An inside look at ‘massive and sophisticated’ Geauga County marijuana grow house

It is being called one of the largest indoor marijuana grow operations discovered in Northeast Ohio.

Just one day after the seizure of hundreds of marijuana plants, we are getting an inside look at the multi-million dollar operation.

1,200 full-grown marijuana plants, several high-powered rifles, handguns and cold hard cash were all seized from inside the warehouse, located on 37-acres of land on a very rural section of Ledge Road in Thompson Township.

Assistant Special Agent at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s Cleveland District office Keith Martin said, “Chances are that marijuana would’ve hit the streets of northeast Ohio. And it was a lot of marijuana.”

In photos and video of evidence released to FOX 8, agents can be seen handling the plants, which are almost the same in height as them and reportedly worth about 5-million dollars

Agents from Cleveland’s drug enforcement administration along with the Geauga County sheriff executeda search warrant at the property Tuesday morning.

An additional 380 plants were also seized in Ashtabula County.

To view pictures and the rest of the story, click here.

Florida’s biggest insurer to cease OxyContin coverage

OxyContin has become one of the most recognizable brand names in the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic. Starting Jan. 1, the state’s largest health insurer will cease coverage of the drug in favor of a painkiller less easy to abuse.

Florida Blue’s alternate, Xtampza ER, is similar to OxyContin in that it is an extended-release, oxycodone-based product.

The big difference, the company said Tuesday, is that Xtampza is more chemically suited to prevent users from crushing, snorting or injecting it — all means of getting a quicker, and potentially more lethal, high.

Continue reading here.

Abusing Pot, Booze Lowers Teens’ Chances for Success in Life

The American dream of success is a lot harder to attain for teenagers who use pot and alcohol, especially if they become substance abusers, a new study reports.

Teen pot smokers and drinkers struggle to achieve some of the hallmarks of adult success, including obtaining a college degree, getting married, holding down a full-time job and earning a good living, the researchers found.

“Parents should try to delay their children’s onset of use as much as possible,” said research supervisor Victor Hesselbrock, chairman of addiction studies at the University of Connecticut. “If you can push regular use back well into adolescence, the kids do a lot better.”

The researchers have been tracking the life course of 1,165 young adults from across the United States, most of whom come from a family with a history of alcoholism, Hesselbrock said.

Participants’ habits were first assessed at age 12. After that, the researchers checked in on them at two-year intervals, up through age 25 to 34 for many of the subjects.

Kids from families with alcohol abuse followed patterns of first substance use and frequency of use that are typical of U.S. high school kids, Hesselbrock said.

But as they got older, the paths of those who used or became dependent on alcohol or pot as teens deviated from those of kids who stayed clean for the most part, according to lead researcher Dr. Elizabeth Harari, who did the analysis as part of her residency training at the University of Connecticut.

Continue reading.

Over-the-counter painkillers treated painful injuries just as well as opioids in new study

In an opioid epidemic that currently claims an average of 91 lives per day, there have been many paths to addiction. For some, it started with a fall or a sports injury, a trip to a nearby emergency room and a prescription for a narcotic pain reliever that seemed to work well in the ER.

New research underscores how tragically risky — and unnecessary — such prescribing choices have been.

In a new study of patients who showed up to an emergency department with acute pain in their shoulders, arms, hips or legs, researchers found that a cocktail of two non-addictive, over-the-counter drugs relieved pain just as well as — and maybe just a little better than — a trio of opioid pain medications widely prescribed under such circumstances.

The epidemic of opiate addiction, which has left roughly 2 million Americans addicted to narcotic painkillers, has claimed more than 183,000 lives since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Emergency department prescribing decisions have played a key role in fueling that crisis. One study found that between 2001 and 2010, the share of U.S. emergency department visits that resulted in a prescription for an opioid analgesic rose by nearly 50%, from 21% to 31%.

Not everyone who gets narcotic pain medication will become addicted. But a report released in July by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that, among patients prescribed opioid pain relievers, at least 8% develop “opioid use disorder,” and 15% to 26% engage in problematic behaviors that suggest they have become dependent.

Continue reading.

The deadlier drug crises that we don’t consider public health emergencies

Alcohol and tobacco kill far more people than opioids. Should they be considered an “epidemic”?

In 2016, this drug was linked to more deaths than guns, car crashes, or even HIV/AIDS at its peak. Actually, it was associated with more deaths than guns and car crashes combined.

I’m not talking about opioids. I’m talking about alcohol.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol is linked to 88,000 deaths each year — more than all the 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016. That includes all potential alcohol deaths: liver cirrhosis, poisonings, crimes related to alcohol, driving while intoxicated, and so on. But it’s a very high death rate — making alcohol the third leading cause of preventable death in the US.

What’s worse, the 88,000 number may, at this point, be an underestimate. The figure comes from an analysis of deaths between 2006 and 2010. But since then, we’ve seen some signs that alcohol deaths may have gone up: Between 2010 and 2015, the number of alcohol-induced deaths (those that involve direct health complications from alcohol, like liver cirrhosis) rose from nearly 26,000 to more than 33,000.

Alcohol isn’t even the deadliest drug in the US; that would be tobacco. Smoking is linked to, depending on the estimate, 480,000 to 540,000 deaths each year — the leading preventable cause of death in America. (This figure is potentially too high, since it’s based on mortality data from 2005 to 2009, and smoking rates have dropped since then. Still, it’s an extremely high death toll.)

Yet all of these deaths didn’t inspire President Donald Trump or the presidents before him to formally declare a public health emergency over tobacco or alcohol, as Trump finally did for opioids on Thursday. We don’t often call alcohol or tobacco “epidemics,” even as we regularly use that same language for opioids that are linked to a fraction of the deaths from alcohol or tobacco.

To continue reading, click here.

Residents oppose looser limits on alcohol sales

Our nation’s relationship with regulations involves a careful balance of competing interests – demand for convenient, easy access to goods and services alongside the need for public safety. This dynamic affects every aspect of modern life, including oversight of retail alcohol sales.

For decades, Bay State officials have enforced laws and regulations that control the sale of beer, wine and spirits while diminishing undesirable effects caused by over-consumption. This strong regulatory approach has helped Massachusetts post the second-best record for driving under the influence and the lowest death rate for fatalities resulting from DUI, and according to the National Highway Transportation Administration.

Communities such as those in the Merrimack Valley, it appears, approve reasonable limits on retail package store licenses, mandatory minimum prices for alcoholic beverages, and prohibitions on discounts for bulk purchases of alcohol.

This is confirmed by the results of a recent national poll commissioned by the Center for Alcohol Policy, which shows that a sizable majority oppose inexpensive alcoholic beverages in their local communities and support stronger controls on products of high alcohol content.

Those surveyed also said that states get it right when it comes to alcohol regulation, with 81 percent in support of the so-called three-tiered license system – producers, distributors, retailers – that has been in place here in the commonwealth since the end of Prohibition.

A majority of respondents spoke out against “bargain tactics” such as below-cost sale of loss-leader products, while supporting limits on ownership of retail package stores because they see the impacts associated with mass marketing of adult beverages.

Continue reading here.

Conference to challenge the role of drink in culture

The Alcohol Forum’s national conference this week will challenge the often-accepted belief that drinking is a central part of Irish identity.

“Given the clear evidence that there is about the links between the availability, the price and the marketing of alcohol and consumption patterns, health experts and policymakers have tended to focus on these issues in isolation,” Paula Leonard, national lead community action on alcohol with the Alcohol Forum, said. “However, culture is also important.

“It’s past time that we looked at our drinking culture. If we don’t face up to it and really understand it, it’s difficult to see how we can change it,” she said.

“This is about bringing those strands together,” Ms. Leonard said.

Read more here.

In The Age Of Legalization, Talking To Kids About Marijuana Gets Tougher

After Yarly Raygoza attended a drug prevention program at the Boys & Girls Club in Westminster, Calif., last year, she used what she learned to talk a few friends out of using marijuana.

The 14-year-old took the class again this year but worries that counseling her friends will become more difficult.

Recreational marijuana is now legal for adults in California, which could bring a massive boom in drug sales and advertising when stores can begin selling the drug without a prescription in January.

But it’s bringing a new challenge, too. Yarly believes that as more people 21 and older use marijuana legally, teenagers will have trouble understanding that they shouldn’t use it. Teens may also have easier access to the drug as recreational pot shops start to open, on top of the already plentiful medical marijuana shops sprinkled throughout the state, she says.

Read more here.

How to do holiday parties while pregnant

It’s hard to believe the holiday season is upon us. We’re decorating, baking cookies, going to holiday parties, shopping in a frenzy for that perfect gift, gathering with family. Maybe squeezing in that “girls night out” where everyone has promised to not exchange gifts, but to just celebrate the season with friendship, great food and drinks. This can be the most wonderful time of the year. But when pregnant or trying to get pregnant, it can be challenging to face the decision about whether to celebrate the season with or without alcohol.

Drinking and pregnancy

Why is this decision so important?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology, and the American Academy of Pediatricians, “there is no safe amount of alcohol, no safe type of alcohol and no safe time to drink when a woman is pregnant.” And yet, in 2016, the CDC estimated that 3.3 million women in the United States were at risk for having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.

When a woman drinks so does the developing baby, who lacks the ability to process or metabolize alcohol through their liver or other organs. The baby has the same blood alcohol concentration as the mother. It makes no difference if the alcoholic drink consumed is a beer, glass of wine or a distilled spirit or liquor such as vodka.

Read about the risks!

12-Year-Old Sues Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Like most 12-year-olds, Alexis Bortell is energetic and loves to read, write and explore her family’s 35-acre farm in Colorado.

But Alexis isn’t like most 12-year-olds.

She’s written a book, takes cannabis oil daily and is challenging the U.S. Controlled Substance Act by suing Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Approximately three years ago Alexis had to leave her home in Texas in order to treat her severe form of epilepsy — known as intractable epilepsy — with cannabis.

Now she’s suing Sessions so that others like her won’t have to leave home in fear of retribution from the federal government if they, too, use medical marijuana.

Read more here.