Thursday, January 29, 2015

Almost One-Third of Women of Childbearing Age Fill Prescriptions for Opioid Painkillers January 27th, 2015 Almost one-third of women of childbearing age had an opioid painkiller prescription filled each year from 2008 to 2012, according to a new government study. These drugs can increase the risk for birth defects, The New York Times reports. The study, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found 39 percent of women ages 15 to 44 on Medicaid, and 28 percent of women of the same age group with private insurance, filled an opioid prescription in a pharmacy each of those years. “These are dangerous drugs that are addictive, and we are substantially overusing them,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden. He noted that women often do not know they are pregnant in the early weeks of a pregnancy, which is a crucial time for organ formation. If they take opioid painkillers, they could be “unknowingly exposing their unborn child,” he said. Opioid painkiller exposure can raise the risk for defects in a baby’s brain, spine, heart and abdominal wall, the article notes. Babies whose mothers take opioids during pregnancy are also at risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome. A baby with the syndrome experiences symptoms of withdrawal from medications or drugs taken by a mother during pregnancy. The researchers said it is not known why women on Medicaid had higher prescription rates than women with private insurance. “The higher opioid prescribing rates among Medicaid enrollees might be due to differences in the prescription medications covered under their health insurance plan, differences in use of health care services, or differences in the prevalence of underlying health conditions among Medicaid enrollees compared with persons covered by private health insurance,” the CDC noted in a news release. Oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine were the most frequently prescribed opioids for women with either public or private insurance.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Federal Judge to Rule on Whether Marijuana is Schedule I Drug /By JOIN TOGETHER STAFF JANUARY 15TH, 2015 A federal judge will rule later this year on whether marijuana should continue to be classified as a Schedule I drug, alongside LSD and heroin, according to the Associated Press. U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller agreed to consider marijuana’s drug classification under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. She held a five-day fact-finding hearing in late 2014. Final arguments are scheduled for February. Her decision to hold the hearing was in response to a pretrial defense motion in a federal case against alleged marijuana growers, the article notes. Schedule I drugs are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. “Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence,” the Drug Enforcement Administration notes on its website. If Mueller ruled that marijuana is not a Schedule I drug, it would apply only to the defendants in the case. It would almost certainly be appealed, according to the article. If the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law was unconstitutional, all the Western states would be affected. Lawyers for the defendants in the case say the federal marijuana law violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. They argue the government enforces marijuana law unevenly by permitting marijuana to be distributed in states where it is legal, while cracking down in states where it is illegal. Zenia K. Gilg, a lawyer for the growers, said the scientific understanding and public acceptance of marijuana have greatly increased since courts last considered the federal classification.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

DEA Cracks Down on Potent Marijuana Product Called “Wax” in California /By Join Together Staff Jan 6, 2015 The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is cracking down in California on a potent marijuana product called “wax,” according to ABC News. Wax is legal—and popular—in Colorado. Wax is a distillation of marijuana said to be so potent that a single hit will keep a person high for more than a day, the article notes. A person making wax uses the flammable substance butane to strip out the THC, the chemical in marijuana that causes a high. “There is no weed out there that possesses the punching power that the wax does,” an anonymous undercover DEA informant told ABC News’ “Nightline.” “And it’s like smoking 20 joints of the best grade of weed that you have into one hit of the wax.” Gary Hill of the DEA’s San Diego office said, “We have seen people have an onset of psychosis and even brain damage from that exposure to that high concentration of THC. Our concern is that this is going to spread before we get it under control.” In Colorado, wax is legal for anyone over the age of 21. It is sold in recreational marijuana dispensaries. A three-day contest called the X-Cup, held in Denver, is designed to determine who can make the most potent batch of wax.