Primary Prevention is the Key

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed new data about overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017. Its findings were grim:
  • There were more than 70,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017 (4,854 of those were in Ohio, according to the Ohio department of Health).
  • Overdose deaths increased across the U.S. by 10 percent and in Ohio by 20 percent.
  • Ohio had the second highest rate of overdose deaths, behind only West Virginia.
  • Most states in the western half of the U.S. had lower than average rates of overdoses. Most of the states with higher than average overdose death rates were in the eastern half of the U.S.
Synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, are driving increases in overdose deaths. At the same time, overdose deaths and deaths due to suicide are significant factors behind the

As CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said, “These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.”
“Preventable” is the key word in Dr. Redfield’s statement. A lot of discussions and public policy center around treatment and law enforcement—both of which are important when it comes to reducing overdose deaths—but we cannot ignore the value of prevention.
We cannot arrest or treat our way out of this epidemic. The public policies we enact in response to this crisis must also include universal, primary prevention. Unfortunately, those who enact public policy don’t always know what prevention is, let alone what constitutes effective prevention.
It’s up to us to educate our communities about prevention. I encourage each of you take time this week to help others in your community understand the value and importance of prevention.

Malcolm Gladwell Blasts Pot Legalization & SAM on CBS This Morning

This week, best-selling The Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell, who the New York Times has called “as close to a singular talent as exists today” in the world of nonfiction, opined about his distaste for the legalization of marijuana and the expanded normalization of the drug. In an extended interview with an NPR affiliate, Gladwell stated:
“To my mind, the important issue is not the economic one, it is the psychological and medical one,” he said. “Research seems pretty clear that the kind of marijuana that’s being sold now, which has levels of THC that are seven or eight times higher than historically, has some quite serious side effects, not all of which we understand.”
He went on to say: “The idea of having the general public consume what is an extraordinarily powerful drug that we don’t fully understand is quite terrifying to my mind.”
CBS This Morning Features SAM 
Also today, CBS This Morning featured a story on the sales of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, and SAM President Kevin Sabet. In the story, Sabet said:

“The state is being heavily influenced by the marijuana industry to tell you your product is safe. There have been…recalls because of additives, pesticides, and molds, so it’s really ‘buyer beware.’ 

“This isn’t about the individual users, this is about a green light to an industry that is taking all of their plays from Big Tobacco, who lied to the American people for a century. Why would we get fooled again?”
Colorado Cost Study

In case you missed it: a new study conducted by a third-party analysis firm found each dollar in tax revenue costs the state of Colorado $4.50.
About SAM
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states. Evidence shows that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. In states that have already legalized the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes,  youth marijuana use, and costs that far outweigh pot revenues. These states have seen a black market that continues to thrive, sustained marijuana arrest rates, and tobacco company investment in marijuana.
For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit

The rationale for tighter control of liquor versus wine and beer

Historically, alcoholic beverages have been regulated and sold differently from other products. And spirits have been regulated differently than beer and wine—for good reason. William Kerr, PhD, Senior Scientist at the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute, put it this way: “Spirits having a higher concentration of alcohol than other beverages, present greater public health risk than other forms of alcohol.” As a researcher in the field for many years, he has a great deal of data to back this up.

In addition to the higher alcohol by volume causing more intoxication per ounce consumed, spirits have been linked to increased risk for illness and disease compared to other types of alcohol. Higher risk for certain cancers has been linked to spirits. Studies in Spain and Puerto Rico found that oral cancers occurred more often in drinkers of spirits.

A number of medical journals have published studies reporting that other diseases and illnesses have been linked to higher spirit consumption. These include cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Continue reading the article here.

There’s still a great divide on how doctors in Ohio view medical marijuana

Amanda Candow’s path to using marijuana for her multiple sclerosis is complicated. She used to be against using any kind of marijuana until she was diagnosed in 2011 and was offered a joint.

“That’s how I found out that it actually helped my medical condition,” said Candow.

“Patients tend to be extremely motivated, and completely appropriately, by anecdotal evidence,” said Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine’s Dr. Ted Parran.

Dr. Parran says doctors should need more medical proof before prescribing any kind of cannabis as a medicine.

One of the barriers to getting that research has been the fact that marijuana is still defined as a Schedule 1 drug, the most dangerous and addictive classification. That’s limited how many medical studies have been conducted with marijuana and Dr. Parran says the research that has been done has had limited results.

Read more here.

A ruling is imminent on the legality of a controversial drug that’s used to treat addiction — but some have called it a ‘dangerous opioid’

A final decision on the legality of a controversial drug is expected imminently from the US government.

The drug, called Kratom, has pitted government regulators against scientists and advocates. The Food and Drug Administration has called it a dangerous opioid and sought to ban it by making it a Schedule 1 drug like heroin or ecstasy. Some advocates say it’s helped them end their addiction to opioids, and scientists want to keep exploring its potential as a medical treatment.

Right now, researchers at the DEA are evaluating the two main components in kratom. They’ll either rule the same for both ingredients, effectively banning all forms of kratom nationwide, or they’ll ban one and make the other potentially available as a medicine at a later date. That’s according to Melvin Patterson, a spokesperson with the Drug Enforcement Administration who described the ruling as forthcoming.

Read more here.

Ohio: Some medical marijuana should be available by year’s end

Ohio officials say it could be a leafy green Christmas for some medical marijuana patients as small amounts of cannabis become available for sale before the end of the year.

The Columbus Dispatch reports a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Commerce says the state’s first harvested marijuana plants should be processed, tested and on dispensary shelves next month.

Spokeswoman Kerry Francis says delays in certifying testing labs that gauge potency and examine plant products for contamination has thwarted plans to make cannabis available this month.

She says large amounts of marijuana should be available at dispensaries starting early next year.

Nearly 320 doctors have registered to become recommending physicians for people who have one or more of Ohio’s 21 qualifying medical conditions for legal cannabis use.

Read more of the article here.

Shopify Is Counting On Cannabis For Growth

According to a Grand View Research report, the global B2C e-commerce market is expected to grow 12% annually to $7,724.8 billion by 2025. The growth in the industry is attributed to increased disposable income levels and rising internet and smartphones penetration. Billion Dollar Unicorn Shopify is helping retailers establish and improve their dot-com presence to drive this growth.

Shopify’s Financials

Ottawa-based Shopify was founded in 2006 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake when they set up an online store, Snowdevil, to sell snowboarding equipment. When the three were setting up the store, they realized that there did not exist a service that allowed them to list their products on a number of marketplaces while retaining the ability to maintain their own brand and establish relationships with their customers. To fill this gap, the three set up Shopify.

Read more here.

Ohio patients will soon be able to legally buy medical marijuana

Ohio is just potentially weeks away from marijuana’s legal debut.

Soon, Ohio patients with nearly two dozen medically approved conditions will be able to buy and use medical marijuana. But while the program may be ready to roll, growers across the state are getting ready.

At Cresco Labs in Yellow Springs, Sean Demme is one of a handful of cultivation agents in the state.

“There is a lot of science that goes into it,” Demme said.

Part of his job is pruning pot plants.

“We are essentially making it easier for them to grow how we want,”  Demme said.

The Columbus native was drawn to the industry after studying plants at Ohio University. This at a time when Cresco Labs is preparing for its first Ohio harvest.

“We are excited,” said Dennis Plamondon, the director of cultivation at Cresco Labs.

The company operates marijuana programs in six different states. Their Yellow Springs facility is more than 50,000-square-feet and is one of 13 level one or large growers in Ohio.

To read more click here.

Study shows marijuana could affect memory. What do you think?

As Ohio employers decide whether their policies should accommodate workers who need medical marijuana, a new study shows adolescents and young adults who abstain from cannabis for a month have improved memory.

The Massachusetts General Hospital study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, will likely be referenced among Ohio employers and educators as medical marijuana hits the market, which could be soon.

Continue reading here.

Ohio to start accepting petitions to add new conditions eligible for medical marijuana

In one week, the State Medical Board of Ohio will begin accepting petitions to add qualifying medical conditions to the state’s medical marijuana program.

According to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, the medical board will start accepting the petitions on November 1.

Petitions need to include:

  • The name and contact information
  • Specific disease or condition requested to be added
  • Information from experts who specialize in the study of the disease or condition
  • Relevant medical or scientific evidence
  • Consideration of whether conventional medical therapies are insufficient to treat or alleviate the disease or condition
  • Evidence supporting the use of medical marijuana to treat or alleviate the disease or condition and other types of medical or scientific documentation
  • Letters of support provided by physicians

Petitions need to be filed through the medical marijuana program’s website, between November 1 and December 31. Early petitions will not be accepted.

Read more here.