Open Thread

Sorry for the delay in posts. It turns out that being retired is a quite busy occupation! Having fun traveling and working on a number of projects.

The US Attorney General May Address Concerns With The RAVE Act

This would be really good news if we could make some progress in this area.

The current situation is that promoters are afraid of putting common sense harm reduction services at festivals and shows because it legally could be perceived that they are promoting drug use, providing a “safe” place to use drugs. This has left only the most basic harm reduction initiatives in place: Things like free water and a cool down area. The hope is that the DOJ will make it clear that you are not violating the law by providing essential services in harm reduction, like drug education provided by professionals without judgment, better-equipped medical staff, the sale and distribution of pill & powder testing kits, etc. Basically, the things that have statistically been proven to keep people safe at shows.


Substance in Marijuana Could Benefit Alzheimer’s Patients

We’ve been hearing reports for some time about the possibility of marijuana helping with Alzheimer’s. Here’s some more:

A substance found in marijuana might remove a kind of plaque associated with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.

Writing in the journal Aging and Mechanisms of Disease, researchers from the Salk Institute say that the chemical THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and other active components of marijuana can “promote the cellular removal of amyloid beta, a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease” in neurons grown in a lab.

“Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells,” said Salk Professor David Schubert, the senior author of the paper.

Of course, whenever we discuss this, you can handle miss the delightful irony that marijuana, which has long been unfoundedly attacked for destroying people’s minds could end up actually being the thing that could save them.


A Doctor’s Argument for Letting People Do Heroin in a Safe Place

Right now in Ithaca, officials are pursuing a Supervised Injection Facility (or SIF) to address the overdose problem. Over 60 cities in 10 countries have opened SIFs in order to give people who inject drugs a place to use that is safer and more hygienic than the restrooms, parks, or other public places that may be their only alternative.

SIFs offer sterile syringes, skin-cleansing products, and a brightly lit space; they have medical staff that can respond to an overdose and administer naloxone, which is the antidote to an opioid overdose; they also connect people—if and when they’re ready—with addiction treatment services. SIFs save lives, can prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C, and may be the only connection to the health care system for some people who inject drugs. New York City needs SIFs.

Last month, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released a troubling report that drug overdose deaths increased by 10 percent across the city in 2015—a 39 percent increase in the Bronx. The potentially preventable death of 886 New Yorkers is a crisis. Efforts to reduce overprescribing of pain killers had previously reduced deaths in some areas of the city, but fentanyl, an opioid analgesic that is being mixed into bags of heroin, poses a new problem. Because fentanyl is more potent than heroin, even experienced heroin users may unknowingly inject too much and die in an unintended overdose. At SIFs, overdose deaths simply do not happen.

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