April 2019

Your health is on the ballot in the midterm election

(CNN)Voters in 37 states will have more than candidates to choose in Tuesday’s election. There are 158 statewide measures on ballots this midterm election, and several involve health-related issues such as Medicaid expansion, marijuana, abortion, grocery taxes and charges related to drug use and possession.

Alabama, Oregon and West Virginia have measures that are aimed at restricting abortion access. If passed, Alabama’s Amendment 2 will add language to the state Constitution to give a fetus the same rights as a human who has been born.
Abortion-rights supporters in Alabama worry that the amendment could be used to criminalize some forms of in-vitro fertilization and contraception. There are also concerns that should the US Supreme Court end Roe v. Wade, this amendment would be a “trigger ban,” meaning abortion would be outlawed in the state.
    This “personhood” ballot measure doesn’t have exemptions like in other states’ laws that carve out the right to an abortion in cases of rape, incest or the danger to the life of the mother.
    Oregon’s Measure 106 would end state funding for abortions. Women who are public employees or who are on Medicaid would no longer get coverage for the procedure. There are exceptions for rape, incest, and a pregnancy that is a threat to the woman’s health.
    West Virginia’s Amendment 1, also known as the No Constitutional Right to Abortion Amendment, would explicitly state that its Constitution has nothing in it that “secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” It also has an exception for rape, incest, fetal anomaly or threats to the woman’s life. It would essentially restrict Medicaid funding for abortions.

    Marijuana

    Voters in four states will have to decide how they feel about marijuana. In Michigan and North Dakota, they will consider whether recreational use should be legal for adults over 21. North Dakota’s amendment would also automatically expunge the record of someone who had a conviction related to weed.
    Other states’ weed-related initiatives focus on medical marijuana; 31 states and the District of Columbia have laws that legalize or decriminalize it.
    Missouri has three medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot this year. Amendment 2 would legalize medical marijuana, tax it at 4% and guarantee that the money would be spent on health care services for veterans. Amendment 3 also would legalize it for medical reasons and tax it at 15%, and the money would have to be spent to create a Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute, a state-run institution that would look for cures for disease. The money that the drugs would earn would go back to the state.
    Proposition C, a separate ballot question, would also legalize medical marijuana and tax it at 2%, and the money would have to go toward veterans, drug treatment, education and law enforcement. If voters say yes to all three, the one that gets the “largest affirmative vote shall prevail.”
    In Utah, if voters say yes to Proposition 2, individuals with qualifying illnesses would get access to medical marijuana.

    Health care

    Montana, Idaho, Nebraska and Utah will consider expanding Medicaid. Montana’s I-185 would also raise taxes on tobacco products to help fund the expansion and other health care programs.
    Idaho’s Proposition 2 would expand Medicaid eligibility to people under 65 whose income is 138% of the federal poverty level, as would Nebraska’s Initiative 427 and Utah’s Proposition 3. In Utah, that expansion would be funded in part by a sales tax increase.
    There may be additional election-related changes with Medicaid. If Democrats win in Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Florida, there’s a possibility those states could expand Medicaid as well. In Florida alone, a million people would get health care coverage if Medicare is expanded in that state. Potentially, 2.7 million additional Americans could get coverage if elections go Democrats way in those states.
    In Montana, the ballot question could end the Medicaid expansion there. The Tobacco industry has spent millions in the state to fight the initiative since it would double the cigarette task to pay for the state’s portion of Medicaid expansion.
    Other health care initiatives are on the ballot in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada.
    California’s Proposition 4 would authorize $1.5 billion in bonds for children’s hospitals. Proposition 8 would require dialysis clinics to refund patients for revenue above 115% of the costs of direct patient care. Supporters of the initiative believe this would incentivize clinics to spend money on health care improvements rather than putting it toward their profits.
    Proposition 11 would require people who work on ambulances to stay on call during breaks and require employers to give EMTs and paramedics additional training and some paid mental health services.
    Question 1 in Massachusetts would limit the number of patients assigned to registered nurses working in a hospital. The state has such restrictions for intensive care units but not for any other part of the hospital.
    Nevada’s Question 4 would require the state legislature to remove taxes on durable medical equipment, oxygen equipment and mobility devices that are prescribed by a licensed provider.

    Other health matters

    In Massachusetts, with Question 3, voters will decide whether they want to keep a law that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public places like restaurants, stores, hotels and hospitals. There’s no federal law that provides such protections. Without them, supporters of the ballot question say, people who identify as transgender could be denied access to doctors’ offices, hospitals and other medical care.
    Some of the other ballot initiatives involve tax collection. In Nevada, Question 2 would exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. Oregon’s Measure 103 would taxes on groceries. Washington state has a similar initiative that would ban local governments from collecting taxes on groceries. The initiatives are getting broad support from soda companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, Inc that see it as a way to fight the growing movement toward soda taxes.
    South Dakota’s Initiated Measure 25 would increase taxes on tobacco products. Virginia’s Question 2 would remove a restriction on tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran. Maine’s Question 1 would create a payroll tax and non-wage income tax that would fund a home health care program.
    In New Mexico, Bond Question A would provide $10.77 million in bonds for senior citizen facilities.

    Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.

      Ohio will vote on Issue 1, which would eliminate the option for a felony charge for the possession or use of drugs, would require the state to spend on programs that would include helping people get into drug treatment and rehabilitation programs, would create sentencing programs that involve drug rehab, and would prohibit courts from sending a person to prison for non-criminal probation violations.
      Oklahoma voters will decide State Question 793, which would allow optometrists and opticians to practice in retail establishments.

      Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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      Here are the 11 best health documentaries on Netflix

      The wellness movement is on the rise, and Netflix is doing its best to help you keep up. Going beyond aai bowls and quinoa, Netflix health documentaries often delve deeper into the various medical industries, wellness, and the links between health and diet.

      The streaming giant offers an array of diverse health documentaries, with everything from topics like medical marijuana and Adderall abuse to wellness advice from hip-hop moguls and even a wild ride into the Russian Olympic doping program scandal. Here are the best health documentaries on Netflix.

      The best health documentaries on Netflix

      1) A Life of Its Own: The Truth About Medical Marijuana (2017)

      A Life of Its Own: The Truth About Medical Marijuana/Netflix

      Journalist Helen Kapalos explores marijuana use for medicinal purposes in A Life of Its Own: The Truth About Medical Marijuana. The audience is first introduced to Dan Haslam, an Australian who garnered national attention in 2014 when he was diagnosed with cancer and turned to marijuana for a semblance of comfort in his final year of life. Haslam lived in a conservative town where marijuana was vilified and seen as demon drug. His experience was a catalyst his townand the rest of the nationto see marijuana in a much different light. We see how marijuana changed the lives of others who, like Dan, need it for medicinal purposes. We also learn about the history of cannabis and meet a variety of experts to teach us the science behind it. Anyone who wants to be educated on medical marijuana, and how it’s different from recreational marijuana, should give this a watch. Eilish OSullivan

      2) (2018)

      End Game/Netflix

      End Game takes viewers inside a UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco that specializes in palliative care. The goal of palliative care is to help terminally ill people grapple with the realities of impending death. The documentary focuses on the efforts of Dr. B.J. Miller and his team. They provide the practical side of things, like explaining when the right time is to end treatments and explaining the nuts and bolts of dying with people in an extremely volatile place. Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman also show this process from the patients perspective. Mitra, Pat, Kym, Thekla, and Bruce are all in Zen Hospice Project, and its through them that the films points really land. End Game is tough to watch. Not only because its hard watching people at their most vulnerable, but because it wants you to reckon with your mortality in the same way the patients are. Eddie Strait

      3) Feel Rich (2017)

      Feel Rich/Netflix

      Feel Rich offers advice from a plethora of hip-hop moguls, athletes, and other influential individuals on how to be the best version of yourself. Spearheaded by Quincy Jones, Common, The Game, and Russell Simmons, this documentary sets out to explore how celebrities can use their massive reach to positively influence a whole generation of people who look up to them. This documentary refreshingly sets itself apart from the others by quickly acknowledging that not everyone has access to fresh produce. It also recognizes the disparities that exist in diet and lifestyle for minority populations. We meet celebrities and experts who explain how being healthy isnt just for the rich and famous: viewers are taught alternative ways to attain healthy food, how to exercise, and even the importance of meditation. This is a must watch for anyone who wants an eye-opening and inspiring take on health and wellness. E.O.

      4) Forks Over Knives (2011)

      Forks Over Knives/Netflix

      In Forks Over Knives,Lee Fulkerson explores the connection between health and diet.This documentary talks to experts on both ends of the spectrum but makes a stronger case for a whole-food, plant-based diet. If you’re curious about taking on a plant-based diet for yourself, this documentary may give you just the push you’re looking for. E.O.

      5) (2017)

      Icarus/Netflix

      Director and co-writer Bryan Fogel starts off with a simple enough premise: He wants to expose the flawed testing process of WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). Fogels plan is to follow a doping plan designed to beat the tests and see how it enhances his performance in Haute Route, a grueling amateur cycling competition. This story takes a turn when the audience is introduced to a Russian doctor with flexible morality: Grigory Rodchenkov. Rodchenkov finds himself at the heart of the Russian Olympic Doping Program scandal. And, Icarus smartly changes course and follows the more interesting story it stumbles upon, wherever it may go. Fogel started out with the intention of making a documentary that exposes the flawed testing for doping. He succeeded in ways he never could have imagined. E.S.

      6) In Defense of Food (2015)

      In Defense of Food/Netflix

      With this documentary, director Michael Schwarz breathes life into Michael Pollans book of the same name. In Defense of Food sets out to simplify things for people who are confused by conflicting headlines that say certain foods like eggs are healthy one day and then unhealthy again the next. Pollan also takes on the food industry, which he claims processes foods that seem healthy but, in reality, arent. This documentary gives health-conscious viewers guidance on how to eat the right foodthe simple way. E.O.

      7) (2017)

      Unrest/Netflix

      Unrest is an unflinching look at a disease that overwhelms both the stricken and the medical community. Brea gives viewers a first-person look at the harsh realities of chronic fatigue syndrome. One of Breas main goals is to help fight the stigma that people suffering from CFS arent really sick. She shows herself at some of her lowest points, laying on the ground and crying, unable to pick herself up. As Brea meets other people with CFS and learns their stories, she finds something that has eluded her: hope. While the struggle to find a cure has no end in sight, people are finding ways to make the best of their situation. Through activism, or FaceTime calls to stay involved, or reckoning with the damage the disease can wreak on a family, the documentary finds a hopeful note to end on. E.S.

      8) (2018)

      “Alison Klaymans Take Your Pills begins with a description of the physical effects of Adderall as a routine and habit. There are quick cuts, swatches of color, cartoonish animations, and pulsing tunes. Its a flood of information to match the films subject matter: our need for focus. Klayman interviews a software engineer who rides an electric unicycle; a mother who was wary of putting her son on it; former NFL player Eben Britton; and a music manager who says Adderall helps him be a better capitalist.There are other declarations from interview subjects about how we live in a ‘hypercompetitive order’ and are ‘human capital,’ which might seem benign until you start to look at the fringes of the billion-dollar Adderall and Ritalin industry, which, as the film shows, is insidiously marketing medications to kids, and parents, with the promise of better ‘performance.’” Audra Schroeder

      9) The C Word (2016)

      The C Word/Netflix

      Director and writer Meghan O’Hara, who’s a breast cancer survivor, takes a very personal journey in The C Word. OHara teams up with Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, another cancer survivor who is also a scientist and doctor. The duo explores what steps in health and diet viewers can take to prevent cancer. Through already existing research, Servan-Schreiber expands on the four pillars to preventing cancer before it strikes: nutrition, exercise, stress management, and avoiding toxins. The documentary is also narrated by Morgan Freeman, which in itself is a good enough reason to give this one a go. E.O.

      10) (2018)

      The Bleeding Edge/Netflix

      Netflix documentary The Bleeding Edge reveals the underbelly of the vast and laxly regulated medical device industry with a focus on just how devastating it can be for the patients who believed that this technology could help. Filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Invisible War, The Hunting Ground) take on the $400 billion medical device industry with a sense of clarity and urgency as they unravel an aspect of the healthcare system many viewers might not know about. At the heart of The Bleeding Edge are the stories from people whose lives have been ripped at the seams by the products they were told would help them. The Bleeding Edge mostly succeeds in hooking its audience and showcasing the horrors of a problem they might not have known existed, although the stories that humanize the issue can sometimes get lost in the bigger picture. But what we do learn is enough to make anyoneespecially anyone who already has a medical device implanted in their own bodiessquirm in their seats. Michelle Jaworski

      11) What the Health (2017)

      What the Health/Netflix

      Writer and Director Kip Andersen (Cowspiracy) is a self-described recovering hypochondriac due to his familys history of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. InWhat the Health, Andersen sets out to explore the correlation between diet and disease, and he comes to believe that eating eggs and processed meat is just as unhealthy as smoking. As a hypochondriac who did everything he could to stay healthy, this was his biggest fear, and its these claims that drew ire from critics. The journey to his controversial conclusion is fascinating to watch. But watch wearily, because if not, you could easily find yourself never wanting to touch certain foods ever again. E.O.

      Still not sure what to watch tonight? Here are our guides for the absolute , must-see , , , and .

      Looking for something more specific? Here are our Netflix guides for the , , anime, , , , , , , , , , and streaming right now. There are also guaranteed to make you cry, to melt your brain, , and when you really need to laugh. Or check out Flixable, a search engine for Netflix.

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      Pot smoking may leave mark on teen brains

      (Health.com)Teenagers who frequently smoke marijuana may be setting themselves up for declines in intelligence and mental function that persist well into adulthood, new research suggests.

      In a decades-long study of more than 1,000 New Zealanders, researchers found that adolescents who used marijuana at least four days per week lost an average of eight IQ points between the ages of 13 and 38 — a pattern not seen among people who began smoking heavily only in adulthood.
      Heavy pot smokers tended to show deficits in memory, concentration, and overall brainpower in relation to their peers, but these problems were more pronounced — and seemingly more lasting — among those who picked up the habit as teens, the study found.
      Individuals who smoked heavily in adolescence had consistently lower IQs at age 38, even if they’d cut back in the previous year. By contrast, the IQ of the relative latecomers to marijuana was more closely linked with how much pot they’d smoked recently.
        “The effect of persistent cannabis use on intellectual functioning is really confined to adolescents, (which) suggests that adolescents, in particular, are vulnerable to the effect of cannabis,” says lead author Madeline H. Meier, a psychologist and postdoctoral researcher at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
        An eight-point decline in IQ isn’t negligible, the authors say. Previous research suggests a drop in intelligence of that magnitude could, for instance, affect a person’s long-term career prospects, job performance and income.
        It’s reasonable to suspect that still-growing teen brains might be especially sensitive to the cumulative effects of marijuana, says Dr. Jeffrey Brosco, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.
        “In the developing brain, neurons are growing and changing, synapses are forming,” says Brosco, who was not involved in the study. “When there’s a lot of change in any part of the body, particularly the brain, that usually means it’s more vulnerable to environmental influences.”
        The new study, which was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doesn’t prove that marijuana use directly impairs intelligence. It does, however, provide some of the strongest evidence to date of a cause-and-effect relationship.
        The study participants underwent IQ tests when they were 13 — before they’d ever tried marijuana — and again as adults, which provided the researchers a before-and-after snapshot of their intelligence.
        Earlier studies that found a link between mental ability and pot smoking have generally looked at a single point in time, raising the possibility that low IQ increases the likelihood of marijuana use, rather than vice versa, Meier says.
        But Meier and her colleagues weren’t able to entirely rule out alternative explanations for the IQ declines seen in the study. For instance, although they controlled for alcohol and drug use, they focused on full-blown dependence (as opposed to more casual use) and therefore may have underestimated the effects of teen drinking.
        “It’s hard to be dependent as a teenager, so you worry about (whether) you can be sure it’s the cannabis,” Brosco says. “Alcohol is well known to be a neurotoxin.”
          Only 5% of the study participants began smoking marijuana regularly before age 18, and it’s not clear from the findings whether less-frequent users might experience similar declines in IQ and mental function. More research will be needed to determine the minimum dosage of marijuana associated with these problems, the authors say.

          Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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          Briton ‘faces up to 15 years’ in Bali jail

          Image copyright Pip Holmes

          A British man says he could face up to 15 years in an Indonesian prison after being found with cannabis oil which he says he needed for medical reasons.

          Pip Holmes, from Cornwall, was arrested for drug smuggling when he went to collect a package containing the oil.

          The 45-year-old artist says he asked a friend to send it to him while he was living in Bali to help his arthritis.

          Indonesia has very strict anti-drugs laws and frequently arrests foreigners on drug-related charges.

          Mr Holmes says he was aware of the penalties and his actions were “foolish and dumb”.

          He was detained on 3 December after going to pick up the package, sent from Thailand, which contained essential oil bottles with cannabis oil inside.

          After spending six days in a police cell, Mr Holmes was transferred to a police hospital rehabilitation facility as his lawyers argued he was a drug user – after he failed a drugs test – rather than a trafficker.

          However, he is still facing a drug trafficking charge and was paraded in front of the cameras last week for what he calls a “very surreal and bizarre” news conference.

          He sat alongside four other men accused of drug smuggling, which can carry the death penalty in Indonesia.

          Despite reports that Mr Holmes could be facing that punishment, he says the small quantity of drugs found on him means that is not the case.

          Image copyright AFP
          Image caption Pip Holmes (second from right) is put in front of the local media alongside other foreigners

          Speaking from the rehabilitation centre, where he is locked in a room and guarded by two men but has access to a phone, he told the BBC the press conference was “really harrowing”.

          He said he doesn’t feel like he is a criminal drug trafficker, but the Indonesian press are painting a picture of him along those lines.

          “I just wanted to stand up and say I’m really not in this category, but the law is very different here and it’s very harsh.

          “It feels like a great injustice, but I’m not in the UK, I’m in Bali, so it’s my own fault.”

          In the UK medicinal cannabis products can be legally prescribed to some patients after rules were relaxed earlier this year – although access is very limited.

          The father of two, whose 11-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter live in the UK with his ex-wife, has had arthritis for eight years and says it was caused by years of practising Thai boxing.

          He says: “Marijuana makes a considerable difference to the pain – it’s not a leisure activity for me.”

          Mr Holmes is no stranger to travelling – he spent time in Canada earlier this year, while he has a tattoo studio in Thailand – and he arrived in Bali at the end of October planning to spend a couple of months surfing and painting.

          Image copyright Pip Holmes

          “I knew what I was getting into,” he says. “I knew there were very strict laws but I chose to come here anyway because the surf is the best in the world.”

          Indonesian law does not recognise medical marijuana use.

          He says he is facing a sentence of between five to 15 years at Kerobokan prison in Bali – a place Mr Holmes calls “horrendous” and “terrifying”. The BBC has been unable to confirm with the Indonesian authorities what sentence he might face.

          However at his next court date, expected to be in January, Mr Holmes is hoping to be classed as a marijuana addict and be eligible for a rehabilitation sentence.

          He says although the police reported that he was found with 31g of medicinal THC oil, that weight included the bottles (28g).

          Anything smaller than 5g, he says, would make him eligible for a sentence of around 12 months in a rehabilitation facility instead.

          He says he needs to raise money to fight his case.

          Image copyright Pip Holmes
          Image caption Pip Holmes, at one of his exhibitions, will be auctioning off some of his paintings to raise money

          He says: “I have no idea what is going to happen to me next.

          “I’m afraid because I don’t know how long it’s going to be before I can hug my children again. They are the only thing keeping me going right now.”

          A Foreign Office statement said: “Our staff are assisting a British man following his arrest in Bali, and are in contact with his family, lawyer and the Indonesian authorities.”

          Related Topics

          Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk

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          Breaking Down The 5 Most Common CBD Myths Betches

          Lately, it seems like people can’t stop talking about CBD. There has been a huge surge in all things CBD, from beauty products to dietary supplements—some companies even sell CBD-infused lubricant.  When it isn’t already integrated into a product, CBD often comes in the form of an oil. The compound supposedly helps to alleviate a variety of conditions, including pain, anxiety, and inflammationWhile cannabidiol (CBD) is safe and beneficial for treating these conditions and more, there are still a lot of misconceptions surrounding this versatile compound. Increased interest in CBD has led to a surplus of CBD-related products hitting the market—which also means a surplus of misinformation. Let’s take a look at some of the most common CBD myths:

          1. CBD Is “Non-Psychoactive”

          When someone says CBD is non-psychoactive, they’re referring to the fact that CBD does not get users intoxicated, or high, like THC from the same cannabis plant does.

          But to call CBD non-psychoactive is incorrect, since a psychoactive substance is simply one that affects the brain—not necessarily one that causes intoxication. A psychoactive substance can affect mood, cognition, and behavior. CBD has been shown to have antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects, so it is psychoactive because it affects mood and mental processes.

          2. CBD Is Used For Medicine And THC Is Used for Recreation

          The human body has an endocannabinoid system, meaning it produces its own cannabinoids. External cannabinoids from plants (called phytocannabinoids) can also influence the endocannabinoid system, where pain, inflammation, and other processes are regulated.

          THC and CBD both work on the endocannabinoid system, THC directly and CBD indirectly, to unleash their effects. Both compounds are medically recognized to alleviate a number of conditions.

          To call CBD the medicinal part of the plant and THC the fun part of the plant is far from the truth. Anecdotal and scientific evidence has long suggested that CBD works better with some THC present. Many medical marijuana patients use THC on a regular basis for conditions like chronic pain, glaucoma, nausea, and more. To ignore the years of medically verified uses for THC while embracing CBD would be ill-informed.

          CBD has gained popularity because it has therapeutic effects without intoxicating the user, which appeals to many people hesitant to use cannabis. That doesn’t mean CBD is the only medicinal compound in the plant.

          3. CBD Works Best When Isolated

          The bulk of the CBD market is made up of either isolates or whole-plant extracts. Many mistakenly believe that isolating cannabidiol from the rest of the plant is the best way to get therapeutic effects, but evidence suggests that the opposite is true.

          When using whole-plant extracts, all compounds of the plant are able to work synergistically with one another to boost their effects. Terpenes, the organic compounds that make up the taste and smell of cannabis, create a symbiosis with CBD and other cannabinoids in the plant, resulting in a stronger therapeutic effect.

          CBD in its isolated form can still provide relief, but using full-plant CBD is more effective. This was shown in a 2015 study that stated, “Other components in the extract synergize with CBD to achieve the desired anti-inflammatory action.” The study also found that isolated CBD only worked in limited dosage ranges.

          4. CBD Is A sedative

          This is a confusing one, because a lot of people claim to use CBD to help them sleep. It can help with insomnia, as CBD relaxes the body, which can help you fall asleep faster. One study has even shown that CBD increases overall sleep time.

          This does not make it a sedative, however. In fact, it’s been found to promote wakefulness, and many people consider their CBD dose to be energizing.

          Those experiencing sedative effects from CBD may be able to attribute it to myrcene, a terpene found in high concentrations in many CBD strains. Myrcene is known for its sedation-inducing effects.

          5. CBD Is Legal Everywhere In The United States

          With CBD’s mainstream uprising, you might think that it must be legal everywhere. But the compound is still in a gray area when it comes to the law. Since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is recognized as an agricultural tool and is no longer considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance. CBD derived from hemp is now legally in the clear anywhere in the country. However, marijuana-derived CBD’s legality depends on the state where it is being sold, and that state’s own cannabis laws.

          To sum up, CBD extracted from cannabis (rather than hemp) is federally illegal, but may be legal at the state level. Hemp-derived CBD is legal everywhere in the United States.

          This murky legality hasn’t had much effect on availability. CBD can be found just about anywhere these days, and it’s only growing in popularity. That makes it all the more important that you know fact from fiction when it comes to common CBD myths.

          Images: Caleb Simpson / Unsplash; Giphy (5)

          Read more: https://www.betches.com

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          Can marijuana help end the opioids crisis?

          In states where medical marijuana is legal, doctors write fewer opioid prescriptions and patients consume lower doses

          Legalization opponents call marijuana a gateway drug that leads users to more dangerous substances. But could it also be an exit drug that helps ease the opioids crisis?

          The data is scarce, but the anecdotes are plentiful.

          After more than a decade in the US air force, Jennifer Baxter needed foot surgery. It wasnt successful, and she had to have two more procedures to correct her severely disfigured, painful and mechanically incorrect foot.

          Baxter had had surgeries before, and had taken opioids to recover. But, as she tells it, this time she connected with a civilian doctor known for his generosity with pain medication.

          After receiving a medical retirement, Baxter was prescribed her 600 pills a month, including 480 oxycodone (a generic version of the opioid OxyContin), she said.

          Soon the months oxycodone lasted only 21 days. She lost her career, gained an unhealthy amount of weight and contemplated suicide. I was watching the clock all day every day for three and a half years, she said.

          She heard medical marijuana might be helpful and began using it in spring 2016. Balancing it with the slow-release morphine to stave off the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, she quit pills entirely in several months.

          Today Baxter, 40, has a new life. She is engaged to be married. She volunteers with rescue animals and is involved in her church. She has lost weight and lives in Arizona, where she can legally obtain medical marijuana for her pain, PTSD and insomnia. She takes it nightly and sometimes during the day.

          In 2017, a record 47,600 Americans died of opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The grim tally represents an increase of more than 10% from 2016, the previous record year. More Americans die from opioid overdoses than car crashes or gunshots.

          In
          In 2017, a record 47,600 Americans died of opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Illustration: George Wyleso/The Guardian

          Almost no one considers marijuana to be as ruinous for individuals or society. But legalization activists and the industry have marshalled anecdotal evidence and personal testimonies to support the notion that cannabis can help people wean themselves off opioids.

          As with all issues surrounding medical marijuana, theres not much good data. Despite encouraging stories like Baxters Ive heard lots of them there have been no formal clinical trials to determine whether cannabis is an effective treatment for opioid addiction. And cannabis remains unproven as an adequate substitute for opioids in treating chronic pain, which is how many addictions begin, sometimes after car or work-related accidents. Despite public perceptions, the evidence for cannabis as a painkiller is actually weak and riddled with limitations, the psychologist Jonathan M Stea wrote recently in Scientific American.

          However, studies have consistently shown that in states where medical marijuana is legal, doctors write fewer opioid prescriptions and patients consume lower doses of opioids. (One study released in 2018 found evidence that states with legal medical marijuana saw fewer prescriptions for weaker schedule III opioids but not the more addictive and powerful schedule II drugs.)

          Despite the paucity of data, the exit drug theory has led to overwhelming support for medical marijuana research among veterans. Several US states allow anyone with an opioid prescription to obtain a medical marijuana card.

          The interest in cannabis as a substitute for opioids comes as opioid makers face escalating scrutiny and legal trouble. In March, a group of more 600 US cities, counties and Native American tribes filed a lawsuit alleging that eight people in a single family made the choices that caused much of the opioid epidemic. The family, the Sacklers, control Connecticut-based Purdue Pharmaceuticals, which introduced OxyContin in 1996.

          The family denied the allegations in a statement.

          Last week, Purdue and the Sackler family agreed to pay $275m to settle a lawsuit brought by the state of Oklahoma. (The family was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.)

          Whatever caused the opioid crisis, it is a deeply complex problem, one that few if any credible observers think will be relieved by cannabis alone. And some reject the idea of employing a drug as an appropriate response to a drug crisis.

          When we are dealing with opioids as the single biggest health crisis this state has ever had, you are going to tell me legalizing more drugs is the answer? New Hampshires Republican governor Chris Sununu said last fall. Absolutely not.

          Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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          Cannabis company says CBS won’t air its Super Bowl ad

          New York (CNN Business)US states are increasingly legalizing marijuana, but the drug still isn’t mainstream enough to convince CBS to let a cannabis company run a Super Bowl ad in 2019.

          George Allen, president of Acreage Holdings, said the ad focused on how medical marijuana has helped people cope with pain, including a child with Dravet’s syndrome that suffered from epileptic seizures.
          The ad does not promote Acreage products, which makes it different from other controversial Super Bowl ads that have been turned down by networks in the past. For example, a spot from GoDaddy was once denied because it was considered too sexually suggestive.
            By going public with the news of a rejected ad, Acreage is following the lead of other companies that have had their ads turned down. The company said it plans to publish a 60-second version of the spot on its website so people can see what the fuss was all about.
            “We’re disappointed by the news but somewhat unsurprised,” Allen said. He said media companies may be unwilling to show cannabis ads as long as marijuana remains illegal for recreational and medical use on a federal level.
            “Still, we developed the ad in the spirit of a public service announcement. We feel it’s our responsibility to advocate on behalf of our patients,” Allen added.
            Allen said Acreage was willing to spend upward of $5 million for the spot, which is the going rate for a Super Bowl ad in 2019. But Allen said CBS told Acreage that the commercial was not consistent with the network’s advertising policies.
            CBS (CBS) did not comment when asked why it declined to run the commercial. But a source close to the network said that it does not currently accept any cannabis-related advertising.
            It’s understandable why Acreage had hoped to get an ad shown during the big game. The Super Bowl has reliably attracted more than 100 million viewers.
              That should be no different this year. Super Bowl LIII, which will be played in Atlanta, features the New England Patriots, which are led by star quarterback Tom Brady. They will face the Los Angeles Rams — a team based in the nation’s second largest TV market.
              “We want to get an audience befitting the message,” Allen said.

              Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

              adminCannabis company says CBS won’t air its Super Bowl ad
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              Is it OK to post about weed on your Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook?

              420 BLAZEIT SEND TWETE !!!
              Image: vicky leta / mashable art team

              It’s 4/20 baby!!! It’s Saturday, you’re lit, brain perfectly calibrated to toasted, sparking your joy, blowing smoke rings so on point it feels criminal not to share on your Instagram story.

              But something stops you from posting. And it probably sounds like the voice of your D.A.R.E. teacher yelling about how posting pictures of pot online can get you arrested and ruin your career.

              “Even if you just post one picture, it comes back,” said Anjela, who is very much not a D.A.R.E. teacher. Preferring to keep her full name separate from her online weed-sona, she’s better known as Koala Puffs, a weedfluencer with over half a million Instagram followers. 

              “You gotta be sure that’s where you wanna take your life before you post. Because you have to be able to take on the judgement that’s gonna come with expressing yourself.”

              You’d think that in the year of our lord 2019 we’d have moved past the taboo of being 420 friendly on main. Cannabis decriminalization across the U.S. is at an all-time high, along with the general population’s support for further legalization.

              Yet while many of us are passing the blunt (or at least not harshing people’s buzz) IRL, the stigma around talking openly about cannabis online remains. 

              Elon Musk got the not-so-dank wake up call when he started posting vague (awful) 420 jokes on Twitter, culminating in a smoke sesh no one wanted or asked for that landed him and his company in hot water. Musk also drank alcohol on the same podcast, though, and no one cared two shits about that part.

              And if Musk, a person with endless Fuck You Money and fame, doesn’t have enough privilege to protect himself from online pot-shaming, who among us mortals does? Not even weed influencers can post to Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook without facing repercussions that feel like we’re stuck in 1998.

              The cost of a pot-sona 

              In early 2018, YouTube went on what appeared to be a marijuana-based purge, deleting and giving strikes to swaths of weed influencers’ channels. Soon after, it started happening on Instagram. While both companies cited community and user policies about depicting, smoking, and selling drugs on their platforms, others theorized that the crackdown pertained more to advertisers’ trepidation after a litany of unrelated scandals from big names like Pewdiepie and Logan Paul. 

              But by and large, the fear of being publicly weed-friendly on social media isn’t about getting banned. It relates to the unique stigma of making cannabis part of your online persona.

              Koala Puffs said the nine months after she quit her corporate job to pursue cannabis influencing was the hardest in her life. Her family, friends, boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s family couldn’t get behind her pro-bud rebranding.

              “Nobody changed their minds until I was 200,000 followers deep,” she said. But to this day her mom still thinks she’s just outgrowing a college phase.

              “I 100 percent still experience stigma from within my family,” said Arend Richard, who went from 420 YouTuber to cannabis CEO after launching The Weedtube, a weed-friendly alternative to YouTube that’s releasing a new app Saturday in response to the crackdowns. Granted, the weed stigma in his family is only exacerbated by their larger difficulty in accepting another aspect of his identity as a gay man. 

              “But I will say, if you want your family to not judge you for using cannabis, just start a cannabis company, and get it written up in Forbes,” he joked.

              Since taking on the business side recently, though, even Richard went back and deleted over 200 posts from his Instagram. Because legitimate cannabis businessmen also need to avoid the stereotypes associated with the stoner label, which seems to stick like glue in an age when social media signifiers define so much of how other people perceive you.

              Reefer gladness

              Particularly, Richard doesn’t like to post himself in the actual act of smoking, even though a tutorial video teaching people how to smoke was what first began his path into cannabis influencing. That conscious curation is part of a larger shift in how people are expressing their cannabis use online.

              “At first, over-consumption was kind of the game in the cannabis industry to get a following. You just did The Most,” said Richard. 

              When total prohibition was the law of the land in America, seeing copious amounts of weed, bongs, and blunts was an exciting novelty. But now it’s possible for just about anyone with enough money in certain states. 

              “We’re in the biggest change in trends for online cannabis communities right now, moving more toward positivity and less toward over-consumption,” said Richard.

              Cannabis/beauty/wellness influencer and yoga instructor Brittany Tatiana (or sweettatas) quite literally embodies this positivity movement, by normalizing weed as a lifestyle choice on social media.

              “We’re in the biggest change in trends for online cannabis communities right now.”

              She got into weed influencing after a car accident left her with chronic pain. Unable to go back to her corporate job for six months, weed became her best alternative to the opioids doctors prescribed. At the time she’d already began dabbling with modeling and beauty influencing, building a following and doing promotion with a few brands.

              But then she made the fateful decision to take the leap into letting her 420 flag fly. “I guarantee you I lost jobs and contracts because of it. Immediately,” she said.

              “It’s been hard for me to represent my full self and not have people judge me based on what they see in one post,” Tatiana said. Straddling the more commercial beauty industry and the cannabis-friendly world is like walking a tight rope.

              “It’s been a real battle with friends and brands. It’s a fine line to cross. So I just try to be conscious about what I post.”

              Tatiana hesitates to post herself smoking too, for example. But overall, “it basically comes down to a day-to-day, case-by-case basis. Am I OK with how this post represents me? Do I believe in it? Would I want my younger self to post it? Is this true to who I am?”

              She decides whether or not to post by thinking of her weed habits almost like a diet, or any other wellness lifestyle activity. Would she post a picture of a smoothie because it feels good and is part of her wellness regimen? Is that also the case for her marijuana-related post? 

              “It comes down to choosing how you’re gonna show it, and what cannabis means to you,” she said.

              But the risk is always there, especially since the stoner label seems to dominate any other way you define yourself. 

              “I worry in general that it’ll put me in some sort of box that I don’t want to be in. Even though these days, it’s becoming a way bigger box.”

              That caution should be part of everyday people’s process for posting 420-friendly stuff on personal social media channels, too — regardless of whether or not they live in legalized states like the influencers we talked to.

              The legal case against legalized marijuana

              Because any career development expert will warn you that companies do look at your social media before hiring. There have also been a few cases of people getting fired in legalized states like Colorado for using medical marijuana even when they’re not on the job.

              A 2015 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found that a vast majority (94 percent) of HR professionals with employees in legalized states still have formal policies against cannabis, with 73 percent in medical marijuana states and 82 percent in recreational states characterizing them as zero tolerance.

              This strict approach might be showing signs of changing since 2015, though. More recent suggestions from the HR group advise companies to handle weed in the workplace with more nuance and care. 

              It me.

              Image: vicky leta / mashable art team

              “We’ve yet to see robust employment protections be adopted across legal markets regarding an individual’s cannabis consumption,” said Justin Strekal, federal lobbyist at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. But there are some emerging cases, like a recent ruling in Massachusetts that sided with an employee suing his company for wrongful termination over medical marijuana.

              Still, posting about weed is far more penalized in the workplace than, say, a post about happy hour with your coworkers.

              When it comes to criminal persecution, aside from the occasional headline-worthy case, “there’s not an epidemic of law enforcement arresting individuals for posting about marijuana online,” said Strekal. 

              “But that still doesn’t change the fact that it’s their legal right to arrest an individual for smoking cannabis, especially in criminalized jurisdictions. And if you post evidence publicly that could be used against you in a court of law, you are volunteering evidence against yourself,” he said. 

              Even if the police aren’t out to get you, those kinds of posts can add fodder to other legal battles, like child custody. And looking at the racial divides for how marijuana is prosecuted in the real world, it’s likely that some of those biases translate into who’s more likely to get away with posting about weed, too.

              The answer to whether or not it’s OK to be open about weed in your online persona depends on who you are.

              “The application of law enforcement when it comes to cannabis is clearly racist. Full stop,” said Strekal, pointing to the ACLU’s famous report on how the war on marijuana is racially biased. The 2015 report found, “marijuana use is roughly equal among blacks and whites, yet blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.”

              That also tracks with the general demographics of 420-friendly influencers which, at a cursory glance, tend to be disproportionately white and often female. 

              Largely, the answer to whether you should be open about weed through your online persona depends on who you are. Beyond profession, local marijuana rules, and your age, your IRL community is another major factor in determining whether or not it’s OK. Because, as Strekal pointed out, social media is mostly regulated by algorithms and abuse reports. 

              “So the biggest question an individual needs to ask themselves is how are my friends going to respond to this? Is my social bubble going to report this as abuse to these platforms?”

              Tatiana agreed, saying that, “If you live in a community of churchgoers, they won’t respond well. And it’s going to get around. So it’s really a question of who you are, what you’re willing to stand up for.”

              Taking the hit, for a cause

              Interestingly, though, despite all these risks, repercussions, and cautions, lots of people still do get 420 friendly on main anyway. Just search 420 on your preferred social media platform. You’ll find plenty of weed content.

              Let the good vibes roll.

              Image: vicky leta / mashable art team

              And an overwhelming majority of those posts will be positive, much like what researchers found when they tracked attitudes towards marijuana on Twitter between 2013 and 2016. 

              Anecdotally, it feels as if we all live under the hazy threat of social media leading to pot-shaming or worse in the real world. But statistically, positive social media chatter around bud just keeps getting danker.

              That is the fundamental tension with cautioning people against sharing their weed consumption. While people should remain mindful of the repercussions, the truth is that fighting the stigma largely takes place in social spheres like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. At least that’s what some recent studies found, suggesting a link between positive social media and support for legalization.

              Let’s be real

              “People are making a point to be more open about it because they’re done with that shit. We can all see it for a lie now. And posting, like, ‘I’m smoking this joint,’ or ‘my mom takes CBD pills’ — that’s people taking back their power. That’s sending a message in and of itself,” Tatiana said.

              As we all know, social media is never a perfect reflection of the world as it is. Like the #FOMO travel pics that dominate your Insta feed, posting is about creating a collective ideal.

              Until marijuana is legalized on the federal level, no one can tell you it’s perfectly OK to be 420-friendly on main. At the same time, changing public perception by normalizing weed online just might be how we keep the wave of support for decriminalization and legalization alive.

              Solving the issues around being weed-friendly online is a chicken and egg problem — or rather, a bud and the flower problem. Because in the world of social media, pretending we all don’t smoke weed is so damn tired — but wishing everyone on your feed a happy holidaze is totally wired.

              Read more: http://mashable.com/

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              US says immigrants can be denied citizenship over marijuana ties. Even in states where it’s legal

              (CNN)Marijuana possession, production and distribution, even in states where it is legal, will remain a barrier in many cases to immigrants hoping to gain US citizenship, the federal government said.

              “Marijuana remains illegal under federal law as a Schedule I controlled substance regardless of any actions to decriminalize its possession, use, or sale at the state and local level,” a USCIS spokesperson said in a statement. “Federal law does not recognize the decriminalization of marijuana for any purpose, even in places where state or local law does.”
              “It’s been something that we have been struggling with in Colorado for a while now,” said Jeff Joseph, an immigration attorney in Denver, where marijuana use is legal. “There’s a number of activities that can be perfectly legal in Colorado that people don’t realize constitute as an immigration violation.”
                Earlier this month, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock sent a letter to US Attorney General William Barr asking for Department of Justice guidance on policies that are “negatively impacting” the legal immigration status for people who work in Colorado’s cannabis industry.
                “Denver understands the need for federal laws and regulations regarding citizenship and immigration, but we are seeing the heartbreaking effects that those federal laws and regulations are having on our residents,” Hancock said in a statement.
                Two Denver immigrants who had lived in the US for more than 20 years were told by USCIS that they were ineligible for naturalization because of their employment in the cannabis industry, the mayor said.
                One of the immigrants, Oswaldo Barrientos, 30, told CNN in a statement that he thought he “was a shoe-in for citizenship.”
                “I work hard in an industry that offers opportunity and that’s unquestionably legal within the state. For the government to deny my citizenship application because I’m a bad person is devastating,” Barrientos said.
                Barrientos’ attorney, Aaron Elinoff, said this policy announcement is a move by the Trump administration to “quietly and systematically” target the immigrant population.
                Prior to this guidance, immigration field offices around the US handled marijuana in different ways, according to Joseph. “This now seems to instruct [immigration] officers to probe.”
                Joseph said he prefers the transparency of the new guidance, but the unfortunate part is that “people are doing things that are perfectly legal under state law, but will make them permanently ineligible for a green card.”
                According to USCIS, as long as marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the agency won’t grant special considerations to individuals whose marijuana activities may be decriminalized under state or local law.
                “Marijuana remains illegal under federal law as a Schedule I controlled substance regardless of any actions to decriminalize its possession, use, or sale at the state and local level,” a USCIS spokesperson said in a statement. “Federal law does not recognize the decriminalization of marijuana for any purpose, even in places where state or local law does.”
                David Leopold, counsel to DHS Watch and former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, criticized the policy guidance, calling it “nonsensical” at a time when states continue to liberalize their marijuana laws.
                  There have been cases where people have used medical marijuana for a serious injury, left the US, and upon return were challenged by immigration authorities, as if it had been illicit use, Leopold said.
                  As states legalize, “noncitizens can really find themselves in a bind,” he said. “USCIS doesn’t have to make it worse. You have a situation where you have an obvious conflict between state and federal law.”

                  Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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                  Cannabis-related ER visits in Colorado jump threefold after legalization, study says

                  (CNN)Cannabis use in Colorado has been on the rise since medical cannabis was liberalized in 2009 and recreational cannabis went on sale in 2014, and it has led to an increase in emergency department visits, according to a new study.

                  Research has shed light on increasing safety concerns related to cannabis. The researchers identified 9,973 cannabis-related emergency department visits at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital from 2012 to 2016, a more than threefold increase in such visits.
                  Lead study author Dr. Andrew A. Monte, a medical toxicologist and emergency medicine physician at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, and his colleagues were motivated by their own experiences. “We observed a higher number of visits attributable to edibles than expected, and there was no data to determine if this was indeed true,” he said.
                    For the study, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the researchers also looked at the relationship between cannabis sales reported to the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division and emergency department visits. Although edible cannabis only made up 0.32% of sales in Colorado from 2014 to 2016, 10.7% of cannabis-related emergency department visits at UCHealth University of Colorado were due to edibles.
                    “There have been several high-profile deaths due to cannabis edibles but no documented death attributable to inhaled cannabis,” Monte said. The study noted a 2015 case of a man in Colorado who died by suicide after consuming an edible marijuana product.
                    The researchers note that the study had some limitations, including that patients who go the emergency room “differ from the overall population of cannabis users, most of whom may use cannabis with no adverse effects.” Additionally, there was often no way to quantify the exact doses of cannabis, and researchers suspect that ingested doses may have exceeded inhaled doses.
                    With the liberalization of cannabis laws in some states, more patient education is needed on the impact that different forms of cannabis can have on health. “Edible marijuana can be a lot different. The effect can last a lot longer,” said Dr. G. Sam Wang, a pediatric emergency medicine physician and toxicologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, who was not involved in the new study.
                    In the edible form, there’s a slower rate of both absorption and the body’s ability to clear tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. If people use too much because they don’t immediately feel the effects, edibles can be even more dangerous, Drs. Nora D. Volkow and Ruben Baler of the National Institute on Drug Abuse wrote in an editorial published alongside the study.
                    Anyone can be susceptible to safety issues that accompany edible and inhaled cannabis. “Use and its outcomes cross all socioeconomic classes, races and ethnicities,” Wang said.
                    There have also been reports of unintended exposure in children. In Wang’s own practice, “I typically see the kids who unintentionally ingest cannabis, kids who use it medically or teenagers who recreationally use it.”

                    Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.

                      As cannabis laws continue to change, Monte says that while edibles have a role in treating some medical conditions such as pain, recreational use may carry its own risks. “States moving to liberalize cannabis policy should consider keeping edibles out of the recreational marketplace,” he said.
                      Emergency department visits due to cannabis can be prevented, Wang said. There is a growing need for policy and public education on the potentially harmful effects of cannabis, he said. There have been limitations on how much THC can be put in cannabis products in many states, including Colorado, and there are restrictions on mass marketing of cannabis that targets young adults and children. “He emphasizes, “The biggest thing that needs to happen is prevention.”

                      Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

                      adminCannabis-related ER visits in Colorado jump threefold after legalization, study says
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