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
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 JAMI MURPHY
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.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/10/2014 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Seven Commissioned Corps officers who work for the Cherokee Nation were promoted on Sept. 26 during a ceremony at CN W.W. Hastings Hospital. “The Cherokee Nation’s relationship with the Commissioned Corps allows us access to expertise in fields of medicine and engineering that otherwise would be difficult to achieve in a rural setting,” W.W. Hastings Hospital CEO Brian Hail said. “These officers also provide us with a level of professionalism and commitment to health service that’s unsurpassed.” Clayton Myers, Amanda Bonner, Carl Coats and Linzi Allen, all pharmacists and Crystal Bright a nurse were all promoted to lieutenant commander. They all work at at Hastings. Steve Scott was promoted to commander. He is a pharmacist at the Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee. David Gahn was promoted to captain. He is the surveillance coordinator for Cherokee Nation Public Health. There are approximately 100 Commissioned Corps officers who work in the Nation’s Health Services. The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is a group of uniformed health professionals who work to provide care to vulnerable and underserved populations in the United States.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/07/2014 03:53 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – The ninth annual Breast Cancer Awareness Event to benefit Women Who Care is slated for Oct. 23 at Arrowhead Mall. The event will be located at the west end of the mall near Dillard’s from 11:45 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. It will consist of a luncheon, silent auction and fashion show. The fashion show features breast cancer survivors modeling the latest fall fashions, according to a release. Cherokee Nation citizen Gina Olaya will be the guest speaker. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Okie Country 101.7 in Arrowhead Mall. All proceeds will go to benefit Women Who Care, a 501(c)(3) organization that helps provide outreach, prevention, education and support about breast cancer to women in the Muskogee area. For more information, call Julie Ledbetter at 918-520-7872.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/07/2014 03:48 PM
VINITA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Vinita Health Center will host a health fair offering nutrition education, samples and door prizes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 14. “Take advantage of this great opportunity to learn more about our clinic and the services Cherokee Nation and the Vinita Health Center now have available for you and your family,” a release states. The fair will also include door prizes, and attendees will be able to make appointments and receive information on immunizations and a blood drive. The clinic is located at 27371 S. 4410 Road. For more information, call Zachary Hamby at 918-559-2372, ext. 4841 or email zachary-hamby@cherokee.org.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/02/2014 03:17 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. –The Jack C. Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center will be providing a free flu shot clinic for enrolled veterans from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 6-10 in the building’s auditorium. Appointments are not necessary as walk-ins are welcome. Veterans must bring their veteran identification cards to receive shots. Veterans who do not attend the clinic can receive their free flu shots by making a scheduled appointment with their primary care providers. Seasonal flu activity in the United States typically peaks in January or February, but in some cases can begin as early as October and run as late as May. For more information about the flu, visit <a href="http://www.publichealth.va.gov/flu/vaccination/" target="_blank">www.publichealth.va.gov/flu/vaccination/</a>.