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ATOD & Advocacy Recap - Week ending March 7, 2014



5 Reasons Washington's Proposed Medical Marijuana Restrictions Have Patients Worried

It looks increasingly likely that Washington’s legislature will approve new restrictions on medical marijuana by the end of its current session a week from Thursday. The two leading bills both involve mandatory registration of patients, sharp reductions in the limits on possession and home cultivation, and elimination of “collective gardens,” including hundreds of dispensaries operating under that label. The general thrust of the bills is to ban the untaxed, unregulated outlets that otherwise would compete with state-licensed pot shops, which are supposed to become the main source of medical marijuana. Patients have several concerns about that plan. Please click here to read more.

Marijuana: Do Risks Outweigh Benefits in RA?
Rheumatologists should not currently be recommending the use of medical marijuana to their patients for relief of chronic pain, researchers stated. Among the reasons for this advice are acute and chronic risks, a lack of evidence for efficacy, and the absence of data on appropriate dosing, according to Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, MD, of McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues. Please click here to read more.

Medical marijuana ad released
The first-ever medical marijuana commercial has aired on US television, likening buying the drug to sushi.
In the ad, released by Marijuana Doctors, a suspect looking seller asks the camera: "Yo, you want sushi?" He then runs through a list of the raw fish delicacies, pulling out tiny slabs of raw tuna and raw salmon from his overcoat: "I got the finest sashimi this area's seen in years". The commercial continues with the seller telling the camera that "you need me and I need you" before he discretely hands a tuna roll over to a passerby. The ad ends with a voice over telling the audience: "You wouldn't buy sushi from this guy, so why would you buy your marijuana from him?"
Medical marijuana has been legalized in several US states but it is still illegal under federal US law.Click here to view this commercial.

‘Mommy lobby’ emerges as a powerful advocate for medical marijuana for children
Standing in a Wisconsin State Capitol hearing room surrounded by parents hugging their seriously ill children, Sally Schaeffer began to cry as she talked about her daughter. Born with a rare chromosomal disorder, 6-year-old Lydia suffers from life-threatening seizures that doctors haven’t been able to control despite countless medications. The family’s last hope: medical marijuana. Schaeffer, 39, didn’t just ask lawmakers to legalize the drug. She begged. Please click here to read more.

Magic' Overdose Drug Works, But Demand and Price on the Rise
Calls to the fire department for suspected drug overdoses are increasingly common in Revere, Mass. The department responded to 16 overdose calls in a single six-day stretch in February. Revere is not alone. Across the country, communities are reporting a spike in opioid overdose  . And in several states, government agencies and health clinics are working to provide an anti-overdose drug, Naloxone, to as many people as possible. But even as use of the drug is rising, so is its cost. Please click here to read more.

Marijuana May Hurt the Developing Teen Brain
The teenager's brain has a lot of developing to do: It must transform from the brain of a child into the brain of an adult. Some researchers worry how marijuana might affect that crucial process. Please click here to read more.

Law Enforcement Concerned About Potentially Addictive Drug Kratom
Law enforcement officials are concerned about a potentially addictive drug called kratom, which is sold as a tea in head shops, according to USA Today. Young men are posting testimonials about the drug on YouTube, the article notes. Kratom is a tropical tree found in Southeast Asia. Its leaves are sold in the United States as a pill or powder to stir into drinks, the article notes. “Kratom has been described as producing both stimulant and sedative effects,” the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) states on its website. “At low doses, it produces stimulant effects, with users reporting increased alertness, physical energy, talkativeness and sociable behavior. At high doses, opiate effects are produced, in addition to sedative and euphoric effects. Effects occur within 5 to 10 minutes after ingestion and last for 2 to 5 hours. Acute side effects include nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth, constipation, increased urination, and loss of appetite.” Some people who abuse prescription painkillers use kratom to alleviate the effects of opioid withdrawal. Kratom can be addictive, according to the newspaper. The drug is not monitored by any national drug abuse surveys, so it is not known how many people use it. The drug is widely available on the Internet, according to the DEA. It is not approved for any medical purpose in the United States.

Would you tell your kids you got high?
President Obama talked openly last week about a candid conversation with a group of at-risk kids in Chicago, and many of us parents took notice. "I explained to them when I was their age, I was a lot like them," the President said, referring to the African-American boys he met with at Chicago's Hyde Park Academy High School on the city's south side last year. "I didn't have a dad in the house. And I was angry about it, even though I didn't necessarily realize it at the time. I made bad choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm that it could do." The President's honesty with teens about using drugs led many of us parents to ask: Would we do the same with our children? Please click here to read more.

Tax revenue from legalized marijuana may not meet expectations
MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION was a hot topic at the recent meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington, for obvious reasons — among them the prospect of raising much-needed revenue by taxing pot sales. “With all the bad weather we’ve had back home and all the potholes, we ought to have the revenue go to infrastructure — ‘pot for potholes,’ ” Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) said. Such an experiment is underway in Washington and Colorado, so it’s noteworthy that John Hickenlooper, the latter state’s Democratic governor, did not echo Mr. Chafee’s enthusiasm about the tax bonanza. “Going out and getting tax revenue is absolutely the wrong reason to even think about legalizing recreational marijuana,” he said, since it puts a state in the position of benefiting from use of a harmful substance — even if it’s not the most harmful. Please click here to read more.

Opinion: Marijuana injustices need to end
I have no desire to smoke marijuana, partly because doing so might drive me back to the cigarette habit I broke two decades ago. I don’t want to be one of those “cool parents” who pretend to be as culturally advanced as their kids. In my case, that’s a ridiculous aspiration anyway. And I agree with those who call attention to the dangers of excessive indulgence in marijuana and want to encourage people to resist it. Nobody wants us to become a nation of stoners. Please click here to read more.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: 'I am doubling down' on medical marijuana
It's been eight months since I last wrote about medical marijuana, apologizing for having not dug deeply into the beneficial effects of this plant and for writing articles dismissing its potential. I apologized for my own role in previously misleading people, and I feel very badly that people have suffered for too long, unable to obtain the legitimate medicine that may have helped them. I have been reminded that a true and productive scientific journey involves a willingness to let go of established notions and get at the truth, even if it is uncomfortable and even it means having to say "sorry." It is not easy to apologize and take your lumps, but this was never about me. This scientific journey is about a growing number of patients who want the cannabis plant as a genuine medicine, not to get high. Please click here to read more.

Holder and Republicans Unite to Soften Sentencing Laws
Shortly after Senator Rand Paul filed suit last month against the Obama administration to stop its electronic dragnet of American phone records, he sat down for lunch with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in his private dining room at the Justice Department. Mr. Paul, a Kentucky Republican, is one of the Obama administration’s most vocal critics. But their discussion focused on an issue on which they have found common cause: eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. The two men are unlikely allies. Their partnership unites the nation’s first African-American attorney general, who sees his legacy in a renewed focus on civil rights, and some of Congress’s most prominent libertarians, who have accused the Obama administration of trampling on personal freedom with drones, wiretaps, tracking devices and too much government. Please click here to read more.

Survey of Women Treated for Addiction Finds Many Used Prescription Drugs, Heroin
A new survey of affluent women treated for alcohol and drug addiction finds prescription medication and heroin are their leading drugs of choice. The online survey of 102 former patients, conducted by Caron Treatment Centers, found many women surveyed said they cared for their children, had careers and volunteered during their active addiction. Seventy percent of the women who abused prescription drugs said they were initially prescribed the drugs legally for a physical or emotional ailment. The survey found 55 percent of respondents who were treated for an addiction to illegal drugs were also abusing heroin. Significant factors that led to addiction included a critical internal voice, depression and anxiety. A majority of the women were married with children, but they said they were most likely to abuse drugs or alcohol when they were by themselves. The survey found 61 percent of respondents had a household income of $100,000 or more when they entered treatment. Michelle Maloney, Executive Director of Treatment Services at Hanley Center, a Caron Treatment Center, said in a statement, “Female addicts often experience a lot of shame about using alcohol and drugs. They often feel they are the only ones with these problems. But we want them to know they are not alone. There are millions of women in recovery and all women deserve to get the help they need to live a healthy and productive life.”

Q&A: Anti-pot legalization advocate makes his case
On Wednesday, panelists at a University of Alaska Anchorage event debated Alaska's ballot initiative to legalize marijuana, which voters will weigh in on Aug. 19. Ben Cort argued against legalizing pot. Cort is a board member of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a Massachusetts-based group founded by Patrick Kennedy that has emerged as a central counterpoint to legalization advocacy organizations. Cort is a former addict who has been sober for nearly 20 years and who has worked in the addiction treatment field and currently works for the University of Colorado Hospital as a community liaison. Please click here to read more.

Q&A: Pot legalization booster Ethan Nadelmann makes his case
On Aug. 19, Alaskans will vote on whether to legalize marijuana.
On Wednesday night, those in Anchorage will have a chance to hear from Ethan Nadelmann, the man known as the single most influential architect of the decades-long movement to decriminalize pot -- a movement that's been picking up steam in recent years with legalization victories in Washington and Colorado. A 56-year-old New Yorker with a handful of degrees from Harvard, Nadelmann is credited for engineering a national strategy that has sought to frame regulating pot sales as a generator of tax revenues and a way to refocus law enforcement on policing serious crime. Rolling Stone magazine called him "the driving force for the legalization of marijuana in America." Please click here to read more.

Legalizing Medical Marijuana Gaining More Momentum in Mid-Term Election Year
Plandai Biotechnology (otcqb:PLPL) is one of a handful of publicly traded companies that are eagerly anticipating the legalization of medical marijuana nationwide. Currently the drug is legal medicinally in 20 states and Washington, D.C., but in this election year, that number is likely to grow. In each national election year, the frenzy begins again and with it, a growing momentum that has the U.S. drawing closer to a nationwide acceptance. Between dramatically shifting polls, Dr. Sanjay Gupta's documentary Weed that highlights a number of patients who saw stunning improvements after using medical marijuana, and an uptick in activity in the Obama Administration, momentum is at an all-time high in favor of legalizing the drug. In November, mid-term elections will see voters heading to the polls to take up the legalization issue on a number of state ballots including Florida and Alaska. Please click here to read more.

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