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Daily marijuana use among U.S. college students highest since 1980

From Michigan News:

Daily marijuana use among the nation's college students is on the rise, surpassing daily cigarette smoking for the first time in 2014.

A series of national surveys of U.S. college students, as part of the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study, shows that marijuana use has been growing slowly on the nation's campuses since 2006.

Daily or near-daily marijuana use was reported by 5.9 percent of college students in 2014—the highest rate since 1980, the first year that complete college data were available in the study. This rate of use is up from 3.5 percent in 2007. In other words, one in every 17 college students is smoking marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis, defined as use on 20 or more occasions in the prior 30 days.

Other measures of marijuana use have also shown an increase: The percent using marijuana once or more in the prior 30 days rose from 17 percent in 2006 to 21 percent in 2014. Use in the prior 12 months rose from 30 percent in 2006 to 34 percent in 2014. Both of these measures leveled in 2014.

In addition, the use of synthetic marijuana (also called K-2 or spice) has been dropping sharply since its use was first measured in 2011. At that time, 7.4 percent of college students indicated having used synthetic marijuana in the prior 12 months; by 2014 the rate had fallen to just 0.9 percent, including a significant decline in use in 2014. One reason for the decline in synthetic drug use is that an increasing number of young people see it as dangerous.

Cigarette smoking continued to decline among the nation's college students in 2014, when 13 percent said they had smoked one or more cigarettes in the prior 30 days, down from 14 percent in 2013 and from the recent high of 31 percent in 1999—a decline of more than half. As for daily smoking, only 5 percent indicated smoking at that level, compared with 19 percent in 1999—a drop of nearly three fourths in the number of college students smoking daily.

Unfortunately, the appreciable declines in cigarette smoking have been accompanied by some increases in the use of other forms of tobacco or nicotine. Smoking tobacco using a hookah (a type of water pipe) in the prior 12 months rose substantially among college students, from 26 percent in 2013 to 33 percent in 2014.

In 2014, the use of e-cigarettes in the past 30 days stood at 9.7 percent, while use of flavored little cigars stood at 9.8 percent, of regular little cigars at 8.6 percent and of large cigars at 8.4 percent. The study will continue tracking the extent to which these alternate forms of tobacco use are changing in popularity, not only among college students, but also among their age peers not in college and among secondary school students.

Posted: 9/1/2015 3:38:00 PM

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School Board Votes to Test Student Athletes for Synthetic Drugs

From: Independant Herald

Synthetic drugs have been added to the substances for which Wyoming County student-athletes may be tested. The Board of Education unanimously approved the addition to the drug testing program at its meeting last Monday night.

“The normal test drugs did not include the synthetic drugs,” said Superintendent of Schools Frank “Bucky” Blackwell.

“Mr. (Jeff) Hylton wanted the board to know that the synthetic drugs are gaining in popularity,” he added. “It’s not actually detected under a regular drug test.

“Anybody who might be using the synthetic drugs would just go scot free,” Blackwell said. “Our whole goal is to catch it in time so that something could be done about it before it gets out of hand or somebody overdoses or has an accident.”

Testing for synthetic drugs is twice as costly as the regular testing, Blackwell noted, “Hopefully the costs will come down.”

“We’ve had great results,” the superintendent remarked. “We don’t catch too many, but we’ve never had a repeat offender.”

If there is a positive test result, Blackwell said, “you have to call Mom and Dad and law enforcement.

“That’s a shocker,” he continued. “Most parents have no idea their child would do something like that. As it has turned out, we have stopped a lot of kids from using drugs.”

Students who test positive are expelled, he pointed out, “and they have straightened up.”

With the addition of synthetic drugs, a student-athlete may be tested for one type of drug or both, Blackwell explained.  “We don’t pick up the phone and ask [the company] to test unless someone is behaving in such a way that would indicate they have a problem.”

He says the board “backs the program 100 percent. It’s paying dividends for our children.

“We feel we have to what we can to help prevent the use of drugs,” Blackwell observed.

Written by John Conely
___________________________________________________________________

This is a great step in the right direction to helping solve the problem of designer drugs, especially with our youth.  Hopefully other districts will join suit and help convey the message that even though some of these drugs may be legal they are still very dangerous and shouldn't be used.
 

3 deaths may be tied to synthetic marijuana in Colorado

From CNN:

Three people in Colorado may have died after smoking synthetic marijuana, state health officials fear. The Colorado Department of Public Health has launched an investigation into an outbreak of illnesses at hospitals that may be tied to the dangerous substance.

"Initial reports show approximately 75 people who reported smoking a form of synthetic marijuana may have been seen at hospitals in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs beginning in late August," said Dr. Tista Ghosh, interim chief medical officer for the state, in a written statement. "Several individuals were in intensive care and three deaths are being investigated as possibly associated."

The Colorado Department of Health, with help from local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will attempt to figure out if the synthetic marijuana is to blame, and if so, whether all the patients were sickened by the same product or different ones.

Posted: 9/6/2013 2:48:00 PM

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UN sounds alarm on widespread designer drug use

From Yahoo! News:

The U.N. drug control agency on Wednesday sounded the alarm on the spread of designer drugs, which are sold openly and produce legal but sometimes deadly highs, while reporting that global drug use generally remains stable.

Such substances "can be far more dangerous than traditional drugs," the agency said in a statement accompanying its annual report. "Street names, such as 'spice,' 'meow-meow' and 'bath salts' mislead young people into believing that they are indulging in low-risk fun."

A six-page summary of the report by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime warned that "the international drug control system is foundering, for the first time, under the speed and creativity" of their proliferation.

It said countries worldwide reported 251 such substances by mid-2012, compared with 166 at the end of 2009. The problem, said the report, is "hydra-headed" in that as fast as governments ban the drugs, manufacturers produce new variants.

Nearly 5 percent of European Union residents aged between 15 and 24 have already experimented with such drugs, said the report.

In the United States, 158 kinds of synthetic drugs were circulating during 2012, more than twice as many as in the EU, and use was growing in East and Southeast Asia, including China, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

DEA Launches 'Largest Ever' Synthetic Drug Bust

From U.S. News & World Report:

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced on Wednesday that it has launched its "largest ever" sweep against synthetic drugs, issuing hundreds of search and arrest warrants across the globe.

Law enforcement officials executed more than 150 arrest warrants and nearly 375 search warrants in 35 states, 49 cities and five countries on Wednesday, according to a DEA statement. More than 225 people have been arrested in the United States, Australia, Canada, Barbados and Panama as a result of the crackdown, BBC News reported.

"This is a significant seizure of synthetic drugs and is a terrific result for our respective law enforcement agencies," said Graham Fletcher, Australia's acting ambassador to the United States, in the DEA statement. "Australia remains committed to sharing intelligence with its U.S. partners to combat transnational crime across international borders. This is a win for our collective communities."

The operations targeted trafficking organizations focusing on designer synthetic drugs, that have operated "without regard for the law or public safety."

Since the project began last December, more than 75 arrests have been made and nearly $15 million in cash an assets have been seized, according to DEA officials. More than 550 kilograms, about 1,200 pounds, of drugs have been seized in the last three days.

Death link to synthetic cannabis

From The New Zealand Herald:

Synthetic cannabis has been linked to an overseas death.

A case report published last month by the Japanese Association of Forensic Toxicology connected the death of a 59-year-old man to the synthetic cannabinoid MAM-2201.

The man was found dead in his home, with packets of synthetic cannabis nearby.

No evidence of violence or disease was found, and doctors from Tokai University, where a forensic autopsy was performed, concluded "the man's death was caused by acute intoxication with MAM-2201".

Toxicologist Leo Schep, of the National Poisons Centre, said caution was needed in interpreting the results, and it was difficult to establish conclusively that synthetic cannabis had caused the death. He said that in New Zealand the health effects of the drugs had been linked to paranoia, seizures, psychotic episodes and acute renal injuries.

Fake Pot Is A Real Problem For Regulators

From NPR:

This week, President Obama signed a law banning synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs. Dozens of states and local governments have already tried to outlaw fake marijuana, which has been blamed for hundreds of emergency room visits and a handful of fatalities.

But the bans have proved largely ineffective, and there are fears that the federal law won't be any different.

There are no clinical studies about the health effects of synthetic marijuana. But anecdotally, health care providers report a long list of nasty side effects, from agitation and paranoia to intense hallucinations and psychosis.

Christine Stork, the clinical director of the Upstate New York Poison Control Center, says synthetic marijuana can be 20 times as potent as real marijuana. But it's hard to predict the strength of any particular brand or packet — in part because it's remarkably easy for anyone to make and package synthetic marijuana without any oversight or regulation.

In a video posted on YouTube, an unidentified man shows how it's done, using damiana, a Mexican shrub, as the base. All you need is some legal plant material and some chemical powders that can be easily ordered from overseas labs.

Most states have already moved to ban some synthetic cannabinoids — the chemical compounds that are the key ingredient in synthetic marijuana. But Burns says it's not that simple.

"You have people that are very good with chemistry, that continue to manipulate the molecular structure of these substances," he says. "So that they are creating analogues, or substances that are similar to those that have been banned."

The result is a big game of cat and mouse. The government outlaws a certain compound or family of compounds. But then producers tweak the chemical formula of their products to skirt the law.

Despite a slew of federal, state and local bans, sales in the synthetic drug industry seem to be growing — to roughly $5 billion a year, according to Rick Broider, president of the North American Herbal Incense Trade Association.

So far, law enforcement officials have been mostly stymied in their efforts to treat synthetic drugs makers like conventional drug dealers. This week, President Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012. It will mean tougher criminal penalties for selling some first-generation synthetic cannabinoids and many newer ones as well.

The new law should help, says Burns of the DEA.

No bath salts detected: Causeway attacker Rudy Eugene had only pot in his system, medical examiner reports

From The Miama Herald:

Rudy Eugene, the man who chewed off a homeless man’s face on the MacArthur Causeway and was shot to death by Miami police, had no drugs in his system other than marijuana, the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s office said Wednesday.

The bizarre details of the attack prompted speculation that the 31-year-old attacker was under the influence of harder drugs. Soon after the incident, for example, the head of the Miami police union publicly speculated that Eugene was on “bath salts,” synthetic stimulants that have been blamed for seemingly psychotic episodes in other cases around the country.

But the medical examiner — after seeking help from an outside forensic toxicology lab — could find no evidence of the common components of “bath salts” in Eugene’s system. Nor did the lab find evidence of synthetic marijuana or LSD.

The medical examiner also found that Eugene had not ingested cocaine, heroin, PCP, oxycodone, amphetamines or any other known street drug other than marijuana — a drug not known for sparking violence.

Navy to step up Breathalyzer and synthetic marijuane tests of sailors

From The Associated Press:

The Navy soon will begin giving Breathalyzer tests to many of its sailors before they report to work aboard a ship under a new program that will spread to the Marine Corps later this year.

Details of the Navy program are still being worked out, but not every sailor who walks onto a ship will be given a Breathalyzer test. Navy officials estimate that between one sixth and one eighth of a ship's crew will be given the test, which will target those standing watch and overseeing important aspects of a ship, such as its nuclear reactors. Other sailors may be tested at random.

The Navy is setting aside $8 million to begin the program and anticipates spending $2 million to keep it going.

Mabus said sailors who are found to have been using alcohol before reporting to work won't necessarily be punished, but the tests will be used as a way to help identify sailors in need of treatment and to serve as a deterrent for those considering drinking heavily the night before a shift.

The tests are part of Mabus' 21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative, an expansive program intended to improve the well-being of sailors and Marines after more than a decade at war.

Among other things, sailors also will be given random drug tests to check for the use of synthetic marijuana, which the military prohibits its members from using. Many states also outlaw synthetic drugs. Sailors caught using synthetic drugs through the urine tests will be prosecuted under military law.

Posted: 3/6/2012 10:32:00 AM

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DEA extends emergency controls on chemicals used for fake pot, still plans permanent controls

From The Washington Post:

The Drug Enforcement Administration is extending emergency controls for six more months on five chemicals used to make fake pot products.

The agency is working on permanently designating smokable herbal products containing the five chemicals as controlled substances. The DEA took emergency action a year ago, making it illegal to possess and sell the five chemicals or products containing them.

The agency says the extension will provide time to complete the steps to permanent controls.

Posted: 3/1/2012 9:16:00 AM

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