Senator Mike Folmer E-Newsletter

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Welcome to "Mike's Memo," an update on what's happening in the 48th Senatorial District and the State Capitol. If you haven't done so already, please take a moment to visit my website at www.senatorfolmer.com to learn more about my legislative priorities issues that may affect you and your family.

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Week of May 20, 2019

May 20th is National Rescue Dog Day!

More than three million dogs enter U.S. shelters every year, and each waits to be rescued into a loving home.  National Rescue Dog Day is a reminder of the need for pet adoptions and the great joy rescue dogs can bring to a household.  Several of my staff members currently have rescue dogs as a part of their families, meet them below!

Meeko is about seven years old, possibly a hound/Labrador/Swiss mountain mix.  He was a stray in West Virginia and at a high-volume facility.  2nd Chance 4 Life rescued and fostered him until he was adopted into his forever family in 2013.  His favorite things are treats, going to Lowe’s, stuffed squeaky toys and swimming in ponds!

Meet Kiylayle, which means “protected one” in Ethiopian.  She was found as a stray with acid burn-type sores and emaciated, but is now fully back to health!  She is about five years old and a pit bull mix, adopted from the Lebanon Humane Society.  Her favorite things are a nerf tennis ball shooter and rawhides.

Luna is a one year old German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix, and Kiylayle’s adopted sister, also from the Lebanon Humane Society!  Her favorite things are going for walks and raw hides.

Kita is a 15 year old Siberian Husky, rescued in 2004.  Her previous owner did not have the time for her and surrendered her.  Her favorite things are treats, play dates with younger pups, and howling along to fire and ambulance sirens!

Aspen Dental National Day of Service, Free Dental Care for Veterans

Aspen Dental’s National Day of Service is Saturday, June 8, which is when Veterans can visit one of Aspen’s 450 offices across 39 states for free dental care!  Interested Veterans need to make an appointment by calling 1-844-277-3646 – space is limited and appointments are filling fast.  Participating Aspen practices serving those from the 48th Senatorial District include Lebanon and West York, though there are 25 practices participating throughout PA.

Constituent Highlight:  Richard Bleistine

Congratulations to Richard Bleistine, of Lebanon, who was recently honored with the General Frank Smoker Beyond the Call Award by the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce!  Richard is a graduate of Lebanon High School, retired Manager of Harpel’s, Inc., and a Veteran of the United States Navy, who has distinguished himself through exceptional service to his fellow Veterans as a member of the Honor Guard of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 23 since 1976.

In addition to providing military honors at private burials for 43 years, Richard has conducted military funerals at Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery since it opened for burials in 1982.  He is a former member of the Lebanon City Council, which he served for 24 years, and has further served his community as a volunteer firefighter for 58 years, and as Treasurer of the Firemen’s Association of PA. 

Richard richly deserves this recognition as he is a shining example of community spirit whose many contributions are worthy of deep gratitude and respect!  Thank you for your service and all you do for our community and its Veterans!

Column:  The Deadliest Drug?

During my battle to bring medical cannabis to Pennsylvania, I was accused of promoting drug use.  Even though I offered statistics, studies, and other information to refute these claims, the opposition continued.

At the same time the General Assembly was deliberating medical cannabis, it was also considering bills to expand access to liquor – most notably, beer sales in grocery stores.  I continue to find the irony perplexing.

Cannabis is listed by the federal government as a Schedule I drug, which, according to the US Drug Enforcement Agency, have these characteristics:  a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use, and lacks accepted safety even under medical supervision.

No prescriptions can be written for Schedule I substances and they are not readily available for clinical use.  Meanwhile, alcohol is legal, widely available and popular.

The National Institutes of Health, says alcohol can lead to:

  • Injuries: alcohol is a factor in about 60% of fatal burns, drownings and homicides; 50% of severe trauma injuries and sexual assaults; and 40% of fatal motor vehicle crashes, suicides and fatal falls;
  • Health problems: heavy drinkers have a greater risk of liver and heart disease, sleep disorders, depression, stroke, stomach bleeding, sexually transmitted infections and several types of cancer; they may also have problems with diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions;
  • Birth defects: drinking during pregnancy can cause brain damage and other serious problems for unborn babies, and;
  • Alcohol use disorders: about 17 million Americans have such conditions.

The national Centers for Disease Control say, “Drinking too much can harm your health.  Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years.  Excessive drinking was responsible for one in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years.  The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2010 were estimated at $249 billion, or $2.05 a drink.”

Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or those under 21.

Binge drinking is the most common form of excessive drinking and is defined as consuming four or more drinks during a single occasion for women and five or more drinks during a single occasion for men.

Heavy drinking is defined as consuming eight or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more drinks per week for men.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

A standard drink contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol.  Generally, this amount is found in:  12-ounces of beer (5% alcohol content), 8-ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content), 5-ounces of wine (12% alcohol content), and 1.5-ounces of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor.

These are among the reasons for the 1920 passage of the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which ushered in Prohibition.  However, thirteen years later, the 20th Amendment was passed, ending “The Great Experiment”.

Cannabis sits with heroin, LSD, cocaine and “Ecstasy” as Schedule I drugs.  Meanwhile, morphine, opium, and codeine are listed under Schedule II.

Hopefully, with continued clinical trials and studies of cannabis’ effects on chronic pain, addiction, neurological disorders, seizure disorders, cancer, and other medical conditions, medical science will prevail and medical cannabis will be reclassified.  This is a goal of the so-called “Chapter 20” research provisions of my medical cannabis bill, now a three-year old law.

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