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Friday, January 31, 2014

ATOD & Advocacy Recap - Week ending January 31, 2014

College freshman alcohol interventions effective
Intervention is an effective ways for colleges to mitigate common drinking patterns -- binge drinking -- among freshman, U.S. researchers say. Lead author Lori Scott-Sheldon, an assistant professor at Brown University and researcher at the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at The Miriam, and colleagues recommended colleges screen all freshmen within their first few weeks for alcohol risk and offer interventions for those who reported drinking. The team examined the efficacy of 62 interventions delivered in randomized, controlled clinical trials involving more than 24,000 freshmen around the country during the last decade. Please click here for the rest of the article.

Marijuana and Patients: It’s time for another conversation
The whole world is watching how state-legalization experiments work out in Washington and Colorado.  Of great interest must be how we reconcile our previously existing medical marijuana landscapes with our new recreational landscape, made possible by the will of the voters through Initiative 502. Although I-502 made no mention of medical marijuana, the process of creating regulatory frameworks for its implementation has arrived at a key crossroad that will undoubtedly be faced elsewhere: how to reconcile medical marijuana patient access with a strongly regulated “recreational” cannabis consumer system. Currently, the road ahead appears to favor recreational cannabis markets at the expense of medical marijuana patient rights to health and safe, reliable access to medicine.  At the same time that medical marijuana research, practice, and patient access are being enabled across the nation and in diverse countries such as Israel and Uruguay, patients in Washington State face the absurd possibility that our new legal cannabis system will conflict with rather than complement emerging medical paradigms. Please click here for the rest of the article.

Drinking During Pregnancy: Even a Little Impairs Childhood Academics
There is conflicting advice out there about drinking a small amount, particularly of wine, during pregnancy. Some research has said it may even be beneficial. Today the National Bureau of Economic Research says that's wrong. Please click here for the rest of the article.

Cannabis Legal, Localities Begin to Just Say No
The momentum toward legalized marijuana might seem like an inevitable tide, with states from Florida to New York considering easing laws for medical use, and a full-blown recreational industry rapidly emerging in Colorado and here in Washington State. But across the country, resistance to legal marijuana is also rising, with an increasing number of towns and counties moving to ban legal sales. The efforts, still largely local, have been fueled by the opening, or imminent opening, of retail marijuana stores here and in Colorado, as well as by recent legal opinions that have supported such bans in some states. Please click here for the rest of the article.

Parity law has little effect on spending for substance abuse treatment
Despite predictions that requiring health insurers to provide equal coverage for substance use disorder treatment would raise costs, a Yale study finds that the economic impact so far has been minimal. The study is published online in The American Journal of Managed Care. A team of researchers led by Susan Busch of the Yale School of Public Health studied the first year of the federal parity law's implementation and found that it did not result in an increase in the proportion of enrollees seeking treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs). Their analysis also identified only a modest increase in spending for substance use disorder treatment—$10 annually per health plan enrollee. Please click here for the rest of the article.

Why It’s Still a Big Deal If Your Teen Smokes Pot
With the president coming out in favor of legalization, parents are wondering whether telling their kids not to use marijuana is futile. But some sobering data about the effects of pot on developing brains can help make the case. Please click here for the rest of the article.

The blunt truth — White house drug czar contradicts Obama on marijuana
White House docs say pot causes brain damage and lower IQ in teens, alcohol does not. President Obama’s latest claims about marijuana are contradicted by research and official positions of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is part of the White House. And Mr. Obama’s words have anti-drug leaders worried about negative repercussions among youth. Mr. Obama claimed to The New Yorker magazine that marijuana is no worse than cigarettes or alcohol and he promoted state efforts by Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law. Please click here for the rest of the article.

Alcohol linked to skin cancer risk
Scientists believe drinking too much alcohol could set off a chain of reactions in the body that makes the skin more vulnerable to cancer. Ethanol is converted to acetaldehyde soon after ingestion and this compound may render the skin more sensitive to harmful UV light, they say. Please click here for the rest of the article.

War on drugs meets rule of law at Supreme Court
Justices strike down additional 20-year sentence given to heroin dealer because the client died. The war on drugs ran afoul of the Supreme Court on Monday. The justices ruled unanimously that a heroin dealer cannot be held liable for a client's death and given a longer sentence if the heroin was only a contributing factor, and not necessarily the sole cause. Not only does that likely mean a reduced sentence for Marcus Burrage, who received 20 additional years in prison because of the death, but a tougher time for prosecutors in general when it comes to extending drug sentences -- something the Obama administration had argued in November. Please click here for the rest of the article.

Studies suggest that alcohol use more likely to cause violence between partners
Alcohol use is more likely than marijuana use to lead to violence between partners, according to studies done at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Research among college students found that men under the influence of alcohol are more likely to perpetrate physical, psychological or sexual aggression against their partners than men under the influence of marijuana. Women, on the other hand, were more likely to be physically and psychologically aggressive under the influence of alcohol but, unlike men, they were also more likely to be psychologically aggressive under the influence of marijuana. The research has implications for domestic violence intervention and prevention programs. Please click here for the rest of the article.

There’s something about Molly - How a supposedly safe party drug turned lethal.
MULTICOLORED LASER LIGHTS search the darkness, picking out bodies crowded into the tight, hot space of Rise. Located in the Theatre District, the city’s only after-hours dance club is packed at 3 a.m., full of people swaying to a pounding bass line, music you can feel in your chest. Most are in their late teens or 20s, and many are clearly rolling — they’re under the influence of a drug called MDMA, sometimes called Molly, that causes a flood, or “cascade,” of serotonin and other neurotransmitters to the brain. Please click here for the rest of the article.

Attorney General Holder: All Drugs, Including Alcohol, Are “Potentially Harmful”
Attorney General Eric Holder told a Senate committee Wednesday that all drugs, including alcohol, are “potentially harmful.” He was responding to a question about whether he agreed with President Obama’s recent comment that smoking marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, in a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “It’s difficult for me to conceive how the President of the United States could make such a statement.” President Obama made his comment about marijuana in an interview with The New Yorker. He told the magazine he does not think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol. He added smoking marijuana is “not something I encourage.” He acknowledged he smoked marijuana in his youth. “I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” he said. Obama added he has told his daughters he thinks smoking marijuana is “a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.” CNN reports Holder told the Senate committee, “I think that any drug used in an inappropriate way can be harmful. And alcohol is among those.” Marijuana is illegal under federal law. Colorado and Washington state have approved the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older. At the hearing, Holder reaffirmed that the federal government will not challenge state laws legalizing marijuana, and will focus enforcement efforts on preventing marijuana use in minors.

Study: Liberals drink more alcohol than conservatives
A sobering new study published by the Journal of Wine Economics — yes, there is a Journal of Wine Economics — finds that alcohol consumption in American states rises as the population’s politics becomes more liberal. The study by Pavel Yakovlev and Walter P. Guessford of Duquesne University in Pennsylvania shows a direct correlation between political beliefs and the demand for alcohol. The study compares sales of alcoholic beverages against the political leanings of a state's members of Congress, as ranked by liberal organizations Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and the AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education (COPE). Please click here for the rest of the article.

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