Marijuana, is it high time we recognised its medicinal attributes?

Wednesday, 22 May, 2013

Marijuana users tend to be slimmer, have less insulin, and more good cholesterol, than those who do not smoke it. So, next question, should we reassess our attitude to the largely illicit drug if it’s possible it may have health advantages?

Current marijuana users had significantly smaller waist circumference than participants who had never used marijuana, even after adjusting for factors like age, sex, tobacco and alcohol use, and physical activity levels. They also had higher levels of HDL (“good cholesterol”). The most significant differences between those who smoked marijuana and those who never or no longer did was that current smokers’ insulin levels were reduced by 16 percent and their insulin resistance (a condition in which the body has trouble absorbing glucose from the bloodstream) was reduced by 17 percent.

Be warned though, both the risks and benefits of cannabis, are not fully understood, and there are certainly downsides to its use.

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In some parts of town you be getting high on everyone’s supply

Wednesday, 21 December, 2011

Traces of illicit drugs have been detected in the air of neighbourhoods or areas where their use is prevalent, though at this stage it is not believed such residuals pose a threat to the health of non-users.

But further research revealed that atmospheric concentrations of certain drugs were higher wherever drug use was presumed to be more prevalent – leading Cecinato and co-workers to wonder if they had found a better way to estimate the extent of drug abuse in a given area. Currently, authorities must rely on indirect information, such as communitywide surveys or questionnaires and police records. These methods can be time-consuming and expensive, Cecinato explains. Measuring the amount of drugs in the air, his group suspected, might be accurate, fast, and cheap.

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Results of bold Portuguese drug reforms make interesting reading

Wednesday, 26 January, 2011

Ten year old reforms of Portuguese drug laws – which saw the possession of illicit drugs decriminalised, but not their trafficking – look to have had the intended effect. The numbers of addicts in rehabilitation have soared, while police have been able to focus more resources on reining in the major drug distributors.

But nearly a decade later, there’s evidence that Portugal’s great drug experiment not only didn’t blow up in its face; it may have actually worked. More addicts are in treatment. Drug use among youths has declined in recent years. Life in Casal Ventoso, Lisbon’s troubled neighborhood, has improved. And new research, published in the British Journal of Criminology, documents just how much things have changed in Portugal. Coauthors Caitlin Elizabeth Hughes and Alex Stevens report a 63 percent increase in the number of Portuguese drug users in treatment and, shortly after the reforms took hold, a 499 percent increase in the amount of drugs seized – indications, the authors argue, that police officers, freed up from focusing on small-time possession, have been able to target big-time traffickers while drug addicts, no longer in danger of going to prison, have been able to get the help they need.

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Blame it on nature, we picked up drug taking from animals

Tuesday, 4 January, 2011

The partaking of mind-altering recreational drugs is by no means limited to humans… animals and insects trip – quite intentionally in some instances – on a variety of naturally occurring, but nonetheless psychoactive substances, leading some anthropologists to think we may have acquired the habit by following their example.

Fruits, grains, nectars and saps can all have a high enough sugar content to be fermented by natural yeasts. Bees, wasps, hornets and other insects may get a buzz from the resultant booze. They are probably attracted by the sugars and yeast rather than the alcohol, but they still end up schnockered, losing co-ordination and falling to the ground. If intoxicated honey bees manage to get back to the hive, they may finish up on their backs helplessly waving their legs in the air. However, the hive door bouncers do not condone this behaviour, and the offenders are liable to be roughed up and may even have their legs chewed off.

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The stimulants and tipples that inspired some great books

Thursday, 29 April, 2010

While coffee helped bring about one or two highly regarded works of literature, now and then some authors required something with a little more kick.

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Tapping into the mysterious powers of the placebo effect

Wednesday, 26 August, 2009

Placebos – dummy or sugar pills taken by volunteers during the clinical testing of new drugs – seem to be far more powerful than some medical professionals have realised, the reason however for their apparent effectiveness remains far from understood.

Why are inert pills suddenly overwhelming promising new drugs and established medicines alike? The reasons are only just beginning to be understood. A network of independent researchers is doggedly uncovering the inner workings – and potential therapeutic applications – of the placebo effect. At the same time, drugmakers are realizing they need to fully understand the mechanisms behind it so they can design trials that differentiate more clearly between the beneficial effects of their products and the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Parklife 2008: what they do tell you about music festivals

Friday, 26 September, 2008

I wonder which acts the sniffer dogs are going to see at this year’s Parklife music festival, as I said the other day there is plenty of choice

Many festivals across Australia have been targeted by sniffer dog operations. Please understand that [event organiser] Fuzzy does not support illegal drug use or possession and anyone found with illegal substances will be handed over to the police. Possession of even a small quantity of illegal drugs can lead to a criminal conviction and a criminal record for life.

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Don’t get stoned, Mick and Keith advise

Tuesday, 19 February, 2008

Don’t get stoned, Mick and Keith advise

The Rolling Stones say “don’t get stoned”. That has to be the headline of the year, and there are still 10 and a months left of it. But, kudos to the Stones, it seems they are admitting the errors of their ways.

“When we were experimenting with drugs, little was known about the effects,” Mick Jagger said at the premiere of a film showing the band in concert. “In our time, there were no rehab centres. Anyway, I didn’t know about them.” Jagger, 64, experienced international notoriety when he was briefly jailed in 1967 for possessing drugs, but he is better known now for his devotion to fitness. He prepares for tours by running 12km a day, swimming and kick-boxing. Keith Richards, the band’s guitarist and a former heroin addict, warned that if Amy Winehouse, the 24-year-old singer famous for songs such as Rehab and Addicted, did not give up drugs she could end up looking as wrinkly and wasted as he did.

“… [you] could end up looking as wrinkly and wasted as he did”, now how’s that for an enticement to give up drug use?

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