Guest column: Lessons of the Opioid Addiction Epidemic

Opioids, which include Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, and morphine, are powerful painkillers. In the past, opioids were mainly used for patients with cancer pain, at the end of life, or after major surgery. But starting about 20 years ago, there was a big push for doctors to prescribe opioids for acute and chronic pain of all types, such as headaches, fibromyalgia, arthritis and back pain.

At the same time, doctors were told, incorrectly, that these medications were not addictive. As a matter of fact, doctors were told that less than 1 percent of patients on long-term opioid therapy became addicted or dependent on the medications. Furthermore, starting patients on these medications, doctors were told, would return them to normal function. They would get their lives back.

If you are a young person (younger than 25) and take an opioid for any reason — after a surgery, tooth extraction, etc. — you are 50 percent more likely to become addicted in your lifetime. The young brain should not be exposed to opiates unless absolutely necessary.

Now, pain is very personal and emotional for many people. There are many people whose lives have been changed for the better because of opioid therapy, but the above statistics are sobering.

Because of the evolving understanding of opioid pain medications and the drastic increase in people living with addiction, and overdose deaths, providers are becoming more cautious about prescribing these medications. We will explore this and the community response to the opioid crisis in an article in this space next month.

Citizen-Times

Study Links Medical Marijuana to Fewer Traffic Fatalities

A new study from Columbia University found that traffic fatalities have fallen in seven states where medicinal cannabis is legal and that, overall, states where medical marijuana is legal have lower traffic fatality rates than states were medical marijuna remains illegal.

The study found that “medical marijuana laws were associated with immediate reductions in traffic fatalities in those aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 44 years, and with additional yearly gradual reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years.” Medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states.

The researchers used traffic accident data from 1985 to 2014, about 1.2 million accidents. They focused on the relationship between medical marijuana laws and the number of fatal traffic accidents, examining each state with legalized medical marijuana separately.

They also looked at the relationship between the existence of medical marijuana dispensaries and traffic accidents, finding a reduction in the number of fatal accidents among those ages 25 to 44 in areas where dispensaries were open.

Report conclusions
The researchers concluded that both medical marijuana legalization and dispensaries were, on average, associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities, particularly among drivers 25 to 44-years-old.

They suggested a few possibilities for this conclusion.

Those under the influence of marijuana are more aware of their impaired condition than those under the influence of alcohol and may more often make the choice not to drive.
More people have replaced going out to drink in bars with partaking of marijuana at home, reducing the number of impaired drivers on the road.
An increased police presence in areas where medical marijuana is legal could have led to fewer people attempting to drive while under the influence of marijuana.

“Instead of seeing an increase in fatalities, we saw a reduction, which was totally unexpected,” Julian Santaella-Tenorio, the lead researcher on the study, told Reuters.

Entrepreneur

National Academy Of Sciences: Marijuana Is An Effective Medicine

Medical marijuana supporters rejoiced today as the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released findings which concluded that marijuana is an effective medicine. The federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance which is based off of a determination that marijuana has no medical value.

Today’s report obviously shoots down that claim, as does the fact that the federal government owns patents based on marijuana’s medical properties, in addition to the federal government growing and distributing marijuana for medical purposes.

The National Academy of Science’s conclusions that marijuana possesses established therapeutic utility for certain patients and that it possesses an acceptable safety profile when compared to those of other medications or recreational intoxicants are not surprising. This evidence has been available for some time, yet for decades marijuana policy in this country has largely been driven by rhetoric and emotion, not science and evidence.

Today, 29 states and Washington, DC permit physicians to recommend marijuana therapy. Some of these state-sanctioned programs have now been in place for nearly two decades. Eight states also permit the regulated use and sale of cannabis by adults. At a minimum, we know enough about cannabis, as well as the failures of cannabis prohibition, to regulate its consumption by adults, end its longstanding criminalization, and to remove it from its Schedule I prohibitive under federal law.

Currently 28 U.S. states have medical marijuana laws, and 16 additional states have CBD laws (a non-psychoactive component of medical marijuana). Last summer, the DEA announced that it would not reschedule marijuana. The NAS report notes that “There are specific regulatory barriers, including the classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance, that impede the advancement of cannabis and cannabinoid research.”

Weed News

How Psychedelic Mushrooms Change Cancer Patients Dealing With Anxiety

With medical marijuana now legalized in 28 states and the District of Columbia, the debate over when, and if, a previously illegal and often stigmatized drug should be used to treat serious symptoms will likely carry on through the foreseeable future. However, new research shows that another illegal, and far more psychedelic, the substance may also have certain health advantages as well.

According to the results of two studies released last year, psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, can help ease feelings of anxiety and depression in cancer patients.

In both studies, one conducted at NYU and the other at Johns Hopkins University, 80 percent of cancer patients reported a decrease in anxiety and depression for at least six months. Psychiatric evaluators also supported their patients’ claims, noting an increase in optimism as well as overall quality of life. In the NYU-led research, 70 percent of participants said taking psilocybin was one of the five most important experiences they’d ever had.

That being said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that psilocybin is still considered a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning psychedelic mushrooms are legally considered to have no legitimate medical use and possess a high potential for abuse. Additionally, the treatment given in both studies was conducted under the care of medical professionals, meaning it isn’t recommended as some sort of catchall, home remedy for anxiety and depression.

Other, smaller studies have even found evidence that psilocybin may be beneficial in alcoholism, smoking addiction and obsessive compulsive disorder, meaning there may be even more reasons to call mushrooms “magic.”

Paste Magazine

The Immense Health Benefits of Kratom Can Now Be Had through Capsules

Canadian Botanicals says that the Kratom capsules they offer are produced in Canada under strict regulations that govern the pharmaceutical and food industries, and are tested for micro contaminants, heavy metals and solvents.

The Kratom Canada company adds that the capsules are 100% organic because they are made of freshly dried and high quality leaves of kratom leaves that are harvested daily from the older trees in the Asian jungles. Due to skilled harvesting and drying techniques, the leaves contain a high alkaloid content. The company assures customers that they check every shipment for quality and potency. That is why the kratom they are offering is widely known as the “best kratom around,” says Canadian Botanicals. In short, those who opt for using this antioxidant can get relief from pain and stress-related issues.

Canadian Botanicals that has been offering various products including kratom tea is now introducing kratom capsules. So, those who have hitherto been buying kratom powder for enhancing their immune system and for getting relief from their blood pressure-related ailments will have the option of going for these capsules. Users can get relief from pain and stress-related issues also.

SAT Press Release

Magic Mushrooms: Reveals Negative Effects Of Psilocybin Mushrooms

Psilocybin is considered as a drug with high potential for abuse and is not considered for medicinal use. However, mushroom-derived psilocybin is used in developing treatment for neurological disorders. When used properly, psilocybin mushrooms are found to be effective antidepressants. It can also be used to treat alcoholism and other addictions.

In a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers surveyed 2,000 people who experienced negative effects while taking psilocybin-containing “magic mushrooms,” The survey was focused on the challenging experiences the respondents had linked to the drug.

Results revealed that 10.7 percent of the participants have exposed themselves or others to physical harm, meanwhile, 2.6 percent said there were times when they acted violently or aggressively. Some 2.7 percent said they had the need to seek medical help while five of the participants said they attempted suicide at worst.

The researchers advised caution in using the magic mushrooms. They added it must be used under supportive and safe environments, like those in ongoing studies, to prevent negative effects.

iTech Post

Researchers recently published the results of a large survey they conducted with magic mushroom consumers, one in which they specifically looked for details about bad trips and their lasting effects.

The survey was recently published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, where it details the survey results of nearly 2,000 magic mushroom consumers. The researchers, who are with Johns Hopkins, specifically asked for individuals who experienced difficult or bad trips after consuming these mushrooms.

More than half of these ‘beneficial’ bad trip experiencers went on to say the difficult experience ultimately ranks among the top ten most valuable experiences they’ve ever had. Of those surveyed, 66% were from the U.S., 78% were men, 89% were white, and 51% were college educated.

There’s a note of caution among it all, though — of those surveyed, more than 7% said they had to seek treatment for ‘enduring psychological symptoms,’ three cases resulted in ‘enduring psychotic symptoms,’ and three cases resulted in an attempted suicide.

Slash Gear

New Study: Cigarettes Tied To Increased Stroke Risk But Not Marijuana

According to the American Cancer Society, “Half of cigarette users will die because they smoke. Six million people die every year because of tobacco. This figure includes five million smokers, but also about 600,000 non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. It is expected that, without any action, eight million people will die annually, by 2030.”

A recent example is a study which explored the increase in the risk of a person having a stroke when they consume tobacco or marijuana. Per the conclusion listed in the publication of the study’s results:

We found no evident association between cannabis use in young adulthood and stroke, including strokes before 45 years of age. Tobacco smoking, however, showed a clear, dose-response shaped association with stroke.

This study is encouraging, especially when it is coupled with the results of another study which found that cannabis can help people quit smoking cigarettes.

Weed News

How Beta Blockers and Weed Can Save You From Hulking Out

Beta blockers are lovely little prescription drugs that cause the effects of adrenaline to be blocked. This helps the heart relax and allows you to calm the fuck down. They are used to manage a ton of different conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, migraines, glaucoma, fibromyalgia, and generalized anxiety disorder. Many of these conditions can also be treated with cannabis, so it’s a good thing that beta blockers and weed make such a kick-ass team.

Chronic pain is a perfect example of how beta blockers and cannabis work together awesomely. Bodies in pain produce excess amounts of adrenaline, thanks to our “fight or flight” response. This abundance of adrenaline can make pain sufferers feel like the Hulk—and not in a fun way.

Taking beta blockers can simmer down your adrenaline and consuming cannabis can calm your pain, which can help make patients feel like normal people again.

Cannabis has been shown to increase your heart rate, so it’s a good thing that beta blockers are designed to slow that shit down. Beta blockers also tell your blood vessels to open up—which improves blood flow AND the flow of cannabis through your bloodstream, which allows your meds to work more effectively.

There are several different kinds of BBs and each one is slightly differently than the others, so you may have to try a few before you find the one that works for you—kind of like dating, but with pills. “Hulking out” in an adrenaline rage can be fun occasionally…but beta blockers are there for the times when you just wanna pet a bunny and chill.

Merry Jane

Germany on the Verge of Becoming a Marijuana Powerhouse

Germany is looking primed to become a major producer of medical cannabis since laws were loosened this past summer to allow patients access with a doctor’s recommendation. And now, Berlin is making moves to pseudo-legalize marijuana in its city borders. According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), an EU agency based in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, nearly one quarter of German adult citizens – 23.1% – have tried cannabis.

From The Russia Times:

Cannabis has been illegal in Germany but, after a court ruling in 2005, people with specific health conditions such as chronic pain were able to use the drug for self-therapy, but each case was assessed on an individual basis, according to the Local.

With the growing awareness of marijuana’s potential therapeutic benefits for a variety of ailments, the German people are aggressively pursuing policies which allow for increased production and use of the cannabis plant.

Weed News

Fighting Depression with Magic Mushroom for Cancer Patients

Psilocybin—the hallucinogenic compound in so-called “magic” mushrooms—can effectively ease cancer patients’ depression and anxiety, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. As many as 40% of cancer patients experience depression.

A 2014 study found users of hallucinogenic mushrooms might experience more happiness. A 2015 study linked psychedelic drugs to a reduction in thoughts of suicide, and a 2016 study found psychedelic drug use was linked to lower rates of domestic violence among men with a history of substance abuse.

Participants completed interviews and questionnaires about their mood, feelings about life, and behavior before the first session, seven hours after each dose, five weeks after each dose, and six months following the final session. At the six-month mark, 80% of participants had reductions in depression and anxiety, with 60% no longer experiencing symptoms severe enough to warrant a diagnosis

Good Therapy

What Are Moon Rocks and How Strong Are They?

Cannabis moon rocks, not to be confused with pure MDMA crystals by the same name, consist of a pinch of bud covered in hash oil then rolled in kief. Making them is as simple as it sounds. Smoking them is pure luxury. It’s no wonder people are calling them “the strongest cannabis in the world” and “the best high on Earth.”

In this delicious cannabinoid-rich concoction, overall potency depends on the strengths and synergies of the combined ingredients. A typical moon rock weighs in at around 50 percent THC. Each moon rock has varying degrees of effect depending on the strains used, terpene and cannabinoid concentrations, and practically unmeasurable synergism between the flower, hash, and kief you choose. Additionally, if you use products that have a bit of CBD, you can compound the experience with CBD’s coveted muscle-relaxing properties

Merry Jane