Testing It Up

Drug Tests that Avoid Testing for Marijuana Gaining Popularity

Marijuana used to be at the very top of the list of drugs to test for in the workplace. It was virtually impossible to find a drug test that tested for any combination of the major abused drugs and not have marijuana included.

drug-free workplaceBut, now that Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational marijuana, drug tests that detect all the major drugs except marijuana are starting to pop up.

For example, there is one product named Multi Drug 4 Panel Urine Dipstrip Test that tests for all other relevant drugs like cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine and amphetamine, but does not test for marijuana/THC. These tests are convenient for workplaces that want to have a workplace drug testing policy, but that do not want to risk having an employee test positive for a substance that is currently legal within the state.

Click here to read more about drug testing without testing for marijuana and THC.

July 21, 2014 at 12:33 pm Comments (0)

Majority of Seniors Support Medical Marijuana Legalization in Florida: Report

The senior population in Florida is overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted this past spring.cape_florida

About 84% of Florida voters who support the initiative are older than 65, the survey found. Among all voters, support was at 88%. Among voters 50- to 64-years-old, 62% admitted smoking marijuana, which was more than any other demographic.

“What we’re hearing from older voters is not a lot different from the electorate as a whole,” said Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United For Care, which landed the issue on the ballot. “For the most part, it’s not a controversial topic…If their doctor recommends a particular treatment plan, whether it’s a medication regimen, a new diet, exercise, yoga or medical marijuana, they should be able to follow their doctor’s orders without being treated like a criminal,” he said.

However, older voters who believe marijuana can act as a painkiller are just as misinformed as the rest of the population who believe that, said John Anderson, 87, of Cocoa Beach. Anderson is a former chairman of the Brevard GOP and a retired nurse anesthetist who does not support the initiative.

“There are many people who think marijuana relieves pain. Marijuana is not an analgesic. You can get more pain relief from aspirin than marijuana, if you’re talking about it in that sense,” he said.

Floridians will vote in November on whether to legalize medical marijuana.


July 21, 2014 at 12:10 pm Comments (3)

Missouri Continues to Baffle Law Enforcement by Refusing to Keep Prescription Drug Database

Missouri is the lone state in the country that refuses to keep a database of the drugs that are prescribed to patients, much to the chagrin of the people who are tasked with trying to stop the prescription drug abuse epidemic in the United States.fighting prescription drug abuse

Not having such a database hampers Missouri’s ability to combat prescription drug abuse and also attracts people from neighboring states looking to stockpile pills and bring them home to either abuse or sell to others, according to law enforcement officials, legislators and data compiled by a prescription drug processing firm.

Drug monitoring program procedures and powers vary from one state to another, but they all require doctors, pharmacists or both to enter all prescriptions into a database that can be consulted later to make sure patients do not get excess medication. In some states, checking the database is mandatory.

Missouri has been urged to put a database into effect by Missouri medical associations, members of Congress from neighboring states, the White House and even Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, the St. Louis-based manufacturer of oft-abused prescription painkiller oxycodone.

But attempts to establish one so far have been blocked by a small group of lawmakers led by State Senator Rob Schaaf, a family physician who argues that allowing the government to keep prescription records violates personal privacy.

“There’s some people who say you are causing people to die — but I’m not causing people to die. I’m protecting other people’s liberty,” Schaaf said in a recent interview in his Senate office. “Missouri needs to be the first state to resist, and the other states need to follow suit and protect the liberty of their own citizens.”

Schaaf’s opposition has come under sharp criticism from fellow Republicans, including representative Harold Rogers of Kentucky, one of eight states that borders Missouri.

“It’s very selfish on Missouri’s part to hang their hat on this privacy matter,” Rogers said. “The rest of us suffer.”

July 21, 2014 at 11:29 am Comments (0)

Humor Article Exposes Dark Side of Addiction for Nurses

An article on the humor website Cracked.com sheds light on the terrifying reality of drug-addicted nurses.

Told from a first-person perspective by former registered nurse John Brooks from Monroe, LA, the article explains how it is surprisingly common for healthcare practitioners to be addicted to drugs and do them at work while they are responsible for the lives of patients.drug addiction in nurses

Brooks says in the article that nurses are surrounded by temptation everyday because they not only have access to drugs, but also clean paraphernalia for doing them. And since nurses know so much about the effects of the drugs they are taking, he says, they often believe that they can do them safely.

He talks about how he stole the drugs from patients and how the measures put in place to stop this from happening are undermined by the severe nursing shortage in the country.

It is a horrifying reminder that the temptation of drugs can be too difficult for even medical professionals to resist.

To read the article, click here.

July 21, 2014 at 7:49 am Comments (0)

Marijuana Causes Users To Be Paranoid

Pot users, beware: That next puff might cause you to worsen your fears.

marijuanaA team of researchers from the University of Oxford conducted a study to assess the effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, on a person’s paranoid tendencies. While previous studies have shown that THC brings forth paranoia, the new study confirmed the earlier findings through a series of tests.

The study was conducted by injecting THC into more than 120 respondents who were between the ages of 21 and 50, with no diagnosed mental conditions, and who had used marijuana at least one time in their lives.

The result: about 50 percent of test subjects injected with THC expressed feelings of being paranoid, as compared to only 30% of those administered with a control placebo. According to the participants, paranoia exhibited in them through negative thoughts and feelings. “Paranoia is likely to occur when we are worried, think negatively about ourselves, and experience unsettling changes in our perceptions,” said study lead author Prof. Daniel Freeman in a news release.

Marijuana use seems to introduce alterations in how people perceive the world, thereby leading to a heightened sense of fear. “Just small differences in our perception can make us feel that something strange and even frightening is going on,” Freeman added.

July 16, 2014 at 9:54 pm Comment (1)

Physician calls for quicker process for approving epilepsy medication

The United States needs a faster process for approving medication, particularly epilepsy medication, Dr. Nathan Fountain said in a post for Kevin MD.medicine

Fountain said he sees about two patients per year die from complications due to epilepsy while new, potentially life-saving treatments are stalled in the long, arduous process of approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the two organizations that have to provide final regulatory approval of new medicines.

Fountain said  there is no time limit on the scheduling process, which is in place to help prevent drugs with the potential for abuse from getting into the wrong hands while ensuring patients who need them have access to them. But the time it takes for drugs to get approved by the DEA has progressively gotten longer after they receive approval by the FDA. The amount of time has gone from 49 days in the period of 1997-1999 to 237 days in the period 2009-2013 according to a published analysis. This is an average of nearly eight months; and sometimes it takes more than a year for approval.

Fountain has joined with the Epilepsy Foundation in support of the Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act (H.R. 4299), which would provide needed clarity and predictability to the DEA review process and help ensure innovative treatment options are made available to patients who need them by setting a 45-day deadline for the DEA to schedule new medicines as recommended by the FDA.

“This problem applies to all drugs reviewed by the DEA and particularly for conditions that are in urgent need of avoiding unnecessary delays,” Fountain said.

July 14, 2014 at 1:39 pm Comments (0)

Caribbean nation mulls marijuana reform

The Caribbean nation of Dominica is the latest country to take a long, hard look at its drug laws to see if it would be better to change them.marijuana legalization

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told a press conference earlier this month that the marijuana issue needs to be discussed on a wider scale, in light of calls for its decriminalization within the country.

“We believe the time has come for us to look at the laws relating to marijuana, for example someone with a very small quantity of marijuana, we will send him to prison, and the question is, if a man has five grams of marijuana should this person be sent to prison for that small amount and that person would have a criminal record for the rest of his life,” Skerrit said.

The Prime Minister said Dominica’s marijuana laws need to be reviewed because too many young people are being convicted for small amounts of marijuana.

“Imagine a 19 year old being arrested for this and for the rest of his life he won’t be able to advance in any significant way because of this charge”

“I believe the discussion we may have in Dominica is in respect to looking at our laws in respect to convictions for the possession of marijuana and to determine whether we would not allow our people to have a very small quantity for religious and other purposes obviously,” he said.

The Prime Minister added that certain conditions would have to be implemented to control the use of marijuana, particularly in public places.

July 14, 2014 at 1:05 pm Comments (0)

Study Shows 1 in 5 High School Seniors Have Tried Hookah

About 18% of high school seniors, or one in five, have tried smoking tobacco through a hookah pipe, a new study has found.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Clare on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Ryan Clare on Flickr

The study, performed by New York University researchers, involved data from the Monitoring the Future nationwide study, which follows teens’ behaviors, values, and attitudes. Of the almost 15,000 kids aged 18 involved in the study, 5,540 were questioned about their hookah use between 2010 and 2012.

Researchers also found that “students of higher socioeconomic status appear to be more  likely to use hookah,” said Dr. Joseph Palamar, assistant professor of population health at NYU Langone Medical Center, in a press release. “Surprisingly, students with more educated parents or higher personal income are at high risk for use. We also found that hookah use is more common in cities, especially big cities. So hookah use is much different from cigarette use, which is more common in non-urban areas.”

Traditionally from the Middle East, hookah involves smoking flavored tobacco from a large water pipe. It’s become increasingly popular in North America and other parts of the world, in part, because it’s believed to be less harmful to the body — the tobacco is considered to be milder. However, that’s not entirely the case because hookah smokers tend to take more puffs in one session, resulting in similar, if not worse effects than smoking.

In New York City, hookahs have become popular, appearing in clubs, increasingly numerous hookah bars, and pretty much wherever someone with a hookah pipe wants to bring it. Among the general population, hookah use has increased by as much as 123%, co-author of the study Dr. Michael Weitzman said. But although they come with similar health risks — respiratory illness, herpes, heart disease, and some cancers — consistent use isn’t such an issue.

“Use tends to be much different from traditional cigarette smoking,” Palamar said in the release. “Right now it appears that a lot of hookah use is more ritualistic, used occasionally — for example, in hookah bars, and not everyone inhales.”

However, the researchers warned that people who begin using hookah may eventually turn to vape pens or e-cigarettes, which also sport a wide range of flavors while remaining mysterious in terms of health effects. Educating the public, and especially the youth, about how smoking hookah isn’t completely harmless may be the experts’ best bet.

July 7, 2014 at 11:16 am Comments (0)

Washington’s Weed Rollout Hampered by Lack of Supply

Because of the way Washington’s marijuana distribution system is set up, the state will likely see a shortage of marijuana to meet expected consumer demand. marijuana health and safety regulations

Unlike in Colorado, where sellers can grow their own supply on site, Washington sellers have to rely on third-party marijuana farms to supply them with stock and this is proving to be problematic. Only 80 of the 2,600 applicants who have applied to be able to legally grow marijuana have been granted licenses so far, meaning there isn’t enough legally grown marijuana to supply the 20 or so shops set to open for business. Thousands of more shops are also awaiting approval to begin selling.

Marijuana kitchens, where the drug is baked into edible treats, have also seen a holdup in the regulatory approval process in Washington, which is also holding up supply.

Meanwhile, Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper predicts cannabis will generate $1 billion in revenue by the end of the next fiscal year, or just under $134 million in tax revenue alone.

July 7, 2014 at 8:22 am Comments (0)

Prescription Drug Abuse Kills More People Than Cocaine and Heroin

The dangers of prescription drug abuse has recently been given more weight through a new study by researchers from Canada’s McGill University.

prescription drug abuseThe research involved a comprehensive review of previous studies on the rise in fatalities caused by prescription drugs. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported about 12 million individuals who admitted to usage of prescription drugs with no prescriptions. What’s worse is that more than 16,000 fatalities caused by opioid painkillers were recorded, according to a news item.

The study, which appeared in the American Journal of Public Health June 19, browsed through medical records and existing studies from 1990 to 2013. Nicholas King, one of the study’s proponents, shared that the motivation behind the study was to provide a undeniable confirmation. “Prescription painkiller overdoses have received a lot of attention in editorials and the popular press, but we wanted to find out what solid evidence is out there,” King said.

From the study, 17 determining factors were identified to have caused the increase in the number of deaths due to prescription painkiller abuse. Some of the notable determinants include higher sales of painkiller medicines, creation of cocktail mixes (opioids mixed with drugs and/or alcohol), and other demographic-centric factors.

King and the study authors believe that knowledge of these determinants should be able to push stronger interventions and better preventive measures to minimize painkiller-related deaths.

June 20, 2014 at 2:11 am Comments (0)

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