DRUG POLITICS

 

 

 

FDA Approved Epidiolex®, a purified form of CDB, this week.

 

Families whose children suffer seizures from epilepsy have asked legislators in several states to “legalize” cannabidiol (CBD), “medicinal” marijuana, and “whole-plant extracts” so they can use them to reduce their children’s seizures. The marijuana industry has been happy to accommodate, helping parents lobby legislators and, when successful, producing CBD products.

But none of these products is approved by FDA as safe or effective. All make unsubstantiated medical claims. Few contain what their labels claim. Some contain contaminants. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 52 people in Utah were poisoned by an unregulated CBD product, which contained a synthetic cannabinoid. The agency warned regulations are needed to address “this emerging public health threat.”

This week, FDA approved Epidiolex to treat two forms of epilepsy in patients ages 2 and older. Epidiolex is an extract of marijuana called cannabidiol (CBD) that is purified and delivers a reliable, consistent dose. Clinical trials proved it reduces epileptic seizures. Now families have a choice. They no longer need to risk giving their children unregulated products that may harm their already fragile health.
Epidiolex

FDA approved
Proven to be safe
Proven to reduce seizures
A purified extract of marijuana that is 99% CBD, less than 1% THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient
Doctors prescribe.
Patients buy at pharmacies.
Likely to be insured.
Likely moved to a lower Schedule
CBD Products States Have Legalized

Not FDA approved
Not proven to be safe
Not proven to reduce seizures
Unpurified extracts containing up to 20% CBD, THC, other components. Some are contaminated.
Doctors recommend.
Patients buy at dispensaries.
Not insured.
Likely to remain in Schedule 1
Many media outlets are reporting that FDA’s approval of Epidiolex means CBD will be placed in a lower schedule of the federal Controlled Substances Act. But FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb clarifies, “This is the approval of one specific CBD medication for a specific use . . . based on well-controlled clinical trials evaluating the use of this compound in the treatment of a specific condition.” Just as Marinol, Cesamet, and Syndros, FDA-approved forms of THC, are in lower schedules but THC remains in Schedule I, Epidiolex is likely to be placed in a lower Schedule while CBD likely will remain in Schedule I.

Commissioner Gottlieb says FDA continues to support rigorous scientific research into potential medical treatments using marijuana or its components but is concerned about the proliferation and illegal marketing of unapproved CBD-containing products making unproven medical claims. FDA will continue to act to end such behavior, he says.

Action is certainly needed. Searching for CBD Oil on Amazon brings up 929 results. All unregulated.


 

 

Examples of unregulated CBD products. None has applied to FDA to conduct clinical trials for FDA approval.

 

 

Read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s warning about unregulated CBD products here.
Read the FDA announcement of its approval of Epidiolex here.
Read See FDA CBD warning letters here.
Download The Marijuana Report Issue Paper on CBD here.

Disclosure: The author holds stock in GW Pharmaceuticals, the company that makes Epidiolex®.
 

Three months ago, National Families in Action published a report, Tracking the Money that is Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters, that details where the money comes from to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use. Most of it was raised by three billionaires and two organizations they fund, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) to do the work of legalization. The first decade of legalization was accomplished via ballot measures which DPA and/or MPP wrote, paid for collecting voters’ signatures, and paid heavily for advertising with less than accurate information to convince voters to pass them. This effort created a medical marijuana industry that made so much money it began contributing to the legalization effort as well.

In February 2017, five US Representatives formed the Congressional Cannabis Caucus to issue a spate of bills that would set the stage and then ultimately legalize marijuana at the federal level. It turns out that DPA and MPP donations to Congressional campaigns are over-represented among Caucus members and other legislators who are partnering with them to reach this goal. Together, Caucus members, pictured above, and colleagues have introduced more than 20 bills since February.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who received $3,000 from MPP, has introduced three of those bills and is co-sponsoring seven more.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) received $2,000 from MPP, has introduced one bill, and co-sponsored four more.

Rep. Ed Polis (D-CO), the only Caucus member who has not received donations from either group, has introduced one bill and co-sponsored six more.

Rep. Young (R-AK) received $1,000 from MPP, introduced one bill, and co-sponsored five more.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) received $7,000 from MPP and $4,700 from DPA, introduced one bill, and co-sponsored five more bills.

Here are the representatives and senators who signed on as co-sponsors of the 20-plus bills who also received donations from DPA and/or MPP as of June 28:

  • Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) — $5,000/MPP – co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) — $1,000/MPP – co-sponsoring 2 bills.
  • Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) — $8,000/MPP — co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) — $3,000/MPP – co-sponsoring 2 bills.
  • Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) — $1,000/MPP – co-sponsoring 3 bills.
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) — $4,500/MPP/$500/DPA – sponsoring 1 bill, co-sponsoring 5 bills.
  • Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) — $1,000/MPP — co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) — $1,000/MPP — sponsoring 1 bill, co-sponsoring 3 bills.
  • Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) — $1,000/DPA – sponsoring 1 bill, co-sponsoring 2 bills.
  • Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) — $2,600/MPP – co-sponsoring 2 bills.
  • Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) — $1,000/MPP – co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) — $1,000/MPP — co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) — $1,000/MPP — co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) — $3,500/MPP – co-sponsoring 3 bills.
  • Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) — $5,000/MPP — co-sponsoring 2 bills.
  • Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) — $5,750/MPP/$1,000/DPA — co-sponsoring 3 bills.
  • Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) — $2,500/DPA – co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) — $1,000/MPP — co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) — $1,00/MPP – co-sponsoring 2 bills.
  • Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) — $1,000/DPA — sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) — $5,500/MPP — sponsoring 1 bill, co-sponsoring 7 bills.
  • Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) — $1,000/MPP – co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) — $6,000/MPP/$4,500/DPA — co-sponsoring 5 bills.
  • Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) — $4,000/MPP — co-sponsoring 3 bills.
  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) — $1,500/MPP — co-sponsoring 1 bill.

People who don’t want to see Congress legalize marijuana nationwide can pay to play too. With few exceptions, these are not large amounts of money. They could be matched to replace MPP’s and DPA’s donations so legislators can work for healthy families and healthy communities instead of the marijuana industry.

The Cannabist, the Denver Post’s marijuana website, published a list of bills these folks have introduced in Congress since the Caucus was formed in February. You can read it here.
Note: a few bills in the list do not deal with legalization.

Source: Email from National Families In Action  June 2017

Medical marijuana in Florida was approved by Governor Rick Scott last month and now school districts statewide are struggling with one specific requirement of the legislation. Under the law, children with certain ailments can use cannabis while at school and the districts are obligated to make it available to students as needed.

While medical marijuana for children is legal in Florida, the schools are resistant to creating cannabis-use policy as the language used in the law is ambiguous and inconsistent. The law requires schools to store and manage cannabis like other medications but does not provide a clear definition as to who can administer it to students.

Only an authorized caregiver can give medical marijuana to a child, yet the law does not afford school employees the power to act as a caregiver. Mitch Teitelbaum, an attorney for the Manatee County School District, says making schools provide the drug to students makes no sense when the school has no legal power to do so.

“The district is compelled to adhere to all state and federal laws,” said Teitelbaum, as reported by the Bradenton Herald. “But how do we do so with such inconsistency?”

The original medical cannabis law approved by Florida voters in November did not contain the school requirement provision, but was later modified to include it. This added amendment is causing both confusion and controversy to the new marijuana law.

Most Florida school districts turn to consulting firm NEOLA for help creating school policy. Currently, the company is reviewing the law and deciding how to move forward before making any recommendations to district officials.

According to NEOLA CEO Dick Clapp, Florida’s medical marijuana law puts “schools in a real tough spot” by making them create a policy that potentially opens them up to lawsuits. Once one district comes up with solid guidelines regulating how cannabis will be given to students, other districts are likely to follow. However, Clapp says that isn’t likely to happen before the start of the 2017-18 school year.

As of now, not many children are affected by the medical marijuana law in Florida. Yet, the families that are impacted want the state’s school districts or the Florida Department of Education to make a decision.

“The number of people that will be impacted will be a small number, but they are in dire situations, so it is a tough human-relations thing,” Clapp said, per the report by the Bradenton Herald. “I don’t know what we do about that.”

It is likely the Florida school districts with the highest number of students will act first to create medical marijuana guidelines. For now, the most probable scenario will be treating medical cannabis like any other prescription medication.

The medical marijuana law in Florida allows children with severe epilepsy, cancer, and other qualifying conditions to be treated with cannabis oil, capsules, and edibles. Due to federal restrictions regarding prescribing weed for medical purposes, marijuana treatment is only available by recommendation from state-approved physicians to Florida patients.

Source: https://www.inquisitr.com/4399383/medical-marijuana-in-florida-creates-policy-smoky-challenge-for-states-school-districts/ July 2017

Question  Are US state medical marijuana laws one of the underlying factors for increases in risk for adult cannabis use and cannabis use disorders seen since the early 1990s?

Findings  In this analysis using US national survey data collected in 1991-1992, 2001-2002, and 2012-2013 from 118 497 participants, the risk for cannabis use and cannabis use disorders increased at a significantly greater rate in states that passed medical marijuana laws than in states that did not.

Meaning  Possible adverse consequences of illicit cannabis use due to more permissive state cannabis laws should receive consideration by voters, legislators, and policy and health care professionals, with appropriate health care planning as such laws change.

Abstract

Importance  Over the last 25 years, illicit cannabis use and cannabis use disorders have increased among US adults, and 28 states have passed medical marijuana laws (MML). Little is known about MML and adult illicit cannabis use or cannabis use disorders considered over time.

Objective  To present national data on state MML and degree of change in the prevalence of cannabis use and disorders.

Design, Participants, and Setting  Differences in the degree of change between those living in MML states and other states were examined using 3 cross-sectional US adult surveys: the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey (NLAES; 1991-1992), the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC; 2001-2002), and the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions–III (NESARC-III; 2012-2013). Early-MML states passed MML between NLAES and NESARC (“earlier period”). Late-MML states passed MML between NESARC and NESARC-III (“later period”).

Main Outcomes and Measures  Past-year illicit cannabis use and DSMIV cannabis use disorder.

Results  Overall, from 1991-1992 to 2012-2013, illicit cannabis use increased significantly more in states that passed MML than in other states (1.4–percentage point more; SE, 0.5; P = .004), as did cannabis use disorders (0.7–percentage point more; SE, 0.3; P = .03). In the earlier period, illicit cannabis use and disorders decreased similarly in non-MML states and in California (where prevalence was much higher to start with). In contrast, in remaining early-MML states, the prevalence of use and disorders increased. Remaining early-MML and non-MML states differed significantly for use (by 2.5 percentage points; SE, 0.9; P = .004) and disorder (1.1 percentage points; SE, 0.5; P = .02). In the later period, illicit use increased by the following percentage points: never-MML states, 3.5 (SE, 0.5); California, 5.3 (SE, 1.0); Colorado, 7.0 (SE, 1.6); other early-MML states, 2.6 (SE, 0.9); and late-MML states, 5.1 (SE, 0.8). Compared with never-MML states, increases in use were significantly greater in late-MML states (1.6–percentage point more; SE, 0.6; P = .01), California (1.8–percentage point more; SE, 0.9; P = .04), and Colorado (3.5–percentage point more; SE, 1.5; P = .03). Increases in cannabis use disorder, which was less prevalent, were smaller but followed similar patterns descriptively, with change greater than never-MML states in California (1.0–percentage point more; SE, 0.5; P = .06) and Colorado (1.6–percentage point more; SE, 0.8; P = .04).

Conclusions and Relevance  Medical marijuana laws appear to have contributed to increased prevalence of illicit cannabis use and cannabis use disorders. State-specific policy changes may also have played a role. While medical marijuana may help some, cannabis-related health consequences associated with changes in state marijuana laws should receive consideration by health care professionals and the public.

Source: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/2619522 June 2017

America’s opioid crisis was caused by rapacious pharma companies, politicians who colluded with them and regulators who approved one opioid pill after another.

Of all the people Donald Trump could blame for the opioid epidemic, he chose the victims. After his own commission on the opioid crisis issued an interim report this week, Trump said young people should be told drugs are “No good, really bad for you in every way.”

The president’s exhortation to follow Nancy Reagan’s miserably inadequate advice and Just Say No to drugs is far from useful. The then first lady made not a jot of difference to the crack epidemic in the 1980s. But Trump’s characterisation of the source of the opioid crisis was more disturbing. “The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place,” he said.

Q&A

Why is there an opioid crisis in America?

That is straight out of the opioid manufacturers’ playbook. Facing a raft of lawsuits and a threat to their profits, pharmaceutical companies are pushing the line that the epidemic stems not from the wholesale prescribing of powerful painkillers – essentially heroin in pill form – but their misuse by some of those who then become addicted.

In court filings, drug companies are smearing the estimated two million people hooked on their products as criminals to blame for their own addiction. Some of those in its grip break the law by buying drugs on the black market or switch to heroin. But too often that addiction began by following the advice of a doctor who, in turn, was following the drug manufacturers instructions.

Trump made no mention of this or reining in the mass prescribing underpinning the epidemic. Instead he played to the abuse narrative when he painted the crisis as a law and order issue, and criticised Barack Obama for scaling back drug prosecutions and lowering sentences.

But as the president’s own commission noted, this is not an epidemic caused by those caught in its grasp. “We have an enormous problem that is often not beginning on street corners; it is starting in doctor’s offices and hospitals in every state in our nation,” it said.

heroin
Pinterest
 ‘This is an almost uniquely American crisis.’ Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Opioids killed more than 33,000 Americans in 2015 and the toll was almost certainly higher last year. About half of deaths involved prescription painkillers. Most of those who overdose on heroin or a synthetic opiate, such as fentanyl, first become hooked on legal pills.

This is an almost uniquely American crisis driven in good part by particular American issues from the influence of drug companies over medical policy to a “pill for every ill” culture. Trump’s commission, which called the opioid epidemic “unparalleled”, said the grim reality is that “the amount of opioids prescribed in the US was enough for every American to be medicated around the clock for three weeks”.

The US consumes more than 80% of the global opioid pill production even though it has less than 5% of the world’s population. Over the past 20 years, one federal institution after another lined up behind the drug manufacturers’ false claims of an epidemic of untreated pain in the US. They seem not to have asked why no other country was apparently suffering from such an epidemic or plying opioids to its patients at every opportunity.

With the pharmaceutical lobby’s money keeping Congress on its side, regulations were rewritten to permit physicians to prescribe as many pills as they wanted without censure. Indeed, doctors sometimes found themselves hauled before ethics boards for not supplying enough.

Unlike most other countries, the US health system is run as an industry not a service. That gives considerable power to drug manufacturers, medical providers and health insurance companies to influence policy and practices.

Too often, their bottom line is profits not health. Opioid pills are far cheaper and easier than providing other forms of treatment for pain, like physical therapy or psychiatry. As Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia told the Guardian last year: “It’s an epidemic because we have a business model for it. Follow the money. Look at the amount of pills they shipped in to certain parts of our state. It was a business model.”

But the system also gives a lot of power to patients. People coughing up large amounts of money in insurance premiums and co-pays expect results. They are, after all, more customer than patient. Doctors complain of patients who arrive expecting a pill to resolve medical conditions without taking responsibility for their own health by eating better or exercising more.

In particular, the idea has taken hold, pushed by the pharmaceutical industry, that there is a right to be pain free. Other countries pursue strategies to reduce and manage pain, not raise expectations that it can simply be made to disappear. In all of this, regulators became facilitators. The Food and Drug Administration approved one opioid pill after another.

As late as 2013, by which time the scale of the epidemic was clear, the FDA permitted a powerful opiate, Zohydro, onto the market over the near unanimous objection of its own review committee. It was clear from the hearing that doctors understood the dangers, but the agency appeared to have put commercial considerations first.

US states long ago woke up to the crisis as morgues filled, social services struggled to cope with children orphaned or taken into care, and the epidemic took an economic toll. Police chiefs and local politicians said it was a social crisis not a law and order problem.

Some state legislatures began to curb mass prescribing. All the while they looked to Washington for leadership. They did not get much from Obama or Congress, although legislation approving $1bn on addiction treatment did pass last year. Instead, it was up to pockets of sanity to push back.

Last year, the then director of the Centers for Disease Control, Tom Frieden, made his mark with guidelines urging doctors not to prescribe opioids as a first step for chronic or routine pain, although even that got political pushback in Congress where the power of the pharmaceutical lobby is not greatly diminished.

There are also signs of a shift in the FDA after it pressured a manufacturer into withdrawing an opioid drug, Opanathat should never have been on sale in the first place. It was initially withdrawn in the 1970s, but the FDA permitted it back on to the market in 2006 after the rules for testing drugs were changed. At the time, many accused the pharmaceutical companies of paying to have them rewritten.

Trump’s opioid commission offered hope that the epidemic would finally get the attention it needs. It made a series of sensible if limited recommendations: more mental health treatment people with a substance abuse disorder and more effective forms of rehab.

Trump finally got around to saying that the epidemic is a national emergency on Thursday after he was criticised for ignoring his own commission’s recommendation to do so. But he reinforced the idea that the victims are to blame with an offhand reference to LSD.

Real leadership is still absent – and that won’t displease the pharmaceutical companies at all.

 

Source:Drug Use in Colorado 2000 – 2013 SAMHSA NSDUH data

 

Marijuana reporter Joel Warner asks if the media is currently biased in support of marijuana legalization.

He cites a recent incident brought to his attention by Kevin Sabet, founder of SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), who had received a tip that the next-day release of the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health would show that marijuana use in Colorado has reached the highest levels in the nation. Sabet wrote a press release which fell on deaf ears. A Google analysis shows only 17 stories were written about this consequence of legalization in Colorado.

In contrast, a few weeks before, the release of the 2015 Monitoring the Future Survey showed a slight downturn in past-month marijuana use among 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students nationwide. It was hyped by some in the press as a signal that legalization is of no consequence. A total of 156 news stories covered the results of this survey.

Warner notes that there are now “marijuana-business newspapers and marijuana culture magazines, full-time marijuana-industry reporters (this writer included), and even a marijuana-editorial division at the Denver Post called the Cannabist, staffed with a marijuana editor and cannabis strain reviewers,” like Jake Browne, pictured above.
 
He asks if the data supports it, could marijuana journalists “be expected to conclude that legalization has been a failure, if that means they would also be writing the obituaries for their own jobs?”
 
Read Joel Warner’s thoughtful International Business Times article here.

Source: Email from Monte Stiles, National Families in Action January 2016

Marijuana farming is a big business, and marijuana growers are raking in billions.

In California, the crop ranks between lettuce and grapes; total sales in the state, according the Los Angeles Times, will top $21 billion by 2021. In Colorado, where marijuana is also legal, revenues stood at just over $1 billion last year, adding $2.4 billion to the state’s economy.

Those numbers are for legal farms. Illegal marijuana cultivation is much larger. It is estimated that there may be as many as ten million illegal plants grown annually, yielding over $30 billion worth of product.

In California, illegal pot is being grown on literally thousands of acres of the state’s national and state forests and parks, including in Stanislaus National Forest adjacent to Yosemite National Park. A one acre illegal patch can produce well over $1 million worth of marijuana per year. Much of the illegal harvest is sold in states where marijuana remains illegal – but where there is also huge demand, jacking up prices. Commerce in illegal marijuana is often controlled by the same Mexican drug lords who sell cocaine, heroin and contraband opioids; to make things worse, their illegal plots are often tended by illegal immigrants who are virtual slaves, guarded by thugs with high-powered weapons.

Pot production may rake in billions of dollars, but at immense environmental cost. Research has documented that marijuana cultivation, legal and illegal, is polluting water, land and air at an alarming rate. Both legal and illegal growers use large amounts of pesticides, insecticides and other chemicals and fertilizers banned in the U.S., illegally divert streams, and discharge polluted waste into waterways, poisoning the water supply, fish and animals. Growers have also clear cut trees and excavated forests illegally creating vast wastelands. When they move on to another illegal site, the old one is often the equivalent of a toxic waste site, saturated with poisons and fertilizers.

Despite evidence of significant criminal toxic waste discharge and other environmental crimes, not surprisingly the Obama Justice Department largely ignored the problem. In the liberal mindset, marijuana, unlike coal, oil and gas, is sacred stuff and considered outside the reach of the law. And there is little noise from the environmental movement which, if oil and gas or timber were the product, would be all over the issue like a wet blanket. But not marijuana.

A good example of the problems is Calaveras County made famous by Mark Twain, in the foothills of California’s Sierra Mountains. About the size of Rhode Island, it has a population of some 44,000 people. The County Board recently voted to ban commercial marijuana production – a prerogative under California’s law legalizing it. Their sheriff estimates there are at least 1200 illegal farms scattered through the mountainous terrain, all discharging large quantities of chemical waste into the water supply (nearly 10% of California’s water originates in little Calaveras County) and fouling the surrounding land with illegal herbicides, insecticides and rodenticides. Cleaning up those sites – just in Calaveras County — will cost, according to U.S. Forest Service estimates, at least $240 million; perhaps much more. Expand Calaveras’s problems across 15 other Northern California counties and the problem becomes almost unimaginable.

Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council are nowhere to be found. Ironically it was these very mountains where Sierra Club founder John Muir hiked and studied for decades. I spoke with Dennis Mills, a member of the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors, who told me he has begged local and national environmentalist groups to get involved, but his pleas are always met, he said, with a yawn. Mills documented the abuses in a study Cultivating Disaster conducted by The Communications Institute.

So where is the federal government? Illegal and many legal marijuana farmers are likely in flagrant violation of numerous federal environmental criminal laws ranging from pollution crimes, wildlife and animal welfare crimes, and could be subject to large fines and restitution as well as lengthy prison sentences.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department and Agriculture Department all have jurisdiction, and the Justice Department, complete with an Environmental Crimes Unit, together with California’s U.S. Attorneys, should be actively investigating these crimes, empaneling grand juries, and issuing indictments against these criminals.

The Trump Administration would do well to unleash its environmental lawyers on this nasty problem. It would greatly assist local and state agencies in dealing with the serious environmental mess caused by pot cultivation. It might not gain much support from marijuana users, but an aggressive campaign would undoubtedly create plenty of good will among the rest of the population and deal with a serious environmental problem.

Mr. Regnery, an Attorney, served in the Reagan Justice Department. He is Chairman of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.

Source: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2018/02/25/regnery-feds-prosecute-california-marijuana-farmers-devastating-environment/February 2018

Source: http://archive.unu.edu/events/files/2008/Santos_SharedRespnsibility_presentation_200810.pdf 2008

VIENNA: The United Nations Commission on Narcotic has unanimously adopted Pakistan’s resolution on strengthening efforts to prevent drug abuse in educational settings.

The resolution was adopted during the commission’s sixty first regular session in Vienna. The resolution drew attention of the Commission towards the common challenges of drug abuse among children and youth in schools colleges and universities.

It underscored the need for enhancing efforts including policy interventions and comprehensive drug prevention programmes to protect children and youth from the scourge of illicit drugs and to make educational institutions free from drug abuse.

The resolution emphasized upon the important role of educational institutions in promoting healthy lifestyles among young people and calls for close coordination among law enforcement agencies, educational centres and health authorities at domestic level.

It reflected political commitment of the global community to promote international cooperation through exchange of experiences and good practices and technical assistance to address drug abuse in educational institutions. Pakistan’s initiative to table this resolution was widely appreciated.

Source: https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/294734-un-adopts-pakistan-s-resolution-for-efforts-to-prevent-drug-abuse  March 2018

Marijuana legalization is on the ballot in 2016 in California, Arizona, Nevada, and elsewhere
The marijuana movement received a big jolt last November. No, it wasn’t another celebrity endorsement or cable news special glorifying the drug. Rather, in the midst of what we’ve been told was an inevitable march to victory, marijuana lost. And it lost big.

Many of us interested in this off-year Ohio race were expecting to be up all night. But at 8:32 p.m. Nov. 3, the Associated Press recorded one of the biggest losses ever for pot, as voters rejected legalization there by more than 2-1. (Full disclosure: The organization I head up, SAM, played a role in the campaign and defeat through our affiliate partners.)

Sure, the question was asked in a year no one usually votes, taking place in a sensible Midwestern state not known for its indulgences. Most of us thought it would lose, despite the victory “polls” constantly trumpeted out by the legalizers , but none of us thought it would lose this big.

What does that tell us for the 2016 races, when five states — California, Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine — are likely to have ballot questions on full legalization? A lot. Here’s what we’ve learned:

Big business wants to take over the marijuana movement — and voters don’t like that, even if profiteers do.

The Ohio initiative would have legalized a constitutionally mandated oligopoly for a few dozen investors to make millions on marijuana. The “No” campaign quickly pivoted from “marijuana is bad” to “marijuana monopolies with people making tons of cash are bad” — and it worked. The Ohio election was the first that tested the “Big Marijuana” message out. Groups like SAM have been saying it now for years, and videos showing the parallels are out there on social media, but it had not been tested out in a real campaign.

Money isn’t everything.

The pro side in Ohio spent more than $12 million to convince Buckeye voters that legalizing a pot monopoly was a good thing, and they still lost bad. While it’s true that money is required to get political messages out, especially when spent in a smart(er) way via targeted social media campaigns, Ohio proved that money isn’t everything.

The “no” side, while gathering an impressive group of organizations to oppose the measure, didn’t even pass the $1-million spending mark. But the message of opposing Big Pot stuck, and the amount of free media gained was remarkable. Every article mentioned the investor scheme.

Marijuana legalization isn’t inevitable.
The five states up for grabs in 2016 are critical, and voters will decide pot’s fate in an important presidential election year. But, all five states have different critical issues.

The granddaddy of the 2016 states, California will once again vote on legalized pot. In 2010, despite outspending the opposition by more than 5-1, voters soundly rejected a marijuana measure. This year, some traditional activists (notably the Reform CA folks) were pushed out by the billionaire Napster-founder Sean Parker, who is pouring his fortune into legalized pot via the “Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act.” Parker’s net worth will likely take the effort a long way, but given the importance of the Hispanic voter bloc, a group of people traditionally against legalization, the campaign won’t be a cakewalk.

A state known for sin and vice — Nevada — might seem the perfect one to try legalizing pot. Except for one man: Sheldon Adelson. The billionaire is dead-set against legalization, and he put his money where his mouth is in 2014 when he helped narrowly defeat a pot initiative in Florida. This time around, legalizers are gunning for his home state, but there’s talk of a well-respected state legislator and a handful of other bipartisan officials coming out against Nevada’s initiative. Stay tuned.

In Arizona, a legalization push has barely gotten off the ground, but is already finding opposition. And in Massachusetts, Democrat Attorney General Maura Healey and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker both oppose the initiative. In Maine, legalizers are trying to sanction pot smoking “social clubs,” though a recent conference highlighted dissension among traditional allies.

If we have learned anything from the brief time marijuana has been legal in Colorado, it is this: We have now entered the age of ‘corporate cannabis’ — slick advertising, child-friendly product placement.

In all of these states, laws are being written largely by lobbyists who have one goal — to make money. And one does not get rich in the drug business from casual users. They must rely on heavy users.

If we have learned anything from the brief time marijuana has been legal in Colorado it is this: We have now entered the age of ‘corporate cannabis’ — slick advertising, child-friendly product placement and companies that spend more on PR and lawyers than they do creating safe products.

The sky may not fall if legalization passes in these states, but voters should ask themselves something before getting into the ballot box. Are your relationships enhanced when your friends or family are smoking marijuana? Does marijuana make for safer roads? Better workplaces? Smarter students?

Despite strong evidence to the contrary, we are being told pot will fund our schools, get rid of drug cartels and cure cancer, all at once. And worst of all, we’re being sold this false dichotomy — that our only choices for drug policy are legalize or lock ‘em up. Promote Pot Tarts or fund private prisons. Give a kid a criminal record for holding a joint or allow another addictive industry to take over meetings in state capitals.

But that is false. No one I know wants to see a young kid marred forever because he happened to get caught with a joint in his pocket. But the alternative to that is not simply to ignore an unhealthy, unproductive behavior and promote its use. With the increasing research linking mental illness and marijuana, we at least should press the pause button before going any further.

We can’t build a great, compassionate society by promoting addiction for profit.

BY 

Source: https://www.lifezette.com/2015/12/legalized-pot-no-its-not-inevitable/
December 2015

Ontario’s proposal to allow people to consume marijuana in hotel rooms opens the door to a boom in cannabis tourism, says lawyer Matt Maurer.

Maurer heads the cannabis law group at Minden Gross in Toronto, and says he knows businesspeople who are interested in opening cannabis-friendly hotels and resorts.

Maurer says he was surprised by the province’s proposal to loosen up the ban on consuming cannabis anywhere other than private homes. The government has also asked for public comments on whether to allow cannabis lounges.

Maurer said he assumed the provincial government would eventually consider exemptions to the cannabis act passed in December, which bans consumption in public places.

 “I was surprised that it happened so quickly.”

Maurer calls consumption in hotels “step No. 1” in the development of a cannabis tourism industry.

“You could come to Ontario, go to the government-owned retail store, pick up your cannabis, head out to the hotel room, consume it there and head out to where ever you are going that evening, to a show or an event.”

The provincial regulations unveiled last month propose that cannabis could be consumed by residents and their guests at rooms in hotels, motels and inns, as long as the drug is not smoked or vaped. Smoking and vaping marijuana would be allowed in designated smoking rooms.

The regulations have been posted for public comment. The government plans to put them into effect when recreational marijuana is legalized across the country, expected in July.

Ontario has also opened the door to cannabis consumption lounges, asking for public comments on the idea. There’s no time frame for the lounges, but rules won’t be in place be by July. The province says the comments it receives will “inform future policy development and consultations.”

Abi Roach, who runs a cannabis vaping lounge in Toronto called Hotbox Cafe, says she’s interested in opening more if they become legal. She dreams of the day when lounges will be allowed to sell single servings of cannabis, just like drinks are served in a bar or restaurant. 

At the Hotbox (slogan: “serving potheads since … ahh I forget”), guests pay a $5 entry fee and bring their own pot.

If Ontario allows lounges, they probably won’t feature smoking inside because of concerns over the health dangers of second-hand smoke to both customers and employees, said Roach. “I don’t like to be in a big smoky room, either.”

At the Hotbox, only vaping is allowed inside. Pot smokers puff at an outdoor patio.

Roach also sees a demand for pot-friendly hotels. She’s helping design a cannabis-themed room at a hotel to be built in downtown Toronto. Each room in the hotel is owned by a private investor and offers a themed experience. If cannabis consumption is made legal in hotel rooms, they’ll go ahead with that project.

However, Roach said she doubts if Canada will see a big influx of cannabis tourists from the U.S. because we’ll be competing with a growing number of American states that are legalizing pot, some of which have taken a more creative, freewheeling approach. Ontario plans to sell cannabis from behind the counter at a restricted number of government-run stores. That won’t appeal to people who want convenience and innovative products from craft producers, said Roach.

“Canada really has to be careful in terms of blocking innovation in this industry.”

Roach said she recently drove from Vancouver to Washington State, where she stopped at a gas station and bought a joint. “To me as a tourist, it was like, ‘Wow, this is great!’ ”

In the lvillage of Embrun 40 kilometres southeast of Ottawa, Frank Medewar says he plans to open a lounge if they are made legal. He already runs InfoCannabis, a service that advises people about medical marijuana, and Seed 2 Weed, a store that sells growing equipment.

Medewar says his lounge will be modern and upscale, similar to an old-fashioned cigar lounge.

At the headquarters of the world’s largest medical marijuana company, Canopy Growth Corp. in Smiths Falls, spokesman Jordan Sinclair said the company would love to make the huge grow-op a tourist destination.

Canopy is in a former Hershey chocolate factory that was famous for tours taken by thousands of schoolchildren and tourists.

Canopy plans to have the plant open for public tours this summer, said Sinclair.

The company would also like to run a retail store on site, so the experience would be similar to a winery tour. However, the province has nixed that idea.

At Ottawa Tourism, spokesperson Jantine Van Kregten said the legalization of cannabis is on the radar. However, she hasn’t heard of any specific plans for hotels or other tourist ventures. “I think everybody is kind of taking a wait-and-see approach. I haven’t heard a lot of talk, a lot of scuttlebutt, in the industry of what their plans are. I think a lot of questions are unanswered about exactly how the legislation will roll out.”

Source: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/ontario-proposal-to-allow-cannabis-consumption-in-hotel-rooms-could-jump-start-pot-tourism February 2018

President Donald Trump took a few minutes in his State of the Union address to acknowledge what he called the “terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction – never been has it been like it is now”.

The American President told Congress that “we have to do something about it”, stating that 174 drug-addiction caused  deaths a day meant that “we must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers”.

This should come as no surprise. The crisis, which claimed well over 100,000 lives between 2015 and 2016, is now so widespread and catastrophic it was declared a public health emergency by President Trump in October.

The rate of American deaths caused by overdoses of heroin-like synthetic opioids has doubled since 2015, in a tragic symptom of the opioid epidemic ravaging the United States.

The US’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has published figures showing that the rate of deaths due to synthetic opioids excluding methadone, such as fentanyl and tramadol, jumped from 3.1 per 100,000 in 2015 to 6.2 per 100,000 in 2016.

The total number of deaths due to opioid overdoses also climbed from 52,400 to 63,600, a 21 per cent increase – marking a steady rise since 1999.

Synthetic opioids are the biggest killers

The dramatic rise in the use of synthetic opioids owes more to practicality than demand, Dr David Herzberg, a University of Buffalo expert in the history of drug addiction, told The Telegraph.

“Fentanyl [the most widely used synthetic opioid] is much easier to smuggle than heroin because you need less of it,” he said.

Since synthetic opioids are made in labs rather than from plants, like traditional heroin, they can be made anywhere in the world, and vary dramatically in strength.

Fentanyl is around 50 times stronger than heroin – and some new strains are up to 10,000 times stronger.

This huge variation in potency is what makes makes synthetic opioids so deadly, since users are often completely unaware of the strength of the substance they are injecting, said Dr Jon Zibbell, a Senior Public Health Scientist at RTI International, a nonprofit that funds opioid research.

“I know a kid who buys carfentanil [a newer strand of fentanyl] online and that’s all he injects; he argues it’s totally safe but people mixing it with other stuff don’t really know what they’re doing.

“It’s not the drugs themselves that are killing people but the inability of people to adapt to the uneven potency in the illicit market,” he said.

The rise in fentanyl dates back to 2013, when drug traffickers in Mexico started adding it to heroin to stretch their product further to meet growing demand.

Now fentanyl has also grown in popularity with small drug dealers within the US who buy it online from China, which Dr Zibbell said has led to a bloated supply of fentanyl with no standardization of strength.

Rise of drug overdose death most pronounced among men

Fentanyl is not the only heroin-like drug experiencing a boom in users in the US; the country’s mushrooming opioid crisis is well documented, with the overall rate of opioid drug overdoses increasing every year since 1999.

This owes much, Dr Herzberg said, to a history of over-prescription of painkillers dating back more than three decades to the Reagan administration, when tight controls on opioid sales were relaxed: “Opioid markets were opened up to the full range of strategies drug companies use to sell their products. So a large volume of these drugs were pumped into the market without adequate warnings about the risks.”

While data shows a higher rate of overdoses in men, recent research has found the serious health impacts for women are just as severe.

A recent paper by Dr Zibbell published in the American Journal of Public Health demonstrated that those regions of the US particularly ravaged by the opioid epidemic have also seen an outbreak of new cases of the degenerative blood disease hepatitis C.

While the rate of death by opioid overdose is lower for women, the rate of new hepatitis C cases developing is much higher. This is particularly concerning as researchers have also documented a large increase in babies born to infected mothers, along with a rise in neonatal abstinence syndrome (babies born physically dependent on opioids).

The trouble in poor, white states may be spreading

Rust belt states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia – with an astonishing rate of 52 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 – have shouldered the brunt of the opioid crisis.

This is partly due to the poverty of these states, but race is also a huge factor – areas with large white populations are disproportionately impacted since the epidemic is rooted in prescription drug abuse, said Dr Herzberg.

“Studies prove that physicians are less likely to prescribe opioids to African Americans or other racial minorities – even when they need them – because of the stereotypes associating them with drug abuse,” he said.

There are signs, however, that the problem has spread to other communities. The mostly non-white District of Columbia, for example, had a rate of death by drug overdose of 38.8 per 100,000 – almost most twice the national average of 19.8.

Dr Zibbell’s research also found high rates of drug treatment and new hepatitis C cases among hispanics. “That was a big deal because the epidemic has been described as mostly affecting the white population,” he said.

Experts say the spread of the opioid crisis beyond the mostly white rust belt states is particularly worrying as it highlights the nationwide extent of the crisis.

“The Trump administration is not putting action or money behind its pronouncements on the problem. If the present trajectory continues it will claim many more young lives,” he said.

President Trump remained defiant in his speech, however.

“The struggle will be long and it will be difficult,” he acknowledge, before adding “we will succeed”.

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/31/deadly-fentanyl-behind-dramatic-doubling-synthetic-opioid-death/ January 2018

This collection of articles has been collated to show how the use of cannabis has been involved in many murders and attacks of violence.

Attacker Smoked Cannabis: suicide and psychopathic violence in the UK and Ireland
“Those whose minds are steeped in cannabis are capable of quite extraordinary criminality.”

What do we want?

Our demands are simple:

· acknowledge that cannabis is a dangerous drug and a prime factor in countless acts of suicide and psychopathic violence, and that no amount of ‘regulation’ will eliminate this danger;
· acknowledge that the alleged medicinal benefits of certain aspects of cannabis are a red herring to soften attitudes to the pleasure drug and ensure that certain corporations are well placed if and when the pleasure drug is legalised;
· admit that since around 1973 cannabis has been decriminalised in all but name, and that this has been a grave mistake;
· begin punishing possession: a caution for a first offence, a mandatory six-month prison sentence and £1000 fine thereafter.

Woman killed by taxi driver ‘might be alive if he had been properly managed’
Shropshire Star | 19 Mar 2018 |

“From the limited evidence which was available to the independent investigation team, it appears possible that, if MB had been fully compliant with anti-psychotic medication and had refrained from misuse of cannabis, then he may not have suffered from a relapse of his psychotic illness.”
Martin Bell had been sectioned for about nine months in August 1999 and was released around six weeks before he killed Gemma Simpson.
The family of a woman who was killed and partially dismembered by a taxi driver who was suffering from a psychotic illness have said she “might still be alive today” if he had been managed properly.
Gemma Simpson’s family were responding to the publication of a report into the treatment of Martin Bell, who killed 23-year-old Miss Simpson in 2000 with a hammer and a knife before sawing her legs off and burying her at a beauty spot near Harrogate, in North Yorkshire.
Bell admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility after leading police to her body 14 years later, and was told he must serve a minimum of 12 years in prison.
Bell had been sectioned in a hospital for about nine months in August 1999 and was released around six weeks before he killed Miss Simpson.
On Monday, NHS England published an independent report into his care and treatment.
The report, which said its authors were severely hampered by a lack of medical records, concluded: “From the limited evidence which was available to the independent investigation team, it appears possible that, if MB had been fully compliant with anti-psychotic medication and had refrained from misuse of cannabis, then he may not have suffered from a relapse of his psychotic illness.
“In these circumstances, the death of Gemma Simpson might have been prevented.”
The new report confirmed that doctors had considered Bell’s cannabis use may have contributed to or exacerbated Bell’s illness and he had smoked the drug on the day he killed Miss Simpson in his Harrogate flat.
But it said that “notwithstanding the failures in service provision outlined in this report, there were no actions that clinicians could have specifically taken to enforce the continuation of medication given MB’s presentation in May 2000, nor to enforce his abstinence from cannabis.”
In a statement issued by the campaign group Hundred Families, Miss Simpson’s family said they broadly welcomed the findings of the report but added: “In 2000 Martin Bell was known to carry a knife, was delusional, and recognised as a real risk to others, yet he was able to be released without any effective package of care, monitoring, or even a proper assessment of how the risks he posed to others would be managed.
“There appear to have been lots of red flags, just weeks and days before Gemma’s death, that should have raised professional concerns.
“We believe that if he had been managed properly, Gemma might still be alive today.”
The family said they understood the pressures on mental health services but said: “We keep hearing that lessons have been learned, but we want to make sure they are truly learned in this case.”
In court in 2013, prosecutors said Bell struck Miss Simpson, who was from Leeds, an “uncountable” number of times with the knife and hammer in a “frenzied” attack before leaving her body for four days in a bath.
He then sawed off the bottom of her legs so she would fit in the boot of a hire car before burying her at Brimham Rocks, near Harrogate.
Bell, who was 30 at the time of the attack, handed himself in at Scarborough police station in 2013 and later took police to where she was buried.

Source: https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/uk-news/2018/03/19/woman-killed-by-taxi-driver-might-be-alive-if-he-had-been-properly-managed/ NHS England report: https://www.england.nhs.uk/north/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2018/03/independent-investigation-mb-march-18.pdf

On 14 May 2017, Akshar Ali, acting with his friend Yasmin Ahmed, murdered his wife and mother-of-four Sinead Wooding, stabbing her with a knife six times and bludgeoning her with a hammer before dumping her body in a woodland and setting it alight. On 17 January 2018, he and his accomplice were sentenced to 22 years in prison.
One might think the fact that the guilty pair smoked and grew cannabis together would be of interest to reporters, and worthy of at least a fleeting sentence or two, but I have found it mentioned in only two news reports, one in the Yorkshire Evening Post, the other in South African news site IOL.
Of far more interest to some British media, sadly, is the fact that Ali was an ostensible Muslim and Ms Wooding a Muslim convert who had, in the weeks before she was murdered, defied her husband by wearing western clothing and seeing a friend he did not approve of. Some media, including the BBC, the Guardian and, curiously, British media abnormally incurious about the role of cannabis in a gruesome act of uxoricide the Sun managed to avoid mentioning either the matter of Islam or the smoking of cannabis.
Is it, I wonder, an abnormal lack of curiosity that prevents reporters from mentioning the smoking of a powerful psychoactive drug that is a prime factor in countless thousands of similar cases? Or is it a deliberate omission?

An extraordinary murder in Ireland

The following story from Ireland, which occurred ten years ago, is extraordinary for two reasons. First, the 143 injuries the attacker inflicted is, as far as I’m aware, a record. As I have noted many times, a frenzy of violence involving multiple stab wounds is nearly always a sign of a mind unhinged by drugs. 143, though, points to a frightening level of madness, and, as such, the verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity is unsurprising.
But then there is this:
The jury had deliberated for under one hour and had returned during that hour to ask if the fact that Mr Connors had smoked cannabis before the killing was relevant to his culpability.
Mr Justice Birmingham told the jury that consultant psychiatrist, Dr Damien Mohan, had considered whether Mr Connors’ behaviour was attributable to drugs or mental illness and was of the “firm and clear” view that the accused’s mental disorder was the causative factor.
In other words, the fact that the defendant had smoked cannabis before the killing, which occurred around six o’clock in the morning, was not deemed relevant, and the link between his mental disorder and his consumption of cannabis appears to have gone unexplored.

Man found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity
Irish Examiner 4 Feb 2009

A jury has found a Dublin man who killed a stranger with garden shears not guilty of murder by reason of insanity at the Central Criminal Court.
Thomas Connors (aged 25) thought Michael Hughes (aged 30), from Banagher in Offaly, was the embodiment of the devil when he found him sleeping in the stairwell of an apartment block.
Mr Justice George Birmingham told the jury that it had reached “absolutely the right verdict in accordance with the expert evidence”. He thanked it for its careful attention to the case and exempted its members from jury service for seven years.
Mr Connors, of Manor Court, Mount Argos, Harold’s Cross, killed Mr Hughes in a savage attack in the stairwell of an adjacent apartment block, Manor Villa, on the morning of December 15, 2007.
Mr Justice Birmingham said this was a case of “mind boggling sadness” and, were it not for the issue of insanity, would have been a perfectly clear and appalling case of murder.
He said: “Consequent on the special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity I direct that Mr Connors be committed to a specially designated centre, the Central Mental Hospital, until further order.”
Prosecuting counsel, Paul O’Higgins SC, said Mr Hughes’ family were aware that victim impact evidence would not be heard because the case did not involve the imposition of a sentence.
Mr Justice Birmingham said to the family: “You truly have been through the most appalling experience. Words can’t and don’t describe it and all I can do is express my sympathy.”
The jury had deliberated for under one hour and had returned during that hour to ask if the fact that Mr Connors had smoked cannabis before the killing was relevant to his culpability.
Mr Justice Birmingham told the jury that consultant psychiatrist, Dr Damien Mohan, had considered whether Mr Connors’ behaviour was attributable to drugs or mental illness and was of the “firm and clear” view that the accused’s mental disorder was the causative factor.
Yesterday, the jury heard that Mr Hughes had gone out for a night in Dublin with his cousin and friends. He was to stay at his cousin’s flat in Harold’s Cross but the cousin had gone home early and Mr Hughes was unable to get into the flat when he returned after 4am.
Mr Hughes decided to sleep in the stairwell and sometime after 6am Mr Connors came crashing through the glass doors of the apartment block with garden shears and savagely attacked him, inflicting 143 injuries.
Residents heard screaming and rang gardaí who found Mr Connors walking away from the scene with the shears. He told gardaí that he had fought with the devil and the devil was gone now.
In the days leading up to the killing Mr Connors, a married man with one child, had gone to hospital three times seeking help. He was hearing voices and suffering delusions that his wife was the daughter of the devil. On the second visit he was given tablets. His wife was so frightened by his behaviour that she took their child to a women’s shelter.
On the third occasion, the day before the killing, doctors at Saint Vincent’s Hospital decided Mr Connors should be admitted to Saint James’ but he absconded during the four-hour wait for an ambulance.
In the hours before he killed Mr Hughes, Mr Connors thought the devil was in his apartment and had taken a duvet outside and stabbed it, believing the devil had been hiding in it.
Dr Mohan told the jury that Mr Connors suffered from schizophrenia, as did his father. He had been hospitalised with psychosis in 2004 and 2005 and believed that his father-in-law was the devil.
The victim’s father, Liam Hughes, made a statement outside the Four Courts on behalf of the Hughes family. He said that the family’s thoughts, as always but especially today, were on the 30 years of “love, kindness and generosity of spirit they enjoyed with the deceased”.
Mr Hughes said his son would be remembered by his friends as “a respectful and decent person”. He said a former teacher had contacted the family to pay tribute to Michael as “an honest, kind, sincere, popular and respected person who was a credit to his family and school”.
Mr Hughes said Michael had been a hard-working young man who commuted from Offaly to Dublin each day to work and had recently entered into further education. Mr Hughes said his son had coped admirably with the demands of full-time work and part-time study.
On October 27, 2007, he had become engaged to Deborah Lynch, who was with the family in court. Mr Hughes said his family had shared in their joy at setting up a home together and planning for their future.
He said: “Only seven short weeks later Deborah’s hopes and dreams were shattered.”
He said the Hughes family earnestly hoped that she would find happiness in the future.
Mr Hughes thanked UCD, which had honoured Michael recently on what would have been his conferring day, and his employer, Dublin Bus. He also thanked the team who investigated his son’s death, the Garda family liaison officer and the many friends who had offered comforting words.
He said it had been 13 months since the killing but the pain and horror of it had “scarcely lessened”. He said the natural “role reversal” in the cycle of life could not now happen as he had lost his son.
He said the family was disturbed and saddened by the evidence given in court, but there relieved that the process was over. He asked that the family’s privacy be respected at this time.

Source: https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/man-found-not-guilty-of-murder-by-reason-of-insanity-397642.html Posted on May 6, 2019 Leave a comment on An extraordinary murder in Ireland

Jail for man who shot girlfriend 13 times with airgun – before trying to strangle and suffocate her
Leicester Mercury | 27 July 2017 |

Kristian Pole had been smoking cannabis when he ‘flipped out’ and attacked his partner at his home in Leicester
A man who failed to take a chance given by a judge, following an airgun attack on a girlfriend, has been jailed for two years.
Kristian Pole repeatedly fired pellets at close range into his then girlfriend’s face, limbs and body. Then he tried to strangle her and suffocate her with a pillow, Leicester Crown Court was told.
The frightened woman managed to run from Pole’s home in Leicester and alert the police, having suffered bruising and red marks from 13 plastic pellets and being gripped around her neck, in August last year.
Judge Robert Brown gave Pole a chance, in June, by imposing a two-year community order, with rehabilitation requirements, because he had already served several months on remand in custody.
Pole later failed to inform the probation service he had moved address – a condition of the order. He also refused to tell them where he was living with a new partner. This resulted in him being brought back to court, where Judge Brown re-sentenced him on Tuesday.
The judge told 24-year-old Pole, of no known address: “I’ve no choice but to revoke the order and impose custody. You’ve thrown away the chance of a community order by your own actions. When I sentenced you in June, for possessing a BB gun with intent to cause fear of violence and causing actual bodily harm, you’d already served eight or nine months in custody.”
He told Pole, who admitted the offences: “You’d done well on remand and changed your attitude. I was invited to take a chance on you and put you on a community order.
“You’ve failed to engage with the probation service and moved out of your mother’s address, without notifying those concerned about where you were living. This was a serious example of an assault.”
Lynsey Knott, prosecuting, said the assault with the BB gun happened when Pole’s then girlfriend visited his home, where he was smoking cannabis with a male friend.
When the cannabis ran out he erupted in violence, attacking her and shooting “at close range” her face and limbs.
James Varley, mitigating, said: “He’d smoked too much cannabis and flipped out.
“Your Honour will have told many defendants it’s not the harmless drug that many young people think it is.
“It has deleterious effects … what else could explain his conduct other than he was completely out of it when his cannabis supply was cut off.”

Source:https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/leicester-news/jail-man-who-shot-girlfriend-243489

Couple killed friend, set him on fire and then had sex to celebrate, court told
ITV News | 16 Feb 2019 |

Cold-hearted killers who brutally murdered a vulnerable friend before setting him on fire and then having sex will spend at least 28 years in jail.

Evil William Vaill and Deborah Andrews were handed life sentences for killing Skelmersdale dad Eamon Brady in a “brutal and sustained” attack.
Mr Brady was hit in the head with a hammer at least 17 times and repeatedly stabbed and slashed in the neck and body in the early hours of July 21.
Vaill, 37, and Andrews, 44, then wrapped his body in bedding and set it on fire before stealing a PlayStation 4, sound bar, DVD player and bank card belonging to their victim.
Andrews later described the couple as “the new Bonnie and Clyde”.
After the callous killing, the pair went to Beacon Country Park where they burned clothing and hid the weapons. They are also believed to have had sex in a nearby park hours after the attack, the court heard.
They also went on to attempt to sell his PlayStation 4 and use the stolen bank card in a local shop.
The evil couple, who had been friends with Mr Brady for several years, bumped into him by chance after Vaill had attended a funeral. They went back to his flat in Elmridge, Skelmersdale, where they drank and smoked cannabis.
By the time of the murder, Vaill, whose previous convictions include arson and criminal damage, had been drinking for 40 straight hours.
The pair left the flat at around around 4:50am and later told police that Mr Brady was alive and well when they left. But recordings in the police van heard that Andrews was ‘buzzing’ about the murder and describing the pair as the new Bonnie and Clyde.
Vaill, of Evington, Skelmersdale, pleaded guilty to murder and arson last month and was today given a life sentence with a minimum of 28-and-a-half years in prison.
Andrews, of Elmstead, Skelmersdale, was found guilty after a trial and given a life sentence with a minimum of 28 years in prison.
Both appeared emotionless throughout the sentencing at Preston Crown Court while Andrews sat with her hands in her pockets throughout.
Prosecuting, Francis McEntree said Mr Brady was a vulnerable man who was regularly taken advantage of by those around him. He had earlier told family that he wanted to move out of Skelmersdale to escape from people who were ‘leeching off him’.
He knew both of the victims well, having been friends for several years and they had all spent the together socially in a “happy, if noisy” manner.
Mr Brady had been friends with Vaill since their teenage years and an earlier incident in which Vaill stabbed him in the foot with a penknife was considered no more than horseplay after Mr Brady had laughed at him getting hurt when he kicked a lamppost.
An emotional victim statement read on behalf of Mr Brady’s daughter Amy Brady told of the devastating effects she has suffered since the murder of her best friend.
Her father’s death came 17 days short of the second anniversary of her brother Ryan’s death and that after seeing his battered and burnt body, Ms Brady now regularly suffers nightmare and is left “angry with the world”.
“There was a hole in my heart when my brother died that has been made bigger and will never be filled,” it stated.
“My dad was not only my dad, he was my entire being.”
Defending Vaill, Stuart Denney said he had begun cannabis and alcohol use since before he was a teenager and that Skelmersdale was “the worst place in the world for him”.
Michael Lavery, defending Andrews, said she had “limited capabilities and intelligence” and was previously of good character.
Sentencing the pair, Judge Mark Brown said: “Having killed him you set fire to his body to destroy evidence of what had happened and in doing so you committed arson with reckless disregard for the lives of the other residents in the building who were asleep at the time.
“It’s another matter of this case that having just murdered this a man in extremely violent and brutal circumstances that you had sex with each other soon after.”

Source: https://www.itv.com/news/granada/2019-02-16/couple-killed-friend-set-him-on-fire-and-then-had-sex-to-celebrate-court-told/

Teenager found guilty of fatal stabbing of Luke Howard
Liverpool Echo | 22 Jan 2009 |

A LIVERPOOL teenager has been found guilty of killing a friend he stabbed 12 times in a drunk and drug-fuelled rage.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court found Charlijo Calvert, 15, not guilty of the murder of 16-year-old Luke Howard but unanimously convicted him of manslaughter.
Calvert, of Ronald Street, Old Swan, stabbed Luke, from Dovecot, in the early hours of August 30 at the house of a friend in Ashcombe Road, Knotty Ash.
During the week-long trial, the court heard a group of teenage boys, including the victim and defendant, had gone to the house and drank alcohol, smoked cannabis and snorted cocaine.
Throughout the night, and into the early hours, witnesses said they saw Luke prodding Calvert with a screwdriver and the pair “winding each other up”. At one point, the court heard, they threatened to stab each other but the fatal attack at around 7am.

Source: https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/teenager-found-guilty-fatal-stabbing-3462600

Four ‘racist’ killings, two years apart, with one important commonality
1. Skunk addicted schizophrenic fulfils sick fantasy by killing a black woman: ‘Psychiatric reports stated that Maxwell was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and his abnormality was so great that it affected his judgment [sic].The reports also said his condition was exacerbated by the heavy use of skunk.’ (3 Apr 2007)
2. Drive caught in gang’s ‘revenge’: ‘The 41-year-old minibus taxi driver was dragged screaming from his cab and beaten to death in July by several white teenagers in Huddersfield… Some of the teenagers had been drinking and smoking cannabis with some girls, who they then persuaded to call up and order the minibus – with fatal consequences.’ (26 Jan 2007)
3. Racist thugs face 30 years in prison for axe murder: ‘The two men who murdered black teenager Anthony Walker were last night each facing up to 30 years in jail after the trial judge ruled the killing was racially motivated, effectively doubling the time they will serve… Anthony Walker wanted to be a lawyer, maybe a judge. He loved God, worked hard at his studies, practised his basketball skills whenever he could, though not on a Sunday if it clashed with church.
Paul Taylor and Michael Barton revelled in the nicknames Chomper and Ozzy. One wanted to be a burglar, the other wanted to join the army, but was too stupid to pass the exams. They spent their time hanging around, smoking cannabis and, in the words of one, “going out robbing”.’ (1 Dec 2005)
4. Asian gang kicked man to death: ‘Three Asian men who kicked a white computer expert to death and bragged: “That will teach an Englishman to interfere in Paki business” were found guilty of murder at the Old Bailey yesterday… The court heard that the three had been drinking all evening in the West End before returning to east London to drink vodka and smoke cannabis.’ (23 Nov 2005)
You know, of course, what the important commonality is, a much more important factor than apparent ‘racism’. I will note here only, as the article does not, that the ‘skunk addicted schizophrenic’ who deliberately targeted a black woman is himself black.

In defence of Peter Hitchens (@ClarkeMicah) and the theory of mental illness

Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens, author of The War We Never Fought, has received a lot of abuse recently for pointing out in his MoS column of 7 April that the killer of Jo Cox, Thomas Mair, was mentally ill, not a ‘political actor’, and that his mental state was not discussed at his trial (at which Mair himself did not speak).
This matters a great deal, because those who cannot accept that, far from being part of a ‘far-right terrorist plot’, Mair was simply mentally unhinged, and that this mental illness was likely the result of or exacerbated by psychoactive medication, often equally refuse to believe that the prime factor in a particular act of suicide or psychopathic violence isn’t terrorism, Islam, immigration, austerity, video games, gangs, gun laws, ‘depression’, or racism, but cannabis.
Many have cited the following sentencing remarks of the judge in the Mair case, Mr Justice Wilkie, as evidence that Mr Hitchens is barking up the wrong tree:
There is no doubt that this murder was done for the purpose of advancing a political, racial and ideological cause namely that of violent white supremacism and exclusive nationalism most associated with Nazism and its modern forms.
Those who believe that Mair was a ‘terrorist’ are not open to the possibility that the judge is mistaken, nor aware that his remarks are, as Mr Hitchens points out, unusually political in tone. I wonder, then, what such people would make of these sentencing remarks of Judge Findlay Baker, QC, to a man who stabbed his friend’s father to death with a pair of garden shears: “This was an attack of extreme and persistent violence. And I have no doubt it would not have happened if you had not consumed cannabis.”
Or these, of Judge Anthony Niblett, to a man who punched his girlfriend and burnt down her house: “Those whose minds are steeped in cannabis are capable of quite extraordinary criminality. Your mind has been steeped in cannabis for much of your adult life.”
Or these, of Judge Rosalind Coe, QC, to a young man who attempted to murder his infant son: “If any case demonstrates the dangers and potentially tragic consequences of cannabis abuse, such as you had taken part in for many years, this is such a case.”
I could go on.
By contrast, some judges all but shrug and hold up their hands when trying to make sense of a heinous crime. The judge who sentenced 16-year-old Aaron Campbell, for example, said he had “no idea” why Campbell abducted, raped and murdered six-year-old Alesha MacPhail, even though it was noted during the trial that he was high on cannabis when he committed the crime, and knew the MacPhail family from having bought the drug from Alesha’s father. Some judges, like some people, can see the wood amid the trees. Some cannot.

Violence and legalised cannabis in Uruguay: a clarification

I would like to clarify the meaning of a tweet I sent yesterday of a link to an article on violence and homicide in Uruguay, ‘Uruguay gets tough on crime after posting record homicide rate’.
The article reports that in 2018, a year after cannabis went on sale, following legalisation in 2013, there were a record 414 homicides in Uruguay, a small nation of 3.5 million people once famed for its peace and tranquillity. So alarming was this figure (up from 284 in 2017) that 400,000 voters signed a petition calling for exceptional measures against violent crime.
I must stress first that, while it is likely that at least some of these acts of homicide were committed by people whose minds have been damaged by cannabis, I do not say that cannabis legalisation was the cause. I tweeted the article whilst arguing about correlation and causation with a dim-witted young drugs enthusiast who had claimed that an apparent decrease in rates of cannabis consumption amongst teenagers in Washington state was caused by cannabis being legalised there. I have written before that dope heads parrot the phrase ‘correlation does not equal causation’ only when the correlation upsets them. When they find a correlation they like they immediately claim cannabis legalisation as the cause.
Again, I do not say that homicide rate in Uruguay is exceptionally high because cannabis has been legalised. As Peter Hitchens points out in an article on Portugal, ‘The Alleged Portuguese Drug Paradise Examined’, legalisation or decriminalisation nearly always follows years of lax enforcement, making any before-and-after comparison meaningless. By contrast, in his largely excellent book Tell Your Children, Alex Berenson spends too much time, as I write in my review, trying to prove that violent crime has risen in those American states that have legalised cannabis, when he would have done better to expand his section on the alleged ‘war’ on drugs in America and the fact that, contrary to popular opinion, rates of incarceration solely for drugs possession in the USA have been quite low for many years.
I would further add that suggestions that ‘gang warfare’ is involved in Uruguay’s high homicide rate seem similarly erroneous. Drug rivals killing each other makes a good subject for a film or TV series,
but the reality is often a much blander case of a paranoid young man in possession of a weapon killing somebody (often not his ostensible target) out of fear or delusion.

Xixi Bi Llandaff murder: Jordan Matthews jailed for life

He accepted he was smoking “quite a lot” of cannabis at the time and the court heard he felt “insecure” when his girlfriend visited her family in China.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-39026270

‘Cannabis made my boy a killer’

THE mother of a violent schizophrenic who stabbed his best friend to death last night described how her son’s long-term cannabis habit turned him into a monster.
Julie Morgan, formerly from Cardiff, claimed her 20-year-old son Richard Harris’ ‘kind and gentle’ side disappeared not long after he started smoking cannabis from the age of 14.
“Cannabis took my son from me, I have no problem saying that,” said the 45-year-old.

Carl Madigan knifed Sam Cook in heart two weeks after friend slashed man’s stomach open

Facebook accounts show Carl Madigan, 23, and Shaun Bethell, 19, hanging around together and smoking cannabis before the shocking offences which will now define their young lives.
In a dreadful two week period last October, Madigan killed tragic Sam Cook while Bethell, a teenager with a record to rival any career criminal’s, left a man’s bowel hanging out of his body.

Man found guilty of murdering girlfriend’s toddler before claiming he slipped underwater in bath in 999 call

Smith was also found to have a high reading of cannabis in his bloodstream almost six hours after the 999 call – while a makeshift Ribena bottle ‘bong’ and the remains of six cannabis joints were found in a rear annex.
Despite Willett claiming she “always put the kids first,” text messages showed a woman desperate to buy cannabis, even on the night before Teddy’s death.

Cork man, 26, who shattered skull of girlfriend’s infant daughter jailed for eight years
Brendan Kelly, defence barrister, said[…] that the accused appeared to be detached from what was going on and that the defendant had been a long-time cannabis user.

Dad shook baby daughter to death as he was agitated at running out of cannabis
Daily Mirror

A dad who shook his baby daughter to death because he was agitated at running out of cannabis was today jailed for six years.
William Stephens, aged 25, shook daughter Paris so violently she suffered catastrophic head injuries and was bleeding in the eyes.
The thug attacked 16-week-old Paris for crying after he was left to look after her while mum Danah Vince, 19, went to see a doctor.
The little girl died two days later in hospital and one shocked expert said he had never before seen such a severe case of bleeding in the eyes.
Stephens had a history of violence and social services were called in because of his volatile relationship with mum Vince.
A serious case review is being carried out into the way public bodies handled the case.
Stephens – who had serious learning difficulties – was convicted of manslaughter after a seven-week trial.
Vince was cleared of causing or allowing the baby’s death in January.
Passing sentence, the judge Mr Justice Teare told Stephens: “This is a case where a loss of temper and control has resulted in fatal violence to a defenceless baby.
“You will have to live with the fact that you killed your daughter.”
Defence lawyer Ignatious Hughes QC, told the jury: “There is plenty of evidence that he and Danah Vince are likely to have been in a state of agitation due to lack of cannabis.”
Bristol crown court heard Stephens and Vince often fought and argued and social services stepped in to get the pair to sign agreements against domestic violence.
Stephens, from Southmead, Bristol, was given a restraining order to stay away from Vince but defied the ban and continued living with her and their daughter.
He appeared in juvenile court in 2006 for three assaults on a previous girlfriend and received a community order.
Five months later he appeared in front of magistrates for battery and was given the same punishment.
A year later he was given a caution for repeatedly punching a pregnant woman and in November 2008 got another caution for common assault.
In April 2010, he was hauled before magistrates for assaulting a police officer.
The local council is conducting a serious case review which will be published next year.
A spokesman said: “This is an extremely sad case where there has been the tragic loss of a young life.
“If nothing else I hope that today’s verdict offers some small measure of closure.
“An independent Serious Case Review by the Bristol Safeguarding Children Board is being completed, carefully examining the role of public bodies involved in the case to see if there are any lessons to be learnt.
“The complexity of this case will become apparent once that review is published early next year following the conclusion of all relevant legal processes.”
A year later, Danah Vince, the mother of the baby, committed suicide.

Source: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/william-stephens-shook-baby-paris-2923262

Teen faces one year for vicious attack on man outside takeaway

A 17-year-old boy has been warned he faces a one-year sentence for leading a vicious gang attack on a young man who was repeatedly punched and kicked outside a takeaway in Dublin.
The boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, has pleaded guilty at the Dublin Children’s Court to assault causing harm and violent disorder in connection with the incident on the night of November 14, 2015.
Judge John O’Connor adjourned sentencing to see if the boy’s solicitor can organise a psychological assessment of the teenager whose behaviour, he said, has become more violent and aggressive.
The judge also noted the boy had tragic personal circumstances.
He said it was unacceptable that the boy had started smoking cannabis at the age of 12, and anyone who says it is not addictive “is not living in the real world”.
Garda Dave Jennings had told Judge O’Connor that the victim, a foreign national who is also aged in his late teens, had been at a Chinese takeaway at Kiltalown Way, Tallaght. A group of youths shouted in to him that they were going to rob him when he came out.
When he walked out one of them grabbed the handlebars of his bicycle and the youth then punched him in the side of his face.
The rest of the youths then joined in, grabbing the man, who was repeatedly punched and kicked before his bike was stolen.
The defendant struck the first blow but was not involved in the rest of the attack.
The victim fled back into the takeaway but was followed and had to run into the kitchen area for his safety. Garda Jennings agreed with Damian McKeone, defending, that the attack was not racially motivated.
CCTV footage was shown to Judge O’Connor, who described it as a “vicious assault”.

Source: https://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/teen-faces-one-year-for-vicious-attack-on-man-outside-takeaway-399847.html

Robbers who held knife to man’s neck before stealing his phone and laptop jailed

Two males who robbed a man at knifepoint at his home in north Belfast have been jailed.
Bennet Donaghy and his accomplice, who at the time of the offence was 16, targeted their victim in the early hours of September 13, 2015.
He managed to escape and ran down the Shore Road in the middle of the night shouting for help.
Donaghy (20), a father-of-one from Cheston Close in Carrickfergus, was handed a 30-month sentence at Belfast Crown Court yesterday. His accomplice, who cannot be named, was given 15 months’ jail.
Both men were informed they would spend half their sentences in custody, with the remainder on licence.
The pair admitted a charge of assault with intent to rob, while the youth also admitted stealing the man’s laptop and mobile phone.
Prior to sentencing, Judge Gordon Kerr QC was informed that the victim was asleep on his sofa at around 4am when he heard persistent knocking at his front door.
He recognised the youth, who he knew from the area, with another young man.
The younger man asked the victim to lend him money, but when he handed them £5 the pair told him: “That’s not enough.”
Crown prosecutor Robin Steer said Donaghy then produced a knife and held it against the occupant’s neck.
The youth, who the man said looked like he was under the influence of drugs, punched the victim a number of times while Donaghy told him he was from the UDA and ordered him to hand over drugs and money.
The man’s home was ransacked, but he escaped and ran down the Shore Road barefoot and with a bruised face, only to be stopped by police.
Officers subsequently called at a house in the area, where they arrested Donaghy and the youth. Also located was a four-inch knife, along with the man’s laptop and mobile phone.
During police interviews, the youth admitted he knew the occupant, but claimed he was unable to remember what had happened because he had smoked a cannabis cigarette.
Like his accomplice, Donaghy claimed to have no recollection of the incident because he too had been smoking drugs.
Mr Steer told Belfast Crown Court there were a number of aggravating factors.
These included the use of violence and threats during the robbery, the presence of a weapon and the fact the victim was targeted in his home in the middle of the night.
Defence barrister Jon Paul Shields, representing the youth, confirmed that his client was under the influence of drugs on the night in question.
He also added that he had since “recognised the seriousness of the offences.”
Telling the court his client knew his behaviour had been unacceptable, Mr Shields said: “At the time, he simply did not give any thought to what he was doing.”
The barrister also told how the young man, who has been working with the Youth Justice Agency, had expressed shame over the incident.
The lawyer said that at the time of the offence, his client had just lost a child, which led to him self-medicating.
Barrister Chris Holmes, acting on behalf of Donaghy, said that his client “apologises profusely to the victim”.
He added that on the night of the robbery, Donaghy was “very, very much under the influence” of drugs.
Mr Holmes also spoke of the defendant’s troubled background, telling the judge his client “didn’t have his sorrows to seek when he was being brought up”, which in turn contributed to poor mental health.

Source: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/robbers-who-held-knife-to-mans-neck-before-stealing-his-phone-and-laptop-jailed-35560290.html

Sally Hodkin murder: Killer ‘had miscarriage’ prior to fatal stabbing

A patient who murdered a grandmother believed she had suffered a miscarriage and was smoking cannabis in the lead up to the killing, an inquest has heard.
Nicola Edgington virtually decapitated Sally Hodkin with a stolen butcher’s knife in Bexleyheath, in 2011, six years after killing her own mother.
Edgington told hospital staff she needed to be sectioned and felt like killing someone.
A recent report found NHS and police failings led to Mrs Hodkin’s murder.
Edgington, a diagnosed schizophrenic, was discharged from the Bracton Centre mental health facility in 2009 despite an order she be detained indefinitely following the killing of her mother Marion in Forest Row, Sussex, in 2005.
Around two weeks before the killing on 10 October, 2011, Edgington made a number of emergency calls to police about “crackheads” stealing from her flat in early October. She had also been using skunk cannabis, the inquest heard.
On 29 September, she sent a message to her brother telling him about the miscarriage, saying she wanted to reconnect.
The message also mentioned their mother, with Edgington saying: “No-one’s taking care of me like she would.”
Her brother replied on the same day: “You stabbed her to death and left me to find the body. Good news about your miscarriage … do us a favour and slit your wrists.”
On the day of Mrs Hodkin’s murder, Edgington was taken to Oxleas House mental health unit, but was later allowed to walk out of the building.
She got a bus to Bexleyheath, bought a large knife from Asda and stole a steak knife from a butcher’s shop.
Edgington then stabbed Mrs Hodkin and another woman in the street.
Elizabeth Lloyd-Folkard, a forensic social worker who was looking after Edgington, told the inquest that around a week before the killing, she had “no cause of concern about her state of mind”.
Contact with family members, substance misuse, and any issues around pregnancy were noted in reports as high-risk factors that could affect Edgington’s mental health, the inquest heard.
Mrs Hodkin’s son Len Hodkin told the inquest: “All of those risk factors were present in the two to three weeks leading up to October 10.
“It’s not coming with the benefit of hindsight, this information was available to you and other members of the multi-disciplinary team at the time.”
The inquest continues.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-46022330

Two major public health issues are colliding,’ CDC official warns

Public health officials grappling with record-high syphilis rates around the nation have pinpointed what appears to be a major risk factor: drug use.

“Two major public health issues are colliding,” said Dr. Sarah Kidd, a medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and lead author of a new report issued Thursday on the link between drugs and syphilis.
The report shows a large intersection between drug use and syphilis among women and heterosexual men. In those groups, reported use of methamphetamine, heroin and other injection drugs more than doubled from 2013 to 2017.
The data did not reveal the same increases in drug use among gay men with syphilis, the group with the highest rates of the disease.

Researchers said the results suggest that drug use — and the risky sexual behaviors associated with it — may be driving some of the increase in syphilis transmission among heterosexuals.
People who use drugs are more likely to engage in unsafe sexual behaviors, which put them at higher risk for sexually transmitted diseases, experts said. The CDC also saw increases in syphilis among heterosexuals during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s, and use of the drug was associated with higher syphilis transmission.
“The addiction takes over,” said Patricia Kissinger, an epidemiology professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

For example, people using drugs may avoid condoms, have multiple sex partners or exchange sex for drugs or money — all significant risk factors for sexually transmitted diseases, said Dr. Sara Kennedy, medical director of Planned Parenthood Northern California.
“I think it’s impossible to eradicate syphilis and congenital syphilis unless we are simultaneously addressing the meth-use and IV-use epidemic,” Kennedy said.
Syphilis rates are setting records nationally. They jumped by 73 percent overall and 156 percent for women from 2013 to 2017. The highest rates were reported in Nevada, California and Louisiana.
Syphilis — which had been nearly eradicated before its resurgence in recent years — is treatable with antibiotics, but if left untreated it can lead to organ damage and even death. Congenital syphilis, which occurs when a mother passes the disease to her unborn baby, can lead to premature birth and newborn deaths.

The study’s authors analyzed syphilis cases from 2013 to 2017 and determined which patients had also reported using drugs. They discovered methamphetamine was the biggest problem: More than one-third of women and one-quarter of heterosexual men with syphilis reported using methamphetamine within the previous year.
Substance use among both populations was highest in 13 Western states and lowest in the Northeast. In California, methamphetamine use by people with syphilis nearly doubled for women and heterosexual men from 2013 to 2017, according to the California Department of Public Health.

‘OPPORTUNITY LOST’

The intersecting epidemics of sexually transmitted infections and substance abuse make it harder to identify and treat people with syphilis because drug use makes people less likely to go to the doctor and to report their sexual partners, Kidd said.
Pregnant women also may be reluctant to seek prenatal care and get syphilis testing and treatment because of concerns their doctor will report the drug use.
To stem the transmission of syphilis, the CDC urges more collaboration between programs that address STDs and programs that treat substances abuse.

Drug use is an “incredibly huge contributing factor” to somebody getting an STD and transmitting it, said Jennifer Howell, sexual health program coordinator for the health district in Washoe County, Nev.
“Everybody needs to see that we are dealing with a lot of the same clients,” she said.
Fresno County has the highest rate of congenital syphilis in California. Its health department analyzed 25 cases of congenital syphilis in 2017 and determined that more than two-thirds of the mothers were using drugs, said Joe Prado, the county’s community health division manager.
The county has started offering STD testing for people entering inpatient drug treatment facilities, Prado said. “That’s our opportunity to get them screened,” he said.
Those who return for the results are offered incentives such as gift cards. The county also gives people in drug treatment a care package that contains condoms and education materials about sexually transmitted infections, Prado said.

The city of Long Beach sends a mobile clinic to drug treatment facilities, where it provides HIV testing, said Dr. Anissa Davis, the city’s health officer. She said Long Beach hopes to expand services to include screening for other sexually transmitted infections.
Although increased collaboration between drug treatment providers and STD clinics is essential, it’s not always easy because they traditionally have not worked together, said Kissinger of Tulane.
“The STI people are hyper-focused on STIs and the substance abuse people are focused on substance abuse,” she said. It is an “opportunity lost” if people in drug treatment aren’t screened for syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections, she added.

Fighting the rising rates of syphilis will also require more resources, said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine and public health at UCLA.
“The STD workforce has almost entirely disappeared,” he said. “While policies could be put in place that require syphilis testing, those policies also have to come with resources.”

SOURCE: ANNA GORMAN, KAISER HEALTH NEWS 15TH FEB2019

If you’re a gun-owning Pennsylvania resident, the Pennsylvania State Police are urging you to turn in your firearms if you are seeking medical marijuana cards.

Sorry, what?

statement from the Pennsylvania State Police’s website is receiving a lot of local attention over what appears to be an erroneous statement concerning state and federal law.

The statement reads:

“It is unlawful for you to keep possession of any firearms which you owned or had in your possession prior to obtaining a medical marijuana card, and you should consult an attorney about the best way to dispose of your firearms.”

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, state police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski suggested seeking legal counsel if a citizen possesses firearms before seeking and receiving medical marijuana.

“It’s unlawful to keep possession of firearms obtained prior to registering,” Tarkowski said.

“The Pennsylvania State Police is not in the business of offering legal advice, but it might be a good idea to contact an attorney about how best to dispose of their firearms,” Tarkowski suggested.

Criminal defense attorney Patrick Nightingale told KDKA-TV on Monday that the suggestions being pushed by the state police disturb him.

“It disturbs me greatly to see the Pennsylvania State Police put on their website references to federal law while ignoring the fact that it is legal under Pennsylvania law,” Nightingale said.

“Firearms are woven into the fabric of our country,” Nightingale added. “It’s the second most important right in the Bill of Rights.”

Here’s the catch

According to Pennsylvania state law, the use of medical marijuana is legal, and not a hindrance to owning a firearm. However, according to the state police website, Pennsylvania’s legalization of medical marijuana is not federally recognized.

According to 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) and 27 C.F.R. § 478.32(a)(3), possession of a medical marijuana card and the use of medical marijuana determines that a citizen is an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.”

Federal law prohibits an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” from purchasing, acquiring, or possessing a firearm.

In short, federal law says it is illegal for a citizen to attempt the purchase of a firearm if they are a medical marijuana cardholder.

This isn’t new information: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has held the position since 2011 that no one in possession of a medical marijuana card may also legally own a firearm.

Generally speaking, state police cannot enforce federal law unless a statute gives them express permission to do so. Pennsylvania law is somewhat ambiguous on this point, allowing the PSP make arrests “for all violations of the law,” without specifying whether this includes federal law.

If marijuana is considered a controlled substance — much like opioids — then one might wonder why are opioid users permitted to own firearms.

Attorney Andrew Sacks, co-chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Medical Marijuana and Hemp Law Committee, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the same thing.

“It’s hypocritical,” Sacks said. “You can be an opioid addict, or buy a bottle of rum, drink it and go to a store and buy one. But a person who is registered as a medical marijuana patient in Pennsylvania, and has a very small dosage of THC, can’t own a gun to protect themselves or hunt.”

People who are mentally ill or addicted can’t work effectively, if at all, so they have to turn to crime and/or public support for survival.  Marijuana escalates the risk of mental illness 5 times.[i] On average, 17% of adolescents and 9% of adults  will become addicted.[ii]Based on federal research  7,000 people use marijuana for the first time each day.[iii] Taking an average of 13%, nationally over 332,000 new marijuana addicts will be created.  California’s share at 13% of the population will be over 33,000 new addicts annually, adding another 1.3 billion in cost at $40,000 each.  Instead of preventing these problems, we can expect more academic failure, lost productivity, mental illness, addiction and crime. In Sacramento, 59% of all arrestees for any crime tested positive just for marijuana; 83% for any drug[iv]. Jail overcrowding is also a factor as those deemed mentally ill languish there for weeks and months, waiting for space in a mental health facility.

Marijuana causes permanent brain damage and loss of IQ for anyone under 25.[v]  It causes psychotic breaks leading to gruesome acts, including decapitations, stabbings, mass murders and suicides. Other harms include DNA damage causing birth abnormalities[vi] not just in the next generation, but the next four (100 years).  Because marijuana is fat soluble, it stays in the body and brain for one month, compounding with each additional use.  The impairment adversely affects cognition, judgement and memory all of which contribute to traffic deaths. [vii]

MARIJUANA – THE ECONOMIC COSTS 
Aside from the devastating environmental cost, the social costs are huge.  For alcohol and tobacco, the social costs exceed tax revenues by 9 to 1. The black market won’t disappear. In Colorado the black market is still about 50% of the total.  In California only about 16% of cultivators have signed up to be licensed and taxed. The rest will avoid taxes and sell to the black market throughout the US. In 2009, a study called Shoveling Up: The Impact of Substance Abuse on Federal, State and Local Governments[viii] was done which showed in 2005, California spent 19.5% of its budget ($19.9 billion) on substance abuse, of which only $38 million (1/3rd of 1%) on prevention, and the rest shoveling up the damage. This is horrible economic policy, and its much worse today.  Instead of preventing this preventable disease, we cultivate it.

Voters bought the Gavin Newsom lie that Prop 64 would be a good thing. The orchestrated legislative analysis, approved by our Attorney General, Secretary of State, et al., suggested the state would save $100 million in prison costs, get rid of the black market and earn up to $1 billion in tax revenues. No mention of the environmental devastation and reclamation costs.  It outrageously suggested marijuana had no serious health impacts.  To cap it off, the illicit drug trade and out-of-state billionaires spent $35 million to back the campaign. If we care about our kids, and our future, its time to fight back.

[i] https////health.harvard.edu/Teens who smoke pot at risk for later schizophrenia

[ii] www.drugabuse.gov

[iii] www.theatlantic.com/Everyday 7,000 Americans try weed for the first time

[iv] www.ncjrs.gov/pdfiles1/ondcp/ADAMII Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program

[v] www.healthline.com.  The Effects of Marijuana on your body.

[vi] www.sciencedaily.com.  Marijuana Damages DNA and may cause cancer

[vii] www.nbcnews.com/health/healt-news/Pot Fuels Surge In Driving Deaths

[viii] www.casacolumbia.org/Shoveling Up:  The Impact of Substance Abuse on Federal, State and Local Budgets

Source: http://tbac.us/2018/09/15/marijuana-causes-mental-illness-and-addiction-in-turn-more-homelessness-poverty-and-crime/ September 2018

Smaller cities and towns carry a unique burden when it comes to drug addiction.

I grew up in Mounds, Ill. It’s a small farming community of about 800 people in the southernmost part of the state. It may seem an unlikely place for a drug epidemic, but opioid addiction and substance abuse have plagued families there for decades. Years ago, the first of my close relatives died after a long struggle with prescription opioids.

That’s one reason why, as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, I keep the victims of this crisis close to my heart.

Under President Donald Trump, HHS has made the opioid crisis a top priority because it leaves no corner of our country untouched. When the crisis began, we worked mostly in rural areas to address overdoses and opioid-use disorder. The opioid crisis is nationwide and claimed approximately 116 American lives every day in 2016.

The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides even more grim details. Nearly 64,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016, a 21 percent increase from the previous year and the largest increase on record. More than 42,000 of those deaths involved opioids, more than the total number of all drug overdose deaths in 2012. Further, provisional data indicate that approximately 72,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017. In 2015, there were more than 1 million opioid-related hospital stays and emergency-room visits in the U.S.

A publication from the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy brings the crisis closer to this region. Titled “Combating the Opioid Crisis in Northern Minnesota,” it found that the Duluth area in particular has been hit hard. St. Louis County has the highest opioid overdose death rate in the state.

As part of the Trump administration’s focused mission to support states and local communities on the front lines of this fight, one of our primary strategies is to learn directly from those on the ground so we may be able to benefit from the experience and understanding of local leaders and communities. Over the last few months I have traveled to Illinois, Ohio, Florida, Texas, California, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to exchange ideas with medical experts, local officials, and, especially, individuals currently receiving treatment for opioid addiction.

My visit to Duluth in July was part of the same journey — and a personal one as well. My mother was born in Esko. I consider your remarkable region a second home.

While I was there, one family told me of tragic loss. Their son was injured on the job, was prescribed opioids for pain, and soon became addicted. After only a few months, he lost his life to opioid overdose.

I also heard inspiring stories of people in recovery and how well they know the severe hurdles to battling addiction. They are now providing crucial help by connecting others to treatment and educating the public about lifesaving overdose-reversing drugs.

I was particularly encouraged visiting Duluth’s Lake Superior Health Clinic and learning how grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration at HHS are aiding in the clinic’s vital mission of care.

My message that day was clear: HHS stands ready to assist local heroes helping to end this epidemic in their communities. We are backing up that commitment in Minnesota by awarding more than $10.7 million in state-targeted opioid-crisis grants, $6 million in medication-assisted treatment, and more than $24 million in substance-abuse prevention and treatment block grants last year. Additional awards will be announced in the coming months.

As an indication of the priority he places on this effort, President Trump donated a quarter of his salary last year to the planning and design of a large-scale public-awareness campaign to enhance understanding of the dangers of opioid misuse and addiction. He hopes his example will spur Congress to take even more action.

We at HHS recognize that the American people, in local communities like Duluth and all across our great country, will be the ones to end this terrible crisis. It will require nothing less than a united effort from not just government but the business community, our churches, our schools, and all of civil society.

We can win this battle in Minnesota and all across the country.

Source: https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/opinion/columns/4481662-deputy-secretarys-view-opioids-battle-can-be-won-beginning-minnesota-and August 2018

You’re aware America is under siege, fighting an opioid crisis that has exploded into a public-health emergency. You’ve heard of OxyContin, the pain medication to which countless patients have become addicted. But do you know that the company that makes Oxy and reaps the billions of dollars in profits it generates is owned by one family?

The newly installed Sackler Courtyard at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is one of the most glittering places in the developed world. Eleven thousand white porcelain tiles, inlaid like a shattered backgammon board, cover a surface the size of six tennis courts. According to the V&A;’s director, the regal setting is intended to serve as a “living room for London,” by which he presumably means a living room for Kensington, the museum’s neighborhood, which is among the world’s wealthiest. In late June, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was summoned to consecrate the courtyard, said to be the earth’s first outdoor space made of porcelain; stepping onto the ceramic expanse, she silently mouthed, “Wow.”

The Sackler Courtyard is the latest addition to an impressive portfolio. There’s the Sackler Wing at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which houses the majestic Temple of Dendur, a sandstone shrine from ancient Egypt; additional Sackler wings at the Louvre and the Royal Academy; stand-alone Sackler museums at Harvard and Peking Universities; and named Sackler galleries at the Smithsonian, the Serpentine, and Oxford’s Ashmolean. The Guggenheim in New York has a Sackler Center, and the American Museum of Natural History has a Sackler Educational Lab. Members of the family, legendary in museum circles for their pursuit of naming rights, have also underwritten projects of a more modest caliber—a Sackler Staircase at Berlin’s Jewish Museum; a Sackler Escalator at the Tate Modern; a Sackler Crossing in Kew Gardens. A popular species of pink rose is named after a Sackler. So is an asteroid.

The Sackler name is no less prominent among the emerald quads of higher education, where it’s possible to receive degrees from Sackler schools, participate in Sackler colloquiums, take courses from professors with endowed Sackler chairs, and attend annual Sackler lectures on topics such as theoretical astrophysics and human rights. The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science supports research on obesity and micronutrient deficiencies. Meanwhile, the Sackler institutes at Cornell, Columbia, McGill, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Sussex, and King’s College London tackle psychobiology, with an emphasis on early childhood development.

The Sacklers’ philanthropy differs from that of civic populists like Andrew Carnegie, who built hundreds of libraries in small towns, and Bill Gates, whose foundation ministers to global masses. Instead, the family has donated its fortune to blue-chip brands, braiding the family name into the patronage network of the world’s most prestigious, well-endowed institutions. The Sackler name is everywhere, evoking automatic reverence; the Sacklers themselves, however, are rarely seen.

The descendants of Mortimer and Raymond Sackler, a pair of psychiatrist brothers from Brooklyn, are members of a billionaire clan with homes scattered across Connecticut, London, Utah, Gstaad, the Hamptons, and, especially, New York City. It was not until 2015 that they were noticed by Forbes, which added them to the list of America’s richest families. The magazine pegged their wealth, shared among twenty heirs, at a conservative $14 billion. (Descendants of Arthur Sackler, Mortimer and Raymond’s older brother, split off decades ago and are mere multi-millionaires.) To a remarkable degree, those who share in the billions appear to have abided by an oath of omertà: Never comment publicly on the source of the family’s wealth.

That may be because the greatest part of that $14 billion fortune tallied by Forbes came from OxyContin, the narcotic painkiller regarded by many public-health experts as among the most dangerous products ever sold on a mass scale. Since 1996, when the drug was brought to market by Purdue Pharma, the American branch of the Sacklers’ pharmaceutical empire, more than two hundred thousand people in the United States have died from overdoses of OxyContin and other prescription painkillers. Thousands more have died after starting on a prescription opioid and then switching to a drug with a cheaper street price, such as heroin. Not all of these deaths are related to OxyContin—dozens of other painkillers, including generics, have flooded the market in the past thirty years. Nevertheless, Purdue Pharma was the first to achieve a dominant share of the market for long-acting opioids, accounting for more than half of prescriptions by 2001.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, fifty-three thousand Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2016, more than the thirty-six thousand who died in car crashes in 2015 or the thirty-five thousand who died from gun violence that year. This past July, Donald Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, led by New Jersey governor Chris Christie, declared that opioids were killing roughly 142 Americans each day, a tally vividly described as “September 11th every three weeks.” The epidemic has also exacted a crushing financial toll: According to a study published by the American Public Health Association, using data from 2013—before the epidemic entered its current, more virulent phase—the total economic burden from opioid use stood at about $80 billion, adding together health costs, criminal-justice costs, and GDP loss from drug-dependent Americans leaving the workforce. Tobacco remains, by a significant multiple, the country’s most lethal product, responsible for some 480,000 deaths per year. But although billions have been made from tobacco, cars, and firearms, it’s not clear that any of those enterprises has generated a family fortune from a single product that approaches the Sacklers’ haul from OxyContin.

Even so, hardly anyone associates the Sackler name with their company’s lone blockbuster drug. “The Fords, Hewletts, Packards, Johnsons—all those families put their name on their product because they were proud,” said Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine who has written extensively about the opioid crisis. “The Sacklers have hidden their connection to their product. They don’t call it ‘Sackler Pharma.’ They don’t call their pills ‘Sackler pills.’ And when they’re questioned, they say, ‘Well, it’s a privately held firm, we’re a family, we like to keep our privacy, you understand.’ ”

The family’s leaders have pulled off three of the great marketing triumphs of the modern era: The first is selling OxyContin; the second is promoting the Sackler name; and the third is ensuring that, as far as the public is aware, the first and the second have nothing to do with one another.

To the extent that the Sacklers have cultivated a reputation, it’s for being earnest healers, judicious stewards of scientific progress, and connoisseurs of old and beautiful things. Few are aware that during the crucial period of OxyContin’s development and promotion, Sackler family members actively led Purdue’s day-to-day affairs, filling the majority of its board slots and supplying top executives. By any assessment, the family’s leaders have pulled off three of the great marketing triumphs of the modern era: The first is selling OxyContin; the second is promoting the Sackler name; and the third is ensuring that, as far as the public is aware, the first and the second have nothing to do with one another.


If you head north on I-95 through Stamford, Connecticut, you will spot, on the left, a giant misshapen glass cube. Along the building’s top edge, white lettering spells out ONE STAMFORD FORUM. No markings visible from the highway indicate the presence of the building’s owner and chief occupant, Purdue Pharma.

Originally known as Purdue Frederick, the first iteration of the company was founded in 1892 on New York’s Lower East Side as a peddler of patent medicines. For decades, it sustained itself with sales of Gray’s Glycerine Tonic, a sherry-based liquid of “broad application” marketed as a remedy for everything from anemia to tuberculosis. The company was purchased in 1952 by Arthur Sackler, thirty-nine, and was run by his brothers, Mortimer, thirty- six, and Raymond, thirty-two. The Sackler brothers came from a family of Jewish immigrants in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Arthur was a headstrong and ambitious provider, setting the tone—and often choosing the path—for his younger brothers. After attending medical school on Arthur’s dime, Mortimer and Raymond followed him to jobs at the Creedmoor psychiatric hospital in Queens. There, they coauthored more than one hundred studies on the biochemical roots of mental illness. The brothers’ research was promising—they were among the first to identify a link between psychosis and the hormone cortisone—but their findings were mostly ignored by their professional peers, who, in keeping with the era, favored a Freudian model of mental illness.

Concurrent with his psychiatric work, Arthur Sackler made his name in pharmaceutical advertising, which at the time consisted almost exclusively of pitches from so-called “detail men” who sold drugs to doctors door-to-door. Arthur intuited that print ads in medical journals could have a revolutionary effect on pharmaceutical sales, especially given the excitement surrounding the “miracle drugs” of the 1950s—steroids, antibiotics, antihistamines, and psychotropics. In 1952, the same year that he and his brothers acquired Purdue, Arthur became the first adman to convince The Journal of the American Medical Association, one of the profession’s most august publications, to include a color advertorial brochure.

In the 1960s, Arthur was contracted by Roche to develop an advertising strategy for a new antianxiety medication called Valium. This posed a challenge, because the effects of the medication were nearly indistinguishable from those of Librium, another Roche tranquilizer that was already on the market. Arthur differentiated Valium by audaciously inflating its range of indications. Whereas Librium was sold as a treatment for garden- variety anxiety, Valium was positioned as an elixir for a problem Arthur christened “psychic tension.” According to his ads, psychic tension, the forebear of today’s “stress,” was the secret culprit behind a host of somatic conditions, including heartburn, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, and restless-leg syndrome. The campaign was such a success that for a time Valium became America’s most widely prescribed medication—the first to reach more than $100 million in sales. Arthur, whose compensation depended on the volume of pills sold, was richly rewarded, and he later became one of the first inductees into the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame.

As Arthur’s fortune grew, he turned his acquisitive instincts to the art market, quickly amassing the world’s largest private collection of ancient Chinese artifacts. According to a memoir by Marietta Lutze, his second wife, collecting, exhibiting, owning, and donating art fed Arthur’s “driving necessity for prestige and recognition.” Rewarding at first, collecting soon became a mania that took over his life. “Boxes of artifacts of tremendous value piled up in numerous storage locations,” she wrote, “there was too much to open, too much to appreciate; some objects known only by a packing list.” Under an avalanche of “ritual bronzes and weapons, mirrors and ceramics, inscribed bones and archaic jades,” their lives were “often in chaos.” “Addiction is a curse,” Lutze noted, “be it drugs, women, or collecting.”

When Arthur donated his art and money to museums, he often imposed onerous terms. According to a memoir written by Thomas Hoving, the Met director from 1967 to 1977, when Arthur established the Sackler Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to house Chinese antiquities, in 1963, he required the museum to collaborate on a byzantine tax-avoidance maneuver. In accordance with the scheme, the museum first soldArthur a large quantity of ancient artifacts at the deflated 1920s prices for which they had originally been acquired. Arthur then donated back the artifacts at 1960s prices, in the process taking a tax deduction so hefty that it likely exceeded the value of his initial donation. Three years later, in connection with another donation, Arthur negotiated an even more unusual arrangement. This time, the Met opened a secret chamber above the museum’s auditorium to provide Arthur with free storage for some five thousand objects from his private collection, relieving him of the substantial burden of fire protection and other insurance costs. (In an email exchange, Jillian Sackler, Arthur’s third wife, called Hoving’s tax-deduction story “fake news.” She also noted that New York’s attorney general conducted an investigation into Arthur’s dealings with the Met and cleared him of wrongdoing.)

In 1974, when Arthur and his brothers made a large gift to the Met—$3.5 million, to erect the Temple of Dendur—they stipulated that all museum signage, catalog entries, and bulletins referring to objects in the newly opened Sackler Wing had to include the names of all three brothers, each followed by “M.D.” (One museum official quipped, “All that was missing was a note of their office hours.”)

Hoving said that the Met hoped that Arthur would eventually donate his collection to the museum, but over time Arthur grew disgruntled over a series of rankling slights. For one, the Temple of Dendur was being rented out for parties, including a dinner for the designer Valentino, which Arthur called “disgusting.” According to Met chronicler Michael Gross, he was also denied that coveted ticket of arrival, a board seat. (Jillian Sackler said it was Arthur who rejected the board seat, after repeated offers by the museum.) In 1982, in a bad breakup with the Met, Arthur donated the best parts of his collection, plus $4 million, to the Smithsonian in Washington, D. C.


Arthur’s younger brothers, Mortimer and Raymond, looked so much alike that when they worked together at Creedmoor, they fooled the staff by pretending to be one another. Their physical similarities did not extend to their personalities, however. Tage Honore, Purdue’s vice-president of discovery of research from 2000 to 2005, described them as “like day and night.” Mortimer, said Honore, was “extroverted—a ‘world man,’ I would call it.” He acquired a reputation as a big-spending, transatlantic playboy, living most of the year in opulent homes in England, Switzerland, and France. (In 1974, he renounced his U. S. citizenship to become a citizen of Austria, which infuriated his patriotic older brother.) Like Arthur, Mortimer became a major museum donor and married three wives over the course of his life.

Mortimer had his own feuds with the Met. On his seventieth birthday, in 1986, the museum agreed to make the Temple of Dendur available to him for a party but refused to allow him to redecorate the ancient shrine: Together with other improvements, Mortimer and his interior designer, flown in from Europe, had hoped to spiff up the temple by adding extra pillars. Also galling to Mortimer was the sale of naming rights for one of the Sackler Wing’s balconies to a donor from Japan. “They sold it twice,” Mortimer fumed to a reporter from New York magazine. Raymond, the youngest brother, cut a different figure—“a family man,” said Honore. Kind and mild-mannered, he stayed with the same woman his entire life. Lutze concluded that Raymond owed his comparatively serene nature to having missed the worst years of the Depression. “He had summer vacations in camp, which Arthur never had,” she wrote. “The feeling of the two older brothers about the youngest was, ‘Let the kid enjoy himself.’ ”

Raymond led Purdue Frederick as its top executive for several decades, while Mortimer led Napp Pharmaceuticals, the family’s drug company in the UK. (In practice, a family spokesperson said, “the brothers worked closely together leading both companies.”) Arthur, the adman, had no official role in the family’s pharmaceutical operations. According to Barry Meier’s Pain Killer, a prescient account of the rise of OxyContin published in 2003, Raymond and Mortimer bought Arthur’s share in Purdue from his estate for $22.4 million after he died in 1987. In an email exchange, Arthur’s daughter Elizabeth Sackler, a historian of feminist art who sits on the board of the Brooklyn Museum and supports a variety of progressive causes, emphatically distanced her branch of the family from her cousins’ businesses. “Neither I, nor my siblings, nor my children have ever had ownership in or any benefit whatsoever from Purdue Pharma or OxyContin,” she wrote, while also praising “the breadth of my father’s brilliance and important works.” Jillian, Arthur’s widow, said her husband had died too soon: “His enemies have gotten the last word.”


The Sacklers have been millionaires for decades, but their real money—the painkiller money—is of comparatively recent vintage. The vehicle of that fortune was OxyContin, but its engine, the driving power that made them so many billions, was not so much the drug itself as it was Arthur’s original marketing insight, rehabbed for the era of chronic-pain management. That simple but profitable idea was to take a substance with addictive properties—in Arthur’s case, a benzo; in Raymond and Mortimer’s case, an opioid—and market it as a salve for a vast range of indications.

In the years before it swooped into the pain-management business, Purdue had been a small industry player, specializing in over-the-counter remedies like ear-wax remover and laxatives. Its most successful product, acquired in 1966, was Betadine, a powerful antiseptic purchased in industrial quantities by the U. S. government to prevent infection among wounded soldiers in Vietnam. The turning point, according to company lore, came in 1972, when a London doctor working for Cicely Saunders, the Florence Nightingale of the modern hospice movement, approached Napp with the idea of creating a timed-release morphine pill. A long-acting morphine pill, the doctor reasoned, would allow dying cancer patients to sleep through the night without an IV. At the time, treatment with opioids was stigmatized in the United States, owing in part to a heroin epidemic fueled by returning Vietnam veterans. “Opiophobia,” as it came to be called, prevented skittish doctors from treating most patients, including nearly all infants, with strong pain medication of any kind. In hospice care, though, addiction was not a concern: It didn’t matter whether terminal patients became hooked in their final days. Over the course of the seventies, building on a slow-release technology the company had already developed for an asthma medication, Napp created what came to be known as the “Contin” system. In 1981, Napp introduced a timed-release morphine pill in the UK; six years later, Purdue brought the same drug to market in the U. S. as MS Contin.

“The Sacklers have hidden their connection to their product,” said Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine. “They don’t call it ‘Sackler Pharma.’ They don’t call their pills ‘Sackler pills.’”

MS Contin quickly became the gold standard for pain relief in cancer care. At the same time, a number of clinicians associated with the burgeoning chronic-pain movement started advocating the use of powerful opioids for noncancer conditions like back pain and neuropathic pain, afflictions that at their worst could be debilitating. In 1986, two doctors from Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in New York published a fateful article in a medical journal that purported to show, based on a study of thirty-eight patients, that long-term opioid treatment was safe and effective so long as patients had no history of drug abuse. Soon enough, opioid advocates dredged up a letter to the editor published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1980 that suggested, based on a highly unrepresentative cohort, that the risk of addiction from long-term opioid use was less than 1 percent. Though ultimately disavowed by its author, the letter ended up getting cited in medical journals more than six hundred times.

As the country was reexamining pain, Raymond’s eldest son, Richard Sackler, was searching for new applications for Purdue’s timed-release Contin system. “At all the meetings, that was a constant source of discussion—‘What else can we use the Contin system for?’ ” said Peter Lacouture, a senior director of clinical research at Purdue from 1991 to 2001. “And that’s where Richard would fire some ideas—maybe antibiotics, maybe chemotherapy—he was always out there digging.” Richard’s spitballing wasn’t idle blather. A trained physician, he treasured his role as a research scientist and appeared as an inventor on dozens of the company’s patents (though not on the patents for OxyContin). In the tradition of his uncle Arthur, Richard was also fascinated by sales messaging. “He was very interested in the commercial side and also very interested in marketing approaches,” said Sally Allen Riddle, Purdue’s former executive director for product management. “He didn’t always wait for the research results.” (A Purdue spokesperson said that Richard “always considered relevant scientific information when making decisions.”)

Perhaps the most private member of a generally secretive family, Richard appears nowhere on Purdue’s website. From public records and conversations with former employees, though, a rough portrait emerges of a testy eccentric with ardent, relentless ambitions. Born in 1945, he holds degrees from Columbia University and NYU Medical School. According to a bio on the website of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, where Richard serves on the advisory board, he started working at Purdue as his father’s assistant at age twenty-six before eventually leading the firm’s R&D; division and, separately, its sales and marketing division. In 1999, while Mortimer and Raymond remained Purdue’s co-CEOs, Richard joined them at the top of the company as president, a position he relinquished in 2003 to become cochairman of the board. The few publicly available pictures of him are generic and sphinxlike—a white guy with a receding hairline. He is one of the few Sacklers to consistently smile for the camera. In a photo on what appears to be his Facebook profile, Richard is wearing a tan suit and a pink tie, his right hand casually scrunched into his pocket, projecting a jaunty charm. Divorced in 2013, he lists his relationship status on the profile as “It’s complicated.”

When Purdue eventually pleaded guilty to felony charges in 2007 for criminally “misbranding” OxyContin, it acknowledged exploiting doctors’ misconceptions about oxycodone’s strength.

Richard’s political contributions have gone mostly to Republicans—including Strom Thurmond and Herman Cain—though at times he has also given to Democrats. (His ex-wife, Beth Sackler, has given almost exclusively to Democrats.) In 2008, he wrote a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journaldenouncing Muslim support for suicide bombing, a concern that seems to persist: Since 2014, his charitable organization, the Richard and Beth Sackler Foundation, has donated to several anti-Muslim groups, including three organizations classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (The family spokesperson said, “It was never Richard Sackler’s intention to donate to an anti-Muslim or hate group.”) The foundation has also donated to True the Vote, the “voter-fraud watchdog” that was the original source for Donald Trump’s inaccurate claim that three million illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election.

Former employees describe Richard as a man with an unnerving intelligence, alternately detached and pouncing. In meetings, his face was often glued to his laptop. “This was pre-smartphone days,” said Riddle. “He’d be typing away and you would think he wasn’t even listening, and then all of the sudden his head would pop up and he’d be asking a very pointed question.” He was notorious for peppering subordinates with unexpected, rapid-fire queries, sometimes in the middle of the night. “Richard had the mind of someone who’s going two hundred miles an hour,” said Lacouture. “He could be a little bit disconnected in the way he would communicate. Whether it was on the weekend or a holiday or a Christmas party, you could always expect the unexpected.”

Richard also had an appetite for micromanagement. “I remember one time he mailed out a rambling sales bulletin,” said Shelby Sherman, a Purdue sales rep from 1974 to 1998. “And right in the middle, he put in, ‘If you’re reading this, then you must call my secretary at this number and give her this secret password.’ He wanted to check and see if the reps were reading this shit. We called it ‘Playin’ Passwords.’ ” According to Sherman, Richard started taking a more prominent role in the company during the early 1980s. “The shift was abrupt,” he said. “Raymond was just so nice and down-to-earth and calm and gentle.” When Richard came, “things got a lot harder. Richard really wanted Purdue to be big—I mean really big.”

To effectively capitalize on the chronic-pain movement, Purdue knew it needed to move beyond MS Contin. “Morphine had a stigma,” said Riddle. “People hear the word and say, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not dying or anything.’ ” Aside from its terminal aura, MS Contin had a further handicap: Its patent was set to expire in the late nineties. In a 1990 memo addressed to Richard and other executives, Purdue’s VP of clinical research, Robert Kaiko, suggested that the company work on a pill containing oxycodone, a chemical similar to morphine that was also derived from the opium poppy. When it came to branding, oxycodone had a key advantage: Although it was 50 percent stronger than morphine, many doctors believed—wrongly—that it was substantially less powerful. They were deceived about its potency in part because oxycodone was widely known as one of the active ingredients in Percocet, a relatively weak opioid- acetaminophen combination that doctors often prescribed for painful injuries. “It really didn’t have the same connotation that morphine did in people’s minds,” said Riddle.

A common malapropism led to further advantage for Purdue. “Some people would call it oxy-codeine” instead of oxycodone, recalled Lacouture. “Codeine is very weak.” When Purdue eventually pleaded guilty to felony charges in 2007 for criminally “misbranding” OxyContin, it acknowledged exploiting doctors’ misconceptions about oxycodone’s strength. In court documents, the company said it was “well aware of the incorrect view held by many physicians that oxycodone was weaker than morphine” and “did not want to do anything ‘to make physicians think that oxycodone was stronger or equal to morphine’ or to ‘take any steps . . . that would affect the unique position that OxyContin’ ” held among physicians.

Purdue did not merely neglect to clear up confusion about the strength of OxyContin. As the company later admitted, it misleadingly promoted OxyContin as less addictive than older opioids on the market. In this deception, Purdue had a big assist from the FDA, which allowed the company to include an astonishing labeling claim in OxyContin’s package insert: “Delayed absorption, as provided by OxyContin tablets, is believed to reduce the abuse liability of a drug.”

The theory was that addicts would shy away from timed-released drugs, preferring an immediate rush. In practice, OxyContin, which crammed a huge amount of pure narcotic into a single pill, became a lusted-after target for addicts, who quickly discovered that the timed-release mechanism in OxyContin was easy to circumvent—you could simply crush a pill and snort it to get most of the narcotic payload in a single inhalation. This wasn’t exactly news to the manufacturer: OxyContin’s own packaging warned that consuming broken pills would thwart the timed-release system and subject patients to a potentially fatal overdose. MS Contin had contended with similar vulnerabilities, and as a result commanded a hefty premium on the street. But the “reduced abuse liability” claim that added wings to the sales of OxyContin had not been approved for MS Contin. It was removed from OxyContin in 2001 and would never be approved again for any other opioid.

The year after OxyContin’s release, Curtis Wright, the FDA examiner who approved the pharmaceutical’s original application, quit. After a stint at another pharmaceutical company, he began working for Purdue. In an interview with Esquire, Wright defended his work at the FDA and at Purdue. “At the time, it was believed that extended-release formulations were intrinsically less abusable,” he insisted. “It came as a rather big shock to everybody—the government and Purdue—that people found ways to grind up, chew up, snort, dissolve, and inject the pills.” Preventing abuse, he said, had to be balanced against providing relief to chronic-pain sufferers. “In the mid-nineties,” he recalled, “the very best pain specialists told the medical community they were not prescribing opioids enough. That was not something generated by Purdue—that was not a secret plan, that was not a plot, that was not a clever marketing ploy. Chronic pain is horrible. In the right circumstances, opioid therapy is nothing short of miraculous; you give people their lives back.” In Wright’s account, the Sacklers were not just great employers, they were great people. “No company in the history of pharmaceuticals,” he said, “has worked harder to try to prevent abuse of their product than Purdue.”


Purdue did not invent the chronic-pain movement, but it used that movement to engineer a crucial shift. Wright is correct that in the nineties patients suffering from chronic pain often received inadequate treatment. But the call for clinical reforms also became a flexible alibi for overly aggressive prescribing practices. By the end of the decade, clinical proponents of opioid treatment, supported by millions in funding from Purdue and other pharmaceutical companies, had organized themselves into advocacy groups with names like the American Pain Society and the American Academy of Pain Medicine. (Purdue also launched its own group, called Partners Against Pain.) As the decade wore on, these organizations, which critics have characterized as front groups for the pharmaceutical industry, began pressuring health regulators to make pain “the fifth vital sign”—a number, measured on a subjective ten-point scale, to be asked and recorded at every doctor’s visit. As an internal strategy document put it, Purdue’s ambition was to “attach an emotional aspect to noncancer pain” so that doctors would feel pressure to “treat it more seriously and aggressively.” The company rebranded pain relief as a sacred right: a universal narcotic entitlement available not only to the terminally ill but to every American.

The company rebranded pain relief as a sacred right: a universal narcotic entitlement available not only to the terminally ill but to every American. By 2001, annual OxyContin sales had surged past $1 billion.

OxyContin’s sales started out small in 1996, in part because Purdue first focused on the cancer market to gain formulary acceptance from HMOs and state Medicaid programs. Over the next several years, though, the company doubled its sales force to six hundred—equal to the total number of DEA diversion agents employed to combat the sale of prescription drugs on the black market—and began targeting general practitioners, dentists, OB/GYNs, physician assistants, nurses, and residents. By 2001, annual OxyContin sales had surged past $1 billion. Sales reps were encouraged to downplay addiction risks. “It was sell, sell, sell,” recalled Sherman. “We were directed to lie. Why mince words about it? Greed took hold and overruled everything. They saw that potential for billions of dollars and just went after it.” Flush with cash, Purdue pioneered a high-cost promotion strategy, effectively providing kickbacks—which were legal under American law—to each part of the distribution chain. Wholesalers got rebates in exchange for keeping OxyContin off prior authorization lists. Pharmacists got refunds on their initial orders. Patients got coupons for thirty- day starter supplies. Academics got grants. Medical journals got millions in advertising. Senators and members of Congress on key committees got donations from Purdue and from members of the Sackler family.

It was doctors, though, who received the most attention. “We used to fly doctors to these ‘seminars,’ ” said Sherman, which were, in practice, “just golf trips to Pebble Beach. It was graft.” Though offering perks and freebies to doctors was hardly uncommon in the industry, it was unprecedented in the marketing of a Schedule II narcotic. For some physicians, the junkets to sunny locales weren’t enough to persuade them to prescribe. To entice the holdouts—a group the company referred to internally as “problem doctors”—the reps would dangle the lure of Purdue’s lucrative speakers’ bureau. “Everybody was automatically approved,” said Sherman. “We would set up these little dinners, and they’d make their little fifteen-minute talk, and they’d get $500.”

Between 1996 and 2001, the number of OxyContin prescriptions in the United States surged from about three hundred thousand to nearly six million, and reports of abuse started to bubble up in places like West Virginia, Florida, and Maine. (Research would later show a direct correlation between prescription volume in an area and rates of abuse and overdose.) Hundreds of doctors were eventually arrested for running pill mills. According to an investigation in the Los Angeles Times, even though Purdue kept an internal list of doctors it suspected of criminal diversion, it didn’t volunteer this information to law enforcement until years later.

As criticism of OxyContin mounted through the aughts, Purdue responded with symbolic concessions while retaining its volume-driven business model. To prevent addicts from forging prescriptions, the company gave doctors tamper-resistant prescription pads; to mollify pharmacists worried about robberies, Purdue offered to replace, free of charge, any stolen drugs; to gather data on drug abuse and diversion, the company launched a national monitoring program called RADARS.

Critics were not impressed. In a letter to Richard Sackler in July 2001, Richard Blumenthal, then Connecticut’s attorney general and now a U. S. senator, called the company’s efforts “cosmetic.” As Blumenthal had deduced, the root problem of the prescription-opioid epidemic was the high volume of prescriptions written for powerful opioids. “It is time for Purdue Pharma to change its practices,” Blumenthal warned Richard, “not just its public-relations strategy.”

It wasn’t just that doctors were writing huge numbers of prescriptions; it was also that the prescriptions were often for extraordinarily high doses. A single dose of Percocet contains between 2.5 and 10mg of oxycodone. OxyContin came in 10-, 20-, 30-, 40-, and 80mg formulations and, for a time, even 160mg. Purdue’s greatest competitive advantage in dominating the pain market, it had determined early on, was that OxyContin lasted twelve hours, enough to sleep through the night. But for many patients, the drug lasted only six or eight hours, creating a cycle of crash and euphoria that one academic called “a perfect recipe for addiction.” When confronted with complaints about “breakthrough pain”—meaning that the pills weren’t working as long as advertised—Purdue’s sales reps were given strict instructions to tell doctors to strengthen the dose rather than increase dosing frequency.

Sales reps were encouraged to downplay addiction risks. “It was sell, sell, sell,” recalled Sherman. “We were directed to lie. Why mince words about it?”

Over the next several years, dozens of class-action lawsuits were brought against Purdue. Many were dismissed, but in some cases Purdue wrote big checks to avoid going to trial. Several plaintiffs’ lawyers found that the company was willing to go to great lengths to prevent Richard Sackler from having to testify under oath. “They didn’t want him deposed, I can tell you that much,” recalled Marvin Masters, a lawyer who brought a class-action suit against Purdue in the early 2000s in West Virginia. “They were willing to sit down and settle the case to keep from doing that.” Purdue tried to get Richard removed from the suit, but when that didn’t work, the company settled with the plaintiffs for more than $20 million. Paul Hanly, a New York class-action lawyer who won a large settlement from Purdue in 2007, had a similar recollection. “We were attempting to take Richard Sackler’s deposition,” he said, “around the time that they agreed to a settlement.” (A spokesperson for the company said, “Purdue did not settle any cases to avoid the deposition of Dr. Richard Sackler, or any other individual.”)

When the federal government finally stepped in, in 2007, it extracted historic terms of surrender from the company. Purdue pleaded guilty to felony charges, admitting that it had lied to doctors about OxyContin’s abuse potential. (The technical charge was “misbranding a drug with intent to defraud or mislead.”) Under the agreement, the company paid $600 million in fines and its three top executives at the time—its medical director, general counsel, and Richard’s successor as president—pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges. The executives paid $34.5 million out of their own pockets and performed four hundred hours of community service. It was one of the harshest penalties ever imposed on a pharmaceutical company. (In a statement to Esquire, Purdue said that it “abides by the highest ethical standards and legal requirements.” The statement went on: “We want physicians to use their professional judgment, and we were not trying to pressure them.”)

Fifty-three thousand Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2016, more than the thirty-six thousand who died in car crashes in 2015 or the thirty-five thousand who died from gun violence that year.

No Sacklers were named in the 2007 suit. Indeed, the Sackler name appeared nowhere in the plea agreement, even though Richard had been one of the company’s top executives during most of the period covered by the settlement. He did eventually have to give a deposition in 2015, in a case brought by Kentucky’s attorney general. Richard’s testimony—the only known record of a Sackler speaking about the crisis the family’s company helped create—was promptly sealed. (In 2016, STAT, an online magazine owned by Boston Globe Media that covers health and medicine, asked a court in Kentucky to unseal the deposition, which is said to have lasted several hours. STAT won a lower-court ruling in May 2016. As of press time, the matter was before an appeals court.)

In 2010, Purdue executed a breathtaking pivot: Embracing the arguments critics had been making for years about OxyContin’s susceptibility to abuse, the company released a new formulation of the medication that was harder to snort or inject. Purdue seized the occasion to rebrand itself as an industry leader in abuse-deterrent technology. The change of heart coincided with two developments: First, an increasing number of addicts, unable to afford OxyContin’s high street price, were turning to cheaper alternatives like heroin; second, OxyContin was nearing the end of its patents. Purdue suddenly argued that the drug it had been selling for nearly fifteen years was so prone to abuse that generic manufacturers should not be allowed to copy it.

On April 16, 2013, the day some of the key patents for OxyContin were scheduled to expire, the FDA followed Purdue’s lead, declaring that no generic versions of the original OxyContin formulation could be sold. The company had effectively won several additional years of patent protection for its golden goose.


Opioid withdrawal, which causes aches, vomiting, and restless anxiety, is a gruesome process to experience as an adult. It’s considerably worse for the twenty thousand or so American babies who emerge each year from opioid-soaked wombs. These infants, suddenly cut off from their supply, cry uncontrollably. Their skin is mottled. They cannot fall asleep. Their bodies are shaken by tremors and, in the worst cases, seizures. Bottles of milk leave them distraught, because they cannot maneuver their lips with enough precision to create suction. Treatment comes in the form of drops of morphine pushed from a syringe into the babies’ mouths. Weaning sometimes takes a week but can last as long as twelve. It’s a heartrending, expensive process, typically carried out in the neonatal ICU, where newborns have limited access to their mothers.

But the children of OxyContin, its heirs and legatees, are many and various. The second- and third-generation descendants of Raymond and Mortimer Sackler spend their money in the ways we have come to expect from the not-so-idle rich. Notably, several have made children a focus of their business and philanthropic endeavors. One Sackler heir helped start an iPhone app called RedRover, which generates ideas for child-friendly activities for urban parents; another runs a child- development center near Central Park; another is a donor to charter-school causes, as well as an investor in an education start-up called AltSchool. Yet another is the founder of Beespace, an “incubator for emerging nonprofits,” which provides resources and mentoring for initiatives like the Malala Fund, which invests in education programs for women in the developing world, and Yoga Foster, whose objective is to bring “accessible, sustainable yoga programs into schools across the country.” Other Sackler heirs get to do the fun stuff: One helps finance small, interesting films like The Witch; a second married a famous cricket player; a third is a sound artist; a fourth started a production company with Boyd Holbrook, star of the Netflix series Narcos; a fifth founded a small chain of gastropubs in New York called the Smith.

Holding fast to family tradition, Raymond’s and Mortimer’s heirs declined to be interviewed for this article. Instead, through a spokesperson, they put forward two decorated academics who have been on the receiving end of the family’s largesse: Phillip Sharp, the Nobel-prize-winning MIT geneticist, and Herbert Pardes, formerly the dean of faculty at Columbia University’s medical school and CEO of New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Both men effusively praised the Sacklers’ donations to the arts and sciences, marveling at their loyalty to academic excellence. “Once you were on that exalted list of philanthropic projects,” Pardes told Esquire, “you were there and you were in a position to secure additional philanthropy. It was like a family acquisition.” Pardes called the Sacklers “the nicest, most gentle people you could imagine.” As for the family’s connection to OxyContin, he said that it had never come up as an issue in the faculty lounge or the hospital break room. “I have never heard one inch about that,” he said.

Pardes’s ostrichlike avoidance is not unusual. In 2008, Raymond and his wife donated an undisclosed amount to Yale to start the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Institute for Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences. Lynne Regan, its current director, told me that neither students nor faculty have ever brought up the OxyContin connection. “Most people don’t know about that,” she said. “I think people are mainly oblivious.” A spokesperson for the university added, “Yale does not vet donors for controversies that may or may not arise.”

In May, a dozen lawmakers in Congress sent a bipartisan letter to the World Health Organization warning that Sackler-owned companies were preparing to flood foreign countries with legal narcotics.

The controversy surrounding OxyContin shows little sign of receding. In 2016, the CDC issued a startling warning: There was no good evidence that opioids were an effective treatment for chronic pain beyond six weeks. There was, on the other hand, an abundance of evidence that long-term treatment with opioids had harmful effects. (A recent paper by Princeton economist Alan Krueger suggests that chronic opioid use may account for more than 20 percent of the decline in American labor-force participation from 1999 to 2015.) Millions of opioid prescriptions for chronic pain had been written in the preceding two decades, and the CDC was calling into question whether many of them should have been written at all. At least twenty-five government entities, ranging from states to small cities, have recently filed lawsuits against Purdue to recover damages associated with the opioid epidemic.

The Sacklers, though, will likely emerge untouched: Because of a sweeping non-prosecution agreement negotiated during the 2007 settlement, most new criminal litigation against Purdue can only address activity that occurred after that date. Neither Richard nor any other family members have occupied an executive position at the company since 2003.

The American market for OxyContin is dwindling. According to Purdue, prescriptions fell 33 percent between 2012 and 2016. But while the company’s primary product may be in eclipse in the United States, international markets for pain medications are expanding. According to an investigation last year in the Los Angeles Times, Mundipharma, the Sackler-owned company charged with developing new markets, is employing a suite of familiar tactics in countries like Mexico, Brazil, and China to stoke concern for as-yet-unheralded “silent epidemics” of untreated pain. In Colombia, according to the L.A. Times, the company went so far as to circulate a press release suggesting that 47 percent of the population suffered from chronic pain.

Napp is the family’s drug company in the UK. Mundipharma is their company charged with developing new markets.

In May, a dozen lawmakers in Congress, inspired by the L.A. Timesinvestigation, sent a bipartisan letter to the World Health Organization warning that Sackler-owned companies were preparing to flood foreign countries with legal narcotics. “Purdue began the opioid crisis that has devastated American communities,” the letter reads. “Today, Mundipharma is using many of the same deceptive and reckless practices to sell OxyContin abroad.” Significantly, the letter calls out the Sackler family by name, leaving no room for the public to wonder about the identities of the people who stood behind Mundipharma.

The final assessment of the Sacklers’ global impact will take years to work out. In some places, though, they have already left their mark. In July, Raymond, the last remaining of the original Sackler brothers, died at ninety-seven. Over the years, he had won a British knighthood, been made an Officer of France’s Légion d’Honneur, and received one of the highest possible honors from the royal house of the Netherlands. One of his final accolades came in June 2013, when Anthony Monaco, the president of Tufts University, traveled to Purdue Pharma’s headquarters in Stamford to bestow an honorary doctorate. The Sacklers had made a number of transformational donations to the university over the years—endowing, among other things, the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. At Tufts, as at most schools, honorary degrees are traditionally awarded on campus during commencement, but in consideration of Raymond’s advanced age, Monaco trekked to Purdue for a special ceremony. The audience that day was limited to family members, select university officials, and a scrum of employees. Addressing the crowd of intimates, Monaco praised his benefactor. “It would be impossible to calculate how many lives you have saved, how many scientific fields you have redefined, and how many new physicians, scientists, mathematicians, and engineers are doing important work as a result of your entrepreneurial spirit.” He concluded, “You are a world changer.”

Source: https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a12775932/sackler-family-oxycontin/ October 2017

University of Pennsylvania researchers performed Internet searches for slightly more than a month in 2016 to identify CBD products that displayed contents on their labels and were for sale online. They bought 84 products from 31 companies, blinded their labels, and had their contents tested.

A full 70 percent of the labels turned out to be incorrect. The products either contained more CBD than their labels specified, or less. Thirty percent of the labels were “accurate” within a range of 10 percent.

Of particular concern was that testing detected THC in 18 of the 84 samples, and the amounts of THC in some products were sufficient to cause intoxication or impairment, especially in children.

The publication of this article in JAMA took place just days after the FDA sent warning letters to four major CBD producers asking them to eliminate all medical claims they make for their products. All have been marketing their products with unproven medical claims. They have 15 business days from last week to remove the claims or FDA can seize their merchandise and put them out of business.

Source: Email from National Families In Action http://www.nationalfamilies.org November 2017

MOUNT SHASTA, Siskiyou County (KPIX 5) — It’s happening in the shadow of Mount Shasta — hundreds of marijuana gardens pockmarking the landscape in neighborhoods that have little in the way of housing.

For law enforcement officials in Siskiyou County, it’s a state of emergency.

“This is a monumental effort but, then again, we’ve got a monumental problem,” says Sheriff Jon E. Lopey.

What’s unfolding in this county is a race between growers and the law to see who can get to the countless grow gardens first.

“We’re in harvest season. We’re really putting a lot of resources into it and a lot of personnel, trying to take out as much as we can before it gets harvested and goes off back east or wherever it’s going,” said Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Gilley.

You can see the enormous extent of the grow gardens from space. Fire up Google Earth and you can count grow after grow dotting the high desert landscape like an outbreak of measles.

“I have a one-mile-square photograph and you can pick out 80 gardens in that one square mile,” said Sgt. Gilley.

All of this is happening in a county that is decidedly not part of the “Emerald Triangle.” In fact, elected officials and voters have passed laws aimed at keeping marijuana out of Siskiyou County.

“Our county does not allow outdoor cultivation of cannabis,” asserts Sheriff Lopey.

Siskiyou County has some of the cheapest — as well as most scenic — land you can find in California. You can purchase nearly three acres for about $16,000. That brings in people who see an opportunity. The sheriff thinks those people represent a nationwide problem.

“I think … that this is an organized-crime effort. (They) basically take over large geographic areas to grow illegal marijuana. That’s basically what it amounts to,” Lopey said.

Source: https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/10/27/marijuana-illegal-grow-mount-shasta-siskiyou-county/(contains video report)  October 2017

The typical overdose victim is becoming younger and more urban

EVERY 25 minutes an American baby is born addicted to opioids. The scale of both use and abuse of the drugs in the United States is hard to overstate: in 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available, an estimated 38% of adults took prescription opioids. Of those, one in eight (11.5m people in total) misused their prescription. Around 1m Americans overdosed last year, and 64,000 of them died.

The scourge of opioid abuse gained political salience last year, as voters in parts of the country with high levels of drug overdoses swung strongly towards Donald Trump. The president has taken few steps to combat the opioid crisis since taking office, but on October 26th he is expected to direct his secretary of health and human services to declare a public-health emergency. His national drug commission is due to publish a report on November 1st recommending a mix of rehabilitation, awareness-building and policing as the best response the epidemic.

Politically, it stands to reason that Mr Trump would show interest in the opioid crisis, given that press reports paint the typical abuser as an archetypal older, rural Trump voter, perhaps with a prescription to treat back pain. Yet the government runs the risk of fighting the last war in its effort to quell the epidemic, because the causes and victims of drug overdoses in America are changing fast.

The number of deaths from prescription opioids has continued to rise, from around 11,000 in 2013 to 15,000 a year now. But the rate of growth has slowed, and many forecasters predict it may be nearing its peak. By contrast, the toll from fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin, is soaring. After claiming just 3,000 lives in 2013, it killed 22,000 people in America last year, more than either heroin or prescription opioids. Deaths from heroin have become far more frequent as well: after being roughly a quarter as common as fatal prescription overdoses in the mid-2000s, they overtook deaths from prescription opioids in 2015.

This change in the leading causes of opioid-related deaths has been accompanied by a shift in the profile of the average victim. The highest rates of prescription-opioid abuse can be found among middle-aged rural whites, including women. By contrast, both fentanyl and heroin users tend to be much younger, more likely to live in cities, somewhat more racially diverse and overwhelmingly male (see heat map above). Reaching people at high risk of exposure to these more potent opioids cannot be done by offering services to former Rust Belt factory workers or Appalachian coal miners, but will require a different approach.

Similarly, most media attention has focused on substance abuse in states Mr Trump won, such as West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. But blue states like Maryland, Delaware and Massachusetts also figure among the current top ten for deaths from drug overdoses. That means Mr Trump will need to extend the government’s efforts far beyond his electoral base if he hopes to address the opioid epidemic.

Source: https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2017/10/26/the-shifting-toll-of-americas-drug-epidemic October 2017

With no age restrictions on its use, some people – even children – are likely consuming CBD on a very frequent basis.

While a growing chorus of voices recommend CBD oil for all manner of ailments with glowing reviews and assurances of its safety, consumers would be wise to think very carefully before jumping on the bandwagon.

This article seeks to pull back the curtain on the CBD story and reveal the very real potential dangers of use by otherwise healthy people so that you can make a truly informed decision for your family.

Please note that I am not disputing the benefits of cannabis in this article. I know it helps a lot of very sick people manage their illness in a comfortable way without the need for pharmaceuticals. What I am presenting is the other side of the story that is usually not discussed – even glossed over in favor of aggressive marketing to otherwise healthy people.

What is CBD Oil?

CBD oil is an alternative remedy for inflammation, pain, seizures and many other conditions. It is gaining widespread popularity over pharmaceutical drugs to treat the same ailments.

Manufacturers make CBD oil by diluting the active ingredient cannabidiol with a carrier fat such as coconut oil. Depending on what carrier oil is used (i.e., saturated fats or vegetable oils), the remedy then appeals to a wider variety of people. In other words, CBD fans can find an oil that fits their particular food philosophy on fats.

Cannabidiol

You might be surprised to learn that cannabidiol is one of over a hundred compounds known as cannabinoids. The buds, flowers, leaves and stalks (not seeds) of the hemp plant contain them. Other common names for this plant are marijuana or cannabis.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, is another well known cannabinoid in hemp plant matter. It is best known for its mind altering effects, which pot smokers experience firsthand. (1)

Fans of CBD oil claim that cannabidiol is safe because it has zero inherent psychoactive properties like THC. However, this is disputable, if not downright false, in light of research on both animals and humans. More on this later.

Hash (Cannabis) Oil vs CBD Oil vs Hemp Seed Oil

It is important to understand the key differences between the three primary oils derived from the hemp or marijuana plant. These characteristics determine whether the oil is used as food or medicine and, in turn, whether it is even legal or not.

CBD oil falls in the gray area, which is why it is so confusing and potentially dangerous for anyone except those who are gravely ill with few other treatment options. Hopefully, the discussion below will help clear things up for you!

Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil

As described above, manufacturers create medicinal CBD oil by blending cannabidiol with a carrier oil. This active ingredient is either isolated or alcohol extracted from whole cannabis plant matter.

CBD was legalized in all 50 states by the 2014 Farm Bill, which served as the springboard for its explosive growth. However, this approval came with an important caveat. The legislation required extraction of CBD for academic research or under a state pilot program. Since then, a number of states broadened this narrow definition, which legalized other CBD manufacturing processes. (2)

Hemp Seed Oil

CBD oil is vastly different from hemp seed oil, which is a food and not medicine. It is made by cold pressing the seeds on the cannabis plant. The resulting oil is high in inflammatory omega-6 fats. Hemp seeds contain no THC and hence the oil should technically not contain any either.

Some countries require testing for THC in hemp seed oil to verify purity. Typical requirements are that there are no more than 5-10 or even zero parts per million (ppm) detected in the final product.

Hemp Oil (Hash or Cannabis Oil)

In comparison, hash or cannabis oil does contain high inducing THC. It is also misleadingly known as honey oil.

It comes from aerial parts of the marijuana plant except the seeds. This medicinal or recreational oil can be made from any of the three sub-species of the cannabis plant – Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and more rarely Cannabis ruderalis.

Hash oil is illegal for recreational use in most states but is approved for medicinal use by a growing list of others. It is usually consumed by eating or smoking. It is also sold in cartridges for use in vaping pens.

In summary, while hemp seed oil is widely recognized as safe and available on healthfood store shelves all across the country, hemp oil is still regulated as as a medicinal only drug in some states and completely outlawed in others. CBD oil falls in the gray area somewhere between the two.

The question that remains to be answered is its safety. Does the narrow legalization of CBD in the 2014 Farm Bill guarantee its safety? Or is it actually more risky than consumers have been led to believe?

CBD Oil Risks

The side effects of consuming cannabidiol are very real though commonly glossed over by those selling it.

Drug Contraindications

CBD oil may potentially interact in a negative way with anti-epilepsy drugs. As of now, only in vitro (test tube) observations exist with no living organism testing proving safety. Drugs that may interact include: (3)
•carbamazepine (Tegretol)
•phenytoin (Dilantin)
•phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton, Tedral)
•primidone (anti-seizure)

Side Effects

According to a review of existing research by the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, the most common side effects of consuming CBD or CBD oil include:
•fatigue
•nausea or vomiting
•diarrhea
•dizziness
•anxiety or depression
•changes in appetite/weight
•Psychosis

While there is a well known link between psychotic disorders and pot, CBD is generally regarded as anti-psychotic. (4)

How can this be if a CBD side effect is psychosis? (5)

Perhaps this common belief is simply not true!

Psychoactive Effects of Cannabinoids

Perhaps cannabinoid oil purveyors tend to ignore the well established reactions because the side effect profile of CBD is better than pharmaceutical drugs used to treat similar conditions.

In addition, proponents of CBD oil use insist on its safety because cannabidiol is not mind altering like its cousin cannabinoid THC.

Research from the 1970s seems to confirm that CBD is well tolerated up to 600 mg without psychotic episodes. (6)

However, more recent research disputes this assumption.

Conversion of CBD to THC

Researcher Kazuhito Watanabe, PhD and his team at Daiichi College of Pharmaceuticals, Japan discovered a disturbing problem with cannabidiol. (7)

They found that CBD converts into THC, the same psychosis inducing substance found in weed. In addition, CBD converted into two other THC-like cannabinoids known as HHCs (hexahydroxycannabinols). All three produced high inducing symptoms in mice.

This research indicates that THC is not the only mind altering cannabinoid in hemp. It also suggests the possibility that a person can be exposed to brain altering, high inducing substances by simply consuming CBD.

Getting High on CBD?

Acidity is necessary for the conversion of CBD to THC and the two psychoactive HHCs. Researchers performed this conversion using artificial digestive juices. The change accelerated in the presence of some kind of sugar (or alcohol).

In people consuming CBD oil, this would parallel as acidity in the stomach. Since people commonly consume CBD oil in sugary lattes, candy, goodies, smoothies or alcoholic beverages, this situation mimics the reality of many people who use it.

Effects of THC Derived from CBD

To test the effects of these components, the researchers then injected mice with small quantities of the THC and HHCs converted from CBD. The researchers tested for the four most common symptoms of THC exposure including:
•Catalepsy – loss of sensation or consciousness
•Hypothermia – drop in body temperature
•Prolonged sleep
•Reduced pain perception

Mice injected with small amounts of THC and HHCs converted in artificial gastric juices from CBD tested positively for all 4 pot exposure symptoms.

Human Studies

Follow-up research in 2016 published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research gives additional pause.

More than 40% of epileptic children orally administered CBD exhibited adverse events, with THC like symptoms the most common. In their conclusion, researchers challenged the accepted premise that CBD is not high-inducing.

Gastric fluid without enzymes converts CBD into the psychoactive components Δ9-THC and Δ8-THC, which suggests that the oral route of administration may increase the potential for psychomimetic adverse effects from CBD. (8)

Is CBD Oil Safe for Children?

The takeaway of existing research as of this writing seems to indicate extreme caution when it comes to ingestion of CBD oil especially by children.

Research definitively shows that THC exposure affects their developing brains in a negative way – perhaps permanently. The important point here is that consuming CBD or CBD infused oil can initiate this THC exposure – not just smoking or vaping pot. The Journal of Current Pharmaceutical Design warns:

The literature not only suggests neurocognitive disadvantages to using marijuana in the domains of attention and memory that persist beyond abstinence, but suggest possible macrostructural brain alterations (e.g., morphometry changes in gray matter tissue), changes in white matter tract integrity (e.g., poorer coherence in white matter fibers), and abnormalities of neural functioning (e.g., increased brain activation, changes in neurovascular functioning). (9)

CBD During Pregnancy

The Journal Future Neurology warns that cannabis exposure crosses the placenta. “Human epidemiological and animal studies have found that prenatal cannabis exposure influences brain development and can have long-lasting impacts on cognitive functions.” (10)

Since CBD partially converts to THC under acidic conditions, women who consume CBD oil for morning sickness or other discomforts of pregnancy should understand that use may mimic using pot directly. Just because CBD oil is natural and works effectively to alleviate symptoms does not mean it is safe for your baby.

Always discuss any supplemental foods with a practitioner before use!

CBD from Hops and Other Non-Cannabis Plants

Some CBD products and oil come from plants other than cannabis. Hops is one that is popular currently. (11)

People that use non-cannabis CBD mistakenly believe that they are safe from THC. False marketing of these products encourages this line of thinking.

Be warned that no matter where CBD comes from, the potential for conversion of CBD to THC in the digestive tract exists. CBD is ultimately a cannabinoid no matter what plant it comes from. Thus, unless the CBD is applied transdermally or intravenously to avoid the acidic conditions within the digestive tract, the risk for THC exposure and brain-altering effects still exists.

To give you a example of how this works, consider how beta carotene converts to Vitamin A in the digestive tract. It doesn’t matter if the beta carotene comes from carrots, peppers or squash. This nutrient will still potentially convert to Vitamin A. The same principle applies to CBD that is consumed orally. The digestive process can result in conversion to THC no matter what plant is the source of the CBD.

Is CBD Safe for Anyone?

Consumers desperately need more research about the high-inducing effects of CBD-to-THC that could manifest as a result of the digestive process.

The half life of oral CBD in the body is about 2 days. Thus, depending on how much a person consumes and how often, the potential risk of psychosis could increase over time depending on individual metabolism.

It seems that, as of this writing, the prudent course of action for the cautious consumer is to adopt a wait and see attitude toward CBD and CBD oil products pending further research on the very real potential for mind altering, pot-like effects.

Some companies are already working to develop synthetic transdermal CBD. Such a drug would bypass the gastrointestinal tract and avoid bioconversion to psychoactive THC and/or HHCs. Of course, this treatment likely has its own set of yet unknown dangers!

While the risks of THC exposure from CBD oil and other products are likely of little concern for gravely ill people who desperately need it, for otherwise healthy people and children, beware! It seems wise until further research is concluded to treat CBD oil, candy, and other products just like any other high inducing drug. Just. Say. No.

Sarah Pope MGA

Since 2002, Sarah has been a Health and Nutrition Educator dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household.

Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.

Sarah received a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.

Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, her work has been covered by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.

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Comments (115)

Anna

Well, by now Healthline has corrected the article you reference as evidence for CBD causing psychosis, after I (and maybe others, who knows) pointed out to them that they had mistakenly put the side effects of THC for those of CBD. Now it lists only diarrhoea, changes in appetite and fatigue. Time for you to follow suit? You both reference the same scientific article, and now that this is the only remaining reference to back up your claim, I think it is time you actually looked at it and realised that it does not support your claim either. Could you then still go on and claim to have truth on your side, knowing that your claim is based on nothing at all? And keep on calling people who disagree with you biased? It’s pretty clear to me who is the biased one here, and probably to most others as well.
Sarah, you may have good intentions but you are not making the world a better place by publishing misinformation. Maybe a few people will be kept from trying CBD due to reading it, but most people will realise right away how ridiculous it is. It will just contribute to their mistrust of official information and authority figures on the subject of drugs. Because fact is that a lot of fairly harmless drugs have been needlessly demonised along with the genuinely dangerous ones since Nixon started his war on drugs. You might believe otherwise, but people who try them know better. And the more misinformation they see around them, the more they will be inclined to disbelieve also the genuine warnings about those drugs which can actually be really harmful. Especially now in this age of ‘fake news’ where people are more and more unsure of what information they can trust. People actually end up harming themselves much more due to ignorance than they would if they had full knowledge of the whole subject in advance! Proper education is the way to reduce the harm from drugs the most, not waging a war against them with misinformation – isn’t it obvious by now that this war has totally failed, because it is unwinnable?

April 20th, 2019 2:14 pm Reply

Sarah Pope MGA

I actually cited a scientific study about CBD converting to THC in the gut! You are welcome to believe anything you like, but the fact is that some people do experience psychosis from CBD. Read through the comments and read the referenced research study.

April 22nd, 2019 7:39 am Reply

rooislangwtf

The effort the Japanese study went to, to convert cbd to thc makes me wonder what the likelihood is of it actually happening in the human body (ph of 1.2 that’s lower than normal gastric acid and then a heck of a lot of purification). The epilepsy study didn’t go past observation to indicate thc effects (urine tests would’ve helped).

So the real conclusion to draw is until more tests are done:
Dont take cbd with alcohol or a lot of sugars or get a way to take cbd non orally (a patch or a suppository maybe).

April 10th, 2019 7:34 pm Reply

PATRICIA DONOVAN

I believe you picked and chose your so-called info from a multitude of sources without validating ANY of it. You are doing an extreme dis-service to those who use CBD effectively. People have to do their own research and find what works for them. Not all brands are created equal. I could write a book, with VALID sources, disputing virtually every point you made.

February 13th, 2019 1:06 pm Reply

Sarah Pope MGA

I find it amusing that people who disagree with an article frequently get in a huff and claim that “all” the sources/references are invalid and that they could “write a book” disputing every point. LOL Go read a site then that confirms all your biases. You don’t want the truth .. you want an article validating your belief system.

February 13th, 2019 1:37 pm Reply

Tim Wolford

I believe failed to include that the types of CBD oils in question are the Full Spectrum which has THC properties. The two other types will NOT produce THC and they are Broad Spectrum and Isolate Spectrum. The majority of CBD oils on the market today are Full Spectrum with THC compounds, however when the THC is extracted from the CBD Oils you have a Broad Spectrum product which may cost more, but will NOT have THC period! Do your homework and don’t always believe everything you read, especially when the Spectrums were never discussed

February 12th, 2019 11:23 am Reply

Sarah Pope MGA

Please read the article. You have apparently missed the point completely as have several other commenters. There is NO BRAND of CBD oil that is safe. ANY cannabidiol even if from another plant (like hops) will potentially trigger a conversion to THC in the gut. When NYC just banned CBD from edibles sold at restaurants, healthfood stores etc, there was NO distinction between “full spectrum” and isolate spectrum.

February 13th, 2019 8:56 am Reply

Dela Baldwin

Not all CBDs are created equal. Not all CBD has THC. A lot have trace amounts however not all. My company is 100% 0.00000 % THC free.

February 5th, 2019 9:52 am Reply

Sarah Pope MGA

I don’t think you understood the article! I am not suggesting that any CBD oil has THC in it … it DOESN’T MATTER how your CBD oil is produced … some CAN AND DOES CONVERT to small amounts of THC in the acidity of the digestive tract when consumed. Some people have a HUGE negative reaction to this.

Beta carotene partially converts to Vitamin A in the digestive tract too as do many other substances.

February 5th, 2019 10:26 am Reply

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Waiheke Island lawyer and meth researcher Chloe Barker is thrilled to see Jacinda Ardern, who acted on her findings, become Prime Minister.

For her Master’s thesis, Barker carried out heart-breaking research on the impacts on children of growing up in methamphetamine laboratories in New Zealand.

She found that through contact with contaminated environments, children sometimes had levels of meth in their hair, blood and urine that were higher that that of addicts.

Although the impacts on children are devastating, the laws are “toothless” and often fail to protect them, Barker said.

After her research findings were published in a police magazine in 2012, Jacinda Ardern contacted her and suggested meeting over coffee.

“She was amazingly passionate and obviously really cared about the issue,” Barker said.

A Labour list MP at the time, Ardern arranged for broader publication of Barker’s research, helping to raise awareness of the issue.

Ardern cited Barker’s research in parliament to support law changes to make it a crime for people to manufacture meth when a child is present.

However, the Sentencing (Protection of Children from Criminal Offending) Amendment Bill never made it into law.

Police can prosecute meth manufacturers under general child abuse laws, but the rates of conviction are low, because it is hard to prove children have been intentionally harmed by P [methamphetamine] manufacture, Barker said.

Ardern campaigned for a protocol to be introduced assigning responsibilities to the police and Child, Youth and Family (CYF) when children are found in P labs. New protocols have since been developed.

“I was really impressed that she had a million things on her plate, but she cared enough to be proactive and make practical changes that have assisted the police.

“I’m absolutely stoked about Jacinda becoming the Prime Minister.

“I think she’s going to give a voice to a lot of people who don’t have a voice currently,” Barker said.

Examining police files, Barker found that from 2006 to 2010, 191 children were living in the presence of methamphetamine laboratories that were shut down by police.

In 2002, children were living in 34 percent of the houses where laboratories were discovered.

The dangers of growing up in P laboratories include exposure to toxic chemicals, risks of explosions and fires, and a higher likelihood of having weapons in the house.

Children in meth laboratories also face higher risks of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, she said. 

“Given everybody can clearly see the dangers to children, there should be a specific law that says if you cook meth in the presence of a child, you’re committing a crime,” Barker said.

The 39-year-old has returned to her full time job as a commercial lawyer after completing her Master of Forensic Science degree at the University of Auckland.

Barker said Ardern won’t provide a “magic answer” for all life’s ills, but she is hopeful children might yet get the legal protection from meth exposure that they deserve.

“There is obviously a problem with P on Waiheke and I’m sure there are lots of communities around New Zealand that are exactly the same,” she said. 

Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/98147222/meth-researcher-thrilled-with-new-prime-minister October 2017

The Washington County drug court graduation ceremony for Maria Kestner. Photograph: Fred R Conrad

Photographer  visited a Virginia drug court last year and saw how individuals and families had been given a second chance – so when he went back this summer he had a question: did they take it?

“Opioid and methamphetamine abuse tore through this area like a wildfire.”

This is the view of Rebecca Holmes, who is responsible for mental health and drug use outpatient treatment in Abingdon, Washington County, Virginia, as she looks back at the decision to set up a drug court.

Holmes, the medical director of Highlands Community Services, had seen how the growing crisis around opioids had taken such a heavy toll on families in the town, which is home to just over 8,000 people.

 

There was a growing need for a small group of addicts that did not respond to treatment or programs offered by the existing court or probation, she said, so five years ago she applied for a grant to use a federal model for a drug court that had first emerged in 1989.

The county’s drug court has been in place for several years now and Holmes feels that it has never been more needed. Last year in Virginia there were more deaths from heroin and opioids than highway fatalities for the first time, and the governor declared a public health emergency.

Nationally, opioids are said to be killing 90 people a day.

  • The Washington County court house. Inside the county court room where the drug court meets every week.

Judge Lowe presides over the court and the program, which is a year and half long for those who are placed on it. It combines therapy with a structured program of court visits, random drug screens, curfews and full-time employment for participants.

  • Judge Lowe poses with Wayne Smith, who has completed the second phase of the four-phase drug court. Participants are rewarded for good behavior.

There is the ever-present threat of court sanctions if a participant relapses. Lowe says: “The point of drug court is not just to treat the addict, it’s to make that person a model for the rest of their family so that they can break the cycle of drug abuse.”

The Guardian visited last year and again this year in late summer to see how people who had gone through the court – and who worked there – were getting on.

Bubba

  • Bubba and Ginger in their bedroom.

Bubba Rouse started abusing painkillers when he was a young teenager. He then stole various pills he could get his hands on. At 17 Bubba started smoking meth. He also became a father for the first time.

Bubba continued to use drugs and found a new girlfriend, Ginger, whose father had been sent to prison for meth when she was eight years old. Bubba and Ginger were both using meth and heroin when Ginger got pregnant. “The reason I stopped using was because I knew I had a future coming with my baby and I didn’t want to bring a child into a world like the one I grew up in.”

  • Family pictures of the Rouse family are displayed throughout the home where Bubba Rouse grew up.
  • Playing with her Barbie dolls.

Ginger was able to get sober and her baby was born without any complications while Bubba was in prison. While in prison he was offered a place in the Washington County drug court program. Drug court can be very difficult, especially at the beginning. There are mandatory therapy meetings, frequent random drug screens, curfew calls in the middle of the night and you have to have to be employed full time. It was even more difficult for Bubba because he could not legally drive. Ginger became both chauffeur and workmate for Bubba this past year.

  • Bubba with his daughter. 

They have managed to work together in a factory, on a construction crew and now at a fast-food restaurant. Bubba and Ginger moved in with Bubba’s parents where Bubba was able to able to get closer to his oldest daughter. For most of the year his younger daughter, with Ginger, was taken care of by Ginger’s mother.

The family is now reunited and Bubba and Ginger have taken over the payments on a double wide trailer that they hope to move next to Bubba’s parents home. After drug court graduation in six months, Bubba hopes to start working construction with Ginger’s stepfather.

Bubba said: “Drug court has been good for me but there are not many programs in this area and I wish there were more things to help people quit early rather than when things get really bad.”

Chris Brown

  • Maria Kestner is hugged by Chis Brown at her drug court graduation ceremony.

Chris Brown is a retired police officer with nearly 30 years on the job. “As a police officer you get jaded after a while. You go to the same addresses and visit the same families all the time. It hit me when I started arresting the grandchildren of people I arrested when I was a rookie cop. You realize early on that you can’t incarcerate your way out of this drug problem.”

After retiring from the police force, Chris was looking for a job where he could help people. “When the job of drug court coordinator became available, I jumped at the chance.

  • Bubba hands a drug test cup filled with his urine to Chris Brown.

“This is a wonderful way to help people. I found my humanity with this job.” Chris takes his job very seriously. He’s on call 24/7. He handles compliance with spot drug screens, curfew calls as well as issues of transportation, housing and dealing with family issues of those in the program.

You realize early on that you can’t incarcerate your way out of this drug problem

He is not judgmental and he is a good listener. “I remember talking with a drug addict years ago and asking him how he wanted to be treated. He told me he just wanted to be treated like a human being. That’s what I try to do with everyone in the program: treat them like human beings rather than drug addicts.”

Joyce Yarber

  • Joyce Yarber manages a cattle ranch and hay farm with her husband.

Joyce Yarber, age 59, has always walked with a limp. She has suffered with hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis for most of her life. For over 20 years, her doctor had prescribed a painkilling cocktail that included Lortab, Percocet and oxycodone. When her doctor was arrested for over prescribing opiates she became desperate and eventually wrote half a dozen prescriptions for herself. She was arrested and offered drug court. Because she had written scripts in both Virginia and Tennessee, it took two years of legal wrangling before she could start the drug court program in Washington County, Virginia.

Before starting drug court, she was required to get a hip replacement operation, the hope being that the operation would eliminate the pain that caused her to become a drug addict. Determined to stay sober, Joyce refused to take any opiates after the operation. Her only post-operation painkiller was an over-the-counter one. That determination impressed the drug court team. “When I first started drug court, I was a drug snob. I thought that because I got my drugs from a doctor rather than buying them on the street, I was somehow better. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was wrong. I was no better than anyone else in the program. I was just as much an addict as they all were.”

  • The start of a therapy session at Highlands Community Services for drug court participants.

Joyce has been a model client in drug court and because of her age and her outgoing personality, she has become a mother figure for the group. The only time she missed a therapy meeting was when she was trapped in a tree without her cellphone by a young bull on the cattle farm that she and her husband operate. That bull was culled from the herd the next day.

I thought that because I got my drugs from a doctor rather than buying them on the street, I was somehow better. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was wrong

A few months into the drug court program, Joyce went to her doctor and was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Because the pain caused by the cancer was so great, she knew that she would have to go back on to opiate pain medication just to get through her chemotherapy. She offered to resign from the program but the team insisted that she stay. Her medication level is monitored by the drug court and she still attends all of the meetings. “I got a call from the probation office in Tennessee and they gave me a date that I need to call them by after I complete drug court. I sure hope I’m around and that I can remember to call. This chemo brain is a real pain.”

Zac Holt

Zac Holt was always a gifted athlete. His goal after graduating from college was to attend seminary and become a Presbyterian minister. Those plans were delayed after Zac fell 45ft while free climbing. He broke a leg and fractured a vertebra. While in hospital, he was given narcotic pain medication. Zac had experimented with marijuana and cocaine in high school and college but drugs were never a major part of his life.

  • Zac trains daily and has competed in two triathlons since beginning drug court

That changed after he was exposed to percocet and oxycodone. After he was released from the hospital, he began doctor shopping and getting multiple prescriptions. He went off to seminary and continued using drugs. “I became a raging drug addict. I would do anything for my drugs. I lied, cheated and stole, mostly from my family. I dropped out of school. I went through therapy several times but always came back to my drugs.” Zac’s drug use went on for nine years.

  • Zac Holt was addicted to opioids for nearly nine years.

When he was arrested for possession and put on probation he continued to use drugs. He confessed this to his probation officer who then sent him to jail. While in jail his jaw was broken in a lunch room fight. He had reached bottom when he was offered drug court earlier this year. “Drug court was the best thing in the world for me. I wanted to change my life and drug court gave me a way to change.” Zac embraced the discipline and structure of drug court. He went back to live with his parents and started reconnecting with his family. He also started training for a triathlon. It seemed like an impossible goal for someone who had never competed in one. The regimen of drug court and constant training fills every waking moment. Zac has 10 more months of drug court before graduating. He is active in his church and is contemplating a return to seminary. He has also completed two triathlons.

  • Zac is thinking about returning to seminary and becoming a Presbyterian minister after he completes drug court.

Drug use in south-western Virginia shows no sign of decline. Use of Suboxone is on the rise and meth is still entrenched in the hills of Appalachia. Brown, the drug coordinator for the Washington County drug court said: “You can’t let yourself get discouraged by the numbers. You just work and fight drug addiction one family at a time.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/23/drug-court-opioids-virginia-second-chance October 2017

Filed under: Addiction,Crime/Violence/Prison,Heroin/Methadone,Prescription Drugs,Social Affairs,Treatment and Addiction :

From afar, America’s opioid epidemic may seem like just another sensationalised scare story in a country constantly at war with drugs. But this is not a fad, nor an overblown segment on morning television. It is real, it is decimating entire counties, and it represents the summation of the country’s failures towards its own citizens over decades.

Twenty million Americans have some form of opioid addiction, and those addictions kill almost 150 people every day.

The CDC estimates that 64,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year

Twenty million is a shocking number of people for whom the ordinary act of living is crushing. An opioid addiction is fundamentally an instinct to numb, to sleep, to exist unencumbered. It is made possible by over-prescription from doctors and aggressive lobbying from pharmaceutical companies, but it reflects the deeper malaise of places and people whose lives have few prospects for dramatic improvement.

As we saw last November, that malaise has become desperation, and that desperation now covers a vast swathe of the electorate.

America was never a feudal society, and so our national mythology does not include a character who exemplifies the nobility of poverty; in a country of pilgrims and pioneers, driven by Calvinist mores, being poor suggests that you’re just not working hard enough.

Faced with a society where poverty is considered a deficiency of both morals and material wealth, and where it has become more difficult to outdo your parents, it is easy to see how a life enslaved to the brief release of opioids seems preferable to one spent in the ugly realities of hardship.

The death toll has been staggering. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 64,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year – the whole 20 years of the Vietnam War, by contrast, cost 58,000 American lives.

Between 1999 and 2015, drugs killed 560,000 Americans; over the next decade, they are expected to take another half million lives. These are the kind of numbers that make you sit up and wonder how there aren’t daily protests outside the Food and Drug Administration’s headquarters – until you realise that many of those affected by this crisis gave up on the idea of change, or even hope, a long time ago.

If you believe, as so many Americans do, that everything from voting to the economic system itself is rigged, why would you bother trying to change things?

In the wake of the financial crisis, when a generation (my generation) was told that the white-collar jobs for which they’d spent 20 years and a small fortune preparing were no longer available, many dissembled entirely. In previous generations, being a middle-class white kid in America guaranteed a life devoid of difficult decisions; suddenly, the system (and the social contract which came with it) collapsed.

President Donald Trump announced in August that he would declare opioid abuse a national emergency

With the purposeful numbness of the corporate world out of reach, many chose a different sort of numbing agent. And so what began as “hillbilly heroin” went mainstream, snaking its way through leafy suburbs up and down the East Coast.

Nevertheless, the reinvention of heroin and opioids as scourges of “nice” families means that drug reform and rehabilitation are stamped in bold type on to the conservative political agenda.

Nearly every GOP candidate in the crowded 2016 primary spent time stomping around New England and the Rust Belt, partaking in the grief of families who had lost children or spouses to this epidemic, and offering aggressive plans for reform.

President Donald Trump announced in August thathe would declare opioid abuse a national emergency, a mechanism ordinarily deployed after natural disasters. It appears that this declaration could be coming early next week, although its parameters, and thus its efficacy in addressing a problem as systemic as opioid abuse, remain unclear.

It is difficult to imagine any successful intervention in this crisis which stops at methadone clinics, naloxone for overdoses and needle exchanges. Addiction perpetuates the cycles of poverty, but it is also a symptom of that poverty and the despair that accompanies it.

Creating hope in communities where the lights went out years ago is key to preventing the creation of future addicts, and to convincing current addicts that society can offer them something better than a few hours of escape.

It is time for this administration to move past flashy announcements, and to settle into the grunt work of crafting policy that tackles the effects, but also the root causes, of opioid addiction.

Molly Kiniry is a researcher at the Legatum Institute

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/21/opioid-epidemic-crushing-americas-middle-class-need-action-not/ October 2017

Filed under: Addiction,Heroin/Methadone,Political Sector,USA :

By Peter Fimrite

The legalization of cannabis in California has done almost nothing to halt illegal marijuana growing by Mexican drug cartels, which are laying bare large swaths of national forest in California, poisoning wildlife, and siphoning precious water out of creeks and rivers, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said Tuesday.

The situation is so dire that federal, state and local law enforcement officials are using $2.5 million from the Trump administration this year to crack down on illegal growers, who Scott said have been brazenly setting booby traps, confronting hikers and attacking federal drug-sniffing dogs with knives.

Instead of fading away after legal marijuana retail sales went into effect this year, the problem has gotten worse, according to Scott, who was joined in a news conference Tuesday in Sacramento by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and other federal forestry and law enforcement officials.

Most alarming, Scott said, is the increasing use of carbofuran, a federally restricted insecticide so powerful that a teaspoon of it can kill a 600-pound African lion. The insecticide is banned in California.

The problem of illegal growing operations and contaminated lands “is biblical in proportion,” he said. “The chemicals have gone to a different level.”

The cartels, mainly from Mexico, use 760 tons of fertilizer on 400 grows every year hidden on the 20 million acres of national forest land in California, officials said.

The growers clear-cut trees, remove native vegetation, cause erosion, shoot deer and other animals, and litter the landscape with garbage and human waste. They also divert hundreds of millions of gallons of water from streams and creeks, and the runoff is generally contaminated with pesticides, which are also found in the plants, soil and wildlife in the area.

This year, 70 percent of the endangered spotted owls tested near sites that had been used for illegal marijuana cultivation were found to have one rodenticide or more in their systems, officials said. One owl died, leaving a clutch of eggs. Last year, 43 poisoned animals were found, including deer, bears, foxes, coyotes, rabbits and rare Pacific fishers. Another 47 animals had been shot, most likely by illegal growers, authorities said.

Since 2012, 17 Pacific fishers have been killed by pesticides at grow sites, said Mourad Gabriel, the director of the Integral Ecology Research Center, a wildlife and environmental research nonprofit. He said carbofuran was found in 78 percent of the plantations eradicated in 2017. That’s compared with 40 percent in 2015 and only 10 to 12 percent in 2012, when he conducted the first scientific study of illegal marijuana grow sites.

“It’s concerning, because now when we go into these sites we find contamination in the native vegetation, the soil, the water; and it’s increasing,” said Gabriel, whose research is funded by state and federal grants. “Those sites are still contaminated two or three years later.”

In all, 1.4 million illegally grown marijuana plants were destroyed in raids in national forests in California in 2017.

Bill Ruzzamenti, the former director of the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, said California supplies 60 to 80 percent of all the marijuana consumed in the nation. In 2016, he said, 11 million pounds left the state, which is illegal under Proposition 64, the initiative that legalized the drug for recreational use in the state.

The people guarding the grow sites are inevitably armed and “a public safety risk to all of us,” said Becerra.

Margaret Mims, the sheriff of Fresno County, said hikers, backpackers and nature lovers have reported running across fishhooks hanging at eye level and trip wires possibly attached to shotguns.

“I have grandkids and I like to go fishing, but there are places we will not go because I am afraid for my grandkids,” said Ruzzamenti, who is now director of the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program. “That should be unacceptable to everybody.”

The problem isn’t new. Bootleg cannabis has been circulating around Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties — the famed Emerald Triangle — for decades, and backwoods growing is ingrained in the culture.

Ruzzamenti said he has been trying to eradicate black-market growing on public lands since 1983. And Mexican cartels aren’t the only problem. Only a few hundred of the estimated 12,500 retail operators in the state last year have become licensed so far, according to industry officials.

In Mendocino County alone, as many as 75 percent of residents in some remote areas are marijuana growers, and only about 10 percent of the crop is being grown legally.

The issue has taken on a new level of importance as the multibillion-dollar California cannabis industry begins to ramp up. Legal growers and retailers want desperately to protect the regulated, taxed marijuana market in California.

The hope is that taxes collected by the government can fund law enforcement efforts, which will, in turn, deter illegal operations and generate additional taxes. Wholesale prices for marijuana are also expected to drop with the mainstreaming of the industry, providing less incentive for bad actors.

But so far that hasn’t worked. In all, California collected $60.9 million in excise, cultivation and sales taxes related to legal marijuana for the first three months of 2018. Gov. Jerry Brown’s January budget proposal predicted that $175 million would pour in over the first six months from the new taxes. That would have translated to $87.5 million in January, February and March.

In his updated budget plan released earlier this month, Brown proposed spending $14 million to create four investigative teams and one interdiction team to combat illegal activities, tax evasion and crime. The money would come from tax revenue and licensing fees over two years.

Even though marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, Scott said the U.S. Attorney’s office plans to focus only on illegal growers on public lands.

Becerra said that without the help of the federal government, California wouldn’t be able to handle the problem.

“You gotta make it so crime doesn’t pay,” he said.

Source: https://www.sfchronicle.com/green/article/Illegal-pot-grows-spread-deadly-pesticides-other-12952302.php May 2018

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Environment,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Political Sector :

In a backpacking hostel during a stag weekend 10 years ago, I fell asleep on a top bunk next to an open window. Of course, that now strikes me as a stupid thing to have done, but at the time I didn’t give it a thought. I was on a weekend away, not a health-and-safety awareness course. At some point during the night, I tried getting out of the bunk, but instead of turning left and using the ladder, I turned right and hopped straight out of the window.

I fell 24ft on to concrete. From a survival point of view, I was lucky to land on my feet. The downside was that some rather important sections of my legs did not come out of it so well.

My left heel was crushed, while over on the right, my tibia and fibula – the two long bones in the lower leg – detached from their couplings and shattered. The next few weeks involved operations, plates, screws and quite unimaginable levels of agony. At one point, I felt a kind of blinding calm, as though the pain had gone all the way up the scale and rung a bell at the top.

While those pain levels have never returned, over the years there have been generous helpings of it; my legs didn’t take too kindly to being smashed up and bolted back together, and they seem to enjoy reminding me of this. After trying many different ways of managing the pain, eight months ago I started taking cannabidiol, or CBD for short – a non-psychoactive compound found in both hemp and cannabis plants.

The effect on the pain has been profound. It comes as an oil that I put under my tongue whenever pain moves from a dull niggle to the kind that is difficult to ignore.

CBD influences the release and uptake of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, leading to many potential therapeutic uses. Crucially, it does not contain any THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis; in other words, CBD does not get you high. Since last year, it has been legal to buy in the UK, after the government’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHPR) approved its use as a medicine under licence.

CBD oil has since been prescribed to an 11-year-old British boy suffering from epilepsy, in what is believed to be the first instance of a cannabis-derivative being prescribed on the NHS.

Last month, a cancer patient diagnosed four years ago with an incurable brain tumour and given just six months to live, ascribed her incredible recovery to turning to cannabis oil as a last resort.

While research into the medical benefits of CBD oil is in its infancy, it is certainly encouraging. Recent reports suggest it could be a more useful anti-inflammatory than ibuprofen.

“There has been some early scientific evidence that CBD can help with inflammation,” says Dr Henry Fisher, of drug policy thinktank Volteface. “There is also a lot of anecdotal evidence that it helps people who do contact sports, because of the tendency to get inflamed joints. Taking other anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen on a long-term basis – as many sportspeople do – is not a good idea because of potential damage to your liver.”

It also has distinct advantages over opioid medicines, says Dr Fisher. “With CBD, there is no evidence of any long-term negative impact, and no likelihood of addiction. And, of course, there are no known cases of anybody overdosing on CBD.”

The comparison to prescription medicine is particularly pertinent for me. For several months after my accident, I took Oxycontin, a common opioid painkiller. It was very useful at that time because it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling, making everything seem okay. But after a while, I started waking up feeling groggy and crushed. So I decided to stop, and the withdrawal was horrendous. It was several days of indescribable misery, so bad that it made the pain from the injuries feel like a slightly over-zealous massage.

Q&A | CBD and cannabis oil

What is CBD oil?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of more than 80 cannabinoids, natural compounds found in the marijuana plant. It is extracted from the plant via steam distillation and usually bottled with a dropper. Unlike THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol – the most abundant cannabinoid, CBD does not have an intoxicating effect.

What does it do?

Most studies of CBD’s effects are preclinical, but is been shown useful in treating social anxiety and lessening episodes of schizophrenia. The most complete research on the benefits of CBD is on treatment of childhood epilepsy and a plant-based medicine, Epidiolex is scheduled for FDA approval in the US.

Another cannabis-based drug, Sativex, is already approved to relive the pain of muscle spasms in people suffering from multiple sclerosis. Clinical trials are also underway to test this category of drugs for cancer pain, glaucoma and appetite loss in people with HIV or AIDS.

Is it legal?

A low-concentration CBD oil is available in UK pharmacies as a health supplement. Campaigners have called for a high-concentration oil to also be made legal here. In December 2016, the government’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency ruled that “products containing CBD used for medical purposes are a medicine”.

Read more from the NHS on Cannabis: the facts

Getting off that heavy-duty medicine was key for my recovery. Because this kind of medication saps your energy, and the one thing you need to fight back to full fitness is energy. I spent months in a wheelchair, then on crutches, then finally I was able to start taking slow, painful steps on legs that had forgotten what their purpose was. I had always done a lot of sport, particularly martial arts – I got my black belt in kickboxing when I was 21 and spent some time working as an instructor. This training helped after the accident because I was in reasonably good shape – mashed bones notwithstanding – and I was used to pushing myself.

I never thought I would be able to fight again. So I just concentrated on simply being able to take care of myself. I also just got on with my life, somehow managing to acquire a lovely wife, daughter and son along the way. Then three years ago, I decided that the legs must have healed as much as they were ever going to, and I started doing martial arts again.

Rather than risk going back to kickboxing, I took up Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a grappling discipline where you subdue your opponent with chokes and joint-locks. If you watch beginners, it can look a bit like playground wrestling, but done properly it is graceful but deadly. I started off gently, but after a while I put the injuries behind me and trained as hard as ever. It was through the men I train with that I found out about CBD.

Everyone that uses it tells a similar story: they sleep better and feel less pain. While there are ongoing trials for CBD as a treatment for everything from multiple sclerosis to Parkinson’s disease, all I know is that for me it can make the difference being sitting on the sofa and being able to go training. I can now lift and carry my children without wincing.

CBD does not make the pain go away completely, but that is okay – a bit of pain is necessary, an alarm system to warn of imminent peril. But once the message has been received, it is nice to be able to turn the volume down a little bit.

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/could-cannabis-extract-cbd-replace-ibuprofen-painkiller/ October 2017

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Health,Marijuana and Medicine,Social Affairs :

Marijuana advocates can no longer claim legalization is devoid of catastrophic results.

The Denver Post, which has embraced legalization, analyzed federal and state data and found results so alarming they published a story last week under the headline “Traffic fatalities linked to marijuana are up sharply in Colorado. Is legalization to blame?”

Of course legalization is to blame. It ushered in a commercial industry that encourages consumption and produces an ever-increasing supply of pot substantially more potent than most users could find when the drug was illegal.

The post reported a 40 percent increase in the number of all drivers, impaired or otherwise, involved in fatal crashes in Colorado between 2013 and 2016. That’s why the Colorado State Patrol posts fatality numbers on electronic signs over the highways.

“Increasingly potent levels of marijuana were found in positive-testing drivers who died in crashes in Front Range counties, according to coroner data since 2013 compiled by The Denver Post. Nearly a dozen in 2016 had levels five times the amount allowed by law, and one was at 22 times the limit. Levels were not as elevated in earlier years,” The Post explained.

All drivers in marijuana-related crashes who survived last year tested at levels indicating use within a few hours of the tests.

“The trends coincide with the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado that began with adult use in late 2012, followed by sales in 2014,” the Post reported.

Greenwood Village Police Chief John Jackson called the trend “a huge public safety problem.”

Colorado Springs Councilwoman Jill Gaebler, who wants a ballot measure to legalize recreational pot in Colorado Springs, tried to downplay the Post’s findings in a comment on Gazette.com.

“…33% or 196 of all traffic deaths that occurred in 2016 were alcohol-related,” Gaebler wrote. “Yet you don’t hear anyone trying to ban alcohol, even though it is far more dangerous, in every regard, to marijuana.”

The Post found fatal crashes involving drivers under the influence of alcohol grew 17 percent from 2013 to 2015. Figures for 2016 were not available. Drivers testing positive for pot during that span grew by 145 percent, and “prevalence of testing drivers for marijuana use did not change appreciably, federal fatal-crash data show.”

The entire country has an enormous problem with alcohol-related traffic fatalities. Given our inability to resolve that problem, it is arguably idiotic to throw another intoxicating substance into the mix with the predictable result of more traffic deaths caused by impairment.

El Paso County Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez gets it, as shown by a comment he left on gazette.com

“Recent data indicates crime is up statewide, homelessness up, black and Hispanic teen arrests related to MJ are up a lot,” Gonzalez wrote. “A Denver TV station did a month long data poll last year at a hospital in Pueblo (which has fully embraced MJ) and found that nearly half of all newborns were testing positive for THC in their bloodstream at birth. Who would want to expand MJ sales in face of such data? And the big supporters of rec MJ can only fall back on their ‘go-to’ arguments, that ‘it isn’t as bad as alcohol’ or that the negative articles are biased or not credible.”

Another Gazette commenter expressed surprise at Gaebler’s “casual attitude” about the Denver Post’s findings.

“…We already have alcohol, let’s add MJ, and why stop there — people want and need their opioids. Let there be drinking, toking, shooting up in our beautiful city,” the commenter wrote.

One must stretch the imagination to deny that legalized pot has caused a substantial increase in Colorado highway deaths. Pot is an intoxicating, psychoactive drug. That means it cannot be harmless. Expect emerging and troubling data to make this fact increasingly clear.

Source: https://gazette.com/editorial-surprise-legal-pot-correlates-with-rising-traffic-deaths/article_2b2d9b27-4ab5-56fa-a042-028433ae1044.html August 2017

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Drugs and Accidents,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Social Affairs :

Illegal pot growers have turned public lands into industrial agricultural sites. And the ecosystem effects are alarming.

Research ecologist Mourad Gabriel is one of the few scientists studying illegal grow sites in California’s overrun national forests.

On a hot August morning, Mourad Gabriel steps out of his pickup onto the gravel road that winds up the side of Rattlesnake Peak. Dark-bearded and muscular, the research ecologist sports a uniform of blue work clothes, sturdy boots and a floppy, Army-style camo hat. He straps on a pistol. “Just to let you know,” Gabriel says, sensitive to the impression the gun makes, “it’s public land, so I open-carry.”

Another 100-degree day is promised. Gabriel and his four field assistants are headed to work in California’s Plumas National Forest, a few hours’ drive from Lake Tahoe, at the northern terminus of the Sierra Nevada. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has enlisted Gabriel to assess the scars from rampant marijuana cultivation. Today’s field site: an illegal marijuana plantation known as the Rattlesnake Grow.

Gabriel doesn’t take chances because he’s been threatened personally. In 2014, someone poisoned his family dog with a pesticide that’s used at the grow sites. The intruder crept onto Gabriel’s property at night and scattered poisoned meat in his backyard. And last year during raids on plots elsewhere in California, two police dogs were stabbed by men fleeing the scene.

So whenever Gabriel enters a cultivation site with his research team — even one that’s been abandoned, as this one is — he always goes in first.

U.S. Forest Service officers collect coils of plastic pipe used to divert water from springs to marijuana plants at an illegal grow site on public lands.

Most of the U.S. domestic marijuana supply is raised in California. Some pot is grown on private property for legal use by medical marijuana patients. These operations can be monitored, and with Californians having legalized recreational pot last November, the regulation is sure to tighten. But in popular pot-growing regions like Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties — closer to the Northern California coast in the so-called Emerald Triangle — environmental regulation has been slow to catch up. Commandeering streams, growers divert the water into high-tech greenhouses, to the detriment of the aquatic life lower in the drainage, including the threatened coho salmon. Biologists for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have shown that thirsty marijuana plantations can dry up water sources.

What’s more, the rest of the crop — the vast black-market portion — is planted on public or tribal lands by people who ignore the environmental consequences of their activity. When they’re captured, some turn out to be Mexican drug cartel workers, and others come from smaller independent groups. U.S. authorities concede that the great majority of these “trespass grows” are never detected. Even after sites are cleared, the shadowy growers may reclaim them the next year.

“The public doesn’t understand the industrial scale of this,” says wildlife biologist Craig Thompson.

But if you have heard anything about streams being polluted or animals and birds being poisoned by marijuana production, it’s almost certainly because of Gabriel, a soft-spoken scientist who now and then unleashes his inner Rambo.

After the Bust

Gabriel takes his team of biologists over the top of an open, sunbaked ridge and down the other side of the mountain. Immediately, burnt and toppled trunks of pine and fir and head-high tangles of wild lilac shrubs impede the way.

Ten years ago, the Moonlight Fire destroyed 65,000 acres of forest in the Plumas. The marijuana growers stole into the broad footprint left by the blaze in dozens of places. In the section we’re hiking, they cut trails and cleared a series of plots on a steep slope above a ravine. Then the trespassers dug out three springs and diverted their flow into half-inch black plastic piping, which they threaded through the cover of vegetation to their network of plots below. The waterlines emptied into tarp-sealed pits that could store hundreds of gallons of water. Having started thousands of marijuana seedlings in plastic cups, the growers planted them among the shrubs throughout the plots. Each bright green plant was irrigated via drip lines, some triggered by a battery-powered timer. Although the mountainside faced north and east, light was no problem. Where it used to be blocked by trees, the strong California sun now slathered the crop.

Gabriel was with the rangers and deputies when they busted the site in 2015 and uprooted more than 16,000 plants. Judging by bags left around the site back then, he suspects at least 4,000 pounds of potent fertilizer were used. He also recorded several empty containers of a concentrated organophosphate insecticide — a lethal nerve poison that’s toxic to wildlife.

Gabriel’s non-profit organization, Integral Ecology Research Center (IERC), was hired to assess the damage to water sources, soils and sensitive plants and animals. They also inventoried toxic waste, piping, camp materials and trash. Now it’s up to the Forest Service to decide how to repair the damage. Gabriel, enlisting local volunteer groups, will assist with the cleanup, too. The service he offers is soup-to-nuts.

“He’s passionate. He’s a character,” says USFS’s Thompson, who collaborates with Gabriel on research. “He has continued to shine a light on the issue, though it’s still under the radar.”

Connecting the Dots

The first glimmer of impacts to wildlife came to Gabriel from fishers. A fisher — a type of weasel whose body is about the size of a housecat’s — is a denizen of deep woods. It has a wide face and long furry tail, and it can run up and down trees like the woodrats and squirrels it hunts. Fishers have never been overly abundant in the mountains of the West Coast, and their population plummeted after a century of logging and trapping. In the 21st century, biologists have tried to restore the Pacific fisher by reintroducing young animals and tracking them with radio collars. But the fishers’ expansion has been slow because they have been dying more rapidly than researchers expected.

Gabriel joined the fisher reintroduction project in 2009. At the time, he was completing his Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis. He credits an uncle for interesting him in the outdoors. The uncle was also a taxidermist; hence, young Mourad developed an interest in the interiors of animals. In high school, a vocational aptitude test suggested that he could be a game warden, park ranger or biologist. As an undergrad at Humboldt State University, he took courses supporting all three. Gabriel met his future wife, Greta Wengert, while they were both studying wildlife biology in college. After marrying, the two founded IERC in Blue Lake, Calif.

Craig Thompson, a USFS biologist, drops a water filter into a High Sierra stream near a marijuana grow site. Tests have turned up pesticides and fertilizers coming from the grows.

Gabriel’s work for the fisher reintroduction project was lab-based. He conducted necropsies of dead animals that Thompson’s field researchers had picked up. Examining a fisher carcass one day, Gabriel found that its organs had turned to mush. The fisher had been poisoned by a compound that blocks clotting and prompts unchecked internal bleeding, a so-called second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide (AR). D-CON, commonly used against mice and rats, is a familiar brand of AR. But how did a forest carnivore absorb a pesticide typically used around farms and houses?

Gabriel remembers wondering if this one fisher was an outlier. “So we went back to the archival liver tissue,” he says. When he inspected frozen specimens and collected additional carcasses from colleagues, Gabriel discovered that rodenticides had, if not killed, then at least tainted 85 percent of expired fishers.

“It took a while to connect the dots,” he says. From his field experience he was familiar with illegal pot grows, which had plagued the backcountry terrain for 20 years or more. “We’ve all run into it. We’ve been trained,” Gabriel says. “If you come upon a site, you do a 180 and walk away.”

Mounds of Pesticide

Law enforcement officers from different agencies asked him if rat bait from grow sites might be the culprit. It made sense; woodrats and squirrels would gnaw the marijuana plants.

If the growers scattered AR and the rodents were sapped by internal bleeding, they would become easier prey for fishers. Bioaccumulation, as the process is known, would pass the rodenticide up the food chain, where concentrations increase. The fishers in turn might have become prey for bobcats and mountain lions.

Wildlife biologist Greta Wengert (above) carefully handles a suspected neurotoxin found in a Gatorade bottle.

Raids turned up empty bags of AR and sometimes even mounds of the pesticide. To test their hypothesis about bioaccumulation, Thompson, Gabriel and state toxicologists tried to tie the levels of AR exposure in fishers with the locations of grow sites found by law enforcement.

The researchers analyzed 46 female fishers that died over five years. Their results showed that the animals that lived longest had the least rodenticide in their livers and the fewest grow sites within their home ranges. Conversely, animals with roughly four or more grow sites nearby died the soonest.

In a 2015 paper in the journal PLoS ONE, the researchers stepped back and examined all the causes of mortality in their collared fishers. Predation accounted for 70 percent of the deaths, disease an additional 16 percent, and poisoning, which until lately hadn’t been considered, 10 percent. The new factor might explain why fishers weren’t rebounding as fast as they might be. Pesticides might be the major factor in most of the deaths, even those not poisoned outright. “You can argue that the animals that are affected by rodenticide are weaker,” Thompson says, “and that the predation rates on them, as I suspect, are higher.”

Sounding the Siren

In a parallel case, rodenticides have worked their way into some of California’s northern spotted owls, a threatened species. The owls also eat tainted rodents near grow sites. The evidence here is less direct, and depends on analyses of a competing species, the barred owl. For decades, barred owls from Eastern states have been invading the breeding territory of the northern spotted owl in California, Oregon and Washington. Already on the ropes from the logging of old-growth woods, spotted owls were disappearing, and so biologists tried a desperate measure: shooting barred owls.

At the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation in Humboldt County, forestry biologist Mark Higley, who has helped with the fisher project, also takes part in the culling of barred owls. Higley says he and his staff have had run-ins with illegal growers, “taking risks we shouldn’t take.” After Gabriel’s breakthrough with AR and fishers, Higley sent him liver samples of more than 155 barred owls that had been collected at Hoopa. More than half were positive for rodenticide. Gabriel also had positive results from two spotted owls that were hit by cars. Since spotted owls are endangered, Higley and Gabriel use barred owls as a surrogate — their dietary habits are similar — and infer that up to half of spotted owls near grow sites might be exposed to rodenticide. Now Thompson is looking for other examples of bioaccumulation. He’s testing mountain lion scat for rat poison and pesticides.

Researchers examine a Pacific fisher carcass (left). The animals are struggling in part due to rat poison used by illegal marijuana growers

Only Gabriel, Thompson and a handful of other biologists are investigating the ecological effects of toxins from the trespass grows. The funding opportunities are scant, and the fieldwork is hard and potentially dangerous. Although growers who have been surprised at their plots haven’t hurt anybody — usually they just run away — sometimes shots are fired.Adding to the frustration, many important questions are nearly impossible to answer. At what levels do agricultural chemicals and rodenticide interfere with fishers’ reproduction? How much poison does it take to weaken an animal enough that it becomes easy prey for fishers and bobcats? Wildlife toxicology’s pitfall is that lab experiments can’t be performed on wild populations, let alone on sensitive and rare species.

“You have these snippets of field-based evidence,” Gabriel says. “Maybe you could do a liver biopsy on a captive fisher, but it would cause bleeding, and if an anticoagulant were affecting the animal, [the test] could push it over the edge. I’ll leave that work to someone else.” His role, as he sees it, is sounding the siren. “The problem is getting worse,” he says, frustrated. “Who’s documenting this?”

The Unseen Grower

Amid the lilac shrubs, pungent with pollen, marks of the Rattlesnake Grow aren’t immediately obvious. Soon the paths and waterlines of the growers can be spotted, and then other items like fertilizer bags, heavy-duty plant shears and matted clothing, which the wilderness is swallowing up.

As Gabriel investigates a stream angling toward the ravine, the four techs split into pairs. Two young field biologists push off in opposite directions, using their GPS trackers to measure plot boundaries.

The slanting plot, still faintly pocked with bare spots where the marijuana grew, is about 50 yards wide and 100 yards long. They crisscross the area with cans of spray paint, tagging empty bags of chemicals as they count them. When they take a break, they huddle in the shade thrown by the charred trees.

Walking on a diagonal line across the site, the biologists collect at least five samples of soil in plastic bags. The samples will be tested for various pesticides. Five samples for 1,500 square yards might not seem like much. “That’s all we can get funded for,” says Gabriel, who has rejoined the others. He reports spotting boot tracks. “I think they came back and took the tent and sleeping bags, probably sometime last spring.”

Growers often squat in primitive camps on public lands, leaving their mess to the Forest Service after harvest time.

Of all the species Gabriel studies, the human animal — the unseen grower — is the hardest for him to figure out. “I’ve visited between 100 and 200 grow sites,” he says, leaning against a fallen tree. He wonders, why would growers plant so high up on this ridge with limited water?

“We saw a different approach last week,” Gabriel says. “Just 60 meters from a paved road they were growing 5,000 plants. Maybe one criminal organization decides, ‘We’ll go deep in the wilderness,’ and another, ‘Let’s put it by the road.’ You’re trading easier access for greater risk.”

He sees each site as a piece of a larger puzzle. If researchers could better understand the selection process, it might be possible to better handle these trespass grows.

Later, over a beer in his motel room, Gabriel says, “There’s no way I can do this physically 15 or 20 years from now.” He figures he’s got eight more years, after which he hopes the field will be big enough for him to exit and do something else, leaving others to carry on the research. He’s trying to spur other biologists to study illegal grows too. He wants to track the long-term effects of the chemicals by incorporating specialties like hydrology and soil science.

“As an ecologist, I love working on species of conservation concern,” he says. “I want a stable population of fishers and owls. I want basic research and applied management. Not science just for the sake of science but science as a solution.”

 

 

[This article originally appeared in print as “High Consequences.”]

Source:  http://discovermagazine.com/2017/sept/high-consequences September 2017

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Environment,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Social Affairs :

Donald Trump’s choice of his VP running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, worries the marijuana lobby. They question Pence’s belief that marijuana is a gateway drug and its abuse is a crime, deserving penalty. While the marijuana lobby claims “Marijuana is a happy, healthy, wonderful plant and everybody should have the right to grow it, just as they grow dandelions,” the National Insitute of Drugs (NIDA) findings support Pence’s objection to the legalization of marijuana.  According to NIDA’s latest available data, “illicit drug use in the U.S. is on the rise, and “More than half of new illicit drug users begin with marijuana.” Yet, marijuana legalization has become an issue in the U.S. presidential elections.

How did we get here?

The impresario who staged and pushed to legally dope of the American people is the billionaire financier George Soros. He found a kindred spirit in President Obama who got this dog and pony show on the road. The chosen vehicle was Obama-Care. And the first indication for this came on August 5, 2009, with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)’s little noticed tender for the production and distribution of large quantities of marijuana cigarettes, for purposes other than for research, clocked under the DEA control and supposedly in compliance  with FDA regulations

According to pro-legalization activist Sean Williams, “President Obama has suggested that the best way to get the attention of Congress is to legalize marijuana in as many states as possible at the state level. If a majority of states approve marijuana measures, and public opinion continues to swell in favor of cannabis, Congress may have no choice but to consider decriminalization — or legalize the substance.” Not surprisingly, recently  there have been widely-reported leaks from the DEA  that the agency anticipates making “medical” marijuana” legal in all 50 states, even though this requires FDA approval.

Until the early 1990s, the voices to legalize drugs in the United States were not in sync. This changed with Soros’ first foray into U.S. domestic politics in 1992-1993. Soros, who made his fortune by bidding on instability, is known to say, “If I spend enough, I make it right.” While other billionaires give to the arts, higher education and medicine to better the quality of the lives of their fellow men, Soros chose to “right” illegal drug use, under the guise of a social reformer. “The war on drugs is doing more harm to our society than drug abuse itself.” Due to the widespread social and political opposition to illegal drug use, he chose to begin his efforts to “right” the situation, with a popular getaway drug, marijuana – a brain and mind altering drug that creates life-long dependency. To make his decision more palatable, the ultimate opportunistic Soros, declared marijuana is a “compassionate drug,” and for more than two decades poured tens of millions of dollars into campaigns to first legalize the use of “medical marijuana,” and more recently to decriminalize the use of “recreational” marijuana. 

Pretending to support an “open society,” Soros,  uses his philanthropy to “change” or more accurately deconstruct the moral values and attitudes of the Western world, and particularly of the American people. He claims to support humanitarianism, equality and individual and political freedom, what Karl Pooper, the Austrian-born British philosopher argued were necessary for what he considered an “open society.”nominal contact with Popper while studying at the London School of Economics. Although Popper met with Soros once or twice while Soros was a student at the London School of Economics, Soros failed to make much of an impression on the old philosopher. According to Michael T. Kaufman’s 2003 unauthorized biography of the billionaire, when Soros contacted Popper in 1982 to let him know about how he’d been naming funds, foundations, and various other entities after the concepts enshrined in the The Open Society, Popper wrote back: “Let me first thank you for not having forgotten me. I am afraid I forgot you completely; even your name created at first only the most minute resonance. But I made some effort, and now, I think, I just remember you, though I do not think I should recognize you.”

Not surprisingly, Soros’ “open society” Institute and foundations are not about promoting any of Popper’s ideas. Certainly not freedom.  Instead, by working diligently to legalize drugs, Soros advances the greatest slavery ever–drug addiction. This sits well with his rejection of the notion of ordered liberty, in favor of a progressive ideology of rights and entitlements.

On February 7, 1996, I opined in The Wall Street Journal that Soros’s “sponsorship unified the movement to legalize drugs and gave it the respectability and credibility it lacked.” I suggested “unchallenged, Soros would change the political landscape of America.” It took two decades and lots of money to achieve what he set out to get. For him, legalizing marijuana was a necessary stepping-stone to advancing drug policies in the U.S. and elsewhere toward legalizing the use of all drugs.

Money is but one of the many possible speculations on Soros’s motivation to legalize drugs. If asked, he’ll respond with gibberish that makes no sense.  However, the revenues from the illegal drug trade are enormous. There are no other commodities on the market that yield such high and fast a return. Since 2014, legally listed marijuana producing and distributing companies will be generating huge revenues. Soros seems to believe that state-controlled drug distribution will best serve to increase dependency on the state.

The overwhelming evidence on the short and long term harm caused by marijuana to the user and to society should have stopped any attempt to legalize the drug. However, the vast amounts of money spent on influencing the public and the politicians generated the desired social acceptance of the “compassionate drug,” marijuana. 

In November 1996, Soros’ efforts succeeded in California, making it the first state to legalize “medical marijuana.”

Recreational use of marijuana has nothing to do with medical marijuana. As with other drugs, the development of marijuana/cannabis as medicine has to follow modern medical rules – advancing with clinical trials with specific compounds, looking for side effects and interactions with other drugs, etc.

But when last November, the DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said, “We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether or not we want to legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine. That’s a joke.” Rosenberg opined there was a need for “legitimate research into the efficacy of marijuana for its constituent parts as a medicine. But I think the notion that state legislatures just decree it so is ludicrous.” The pro-drug lobby called for his dismissal. 

Among the ill-effects of marijuana use (whether obtained legally or not) is memory loss, as proven by researchers at Northwestern University. The study also found “evidence of brain alterations … significant deterioration in the thalamus, a key structure for learning, memory, and communications between brain regions.”  If this were not enough, the study concluded, “chronic marijuana use could “memory-related structure [to] shrivel and collapse.s..[and] boosts the underlying process driving schizophrenia.”

This study as many others documented the devastating long-term harm caused by marijuana use. Another National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) study found that “marijuana smoke contains 50% to 70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke … which further increases the lungs’ exposure to carcinogenic smoke.” Moreover, “marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug. … This risk may be greater in aging populations or those with cardiac vulnerabilities.”

Other studies documented “distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem-solving, and problems with learning and memory.”  As a result, someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time.” In conclusion: “Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person’s existing problems worse. In fact, heavy marijuana users generally report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, relationship problems, and less academic and career success compared to their peers who came from similar backgrounds. For example, marijuana use is associated with a higher likelihood of dropping out from school. Several studies also associate workers’ marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover.” NIDA’s latest survey from 2013, show that drug users are exacting more than $700 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and health care. Add yo this the cost of newly hooked Americans on social welfare, including food stamps, Obamacare, public housing, free cell phones, and other entitlements.

Moving to relax Federal oversight on marijuana use, a Department of Justice memo on August 29, 2013, clarified the government’s prosecutorial priorities and stated that the federal government would rely on state and local law enforcement to “address marijuana activity through enforcement of their own narcotics laws.”

When Colorado legalized the use of “recreational” use of marijuana, on January 1, 2014, the TSA announced it stopped deploying detection dogs in the state’s airports, even though these dogs are trained to also detect other illegal drugs, explosives, blood, contraband electronics, stashed currency, and more. Similar measures will take place once marijuana is legalized, exposing American airport to terrorist attacks.

The Obama’s endorsed and Soros’ funded Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, has promised to “defend and build on the progress…made under President Obama,” including his and the billionaire’s efforts to legalize marijuana. American voters should keep this in mind when voting for their next President.

Source: http://acdemocracy.org/the-obama-soro-legacy/ July 2016

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Political Sector,USA :

Since the mid-1990s, the percentage of prime-age American men who don’t have a job — and aren’t looking for one — has risen dramatically. Over the same time period, per-capita sales of opioid painkillers in the United States has more than quadrupled. A new study suggests that there may be a relationship between these two facts.

In a paper published by the Brookings Institution on Thursday, Princeton economist Alan Krueger compares county-level data on opioid-prescription rates and labor-force participation, and finds that the more opioids were prescribed in a given region, the more likely that region was to have seen a significant decline in workforce participation.

The correlation was so dramatic, Krueger estimates that rising opioid prescriptions could plausibly account for one-fifth of the decline in the labor-force participation among American men between 1999 and 2015.

In previous research, Kreuger revealed that nearly half of all American men between the ages of 25 and 54 who were not in the labor force took pain medication on a daily basis. For two-thirds of those men, that daily pain medication was the kind that requires a prescription.

Critically, Krueger’s new research suggests that the counties where opioids are most widely prescribed aren’t, necessarily, places where the population is exceptionally ill or disabled. Rather, they are places where doctors seem to be exceptionally comfortable writing opioid prescriptions to treat pain.

Currently, America’s overall labor-force participation rate is 62.9 percent, unchanged from three years ago, and well below the 67 percent level that was typical in the late 1990s. Most of this decline can be attributed to benign factors — the retirement of the baby boomers, and a rising percentage of young Americans delaying work to pursue higher education. But the drop in participation by prime-age men has been sharp — right now, America has the second-lowest such rate among OECD countries — and very much malign: Krueger finds that prime-age men who have dropped out of the labor force are significantly less happy than their employed and unemployed peers.

There is still some ambiguity in Krueger’s findings. It’s possible that, to some extent, labor-force detachment increases demand for prescription opioids, rather than vice versa. Nonetheless, his paper offers compelling evidence that America’s painkiller habit isn’t just producing 100 overdose deaths in our country each day, but also impairing our economy’s capacity to grow.

Notably, the prescription opioid industry has achieved all this without actually reducing the levels of pain that Americans report.

“Despite the massive rise in opioid prescriptions in the 2000s,” Krueger notes in his paper, “there is no evidence that the incidence of pain has declined.”

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/09/the-opioid-crisis-is-taking-a-toll-on-the-american-workforce.html

Filed under: Drug use-various effects,Heroin/Methadone,Prescription Drugs,Social Affairs :

There is no conclusive evidence that marijuana helps with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, experts say.

Since legalization, 80 percent of medical marijuana patients use it for chronic pain and about 33 percent use it for PTSD.

However, experts warn that there isn’t enough research to confirm it is effective for users.

Researchers around the country are scrambling to find evidence of the harms and benefits of patients using medical marijuana as it becomes legalized in more states.

And now they have found that there is still an insufficient amount of evidence to prove if medical marijuana can help with chronic pain and PTSD.

Researchers from the US Department of Veterans Affairs analyzed data into the treatment of chronic pain and PTSD in patients.

With chronic pain, the results in one clinical trial showed only 28 percent of participants feeling a change when using nabiximols, which is a mixture THC and CBD.

Also, there was 16 percent of participants who felt a change when taking a placebo.

This suggests psychological symptoms are possible when someone thinks they are feeling pain.

Experts also warn the use of marijuana for chronic pain could lead to an increase risk of harm such as motor vehicle accidents, psychotic symptoms and short-term cognitive impairment.

Dr Thomas O’Brien, who has run his own medical marijuana office in New York City for the past year-and-a-half, told Daily Mail Online that he’s seen high success rates from his patients dealing with chronic pain.

The type of marijuana he gives to his patients is high in CBD, so he says it doesn’t have the psychotic symptoms that critics worry about.

‘My patients do not feel sleepy or experience memory loss when they take it,’ Dr O’Brien said.

The marijuana he prescribes is from an indica-dominant strain. This means there is high CBD and low THC, which he says won’t give patients the same ‘high’ feeling that is felt from recreational marijuana.

NFL says it WILL study marijuana in terms of pain relief for players

Early this month, the NFL confirmed with Daily Mail Online that it will look into using medical marijuana for its players.

The NFL has had a strict stance against their players using marijuana.

But a report came out saying 50 percent of NFL players admitted to using marijuana to relieve pain.

The league usually prescribes highly addictive opioid painkillers to help players deal with game-related injuries and pain.

This change comes after player Calvin Johnson retired due to chronic pain and injury.

He said the players were given opioids from doctors ‘like candy’.

Currently, a player caught with THC in their system will face a fine and full-season suspension.

Source: Bleacher Report

He will prescribe a dose with a higher level of THC only if his patient’s symptoms are so bad that they can’t sleep.

He works with his patients to figure out the best mixture for them and their symptoms based on a spectrum level.

‘They are in pain and suffering from their conditions,’ Dr O’Brien said. ‘This is not recreational.’

Dr O’Brien has worked with more than 600 patients and claims that close to 90 percent have seen success.

‘The key is to educate the community that it is not like you’re going out back and sneaking a puff.’

In a large observational study of veterans, the researchers found an increase in participants who experienced a heightening of their PTSD symptoms when using medical marijuana.

The study looked at evidence from 47,000 veterans dealing with PTSD from 1992 to 2011.

From this group of veterans, the researchers could not conclusively say that medical marijuana has benefits when dealing with people with PTSD.

US Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin said: ‘My opinion is, is that some of the states that have put in appropriate controls, there may be some evidence that this is beginning to be helpful. And we’re interested in looking at that and learning from that.’

But the VA does not prescribe medical marijuana to its veterans currently.

‘Until the time that federal law changes, we are not able to be able to prescribe medical marijuana for conditions that may be helpful,’ Shulkin said.

Marijuana is legal for medical and recreational use in eight states: Massachusetts, Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, California and Maine.

It is also legal for strictly medical use in the District of Columbia and 21 states: Montana, North Dakota, Arizona, New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware and Hawaii.

How is THC used and what its effects

Tetrahydrocannabinoil (THC) is a natural element found in a cannabis plant. It is the most common cannabinoid element found in the cannabis plant. THC is found in the recreational form of marijuana.

THC is psychoactive:

This means that the drug has a significant effect on the mental processes of the person taking it.

Effects on people taking it:

How it helps medically: 

Marijuana with THC are used to help with chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma.

Medical marijuana practitioners can diagnose a mixture of THC and CBD to the patient for treatment.

How is CBD used and what its effects

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural element found in a cannabis plant. It is lesser known than THC and does not produce the same ‘high’ that people experience when they have recreational marijuana.

CBD is an antipsychotic:

This means that the drug helps manage psychosis such as hallucinations, delusions or paranoia. Antipsychotic drugs are used for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Effects on people taking it:

How it helps medically: 

Marijuana with CBD strains are used to help with chronic pain, PTSD and epilepsy

Medical marijuana practitioners can diagnose a mixture of THC and CBD to the patient for treatment.

The study notes that there is still a lack of evidence and clinical trials to conclusively say there are benefits or harms to medical marijuana.

Former Surgeon General Dr Vivek Gupta released a report in November saying: ‘Marijuana is in fact addictive.’

But he supported the idea of easing up restrictions on marijuana studies to help better understand the drug since its legalization is moving fast through the US.

Dr O’Brien said part of the issue was people not understanding the difference between the use of THC and the use of CBD.

‘It is very safe [CBD],’ he said. ‘We need to study it for other medical conditions that haven’t been approved by the states yet.’

The restrictions on marijuana studies are partly due to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s hesitation on allowing medical marijuana across the US.

Last year, the DEA said it would accept applications for new growers to be used for clinical trials and other studies.

Currently, there is only one federally regulated operation that studies marijuana use and it is at the University of Mississippi.

There have been 25 applicants so far to host a new grow operation but none have been approved yet, according to Scientific American.

This has led to many critics saying that the DEA is still trying to slow down the research into medical marijuana to prevent its use federally.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4789388/Medical-marijuana-does-not-help-chronic-pain-PTSD.html August 2017

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Drug use-various effects,Health,Marijuana and Medicine,Political Sector :

Illegal marijuana farms are taking over thousands of acres of land as toxic waste continues to corrupt ecosystems in areas along the West Coast.

According to a new report accessed by Reuters, the state of California, which is responsible for more than ’90 percent of illegal U.S. marijuana farming,’ has shown a drastic increase in the use of nationally restricted fertilizers and pesticides such as carbofuran and zinc phosphide, ecologists say.

‘Increasingly, dangerous, unregistered pesticides are being encountered by law enforcement officers who investigate illegal marijuana grows,’ Special Agent-in-Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency criminal enforcement program, Jay M. Green, announced in a public release.

‘Through their indiscriminate application, these unregistered pesticides pollute our lands and waters, create a significant safety risk to humans and animals, and present a mounting cleanup expense for taxpayers.’

Expert ecologist Mourad Gabriel, who reports over the issue for the U.S. Forest Service, said California is utilizing ’41 times more solid fertilizers and 80 times more liquid pesticides’ than the state’s initial reported cited in 2013.

Chemicals of these kind have been linked to health defects and death in both animals and humans.

The agency cited ‘a single swallow can be fatal to a small child, and carbofuran to be ‘highly toxic to vertebrates and birds. In granular form, a single grain will kill a bird; for humans, one quarter of a teaspoon is a sufficient dose to be fatal.’

The Environmental Protection Agency announced in 2011 the department would ban the inorganic chemical compound zinc phosphide.

Included in the unpublished data accessed by Reuters, Gabriel said federal land in California currently holds ‘731,000 pounds of solid fertilizer, 491,000 ounces of concentrated liquid fertilizer and 200,000 ounces of toxic pesticides.’

Illegal pot growers could face jail time and numerous charges for growing illegally, while taxpayers could expect to be left with hefty bills to aid in the sterilization of the toxic waste sites.

Since marijuana was legalized in the state of California, officials have been pushing to properly license growers and carefully supervise the production, testing and distribution of hemp.

Supervisor of Trinity County Keith Groves said there are roughly 4,000 illegal growers in the region currently.

‘I’ll be happy if we can get 500 of them to become licensed,’ he told Reuters.

The expense and danger of cleanup has created a backlog of 639 illegal marijuana farms awaiting restoration in California, according to U.S. Forest Service data compiled for Reuters. Each farm covers up to 50 acres.

 ‘We’re getting contamination over and over again at those locations,’ said Gabriel, as toxins move from unsafe containers into the soil and water.

At sites that state officials said they had cleaned up completely, his team found 30-50 percent of the chemicals were still there.

‘They are like superfund sites,’ said Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar,

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4768664/Marijuana-farms-forming-toxic-waste-dumps-California.html August 2017

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Environment,Legal Sector :

By Robert DuPont

Abstract

The current narrative describing the national opioid epidemic as the result of overprescribing opioid pain medicines fails to capture the full dimensions of the problem and leads to inadequate and even confounding solutions. Overlooked is the fact that polysubstance use is nearly ubiquitous among overdose deaths, demonstrating that the opioid overdose death problem is bigger than opioids. The foundation of the nation’s opioid overdose crisis – and the totality of the nation’s drug epidemic – is widespread recreational pharmacology, the use of drugs for fun or “self-medication.” The national focus on opioid overdose deaths provides important new opportunities in both prevention and treatment to make fundamental changes to the way that substance use disorders and related problems are understood and managed.

The first-ever US Surgeon General’s report on addiction provides a starting point for systemic changes in the nation’s approach to preventing, treating and managing substance use disorders as serious, chronic diseases. New prevention efforts need to encourage youth to grow to adulthood not using alcohol, nicotine, marijuana or other drugs for reasons of health. New addiction treatment efforts need to focus on achieving long-term recovery including no use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs.

Source: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0361923017302927  June 2017

Filed under: Heroin/Methadone,Political Sector :

Dear David,

I am sending you below a copy of a letter I have sent to the Premiers of Canada – and other members of the worldwide drug prevention community, plus an email to UN HQ in New York.   Since they get so many letters I thought it would be sensible to send you a copy direct as it might take time for you to receive it through UN internal mail.

Dear Premiers,

As members of the worldwide drug prevention community we have been reading with increasing concern and disbelief the way that Canada seems to be bulldozing through legislation that can only damage the citizens of your country – not the least the children.

The Rights of the Child Treaty, under article 33 of the international drug conventions, would be breached if this legislation is allowed to be ratified.

Under the terms of the convention, governments are required to meet children’s basic needs and help them reach their full potential. Since it was adopted by the United Nations in November 1989, 194 countries have signed up to the UNCRC,

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an important international legal instrument that obligates States Parties to protect children and youth from involvement with illicit drugs and the drug trade.

Canada is a signatory to the CRC – which is a legally binding document.  Should your country go ahead with the decision to legalise marijuana – against all the evidence from respected scientists and Health authorities worldwide Canada would be an outcast by those 193 nations who have agreed and signed to Article 33.

We find it astonishing that the wealth of evidence and opinion in Canada and  worldwide,  on the harmfulness of marijuana would seem to have been totally ignored by your parliamentarians.   Indeed new evidence relating to the epidemic of gastrochisis was submitted in good time by our Australian colleague Dr. Stuart Reece and was not allowed to be presented.   Instead you have been persuaded by groups that want marijuana to be ‘the new tobacco’ – headed of course by George Soros, that this will not be harmful to your citizens, that it will bring in tax revenues and that it would destroy the black market. 

However, there was a study done a few weeks ago by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction finding that just in Canada alone, a much smaller country than the U.S. in population, marijuana-related car crashes cost a billion dollars. That’s just the car crashes, and those were directly related to marijuana. And the report came from a government think tank, not any kind of anti-drug group.

We heard many of these same promises in 2012 when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. Yet  in the years since, Colorado has seen an increase in marijuana related traffic deaths, poison control calls, and emergency room visits. The marijuana black market has increased in Colorado, not decreased. And, numerous Colorado marijuana regulators have been indicted for corruption.

New reports out of Colorado indicate that legal marijuana  is posing real risks to the safety of young people. As Colorado rethinks marijuana, the rest of the nation should watch carefully this failing experiment.

Healthcare officials representing three hospitals in Pueblo, Colorado, issued a statement on April 27 in support of a ballot measure that would end Marijuana commercialization in the city and county of Pueblo. “We continue to see first-hand the increased patient harm caused by retail marijuana, and we want the Pueblo community to understand that the commercialization of marijuana is a significant public health and safety issue,” said Mike Baxter, president and CEO of Parkview Medical Center.

Among their concerns are  a 51 percent increase in number of children under 18 being treated in Parkview Medical Center emergency rooms.  Furthermore, of newborn babies at St. Mary-Corwin Hospital, drug tested due to suspected prenatal exposure, nearly half tested positive for marijuana.

Having read the above, how can Canadian legislators possibly believe that legalising marijuana would, in any way, be advantageous for their country ?

Yours faithfully,

Peter Stoker,  Director,  National Drug Prevention Alliance  (UK)

Source: A letter forwarded by Peter Stoker to David Dadge, spokesperson for UN Office ON Drugs and Crime (UNODC), originally sent to the Premiers of Canada  September 2017

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Legal Sector,Political Sector :

WASHINGTON – The Drug Enforcement Administration today announced the establishment of six new enforcement teams focused on combatting the flow of heroin and illicit fentanyl. 

 “At a time when overdose deaths are at catastrophic levels, the DEA’s top priority is addressing the opioid epidemic and pursuing the criminal organizations that distribute their poison to our neighborhoods,” said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson. “These teams will enhance DEA’s ability to combat trafficking in heroin, fentanyl, and fentanyl analogues and the violence associated with drug trafficking.”

The enforcement teams will be based in communities facing significant challenges with heroin and fentanyl, including New Bedford, Mass.; Charleston, W.Va.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Raleigh, N.C.; and Long Island, N.Y.

In determining the locations for these teams, DEA considered multiple factors, including rates of opioid mortality, level of heroin and fentanyl seizures, and where additional resources would make the greatest impact in addressing the ongoing threat. While the teams are based in specific cities, their investigations will not be geographically limited. DEA will continue to pursue investigations wherever the evidence leads.

DEA received funding in its FY 2017 enacted appropriations to establish these teams, which will be comprised of DEA special agents and state and local task force officers. 

The abuse of controlled prescription drugs is inextricably linked with the threat the United States faces from the trafficking of heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. 

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States, eclipsing deaths from motor vehicle crashes or firearms. According to initial estimates provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 64,000 overdose deaths in 2016, or approximately 175 per day. More than 34,500, or 54 percent, of these deaths were caused by opioids. 

The DEA continues to aggressively pursue enforcement actions against international and domestic drug trafficking organizations manufacturing and distributing heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. Just last week, the Department of Justice announced indictments against two Chinese nationals and their North America-based traffickers and distributors for separate conspiracies to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and other opiate substances in the United States.  

Source: Email from U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration <dea@public.govdelivery.com> October 2017

Filed under: Heroin/Methadone,Legal Sector :

Tens of thousands of people are ending up in hospital with cannabis-related health problems, official figures have revealed.

There were 27,501 admissions linked to cannabis in England in 2016/17, a 15 per cent rise in just two years from 23,866 in 2014/15.

Labour MP Jeff Smith, who requested the figures on cannabis-related hospitalisations, said the large increase was ‘a concern’.

The influential medical journal The Lancet has just taken the unprecedented step of branding cannabis a ‘huge risk to health’.

Mr Smith, an ex-DJ who has admitted taking drugs, said: ‘It could be that the rise in hospital admissions is associated with rises in particular types of cannabis being used – street cannabis now tends to be more “skunk”.’

‘Skunk’ has a high concentration of the main psychoactive compound THC, which is strongly linked to increased risk of psychosis.

A recent study based on drugs seized by police found that 94 per cent of cannabis now sold on UK streets is ‘skunk’. Academics say this super-strength cannabis could be behind the rise in mental health problems linked to the drug.

Now,The Lancet has warned in a hard-hitting editorial that with the ‘increasing liberalisation of laws’, users need to be made ‘aware of risks to their health and wellbeing.

The journal was reflecting on results from the 2018 Global Drug Survey, which asked 130,000 people in 44 nations about their use of drugs. The Lancet said: ‘Globally, cannabis is still the top illicit drug used and, with the concurrent use of tobacco, remains a huge health risk.’

Its position is in marked contrast to 1995 when it stated: ‘The smoking of cannabis, even long-term, is not harmful to health.’

Mr Smith claimed: ‘Legalisation and regulation is a better way of reducing harm than leaving the trade in the hands of criminals.’

Source: Mail Online July 11th 2018

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Drug use-various effects,Effects of Drugs,Health,Social Affairs :

SUMMARY

Background

Interest in the use of cannabis and cannabinoids to treat chronic non-cancer pain is increasing, because of their potential to reduce opioid dose requirements. We aimed to investigate cannabis use in people living with chronic non-cancer pain who had been prescribed opioids, including their reasons for use and perceived effectiveness of cannabis; associations between amount of cannabis use and pain, mental health, and opioid use; the effect of cannabis use on pain severity and interference over time; and potential opioid-sparing effects of cannabis.

Methods

The Pain and Opioids IN Treatment study is a prospective, national, observational cohort of people with chronic non-cancer pain prescribed opioids. Participants were recruited through community pharmacies across Australia, completed baseline interviews, and were followed up with phone interviews or self-complete questionnaires yearly for 4 years.

Recruitment took place from August 13, 2012, to April 8, 2014. Participants were asked about lifetime and past year chronic pain conditions, duration of chronic non-cancer pain, pain self-efficacy, whether pain was neuropathic, lifetime and past 12-month cannabis use, number of days cannabis was used in the past month, and current depression and generalised anxiety disorder. We also estimated daily oral morphine equivalent doses of opioids.

We used logistic regression to investigate cross-sectional associations with frequency of cannabis use, and lagged mixed-effects models to examine temporal associations between cannabis use and outcomes.

Findings

1514 participants completed the baseline interview and were included in the study from Aug 20, 2012, to April 14, 2014. Cannabis use was common, and by 4-year follow-up, 295 (24%) participants had used cannabis for pain. Interest in using cannabis for pain increased from 364 (33%) participants (at baseline) to 723 (60%) participants (at 4 years). At 4-year follow-up, compared with people with no cannabis use, we found that participants who used cannabis had a greater pain severity score (risk ratio 1·14, 95% CI 1·01–1·29, for less frequent cannabis use; and 1·17, 1·03–1·32, for daily or near-daily cannabis use), greater pain interference score (1·21, 1·09–1·35; and 1·14, 1·03–1·26), lower pain self-efficacy scores (0·97, 0·96–1·00; and 0·98, 0·96–1·00), and greater generalised anxiety disorder severity scores (1·07, 1·03–1·12; and 1·10, 1·06–1·15).

We found no evidence of a temporal relationship between cannabis use and pain severity or pain interference, and no evidence that cannabis use reduced prescribed opioid use or increased rates of opioid discontinuation.

Interpretation

Cannabis use was common in people with chronic non-cancer pain who had been prescribed opioids, but we found no evidence that cannabis use improved patient outcomes. People who used cannabis had greater pain and lower self-efficacy in managing pain, and there was no evidence that cannabis use reduced pain severity or interference or exerted an opioid-sparing effect. As cannabis use for medicinal purposes increases globally, it is important that large well designed clinical trials, which include people with complex comorbidities, are conducted to determine the efficacy of cannabis for chronic non-cancer pain. Funding National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Government.

Source:https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanpub/PIIS2468-2667(18)30110-5.pdf July 2018

Filed under: Australia,Cannabis/Marijuana,Drug use-various effects,Health,Marijuana and Medicine,Social Affairs :

Parents’ greatest fear is that their kids will become addicted to drugs and alcohol

This is according to a Parent Co. survey with over 1500 participants. Fear of drug and alcohol addiction vastly outweighed concerns about terrorism, economic collapse, crime, and war. When we shared the results of this survey, comments from readers could be grouped into three categories:

1. Parents saying “Of course this is our biggest fear!”

2. Parents asking if it’s possible to analyze their kids’ behavior and attitudes for signs of future addiction.

3. Parents asking about the factors that contribute to future addiction. We set out to research these answers with help from AddictionWise, an online service for families and friends of addicts. (More on AddictionWise below.)

From harmful substance abuse of alcohol or drugs or cigarettes to gambling, sex, food, or exercise, addiction can manifest in many forms.

While research continues to explore the scope of addiction and addictive behavior, the bottom line is that science has yet to isolate an “addictive personality.”

However, there’s strong evidence that some people are born vulnerable to addiction. It’s also often possible to predict a child’s’ risk of future addiction.

Genetics, relationships in childhood, environmental and social influences, adolescent experimentation, and the existence of an underlying personality disorder may ultimately contribute to the development of addiction and addictive behaviors.

The biggest indicators of future addiction problems are:

* Genetics – a family history of addiction

* Association with drug-abusing peers

* Drug and alcohol experimentation in adolescence

It’s important to note that parental understanding of the mechanics of addiction is a powerful preventive tool.

Addiction is a medical condition that is characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. It can be thought of as a disease or biological process leading to such behaviors. The two properties that characterize all addictive stimuli are that they are reinforcing (i.e., they increase the likelihood that a person will seek repeated exposure to them) and intrinsically rewarding (i.e., something perceived as being positive or desirable). – Wikipedia

Genetics

A history of family addiction may be the strongest indicator of future addiction.

Many studies have shown that children of addicts have a much greater chance of becoming addicts themselves. Environmental factors may play a role, but a history of family addiction may be the strongest indicator of a child’s future addiction risks.

According to Doug Sellman of the National Addiction Center, heritability runs at about 50% of the cause of addiction.

Dr. A. Thomas McLellan has determined that though more research is needed on the topic, genetics has a critical role in whether or not an individual will develop an addiction, just as chronic illness can be passed from one generation to another.

Undercontrolled Temperament

“[We] have firmly established that undercontrolled temperament comes before any involvement in gambling.” – Wendy Slutske, who is a professor of psychological science at the University of Missouri

In the past few years, research has focused on how “undercontrolled” temperaments in children strongly correlate to a future probability of addiction. A large-scale, long-term, longitudinal study from New Zealand found that undercontrolled three-year-0lds were more than three times as likely to become addicted to drugs and twice as likely to have problems with gambling as young adults than their peers with the most self-control.”

Aspects of an “undercontrolled temperament” include:

* a lack of self-control, including rapidly shifting emotions

* impulsive and willful behavior

* relatively high levels of negative feelings such as alienation and negative emotion

* less conscientiousness and less social agreeability compared to peers

Even after factors like IQ, gender, and socioeconomic status were accounted for the association with addiction still held. And when the “undercontrolled” children were assessed as adults, they hadn’t changed all that much. (This is also shown in this California Child Q-Set study.)

About 10% of children in the study exhibited an undercontrolled temperament.

Relationships With Peers and Adults

Children who have poor relationships with peers and adults are more at risk for addiction.

A child’s environment and family additionally can affect the development of addictive habits. Dr. Robert B. Millman has advocated that children who have poor relationships with peers and adults are more at risk for addiction whereas those with positive relationships are at less risk. Dr. Hatterer also confers with this perspective and elaborates a child who suffers abuse is also at risk for developing an addiction later in life.

Moreover, Dr. Hatterer articulates that a lack of consistent parenting throughout childhood also influences future addictive behavior patterns.

Drug experimentation in adolescence

Association with drug-abusing peers is often the most immediate risk for exposing adolescents to drug abuse and delinquent behavior. – Drugabuse.gov

A 30-year prospective study found that early-exposed adolescents remained at an increased risk for poor outcomes. Approximately 50% of adolescents exposed to alcohol and drugs before age 15 had no conduct-problem history, yet were still at an increased risk for adult substance dependence.

Likewise, children who feel isolated or alienated are at risk for addictions. They may lack self-confidence and not know how to reach out to others for their emotional needs. .These children may eventually turn to addictive substances to cope.

According to David Sack M.D: “For peer groups where substance abuse is the norm, the future looks bleak. Nine out of 10 people who end up addicted started drinking, smoking or using drugs by age 18, CASA reports. One in four high school students who drinks or uses drugs becomes addicted. Drinking at an early age is linked to dangerous binge drinking in young adulthood. Many people come to treatment with histories of drug abuse spanning decades, or the majority of their young lives, making the recovery process more challenging.”

Childhood Trauma

When a child has suffered a trauma such as physical, mental, or sexual abuse; the death of a parent; or neglect, she may turn to addictive behaviors or substances to help cope with her pain and stress. This is especially true if she hasn’t been taught healthy coping strategies.

Changes in Brain Chemistry vs. “Addictive Personality.”

There’s aren’t always signs of addictive traits in childhood. For many people, addiction is a progressive disease.

Addiction isn’t necessarily the consequence of an “addictive personality” (which technically doesn’t exist; see below) as much as a result of changes in brain chemistry. Dr. Alan Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, contends that “voluntary and controllable” drug and alcohol use can eventually morph into a daily addiction. Continued drug use alters the brain’s functioning and structure.

Leshner even considers drug addiction a form of brain disease.

“The development of addiction is like a vicious cycle: Chronic drug use not only realigns a person’s priorities but also may alter key brain areas necessary for judgment and self-control, further reducing the individual’s ability to control or stop their drug use. This is why, despite popular belief, willpower alone is often insufficient to overcome an addiction. Drug use has compromised the very parts of the brain that make it possible to “say no.” – Drugabuse.gov

Summing Up

A child with increased risk of addiction isn’t destined to become an addict.

Addiction typically begins as a symptom, not a cause, of personal and social maladjustment.

Addiction is a complex process. Many people gamble, drink, and take drugs without becoming addicted.

Addiction should always be viewed in the context of an person’s developmental history. It’s most often the result of a biological or behavioral predisposition. For example, many studies show that depressed or impulsive people are more likely to drink and take drugs.

But addictive tendencies don’t mean a child will inevitably become an addict. Parental understanding of the mechanics of addiction is also a powerful preventive tool. Families can help provide protection from later drug abuse when there is:

* a strong bond between children and parents

* parental involvement in the child’s life; and

* clear limits and consistent enforcement of discipline.

Research shows that parents and caregivers can help kids learn to practice self-control, which is a major factor in future prevention. Even undercontrolled children can outgrow self-control problems over time, and learned to rein in their impulses as well as their peers who showed earlier mastery. “Addictive Personality” vs Personality Disorders

Commonality is evident among different addictions, though research hasn’t found psychological characteristics specific to a so-called “addictive personality.” Psychologist Hans Jugen Eysenck posited that addictive habits serve an important functionality to the individual with an addiction, specific to their personality. Notably, the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association most recently in 2013) does not classify an “addictive personality” as a personality disorder. Rather, addictive characteristics can underlie or co-exist with a personality disorder that manifests in “maladaptive cognitive, emotive, and behavior patterns,” such as social deviance from accepted societal norms.

Maladaptive behavior patterns, exemplified by the inability to implement effective coping strategies, delay gratification, and empathize in addition to black-and-white thinking, impulsive and irrational behavior, moodiness, sensation-seeking and a lack of forward-thinking skills, are possible signs of an addictive personality.

An individual with an addictive personality may also highly value nonconformity or deviant behavior and have difficulty making commitments and setting goals.

Furthermore, an existing personality disorder can lead to substance abuse as coping mechanism. An “addictive personality” or addictive habits have the propensity to reinforce an existing personality disorder. Personality disorders are categorized into three clusters: A, B, and C.

Cluster A disorders, distinguished by “odd, eccentric thinking of behavior” include paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders, that stem from genetics and brain chemistry.

Cluster B includes antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. Cluster B disorders, characterized by over-emotional, selfish, and unpredictable thinking and behavior, are diagnosed more regularly than Cluster A as these disorders have roots in childhood.

Cluster C includes avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders, which are predominantly disorders identified by anxiety and fear. Though a person may be diagnosed with one personality disorder, he or she may also exhibit signs of another personality disorder.

https://www.mother.ly/parenting/factors-that-can-contribute-to-future-addiction-in-children-can-contribute-thttps://www.mother.ly/parenting/factors-that-can-contribute-to-future-addiction-in-childreno-future-addiction-in-children

Source: https://www.mother.ly/parenting/factors-that-can-contribute-to-future-addiction-in-childrenhttps://www.mother.ly/parentin

Filed under: Social Affairs,Youth :

Group formally submits Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to obtain sources that contributed to the creation of the New York State report released by the Department of Health endorsing legalization

(New York, New York) – Today, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), in coordination with its award-winning science advisory board and its New York State Affiliate, SAM-NY, released a comprehensive rebuttal to the report released by the New York Department of Health recommending the legalization of marijuana for recreational sales. SAM’s analysis – reviewed by top scientists from Harvard to Johns Hopkins – found several major flaws in the NYS-issued report and calls into question its bases and conclusions. 

Click here to read the comprehensive, peer-reviewed rebuttal

“Why weren’t addiction medicine doctors or the state’s medical association consulted with on this so-called scientific report?” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, founder and president of SAM, and a former Obama administration advisor. “The NYS report reads more like a marijuana industry lobbyist’s manifesto than a research-based document. This manifesto is so one-sided that SAM today formally submitted a FOIL request asking the state to disclose all its sources and any ties to the Big Marijuana industry.”

The report claims that marijuana reduces pain and opioid dependence. In reality, multiple studies have found that marijuana is not an effective treatment for chronic pain. Actually, use of the drug has in some cases made the pain worse.

Additionally, the report claims that marijuana legalization is not increasing crime around marijuana facilities. To the contrary, studies have shown that increased gang violence and other indicators of crime are on the rise in communities near dispensaries.

The report also glosses over major public health and safety data showing increased use among some teens in Colorado, increased risk of DUI in legalized states, increased minority arrests for marijuana in Colorado, and other key data.

Earlier this year, SAM’s advisory board released a comprehensive report analyzing early data from Colorado and several other legalized states.

Source: Email from SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) <reply@learnaboutsam.org>   August 2018

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Political Sector :

Safety campaign should tell middle classes moral truth about dangerous grubby drug

I’m sure the good people at the Health Service Executive were trying to be all mature and socially relevant about Ireland’s growing cocaine problem when they issued their “harm reduction” guidelines recently on how to make taking the drug safer. But they weren’t. Worse still, they were being flippantly irresponsible.

Cocaine usage in the country is now back to Celtic Tiger-era levels – a time when it was commonplace in Dublin night spots to see one of our wretched “media personalities” furiously rubbing their nose to indicate to everyone that they had just snorted something resembling cocaine – but was more likely a baking soda cocktail that would only give them diarrhoea.

To tackle this new reinfestation of the “VIP” drug, the HSE tells us that in order to reduce the risks posed by taking cocaine, users should avoid mixing it with alcohol. Which would lead you to wonder if anyone at the HSE has being out socially in Dublin – ever?

“Cocaine has enough good PR without the HSE offering tutorials (particularly to first-time users – invariably youngsters) on how and when to take it”

They also advise that we should always know the source of our cocaine when buying it. Do the people at the HSE actually know there’s a difference between buying a cup of hipster coffee and half a gram of cocaine? Why not ask the dealer if it’s Free Trade, organic cocaine while you’re at it?

They add that cocaine users should start with a small test dose and wait two hours before taking any more. Seriously? Having an allergic reaction to what passes as cocaine in Ireland would be the least of your worries here.

They also recommend that the powder should be ground up finely so that you won’t be snorting lumps. The HSE really should have their Netflix subscription cancelled.

If the HSE is genuinely interested in “harm reduction” when it comes to the use of cocaine, it could have simply pointed out that the drug is as unethical and immoral as they come. Between its provenance and its distribution, it is inextricably linked to death squads, the merciless exploitation of children and rapacious organised crime.

HSE’s Dr Eamon Keenan, Minister of State Catherine Byrne and Tony Duffin of Anna Liffey: If the HSE is genuinely interested in “harm reduction” when it comes to cocaine, it could have pointed out the drug is unethical and immoral.

Celtic Tiger years

Cocaine has enough good PR without the HSE offering tutorials (particularly to first-time users – invariably youngsters) on how and when to take it.

An insidious link has been made between the drug and status/success – cocaine became, during the Celtic Tiger years, a signifier that not only had you made it but, rather pathetically, that you were also “edgy and exciting”. As edgy and exciting as taking a drug known – for good reason – as “middle-class Bostik” can ever make you.

There is no gainsaying cocaine’s meretricious attraction. Sigmund Freud spoke of the “exhilaration and lasting euphoria” he got from taking it and how it facilitated “more vitality and capacity for work”.

Naomi Campbell spoke of how “cocaine made me feel invincible, like I could conquer the world”; Stephen King how it “ just owned me body and soul. Once cocaine was there it was like the missing link – click! – like when you turn on lights.”

It is also one of the most effective appetite-suppressants available.

But it also a potentially fatal toxin, that runs riot with your brain chemistry, heart rate and respiratory system. Use of the drug is followed by a highly unpleasant “crash” sensation – as debilitating psychologically as it is physiologically. And financially.

Murderous journey

As Naomi Campbell and Stephen King learned the hard way: cocaine eats you from the inside out. Recovering cocaine addict TV presenter Trinny Woodall put it best when she said of her habit: “I wanted to be cool. Instead I became a fake, lying, thieving cheat.”

Because cocaine usage in developed countries is, according to most reliable data, associated with the professional classes, it is mordantly amusing to find that those who profess to being environmentally and politically aware are so selfishly oblivious to the murderous journey the gram of cocaine at their summer BBQ has been on.

The only proven way to effectively reduce cocaine use among the demographic that consume it most is to educate them about the social, political and economic iniquities it reinforces and shame them out of their reckless stupidity.

Once, people would attract admiring looks and comments for wearing a fur coat; you run the risk of getting spat at in the face if you wear fur these days. Cocaine needs to be hurried along on that journey.

Having our Health Service Executive tell us how to grind our cocaine is like something out of Ali G. Grow up HSE and tell the truth about this grubby little drug.

Source:

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/brian-boyd-hse-giving-out-the-wrong-line-about-cocaine-1.3570354?mode=amp July 2018

Filed under: Cocaine,Drug use-various effects,Social Affairs :

Response by Prof. Stuart Reece to FDA

Link to FDA

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/04/09/2018-07225/international-drug-scheduling-convention-on-psychotropic-substances-single-convention-on-narcotic

Source: Dr Stuart Reece’s original response letter to the FDA:

03 FDA Federal Register Submission for WHO Review and Consideration – Genotoxicity Teratogenicity Concise 2  April 2018

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth,Law (Papers),Political Sector :

In 2016, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a $9.75 million grant to McKesson Corporation. Now, Texas is among the states investigating the giant drug distributor’s role in a growing opioid crisis

In the early months of 2016, as U.S. overdose deaths were on track to break records and the number of Texas infants born addicted to opioid painkillers climbed steadily higher, Gov. Greg Abbott was courting a massive pharmaceutical company, McKesson, with a multimillion-dollar offer.

At the time, the two stories — Texas public health officials grappling with an overdose epidemic while the governor’s office worked on economic development — seemed unrelated. When Abbott announced he would give McKesson a $9.75 million grant from the state’s Enterprise Fund to woo the pharmaceutical distributor into expanding its operations in North Texas, he mostly received favorable news coverage for promising nearly 1,000 jobs to the local Irving economy.

But as the state and nation’s focus on the opioid crisis has sharpened in recent months, McKesson and other drug companies have come under legal scrutiny and the deal has put Abbott in an uncomfortable position.

Texas has since joined a multistate investigation into pharmaceutical companies, including McKesson, over whether they are responsible for feeding the nation’s opioid crisis and whether they broke any laws in the process. Several Texas counties have moved to sue McKesson and other companies for economic damages, alleging that manufacturers downplayed addiction risks and their distributors failed to track suspicious orders that flooded communities with pills.

The state grant to McKesson, worth about $10,000 for each job it brought to North Texas, is the largest Abbott has doled out from the Enterprise Fund, the controversial deal-closing incentives program created in 2004 under former Gov. Rick Perry. No U.S. state or local government has publicly given McKesson a more generous grant since 2000, according to data compiled by Good Jobs First, a Washington D.C.-based group that tracks government subsidies and other economic incentives.

In statements at the time, Abbott said the company’s expansion would “serve as an invaluable contribution to the Texas economy.”

But if Texas decides to sue McKesson, as several of its counties have, lawyers for the state will likely argue the opposite has happened — at least in the context of the company’s distribution of opioids. Across the country, local and state governments have begun to argue they are bearing the financial burden associated with opioid addiction.

One state lawmaker suggested Abbott’s office should have more closely scrutinized McKesson’s record before issuing the grant — even though the grant happened more than a year before Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Texas was joining the multistate investigation.

“There needs to be better oversight here,” said state Rep. Joe Moody, an El Paso Democrat and member of the new House panel examining the opioid crisis. “You’re in the middle of the opioid crisis, and we’re issuing an enormous grant that comprises a significant amount of grants this company is getting across the country.” 

Abbott’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Faced with the lawsuits and investigations, McKesson — headquartered in San Francisco but with a sizable Texas footprint — has denied any wrongdoing and insisted it is trying to work toward halting the opioid crisis, not fuel it.

“Our partnership with the state remains strong,” said Kristin Chasen, a company spokeswoman. “We certainly agree that the opioid epidemic is a national public health crisis, and we’re cooperatively having lots of conversations with AG Paxton and the others involved in the multistate investigation.”

A nationwide emergency

Opioids are a family of drugs that include prescription painkillers like hydrocodone as well as illicit drugs like heroin. Last Thursday, President Donald Trump declared a nationwide emergency to address the surging human and financial toll of opioid addiction.

U.S. drug overdose deaths in 2015 far outnumbered deaths from auto accidents or guns, and opioids account for more than 60 percent of overdose deaths — nearly 100 each day, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. That death toll has quadrupled over the past two decades. 

“Beyond the shocking death toll, the terrible measure of the opioid crisis includes the families ripped apart and, for many communities, a generation of lost potential and opportunity,” Trump said Thursday

In Texas, opioids have claimed proportionately fewer lives than in other states, and the growth of opioid-related deaths has been slower, according to U.S. mortality data. Still, the casualties in Texas — 1,107 accidental opioid poisoning deaths in 2016 — have seized the attention of state policymakers.

Last week, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus ordered lawmakers to form a select committee on opioids and substance abuse to examine an issue that he said has had a “devastating impact on many lives.” The announcement came after Paxton joined a 41-state investigation into whether a slew of drug manufacturers and distributors broke any laws in allegedly fueling the crisis.

“This is a public safety and public health issue. Opioid painkiller abuse and related overdoses are devastating families here in Texas and throughout the country,” Paxton said when he announced the probe in June.

Some Texas counties have already taken the drug companies to court.

In late September, Upshur County, population about 40,000, sued a slew of painkiller manufacturers and distributors — including McKesson. Seeking to recoup an unspecified amount in financial damages, the East Texas county argues the drug companies broadly “ignored science and consumer health for profits,” meaning the county “continues to spend large sums combatting the public health crisis created by [a] negligent and fraudulent marketing campaign.”

More specifically, the suit argues McKesson and other distributors “did nothing” to address the “alarming and suspicious” overprescription of drugs.

Bowie County, a rural slice of East Texas nudging Arkansas, has since joined the lawsuit, with other East Texas counties expected to follow. El Paso County isalso mulling legal action, and Bexar County, home to San Antonio, has announced plans to sue.

In an interview last week, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said he couldn’t immediately offer a complete list of companies his county would target, but “I’m sure McKesson is one of them.”

Wolff chuckled when asked about the company’s grant from the state. “That’d give us $10 million more that we could get out of their hides in our lawsuit, if you look at it that way.”

In teaming up to probe drug companies, some experts suggest governments are following a playbook similar to one used during the 1990s to sue tobacco companies for their role in fueling a costly health crisis — an effort that resulted in a settlement yielding more than $15 billion for Texas alone.

“It’s like a polluter externalizing all his risk,” said Mike Papantonio, a Florida-based lawyer with experience in tobacco litigation. 

“He makes a lot of money because he pours the poison right into the river,” said Papantonio, who now organizes a legal conference for groups interested in suing pharmaceutical companies. “The shareholders love it, but then the taxpayers have to come back and fix it.”

“McKesson is a great company”

At the April grand opening of the new McKesson campus in Las Colinas, near Irving, local leaders gathered alongside Abbott and company executives for a ribbon-cutting at the $157 million, 525,000-square foot campus.

“McKesson is a great company,” Abbott said on the stage of a large meeting room at the newly renovated headquarters. 

“I am proud of the work McKesson is doing,” he went on, “and make a commitment of my own to continue to ensure Texas attracts further business and expanding enterprise.”

Beth Van Duyne, then the mayor of Irving, now a U.S. Housing and Urban Development administrator under Trump, defended the city’s decision to give the pharmaceutical company a more than $2 million incentives package on top of the state’s Enterprise Fund gift.

“Having to offer incentives is always a difficult decision to make, but as long as the return on that investment is strong, we can support it,” Van Duyne said in a video recorded from the grand opening.

Even though the promise of taxpayer funds came before Paxton launched his investigation, Moody, the Democratic lawmaker, said Abbott’s office should more carefully vet companies before granting them taxpayer money, and in McKesson’s case, it should have considered the drug company’s alleged role in the opioid crisis.

“We know there’s a problem with drug distribution. These drugs being taken out of the regular route, finding their way into other people’s hands — leading to deaths, leading to overdoses,” he said, later adding, “I don’t think it’s unrealistic to ask that to be part of the evaluation at all. Part of the conversation of growing the economy is what types of companies, businesses do you want?” 

State Rep. Kevin Roberts, a Houston Republican and fellow member of the House panel studying opioids, said he did not know what went into Abbott’s decision making, so he couldn’t comment on the wisdom of the grant. But he agreed that the state should also consider wider issues when deciding which businesses are awarded grants from the enterprise fund.

“I do believe that there is some ethical responsibility in that process as well,” he said. “Just because things look profitable doesn’t mean you do them.”

The fact that McKesson got the state grant doesn’t shield it from liability if Texas ultimately files an opioid lawsuit, Roberts added. “If General Paxton goes forward, the fact that they got a TEF grant does not excuse them.”

Pressure to act

McKesson is also facing legal challenges outside of Texas.

In a recent report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company noted an opioid-related lawsuit brought by the State of West Virginia and nine similar complaints filed in state and federal courts in West Virginia against McKesson and other large distributors. McKesson also listed a federal lawsuit in which the Cherokee Nation alleges the company oversupplied drugs to its population.

In January, McKesson agreed to pay $150 million and revamp its compliance procedures to settle a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice after prosecutors alleged the company failed to detect and report “suspicious orders” of opioids.

The company paid $13.25 million to settle a similar Justice Department suit in 2008. McKesson did not admit wrongdoing in either case.

Chasen, the spokeswoman, said McKesson is “really proud of our controlled substances monitoring program today,” and the recent scrutiny addresses conduct “that was really far in the past at this point.”

Chasen added that the company reports all orders “in real time” to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, flagging suspicious ones. 

Mark Kinzly, a co-founder of the Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative, which educates police officers and the public on overdose prevention, has been critical of the state’s mixed response to the opioid epidemic. In 2015, for example, Abbott drew the ire of Kinzly and other advocates when he vetoed a “Good Samaritan” bill that would have protected someone from prosecution, even if they possessed a small amount of drugs, when they called 911 to help a friend in the throes of overdose.

Abbott said at the time that the bill had an admirable goal but did not include “adequate protections to prevent its misuse by habitual drug abusers and drug dealers.”

Kinzly said Trump’s declaration of a national opioid emergency may lead more politicians to demonstrate support for expanding drug treatment programs. “That will put some pressure on Republican governors, I would imagine,” he said.

Trump, for his part, suggested Thursday that pharmaceutical companies remained in the federal government’s crosshairs.

“What they have and what they’re doing to our people is unheard of,” he said. “We will be bringing some very major lawsuits against people and against companies that are hurting our people.” 

Source: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/10/31/during-opioid-crisis-texas-subsidized-drug-company-its-now-investigati/

October 2017

Filed under: Economic,Heroin/Methadone,Political Sector,Social Affairs (Papers),USA :

These are very shocking videos with information about some of the effects of drug legalisation in the USA.

 

 

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Drugs and Accidents,Education,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Legal Sector :

There was big news in Congress today that I wanted you to know about. A proposed government spending bill released today eliminated a provision that has protected the marijuana industry from federal prosecution for violating the Controlled Substances Act.

The Rohrabacher-Farr language was eliminated from the Commerce, Justice, Science bill that funds the Department of Justice, even though the language had previously been included in the 2017 base text. In addition, the Financial Services bill retained language preventing Washington, DC from implementing full retail sales and commercialization of recreational marijuana.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) submitted testimony to the Appropriations Committee to push back against this provision, which has allowed unsafe and untested products to masquerade as medicine. Rather than submit their products to the FDA for approval as safe and effective medicines, the marijuana industry has instead been using medical marijuana laws as a guise to increase demand for marijuana consumption and service the black market with large amounts of high-potency marijuana.

“If I were an investor, I would sell my marijuana stocks short,” said Kevin Sabet, President of SAM. “The marijuana industry has lost in every state in which they were pushing legislation in 2017, the industry’s largest lobbying group is losing its bank account , and now they are losing protection that has helped them thrive despite marijuana’s illegal status. Although the debate over Rohrbacher-Farr is far from over, the bad news just keeps coming for the pot industry. But it’s great news for parents, prevention groups, law enforcement, medical professionals, victims’ rights advocates and everyone who cares about putting public health before profits.”

Evidence demonstrates that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decade – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. Moreover, in states that have already legalized the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes and youth marijuana use. States that have legalized marijuana have also failed to shore up state budget shortfalls with marijuana taxes, continue to see a thriving black market, and are experiencing a continued rise in alcohol sales.

Thank you for the work that you are doing to help with these big wins for public health and safety!  

Source: Email from Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) June 2017

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Political Sector,USA :

TO ALL OUR READERS: THE NDPA WOULD URGE YOU TO READ THE REPORT MENTIONED IN THE ARTICLE BELOW, (Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters), WHICH GIVES A DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF HOW MARIJUANA BECAME THE NUMBER ONE DRUG OF CHOICE FOR MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WORLDWIDE, HOW IT BECAME ‘BIG BUSINESS’ IN THE USA AND WHY WE NEED TO DISSEMINATE THIS INFORMATION WIDELY.

Report by National Families in Action Rips the Veil Off the Medical Marijuana Industry
Research Traces the Money Trail and Reveals the Motivation Behind Marijuana as Medicine

Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters documents state-by-state financial data, exposing the groups and the amount of money used either to fund or oppose ballot initiatives legalizing medical or recreational marijuana in 16 U.S. states.

• NFIA report reveals three billionaires — George Soros, Peter Lewis and John Sperling — who contributed 80 percent of the money to medicalize marijuana through state ballot initiatives during a 13-year period, with the strategy to use medical marijuana as a runway to legalized recreational pot.
• Report shows how billionaires and marijuana legalizers manipulated the ballot initiative process, outspent the people who opposed marijuana and convinced voters that marijuana is medicine, even while most of the scientific and medical communities say marijuana is not medicine and should not be legal.

• Children in Colorado treated with unregulated cannabis oil have had severe dystonic reactions, other movement disorders, developmental regression, intractable vomiting and worsening seizures.

• A medical marijuana industry has emerged to join the billionaires in financing initiatives to legalize recreational pot.

ATLANTA, March 14, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A new report by National Families in Action (NFIA) uncovers and documents how three billionaires, who favor legal recreational marijuana, manipulated the ballot initiative process in 16 U.S. states for more than a decade, convincing voters to legalize medical marijuana. NFIA is an Atlanta-based non-profit organization, founded in 1977, that has been helping parents prevent children from using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. NFIA researched and issued the paper to mark its 40th anniversary.

The NFIA study, Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters, exposes, for the first time, the money trail behind the marijuana legalization effort during a 13-year period. The report lays bare the strategy to use medical marijuana as a runway to legalized recreational pot, describing how financier George Soros, insurance magnate Peter Lewis, and for-profit education baron John Sperling (and groups they and their families fund) systematically chipped away at resistance to marijuana while denying that full legalization was their goal.

The report documents state-by-state financial data, identifying the groups and the amount of money used either to fund or oppose ballot initiatives legalizing medical or recreational marijuana in 16 states. The paper unearths how legalizers fleeced voters and outspent — sometimes by hundreds of times — the people who opposed marijuana.

Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters illustrates that legalizers lied about the health benefits of marijuana, preyed on the hopes of sick people, flouted scientific evidence and advice from the medical community and gutted consumer protections against unsafe, ineffective drugs. And, it proves that once the billionaires achieved their goal of legalizing recreational marijuana (in Colorado and Washington in 2012), they virtually stopped financing medical pot ballot initiatives and switched to financing recreational pot. In 2014 and 2016, they donated $44 million to legalize recreational pot in Alaska, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine. Only Arizona defeated the onslaught (for recreational marijuana).

Unravelling the Legalization Strategy: Behind the Curtain

In 1992, financier George Soros contributed an estimated $15 million to several groups he advised to stop advocating for outright legalization and start working toward what he called more winnable issues such as medical marijuana. At a press conference in 1993, Richard Cowen, then-director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said, “The key to it [full legalization] is medical access. Because, once you have hundreds of thousands of people using marijuana medically, under medical supervision, the whole scam is going to be blown. The consensus here is that medical marijuana is our strongest suit. It is our point of leverage which will move us toward the legalization of marijuana for personal use.”

Between 1996 and 2009, Soros, Lewis and Sperling contributed 80 percent of the money to medicalize marijuana through state ballot initiatives. Their financial contributions, exceeding $15.7 million (of the $19.5 million total funding), enabled their groups to lie to voters in advertising campaigns, cover up marijuana’s harmful effects, and portray pot as medicine — leading people to believe that the drug is safe and should be legal for any use.
Today, polls show how successful the billionaires and their money have been. In 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, voters and, later, legislators have shown they believe marijuana is medicine, even though most of the scientific and medical communities say marijuana is not medicine and should not be legal. While the most recent report, issued by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS), finds that marijuana may alleviate certain kinds of pain, it also finds there is no rigorous, medically acceptable documentation that marijuana is effective in treating any other illness. At the same time, science offers irrefutable evidence that marijuana is addictive, harmful and can hinder brain development in adolescents. At the distribution level, there are no controls on the people who sell to consumers. Budtenders (marijuana bartenders) have no medical or pharmaceutical training or qualifications.

One tactic used by legalizers was taking advantage of voter empathy for sick people, along with the confusion about science and how the FDA approves drugs. A positive finding in a test tube or petri dish is merely a first step in a long, rigorous process leading to scientific consensus about the efficacy of a drug. Scientific proof comes after randomized, controlled clinical trials, and many drugs with promising early stage results never make it through the complex sets of hurdles that prove efficacy and safety. But marijuana legalizers use early promise and thin science to persuade and manipulate empathetic legislators and voters into buying the spin that marijuana is a cure-all.

People who are sick already have access to two FDA-approved drugs, dronabinol and nabilone, that are not marijuana, but contain identical copies of some of the components of marijuana. These drugs, available as pills, effectively treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting. The NAS reviewed 10,700 abstracts of marijuana studies conducted since 1999, finding that these two oral drugs are effective in adults for the conditions described above. An extract containing two marijuana chemicals that is approved in other countries, reduces spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis. But there is no evidence that marijuana treats other diseases, including epilepsy and most of the other medical conditions the states have legalized marijuana to treat. These conditions range from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Crohn’s disease to Hepatitis-C, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even sickle cell disease.

Not So Fast — What about the Regulations?
Legalizers also have convinced Americans that unregulated cannabidiol, a marijuana component branded as cannabis oil, CBD, or Charlotte’s Web, cures intractable seizures in children with epilepsy, and polls show some 90 percent of Americans want medical marijuana legalized, particularly for these sick children. In Colorado, the American Epilepsy Society reports that children with epilepsy are receiving unregulated, highly variable artisanal preparations of cannabis oil recommended, in most cases, by doctors with no training in paediatrics, neurology or epilepsy. Young patients have had severe dystonic reactions and other movement disorders, developmental regression, intractable vomiting and worsening seizures that can be so severe that their physicians have to put the child into a coma to get the seizures to stop. Because of these dangerous side effects, not one paediatric neurologist in Colorado, where unregulated cannabidiol is legal, recommends it for these children.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta further clouded the issue when he produced Weed in 2013, a three-part documentary series for CNN on marijuana as medicine. In all three programs, Dr. Gupta promoted CBD oil, the kind the American Epilepsy Society calls artisanal. This is because not one CBD product sold in legal states has been purified to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, tested, or proven safe and effective. The U.S. Congress and the FDA developed rigid processes to review drugs and prevent medical tragedies such as birth defects caused by thalidomide. These processes have facilitated the greatest advances in medicine in history.

“By end-running the FDA, three billionaires have been willing to wreck the drug approval process that has protected Americans from unsafe, ineffective drugs for more than a century,” said Sue Rusche, president and CEO of National Families in Action and author of the report. “Unsubstantiated claims for the curative powers of marijuana abound.” No one can be sure of the purity, content, side effects or potential of medical marijuana to cause cancer or any other disease. When people get sick from medical marijuana, there are no uniform mechanisms to recall products causing the harm. Some pot medicines contain no active ingredients. Others contain contaminants. “Sick people, especially children, suffer while marijuana medicine men make money at their expense,” added Ms. Rusche.

Marijuana Industry — Taking a Page from the Tobacco Industry
The paper draws a parallel between the marijuana and tobacco industries, both built with the knowledge that a certain percentage of users will become addicted and guaranteed lifetime customers. Like tobacco, legalized marijuana will produce an unprecedented array of new health, safety and financial consequences to Americans and their children.

“Americans learned the hard way about the tragic effects of tobacco and the deceptive practices of the tobacco industry. Making another addictive drug legal unleashes a commercial business that is unable to resist the opportunity to make billions of dollars on the back of human suffering, unattained life goals, disease, and death,” said Ms. Rusche. “If people genuinely understood that marijuana can cause cognitive, safety and mental health problems, is addictive, and that addiction rates may be three times higher than reported, neither voters nor legislators would legalize pot.”
The paper and the supporting data are available at www.nationalfamilies.org.
About National Families in Action

National Families in Action is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1977. The organization helped lead a national parent movement credited with reducing drug use among U.S. adolescents and young adults by two-thirds between 1979 and 1992. For forty years, it has provided complex scientific information in understandable language to help parents and others protect children’s health. It tracks marijuana science and the marijuana legalization movement on its Marijuana Report website and its weekly e-newsletter of the same name.

Source: https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2017/03/14/936283/0/en/New-Report-by-National-Families-in-Action-Rips-the-Veil-Off-the-Medical-Marijuana-Industry.html

Filed under: Drug Specifics,Economic,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Marijuana and Medicine,Political Sector,Social Affairs,Social Affairs (Papers),USA :

The following letter was submitted to the US government Food and Drug Adminstration by Australian Professor Dr. Stuart Reece as evidence against the suggested re-scheduling of cannabinoids in the USA. This item can be found online where a full list of carefully researched references is included. Professor Reece has produced an extraordinary article which should be widely read.

We cannot recommend this article highly enough.

NDPA April 2018

http://GordonDrugAbusePrevention.com

This website has been created as a public service to help address the problem of the use of marijuana and other mood- and mind-altering substances in the United States and around the world. A purpose is help inform the public, the media, and those in positions of public responsibility of the challenges facing the nation as a result of the widespread use of psychoactive and mood-altering substances, particularly marijuana and designer drugs. The harmful effects of these substances have not been well understood. In fact, there is great ignorance of the harmful effects of marijuana and other drugs that are being used for experimental or recreational purposes. The implications that the harmful effects that these drugs have for the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, and society are legion. * * * * * * *

Federal Register Submission
Food and Drug Administration,
10903 New Hampshire Ave.,
Silver Spring,
MD, 20993-0002, USA.

Re: Re-Scheduling of Cannabinoids in USA – Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Related Arteriopathy, Genotoxicity and Teratogenesis

I am very concerned about the potential for increased cannabis availability in USA implied by full drug legalization; however, a comprehensive and authoritative submission of the evidence would take weeks and months to prepare. Knowing what we know now and indeed, what has been available in the scientific literature for a growing number of years concerning a myriad of harmful effects of marijuana, marijuana containing THC should not be reclassified.

These effects that are now well documented in the scientific literature include, alarmingly, harm involving reproductive function and birth anomalies as a result of exposure to or use of marijuana with THC. In addition to all of the usual concerns which you will have heard from many sources including the following I have further particular concerns:

1) Effect on developing brains

2) Effect on driving

3) Effect as a Gateway drug to other drug use including the opioid epidemic

4) Effect on developmental trajectory and failure to attain normal adult goals(stable relationship, work, education)

5) Effect on IQ and IQ regression

6) Effect to increase numerous psychiatric and psychological disorders

7) Effect on respiratory system

8) Effect on reproductive system

9) Effect in relation to immunity and immunosuppression

10) Effect of now very concentrated forms of cannabis, THC and CBD which are widely available

11) Outdated epidemiological studies which apply only to the era before cannabis became so potent and so concentrated

12) Cannabis is now known to have an important arteriopathic effect and cardiovascular toxic effect .

These issues are all well covered by a rich recent literature including reviews from such major international authorities as Dr Nora Volkow Director of NIDA, Professor Wayne Hall and others .

Cannabinoid Therapeutics

In my view the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids have been wildly inflated by the press. Moreover, with over 1,000 studies listed for cannabinoids on clinicaltrials.gov, the chance of a type I experimental error, or studies being falsely reported to be positive when in fact they are not, is at last 25/1,000 at the 0.05 level.

THC as dronabinol is actually a failed drug from USA which has such a high incidence of side effects that it was rarely used as superior agents are readily available for virtually all of its touted and alleged therapeutic applications. My American liaisons advise that dronabinol sales have climbed in recent times as patients use it as a ruse to avoid detection of cannabinoid use at work in states where it is not yet legal. So when I call it a failed therapeutic I mean in a traditional sense, not in the novel way it is now applied for flagrantly flouting the law.

In considering the alleged benefits of cannabis one has to be particularly mindful of cannabis addiction in which cannabinoids will alleviate the effect of drug withdrawal as they do in any other addiction. Moreover, the fact that cannabis itself is known to cause both pain and nausea, greatly complicates the interpretation of many studies.

I also have the following concerns which relate in sum to the arteriopathy and vasculopathy and the genotoxicity of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol and likely including cannabidiol and various other cannabinoids:

Cannabinoid Arteriopathy

Particularly noteworthy amongst these various reports are two reports by Dr Nora Volkow in 2014, the Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse at NIH to the New England Journal of Medicine which together document the adverse cardiovascular and cerebrovascular effects of cannabis at the epidemiological level ; a report from our own increase cardiovascular aging to BMJ Open ; a series of reports showing a fivefold

increase in the rate of heart attack within one hour after cannabis smoking ; several reports of cannabis related arteritis ; other reports of the cerebrovascular actions of cannabis ; documentation that cannabis exposure increases arterial stiffness and cardiovascular and organismal aging ; and a recent report showing that human endothelial vascular function – vasodilation – is substantially inhibited within just one minute of cannabis exposure .

It is also relevant that a synthetic cannabinoid was recently shown to directly induce both thromboxane synthase and lipoxygenase, and so be directly vasoconstrictive, prothrombotic and proinflammatory .

Vascular aging, including both macrovascular and microvascular aging is a major pathological feature not only because most adults in western nations die from myocardial infarction or cerebrovascular accidents, but also because local blood flow and microvascular function is a key determinant of stem cell niche activity in many stem cell beds. This has given rise to the vascular theory of aging which has been produced by some of the leading researchers at the National Health Lung and Blood Institute at NIH, amongst many others .

It can thus be said not only that “You are as old as your (macrovascular) arteries”, but also that “you are as old as your (microvascular) stem cells.” Hence the now compelling evidence for the little known arteriopathic complications of cannabis and cannabinoids, carry very far reaching implications indeed. This was confirmed directly in the clinical study of arterial stiffness from my clinic mentioned above .

Whilst aging, myocardial infarction and cerebrovascular accidents are all highly significant outcomes and major public health endpoints, these effects assume added significance in the context of congenital anomalies. Some congenital defects, such as gastroschisis, are thought to be due to a failure of vascular supply of part of the anterior abdominal wall . Hence in one recent study the unadjusted odds ratio of having a gastroschisis pregnancy amongst cannabis users (O.R.=8.03, 95%C.I. 5.63-11.46) was almost as high as that for heroin, cocaine and amphetamine users (O.R.= 9.35, 95%C.I.
6.64-13.15), and the adjusted odds ratio for any illicit drug use (of which was 84% cannabis) was O.R.=3.54 (95%C.I. 2.22-5.63) and for cannabis alone was said by these Canadian authors to be O.R.=3.0. Hence cannabis related vasculopathy – arteriopathy beyond its very serious implications in adults also carries implications for paediatric and congenital disorders and may also constitute a major teratogenic mechanism.

Cannabinoid Genotoxicity and Teratogenesis

Cannabis is associated with 11 cancers (lung, throat, bladder, airways, testes, prostate,

cervix, larynx) including;

Four congenital and thus inherited cancers (rhabdomyosarcoma, neuroblastoma,ALL,

AML and AMML);

Sativex product insert in many nations carries standard warning against its use by

males or females who might be having a baby.

Cannabis – and likely also CBD – is known to be associated with epigenetic changes

some of which are believed to be inheritable for at least four generations.

Cannabis is known to interfere with tubulin synthesis and binding and it also

acts via Stathmin so that microtubule function is impeded . This leads directly to

micronucleus formation. Cannabis has been known to test positive in the

micronucleus assay for over fifty years. This is a major and standard test for

genotoxicity. Micronucleus formation is known to lead directly to major chromosomal toxicity including chromosomal shattering – so-called chromothripsis –and is known to be associated with cell death, cancerogenesis and major foetal abnormalities.

Cannabis has also been linked definitively with congenital heart disease is a statement

by the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2007, on the basis of just three epidemiological studies, all done in the days before cannabis became so concentrated. Congenital heart defects have also been linked with

the father’s cannabis use . Indeed, one study showed that paternal cannabis use was

the strongest risk factor of all for preventable congenital cardiac defects.

Cannabis has also been linked with gastroschisis in at least seven cohort and case

control studies some of which are summarized in a Canadian Government

Report 200. In that report the geographic incidence of most major congenital anomalies

closely paralleled the use of cannabis as described in other major Canadian reports.

The overall adjusted odds ratio for cannabis induction of gastroschisis was

quoted by these authors as 3.0. Moreover, outbreaks of both congenital heart disease and gastroschisis in North Carolina also paralleled the local use of cannabis in that state as described by Department of Justice Reports . The incidence of gastroschisis was noted to double in North Carolina 1999-2001 in the same period the cannabis trade there was rising.

Figures of cannabis use in pregnant women in California by age were also

recently reported to JAMA 229, age group trend lines by age group which closely

approximate those reported by CDC for the age incidence of gastroschisis in the USA

Importantly much of the cannabis coming into both North Carolina and Florida is said to originate in Mexico. An eight-fold rise in the rate of gastroschisis has been reported from Mexico . Gastroschisis has also risen in Washington state. Cannabis has also been associated with 17 other major congenital defects by major Hawaiian epidemiological study reported by Forrester in 2007 when it was used alone

When considered in association with other drug use – which in many cases cannabis leads to – cannabis use was associated with a further 19 major congenital defects. In addition to the effect of cannabinoids on the epigenome and microtubules, cannabinoids have been firmly linked to a reduction of the ability of the cell to produce energy from their mitochondria. An extensive and robust evidence base now links cellular energy generation to the maintenance and care of cellular DNA .

Moreover, as the cellular energy charge falls so too DNA maintenance collapses, and indeed, the cell can spiral where its remaining energy resources, particularly as NAD+, are routed into failing and futile DNA repair, the cell slips into pseudohypoxic metabolism like the Warburg effect well known in cancerogenesis , NAD+ falls below the level required for further energy generation and cellular metabolism collapses. Hence this well-established collapse of the mitochondrial energy charge and transmembrane potential forms a potent engine of continuing and accelerating genotoxicity .

Moreover, the well documented decline in mitochondrial respiration induced by cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and anandamide achieves particular significance in the light of the robustly documented decline in cellular energetics including NAD+ which not only occurs with age but indeed, has now been shown to be one of the primary drivers of cellular and whole organismal aging. It follows therefore that cannabinoid administration (including THC andCBD) necessarily phenocopies cellular aging. This implies of course that cannabinoid dependent patients are old at the cellular level. Indeed, normal human aging is phenocopied in the clinical syndrome of cannabinoid dependence which includes:

1) Neurological deficits in:

i) attention,

ii) learning and

iii) memory;

iv) social withdrawal and disengagement and

v) academic and

vi) occupational underachievement

2) Psychiatric disorders including

i) Anxiety,

ii) Depression,

iii) Mixed Psychosis

iv) Bipolar Affective disorder and

v) Schizophrenia,

3) Respiratory disorders including:

i) Asthma

ii) Chronic Bronchitis (increased sputum production)

iii) Emphysema (Increased residual volume)

iv) Probably increased carcinomas of the aerodigestive tract

4) Immune suppression which generally implies

i) segmental immunostimulation in some parts of the immune system since the innate and adaptive immune systems exert profound homeostatic mechanisms in response to suppression of one of its parts. A Substantial literature on immunostimulation

5) Reproductive effects generally characterized by reduced

i) Male and

ii) Female fertility

6) Cardiovascular toxicity with elevated rates of

i) Myocardial infarction

ii) Cerebrovascular accident

iii) Arteritis

iv) Vascular age – vascular stiffness

7) Genotoxicity in

i) Respiratory epithelium and

ii) Gonadal tissues.

8) Osteoporosis

9) Cancers of the

i) Head and neck

ii) Larynx

iii) Lung

iv) Leukaemia

v) Prostate

vi) Cervix

vii) Testes

viii) Bladder

ix) Childhood neuroblastoma

x) Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

xi) Childhood Acuter Myeloid and myelomonocytic leukaemia

xii) Childhood rhabdomyosarcoma 201,202.

The issue here of course is that cannabinoid dependence therefore copies without exception all of the major disorders of old age, each of which is also faithfully phenocopied by cannabis dependence.

The most prominent disorders of older age include:

1) Alzheimer’s disease

2) Cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease

3) Osteoporosis

4) Systemic inflammatory syndrome

5) Changes in lung volume and the mechanics of breathing

6) Cancers

Hence this provides one powerful pathway by which cannabinoid exposure can replicate and phenocopy the disorders of old age. This is not of course to suggest that this is the only such pathway. Obviously changes of the general level of immune activity, or alterations of the level of DNA repair occurring directly or indirectly associated with cannabis use can form similar such pathways: both are well documented in cannabis use and also in the aging literature as major pathways implicated in systemic aging.

Nevertheless, the decline in mitochondrial energetics together with its inherent genotoxic implications does seem to be a particularly well substantiated and robustly demonstrated pathway which must give serious pause to cannabinoid advocates if the sustainability of the health and welfare systems is to be factored in together with any consideration of individual patient, advocate and industrial-complex rights.

The genotoxicity of THC, CBD and CBN has been noted against sperm since at least 1999 (Zimmerman and Zimmerman in Nahas “Marijuana and Medicine” 1999, Springer). This is clearly highly significant as sperm go directly into the formation of the zygote and the new human individual. CB1R receptors are known to exist intracellularly on both the membranes of endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria. In both locations they can induce organellar stress and major cell toxicity including disruption of DNA maintenance. Interestingly mitochondrial outer membrane CB1R’s signal via a complex signalling chain involving the G-protein transduction machinery, protein kinase A and cyclic-AMP across the intermembrane space to the inner membrane and cristae, in a fashion replicating much of the G-protein signalling occurring at the cell membrane. This machinery is also implicated in mitonuclear signalling, and the mitonuclear DNA balance between mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA transcriptional control, which has long been implicated in inducing the mitochondrial unfolded protein cellular stress response cell aging, stem cell behaviour and DNA genotoxic mechanisms.

You are no doubt aware that human sperm are structured like express outboard motors behind DNA packets with layers of mitochondria densely coiled around the rotating flagellum which powers their progress in the female reproductive tract. These mitochondria also carry CB1R’s and are significantly inhibited even at 100 nanomolar THC. The acrosome reaction is also inhibited .

Cannabidiol is known to act via the PPARγ system 101,302-308. PPARγ is known to have a major effect on gene expression, reproductive and embryonic and zygote function during development 309-332 so that significant genotoxic and / or teratogenic effects seem inevitable via this route. Drugs which act in this class, known as the thiazolidinediones, are classed as category B3 in pregnancy and caution is indicated in their use in pregnancy and lactation.

The Report of the Reproductive and Cancer Hazard Assessment Branch of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment of the Health Department of California was mentioned above in connection with the carcinogenicity of marijuana smoke . Since virtually all mutagens are also teratogens it follows therefore from the basic tenets of mutagenesis that if cannabis is unsafe as a known carcinogen it must also be at the very least a putative teratogen.

CBD has also been noted to be a genotoxic in other studies . All of which points to major teratogenic activity for both THC and CBD. Some of the quotations from Professor James Graham’s classical book on the effects of THC in hamsters and white rabbits, the best animal models for human genotoxicity, bear repeating:

a) “The concentration of THC was relatively low and the malignancy severe.”

b) “40-100μg resin/ml there occurred marked inhibition of cell division.

c) “large total dose, Hamsters, 25-300mg/kg …“oedema,phocomelia,omphalocoele, spina bifida, exencephaly, multiple malformations and myelocoele. This is a formidable list.”

d) “It is to this anti-mitotic action that the authors attribute the embryotoxic action of cannabis.”

e) “By such criteria resin or extract of cannabis would be forbidden to women

during the first three months of pregnancy.”

Indeed, even from the other side of the world I have heard many exceedingly adverse reports from US states in which cannabis has been legalized including Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Florida and California. Taken together the above evidence suggests that these negative reports stem directly from the now known actions of cannabis and cannabinoids, and are by no means incidental epiphenomena somehow related to social constructs surrounding cannabis use or the product forms, dosages, or routes of administration involved.

Cannabis that contains increasingly high levels of THC is now widely available, particularly in the jurisdictions where the use of cannabis has been legalized. This means that another major genotoxin, akin to Thalidomide, is being unleashed on the USA and the world. This is clearly a very grave, and. indeed, an entirely preventable occurrence.

Dr Frances Kelsey of FDA is said to have the public servant based at FDA who saved American from the thalidomide scandal which devastated so many other English-speaking nations including my own . This occurred because the genotoxicity section of the file application with FDA was blank. It was blank because thalidomide tested positive in various white rabbit and guinea pig assays. It is these same tests which cannabis is known to have failed. Dr Kelsey’s photograph has been published in the medical press with President Kennedy for her service to the nation. The challenge to FDA at this time seems whether Science can triumph over agenda driven populism, its primary vehicle, the mass media, and its primary proximate driver the burgeoning cannabis industry. Since FDA is the Federal agency par excellence where Health Science is weighed, commissioned and thoughtfully considered the challenge in our time would appear to be no less.

Evidence to date does not suggest that major congenital malformations are as common after prenatal cannabis exposure as they are after prenatal thalidomide exposure. Nevertheless the qualitative similarities remain and indeed are prominent. It is yet to be seen whether the rate of congenital anomalies after cannabis are quantitatively as common: epidemiological studies in a high potency era have not been undertaken; and even the birth defects rates from most birth defects registers in western nations including that held by CDC, Atlanta appear to be seriously out of date at the time of writing. Moreover the non-linear dose response curve in many cannabis genotoxicity studies which includes a sharp knee bend upwards beyond a certain threshold level which suggests that we could well be in for a very unpleasant quantitative surprise. At the time of writing this remains to be formally determined.

Dr Bertha Madras, Professor of Addiction Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School has recently argued against re-scheduling of cannabis. Her comments include the following:

“Why do nations schedule drugs? …… Nations schedule psychoactive drugs because we revere this three-pound organ (of our brain) differently than any other part of our body. It is the repository of our humanity. It is the place that enables us to write poetry and to do theater, to conjure up calculus and send rockets to Pluto three billion miles away, and to create I Phones and 3 D computer printing. And that is the magnificence of the human brain. Drugs can influence (the brain) adversely. So, this is not a war on drugs. This is a defense of our brains, the ultimate source of our humanity” .

I look forward to seeing the comments that you post concerning the reasons why the classification for marijuana should not be changed and that, indeed, the public should be alerted to the very harmful effects of marijuana with THC, especially in light of the wide range of marijuana’s harmful effects and the high potency of THC in today’s marijuana and in light of the idiosyncratic effects of marijuana of even low doses of THC and owing to the certain risk of harm to progeny and babies born to users of marijuana.

Please feel free to call on me if you would like further information concerning the research to which I have referred herein.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Dr. Stuart Reece, MBBS (Hons.), FRCS(Ed.), FRCS(Glas.), FRACGP, MD(UNSW). School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences Edith Cowan University and University of Western Australia, Perth, WA stuart.reece@uwa.edu.au

Source: http://GordonDrugAbusePrevention.com.

Filed under: Australia,Effects of Drugs (Papers),Political Sector,Social Affairs (Papers),USA :

July 2017 Revised January 2018

Injury Prevention Centre: Who we are

The Injury Prevention Centre (IPC) is a provincial organization that focuses on reducing catastrophic injury and death in Alberta. We act as a catalyst for action by supporting communities and decision-makers with knowledge and tools. We raise awareness about preventable injuries as an important component of lifelong health and wellness. We are funded by an operating grant from Alberta Health and we are housed at the School of Public Health, University of Alberta.

Injury in Alberta

Injuries are the leading cause of death for Albertans aged 1 to 44 years. In 2014, injuries resulted in 2,118 deaths, 63,913 hospital admissions and 572,653 emergency department visits. Of all age groups, young adults, 20 to 24 years old had the highest percentage of injury deaths with 84.9%. Youth, 15 to 19 years of age had the second highest percentage of injury deaths with 76.4%.

1. Alberta is spending an estimated $4 billion annually on injury – that amounts to $1,083.00 for every Albertan.

2. Potential impact of cannabis legalization on injury in Alberta In 2018, the Government of Canada will legalize the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. In the United States, some jurisdictions have similarly legalized cannabis for recreational use and have collected data on the changes in injuries due to cannabis use. Jurisdictions that have legalized the use of recreational as well as medical cannabis have experienced increases in injuries due to burns (100%), pediatric ingestion of cannabis (48%), drivers testing positive for cannabis and/or alcohol and drugs (9%), drivers testing positive for THC (6%) and drivers testing positive for the metabolite caboxy-THC (12%) when comparing pre- and post-legalization numbers.

3. (pg. 149) Of greatest concern are the traffic outcomes. “Fatalities substantially increased after legislation in Colorado and Washington, from 49 (in 2010) to 94 (in 2015) in Colorado, and from 40 to 85 in Washington. These outcomes suggest that after legislation, more people are driving while impaired by cannabis.”

4. (pg.155) Alberta can expect to see similar changes in injuries when the new laws take effect. The objective of this document is to recommend policies for inclusion in the Alberta Cannabis Framework that will minimize negative impacts of cannabis legalization on injuries to Albertans. Our focus is on:

* Preventing Cannabis-Impaired Driving

* Preventing Poisoning of Children by Cannabis

* Preventing Burns due to Combustible Solvent Hash Oil Extraction

* Preventing Other Injuries due to Cannabis Impairment

* Developing Surveillance to Identify Trends in Cannabis-Related injury

* Implementing a Comprehensive Public Education Plan

Injuries due to cannabis impairment in Alberta can be expected to rise following the legalization of recreational cannabis use. To mitigate the negative effects of legalization on injuries in Alberta, the Injury Prevention Centre recommends the Government of Alberta take the following actions for:

Preventing Cannabis-Impaired Driving

Impose administrative sanctions at a lower limit than Criminal Code impairment

Mandate a lower per se levels for THC/alcohol co-use

Increase sanctions for co-use of alcohol and cannabis

Separate cannabis and alcohol outlets by the creation of a public retail system for the distribution of cannabis products

Support Research to Improve Enforcement Tools

Apply sufficient resources to training and enforcement

Conduct public education regarding cannabis-impaired driving .

Preventing Poisoning of Children by Cannabis

Uphold federal legislation regarding packaging

Support public education on cannabis poisoning’

Preventing Burns due to Combustible Solvent Hash Oil Extraction

Prohibit the production of cannabis products using combustible solvents if it fails to appear in federal Bill C45.

Implement public education regarding the dangers of producing cannabis products using combustible solvents

Preventing Other Injuries due to Cannabis-Impairment

Inform the public about the risks of other activities when impaired

Develop Surveillance to Identify Trends in Cannabis-Related injury

Collect and analyze emergency department, hospital admission and death data for injuries involving cannabis impairment

Develop and implement a comprehensive public education campaign about the safe use of cannabis

Source: https://injurypreventioncentre.ca/downloads/positions/IPC%20-%20Cannabis%20Legalization Jan. 2018

Filed under: Canada,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Political Sector,Prevention (Papers) :

While writing, I wondered what kind of details I should publish about the previous lives of people in the marijuana industry. Virgil Grant, one of the article’s subjects, told me stories about how he would sell marijuana from his family grocery store in Compton in the 1980s and 1990s by putting the weed in empty boxes of Lucky Charms. He mentioned, without much elaboration, that would-be competitors in Compton regretted going up against him.

It’s an awkward and confusing transition period in the marijuana industry. What was illegal yesterday in California may be legal today, but that’s of course not the way the federal government sees it. Mr. Grant has spent time in both federal and state prisons.

Since legalization of recreational sales came into effect in California in January, there have been stories about cities and counties that banned marijuana. But I had never seen reporting on the bigger picture. So I reached out to a company called Weedmaps, a website that hosts online reviews of cannabis businesses. When they added it up, the data surprised me: Only 14 percent of California’s cities and towns authorize the sale of recreational marijuana. By contrast, Proposition 64, the ballot measure that allowed marijuana legalization, passed with 57 percent voter approval in 2016, a seemingly solid majority.

The low acceptance of marijuana businesses strikes me as part of the liberal, not-in-my-backyard paradox in California. Yes, Californians want shelters for the homeless, but just not across the street. Yes, Californians want more housing built, but not if it changes the character of the neighborhood. A marijuana dispensary? Sure, preferably in the next town.

A New York Times reporter wanted to find out why California cities are taking such different approaches to legal pot. Previously, he covered a story about why California growers are so reluctant to leave the black market and seek a state license to become legitimate. He found that only about 10 percent have done so. The other 90 percent remain in black market. California is the nation’s biggest producer and consumer of marijuana. One estimate projects the state produces seven times the amount of pot it consumes and exports the surplus to non-legal states. Pursuing this story took the reporter to Compton, in Los Angeles County, where residents voted in January to ban marijuana businesses by a 3-to-1 margin. He compared this to Oakland, near San Francisco, which has embraced the marijuana industry. It’s as if the two cities had been asked the same question and come up with completely different answers, he opined. To get a bigger picture, he consulted Weedmaps to find out how common industry bans are. He was surprised to find that only 14 percent of California’s cities and towns authorize marijuana sales, even though legalization passed in 2016 with 57 percent voter approval.

It’s still early days — it’s been less than three months since legal sales started — but for now the trend is that larger cities like Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego are the hubs of the marijuana industry, while smaller cities and towns are ambivalent or outright hostile to the idea of opening marijuana dispensaries. Orange County, in Southern California, is a recreational marijuana desert, with only a handful of dispensaries allowed.

California has a reputation for very tolerant attitudes toward pot, and it’s the biggest consumer and producer of the drug in the United States by a wide margin. It is also the nation’s premier exporter to other states: By one estimate, the state produces seven times more than it consumes.

But the visit to Compton helped peel back another, more conservative set of attitudes toward marijuana.

At the Compton airport, Shawn Wildgoose, a former enlisted Marine who lives in Compton and works in the construction industry, told me he wanted to see the city focusing on its homeless problem and reducing crime, which is sharply down from previous decades.

Legal marijuana?

“Compton has other issues,” Mr. Wildgoose said. “We don’t need that distraction.”

Source: National Families in Action’s The Marijuana Report nfia@nationalfamilies.org 21st March 2018

Filed under: Brain and Behaviour,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Legal Sector,USA :

All creatures great and small are being poisoned by the pesticides and rodenticides in the water they drink, and in the food they eat. This polluted water from northern California marijuana grows eventually flows to much of the State. The lawless pot industry is nothing less than purveyors of poison. The recent scientific study “Cultivating Disaster: The Effect of Cannabis Cultivation on the Environment of Calaveras County,” points out that the cultivation of the drug was allowed by the State without adequate understanding of the impact on the environment and public health, welfare and safety. The chemicals that flow from the grow sites to the watershed had never been approved for these crops.

California does not regulate marijuana as a medicine because it is a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance under Federal Law, rather it is classified as an agricultural product. However, pot growers do not have to meet the same stringent requirements for chemicals and fertilizers as do all other farmers. Though there is limited testing being conducted by local water providers to determine if dangerous chemicals are leaching into water supplies or waste treatment systems, independent water experts testing water samples in Calaveras County found two thirds of the samples contained chemicals proven to be deadly poison to humans, fish and animals.

Of particular concern is carbofuron, an extremely toxic, water soluble granular pesticide banned in the U.S. but used among Mexican cartels. It is reported that an eighth of a teaspoon would kill a 300 lb black bear. In 2017, UC Davis researchers found harmful bacteria and deadly mold and Aspergillus fungi on marijuana in grows and dispensaries. This critical threat from marijuana grows to our environment and the human population is just beginning to surface.

The damaging effects of marijuana (cannabis), often considered a hallucinogenic drug, have long been known. High level THC, the mind-altering chemical in marijuana, is being grown and sold today as a “medicine.” It is long acting and addictive, causing brain damage, loss of intellect, psychotic breaks, suicides, mental illness, and birth defects and leads to other social costs from higher crime rates, highway deaths, excessive high school dropouts, and increased ER admissions, among others.

This lawless Big Marijuana Industry follows the playbook of Big Tobacco: GET KIDS HOOKED – ADDICTION OFTEN FOLLOWS. Their advertisements include images of Santa Claus, kids’ movies and cartoons, and they sell “edibles,” pot infused candy, lollipops and gummy bears with THC levels 50-70%. Many products are advertised as being 94-95% THC. Now there is crystalline THC that is 99.99% THC, known as “the strongest weed in the world.” Unfortunately, the public perception of marijuana is based on marijuana of the past – with 1- 5% THC.

The Calaveras Study estimates 1200 grows sites in that county; U.S. Forest Service estimates a tag of 2 billion to reclaim these sites. An estimated 50,000 grow sites in California would cost 50 – 80 billion to reclaim. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says, “We are aware of the seriousness of the problem, but (we) do not know who is going to help clean it up.”

U.S. Attorney General Sessions has indicated his willingness to enforce our federal food and drug and environment laws when it comes to marijuana. Our California U.S. Attorneys must prosecute those who have broken federal, state, and county ordinances and explore funding to pay for cleanup of the land. This is not just a California issue, the U.S. Supreme Court

has ruled that federal marijuana laws preempt state laws and that marijuana control is a federal matter, not a states’ rights matter. There is no time to waste. Our future is at stake.

Source: Press Release Californians Against Legalisation of Marijuana Feb.6th 2018

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Environment,Social Affairs :

New Hampshire’s Heroin Crisis Takes Toll with Record Overdose Deaths 2:24

LONDONDERRY, New Hampshire — Nearly a decade later, Susan Allen-Samuel still vividly remembers the moment that she first realized her son Joe was a heroin addict.

“It took my breath away,” Allen-Samuel told NBC News.

Allen-Samuel says that she began to notice all the metal spoons — typically used by users to melt down the heroin — in her kitchen were disappearing. She says she suspected heroin but admits that she couldn’t fully accept that Joe had been caught up in what she calls the “heroin epidemic” sweeping New Hampshire. “I was that person: ‘It’s not gonna happen, I’m a good mom,'” said Allen Samuel. “Wow, I got a wake-up call.”

At the time, Joe was just a teenager. He had recently switched from abusing opiates in pill form— primarily pain killers like OxyContin – to using heroin. The reason, he says, was purely financial. One OxyContin pill can cost as much as $80 on the black market. Joe says he was spending roughly $400 a day on his addiction. “They [the pills] were so expensive,” said Joe, 26. “You can’t afford a habit.”

At just $10-15 a bag, heroin was cheaper and more readily available. A short-drive to nearby Lawrence, Massachusetts — just across the state border — and he and his friends could purchase the drug on just about every street corner. Three overdoses and two arrests later, Joe’s life was forever altered by the deadly drug known as the “Big H.”

A State at the Center of a Heroin Crisis

The lush, rolling hills and idyllic red barns here can transform you to another time. Every town’s main street sprinkled with mom-and-pop shops and glistening white church steeples provide a backdrop to the scene of a Norman Rockwell painting, the personification of New England nostalgia.

In 2016, however, New Hampshire finds itself on the front lines of a heroin crisis that, critics warn, is unravelling the state’s social fabric. The numbers, alone, are daunting.

Last year, there were roughly 400 drug-overdose related deaths in New Hampshire — the most in the state’s history. With a population of roughly 1.4 million, the Granite State has one of the highest per-capita rates of addiction in the country.

As the problem has worsened over the last decade, however, access to substance abuse treatment has not improved. According to a 2014 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the state is second to last — ahead of only Texas — in access to treatment programs. New Hampshire does not fund any methadone treatment programs and relies on a network of privately-run for-profit clinics to treat the thousands of addicts across the state. “There’s a stigma out there for users,” said Diane St. Onge, director of the Manchester Comprehensive Health Center — one of only eight clinics in the state that provides methadone treatment for heroin addiction. “We need more treatment options. People’s lives are at stake.”

In 2013, St. Onge’s clinic had 250 patients. Today, it has 540 patients and a two-week long waiting list. On a recent weekday, the clinic’s waiting room was teeming with weary

patients, most appearing middle-aged, and young children whose parents were there to receive their daily dose of methadone, the drug that reduces the withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin or other narcotic drugs.

Outside, amid the political paraphernalia and live-shots being set up by crews ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, patients sat on benches waiting to go inside. The juxtaposition was striking.

A Town under Siege

Situated along the I-93 interstate between the state’s two largest cities of Manchester and Nashua, the small town of Londonderry is at the center of a drug-trafficking route where heroin cuts across socio-economic and political lines.

Ed Daniels has worked with the Londonderry Fire Department for 11 years. For most of that time, he says, he saw one or two overdose cases a year. He says he now sees at least one every shift. He says the victims he treats come from all demographics. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” said Daniels.

Daniels says the numbers began to spike last summer and have continued to rise, unabated. He blames the increase on fentanyl — an extremely potent pain killer drug that is now commonly cut with heroin to produce a more intense high — and feels, at times, that there is little long-term that he can do for his patients. “They can leave the hospital,” said Daniels. “[But] once they have the addiction, where can they go for help?”

For Londonderry Fire Department Chief Darren O’Brien, who has lived his entire life in Londonderry, “it’s hard to see what’s going on in a community you grew up in.” O’Brien noted that there were 82 reported overdoses last year — nearly three times the 31 reported cases in 2014. “I’m hoping we can get a handle on it,” he said.

Joe’s heroin addiction lasted nearly a decade, a time that Allen-Samuel says she was fearful to come home to confront her son. “It’s a hell of a ride, it’s devastating,” she said. Allen-Samuel tried everything to help Joe. On one occasion, after he had been placed in jail for a minor offense, she had officers keep him there for months knowing that he’d likely not have access to any drugs inside. Meanwhile, she says, Joe’s childhood friends were dying one-by-one from overdose.

Joe says he had periods of sobriety but ultimately relapsed. It was not until his second stint in jail, he says, where he vowed to fight back. “That was probably my lowest point,” he said. He sought treatment and, ultimately, got clean.

He says losing his closest friends was motivation for him to be there for his girlfriend and young children. He has been sober for more than two years. “I’m just thankful,” said Joe. “[Before] I wasn’t able to be a dad. I’m glad I’m able to be here and experience it now.”

For Allen-Samuel, the unfolding crisis in New Hampshire should be an impetus for reform. Heroin addiction, she says, is a disease that should be dealt with the same way society treats cancer or any other deadly illness. “Our families are dying,” said Allen-Samuel. “What’s going on in our community is a war.” Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/our-families-are-dying-new-hampshire-s-heroin-crisis-n510661?cid=sm_fb Feb.2016

Filed under: Heroin/Methadone,Social Affairs :

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Even as a marijuana legalization gains traction around the U.S. and the world, the anti-pot contingent soldiers on to promote its own agenda. These advocates are on a mission to keep marijuana illegal where it is, make it illegal where it is not and to inform the public of the dangers of marijuana legalization as they see it.

So who are these anti-marijuana legalization crusaders?

They come from different backgrounds. Some come from the business world. Two are former White House cabinet members. Another is an academic. Two are former ambassadors. One is the scion of a famous political family. Many are psychiatrists or psychologists. Others are former addicts. Still others are in the field of communications. Oh – one is a Pope.

They have different motivations. Some act because of the people they met who suffered from drug abuse. Others are staunch in their positions for moral reasons and concern for the nation’s future; still others for medical and scientific reasons.

Here is a list of the most significant:

  1. Calvina Fay

Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. and Save Our Society From Drugs (SOS). She is also the founder and director of the International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse.

She was a drug policy advisor to President George W. Bush and former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander. She has been a U.S. delegate and lecturer at international conferences.

President Bush acknowledged her efforts in drug prevention in 2008, and in 2009 she received the President’s Award from the National Narcotics Officers Associations Coalition.

She related during an interview that she became involved in the world of countering drug abuse as a businessperson. She started a company that wrote drug policy for employers, educated employees on the dangers of drugs and trained supervisors on how to recognize drug abuse. It was from this that she became aware of the gravity of the issue.

“People used to come to me to tell me they had a nephew or niece who had a drug problem,” Fay said. “This was when I realized how broad a problem this is. It became personally relevant at one point.”

President Bush acknowledged her efforts in drug prevention in 2008, and in 2009 she received the President’s Award from the National Narcotics Officers Associations Coalition.

I realized how broad a problem this is. It became personally relevant at one point.”

After she sold her company, she was approached by the DEA and the Houston Chamber of Commerce to improve the way substance abuse in the workplace was addressed. After a while she built a coalition of about 3,000 employers.

During this time she kept meeting more and more people who were addicted or had loved ones who were. So it became important to her to be involved in drug abuse prevention and treatment. She then became aware of the movement to legalize drugs.

“I knew that we had to push back against legalization, because if we did not prevention and treatment would not matter,” Fay asserted.

  1. Kevin Sabet

Sabet is the director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, where he is an assistant professor in the psychiatry department at the College of Medicine.

He is a co-founder of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) and has been called the quarterback of the anti-drug movement.

Sabet served in the Obama Administration as a senior advisor for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) from 2009-2011. He previously worked on research, policy and speech writing at ONDCP in 2000 and from 2003-2004 in the Clinton and Bush Administrations, respectively. This gives him the distinction of being the only staff member at ONDCP to hold a political appointment in both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

He was one of three main writers of President Obama’s first National Drug Control Strategy, and his tasks included leading the office’s efforts on marijuana policy, legalization issues, international demand reduction,drugged driving and synthetic drug (e.g. “Spice” and “Bath Salts”) policy. Sabet represented ONDCP in numerous meetings and conferences, and played a key role in the Administration’s international drug legislative and diplomatic efforts at the United Nations.

He is also a policy consultant to numerous domestic and international organizations through his company, the Policy Solutions Lab. His current clients include the United Nations, where he holds a senior advisor position at the Italy-based United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and other governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Sabet is published widely in peer-reviewed journals and books on the topics of legalization, marijuana decriminalization, medical marijuana, addiction treatment, drug prevention, crime and law enforcement.

He is a Marshall Scholar. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Social Policy at Oxford University and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

  1. Bill Bennett

Bennett was a former “drug czar” (i.e. director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy) during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. Prior to that he was the Secretary of Education in the Reagan administration. Bennett is a prolific author – including two New York Times Number- One bestsellers; he is the host of the number seven ranked nationally syndicated radio show Morning in America. He studied philosophy at Williams College (B.A.) and the University of Texas (Ph.D.) and earned a law degree from Harvard.

Bennett, along with former prosecutor Robert White, recently penned an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal calling marijuana a public health menace. The two are also finishing a book about marijuana legalization which is due out in February 2015.

Bennett frequently features on his radio show guests warning of the dangers of marijuana legalization. He is concerned that while the science shows that legalizing marijuana is not beneficial, public opinion is going in the other direction.

Why is he involved in this? Simply put, he thinks marijuana legalization is bad for America. The author of the acclaimed series of books about American history called America: The Last Best Hope thinks marijuana legalization will have deleterious effect on Americans, especially the youth of America.

“Because as Jim Wilson said, drugs destroy your mind and enslave your soul,” he told MainStreet.

“Medical science now proves it,” he added.

  1. Patrick Kennedy

The other co-founder of Project SAM is former Rhode Island Democrat congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of Ted Kennedy. When he started SAM in Denver in 2013, Kennedy, who has admitted past drug use, was quoted as saying, “I believe that drug use, which is to alter the mind, is injurious to the mind … It’s nothing that society should sanction.”

His organization seeks a third way to address the drug problem, one that “neither legalizes or demonizes marijuana.” Kennedy does not think incarceration is the answer. He wants to make small amounts a civil offense. He emphasizes his belief that public health officials need to be heeded on this issue and they are not. He predicts that, if legalized, marijuana will become another tobacco industry.

“The thought that we will have a new legalized drug does not make sense to me,” Kennedy said during a 2013 MSNBC interview.

  1. Joseph Califano

This former Carter administration U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare founded, in 1992, the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (since 2013, it has been called CASAColumbia). He is currently the chairman emeritus. The center has been a powerful voice for research, fundraising and outreach on the dangers of addiction. It shines the light, especially on the perils of marijuana for adolescents.

Recently Califano released an updated edition of his book How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents. He believes an update was needed because of the advances in science regarding youth and substance abuse that have occurred during the past five years.

He zeroes in on marijuana in the book, which he says is more potent today than it was 30 or 40 years ago. He points out – during an interview about the book published on the CASAColumbia website – the hazards of “synthetic marijuana” also known as Spice or K2. He says this is available in convenient stores and gas stations but is so lethal it was banned in New Hampshire.

Califano stresses that parents are the bulwark against substance abuse and addiction. He cited data during the interview that “70% of college students say their parents’ concerns or expectations influence whether or how much they drink, smoke or use drugs. Parental disapproval of such conduct is key to kids getting through the college years drug free. This is the time for you to use social media to keep in touch with your kids.”

He makes the analogy that “sending your children to college without coaching them about how to deal with drugs and alcohol is like giving them the keys to the car without teaching them how to drive.”

  1. Stuart Gitlow

Gitlow is the President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), a professional organization representing over 3,000 addiction specialist physicians.

In 2005, he also started the Annenberg Physician Training Program in Addictive Disease at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, NY. He is currently executive director. He is on the faculty of both the University of Florida and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

About ASAM’s attitudes toward marijuana, he said:

“Our positions and policies with respect to marijuana have been developed over many decades and have been updated based upon the latest scientific evidence. We are firmly opposed to legalization of marijuana and reject the notion that the plant marijuana has any medical application.”

That said, he believes anecdotal evidence supports that more research should be conducted to deduce which parts of the marijuana plan can havemedical value.

Why did he get involved in this?

“I didn’t get involved in this as a “crusader” or because of a specific interest, but rather because I serve as the spokesperson for ASAM,” he told MainStreet.com. “In fact, though, given that there is so much industry-sourced money financing the marijuana proponents, and that the science-based opposition has little funding at all, I recognize the need for the public to actually hear what the facts are, particularly given the media bias and conflict of interest in terms of being motivated by potential ad revenue.”

  1. David Murray

A senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Washington D.C., Murray co-directs the Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research. While serving previous posts as chief scientist and associate deputy director for supply reduction in the federal government’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. Before entering government, Murray, who holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Chicago, was executive director of the Statistical Assessment Service and held academic appointments at Connecticut College, Brown, Brandeis and Georgetown Universities.

What motivated him to get involved in a campaign to oppose marijuana legalization?

“It results from a steady regress from encountering a host of social pathologies (homelessness, failed school performance, domestic violence, child neglect, poverty, early crime, despair and suicide) and then time and again stumbling over a common denominator that either was a trigger or an accelerator of that pathology – substance abuse,” Murray told MainStreet. “Yet one finds as a dispassionate social analyst that the matter is either discounted, or overlooked, or not given sufficient weight, in the efforts to remediate the other surface manifestation pathologies,” he continued. “Moreover, one keeps encountering a sense that there is a closet with a door that is shut and it holds behind the door a host of explanations or guides to understanding of our woes, yet few are willing to open that door and address what lies behind it.”

He notes that even those who acknowledge the impact of substance abuse across so many maladies seem to not approach the problem with an open and searching mind. He said often one finds a ready-made narrative that serves to explain away the impact. The more that narrative is refuted “with counter argument or robust data indicating otherwise” the more social analysts resist or are in denial about the inadequacy of the standard narrative.

Subsequently, people who do criticize this encounter pressure from peers essentially telling to accept the narrative or shut up.

He mentions a good specific example can be found by encountering the reaction to the “gateway hypothesis” regarding early marijuana exposure. The literature in support of the gateway is quite strong he says.

“Yet everywhere the dominant response is to evade the implications,” he points out. “Our analysts pose alternative and unlikely accountings that seem practically Ptolemaic in their complicated denial of the obviously more simple and more real mechanism: exposure to the drug does, in fact, increase the likelihood of developing dependency on other, ‘harder’ drugs in a measurable way.“

  1. John Walters

He was, from December 2001 to January 2009, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and a cabinet member during the Bush Administration. During this time he helped implement policies which decreased teen drug use 25% and increased substance abuse treatment and screening in the healthcare system.

He is a frequent media commentator and has written many articles opposing the legalization of marijuana. He points out many of the fallacies of the pro-legalization movement. His editorials, essays, and media appearances have refuted the claims of the New York Times, pro-legalization libertarians and others.

For example, during a July 2014 appearance on Fox News Walters responded to the editorial boards condoning legalizing pot. Walters said when the science is increasingly revealing the risks of marijuana the “New York Times wants to act like it time to be ruled by Cheech and Chong.”

Walters has taught political science at Michigan State University’s James Madison College and at Boston College. He holds a BA from Michigan State University and an MA from the University of Toronto.

  1. Robert DuPont

DuPont was the founding director of National Institute on Drug Abuse. He has written more than three hundred professional articles and fifteen books including Getting Tough on Gateway Drugs: A Guide for the Family, A Bridge to Recovery: An Introduction to Twelve-Step Programs and The Selfish Brain: Learning from Addiction. Hazelden, the nation’s leading publisher of books on addiction and recovery, published, in 2005, three books on drug testing by DuPont: Drug Testing in Drug Abuse Treatment, Drug Testing in Schools and Drug Testing in the Criminal Justice System.

DuPont is active in the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He continues to practice psychiatry with an emphasis on addiction and anxiety disorders. He has been Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine since 1980. He is also the vice president of a consulting firm he co-founded in 1982 with former DEA director Peter Bensinger – Bensinger, DuPont and Associates. DuPont also founded, in 1978, the Institute for Behavior and Health a drug abuse prevention organization.

  1. Bertha Madras

A professor of psychobiology for the Department of Psychiatry of Harvard Medical School. She is in a new position at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School hospital affiliate. She was a former deputy director for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

She has done numerous studies about the nature of marijuana. She is the co-editor of The Cell Biology of Addiction, as well as the co-editor of the 2014 books Effects of Drug Abuse in the Human Nervous System andImaging of the Human Brain in Health and Disease.

She rejects the claims of pot proponents. For example, she states that the marijuana chemical content is not known or controlled. She also notes that the “effects of marijuana can vary considerably between plants” and that “no federal agency oversees marijuana, so dose or purity of the plant and the contaminants are not known.”

  1. Carla Lowe

A mother of five grown children, grandmother of nine, graduate of UC Berkeley and former high-school teacher, Lowe got started as a volunteer anti-drug activist in 1977 when her PTA Survey to Parents identified “drugs/alcohol” as their priority concern. She organized one of the nation’s first “Parent/Community” groups in her hometown of Sacramento and co-founded Californians for Drug-Free Youth. She also chaired the Nancy Reagan Speakers’ Bureau of the National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth, co-founded Californians for Drug-Free Schools, and in 2010 founded an all-volunteer Political Action Committee, Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM)

She has travelled throughout the U.S. and the world speaking to the issue of illicit drug use, primarily marijuana, and its impact on our young people. As a volunteer consultant for the U.S. State Department and Department of Education, she has addressed parents, students, community groups and heads of state in Brazil, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Pakistan, Germany, Italy, Ireland, and Australia.

CALM, is currently working with parents, law enforcement, and local community elected officials to stop the proliferation of marijuana by banning “medical” marijuana dispensaries and defeating the proposed 2016 ballot measure in California that will legalize recreational use of marijuana.

She wants to go national and is part of an effort to start Citizens Against Legalization of Marijuana-U.S.A. that will also function as a Political Action Committee dedicated to defeating legalization efforts throughout the country.

Lowe is a strong proponent of non-punitive random student drug testing. She believes this is the single most effective tool for preventing illicit drug use by our youth, and will result in billions of dollars in savings to our budget and downstream savings from the wreckage to our society in law enforcement, health and welfare, and education.

 

  1. Christian Thurstone

He is one of a few dozen mental health professionals in America who are board certified in general, child and adolescent, and addictions psychiatry. He is the medical director of one of Colorado’s largest youth substance-abuse treatment clinics and an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Denver, where he conducts research on youth substance use and addiction.

According to a May 2013 interview posted on the University of Colorado website, Thurstone was named an Advocate for Action by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in October 2012 for his “outstanding leadership in promoting an evidence-based approach to youth substance use and addiction.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper named Thurstone to a state task force convened to make recommendations about how to implement Amendment 64, a constitutional amendment approved by Colorado voters in November 2012 to legalize the personal use and regulation of marijuana for adults 21 and older.

He became involved in the marijuana issue in 2009 “when a whole confluence of events occurred that led to the commercialization of marijuana….What matters is not so much the decriminalization; it’s the commercialization that affects people, especially kids. …95% of the treatment referrals to Denver Health are for marijuana. Nationwide, it’s two-thirds of the treatment referrals according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).”

  1. Peter Bensinger

Bensinger was a former DEA chief during the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations. He was in the vanguard opposing medical marijuana in Illinois. He acknowledges medical marijuana as a value but he notes that it is available as a pill or spray, so the idea of legalizing smoked marijuana for medicinal purposes is merely a ploy.

  1. David Evans

The executive director of the Drug Free Schools Coalition before becoming a lawyer he was a research scientist, in the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, New Jersey Department of Health. He was also the manager of the New Jersey intoxicated driving program. He has written numerous articles warning of the dangers of marijuana legalization.

  1. Pope Francis

The new pontiff, while being hailed by many as being a liberal influence in the Catholic Church has taken an intransigent line against marijuana legalization. This past June the new international pop culture icon told the 31st International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome, “No a ogni tipo di droga (No to every type of drug).”

He was an active opponent of marijuana while a bishop in his native Argentina. He says now that attempts to legalize drugs do not produce the desired results.

He deplores the international drug trade as a scourge on humanity. Pope Francis has said it is a fallacy to say that more drug legalization will lead to less drug use.

  1. Dennis Prager

A nationally syndicated radio talk show host in Los Angeles, Prager has used his microphone to condemn marijuana legalization. He has asked rhetorically, “Would you rather your pilot smoke cigarettes or pot? and “ How would Britain have fared in World War II if Winston Churchill had smoked pot instead of cigars?

  1. Mel and Betty Sembler

The Semblers are longtime soldiers in the war on drugs. They co-founded, in 1976, a nonprofit drug treatment program called Straight, Inc. that successfully treated more than 12,000 young people with drug addiction in eight cities nationally from Dallas to Boston. They also help fund other organizations dedicated to opposing legalizing drugs including marijuana. Betty Sembler is the founder and Board Chair of Save Our Society From Drugs (S.O.S.) and the Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. Both organizations work to educate people about attempts to legalize as “medicine” unsafe, ineffective and unapproved drugs such as marijuana,heroin, PCP and crack as well as to reduce illegal drug use, drug addiction and drug-related illnesses and death.

  1. Seth Leibsohn

Leibsohn is a radio host, writer, editor, policy, political and communications expert. He is a former member of the board of directors of the Partnership for a Drug Free America-Arizona Affiliate.

He told MainStreet that he got involved in the campaign against marijuana after seeing the effects of pot smoking on a college friend.

“One thing I noticed and never left my mind was a friend I had in college who so very clearly, freshman year, was one of the most gifted and intelligent thinkers and writers I had ever met,” he said. ” I predicted to myself and others, he’d be the next big American author, published in The New Yorker, books of short stories galore. But then he picked up a really habitual marijuana smoking practice. He smoked, probably, daily. This was the mid to late ’80s. And to this day, I believe he is still a smoker….and he is a waste-case. Lazy, never had a serious job, never published a serious piece of writing, totally ended up opposite what I had predicted. That story never left my mind.”

Leibsohn also noticed this was happening more and more. But the problem really was driven home while he was the producer and co-host for the Bill Bennett radio show, Morning in America.

“We noticed something very interesting: whenever we dealt with the issues of drug abuse, and particularly marijuana, the phone lines lit up like no other issue,” he said. “We had doctors, we had nurses, we had truckers, we had small businessmen, we had housewives, we had moms, we had brothers, we had teachers, we had sisters, we had aunts, we had uncles telling us story after story of the damage marijuana and other drugs had done to their and their loved ones lives. It amazed me how widespread the issue is. I concluded, to myself, this issue of substance abuse may very well be the most important and damaging health issue in America.”

He also noticed that “there just weren’t that many who seemed to give a serious damn about it.” He said Joe Califano and Bill Bennett were about the only ones he knew with a large microphone or following who would address the issue. The silence in other precincts and from others was astounding to him.

“I still am amazed not more people are taking this as seriously as it should be taken,” he said. “But I know, too, that any family that has been through the substance abuse roller coaster, needs to know they are not alone, and they are the real experts–their stories tell the tale I wish more children and pro-legalizers could hear. Today, I still talk, write, and research on the issue and have joined the board of a non-profit dedicated to helping on it as well,” he explained.

  1. Alexandra Datig

A political advisor and consultant who has experience of more than 13 years on issues of drug policy she was instrumental in the defeat of California Proposition 19, The Regulate Control & Tax Cannabis Act. Datig serves on the Advisory Board for the Coalition for a Drug Free California, the largest drug prevention coalition in California.

She became involved in the anti-marijuana legalization movement because of her own experiences. She was working in politics at the local and state level for over eight years by 2009, but she also reached ten years in sobriety from a 13-year drug addiction that nearly cost her her life. When California Proposition 19 came along, she decided “to jump in and form my own independent campaign committee “Nip It In The Bud.”

“I began reaching out to several other committees, drug prevention groups and law enforcement and together we built a powerful statewide coalition for which I became one of its leading advisors and strategists,” she told MainStreet

“Today, I consider myself a miracle, because I was able to turn my life around,” she told MainStreet. “This is not something I could have done had I not gotten sober. Having rebuilt my life in recovery, I believed that my experience could convince voters that legalizing a drug like marijuana for recreational use would make our roads more dangerous and, much like cigarettes, was targeted at our youth. That legalization would cause harm to first time users, people who suffer from depression and mental disorders and especially people vulnerable to addiction or relapse.”

  1. Monte Stiles

A former state and federal prosecutor, Stiles supervised the Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Force – a group of agents and prosecutors who investigate and prosecute high-level drug trafficking organizations, including Los Angeles street gangs, Mexican cartels and international drug smuggling and money laundering operations.

One of his proudest personal and career achievements was the organization and implementation of the statewide “Enough is Enough” anti-drug campaign which produced community coalitions in every area of Idaho. In addition to the prosecution of drug traffickers, Monte has been a passionate drug educator and motivational speaker for schools, businesses, churches, law enforcement agencies, and other youth and parent organizations. He left government service in April 2011 to devote all of his time to drug education, other motivational speaking and nature photography.

 

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Political Sector :

For decades, attorney Richard Blau focused his legal savvy on the high-stakes business of booze. Alcohol-industry law was an attorney’s dream, full of unresolved questions and deep-pocketed players clawing their way to the top.

So when Florida’s talk turned to marijuana, another storied pastime with its own dubious history, Blau’s titan of a law firm, GrayRobinson, jumped at the opportunity. Blau now leads a special practice for clients wanting to capitalize on medical cannabis — and bend the laws to their advantage.

“The playbook is to get in and lend a hand in crafting those rules, so they read the way our clients want them to read,” Blau said. “The powerful people are the ones to get in on the ground floor.”

Months before the state’s November vote to legalize medical marijuana, some of Florida’s biggest law firms are already staking their claims to the lucrative legal minefield of the budding weed industry.

Orlando-based GrayRobinson, which employs 101 attorneys in Tampa Bay and nearly 300 across the state, will devote a core of its “regulated products” group to the nuances of marijuana law.

Attorneys with Holland & Knight, a prominent firm in Tampa with more than 1,000 lawyers across the world, last week released an alert for clients on the “legal landscape (and) complex marketplace for marijuana-related businesses.”

And Akerman, the Miami-based corporate-law giant and largest law firm in the state, recently launched a “regulated substances task force” with nearly two dozen senior attorneys and public-policy professionals ready to advise, among others, cultivators, private-equity groups and dispensaries.

“The shifting interplay between state and federal laws presents new challenges and unprecedented opportunities for Akerman clients,” managing partner Richard Spees said in a statement, “and we are positioned to help them capitalize.”

Groups with ostensible legal ties have filed for Florida business licenses with names like Medical Marijuana Business Lawyers and the Cannabis Law Group, joining a wave of “ganjapreneurs” grabbing for a piece of industry profits.

But the introduction of these powerhouse firms ups the ante, helping squash the images of two-bit, Breaking Bad-style “Better Call Saul” legal operations and legitimizing what could be a landslide of million-dollar corporate disputes.

“We’re not the ‘pot lawyers.’ This is not ‘reefer madness.’ It’s 100 percent professional, 100 percent legitimate . . . and we take it 100 percent seriously,” said Troy Kishbaugh, a health care specialist serving on GrayRobinson’s regulated-products group. “We have a large health care base . . . and they want their patients to get the best care possible. And if medical marijuana happens to be part of that medical regimen, they want to make sure they’re doing it right.”

The state’s biggest firms bolstered their practices this spring after Florida lawmakers passed a “Charlotte’s Web” bill legalizing a non-high-producing cannabis strain used to treat cancer and epilepsy.

An even bigger fight comes in November, when voters could pass Amendment 2 and legalize weed for a much broader slate of medical uses. Its prospects seem increasingly upbeat: A Quinnipiac University poll last week found 88 percent of Florida voters support adult medical-cannabis use.

If the vote passes, Florida could follow California in becoming America’s second-biggest medical-weed state, with around 400,000 patients spending an average of $3,000 a year, estimates from state regulators and a national cannabis-industry trade group show.

State regulators have several months to decide on the law’s little details, leaving a huge window for “cannabusiness” interests pushing to find an unserved niche. The state Department of Health’s Office of Compassionate Use, which is drafting the rules, discussed at a public hearing Friday a range of potential enterprises, from medical-cannabis testing to home delivery.

Lawyers wise to food and alcohol regulation are shoo-ins for the firms’ legal-weed practices: Many of the rules facing Big Pot, attorneys argue, could look a lot like those governing Big Tobacco, Big Food and Big Booze.
Joining them are lawyers with a vast range of expertise:

• Health care experts to address hospital and physician groups on how to protect themselves while administering, storing and suggesting the use of a drug still illegal under federal law.
• Banking and financial gurus to advise on securing investment, handling money and saving on taxes in what has long been an all-cash business.
• Land use attorneys who can help resolve zoning and landlord disputes over where growers and distributors can operate from seed to sale.
• Even intellectual-property specialists with knowledge on how to protect and preserve cannabis companies’ strains, brands and reputations, in much the same way consultants have long advised Budweiser or Marlboro.

For precedent, attorneys here are analyzing the legal laboratories of the 23 states, plus Washington D.C., that have legalized medical cannabis, and the two states, Washington and Colorado, that have okayed weed for personal use.

They also are following in the footsteps of nationwide firms versed in guiding the emerging trade. Seattle’s Canna Law Group, launched by international law firm Harris Moure in 2011, proved “profitable almost instantly,” partner Dan Harris told the Puget Sound Business Journal last year, adding, “We were shocked at the demand.” One of the group’s attorneys, a young University of Miami graduate, was voted “Marijuana Industry Attorney of the Year” in 2013 by Dope Magazine.

For the finer details, attorneys said, firms are following their clients’ requests to lobby their way into influence. Litigation seems likely: A proposed rule limiting Florida’s medical weed to five nurseries, chosen by lottery, has already stirred up legal wrath.
Attorneys have likened their legal timing to representing alcohol outfits near the sunset of prohibition, a potentially historical chance to mold law and make nice with the grateful captains of a new industry.

But GrayRobinson’s Blau, whose practice group is taking on three new clients a week, stops short of supporting the “green rush” of small-time entrepreneurs. He compares the early days of legal Florida weed to that of the American gold rush, in which organized business interests, not excited ground troops, ended up with the most to gain.

“All those individual wannabe miners thought (they’d strike it rich) when they pushed forward to mine the Klondike … but very few emerged out of that with anything,” Blau said. “In reality, it was the established gold-mining companies who took the ground, and made it their own.”

Source: www.tampabay.com 1st August 2014

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Legal Sector,Marijuana and Medicine,USA :

Source:   ZOHYDRO Backlash,  ACCBO newsletter, April-June 2014

Filed under: Political Sector,Prescription Drugs,USA :

By Kathy Gyngell Posted 12th September 2014

For years the great and the good of the drug legalising world – including members and former members of the Government’s own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs – have consistently denied that cannabis is a gateway drug or addictive. They have downplayed its devastating consequences for adolescents. They have derided or ignored cannabis prevention campaigners and the evidence presented to them.

It is time for them to recant  – now and publicly – for their misleading and casual advice.

They can no longer remain in denial about the drug they have appeared so keen to defend, to normalise and to claim is less harmful than alcohol.

Irrefutable evidence of its damaging consequences for adolescents was published yesterday, in a new study of adolescent cannabis use , in The Lancet Psychiatry  –  a study in which almost  3,800 people took part.

Its objective was to find out more about the link between the frequency of cannabis use before the age of 17 and seven outcomes up to the age of 30, such as completing high school, obtaining a university degree and cannabis and welfare dependence.

The researchers found that the risks increased relative to dose, with daily cannabis users suffering the greatest harm.

They found that teenagers who smoked cannabis daily were over 60 per cent less likely to complete school or get a degree than those who never had. They were also 60 per cent less likely to graduate college, seven times more likely to attempt suicide, eight times as likely to go on and use other illegal drugs, and 18 times more likely to develop a cannabis dependence.

To its shame, the Washington Post described these findings as ‘startling”.  The fact is that they only reflect numerous previously published studies and surveys.

However, let’s hope that the that self-styled Global Commission on Drugs Policy and its leading light, Sir Richard Branson, will take note that Professor Neil McKeganeyrightly excoriated them on Tuesday   for promoting the legalisation of all currently illegal drugs.

It should be concerned and reflect on its gung-ho recommendations in light of this catalogue of damage; and so should President Obama – who seems to think kids smoking dope is OK.  He should really be worrying for under the lax approach of his administration cannabis use, or marijuana as Americans call it, has risen 29 per cent in six years, that is nearly a 5 per cent increase per year.  It is difficult to detach this rise from the effective decriminalisation of the drug in 23 states under so called medical marijuana legislation.  And the US is yet to see the full effects of the January 2014 initiation of legal marijuana in Colorado and Washington on the rest of the nation.

Thankfully, in the UK the number of 11–15 year olds who say they’d used cannabis in the past month (4 per cent) has been dropping consistently over the last 13 years or so.  The number significantly less than in the US where a worrying 7 per cent of high-school seniors (aged 17-18) are daily or near-daily users.

Richard Mattick, the study author and Professor of Drug and Alcohol Studies at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, in Australia, is right to stress: “Our findings are particularly timely given that several US states and countries in Latin America have made moves to decriminalise or legalise cannabis, raising the possibility that the drug might become more accessible to young people.”

The cat is out of the bag in the US. Let’s hope here in the UK, those seeking to normalise cannabis use, including the Lib Dems, several members of the ACMD and a number of Government-funded charities will finally see how irresponsible they have been and are.

Source:  www.conservativewoman   12th Sept. 2013

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Education Sector,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Youth :

Xcel Energy utility officials say lighting companies working with cannabis growers are testing LED lamps that require less electricity

DENVER, CO – DECEMBER 02: Denver Fire Department Lieutenant, Tom Pastorius, does an inspection of a Denver marijuana grow operation, December 02, 2014. Local government officials from Denver to smaller cities and rural hamlets say the pivotal first-year rollout went smoothly in most cases. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

GOLDEN — Surging electricity consumption by Colorado’s booming marijuana industry is sabotaging Denver’s push to use less energy — just as the White House perfects a Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution.

Citywide electricity use has been rising at the rate of 1.2 percent a year, and 45 percent of that increase comes from marijuana-growing facilities, Denver officials said Wednesday.

Denver has a goal of capping energy use at 2012 levels. Electricity is a big part of that.

The latest Xcel Energy data show cannabis grow facilities statewide, the bulk of which are in Denver, used as much as 200 million kilowatt hours of electricity in 2014, utility officials said. City officials said 354 grow facilities in Denver used about 121 million kwh in 2013, up from 86 million kwh at 351 facilities in 2012.

“Of course we want to grow economically. But as we do that, we’d like to save energy,” city sustainability strategist Sonrisa Lucero said.

She and other Denver officials joined 30 business energy services and efficiency leaders seeking U.S. Department of Energy guidance Wednesday at a forum in Golden. Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr said feds will promote best practices and provide technical help through an Office of Technology Transitions.

“It’s a big issue for us,” Lucero told Orr. “We really do need some assistance in finding some good technology.”

Orr said he tried to figure out “how we would address that to Congress.”

When the EPA later this summer unveils the Clean Power Plan for state-by-state carbon cuts and installation of energy-saving technology, utilities are expected to accelerate a shift away from coal-generated electricity toward cleaner sources, such as natural gas, wind and solar.

Until they can replace more coal-fired plants, the nation’s utilities increasingly are trying to manage demand by, for example, offering rebates to customers who conserve electricity.

Colorado for years has been encouraging cuts in carbon emissions by requiring utilities to rely more on renewable sources.

Yet electricity use statewide has been increasing by 1 percent to 2 percent a year, due in part to population growth, said Jeffrey Ackermann, director of the Colorado Energy Office.

The rising electricity demand means more opportunities to save money by using energy more efficiently , Ackermann said. “We’re not going to compel people to reduce their usage. … But we’re going to try to bring efficiency into the conversation.”

Colorado’s marijuana sector, in particular, is growing rapidly, relying on electricity to run lights that stimulate plant growth, as well as air-conditioning and dehumidifiers. The lights emit heat, raising demand for air conditioning, which requires more electricity.

“How do you capture their attention long enough to say: Hey, if you make this investment now, it could pay back in the future,” Ackermann said, referring to possibilities for better lights.

Southwest Energy Efficiency Project director Howard Geller said new adjustable light-emitting diode, or LED, lights have emerged that don’t give off heat. Companies installing these wouldn’t require so much air-cooling and could cut electricity use, Geller said.

Lighting companies are working with pot companies to test the potential for LED lamps to reduce electricity use without hurting plants, Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said. Xcel is advising companies on how much electricity different lights use, he said.

Denver officials currently aren’t considering energy-efficiency rules for the industry, said Elizabeth Babcock, manager of air, water and climate for the city. Marijuana-growing facilities in 2013 used 1.85 percent of total electricity consumed in Denver.

“We see many opportunities in all sectors,” Babcock said. “Energy efficiency lowers the cost of doing business, and there are lots of opportunities to cut energy waste in buildings, transportation and industry.”

Source:    www.denverpost.com   7th January 2015

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Environment,Social Affairs,USA :

My blood boils when I hear loony liberal politicians (I’m thinking Nick Clegg) and middle class do-gooders telling us that ALL drugs should be legalised. That heroin, crack cocaine and LSD should all be freely available – even to teenagers.

Their argument is that if the State was in charge of the drugs industry instead of criminal gangs then the drugs wouldn’t be toxic and fewer people would die.

And there’ll be more of that silly talk in the coming weeks thanks to a Home Office report – trumpeted by Clegg – which claims punitive laws have no effect on curbing drug use.

What, so do we just give up and legalise them? If we can’t win the war on drugs do we just call it off? Do we do what we’ve done with other crimes we don’t have the money or the will to police – and just ignore them?

One of the countries cited as an example of decriminalisation in this report was Portugal. They legalised drugs in 2001. But now we know the numbers of 15 and 16 year olds using drugs has doubled there since laws were relaxed. Which is a total no brainer.

Then a bloke called Ian Birrell said on TV this week our Government spends billions of pounds on failed drugs policies. I’m sorry – unlike Portugal – our drugs policies aren’t failing. Since 1996 the use of Class A drugs among 16 to 24 year olds has plummeted by 47 per cent and the use of Class B by 48 per cent.

But commentators like Birrell still argue we should legalise them anyway because they’re everywhere and people can take them whenever they want. Well, maybe in his world they can, but not in mine. I don’t mix with people who shoot up every day or trip on LSD.

Don’t these lettuce-munching liberals realise millions of mums and dads all over Britain are fighting tooth and nail to keep their kids away from drugs?

And even though many of these parents live on estates where gangs sell drugs openly they’ll do ­whatever it takes to keep their kids away from them. Because they’ve seen what drugs can do.

Unlike those middle-class liberals, they live among hordes of hopelessly addicted youngsters whose lives are over before they’ve even started. These parents don’t want that for their kids. And they sure as hell don’t want to be lectured on the “benefits” of legalisation by a bunch of jumped-up modernisers who’ve never even set foot on a council estate.

PA

Should this be legal? Ecstasy Tablets 

Have we forgotten the World Health Organisation’s recent 20-year study on cannabis which says this supposedly “soft” drug doubles the risk of schizophrenia and psychotic ­disorders, stunts intellectual ­development and doubles the risk of its users causing a car crash?

So all those liberals who for years have been shouting that cannabis was perfectly safe were talking out of their backsides.

And why is it these people always try to make those who object to legalisation look like out of touch fuddy-duddies? Why do we listen when they scream that drugs laws are an abuse of our human rights?

We need to be telling teenagers that smoking cannabis is like playing Russian roulette with your brain, not changing the law so they can pop down the Co-op and score an ounce.

Yes, young people will always­ ­experiment with drugs but why make it easier? We need drugs laws because they make getting drugs just that bit harder. In fact, we need more than we currently have to criminalise those deadly legal highs which have killed 68 people this year.

And imagine if they WERE all ­legalised. The price would plummet and they’d be available to everyone including vulnerable 10-year-olds who’d buy them with their pocket money on the black market.

I’m not saying kids should be given criminal records for experimenting. But every little relaxation of our drugs laws takes us one step closer to ­legalisation.

And that would be catastrophic for ­generations of children whose minds will be ravaged with the full blessing of the State.

Source:  Mirror.co.uk   Nov. 1st 2014Top of Form

Filed under: Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Social Affairs,Youth :

There has been a lot of talk recently about marijuana legalization — increasing tax revenue for states, getting nonviolent offenders out of the prison system, protecting personal liberty, possible health benefits for those with severe illnesses. These are good and important conversations to have, and smart people from across the ideological spectrum are sharing their perspectives.

But one key dimension of the issue has been left out of the discussion until now: the marketing machine that will spring up to support these now-legal businesses, and the detrimental effect this will have on our kids.

Curious how this might work? Look no further than Big Tobacco. In 1999, the year after a massive legal settlement that restricted certain forms of advertising, the major cigarette companies spent a record $8.4 billion on marketing. In 2011, that number reached $8.8 billion, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. To put it into context, the auto industry spent less than half of that on advertising in 2011, and car ads are everywhere.

At the same time, despite advertising bans, these notoriously sneaky tobacco companies continue to find creative ways to target kids. Data from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that the most heavily marketed brands of cigarettes were also the most popular among people under 18.

This is not a coincidence, and gets to the very core of Big Tobacco’s approach: Hook them young, and they have a customer for life. Why do we think the legal marijuana industry will behave differently from Big Tobacco? When the goal is addiction, all bets are off.

In Colorado, where there are new rules governing how legal marijuana is advertised in traditional media, there are still many opportunities to market online and at concerts, festivals and other venues where kids will be present. Joe Camel might be retired, but he’s been replaced by other gimmicks to get kids hooked — like snus and flavored cigarettes. The marijuana industry is following suit by manufacturing THC candies, cookies, lollipops and other edibles that look harmless but aren’t. Making marijuana mainstream will also make it more available, more acceptable and more dangerous to our kids.

Addiction is big business, and with legal marijuana it’s only getting bigger.

Not surprisingly, Big Tobacco is also getting on the marijuana bandwagon. Manufacturers Altria and Brown & Williamson have registered domain names that include the words “marijuana” and “cannabis.” Imagine how much they will spend peddling their new brand of addiction to our kids. We cannot sit by while these companies open a new front in their battle against our children’s health.

Why is this an issue? There is a mistaken assumption that marijuana is harmless. It is not. Marijuana use is linked with mental illness, depression, anxiety and psychosis. It affects parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention and reaction time. Developing brains are especially susceptible to all of the negative effects of marijuana and other drug use. In fact, poison control centers in Colorado and Washington state have seen an increase in the number of calls regarding marijuana poisoning. This isn’t a surprise — with legal marijuana comes a host of unintended consequences.

I’ve spent the past several years after leaving Congress advocating for a health care system that treats the brain like it does any other organ in the body. Effective mental health care, especially when it comes to children, is critically important.

Knowing what we now know about the effects of marijuana on the brain, can we really afford to ignore its consequences in the name of legalization? Our No. 1 priority needs to be protecting our kids from this emerging public health crisis. The rights of pot smokers and the marijuana industry end where our children’s health begins.

I’m not alone in my concerns about this trend toward legalization. Even Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has said that marijuana legalization in his state was “reckless” and reaffirmed his opposition to it during his campaign for re-election. He also said he will “regulate the heck” out of it. For that, I applaud his leadership and courage.

Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia have legalization ballot measures up for a vote this fall. I hope common sense will prevail, and they choose a better path than making addiction the law of the land.

At the end of the day, legalizing and marketing marijuana is making drug use acceptable and mainstream. Just as Big Tobacco lied to Americans for decades about the deadly consequences of smoking, we can’t let “big marijuana” follow in its footsteps, target our kids and profit from addiction.

Patrick J. Kennedy is a former United States representative from the state of Rhode Island.

Source: http://www.npr.org/2014/10/30/360217001/kennedy-are-we-ready-for-big-tobacco-style-marketing-for-marijuana

 

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Political Sector,USA :

AS THE LEGAL AND MEDICAL USE OF MARIJUANA BECOMES MORE COMMONPLACE, OFFICIALS ARE STRUGGLING TO DETERMINE AND ENFORCE SAFE LEVELS OF IMPAIRMENT.

Determining how intoxicated someone is can be quite a difficult task. For alcohol consumption, a substance that the body excretes in a quick, linear fashion, we can measure the amount of metabolic by-products present in the blood using a breathalyzer, or directly measure ethanol levels with a blood test.

Although the issue is somewhat complicated by differing tolerances, research conducted throughout the 20th century showed that nearly everyone loses their ability to drive safely above certain blood alcohol levels.

In the US, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and adult recreational use is legalized in eight. Widespread popularity of this psychoactive drug seems to necessitate a similar method for measuring whether or not someone is too high to drive.

Actually creating a “weed breathalyzer” or other marijuana field sobriety test, however, is fraught with scientific complications. According to a commentary published in Trends in Molecular Medicine, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, THC, not only lingers in the body inconsistently, it also has unpredictable cognitive effects between users.

Early medical studies implied that THC could be detected in the blood for approximately six hours after smoking. Yet subsequent work by the article’s co-author, Marilyn Huestis, found that behavioral changes and motor impairments may last 6-8 hours after smoking despite near zero blood levels after just 2.5 hours.

Even if THC blood levels could accurately judge impairment, taking blood samples after a suspicious accident is likely to be fruitless for law enforcement.

“[Blood levels decline by] 74 percent in the first 30 minutes, and 90 percent by 1.4 hours,” said Huestis to Wired. “And the reason that’s important is because in the US, the average time to get blood drawn [after arrest] is between 1.4 and 4 hours.”

So why do people continue to feel stoned long after the drug is gone from the blood? Unlike ethanol, a hydrophilic molecule, THC doesn’t like hanging out in the water-based blood plasma and rapidly distributes into the cells of lipophilic fatty tissues, organs, and the brain.

“In fact, individual experiences reflect two different levels of drug ‘high,’” the article states. “..Namely a low ‘high’ effect in the absorption phase during cannabis inhalation, and a much higher effect later during the distribution phase owing to the lag time for full distribution of the active THC to the site of action – in this case, the brain.”

Furthermore, the body does not metabolize all the THC absorbed by body tissues at the time of smoking, vaping, or eating; the excess is slowly broken down over days to weeks. Heavy cannabis users will develop a THC tolerance due to this chronic, low-level exposure.

Consequently, occasional users and heavy users may feel wildly different effects from consuming the same dose of THC, preventing determination of a universal, safe dosage cut-off for drivers. A national poll from 2017 suggests that half of Americans are unconcerned by the prospect of stoned drivers on the roads, but law enforcement officials in many US states have drug-impaired driving laws that they intend to enforce. So, what tools should they use?

Huestis, who is also a senior investigator at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, does not support a legal driving limit for marijuana. She believes that, currently, well-trained police officers are best-suited for recognizing signs of impairment. Meanwhile, researchers such as herself are working to identify biomarkers that are more representative of the drug’s cognitive effects than blood THC. Ideally, these can then be measured using rapid non-invasive tests.

Another interesting prospect: Researchers at University of California San Diego are recruiting participants for a trial to develop an iPad-based cannabis-specialized field sobriety test. Volunteers will randomly receive marijuana joints at various THC concentrations, then complete driving simulations and undergo experimental impairment assessments.

Source: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/why-is-it-so-hard-to-test-for-marijuana-intoxication/ January 2018

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Crime/Violence/Prison,Drug use-various effects,Social Affairs :

National Families in Action (NFIA) was founded in Atlanta in 1977, to protect children from drugs.   It led a national effort to help parents  prevent the marketing of drugs and drug use to children and helped them form parent groups to protect children’s health.

Today NFIA publishes the weekly Marijuana Report, an update on major news affecting marijuana across the US.  NFIA has worked continuously for many years.    Tobacco and alcohol cause enough problems in the US and it’s unwise to add a third addictive drug.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: http://www.poppot.org/2015/05/22/national-families-of-action-states-marijuana-policy />

Filed under: Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Social Affairs,USA :

Drug law enforcement is not just unnecessarily punitive but discriminately so. We’d all be better without it.  No that’s not what I think.  It’s the received wisdom of drug legalisation campaigners that George Soros has been putting his billions behind.  Law enforcement is more harmful by far than the effects of the noxious drugs its purpose is to control, they claim.

In any debate on drugs policy I take part in, figures are routinely flung at me of the number of people unjustly incarcerated in the United States or unjustly convicted in the UK.  Suddenly I find democracy US/UK style is racist and as evil as ISIL.

Typically, I am told that half of all federal prisoners in the US are in for drug offences and that this “…punishment falls disproportionately on people of colour”. “Blacks make up 50 percent of the state and local prisoners incarcerated for drug crimes” is typically claimed and rarely challenged.

As for our punitive drugs laws on this side of the pond, I am also routinely informed that  “…roughly 87,000 people are being wrongly convicted every year” some 70 per cent of which are for that delightful social drug cannabis, strangely about the same number as the total number of prison places in the UK.

Fact and fiction could not be more different.  A recently published written answer shows that in any of the last 5 years, the number of people sentenced to more than a year in prison in the UK for  a Class A drugs offence can be counted on two hands ; a sentence of over 6 months for class B drugs (which include cannabis)  can be counted on one hand.

Though  cautions, discharges and rehabilitation orders far exceed all other sentencing (which includes fines and community orders) outraged liberals like Sam Bowman of the Adam Smith Institute irresponsibly persist in  their hyperbole that, “prohibition means putting thousands of people in jail, giving criminal records to hundreds of thousands of others”.

The law is unjust they insist, despite the absence of any evidence for this, that  ‘possession’ arrests damage lives, fill prisons and waste police resources.

The latest to get behind the gross social injustice banner is Bill de Blasio, the Democrat Mayor of New York City  (the first Democrat since 1993).  Under this banner and persuaded that the enforcement of federal marijuana laws doesn’t so much protect minority communities as harm them, he’s instructed the New York Police Department not to enforce them.

The reality is otherwise, however, as John Walters and David W Murray explain  here. As here in the UK the actual risk of arrest while using marijuana in the States is stunningly low – about one arrest for marijuana possession for every 34,000 joints smoked.

Drug arrests are far from being a significant portion of law-enforcement activity.  Possession arrests for marijuana do not fill US prisons – fewer than 0.3 per cent of the total of those incarcerated in state prisons (which is where most US inmates are incarcerated) in fact.  And many of these have “pled down” from more serious offences.

Nor, as we are supposed to uncritically believe,  are African-Americans the directly targeted victims of the drug laws; race is not the driver of “disparate impact”.

Walters and Murray will not make themselves popular for explaining why there are more black drug arrests. The simple facts are that: African Americans are more engaged in drug trafficking; their drug use “often occurs in areas with intensive policing, such as urban street corners” which means, yes,  that the risk of arrest for African-Americans is indeed higher than for whites, whose use of drugs is typically less conspicuous.

Nor is it just drug-related crime where there are racial disproportions in arrests and incarcerations. As they point out, the same is true for almost all crimes.  This difficult fact leaves the outraged liberal in the ‘logical’ but untenable position of having to believe that  virtually all efforts to combat crime must be “wars on communities of colour”.

The trouble is with this specious racial discrimination position is that the only solution would be to decriminalise all crime.  Where that leaves minority communities is far from protected.

Mayor de Blasio only has to look at recent crime rises California to understand this.

There, the recent passing of Proposition 47 has reduced or eliminated prison time for certain drug and stolen property crimes,  the most visible impact of which is its effect on drug possession cases; making California the first state to make drug possession crimes misdemeanours instead of felonies.

The impact has been immediate. It appears to be responsible for an increase in crime figures.

In certain areas, aggravated assault is up 9.9 per cent since the law came into effect and burglary by a whopping 30.7 per cent in the same period.

Myths about the harm of punitive enforcement are myths.  The price of no enforcement is severe – much more crime which threatens all our well being, whatever our colour.

By Kathy Gyngell 

Source: conservativewoman.co.uk   19th Dec.2014

Filed under: Crime/Violence/Prison,Social Affairs,USA :

Theresa May has walked into the sunshine again after a few awful days. Such is the magic of politics.

Just a few days ago, much of her shine as a tough and competent Home Secretary had worn off.  Her child abuse inquiry appeared doomed before it had begun. With the prospect of an expensive and endless white elephant ahead (what the experience of both the Saville and Chilcot probes portend) as she apologised to the victims, she must have been ruing the day she ever gave into their demands.

Yes, it was just a few days ago that she could please no one. Her insistence on opting back into the European Arrest Warrant infuriated her backbenchers and left the Eurosceptic public astonished. Could she really be giving carte blanche for us to be picked off our own streets and dumped in a Latvian, Czech or Bulgarian gaol where due process, habeas corpus and so forth are, despite their EU member status, still  pretty much conspicuous for their absence?

Then at the nadir of her fortunes up she comes smiling.  All thanks to the Daily Mail – and very grateful she should be to them too – she was handed Norman Baker’s scalp on a plate.  Overnight she became the new scourge of the Lib Dems, to the joy of her party and her admirers.

Nick Clegg, the Mail discovered, had encouraged the BBC to give airtime to the drug-legalising organisations (Transform and Release) to promote the controversial and highly (Lib Dem) spun Home Office report pushed by his Home Office placeman, one Norman Baker.

This report was already proving a severe embarrassment to her, adding to her woe.

Opening up the drug debate to ‘legalising liberals’ had never been of her choosing.  She was bounced into it.  At the time of the Home Affairs Select Committee report and Nick Clegg’s demand for a Royal Commission on Drugs Policy (a couple of years ago now), giving permission to her then (Lib Dem) Minister, Jeremy Browne, to go on a jaunt (sorry, I meant an international drugs policy fact-finding mission) must have seemed infinitely preferable.

But instead of subsequently chucking into the bin the contents of this ‘jolly’ (to the drug-loving countries of Uruguay, Colorado, the Czech Republic and Portugal, to name but a few of those selected)  – which she should and could have done on the basis of its questionable content – she sat on it.

At that moment she made herself a hostage to fortune. Specifically, she made herself a hostage to Norman Baker, the conspiracy theorist, ageing hippy and would-be rock star that Clegg had chosen to replace the more cogent and intelligent Mr Browne.

But for the Daily Mail scoop, but for their forensic research, which exposed the report’s dodgy facts, but for their pinning the whole thing on Calamity Clegg and Barmy Baker, Theresa would today still be doing daily battle with an unbearably smug Norm and seeming rather less than in charge.

Indeed, she still might be blissfully unaware of the civil servant porkies they so glibly presented in her name as ‘evidence-based’ policy  – of the false facts it took the Mail to expose.

“It is clear that there has not been a lasting and significant increase in drug use in Portugal since 2001”, the civil servants, who drafted the report with Baker’s blessing, asserted.     Except there has been.

In the decade following decriminalisation, school-age drug use, as the Mail correctly pointed out, rose from 12 per cent to 19 per cent of the age group. Back in 1995 (before decriminalisation) only 8 per cent of this group had tried drugs.

Either the researchers were not going  to let an inconvenient fact get in the way of good story or they just didn’t bother to do their homework. That’s why anyone interested in reading through the entire report is advised to put down the rose-tinted spectacles accompanying it.

It skates through medical marijuana in the United States, legalisation of cannabis in Colorado and Uruguay, drug consumption rooms, ‘assisted heroin injecting’ and other liberal ‘harm reduction’ but ethically dubious policies in other countries. It ignores swathes of criticism of these back door to legalisation policies and lacks the rigour and detail to provide a credible basis for discussion.

Predictably, it treats Portugal’s ‘dissuasion commissions’ on a par with the USA’s longstanding, 2,500-strong federal wide and much respected drug court network – of which independent evaluations have demonstrated positive outcomes and over whose time span  cocaine use has dropped by 75 per cent.

Frankly, Mrs May is lucky to no longer have this dodgy dossier still hanging round her neck.  With all the plaudits that have been raining down on her – from the Mail to the Telegraph – for being the longest-serving Home Secretary since Rab Butler, for surviving one of the most difficult senior roles in Cabinet, for regaining the top spot in the battle for the Tory succession in the regular poll of activists by Conservative Home and accompanying fulsome praise –  she’d do well to reflect how lucky she has been.

She might think it is time to sharpen up those micro-management skills that The Times’s Francis Elliott rather kindly supposes to have kept her on top.  The Daily Mail scoop and the Lib-Dems’ shenanigans and spin surrounding the publication of a report that she herself signed off show these much-hyped qualities have not been much in evidence.

A bit more micro-management and she’d have sent her civil servants back to the drawing board and queried their ‘facts’, instead of letting Norman’s day arrive and allowing the report’s publication on the very same day as ‘loopy’ Caroline Lucas’s much heralded and Russell Brand-supported parliamentary drugs debate.

For all her apparent skills this is far from her first mistake. She made a far worse one on her first day in office when she signed off Harriet Harman’s horrendous and costly Equalities Act without any further discussion or reflection.  She didn’t stop there but published her own ‘right on’ Contract for Equalities.  There is nothing that ‘We’re all in this together’ does not cover.

I guess we just have to be thankful she didn’t then, this last week, under Lib Dem pressure for ‘evidence-based policy’,  action equal access to illicit drug use by decriminalising it.  Her featherbrained new feminist minister Lynne “gay marriage” Featherstone (responsible for crime prevention) is bound to suggest it. Be warned.

Source: By Kathy Gyngell conservativewoman.co.uk    6th November 2014

Filed under: Europe,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Political Sector :

John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., don’t seem to care much about the toll recreational marijuana imposes on Colorado. Each reacted with righteous indignation to the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Obama administration’s lax pot policies.

“It’s not a black market anymore. It’s not a criminal activity, and we would hate for the state to go backwards,” Hickenlooper said Thursday, expressing concern about the potential for more federal enforcement against our state’s illegal marijuana industry.

Gardner asserted his duty Thursday to protect the state’s “right” to sanction, host, and profit from an industry that flagrantly violates federal law to the detriment of traffic safety, federal lands, children, and neighboring states that are burdened by Colorado pot. Never mind that even the Obama policy emphasized a need for federal enforcement against drugged driving, damage to kids and neighboring states, and the presence of cartels and pot on federal land. Somehow, Colorado has a right to avoid these federal enforcement measures even the Obama administration wanted.

Colorado politicians need to stop pandering and start leading, which means telling the truth about the severely negative consequences of big commercial pot.

Hickenlooper, Gardner, and other politicians tell us everything is rosy, but that’s not what we hear from educators, cops, social workers, doctors, drug counselors, parents, and others in the trenches of the world’s first anything goes marijuana free-for-all. It is not what we see in the streets.

If Hickenlooper and Gardner cared to lead on this issue, they would tell the world about the rate of pot-involved traffic fatalities that began soaring in their state in direct correlation with the emergence of legal recreational pot and Big Marijuana. They would talk about Colorado’s status as a national leader in the growth of homelessness, which all major homeless shelter operators attribute to commercialized, recreational pot.

They would talk about the difficulty in keeping marijuana from crossing borders into states that don’t allow it. They would spread the words of classroom educators and resource officers who say pot consumption among teens is out of control.

Honest leaders would talk about illegal grow operations invading neighborhoods and public lands. They would stop selling false, positive impressions about a failed policy for the sake of “respecting the will of voters” who made a mistake. They would not follow public perception but would lead it in a truthful direction.

Hickenlooper says legalization has eliminated illegal pot in Colorado, which is laughable to men and women who enforce the law and talk to us.

El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder speaks of more than 550 illegal rural home-grow operations in El Paso County alone.

Mayor John Suthers — Colorado’s former U.S. attorney, attorney general, district prosecutor and state director of corrections — speaks of hundreds of illegal pot operations in Colorado Springs he hopes to raid. We could go on with countless accounts of leading law enforcers who describe illegal pot activity that exceeds limits of departmental budgets and personnel.

That’s the small stuff, relative to the massive black market Colorado’s legalization attracts to federal property.

Dave Condit, deputy forest and grassland supervisor for the Pike-San Isabel and Cimarron-Comanche National Grasslands, recently accompanied Forest Service officers on the raid of a Mexican cartel’s major grow operation west of Colorado Springs. It was among at least 17 busts of cartel operations in the past 18 months. He describes the type of operation mostly based in Mexico, before legalization made Colorado more attractive. Condit said the agency lacks resources to make a dent in the additional cartel activity in the region’s two national forests.

“It was eye opening to put on the camouflage and sneak through the woods at 4 in the morning,” Condit told The Gazette’s editorial board Friday. “I had no idea the scope of these plantations. These are huge farms hidden in the national forests. The cartels de-limb the trees, so there is some green left on them. Other trees are cut down. They fertilize the plants extensively, and not all these fertilizers and chemicals are legal in this area.

“This is different than anything we have experienced in the past. These massive plantations are not the work of someone moving in from out of state who’s going to grow a few plants or even try to grow a bunch of plants and sell them. These are massive supported plantations, with massive amounts of irrigation. The cartels create their own little reservoirs for water. These operations are guarded with armed processors. They have little buildings on site. The suspects we have captured on these grows have all been Mexican nationals.”

Condit said the black market invading Colorado’s national forests has grown so large the entire budget for the Pike and San Isabel forests would not cover the costs of removing and remediating cartel grows in the forests he helps supervise.

“There’s a massive amount of resource damage that has to be mitigated,” Condit said. “You’ve got facilities and structures that have to be deconstructed. We would need to bring in air support to get materials out of there. There are tens of thousands of plants that have to be destroyed.”

Condit hopes the Colorado Legislature will channel a portion of marijuana proceeds to the Forest Service to help pay for closure and reclamation of cartel operations.

“For every plantation we find, there are many more,” Condit said.

Authorities captured only two cartel suspects in the raid Condit witnessed, and others escaped by foot into the woods.

“This operation had a huge stockpile of food. Hundreds and hundreds of giant cans (of food), and stacks of tortillas two or three people could not consume in months,” Condit said. “So it appeared they were planning to bring in a large crew for the harvest. I wouldn’t have thought you could hide something like that in our woods, but you can.”

Officers seized a marijuana stash and plants worth an estimated $35 million that morning. Merely destroying the plants presented a significant expense.

“Whether you’re a recreational shooter, a weekend camper, or you’re going to walk your dog in the woods, you should be concerned,” Condit said. “Some of these people have guns. If you stumble into $35 million worth of illegal plants, I’d be concerned. We are concerned for our own personnel.”

That’s not the view of either Colorado senator, other pandering politicians or the state’s top executive. From their offices Washington and Denver, they see things quite differently.

“Now the people who cultivate marijuana, the people who process marijuana, the people who sell marijuana are not criminals,” Hickenlooper said Thursday. “They’re not committing any crimes.”

No black market? No crimes? Tell the cartels. They come to Marijuana Land in the wake of Amendment 64, wisely betting state leaders will defend their risky and unprecedented law no matter what. They count on politicians to look the other way, so they can tell the world their new system works.

The Colorado Springs Gazette is a sister newspaper to the Washington Examiner. This editorial originally ran there.

Source: Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board | Jan 10, 2018, 9:23 AM

Filed under: Environment,Political Sector,Social Affairs,USA :

Studies show that approximately 187,000 people die each year from drug overdose. A majority of these deaths are attributed to opioids, one of the most powerful drugs available both legally and illegally. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 90 Americans die each day from opioids overdose, a tragic and alarming statistic.

While many have images of underground drug peddlers, cartels, and violent gangs, a large part of opioid abuse is actually from prescription drugs. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that almost one-third of patients that are prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Around 80 percent of heroin users first abused prescription opioids.

The unfortunate reality is that the roots of the opioid crisis run deep. Arguably, it is a greater challenge to combat the “legal” side of the crisis–prescriptions, pharmaceutical companies, and the like–than the illegal side. This is because, despite stricter Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, rules and regulations are extremely difficult to enforce.

What’s more, it is increasingly hard to monitor over-prescriptions, prescription fraud, and documentation abuses. Pharmacies are compelled to trust doctors’ judgments, and physicians are sometimes unaware that patients have been prescribed drugs by other physicians for the same medical problem. Despite repeated attempts to solve these problems, no viable answer has been found.

However, thanks to the promising prospects of blockchain technology, all of these issues may be solvable. One company, BlockMedX, is working on an HIPAA compliant system that provides a completely secure, end-to-end solution that will go to great lengths in solving the opioid and prescription drug epidemic.

BlockMedX’s Ethereum Based Solution

BlockMedX’s solution revolves around creating a streamlined, secure system for drug providers, pharmacists, and patients. It runs on the Ethereum blockchain, creating a cryptographically secure prescriber-to-patient platform.

Prescriptions are securely transmitted and recorded by the blockchain, in conjunction with platform’s token (MDX). Each token is paired with a unique and specific prescription, thus validating the origin of the prescription. In order to access the prescription, physicians, pharmacies, and patients will have to login to a website that is connected to the blockchain.

Each physician will have access to their personal prescribing history as well as the history of each patient they interact with. This will help them detect prescription abuse, which often takes place when a patient sees multiple doctors to receive medication for one issue. Physicians will also be able to make use of BlockMedx proprietary verification system, which ensures that only the actual physician can digitally sign prescriptions.

Once a physician issues a prescription it is sent in the pending state, where it awaits a signature by BlockMedx. When the prescription is digitally signed on the blockchain, it is moved to the approved state. It is then logged on the blockchain as an immutable record. Physicians can therefore know for certain that their patients have been issued the correct prescription. They can also track its progress, allowing them to make sure that their prescriptions aren’t defrauded or misused.

Pharmacies are given a list approved prescriptions that can be accepted, declined, or revoked. They will then open the BlockMedX decentralized app to access the network.

The pharmacy can view the prescription information as well as the patient’s full prescription history. They will then accept or decline each prescription on the queue, based on the information they have.

If a prescription is accepted, the pharmacy will receive the MDX tokens sent by the physician and deposited into its wallet. Then, pharmacies can receive payment from the valid patient via MDX tokens.

From a regulatory perspective, the blockchain provides unique advantages that the current pharmaceutical system doesn’t have. Because all transactions, from physician to pharmacy to patient, are logged on the public ledger, any third party entity can audit the transactions. For governments and regulatory bodies, this means there is an easy and secure way to enforce existing regulations and requirements. By viewing the immutable record stored on the blockchain, authorities can track prescription abuses and prosecute them accordingly.

From the perspective of physicians and pharmacies, the blockchain provides a way to view prescription histories in order to help prevent fraud and over-prescribing. The BlockMedX platform allows all parties involved, including third party auditors, to crack down on the opioid crisis in an efficient and streamlined manner.

Source: https://www.techworm.net/2018/01/blockchain-startup-can-help-prevent-medical-prescription-abuse.html 7th January 2018

Filed under: Heroin/Methadone,Political Sector,Social Affairs :

Public Health and Safety Communities Applaud Move

DOJ Decision Will Dry Up Money To Marijuana Industry

(January 4, 2018 – Alexandria, VA) – The Department of Justice will announce today it will rescind lax marijuana policy guidance to US Attorneys (the so-called “Cole Memo”) and instead allow US Attorneys to exercise discretion in going after marijuana cases. The new memo will not call for arresting users or others with low-level involvement in marijuana, but instead makes investing in the marijuana industry a risky move.

“This is a good day for public health. The days of safe harbor for multi-million dollar pot investments are over,” said Kevin A. Sabet, a former Obama Administration drug policy adviser who is now head of the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). “DOJ’s move will slow down the rise of Big Marijuana and stop the massive infusion of money going to fund pot candies, cookies, ice creams, and other kid-friendly pot edibles. Investor, banker, funder beware.”

The Cole Memo and its compliance was blasted by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a 2016 report. The lead GAO author stated that DOJ “has not documented its plan for monitoring the effects of the state marijuana legalization.” A recent poll also found that when voters had more choices than just legalization or prohibition, support for legalization fell by 30%. Most voters were comfortable with laws removing criminal penalties for use but not legalizing sales, which the Cole Memo permitted.

“The Cole Memo had been waived around by money-hungry pot executives for years, searching for legitimacy among investors and banks,” remarked former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, a SAM Honorary Advisor. “It’s time we put public health over profits. This is a sensible move that now must be followed up with action so we can avoid a repeat of the nightmare of Big Tobacco.”

“Marijuana, along with alcohol and tobacco, are the three drugs we need to stop our youth from trying,” said Dr. Robert DuPont, the first Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and second White House drug czar. “DOJ is doing the right thing by putting a stop to this wink and nod policy of allowing marijuana legalization.”

Corinne Gasper, who lost her daughter Jennifer to a driver high on marijuana, stated, “All too often, marijuana has been seen as benign. An industry not unlike Big Tobacco has downplayed its harms, aided by laws allowing officials to look the other way. For the sake of so many families, I hope those days are now over.”

SAM, a non-profit organization founded by a former member of Congress and a former Obama Administration drug policy advisor, applauded the news. SAM’s Science Advisory board consists of more than a dozen top researchers in the field of marijuana policy ranging from institutions such as Harvard and Johns Hopkins.

Dr. Stuart Gitlow, the former President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, stated, “This is the right move by DOJ. To protect public health, we must choke the large amounts of funding spent by Big Marijuana to hook kids on highly potent THC products.”

Justin Luke Riley, the Denver-based leader of the Marijuana Accountability Coalition stated, “Recovery from addiction is so much harder when you are bombarded with the kind of pot commercialization we see here in Colorado. DOJ should be applauded for trying to put a stop to the shameless promotion and advertising that is killing our community.”

Ron Brooks, the former head of the National Narcotics Officers Association Coalition, stated, “This is the kind of leadership that will save lives. For too long law enforcement has been handcuffed by vague and unenforced policy guidance.”

Will Jones, a DC-resident who is fighting for social justice in minority communities commented, “Since the Cole Memo was released, the pot industry has relentlessly opened more pot shops in poorer, communities of color. Arrests are even higher now in many jurisdictions than before legalization.”

“Focusing enforcement resources on incarcerating low-level, nonviolent offenders will always be wrong and counterproductive,” said Kevin Sabet, President of SAM. “But there is an urgent need for Federal officials to reassert targeted control over an exploding industry that is undermining public health and safety in our communities.

This is a major blow to an industry that is corrupting our politics and lying to voters in a steadfast pursuit to put profit over public health and safety. Today’s policy change will undoubtedly extend a chilling effect we have seen on marijuana legalization initiatives across the nation this year, and – hopefully – encourage lawmakers to stop and look at what science tells us about the unintended consequences of legal marijuana.

Like the tobacco industry before it, well-heeled lobbyists from the marijuana industry have been touting marijuana commercialization as the panacea for every contemporary challenge we face in America, but the truth is, the health and safety costs caused by the commercialization of cannabis are outweighing any tax revenues collected.”

Source: Press Release from SAM: info@learnaboutsam.org. 4th January 2018

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Legal Sector :

WASHINGTON – China’s Ministry of Public Security last week announced scheduling controls on two fentanyl precursor chemicals – NPP and 4ANPP, substances that can be used to make illicit drugs. The scheduling controls will take effect on February 1, 2018 and is the result of the ongoing collaboration between the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Government of China and their shared commitment to countering illicit fentanyl-class substances.

“Fentanyl compounds significantly contribute to the current opioid crisis in the United States. By stemming the chemicals used to make these substances, this latest Chinese scheduling action will help save lives,” said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson. “This scheduling action is an important step and a testament to the progress our countries are making together in addressing this epidemic.”

DEA and Chinese officials maintain frequent contact to collaborate and share data on the threat from fentanyl-class substances and their impact on the United States. Information-sharing includes scientific data, trafficking trends, and sample exchanges. This dialogue has resulted in improved methods for identifying and submitting deadly substances for government control.

The Chinese Government previously controlled four fentanyl-class substances – carfentanil, furanyl fentanyl, valeryl fentanyl, and acryl fentanyl – which took effect on March 1, 2017, and another four new psychoactive substances/fentanyl-class substances – U-47700, MT-45, PMMA, and 4,4’ DMAR – which took effect on July 1, 2017. Source: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration dea@public.govdelivery.com 5th Jan 2018

Filed under: Others (International News),Political Sector :

America’s worsening opioid crisis has caused life expectancy to fall for the second year running for the first time in more than half a century.

The average life expectancy in the US is now 78.6 years – down by 0.1 years, figures from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) found.

It is the first consecutive drop in life expectancy since 1962-63 and surpasses the previous one-year dip in 1993 at the height of the Aids epidemic.

America’s opioid addiction crisis – caused by the over-prescription of opioid based painkillers – has been blamed for the trend.

The addiction sees patients turning to heroin and other substances when their doctors stops issuing prescription medication.

Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, which has flooded the US drugs market and is 100 times more powerful than heroin, are thought to be behind the dramatic increase in overdoses among heroin users.

“The key factor in all this is the increase in drug overdose deaths,” said Robert Anderson, from the NCHS, who said the two-year drop was “shocking”.

US president Donald Trump has called the crisis a “public health emergency” and pledged to tackle illegal drug trades.

He said: “Nobody has seen anything like what is going on now.

“As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue. It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction.”

Official figures show the number of people who died from a drug overdose in 2016 was 63,000 – 21 per cent higher than the previous year and three times the rate in 1999.

Opioid-related overdoses increased by 28 per cent, causing 42,249 deaths, mostly in the 25-to-54 age group.

Average male life expectancy has fallen 0.2 years – average female life expectancy is unchanged at 81.1 years.

A continued decline in life expectancy in 2017 would represent the first three-year fall in the US since the outbreak of Spanish flu 100 years ago.

Death rates fell for seven leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, however an ageing population meant Alzheimer’s related deaths increased by 3.1 per cent and suicide rates increased by 1.5 per cent.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/22/americas-opioid-crisis Dec.22.2017

Filed under: Heroin/Methadone,Social Affairs,USA :

There’s no future for salmon in Northern California’s Emerald Triangle.

On California’s northern coast are three counties that marijuana aficionados call the Emerald Triangle. In their view, the growers there have perfected a strain of cannabis that has high potency and consistently high quality. Result: There are many growers, most tending their crops in remote corners of these mountainous, heavily wooded counties.

This produces serious environmental damage. In Humboldt County where the largest amount of Emerald Triangle marijuana is grown, the sheriff’s office conducted an aerial survey and counted 4,000 visible outdoor grows, nearly all of them illegal. (California was the first of 22 states to permit medical use of marijuana, so some grows were established to serve users who have permit cards.)

The illegal grows are usually carved out of forest land (often national forests or acreage owned by timber companies). Typically, the growers clear-cut the trees on the land they want to use, then bulldoze it to their specifications. Next, they divert a nearby stream to provide the one to six gallons required daily by each plant. They then fertilize the plants, causing runoff. This is followed by a generous dose of rat poison.

The upshot: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a week ago declared that stream diversion by marijuana plantations was robbing the rivers that the streams feed of enough cool water for Coho salmon to breed, thus threatening their survival. California’s north coast is big salmon country, for both sport and commercial fishing. The declaration earned banner headlines in the local press.

This week the USFWS said that it was considering seeking a “Threatened” status for the fisher, a native cousin to the weasel. Many fishers have been dying after ingesting the rat poison put out by marijuana planters.

Disruption of the soil for planting the crop and for cutting roads to some of the remote locations causes runoff that silts the area’s rivers—another preventable threat to the already endangered native salmon and steelhead.

In the area, a multi-agency task force has raided, on average, one marijuana plantation a week since January 2013. The biggest one, in August this year, yielded 10,000 plants; most have had several hundred. The plants are destroyed. The “harvest” often yields cash, weapons, and, sometimes other drugs (although multi-drug hauls tend to found in in-town dealer houses).

In addition to the cost of the raids, “grows” on public land require public resources to clean up and restore the affected area.

Environmentalists in the three counties are quick to run to the battlements and declare all-out war any time the state Transportation Department sets out to widen a highway. With the regular pot plantation raids, however, they are as silent as mice. Occasionally, one will opine in an interview that the problem would go away if marijuana were made legal. This outcome seems unlikely. Large companies might buy up some tracts for growing (along with getting the necessary permits and paying taxes); however, not every small grower will be able to compete; hence, the likelihood they would feed a black market, selling to heavy users at below-market prices. Thus, one problem would yield to another.

Source:  American spectator 9th October 2014
www.drugwatch.org

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Environment,Social Affairs :

The only thing green about that bud is its chlorophyll.

—By Josh HarkinsonBrett Brownell, and Julia Lurie

March/April 2014 Issue of Mother Jones

You thought your pot came from environmentally conscious hippies? Think again. The way marijuana is grown in America, it turns out, is anything but sustainable and organic. Check out these mind-blowing stats, and while you’re at it, read Josh Harkinson’s feature story, “The Landscape-Scarring, Energy-Sucking, Wildlife-Killing Reality of Pot Farming.”

 

Sources: Jon Gettman (2006), US Forest Service (California outdoor grow stats include small portions of Oregon and Nevada), Office of National Drug Control Policy, SF Public Utilities Commission, Evan Mills (2012).

UPDATE: Beau Kilmer of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center argues that the government estimates of domestic marijuana production used in this piece and many others are in fact too high. Kilmer’s research, published last week, suggests that total US marijuana consumption in 2010 (including pot from Mexico) was somewhere between 9.2 and 18.5 million pounds.

Source:  https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/marijuana-pot-weed-statistics-climate-change/

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Environment,Social Affairs,USA :

As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers from health fraud, the agency today issued warning letters to four companies illegally selling products online that claim to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure cancer without evidence to support these outcomes. Selling these unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims is not only a violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, but also can put patients at risk as these products have not been proven to be safe or effective. The deceptive marketing of unproven treatments may keep some patients from accessing appropriate, recognized therapies to treat serious and even fatal diseases.

The FDA has grown increasingly concerned at the proliferation of products claiming to treat or cure serious diseases like cancer. In this case, the illegally sold products allegedly contain cannabidiol (CBD), a component of the marijuana plant that is not FDA approved in any drug product for any indication. CBD is marketed in a variety of product types, such as oil drops, capsules, syrups, teas, and topical lotions and creams. The companies receiving warning letters distributed the products with unsubstantiated claims regarding preventing, reversing or curing cancer; killing/inhibiting cancer cells or tumours; or other similar anti-cancer claims. Some of the products were also marketed as an alternative or additional treatment for Alzheimer’s and other serious diseases.

“Substances that contain components of marijuana will be treated like any other products that make unproven claims to shrink cancer tumours. We don’t let companies market products that deliberately prey on sick people with baseless claims that their substance can shrink or cure cancer and we’re not going to look the other way on enforcing these principles when it comes to marijuana-containing products,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “There are a growing number of effective therapies for many cancers. When people are allowed to illegally market agents that deliver no established benefit they may steer patients away from products that have proven, anti-tumour effects that could extend lives.” The FDA issued warning letters to four companies – Greenroads Health, Natural Alchemist, That’s Natural! Marketing and Consulting, and Stanley Brothers Social Enterprises LLC – citing unsubstantiated claims related to more than 25 different products spanning multiple product webpages, online stores and social media websites. The companies used these online platforms to make unfounded claims about their products’ ability to limit, treat or cure cancer and other serious diseases. Examples of claims made by these companies include:

· “Combats tumour and cancer cells;”

· “CBD makes cancer cells commit ‘suicide’ without killing other cells;”

· “CBD … [has] anti-proliferative properties that inhibit cell division and growth in certain types of cancer, not allowing the tumour to grow;” and

· “Non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol) may be effective in treating tumours from cancer – including breast cancer.”

Unlike drugs approved by the FDA, the manufacture of these products has not been subject to FDA review as part of the drug approval process and there has been no FDA evaluation of whether they work, what the proper dosage is, how they could interact with other drugs, or whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns. The FDA has requested responses from the companies stating how the violations will be corrected. Failure to correct the violations promptly may result in legal action, including product seizure and injunction.

“We have an obligation to provide caregivers and patients with the confidence that drugs making cancer treatment claims have been carefully evaluated for safety, efficacy, and quality, and are monitored by the FDA once they’re on the market,” Commissioner Gottlieb added. “We recognize that there’s interest in developing therapies from marijuana and its components, but the safest way for this to occur is through the drug approval process – not through unsubstantiated claims made on a website. We support sound, scientifically-based research using components derived from marijuana, and we’ll continue to work with product developers who are interested in bringing safe, effective, and quality products to market.”

This latest action builds on the more than 90 warning letters issued in the past 10 years, including more than a dozen this year, to companies marketing hundreds of fraudulent products making cancer claims on websites, social media and in stores. Additionally, the FDA recently took decisive action to prevent the use of a potentially dangerous and unproven treatment used in ‘stem cell’ centers targeting vulnerable cancer patients. The FDA encourages health care professionals and consumers to report adverse reactions associated with these or similar products to the agency’s MedWatch program.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, promotes and protects the public health by, among other things, assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Source: https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm583295.htm

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Marijuana and Medicine,Political Sector :

MEDS Act promotes FDA-compliant medical research of marijuana

 (Alexandria, VA)– Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) applauds U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Chris Coons (D-DE) for introducing the Marijuana Effective Drug Studies (MEDS) Act of 2016. Once passed, it would make it easier for researchers to perform legitimate research on the medical effectiveness and safety of marijuana’s components.

Rather than rescheduling marijuana, the MEDS Act comprehensively identifies barriers to legitimate research and offers comprehensive, responsible solutions instead of “medicine by ballot initiative.” More specifically, the bill:

“These steps are important because despite state laws, raw marijuana (smoked or ingested) is not medicine, and has never passed through the rigorous FDA approval process to ensure the health and safety of patients,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, President of SAM.  “The plant’s components should be studied so those in need can access any therapeutic benefits while knowing dosage, side effects, and contraindications.  And more broadly speaking, the MEDS Act upholds the important, basic principle that all medications-including marijuana-based drugs-should go through the scientific process and accessed through legitimate doctors.”

SAM is proud to join the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Preventive Medical Association, American Pain Society, American Society of Anesthesiologists, and the American Academy of Pain Medicine in support of the MEDS Act.

Source:  https://learnaboutsam.org/sam-applauds-bi-partisan-legislation-legitimate-medical-marijuana-research/   

20th June 2016

Filed under: Marijuana and Medicine,Political Sector,USA :

Washington’s pot is a bit more potent than the national average. And the state’s teens are more likely to smoke marijuana than young people nationwide.

Although we have the same problems with marijuana as we do with liquor abuse, no blockbuster conclusions came from a recent report on Washington’s marijuana universe.

But a couple of somewhat unexpected environmental wrinkles from Washington’s marijuana industry — both legal and illegal — also emerge in the second annual look at the state’s experience since passage of a 2012 initiative allowing recreational pot sales.

Marijuana growers and processors use 1.63 percent of the state’s electricity, which is a lot, according to the report by the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area — a combined effort by several federal, state and local government agencies. By way of comparison, all forms of lighting — in homes, commercial buildings and manufacturing — account for just 7 to 11 percent of electrical consumption nationally. Or, as the report puts it, the power is enough for 2 million homes.

The high power consumption stems from the heat lamps and the accompanying air conditioning for indoor marijuana growing operations. “They are exceedingly energy-consumptive,” said Steven Freng, manager for prevention and treatment for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

The carbon footprint, according to the report, equals that of about 3 million cars.

And illegal pot growers siphoned off 43.2 million gallons of water from streams and aquifers during the 2016 growing season — water that tribes, farmers and cities would otherwise use as carefully as possible, in part to protect salmon.

Sixty percent of Washington’s illegal pot was grown on state-owned land in 2016. That’s because black-market growers tend to worry about gun-toting owners on private lands, according to Freng and Luci McKean, the organization’s deputy director. The black-market operations use the water during a roughly 120-day growing season.

Marijuana purchases have boomed in Washington. Legal marijuana sales were almost $1 billion in fiscal year 2016 and were on track to be about $1.5 billion in fiscal 2017, which ended June 30. As of February, the state had 1,121 licensed producers, 1,106 licensed processors and 470 licensed retailers.

What Washington’s marijuana users are getting is above average in potency. According to the report, nationwide marijuana products average a THC percentage of 13.2 percent, while Washington state’s THC average percentage was 21.6 percent.

Teen use of marijuana has grown slightly. Depending on how the numbers are crunched, marijuana use among Washington’s young adults and teens ranges from 2 to 5 percent above the national average. Five percent of Washingtonians age 18-to-25 use pot daily, slightly above the national average, the report said.

According to a survey cited in the report, 17 percent of high school seniors and 9 percent of high school sophomores have driven within three hours after smoking pot.

Adult use before driving is still a fuzzy picture. A third of Washingtonians arrested for driving under the influence had THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in their bloodstreams. One study found an increase in dead drivers with THC above the legal limit in their blood from 7.8 percent in 2013 to 12.8 percent in 2014.

“Adults still don’t understand the effects of impairment behind the wheel of a car,” Freng said.

McKean said that one major unknown is marijuana-laced edibles, which authorities believe have become a significant factor in THC-impaired drivers, but has not been studied enough to provide solid numbers.

Another major unknown, McKean and Freng said, is how marijuana consumption contributes to emergency room and hospital cases because the state hospitals have not agreed to release that data to government officials.

Source: http://crosscut.com/2017/10/washingtons-pot-industry-not-environmentally-friendly-marijuana/

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Drug use-various effects,Drugs and Accidents,Economic,Environment,Social Affairs,USA :

Executive Summary

Purpose

Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) is tracking the impact of marijuana legalization in the state of Colorado. This report will utilize, whenever possible, a comparison of three different eras in Colorado’s legalization history:

· 2006 – 2008: Medical marijuana pre-commercialization era

· 2009 – Present: Medical marijuana commercialization and expansion era

· 2013 – Present: Recreational marijuana era

Rocky Mountain HIDTA will collect and report comparative data in a variety of areas, including but not limited to:

· Impaired driving and fatalities

· Youth marijuana use

· Adult marijuana use

· Emergency room admissions

· Marijuana-related exposure cases

· Diversion of Colorado marijuana

This is the fifth annual report on the impact of legalized marijuana in Colorado. It is divided into ten sections, each providing information on the impact of marijuana legalization. The sections are as follows:

Section 1 – Impaired Driving and Fatalities:

· Marijuana-related traffic deaths when a driver was positive for marijuana more than doubled from 55 deaths in 2013 to 123 deaths in 2016.

· Marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 66 percent in the four-year average (2013-2016) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the four-year average (2009-2012) prior to legalization.

o During the same time period, all traffic deaths increased 16 percent.

· In 2009, Colorado marijuana-related traffic deaths involving drivers testing positive for marijuana represented 9 percent of all traffic deaths. By 2016, that number has more than doubled to 20 percent.

Section 2 – Youth Marijuana Use:

· Youth past month marijuana use increased 12 percent in the three-year average (2013-2015) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the three-year average prior to legalization (2010-2012).

· The latest 2014/2015 results show Colorado youth ranked #1 in the nation for past month marijuana use, up from #4 in 2011/2012 and #14 in 2005/2006.

· Colorado youth past month marijuana use for 2014/2015 was 55 percent higher than the national average compared to 39 percent higher in 2011/2012.

Section 3 – Adult Marijuana Use:

· College age past month marijuana use increased 16 percent in the three-year average (2013-2015) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the three-year average prior to legalization (2010-2012).

· The latest 2014/2015 results show Colorado college-age adults ranked #2 in the nation for past-month marijuana use, up from #3 in 2011/2012 and #8 in 2005/2006.

· Colorado college age past month marijuana use for 2014/2015 was 61 percent higher than the national average compared to 42 percent higher in 2011/2012.

· Adult past-month marijuana use increased 71 percent in the three-year average (2013-2015) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the three-year average prior to legalization (2010-2012).

· The latest 2014/2015 results show Colorado adults ranked #1 in the nation for past month marijuana use, up from #7 in 2011/2012 and #8 in 2005/2006.

· Colorado adult past month marijuana use for 2014/2015 was 124 percent higher than the national average compared to 51 percent higher in 2011/2012.

Section 4 – Emergency Department and Hospital Marijuana-Related Admissions:

· The yearly rate of emergency department visits related to marijuana increased 35 percent after the legalization of recreational marijuana (2011-2012 vs. 2013-2015).

· Number of hospitalizations related to marijuana:

o 2011 – 6,305

o 2012 – 6,715

o 2013 – 8,272

o 2014 – 11,439

o Jan-Sept 2015 – 10,901

· The yearly number of marijuana-related hospitalizations increased 72 percent after the legalization of recreational marijuana (2009-2012 vs. 2013-2015).

Section 5 – Marijuana-Related Exposure:

· Marijuana-related exposures increased 139 percent in the four-year average (2013-2016) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the four-year average (2009-2012) prior to legalization.

· Marijuana-Only exposures more than doubled (increased 210 percent) in the four-year average (2013-2016) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the four-year average (2009-2012) prior to legalization.

Section 6 – Treatment:

· Marijuana treatment data from Colorado in years 2006 – 2016 does not appear to demonstrate a definitive trend. Colorado averages 6,683 treatment admissions annually for marijuana abuse.

· Over the last ten years, the top four drugs involved in treatment admissions were alcohol (average 13,551), marijuana (average 6,712), methamphetamine (average 5,578), and heroin (average 3,024).

Section 7 – Diversion of Colorado Marijuana:

· In 2016, RMHIDTA Colorado drug task forces completed 163 investigations of individuals or organizations involved in illegally selling Colorado marijuana both in and out of state.

o These cases led to:

§ 252 felony arrests

§ 7,116 (3.5 tons) pounds of marijuana seized

§ 47,108 marijuana plants seized

§ 2,111 marijuana edibles seized

§ 232 pounds of concentrate seized

§ 29 different states to which marijuana was destined

· Highway interdiction seizures of Colorado marijuana increased 43 percent in the four-year average (2013-2016) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the four-year average (2009-2012) prior to legalization.

· Of the 346 highway interdiction seizures in 2016, there were 36 different states destined to receive marijuana from Colorado.

o The most common destinations identified were Illinois, Missouri, Texas, Kansas and Florida.

Section 8 – Diversion by Parcel:

· Seizures of Colorado marijuana in the U.S. mail has increased 844 percent from an average of 52 parcels (2009-2012) to 491 parcels (2013-2016) in the four-year average that recreational marijuana has been legal.

· Seizures of Colorado marijuana in the U.S. mail has increased 914 percent from an average of 97 pounds (2009-2012) to 984 pounds (2013-2016) in the four-year average that recreational marijuana has been legal.

Section 9 – Related Data:

· Crime in Denver increased 17 percent and crime in Colorado increased 11 percent from 2013 to 2016.

· Colorado annual tax revenue from the sale of recreational and medical marijuana was 0.8 percent of Colorado’s total statewide budget (FY 2016).

· As of June 2017, there were 491 retail marijuana stores in the state of Colorado compared to 392 Starbucks and 208 McDonald’s.

· 66 percent of local jurisdictions have banned medical and recreational marijuana businesses.

Section 10 – Reference Materials:

This section lists various studies and reports regarding marijuana.

THERE IS MUCH MORE DATA IN EACH OF THE TEN SECTIONS. THIS PUBLICATION MAY BE FOUND ON THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIDTA WEBSITE; GO TO WWW.RMHIDTA.ORG AND SELECT REPORTS.

Source: WWW.RMHIDTA.ORG October 2017

Filed under: Drug use-various effects,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Social Affairs,Social Affairs (Papers) :

The Liberal government, thanks to Justin Trudeau’s mindless statements during the federal election of 2015, became committed to legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. The purpose of this initiative was to encourage millennials to vote for the Liberal Party.

Like many of its other policies, the Liberal government was clueless about the unintended consequences of this promise. For example, it has yet to solve the problem that has arisen because Canada ratified UN drug treaties that prohibit the use of marijuana. Further, S. 33 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) specifically states that it is the responsibility of governments to protect children from the use and trafficking of drugs:

33. Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in their illicit production and trafficking of such substances.

The CRC defines “child” as anyone under 18 years of age. However, once marijuana is legalized, it becomes normalized and becomes acceptable. As a result, adolescents under the age of 18 years will have access to it, as they have easy access, today, to cigarettes.

The Liberals are merrily proceeding with their legalization of marijuana, ignoring their treaty obligations as well as many other serious problems inherent with the legalization.

Unfortunately, the government thinks it cannot back down from its proposal on marijuana as its credibility is already seriously on the line with its accumulating failures on other policies. These include the defeat of electoral reform; the enormous, accumulating national debt, far in excess of what had been promised; the incompetence of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Inquiry; failure to provide transparency and honesty, insisting on continuing with its pay-for-access scheme for corporate high rollers; the flaunting of regulations by Trudeau to vacation with billionaire, the Imam Aga Khan, in the latter’s private island, and the $10.5 million award to terrorist Omar Khadr, who killed an American soldier and blinded another in Afghanistan. Under all these circumstances, it is not unreasonable to describe the Trudeau government as dumb and dumber, as the Liberal blunders are piling up.

Despite this, on April 13, 2017, the Liberal government tabled legislation on marijuana. It provides only a vague and little considered framework for the sale, distribution and possession of it. This framework is based on the federal government’s use of its criminal law provisions to supposedly provide “protection of public health”. This is why Trudeau has been going across the country loudly proclaiming that the objective of his marijuana legislation is “to reduce harm to Canadians” and to “decrease the black market of marijuana”. These comments are nothing more than mindless prattle.

The government is ignoring the reality of recreational marijuana use which occurred in Colorado when it legalized recreational marijuana in 2013. Since that time, Colorado has experienced:

· Marijuana use by Colorado youth between the ages of 12 and 17 years old increased by 20%; this was 74% higher than the national average of that age group;

· Marijuana use of university age youths increased by 17%;

· Marijuana use by adults age 26+ years old increased 63% in comparison to an increase nationally of 21%;

· In 2014 when retail marijuana businesses began operating in Colorado, there was a 32% increase in marijuana related traffic deaths. During the same period of time, alltraffic deaths increased by only 8%. Marijuana related traffic deaths were approximately 20% of all traffic deaths;

· There was a 29% increase in the number of marijuana related emergency room visits in 2014 and a 38% increase in the number of marijuana related hospitalizations;

· During the years 2013-2014, the average number of children exposed to marijuana was 31 per year. This was an increase of 138%;

· According to the Colorado Attorney General, legalization of marijuana did not reduce black market marijuana activity “the criminals are still selling on the black market…. We have plenty of cartel activity and plenty of illegal activity that has not decreased at all”; and

· Homelessness in Colorado surged by 50% with 20 to 30% of newcomers living in shelters, having moved to Colorado to have easy access to marijuana.

Trudeau and his government apparently haven’t even read their own Health Canada Website, which lists the risks of marijuana to include:

· Risks to health, some of which may not be known or fully understood. Studies supporting the safety and efficacy of cannabis for therapeutic purposes are limited and do not meet the standard required by the Food and Drug Regulations for marketed drugs in Canada.

· Smoking cannabis is not recommended. Do not smoke or vapourize cannabis in the presence of children.

· Using cannabis or any cannabis product can impair concentration, ability to think and make decisions, reaction time and coordination. This can affect your motor skills, including ability to drive. It can also increase anxiety and cause panic attacks, and in some cases cause paranoia and hallucinations.

· Cognitive impairment may be greatly increased when cannabis is consumed along with alcohol or other drugs which affect the activity of the nervous system (e.g. opioids, sleeping pills, other psychoactive drugs)

The warning goes on to list specifically when cannabis should never be used by anyone:

· under the age of 25

· who has serious liver, kidney, heart or lung disease

· who has a personal or family history of serious mental disorder such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, or bipolar disorder

· who is pregnant, is planning to get pregnant, or is breast-feeding

· who is a man who wishes to start a family

· who has a history of alcohol or drug abuse or substance dependence

In June 2016, ignoring this crucial information, Trudeau established a Task Force to make recommendations on marijuana use. The Committee was headed by former Liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan. The bad news was that the nine-member Committee included the controversial Dr. Perry Kendall, who, both as Ontario Medical Officer of Health and BC Provincial Health Officer, has advocated for legalization of drugs. In June, 2010, Dr. Kendall claimed that the use of the drug ecstasy can be “safe” when consumed “responsibly”. In 2016, Dr. Kendall called for the decriminalization of personal drug use and possession.

The Committee’s Report, released in December, 2016, could have been written by the marijuana industry. It is void of concerns for public safety and, if implemented, will cause damage to generations of Canadians to the benefit of the marijuana industry.

The Committee recommended that the age of majority, that is 18, be set for the use of marijuana (nineteen years for those in provinces where that is the age of majority).

On May 29th, 2017 an alarmed Canadian Medical Association (CMA), in an editorial in its Journal, stated that current research shows the brain doesn’t reach maturity until around age 25. The CMA editorial referred to the fact that the 9% risk of developing dependence over a lifetime rises to 17% if marijuana use is started in the teen years.

The CMA recommends that the government raise the legal age for buying marijuana to 21, and that it restrict the quantity and potency of the marijuana available to those under 25 years of age.

The Canadian Paediatric Society position paper on the effects of cannabis on children and youth cites serious potential effects, such as: increased presence of mental illness, including depression, anxiety and psychosis; diminished school performance and lifetime achievement; increased risk of tobacco smoking; impaired neurological development and cognitive decline; and a risk of addiction.

In 2010, Canadian youth were ranked No. 1 for cannabis use among 43 countries in Europe and North America. Are we trying to maintain this record?

The federal Task Force also recommended that individuals be allowed to possess 30 grams of marijuana and be permitted to cultivate marijuana for non-medical purposes providing it is limited to four plants per residence, and has the maximum height limit of 100 centimetres. No doubt the police will be knocking on doors with their measuring sticks to ensure that the width and height of the marijuana plants conform to the law.

Just like the Big Tobacco Industry before it, the Big Marijuana Industry is pumping up its corporate growers, in anticipation of grabbing billions of dollars in the growing, distribution and selling of pot across the country. Tobacco smoking is the second biggest risk factor for early death and disability after high blood pressure. Fortunately, because of intense advertising against tobacco smoking, its prevalence has dropped from 35% to 25% among men and from 8% to 5% among women. What on earth then, are we doing by reversing ourselves and adding dangerous marijuana smoke to the deadly mix?

Provinces Concerned About the Marijuana Proposal

Each of the provinces will be required to implement its own rules and restrictions in respect of the distribution and sale of marijuana. This means the provinces will have the last say on the method of sale and point-of-sale restrictions, having regard to the key objective of the federal legislation – supposedly, to prevent or reduce harm to Canadians. In deciding their own rules, Houdini wouldn’t be able to accomplish this. Neither are the provinces likely to reap the supposed vast profits from the sale of marijuana. The provinces are rightly skeptical about any such windfall since taxes on pot are expected to stay low to ensure the regulated market elbows out illegal dealers.

It is significant that on November 1, 2016, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), Jean-Denis Frechette, released a 77 page study entitled, “Legalized Cannabis: Fiscal Considerations”, which states that the federal government may have little fiscal space to heavily tax cannabis the way it does tobacco, without pushing the legal price well beyond that of currently illicit pot. Price legal pot too high and the black market will continue to flourish; too low and governments could be seen to be encouraging its use.

The PBO projects that sales tax revenue in 2018 could be as low as $356 million and as high as $959 million, with a likely take of about $618 million based on legalized retail cannabis selling for $9 per gram – in line with current street prices.

In addition, health care costs are expected to soar with the legalized use of recreational marijuana. As an example, a new study presented to the Pediatric Academic Societies in 2016, found that one in six toddlers admitted to a Colorado hospital with coughing, wheezing and other symptoms of bronchiolitis tested positive for marijuana exposure.

The Liberal government hopes to have this marijuana muddle all sorted out by July 1, 2018, disregarding the harm to society caused by this legislation. What seems to matter to this government, only, is that millennials vote for the party in the 2019 federal election – even if they are all spaced-out from the use of marijuana!

The Liberal government is reckless and utterly irresponsible in bringing this marijuana legislation forward.

Reality Volume XXXVI Issue No. 10 October 2017 Source: http://www.realwomenofcanada.ca/big-bad-liberal-marijuana-muddle/

Filed under: Canada,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Political Sector :

US life expectancy fell because of the opioid crisis. (Reuters/Adrees Latif)

September 28, 2017 The opioid crisis in the United States is killing nearly one hundred people per day. Some areas are particularly hard hit, leaving officials to deal with constantly multiplying bodies of those claimed by overdose. In Ohio, morgues keep running out of space, forcing authorities to use temporary cold-storage trailers instead. In New Hampshire, medical examiners can’t handle the influx of bodies, making them unable to perform routine autopsies.

Add to that a new, terribly sad number: in West Virginia, officials had to spend nearly $1 million on the transportation of corpses in the fiscal year that ended June 30. Authorities told the Charleston-Gazette Mail that the number of body transports nearly doubled from 2015 to 2017, with a record 880 people dying in the state of overdose last year—the highest rate in the US. One embalmer had to come out of retirement three years ago to help deal with the amount of bodies.

Each death requires at least two trips—to the morgue and to the funeral home. With only two state-run morgues, long trips become costly. West Virginia lawmakers had to approve an additional $500,000 in funding to transport the dead this year. With body transport becoming such a big business—$881,620 paid to private contractors in fiscal year 2017—some improprieties emerged as well. A company that at one point controlled 94% of the state’s business has recently been suspended for a potential and alleged breach of confidentiality, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

The opioid crisis has reached such dire proportions in the US that a recent analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association said it cut the life expectancy in the US by 2.5 months. The total estimates of the epidemic’s cost to the economy vary, from $25 billion to even $150 billion a year, when you consider the cost of a lost life (paywall).

The Trump administration promised to take on the issue, with the president himself saying it was a “national emergency,” but no concrete steps have been made yet—including a formal declaration that the epidemic is a national emergency, which would unlock resources that could help.

Source: Reuters . September 28, 2017

Filed under: Heroin/Methadone,Prescription Drugs,Social Affairs,USA :

NEW REPORT BY NATIONAL FAMILIES IN ACTION RIPS THE VEIL OFF THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA INDUSTRY

Research Traces the Money Trail and Reveals the Motivation Behind Marijuana as Medicine

Atlanta, Ga. (March 14, 2017)—A new report by National Families in Action (NFIA) uncovers and documents how three billionaires, who favour legal recreational marijuana, manipulated the ballot initiative process in 16 U.S. states for more than a decade, convincing voters to legalize medical marijuana. NFIA is an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization, founded in 1977, that has been helping parents prevent children from using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. NFIA researched and issued the paper to mark its 40th anniversary.

The NFIA study, Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters, exposes, for the first time, the money trail behind the marijuana legalization effort during a 13-year period. The report lays bare the strategy to use medical marijuana as a runway to legalized recreational pot, describing how financier George Soros, insurance magnate Peter Lewis, and for-profit education baron John Sperling (and groups they and their families fund) systematically chipped away at resistance to marijuana while denying that full legalization was their goal.

The report documents state-by-state financial data, identifying the groups and the amount of money used either to fund or oppose ballot initiatives legalizing medical or recreational marijuana in 16 states. The paper unearths how legalizers fleeced voters and outspent—sometimes by hundreds of times—the people who opposed marijuana.

Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters illustrates that legalizers lied about the health benefits of marijuana, preyed on the hopes of sick people, flouted scientific evidence and advice from the medical community and gutted consumer protections against unsafe, ineffective drugs. And, it proves that once the billionaires achieved their goal of legalizing recreational marijuana (in Colorado and Washington in 2012), they virtually stopped financing medical pot ballot initiatives and switched to financing recreational pot. In 2014 and 2016, they donated $44 million to legalize recreational pot in Alaska, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine. Only Arizona defeated the onslaught (for recreational marijuana).

Unravelling the Legalization Strategy: Behind the Curtain In 1992, financier George Soros contributed an estimated $15 million to several groups he advised to stop advocating for outright legalization and start working toward what he called more winnable issues such as medical marijuana.

At a press conference in 1993, Richard Cowen, then-director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said, “The key to it [full legalization] is medical access. Because, once you have hundreds of thousands of people using marijuana medically, under medical supervision, the whole scam is going to be blown. The consensus here is that medical marijuana is our strongest suit. It is our point of leverage which will move us toward the legalization of marijuana for personal use.”

Between 1996 and 2009, Soros, Lewis and Sperling contributed 80 percent of the money to medicalize marijuana through state ballot initiatives. Their financial contributions, exceeding $15.7 million (of the $19.5 million total funding), enabled their groups to lie to voters in advertising campaigns, cover up marijuana’s harmful effects, and portray pot as medicine—leading people to believe that the drug is safe and should be legal for any use.

Today, polls show how successful the billionaires and their money have been. In 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, voters and, later, legislators have shown they believe marijuana is medicine, even though most of the scientific and medical communities say marijuana is not medicine and should not be legal. While the most recent report, issued by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS), finds that marijuana may alleviate certain kinds of pain, it also finds there is no rigorous, medically acceptable documentation that marijuana is effective in treating any other illness. At the same time, science offers irrefutable evidence that marijuana is addictive, harmful and can hinder brain development in adolescents. At the distribution level, there are no controls on the people who sell to consumers. Budtenders (marijuana bartenders) have no medical or pharmaceutical training or qualifications.

One tactic used by legalizers was taking advantage of voter empathy for sick people, along with the confusion about science and how the FDA approves drugs. A positive finding in a test tube or petri dish is merely a first step in a long, rigorous process leading to scientific consensus about the efficacy of a drug. Scientific proof comes after randomized, controlled clinical trials, and many drugs with promising early stage results never make it through the complex sets of hurdles that prove efficacy and safety. But marijuana legalizers use early promise and thin science to persuade and manipulate empathetic legislators and voters into buying the spin that marijuana is a cure-all.

People who are sick already have access to two FDA-approved drugs, Dronabinol and Nabilone, that are not marijuana, but contain identical copies of some of the components of marijuana. These drugs, available as pills, effectively treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting. The NAS reviewed 10,700 abstracts of marijuana studies conducted since 1999, finding that these two oral drugs are effective in adults for the conditions described above. An extract containing two marijuana chemicals that is approved in other countries, reduces spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis. But there is no evidence that marijuana treats other diseases, including epilepsy and most of the other medical conditions the states have legalized marijuana to treat. These conditions range from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Crohn’s disease to Hepatitis-C, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even sickle cell disease.

Not So Fast – What about the Regulations?

Legalizers also have convinced Americans that unregulated cannabidiol, a marijuana component branded as cannabis oil, CBD, or Charlotte’s Web, cures intractable seizures in children with epilepsy, and polls show some 90 percent of Americans want medical marijuana legalized, particularly for these sick children. In Colorado, the American Epilepsy Society reports that children with epilepsy are receiving unregulated, highly variable artisanal preparations of cannabis oil recommended, in most cases, by doctors with no training in paediatrics, neurology or epilepsy. Young patients have had severe dystonic reactions and other movement disorders, developmental regression, intractable vomiting and worsening seizures that can be so severe that their physicians have to put the child into a coma to get the seizures to stop. Because of these dangerous side effects, not one paediatric neurologist in Colorado, where unregulated cannabidiol is legal, recommends it for these children.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta further clouded the issue when he produced Weed in 2013, a three-part documentary series for CNN on marijuana as medicine. In all three programs, Dr. Gupta promoted CBD oil, the kind the American Epilepsy Society calls artisanal. This is because not one CBD product sold in legal states has been purified to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, tested, or proven safe and effective. The U.S. Congress and the FDA developed rigid processes to review drugs and prevent medical tragedies such as birth defects caused by thalidomide. These processes have facilitated the greatest advances in medicine in history.

“By end-running the FDA, three billionaires have been willing to wreck the drug approval process that has protected Americans from unsafe, ineffective drugs for more than a century,” said Sue Rusche, president and CEO of National Families in Action and author of the report. “Unsubstantiated claims for the curative powers of marijuana abound.” No one can be sure of the purity, content, side effects or potential of medical marijuana to cause cancer or any other disease. When people get sick from medical marijuana, there are no uniform mechanisms to recall products causing the harm. Some pot medicines contain no active ingredients. Others contain contaminants. “Sick people, especially children, suffer while marijuana medicine men make money at their expense,” added Ms. Rusche.

Marijuana Industry – Taking a Page from the Tobacco Industry The paper draws a parallel between the marijuana and tobacco industries, both built with the knowledge that a certain percentage of users will become addicted and guaranteed lifetime customers. Like tobacco, legalized marijuana will produce an unprecedented array of new health, safety and financial consequences to Americans and their children.

“Americans learned the hard way about the tragic effects of tobacco and the deceptive practices of the tobacco industry. Making another addictive drug legal unleashes a commercial business that is unable to resist the opportunity to make billions of dollars on the back of human suffering, unattained life goals, disease, and death,” said Ms. Rusche. “If people genuinely understood that marijuana can cause cognitive, safety and mental health problems, is addictive, and that addiction rates may be three times higher than reported, neither voters nor legislators would legalize pot.” NDPA recommends readers to read the whole report Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters

Source: www.nationalfamilies.org. 2017

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Economic,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Health,Social Affairs,USA :

Draft rules are unlikely to contain an exemption to state law barring smoking in public places, so pot would have to be consumed through edibles or tincture.

Maine may be the first state in the country to license marijuana social clubs, but the pot could not be smoked in the clubs and would have to be consumed in another manner.

The legislation to regulate adult-use marijuana under consideration in Augusta now would push club licensing off until at least June 2019, about a year after Maine’s first retail stores are likely to open. Although not thrilled with the delay, most legalization advocates say they are just happy that club licensing was not stripped out of the bill, which is a legislative rewrite of last November’s successful citizen initiative.

The bill does not expressly prohibit smoking in the clubs, but it also doesn’t carve out an exemption to the state’s no-smoking law, which bans smoking of any kind, including vaping, in public places such as bars and restaurants. That means the clubs would be limited to the sale of pot edibles or tinctures that patrons would have to use on site, said state Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, co-chairman of the Legislature’s Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation.

“The committee was divided on this issue,” Katz said. “Some of us, including myself, did not want to be the first state to experiment with social clubs because of the public safety concerns. Others said it was going to happen anyway, better we recognize it and appropriately license and regulate them, which is what voters wanted. But we had consensus on keeping our smoking ban intact.”

NO POT SMOKING-LAW EXEMPTION

Maine law currently allows smoking in cigar bars, but Katz said a majority of committee members didn’t want to add a smoking law exemption for marijuana. The bill is still in draft form, however, so it could undergo many changes before it is sent to the full Legislature for a vote next month. A public hearing on the bill is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the State House in Augusta.

Advocates in Maine are pleased that the bill would allow club patrons to buy and use marijuana in the same location, but they argue that the 2019 licensing date is too late. They want cannabis social clubs to have the same rights as alcohol and tobacco clubs. A city like Portland should be able to license a marijuana club with a rooftop patio that would allow outdoor smoking, said advocate David Boyer.

“We have social clubs for alcohol, and they are called bars,” said Boyer, director of the Maine chapter of the Marijuana Policy Project, one of the groups that helped pass the Marijuana Legalization Act last fall. “Bars can have outside smoking patios. And cigar clubs, they certainly allow smoking. Marijuana is safer than either of those substances.”

Boyer’s organization is considering a petition drive in Portland to establish local licensing rules for social clubs that would be ready to implement in order to speed up the process once the clubs are approved. That might not be necessary, however, because city officials are thinking along the same lines and are already planning a fact-finding trip to Denver.

But legalization opponents say social clubs are just one of the reasons they lobbied against the ballot question last year. The leader of Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities, Scott Gagnon, has said social clubs would put more impaired drivers on

Maine roads. Since no state has yet licensed social clubs, there are no data available on whether they would lead to more traffic accidents or fatalities.

IMPACT ON ROAD SAFETY UNCLEAR

Data on the impact of legalization on traffic safety are mixed.

Like many other states, Maine has had its share of underground marijuana-friendly clubs, and certain parks and beaches are popular spots to use marijuana with different degrees of discretion. The adult-use law adopted last fall allows adults to grow six plants on their own property or someone else’s, with permission, and have up to 2½ ounces of marijuana in their possession for personal use.

Current law bans public cultivation or consumption, which doesn’t give the 36 million people who visit Maine each year a place to use any pot that they might buy when here, because most hotels ban smoking inside rooms. Club advocates have said pot lounges would give tourists a legal place to use the pot they buy here and keep them out of the parks and off the beaches.

But a review of other states’ marijuana laws and regulations reveals that marijuana clubs remain uncharted territory in the national landscape. Even in Colorado, which was the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana, government officials have been reluctant to license pot clubs, worried that it would invite federal authorities to crack down on a drug that is still illegal under federal law.

Oregon does not allow pot social clubs. Alaska and California are considering whether to license them. California, Nevada and Colorado laws do not prohibit clubs, so local governments could agree to grant licenses. So far, only Colorado City has any licensed social clubs, where consumers can use pot they bring with them – but even those are under order to shut down by 2023.

Denver adopted a pot social club pilot program and announced it was ready to begin accepting applications last month, but so far no one has applied. Would-be club operators say the rules are too restrictive, partly because they ban consumption at places that sell marijuana, essentially making clubs a bring-your-own venue, and require clubs to be twice as far away from schools or playgrounds as bars.

Massachusetts law allows social clubs in local municipalities, but the newly appointed Cannabis Control Commission will likely take up that issue while it writes state regulations. A Denver-based party bus service, Loopr, which bills itself as a mobile cannabis lounge, is targeting Boston for expansion into New England next year, as well as having franchises in California and Nevada.

ADVICE: DON’T BE THE GUINEA PIG

“I always advise clients you don’t want to be the first at something,” said Andrew Freedman, former director of marijuana coordination for Colorado who now works as a marijuana consultant. “It’s better to see what other states have done to see what works, and what doesn’t, with marijuana. There’s a lot of public health and safety on the line, and the federal authorities are always watching. Freedman’s firm is now taking on state clients to advise them on how to set up their adult-use markets, and would like to find work in Maine.

Source: http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/25/maines-marijuana-social-clubs-likely-to-be-no-smoking-venues/

Filed under: Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Social Affairs,USA :

Drug trafficking is now the most murderous criminal activity in American history. Overdose deaths from illegal drugs passed 50,000 in 2015 — many times the number of Americans killed by all Islamic terrorists over almost 20 years. Yet stopping the skyrocketing body count will require overcoming a pervasive misunderstanding of how drug abuse and addiction are caused.

Blaming the victim has created confusion and policy failure. No one starts using drugs intending to become an addict. While addiction may seem like slow-motion suicide, most addicts do not want to die — the poison hooks them, taking over their life. Media reports of addiction are mixed with entertainment and social media that present drug use as commonplace. More and more Americans are drawn to the flame, many introduced to substance abuse by a friend or family member. “Just say no” is dead. Yes, encouraging young people not to use drugs can save individual lives, but personal morality is not the right battleground.

There are multiple factors that may be contributing to this crisis. Does expanding supply trigger drug experimentation? Does human biology simply include a dangerous susceptibly to runaway addiction? Or is cultural confusion about freedom and self-destruction enabling and normalizing drug addiction? All these factors (and possibly more) likely play a part. But what causes an epidemic is the addictive poison itself, spread in sufficient quantities. Ultimately, America’s addiction catastrophe is properly understood as a mass poisoning.

As a result, cutting the drug supply — and only cutting supply — will reduce deaths and addiction. The evidence for this conclusion is manifest; ignoring it will cost countless more lives.

Curtailing Supply

There was no demand for crack before it was created and distributed by Colombian traffickers. There was no demand for meth before it was created by criminal gangs and then “cooked” by users. Similarly, there was no massive abuse of prescription opioids until they were irresponsibly marketed by some manufacturers and prescribed by physicians contrary to sound medical practice.

The increase in heroin and fentanyl use, addiction, and deaths followed the increase in the supply from Mexico and China. Conversely, during the George W. Bush Administration, when the supply of cocaine, crack, and meth began declining, use declined. Now, as cocaine production in Colombia has grown again, use and overdose deaths are climbing. Finally, the leveling trend in the abuse of prescription opioids has followed enforcement actions against pill mills and criminal physicians — that is, it follows an apparent reduction in supply. Americans have long accepted the claim that it is impossible to stop drug trafficking, even in the face of extensive evidence to the contrary. Anti-terrorism efforts must stop just a few dedicated individuals. This is a tough problem that Americans see solved every day. Yet the poisoning of millions is supposedly unstoppable. It isn’t.

Moreover, misunderstanding the cause of drug epidemics has shifted the policy debate away from the right goals: reducing the supply of drugs and returning addicts to sobriety. With deaths at historic levels, some still maintain that drug use is a right or otherwise not worth the cost of controlling. This harm reduction position is at odds with both supply control and all forms of prevention education — and increasingly at odds with treatment understood as having the goal of abstinence.

Many drug policy progressives now insist on medically supervised addiction. Such medication assisted treatment (MAT) amounts to government-supervised facilities for drug use (injection sites) or even government-supplied drugs for the addicted. The model here is the Netherlands, where endless, government-supported drug use is treated as a means of treating addiction. These addicts continue to be victimized by their own country, fostering a separate and profoundly dysfunctional underclass.

In the face of expanding supply, prevention and treatment efforts cannot be strategic — they can save individual lives, but new lives will be put at risk. This is merely squeezing an uncontained balloon. Moreover, if supply is reduced significantly, use and addiction will necessarily fall without respect to prevention and treatment efforts. The evidence of almost 50 years indicates that prevention and treatment efforts only contribute to strategic results when supply is reduced.

Prevention and treatment save lives, but their strategic effect is overwhelmed if supply and trafficking are not curtailed.

Policy proposals placing emphasis on reviving drug overdose victims mistake cause and effect. In the case of opioid addiction, the cause is the opioids themselves and increasingly, fentanyl. Revived addicts are still victims, and, sadly, many treated for opioid addiction will relapse in the face of burgeoning supply. Fentanyl and its variants are now driving the rapid rise in opioid deaths and drug overdoses in general. Information, albeit inadequate, suggests China is the source for these substances and the precursors to produce them. It seems there is no large-scale legitimate use for these chemicals outside of what is supposed to be controlled production for limited medical use — thus, industrial diversion is not a primary issue. Unfortunately, however, this means U.S. officials cannot attack fentanyl directly, but only via Chinese enforcement action.

China is likely to be sensitive to sustained pressure by authoritative American voices, whether from federal officials or prominent private individuals. America should ramp up this pressure soon. If executive branch officials cannot lead the charge, individuals from outside the executive, including members of Congress, should take the lead.

The Chinese are likely to act only in response to threats to their political or economic interests. Spurring them to act may require frequent confrontations over their performance in stopping fentanyl trafficking to the U.S. and Mexico. But sustained, genuine pressure works.

It is also possible that fentanyl and precursors are being trafficked from other Asian countries. Hence further — and swift — investigation is needed.

Bolstering Intelligence Resources

It is reasonable to anticipate that traffickers will seek to move production in response to pressure. If that happens, other Asian nations can be pressured by a range of escalating sanctions. Identification, especially public charging of foreign criminals, can be particularly helpful in disrupting trafficking operations, along with attacks on criminal funds and individuals through U.S. law.

An attack of sufficient power to collapse trafficking networks requires detailed intelligence. Such intelligence is also needed to prod foreign governments to act within their authority. Greater intelligence resources are also crucial for attacking trafficker finance, corruption operations, and measuring policy effectiveness. Attacking networks and responding to the drug epidemic requires comprehensive, real-time data. This data — from foreign intelligence services, domestic law enforcement agencies, and public health reports — should be fused into a strategic whole.

Fortunately, American intelligence has developed tools to attack such networked terrorist threats. At over 50,000 overdose deaths a year, the mass poisoning of drug trafficking is the most profound attack on America today. It is time to fully unleash intelligence tools on trafficking networks.

Without adequate intelligence, the magnitude of trafficking on the internet and “dark web” is unknown. Available information suggests it is significant, however. Federal drug enforcement has generally made electronic investigations a low priority, rejecting proposals to disrupt such markets by means of false sites, service denials, and cross-referencing data from multiple sources. All national security capacities are not yet deployed against opioid trafficking on the internet; this should change immediately. Past efforts to mount internet attacks by federal drug enforcement agencies have been crippled by ignorance, lack of experience, lack of vision, and complacency. The primary strategic goal should not just be to make future cases, but permanent market disruption; make it difficult to use the internet for trafficking by destroying the ability of buyers to connect with sellers.

Even the incomplete information on the opioid epidemic suggests that enforcement actions against pill mills and criminal physicians have reduced addiction and death driven by U.S. pharmaceutical sources. This has been a “supply control” success. Nonetheless, there is evidence of lower, but continued diversion. The pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance industry, and the federal government (the largest single health-care payer) all have information that should be brought together to identify and stop criminal diversion. The key point should be to focus attention on the biggest threat and its biggest components. There are regular reports of misuse of federal health-care funds to support addiction; some reports suggest areas where such practices are concentrated, which may serve as a starting point for enforcement actions.

Disrupting Networks Colombia is now back to producing more cocaine than it did prior to the dramatic drop in coca cultivation through Plan Colombia, which was largely due to the cooperation of former President Alvaro Uribe. Aside from a corresponding rise in cocaine overdose deaths, there are now reports of deaths resulting from cocaine-fentanyl mixtures. This deadly combination was seen about 10 years ago and may now be poised to cause harm on a greater scale. Much more fentanyl is available to Mexican traffickers carrying opioids and cocaine into the U.S. The Obama administration downplayed drug control in Colombia to pursue other goals. Colombian institutions are, again, put at risk by narcoterrorism. The previous security partnership needs reinvigoration, but the U.S. should make clear that the current trends are unacceptable for an ally and trading partner. A first step might be to have a government official or prominent private citizen warn the Colombian president that “if he doesn’t stop sending the cocaine, perhaps it is time to ask him to stop sending the coffee and the flowers.” Fortunately, former-president Uribe remains politically active and he knows how to attack the cocaine problem — Colombians would be wise to give him the job.

Contrary to the widespread belief that prescription diversion is driving the opioid crisis, available evidence indicates that most opioids and other illegal are produced outside the U.S. Further, these drugs seem to be arriving from Mexico. It is likely that most of them pass within six feet of a uniformed federal officer at our southern border. This is an unacceptable failure. Additional personnel will be useful, but the most important missing element is access to intelligence about trafficker operations. Enforcement agencies need to “see” into Mexico, and they need to see the structure of foreign and domestic trafficking networks.

Drug enforcement agencies and prosecutors need to treat individual cases as a means of network disruption, not as ends in themselves. In fact, it is likely that many smaller cases involving lesser charges that can be brought quickly will damage street-level trafficking networks more effectively than larger cases requiring longer investigations. In short, enforcement efforts need to become urgent and strategic.

Moreover, traffickers deserve stiff prison sentences. Such sentences are important leverage for turning traffickers against each other. Prison capacity for these death merchants must be made available to save lives. Enforcement pressure needs to be scaled to the threat.

Overall, drug enforcement management is insufficiently threat-based and seldom shifts resources rapidly to the greatest threats. While drug trafficking is killing more Americans than all other criminal activity combined, drug enforcement does not receive resources remotely proportional to the threat. The criminal-justice system is merely trying (and failing) to cope with the drug threat. It must come to see its mission as systematically destroying the threat — and plan, budget, and staff accordingly.

A Counter-Drug Strategy

An effective counter-drug strategy must attack at three points: source, distribution, and retail. If any one point of attack is particularly effective, it will substantially reduce use. It is probable, however, that the different points of attack will be effective in different degrees, while results will be cumulative and reinforcing.

At the retail level of street sales and use, the targets are whole communities, large geographic areas. Local and state efforts will be most important because there are insufficient federal resources to create the magnitude of the response required at the retail level. Local and state elements can be “enlisted” in a more unified national effort. That means encouraging and offering supplementary, strategic support with national personnel and resources.

Nevertheless, it may be critical to begin with willing state and local partners — those who commit their personnel and resources to the new strategy. These initial sites will also refine the elements of the strategy and demonstrate the effectiveness of more controversial components. Sites should be in priority areas and on as wide a scale as circumstances permit, but they should also be understood as points from which localized effort will flow outward — as ink spots on paper. Taking back individual communities in this way is an application of counterinsurgency concepts — it is also an established means of fighting epidemics.

At the retail level, the dealer and user are the center of gravity. Street-level enforcement needs to respond to opioid distribution as an immediate threat to life. Every sale can bring an overdose and every overdose can result in death. Each dealer is more like an active shooter than a house thief. Yet police response is frequently more focused on victim than on victimizer. The low-level dealer is also a low priority for enforcement personnel and prosecutors. This misguided policy is feeding the epidemic at the local level.

Accordingly, street-level enforcement should be reconceived in two ways. First, much greater urgency should be given to finding and incapacitating the dealer. Second, arresting users should be seen as a public health measure to screen for and treat addiction, as with the successful drug court model. Drug courts and diversion programs are already a major source of treatment admissions in the U.S. But this has been understood as a means of reducing the burden on the criminal-justice system. It should be seen as a necessary means of getting addicts who are in denial (as the vast majority are) into treatment and keeping them there through detoxification and stable sobriety. Street-level enforcement should be targeted to collapse dealer networks and should be tuned to become an intake channel for treatment.

All this will mean more arrests and more resources devoted to creating appropriate responses for users and dealers after arrest. Occasional, non-addicted users have a much lower probability of arrest at the point of drug sales because their purchases are infrequent. The risk to addicts is greater because they commonly need multiple doses per day. Thus, the normal pressure of street-level enforcement will tend to involve the larger dealers and the heavier users. Arrest and referral to treatment will save the lives of the addicted and even the arrest and warning of occasional users could be a potentially life-saving deterrent.

Such enforcement effort needs to be targeted, however. The obvious way to locate addicts and their dealers is to follow the reports of overdose victims. These reports provide a painful — but clear — geographic map of the epidemic. That map should be the basis for identifying priority areas nationally.

Currently, national information on overdose deaths lags by more than a year. This is unacceptable, and public health officials should be held accountable for creating a local, state, and national, real-time map of the epidemic. Preventing death means stopping traffickers and bringing effective outreach to the addicted in real time.

Finally, while attacking the source and border interdiction take the form of “outside-in” efforts, street enforcement and treatment involves an “inside-out” movement. Is this possible? Can individual communities make progress in the absence of full national success against the drug supply? Can a neighborhood-by-neighborhood strategy work?

Certainly, there is a risk of the epidemic moving back into improved areas from nearby trafficker enclaves. But, in fact, there are many law enforcement examples demonstrating that crime and drug trafficking is displaceable and containable with sustained, effective effort. The pace of the attack matters, and must run ahead of criminal replacement efforts. Local law enforcement agencies successfully contain certain crimes within specific geographic areas, and respond aggressively if criminals overstep boundaries. As in other matters, overwhelming the problem requires capable leadership with the authority, resources, and determination to prevail. For each part of the strategy above, it is important that one individual receive overall responsibility and that this individual understand that they will be removed in the absence of rapid progress. There is no accountability if there is no individual accountability.

The future of addiction in America rests on whether the supply of addictive drugs is dramatically reduced. The drug policy of the Trump administration will determine whether use and addiction are diminished or if they are more deeply embedded in American life — further expanding the underclass of addicted individuals living in misery and dying too young.

John P. Walters, chief operating officer of the Hudson Institute, was Director of National Drug Control Policy (2001–09).

Source: http://www.realclearpolicy.com/articles/2017/09/21/stopping_the_drug_epidemic_110362.html

Comment from Carla Lowe in the USA:

Hello from California,

A most informative article on the opioid epidemic from our friend John Walters. But I wonder how he would justify not addressing marijuana as a key link to this problem.

Perhaps he, like others far from California, is not aware of our 50,000 illegal marijuana grows, a 35 billion dollar business supplying 60% of the nation’s pot. And this is all in the name of so-called “medical” marijuana.

This situation will become significantly worse after January 1st when marijuana will be available just for fun for those over 21. Only Fools would think that kids’ use won’t rise in our formally golden state, now tragically turning green.

Please help us call on President Trump to enforce federal drug laws. It is absolutely our only hope in turning back this madness.

Carla Lowe CALMca.org

Comment from Dr. Stuart Reece in Australia

Yes John. The above is correct but only a partial analysis. Addiction is often based on the gateway drugs cannabis, alcohol and tobacco. Not only is this addictive basis not being addressed by current policies and practice but it is actively being sponsored by many US state Governments in the extremely false belief that reimbursement through taxation with compensate the community for the virtually endless destruction wrecked by drugs at all levels. Up till now the Feds have not addressed this issue either.

Worse still is what is being done to the next generation. It is not rocket science to observe that the children of these addicted patients are mostly not normal. This is very different to the rest of the community. Not only so but cannabis almost certainly underlies the international “gastroschisis epidemic” (where babies are born with their bowels hanging outside of their body) which no one is talking about, and is commonest in the youngest parents – because they smoke the most weed.

If we don’t start telling the truth about addiction in its totality the web of lies will engulf and enslave us all. The hardest hit will be the children and the poor. And, just as has happened in every single community across the globe in developed and developing nations, social decay and distress will become rampant and profligate.

Freedom begins with the truth – and showing a way out of our seductive mess – and breaking the spell of those who cannot wait to cash in on the collapse of the West.

Filed under: Social Affairs,Social Affairs (Papers) :

Prince William was last night branded ‘naive’ for raising the contentious issue of whether drugs should be legalised with a group of former addicts.

His invitation to discuss the highly controversial topic will give ‘grist to the mill’ of the ‘powerful’ pro-legalisation lobby, an expert warned.

The future king, who in recent weeks has embarked on a new role as a full-time working royal after quitting his job as an air ambulance pilot, spoke out on a visit to an addiction charity on Tuesday.

William admitted the issue of legalising drugs was a ‘massive’ question as he spoke to the former addicts, although he steered clear of voicing an opinion himself.

However, Kathy Gyngell, a research fellow at think-tank the Centre for Policy Studies, said the prince’s question was ‘well-meaning but naive’ and he risked giving succour to those campaigning for a relaxation in the law.

Other experts warned that making it legal to use dangerous substances would send out the wrong message and harm vulnerable people.

The Home Office also issued a blunt statement saying it had no plans to decriminalise drugs because of ‘substantial’ evidence showing they damaged both physical and mental health.

William raised the issue while visiting the Spitalfields Crypt Trust in east London which works with people battling substance abuse.

He said to the former addicts: ‘Can I ask you a very massive question – it’s a big one. ‘There’s obviously a lot of pressure growing on areas about legalising drugs. What are your individual opinions on that?’

Heather Blackburn, 49, from Hackney, replied: ‘I think that it would be a good idea but the money is kind of wasted on drug laws, that put people in prison… You get punished – which is not going to stop anyone taking drugs.’

But Miss Gyngell said William’s question suggested he failed to grasp that what addicts need is earlier intervention from the authorities, not greater freedom.

She said: ‘Had Prince William asked whether legalising drugs would help addicts quit their addiction, he might have received a different reply.

‘Addicts in recovery that I have spoken to say that enabling supply, making drugs cheaper and normalising general use by the removal of sanctions, is the last thing they or we need.

‘Their turning point often was arrest and police pushing them, not into prison, but into treatment.

‘But a propaganda battle has raged in the UK for 25 years or more for legalising drugs, backed by powerful and well-financed legalisation lobbies.

‘The prince’s well-meaning but naive intervention gives grist to their mill.’

Miss Gyngell told The Guardian the debate over how to combat the country’s drugs problem should centre around more prohibition, not less.

Dr Marta Di Forti, a consultant psychiatrist at King’s College London, said: ‘My concern about asking drug addicts for their views is that drug addicts have views related to their experiences.

‘The harm that is reported to be done by cannabis does not come from addiction but among people who develop mental illnesses.’

Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, added: ‘Laws prohibiting the sale and use of certain drugs are in place for good reason.

‘To decriminalise drugs would send out all the wrong messages – especially to vulnerable young people.’

Professor Neil McKeganey, director of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research in Glasgow, said asking people who have abused drugs did not give a rounded view of the situation, when the laws were also there to protect the largely law-abiding general public.

Sources close to the prince stressed that he was not attempting to intervene in the issue or express a view, but trying understand the ‘very complicated issues’ around the legalisation debate.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4904944/Prince-William-branded-naive-legalising-drugs-remark.html 21st Sept. 2017

Filed under: Social Affairs :

Neil McKeganey fears police are not as interested in cracking down on heroin any more SCOTLAND’S efforts to tackle its status as Europe’s worst drugs blackspot has been branded a “record of failure not success” by one of the country’s a leading drugs experts.

The Scottish Government’s flagship “Road to Recovery” strategy has not had any “marked impact” on drug abuse, according to Dr Neil McKeganey, director of the Centre for Drug Misuse research.

He also hits out at failures among local Alcohol and Drug partnerships (ADPs) to deliver on the ground and fears police are not as interested in cracking down on heroin any more as cocaine.

“It is not a lack of knowledge (although there are significant gaps in knowledge) that has truly hampered efforts at tackling Scotland’s drugs problem,” he states in a new essay.

“Rather there appears to have been successive shortcomings in the capacity to combine drug policy at the strategic level with a clear mechanism for implementation at the `street level.’”

The criticism has been published in a new booklet published by the Conservatives entitled Justice Matters.

Dr McKeganey also warns there are “very real concerns” at the way Scotland’s methadone programme is being used, with a lack of information about those on the programme and those leaving it drug free.

“Half of all drug deaths in Scotland are now linked to methadone compared to a figure of 14% in England” he adds.

Tory leader Ruth Davidson said the booklet sets out “straightforward, no-nonsense Conservative policies that reflect the concerns of mainstream Scotland.”

She added: “Our aim is to cut crime and anti-social behaviour, make our communities safer and improve the quality of life for ordinary Scots.”

Source: http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/scotland-s-war-on-drugs-is-a-record-of-failure-1-3665809  19th Jan.2015

Filed under: Prevention and Intervention,Social Affairs :

2015 will be remembered as the year legalization hit bumps most supporters never anticipated.

For pro-health advocates that oppose marijuana legalization, it was a year of fantastic victories! Here are the top 10:

10. Big Marijuana is Real — and People are Writing About It.

When we started talking about Big Marijuana in 2013, many people laughed. Could marijuana even be compared with Big Tobacco in any credible way? But now, that’s ancient history. Several articles – even in legalization-friendly blogs like this one – mention the term. And the term is not just rhetoric — the most senior federal legalization lobbyist in the country resigned in protest because, in his words, “industry was taking over the legalization movement.” Not only was that heroic of him, it was historic for us.

9. Continuing Positive Press Coverage of Groups Opposing Legalization. 

With the exception of some very pro-pot columnists, this year represented one in which our side was represented just a little bit better than in the past. A profile of SAM was featured in the International Business Times, and other articles continued to broadcast our message to new audiences.

With the hiring of a new Communications Director in 2016, you can bet we won’t let up on this next year.

8. Several States Resisted Full-Blown Legalization. 

We entered 2014 after setbacks in Alaska and Oregon; but we stuck to winning messages and formed coalitions in a bloc of New England states that were all under attack in the early part of 2015. From Maine to Massachusetts to New Hampshire to Rhode Island, our partners and affiliates fought back —- and not one state legalized via legislature as the legalizers had promised. We’ll be taking this momentum into 2016.

7. Lawyering Up.

 Many of our friends made strong statements in court — “Colorado and other states cannot legalize in the face of federal law,” they argue. Of course we know they are right, and we know that regardless of legal outcomes the statement they sent was loud and clear. (We’re also happy that the Justice Department, in its opposition to the suit, solely argued against it on procedural grounds — they did not substantively come out in favor of legalization to the Solicitor General). The plaintiff’s bar should take notice—just like Big Tobacco became a big target for lawsuits, Big Marijuana and those who sell the drug will, too.

6. Marijuana Stores Banned in California, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, and Elsewhere. 

Despite legalization in some states, we know that local ordinances are one of the key strategies to keeping marijuana out of communities. The majority of towns in most weed-friendly states have indeed banned stores altogether. Even in Detroit, up to half of Detroit’s roughly 150 medical marijuana dispensaries could close following a Detroit City Council vote to approve a restrictive zoning ordinance. We will keep pushing hard for more bans in 2016.

5. Legalizers Made No Gains in Congress This Year
.

 For the past decade, it seemed that every year we lost a little more in Congress. Not in 2015. Despite the most aggressive lobbying effort yet by pro-marijuana folks, they made no progress on key provisions:

· They wanted to give tax breaks to pot shops—just like Big Tobacco lobbies to lower taxes on cigarettes.

And we won – on every issue.

4. Continued Support from ONDCP, DEA, and NIDA.

2015 was a transitional year for key federal drug policy agencies. A new ONDCP Director was appointed — and even though we are still waiting for the Obama Administration to enforce federal law, it is clear where Director Botticelli’s heart is. Right after getting into office, the Director sat down with me for a one-to-one on-the-record interview where he blasted legal pot. And only a few weeks ago, he was featured on 60 Minutes talking about the harms of marijuana and the harms of the industry.

Additionally, we saw the appointment of a new DEA Administrator — this time from the FBI. Administrator Rosenberg has been an excellent leader by moving to support legitimate medical research over faux claims of “medical” marijuana.

And we continue to receive support from NIDA Director Nora Volkow, who headlined SAM’s summit last year, for her unwavering support of public health above profits. 

3. Real Progress on Researching the Medical Components of Marijuana.

 I’m proud that SAM took a bold stand this year to defend the legitimate research of medical components of marijuana. And our ground-breaking report paid off. The federal government has already adopted two of the report’s provisions — eliminating the Public Health Service review and getting rid of onerous CBD handling requirements. We will continue to fight for legitimate marijuana research, and to separate it from faux medicine-by-ballot-initiative. 

2. No States Legalized “Medical” Marijuana in 2015.

This is a big one, given where the country is on the “medical” marijuana issue. No state legalized the drug for medical purposes this year, despite several tries in key states. Even in Georgia, where legalizers have been emboldened by a few pot-friendly legislators, a government-convened panel voted to follow science and impose sensible restrictions on the drug. 

1. Ohio! 

Of course, the victory in Ohio tops the field. Despite being outspent 12-to-1, our affiliates and partners brought us a huge victory in November. We plan to build on this for 2016, but we need your help.

Despite the nonstop talking point of “inevitability,” we know that the 8% of Americans who use pot don’t speak for 92% of Americans that don’t want to see Big Tobacco 2.0, don’t want to worry about another drug impairing drivers on the road, and don’t want to think about keeping things like innocuous-looking “pot gummy bears” away from their kids. We know that the pot lobby will work hard for things like not only full-blown legalization in several more states next year, but also things like on-site pot smoking “bars” (they are really proposing these in Alaska and Colorado as we speak) and an expansion of pot edibles.

In 2016, let’s nip Big Marijuana in the bud.

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-a-sabet-phd/top-10-antimarijuana-lega_b_8879338.html

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Political Sector,USA :

Priorities for Reform of UK Drug Policy : Policy-UK Forum

Dear Mr Marsh.

Thank you for the invitation. I shall not be attending.

You have included in the Speakers Niamh Eastwood & Mike Trace, both people who push drugs legalisation. I have debated publicly with both. Their positions are well known. I do not take either seriously as unbiased commentators on drugs policy. I doubt government does either. I regard both as paid apostles of a particular point of view. A point of view which is not shared by most MPs or members of the public.

In Mike’s case, he was, in his own word “disgraced”, when forced to resign from his then new job at the UN, when he was exposed as  being (again in his own words), “a fifth columnist”, for the George Soros financed, “Open Society”, worldwide, drug legalisation campaign, (of all possible drugs) . Release has been similarly supported by Soros and was named in Mr Trace’s covert plan on this subject, when it was exposed several years ago..

Given those two speakers, your conference seems to me, to be just another platform for the legalisation lobby, not a genuine, open and serious debate, which can improve policy making or add significant value.

That legalisation lobby has lost the debate in the U.K. The starting point was the exposing of Mike Trace. Further debate involving these two very discredited speakers (discredited by association), is in my view pointless. The drug legalisation debate in the U.K, is over. The Psychoactive Substances Bill, approaching 3rd reading, also overtakes some of your agenda.

Thank you for the invitation.

David Raynes

NDPA

Source: Response to invitation to

UK Drugs Policy – Criminal Justice, Public Health and the Psychoactive Substances Bill

Policy-UK Forum, letter from David Raynes, consultant and media spokesman for NDPA.

Sent January 2016.

 

 

Filed under: Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Political Sector :

Legalizing opioids may give Americans greater freedom over their decision-making, but at what cost? One painful aspect of the public debates over the opioid-addiction crisis is how much they mirror the arguments that arise from personal addiction crises.

If you’ve ever had a loved one struggle with drugs — in my case, my late brother, Josh — the national exercise in guilt-driven blame-shifting and finger-pointing, combined with flights of sanctimony and ideological righteousness, has a familiar echo. The difference between the public arguing and the personal agonizing is that, at the national level, we can afford our abstractions.

When you have skin in the game, none of the easy answers seem all that easy. For instance, “tough love” sounds great until you contemplate the possible real-world consequences. My father summarized the dilemma well. “Tough love” — i.e., cutting off all support for my brother so he could hit rock bottom and then start over — had the best chance of success. It also had the best chance for failure — i.e., death. There’s also a lot of truth to “just say no,” but once someone has already said “yes,” it’s tantamount to preaching “keep your horses in the barn” long after they’ve left.

But if there’s one seemingly simple answer that has been fully discredited by the opioid crisis, it’s that the solution lies in wholesale drug legalization. In Libertarianism: A Primer, David Boaz argues that “if drugs were produced by reputable firms, and sold in liquor stores, fewer people would die from overdoses and tainted drugs, and fewer people would be the victims of prohibition-related robberies, muggings and drive-by-shootings.”

Maybe. But you know what else would happen if we legalized heroin and opioids? More people would use heroin and opioids. And the more people who use such addictive drugs, the more addicts you get. Think of the opioid crisis as the fruit of partial legalization. In the 1990s, for good reasons and bad, the medical profession, policymakers, and the pharmaceutical industry made it much easier to obtain opioids in order to confront an alleged pain epidemic. Doctors prescribed more opioids, and government subsidies made them more affordable. Because they were prescribed by doctors and came in pill form, the stigma reserved for heroin didn’t exist. When you increase supply, lower costs, and reduce stigma, you increase use.

And guess what? Increased use equals more addicts. A survey by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that one-third of the people who were prescribed opioids for more than two months became addicted. A Centers for Disease Control study found that a very small number of people exposed to opioids are likely to become addicted after a single use. The overdose crisis is largely driven by the fact that once addicted to legal opioids, people seek out illegal ones — heroin, for example — to fend off the agony of withdrawal once they can’t get, or afford, any more pills. Last year, 64,000 Americans died from overdoses. Some 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War.

Experts rightly point out that a large share of opioid addiction stems not from prescribed use but from people selling the drugs secondhand on the black market, or from teenagers stealing them from their parents. That’s important, but it doesn’t help the argument for legalization. Because the point remains: When these drugs become more widely available, more people avail themselves of them. How would stacking heroin or OxyContin next to the Jim Beam lower the availability? Liquor companies advertise — a lot. Would we let, say, Pfizer run ads for their brand of heroin? At least it might cut down on the Viagra commercials. I think it’s probably true that legalization would reduce crime, insofar as some violent illegal drug dealers would be driven out of the business.

I’m less sure that legalization would curtail crimes committed by addicts in order to feed their habits. As a rule, addiction is not conducive to sustained gainful employment, and addicts are just as capable of stealing and prostitution to pay for legal drugs as illegal ones. The fundamental assumption behind legalization is that people are rational actors and can make their own decisions. As a general proposition, I believe that. But what people forget is that drug addiction makes people irrational. If you think more addicts are worth it in the name of freedom, fine. Just be prepared to accept that the costs of such freedom are felt very close to home.

Source: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/453304/opioid-crisis-legalization-not-solution

 

Filed under: Addiction,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Heroin/Methadone,Political Sector,USA :

Legalisation of cannabis is likely to lack priority for this new government.

There is one benefit to MMP, it is that the whackier campaign ideas tend to perish in the coalition negotiation process.

That hasn’t entirely been the case this time, the worst example being the Green Party’s promise to initiate a referendum on the subject of legalising cannabis (by 2020).

This would seem to be a case of a party formulating policy in the hope that it will garner votes as opposed to genuinely believing it will be beneficial. That view is reinforced by Green leader James Shaw’s assurance last week that he had never smoked cannabis, adding the illuminating comment, “It isn’t good for you, is it?”

“We know that cannabis is a carcinogenic, as is tobacco. Unlike tobacco, however, it is also linked, beyond dispute, with mental illness and poor academic achievement.”

Too right it isn’t. There is enough evidence to support that to stupefy an entire nation, which makes it all the more extraordinary that he would not only propose a referendum in the first place, but would stick to his guns when it came to striking a deal with Labour.

All the more extraordinary because Mr Shaw’s party is one of the leading lights in the drive to make New Zealand tobacco-free by 2025. (Presumably the term smoke-free is now redundant).

If all goes according to his plan, a substance that harms the physical health of the user will disappear just in time to be replaced by another substance that does even more damage, physically, emotionally and intellectually, than tobacco ever has.

We know that cannabis is a carcinogenic, as is tobacco. Unlike tobacco, however, it is also linked, beyond dispute, with mental illness and poor academic achievement. From there it can be held accountable for reducing the user’s ability to find employment, and everything that goes with that, including poverty, for themselves and their dependents.

The drive for legalisation has taken a turn (for the worse) this time around because of strident appeals to recognise its medicinal benefits. It might well dull pain – it certainly dulls most of the user’s senses – but there is a undoubtedly deliberate blurring of the lines by the drug’s supporters between medicinal cannabis, which does not include its mind-altering properties, and the ‘benefits’ to be gained by allowing its cultivation/possession and consumption in the traditional manner.

People have long waxed eloquent about cannabis as a pain killer, usually from the dock as they are in the process of being sentenced for growing the stuff. If personal experience of that is anything to go by, its fans tend to show all the signs of long-term use, which might make them happy but has reduced their role in society to that of passengers.

It might well be true that cannabis does not represent any great threat to the physical or mental health of a middle-aged dope smoker who indulges on an occasional basis. The same cannot be said for those who start young, and there, Mr Shaw, lies the rub.

We have been told for years, most often by the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml – there’s an oxymoron for you) that legalisation would of course need to be accompanied by strict controls that would keep it out of the hands of young people.

That assurance has been given to the writer on numerous occasions, but no one has ever been able to explain how any such measures would stand any chance of success, given our experience with tobacco and alcohol.

Neither of those substances may be legally purchased or used by minors, but both are. No one in this country has yet been able to devise controls that prevent that, and the same, inevitably, will apply to cannabis. Prove to us that you have cracked that, Mr Shaw, and people might start listening to you.

The best reason for not legalising cannabis was offered to this newspaper some years ago by a teacher at Kaitaia College. He said the college was home to any number of bright, determined, ambitious young people who knew what they wanted to do with their lives, and had mapped out exactly how they were going to achieve their ambitions.

They knew that even a minor cannabis conviction would nobble those ambitions, and for that reason alone wouldn’t touch the stuff with a barge pole.

No one the writer knows has ever come up with a better reason for not legalising it. And no one will. If it is legalised future generations of bright, ambitious young people will assuredly dabble in it, to their (and our) cost.

Even if they don’t succumb to regular use it will rob them, to some degree, of their potential, to a far greater degree than flirting with alcohol or tobacco ever would.

We don’t hear Mr Shaw, or anyone else, suggesting that our children should have greater access than they already do to alcohol and tobacco, for good reason. How they can be prepared to countenance access to cannabis defies explanation.

Perhaps Mr Shaw’s political interest in this issue outweighs any concern he might have for future generations. Perhaps the legalising of cannabis has such appeal to his voter base that he can accept the inevitable collateral damage. Hopefully he is in a very small minority, and will remain so.

And don’t buy the hoary old story that our prisons are full of people who wouldn’t be there if cannabis was legal. Those who insist that this is true have either been doing too much personal research into the ‘benefits’ of sucking on cannabis cigarette all day or are deliberately trying to deceive.

No one is in jail in this country today purely because they have been caught using cannabis. One or two might be there because they were caught growing or dealing it on a substantial scale, but possession of cannabis, whatever the law might say, is no longer an imprisonable offence in this country, and hasn’t been for a very long time.

There will be some who are in jail on convictions that include possession of cannabis, but it won’t have been the drug that put them behind bars. They will have offended in other ways. To say that people are in jail because of personal possession is a blatant lie.

Some elements of the current debate are certainly worth pursuing, including that drug addiction in general should be regarded as a health issue rather than a criminal matter. And there is no doubt that drug treatment facilities are woefully inadequate. But again, this is where the pro-cannabis logic collapses.

We know the harm cannabis does; we know it leads to dependence on much harsher chemical substances; we know that people who become addicted, to whatever substance, are unlikely to get the help they need to get off it. And we know that the damage done, by cannabis and other drugs, is permanent. Dead brain cells don’t grow back.

Yet here we are talking about legalising it. It makes no sense whatsoever to even consider it. A handful of people might genuinely believe that it will ease their pain, or, in medical form, will reduce the severity of some far from common conditions (again, the use of medical marijuana is a separate issue), but legalising cannabis for all and sundry will not benefit society in any imaginable way.

There can be absolutely no question that legalising cannabis will, in fact, do enormous harm, and any politician who is unaware of that, or is prepared to trade that harm for electoral success, has no place in Parliament.

Source:http://www2.nzherald.co.nz/northland-age/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503399&objectid=11938825-

Filed under: Canada,Cannabis/Marijuana,DRUG POLITICS,Political Sector :

The BBC Today programme has long been a shill for liberalising the drug laws. This morning’s edition, however, ran an item at 0810 which almost caused me to fall off my chair.

The item was pegged to the collapse of the prosecution case against people accused of supplying nitrous oxide (the “laughing gas” used by dentists). This has called into question a law passed last year banning such so-called “legal highs” which are considered a loophole in the drug laws. All too predictably, the discussion was soon steered from this specific issue into “bringing fresh thinking to bear on the whole problem” (code for drug liberalisation).

What was startling was the choice of interviewees and the way in which they were introduced by the Today anchor, John Humphreys.

The first, Kirstie Douse, was described as “head of legal services for Release, that’s an organisation that campaigns on drugs and drugs law”.

Humphrys didn’t say whether Release campaigned for drug liberalisation or further restriction. But Release is Britain’s veteran drug liberalisation campaign group which for decades has been at the centre of attempts to liberalise the drug laws. So why so coy?

The second interviewee in such a discussion would normally be expected to provide balance through an alternative view. The person chosen for this role turned out to be Mike Trace. Humphrys introduced him with these words: “Mike Trace, the former deputy drugs czar”. That was it.

What was not revealed was that, in 2003, Trace was outed in a newspaper article as a pro-drug legalisation mole who had just been appointed to a key position in global anti-drug strategies which he was helping to undermine.

I know this because I was the journalist who outed him.

Trace was appointed deputy drug czar in Tony Blair’s government. For a time, he occupied a position of great influence in the drugs world. He was Director of Performance at the Government’s National Treatment Agency. He was chairman of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, (ENCDDA) the body which effectively draws up EU drug policy. And he was appointed Head of Demand Reduction at the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime. In all these posts, he was supposed to be upholding laws to reduce drug use.

In 2003, however, he was forced to resign from his new role as the UN’s Head of Demand Reduction after I exposed him helping assemble a secret network of lobbyists working to subvert the UN drug control laws — which underpin the use of criminal penalties for the drug trade — and pressurise governments into legalising drugs.

Trace was — in his own words — a “fifth columnist”: an underground agitator who was supposed to be upholding the laws to reduce drug use but who was a key player in a co-ordinated international effort to disband the world’s anti-drug laws by stealth – and who was being secretly paid to do so by notorious international legalisers.

The legalisers’ main obstacle was the UN conventions on drugs which require countries to prevent the possession, use, production and distribution of illegal narcotics. I discovered that Trace was at the heart of a network operating covertly to undermine those conventions.

The British headquarters of his operation was to be financed in part by the Open Society Institute, funded by the billionaire financier George Soros, which openly campaigns for “harm reduction” and legalisation on the grounds that the war on drugs causes more harm than drugs themselves. I wrote:

“But that’s not all. For Mr Trace’s attempts to obtain additional funds from European sources disclose a vast and intricate web of non-governmental organisations, all beavering away at drug legalisation.

“In particular, Mr Trace sought funding from the Brussels-based Network of European Foundations for Innovative Cooperation (NEF). This innocuous-sounding grant-giving body has actually spawned a proliferation of drug legalisation efforts through its offshoot ENCOD, the European NGO Council on Drugs and Development.

“ENCOD says that ‘drug use as such does not represent the huge threat for society as it is supposed to do’. The real threat, it says, is posed by the war on drugs to the ‘millions of peasants in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia’ — the people cultivating the drug crops! So it wants a legal framework to bring about the industrialisation of drug production, no less. And to achieve this, it proposes that public opinion should be softened up by ‘harm reduction’ policies which will pave the way to eventual legalisation.”

Subsequently, Trace claimed he had been selectively quoted, that he had used the term “fifth columnist” as a joke and that the idea of some organised conspiracy was “completely insane.”

But I had drawn my revelations from a cache of Trace’s email correspondence detailing this huge covert attempt to subvert the UN drug laws. Here are some extracts from that correspondence.

“In terms of my own involvement”, Trace wrote, “I think that it would be of most use providing advice and consultancy from behind the scenes, in the light of my continuing role as chair of the EMCDDA, my association with the UK government and some work I am being asked to put together by the UNDCPD in Vienna. This ‘fifth column’ role would allow me to oversee the setting up of the agency – while promoting its aims subtly in the formal governmental settings.’

In another message, he wrote: “The host organisation in London [to challenge the UN drugs conventions] will be Release, a long established drugs and civil liberties NGO.”

He wrote to Aryeh Neier, president of Open Society Institute New York: “The basic objectives remain the same – to assemble a combination of research, policy analysis, lobbying and media management that is sufficiently sophisticated to influence governments and international agencies as they review global drug policies in the coming years. The key decision points remain the reviews of the European Union Drug Strategy in 2003 (and again in 2004), and the political summit of the UN Drug Programme in Vienna in April 2003.”

His involvement was kept secret and advice was given about the line to take to conceal it. One meeting minuted thus: 

“Mike to remain on the group, and contribute to the initiative, but members need to ensure that, externally, the line is that he gave advice on policy and lobbying in the summer but is no longer involved.”

Trace himself wrote: “Now I have taken up my post at the UN, I absolutely cannot be associated with a lobbying initiative – the line I am using is that, through the summer, I gave advice to several groups on how the EU and UN policy structures worked, but am now no longer in contact.” He also warned a colleague: “A small but crucial point – can I from now on not be referred to by name in any written material.”

He also wrote: “Finally, I have been offered the post of Head of Demand Reduction at the UN, and intend to accept it. The Executive Director, Antonio Costa, is, at least for the moment, asking me for guidance on how to handle the April meeting, so I have the opportunity to influence events from the inside, while continuing to work on this initiative.”

I put a stop to that. Now the BBC is adding its own underhand efforts to this sinister, and sinisterly sanitised, cause.

Source:  http://www.melaniephillips.com/no-trace-objectivity/31st August 2017

Filed under: Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Political Sector,Social Affairs :

Kevin Sabet, the president and CEO of Virginia-based Smart Approaches to Marijuana, has become arguably the most influential critic of marijuana legalization in the United States. But in an extended interview on view below, he fights against the perception that he’s a one-dimensional prohibitionist along the lines of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sabet stresses that he and his organization, shorthanded as SAM, take what he sees as a sensible approach to cannabis by arguing in favor of treatment rather than jail time for users in trouble and advocating for greater study of the substance to determine the best ways to utilize it medically.

We first spoke to Sabet in January 2013, just prior to SAM’s launch in Denver, when he appeared alongside co-founder Patrick Kennedy, a former congressman from Rhode Island and a member of the Kennedy political dynasty. Sabet’s background is similarly stocked with connections to heavyweights. The author of Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana, he served stints in the Clinton and Bush administrations and spent two years as senior adviser to President Barack Obama’s drug-control director before taking on the SAM cause.

In the more than four years since then, he’s made countless media appearances while lobbying behind the scenes to try and stop the momentum generated by the pot legalization bandwagon.

Sabet, who says SAM’s funding mainly comes from small donors and grants as opposed to hard-core drug-war groups or Big Pharma, doesn’t think it’s too late to accomplish this goal, in part because only a relatively small percentage of the populace actually uses marijuana. Moreover, he feels that plenty of those who abstain will more actively fight against pot’s normalization if public use (and its attendant smoke and scent) becomes more prevalent in cities such as Denver, which he sees as having been demonstrably harmed by legalization. He blames cannabis for turning the 16th Street Mall into a homeless haven that visitors actively avoid and suspects that in his heart of hearts, Governor John Hicklenlooper knows legalization was a terrible mistake but can’t admit it publicly because the right to toke is enshrined in the state constitution.

Likewise, Sabet considers it inarguable that the marijuana industry is targeting young people with colorfully packaged pot edibles and argues that simply keeping cannabis away from kids isn’t enough. He cites studies showing that the brains of 25-30 year olds are still developing — and can still be harmed by weed.

Continue to learn more about Sabet’s cause and the arguments he makes to support it.

Westword: SAM recently put out a release about the amount of tax revenue Colorado has collected as a result of the marijuana industry [in reference to a VS Strategies report estimating that the state has generated more than $500 million in cannabis revenue since legalization]. In it, you talk about how drug use and its consequences cost taxpayers $193 billion per year, with Colorado’s annual share being approximately $3.3 billion. But that’s for all drugs, correct?

Kevin Sabet: Oh, yeah, absolutely. But you need to look at the fact that marijuana is used far more than any of the other drugs, and look at the costs associated with driving, crashing, mental illness — and long-term costs we’re not able to account for. Marijuana isn’t correlated with mental illness overnight. If often takes time. And so the cost of that can’t be calculated in any way. There was a study done a few weeks ago by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction finding that just in

Canada alone, a much smaller country than the U.S. in population, marijuana-related car crashes cost a billion dollars. That’s just the car crashes, and those were directly related to marijuana. And the report came from a government think tank, not any kind of anti-drug group.

I honestly think it isn’t surprising coming from this group [VS Strategies]. It’s an industry group that wants to basically make money from marijuana — much more money than the State of Colorado will make after you account for costs. When you look at the actual number and context of just education alone, the marijuana revenue is barely newsworthy. The Department of Education in Colorado says they need $18 billion in capital construction funds alone. The reality is, the Colorado budget deficit is actually rising, not falling. This isn’t plugging a hole in the deficit. It’s actually costing money. There’s one area where I’d agree with [former Colorado Director of Marijuana Coordination] Andrew Freedman: You don’t do this for the money. But it’s a great talking point, and it polls well, just like the talking point of it being safer than alcohol polls well. This polls well, too, so you’re going to have an industry group that thrives off commercialization touting the numbers. That’s not surprising at all.

SAM is usually described as an anti-marijuana organization. Is that an accurate description from your viewpoint? Or is it pejorative in some way?

I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s pejorative, but I think it’s overly simplistic. It’s true that we don’t want to see the legalization of another illegal substance. We think that our experience with pharmaceuticals, which are, of course, legal, as well as alcohol and tobacco, has been an utter disaster from a public cost and public-policy point of view. We’ve never regulated those drugs in a responsible way. Lobbyists and special interests own the rule-making when it comes to these drugs. And what we’re saying is, do we really want to repeat history once again? It just happens to be marijuana. It really could have been any substance. And we will be talking about the legalization of other drugs if marijuana goes through. Because it doesn’t stop with marijuana in terms of the policy goals of many of these organizations. So I think it is overly simplistic. And we’re very concerned about commercialization.

Also, we don’t want to see a return to an enforcement-heavy policy that throws everybody behind bars or saddles young people, especially, with criminal records that prevent them from getting a job or being able to access public benefits or being able to go to school. We want to see people given another chance. But we also want to see this treated as a health issue, and you don’t treat marijuana as a health issue by ignoring it or facilitating its use. You do brief interventions if they’re needed, treatment if it’s needed. I don’t think everyone who uses marijuana needs treatment, just like everyone who drinks or uses other drugs doesn’t need treatment. But some people are using it in a way that is problematic, and they need an early intervention, perhaps, to prevent them from moving on to a substance-use disorder — or they need more intense treatment. It really just depends.

We also want to see research into components of marijuana that may have therapeutic value. We don’t want to see people needlessly suffering. But if Perdue Pharma or Pfizer said tomorrow that they have a new blockbuster drug but they don’t want it to go through the FDA and instead want to put it up to a vote, we’d be up in arms. And rightfully so. Everybody would be up in arms. And we don’t think marijuana should get a free pass because there are stories of it helping people. I don’t doubt that it helps some people — things like cannabidiol oil, etc., or even smoking marijuana to relieve pain. I don’t doubt that it helps some people. But we don’t want to turn back the clock to pre-FDA days, where we had snake-oil salesmen and wild claims about drugs. We want to put it through the same system, and if that system is problematic and difficult, then let’s look at what those barriers are and resolve them.

So I think we are a sensible organization that takes our cues from science. That’s why, on our board, you don’t see people benefiting from the policy position that we take. If anything, people like the doctors from Boston Children’s Hospital who are on our advisory board, or Harvard professors, they’re going to have more business if marijuana is legal, because they’re going to have people with more problems. We’re working counter to their self-benefit, if you think about it. That’s why we’re led by the science. And the reason we started this…. I left the White House and saw there was a huge disconnect between the public’s understanding of marijuana and what was being told to them by various sources, and we’re trying to bridge that gap. Many of the things you just touched upon are on the four items in the “What We Do” section of your website. But some things, such as “To promote research on marijuana in order to obtain FDA-approved, pharmacy-based cannabis medications,” we don’t hear your organization talking about very often. Is that the fault of the media, because they’re only focusing on the legalization-is-bad angle? Are you giving equal weight to some of these other goals?

I think that’s just people looking through the glasses they want to look through. I think the legalization groups are threatened by a sensible organization led by Harvard doctors that doesn’t want to put people in prison, so they want to paint us as the most irrational dinosaurs from the Stone Age on these issues. The reality is, we spend a lot of our time on all of these issues. In fact, we have released the most comprehensive document that any policy organization has released, I think, on the hurdles of medical marijuana research. That’s right on our website — the six-point plan. And we’ve also done a CBD guide — everything you need to know about CBD. After the guide to everything you need to know about CBD, we did a report on research barriers, and we got a lot of people from both extremes that didn’t like it. John Walters, my former boss, wrote a scathing editorial, saying we were off the mark in calling for more research. When we get criticized from multiple angles, I think people can decide for themselves whether that’s credible or not….

It’s just not sexy, though. I can’t remember the last time that someone from USA Today or Huffington Post said, “Oh, we want to cover the fact that you released a wonky policy document aimed at FDA senior scientists with ten letters after their name.” They’re not banging on the door to get that story. Instead, they’re banging on the door to say, “The governor of Nevada has just declared a state of emergency on pot. What do you think?”

I’m not going to say it’s the fault of the media. I think that’s overused these days. But we’re doing our best, and whether it’s noticed by USA Today or the Huffington Post or the Washington Post or not, that doesn’t matter as much. We’re getting it out there, and I know that hundreds of lawmakers have read it. In fact, three out of our six recommendations have been adopted since we released that report. I don’t think we’re the only reason they’ve been adopted, but I think us pushing and prodding and putting it down on paper gave some political cover to some people who may not have supported it in the past, and I’m very proud of that. I know it doesn’t satisfy Medical Marijuana Inc. or these hundreds of CBD manufacturers who are selling God knows what because they don’t get it looked at by the FDA; they’re not going to be happy about that. But I think the science speaks for itself, and scientists and others have noticed. That’s why they’ve asked to join my advisory board — top researchers who want to be part of this team not because we’re zealots, but because we look at the science and are able to get it out there….

Another of the talking points on your website says, “Alcohol is legal. Why shouldn’t marijuana be legal?” How do you answer that question?

To me, saying, “Alcohol is bad and it’s legal, so why shouldn’t marijuana be legal?” is like saying, “My headlights are broken, so why don’t we break the taillights, too?” It doesn’t make much sense. First of all, alcohol and marijuana are apples and oranges in many ways. They’re different just because of their biology and their pharmacology, but they’re also different in their cultural acceptance and prevalence in Western society. Alcohol has been a fixed part in Western civilization since before the Old Testament. The reason alcohol prohibition didn’t work — and that’s debatable….

What’s the debate?

If you look at scholars who studied Prohibition much more than I have, there is a vigorous debate. Alcohol use fell during Prohibition, harm fell as well. Cirrhosis of the liver, which is a top-ten killer of white men, wasn’t a top-ten killer. Organized crime had been in place, and obviously it was strengthened from Prohibition, although it isn’t like it caused it, and it certainly didn’t go away when Prohibition ended…. But it’s very difficult to prohibit something that 60 to 70 percent of the population are doing on a regular basis. Marijuana is still used by fewer than 10 percent of the population monthly, and so the idea that it’s the same in terms of acceptance is wrong. Right now, those 10 percent of users have convinced 55 percent of Americans that this is a good idea.  HOW

That also points to the fact that I think support for marijuana is very soft. I think the industry has overplayed its hand about things like public nuisance, public use, secondhand smoke, car crashes. Once these things become greater in prevalence, which they inevitably will if more states legalize and commercialize, then I think you’re going to have the backlash I think will come, and it will come because of the increased problems….

Alcohol is such an accepted part of society. We accept the negative consequences. Alcohol is not legal because it’s safe. Alcohol isn’t legal because it’s so good for you. Alcohol is legal because it’s been a fixed part of Western civilization for millennia. Marijuana has not been. Of course it was used thousands of years ago. Was it used by certain cultures? Absolutely. But there’s no comparison, complete apples and oranges, when it comes to alcohol’s culture acceptability. So that’s why alcohol is legal — not because we love the effects it has on society. No parent, no teacher, no police officer, says, “I’d be better if I was drinking all the time.” No police officer says, “Man, I wish more people drank.” No parent says, “I wish my kid drank more.” That’s not why it’s legal, because it’s so great.

And alcohol has done very little for our tax base. One of the reasons Prohibition was repealed was because the industrialists were convinced that it would help eliminate or mitigate the corporate tax or even the personal income tax. That’s laughable today. It doesn’t do that at all. Instead it costs us way more money than any revenue we bring in. I think marijuana would be the same story. It affects our bodies differently.

Alcohol affects the liver, marijuana affects the lungs. Alcohol is in and out of your system quite rapidly, but marijuana lingers in the system longer, and according to studies, the effects also linger for longer. They affect different parts of the brain. So they’re different in many ways, but in some respects, they’re the same. They’re both intoxicants, and unlike tobacco, they specifically cause changes in behavior. And that’s a difference with tobacco, another legal drug. Tobacco isn’t correlated with paranoia or obsessiveness or mental illness and car crashes, and obviously, marijuana is.

In some ways, legal drugs offer an interesting example. I think they offer an example of the sort of social and financial consequences that would come with legalizing other drugs.

Source:  http://www.westword.com  14th August 2017

Filed under: Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Legal Sector,Political Sector,Social Affairs,USA :

Key Points

Question  Are US state medical marijuana laws one of the underlying factors for increases in risk for adult cannabis use and cannabis use disorders seen since the early 1990s?

Findings  In this analysis using US national survey data collected in 1991-1992, 2001-2002, and 2012-2013 from 118 497 participants, the risk for cannabis use and cannabis use disorders increased at a significantly greater rate in states that passed medical marijuana laws than in states that did not.

Meaning  Possible adverse consequences of illicit cannabis use due to more permissive state cannabis laws should receive consideration by voters, legislators, and policy and health care professionals, with appropriate health care planning as such laws change.

Abstract

Importance  Over the last 25 years, illicit cannabis use and cannabis use disorders have increased among US adults, and 28 states have passed medical marijuana laws (MML). Little is known about MML and adult illicit cannabis use or cannabis use disorders considered over time.

Objective  To present national data on state MML and degree of change in the prevalence of cannabis use and disorders.

Design, Participants, and Setting  Differences in the degree of change between those living in MML states and other states were examined using 3 cross-sectional US adult surveys: the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey (NLAES; 1991-1992), the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC; 2001-2002), and the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions–III (NESARC-III; 2012-2013). Early-MML states passed MML between NLAES and NESARC (“earlier period”). Late-MML states passed MML between NESARC and NESARC-III (“later period”).

Main Outcomes and Measures  Past-year illicit cannabis use and DSM-IV cannabis use disorder.

Results  Overall, from 1991-1992 to 2012-2013, illicit cannabis use increased significantly more in states that passed MML than in other states (1.4–percentage point more; SE, 0.5; P = .004), as did cannabis use disorders (0.7–percentage point more; SE, 0.3; P = .03).

In the earlier period, illicit cannabis use and disorders decreased similarly in non-MML states and in California (where prevalence was much higher to start with). In contrast, in remaining early-MML states, the prevalence of use and disorders increased.

Remaining early-MML and non-MML states differed significantly for use (by 2.5 percentage points; SE, 0.9; P = .004) and disorder (1.1 percentage points; SE, 0.5; P = .02). In the later period, illicit use increased by the following percentage points: never-MML states, 3.5 (SE, 0.5); California, 5.3 (SE, 1.0); Colorado, 7.0 (SE, 1.6); other early-MML states, 2.6 (SE, 0.9); and late-MML states, 5.1 (SE, 0.8). Compared with never-MML states, increases in use were significantly greater in late-MML states (1.6–percentage point more; SE, 0.6; P = .01), California (1.8–percentage point more; SE, 0.9; P = .04), and Colorado (3.5–percentage point more; SE, 1.5; P = .03).

Increases in cannabis use disorder, which was less prevalent, were smaller but followed similar patterns descriptively, with change greater than never-MML states in California (1.0–percentage point more; SE, 0.5; P = .06) and Colorado (1.6–percentage point more; SE, 0.8; P = .04).

Conclusions and Relevance

Medical marijuana laws appear to have contributed to increased prevalence of illicit cannabis use and cannabis use disorders. State-specific policy changes may also have played a role. While medical marijuana may help some, cannabis-related health consequences associated with changes in state marijuana laws should receive consideration by health care professionals and the public.

Source:  JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(6):579-588. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.0724

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Health,Marijuana and Medicine,Social Affairs :

Introduction  

On 31 July 2017 a court case commences in the Pretoria High Court about the constitutional legality of South Africa’s dagga legislation. The media is calling it the “Trial of the Plant”.

What is the “Trial of the Plant” about?

It is about the dagga plant and its prohibition in our society. Scientists have long since proven that the dagga plant is highly complex and dangerous and must be prohibited, but some believe it is not dangerous and even medicinal.

What does the law in SA say about dagga?

Except for medical and research exemptions, the possession, use, cultivation, transportation and distribution of dagga is criminalised in terms of the Drugs and drug trafficking act as well as the Medicines and related substances act.

Was the law not settled by the Constitutional court in 2002?

In 2002 a Rastafarian brought a case to the Constitutional Court about Dagga where he complained that the law prevented him smoking dagga as a religious observance and this violated his rights to religious freedom.

The court accepted that a Rastafarian’s religious rights were violated but dismissed the case as there is no objective way for law enforcement officials to distinguish between the possession or use of cannabis for religious or for recreational purposes.

The trial of the plant will in all likelihood be the final decider.

Why is that?

Because the Trial of the Plant will be the first and only case where there will be oral evidence given and tested, in the witness stand.

These other cases were fought and decided on affidavit evidence in a day or two.

The trial of the plant is very different and will take many days in court starting on 31 July and continuing through the month of August.

There are three legal teams comprising 6 attorneys, 11 advocates, 16 expert witnesses and as many as 12 other witnesses.  The trial will probably be recorded by the media and will also probably go all the way to the Constitutional Court to be finally decided.

DFL’s lead counsel is Adv Reg Willis instructed by the University of Pretoria Law Clinic.

How did this case start?

In 2010 a couple were arrested with approximately R500 000.00 worth of dagga in their home. They became known as the dagga couple.

To avoid prosecution they obtained an interdict in the Pretoria High Court against their prosecution, pending the outcome of a case to declare that all the SA dagga legislation is unconstitutional.

The case is against various government departments and against Doctors for Life International.

DFL joined this case to be of assistance to the State.

So for example DFL will lead the evidence of Harvard Professor Bertha Madras who is one of the foremost authorities on cannabis in the world. She contends that the legalisation of cannabis has to be resisted in the interests of the human brain.

Who is Doctors for Life and what does it do?

DFL is a non-profit relief and civil society organisation of doctors who care and give voluntarily of their own time and money to the many needs of the poor.

DFL serve the needs of the underprivileged communities they serve in South Africa and Southern Africa.  DFL also has an extensive track record of being involved in public interest cases predominantly as a friend of the court, especially to assist with scientific and similar evidence.

So then how is the dagga couple funding their case?

The dagga couple dragged the case out for some years, while they raised money.  They started an organisation called “Fields of Green for All” “FOGFA” which now has over 45000 supporters who are funding the case.

How important is this case for South Africa?

Given the role of dagga in crime, women and child abuse and the future of our youth, this trial is one of the most important to ever reach our courts.  If the dagga couple win their case as they want to, there will be no restriction on the possession, consumption, cultivation, transportation and distribution of cannabis.  A free for all.

Read our dagga court case press releases and more info on cannabis Media Release: High Court Blunders into Dagga Minefield

Source:  Letter from Johan Claassen  www.doctorsforlife.co.za) sent to Drugwatch International  27th July 2017

Filed under: Law (Papers),Legal Sector,Others (International News) :

LOWELL, Mass. — They hide in weeds along hiking trails and in playground grass. They wash into rivers and float downstream to land on beaches. They pepper baseball dugouts, sidewalks and streets. Syringes left by drug users amid the heroin crisis are turning up everywhere.

In Portland, Maine, officials have collected more than 700 needles so far this year, putting them on track to handily exceed the nearly 900 gathered in all of 2016. In March alone, San Francisco collected more than 13,000 syringes, compared with only about 2,900 the same month in 2016. People, often children, risk getting stuck by discarded needles, raising the prospect they could contract blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis or HIV or be exposed to remnants of heroin or other drugs.

Activist Rocky Morrison, of the “Clean River Project,” holds up a fish bowl filled with hypodermic needles, that were recovered during 2016, on the Merrimack River. Charles Krupa / AP

It’s unclear whether anyone has gotten sick, but the reports of children finding the needles can be sickening in their own right. One 6-year-old girl in California mistook a discarded syringe for a thermometer and put it in her mouth; she was unharmed.

“I just want more awareness that this is happening,” said Nancy Holmes, whose 11-year-old daughter stepped on a needle in Santa Cruz, California, while swimming. “You would hear stories about finding needles at the beach or being poked at the beach. But you think that it wouldn’t happen to you. Sure enough.”

They are a growing problem in New Hampshire and Massachusetts — two states that have seen many overdose deaths in recent years.  “We would certainly characterize this as a health hazard,” said Tim Soucy, health director in Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city, which collected 570 needles in 2016, the first year it began tracking the problem. It has found 247 needles so far this year.

Needles turn up in places like parks, baseball diamonds, trails and beaches — isolated spots where drug users can gather and attract little attention, and often the same spots used by the public for recreation. The needles are tossed out of carelessness or the fear of being prosecuted for possessing them.

One child was poked by a needle left on the grounds of a Utah elementary school. Another youngster stepped on one while playing on a beach in New Hampshire.

Even if adults or children don’t get sick, they still must endure an unsettling battery of tests to make sure they didn’t catch anything. The girl who put a syringe in her mouth was not poked but had to be tested for hepatitis B and C, her mother said.

Some community advocates are trying to sweep up the pollution. Rocky Morrison leads a clean-up effort along the Merrimack River, which winds through the old milling city of Lowell, and has recovered hundreds of needles in abandoned homeless camps that dot the banks, as well as in piles of debris that collect in floating booms he recently started setting.

He has a collection of several hundred needles in a fishbowl, a prop he uses to illustrate that the problem is real and that towns must do more to combat it.

“We started seeing it last year here and there. But now, it’s just raining needles everywhere we go,” said Morrison, a burly, tattooed construction worker whose Clean River Project has six boats working parts of the 117-mile river.

Among the oldest tracking programs is in Santa Cruz, California, where the community group Take Back Santa Cruz has reported finding more than 14,500 needles in the county over the past 4 1/2 years. It says it has gotten reports of 12 people getting stuck, half of them children.

“It’s become pretty commonplace to find them. We call it a rite of passage for a child to find their first needle,” said Gabrielle Korte, a member of the group’s needle team. “It’s very depressing. It’s infuriating. It’s just gross.”

Some experts say the problem will ease only when more users get treatment and more funding is directed to treatment programs.  Others are counting on needle exchange programs, now present in more than 30 states, or the creation of safe spaces to shoot up — already introduced in Canada and proposed by U.S. state and city officials from New York to Seattle.  Studies have found that needle exchange programs can reduce pollution, said Don Des Jarlais, a researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai hospital in New York.

But Morrison and Korte complain poor supervision at needle exchanges will simply put more syringes in the hands of people who may not dispose of them properly.

After complaints of discarded needles, Santa Cruz County took over its exchange from a non-profit in 2013 and implemented changes. It did away with mobile exchanges and stopped allowing drug users to get needles without turning in an equal number of used ones, said Jason Hoppin, a spokesman for the Santa Cruz County.

Along the Merrimack, nearly three dozen riverfront towns are debating how to stem the flow of needles. Two regional planning commissions are drafting a request for proposals for a clean-up plan. They hope to have it ready by the end of July.

“We are all trying to get a grip on the problem,” said Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini. “The stuff comes from somewhere. If we can work together to stop it at the source, I am all for it.”

Source:  http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/americas-heroin-epidemic/discarded-syringes-heroin-crisis-create-health-environmental-problems-n783671  July 2017

 

Filed under: Addiction (Papers),Social Affairs,Social Affairs (Papers) :

A study by researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) that followed a sample of almost 2000 Victorian school children from the age of 14 until the age of 35 found that social disadvantage, anxiety, and licit and illicit substance use (in particular cannabis), were all more common in participants who had reported self-harm during adolescence.

The longitudinal study, the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study, was the first in the world to document health-related outcomes in people in their 30s who had self-harmed during their adolescence. Until now, very little has been known about the longer-term health and social outcomes of adolescents who self-harm.

Published in the new Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal, the study found the following common elements:

· People who self-harmed as teenagers were more than twice as likely to be weekly cannabis users at age 35

· Anxiety, drug use, and social disadvantage were more common at age 35 among participants who had self-harmed during their teenage years. While most of these associations can be explained by things like mental health problems during adolescence and substance use during adolescence, adolescent self-harm was strongly and independently associated with using cannabis on a weekly basis at age 35 years

· Self-harm during the adolescent years is a marker for distress and not just a ‘passing phase’

The findings suggest that adolescents who self-harm are more likely to experience a wide range of psychosocial problems later in life, said the study’s lead author, Dr Rohan Borschmann from MCRI. “Adolescent self-harm should be viewed as a conspicuous marker of emotional and behavioural problems that are associated with poor life outcomes,” Dr Borschmann said.

The study found that anxiety, drug use, and social disadvantage were more common at age 35 among participants who had self-harmed during their teenage years. “While most of this can be explained partly by things like mental healthduring adolescence and substance use during adolescence, adolescent self-harm was strongly and independently associated with using cannabis on a weekly basis at age 35 years,” Dr Borschmann said.

Interventions during adolescence which address multiple risk-taking behaviours are likely to be more successful in helping this vulnerable group adjust to adult life.

More information: Rohan Borschmann et al. 20-year outcomes in adolescents who self-harm: a population-based cohort study, The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health (2017). DOI: 10.1016/S2352-4642(17)30007-X

Source:  https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-07-twenty-year-outcomes-adolescents-self-harm-substance.htm

Filed under: Addiction,Australia,Brain and Behaviour,Health,Social Affairs,Youth :

 

In the first 5 months of this year,  nine children had been treated at the Colorado Children’s Hospital in Aurora for ingesting marijuana.  Seven of these children were in intensive care.    By August, at least 3 more children had been in emergency treatment for marijuana at the same hospital.

The first stores for recreational marijuana opened in January, 2014.  Marijuana overdoses in children began October, 2009, when medical marijuana suddenly exploded in Colorado.  There were no such incidences recorded between 2005 and 2009, according to Dr.George Wang, head of emergency services at Colorado Children’s Hospital.  He explained the problem in a Colorado Public Radio interview last year.   Colorado’s medical marijuana was approved by voters in 2000, but the expansion of medical marijuana in 2009 caused the new problem.  The pace doubled this year, as a commercialized marijuana industry started selling new products.  “Legalizing creates greater promotion…. and also legitimizes the drug,” according to Bob Doyle, who was featured in a video we shared.

In response to two deaths from edible marijuana, the governor signed legislation to regulate marijuana in May.  The laws will go into effect in 2016.  Edible pot will require child-proofing, as is required for pharmaceutical and over-the-the-counter medicine.

Despite labels, many of the children who have been hospitalized were too young to read.

A TV investigation showed that most children can’t tell the difference between the “adult candies” and those that are only for children.  Previously, we published pictures of commercial pot candies available in Colorado, and in California.  Here’s an additional sampling.

Even when parents try to keep it away from them, children go for sweets.  Cartoon-like characters and bright colors will always attract children.   It’s logical that school-age children could be so attracted to the packaging that they would not bother to read.

Both the manufacturing of marijuana sweets and the packaging make them so appealing.  Edible pot processors make products that closely imitate familiar products, like Cap’N Crunch cereal and Pop Tarts. One company’s Pot-tarts are hard to distinguish from Kellogg’s Pop-tarts.

The Hershey Co. has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Tincture Belle, a Colorado marijuana edibles company, claiming it makes four pot-infused candies that too closely resemble iconic products of the chocolate maker.

The specific products which mimic the look of Hershey’s candies are: Ganja Joy, like Almond Joy; Hasheath, which looks like Heath Bars; Hashees which resemble Reese’s peanut cups, and Dabby Patty, made to look like York peppermint patties.  The company’s website says its products “diabetic safe and delicious” and helpful with a variety of issues, including pain, headaches and insomnia.

Hershey says the products are packaged in a way that will confuse consumers, including children. The lawsuit alleges that Tincture Belle “creates a genuine safety risk with regard to consumers” who may inadvertently eat them thinking they are ordinary chocolate candy.   Other pot candies that look like Kit Kats, Milky Ways, Nestle’s Crunch and Butterfingers.  Will other candy companies like Nestles or Mars file a lawsuits, also?

Source:  http://www.poppot.org/2014/08/24/new-marijuana-candy-tricks-kids/

Filed under: Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Social Affairs,USA :

Mass Illness from Marijuana Edibles in San Francisco There’s more potential for overdose from edibles than smoked marijuana, although the teen in Seattle who jumped to his death last December did it after smoking pot for the first time.  Two shocking incidents in California suggest that overdose emergencies will increase if that states vote to legalize marijuana in November.  Here’s a summary of recent cases of toxicity from edibles:

· 19 people were hospitalized in San Francisco on August 7 from THC, after attending a quinceañera party.  The source is believed be marijuana-infused candies, perhaps gummy bears. Several children were among those poisoned, one as young as six.  A 9-year-old had severe difficulty breathing.

· Pot brownies sent a bachelorette party to the emergency room in South Lake Tahoe over the weekend of July 30-31. Eight of the 10 women were admitted to the hospital according to the City of South Lake Tahoe’s website.

· A JAMA Paediatrics article explains the dramatic rise in children’s hospitalizations related to marijuana in Colorado since legalization.  In 10 cases, the product was not in a child-resistant container; in 40 scenarios (34%) there was poor child supervision or product storage.  Edible products were responsible for 51 (52% ) of exposures.  The report claimed that child-resistant packaging has not been as effective in reducing kids’ unintended exposure to pot as hoped.

· The report mentions the death of one child, an 11-month-old baby.  Nine of the children had symptoms so serious that they ended up in the intensive care unit of Colorado Children’s Hospital.  Two children needed breathing tubes.

· The state of Washington has a similar problem with edibles, as reported on the King County Health Department’s website.  From 2013 to May 2015, there were 46 cases of children’s intoxications related to marijuana edibles reported in Washington.  However, reporting is voluntary and the state estimates that number could be much higher.

·  In May, a father plead guilty to deliberately giving his 4-year-old daughter marijuana-laced cake in Vancouver, Washington.  He was sentenced to two years in prison.

Intoxication from marijuana edibles has risen steadily since legalization. Source: King County Department of Health. Top photo: AP

· In Hingham, MA, there was a 911 related to teen girl who ingested marijuana edibles.  The candies were in a package labelled Conscious Creations, which didn’t disclose ingredients.   Massachusetts has a medical marijuana program, but it is not clear how or to whom they were sold or dispensed.

 

· July, 2016: Two California teens were hospitalized after eating a marijuana-laced cookie. The teens reported purchasing the cookie from a third teenager who was subsequently arrested.

· July, 2016: A California man was arrested for giving candy laced with marijuana to a 6-year-old boy and an 8-year-old boy; the 6-year-old was hospitalized for marijuana poisoning.

· July, 2016: Police in Arizona arrested a mother for allegedly giving her 11- and 12-year-old children gummy candy infused with marijuana. Police say the marijuana-infused candy was originally purchased by an Arizona medical marijuana user, but was illegally transferred to the mother in question.  (State medical marijuana programs have poor track records of assuring the “medicine” goes to whom it is intended.)

· On April 27, a Georgia woman was arrested after a 5- year-old said he ate a marijuana cake for breakfast.  The child was taken to the hospital for treatment following the incident; according to officials, his pulse was measured at over 200 beats per minute.

· Last year there were more than 4,000 treatments at hospitals and poison center treatments in the US related to marijuana toxicity in children and teens.

Growth of marijuana edibles intoxication by age. Source: King County, Washington

Edible marijuana poses a “unique problem,” because “no other drug is infused into a palatable and appetizing form” – such as cookies, brownies and candy.    Many household items cause poisonings, but marijuana edibles are different because they’re made to look appealing and they appeal to children.

 

Source:  http://www.poppot.org/2016/08/08/latest-child-dangers-marijuana-e

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Drug use-various effects on foetus, babies, children and youth,Effects of Drugs,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Social Affairs,USA :

A volunteer non-partisan coalition of people from across the US and Canada who have come to understand the negative local-to-global public health and safety implications of an organized, legal, freely-traded, commercialized and industrialized marijuana market. Here’s What’s Coming to Your Back Yard — A tour of a Colorado Commercial Marijuana Operation

Our colleague,  Jo McGuire, in Denver was recently asked to accompany a group of delegates from other states investigating commercial marijuana legalization on a tour of the Colorado marijuana industry. Here’s her account of what they observed:

A delegation from out of state came to Denver in late April to see how the Colorado marijuana industry is working. I was asked to help guide the tour and ask questions of the industry leaders.

This was an all-day experience, so I will give you the highlights that stand out to me.

After the delegation heard a bit about my experience and area of expertise in safe & drug free workplaces, we were given a presentation by two officers of the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) in Colorado.

They started off the presentation by repeating how utterly impossible it is to regulate marijuana and keep all the rules and know all the enforcement measures they are supposed to follow (these are the people overseeing enforcement for the whole state.) They bragged that they now have 98 people in their office overseeing regulation but later in the day admitted that only 25% of those do on-site inspections statewide (3,000 facilities), the rest are trying to keep up with paperwork.

They cannot get to every site in the state for inspections (again – impossible) so they respond to complaints, spot-check and rely on other community entities to report anything they may find or see. The largest amount of complainants come from other MJ facilities trying to get their competition shut-down.

The greatest violations are: 1. Using pesticides banned in the U.S. 2. Not using the proper inventory tracking system 3. Waste disposal violations 4. Circumventing the required video-monitoring system

They were asked how potency of marijuana is determined and they said, “It is impossible to determine potency.” When challenged – they were adamant that it is not possible.

When asked how their office is paid for (marijuana money? state coffers?) they did not know. (It’s state coffers – I was on the committee.)

After their presentation, we headed to a marijuana grow facility in downtown Denver. You could smell it from a block away. They grow over 600,000 plants at this one location.

Guards with guns let us into the gate and gave us security badges, telling us that no photos were allowed and we would be on-camera at all times, escorted out if we broke any rules.

First we were shown a tray of baby plants with no tags. There is supposed to be a seed-to-sale tracking system. They said, “Well you can’t track every single one, so we track them in batch numbers when they are less than 8 inches high and then they get individual tags after that.” (More on that later).

This facility does not use “seeds” anyway. They clone their grows from mother plants – so their system is completely different.

They ship dirt over from Sri Lanka because the coconut shells are natural fertilizer for marijuana. So they have a huge room that smells like elephant poo with pallets of dirt “squares” stacked 20 feet high. What else is in it? Is it subject to inspection? No one knew. We were told, “If there were harmful bugs, we would find out eventually.”

Into the first state-of-the-art grow room. There were plants labelled “REC” and “MED”. When asked the difference between recreational and medical marijuana the grower said, “The tags and the tax rates.”

There was an environmental researcher on the tour who asked if the …. 6 gallons of water per plant per day …. is being recycled. The grower said they could not possibly store the massive thousands of gallons it would take to recycle the water. The researcher asked if Denver has any plan in place to test the water for contaminants because many contaminants have been found at both legal and illegal grow sites in northern California and the Enforcement Officers said, “We hadn’t really thought about that.”

When asked if they recycle the dirt, the grower said, “No way. My quality of production ensures every plant has fresh dirt.”

(A side note – the researcher told us later that he expects the contaminants from marijuana will impact our communities for generations on a level similar to DDT exposure.) His research is another story for another day.

Next we passed through the processing area where the trimmers, dryers and baggers were working. Employees are mostly young or people who can’t find jobs elsewhere. They used to have to pass a federal background check (no felonies allowed) but the enforcement guys said, “That was too hard, so we don’t have that requirement anymore.”

An employee perk is “highly discounted product“. They make minimum wage with no benefits, but “everyone is happy”. They discourage Work Comp claims (trimmers get carpal tunnel) because “they would melt the drug cup.” He said they have very high employee turn-over. Some were wearing hazard gear and some were not. Some were wearing protective gear and some were not. This owner also keeps his 11 locations under 11 separate LLC’s so that he can maintain “Eleven separate small businesses” so that he is not to subject to requirements that large employers must meet for employee volume.

I saw rolls of un-printed bags and asked how they determine the potency of their weed. This owner voluntarily sends random samples (of each strain) to a 3rd party lab twice a year. When the lab tells him the approximate potency – correct within 4 nanograms – they print their labels according to that potency until the next random sample is sent in.

GET THIS: He has had product labelled at 18% but the next batch came back at 30%. He said that people know it’s a guessing game and you don’t expect accuracy in

the labelling – just that it’s labelled and it may or may not be close. Also – the product in the package doesn’t necessarily have to be what is printed on the label, as long as he is volunteering for the lab spot checks.

Not all facilities submit to the spot checks that regularly. Remember – we are at this particular place because this business owner is cream-of-the-crop. And by the way, ALL products in the state to include edibles are only subject to random spot checks for quality and potency. That having been said, each brand begins with a lab analysis in order to create the initial labels – but once the creation has been approved – they move full steam ahead with mass production, inspection free (unless it’s voluntary quality checks or complaints are filed).

Also – the labs are not state-owned or run. They are independently owned and operated by “other marijuana industry investors” and they just choose who is cheapest and fastest. For quality checks.

Next we went into the drying room and I asked about how he prevents mould. He doesn’t. It happens. They remove it by hand when they find it. (Pesticides to remove it are illegal and lights are ineffective). At one point he took a few of us down a row to see the dried buds in hundreds of rows of trays … where the labels went from individual plants back to mass batches. Why is this important? Voters believe in “seed-to-sale” tracking but no one knows how much one plant will produce. Will it produce 10 buds or 50 buds? 50 buds cannot have “one” label so this goes in batches. How do you know if buds come up missing from the tracking system? You don’t.

As we were asking these questions and I was curious about some of his branding – he speaks in a very low voice to us while we were rows away from the enforcement team. “Listen, you’re safe in my facility because I am the one that follows the rules – thus why you are here, right? But if you go to any other place, don’t touch anything, don’t go near any equipment and be careful of anything that could contaminate you“. This business is filthy, dirty, scummy, underhanded and full of cheaters, liars and the majority of this industry is shady as hell. Just be careful.”

On to the BIG grow room ….

I thought I had seen and heard everything up to this point.

We walked into one of the rooms where mature “plants” (TREES) are growing and I saw buds that were the length of my entire forearm. He said, “That’s nothing, I’ve got some as big as your whole arm!” And these trees have so many of these HUGE, heavy buds, they are drooping down and propped-up with dozens of bamboo sticks. One bud by itself can bring in hundreds of dollars … and the seed-to-sale tracking system has loopholes bigger than the buds.

One of the enforcement officers shared, “Now these are labelled with THC-A … which is not impairing and has no euphoric effect unless and until it’s smoked.” (I am not sure what comment to place here … but imagine every policy maker outside of our state getting this “sell”.)

I asked a lot of questions to make sure that what I say in my presentations are accurate – I had heard natural marijuana could not grow over 22% – he said he regularly grows it at 33% with no additives. I have been told that I was lying when I said “it is impossible to test every single product that is sold” and this young man laughed and said, “Here is my card, I will go with you and tell them you are right and back you up all the way. If you want them to hear it straight from my mouth – call me.”

Onto the retail store where two ATM’s sit side-by-side in the lobby. This is a cash only business and banking is not allowed, no credit-cards or checks, etc. So the “work-around” is that the Marijuana Facilities take the cash they get from customers and load-up their own ATM’s so electronic transactions go to their separate non-marijuana LLC

and they can deal through the banking system that way. In law enforcement circles this is called money laundering.

The store products ranged from stash devices to pipes and rigs, to intimacy “helpers”, candies, gums, mints and apparel, to a filled syringe and a 90% THC wax product, etc. There are pictures on my FB page … you should check them out.

The store staff are extremely friendly, proud of their work, answer all questions without hesitation and often let slip very damning information without even realizing it’s coming out of their mouth. So interesting.

When we returned to the van, there were people who were stunned to near tears because they truly didn’t believe what they had heard – how it really doesn’t and cannot work successfully, but we are simply doing the best we can at lightning speed. The shock was palpable. Some were extremely angry.

Another interesting tidbit: Colorado just outlawed gummy bears because they are too attractive to children. So we asked what the new rule means for the production of gummy candies. “That’s easy – you can’t use shapes of people, animals or fruit – but vegetables are o.k. because kids hate those and geometric designs are o.k. You know, like Lucky Charms!” They have a year to “sell” all of the candies “attractive to children” before they have to get them off the shelves.

As an aside, I discovered later that evening that I had broken out in hives wherever my skin was exposed and itched terribly for days after this trip.

I know that many other states are “new” to legal pot and if any of your states delegations here for this same tour – PLEASE – make sure I am notified and either I, or one of my colleagues, accompany them. Jo McGuire jo@jomcguire.org

Source:  http://marijuana-policy.org/heres-whats-coming-back-yard-tour-colorado-commercial-marijuana-operation/   2nd July 2017

Filed under: Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Social Affairs,USA :

La Porte, Ind. – Authorities with the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office say 11 teens from Fishers were hospitalized after eating gummy bears laced with THC, an active ingredient found in marijuana.

Police began investigating the incident just before midnight on Thursday after they were dispatched on a medical call to the 5200 N block of CR 325 W.

A 19-year-old male at the scene told a deputy that he became ill after ingesting drugs, and he needed to go to the hospital. He said he was in the area camping with friends, and they also ingested the drugs.

Several more sheriff’s deputies arrived and found 10 other teens that all said they were suffering from a rapid heart rate, pain in their legs, blurred vision, and hallucinations.

According to the sheriff’s office, a deputy determined that they each ate one half of a gummy bear that supposedly contained THC.

Three ambulances arrived at the scene to transport all 11 teens to two local hospitals.

All of the teens were from Fishers, and they are believed to have been staying at a relative’s home. Nine of the teens are 18-years-old and two were 19-years-old; six were males and five were females. Two of the patients were tested and were found to have high levels of THC in their system.

Police are still trying to determine where the teens got the drugs.

Source: http://fox59.com/2017/07/07/police-11-fishers-teens-hospitalized-after-eating-thc-laced-gummy-bears/

Filed under: Social Affairs,USA :

It comes as no surprise that the prevalence of marijuana use has significantly increased over the last decade. With marijuana legal for recreational use in four states and the District of Columbia and for medical use in an additional 31 states, the public perception about marijuana has shifted, with more people reporting that they support legalization. However, there is little public awareness, and close to zero media attention, to the near-doubling of past year marijuana use nationally among adults age 18 and older and the corresponding increase in problems related to its use. Because the addiction rate for marijuana remains stable—with about one in three past year marijuana users experiencing a marijuana use disorder—the total number of Americans with marijuana use disorders also has significantly increased. It is particularly disturbing that the public is unaware of the fact that of all Americans with substance use disorders due to drugs other than alcohol; nearly 60 percent are due to marijuana. That means that more Americans are addicted to marijuana than any other drug, including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and the nonmedical use of prescription drugs.

Stores in Colorado and Washington with commercialized marijuana sell innovative marijuana products offering users record-high levels of THC potency. Enticing forms of marijuana, including hash oil used in discreet vaporizer pens and edibles like cookies, candy and soda are attractive to users of all ages, particularly those underage. The legal marijuana producers are creatively and avidly embracing these new trends in marijuana product development, all of which encourage not only more users but also more intense marijuana use.

Yet despite the expansion of state legal marijuana markets, the illegal market for marijuana remains robust, leaving state regulators two uncomfortable choices: either a ban can be placed on the highest potency—and most enticing—marijuana products which will push the legal market back to products with more moderate levels of THC, or the current evolution to ever-more potent and more attractive products can be considered acceptable despite its considerable negative health and safety consequences. If tighter regulations are the chosen option, the illegal market will continue to exploit the desire of marijuana users to consume more potent and attractive products. If state governments let the market have its way, there will be no limit to the potency of legally marketed addicting marijuana products.

The illegal marijuana market thrives in competition with the legal market by offering products at considerably lower prices because it neither complies with regulations on growth and sale, nor pays taxes on sales or their profits. Unsurprisingly, much of the illegal marijuana in the states with legalized marijuana is diverted from the local legal marijuana supply. It is troubling that in response to the decline in demand for Mexican marijuana, Mexican cartels are increasing the production of heroin, a more lucrative drug.

When alcohol prohibition ended in 1933, bootlegged alcohol gradually and almost completely disappeared. Those who favour drug legalization are confident that the same will occur in the market for drugs; they argue that legalizing drugs will eliminate the illegal market with all its negative characteristics including violence and corruption. The initial experience with marijuana legalization shows that this is dangerous, wishful thinking. Why doesn’t legalization now work for marijuana as it did for alcohol 80 years ago? One obvious reason is that there is little similarity between the bootleg industry of alcohol production that existed during prohibition and contemporary drug trafficking organizations. Today’s illegal drug production and distribution system is deeply entrenched, highly sophisticated, and powerfully globalized. Traffickers are resourceful and able to rapidly to adjust to changes in the market, including competing with legal drugs.

The legalization of marijuana or any other drug is making a bargain with the devil. All drugs of abuse, legal and illegal, including marijuana, produce intense brain reward that users value highly—so highly that they are willing to pay high prices and suffer serious negative consequences for their use. Marijuana users’ brains do not know the difference between legal and illegal marijuana, but, as with other drugs, the brain prefers higher potency products. Drug suppliers, legal and illegal, are eager to provide the drugs that users prefer.

The challenge of drug policy today is to find better ways to reduce drug use by using strategies that are cost-effective and compatible with modern values. Legalization fails this test because it encourages drug use. Most of the costs of drug use are the result of the drug use itself and not from efforts to curb that use. It is hard to imagine a drug user who would be better off with having more drugs available at cheaper prices. Supply matters. More supply means more use. Drug legalization enhances drug supply and reduces social disapproval of drugs.

Our nation must prepare itself for the serious negative consequences both to public health and safety from the growth of marijuana use fuelled by both the legal and the illegal marijuana markets.

Source: http://www.rivermendhealth.com/resources/marijuana-legalization-led-use-addiction-illegal-market-continues-thrive/    June 2017  Author: Robert L. DuPont, M.D.

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Health,Social Affairs,USA :

Today, Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a national group promoting evidence-based marijuana laws, issued the following statement regarding medical marijuana legislation introduced by Senators Booker (D-NJ) and Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN):

“No one wants to deprive chronically ill patients of medication that could be helpful for them, but that’s not what the legislation being introduced today is about. We wouldn’t allow Pfizer to bypass the FDA – why would we let the marijuana industry? This bill would completely undermine the FDA approval process, and encourage the use of marijuana and marijuana products that have not been proven either safe or effective. The FDA approval process should set the standard for smart, safe, and sound healthcare in our country, so we can be sure that patients are receiving the best treatments that do more help than harm,” said SAM President and former senior White House drug policy advisor Kevin Sabet.

“Raw marijuana is not medicine, so marijuana in crude form should not be legal, but the medicinal components properly researched, purified, and dosed should be made available through compassionate research programs, as outlined in SAM’s six-point plan entitled “Researching Marijuana’s Medical Potential Responsibly.” We understand the FDA process can seem cumbersome to those suffering from intractable diseases, but early access programs to drugs in development are already available.

“Also, while FDA approval is the long-term goal, seizure patients shouldn’t have to go to the unregulated market to get products full of contaminants. Responsible legislation that fast-tracks these medications for those truly in need should be supported, rather than diverting patients to an unregulated CBD market proven to be hawking contaminated or mislabeled products as medicine, as this bill would endorse. In 2015 and 2016 the FDA sent multiple warning letters to numerous CBD manufacturers, outlining these concerns. We support the development of FDA-approved CBD medications, like Epidolex, which is in the final stages of approval.”

News media requesting a one-one-one interview with a representative from SAM can contact anisha@learnaboutsam.org.

 About SAM

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states. For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit http://www.learnaboutsam.org.

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Marijuana and Medicine,Political Sector,USA :

Patterns of illicit drug use in each UK country analysed in annual report

An overview of illicit drug use across the whole of the UK in 2016 has been published by the Home Office.

The ‘United Kingdom Drug Situation: Focal Point Annual Report 2016’ has collated data across all four home nations and includes specific analysis of policy, prevention, treatment, drug-related deaths, infectious diseases and drug markets.

Key points relating to the UK as a whole:

· Prevalence in the general population is lower now than ten years ago, with cannabis being the main driver of that reduction. However, there has been little change in recent years.

· Seizures data suggests that herbal cannabis has come to dominate the market. While resin was involved in around two-thirds of cannabis seizures in 2000, it was involved in only five per cent in 2015/16.

· Using the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) definition, which refers to deaths caused directly by the consumption of at least one illicit drug, the total number of drug-related deaths in the UK during 2014 was 2,655; a five per cent increase from 2013 and the highest number reported to date.

· Over the last decade the average age of death has increased from 37.6 years in 2004 to 41.6 in 2014, with males being younger than females (40.3 years and 44.6 years respectively). The largest proportion of deaths in the UK in 2014 was in the 40–44 years age group.

· There were 124,234 treatment presentations in the UK in 2015. This total includes for the first time, data from individuals presenting to treatment services in prisons in England.

· Benzodiazepines were cited as a primary problem substance in far greater proportion of cases in Scotland and Northern Ireland than in England or Wales, whereas Wales had a far higher proportion of clients citing amphetamines/methamphetamines than in any of the other countries.

· National Take-Home Naloxone programmes continue to supply naloxone to those exiting prison in Scotland and Wales: there were 932 kits issued by NHS staff in prisons in Scotland, and 146 in Wales, in 2015/16.

· There were 50 new diagnoses of HIV among people who inject drugs reported from Scotland, compared with 17 in 2014. This increase was due to an outbreak of HIV in people who inject drugs in Glasgow.

Source:  http://www.sdf.org.uk/patterns-illicit-drug-use-uk-country-analysed-annual-report/

Filed under: Effects of Drugs,Social Affairs (Papers) :

Sirs,

I believe that a state’s Attorney General and Secretary of State have the obligation to reject any petition that is obviously in violation of any law.

Whether a ballot initiative is properly worded or not, if it proposes, facilitates or allows the violation of any law – it is illegal.

EXCERPT:  “In an opinion dated Tuesday and released Wednesday, Rutledge said the ballot title of the proposal is ambiguous and “that a number of additions or changes” are needed “to more fully and correctly summarize” the proposal.

“The proposal [to legalize recreational marijuana use in the state] by Larry Morris of West Fork would allow for the cultivation, production, distribution, sale and possession of marijuana for recreational use in Arkansas.”:

As you can readily see, Mr. Morris’ proposal would violate federal law and place persons who engage in any of those activities at risk of federal prosecution or other liability.

I draw to your attention a  LEGAL PRIMER(BELOW) ON: ENFORCING THE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE ACT IN STATES THAT HAVE COMMERCIALIZED MARIJUANA by Mr. David Evans, Esq. in which he concludes that: “Anyone who participates in the growing, possession, manufacturing, distribution, or sales of marijuana under state law or aids or facilitates or finances such actions is at risk of federal prosecution or other liability.”

I ask that you continue to reject these illegal proposals to legalize marijuana in any form in our state of Arkansas.

I reiterate, it is your job to UPHOLD the LAW, not facilitate LAWBREAKING.

Jeanette McDougal

Board Member, Drug Watch, Intl.

Director, NAHAS – National Alliance of Health and Safety dems8692@aol.com

Filed under: Global Drug Legalisation Efforts,Law (Papers),Legal Sector,USA :

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Officer Sean Brinegar arrived at the house first — “People are coming here and dying,” the 911 caller had said — and found a man and a woman panicking. Two people were dead inside, they told him.

Brinegar, 25, has been on the force in this Appalachian city for less than three years, but as heroin use has surged, he has seen more than his fair share of overdoses. So last Monday, he grabbed a double pack of naloxone from his gear bag and headed inside.

A man was on the dining room floor, his thin body bluish-purple and skin abscesses betraying a history of drug use. He was dead, Brinegar thought, so the officer turned his attention to the woman on a bed. He could see her chest rising but didn’t get a response when he dug his knuckle into her sternum.

Brinegar gave the woman a dose of injected naloxone, the antidote that can jumpstart the breathing of someone who has overdosed on opioids, and returned to the man. The man sat up in response to Brinegar’s knuckle in his sternum — he was alive after all — but started to pass out again. Brinegar gave him the second dose of naloxone.

Maybe on an average day, when this Ohio River city of about 50,000 people sees two or three overdoses, that would have been it. But on this day, the calls kept coming.

Two more heroin overdoses at that house, three people found in surrounding yards. Three overdoses at the nearby public housing complex, another two up the hill from the complex.

From about 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., 26 people overdosed in Huntington, half of them in and around the Marcum Terrace apartment complex. The barrage occupied all the ambulances in the city and more than a shift’s worth of police officers.

By the end of it, though, all 26 people were alive. Authorities attributed that success to the cooperation among local agencies and the sad reality that they are well-practiced at responding to overdoses. Many officials did not seem surprised by the concentrated spike.

“It was kind of like any other day, just more of it,” said Dr. Clay Young, an emergency medicine doctor at Cabell Huntington Hospital.

But tragic news was coming. Around 8 p.m., paramedics responded to a report of cardiac arrest. The man later died at the hospital, and only then were officials told he had overdosed. On Wednesday, authorities found a person dead of an overdose elsewhere in Cabell County and think the death could have happened Monday. They are investigating whether those overdoses are tied to the others, potentially making them Nos. 27 and 28.

It’s possible that the rash of overdoses was caused by a particularly powerful batch of heroin or that a dearth of the drug in the days beforehand weakened people’s tolerance. But police suspect the heroin here was mixed with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is many times more potent than heroin. A wave of fatal overdoses signaled fentanyl’s arrival in Huntington in early 2015, and now some stashes aren’t heroin laced with fentanyl, but “fentanyl laced with heroin,” said Police Chief Joe Ciccarelli. Another possibility is carfentanil, another synthetic opioid, this one used to sedate elephants. Police didn’t recover drugs from any of the overdoses, but toxicology tests from the deaths could provide answers.

A battle-scarred city

In some ways, what happened in Huntington was as unremarkable as the spurts in overdoses that have occurred in other cities. This year, fentanyl or carfentanil killed a dozen people in Sacramento, nine people in Florida, and 23 people in about a month in Akron, Ohio. The list of cities goes on: New Haven, Conn.; Columbus, Ohio; Barre, Vt.

But what happened in Huntington stands out in other ways. It underlines the potential of a mysterious substance to unleash wide-scale trauma and overwhelm a city’s emergency response. And it suggests that a community that is doing all the right things to combat a worsening scourge can still get knocked back by it.

“From a policy perspective, we’re throwing everything we know at the problem,” said Dr. James Becker, the vice dean for governmental affairs and health care policy at the medical school at Marshall University here. “And yet the problem is one of those that takes a long time to change, and probably isn’t going to change for quite a while.”

Surrounded by rolling hills packed with lush trees, Huntington is one of the many fronts in the fight against an opioid epidemic that is killing almost 30,000 Americans a year. But this city, state, and region are among the most battle-scarred. West Virginia has the highest rate of fatal drug overdoses of any state and the highest rate of babies born dependent on opioids among the 28 states that report data. But even compared with other communities in West Virginia, Huntington sees above-average rates of heroin use, overdose deaths, and drug-dependent newborns. Local officials estimate up to 10 percent of residents use opioids improperly.

The heroin problem emerged about five years ago when authorities around the country cracked down on “pill mills” that sent pain medications into communities; officials here specifically point to a 2011 Florida law that arrested the flow of pills into the Huntington area.

As the pills became harder to obtain and harder to abuse, people turned to heroin. It has devoured many communities in Appalachia and beyond.

In Huntington, law enforcement initially took the lead, with police arresting hundreds of people. They seized thousands of grams of heroin. But it wasn’t making a dent. So in November 2014, local leaders established an office of drug control policy.

“As far as numbers of arrests and seizures, we were ahead of the game, but our problem was getting worse,” said Jim Johnson, director of the office and a former Huntington police officer. “It became very obvious that if we did not work on the demand side just as hard as the supply side, we were never going to see any success.”

The office brought together law enforcement, health officials, community and faith leaders, and experts from Marshall to try to tackle the problem together.

Changes in state law have opened naloxone dissemination to the public and protected people who report overdoses. But the city and its partners have gone further, rolling out programs through the municipal court system to encourage people to seek treatment. One program is designed to help women who work as prostitutes to feed their addiction. Huntington has eight of the state’s 28 medically assisted detox beds, and they’re always full.

Also, in 2014, a center called Lily’s Place opened in Huntington to wean babies from drugs. Last year, the local health department launched this conservative state’s first syringe exchange. The county, health officials know, is at risk for outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C because of shared needles, so they are trying to get ahead of crises seen in other communities afflicted by addiction.

“Huntington just happens to have taken ownership of the problem, and very courageously started some programs … that have been models for the rest of the state,” said Kenneth Burner, the West Virginia coordinator for the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program.

‘A revolving door’

While paramedics in the area have carried naloxone for years, it was this spring that Huntington police officers were equipped with it. Just a few officers have administered it, but Monday was Brinegar’s third time reviving overdose victims with naloxone.

Paramedics, who first try reviving victims by pumping air with a bag through a mask, had to administer another 10 doses of naloxone Monday. Three doses went to one person, said Gordon Merry, the director of Cabell County Emergency Services. During the response, ambulances from stations outside Huntington were called into the city to assist the eight or so response teams already deployed.

Merry was clearly proud of the response, but also frustrated. He was tired, he said, of people whom emergency crews revived going back to drugs. Because of the power of their disease, saving their lives didn’t get at the root of their addiction.

“It’s a revolving door. We’re not solving the problem past reviving them,” he said. “We gave 26 people another chance on life, and hopefully one of those 26 will seek help.”

In the part of town where half the overdoses happened, some homes are well-kept, with gardens, bird feeders, and American flags billowing. “Home Sweet Home,” read an engraved piece of wood above one front door; in another front yard, a wooden sculpture presented a bear holding a fish with “WELCOME” written across its body.

But many structures are decrepit and have their windows blacked out with cardboard and sheets. At one boarded-up house, the metal slats that once made up an overhang for the front porch split apart and warped as they collapsed, like gnarled teeth. On the plywood that covered a window frame was a message spelled out in green dots: GIRL SCOUTS RULE.

In and around the public housing complex, which is made up of squat two-story brick buildings sloping up a hill, people either said they did not know what had happened Monday, or that “lowlifes” in another part of the complex sparked the problem. Even as paramedics were responding to the overdoses, police started raiding residences as part of their investigation, including apartments at the complex, the chief said.

Just up the hill, a man named Bill was sitting on a recliner on his front porch with his cat. He said he saw the police out in the area Monday, but doesn’t pay much attention to overdoses anymore. They are so frequent.

Bill, who is retired, asked to be identified only by his first name because he said he has a son in law enforcement. He has lived in that house for five decades and started locking his door only in recent years. His neighbors’ house had been broken into, and he had seen people using drugs in cars across the street from his house. He called the police sometimes, he said, but the users were always gone by the time the police arrived.

“I hate to say this, but you know, I’d let them die,” Bill said. “If they knew that no one was going to revive them, maybe they wouldn’t overdose.”

Even here, where addiction had touched so many lives, it’s not an uncommon sentiment. Addiction is still viewed by some as a bad personal choice made by bad people.

“Some folks in the community just didn’t care” that 26 of their fellow residents almost died, said Matt Boggs, the executive director of Recovery Point.  Recovery Point is a long-term recovery program that teaches “clients” to live a life without drugs or alcohol. Boggs himself is a graduate of the program, funded by the state and donations and grants.

The clients live in bunk rooms at the facility for an average of more than seven months before graduating. The program says that about two-thirds of graduates stay sober in the first year after graduation, and about 85 percent of those people are sober after two years.

Local officials praise Recovery Point, but like many other recovery programs, it is limited in what it can do. It has 100 beds for men at its location in Huntington, and is expanding at other sites in the state, but Boggs said there’s a waiting list of a couple hundred people.

Mike Thomas, 30, graduated from the main part of the program a month ago and is working as a peer mentor there as he transitions out of the facility. Thomas has been clean since Oct. 15, 2015, but has dreams about getting high or catches himself thinking he could spare $100 from his bank account for drugs.

Thomas hopes to find a full-time job helping addicts. His own recovery will be a lifelong process, one that can be torn apart by a single bad decision, he said. He will always be in recovery, never recovered.    “I’m not cured,” he said.

 

A killer that doesn’t discriminate

As heroin has bled into communities across the country, it has spread beyond the regular drug hotbeds in cities. On a 2004 map of drug use in Huntington — back then, mostly crack cocaine — a few blocks of the city glow red. Almost the entire city glows in yellows and reds on the 2014 map.

In 2015, there were more than 700 drug overdose calls in Huntington, ranging from kids in their early teens to seniors in their late 70s. In 2014, it was 272 calls; in 2012, 146. One bright spot: fatal overdoses, which stood at 58 in 2015, have ticked down so far this year.

“I used to be able to say, ‘We need to focus here,’” said Scott Lemley, a criminal intelligence analyst at the police department. “I can’t do that anymore.”

Heroin hasn’t just dismantled geographic barriers. It has infiltrated every demographic “It doesn’t discriminate.   Prominent businessmen, their child. Police officers, their child. Doctors, their child,” Merry said. “The businessman and police officer do not have their child anymore.”

The businessman is Teddy Johnson. His son, Adam, died in 2007 when he was 22, one of a dozen people who died in a five-month period because of an influx of black-tar heroin. The drug hadn’t made its full resurgence into the region yet, but now, Johnson sees the drug that killed his son everywhere.

 

Teddy Johnson lost his son, Adam, in 2007 to a heroin overdose. He has several tattoos dedicated to Adam’s memory.  He runs a plumbing, heating, and kitchen fixture and remodelling business. From his storefront, he has witnessed deals across the street.

Adam, who was a student at Marshall, was a musician and artist who hosted radio shows. He was the life of any party, his dad said.

Johnson was describing Adam as he sat at the marble countertop of a model kitchen in his business last week. With the photos of his kids on the counter, it felt like a family’s home. Johnson explained how he still kept Adam’s bed made, how he kept his son’s room the same, and then he began to cry.

“The biggest star in the sky we say is Adam’s star,” he said. “When we’re in the car — and it can’t be this way — but it always seems to be in front of us, guiding us.”

Adam’s grave is at the top of a hill near the memorial to the 75 people — Marshall football players, staff, and fans — who died in a 1970 plane crash. It’s a beautiful spot that Johnson visits a few times each week, bringing flowers and cutting the grass around his son’s grave himself. Recently a note was left there from a couple Johnson knows who

just lost their son to an overdose; they were asking Adam to look out for their son in heaven.

But even here, at what should be a respite, Johnson can’t escape what took his son. He said he has seen deals happen in the cemetery, and he recently found a burnt spoon not more than 20 feet from his son’s grave.

Johnson keeps fresh flowers on his son’s grave and cuts the grass around the grave himself.

“I’ve just seen too much of it,” he said.

If Huntington doesn’t have a handle on heroin, at least the initiatives are helping officials understand the scale of the problem. More than 1,700 people have come through the syringe exchange since it opened, where they receive a medical assessment and learn about recovery options. The exchange is open one day a week, and in less than a year, it has distributed 150,000 clean syringes and received 125,000 used syringes.

But to grow and sustain its programs, Huntington needs money, officials say. The community has received federal grants, and state officials know they have a problem. But economic losses and the collapse of the coal industry that fueled the drug epidemic have also depleted state coffers.

“We have programs ready to launch, and we have no resources to launch them with,” said Dr. Michael Kilkenny, the physician director of the Cabell-Huntington Health Department. “We’re launching them without resources, because our people are dying, and we can’t tolerate that.”

In some ways, Huntington is fortunate. It has a university with medical and pharmacy schools enlisted to help, and a mayor’s office and police department collaborating with public health officials. But what does that herald then for other communities?

“If I feel anxious about what happens in Huntington and in Cabell County, I cannot imagine what it must be like to live in one of these other at-risk counties in the United States, where they don’t have all those resources, they don’t have people thinking about it,” said Dr. Kevin Yingling, the dean of the Marshall University School of Pharmacy.

Yingling, Kilkenny, and others were gathered on Friday afternoon to talk about the situation in Huntington, including the rash of overdoses. But by then, there was already a different incident to discuss.

A car had crashed into a tree earlier that afternoon in Huntington. A man in the driver seat and a woman in the passenger seat had both overdosed and needed naloxone to be revived. A preschool-age girl was in the back seat.

Source:    https://www.statnews.com/2016/08/22/heroin-huntington-west-virginia-overdoses/ 22.08.16

Filed under: Addiction (Papers),Effects of Drugs,Effects of Drugs (Papers),Political Sector,USA :

Drug trade’s efforts to launder profits by creating agricultural land results in loss of millions of acres, researchers say.

A hillside in Jocotán, eastern Guatemala, damaged by deforestation. Photograph: Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images

Cocaine traffickers attempting to launder their profits are responsible for the disappearance of millions of acres of tropical forest across large swaths of Central America, according to a report. The study, published on Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found that drug trafficking was responsible for up to 30% of annual deforestation in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, turning biodiverse forest into agricultural land.

The study’s lead author, Dr Steven Sesnie from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, said: “Most of the ‘narco-driven’ deforestation we identified happened in biodiverse moist forest areas, and around 30-60% of the annual loss happened within established protected areas, threatening conservation efforts to maintain forest carbon sinks, ecological services, and rural and indigenous livelihoods.”

The research, which used annual deforestation estimates from 2001 to 2014, focuses on six Central American countries – Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. It estimates the role of drug trafficking, as opposed to drug cultivation, in deforestation for the first time.

“As the drugs move north their value increases and the traffickers and cartels are looking for ways to move this money into the legal economy. Purchasing forest and turning it into agricultural land is one of the main ways they do that,” said Sesnie. He said the US-led crackdown on drug cartels in Mexico and the Caribbean in the early 2000s concentrated cocaine trafficking activities through the Central American corridor.

“Now roughly 86% of the cocaine trafficked globally moves through Central America on its way to North American consumers, leaving an estimated $6bn US dollars in illegal profits in the region annually.”

This had led to the loss of millions of acres of tropical forest over a decade as drugs cartels laundered their profits, Sesnie said.

“Our results highlight the key threats to remaining moist tropical forest and protected areas in Central America,” he said, adding that remote forest areas with “low socioeconomic development” were particularly at risk.

The report calls for drugs and environment policy – nationally and internationally – to be integrated “to ensure that deforestation pressures on globally significant biodiversity sites are not intensified by … supply-side drug policies in the region”.

Source:  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/16/drug-money-traffickers-destroying-swaths-forest-central-america    

 

Filed under: Environment,Social Affairs,USA :

Addiction Advocacy Needs A Bill Gates, David Geffen, Warren Buffett, Or Tom Steyer

Addiction doesn’t need someone to put their name on a building, or name a research institute. Addiction desperately needs bold philanthropists who want to leverage the people power of the grassroots. Addiction and drug overdoses claim one life every four minutes in America. In the time it takes to order a latte, someone dies—from an illness that is highly treatable. The addiction crisis is the result of social prejudice; criminal justice policies that incarcerate people with addiction instead of giving them treatment; health care policies that make it difficult or impossible to get medical help for substance use disorders; ignorance; and “abstinence-only” drug policies that are ineffective and backwards.

The fact is, people who struggle with substance use disorder are treated like second-class citizens. Admitting there’s a problem can mean losing your job, home, and custody of your children. That makes addiction a civil rights issue. And, thanks to the work of advocates across the nation, it’s finally being recognized as a moral issue, as well. Thought leaders like Tom Steyer are helping to drive this message home. I first met Tom during the Democratic National Convention. I had just shared my experience with addiction and recovery when Tom approached me. I was taken aback by the story he shared. He, too, lost someone very dear to him due to addiction: his best friend, who struggled with addiction for decades. His friend contracted HIV and Hepatitis C through drug use, and died of medical complications due to his illnesses. A few months later, Tom joined me at the Facing Addiction in America summit in Los Angeles, where we invited him to share his story on stage with the U.S. Surgeon General. As Tom talked, tears filled my eyes. He said, “We must embrace our shared humanity and recognize that addiction is a deadly, chronic illness, not a personal failing.” I’d lost friends, too. I was at risk, too. It was time to bridge the gap between policies and public awareness.

People like Tom Steyer and other pioneering philanthropists, who give tens of millions to progressive causes such as medical research, environmental causes, and water quality, must also step up to end the addiction crisis in America. Our fight is America’s fight. The sooner they do, the quicker we can heal this nation from our generation’s most urgent public health crisis.

Working alongside lobbyists, nonprofit groups, social organizers, and peer recovery groups, they can help fill the gaps left by policies and laws that omit or punish people with substance use disorder. As the current administration takes steps toward a health care bill that will leave people suffering from addiction without medical care, these philanthropic giants are in a unique position to help. Why? Because their involvement would not be tied to political party or personal gain. Rather, they would focus on the solution, plain and simple.

Addiction should be one of the issues on the list of social problems we urgently address, next to finding a cure for cancer and ending childhood hunger. Addiction permeates the social fabric of America. Nobody is exempt. As many people suffer from addiction as diabetes; more people use pain medications than tobacco products. For every person who’s developed full blown substance use disorder, another dozen are on the road to addiction. Substance use disorder affects every corner of society, including our collective health, family unity, the economy, workplace productivity, and our reliance on social programs. It also keeps jails full of people who may struggle to find jobs to support their families once they’re released, and will never be able to vote again.

The recovery advocacy movement has been built slowly, through the efforts of individuals and highly fragmented groups. We have an incredible grassroots movement that addresses an issue that directly impacts one in every three families in America, and indirectly touches all of us. But fundraising for recovery advocacy has been largely through family and friend donations—which, although heartfelt, aren’t sufficient to fund serious research, create desperately needed social infrastructure, or provide education about the true nature of addiction. While organizations dedicated to battling cancer, heart disease, and diabetes raise hundreds of millions of dollars annually, the “addiction field,” such as it is, raises perhaps $25 million from private sources. This is unconscionable.

Gates, Geffen, Buffett, Steyer, and other philanthropic giants have the potential to be visionaries in this space. They could quickly stem the addiction epidemic without waiting for policy makers to hammer out yet another law that places people’s recovery at risk. They could find the solution that keeps families intact. With their help, nobody will lose another friend to this disease or the health problems that come with it. Bob and Suzanne Wright demonstrated the power and possibility of this kind of giving when they funded Autism Speaks. Their philanthropy helped move autism front and center: why not do the same for addiction?

What will our society, our culture, be like when we finally take addiction out of the equation? For many people, and their families, the answer is coming much too slowly.

It’s time to apply our knowledge, build a coalition, and offer the solutions our country so desperately needs. It’s time to change the framework of this crisis and confront our deepest values. Instead of punishment, we need to help the people who are sick—dying from this illness. It’s time to work together and end America’s addiction crisis for good.

What we need now is for America’s philanthropic visionaries to step up to help us dramatically accelerate the pace of progress in this urgent effort. Addi