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Marijuana: science, not hype, will clear the haze

first_imgMercatorNet 20 August 2014Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational use. As a result, the belief that marijuana use is “no big deal” has become increasingly pervasive in the United States.Just over half of Americans support federal legalization of marijuana and, perhaps not surprisingly, half of these admit to trying it. Proponents of lifting the ban tout marijuana’s medicinal properties and claim it is less harmful than tobacco or alcohol use and argue it should therefore join those two products as a taxable commodity.Yet, if marijuana is as medicinal and harmless as advocates assert, why do over a dozen national health organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Glaucoma Society and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, oppose legalization even for medicinal purposes? (1)In a word: science.A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted there is very little scientific evidence to support the use of medical marijuana, never mind the alleged safety of recreational use. Authors Samuel Wilkinson and Deepak D’Souza explain that medical marijuana is considerably different from all other prescription medications in that “[e]vidence supporting its efficacy varies substantially and in general falls short of the standards required for approval of other drugs by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”Although some studies suggest marijuana may palliate chemotherapy-induced vomiting, cachexia in HIV/AIDS patients, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, and neuropathic pain, there is no significant evidence marijuana is superior to FDA approved medications currently available to treat these conditions. Additionally, support for use of marijuana in other conditions (such as post-traumatic stress disorder, Crohn’s disease and Alzheimer’s) is not scientific, relying on emotion-laden anecdotes instead of adequately powered, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials.Wilkinson and D’Souza go on to say that “[p]rescription drugs are produced according to exacting standards to ensure uniformity and purity of active constituents … Because regulatory standards of the production process vary by state, the composition, purity, and concentration of the active constituents of marijuana are also likely to vary. This is especially problematic because unlike most other prescription medications that are single active compounds, marijuana contains more than 100 cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids that produce individual, interactive, and entourage effects.”As a consequence, there are no dosing guidelines for marijuana for any of the conditions it has been approved to treat. And finally, there is no evidence that the potential healthful effects of marijuana outweigh its documented adverse effects.So that there can be no misunderstanding, physicians and health organizations who opposed medical marijuana do so on the basis of “First do no harm.” If and when rigorous research delineates marijuana’s true benefits relative to its hazards, compares efficacy with current medications on the market, determines optimal routes of delivery and dosing, standardizes its production and dispensing to match that of schedule II medications (like narcotics and opioids), then medical opposition will dissipate.In other words, the ethical principles of non-malfeasance and beneficence demand that the federal ban remain in force to allow the necessary scientific investigation which states having legalized marijuana are well positioned to conduct.And why do we need one? There are quite a few reasons.Marijuana is addictive. One in nine users overall, one in six adolescent users and 25-50 percent of daily users become addicted to marijuana. This means they develop tolerance to the drug needing more of it to achieve the same high, experience withdrawal symptoms in the absence of use, and continue to use it despite significant objective impairments to their health and lives.There is no such thing as “safe smoking.” Like smoking tobacco, smoking marijuana causes cough, wheeze, increased phlegm production and emphysema. Although many allege marijuana is safer than cigarettes, a 2007 study determined that in terms of triggering airway obstruction (asthma), smoking one joint produced the same effect as smoking 2.5 – 5 cigarettes. There is also evidence that smoking two or more joints daily over several years results in decreased lung function. This is hardly surprising since marijuana contains many of the same chemicals and carcinogens found in tobacco. Some of these carcinogens, in fact, occur in greater concentrations in marijuana. Consistent with this, pre-cancerous changes in respiratory cells have been found in lung biopsies of chronic marijuana smokers, and a large Swedish study published in 2013 correlated heavy marijuana use to a greater than double increase in lung cancer risk over 40 years.Cancer risk: Further research is required to determine whether or not smoking and/or ingesting marijuana with all of its carcinogens causes cancer in other organ systems (just as smoking tobacco does). To date, studies have correlated smoking marijuana with an increased risk of head and neck cancers, bladder cancer and an aggressive form of testicular cancer.Cardiovascular effects: Marijuana increases heart rate by 20-100% shortly after smoking. Accelerated rates may last up to three hours. This translates into a greater risk of developing atrial fibrillation and other abnormal heart rhythms which may cause heart attacks and strokes. One study, for example, estimated marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack within the first hour of smoking the drug. There are also reports of deterioration of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) and increased angina among marijuana users.Mental effects:  Marijuana’s immediate effects upon the brain are decreased concentration, impaired short-term memory, prolonged reaction time, drowsiness and lethargy. However, long-term irreversible adverse effects on the brain occur when marijuana use begins during adolescence.  These include impaired long-term memory, decrease in IQ and altered thinking. A large prospective longitudinal study in New Zealand found that subjects who used marijuana heavily in their teens and continued through adulthood showed a significant drop in IQ between the ages of 13 (pre-marijuana use) and 38 years of age. Among those who met criteria for marijuana dependence the average decrease in IQ was 8 points. For context, a loss of 8 IQ points could drop a person of average intelligence into the lowest third of the intelligence range.In its policy statement opposing legalization, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) states that legalization of marijuana, even if restricted to adults, is likely to be associated  with increased adolescent access to and use of marijuana.  Indeed, there is much evidence this is happening, including the observation that calls to poison control centers for marijuana intoxication of youth increased 11.5 percent annually among states that enacted legislation between 2005 and 2011.The AACAP notes further that “heavy use [during adolescence] is associated with [an] increased incidence and worsened course of psychotic, mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders across the lifespan.  Furthermore, marijuana’s deleterious effects on adolescent brain development, cognition, and social functioning may have immediate and long-term implications, including increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, sexual victimization, academic failure, lasting decline in intelligence measures, psychopathology, addiction, and psychosocial and occupational impairment.”Marijuana and pregnancy: Marijuana’s anti-emetic effect is well known. Consequently, some pregnant women choose to self-medicate with marijuana to relieve morning sickness. This is tragic since children exposed to marijuana in utero sustain serious neurologic deficits: decreased memory and reasoning abilities, impaired visual task performance, attention deficits, and higher rates of hyperactivity, impulsivity, drug addiction and delinquency. These children also have an increased risk of developing brain cancer and leukemia which may be due to one or more of marijuana’s many carcinogens.The multiplier effect: Finally, one must consider that there will be many marijuana users who will combine their marijuana use with alcohol and/or tobacco, thereby multiplying the likelihood of the occurrence of overlapping adverse health effects. Also, like nicotine and alcohol, marijuana primes the brain for a heightened response to other drugs.Second-hand smoke: There is no research regarding exposure to second-hand smoke from marijuana of which I am aware, but given the overlap of constituents between tobacco and marijuana, adverse effects very likely will be found should the research be undertaken.To recapitulate, with increasing legalization, the view marijuana is a “safe way to get high” is prevalent and growing, especially among adolescents. While there is a need for further study of marijuana’s over 100 active compounds, as well as its harms and potential benefits, the adverse effects presently documented are deeply concerning.Increased availability has led to increased use by adults and children even though sales are technically restricted to adults. It is perfectly reasonable to hypothesize that if the federal ban is lifted, increased marijuana use will result in a greater number of individuals suffering from its untoward effects, and children will be disproportionately affected. This will deal a devastating blow to our long-term state and national economies by adversely affecting work-place productivity, academic performance, behavioral and medical health, automobile safety, parenting, and family functioning.Science, not emotion-laden anecdotes or marijuana lobbyists, should determine the outcome of this debate. Parents, legislators, healthcare providers and other opinion-makers who value what is best for children and societal health will demand funding of scientifically rigorous long-term research untainted by those who benefit from the budding marijuana industry.http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/marijuana_science_not_hype_will_clear_the_hazelast_img read more

Trojan revenge in Belfast

first_img Bio Luchini named to Maine Running Hall of Fame – August 12, 2020 This is placeholder textThis is placeholder text Latest posts by Liz Graves (see all) BELFAST — In a dramatic comeback, the Mount Desert Island High School varsity football team surged to a 34-21 victory Friday night over the Belfast High School Lions.For the MDI Trojans, the win helped redeem not only a loss last week to Winslow, but also a difficult defeat to Belfast this time last year.The Trojans will host Nokomis Oct. 4, this year’s homecoming game.Find in-depth coverage of local news in the Mount Desert Islander. Subscribe digitally or in print. MDI Hospital to begin contact tracing – August 5, 2020 Liz GravesReporter at Mount Desert IslanderFormer Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor. Latest Posts Keene appeals his 2019 murder conviction – July 30, 2020last_img read more

Lawmakers raised concerns about Glenwood facility in early 2019

first_imgDES MOINES — The legislature’s top Republican leader says GOP lawmakers raised concerns about state institutions that care for intellectually disabled patients a year ago and were told everything was fine.House Speaker-select Pat Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford, says conducting legislative oversight hearings now, though, would impede federal investigations that are underway at state-run facilities in Glenwood and Woodward.“For us to sit here and just start having meetings before we’ve even reached the bottom of what’s going on with that situation would be a little bit premature,” Grassley says.Grassley indicates that last February legislators were told by the head of the Department of Human Services that “there was not a problem” at Glenwood. Governor Reynolds fired the DHS director in July, but has not disclosed why. House Democratic Leader Todd Prichard of Charles City says the House Oversight Committee should convene soon to examine what he calls shocking allegations of patient abuse at Glenwood.“We can’t be afraid to investigate just because we may not like what we find,” Prichard says.The man recently fired as superintendent of the Glenwood Resource Center is accused of conducting human experiments on some of the intellectually disabled patients. Senate President Charles Schneider, a Republican from West Des Moines, says the allegations now under investigation are disturbing.“It seems like the governor and the new DHS director, Kelly Garcia, are doing a good job of responding right now,” Schneider says. “We’ll see what their report shows and take action from there.”Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen of Des Moines says now is the time launch an Oversight Committee investigation of Glenwood and Woodward.“I’m the mom of teenage kids and I can tell you a very simple rule: trust, but verify,” Petersen says. “That’s why we have we have checks and balances in government and they should be used.”Four top leaders in the state legislature discussed the situation at Glenwood and a number of other issues Tuesday at a forum organized by the Associated Press.last_img read more

‘We are delighted to announce the signing of Sanchez from Arsenal’

first_img‘We are delighted to announce the signing of Sanchez from Arsenal’London, United Kingdom | AFP | Manchester United on Monday confirmed the signing of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan heading in the opposite direction.“I am thrilled to be joining the biggest club in the world,” said 29-year-old Chile international forward Sanchez.“I have spent three-and-a-half wonderful years at Arsenal and I bring with me very positive memories of that great club and its fans.“The chance to play in this historic stadium and to work with Jose Mourinho was something I could not turn down.“I am very proud to be the first Chilean player ever to play for United’s first team and I hope I can show our fans all around the world why the club wanted to bring me here.”Sanchez is expected to be the highest ever paid player in the Premier League, with British media reporting a pre-tax salary of £500,000 ($695,000, 567,000 euros) a week.A natural on the pitch AND in front of the cameras! ? #Alexis7 pic.twitter.com/xRprFt6YAQ— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 22, 2018The swap deal that sees Armenia international winger Mkhitaryan, also 29, head to the Emirates following a mixed 18 months at Old Trafford had been expected for several days.Sanchez had joined Arsenal in 2014 for £31.7 million after three years at Barcelona.“Alexis is one of the best attacking players in the world and he will complete our very young and talented group of attacking players,” said United manager Jose Mourinho.“He will bring his ambition, drive and personality, qualities that make a Manchester United player and a player that makes the team stronger and the supporters proud of their club dimension and prestige. “I would like to wish Henrikh all the success and happiness that I am sure he is going to get. He is a player that we will not forget, especially for his contribution to our Europa League victory.”The perfect #MondayMotivation! [email protected]_Sanchez #Alexis7 pic.twitter.com/XV1u2VOHvr— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 22, 2018Mkhitaryan joined United for around £30 million in 2016 after three years at Borussia Dortmund.Arsenal also published the news of the swap deal on their website.“I’m very happy that we could finish this deal and I’m very happy to be here,” said Mkhitaryan.“It’s a dream come true because I’ve always dreamed of playing for Arsenal. Now that I’m here, I’ll do my best for this club to create history.”Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger added: “Henrikh is a very complete player. He creates chances, he defends well, he can absorb distances and he’s very committed as well.“I must say he’s a player who has all the attributes.”We are delighted to announce the signing of @Alexis_Sanchez from Arsenal.Full details: https://t.co/nUitNnNbV9 pic.twitter.com/S3ft22e7Jo— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 22, 2018Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more

Disney World Debuts Skyliner Gondolas

first_imgThis weekend, Walt Disney World is introducing a new way to get around its resort district — an aerial tram system that takes visitors from the hotels to the theme parks at 11 mph.Disney Skyliner gondolas begin operation on Sunday.The 300 enclosed gondola cabins are joining a transportation fleet that includes 423 buses, 61 mini-vans called “Minnie Vans,”, 30 parking lot trams, 29 watercraft, and 12 monorail trains.Guests now have the ability to go between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and to these hotels:Art of Animation ResortCaribbean Beach ResortPop Century ResortRiviera Resort (scheduled to open in December 2019)The gondolas are also themed with various Disney characters.To mark the occasion, Disney is selling a variety of Skyliner merchandise.last_img

Black Northwestern QB leads charge to form college athlete union

first_imgNorthwestern University outgoing senior quarterback Kain Colter makes his way to the beginning of three days of hearings before the National Labor Relations Board Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)CHICAGO (AP) — Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter testified Tuesday that he was essentially paid to play via his scholarship as the National Labor Relations Board opened a closely watched hearing on a bid to form what would be the first union for college athletes in U.S. history.From a witnesses stand in a federal court building, Colter characterized playing college football as a job and said schools make clear to incoming players that athletics are a higher priority than academics.Colter, a co-founder of the newly formed College Athletes Players Association, said players adhere to grueling schedules, putting in 40- to 50-hour weeks on football during and before the season. During August training, he said, players wake at 8 a.m. and often only finish practice at 10 p.m.“It’s a job, there is no way around it — it’s a job,” said Colter, a 21-year-old senior whose college career is over. Colter was Northwestern’s first Black quarterback since 1993,Asked why Northwestern gave him a scholarship of $75,000 a year, he responded: “To play football. To perform an athletic service.” Later, he said players earn the money, in part, “by sacrificing our bodies.”Whether the players qualify under federal law as employees is the core question for the NLRB to answer. If they are deemed employees, they would have rights to unionize. Whatever ruling the panel makes can be appealed.The Colter-led bid, which is supported by the United Steelworkers, is seen as a test case that could transform the landscape of college athletics. The NCAA and Big Ten Conference, which includes Northwestern, both maintain that college students are not employees whatever their participation might be in athletics.During his opening statement, an attorney representing the university, Alex Barbour, challenged the notion the players are employees. He said academics are at the center of a football player’s college experience.“Academics always trumps athletics at Northwestern,” he said. “Northwestern is not a football factory.”During his testimony, Colter said he abandoned his hopes of entering a pre-med program because of time demands Northwestern makes on football players. He said chemistry was invariably offered at times that conflicted with football practice.“You fulfill the football requirement and, if you can, you fit in academics,” he said. “You have to sacrifice one, But we can’t sacrifice football. … We are brought to the university to play football.”Devoting more time to academics at the expense of his football, he added, could result in the loss of a scholarship. Asked if coaches ever told players to leave practice and go study, Colter said no.Another Northwestern attorney, Anna Wermuth, asked Colter whether playing football was, in itself, part of the education process. Does it help players learn to “critically analyze information?” she asked.“We learn to critically analyze a defense,” said Colter, who ended up studying psychology. Football also taught values, including perseverance, he added.“But that does not mean it helps you earn a psychology degree,” he said. “It makes it harder.”Colter said most of the team’s 85 scholarship players support forming a union, though he has been the only one to step forward publicly with the support of the Steelworkers, the players association and its leader, former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma.Supporters say a union would provide athletes a vehicle to lobby for financial security and improved safety, noting that players are left out of the billions generated through college athletics. They contend scholarships sometimes don’t even cover livings expenses for a full year.University attorneys are expected to call their own witnesses later in the week. A decision by the NLRB could come soon after the testimony concludes.For now, the push is to unionize athletes at private schools, like Northwestern. Public universities, which are subject to different regulations, could follow later.___Follow Michael Tarm at https://twitter.com/mtarmlast_img read more