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Greece Legalizes Marijuana for Medical Purposes

Greece Legalizes Marijuana for Medical Purposes

Author: Shernide Delva

The United States has slowly begun to see more and more states approve medical and even recreational marijuana. But the U.S. is far from the only country seeing major shifts in marijuana policies.

Greece just joined six other European Union countries in approving some form of medical cannabis. Greece is “turning its page” on drug policy by allowing qualified citizens to access medical cannabis. The announcement by Greek officials occurred on June 30 at a press conference.

“Greece is now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal,” according to Greece’s Government Gazette.

Now that the government had reclassified cannabis from Table A to Table B, it is now possible for certain patients to access marijuana for medical purposes legally. This move is like moving cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II of the United States’ Controlled Substances Act.

In the U.S., cannabis is still classified under Schedule I, alongside heroin and LSD. Although various states permit marijuana use, it is still not legal on a federal level. Drugs like oxycodone, methadone, and methamphetamine are in Schedule II, a less restrictive drug category.

With these new implementations, Greece can now import products from other countries like Canada and the United States. There are qualifying conditions required by the Ministry of Health that patients must have to access medical marijuana.

These health conditions include:

  • Chronic or Neuropathic Pain
  • Nausea & vomiting from chemotherapy
  • Some eating disorders

 “From now on, the country is turning its page, as Greece is now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal,” said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Greece joins six other European Union countries that have approved medical cannabis in some form.

Other countries include:

  • The Czech Republic
  • Finland
  • The Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Germany

Germany is a recent addition to the list. Their law went into effect this past March to help “critically ill” citizens.

Another country approving cannabis in June is Mexico, where the new law passed legislation with overwhelming support.

A country like Greece supporting medical marijuana is a major shift in the country’s mentality. Greece has a long known history of strict anti-drug laws. However, the debt-ridden country is moving in a different direction. The government legalized the processing of hemp in April, “ending 60 years of prohibition of the traditional, non-psychoactive plant,” Leafly reported at the time.

Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for mass use. Although hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, they are distinctively different. Hemp has low THC levels, which means it does not produce a high. Hemp is processed into a variety of useful products including paper, textiles, clothing, plastics, biofuel, and food.

Marijuana reform remains a controversial topic. However as the medical benefits of cannabis continue to reveal themselves, more countries are opening up to the idea of legalization. What do you think about the recent legalization of medical marijuana in Greece?

Like any substance, marijuana can be abused. If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please seek help. Regardless of whether a drug is legalized or not, if you feel out of control with your substance use, please reach out. We want to help. 

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Should Marijuana Be Used in Addiction Treatment?

Should Marijuana Be Used in Addiction Treatment?

Author: Shernide Delva

A California rehab is under scrutiny after it was discovered that the rehab incorporates marijuana in their addiction treatment program. The different uses of medical marijuana continue to raise controversy, especially when it comes to addiction treatment.

Therefore, the question remains:

Does medical marijuana have a place in addiction treatment?

The mission of the California rehab states: to help addicts stop abusing substances that are most harmful to them.  The rehab says marijuana is a tool to help clients along the withdrawal process, and if needed, aid in long-term recovery. While the treatment center boasts positive results, their stance on marijuana use is at odds with many in the treatment and recovery community.

But they are far from the first. Other treatment centers are considering a similar treatment philosophy. So, is it wrong to do so?  Maia Szalavitz, a neuroscience journalist and the author of “Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction,” agrees with the philosophy.

“This stuff that emphasizes this morality, we don’t have anything else like that in medicine,” said Szalavitz, a former heroin addict, and AA member. “And the 12-step thing talking about ‘defects of character,’ that’s not exactly helpful for someone who already has a lot of self-hatred.”

“This whole idea that total abstinence is the only route to recovery has been incredibly damaging to the addiction field,” she continues.

This idea of “non-abstinence” treatment relates to a program known as harm reduction which accepts that drug use is a part of life. Instead of trying to get people to stop doing drugs, harm reduction focuses on improving overall safety through reducing the negative consequences associated with using drug use.

An example of a harm reduction program is safe needle exchange programs. These programs focus on providing addicts with clean needles that overall, reduce the risk of infections like Hepatitis C. Another example would be methadone clinics or suboxone maintenance programs. While controversial, these programs help in reducing the number of overdose fatalities.

Does Marijuana Curb Addiction?

Despite treatment centers using marijuana in addiction treatment, there are not many studies that confirm its efficacy. Research exists that suggests cannabis may be a helpful tool for opioid addiction. Marijuana is used in some treatment facilities to aid with long-term pain relief and opioid withdrawals.

Still, a major report published in January by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said that “only one randomized trial assessing the role of cannabis in reducing the use of addictive substances” exists.

Furthermore, many of the studies suffered from at least one research error. Mostly, the sample size was too small to make a solid conclusion.

“I think ideally you’d study it before you just go and do it,” Szalavitz said. “I think it’s an intriguing idea that we need more research on.”

Many experts argue the use of cannabis to treat addiction is absurd.

“Marijuana has exactly no role in the treatment of any mental illness, especially substance-use disorders,” Thomas McLellan, who founded the Treatment Research Institute and served briefly as the deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Obama administration, told The Guardian.

Marijuana: A Gateway Drug?

Even if marijuana is not someone’s drug of choice, it is possible that cannabis use can trigger a relapse. Any mind-altering substance can lower a person’s ability to make rational decisions regarding their sobriety.

“People are more likely to seek their primary drug or alcohol when they are intoxicated or high,” says Anne Lewis, a clinical psychologist and licensed addictions counselor with Indiana University Health. “It lowers your inhibition, so you don’t care. We don’t make good decisions when we’re drunk or high.”

Therefore, even if a person does not have an issue with marijuana,  it may increase the temptation to use. Marijuana could make it harder to stay on the recovery path.

Chemicals in the Brain?

To explain further, one must understand brain chemicals. Cannabinoid receptors closely tie into the brain’s dopamine systems. These chemicals play a role in reward—motivated behavior. Blocking those receptors can assist people trying to give up smoking, alcohol, cocaine or heroin. However, the use of marijuana can trigger those receptors increasing the risk of a relapse.

While there are always success stories from clients who have used marijuana maintenance plans successfully, for the most part, the risks are great.

What are your thoughts? What do you think about treatment centers incorporating marijuana in the treatment process? Addiction is an epidemic of great proportions. The first step is seeking treatment.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.

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Oxy Manufacturers Target Global Market As Sales In America Decline

Oxy Manufacturers Target Global Market As Sales In America Decline

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

Author: Shernide Delva

In the United States, OxyContin sales are down nearly 40% percent since 2010. The word of the opioid epidemic has resulted in more doctors seeking alternatives to treat chronic pain. However, since the sales declined in the United States, oxy manufacturers have decided to target their marketing strategies overseas.

The CDC issued guideline to encourage doctors to seek alternatives to opioid for the treatment of chronic pain. There is also a wealth of media coverage related to the danger of prescriptions opioids and the amount of deaths seen annually from the use of these drugs. The new surgeon’s general report stated that one person died every 19 minutes from opioid overdoses alone. The drugs commonly seen in opioid abuse are medications like Vicodin, Percocet, and of course OxyContin.

Purdue Pharma, which manufactures the painkiller OxyContin, is a core contributor to the prescription opioid addiction epidemic because the company uses aggressive marketing strategies and withholds information related to the drug’s efficacy.

The recent guidelines by the CDC along with the heavy media coverage have resulted in a decreasing trend of prescribing OxyContin. The amount of media evidence detailing Purdue’s activities has cut into Purdue’s vast fortunes. Since 2015, the company’s net worth has gone down by nearly $ 1billion.

Still, despite the decline, Purdue remains a powerful and profitable company, earning millions of dollars in profits from sales of its products. Nearly $600 million of that profit comes from international companies, which have provided inroads into Latin America, Asia, and other regions.

Purdue Pushes Doctors to Resist “Opiophobia.”

One of the ways Purdue is combating the decrease in sales is by releasing major marketing campaigns encouraging doctors to resist “Opiophobia.” Instead, they encourage doctors to treat chronic pain with prescription drugs and are working vigorously to dispel fears of addiction to opioids. IN some cases, financial discounts and even coupons for free initial prescriptions of OxyContin have been introduced to patients to make drugs like OxyContin seem like a safe, more affordable alternative.

Internationally, the global network of companies operates under the name Mundiphama. Some of the crazy tactics used to encourage prescriptions include hiring celebrities to promote the treatment of chronic pain. For example, in Spain, celebrities were enlisted to pose without clothing, to promote the treatment of chronic pain through doctors who have formed alliances with the company.

The result? A seven-fold increase in painkiller sales has occurred in Spain. After some backlash, though, Mundiphama pulled the celebrities spots from its YouTube channel after the Times submitted questions regarding the advertising campaign.

Purdue’s Promotional Strategies Continue in the United States

Back in the states, Purdue continues to use the top marketing strategies to encourage medical professionals to continue prescribing opioid medications. Some of these include sales and training seminars disguised as l lavish, all-expenses-paid weekends for doctors. The Times cites several medical professionals who are enlisted by Mundipharma to sell Purdue’s products at an international seminar.

All in all, oxy manufacturers like Mundiphama are determined to push the message that the dangers and claims of an opioid crisis are false and argue there is “hardly any evidence” to validate the claims made.  Surgeon General Vivek H. Murphy urged medical professionals in other countries to be “very cautious about the marketing of these medications. Now, in retrospect, we realize that for many, the benefits did not outweigh the risks

Still, in Spain, Mundipharma has caught consumer’s eyes with their racy ad campaigns. Out of those surveyed, 18% stated they had abused painkillers at some point in their lives. Even in one of Europe’s smallest countries, Cyprus, six people were reported to have died as a result of the drug, and requests for rehabilitation treatment have increased.

Mundipharma responded by citing their funded studies in countries like Britain and Germany which claim prescription opioid abuse is “less than 1%.” Their attitude is reflected in a statement made by the managing director of Mundiphama’s Cyprus office, Menicos M. Petrou, who said, “If people misuse drugs, most of the time there is little a pharmaceutical company can do.”

Prescription drug abuse is a serious issue on a worldwide level. It is important these pharmaceutical companies do not direct their marketing to other countries as sales in America decline. If you are struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, do not wait. Call toll-free today.

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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.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

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

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