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


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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


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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


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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.


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New Speaker Added: Ben Cort

We are proud to announce that Mr. Ben Cort  has been added to the lineup of speakers at the 2018 SAM Summit . Ben is an excellent addition to the already star-studded event of the summer. The author of Weed Inc., an expert on addiction treatment, and member of the SAM Board of Directors, Ben will be present to speak on Colorado’s commercialization effects from first-hand experiences while living there.
Don’t forget, registration for the SAM Education Summit in Anaheim, CA on August 22 is now open to everyone! Supply is limited, click here to register now!
Featured Speakers :
  • Candace Lightner: Founder & CEO of WeSaveLives, Founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
  • James Francois-Hays & Charmaine O. Francois-Hays: Compton Community Organizers
  • Roneet Lev, MD FACEP: Chief, Emergency Department, Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego
  • Dana Stevens: Grassroots Coordinator, SAM & HighMeansDUI
  • Ben Cort, a Colorado-based leader in the field of substance abuse recovery
  • Bari K. Platter, MS, RN, PMHCN-BC: Clinical Nurse Specialist, the Center for Dependency, Addiction, and Rehabilitation – University of Colorado Health
  • Luke Niforatos, Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor, Smart Approaches to Marijuana
  • Kevin Sabet, PhD: Founder and President, Smart Approaches to Marijuana
Topics to be covered :
  • Lessons Learned from Marijuana Legalization
  • Community Activism – Fighting Back Big Marijuana
  • Federal Policy Update
  • Adverse Effects on Health Outcomes
  • Marijuana-impaired Driving
  • Marijuana Legalization’s Harms on Social Justice Efforts
SAM Summit Objectives:
  • To identify current evidence-based, specific diagnostic and treatment approaches, counseling skills and modalities, prevention techniques and other mechanisms to prevent, reduce and treat marijuana use, which will be successfully applied to the fields of mental health, behavioral health and addictive disorders.
  • To identify key policy discussions in the marijuana use disorder space.
  • To understand policy changes on the state and local level and recognize the evidence (or lack thereof) that contributes to practice.
Stay tuned for more updates on our lineup. There will be some pleasant surprises, too!
Act now to take advantage of discounted tickets to the event of the summer. Supplies are limited!

For the full agenda, click here!
If your organization would like to sponsor the summit,  email us at for more information on how to get involved.
The whole SAM team and I hope to see you there!
Sincerely yours,
Dr. Kevin Sabet
Founder and President
Smart Approaches to Marijuana

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


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Global: Cannabis Components Harm Embryos

Cannabis harmful to fish embryos, University of Alberta study finds

StarMetro Edmonton, Canada   July 2018

EDMONTON—An Edmonton researcher says people who are pregnant should take precautions with cannabis, after a study showed the plant’s compounds have harmful effects on developing zebrafish embryos.

The study led by Declan Ali, a professor in the University of Alberta’s biological sciences department, exposed fish embryos to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), which are the main chemicals in cannabis that affect cell receptors in the brain and body. For more


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Global: THC and Genetic Impact

THC exposure of human iPSC neurons impacts genes associated with neuropsychiatric disorders

Translational Psychiatry volume 8, Article number: 89 (2018)


There is a strong association between cannabis use and schizophrenia but the underlying cellular links are poorly understood. Neurons derived from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) offer a platform for investigating both baseline and dynamic changes in human neural cells. Here, we exposed neurons derived from hiPSCs to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and identified diagnosis-specific differences not detectable in vehicle-controls. RNA transcriptomic analyses revealed that THC administration, either by acute or chronic exposure, dampened the neuronal transcriptional response following potassium chloride (KCl)-induced neuronal depolarization. THC-treated neurons displayed significant synaptic, mitochondrial, and glutamate signaling alterations that may underlie their failure to activate appropriately; this blunted response resembles effects previously observed in schizophrenia hiPSC- derived neurons. Furthermore, we show a significant alteration in THC-related genes associated with autism and intellectual disability, suggesting shared molecular pathways perturbed in neuropsychiatric disorders that are exacerbated by THC.

In summary, we found significant associations of THC- related pathways to autism and intellectual disability. Furthermore, we have used a dynamic, human-relevant system to demonstrate a phenotypic link between THC treatment and schizophrenia. We hypothesize that THC exposure, by impacting many of the same synaptic and epigenetic pathways already associated with psychiatric disorders, may serve as an additive risk to existing genetic/ epigenetic risk factors.

For complete paper go to


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USA: Weed: Occupational Health & Safety – too stoned to care?

More employers dropping marijuana from drug tests

CHRISTOPHER RUGABER, Associated Press May 2, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — FPI Management, a property company in California, wants to hire dozens of people. Factories from New Hampshire to Michigan need workers. Hotels in Las Vegas are desperate to fill jobs.

Those employers and many others are quietly taking what once would have been a radical step: They’re dropping marijuana from the drug tests they require of prospective employees. Marijuana testing — a fixture at large American employers for at least 30 years — excludes too many potential workers, experts say, at a time when filling jobs is more challenging than it’s been in nearly two decades.

“It has come out of nowhere,” said Michael Clarkson, head of the drug testing practice at Ogletree Deakins, a law firm. “I have heard from lots of clients things like, ‘I can’t staff the third shift and test for marijuana.’”

Though still in its early stages, the shift away from marijuana testing appears likely to accelerate. More states are legalizing cannabis for recreational use; Michigan could become the 10th state to do so in November. Missouri appears on track to become the 30th state to allow medical pot use.

And medical marijuana users in Massachusetts , Connecticut and Rhode Island have won lawsuits in the past year against companies that rescinded job offers or fired workers because of positive tests for cannabis. Before last year, courts had always ruled in favor of employers.

The Trump administration also may be softening its resistance to legal marijuana. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta suggested at a congressional hearing last month that employers should take a “step back” on drug testing.

“We have all these Americans that are looking to work,” Acosta said. “Are we aligning our … drug testing policies with what’s right for the workforce?”

There is no definitive data on how many companies conduct drug tests, though the Society for Human Resource Management found in a survey that 57 percent do so. Nor is there any recent data on how many have dropped marijuana from mandatory drug testing.

But interviews with hiring executives, employment lawyers and agencies that help employers fill jobs indicate that dropping marijuana testing is among the steps more companies are taking to expand their pool of applicants to fill a near-record level of openings.

Businesses are hiring more people without high school diplomas, for example, to the point where the unemployment rate for non-high school graduates has sunk more than a full percentage point in the past year to 5.5 percent. That’s the steepest such drop for any educational group over that time. On Friday, the government is expected to report another robust jobs report for April.

Excluding marijuana from testing marks the first major shift in workplace drug policies since employers began regularly screening applicants in the late 1980s. They did so after a federal law required that government contractors maintain drug-free workplaces. Many private businesses adopted their own mandatory drug testing of applicants.

For complete article


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Anthony Bourdain. Kate Spade. You know their names and you know the unfortunate circumstances surrounding their untimely passing. Bourdain, 61, and Spade, 55, took their lives in suicides by hanging. Their deaths marked an immediate response from mental health advocates while pushing mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety to the forefront of the news cycle.

Prior to their deaths the CDC’s (Center for Disease Control), Vital Signs report found that suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state. In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age ten or older died by suicide. Even more alarming, suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death and is one of three leading causes that are on the rise. But what does this mean for states where drug use runs rampant? Colorado saw a 34.1 percent increase in suicides while Washington and Oregon saw increases by 18.8 percent and 28.2 percent. Take into consideration that these states have legalized marijuana for recreational and/or medicinal use and it’s clear that mind-altering drugs can aggravate those with and without mental health conditions.

Bourdain was a long-time pot smoker and made countless marijuana jokes, often alluding to smoking weed in the restaurants he visited. The “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” Twitter account once tweeted an elaborate illustration detailing “how to roll a joint.”

Did copious amounts of THC play a part in Bourdain’s death? At this point we don’t know for sure, but we do know that his weed addiction began in his younger years right before the publication of his best-selling book, “Kitchen Confidential,” in 2000. “Weed was a major expense. Before I reached the point where weed made me paranoid and agoraphobic, it was costing me a few hundred dollars a week,” the chef recalled. Fast forward to becoming a successful star, and Bourdain was using cocaine to offset the effects of weed. It’s important to note that cannabis is playing a role in many suicides by causing mental health disorders, including depression and psychosis. One has to wonder if a cocktail of drugs played a part in his untimely death.

For complete article


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CANADA: Sane Senator Speaks to Cannabis Chaos

Canada Great speech by Senator Anne Cools – Canadian Senate June 4 2018

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to third reading of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts.

I must inform you that I have absolutely no will to vote in favour of this bill, and I have not been prompted by any good reason as to why I should. In my view, this bill is unconscionable and morally objectionable. I have had great difficulty accepting the fact that Canada’s national government is leading on the legitimation of the frequent and recreational consumption of cannabis, known as marijuana, and does so despite the abundant and copious evidence in its possession that cannabis is a dangerous psychoactive narcotic.

The Government of Canada is well informed and fully aware that cannabis legalization is not solely a matter of the government’s presenting and providing cannabis as a harmless and healthy form of recreation and entertainment. The real issue here is that marijuana is, in fact, a mind-altering drug and is most harmful to the human mind, the brain, and the cognitive functions of its users, whether frequent or occasional, and most particularly to the minds of our youth.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines psychoactive as “affecting the mind or behavior.” In addition, The Oxford English Dictionary defines psychoactive as “Of a drug: that possesses the ability to affect the mind, emotions, or behaviour.”

Colleagues, I believe that the consequence of cannabis decriminalization and legalization is a much deeper issue than the properties of the drug itself. As Deputy Chair of our Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, I was struck and impressed by the quality and quantity of concerns raised by many witnesses regarding Canada’s obligations, conventions and international treaty agreements.

Mr. Bruno Gélinas-Faucher, a PhD candidate in International Law at Britain’s Cambridge University, testified before our Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, a committee which I must add is ably chaired by our honourable colleague, Senator Andreychuk, on March 29, 2018. He informed, as recorded in this committee’s report on Bill C-45, at page 11, that:

. . . this is not minor at all. Legalizing cannabis will lead to the violation of a fundamental principle that is at the very heart of the conventions.

Honourable senators, this witness, Mr. Gélinas-Faucher, cited documents from Global Affairs Canada, obtained through an access to information request. These documents recognized that the legalization of cannabis would have “a significant impact” on Canada’s obligations under the international drug control conventions.

Colleagues, I believe that this bill, which will make drastic and radical behavioural and social changes, has not been sufficiently and vigorously thought through, nor have our Canadian citizens and our international partners been sufficiently consulted.

Colleagues, testifying before the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, many witnesses raised the important question, being the extent of the impact of Canada’s legalization of cannabis on our population.

In a written brief to our Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, the quasi-judicial control body called the International Narcotics Control Board, which was established by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, and which is also responsible for the implementation of the United Nations drug conventions, wrote that Bill C-45 is “incompatible with the treaty obligations to which Canada is bound.”

The International Narcotics Control Board further noted, and is recorded in our Foreign Affairs Committee’s Report at page 11, that:

. . . it “views any legislative measure aimed at legalizing and regulating the use of controlled substances for non-medical purposes as a fundamental breach of the international treaty provisions to which State parties to the international drug control conventions are held.”

Accordingly, the International Narcotic Control Board further noted that:

. . . the legalization and regulation of cannabis for non-medical purposes . . . as foreseen in Bill C-45, cannot be reconciled with Canada’s international obligations . . . .

Colleagues, section 91 of our Constitution Act, 1867, is headed “Powers of the Parliament,” and informs us that the fundamental purpose of government is:

91. It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate and the House of Commons, to make Laws for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Canada, in relation to all Matters not coming within the Classes of Subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces; . . .

Honourable senators, I do not believe that Bill C-45 can possibly be for the peace, order and good government of Canada. As a senator, I feel morally and politically bound to use my intellect at all times. For many reasons, I have simply not been persuaded that Bill C-45 is legally, morally and spiritually sound. I sincerely believe and I know that psychoactive drugs are a mighty foe to our society and to our young people. I believe that I have a duty to uphold those whom I do not know, and the many who have no voice, to speak on these issues.

Colleagues, a worrisome characteristic of cannabis that should preoccupy us is that whereas the human body can process and excrete alcohol quickly, the human body is slow to discharge marijuana, which can reside and remain in the body for up to four weeks.

Throughout this debate, I have rarely heard this health question raised. For myself, this health fact this is not one that I can ignore. The slow exit of cannabis from the human person should be a source of concern to all senators.

I maintain that cannabis is a very dangerous drug, which many have been persuaded to think is less dangerous and less harmful than cocaine and heroin.

Honourable senators, I shall close with Saint Thomas Aquinas. (1900)

He said:

Every judgement of conscience, be it right or wrong, be it about things evil in themselves or morally indifferent, is obligatory, in such wise that he who acts against his conscience always sins.

Honourable senators, from where I look out at life and at these issues which deeply affect our youth and young people, I am convinced that Bill C-45 cannot possibly be for the peace, order and good government of Canada. I shall vote with my conscience.

I thank honourable senators for their attention in this very important matter.


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