Category Archives: Real Drug Stories

Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

People Who Believe Alcohol is Good for Them Tend to Cite Media Reports, Drink More

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People who believe that alcohol is good for them tend to cite media reports that say this and they also tend to drink more, a new study shows.

Many studies have shown there might be a link between drinking a moderate amount of alcohol per day (usually one drink) and staving off heart disease. But, a new study led by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, found that while 39% of people believe alcohol is unhealthy for the heart, 30% believed it to be beneficial and 31% said they were unsure.

Surprising to researchers was that 80% of people who said alcohol was heart healthy said they discovered these supposed benefits via media reports. Unsurprisingly, these people also consumed an average of 47% more alcohol than those who said it wasn’t healthy.

While many studies have been published suggesting a link between moderate alcohol consumption — particularly red wine — there has been no definitive proof that it has any health benefits.

“It is particularly interesting to note that those who believe alcohol to be heart healthy actually drink more alcohol,” said Dr. Gregory Marcus, director of clinical research at UCSF’s Division of Cardiology, in a statement. “Whether their belief causes this behavior, or merely justifies it, remains an interesting unknown.”

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Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

New Research Says Marijuana May Stunt Boys’ Growth

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Researchers in Pakistan have found that marijuana use in pre-pubescent boys may impede their height growth and may bring on an early onset to puberty.

The research team, including Dr. Syed Shakeel Raza Rizvi of the Pir Mehr Ali Shah Agriculture University Rawalpindi in Pakistan, assessed levels of puberty- and growth-related hormones in blood samples collected from 217 boys who used marijuana and compared them to 220 boys who did not use the drug.

Compared with nonusers, boys who used marijuana had higher levels of puberty-related hormones, including testosterone and luteinizing hormone. However, the team also identified reduced levels of growth hormones among boys who used marijuana, compared with nonusers.

From analyzing the height and weight of all the boys, the team found that those who did not use marijuana were an average of 4.6 kg heavier and 4 inches taller by the age of 20 than those who used marijuana.

As part of their research, the team also analyzed levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol 0 – as determined through saliva samples- among 10 adult marijuana users. Compared with nonusers, those who used marijuana had much higher cortisol concentrations.

Based on this finding, Dr. Rizvi and colleagues hypothesize that marijuana use triggers stress responses that suppress growth and trigger early puberty.

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Medical Marijuana Real Drug Stories

Exploring Marijuana Legalization: The Pros and Cons

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With more and more states at least considering legalizing marijuana — either medically or recreationally — the polarizing subject continues to pick up supporters on both sides of the issue. Those who want it fully legalized and those who want to keep it illegal have entrenched themselves for a potentially long and arduous battle.

From marijuana advocates to lawyers and law enforcement officials, everyone seems to have a strong opinion about marijuana and whether it should be and will be legalized.

Pros & Cons

Kris Krane, for one, who is the principal and managing partner at 4Front Advisors, a medical cannabis dispensary consulting firm, says he sees great benefit to legalizing marijuana fully.

“The pros of legalization are nearly endless,” he said in an interview with TestCountry.

As long as it is regulated like alcohol, Krane says, legalizing it should:

  • eliminate the criminal black market for it;
  • reduce violence in American cities and in Mexico;
  • deny drug cartels of a key revenue source;
  • free up police resources to focus on violent and dangerous crimes, rather than non-violent marijuana consumers;
  • generate billions in tax revenue for cash strapped governments; and
  • generate millions of new jobs for the economy.

Freeing up police resources to tackle more violent and pressing crime and generating tax revenue is a common theme with people who advocate for the legalization of marijuana.

The court system would likely benefit, too, with fewer cases to try and the overburdened jail system would also benefit from fewer people needing to be placed in prison, Dallas criminal defense attorney Paul Saputo Jr. said.

“I think the biggest impact will be to remove a number of high-turnaround people, reducing some stress on deputies and jail systems, and to clear jails of poor people who would otherwise be able to bail themselves out quickly if they were not poor,” the defense lawyer said.

More stringent regulation of marijuana is also a common pro listed in favor of legalization.

“Marijuana could be better regulated if it was legal,” observed Arkady Bukh, a criminal defense lawyer in New York and a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “Stores and marijuana dispensaries can card kids and prevent young people from getting marijuana, while people who illegally sell marijuana don’t do that.”

But, with all the talk of the pros of marijuana legalization, plenty of people still see potential cons. Kirby Lavallee, a private investigator with Sharpline Investigations and a former DUI investigator and drug recognition expert, said some cons he can foresee are:

  • a possible increase in burglaries or robberies of business selling marijuana, due to the large quantity of marijuana and cash on hand
  • an increased number of impaired drivers on the roadway due to marijuana impairment
  • an increase in calls to emergency services due to people possibly having negative reactions

Lavallee said in his opinion he believes legalizing it would actually make it more readily available to younger people, possibly having some negative impacts on education and causing possible health issues.

He also doesn’t see it as the innocuous drug that many marijuana legalization activists do.

“I truly believe that this would be a huge issue for Law Enforcement Officers nationwide,” Lavallee said. “Most people say marijuana isn’t a harsh drug and believe that it doesn’t cause any issues. I can say in my experience as a Deputy Sheriff most of the street level violence is drug related, more specifically marijuana because it tends to be more readily available.”

Another downside to legalizing marijuana is that it will take away the police’s ability to search a vehicle or a person when they smell the odor of marijuana, which is legitimate grounds for searching a vehicle or a person as long as it’s illegal. Legalizing it would take this tactic away, Lavallee said.

“I believe that law enforcement will have some hurdles to cross with catching criminals with other illegal drugs which cannot be detected by smell, along with firearms and other illegal items normally found while conducting searches,” the private investigator said.

Lavallee also called marijuana a gateway drug that leads people to experiment with harder drugs. He also said he believes incidents of personal injury would rise, as more people would be under the influence at work or while driving, potentially causing more accidents in the workplace, on the roadways and out in public places. As personal injuries increase, Lavallee said, he believes more people will be receiving medical benefits and insurance companies will have lawsuit settlements to deal with as a result.

Opinions differ in regards to the potential for more impaired driving cases, though. Bukh called the evidence that says marijuana impairs a person’s driving to the point of being dangerous “inconclusive.”

Legalization and Medical Marijuana

Whether legalization for recreational purposes would affect its standing medically — as medication is not generally deemed to be a recreational substance — Krane said he believed legalizing it would actually be a boon to the advancement of medical marijuana, as its current standing as a schedule 1 drug means researchers cannot conduct studies on its health benefits. Full legalization would pave the way for research to be done on its health benefits and would likely lead to a wave of new cannabinoid medications, he says.

Similarly, Bukh said its legalization for recreational use may even lead to more research and development.

“Legalization for recreational purposes can also lead to more growth and development of different strains of cannabis plants that could have different medicinal benefits,” he noted.

Nationwide Legalization

As its legalization continues to be spotty, with states legalizing it either medically or recreationally one at a time and the federal government opting not to, whether it will eventually be fully legal across the country also saw disagreement.

Krane, Saputo and Lavallee all said its legalization across the country seemed like an inevitability. But, Bukh saw more of an issue with its potential for nationwide legalization.

“I believe it will be difficult for marijuana to be legalized nationwide,” he said.

Bukh pointed to progressive states like New York being slow to move forward with legalization efforts even for medical marijuana.

The courts are not going to legalize marijuana because there’s no constitutional right to the drug, the defense attorney pointed out,  and because it’s so politically polarizing, the federal government doesn’t want to really touch it at this point.

Bukh also said that not all states make policy decisions based on factual evidence. Some of them, he noted, make policy decisions based on ideology, so even if the states that have legalized it recreationally show more positive effects than negative effects, it will likely be a long time before every state legalizes it and there’s no guarantee that will happen.

Obstacles to Legalization

Standing in the way of legalization across the country is that same political polarization that Bukh pointed to before. As it is being treated as a partisan issue, people tend to get entrenched in their party’s position rather than looking at the issue from a factual perspective. To counteract this will take a grassroots movement, he said.

“There is a libertarian, conservative, liberal and progressive argument to be made for legalization and all of these arguments should be made at the grassroots level to drive support and convince party leadership of all major political parties to get on board,” he stated.

Krane agreed that the federal government largely remains the biggest obstacle to full legalization, as it has largely opposed it at every step while state lawmakers seem to be well behind the public in terms of their support for legalization.

The best way to get around this obstacle, he says, is to continue to let the voters decide on whether they want it legalized or not.

“We have been able to get around these obstacles by taking the issue directly to the voters.  Every time we have done so, in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and DC, voters have overwhelmingly supported legalization,” he said.

As it continues its slow march toward acceptance and legalization throughout many different states, marijuana will likely continue to also polarize people as they fall into either the pro-legalization or anti-legalization camps.

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Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

FDA Schedules Meeting About Female Libido Enhancer

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After rejecting it twice, the US Food and Drug Administration has scheduled a meeting for early June to discuss further a female libido enhancer that could effectively do for women what Viagra does for men.

The pill, flibanserin, is backed by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which has enlisted the help of various women’s groups and other advocates to lobby the FDA to approve the pill, saying that women’s sexual issues often get ignored by the federal government even though men’s sexual issues get much attention.

The FDA said it plans to convene a meeting of its reproductive drugs and drug safety panels on June 4. The agency is not required to follow the advice of these panels, but it often does.

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Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

Two-Drug Combination Reduces Colon Cancer by 67%

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A combination of two new antibodies, that act against the same protein, reduces tumours in colorectal metastatic cancers that no longer respond to conventional treatment by 67%, a clinical trial has shown.

The Results of the international phase one clinical trial, led by Barcelona’s Vall d’Hebron Hospital, were published on May 11.

“This is important progress because we have showed this improvement for the first time in a clinical phase, although it is just one more step, it does not cure cancer, it only gives us more control time,” said Josep Tabernero, head of Medical Oncology at Vall d’Hebron Hospital and director of the Vall d’Hebron Oncology Institute.

The study, published in the American Association for Cancer Research’s Cancer Discovery journal, demonstrated that the drug “Sym004″, a mixture of two antibodies that act against the EGFR protein, is effective in patients with advanced colorectal cancer who had become resistant to previous treatments.

This new drug opens the possibility for a treatment with better results in these advanced colon cancer cases.

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Real Drug Stories

Report Says Counterfeit Medicine is More Common Than People Think

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Incidents of counterfeit drugs being passed off as real drugs in actual medical facilities is alarmingly high, according to a recently published report in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, but even more alarming is that many countries may not even be bothering to report incidents of counterfeit medicine.

The study found that of 169 countries, 127 did not report any incidents of counterfeit medicine. Tim Mackey, director of the Global Health Policy Institute says this likely means that many of the countries studied seem to be ignoring the problem altogether.

Counterfeit drugs, the study found, have turned up in places as disparate as small town pharmacies to major clinics in the United States. From 2009 – 2011, the study found just about 1,800 different types of counterfeit medication discovered through just over 1,500 reported “counterfeit incidents” worldwide.

China reported the largest number of counterfeit incidents, followed by Peru, Uzbekistan, Russia, and Ukraine.

The study’s data emphasizes the need for a standardized procedure and system for reporting counterfeit medicine worldwide, Mackey said, especially since 53% of counterfeit drugs fall under “lifesaving-related drug categories.”

“There’s this global drug supply chain, and there’s gaps in it,” Mackey said. “We really need to make this a global priority.”

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Real Drug Stories

What does 4/20 mean and where did it come from?

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You may have heard people talking about “four-twenty” (4/20) lately. It usually comes up at this time of year. But, if you’re not familiar with the term, you may be asking yourself just what people are talking about.

It is a kind of code among people who smoke marijuana (although it is well-known among non-smokers, too) to reference marijuana and things associated with it. The term “4/20 friendly” means a person or establishment is accepting of marijuana.

In recent years, 4/20 has been associated with the date April 20. It can also be said in reference to the time of day, 4:20 (usually pm). The number combination, especially in reference to the date, has become synonymous with marijuana culture and the marijuana legalization movement.

On that date, it is common for people to gather in a designated spot and smoke marijuana in mass numbers. Even in places where marijuana is illegal, these types of mass demonstrations almost never result in any arrests because they are usually peaceful and it would be cumbersome for police to try and arrest so many people at once.

If you hear people talking about “going to 4/20” they are almost certainly talking about attending one of these demonstrations in their respective communities on April 20. But, 4/20 can also be used in reference to marijuana in general at any time of the year or any time of the day.

Where is it from?

One common misconception is that the date 4/20 has something to do with late reggae singer and marijuana enthusiast Bob Marley. Typically, it was said to either be his birthday or the date of his death. However, Marley was neither born nor did he die on April 20.

On the Wikipedia page for 4/20 [420 (cannabis culture)], the origins are said to go back to a small group of teenagers in San Rafael, California who, back in 1971, met at a designated spot at 4:20 pm each day to search for an abandoned marijuana crop they had heard about.

The teens would talk to each other about their meetings and hunts for the crop (which they apparently never found) with the phrase “four-twenty.” This eventually became a phrase for them that signified marijuana smoking in general. The phrase was eventually picked up by High Times magazine (a popular cannabis culture magazine) and spread through that media. It was also apparently adopted by followers of the band The Grateful Dead.

Exactly how the date April 20 got connected with the phrase is unclear, but it is now an international counter-culture holiday with unofficial events held across North America and in several countries around the world.

This, of course, makes 4/21 unofficial national “random” drug testing day.

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Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Designer Drug Flakka Latest Scourge to Hit Cities

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A designer drug known as Flakka that has been around for a few years is gaining prominence, particularly in Florida, although it has also been seen in Texas and Ohio recently and officials believe it will start popping up in other cities soon.

According to the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Flakka cases have increased from no reported cases in 2010 to 85 cases in 2012, and now greater than 670 in 2014.

Flakka contains MDPV, a commonly abused cathinone and has similar effects on people as bath salts.

Flakka comes in crystalline rock form and can be swallowed, snorted, injected, or used in an e-cigarette and vaped. The duration of the effects of the drug can last as few as three to four hours, but can also linger for several days. It is highly addictive, both from a physical and a psychological perspective.

Efforts to fight the new drug include the Fort Lauderdale Police Department creating a specialized task force loosely known as the “Flakka Initiative” to work with local agencies as well as the DEA, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, about the increasing use of the drug.

The Palm Beach County Substance Abuse Awareness Coalition is also launching a special website next month called dontbeaguineapig.com that will be an educational portal about the potential effects of using such designer drugs.

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Drug Testing Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Investigators Try to Track Down Source of Deadly Synthetic Marijuana

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Investigators in Jackson, Mississippi are trying to track down the origins of a deadly batch of synthetic marijuana or “spice” that sent more than 30 people to the hospital and is suspected in the death of one.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center treated almost three-dozen people since last week for overdose symptoms, hospital officials said. One person died prior to reaching the hospital.

The synthetic marijuana that is suspected of causing the sickness and death is 100 times more potent than pot, authorities said, and is sold under brand names like K-2, Moon Rocks and Snooby Snax.

In addition to the Jackson-area cases, state health officials have also received reports of synthetic marijuana overdoses in Meridian, Philadelphia and Monticello.

All of the patients treated for overdose symptoms have been released from UMMC, hospital officials said.

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Addiction Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Indiana Dealing with HIV Outbreak Due to Prescription Drug Abuse

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Indiana has called in federal experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help with an HIV outbreak that has swelled to 55 confirmed cases and 13 other preliminary positive cases, the Indiana State Department of Health said.

“We are engaging local, state, and national partners to determine where we can most effectively focus our efforts,” Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams said in a news release. “Extra care is being taken to invest resources in getting people off drugs and into treatment, since drug abuse is the clear driving force behind this outbreak.”

Most of the infected people had shared needles while injecting the painkiller Opana, a prescription drug that’s more potent than Oxycontin, the agency has reported, while some of the HIV cases have been linked to unprotected sex.

Indiana’s health department said it has created a public awareness campaign dubbed “You Are Not Alone” that provides information on drug abuse, safe sex, needle disposal and HIV testing and treatment. The three-month campaign began recently and will include radio, digital and social media ads and billboards along Interstate 65.

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