Screening News Weekly Wrap: June 5th, 2020

About 5 min

Screening News Weekly Wrap: June 5th, 2020

Federal charges for faking a case of COVID-19, a little freedom for marijuana users in Virginia, and pharmacies are finally feeling the heat over the opioid crisis. Check out EBI’s Screening News Weekly Wrap for the details.


Feds Charge Georgia Man for Faking COVID-19

We all love a good stupid criminal story, but the most interesting part of this one may be WHY this guy’s actions are considered a federal crime.

A Georgia man told his Fortune 500 employer that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and sent a doctor’s note to back it up. Out of an abundance of caution, the employer shut down the entire Atlanta operation to sanitize the workplace. The company also paid its entire staff to stay home for 14 days to make sure no one else was infected.

You’ve probably already guessed that the guy was lying and didn’t really have COVID-19. His little ruse cost his employer more than $100,000. That’s why the Department of Justice is now involved.

Even though the wayward employee has admitted to the lie and the fake doctor’s note, the real legal issue might end up being the fact that he emailed the “doctor’s note” to his employer. For that email to get from his home in Georgia to his company’s home office in Pennsylvania it traveled over various servers in other states. That little detail makes this lie not just an expensive mistake – but interstate wire-fraud!

“Ban the Box” for Marijuana Possession?

Using marijuana in the state of Virginia will no longer be a crime but asking about it will be! At the end of May, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill that essentially decriminalizes simple marijuana possession.

If Virginia is any indication, we could be entering a new era of Ban the Box laws like this one. Typically, Ban the Box refers to laws that prohibit employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history on the initial application. Some laws extend the moratorium until after a conditional offer of employment is made.

While it is still technically illegal to possess marijuana in Virginia, people caught with up to an ounce of the drug will only face a maximum fine of $25. This will be a civil penalty, not a criminal conviction.

But the law goes even further. As of July 1st, employers and educational institutions will not be allowed to ask applicants to disclose any information about previous marijuana charges. Not only are they not allowed to ask, the law specifically allows applicants to leave out simple marijuana possession when asked about arrests, criminal charges, and convictions, even if they were caught before this law was created.

Employers and educational institutions who violate this new law could face criminal charges.

Pharmacies Accused of Fueling Opioid Crisis

A newly filed federal lawsuit accuses some of the nation’s largest pharmacies of not only distributing an outrageous number of pills in small towns across the country, but of turning a blind eye to suspicious prescriptions that should have been flagged and turned over to authorities.

The suit accuses retailers such as CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens of flooding tiny towns will millions of doses of highly addictive opioids. While the drug manufacturers and physicians have been sued for pushing the medications, the retailers that sold them have remained out of the line of fire for years.

But according to this lawsuit, the pharmacies didn’t just sell the drugs, they joined forces with the manufacturers to convince patients the medications were safe. Some participated in seminars touting the drugs, others sent patients letters urging them to continue filling their prescriptions, while others accepted bonuses for selling the most doses.

Many of the companies are refusing to comment on the lawsuit. A few that responded to the New York Times basically said they were just following doctors' orders. 

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