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Marijuana Breathalyzer Tested On California Drivers

Marijuana Breathalyzer Tested On California Drivers

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva 

As more and more states legalize marijuana, there has been a concern on how to monitor impaired driving. Now, police are testing a marijuana breathalyzer on drivers for the first time. The device is manufactured by Hounds Labs and CEO Mike Lynn who is an emergency room doctor in Oakland, California, and a reserve officer with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

Lynn began pulling over drivers suspected of impaired driving during the initial field tests. However, the use of the breathalyzer was optional.

“Basically everyone agreed because they were curious,” Lynn told US News & World Report. “The objective was not to put people in jail but to educate them and use the device if they volunteered so we could get the data.”

All the drivers tested were not arrested, but they were required to find another ride home. The Hounds Labs breathalyzer can detect marijuana (smoked or ingested) as well as alcohol. Lynn says his breathalyzer can even measure the concentration of the drug.  In the past, other technology could only detect THC.

“It’s not as if every breathalyzer will be replaced overnight [but] it will completely change the ability to recognize stoned drivers,” said Lynn last year, “[and] our technology also will prevent the wrongful arrest of people who have some THC in their system but are not impaired.”

Last year, Alameda County Sherriff Greg Ahern told US News that he is eager to use the new breathalyzer.

“Current methods for testing THC are not practical for the roadside,” Ahern said. “On top of that, results can take weeks and will only tell us if marijuana is in a person’s system. By measuring THC in breath, Hound Labs, Inc. will help us get impaired drivers off the road and also make sure that unimpaired individuals who happen to have some THC in their system aren’t wrongfully arrested.”

Lynn hopes to have the breathalyzers distributed within the next six months. Hounds Labs is not the only one working on this new technology, though, however, it is the closest to market. Another company, Cannabix Technologies said in a July press release that they are working on a reduced size version of their product.

Other devices like Intelligent Fingerprinting detect traces of sweat from one’s fingertips. Their device is likely to come out next year, according to US News.

“We do have a significant stable of cities and counties that are interested in piloting and thus validating our product for roadside [driving under the influence of drugs] stops,” said Duffy Nabors, vice president of sales and marketing at Smartox, the company that distributes the fingerprint technology.

How does marijuana affect driving?

With all this new technology to test drivers, the next question is how much does marijuana impair drivers?  The exact impact of marijuana on driving ability remains a controversial subject. However, while drunk driving is on the decline, driving after consuming marijuana has become more prevalent.

The next question is if there can be a threshold established for marijuana in the same way that alcohol’s threshold is .08. Several studies have been conducted to find out the level of THC that is needed to impair driving ability; however a threshold has yet to be established.

As for driving, marijuana can impair a person’s judgment, motor coordination, the ability to concentrate, and slows down a person’s reaction time. Therefore, using marijuana while driving does pose a significant risk and increases the chance of an accident occurring.

Overall, while more and more states are in the voting stages of marijuana reform, impaired driving remains a serious problem. Driving under the influence of any substance is a major no-no. Do not take this risk. If you are struggling with addiction, do not wait. Call today.

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Fentanyl Maker Donates $500,000 to Anti-Pot Legalization Campaign

Fentanyl Maker Donates $500,000 to Anti-Pot Legalization Campaign Author: Shernide Delva

A pharmaceutical company that manufactures a form of the painkiller fentanyl made a $500,000 contribution towards an anti-pot legalization campaign. Pro-marijuana reform advocates believe the company may be trying to “kill a non-pharmaceutical market for marijuana in order to line their own pockets.”

It would be hard to imagine a more controversial donor than Insys Therapeutics Inc. The company, based in Chandler, Arizona, makes a fentanyl sublingual spray called Subsys. Many argue that drug companies like Insys Therapeutics Inc., are eager to keep cannabis illegal to dominate the market with their often dangerous and addictive drugs. The donation from Insys Therapeutics Inc. makes up more than a third of all the funds raised by the group. Advocates for marijuana legalization criticized the contribution, citing a variety of legal issues around the company Insys.

Advocates for marijuana legalizations criticized the contribution, citing a variety of legal issues around the company Insys.

“[Our opponents] are now funding their campaign with profits from the sale of opioids—and maybe even the improper sale of opioids,” said J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

“We hope that every Arizonan understands that Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy is now a complete misnomer. Their entire campaign is tainted by this money. Any time an ad airs against Proposition 205, the voters should know that it was paid for by highly suspect Big Pharma actors.”

In addition to selling Subsys, Insys Therapeutics Inc. has developed Syndros, a synthetic version of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The drug received approval from the FDA in July 2016 for the treatment of AIDS and cancer patients.

Still, while the contribution is a victory for the opposition, the initiative itself remains a contest for either side to claim. A recent poll found that 50% of Arizona voters favor

While the contribution is a victory for the opposition, the initiative itself remains a contest for either side to claim. A recent poll discovered 50 percent of registered Arizona voters favor legalization, 40 percent oppose the measure, and 10 percent are undecided

Insys said in a statement that its opposition to the legalization of cannabis was “because it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.”

Furthermore, there have been studies revealing some negative health effects of marijuana. Some of these studies link marijuana to a variety of side effects.

In a report from the American Medical Association, they stated:

“Heavy cannabis use in adolescence causes persistent impairments in neurocognitive performance and IQ, and use is associated with increased rates of anxiety, mood and psychotic thought disorders.”

Many in opposition to marijuana legalization believe the drug can be addictive for some people. Also, some worry about the easy-access child may have to the drug if legalized.

Proposition 205: The Final Verdict

On November 8, 2016, Arizona residents will vote on the ballot regarding Proposition 205:

  • A “yes” vote supports this measure to legalize the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are 21 years of age or older.
  • A “no” vote opposes this measure to legalize the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are 21 years of age or older.

Marijuana legalization will continue to be a hot topic across the country.  Many believe marijuana legalization would put a strain on the recovery community. Still, when it comes to sobriety, it is up to the individual to commit to the lifestyle of recovery. If you are struggling with any form of addiction, legal or illegal, we can help. Call toll-free today.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Medical Marijuana Plan Pass in Ohio House

Medical Marijuana Plan Pass in Ohio House

Author: Justin Mckibben

In a historic turn of events for legislators in the home of the Buckeyes, Ohio lawmakers in the House have passed a medical marijuana plan after an extensive debate reaching across both sides of the aisle.

For the years leading up to now the House has opposed plans to legalize marijuana, medicinal or otherwise, despite all efforts put forth by advocates in the area. Now in a surprising turn of events they have approved a plan 71-26 just this Tuesday. The bigger

For the first time members of Ohio’s GOP-controlled House had a serious discussion about medical marijuana after they found themselves feeling the pressure with two medical marijuana efforts working toward the November ballot.

What Changed?

Probably the biggest influence on this shift was that recent polls determined the majority of Ohioans are much more interested in legalizing medical marijuana rather than marijuana for recreational use. The change may have come when they realized with so many issues being taken with Big Pharma and the abuse of prescription drugs, a more progressive push towards alternative medicine might not be as terrible as they once considered.

For House Democratic Representative Dan Ramos from Lorain, this was the focal point of his opinion. Ramos expressed that he believes medical marijuana is a needed alternative to opiates for some chronic pain patients, and cited the opiate epidemic for his reasoning with a dramatic demonstration.

Ramos held up a sheet of paper saying it represented the total number of people who have died of marijuana overdoses…

The paper was blank.

By comparison, he exclaimed that 2,020 deaths were linked to opiates in 2014 – nearly 80% of all overdose deaths. This probably had a profound impact on the lawmakers, seeing as how Ohio has seen a lot of devastation from the opiate epidemic and overdose outbreak in the past few years.

Setting the Boundaries

House Representative Stephen Huffman is actually the bill’s GOP sponsor. Huffman is an emergency room physician from Tipp City, and in talks about medical marijuana he stated this new proposal is what’s best for patients after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration failed to act. After reciting a heavy helping of the Hippocratic Oath that physicians take to care for patients, Huffman passionately argued,

“I am absolutely convinced that there is therapeutic value in medical marijuana. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind.”

Still, Ohio’s GOP-controlled legislature isn’t quite as open to accepting ALL forms of medical marijuana… so don’t get ahead of yourself just yet. The bill sets up stern restrictions, including:

  • It would not allow patients to grow marijuana at home
  • Patients are not permitted to smoke it
  • Employers can still fire employees for having marijuana in their systems, even if it is recommended by a physician
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC- the chemical that gives users their “high”) would be limited to 35% of plants and 70% of extracts

However, one of the loopholes for the smokers is that patients could use a vaporizer, which heats marijuana into a gas or stream rather than burning it to smoke. The bill has changed in some noteworthy ways since it was introduced last month. One way is that it specifies about 20 conditions that would benefit from medical marijuana, including:

  • AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy or another seizure disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Traumatic brain injuries

The commission could add other diseases as needed. Other changes include:

  • Allowing parents and caregivers to possess marijuana to administer it to someone else
  • Requiring identification cards for patients AND caregivers
  • Creating a program to help veterans and others afford medical marijuana

Even with the changes, medical marijuana advocates fear strict restrictions on doctors will deter physicians from recommending medical marijuana to those who could possibly benefit.

Various Concerns

The spokesman for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana is Aaron Marshall, and one thing that troubles him about this bill is that while the House seems to be taking at least some action toward alternative medicine, the law should be tailored to benefit patients and not hinder their treatment. Marshall commented,

“If they are going to use the threat of our ballot issue to pass a bill through the House, it should be a patient-focused plan that will actually provide medical marijuana to those in need,”

It is worth mentioning that several of those who opposed the bill did so for reasons concerning the patients, not so much out of an outright opposition to the idea. For example, Democratic Representative Alicia Reece from Bond Hill, along with five other Democrats, voted against the proposal because it fails to protect workers who use medical marijuana recommended by a physician. Reece said she was “torn” on which way to vote. While she believes in the value of the treatment, Reece says she feared more people, especially African Americans, would be sent to jail for small amounts of medical marijuana or fired from their jobs for a testing positive and that they would not be protected by law. Her opinion was simply,

“Should it be a bill or should it be taken to the people and be in the constitution?” I’m always a believer in the people. I always think the people know best.”

Many of the other House lawmakers remain hopeful that the voters will embrace their measured approach over the two ballot initiatives working toward the November ballot. These measures are currently being pushed by Ohioans for Medical Marijuana and Athens-based Grassroots Ohio. They two movements have been working on collecting the 305,591 signatures needed by July 6 to get their own plans on the ballot.

The bill will be going before the Ohio State Senate before long, and minor changes are expected there. Ohio Governor John Kasich could find himself sitting down to sign-off on it by the end of the month, and Kasich himself has said he would support a medical marijuana proposal if it were property written and there was evidence that the need was there.

So, the question becomes will Ohioans prefer this new House approved option over the other two plans outlined by community advocate organizations. Does this plan stand to help provide alternative treatment while effectively preventing drug abuse and other issues associated with drug abuse and addiction? If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

4 Hopes for Drug Policy Reform in 2016

4 Hopes for Drug Policy Reform in 2016

Author: Justin Mckibben

About this time in 2014 I wrote how many experts expected 2015 to be a huge year for Harm Reduction programs in America, and gave 3 examples of big changes in this class of addiction programs. Well 2015 did prove to present an extraordinary shift towards a health-based approach to drug abuse and addiction on both the federal and local level in drug policy.

We have witnessed the slow agonizing death of the failed War on Drugs that has fed off the stigma and corruption, while costing the country a trillion dollar price tag and had some pretty unsettling results including:

  • Millions of casualties on both sides of the law
  • A devastating public health problem
  • Largest incarcerated population in the world
  • Addiction rates as high as ever
  • Record-breaking overdose death rates

Thankfully we can now see the subtle changes that are great victories of 2015 including:

  • The largest number of states ever passing naloxone access laws
  • A push for justice with the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Historic Congressional deal to roll back mandatory minimum sentencing
  • Release of 6,000 nonviolent drug offenders from prisons

The big hope now is that since we have seen how Harm Reduction Programs and more compassionate treatment options for addicts are in our best interest maybe 2016 will bring with it even more life-saving reforms on drug policy in America. Here are 4 signs of drug policy progress in 2016.

  1. Ending Marijuana Prohibition?

2016 will absolutely be a pivotal year for the marijuana legalization movement growing all over the country. So far several states have approved some level of legalization legislation including:

  • Colorado
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Alaska

Numerous other states are considering similar legislation or ballot initiatives, including:

  • California
  • Nevada
  • Arizona
  • Vermont
  • Rhode Island
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts

Many suspect that if even just a few of these states legalize marijuana, it could be the tipping point for the rest of the country to follow.

The thing about marijuana legalization is that most advocates insist ending prohibition and creating more liberal drug policy is less about increasing access to marijuana and more about cutting back on the collateral consequences of criminalization like over-populated prisons.

Marijuana arrests account for more than half of all drug arrests in the United States and according to an ACLU study, 88% of those arrests were for possession only. The hope of many is that legalization will allow millions of people to avoid a jail cell or a label of stigma attached to a criminal record.

  1. United Nations Special Session on Drugs

In 1998, the United Nations called a special session on drug policy entitled, “A Drug Free World: We Can Do It!” This was when the general idea of addressing drug policy was increasingly harsher penalties for even simple possession, a philosophy that only exacerbated the drug issue in the late 80’s and 90’s.

In the 17 years since a lot has changed… and thanks to these archaic ideals, not much of this change was for the better.

The next round of this special session was originally scheduled for 2019, but leaders in countries that were especially ravaged by the War on Drugs put forth a petition to have the date moved up, including:

  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • Guatemala

The petition co-sponsored by 95 countries, and has now gotten the session scheduled for April 2016 in New York City. Just in time if you ask me, considering America itself has been wrecked in recent years by the opiate epidemic and overdose death outbreaks.

Drug policy advocates around the world are holding planning sessions to ensure that the mistakes of the past two decades are not repeated.

  1. Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Programs

I want to start off with one area that has become a constant source of controversy- law enforcement. But instead of focusing on the ugly side, I want to celebrate the programs being created in law enforcement and police offices that are actually making incredible progress and saving lives.

One of the most encouraging drug policy reforms of 2016 that we can look forward to hopefully changing our world is called Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD). The LEAD program is designed to divert low-level drug and prostitution offenders from jail to social services where they can be connected to resources to help them reform and rejoin society including:

  • Housing
  • Career development
  • Drug treatment

Police departments in several areas including Seattle have already launched LEAD programs with promising results. Evaluations of the Seattle program have revealed:

  • Participants in LEAD are 58-87% less likely than non-participants to be re-incarcerated after joining the program
  • The annual criminal justice costs incurred by LEAD participants also dropped about $2,000, while non-participants costs rose by almost $6,000

Donnie Varnell, coordinator for an upcoming LEAD program in Fayetteville, North Carolina stated:

“These programs are designed to identify subjects who would be better served by treatment programs than by incarceration. We [law enforcement] have all dealt with particular subjects that due to their addictions are constantly being arrested for petty charges. By using one of these LEAD programs, these subjects have the chance to find treatment and resources that can break the cycle of arrest.”

In 2016, seven more cities will join LEAD, including:

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Bangor, Maine
  • Camden, New Jersey
  • Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Programs like this have created a new ideal of what it means to be an addict and how law enforcement can address these individuals and actually help them. In 2015 we saw revolutionary programs in Boston and other areas that were geared toward taking addicts who turned themselves in or got caught with drugs and giving them drug treatment instead of locking them up.

Again- compassion and shattering stigma can help us save lives and actually change them for the better. The old drug policies kept people sick and dying, hopefully now our police forces will be better equipped to improve the lives of people they protect and serve.

  1. Presidential Election

Then we get to the main stage when it comes to drug policy reform and take a look at what could arguable be THE MOST important event of 2016  concerning the future of drug policy reform- the 2016 presidential election.

The people are looking to see what kind of philosophy the new “Leader of the Free World” will have concerning drug policy and addiction treatment. The candidates for the next Commander and Chief have various positions on drug policy.

Some like Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders are in favor of letting states decide whether to legalize drugs.

Then on the opposite end of the spectrum candidates like Ben Carson and Jeb Bush don’t think the current War on Drugs is punitive enough (which personally sounds like neither one of them has been paying much attention to the reality of the opiate epidemic or the overdose death crisis in our country).

Others, such as Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz, sit somewhere in between the liberal and the radical; these individuals want reform, but not too much reform.

Donald Trump… eh, I’m not even going to touch that one.

The deal is for 2016 the next President of the United States will hold considerable influence over whether or not the drug policy reforms of the last few years will continue to progress in productivity or be cut short of success. Luckily this particular element of drug policy reform is one that allows every person in the United States to directly influence the outcome. Probably a good thing since again, it is probably the most profound part of this change to take place this coming year.

Ladies and gentlemen- this coming November your vote may make a greater difference than you think in so many ways relating to all politics, including the way addiction and drug abuse is viewed and addressed in America.

2016 is going to be a big deal in a lot of ways. The tragic part is more people than ever aren’t going to see the New Year because of substance abuse and addiction. Hopefully we can all inspire change. Every day men and women from all over America find a solution to escaping addiction and changing their lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Palm Beach County Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana

Palm Beach County Votes to Decriminalize MarijuanaIn case you missed it, Palm Beach Country will now decriminalize marijuana. With a 4 to 1 vote made on Tuesday, Palm Beach is now following in the footsteps of West Palm Beach and Miami Beach in the effort to reduce marijuana arrests.

“We have to understand that we cannot legislate and lock up everybody for everything they do,” Commissioner Priscilla Taylor said at Tuesday’s commission meeting.

The new ordinance states that anyone with possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana will no longer be arrested. Instead, law enforcement will have the option to issue a $100 citation for the possession. Low on funds? Not a problem. Those who cannot pay the citation will have the option of working it off through community service hours.

Let’s Break This Down

Just to put it all into perspective, here is an overview on what the new ordinance means for residents in Palm Beach County:

  • How many grams? According to the ordinance, 20 grams or less of marijuana is eligible for a fine. If someone is found with more, they face harsher penalties.
  • What’s the punishment? If found possessing 20 grams or less of marijuana, officer would issue a $100 fine and a civil citation.
  • When does this go into effect? As soon as the law is filed with Florida Department of State, which estimated to be in about 10 days.
  • What if someone can’t pay? If you are unable to pay, you have the option of doing 10 hours of community service instead.
  • Does this mean marijuana is legal? No, marijuana is still a criminal offense in the state of Florida. Even if you are caught with less than 20 grams of pot in Palm Beach County, the officer has the choice of whether to issue a citation or a criminal arrest.
  • How many citations can I get? A person caught with a small possession of pot is allowed to receive a citation a maximum of two times.
  • Underage? The ordinance only applies to those that are 18 and older.

The Palm Beach ordinance passed with a 4 to 1 vote, and Commissioner Hal Valeche was the only one in opposition of the ordinance. Valeche said he believes marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to harder drugs. He is also worried about discrimination that can occur when it comes to an officer choosing to give a fine over a misdemeanor.

“You’ve gotta have pretty firm and hard guidelines as to how you chose which one to do,” Valeche says. “Otherwise I think you open yourself up to claims that you’re treating different individuals differently.”

Valeche could very well have a point. A 2013 report with the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that on average, black residents are close to four times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites, despite the statistics that show marijuana use is equal among both races.

Looking at other states,  New York decriminalized the possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana way back in 1977. The law decriminalized pot provided it was not in “public view,” however this law was largely ignored for the better part of 38 years. Police officers found a loophole and forced suspects to empty their pockets, essentially taking the drugs into “public view.”

However, on Nov. 10, 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called a press conference and announced that the city would stop filing criminal charges for people carrying small amounts of pot. Since 2014, marijuana arrests have gone down significantly, however the city struggles with issues of discrimination in lower class neighborhoods compared to the higher class.

In Florida, those who advocate the ordinance say that younger people deserve a second chance. Between 2010 and 2014, more than more than 7,500 cases in the county involved possession of 20 grams of marijuana or less. In 90 percent of these cases, the person ended up in jail. This law will change that. Although marijuana reform continues to be a hard hitting topic increasing in support, many are concerned about the potential harm.

Addiction is a concern for many and if your substance abuse is becoming unmanageable, you should seek treatment, regardless of whether your drug of choice is legal or not. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Author: Shernide Delva

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