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Download PDF Copy   March 27, 2018

While cigarette smoking has long been on the decline, marijuana use is on the rise and, disproportionately, marijuana users also smoke cigarettes. A new study by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the City University of New York reports that cannabis use was associated with an increased initiation of cigarette smoking among non-cigarette smokers. They also found adults who smoke cigarettes and use cannabis are less likely to quit smoking cigarettes than those who do not use cannabis. Former smokers who use cannabis are also more likely to relapse to cigarette smoking. Results are published online in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

The analyses were based on data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions in 2001-2002 and 2004-2005, and responses from 34,639 individuals to questions about cannabis use and smoking status.

"Developing a better understanding of the relationship between marijuana use and cigarette use transitions is critical and timely as cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of premature death and disease, and use of cannabis is on the rise in the U.S.," said Renee Goodwin, PhD, in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, and senior author.

The study suggests that marijuana use--even in the absence of cannabis use disorder (characterized by problematic use of cannabis due to impairment in functioning or difficulty quitting or cutting down on use)--is associated with increased odds of smoking onset, relapse, and persistence. As cannabis use is much more common than cannabis use disorder, its potential impact on cigarette use in the general community may be greater than estimates based on studies of cannabis use disorder alone, according to the researchers.

An earlier study by Goodwin and colleagues showed that the use of cannabis by cigarette smokers had increased dramatically over the past two decades to the point where smokers are more than 5 times as likely as non-smokers to use marijuana daily.

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March 23, 2018   by David Gambrill

Employers may be hard-pressed to ban marijuana outright from the workplace once The Cannabis Act is implemented in Canada, a lawyer told delegates attending the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association (OMIA) Thursday.

“Both bills [related to The Cannabis Act, Bills C-45 and C-46] are actually silent when it comes to employment and occupational safety,” said Sandra Gogal, practice leader at Miller Thomson LLP. “At present, there is no Canadian law that regulates mandatory drug testing of employees, so when the recreational market opens up, it creates a number of interesting issues.”

For one, employers will be challenged to uphold outright prohibitions on marijuana in the workplace, based on the difference between recreational and medicinal forms of cannabis. While proposed bills allowing recreational use are still up for debate, medical use of marijuana has been legal in Canada since 1999.

“I had a call from a company the other day that said one of their employees was injured on the job, and as a matter of standard practice, they get drug-tested,” Gogal recounted. “The results came back positive, and they said, ‘Can we fire him?’ And I just said, ‘We don’t know yet whether that was for medical purposes or not.’”

The issue promises to get murkier once recreational drug use is legalized.

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Abstract – Mayo Clinic

The opioid crisis that exists today developed over the past 30 years. The reasons for this are many. Good intentions to improve pain and suffering led to increased prescribing of opioids, which contributed to misuse of opioids and even death. Following the publication of a short letter to the editor in a major medical journal declaring that those with chronic pain who received opioids rarely became addicted, prescriber attitude toward opioid use changed. Opioids were no longer reserved for treatment of acute pain or terminal pain conditions but now were used to treat any pain condition. Governing agencies began to evaluate doctors and hospitals on their control of patients' pain. Ultimately, reimbursement became tied to patients' perception of pain control. As a result, increasing amounts of opioids were prescribed, which led to dependence. When this occurred, patients sought more in the form of opioid prescriptions from providers or from illegal sources. Illegal, unregulated sources of opioids are now a factor in the increasing death rate from opioid overdoses. Stopping the opioid crisis will require the engagement of all, including health care providers, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, and federal and state government agencies.

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By Lynn Allison  -  16 Mar 2018 

A major new study claims that smoking marijuana dramatically increases a person’s risk of suffering a heart attack and other cardiovascular events. The study authors, along with top cardiologists across the country, are calling for more research into the use of medicinal and recreational cannabis in light of the startling new evidence.

Researchers found that over a 5-year period, regular users as young as in their early 30s were 4.6 times more likely to have a cardiac-related illness than those who did not smoke the drug.

Scientists from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio presented their findings at the recent American College of Cardiology (ACC) conference held in Washington, D.C.

While most medical concerns over the use of cannabis have been linked to mental disorders and depression, researchers also discovered a link between marijuana use and increased risk of stroke and heart failure.

“Even when we corrected for known risk factors, we still found a higher rate of both stroke and heart failure in those patients using the drug,” says Dr. Aditi Kalla, a cardiologist at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. “That leads us to believe that there is something else going on besides just obesity and or diet-related cardiovascular side effects.

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By Robbie Meredith BBC News NI Education Correspondent - 16 March 2018

A new pilot project to introduce American-style 'drug courts' to Northern Ireland is being developed.

They are courts aimed at keeping drug users out of prison and getting them into treatment.

A senior American judge is in Belfast to advise local judges, politicians and others working in the criminal justice system about how they operate. Gregory Jackson was appointed to the District of Columbia Superior Court in 2005 by then President George W Bush.

Judge Jackson said drug courts were not about punishment.

"If you successfully complete the programme, you're done - you're out of the criminal justice system," he said.

Drug users and even some small-scale dealers are offered a way to escape prison and a conviction

"We average on any given day between 75 to 125 people participating in the drug court programme.

"Our graduation rate is around 50% to 60%."

Impressive statistics

That means that over half of those who begin the treatment programme complete it.

And they literally graduate, with special ceremonies held in courthouses to recognise their achievement.

The statistics are impressive.

Drug courts in the USA have been shown to reduce crime by 45% in comparison with other sentencing options.

According to Judge Jackson, they also save the public purse between $3,000 and $13,000 dollars per person.

Yet he admits that getting the public and politicians to recognise that they are not a 'soft option' has taken time.

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THE DRUG ADVISORY COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA SUPPORTS

More detoxification & rehabilitation that gets illicit drug users drug free.
Court ordered and supervised detoxification & rehabilitation.
Less illicit drug users, drug pushers and drug related crimes.

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