addiction

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U.S.: Study Shows Opioid Overdoses Fell With Medical Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Using state-level death certificate data from 1999 to 2010, a group of researchers discovered that the annual rate of opioid overdose deaths decreased substantially -- an average of 25 percent -- following the passage of medical marijuana laws, compared to states still under cannabis prohibition.

The increase of opioid prescriptions in the United States has had devastating public health consequences, including addiction, organ damage, and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently urged physicians to be "very cautious" in prescribing these drugs, reports Colleen Barry in an op-ed at The New York Times.

Marijuana, as pointed out in the comments to Barry's article, "is infinitely safer than any prescription opioid, and it certainly should be available as an option ... if it can save one life from an overdose it is worth it, never mind a massive 25% reduction."

Maine: State Could Be The First To OK Medical Marijuana To Treat Addiction

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Maine could become the first state to add addiction to its list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

A Public hearing was held on Tuesday where nearly 30 medical marijuana caregivers and patients told state regulators that marijuana eases the symptoms of opiod withdrawal and that it is a healthier alternative to prescription painkillers the can be addictive.

Joseph Legendre, 50, of Mount Vernon, fought back tears as he spoke about the pain he endured after hurting his back 26 years ago at a construction site and how marijuana finally eased that pain.

Britney Lashier, 23, of Saco, said smoking marijuana helped her break a heroin addiction she picked up in Morocco while studying in college.

"Marijuana saved my life for sure," she said.

Some other states with fewer restrictions on medical marijuana, such as California and Massachusetts. have seen instances where it has been prescribed for opiod addiction. But, according to the Maine Medical Association, Maine would be the first to specifically add opiate addiction as a qualifying condition.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Serves held the hearing in response to a petition from a caregiver. The department now has 180 days to respond.

Colorado: Military Veteran Gives Away Free Marijuana To Fellow Vets For PTSD

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Colorado Springs cannabis club headed by a military veteran is handing out free marijuana to other veterans, hoping to give them relief from issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for chronic pain they suffer after returning home from war zones.

The Veteran Farmers Alliance over the weekend gave away more than a half-pound of weed, along with cannabis edibles, worth about $1,400, to veterans at the Dab Lounge, reports RT.com. Founder Steve Defino said other groups should be doing the same thing, and that cannabis was essential for him to deal with his PTSD, which he has battled for more than a decade.

Defino said he was prepared to spend nearly 20 times the amount he spent on Saturday at a followup event planned for Veteran's Day in November, reports Andrew Blake at The Washington Times.

“I’ve seen other organizations operate, and I’m not very happy with the way they do it,” Defino said in an interview with KXRM. “They need to be donating more and doing more to show these guys that they actually care.”

“I’ve been able to actually go through my memories, recall my memories without getting upset anymore, and I’m starting to live my life again like a normal person,” Defino said.

Maine: Voters Oppose Punitive Drug Policies, Support Decriminalization

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Findings Come as Legislature Considers Bills Increasing Penalties for Drug Possession

Results Similar to Poll in New Hampshire Which Also Fund Majority Support for Drug Decriminalization

A substantial majority of Maine voters support decriminalizing drug possession, according to a survey conducted over the weekend by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Sixty-four percent of voters in Maine think people caught with a small amount of illegal drugs for personal use should be evaluated for drug issues, offered treatment but not be arrested or face any jail time. Seventy-one percent say substantially reducing incarceration is somewhat or very important to them.

The poll results come as the legislature considers legislation backed by the Attorney General that could roll back groundbreaking reforms passed last session that reduced drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. The proposed legislation (LD 1554) would make possession of 30 milligrams (often less than one single pill) or more of prescription opioids and any amount of certain other drugs into felony offenses, continuing the criminalization of drug users and wasting scarce resources on incarceration instead of treatment and prevention.

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Users More Likely To Use Edibles, Vaporizers

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People who use marijuana for medical purposes are much more likely to vaporize or consume edible forms of the drug than recreational users, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

The study, which surveyed people from four western states that have legalized medical marijuana, also found that those who use marijuana for medicinal purposes are more likely to report daily or near-daily use and consume more as measured by grams per day.

In addition, those who only use marijuana for medicinal purposes do not report use of marijuana concurrently with alcohol, while those who report using recreationally consume marijuana with alcohol on nearly one in five occasions. Findings regarding the simultaneous use of alcohol and marijuana is important because past research shows such activity is more likely to result in health harm, including accidents.

The study, found that 41 percent of people reported having used marijuana recreationally at least once in their lifetime, while only about 7 percent of those surveyed reported using marijuana for medical purposes. More than half of those who said they used for medicinal purposes reported that they did not have a physician’s recommendation to do so.

Published online by the journal Addiction, the study provides some of the first evidence about patterns of marijuana use in states that have legalized medical marijuana. While past efforts have surveyed special populations such as those suffering from cancer pain, the RAND study draws on a sample of the general household population in these states.

Vermont: Governor Calls For Marijuana Legalization In State of the State Address

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Gov. Peter Shumlin Declares Drug War a Failure and Calls for Expanded Overdose Prevention and Treatment Access

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin on Thursday, in his final State of the State address, called on lawmakers to pass legislation legalizing and regulating marijuana.

The Governor also declared the Drug War a failure and expressed desire to continue emphasizing a health-based approach to drug policy by expanding treatment and overdose prevention programs, as well as by removing the stigma associated with drug use and addiction.

"The outdated war on drugs has also failed," said Shumlin, "and there is no greater example than our nation’s marijuana laws."

“Pete Shumlin is providing just the sort of leadership we need to see from other governors around the country,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Indeed, it’s a bit surprising, with a majority of Americans in favor of marijuana legalization, that he’s the only sitting governor to actively call for it. I’m hopeful this is the start of a new trend.”

Gov. Shumlin stressed that a marijuana legalization measure should contain the following:

• A legal market to keep marijuana and other drugs out of the hands of underage kids;
• Tax imposed must be low enough to wipe out the black market and get rid of illegal drug dealers;
• Revenue from legalization must be used to expand addiction prevention programs;
• Strengthened law enforcement capacity to improve our response to impaired drivers

Minnesota: Intractable Pain Added As Qualifying Condition For Medical Marijuana

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Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger on Wednesday announced that intractable pain, as defined in Minnesota law, will be added to the list of qualifying conditions for which patients can legally access medical marijuana.

The commissioner must notify the chairs and ranking minority members of the legislative health and public safety policy committees. Intractable pain will become a qualifying condition for medical marijuana effective August 1, 2016, unless the legislature passes a law stating otherwise.

The vast majority of the 23 states with workable medical marijuana programs allow the use of medical marijuana to treat intractable pain.

“This is a sensible and compassionate decision that will help a lot of Minnesotans who suffer every day from intractable pain," said Robert Capecchi of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "The commissioner heard from countless medical professionals, patients, and families from across the state about the benefits of medical marijuana for people suffering from this debilitating condition.

"We commend Commissioner Ehlinger and everyone else involved in taking this important step toward improving the lives of countless Minnesotans," Capecchi said.

“Medical marijuana has been found to be an effective treatment option for people suffering from severe and chronic pain," Capecchi said. "It is oftentimes more effective than prescription painkillers, and it is undeniably far less addictive and less toxic.

Massachusetts: Doctors Use Marijuana As Opioid Substitute

CannabisForPain?ResearchSaysYes![IllegallyHealed]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hundreds of opioid addicts in Massachusetts are being treated with medical marijuana, and advocates say the new therapy is a life-changing alternative to the deadly epidemic of painkiller addiction.

"We have a statewide epidemic of opioid deaths," said Dr. Gary Witman of Canna Care Docs, which issues medicinal cannabis authorizations in seven states, and has nine clinics in Massachusetts, reports Chris Villani at the Boston Herald. "As soon as we can get people off opioids to a nonaddicting substance -- and medicinal marijuana is nonaddicting -- I think it would dramatically improve the amount of opioid deaths."

Witman said he's treated about 80 patients who were addicted to opioid painkillers, muscle relaxers or anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals, using cannabis with a one-month tapering program. More than 75 percent of those patients stopped taking the harder drugs, according to Witman.

Cannabis can treat the symptoms patients had been using opioids and other drugs to manage, such as chronic pain or anxiety, and treat them far more safely, Witman said.

Dr. Harold Altvater of Delta 9 Medical Consulting in Malden, Mass., agreed that he's also seen success with medicinal cannabis as a substitution therapy. "You are basically taking something that can be very harmful for an individual, and substituting with another chemical, just like you would with any other drug, that has a wider safety margin," he said.

Massachusetts: Sports Announcer Says Marijuana Saved Him From Addiction

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Boston sportscasting legend Bob Lobel is one of hundreds of Massachusetts patients who say they've found a safer and more effective substitute for opioid painkillers by using medical marijuana.

Lobel, 71, a longtime television reporter and anchor, has dealt with chronic pain for years, the result of numerous surgeries, reports Chris Villani at the Boston Herald. He's had two knee replacements, two rotator cuff surgeries, four back surgeries and, at separate times, fracture the tops of both femurs.

"That was brutal," Lobel said of the femur breaks. The constant pain which resulted left him taking handfuls of opioid pills.

"My issue was strictly pain," Lobel said. "I didn't want to take anymore OxyContin or oxycodone or Percocet, for a variety of reasons. The biggest thing I was worried about was addiction. But they also made me tired and it was hard to function and I couldn’t go on TV all drugged up.”

Pure curiosity led him to check out a medical marijuana event several months ago in Boston. While there, he met Dr. Uma Dhanabalan of the Uplifting Health and Wellness clinic in Natick, Mass. Dhanabalan is a strong advocate for patients using cannabis when they might otherwise find themselves addicted to opioids.

U.S.: Leading Neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart Challenges Lawmakers About Drugs And Addiction

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Award-Winning Author of High Price Has Pivotal TED Talk Released on 90th Anniversary of Malcolm X’s Birth

Ebony.com Covers Hart’s Special Telephone Town Hall About Drugs, Families, and What We Really Need to Do to Ensure Community Safety

Carl Hart, PhD, a neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University, whose work has redefined how people are discussing addiction, on Tuesday released two more groundbreaking and deeply compelling talks, one before a TEDMED audience in Northern California; and another a special Telephone Town Hall attended by hundreds of advocates, policymakers, faith leaders and medical professionals, and covered by Ebony.com, the African American news and lifestyle site.

U.S.: Moms From Around Country Come Together to Share Experiences of Drug War Damage

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In Honor of Mother’s Day, Moms United to End the War on Drugs Representatives Request Signatures to Support Our “Mom’s Bill of Rights”

Mothers across the country are telling their personal stories of Drug War damage with stories, articles and interviews in honor of Mother’s Day. By sharing these powerful stories of losing loved ones to drug-prohibition-related violence, incarceration, overdose and addiction, they are bringing focus to a real need to reform our nation’s drug policies.

Many of the moms leading this campaign have been personally impacted by the War On Drugs, including having children who suffer from addiction and who have been repeatedly incarcerated, or have died from preventable drug overdoses and other drug related problems.

Moms were the driving force in repealing alcohol prohibition in the 30’s and now moms are playing a similar role in ending the war on drugs. Moms United to End the War on Drugs, is a project of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) along with other organizations and individuals from across the nation.

Together they are building a national movement to demand therapeutic, rather than punitive drug policies and an end to the stigmatization and criminalization of people who use drugs or who are addicted to drugs.

U.S.: Dr. Oz Says He'd Opt For Cannabis, Given That Option

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Popular TV physician Dr. Oz on Friday ran a positive story on medicinal cannabis. "Cannabis is a natural medicine which is less addictive and ultimately safer than opiates that are currently the standard of treatment," said Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is a cardiothoracic surgeon. "And as a physician, I'd opt for the safer choice, given that option."

Those with severe chronic pain have learned that our choices are limited, reports Devi E. Nampiaparampil, MD on DoctorOz.com. Medical marijuana is increasingly seen as an alternative to harsh, addictive pharmaceutical opioids which carry the threat of overdose.

Another problem with opioid painkillers is the phenomenon of tolerance, wherein the drugs become less effective over time, making larger doses necessary -- and, once again, bringing up the danger of overdose, since taking too large a dose of opioids can depress the portion of the brain which controls breathing.

Cannabis, on the other hand, has never caused any lethal drug overdoses -- and the number of opioid deaths appears to have decreased in states with laws allowing medical marijuana. It may be that the addition of cannabis is effectively replacing opioids for some people, and according to some studies it might also be boosting the pain relief patients get from the same dose of painkillers.

U.S.: Federal Govt. To Block Funds For Drug Courts That Refuse Medication-Assisted Treatment

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New Policy Indicates Better Understanding of Addiction, Public Health Crisis

The acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli, this week said the federal government will deny federal funding to drug courts across the country that refuse medication-assisted treatment for those suffering from opiate addictions.

The ONDCP will now withhold federal funding from drug courts that prevent people suffering from opiate addictions from having access to drugs such as methadone and Suboxone that can allow them to lead normal lives despite their addiction, reports Jason Cherkis at The Huffington Post.

“I rarely get a chance to applaud the ONDCP, so I’m enjoying this,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “People with addictions deserve access to treatment that works, and any policy that stands in the way of the recovery process is an affront to human rights.”

Because heroin is physically addictive, with users experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms such as depression, nausea and vomiting, those who abstain have a high rate of relapse. However after a period of abstinence, their tolerance drops and doses they could handle while a regular user become lethal. This is often when overdoses occur.

New York: Addiction Counselor Backs 'Inevitable' Marijuana Legalization

JoeSchrank(Loft107)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With a recent report predicting that 18 states will legalize marijuana by 2020, there are some major changes on the way, and four states have already taken the plunge.

Last year was a groundbreaking one, according to the report. It "will be remembered as a year when ... a sense of inevitability about national legalization became conventional wisdom among elected officials and the general public."

Social worker, addiction counselor and recovering alcoholic Joe Schrank, the founder of Loft 107, a sober-living facility in the heart of Brooklyn, says it isn't in the public interest to continue a secret culture that facilitates a recession-proof industry for people who don't pay taxes.

According to Schrank, millions of people are already using cannabis recreationally, untaxed and unregulated. Schrank points out that alcohol has had a monopoly on legal intoxication for generations, so it's wrong to not let individuals make their own choice.

Furthermore, as more states legalize, Schrank hopes to see an "intoxicating substance" tax that will fund treatment and recovery options that are available and easily accessible -- "a far better policy than threats and incarceration," he said.

Photo: Joe Schrank/Facebook

U.S.: Harrison Narcotics Act Still Fostering Violence, Addiction 100 Years Later

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Addiction Remains Criminalized Despite Medical, Law Enforcement Community Outcry

Concerned citizens and a coalition of organizations including representatives from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) will gather in cities nationwide on Wednesday, December 17, at noon on the steps of courthouses and other civic buildings. These demonstrations are in response to the 100-year anniversary of the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 and call for responsible drug policy reforms that put doctors back in charge of helping people overcome substance addiction.

The Harrison Narcotics Act is considered one of the first American prohibitionist policies. While on its face the law merely regulated opiate and cocaine products in medical settings by licensing those involved in the market, a portion of the bill was interpreted to mean that doctors no longer had the authority to prescribe narcotics as a maintenance treatment for patients already suffering from substance addictions.

U.S.: Dr. Carl Hart's TED Talk Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs

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Award-Winning Author of High Price Shares Insights from his Remarkable Personal Journey and Career as a Scientist

Carl Hart, PhD, a neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University, recently gave a compelling TEDMED Talk in which he dispelled myths about drugs, drug use and drug misuse. In the talk, Hart eloquently discussed the negative influence that drug hysteria had on the flawed drug laws the United States grapples with today.

His unflinching, eye-opening talk mirrored his widely-renowned book, High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society (HarperCollins, 2013), a groundbreaking memoir/science book which recently won the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.

“My TED talk is a public education effort to combat drug myths, bad drug policy, and to help keep people safe,” said Dr. Hart. “Millions of people languish unnecessarily in jails and prisons largely, and still others needlessly die from preventable overdoses, underground market violence and police interactions, due to a misguided approach to drug regulations. And no one suffers more than African American men and the poor.”

Colorado: Moms, Cops, Nurses and Docs Stand Together To Reform Marijuana Laws

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Groups Come Together to End Marijuana Prohibition, Increase Cannabis Research and Promote a Compassionate Health Care Response to Drug Use and Addiction

Moms, Cops, Nurses & Docs Present a Panel Discussion at the Marijuana for Medical Professionals Conference in Denver, Colorado on Sept. 11

Moms United to End the War on Drugs is bringing together a coalition of family members, health care professionals and criminal justice professionals to end cannabis prohibition that has been so destructive to our families and communities.

Moms, Cops, Nurses & Docs will be holding a panel discussion at the Sherman Street Event Center in Denver, Colorado (1770 Sherman Street) on Thursday, September 11, at the Exhibit Hall Stage at 12:30 pm. Speakers include Mary Lynn Mathre from American Cannabis Nurses Association; Dr. Jeff Hergenrather from the Society of Cannabis Clinicians; Theresa Daniello from Moms United to End the War on Drugs; and Leonard Frieling from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

In 1937, laws were put into place prohibiting the use of cannabis in the United States. In the past decade, more than six million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges. For several decades, people who use drugs and people with addictive illness have been banished to the criminal justice system.

Nearly half of all prisoners in state prisons are locked up for a non-violent offense. Every year 750,000 people are arrested for marijuana, wasting law enforcement resources and throwing non-violent offenders into the criminal justice system.

Colombia: Capital City Trying Marijuana Cure For Hard Drug Addicts

(Photo: Juan Arrendondo/Fotovisura)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The old Reefer Madness theory that marijuana was a "gateway" to hard drugs has been discredited by scientific studies. Now, as anecdotal evidence continues to pile up, cannabis is looking more and more like an exit from, rather than an entrance to, the world of addiction.

Bogota, the capital city of Colombia, is embarking on a public health project where it will supply marijuana to 300 "bazuco" addicts, reports Jim Wyss at The Miami Herald. Bazuco is a cheap cocaine derivative also known as cocaine paste; it generates crack-like highs and is considered as addictive as heroin.

About 7,500 of Bogota's 9,500 homeless people are bazuco addicts, according to Ruben Dario Ramirez, director of the Center for the Study and Analysis of Coexistence and Security, which is leading the marijuana project.

Bazuco addicts have turned portions of Bogota into wastelands where groups of users huddle to smoke cocaine, Ramirez said. In the past three years, 277 homeless people have been murdered.

Bazuco, made from the residue left over after processing cocaine, is often tainted with kerosene and sulfuric acid. It provides a powerful but brief high similar to that prized by crack addicts in the U.S.

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