USA: S.A.M. New Weed Commercialization Pushback

SAM Announces Local Control Resource Center to Aid Nationwide Pushback on Marijuana Commercialization

 

(Alexandria, Va) – Today, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the leading national non-profit working to oppose the expansion and normalization of the commercial marijuana industry, announced the rollout of the second wave of its initiative aiding communities looking to exert local control by banning commercial marijuana operations.
“Our ‘Towns and Cities Initiative’ arms local communities with the resources they need to keep their neighborhoods free of marijuana shops and large scale growing operations that normalize this addiction-for-profit industry,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of SAM and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “People living in a state that has either ‘legalized’ pot or is considering it should know they have the power to organize against Big Pot. Our Local Control Resource Center provides all the information needed to successfully accomplish this.”

As a part of its efforts to contain the spread of Big Marijuana’s corporate agenda, SAM has long aided local communities in local control efforts. In Michigan, more than 1,400 communities have opted out of legalization thanks in part to the continued effort of SAM-affiliate Healthy and Productive Michigan.

Most recently, the Illinois community of Highland voted down a ballot referendum to overturn a local ban on marijuana shops. Notably, the effort in Highland was included as part of the initial rollout of SAM’s “Towns and Cities Initiative.”
As it stands, the vast majority of communities in California, Colorado, and Michigan have banned marijuana industry activity, including storefronts, growing operations, public consumption sites, and delivery services. Many of these communities have utilized SAM’s resources to accomplish this.

 

Resources available on SAM’s Local Control Resource Center include:

• SAM’s Local Control Toolkit: “Using Local Control to Push Back on the Marijuana Industry”
• The comprehensive marijuana legalization impact report: “Lessons Learned from State Marijuana Legalization”
• Five comprehensive and easy to digest one-pager factsheets covering the effects of legalization in Colorado, the failures of the grand promises of sky-high marijuana revenues, the intersection of marijuana use and opioid abuse, and marijuana legalization’s social justice failures.
• Sample newspaper ads, mailers, and posters used from recent opt-out campaigns

for more go to https://learnaboutsam.org/

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UK: Big Tobacco 2.0 has Infiltrated Oxford University!

Tobacco cash behind cannabis research in Oxford

BMJ 2020; 368  (Published 18 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m1044

A research collaboration that includes Oxford University is taking funding from the tobacco industry for research into the medicinal properties of cannabis. Jonathan Gornall continues his investigation into the links between big business and the push to widen cannabis access for patients.

The BMJ has uncovered links between companies, campaign groups and individuals lobbying for wider patient access to cannabis for medical use and a parallel campaign to create a lucrative recreational market for the drug in the UK. The first article focused on the links between commercial organisations that are seeking new markets for recreational cannabis and patient groups and researchers.1 Here, we look at the involvement of the tobacco industry in funding research into medicinal cannabis, and the complex web of connections linked to both medicinal and recreational use of cannabis.

Gavin Sathianathan is typical of the new breed of cannabis entrepreneur. The 41 year old is founder and main shareholder of Alta Flora, a private limited London based company, incorporated in May 2018, specialising in “wellness products from natural sources.”2 He is also a trustee of the United Patients Alliance (UPA), a patient led medical cannabis support group founded in 2014 to “safeguard the patients’ voice in advancing legal access to cannabis therapeutics.”3 The alliance is also supporting Project Twenty21, which aims to recruit and prescribe cannabis to 20 000 patients to create “the largest body of evidence for the effectiveness and tolerability of medical cannabis … to demonstrate to policymakers that medical cannabis should be as widely available, and affordable, as other approved medicines.”4

Another of Sathianathan’s recent roles was as chief executive of Forma Holdings, a cannabis investment fund launched in 2016 with offices in London and Los Angeles. Together with Neil Mahapatra, a contact from his student days at Harvard who is a managing partner at London based private equity and venture capital firm Kingsley Capital Partners, Sathianathan is also a co-founder and director of Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies.

In 2017 Kingsley announced that it was founding Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies and, in collaboration with Oxford University, investing up to £10m (€11m; $13m) in a “ground-breaking cannabinoid biomedicine research programme … to investigate the role of cannabinoids in biology and medicine” and develop “safe and effective prescription medicines to treat serious and life-threatening human diseases and conditions,” including cancer, pain, neurological conditions, and autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases.5

But in June 2018 Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies announced it had attracted total additional funding of about $10m from two potentially controversial sources with investment interests that are not limited to the medicinal cannabis market.

One was Casa Verde Capital, a US venture capital firm co-founded in 2015 by Snoop Dogg, the US rap artist and high profile exponent of recreational cannabis use. 6 Casa Verde is focused exclusively on cannabis which, it believes, “will be among the most compelling investment themes of our generation.”7

The identity of the other investor—tobacco company Imperial Brands (formerly Imperial Tobacco)—will ring alarm bells in the public health community. In a press release in July 2018 announcing it was taking an equity stake in Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies, Imperial’s chief development officer, Matthew Phillips, said cannabinoid products had “significant potential and our investment enables Imperial to support OCT’s important research while building a deeper understanding of the medical cannabis market.”

Recreational market

Asked by The BMJ whether it had any plans to invest in any future recreational cannabis market in the UK, a spokesperson for Imperial dismissed this as “a hypothetical question.” He added: “Recreational cannabis is not legal in the UK and we have no plans. Any potential for changes to its legal status is a matter for the government, and we don’t have a view on this.”

A spokesperson for Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies told The BMJ that the company “would not look to enter the recreational market” should restrictions in the UK be eased. But he added: “It is worth noting that while neither [co-founder] Neil [Mahapatra] nor OCT advocate in support of recreational cannabis … Kingsley Capital Partners has founded other businesses that are active in the cannabinoid market.”

However, in an interview in the Times newspaper in 2018 Mahapatra dismissed criticism of a healthcare company accepting money from a tobacco firm. “From my perspective,” he was quoted as saying, “any money that’s not going into developing cigarettes and is going into good things, such as research that could help people, is great.” The medical arguments for cannabis, he added, were “overwhelming or, at least, have the potential to be overwhelming.” He added he was “50/50” on whether cannabis should be legalised for recreational use.8

Marta Di Forti, a psychiatrist at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, who last year published research on the relation between cannabis use and psychotic disorder,9 called for more independent funding for cannabis research.

“It is always very dangerous to forget history and we are now seeing the sort of connections that we have seen happening before,” she said—and the involvement of tobacco company Imperial was “dreadful and shocking.”

“We are lacking in funding for cannabis research from independent organisations such as the Wellcome Trust or the Medical Research Council. The result will be that more and more you are going to see even prestigious and reputable academic institutions accepting money from some of these companies.”

For complete story https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m1044

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GLOBAL: Parent Movement Gaining Momentum

PARENT MOVEMENT 2.0 LAUNCHES, STARTS “I’M IN” PLEDGE

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic, and the recent vaping crisis, parents are uniting in Parent Movement 2.0 via the “I’m in” pledge, an instrument designed to create an online community intent on reducing the use of marijuana, alcohol, nicotine and other drugs among kids. These drugs can hurt and kill. “Because it attacks the lungs, COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke or vape tobacco and/or marijuana,” warns Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Drugs are different from what today’s parents may have known when they were young, and how kids use drugs today is also changing.  Via an email campaign, Parent Movement 2.0 helps today’s parents become more drug and alcohol savvy – providing ways to connect with other parents to get educated around issues of teenage substance use. Parents join Parent Movement 2.0 by reading and signing the “I’m in” Pledge, the same way parents joined the first parent movement.

Parent Movement 2.0 is patterned after the original parent movement that reduced illicit drug use among high school seniors by 66 percent – from 39 percent in 1979 to 14 percent in 1992. Sue Rusche and Carla Lowe, mothers who helped lead the effort in 1979 and who now lead National Families in Action (NFIA) and Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana (AALM), are helping launch the new movement.

Drug use up again

Since 1992, adolescent drug use has moved back up. Today, nearly one-fourth (22 percent) of 12th graders use marijuana, an 86 percent increase in marijuana use alone. Adolescent cigarette use is virtually nil, but vaping nicotine has skyrocketed, and alcohol continues to be the national drug of choice among 12th graders, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) study, Monitoring the Future.

“Parents need to get up to date. Rivaled only by their children’s peers, parents have the greatest influence over a child’s decision to use any drug,” says Debbie Berndt, director of the new movement. “Not every parent will be successful in helping their kids choose not to use, but every parent certainly is the first line of defense, and they become the first responders if their child begins to use.”

Take the “I’m in” Pledge

Surgeon General VADM Jerome Adams warned in August that no amount of marijuana is safe during adolescence or during pregnancy. He added that recent increases in both marijuana potency and in access to the drug, along with misperceptions about the safety of marijuana, endanger children and youth, the country’s most precious resources.

“We’re excited that through Parent Movement 2.0 and the “I’m in” Pledge, parents now have a process to get quickly educated, to understand the drugs their kids face every day, and to learn how to take action to protect them,” says Carla Lowe, President of AALM.

Addiction industries target youth

The well-funded marijuana, alcohol, and nicotine industries are driving the narrative in our country through lobbyists, PR firms, and an increasing number of current and past legislators on payroll. Parents have a difficult time sorting through what might be true or not. Kids, who are the target audience for many industry marketing dollars, become unwitting industry mouthpieces, especially with their parents. Parents frequently hear from their kids, “vaping is safe; it’s no big deal mom” and “marijuana is safer for me than alcohol.” On no scale of measurement are these claims true.

“Parents get duped by the narrative and the same incessant media beat that we all do,” says Sue Rusche, president and CEO of NFIA. “The increasingly permissive national narrative on drug use, legalization, and medical claims that have not been vetted by the FDA drive drug ‘normalization’ at the cost of our kid’s mental health and well-being. We know so much today, more than even ten years ago, about adolescent neuroscience, as well as how drugs can change the function and structure of the brain, especially kids’ brains.”

Few parents today are aware of this new knowledge, which compounds this normalizing affect.

“It’s time for parents to re-engage,” says Ms. Berndt. “We invite them ‘all in’ to Parent Movement 2.0.”

Parents can read and sign the “I’m in” Pledge to become part of the new Parent Movement here.

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GLOBAL: Parent Power to Reduce Demand Will Work, if Political Will Comes Behind!

THE PARENTS SUCCEEDED BEFORE; WE CAN DO IT AGAIN

Published on Parents Movement 2.0.  Most parents of teens today don’t realize there was a massive parent movement (1979-1992) that influenced Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign of their youth. Prior to the slogan in the early 1980s, those parents were taking very practical steps to change the local environments in which their kids grew up – reducing access and visibility of pot and drug paraphernalia and offering other parents at the time a way to think about teen drug and alcohol use and team up against it.

In 1976 in Atlanta, Keith Schuchard and her husband gave a backyard birthday party for their oldest daughter turning 13. At the party, the children were found to be using marijuana, PCP, and high-test alcohol. Shocked, the Schuchards called the parents of the party invitees to a parent meeting in their home the next day, creating the nation’s first Parent Peer Group. Ms. Schuchard founded the Parents’ Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE) at Georgia State University.

Parent Peer Groups addressed the transitions children make from neighborhood elementary schools, where most families know each other, to middle schools and later high schools, where neighborhood support can be gone altogether. Parents reached out to the parents of their children’s new best friends at each transition. Together, they explored common values and established family expectations they could all agree on to protect the four or five children in this new friendship group. These parents supported each other as they jointly steered their children through the pitfalls and temptations of adolescence and endeavored to raise healthy kids who avoided the use of any addictive drugs,  Also, there were fewer addiction treatment options in the 1980s. Parents with a child actively addicted to marijuana or other drugs could find understanding and not scorn among their parent peer group.

A coast-to-coast movement

In 1977, in Atlanta, in the same community where the birthday party took place the year before, Sue Rusche noticed several shops introducing lines of drug paraphernalia, which served as the marketing arm of the drug culture, targeting adolescents and young adults. She reached out to other parents and community leaders to form National Families in Action (NFIA), the nation’s first Parent Community Group, which led the effort across the US to seek laws banning the sale of drug paraphernalia and opposing marijuana legalization. Interestingly, the first drug legalization organization, NORML, filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the laws banning paraphernalia but ultimately lost that battle when the US Supreme Court upheld parents’ right to raise children in healthy, non-exploitative environments.

At the same time on the west coast, Carla Lowe was struck by survey results published by the PTA of the high school that her children attended. The survey said the number-one parent concern was “the increasing use of marijuana among their high school students.” She was also seeing “head shops” in her neighborhood. Carla sponsored a ballot initiative to rid California of drug paraphernalia and later founded Californians Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM, now Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana or AALM).

Parents from both coasts and other parts of the US met each other in Atlanta in 1980 at the annual Pride (Parents’ Resource Institute for Drug Education) Conference of the time, where they founded the National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth (NFP) to represent parental interests in Washington DC. NFP became the national voice of a movement that was working.

Success — youth drug use plummeted

Over the next decade (1979-1992) illicit drug use among 12th graders decreased 66%

The first two directors of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) credit this Parent Movement (1.0) with reducing past-month illicit drug use among American adolescents and young adults by nearly two-thirds between 1979 and 1992. The graph above shows this reduction among high school seniors whose daily marijuana use fell from one in 11 to one in 50 (Monitoring the Future).

The first two directors of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) credit this Parent Movement (1.0) with reducing past-month illicit drug use among American adolescents and young adults by nearly two-thirds between 1979 and 1992. The graph above shows this reduction among high school seniors whose daily marijuana use fell from one in 11 to one in 50 (Monitoring the Future).

The parent groups started to dissolve for a variety of reasons.  Things like… although a completely non-partisan or certainly bi-partisan issue – marijuana affects the brain health of both liberal and conservative teens equally – the parent groups became aware that they were largely tied to the GOP.  As US politics started to wane back to the left in the early 1990s, support and understanding of the issues around marijuana drifted.  Also, one “ages out” of being a parent of teens.  After high school graduation, parent focus tends to shift to many other things.  Some succession planning efforts were attempted in the late 1990s/early 2000s.  They were even quite successful, but a lack of funding made it difficult to keep them in place for long.

What happened in the mid-1990s

At the same time and unfortunately, in the mid-1990s, a handful of billionaires began pouring money into NORML and other drug legalization organizations. All involved began to believe that positioning marijuana as “medicine” might be an important step on the path towards full recreational legalization. It seems they were right. They strategically chose states with ballot initiatives, wrote laws legalizing marijuana for medical use, bought signatures to place these initiatives on the ballot, and misled voters about the true intent of these laws. The first state law allowing medical marijuana was passed by California voters in 1996. Illicit drug use, especially marijuana use, began to rise again.

California’s medical marijuana law launched a commercial marijuana industry that continued to pour money into lobbying other state legislators and state elections – quite successfully. As of early 2019, 31 states have laws allowing marijuana for medical use. Then in 2010, this cadre of pro-pot organizations and the billionaires that back them attempted to legalize marijuana for recreational use in California.

They would not be successful in California until 2016, but they did convince Colorado and Washington State voters to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, then Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC in 2014, California, Maine, Nevada, and Massachusetts in 2016, and Michigan and Vermont in 2018. These nine states have the highest rates of marijuana use in the nation – and in history. In some, nearly 40 percent of 18 to 25 year-olds have used the drug in the past month, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Until 2019, this had all been done through direct contact with voters in states with initiative processes that can be easily manipulated by special interests. The Marijuana Industry was successful in finally convincing a legislature to inflict the harms of recreational pot on its citizenry in Illinois in 2019.

Please pay attention to announcements from Parents Movement 2.0.

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GLOBAL: Weed Wasting in a Pandemic Panic – If Best Health Practice Wasn’t Already Shot!

COVID-19 + POT: LUNG ISSUES, SUPPRESSION OF IMMUNE SYSTEM, ER PROBLEMS

Hundreds of businesses in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.  However, “medical” marijuana stores remain open as officials revise public health orders to include cannabis as an essential medicine.

Who is Vulnerable to Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Is keeping marijuana stores open a good policy? The science shows that it is not.

The Centers for Disease Control states that the people at high risk of getting very sick or dying from COVID-19 include:

1. Older adults

2. People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:

Heart disease

Diabetes

Lung disease

Asthma – People with asthma may be at higher risk of getting very sick. COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), cause an asthma attack, and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease.

What does the science say about marijuana use and impaired immune function or lung and respiratory problems?

A comprehensive study of the dangers of marijuana smoke by the Hazard Assessment Branch of the California Environmental Protection Agency concluded in part that: Marijuana smoke is genotoxic, immunosuppressive, and can alter endocrine function. Studies of 9-THC and other cannabinoids provide evidence for alterations of multiple cell signaling pathways, in endocrine function, and suppression of the innate and adaptive immune response. Prolonged exposures to marijuana smoke in animals and humans cause proliferative and inflammatory lesions in the lung.

Immune function impairment

One of the most serious findings in marijuana research was the effect of marijuana on various immune functions. Cellular immunity is impaired, pulmonary immunity is impaired, and impaired ability to fight infection is now documented in humans. This impairment leaves the patient unable to fight certain infections and fatal diseases. The potential for these complications exists in all forms of administration of marijuana. Habitual smoking of marijuana has a number of effects on the respiratory and immune systems, including alterations in lung function, increased prevalence of acute and chronic bronchitis and airway injury.

A study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine states: “We conclude that smoking marijuana, regardless of tetrahydrocannabinol content, results in a substantially greater respiratory burden of carbon monoxide and tar than smoking a similar quantity of tobacco.”

Guy Cabral, author of the book, Marihuana and Medicine, pp. 317-325 concludes in the chapter on marihuana and the immune system:  “Marihuana has been shown to decrease host resistance to bacterial, protozoan, and viral infections in experimental animal models and in vitro systems. Recent immuno epidemiological studies suggest that marihuana may also influence the outcome of viral infections in humans. The main substance in marihuana that exerts these immuno depressive effects is its major psychoactive constituent Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).”

Marijuana Contamination Poses Serious Risks to Health

Contaminants of marijuana smoke include bacteria, molds and fungi. Those at particular risk for the development of infection due to inhaling marijuana smoke are people with impaired immunity. For example, Aspergillus is a group of molds that can cause allergy-type illnesses to life-threatening generalized infections. Aspergillus is found in marijuana and can cause illness in marijuana users. This is thought to be due to the direct inhalation of fungal spores that are present on the surface of the plant. The heating of cannabis buds may not be sufficient for sterilization and so users (particularly those with compromised immune systems) are potentially exposed to life threatening pulmonary infection.

study done at the University of California, Davis, discovered that medical marijuana from 20 dispensaries contained multiple fungal and bacterial contaminants that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections among marijuana users. Smoking, vaping or inhaling aerosolized marijuana is a serious health risk, especially for people with chronic conditions or other conditions requiring immunosuppressing therapies. The study revealed a multitude of microorganisms, many of which are known causes of serious lung infections, including Cryptococcus, Mucor, and Aspergillus fungi.

The authors of the study concluded:  “Our results suggest that handling marijuana in any form might expose the patient to a number of both bacterial and fungal pathogens well known to cause serious infections in the immunocompromised population. Smoking or vaporization provides a direct portal of entry into the terminal bronchioles and alveoli. Moreover, the recovery of these organisms in a symptomatic patient would be unlikely to initiate a search for unusual exposures. Aspergillus and other molds may therefore be attributed to breakthrough infection, and recovery of Gram-negative bacilli would be attributed to healthcare-associated pneumonia and/or a failure of prophylaxis.”

Vaping

Use of vaping devices such as those used for vaping marijuana cause a serious, potentially fatal lung disease called Vaping Associated Lung Injury (EVALI).  Most of the sick EVALI patients used THC extract products in their vaping devices.  THC is the addictive psychoactive mind-altering compound of marijuana that produces the “high.” Having vaping lung injury will hurt your chances of survival if you get CONVID-19.

From: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html; https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/balanced/202001/vaping-and-evali (Posted Jan 31, 2020); https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/products-ingredients-components/vaporizers-e-cigarettes-and-other-electronic-nicotine-delivery-systems-ends

This may be especially true with young people who vape marijuana.

Can marijuana use open your body up to a virus?

study from Harvard Medical School showed that marijuana use opens the door for the virus that causes Kaposi’s Sarcoma. This is a serious life-threatening problem for people with HIV infection. The major active component of marijuana could aid the Kaposi’s sarcoma virus in infecting cells and multiplying, according researchers. They report that low doses of THC, equivalent to that in the bloodstream of an average marijuana smoker, could be enough to facilitate infection of skin cells and could even foster malignancy. “These findings raise some serious questions about using marijuana, in any form, if you have a weakened immune system,” said lead study author Jerome E. Groopman, M.D., professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “

Damage to Our Emergency Health Care System

In addition to the damage to marijuana users that results from marijuana use, marijuana user causes problems for our health care system, especially the emergency medicine system. We do not need more overloading of our health care system.

Emergency rooms in states that have legalized marijuana have to deal with Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. CHS is a condition with recurrent bouts of severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration. It can lead users to make frequent trips to the emergency room, but can be resolved when a person stops using marijuana. CHS which can result in kidney failure.

Marijuana users flood the Emergency medicine system when users become paranoid and psychotic.

Marijuana related emergency room visits by Colorado teens is substantially on the rise. They see more kids with psychotic symptoms and other mental health problems and chronic vomiting due to marijuana use.

Marijuana Exposures Increase

The rate of marijuana exposures among children under the age of six increased by 610% in the “medical” marijuana states according to a study published in Clinical Pediatrics. The data comes from the National Poison Data System. 75% percent of the children ingested edible marijuana products such as marijuana-infused candy. Clinical effects include drowsiness or lethargy, ataxia [failure of muscle coordination], agitation or irritability, confusion and coma, respiratory depression, and single or multiple seizures.

In Colorado one in six infants and toddlers hospitalized for lung inflammation are testing positive for marijuana exposure. This has been a 100% increase since legalization. Non-white kids are more likely to be exposed than white kids.

Conclusion

In these times of peril from infection by the COVID-19 virus, it’s  unwise to use marijuana.  Anyone at risk of getting COVID-19 should not use it as a medicine. Marijuana use hurts the users and contributes to overloading our health care system.

See also: www.civel.org, submissions to the FDA,” The Failures of the States to Regulate Marijuana, Studies Show That Marijuana Products Have High Levels of Contaminants Including Pesticides, Fungus and Heavy Metals and Solvents”

From our website, there’s much more medical documentation on the dangers of marijuana.

For more information, go to the website, www.aalm.info  

Contact  Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana

For More go ‘Weed sick? Time to Get Clean’ 

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Singapore: New Best Practice Health – How NOT to Say Yes to Meth – Movie Campaign!

New interactive film by Royston Tan aims to spark conversations on meth abuse among youth

SINGAPORE – The National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) is officially launching its anti-drug campaign by showcasing Singapore’s first interactive short film.

Titled, HIGH, the film by award-winning director Royston Tan, will not be a “preachy” movie. It will allow the audience to make choices via an application and decide on the outcome for “Nick”, the main protagonist played by Shawn Thia.

Unlike past anti-drug messaging, HIGH has four endings, said Mr He Shuming, the film’s scriptwriter.

But Mr He, 34, said making the movie was an emotional journey as the characters were based on real life examples of people that he and Mr Tan knew.

When the pair were approached to produce the film in the middle of last year by Dentsu Aegis Network, which promotes the anti-drug campaign in partnership with NCADA, they agreed because both had friends who were addicted to meth.

Said Mr Tan, 43: “I’m not going to stand on the moral high ground but I do not want to lose another friend. I have already lost one. I don’t know if he’s alive or dead, or just totally disappeared (because of his meth addiction).”

The decision to feature an interactive film was considered by the authorities as something bold that would be more effective in engaging youth who may be susceptible to meth abuse, said Mr Firdaus Daud, council member of NCADA.

Figures showed meth users accounted for 73 per cent of new drug abusers arrested by the Central Narcotics Bureau in 2019. About 61 per cent of them were under 30 years old. In total, 3,524 abusers were arrested – the highest number in six years.

A scene from HIGH where a drug party is in full swing and the characters are feeling the effects of the drugs taken at the party. PHOTO: NCADA

Referring to the pre-launch screening of HIGH at ITE College East, ITE College Central and Singapore Polytechnic in January, Mr Firdaus said: “It has to draw their attention, engage them with a story, and through that the natural conversations will flow. That’s what we found out when we went to the schools.”

After the screening, the 5,162 students participated in a Safe Zone Discussion (SZD) where students shared freely their concerns about drug abuse.

At SZDs, facts about drugs are presented – separating fact from fiction, said Mr Firdaus.

At one session, Mr Firdaus said he was struck by one student’s experience. He shared that his failure to help a drug abuser friend resulted in the friend dying from a drug overdose.

Netizens will be able to ask questions anonymously about the short film or drug abuse through the high.sg micro site.

Like everything in life, decisions must be made, said Mr He.

“It’s about ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” said Mr He. “Every choice has a consequence. Ultimately you have nobody else to blame but yourself (if you make the wrong decisions).”

The NCADA’s anti-drug campaign kicks off on Thursday (March 19).

Correction note: An earlier version of this article said the film has five endings. The organisers have clarified that it should be four.

For complete story https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/new-interactive-film-by-royston-tan-aims-to-spark-conversations-on-meth-abuse

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UK: Chem-sex, Rape and the Tragedy of Drug Fueled Violence – The Answer is Clear, or is it?

The UK Is Ramping Up Its Efforts To Tackle A Wave Of Chemsex Crimes

Exclusive: For the first time, criminal justice, health, and LGBT organisations will all join together to cope with the rise of serious offending surrounding chemsex.

by Patrick Strudwick   BuzzFeed UK LGBT Editor

The British authorities have launched a nationwide, multiagency effort to tackle a growing chemsex crime wave by escalating intelligence sharing and information gathering between criminal justice, health, and community organisations, BuzzFeed News can reveal.

“Project Sagamore” was unveiled at the first national conference for chemsex and crime, just weeks after the conviction of the most prolific rapist in legal history. The conference also announced a new definition of chemsex in the context of offending — beyond the general description of predominantly men who have sex with each other on particular drugs such as crystal meth and GHB/GBL.

The agencies involved will span not only policing, probation and criminal justice — who are already working together — but also health, sexual health, and community sector groups. This broadening response is an attempt to embolden efforts to curb criminality, protect victims, and reduce harm to health without alienating the communities affected.

Over the last three years, BuzzFeed News has exposed how chemsex is impacting on gay men, unleashing a hidden epidemic of sexual violence, enforced drugging, and deaths. Criminal justice services have been scrambling to cope with a surge in crimes committed by gay men in chemsex-related settings.

The launch of this collaboration follows the jailing in January of Reynhard Sinaga for 136 rapes, for which he used GHB to drug his male victims, many of them heterosexual. The case was the latest in a string of high-profile convictions involving chemsex settings or chemsex drugs.

Serial killer Stephen Port was jailed for life in 2016 for murdering four young men with GHB. Stefano Brizzi, who was gay and had a meth addiction, was sentenced in 2017 for the murder and partial cannibalisation of police officer Gordon Semple — before killing himself. And Gerald Matovu, Stephen Port’s dealer, was imprisoned in 2019 along with his lover accomplice Brandon Dunbar for a string of thefts and a murder in which GHB/GBL was used as the weapon.

At the unveiling of the new initiative, a new, broader definition of chemsex was revealed for criminal justice agencies to identify all the possible situations in which chemsex-related crimes might occur.

It details an array of circumstances: “[in] which a person engages in sex with another (or others), using drugs or during sexual activity, to sustain, enhance, disinhibit, or facilitate the sexual experience”. It includes examples of some of the known crimes: “murder, serious physical assaults, rape, distribution of indecent images, poisoning, theft, blackmail, drug supply, harassment, robbery and a wide range of other offences”.

It also isolates typical scenarios in which “arrangements are usually made via a geosocial networking (hook up) app such as Grindr”, before explaining that “there is not one homogenous chemsex context, nor one set of rules that govern it … a chemsex party could be a single hook up, may exist in a same sex relationship or occur at a chillout of chemsex party. There is also a distinct role for chemsex contexts in the virtual world with participants partaking online, for example in chat rooms or through live-streaming or the sharing of images.”

The definition also broadens who could be caught up in chemsex crimes, spelling out that the “majority of those that participate … are MSM [men who have sex with men]”. This includes gay and bisexual men, but also those who do not identify as either but who “on occasions and in specific situations do have sex with other men (eg male sex workers, males in prison)”.

Victims can also be entirely heterosexual — as with those Sinaga targeted — and not have a history of drug use, such as Eric Michels, whom Matovu murdered.

Expanding what constitutes a chemsex setting is an attempt to increase the capacity of police, justice, and health agencies to identity cases, better understand and better respond to them. The goal, said a representative of the Metropolitan police, is to reduce harm and vulnerability.

About 40% of chemsex-related crimes, however, involve sexual violence. A joint investigation last year by BuzzFeed News and Channel 4’s Dispatches found that over a quarter (28%) of gay and bisexual men who have taken GHB/GBL have been sexually assaulted.

But the reach of chemsex is wider than ever, the conference heard, with women now being affected and victimised. In some cases this occurs when predominantly heterosexual men in relationships with women do sex work on the side, during which they are obliged to take meth or GHB/GBL, and return home high and ashamed of themselves, lashing out on their female partner.

A range of health organisations, including Public Health England as well as LGBT health charities will also contribute to Project Sagamore given the implications of chemsex to physical, sexual and mental health. This includes an increased risk of STIs, drug-induced paranoia, hospital admission for overdose, and injuries sustained from “slamming” — intravenous injections.

For complete article https://www.buzzfeed.com/patrickstrudwick/chemsex-crimewave-uk-escalates-response

One thing we are not permitted to do is challenge this utterly dysfunctional, dangerous and now brutally criminal behaviour – as it might ‘stigmatize’ the drug user?  

What is so breathtakingly obvious, is that if you remove drug use from these scenarios then violent, abusive and coercive behaviours will plummet!

However, continuing to claim the faux ‘right’ to engage in illicit drug taking for hedonist purposes and to ‘normalize’ (thus attempt to legitimize) such self and others harming conduct, is what will continue to foster and escalate much of this disturbing, but not unsurprising outcomes.  Where is voice of outrage from the so called ‘Harm Reductionist’ in this space? (Don’t Legalize Drugs)

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USA: Cannabis Commercialization Crucifying our Kids!

 

As if one needed another reason to stand against marijuana commercialization, a recent study published in the journal Addiction builds upon the mountain of evidence that the reckless, drastic policy change results in negative outcomes for public health.

The study finds that marijuana commercialization was associated with a 67-77% increase in marijuana exposure calls to poison control centers, with a dramatic rise in exposures among those below the age of 21.

According to the study, had all 50 states and DC commercialized marijuana in 2017, the total number of exposures nationwide would have risen by more than 60%.

Also according to the study, marijuana commercialization increased the availability and accessibility of marijuana among minors.

In its conclusion, the study’s author argues that more should be done to aid prevention efforts, with a specific focus on discouraging use of the drug among minors, and combat marketing of the drug.

The fact is, our nation is facing a multitude of issues that threaten public health…

…and with the potential for increased harms to public health and safety, whether it be dangerous exposure of highly potent marijuana to minors, a continuation of the marijuana vaping crisis, or increased impaired traffic fatalities, the risks of expanding this industry are much too great.

Click the link below to send a message to your representative in Congress and urge them to oppose any and all efforts that would benefit the marijuana industry at the expense of public health and safety.

<<Click here to tell your legislators to reject marijuana legalization>>

Nothing can be more important than promoting the health and safety of our fellow Americans. Thank you for all that you are doing on that front.

Stay safe,

Dr. Kevin Sabet – President & CEO                                                                                                      Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM)

For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit www.learnaboutsam.org.

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Global: The ‘Mile HIGH” Club Just Got Way More Dangerous! Who Do You Want Flying Your Plane?

What’s even more frightening is that Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines, is one of the worlds highest profile proponents for legalizing WEED!

Do the math people! Do the math!

 

Report examines pilot fatalities, illicit drugs

BY DOUGLAS CLARK  |   MARCH 12, 2020

A recently released National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report maintains the prevalence of prescription, over-the-counter, and illicit drugs found in fatally injured pilots has increased since its last focus in 2014.

The findings determined of 952 pilots fatally injured between 2013 and 2017 with available toxicology tests results, 28 percent tested positive for at least one potentially impairing drug, which authorities said represented a rise above the 23 percent figure in the 2014 study. Additionally, investigators indicated 15 percent were positive for at least one drug connected to a potentially impairing condition – an increase of 3 percentage points from the 2014 study.

Researchers also revealed an increase in the percentage of fatally injured pilots testing positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in marijuana, with the NTSB concluding evidence of that drug use presents a safety hazard ineffectively addressed and called for the FAA to inform pilots marijuana use by airmen is prohibited.

For complete story https://transportationtodaynews.com/news/17327-report-examines-pilot-fatalities-illicit-drugs/

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Global: Weed is Addictive and More and More are Paying a ‘High’ Price for ‘Harmless’ Hash!

Think marijuana isn’t addictive? Former users say think again

By John Keilman, Chicago Tribune, March 8, 2020,      

A person smokes marijuana at a private residence in the West Loop on Jan. 25, 2020 in Chicago. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

CHICAGO — In the basement of the Mustard Seed, a red brick building in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood that hosts dozens of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings each week, a handful of people gathered on a recent night to discuss a different addiction.

They were members of Marijuana Anonymous, a rapidly expanding 12-step organization that serves those struggling with a drug that is now legal in Illinois and 10 other states, and that many people view as innocuous.

“When you’re in rehab for weed, you don’t say you’re in rehab for weed,” said Robb, a 30-year-old who lives in Chicago. “Half the people will laugh you out of the room.”

But treatment specialists say marijuana’s addictive potential is well-established. About 1 in 10 people who use the drug end up with the condition known as cannabis use disorder, meaning they continue to use compulsively even when it messes up their lives.

The Chicago Tribune spoke with people in recovery from marijuana addiction about those problems, the complexities of treatment and the reluctance of others to recognize the seriousness of the habit (as is customary for participants in 12-step programs, they asked to be identified only by their first names or no name at all).

Guillermo, a 19-year-old Chicagoan, said the first time he got stoned “felt like I was a piece of butter melting on a stack of pancakes.” But the rapture faded quickly, and smoking weed soon became a joyless reflex akin to brushing his teeth in the morning, he said.

Potent marijuana frequently put him into hangoverlike “kush comas,” he said, and sapped his motivation and alertness so thoroughly that his mother threatened to put him into a mental hospital.

“I was just stoned all the time,” he said. “I was barely even there.”

Dr. Itai Danovitch, chair of the department of psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles and a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, said the hallmarks of cannabis use disorder are similar to those of other addictions.

People become physically dependent on the drug, needing more to achieve the same effect, and they suffer withdrawal symptoms if they stop using. They lose control over their consumption. And they keep going even after their use causes them to suffer adverse consequences.

Robb entered a similar program and said it helped him get through surprisingly intense withdrawal symptoms.

“I got headaches, dry heaves, extreme emotions and mood swings,” he said. “The first two weeks were bad. THC kills your ability to dream, so I was dreaming again for the first time in four years. My mind was catching up on everything I had repressed. Many of the reasons I started getting high in the first place were coming out in my dreams.”

Some experts question the efficacy of 12-step programs, which, given their anonymity and fluctuating membership, are notoriously hard to study. But Danovitch said they have proved helpful for many people, even if they can’t be considered formal treatment.

“We think of it as a community intervention,” he said. “It’s undoubtedly powerful and effective, but not everyone is willing to participate in it.”

Rick, 54, said Marijuana Anonymous helped him give up the drug when he started attending meetings about a decade ago. Since then, he said, the sense of fellowship has provided strong motivation to stay sober.

“These meetings have given me an accountability I could never maintain on my own,” he said. “They just keep me focused.”

For complete article https://www.columbian.com/news/2020/mar/08/think-marijuana-isnt-addictive-former-users-say-think-again/

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