Synthetic marijuana products have been banned under Oklahoma and federal laws. In 2011, the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission alerted owners of tribally licensed smoke shops that they are not to sell synthetic marijuana products. COURTESY PHOTO

Synthetic marijuana barred in tribally licensed smoke shops

Synthetic marijuana products have been banned under Oklahoma and federal laws. In 2011, the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission alerted owners of tribally licensed smoke shops that they are not to sell synthetic marijuana products. COURTESY PHOTO
Synthetic marijuana products have been banned under Oklahoma and federal laws. In 2011, the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission alerted owners of tribally licensed smoke shops that they are not to sell synthetic marijuana products. COURTESY PHOTO
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
12/08/2011 08:08 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Tax Commission recently sent out letters to owners of tribally licensed smoke shops to remind them of the illegality of selling synthetic marijuana.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, synthetic marijuana is a mixture of herbs and spices that is sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to Tetrahydrocannabinol or more commonly known as THC, the ingredient in marijuana.

Two of the names these types of products are sold under are “K2” and “Spice.”

CN Tax Commission Administrator Sharon Swepston said a law change from the U.S. Department of Justice outlawing the sale of synthetic marijuana prompted the letter.

“You’re hearing on the news where these kids are getting ahold of it. I just wanted to make sure that we were all on the same page and this was just a reminder to them that we cannot sell it,” she said.

The Tax Commission letter states the “drugs are extremely dangerous with unpredictable results for the users, and have become increasingly popular with young adults and children because they have been poorly regulated and often widely available in convenience stores and head shops.”

On March 1, the DOJ through the DEA passed laws that made it illegal to sell, distribute or possess synthetic marijuana.

Swepston said the illegal substances are marketed as bath salts, potpourri and even plant food.

“There was some stuff being sold like a potpourri and they (smoke shop owners) actually called us when they started hearing (it in the news prior to the new law),” she said. “They called and said ‘we want to make sure this is OK.’ What I had them do was fax me all the information about the ingredients and all of that and then I in turn give it to the AG (attorney general) and let them look at it to make sure that it is legal to sell or not.”

The products considered illegal contain mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone or methylone. As of Oct. 21, merchandise having these ingredients has been deemed illegal to sell or possess in tribally licensed smoke shops.

The long-term effects of the synthetic marijuana are unknown, but the short-term effects are similar to marijuana highs.

“They’re buying it and then they’re smoking it because it gives them the same high that marijuana would, but it’s just a synthetic deal,” Swepston said. “It says on the package it’s ‘not for human consumption’ and all of that, but it doesn’t keep people from evidently doing that.”

She said the Tax Commission does routinely inspect tribally licensed smoke shops to ensure the shops are not selling synthetic marijuana products.

“They never know when we’re going to show up,” she said. “They are aware of the federal laws and now the Oklahoma law that banned the products that have these ingredients in them.”

Punishment for individuals caught with these synthetic marijuana substances consists of possible jail time and fines in the thousands of dollars.

jami-custer@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560



About the Author
Reporter

Jami Murphy graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2006 from Northeastern State University and began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2007.

She said the Cherokee Phoenix has allowed her the opportunity to share valuable information with the Cherokee people on a daily basis. 

Jami married Michael Murphy in 2014. They have two sons, Caden and Austin. Together they have four children, including Johnny and Chase. They also have two grandchildren, Bentley and Baylea. 

She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and said working for the Cherokee Phoenix has meant a great deal to her. 

“My great-great-great-great grandfather, John Leaf Springston, worked for the paper long ago. It’s like coming full circle. I’ve learned so much about myself, the Cherokee people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Jami is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. You can follow her on Twitter @jamilynnmurphy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamimurphy2014.
Reporter Jami Murphy graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2006 from Northeastern State University and began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2007. She said the Cherokee Phoenix has allowed her the opportunity to share valuable information with the Cherokee people on a daily basis. Jami married Michael Murphy in 2014. They have two sons, Caden and Austin. Together they have four children, including Johnny and Chase. They also have two grandchildren, Bentley and Baylea. She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and said working for the Cherokee Phoenix has meant a great deal to her. “My great-great-great-great grandfather, John Leaf Springston, worked for the paper long ago. It’s like coming full circle. I’ve learned so much about myself, the Cherokee people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” Jami is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. You can follow her on Twitter @jamilynnmurphy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamimurphy2014.

Health

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
10/22/2014 09:23 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) — The Cherokee Nation is opening a new $5 million substance abuse treatment center in Tahlequah. Tribal officials will conduct a grand opening Monday for the new Jack Brown Center, which helps treat Native American youth for drug and alcohol addiction. The tribe says the 28,000-square-foot campus includes five buildings and will serve up to 36 clients. The campus features a recreation center, cafeteria, group therapy rooms and male and female dorms.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
10/22/2014 08:09 AM
TULSA, Okla. – Clinical psychologists at the University of Tulsa, along with undergraduate and graduate students, are working to determine whether Native Americans process pain differently than other races. Nearly three years ago, Dr. Jamie Rhudy, associate professor of clinical psychology at TU, and Dr. Joanna Shadlow, applied assistant professor of clinical psychology at TU, became interested in pain processing within Natives after realizing Natives had yet to be thoroughly examined but were shown to have a high prevalence of chronic pain. “We did some digging around (and) we found that hardly anything had been done looking at pain in Native Americans,” Rhudy said. “(Existing studies) were (primarily) epidemiological, meaning that they were studying prevalence rates. There was not much out there in the literature, but what literature there was suggested that Native Americans actually have a higher prevalence of chronic pain and pain in general than any other minority group or the majority white group.” The duo then conducted a pilot study. “We developed a very small study and we conducted (it) over the course of about 18 months and we were able to get about 22 individual Native Americans, both male and female, all pain-free and healthy, and a control group of 20 Caucasians (healthy and pain-free),” he said. “We were surprised to find the Native Americans had lower pain sensitivity. They had higher pain thresholds, higher pain tolerances.” Rhudy said this was opposite of what they predicted, stating that people who are at risk for chronic pain usually have higher pain sensitivity. He added that factors that contribute to chronic pain risk may be different in Native Americans. With hopes of receiving funding and conducting a larger, more in-depth study of the link between Natives and chronic pain, Rhudy said they submitted a grant proposal to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, an institute within the National Institutes of Health that focuses on reducing health disparities in minorities. “The group (NIMHD) believed that this would be a good project to invest their funds in,” said Rhudy. “They gave us funds to do a multi-year project and we’re going to do it (on a) much larger scale.” The project began in August 2013 with equipment purchasing, setting up lab areas and training student researchers. This past March researchers began recruiting participants. The project is funded for four years but Rhudy said he hopes to extend it to a fifth year if funds allow. “We’re targeting 120 Native American and 120 Caucasian controls. The first thing that we want to do is be able to replicate the findings that we found in our first pilot study and (find out) if that’s true the Native American group is less pain sensitive than the Caucasian group,” he said. Individuals partaking in the study must be healthy, currently pain-free, have no history of chronic pain and be 18 years of age or older. Before coming to the TU lab, participants will receive a phone screening to ensure they are qualified. For example, participants cannot be on pain medications. If they do take pain medications the medications must be washed out of their systems before they can participate, Rhudy said. The study involves two days of testing. Each testing day can last between four and six hours. On one testing day sensors are placed on the participants face, hands, torso, top of the head and back of the leg. It generally takes an hour to apply the sensors. “It’s not like when folks come in that they’ll actually be going through four hours of continuous painful stimuli,” he said. “We very thoughtfully tried to arrange the tests in such a way that there are breaks in between them.” The test can occur on back-to-back days or be spread out. The tests are also available on weekends. Those who complete both days of testing receive $200 and those who complete one day receive $100. Rhudy said participants who have to drive more than 30 minutes for testing are reimbursed for mileage. “If the participants are coming in from out of town we reimburse for mileage,” he said. “For people who are coming a really far distance and it’s not feasible for them to come in on two separate days, we actually have money available to put individuals up in a hotel room to stay over night so that we can get them tested in two consecutive days.” The multiple tests include those involving heat, cold water and pressure. He said one stimulus they would test is a controlled heat stimulus conducted with safe and precise equipment. “We deliver heat pulses and then we measure people’s reactions to that both subjectively, like their perception of it, then we measure the body’s (physiological) reaction,” he said. Another stimulus will be cold water. Rhudy said they would have circulating water that they can set at a specific temperature. Rhudy said during one test participants will be asked to place their hand in the water, up to their wrist and to keep it there as long as they can tolerate it. “While their arm is in the water we have them rate, in real time, the pain as it’s evolving,” he said. He said researchers also have a device that applies pressure to the skin to examine how much pressure is needed before the body site becomes painful, a device that dispenses electric stimuli to active nerves known to be involved with pain processing and a device that works with blood flow and requires the participant to wear a blood pressure cuff that squeezes the upper arm and creates a throbbing pain in the forearm muscles. Participants will also view a series of emotional photos that are pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. He said electrical stimulations will be delivered to nerves in the ankle during the pictures and researchers can see how reactions in the brain and spinal cord change by the pictures participants are seeing. Participants will also be put through a test to see how their body reacts to pain when tasked with another painful procedure. “The way we do this is we have participants place their arm in the cold circulating water and then we test pain using electric stimulations and heat on a different body part before, during and after having their hand in the cold water,” he said. After conducting the tests, Rhudy said, researches will contact participants and conduct brief assessments to see if any participants have began to develop chronic pain. “We’re going to be checking in with them every six months,” he said. He said this would be a 30-minute assessment regarding the participant’s health, pain and well-being and that no painful tests would be conducted. Rhudy said by conducting the tests and ongoing assessments, researches hope to identify potential risk factors for chronic pain development so they can prevent or possibly reverse chronic pain development. Ultimately, Rhudy said he and other researchers hope to help Native Americans who have high-risk factors for or who live with chronic pain. “We hope that this is going to help thousands of people in the future to be able to keep them from going on to develop chronic pain and maybe even develop interventions for those that do ultimately develop chronic pain, but we can’t know (do) that without doing these types of studies,” he said. For more information, call 918-631-3565 or 918-631-2175.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/21/2014 03:12 PM
BOSTON, Mass. – According to an October 2014 Harvard Women’s Health Watch, to lower cholesterol a health diet is necessary, but that doesn’t mean the food must be “less appetizing.” “A heart-healthy diet doesn't have to be an exercise in self-deprivation,” states the Harvard health publication. “It's a good idea to say goodbye to some snacks and fast foods, but they can usually be replaced with others that are equally satisfying. The key is exchanging bad fats for good ones,” Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said. “Because all fats contain the same number of calories – about 100 per tablespoon – the substitution isn’t likely to leave you feeling hungry.” She adds that trans fats show up on food labels as “partially hydrogenated” oils. “They are found most commonly in packaged bakery goods, crackers, microwave popcorn, and other snacks,” she said. “Trans fats boost the level of harmful LDL cholesterol, lower protective HDL cholesterol, and increase inflammation.” The publication also states to use vegetable oils when possible. “These contain a mixture of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Other good sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats include most seeds and nuts, avocados, and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, herring, and mackerel,” Harvard Women’s Health Watch states. McManus said saturated fats and dietary cholesterol are all right in small amounts, they are mostly found in animal-based foods like red meat and milk. “That translates to four eggs a week and small servings of red meat, shrimp, lobster, cheese, butter, and organ meats every couple of weeks or so. But don't make the mistake of substituting sugar for fat. Many foods advertised as low fat, like salad dressings and cookies, contain extra sugar to make up for the loss of flavor from removing fat,” the publication states. McManus said doing so is one of the worst choices you can make. “The higher-fat version may sometimes be a better choice,” she added.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/20/2014 03:45 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – Throughout October, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa guests can enjoy a stay on a hotel floor decked out in pink décor and earn a chance to win a custom, restored 1955 pink Cadillac and purchase limited edition pink apparel. “We’ve taken pink to a whole new level this year, and it is a creative way for our guests and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa to contribute to the ongoing fight against breast cancer,” Jon Davidson, hotel director of hospitality said. “We’re extremely proud to help bring awareness to Oklahoma Project Woman, because it is a local organization that provides services year-round to those who are battling a disease that impacts thousands of Oklahomans each year.” To contribute to the ongoing fight against breast cancer, The Hard Rock Store is also selling limited edition pink apparel with a portion of the proceeds being donated to Oklahoma Project Woman, which provides breast health education, no cost mammography, diagnostic procedures and surgical services for women who because of financial hardship may delay seeking medical attention. Also during the month, guests who book a room on the 10th floor of Hard Rock’s newest hotel tower will experience all pink amenities, including sheets, pillows, robes, elevator and hotel suite doors. For giveaway rules and details for the pink Cadillac or for more information, visit <a href="http://www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com" target="_blank">www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com</a> or visit the Cherokee Star Rewards Club.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
10/17/2014 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tribal Council on Sept. 15 approved six people as members for the Cherokee Health Partners board. The board is made up of five voting members, three who represent the tribe and two who represent Northeastern Health Systems, formerly known as Tahlequah City Hospital. Each board member also has an alternate. Those approved on Sept. 15 were Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital CEO Brian Hail; Health Finances Director Ami Sams; Connie Davis, CN Health Services executive director; Health Services Senior Director of Health Finances Rick Kelly; Senior Director of Health Services Sandie Taggart and Dr. Roger Montgomery, CN medical director. Other board members are Julie Ward, NHS vice president of finance; and Brian Woodliff, NHS president and CEO. Mark McCroskey, NHS vice president of operations; and NHS Vice President of Patient Care Donna Dallis, as well as Sams, Taggart and Montgomery will serve as alternate members. Board members selected by each entity to serve five-year terms can be reappointed. Board members are non-paid positions and are trained in regards to conflicts of interest. Hail said CHP was created in 2004. It is a CN limited liability company formed between the tribe’s comprehensive care agency and the Tahlequah Hospital Authority. “Cherokee Health Partners is now a Cherokee Nation LLC with the Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah Hospital Authority as partners,” Hail said. “Cherokee Health Partners was developed between Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah City Hospital, now known as Northeastern Health System, to provide imaging services in an integrated manner for both entities.” CHP focuses on “improving the quality, access and cost efficiency of imaging services” to areas served by both hospitals,” he said. “Additionally, Cherokee Health Partners overriding purpose was to further the nonprofit care which is at the heart of both entities’ mission,” Hail said. “Recently, Cherokee Health Partners’ operating agreement was amended to allow an expanded scope of services so that it can focus not just on imaging services for the community, but also on other medical services that can be better served by collaboration and coordination between the two partners.” Hail said the board helps provide personnel and equipment for specialized imaging services for both entities, including nuclear imaging, ultrasonography, echocardiography, and cardiac stress tests. “Having these services provided in the community by qualified staff members in the community means that patients don’t have to travel long distances for specialized care and that skilled jobs are created and kept within Northeastern Oklahoma,” he said. “Fewer patients have to be transferred for appropriate tests to be performed which means they’re able to stay in their community while receiving excellent medical care.” CHP is a partnership with the majority interest in the LLC being owned by CN, therefore, the tribe selects its representatives and no approval is necessary by outside of the CN. “The Tahlequah Hospital Authority Board of Trustees selects the representatives for Northeastern Health System,” he added. CHP hosts one annual business meeting a year at the Medical Office Building located at 1373 E. Boone Street in Tahlequah. “Additionally, meetings are open and are held as needed,” Hail said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/10/2014 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – To prepare for the upcoming influenza season, Cherokee Nation Health Services has an increased supply of vaccinations on hand to offer multiple flu clinics in October and November for Cherokees and citizens of federally recognized tribes. “Flu season is responsible for a lot of hospitalizations of children and elders. It’s so important that everybody – kids and adults – receive their flu vaccination before flu season starts,” Dr. Dante Perez, W.W. Hastings Hospital chief of pediatrics, said. “Vaccines allow our bodies to develop antibodies against the virus given time. It’s not automatic, and it doesn’t happen immediately. That’s why it’s so important to get it done early.” The tribe’s eight health centers and Hastings Hospital received more than 50,000 doses of the flu vaccine altogether. Flu clinics will be set up in more than 50 locations, including health centers and schools, to provide tribal citizens and their families with easier access to the vaccinations. In 2013, Health Services administered approximately 35,000 flu vaccines. “By establishing flu clinics in our health care facilities and communities, having vaccines available at scheduled patient visits and providing this service for a longer period of time, we hope to be even more successful at getting our citizens and their families vaccinated than last year,” Jennifer Belden, CN infection preventionist, said. “We are bringing the vaccines to the community by utilizing the public health nurses at several offsite locations. Our employees are dedicated to providing this service and eager to reach out to the community in order to combat this virus.” Hastings Hospital will kick off its flu clinic from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday on Oct. 8. Flu clinics will be set up at several other locations in Cherokee County, such as area schools, through Nov. 14. For a complete list of flu clinics within the 14-county tribal jurisdiction, click <a href="http://www.cherokee.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=yilAb5Fa73w%3d&tabid=5274&portalid=0&mid=5878" target="_blank">here</a>. Flu Clinic information will be updated regularly.