GLOBAL: ‘Chasing the Dragon’ can bite harder than shooting it!

More People Are Inhaling Heroin, And It’s Destroying Brain Tissue

Ed Cara Jul 2018,

People living with opioid addiction are increasingly using the inhalation method to get high, warns a new review published Monday in JAMA Neurology. The technique known as “chasing the dragon”, which involves heating up heroin and inhaling its fumes through a pipe, may be safer in some ways than injection, but it comes with its own set of devastating side effects, including irreversible brain damage and dementia.

The doctors behind the study, led by neurologist Ciro Ramos-Estebanez of the University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Ohio, were inspired to study the topic after coming across a strange case in 2015.

A young woman suffering from opioid intoxication had fallen into a coma. The coma was caused by a build up of spinal fluid in her brain, a condition known as hydrocephalus. The woman’s spinal fluid had become trapped by chronic inflammation in the brain caused by inhaling heroin.

She ultimately recovered from her coma, though with lasting cognitive impairment, after doctors performed emergency surgery that drained the lodged spinal fluid.

It was the first case of hydrocephalus linked to inhaled heroin ever reported, and it made Ramos-Estebanez and his team eager to understand the phenomenon better

Looking at more than 30 studies and case reports, which included the cases of two other patients at their hospital, the team settled on some basic observations.

For one, while there’s sparse information on how often addicts are inhaling heroin, the little data that does exist suggests it’s the fastest growing method of use, the team found.

In countries such as Sri Lanka, Norway and India, over two-thirds of heroin users admit inhaling it regularly. In the US, injection is still the most common method, but inhalation is increasing, especially in cities and areas east of the Mississippi.

It’s also becoming more popular among teens. In 2014, the team found, 21 per cent of all inpatient hospital visits due to heroin abuse among 12- to 19-year-olds involved inhalation.

The extent of damage caused by inhaling heroin also runs along a spectrum. At its mildest, it can cause memory loss and mild but long-lasting cognitive impairment; at its worst, it can kill off and create sponge-like holes in the brain’s white matter, the bundles of connective fibre that allow brain cells to talk to one another. That can lead to seizures, problems speaking, progressively worse dementia, coma and death.

Ramos-Estebanez and his team also developed a theory as how and why this damage happens. The high temperatures used to vaporise heroin, they speculate, metabolise it into a chemical that can cross the blood-brain barrier with greater ease. And because how fast it gets to the brain, these chemicals aren’t metabolised by the body into a relatively less toxic substance. The end result is a potent high that is more directly dangerous to the brain.

“Most people who take heroin intravenously don’t develop this condition,” Ramos-Estebanez said. “You’re actually washing out the dose a bit before it gets to the brain.”

Ultimately, Ramos-Estebanez wants doctors and the public to treat inhaled heroin as an emerging public health problem. Being able to recognise its signs in opioid users earlier might just be life-saving, too: Some small studies have identified a few drugs that seem capable of preventing further brain damage if administered quickly enough.

Outside of these sites, Ramos-Estebanez wants to dispel the notion that inhaling heroin is necessarily safer than other routes, such as injection. Many people, for instance, may inhale to avoid the risk of catching bloodborne diseases through contaminated needles.

“‘Chasing the dragon’ is not as safe as portrayed. And this isn’t something some doctor is saying to scare people away, it’s reality,” Ramos-Estebanez said. “It’s a heavy cost for patients, their families and society itself.”

In addition to creating accurate criteria that doctors can use to diagnose people who have brain damage caused by inhaled heroin, Ramos-Estebanez and his team are also currently trying to establish a registry so cases can be better tracked and studied.

For more



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

USA: ‘Recovering addict’ secretly treats a table of EMTs to breakfast, bringing them to tears

By Maya Eliahou and Debra Goldschmidt, CNN July 24, 2018

A recovering addict secretly paid for several EMTs’ breakfasts at an IHOP in Toms River, New Jersey.

  • “Paid, thank you for all you do! Have a great day!” said a note on the receipt
  • “It was the nicest thing anyone could have ever done for us,” EMT says

As they ate breakfast after a long night shift, a group of EMTs was brought to tears by a heartwarming surprise: Their meal had been paid for.

Complete article



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Holland: Amsterdam, we have a problem? Who knew right?

Amsterdam ‘turns into a ‘lawless jungle’ at night’ and police are ‘powerless to stop crime and violence’, authorities warn

  • Amsterdam is a ‘lawless jungle’ at night according to official city ombudsman
  • Arre Zuurmond blames tourists from UK and other parts of the Netherlands
  • Street racing, drug dealing and illegal taxis are all said to be rife in the city
  • Mr Zuurmond said police were powerless and ‘cannot handle the situation’

Official ombudsman Arre Zuurmond told Dutch paper Trouw problems have increased including illegal car and bike racing and open drug trading.

Mr Zuurmond said authorities set up three cameras in the busy Leidseplein square ringed by bars and clubs to monitor problems and were shocked at the results.

He said: ‘One night we counted 900 offences, mainly between the hours of 2am and 4am. The atmosphere is grim, and there is an air of lawlessness.

For complete story

REALLY – AND THIS IS A SHOCK??? Whe you license and liberate every vice and expect people to behave with even a modicum of rectitude, you are delusional… by the way, was is rectitude again? I think that word slid from the cultural landscape?



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UK: Babies Pay Price for Parent Drug Problem

Three new born babies A DAY are treated for drug addiction in shocking NHS figures

EXCLUSIVE: NAS – neonatal abstinence syndrome – affects babies whose mothers have abused drugs during pregnancy, leaving their babies to go cold turkey after birth. 22:26, 28 JUL 2018

Three babies a day are having treatment for drug addiction ­after being born hooked on ­heroin or cocaine.

Shock figures from NHS Digital show hospitals dealt with 5,000 cases of ­addicted tots over the last four years.

NAS – neonatal abstinence syndrome – affects babies whose mums have abused drugs during pregnancy.

When the umbilical cord is cut, the supply of drugs suddenly stops, so the addicted infant goes cold turkey.

Typical symptoms include high-pitched or incessant crying, tremors, vomiting and sweating.

But babies can also suffer dehydration, diarrhoea, fevers and even seizures.

Some may need medication to treat severe withdrawal symptoms, usually from the same family of drugs as the substance that the baby is ­addicted to.

Once the signs of withdrawal are controlled, the dosage is gradually decreased to help wean the baby off the drug.

Figures from the NHS show the problem is countrywide.

“Yet none of the women we support wanted to end up in this position. Most are victims of childhood sexual trauma and domestic violence.

“The shame and guilt they feel is huge. But all they need is help and support to break the cycle.

“A mum might come to us on baby four or five. Her previous children have all been taken into care.

“By getting her through treatment, addressing her underlying issues and enabling her to keep her child, we break that cycle of repeat removal.”


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Global: S.A.M. New Book Release on Contemporary Health Issues on Marijuana


Contemporary Health Issues on Marijuana:
New Book Co-Edited by Dr. Kevin Sabet Available Now

Hot off the presses of Oxford University, Contemporary Health Issues on Marijuana is now available for purchase by clicking here.
This new book, co-edited by Drs. Kevin A. Sabet and Ken C. Winters, comprises chapters by other experts hailing from a wide range of fields including psychology, epidemiology, medicine, and criminal justice. It is a balanced, data-driven volume highlighting new theory and clinical evidence pertaining to marijuana.
The volume features a comprehensive review of research into marijuana’s impact on public health, including how it affects cognitive and neurological functioning, its medical effects, suggested treatment approaches for marijuana use disorders, marijuana smoking and lung function, and marijuana-impaired driving.
Contemporary Health Issues on Marijuana is a must-have resource for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers.
Click here to order your copy today while supplies last!
Trainings and Speaking Engagements
SAM Trainings and speaking engagements are now available to organizations and corporations around the country who want to educate their communities and employees on all issues surrounding marijuana. For more information please email us at

About SAM

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states. For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

USA: Actual FDA Approved Cannabis Based Drug at $32K

Cannabis-Based Drug is Priced at $32,500

GW Pharmaceuticals PLC said  it plans to charge about $32,500 per patient annually in the U. S.

for its new treatment for rare forms of epilepsy, the first prescription drug derived from the marijuana plant.

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex, also known as cannabidiol, in June to

reduce seizures associated with forms of epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Davet syndrome, in patients 2 years of age and older.

GW Pharmaceuticals, based in the UK, makes cannabidiol from a proprietary strain of cannabis designed to maximize a therapeutic component while minimizing components that produce euphoria or a high.

Chief Executive Justin Gover said in an interview Wednesday that the company set the price to be in line with other brand-name epilepsy drugs, such as Lundbeck AS’s Onfi.  He noted that the FDA designated the product as “orphan drug”, meaning it treats rare conditions, and that some other orphan drugs carry higher prices. . . .

Out of pocket costs for patients taking Epidiolex could range from $5 to $10 a month for those in state Medicaid programs to as high as $200 a month for some private insurance plans. . . . Uninsured patients may qualify for receiving the drug free.

Jacqueline French, chief scientific officer of the Epilepsy Foundation, said there are low-cost generic epilepsy drugs on the market, but many patients with rare forms of the disease have tried them and the drugs didn’t help much.

Dr. French said Epidiolex improved symptoms for many children in clinical trials, and she is happy the price isn’t significantly higher.

The company expects to make the drug available after the U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency assigns it a controlled substance classification, a decision expected by late September.  GW Pharmaceuticals will distribute the drug through specialty pharmacies that ship directly to patients and caregivers.

Wall Street Journal, Aug. 9, 2018 – Business & Finance



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South East Asia: Meth Crisis Growing

Myanmar’s meth crisis reaches as far as Australia

July 2018

In Myanmar, the more conflict there is, the more drug production you’ll find.

And the trade has brought together unlikely friendships.

Last year, Myanmar soldiers drove 700,000 Rohingya from their homes in Rakhine state, often burning their villages to the ground. Now, some of the same soldiers are reportedly working with poverty-stricken refugees trafficking drugs.

The unlikely partnership speaks to the breadth of Myanmar’s drug crisis, with even a monk arrested last year in Rakhine State carrying 400,000 meth pills.

“No walk of life is untouched by the drug problem” says Troels Vester, UNODC Myanmar country director.

From jungle meth labs to Australia’s streets

Myanmar is the second largest producer of opium in the world, after Afghanistan. It’s also one of the largest producers of methamphetamine and much of it is making its way to Australian streets.

It doesn’t take much to produce “yaba” — small red pills made from meth and caffeine — just a small kitchen and a few chemicals.

Mobile labs can easily pack up and run, which Myanmar authorities say makes it difficult to track down labs.

“Myanmar can’t produce chemicals, but we are situated between China and India which are the biggest producers,” explains Police Colonel Zaw Lin Tun.

For complete story


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Global: Cannabis Bad for Forming Baby!

Perinatal Marijuana Use and the Developing Child

Lauren M. Jansson, MD1; Chloe J. Jordan, PhD2; Martha L. Velez, MD1

JAMA. Published online July 16, 2018. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.8401

Increasing public attention has recently been paid to the opioid epidemic and attendant effects on prenatally exposed infants and children.1 Current literature has emerged proposing marijuana as a safe alternative to opioids in addressing pain2 and cannabis legalization as a way to decrease opioid fatalities.3 As a result, perceptions of cannabis safety have increased, and the prevalence of marijuana use among pregnant women has expanded; past-month cannabis use among pregnant US women increased from 2.4% to 3.9% between 2002 and 2014.4 Further, cannabis potency has been substantially increasing over the past 4 decades in the United States, and will likely continue to do so as extraction procedures of active components improve.

Although cannabis does have known medical utility for some conditions, its associated acute and long-term psychoactive effects on brain function are also known. Expanding use of cannabis among pregnant and lactating women (as likely will occur with legalization) may lead to increased risk from fetal and child exposures if the teratogenic potential of cannabis remains underappreciated …The exogenous supply of cannabinoids resulting from THC exposure can adversely affect fetal growth as well as structural and functional neurodevelopment.6

Prenatal THC exposure has been documented to adversely affect infant neurobehavior and child development up through the teen years,5 and postnatal exposures may compound prenatally acquired deficits. Neurobehavioral effects associated with prenatal THC exposure range from dysregulated arousal and motor difficulties at birth to disturbed sleep, memory impairment, aggression, and other developmental and behavioral concerns in childhood.5

Despite these risks, it appears that clinicians are not addressing cannabis use during pregnancy or lactation; in one study of 74 lactation professionals, 85% encouraged breastfeeding among marijuana-using mothers.7 Most national breastfeeding guidelines (eg, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) have remained steadfast in recommending against cannabis use during lactation….

The medical community should advise pregnant women to avoid perinatal THC exposure and intervene for women needing treatment, for children at risk for neurobiological and developmental problems, or for dyads at risk for negative outcomes associated with an untreated substance use disorder. Advice from medical professionals should be consistent: pregnant and lactating women should be advised to avoid cannabis use, and women (and men) caring for developing children also should be advised to maintain abstinence. Treatment programs for women with CUD should be available and accessible, and gender and culturally specific, particularly during pregnancy and postpartum periods. Converging, systematic research is necessary at both the preclinical and clinical levels to address insufficient evidence regarding maternal cannabis use9 and to fully understand the short- and long-term effects of perinatal THC exposure, the effects of maternal cannabis use on fetal outcomes, and the consequences of polysubstance use in treatment and intervention efforts.

For complete article and download PDF, go to


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

USA: Michigan Health Potential Just Got a Boost!

Healthy and Productive Michigan Hires Talented
Field Director, Abu Edwards

Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action (SAM Action) and Michigan affiliateHealthy and Productive Michigan are proud to welcome Mr. Abu Edwards to the team as Michigan Field Director! Abu previously worked for Organizing for America (OFA), the community organizing project of the Democratic National Committee founded after the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the fight for public health. As one of five children raised by a single mother, Mr. Edwards is filled with a burning passion to help those who struggle in poverty by fighting for societal reforms that benefit disadvantaged communities.
Mr. Edwards joins Healthy and Productive Michigan‘s team of dynamic and talented individuals dedicated to leading the pushback against Big Marijuana’s attempt to expand into Michigan.

SAM Action Outreach Associate Will Jones Discusses Marijuana’s Harms on Communities of Color

At an event in Detroit’s Second Ebenezer Church, SAM Action Outreach Associate Will Jones joined others from Healthy and Productive Michigan to discuss the impact marijuana legalization would have on communities of color.  ”People often say we should regulate marijuana like alcohol and that’s actually what frightens me,” said Jones. “For many that live in neighborhoods like where I live, it’s not going to be a good thing. It’s going to have a negative health effect.” To see a video highlighting more about how marijuana legalization would harm these communities, click here.
To read more and see Mr. Jones’ interview with local news, click here.
Poll Finds Michigan Voters Opposed to Recreational Marijuana

According to a poll conducted by Target Insyght, Michigan voters would oppose legalization of recreational use of marijuana if the vote were held today.  ”These results are not surprising,” stated Scott Greenlee, President of Healthy and Productive Michigan.
“The more that people find out about  drug cartels buying houses in Colorado and California, and the fact that Michigan would become the marijuana capital of America (Michigan pot taxes would be the lowest in the country and the proposal would allow people to have more pot on them and in their homes than anywhere in the country), along with the business, law enforcement, and medical challenges it would cause, the more they are quick to oppose a massive commercialized drug-addiction industry.”
About Healthy and Productive Michigan
Healthy and Productive Michigan is an organization committed to stopping recreational marijuana in Michigan. To learn more, donate, or volunteer, please go to and find us on Facebook at Healthy and Productive Michigan


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Canada – Cannabis and Gastroschsis

The following graphs make plane the 12-fold variation in the published rate of gastroschisis across Canada, taken directly from the attached major review by the Canadian Government (see Table B7.2A/B on page 115)!!!!

Congenital anomalies – Canada

Naturally these crude rates do not adjust for maternal age which is also known to be important.

However it is noteworthy that all 9 provinces for which data exists do not intersect the confidence intervals for Nunavut!!!!

I think these trends are very striking and very noteworthy, and also very consistent with what is seen in other places internationally.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment