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Mastriano yet to concede Pa. governor's race

Plus, a glimpse into the big business of medical marijuana cards.

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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
November 11, 2022
Money-back guarantee, no concession, false claims, after death, path to victory, Congress count, and fire on the mountain. It's Friday.
Bette Grey was interested in using medical cannabis to help with chronic pain and turned to a nationwide company for help getting approved. 

But the virtual appointment that followed left her concerned and ultimately prompted the first disciplinary action against a prescribing physician in the six-year history of Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program. 

The company, Veriheal, connected Grey with a doctor named Theodore Colterelli. In a video call that followed, Grey said Colterelli was barely visible, hurried, and didn't even have the medical records he'd need to vet her claim under one of the program's 23 qualifying medical conditions.

“Is he giving out legitimate approvals?” Grey recalled thinking.

Pennsylvania health officials, responding to a complaint filed by Grey shortly after the visit, decided the answer was no.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Rare disciplinary case against Pa. doctor offers glimpse into the big business of medical marijuana cards.

THE CONTEXT: In Pennsylvania, medical marijuana cards are a multimillion-dollar business, and some medical cannabis supporters have raised concerns about oversight of the certification process.

With companies like Veriheal promising approval "or your money back," critics question the due diligence being applied — including in instances where cannabis and existing medications could interact poorly.

In Colterelli's case, Pennsylvania's Department of Health accused him of violating state regulations by approving Grey’s certification without reviewing her medical records first. Colterelli said he followed the rules.

But more than a year after the department began its disciplinary case against him, the process was still not finalized in early November.

Meanwhile, disciplinary action being taken against doctors for potential violations of program rules remains an exceedingly rare occurrence in Pennsylvania, though there have been a handful of warnings.



"... we determined that it was in our best interest for the district attorney to ensure that the police officers take responsibility for their action, admit to their reckless conduct endangering many and killing our Fanta."

—The family of 8-year-old Fanta Bility on three Sharon Hill police officers pleading guilty Thursday to lesser charges in her shooting death
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» AP: Democrats inch closer to control of Pa. House
» FACTCHECK.ORG: Bogus 'Sharpiegate' claim resurfaces in Pa.
» GUARDIAN: How Fetterman broke Trump's red wave in Pa.
» VOTEBEAT: Counties note few issues with Pa.’s continuous count rule
» WNEP: Luzerne Co. manager resigns after voting paper problems
“Sunset in Upper Gwynedd, PA,” an image by Faith Keiser. Send us yours by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
An artwork showing a street and vivid sunset in Upper Gwynedd, Pennsylvania.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.NO RESPONSE: Republican Doug Mastriano had yet to concede Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial election nearly two days after it was called for Democrat Josh Shapiro despite members of his own party calling for him to do so. It wasn't even close. Unofficial returns show Mastriano losing by 14 points. Spotlight PA reports his silence is particularly notable given his history of 2020 election denialism.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.FALSE REPORTS: The AP reports mentions of Pennsylvania and election fraud topped the online conversation early on Election Day. Erroneous claims about Tuesday's balloting, many focused on the length of the vote count, have continued ever since. Spotlight PA debunked a number of viral claims that were circulating in the run-up to the midterms and in the hours after the polls opened.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.OPEN SEAT: Merchants of midterm doubt are also pointing to the posthumous reelection of longtime state Rep. Tony DeLuca in Allegheny County as indicative of shoddy election administration or cheating. It isn't. The Guardian explains that by the time DeLuca died, it was too late to take his name off the ballot. Many voters were likely unaware of his passing, and his only challenger was from a third party. 

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.HIGH RETURNS: About 4 in 10 registered Philadelphians cast a November 2022 ballot, likely the second highest rate in recent midterm history there, per Billy Penn. But it wasn't only turnout in traditional Democratic bastions, like Pennsylvania's largest city, that delivered a crucial U.S. Senate win for the party here. The Inquirer (paywall) reports it was the trimming of losses in GOP strongholds, too.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.NEW RATIO: Seven Republican members of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation who aided efforts to overturn the 2020 election easily won their own reelection bids on Tuesday. But Democrats won all three of the most competitive congressional races in Pennsylvania this election cycle, meaning the makeup of the state's congressional delegation will change in 2023.
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.

HISTORY MAKING: By next year, Pennsylvania will have two Democratic U.S. senators and a Democratic governor for just the second time since the Civil War, per Marc Levy of the Associated Press.

JET BLOAT: "I’d 100% be convinced this was a scene from The Office if I’ve never seen it" is @OTCeIIy's apt introduction for this clip of Pittsburgh Penguins players marveling at a teammate's airplane-exacerbated facial injury: "They said the pressure would make it grow. It did."

THC TEST: Warren County will pilot a breathalyzer test for cannabis use in motorists later this year, Erie News Now reports. Skeptics of the technology question the accuracy and criminal justice implications.

FIRE FIGHT: Crews battled a major forest fire (seen here) on a mountaintop in the heart of Pennsylvania's wild elk range on Wednesday, resulting in at least one injury. The fire was said to be under control as of Thursday.

CORRECTION: Democrat Josh Shapiro was incorrectly identified as Pennsylvania's first Jewish governor-to-be in this space on Thursday. That would be Democrat Milton Shapp — born "Milton Jerrold Shapiro."

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Astonishing 

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Don H., Susan D., Becky C., Susan N.-Z., George S., btfoos, Spero L., Jon W., Tom L., Elaine C., Kim C., Wendy A., Steve D., Dianne K., Alan V., Daniel M., Bill S., James B., Mary Beth V., and David W.
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