Thursday, May 21, 2015

Marijuana Edibles Being Transported Illegally Across State Lines

Law enforcement officials are reporting an increase in marijuana-infused edible products being transported illegally across state lines for resale. Edibles resemble candy or home-baked products, and often have no smell that indicates they contain marijuana, The New York Times reports. Missouri troopers confiscated 400 pounds of commercially made marijuana chocolate in February. New Jersey state police seized 80 pounds of homemade marijuana sweets. Oklahoma officers seized about 40 pounds of commercial marijuana products, including taffy-like “Cheeba Chews” and bottles of marijuana-infused lemonade. In Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal for adults 21 and over, edible marijuana products have become a popular alternative to smoking marijuana. Adults 21 and over can legally purchase marijuana edibles at state-licensed stores. Marijuana is now available in products ranging from candy to soda and granola. The amount of marijuana in edible products varies widely. In some cases, products contain levels so high that people experience extreme paranoia and anxiety. The high produced by edible products comes on more slowly than smoked marijuana. Inexperienced users may consume too much, causing severe impairment. Some experts are concerned that marijuana edibles smuggled into other states may appeal to teens. Colorado health officials are trying to find a way to prevent people from overdosing on marijuana edibles. The products have been implicated in two suicides and one murder in the past 13 months. Almost five million edibles were sold in Colorado stores last year. Marijuana edibles are also legal in Washington state, and will soon be legal in Oregon and Alaska. Edible products are also available to medical marijuana users in at least six of the 23 states with medical marijuana programs, the article notes.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Heroin Use Surges Among Whites Who Abuse Prescription Painkillers

Efforts to curb illicit drug use should target this population, researchers say THURSDAY, April 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Heroin use rose among people who abuse prescription narcotic painkillers such as Oxycontin or Vicodin, a new study found. The most significant increase was a 75 percent jump in the number of white people using heroin in 2008 to 2011, researchers from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health revealed. "The noteworthy increase in the annual rate of heroin abuse or dependence among . . . whites parallels the significant increase in nonmedical opioid [narcotic] use during the last decade and the growing number of heroin overdose deaths described for this race and ethnic group in recent years," study leader Dr. Silvia Martins said in a university news release. Martins is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health in New York City. Heroin use also spiked among Hispanics, according to the study. The study included information from 67,500 people who answered questions about their heroin use. These findings could help public health officials develop programs to prevent heroin use, the authors suggested. The investigators found that the use or abuse of heroin, dependence on the drug, and the risk of past use of the drug increased along with the frequency of narcotic painkiller use between 2008 and 2011. "Individuals tend to use prescription opioids as a substitute for heroin when heroin is unavailable, to augment a heroin-induced 'high,' to 'treat' withdrawal symptoms, and to curb heroin use," Martins explained in the news release. The researchers also found more frequent heroin use for Hispanics who used prescription painkillers between one and 29 days in the past year. Significant increases in heroin use were also identified among blacks and whites who used prescription painkillers between 100 and 365 days in the past year. With the exception of Hispanics, the study found that anyone who frequently used prescription narcotics was at greater risk for ever injecting heroin, as well as for heroin abuse or dependence in the past year. "This is alarming and raises concern since injection drug use among prescription opioid users can contribute to the spread of HIV . . . as well as of hepatitis C," Martins concluded. The study was published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. More information The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about substance abuse. SOURCE: Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, news release, April 27, 2015