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Planning to Get a Little Intoxicated This New Year's Eve? Here Are Some Ways to Be Safe and Have Fun

Alternet - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 14:08
Click here for reuse options! A guide to safer partying.

It’s the end of the year, people are getting excited about the holidays, and millions of people are making plans for partying on New Year’s Eve. And for lots of people, their version of partying includes using drugs. So for our final Drugs & Stuff episode of 2017, who better to talk to about harm reduction and partying than DPA’s Stefanie Jones?

Back in 2014, Stefanie wrote a great piece called Five Tips on How to Party Safely on New Year's Eve. We all want to have fun, and we all want to come home at the end of the night without having any problems, so in this episode we unpack those tips and give listeners some useful information.

As the director of audience development at the Drug Policy Alliance, Stefanie runs DPA’s Music Fan program, which introduces harm reduction principles and drug policy alternatives to partygoers, public health officials and city nightlife regulators across the U.S. She also oversees communication and outreach to specific communities on drug use and drug policy topics, including on novel psychoactive substances (NPS) and DPA’s youth drug education.

So this New Year’s Eve – and really any time you’re going to use drugs – follow this Safer Partying checklist and check out all the other resources we have to offer on how to party safer.

And for anyone who needs one, be a buddy.

Happy New Year!

This piece first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance blog.

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The Case For Giving Free Massages to the Homeless

Alternet - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 14:01
Click here for reuse options! Holistic health and pursuit of happiness should be available to all, especially those in poverty and struggling.

If ever there was an age of anxiety, it is now. We all seem pushed to the limits at work, personal debt is rising, and the housing market is shrinking, while the world around us seems to be going politically and ecologically out of control. This anxiety is a stress factory that spawns mental, physical and behavioral diseases that, as we know, cost a fortune to contain, let alone fix. On its own, work-related stress accounts for $300 billion dollars a year. 

Many of us are taking an alternative route to deal with this toxic stress. We run to Whole Foods to get the organic kale, we take a yoga or meditation class, get on a massage table, or receive acupuncture or reiki. We can relieve stress by going to a tai chi or a qi gong class, or we do the latest thing and take a “forest bath” by going for a walk in the woods. We see how these things change not only the quality of our lives, but also our health, as measured by blood pressure, stress hormones, immune response and number of doctor visits. 

So, are these things luxuries for the middle class or are they life-changing and money-saving medical interventions? It may sound comical in an age where the battle lines are being drawn around whether low income people should receive healthcare at all, to suggest that they should be getting acupuncture or a free massage, but why not? Since these interventions are proven to work, they could be used on a routine basis to reduce hospital visits, relapse to drug use, and maybe even recidivism to incarceration.

Gandhi once said that poverty is violence, and today 40% of New Yorkers live below the poverty line. This violence is generated by homelessness, by the criminalization of poverty, and the soul-crushing trauma of racism. Can holistic interventions be a significant help in stemming this tidal wave of misery?

We work together at New York Harm Reduction Educators, a social welfare program in East Harlem that does just this. Do tough guys enjoy yoga and acupuncture? Yes they do. Are they interested in following a guided meditation, actively participating in a drum circle, an art group or a walk in the woods? Yes again.  We have seen people locked into a cycle of drugs and incarceration start to turn a corner in their lives. We see those at the margins of our society actually finding room to breathe, room to move, cry, laugh, be human. We see destructive behavior change – this with a very limited budget and space.

The challenge is to make the things that we know work for us and the ones we love available to our neighbors. Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga have already been used in prisons and jails and rehabs to great effect and at little cost – but what about when people hit the streets? There is absolutely no reason to withdraw the stress-reduction just at the moment that stress increases exponentially.

At NYHRE we have found a template for continued destressing that can be duplicated and improved upon throughout the city and in fact the country. This is a case where doing the right thing is doing the practical thing – by opening the space that we have found effective in our own lives and making it available for our less fortunate neighbors we can practice compassion and practicality. In an era when poverty is punishment, the pursuit of happiness should be open to everyone.

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Cannabis and Mental Health: Cause, Cure, or It's Complicated? (Yes) - Leafly

Google - Cannabis - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 13:11


Cannabis and Mental Health: Cause, Cure, or It's Complicated? (Yes)
Given those stats, and the reality that, outside of tobacco and alcohol, cannabis is the most common psychoactive substance used among the general population, it's inevitable that the potential overlap of cannabis and mental illness will lead to a ...

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Kamloops amends business licence and zoning bylaws ahead of marijuana legalization -

Google - Cannabis - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 13:03

Kamloops amends business licence and zoning bylaws ahead of marijuana legalization
Kamloops, B.C.'s city council has approved changes to zoning and business licence bylaws to handle current and future cannabis dispensaries following a public hearing on Dec.19. Zoning for dispensaries will ensure they will not be located near schools ...
Kamloops mayor says new marijuana dispensary bylaw 'not a money grab'CFJC Today Kamloops

all 3 news articles »
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Alabama Town's Brazen Scheme to Stop Speeders, Accuse Them of Drugs, and Steal Their Cash and Cars

Alternet - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 12:18
Not in the name of justice, but in the name of revenues. And now there's a revolt.

The police department of a small Alabama town was nearing bankruptcy due to a lack of ticket revenue, according to The cash-strapped department and city council took drastic measures with an assets forfeiture program for those caught speeding.

Now the mayor of the city is blaming the bad press about the sketchy scheme and a seven-plaintiff lawsuit for a drop in revenue, Reason reported. What the department would do is impound vehicles they pulled over using the state’s assets forfeiture law. It allows them to keep 100 percent of the items taken by police. The claim would be that there was a suspicion of drugs or anything they could come up with. That then required owners of those vehicles to pay a $500 impound fee.

The town hired officers and worked with a judge to maintain the program. Those that were hired were often dressed in camouflage that was tucked into dark assault boots. One alleged victim was Trey Crozier, who lost $1,750 to the Castleberry Police Department.

The 550-person town was so furious about the program Mayor J.B. Jackson, who came up with the idea to stop and confiscate vehicles, was booted from office. A municipal court judge and prosecutor were also ousted. Police chief Tracy Hawsey was forced to resign in February.

Lead attorney Richard Nix thinks more than 100 people were probably impacted by the city’s program. All of the belongings and alleged drugs that were seized by police haven’t been located in the investigation. The totality of cash taken estimates $5,500. He claimed that the chief didn’t follow minimal procedural requirements to perform an asset forfeiture.

One plaintiff claimed police stole $3,800 from her vehicle because they said the cash was obviously part of “proceeds from an illegal drug dealing or activity.” She still doesn’t have her car back but there was no record of a civil forfeiture request being filed.

“We didn’t have much so Hawsey come to me and said ‘There is a lot of crime in this town and a lot of drugs coming through this town,'” Jackson told “So he said why don’t we set up a court system to get some money coming in.”

The department was created in 2009. At least five police officers were paid more than five times the national per capita average.

“We hired our own DA and own judge,” Jackson revealed. “The revenues started to grow and we built out the police department.”

There’s even evidence of Hawsey gloating on Facebook, according to Nix. He allegedly posted photos of those he arrested and videos showing him joking with them about the arrests. Jackson never denied the department’s program was set up to garner money and turn the department into “policing for profit.”

In wake of the town’s financial crisis, word of the lawsuit spread fast. Suddenly the city was slapped with $60,000 in unpaid bills and six figures in debt. The town is split on whether or not to keep the police department, but townspeople are split on where to go moving forward. The city council voted 3-2 to keep the police department active on a “limited basis.”

Former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions was one of the greatest proponents of civil forfeiture in the Senate.

“With care—we’ve gotta be careful—and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures,” Sessions told a crowd of law-enforcement officials in Minneapolis in July.


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To Fight the Opioid Epidemic, Take Big Pharma to Court?

Alternet - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 11:39
There have been more than a hundred cases filed by state and local governments.

Litigation against drug manufacturers that produce and distribute opioids could be a promising option in the fight against the opioid addiction crisis, according to a new article.

In the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Rebecca Haffajee of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, along with Michelle Mello of Stanford University, analyze the history of litigation efforts to hold those parties accountable.

To date, lawsuits have enjoyed limited success, at best settling for amounts not likely to financially harm manufacturers and distributors in the $13 billion-a-year industry enough to prompt change, says Haffajee, assistant professor of health management and policy and an attorney. She also is affiliated with the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

“Early litigation brought by individuals harmed by prescription opioids against drug companies was minimally effective at mitigating the epidemic, in terms of guilty verdicts, large payouts, or industry changes in behavior,” she says. “However, in more recent years, litigation holds greater promise to succeed and reduce public health opioid harms, thanks to the large numbers of suits waged by governments and innovative legal theories they employ.”

Haffajee says there have been more than 100 cases filed by state and local governments, and more are in the pipeline.

Opioids are a class of drugs that includes prescription pain pills and illicitly manufactured substances like heroin and fentanyl. According to the authors, more than 300,000 people have died from opioid-related overdoses since 2000, and it’s expected another half million lives will be lost in the next decade. Health professionals across the country are attempting to slow the epidemic by encouraging physicians to prescribe fewer of the medications and raising awareness about the dangers with the public.

In the piece, the authors note that opioid lawsuits bear similarities to tobacco litigation, in that the suits involve addictive substances and are being brought by classes of similarly situate individuals and by governments.

Treat opioid addiction in hospital ED for better results

Some of the legal arguments are also similar: that the companies were fraudulent in how they represented the harms of these products and promoted product use in a manner that enabled unjust enrichment—or company profiting at the expense of the government.

“But prescription opioids differ from tobacco, in that they are FDA-approved substances,” Haffajee says. “So many claims around defective design and failure to warn (such as on packaging) are less credible for opioids than they were for tobacco.”

Add to this that individuals that opioids harm often did not take them as prescribed and doctors overprescribed them, and company liability is a bit more difficult to establish, she says.

“The most promising legal claims are those that avoid plausible opioid company defenses—such as that the products were FDA-approved, or that individuals and physicians misused or misprescribed the drugs,” Haffajee explains.

How to treat pain in people struggling with addiction

“So government claims of fraud, misbranding, public nuisance, unjust enrichment, and failure to maintain effective controls (under the Controlled Substances Act) stand the best chance of success,” she says.

Source: University of Michigan

Original Study DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1710756


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A Million People Convicted of Marijuana-Related Crimes in California Could Soon See Their Records Wiped Clean

Alternet - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 10:31
Click here for reuse options! Prop 64 could provide huge benefits to communities disproportionately targeted for arrest.

Californians who enjoy cannabis have a lot to celebrate this new year. Recreational sales become legal January 1st, and the $5 billion industry and could provide the state with $1 billion in revenu, so both the business sector and state government stand to profit handsomely. But it could be an especially important day for the hundreds of thousands of individuals in California with a drug crime on their record, who may be getting a second chance at a clean slate.

Beginning in 2018, the state will offer anyone convicted of a marijuana crime the opportunity to have the charge dropped or reduced through Prop 64. For decades, even minor charges like marijuana possession have held back many from employment. The state sees the opportunity to have their records expunged as a fresh start, and it could affect up to a million people, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. The organization estimates that there have been 500,000 arrests for marijuana offenses in California over the past 10 years.

The policy could especially benefit Californians of color who have been targeted for drug arrests. The Drug Policy Alliance writes that "in 2015, black people were more than twice as likely as white people to be arrested for a marijuana misdemeanor and nearly five times more likely than white people to be arrested for a marijuana felony." As for the Hispanic population, "Latino people are arrested for marijuana offenses 35 percent more often than white people in California."

The expungement rule is a common sense measure that shows the state is in step with the times. Possessing an ounce or less of marijuana is legal now in California, so it’s only fitting that those who have a criminal record for similar amounts have this charge erased. With California as the latest state to enact such a rule, there are now nine states that offer expungement to those convicted of marijuana crimes. It’s part of a growing awareness of the hypocrisy of these convictions, at a time when legalization is growing in popularity nationwide. In the past five years, sixteen states have modified their marijuana laws to reduce penalties for possession.

Advocates for criminal justice reform have been especially vocal about seing California adopt this new rule. The Post describes a few such champions:

Last year, prosecutors in San Diego searched for people convicted of marijuana offenses in the prior three years who would be eligible for reductions. When the measure passed, prosecutors got their petitions before a judge as soon as possible.

“We absolutely didn’t want people to be in custody who shouldn’t be in custody,” said Rachel Solov, chief of the collaborative courts division in the San Diego district attorney’s office. She said that as of mid-December, the office has handled nearly 600 reductions.

Of course, those best poised to benefit from Prop 64 are those with the time, money, and access to take their cases back to court. “What I see is the people who have more means are the ones who are taking advantage of this, and the people who have more basic struggles in their everyday life, the last thing they’re thinking about is cleaning up their criminal history for their old marijuana convictions,” one defense attorney told the Post. Still, progress is progress.

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Can we talk about marijuana at church? - The Christian Century

Google - Cannabis - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 06:08

The Christian Century

Can we talk about marijuana at church?
The Christian Century
The word marijuana became the favored rhetorical term of white politicians to forward a xenophobic policy that simultaneously banned marijuana across the country and demonized immigrant and black communities. It was easier to scare white America with ...

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Canadians spending nearly as much on marijuana as wine, shows ... - The Independent

Google - Cannabis - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 03:17

The Independent

Canadians spending nearly as much on marijuana as wine, shows ...
The Independent
Canadians spent $6.2bn (£3.5bn) on marijuana in 2015, almost as much as they did on wine, a report has shown. A study of marijuana consumption between 1960 and 2015 carried out by Canada's bureau of statistics estimated there were 4.9 million cannabis ...
Many cannabis users aren't convinced that marijuana causes impaired driving: surveyNational Post
Cannabis Producers Blowing Smoke With Advertising PushHuffington Post Canada
Will California heed other states' lessons in opening recreational marijuana sales?The Mercury News
BBC News -The Globe and Mail -The New York Times
all 139 news articles »
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OR: Southbound I-5 lanes reopen at site of deadly Washington train d - KPTV - FOX 12

Bot - Cannabis - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 01:55 (US) A WSDOT spokesman said drivers are advised to use caution and the speed limit will be reduced to 45 mph while workers remain in the area. (Wed Dec 20 21:55:36 2017 PST)
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OR: Four people arrested in Salem after months-long drug investigati - KPTV - FOX 12

Bot - Cannabis - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 01:55 (US) Four people were arrested on Thursday after a five month long investigation into the illegal distribution of heroin and methamphetamine. (Wed Dec 20 21:55:36 2017 PST)
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OR: Caught on camera: Chuck E. Cheese fight goes viral - KPTV - FOX 12

Bot - Cannabis - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 01:55 (US) Girl has blunt message for insurance provider after her brain surgery request was denied Andrea Baber. (Wed Dec 20 21:55:36 2017 PST)
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OR: Train speeding 50 mph over limit before deadly derailment - KPTV - FOX 12

Bot - Cannabis - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 01:55 (US) Federal officials confirmed an Amtrak train was hurtling 50 mph over the speed limit when it careened off an overpass south of Seattle. (Wed Dec 20 21:55:36 2017 PST)
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OR: Christian school teacher accused of having sex with 15-year-old - KPTV - FOX 12

Bot - Cannabis - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 01:55 (US) Andrea Baber, 29, is charged withB third-degree rape, third-degree sodomy, unlawful delivery of marijuana to a minor, online sexual corruption of a child and contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor. Deputies said the relationship continued on a regular basis, with Baber also pr... (Wed Dec 20 21:55:36 2017 PST)
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OR: Police: 2 moms arrested after 6 young kids found in home with fe - KPTV - FOX 12

Bot - Cannabis - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 01:55 (US) Drug paraphernalia The report states that pieces of a broken mirror and other glass were on the ground in the yard. (Wed Dec 20 21:55:36 2017 PST)
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OR: Crime Stoppers - KTVZ

Bot - Cannabis - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 01:41 (US) All 20 C.O. marijuana shops pass OLCC decoy 'sting' ... (Wed Dec 20 21:41:51 2017 PST)
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OR: All 20 C.O. marijuana shops pass OLCC decoy 'sting' - KTVZ

Bot - Cannabis - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 01:41 (US) The "sting" operation is aimed at seeing if marijuana license retailers are complying with state laws and OLCC regulations ensuring minors aren&rsquo. (Wed Dec 20 21:41:51 2017 PST)
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OR: Deschutes County Lifts Pot Ban

Bot - Cannabis - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 01:35 The county will begin accepting license applications for marijuana businesses wanting to operate outside of incorporated cities. (Wed Dec 20 21:35:25 2017 PST)
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OR: Rural Deschutes County Pot Ban Expires

Bot - Cannabis - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 01:35 Rural Deschutes County Pot Ban Expires BEND, OR -- The moratorium on growing, processing and selling marijuana in unincorporated parts of Deschutes C... (Wed Dec 20 21:35:25 2017 PST)
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OR: Portland Synagogue Opens a New Winter Homeless Shelter for Families - Willamette Week

Drug News Bot - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 01:26 (US) Meeting Over Southeast Portland Homeless Shelter Turns Ugly: b We Have a Meth and Theft Problemb . (Wed Dec 20 22:26:59 2017 PST) [$drug_related(100%), $drugwar_propaganda(60%), $propaganda_theme2(50%), $propaganda_theme3(50%), $propaganda_theme5(60%), $moral_imperative(100%), $illegal_drugs(100%), $chemicals(100%), $euphoric_stimulant(100%), $stimulant(100%), $methamphetamine(100%), $amphetamines(100%), $youth(60%), $meeting(100%)]
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