the initial Spotlight PA investigation, the federal government changed policy to eliminate the most confusing words. Under the new guidance, money from the Federal Department of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services “cannot be used to buy, prescribe, provide, or treat with marijuana.” However, the term makes it clear that federal funding can fund addiction treatment and other services for people who use marijuana.

“I want to know why DDAP participated in this federal guidance for 17 months and didn’t share it with other state or county agencies,” Lawrence told Smith.

“Thank you for asking that question,” Smith replied. “And perhaps some inaccuracies and misunderstandings … gave me the opportunity to set a record based on a report by Spotlight PA.”

She did not identify what she thought was inaccurate or misleading about the report. Prior to publishing the survey, Spotlight PA shared detailed questions and findings with the agency.

Smith admitted that she received clear information from the Federal Department of Substance Abuse Mental Health Services in a January 2020 email 17 months before her department shared guidance. However, she claimed that her agency was “not authorized to distribute the information beyond the telephone participants and was restricted to one individual from each state.”

An email received by Spotlight PA indicates that in November 2019, federal authorities invited a deputy secretary of the Drug and Alcohol Program Department to a “marijuana language” Q & A session and other issues.

The federal agency then sent a written statement to the department on January 1, 2020. A federal spokesperson previously said he shared written guidance with Smith’s department and similar agencies to coordinate addiction treatment services in other states.

In both the November 2019 and January 2020 e-mails, federal agencies did not state that state authorities could not share information with other agencies. The Narcotics and Alcohol Program Department’s press did not provide or point out other emails or documents to substantiate Smith’s allegations that the department was not allowed to distribute information.

Federal authorities also claim to consider the January 2020 email as a formal communication with the authority to share with the Drug and Alcohol Program Authority.

“SAMHSA wanted to make sure the state knew how SAHMSA’s funds could and couldn’t be used,” a federal spokesman told Spotlight PA in September.

At least one other state has provided additional guidance to its provider. The Oregon Department of Health has released public guidance dated November 18, 2019 (a few days after a scheduled call with SAMHSA) that clarifies the issue of financing medical marijuana. I found it flexible.

“Like all other states, [Oregon Health Authority] We consulted with SAMHSA to clarify and understand the new special conditions and shared that information with our Oregon provider, “agency spokesman Aria Seligmann told Spotlight PA in an email.

Mr Smith also told lawmakers that her department encouraged the county’s drug and alcohol offices to contact the federal government directly to clarify the issue. It’s a recent change and they told Spotlight PA in September.

And the department’s own records cast doubt on Smith’s statement that her agency consistently referred medical marijuana questions to the federal government.

For example, in the March and April e-mail exchanges last year, staff from the drug and alcohol office in Delaware County represented Smith before local nonprofits added medical marijuana restrictions to participant contracts. It is shown that you are asking the store for guidance and receiving it. Officials from a nonprofit organization in Delaware County lifted the restrictions after talking to a Spotlight PA reporter in September.

DDAP spokesman Stephany Dugan declined to comment on the exchange between the ministry and Delaware County. Dugan gave two examples when the department asked the federal government questions. Both emails were from August 2021 19 months after SAMHSA first shared the written description.

At that point, Spotlight PA had already reported the consequences of the department not sharing guidance, and the federal government had changed its policy.

Conflicting messages

Susan Osterman, the mother of a backcounty man who was mistakenly denied funding for addiction treatment, called Smith’s answer to Lawrence’s question “slightly annoying.”

“As I said from the beginning, you can’t fix anything without admitting that there was a problem,” Ousterman told Spotlight PA. “And they still don’t admit that something … was done wrong.”

Ousterman contacted state officials in early 2021 with concerns about his son’s case and access to addiction treatment, and had been in contact for several months. She also expressed her concern about the accuracy of state advertising campaigns that promise to lead everyone to treatment, regardless of access to insurance.

Spotlight PA emails obtained through Right-to-Know requests show widespread confusion and contradictory messages about what the county should do.

Jody Skyles, the director of the department, defended the advertising campaign by email to Austerman in late May, and the county’s drug and alcohol departments are developing policies based on the department’s rules. I told you.

“And our requirement is to fund uninsured and uninsured with state and federal funding allocated to each SCA,” Skiles wrote, referring to the office. “They also have local matches.”

However, many counties believed that federal funding was off limits if patients used medical marijuana for mental health or substance use problems. Workers in some counties have also tightened restrictions, as if all money from the county’s drug and alcohol offices is off limits to people with medical marijuana cards for these reasons. Spotlight PA has discovered that it operates in.

Skiles’ remarks to Austin in May 2021 also contradict Smith’s later remarks. Smith told Spotlight PA in August that it was up to the county to decide which funds would be comfortable to spend.

Despite Smith’s public challenge to Spotlight PA’s reporting, internal emails indicate that news organization investigations have prompted changes.

After the first Spotlight article published in June, departmental communications director Ali Gantz told a colleague, “This work asks for help if people call the hotline or receive an MMJ. It’s more harmful than profitable because it can prevent you from doing it. “

However, Gantz also suggested updating the information in the department’s manual to “provide further clarification” that the department later made. Another director, Jennifer Newell, suggested clarifying to the county’s drug and alcohol departments when state funding could be used to help people, saying, “There seems to be confusion about that. “.

The email indicates that the federal government sent an email to officials of the Drug and Alcohol Program Bureau on July 30, and the federal government updated its policy to remove the words that caused the most confusion. I am informing you that you are there.

“FYI-It looks like we need to bring this to the scene, or Spotlight is everywhere because we didn’t tell the change,” Smith said after 8 am on August 2nd. I wrote a letter to someone else in the department.

The department sent breaking news a few hours later to inform drug and alcohol offices, providers, and the general public about the change.

Pennsylvania drug officials have denied accusations of failure to teach medical marijuana, but her claims have not been combined |

Source link Pennsylvania drug officials have denied accusations of failure to teach medical marijuana, but her claims have not been combined |

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