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Abstract – Mayo Clinic

The opioid crisis that exists today developed over the past 30 years. The reasons for this are many. Good intentions to improve pain and suffering led to increased prescribing of opioids, which contributed to misuse of opioids and even death. Following the publication of a short letter to the editor in a major medical journal declaring that those with chronic pain who received opioids rarely became addicted, prescriber attitude toward opioid use changed. Opioids were no longer reserved for treatment of acute pain or terminal pain conditions but now were used to treat any pain condition. Governing agencies began to evaluate doctors and hospitals on their control of patients' pain. Ultimately, reimbursement became tied to patients' perception of pain control. As a result, increasing amounts of opioids were prescribed, which led to dependence. When this occurred, patients sought more in the form of opioid prescriptions from providers or from illegal sources. Illegal, unregulated sources of opioids are now a factor in the increasing death rate from opioid overdoses. Stopping the opioid crisis will require the engagement of all, including health care providers, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, and federal and state government agencies.

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By Lynn Allison  -  16 Mar 2018 

A major new study claims that smoking marijuana dramatically increases a person’s risk of suffering a heart attack and other cardiovascular events. The study authors, along with top cardiologists across the country, are calling for more research into the use of medicinal and recreational cannabis in light of the startling new evidence.

Researchers found that over a 5-year period, regular users as young as in their early 30s were 4.6 times more likely to have a cardiac-related illness than those who did not smoke the drug.

Scientists from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio presented their findings at the recent American College of Cardiology (ACC) conference held in Washington, D.C.

While most medical concerns over the use of cannabis have been linked to mental disorders and depression, researchers also discovered a link between marijuana use and increased risk of stroke and heart failure.

“Even when we corrected for known risk factors, we still found a higher rate of both stroke and heart failure in those patients using the drug,” says Dr. Aditi Kalla, a cardiologist at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. “That leads us to believe that there is something else going on besides just obesity and or diet-related cardiovascular side effects.

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By Robbie Meredith BBC News NI Education Correspondent - 16 March 2018

A new pilot project to introduce American-style 'drug courts' to Northern Ireland is being developed.

They are courts aimed at keeping drug users out of prison and getting them into treatment.

A senior American judge is in Belfast to advise local judges, politicians and others working in the criminal justice system about how they operate. Gregory Jackson was appointed to the District of Columbia Superior Court in 2005 by then President George W Bush.

Judge Jackson said drug courts were not about punishment.

"If you successfully complete the programme, you're done - you're out of the criminal justice system," he said.

Drug users and even some small-scale dealers are offered a way to escape prison and a conviction

"We average on any given day between 75 to 125 people participating in the drug court programme.

"Our graduation rate is around 50% to 60%."

Impressive statistics

That means that over half of those who begin the treatment programme complete it.

And they literally graduate, with special ceremonies held in courthouses to recognise their achievement.

The statistics are impressive.

Drug courts in the USA have been shown to reduce crime by 45% in comparison with other sentencing options.

According to Judge Jackson, they also save the public purse between $3,000 and $13,000 dollars per person.

Yet he admits that getting the public and politicians to recognise that they are not a 'soft option' has taken time.

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The United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) recently issued its 2017 annual report, and the takeaway with regard to cannabis is clear: The INCB is deeply concerned with the spread of adult-use legalization.

Countries pursuing legalization are acting in 'clear violation' of the UN's 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, says the International Narcotics Control Board.

The report contains stern warnings, accusing countries like Uruguay of acting in “clear violation” of global drug control accords.

The Board, which monitors compliance with international drug control treaties, is made up of individuals, not U.N. member states. That’s meant to protect it from political pressure. The Board’s charter also stipulates, however, that it must include individuals with “medical, pharmacological or pharmaceutical experience.” That means Big Pharma is well represented, while advocates for cannabis legalization—whether medical or adult-use—have no seat at the table.

International drug control treaties, signed by most member states decades ago, are meant to prohibit the proliferation and non-medical use of dangerous drugs. Cannabis is specifically covered under most of the treaties.

However, in recent years countries like Uruguay have legalized and regulated the non-medical use of cannabis. Canada is planning to legalize later this year. In the United States, nine states and the District of Columbia have implemented some form of adult-use legalization.

That does not sit well with the INCB. “Governments and jurisdictions in North America have continued to pursue policies with respect to the legalization of the use of cannabis for non-medical purposes, in violation of the 1961 Convention as amended,” states the Board’s 2017 report.

Warnings to Uruguay, Jamaica

The Board strongly cautioned Uruguay, which legalized cannabis nationally in 2013, and currently sells cannabis in pharmacies, that the nation is “acting in clear violation” of the drug treaties.

“The limitation of the use of controlled substances to medicinal and scientific purposes is a fundamental principle to which no derogation is permitted under the 1961 Convention as amended,” the INCB report says.

The U.N. board members also criticized Jamaica for legalizing cannabis for religious use three years ago. Cannabis is considered a religious sacrament among adherents of the Rastafarian religion. Rastafarians take their spiritual name from Ras Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael, (Emperor Haile Selassie I, of Ethiopia). Selassie is considered a direct descendent of King Solomon.

While the U.N. claims to promote global religious tolerance, the INCB strongly disagrees with the religious nature of the rasta cannabis ceremony.

“The Board reminds the Government of Jamaica, and all other parties, that under article 4, paragraph (c), of the 1961 Convention as amended, only the medical and scientific use of cannabis is authorized, and that use for any other purposes, including religious, is not permitted,” the report states. 

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13/2/18Bottom of Form  Mixing Alcohol and Marijuana Amplifies THC in the System

Three news stories exemplify the tragic results of mixing alcohol and marijuana before getting behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.  Most recently, a suspected-DUI driver crashed into a California Highway patrolman in a parked vehicle on Christmas Eve.  Andrew Camilleri, 33, died instantly.  He left behind a wife and three children.

A driver who drank alcohol and smoked marijuana killed CHP Officer Andrew Camilleri, on Chrstmas Eve.

A New York teen admitted that he used both marijuana and beer before the crash that killed his 16-year-old friend on August 31.  Another 14 year-old in the vehicle was injured. Authorities have charged the teen with vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.  Yet, the teen claimed that he didn’t feel that he was ‘messed up.’   He said that he had taken 3 or 4 hits of a joint, and drank from two partial cans of beer.  But when driving, he “encountered a deer on the road and swerved to avoid it,” leading to the crash.

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