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Major Beer Companies Getting Into US Cannabis Market In Spite of Federal Law - Forbes

Google - Cannabis - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 09:45

Forbes

Major Beer Companies Getting Into US Cannabis Market In Spite of Federal Law
Forbes
These soldiers of the unsober, regardless of whether their collars are blue, white or blood-stained from the occasional scuffle in the unemployment line, are now foaming at the mouth over craft brews, wines, bourbons and cannabis, forever casting aside ...

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Some provinces plan to hire teens for marijuana sting operations - Globalnews.ca

Google - Cannabis - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 05:02

Globalnews.ca

Some provinces plan to hire teens for marijuana sting operations
Globalnews.ca
B.C., Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador all forbid people under 19 from buying or trying to buy cannabis, but carve out an exception for teens hired by an enforcement authority to try and find retailers selling pot to minors.

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Can Magic Mushrooms Treat Cocaine Dependency?

Alternet - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 14:19
A clinical trial underway right now hopes to find the answer—and more participants.

So far, no one has come up with a pharmacological agent to help people strung out on cocaine get off the marching powder, but researchers are looking at one promising prospect: psilocybin, the chemical that puts the magic in magic mushrooms.

Scientists at the University of Alabama–Birmingham's (UAB) School of Public Health are now conducting a clinical trial to see whether psilocybin can help break cocaine addiction. The trial currently has almost 20 people enrolled, but researchers are looking for more subjects—people who are currently using cocaine and have a strong desire to quit.

"Our goal is to create a tool or drug that provides significantly better outcomes for individuals addicted to cocaine than those that currently exist," said Sara Lappan, Ph.D., a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Health Behavior.

In the trial, participants receive a dose of psilocybin and are monitored for six hours, about the duration of the experience. Then, the researchers track his or her cocaine use.

"Our idea is that six hours of being under the effects of psilocybin may be as productive as 10 years of traditional therapy," Lappan said.

The researchers theorize that psilocybin works on three levels: the biochemical, the psychological, and the spiritual. In terms of biochemistry, psilocybin disrupts brain receptors thought to reinforce addictive behaviors. Psychologically, the drug is believed to reduce cravings, increase motivation, and increase one's sense of self-efficacy. Spiritually—or transcendentally—psilocybin (along with other psychedelics) is thought to increase both a person's sense of purpose and his or her sense of universal connectedness or oneness.

"If our hypotheses are supported, this has the potential to revolutionize the fields of psychology and psychiatry in terms of how we treat addiction," Lappan said.

But don't run out and start gobbling down magic mushrooms to quit cocaine just yet, the researchers cautioned.

"We aren’t advocating for everyone to go out and do it," said Peter Hendricks, Ph.D., associate professor of health behavior in the School of Public Health at UAB. "What we are saying is that this drug, like every other drug, could have appropriate use in a medical setting. We want to see whether it helps treat cocaine use disorder."

They're not the only ones looking into the secrets of psilocybin. UAB is one of a half-dozen universities studying its potential medicinal benefits. The others are Johns Hopkins University, Imperial College London, New York University, University of California–San Francisco and Yale.

This article was produced by Drug Reporter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

 

 

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Is Juul Making It Easy for Kids to Vape in School?

Alternet - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 10:57
New research shows thousands of students sneak this nicotine delivery system onto school grounds.

The Juul vaporizer is the latest advancement in electronic cigarette technology, delivering nicotine to the user from a device about the size and shape of a thumb drive. Juul has taken the electronic cigarette market by storm experiencing a year-over-year growth of about 700 percent.

In recent months, stories about a possible Juul craze among teenagers have circulated in the media. In April, The Wall Street Journal reported that parents are fighting a Juul epidemic. In May, The New Yorker told a story about Juul’s presence at high schools in America’s more affluent ZIP codes.

I study ways to inform public health and policy by using data from social media. According to new research my colleagues and I conducted that was just published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, thousands of students sneak this nicotine delivery system on to school grounds to use during school hours.

Using social media for science

Our study adds to this discussion by considering a novel source: posts to Twitter. Because posts on social media reflect the attitudes and behaviors of the public in their own words, researchers can treat this data source like a massive focus group.

For this reason, my colleagues and I will often turn to social media to track health behaviors, including the use of emerging tobacco products, to better understand the social and environmental setting in which they are used. For example, last year we discovered that “cloud chasing,” or the act of blowing the largest aerosol cloud possible in a competition, was one of the more appealing characteristics of electronic cigarettes among Instagram users.

In our most recent study, we wanted to document and describe the public’s initial experiences with Juul. We collected posts to Twitter containing the term “Juul” from April 1, 2017 to December 14, 2017. We analyzed over 80,000 posts representing tweets from 52,098 unique users during this period and used text classifiers (automated processes that find specified words and phrases) to identify topics in posts.

We found that 1 in 25 posts, or 4 percent, was indicative of use of Juul while at high school, middle school and even elementary school. These posts described young people talking about using Juul on school grounds, in classrooms, in bathrooms, in the library, at recess and during gym.

For example, if the words “school,” “principal,” “teacher,” “elementary” or “recess,” among dozens of others, co-occurred in posts with the word “Juul,” we identified that post as reflective of a young person using Juul or seeing someone use Juul while on school grounds.

In comparison, a recent national online survey showed that 7 percent of participants 15 to 17 years of age, who would most likely be high school students, reported ever using a Juul.

We only had access to posts from public accounts, so our findings do not reflect posts from private users suggesting our numbers may underreport the amount of youth talking about Juul on Twitter.

Juul’s discreetness may facilitate its use in places where vaping is prohibited, also known as “stealth vaping.”

How to handle vaping

Our findings suggest educators may be in need of training on how to identify Juul in the classroom. School administrators may consider installing vapor detectors in bathrooms and classrooms to deter use of Juul on school grounds.

Our study’s data source – posts to Twitter – may highlight a way parents can determine if their child is using Juul. While we analyzed anonymized data, parents could follow their child’s account to monitor such activities.

Twitter does not make its users’ demographic information (e.g., age) public in order to protect user privacy. As such, our study could not determine the exact age of Twitter users. However, posts contained combined words like “Juul” and “recess” suggesting posts were made by youth.

While Juul is marketed as a “smoking alternative” for adults trying to quit, we found relatively few posts containing phrases like “quit smoking.” One in 350 posts do.

Electronic cigarettes have stirred national debate where public health officials are trying to determine if these devices, like Juul, will help smokers quit combustible cigarettes or serve as a possible gateway product to combustible cigarette use among youth. While this debate will likely go on for some time, it is clear that nicotine use of any kind is known to be addictive and harmful to adolescent brain development. We believe that our findings underscore the need for policies to be implemented to keep such products out of the hands of youth.

Jon-Patrick Allem, Research Scientist, University of Southern California

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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New Study Shows Amazonian Psychedelic May Ease Severe Depression

Alternet - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 07:34
Scientists have conducted the first randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of ayahuasca.

“Leon” is a young Brazilian man who has long struggled with depression. He keeps an anonymous blog, in Portuguese, where he describes the challenge of living with a mental illness that affects some 300 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

Leon is among the roughly 30 percent of those patients with treatment-resistant depression. Available antidepressant drugs like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors do not alleviate his depressed mood, fatigue, anxiety, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.

A new study may offer hope for Leon and others like him.

Our team of Brazilian scientists has conducted the first randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of ayahuasca – a psychedelic drink made of Amazonian plants. The results, recently published in the journal Psychological Medicine, suggest that ayahuasca can work for hard-to-treat depression.

The ‘vine of the spirits’

Ayahuasca, a word from the indigenous Quechua language, means “the vine of the spirits.” People in the Amazonian region of Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador have for centuries used ayahuasca for therapeutic and spiritual purposes.

The medicinal beverage’s properties come from two plants. Banisteriopsis caapi, a vine that twists its way up to the treetops and across river banks of the Amazon basin, is boiled together with Psychotria viridis, a shrub whose leaves contain the pyschoactive molecule DMT.

Starting in the 1930s, Brazilian religions were founded around the use of ayahuasca as a sacrament. By the 1980s, the ayahuasca ritual had spread to cities across Brazil and the world.

Ayahuasca first became legal for religious use in Brazil in 1987, after the country’s federal drug agency concluded that “religious group members” had seen “remarkable” benefits from taking it. Some people who drink ayahuasca describe feeling at peace with themselves, God and the universe.

For our study, which took place at Brazil’s Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, researchers recruited 218 patients with depression. Twenty-nine of them were selected to participate because they had treatment-resistant depression and no history of psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, which ayahuasca use may aggravate.

These 29 people were randomly assigned to undergo a single treatment session, in which they were given either ayahuasca or a placebo substance to drink. The placebo was a brownish liquid, bitter and sour to the taste, made of water, yeast, citric acid and caramel colorant. Zinc sulphate mimicked two well-known side effects of ayahuasca, nausea and vomiting.

The sessions took place in a hospital, though we designed the space like a quiet and comfortable living room.

The acute effects of ayahuasca – which include dream-like visions, vomiting and intense introspection – last for about four hours. During this period, participants listened to two curated playlists, one featuring instrumental music and another with songs sung in Portuguese.

Patients were monitored by two team members, who provided assistance to those experiencing anxiety during this intense emotional and physical experience.

One day after the treatment session, we observed significant improvements in 50 percent of all patients, including reduced anxiety and improved mood.

A week later, 64 percent of the patients who had received ayahuasca still felt that their depression had eased. Just 27 percent of those in the placebo group showed such effects.

Building on past evidence

Our findings support a 2015 Brazilian clinical trial on the potential of ayahuasca as an antidepressant.

That study, led by Dr. Jaime Hallak of the University of São Paulo, likewise found that a single ayahuasca session had a fast-onset antidepressant effect. All 17 participants reported that depression symptoms diminished in the first hours after ayahuasca ingestion. The effect lasted 21 days.

This study received significant attention from scientists. Its promising conclusions were limited, however, because there was no control group of patients who received a placebo drug.

In clinical trials for depression, up to 45 percent of patients who take a placebo may report significant benefits. The placebo effect for depression is so strong that some scientists have questioned whether antidepressants really work.

Dr. Hallak and other researchers from the 2015 University of São Paulo study were part of our follow-up clinical trial.

Religion turned science

These two studies, while preliminary, contribute to a growing body of evidence that psychedelic drugs like ayahuasca, LSD and mushrooms can help people with difficult-to-treat depression.

But because these substances are illegal in many countries, including the United States, their therapeutic value has been difficult to test. Even in Brazil, using ayahuasca as an antidepressant remains a fringe, informal enterprise.

Leon, the Brazilian blogger, discovered the drug doing internet research. “Desperate” to find solutions for his intractable condition, Leon decided to take part in an ayahuasca ceremony at a Santo Daime church in Rio de Janeiro, one of several Brazilian religions that use ayahuasca as a sacrament.

The church does not track its membership, but the União do Vegetal, a similar faith, has approximately 19,000 members worldwide.

These religious organizations are among many groups across the Americas that harvest indigenous traditions around natural psychedelics. They believe psychoactive plants like ayahuasca, peyote or psilocybin open people’s minds to metaphysical realms and deeply meaningful experiences.

This spiritual knowledge is now being translated into the language of science, as researchers in Brazil, the United States, Canada and beyond begin rigorous medical evaluations of these substances.

The healing power of the psychedelic experience

Leon’s blog provides an excellent description of his ayahuasca experience.

At times, he conjured visions – dream-like scenarios that offered rare insight into the relationships in his life. At other times, Leon experienced “a feeling of ecstasy and a deep sensation of a manifesting inner spirituality.”

We believe that these effects are critical to why ayahuasca works.

Participants in our study responded to the Hallucinogen Rating Scale, which helps translate these ineffable experiences into numbers. Participants who took ayahuasca scored significantly higher on that questionnaire than those who drank a placebo.

Those who described the most abundant visual, auditory and physical effects during their ayahuasca trip had the most prominent depression reduction benefits seven days later.

Ayahuasca is not a panacea. Such experiences may prove too physically and emotionally challenging for some people to use it regularly as treatment. We have also observed regular ayahuasca users who still suffer from depression.

But, as our study demonstrates, this Amazonian sacred plant has the potential to be used safely and effectively to treat even the hardest to treat depression.

Luís Fernando Tófoli, Professor of Psychiatry, Universidade Estadual de Campinas; Dráulio Barros de Araújo, Professor, Brain Institute, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (Brazil), and Fernanda Palhano-Fontes, , Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (Brazil)

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Wed, 12/31/1969 - 17:00