Stoned Driver Crash Risk Grows as Legal Pot Spreads in the U.S.

As the push to legalize marijuana gains momentum, so is evidence that more permissive policies on the drug are putting motorists at risk.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found, in a study to be released on Thursday, that traffic accidents are rising in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. That followed stark warnings from the National Transportation Safety Board, which on Tuesday issued several recommendations to combat drug-impaired driving.

“The last thing in the world that we want is to introduce another legal substance where we may be adding to that toll and to the carnage on our highways,” said David Harkey, president of the Insurance Institute. “With marijuana impairment, we’re just now starting to understand what we don’t know.”

After retail sales of recreational cannabis began, the frequency of collision insurance claims in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington State rose about 6 percent higher than in nearby states where marijuana is still illegal, the IIHS said in the study.

Read more here.

Jamie Lee Curtis discusses past opioid addiction

Jamie Lee Curtis is proud to be nearly 20 years sober but says it hasn’t been easy.

The actress, who currently stars in “Halloween,” told People she first became addicted to pain killers in 1989 and hid it for ten years.
“I was ahead of the curve of the opiate epidemic,” Curtis said. “I had a 10-year run, stealing, conniving. No one knew. No one.”
This is not the first time that Curtis has opened up about her addiction. In 2001, Curtis told CNN, “I don’t know if any of us can really explain what addiction is exactly, because I think it changes with each individual. I think what we can talk about, is really that there’s hope to recover from it.”
Curtis, the daughter of actor Tony Curtis, who also battled substance abuse, said she hopes her sobriety influences future generations of her family.
“I’m breaking the cycle that has basically destroyed the lives of generations in my family,” she said in her interview with People. “Getting sober remains my single greatest accomplishment… bigger than my husband, bigger than both of my children and bigger than any work, success, failure. Anything.”
Curtis said she still attends recovery meetings and does her best to pay it forward.

Michael Phelps Opens Up About His Struggles With Depression and Thoughts of Suicide

Michael Phelps is known for being the most decorated Olympian of all time, but the 33-year-old retired swimmer wants to be recognized for something else, too: his willingness to talk about his battle with depression.

This week, Phelps spoke out about dealing with depression at the Talkspace Conference: Mental Health & Young Americans. Phelps is a shareholder and advisory board member for Talkspace, the popular online counseling service.

“I have a chance to save a life, and that’s way bigger than ever winning any gold medals,” he said to the audience in New York City. Although six million American menexperience depression daily, so few guys rarely speak about their experiences. But Phelps wants everyone to know, “It’s OK to not be OK.”

Continue reading here.

I Started Vaping to Quit Smoking, and It Was a Huge Mistake

One man’s journey through the promise and peril of e-cigarettes.

In 2015, my now-and-then smoking habit had crept up to two or three cigarettes per day, and a lot more when I was drinking. After one tobacco-laden weekend resulted in a full week of phlegm and coughing, I felt like I had to do something. I was working in Times Square at the time. From the window outside my cubicle, I was face to face with video billboard playing the painfully hip new commercial from the e-cigarette company Juul. Turns out: marketing works. Before I knew it, I’d ordered one for myself and fallen in love at first hit. Everything about the e-cigarette seemed, and felt, better than my old cancer sticks. The smell, the cost, the surprisingly strong amount of nicotine it delivered per hit. At the same social events where I once belched noxious, girlfriend-repelling, shirt-stinking tobacco fumes, I was now puffing crème brûlée-scented fog clouds.

E-cigarettes have been around since 2003 and we still don’t know much about their health effects or safety. But, as we’ve pulled the flavored smoke from our Juuls and similar vaporizers, we’ve blindly assumed one thing: they have to be a better idea than smoking cigarettes.

Cigarettes might be the least controversial enemies of your health. They cause canceremphysemaheart disease, even impotence. While saturated fat and alcohol still have their supporters, nobody is rushing to cigarettes’ defense.

Continue reading here.

Multiple Policies Needed to Balance Alcohol Prices

According to the latest Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health by the World Health Organization, “Price policies are the most cost-effective WHO best buy for reducing the burden of harmful alcohol use.”   Recently, the WHO released their “Safer” Alcohol Campaign which recommends raising the price of alcohol through excise taxes and pricing policies. Experience in the UK has made it clear that you need several tools to strike the right balance. In the US, our regulatory system is aimed at prices that are not too high or too low. Too high induces bootlegging (or selling in internet black market sites) and too low induces excessive drinking.

So, what are all these policies and what are they designed to do? Here is a summary:

No sale below cost: This is the loss leader idea commonly used in supermarkets these days to entice shoppers to their store. But cut-rate prices appeal to heavy drinkers many of whom are underage.

No free alcohol: Again, this is a way to attract customers with freebies or “buy one, get one free” and encourages overconsumption.

No volume discounts: These may be advertised or given with coupons. In either case, buying more usually results in drinking more.

Same price to all and price posting: Many states require that wholesalers sell all products at the same price to all retail customers. This evens the playing field and discourages discounted pricing since everyone pays the same wholesale price. Some states also require that prices be posted and held for a period of time to ensure that changes aren’t made within a short period of time for favored customers. If a wholesaler could change the price right after posting, it could negate the impact of the requirement for everyone to pay the same price.

Excise tax: Raising taxes is done for two reasons. First, if the increase is passed on to the consumer, it raises the overall price. This doesn’t always happen in today’s markets because alcohol is now sold in supermarkets and other places with thousands of other products. These large stores can increase the price on many other products and leave alcohol cheap in order to draw in consumers. Second, a tax increase produces revenue for the public, who shoulders the lion’s share of the cost of alcohol harm. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cost of excessive drinking was $249 billion annually from 2006-2010 and governments were able to pay for only 40.4% of that cost.

Minimum price or mark-up: Only a few states have anything like a minimum price, but it is common in Canada. Scotland recently adopted this measure because tax increases failed to curb the cheap alcohol favored by problem drinkers. Ireland is in the last stages of adopting a similar measure. In the United Kingdom, the alcohol market is dominated by several large supermarket chains. When the tax on alcohol was increased several years ago, it was not passed on to the consumer. In many cases, the grocers required the supplier to pay for it.

Control-state pricing: The 17 states and several local governments that own all or part of the alcohol business do control price. Generally, those states have somewhat higher prices and do not permit some practices that might encourage high volume consumption.

Happy Hour laws:  Several states have regulations for bars, restaurants and taverns that prohibit drink specials designed to encourage excessive consumption. These include: all you can drink for a set price, drinking games, women drink free, and two for the price of one.

Continue reading here.

Drug prevention experts warn of marijuana’s dangers as legalization looms in Ohio

Ohioans on both sides of the issue are bracing for the legalization of medical marijuana.

Drug prevention experts are voicing their concerns about the downside of legalizing the drug.

Prevention First held it’s annual Coalition Academy to teach people about the latest trends in drug use.
The hottest topics this year– Juuling, e-products and medical marijuana.
“I think we need to do a lot of research with THC,” said John Burke, formerly of the Warren County Sheriff’s Department Drug Task Force. Burke has spent decades fighting drug epidemics.
With the legalization of medical marijuana in Ohio, he anticipates the same collateral damage as what has happened in Colorado.
“There have been youth and children exposures, pet exposures and DUI deaths due to marijuana,” said Burke.

MADD points out dangers of underage drinking after LeBron James says his sons drink wine

A day after LeBron James said his 11-year-old and 14-year-old sons drink wine, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) responded by calling attention to the dangers of underage drinking.

“We still have a long way to go to educate parents about the dangers of underage drinking,” MADD stated Wednesday on its Twitter feed. “Early age drinking is assoc w/dev of alcohol use disorder later in life+alcohol can alter brain dev that continues well into the 20s. So many reasons to support 21 drinking age!”

MADD’s tweet was linked to USA TODAY Sports’ report about James’ remarks.

James, preparing for his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, made the remark Tuesday after the team’s practice in El Segundo, Calif.

Continue reading here.

‘Come And Arrest Me’: Former Pa. Governor Defies Justice Department On Safe Injection

In Philadelphia, a battle between local officials and the Trump administration is heating up.

In defiance of threats from the Justice Department, public health advocates in Philadelphia have launched a nonprofit to run a facility to allow people to use illegal drugs under medical supervision. It is the most concrete step yet the city has taken toward eventually opening a so-called supervised injection site.

The non-profit, called Safehouse, was formed after a political heavyweight, former Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, joined the board.

In August deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, told NPR that the Justice Department will not tolerate the opening of a supervised injection site in Philadelphia. Rosenstein said anyone involved in running one is “vulnerable to civil and criminal enforcement.”

Rendell is unfazed.

“I have a message for Mr. Rosenstein: I’m the incorporator of the safe injection site nonprofit and they can come and arrest me first,” Rendell says.

Read more here.

Congress Is Getting Frustrated With the White House’s Pot Policy

Trump’s long said he supports states’ rights when it comes to cannabis, but new reports suggest some in his administration isn’t ready to give up pot prohibition

A bipartisan group of lawmakers fear there are top White House officials actively working to undermine President Trump’s own marijuana policy — a cannabis deep state, of sorts. On the campaign trail back in 2016, Trump advocated allowing each state to craft their own pot policies, and he’s reiterated as much since entering the Oval Office. But that’s not how policy is shaping up.

This week, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) confirmed a report by Buzzfeed that there’s a committee inside the White House devoted to marijuana policy. While they finally admitted the committee exists, they stopped short of confirming that the panel was seeking only to only spread negative information on marijuana to combat the groundswell of support that cannabis has garnered across the nation. Even some of the president’s Republican allies are up in arms, because they say the president has endorsed their efforts to de-schedule marijuana at the federal level. Still, they continue to be stonewalled.

Continue reading the article here.

Ben Affleck opens up about battle with alcohol addiction

Ben Affleck posted an Instagram statement Thursday in which he revealed that he recently completed a 40-day stay at a treatment center and continues his outpatient care for alcohol addiction.

“The support I have received from my family, colleagues, and fans means more to me than I can say,” he wrote. “It’s given me the strength and support to speak about my illness with others.”

Affleck, 46, entered rehab back in August. He previously sought treatment in 2001 and 2017.

“Battling any addiction is a lifelong and difficult struggle,” Affleck wrote. “Because of that, one is never really in or out of treatment. It is a full-time commitment.”

Read more here.