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Morning Headlines: Feds Release Painkiller Data; State Accepts Marijuana Prescriber Applications

Prescription pain pills
FDA

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, March 21:

  • Feds turn over prescription painkiller sales data in opioid lawsuits;
  • Ohio medical board now accepting doctors' applications to prescribe marijuana;
  • Former Steelers team doctor sentenced to 10 years in prison;
  • Federal court upholds dismissal of Supreme Court term limit amendment lawsuit;
  • Animal rights group opposes Ohio state dog proposal;
  • Akron city engineer defends tree harvesting plan;
  • Accused terrorist recruiter found guilty on federal charges in Akron;
  • Anti-abortion group announces primary endorsements;
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame contributes nearly $200 million to NEO economy annually;

Feds turn over prescription painkiller sales data in opioid lawsuits, but not to the public
The U.S. Department of Justice has turned over to a federal judge in Cleveland data about prescription painkiller sales to help with settlement talks between hundreds of local and state governments and drug companies targeted in lawsuits over the opioid epidemic. The department previously agreed to turn over certain data on the grounds it not be circulated publicly and be returned or destroyed when the litigation is finished. The information includes year-by-year, state-by-state breakdown of companies that made and distributed most of the opioids in each state between 2006 and 2014. It also includes how many pills were sold annually in each state and each drug company's market share.

Ohio medical board now accepting doctors' applications to prescribe marijuana
The state medical board has begun accepting applications from doctors who want to prescribe marijuana when it becomes legal in September. To qualify, they have to have an active Ohio medical license, take two hours of classes on diagnosing and treating conditions with marijuana and have no financial stake in medical marijuana companies. The medical board’s licensure team will review the application, which the medical board is expected to start approving on April 11.  The state’s medical marijuana law includes 21 conditions for which marijuana can be prescribed, including chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. It can only be in the form of oils, tinctures, edibles or patches.

Former Steelers team doctor sentenced to 10 years in prison
Former Pittsburgh Steelers physician Richard Rydze has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for illegally distributing steroids and painkillers. The assistant U.S. Attorney for Northern Ohio, Justin Herdman, announced the sentencing on Tuesday. A jury last year convicted Rydze on 180 counts including conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids, human growth hormone and oxycodone. A U.S. District judge is also ordering Rydze to pay more than $40,000 in restitution and special assessments. Rydze is a former Olympic swimmer and was a team doctor for the Steelers from 1985 until 2007.

Federal court upholds dismissal of Supreme Court term limit amendment lawsuit
A federal appeals court has upheld dismissal of a lawsuit over a proposed constitutional amendment ballot issue in Ohio. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed yesterday with a lower court's ruling against a group that claimed its First Amendment rights were violated by an Ohio Ballot Board decision. The board said in 2016 that the proposal to impose term limits on state Supreme Court justices and remove special legal protections for state lawmakers and their staffs required two separate ballot issues.

Animal rights group opposes Ohio state dog proposal
A national animal welfare organization is opposing a proposal to make the Labrador retriever the state dog of Ohio, arguing the bill will entice puppy mills to produce them in large numbers. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to the bill's sponsor saying it believes the measure should be amended to include mutts or shelter dogs. A dozen states have an official state dog, including Georgia, which in 2016 recognized the "adoptable dog." Others include the Great Dane in Pennsylvania and the American water spaniel in Wisconsin.

Akron city engineer defends tree harvesting plan
Akron is defending its plan to harvest trees around a city reservoir in Geauga County over the objections of some residents there. In a letter to the editor of the Beacon Journal, city engineer John Moore says the city plans to log less than 4 percent of the trees per acre at the LaDue reservoir, and that the forest around the reservoir is three to four times denser than is healthy. He says the city is engaging in a conservative approach that will be better for the watershed forest, protect the water supply and be designated by the state as a best management demonstration site.

Accused terrorist recruiter found guilty on federal charges in Akron
A North Carolina man accused of trying to recruit people to conduct terrorist attacks in the name of the Islamic State group has been found guilty on federal charges in Akron. A jury found 37-year-old Erick Jamal Hendricks guilty yesterday on charges of conspiracy and attempt to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization. Hendricks was arrested in 2016. Authorities say he tried to recruit people through social media, and prosecutors said he tole one person his goal was to create a terrorist cell that would conduct attacks in the United States. No sentencing date has been set.

Anti-abortion group announces primary endorsements
Ohio Right to Life’s political action committee has issued endorsements in two contested primaries, including the 16th Congressional District. There, the anti-abortion group endorsed former pro football player Anthony Gonzalez over state Rep. Christina Hagan, who sponsored the bill in the state legislature that outlawed abortion at the point at which a fetal heartbeat can be detected – as early as six weeks. The group also endorsed the current congressman for that district, Jim Renacci, in his bid for Senate.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame contributes nearly $200 million to NEO economy annually
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame says it’s worth nearly $200 million a year in to Northeast Ohio’s economy. A study released yesterday says more than half-a-million visitors to the Rock Hall last year spent $349,000 a day at the museum and nearby restaurants, hotels and other facilities. It collects more than $13 million in state and local taxes. The rock hall induction will be in Cleveland this year on April 7. It’s expected to draw 10,000 people.