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
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
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.
jami-murphy@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
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
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
02/17/2017 06:15 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials – along with representatives from state, federal and local governments – broke ground Feb. 17 on a 469,000-square-foot addition at the W.W. Hastings Hospital campus. According to a CN Communications press release, the facility will be four stories tall and feature 180 exam rooms with access to a MRI machine; 10 new cardiac, lung and kidney specialists; and an ambulatory surgery center. “The facility is the outcome of the largest IHS-joint venture agreement ever between a tribe and the federal government. The Cherokee Nation is paying for the $200 million construction of the health center, while Indian Health Service has agreed to pay an estimated $80 million or more per year for at least 20 years for staffing and operation costs,” the release states. Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said the facility would offer a new level of health care and increase access to services in northeastern Oklahoma. “On behalf of the Cherokee Nation Health Services staff, I thank (Principal) Chief (Bill John) Baker, the Tribal Council and Cherokee Nation Businesses for giving us the opportunity to deliver first-class health care to our patients,” Davis said. The release states the facility will feature five surgical suites and two endoscopy suites inside its ambulatory surgical center. It will also house a specialty clinic and feature 33 dental chairs, six eye exam rooms, three audiology testing booths and diagnostic imaging. There will also be an expansion space for rehabilitation services, behavioral health and a wellness center. Baker said the facility would be the length of two football fields, 2-1/2 times the size of current Hastings facilities. “Folks, it’s going to be a game changer, and with our partnership with IHS with it will come $80-plus million dollars a year each and every year to fund the staff to take better care of the Cherokee people,” he said. “We’ve had so many great days in the Cherokee Nation. I do not know of a greater day than today. This is going to make health care not only the best in Indian Country, but our people quite likely will have the best health care in the state of Oklahoma.” According to the release, when Hastings Hospital was built in 1986, it was built for 100,000 patient visits per year. In 2016, there were nearly 400,000 patients visits with many of them being referred out for specialty services, the release states. Baker also said more than 850 health care jobs would be created from the expansion. In 2013, CN pledged to use $100 million from CNB casino profits to improve the tribe’s health care. According to the release, the funds helped to expand Stilwell and Sallisaw health centers and built new health centers in Ochelata and Jay. Upon the expansion’s completion in 2019, the current hospital will serve as the tribe’s in-patient hospital.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/15/2017 04:00 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Claremore Indian Hospital will host an Affordable Care Act Outreach and Enrollment Fair from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on March 1 in Conference Room 1. “We will be hosting another ACA Outreach and Enrollment Fair here at Claremore,” Sheila Dishno, patient benefit coordinator, said. “Even though members of federally recognized tribes have a special monthly enrollment status, it is important for American Indian and Alaska Native individuals and families to learn about their insurance options. Whether it’s purchasing insurance through the Marketplace or qualifying for SoonerCare, knowing that you have quality coverage provides peace of mind.” Dishno said people who attend the fair should bring their Social Security cards, pay stubs, W-2 forms or wage and tax statements, policy numbers for any current health insurance and information about any health insurance they or their families could get from an employer. Also Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Oklahoma will attend to assist patients with signing up for free-to-low-cost health insurance. The hospital is located at 101 S. Moore Ave. For more information, call 918-342-6240, 918-342-6559 or 918-342-6507.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/13/2017 02:00 PM
LONGMONT, Colo. – Applications for two grants under the First Nations Development Institute’s Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative are due by 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on Feb. 17. First Nations will award up to 12 grants of up to $35,000 each to support projects that aim to strengthen local food-system control; increase access to local, healthy and traditional foods; and decrease food insecurity and food deserts, all with an emphasis on serving Native American children and families. For this grant opportunity, examples of allowable activities include, but are not limited to: • Community Garden Development, • Food Sovereignty Initiatives, • Food System Planning, • Supply Chain Improvements, • Grower-Based Education Programs, and • Intergenerational Programs with a Focus on Food. ?First Nations will also award up to 10 grants of up to $15,000 each to Native communities looking to conduct food sovereignty assessments in order to gain a better knowledge and understanding about the historical, current and future state of their local food systems. Under this grant opportunity, examples of allowable activities include, but are not limited to: • Food Sovereignty Assessment Planning, • Conducting Food Sovereignty Assessments, • Data Analysis of Food Sovereignty Assessment Surveys, and • Community Meetings Related to a Food Sovereignty Assessment. ?The request for proposals for grants can be accessed at <a href="http://www.firstnations.org/grantmaking/2017NAFSI" target="_blank">http://www.firstnations.org/grantmaking/2017NAFSI</a>. The request for proposals for the food sovereignty assessment grants can be accessed at <a href="http://www.firstnations.org/grantmaking/2017FSA" target="_blank">http://www.firstnations.org/grantmaking/2017FSA</a>. Organizations are invited to apply for one or both of these opportunities. Entities eligible to apply include U.S.-based, Native American-controlled, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, tribes and tribal departments, tribal organizations or Native American community-based groups with eligible fiscal sponsors committed to increasing healthy food access in rural and reservation-based Native communities and improving the health and well-being of Native American children and families. ??
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/06/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital is among a few hospitals in the country nationally recognized for using electronic medical records and other technology to advance health services for patients. The CN received notification earlier in January that it is now certified as a Stage 6 hospital from the Chicago-based Health Information & Management System Society. The nonprofit reports just 30 percent of the more than 5,400 hospitals in the United States have reached Stage 6 qualifications. There are 19 hospitals in Oklahoma certified as Stage 6, and the CN and Muscogee (Creek) Nation are the only tribes with the certification in the state. “Implementing electronic health records was a huge endeavor for the Cherokee Nation and not an easy task, but we are seeing the tremendous benefits, including better quality of patient documentation, which increases the level of care of our Cherokee Nation citizens,” Donnie Parrish, CN Health Services Health IT division chief information officer, said. “As the Cherokee Nation applies for grants and accreditations, the technology component is a key part of obtaining those awards, and so we’re extremely grateful to now be certified by HIMSS for our technology advances.” Health Services began working to upgrade its technology a few years ago. In 2015, the CN implemented electronic health records for patients. Prior, half of the tribe’s patient health records were paper and half electronic and many patients had multiple charts at multiple CN health centers. That made it difficult to access all of a patient’s files quickly or even to share information between health professionals. Hastings’ medical providers recently started using mobile technology carts with laptops to diagnose patients from their rooms, which directly upload to electronic health records. W.W. Hastings Hospital also has an online pharmacy refill and patient portal for patients to access their information. “HIMSS Analytics congratulates Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital for making significant progress towards achieving advanced health IT adoption,” said Global Vice President of HIMSS Analytics John H. Daniels. “Stage 6 represents a level of sophistication that can lead to innovative health care transformation.” Advantages for being a Stage 6 hospital, according to HIMSS, include better recruitment over competitors, documented health improvements and being positioned to give quality data results to stakeholders, grantees or other medical facilities. “Using this type of technology has a direct impact on improving patient access and quality of care in the Cherokee Nation,” Connie Davis, Health Services executive director, said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/24/2017 04:00 PM
WASHINGTON – As part of President Obama’s Generation Indigenous initiative to remove barriers to success for Native American youth, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education on Jan. 19 announced that they joined with federal partners to launch the Culture and Meth Don’t Mix program, a methamphetamine prevention initiative for Native youth. The program is the result of collaboration under the Gen-I initiative between the White House Council on Native American Affairs, the BIA’s Office of Justice Services, BIE and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It aims to be a culturally appropriate approach for meth prevention among Native American youth through community and interagency involvement. The program also reflects the Interior’s intent to uphold the United States’ trust responsibility to federally recognized tribes. “Through the Generation Indigenous initiative, the Obama Administration has sought to utilize federal resources across the board to address the issues that can prevent Native youth from fulfilling their potential,” Deputy Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Lawrence S. Roberts said. “The Culture and Meth Don’t Mix program’s goal is to strengthen meth prevention in tribal communities through the combined efforts of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services, BIE schools, and SAMHSA. I want to thank SAMHSA for working with us to help tribes with protecting their children and youth, and tribal leaders for participating in this important effort.” The program was rolled out with Indian Affairs, BIA and BIE officials and leaders from seven tribes: The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, the White Earth Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana, and the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s Pleasant Point and Indian Township communities in Maine. The program also includes a speaker series to be held in selected BIE schools that will discuss the implications and health issues involved with methamphetamine use. Speakers will include BIA law enforcement officials who will explain the legal implications of meth use, a SAMHSA-recommended health professional to describe how meth affects personal health and a representative from the tribal community to address meth’s impact on it culture and people. The BIE implements federal Indian education programs and funds 183 elementary and secondary day and boarding schools (of which two-thirds are tribally operated) located on 64 reservations in 23 states and peripheral dormitories serving over 40,000 students. The BIE also operates two post-secondary schools, and administers grants for 28 tribally controlled colleges and universities and two tribal technical colleges and provides higher education scholarships to Native youth. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.bie.edu" target="_blank">www.bie.edu</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/17/2017 12:00 PM
WASHINGTON – The Indian Health Service on Jan. 9 published a report outlining a policy and implementation plan to expand the use of community health aides in American Indian and Alaska Native health programs across the country. Community health aides are paraprofessional health care workers who can perform a range of duties in health programs to improve access to quality care for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Under the new policy, facilities operated by the federal government and tribally operated facilities could see expanded opportunities for using these aides, a group that could include dental health aide therapists and workers in substance use and suicide prevention, health education, communicable disease control, maternal and child health, environmental health and other fields. “Increased access to health care is a top priority for IHS, and community health aides expand much-needed health services for American Indian and Alaska Native communities,” said Mary L. Smith, IHS principal deputy director. “I thank all of our tribal partners for sharing their feedback, and I look forward to their continued participation and partnership as we work together to develop a robust implementation plan. Community health aides are already providing quality health care in some parts of Indian Country, and with the expansion of this program, Native American communities across the nation will have access to these valuable health workers.” In June, IHS invited comments from tribal leaders on a draft policy statement to begin a process of expanding the use of community health aides at IHS facilities across the country. January’s announcement includes a report summarizing the comments received during consultation meetings and other comments sent to the IHS. As described in the report, IHS will establish a national workgroup that includes tribal leaders and outside experts to advise IHS on the development of a policy and implementation plan for the Community Health Aide Program. IHS will then seek input through the formal tribal consultation process, and finalize the policy. IHS already runs an evaluation system mandated by statute to monitor current IHS community health aides to assure that quality health care is being provided to patients. The Report on the Tribal Consultation for the IHS Policy Statement on Creating a National IHS Community Health Aide Program and Dear Tribal Leader Letter announcing the report are available at <a href="http://www.ihs.gov" target="_blank">www.ihs.gov</a>. In August, through the Community Health Aide Program Certification Board it manages, IHS certified the latest group of community health aides in Alaska, totaling 171 behavioral health, dental health and other aides and practitioners. Many community health aides come from the local communities and immediate surrounding areas.