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What today’s Supreme Court decision means for the future of legal weed

March 21 at 1:50 PM

The Supreme Court’s decision today to toss out a lawsuit that could have brought Colorado’s legal marijuana boom to a screeching halt hasn’t deterred opponents of the national legalization effort.

Already, the plaintiffs and their supporters are looking to regroup. “The Court’s decision does not bar additional challenges to Colorado’s scheme in federal district court,” said Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson in a statement.

Oklahoma and Nebraska asked the Supreme Court to hear a challenge to Colorado’s marijuana legalization framework, saying that the state’s legalization regime was causing marijuana to flow across the borders into their own states, creating law enforcement headaches.

But by a 6-2 majority, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, without comment.

In a statement, Peterson’s office said it would work with Oklahoma and other states “to determine the best next steps toward vindicating the rule of law.”

Other opponents are remaining optimistic, as well. “It’s obviously a disappointment,” said Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana in an email. “But we think legalization will be defeated on its own policy merits,” he added.

They’re facing an increasingly steep uphill battle.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argued that since marijuana is illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), it can’t be regulated at the state level. But numerous legal experts have pointed out that assumption is incorrect.

“Congress has no power to compel states to prohibit the cultivation, possession and transfer of marijuana,” according to Randy Barnett, an attorney who litigated a Supreme Court case exploring the limits of the CSA. “In the absence of such state prohibition, all such activities are completely legal under state law, notwithstanding that they are illegal under federal law,” he wrote last year.

In short, Congress can say that marijuana is illegal at the federal level. But if a state doesn’t want to enforce that prohibition itself, it doesn’t have to do so. And if it wants to go one step further and set up a market to regulate the trade in the drug, it’s free to do that as well.

“This is the result that most of us were expecting,” legal professor Sam Kamin, who was part of the task force implementing Colorado’s marijuana laws, said in an email. “This never seemed like the right case to test the power of the states to tax and regulate marijuana (everyone seems to agree that they have the right to legalize marijuana).”

The U.S. Justice Department filed a brief last December urging the Supreme Court to throw the lawsuit out. “With the federal government uninterested in bringing such a suit at the moment, this seems to take things out of the courts and into the political process for the near term,” Kamen said.

Legalization advocates say that while the decision likely won’t have any big practical effects in the near-term, it does send a signal to other states mulling their own marijuana policy in the coming years. “The Supreme Court’s rejection of this misguided effort to undo cautious and effective state-level regulation of marijuana is excellent news for the many other states looking to adopt similar reforms in 2016 and beyond,” said Tamar Todd, director of the office of legal affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, in a statement.

Observers on both sides of the issue point out that the court’s majority did not issue any explanation of their dismissal, which is standard practice in cases like this. The justices may have objected to the lawsuit on its merits, or they may have simply felt that it wasn’t proper for them to take up the case at this time, preferring instead to let the state-level legalization experiments play out.

“Of course, everything may change with a new administration in 2017,” law professor Sam Kamin said in an email. “But with marijuana on the ballot in another big handful of states this fall, the genie may be out of the bottle by the time the next president is sworn into office.”

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Full Article Sourced From – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/03/21/what-todays-supreme-court-decision-means-for-the-future-of-legal-weed/

These children of celebrity dads are taking their stepmoms to court

By

Rick Anderson

Jury to Decide if Monsanto PCBs Caused Plaintiffs’ Cancer

| March 15, 2016 12:45 pm

Monsanto’s controversial history with PCBs is being played out in trial in California state court this week, as the agrochemical giant has been accused of causing two retired plaintiffs to develop cancer.

The civil lawsuit, Dauber, et al. v. Monsanto Co., et al, regards plaintiffs Roslyn Dauber, 62, and John Di Costanzo, 87, who both claim that their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was caused by eating PCB-contaminated food for years, Courtroom View Network (CVN) reported.

PCBs, or Polychlorinated Biphenyls, are man-made chemicals once used to insulate electronics decades ago. Before switching operations to agriculture, Monsanto was the sole manufacturer of the compound, raking a reported $22 million in business a year. But when PCBs were found to be highly toxic, the company stopped production of them in 1977 over human health and environmental concerns.

Still, the pervasive legacy of PCBs remains. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)banned them in 1979, saying:

PCBs have caused birth defects and cancer in laboratory animals, and they are a suspected cause of cancer and adverse skin and liver effects in humans. EPA estimates that 150 million pounds of PCBs are dispersed throughout the environment, including air and water supplies; an additional 290 million pounds are located in landfills in this country.

Countless individuals, school districts as well as major U.S. cities have since slammed Monsanto with lawsuits for cleanup costs, environmental pollution and for claims that exposure to PCBs causes health problems to people and wildlife.

On Thursday, plaintiff attorney Scott Frieling of Dallas-based law firm Allen Stewart PC delivered an opening statement to jurors and Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge J. Stephen Czuleger about the history of PCBs, the difficulty in removing them from the environment and how these chemicals make their way into the food chain.

“They are virtually indestructible,” Frieling said. “Once PCBs are created, they will last a very long time.”

Frieling also touched on how Monsanto allegedly knew that PCBs were toxic for decades but continued production of the profitable compound anyway.

According to CVN:

Frieling showed jurors internal Monsanto documents dating back to the 1950’s that he claimed would prove the company knew for decades that PCBs posed a substantial public health risk but falsely represented them as being safe.

Freiling told jurors it was easy to link the PCBs in Dauber and Di Costanzo’s bodies to Monsanto, because the company produced 99 percent of the compounds sold in the United States. He claimed Monsanto intentionally avoided long-term safety testing on PCBs and instead publicized the results of short-term tests which didn’t allow enough time for negative health effects to become evident.

In response, Monsanto attorney Anthony Upshaw of Chicago-based law firm McDermott Will & Emery LLP argued that it could not be definitively proven that PCBs caused the plaintiffs’ cancer and that many people who have the same amounts of PCBs in their bodies never suffer any adverse effects, CVN reported.

“The evidence simply doesn’t support the assertion that the historic use of PCB products was the cause of the plaintiffs’ harms,” Monsanto spokeswoman Charla Marie Lord told CVN. “We are confident that the jury will conclude, as past juries have done, that the former Monsanto Company is not responsible for the alleged injuries.”

She also added that Monsanto’s involvement in the trial stems from contractual obligations associated with former chemical businesses that operated under the company’s name, and that Monsanto today is focused solely on agriculture.

The current trial is expected to run through the end of March. Previous rulings over PCBs lawsuits, however, have ruled in favor of Monsanto. CVN noted that a Los Angeles jury and a Missouri state court jury handed the company wins in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Incidentally, a current House bill could give Monsanto permanent immunity from liability for injuries caused by PCBs. The New York Times reported last month that Republicans in Congress have inserted a clause into the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reauthorization bill that would effectively exempt Monsanto from liability for injuries caused by PCBs.

Environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who has sparred over PCBs for three decades, wrote this week that the “so-called ‘Monsanto Rider’ would shield the chemical colossus from thousands of lawsuits by cities, towns, school districts and individuals, who have been injured by exposure to PCBs.”

“If Monsanto gets its way, the American people will pay a high price for corporate greed and political corruption,” Kennedy said.

Full Article – https://ecowatch.com/2016/03/15/jury-decide-pcbs-caused-cancer/

Texas Law Firm Investigating Potential For Talc Lawsuits Against Johnson & Johnson

Baron & Budd: “Seemingly Benign Product” Could Lead to Severe Health Complications Including Ovarian Cancer

ARTICLE | | BY DAVE SCHATZ

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–A Dallas-based law firm apparently wants to get in on the opportunity to represent women harmed by Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J’s) talcum-based products.

The law firm, Baron & Budd, says it is investigating potential legal action against Hub City-based pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) regarding a possible link between its talcum-based products and ovarian cancer, according to a press release issued by the firm on the last day of February.

Talc, a mineral, is contained in J&J products including baby powder.  It is imported from China, according to package labels.

The “national” law firm cites the recent $72 million verdict in Missouri, one that many media outlets have picked-up on.

The family of Jackie Fox will receive $62 million in a punishment award, plus $10 million in compensatory damages, as we reported.  J&J is expected to appeal the decision.

The release mentions that more than 1,000 other suits are pending against the company, but does not mention the 130 additional cases in the Garden State, consolidated in Atlantic County. The first New Jersey case is set to go to trial in July.

“It is extremely disturbing that such seemingly benign products could be linked to a devastating disease,” said Russell Budd, president and managing shareholder of Baron & Budd.

“We will thoroughly investigate this matter and make sure the rights of anyone harmed by talc-based products are protected.”

“Plaintiffs in the cases are claiming that [J&J] failed for decades to warn consumers that talc-based products such as Shower to Shower and baby powder posed a risk for ovarian cancer,” says the release, citing a report from Reuters highlighting the concern that women who use talcum powder on their genitals are at a higher risk for developing the disease.

Reuters also reported that many women traditionally, “spread talcum powder in the genital areas to help eliminate vaginal odors and keep the area comfortable and cool,” reads the release.

An epidemiologist at a Cancer Center in St. Louis is quoted in the Reuters Report as saying that inflammation increases the risk of a woman developing Ovarian Cancer, and it is a known fact that talcum powder increases inflammation, according to the release.

“The Reuters article also reported that a Harvard University doctor who testified in the Missouri trial has published several studies since 1982 linking talc-based products and ovarian cancer. According to the doctor, exposure to talc can increase a woman’s risk of developing the disease by as much as 30 percent,” says the release.

In 2011, J&J responded to consumer pressure concerning two harmful chemicals used to make its famous “No More Tears” baby shampoo: formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.

J&J ultimately reformulated the product, moving to its current hypoallergenic version, which is available on store shelves around the world. It looks and smells the same as the original formula. But, according to media reports it still contains very small amounts of formaldehyde.

J&J has said it was very costly to make the change. Now other makers of look-alike, golden-hued baby shampoos, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., “Equate” label are also paraben, phthalate and quatemium 15 free.

Sourced From –http://newbrunswicktoday.com/article/texas-law-firm-investigating-potential-talc-lawsuits-against-johnson-johnson

New Xarelto Claim That J&J and Bayer Lied

Posted by Shezad Malik MD JD
March 8, 2016 7:03 AM

According to bombshell revelations in the New York Times, did two major pharmaceutical companies, in an effort to protect their blockbuster drug, Xarelto, intentionally mislead editors at one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals?

Several thousand injured plaintiffs have filed personal injury and product liability claims against Johnson & Johnson and Bayer over the safety of its anti-clotting drug Xarelto.

Now plaintiffs claim that a letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine and written primarily by researchers at Duke University deliberately left out critical laboratory data. They claim the companies were complicit by staying silent, helping deceive the editors while the companies provided the very same data to regulators in the United States and Europe.

The New York Times article suggests that Bayer, Johnson & Johnson and those who ran clinical trials at Duke University that led to the FDA approval of the blood thinner, may have lied to editors at the New England Journal of Medicine.

Defective Medical Device Results Flawed

The heart of the controversy alleges that a key medical device that measures the levels of blood thinner in patients involved in the study was defective and that those running the clinical trial knew it, but failed to reveal that information.

The New York Times reports that documents produced by the drug makers during Xarelto lawsuits suggest that those running the clinical trial were asked if there were lab tests that confirmed the accuracy of the device. The editors were told there was not, when in actuality there were such tests.

It is now confirmed that the measuring device was defective and may have compromised the approval process for Xarelto, which has since been promoted as a superior alternative to warfarin.

Flawed Xarelto Medical Studies?

The Xarelto blood testing problems in the clinical trial were first reported in the medical journal The BMJ in December, with researchers warning that the device may have led to an underestimation of the rate of Xarelto bleeding complications in comparison to warfarin.

The ROCKET-AF clinical trials compared the rate of bleeding events between Xarelto (rivaroxaban) and Coumadin (warfarin). The potentially defective blood testing device, known as the INRatio by Alere, was used to measure the levels of warfarin in patients’ blood and was used to adjust their dosage. An INRatio recall has since been issued after it was discovered that the device may show results that were falsely low.

The recall could affect the ROCKET-AF results, because falsely low readings may have resulted in warfarin patients being given too high a dose, increasing their risk of bleeding. If the device caused excessive bleeding among warfarin patients, it could have given the false impression that Xarelto had a lower rate of bleeding problems.

The clinical trials, led by Dr. Robert Califf, who is now the FDA commissioner, have come under intense criticism since Xarelto was approved, as the drug has been linked to a shocking number of adverse event reports involving severe and uncontrollable bleeding problems. Due to a lack of a reversal agent for Xarelto, doctors have been unable to stop serious bleeding problems that occur, increasing the risk of severe injury or death.

Xarelto Lawsuits Over Bleeding Problems

Xarelto (rivaroxaban) is a new class of blood thinners released in recent years as a replacement for warfarin, which had been the gold standard blood thinner treatment for the past 60 years. Xarelto was approved in 2011, this new-generation treatment has been prescribed instead of warfarin to reduce the risk of blood clots and strokes among patients with atrial fibrillation, or following hip or knee replacement surgery.

Xarelto lawsuits, like http://sideeffectsofxarelto.org/xarelto-lawsuits/, allege that the drug makers provided false and misleading information about the importance of blood monitoring on Xarelto, marketing the drug as easier to use and indicating that it does not require close testing like warfarin. But, independent studies published after Xarelto was introduced have suggested that Xarelto monitoring may help identify patients at greater risk of bleeds.

Undue Big Pharma Influence

Big Pharma is the nickname given to the vast and influential pharmaceutical industry and its trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America or PhRMA. These powerful companies make billions of dollars every year by selling drugs and medical devices.

Pharmaceuticals are HUGE business and these Big Pharma” companies stand to reap billions of dollars over the life span of a block buster drug. Big Pharma industry influence has led to the concealment of critical unfavorable data or ghost written medical articles (written by industry insiders) — when crucial clinical data went missing from journal articles, leading to embarrassing corrections and ethics policies to limit the influence of drug companies on medical literature.

Xarelto Billion Dollar Block Buster

Xarelto, is sold in the United States by Johnson & Johnson and overseas by Bayer, had nearly $2 billion in United States sales last year and is the best seller in a new category of drugs seeking to replace warfarin.

Last week, lawyers in the case against Johnson & Johnson and Bayer filed a legal brief in federal court in New Orleans, asking a judge to unseal documents in the case, which involves more than 5,000 lawsuits filed by patients and their families who claim they were harmed by Xarelto. Of those, 500 involve patient deaths.

Dr. Steven Nissen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, served on the Food and Drug Administration advisory panel that voted to approve Xarelto in 2011. He was one of two members who voted against the drug. He expressed doubt that any after-the-fact analysis would give doctors and patients answers. “Given the fact that the device was inaccurate, there is no way anybody can tell you what would have happened in the trial,” he said.

Read Full Article – http://fortworth.legalexaminer.com/fda-prescription-drugs/new-xarelto-claim-that-jj-and-bayer-lied/