Tags Posts tagged with "opioid"

opioid

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There seems to be some confusion amongst the leaders of this incredible country.

In late February, White House press secretary Sean Spicer made an uneducated and informed connection between the opioid addiction crisis we currently face and recreational cannabis.

Spicer said, “There’s a big difference between that and recreational marijuana. I think that when you see the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people. There is still a federal law we need to abide by in terms of when it comes to recreational marijuana.”

Providing Real Facts…Not the Alternative Kind

In January, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a review of 10,000 medical cannabis studies published since 1999. The results strongly support the use of cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain.

In 2014, John Hopkins published a report that found the annual number of deaths from prescription drug overdose is 25% lower than in states where medical marijuana remains illegal.

Several reports actually link the opioid crisis we are currently facing to big pharmaceutical companies that liberally prescribed drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin.

In late December, Department of Justice said several former employees of Insys Therapeutics (INSY), including its former CEO and president, had been arrested and charged with bribing doctors and defrauding health insurers to push prescriptions of Subsys, a fentanyl sublingual spray that has led to countless overdoses.

Biotech Stocks to Watch

The opioid crisis the United States faces combined with recent breakthroughs in research pertaining to the medical benefits of cannabis have created several attractive opportunities for biotech investors.

Some of the companies investors should be watching Future Farm Technologies Inc. (FFT.CN) (FFRMF), Vinergy (VIN.CN) (VNNYF), and InMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (IN.CN) (IMLFF).

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American political leaders around the country are casting about for a policy response to the widespread abuse of opioid painkillers that doesn’t replicate the mistakes of past punitive approaches to drug use.
Now, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has thrown her clout into that push for solutions – and in a way that underscores the injustices of the War on Drugs over the past several decades.

Warren is asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research how medical and recreational marijuana might help alleviate the opioid epidemic. In a letter sent Monday to CDC head Dr. Thomas Friedan, Warren urged the agency to finalize its guidance to physicians on the dos and don’ts of prescribing oxycodone, fentanyl, and other popular drugs in this category.

She also went further, asking Friedan “To explore every opportunity and tool available to work with states and other federal agencies on ways to tackle the opioid epidemic and collect information about alternative pain relief options.” Those alternatives should include pot, Warren wrote. She went on the ask Friedan to collaborate with other federal health agencies to investigate how medical marijuana is or isn’t working to reduce reliance on highly addictive prescription pills, and to research

“The impact of the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana on opioid overdose deaths.” Researching marijuana is fraught for federal agencies because the drug remains a schedule 1 controlled substance, the most restrictive category within American drug law.

The classification is reserved for drugs with “No medically accepted use,” a designation that makes less and less sense as more and more states legalize marijuana for medical use.

The federal scheduling also makes it onerous for researchers to work on answering the kinds of questions Warren raised in her letter, a reality that helped drive the centrist Brookings Institute to call for the drug to be reclassified as a schedule 2 drug in a report last October – a schedule that includes prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin.

It’s a sign of progress compared to the mandatory minimum sentencing laws and focus on aggressive law enforcement that marked past drug panics, but it’s also got racial overtones that are hard to ignore.

Regardless of the rationale behind the shift toward more benevolent anti-drug policies related to opioids, the crisis will probably help advance the fight to loosen America’s pot laws too. The attention now being paid to opioid abuse “Has been a key factor in opening previously closed minds,” Cannabis Now notes – including Warren’s own.

Rising scrutiny of opioid use is having other, stranger effects too.
With the high-powered painkillers booming in popularity, drug makers have little need to advertise them. Super Bowl viewers were treated to a very expensive promo Sunday night for a drug designed to alleviate the constipation that heavy opioid use can cause. The drug, an AstraZeneca invention called Movantik, may be a sign that doctors are not just overprescribing opioid painkillers in general, but specifically dishing them out to the wrong kind of patients.

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With cannabis currently legal in some form spread out over 23 states, the amount of Americans who die from overdosing on marijuana this past year was significant: The rate of absolutely zero fatalities from a cannabis overdose remained steady from this past year, according to figures released this month by the Centers for Disease Control.

While Americans are not dying as a result of pot overdoses, the same can not be said for a variety of other substances, both legal and illicit.
A total of 17,465 people had a fatal experience from overdosing on illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine this past year, while 25,760 people died from overdosing on prescription medicines, such as painkillers and tranquilizers like Valium, according to CDC figures.

Opioid overdose levels increased sharply back in 2014 – spiking 14 percent from the previous year – the CDC described the levels as “Epidemic.” “More persons died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2014 than during any previous year on record,” the CDC documented earlier this month.

Alcohol, and, even more, accessible substance is killing Americans at a rate not seen in roughly 35 years, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal data.There are more than 30,700 Americans who died from alcohol-induced causes this past year which does not include alcohol-related deaths like drunk driving or accidents; if it did, the death toll would be more than two and a half times higher.

According to a widely cited 2006 report in American Scientist, “Alcohol is more lethal than many other commonly abused substances.” The report further puts the lethality of various substances in perspective: Drinking is a mere 10 times the normal amount of alcohol within 5 or 10 minutes can prove fatal whereas smoking or eating cannabis might require something like 1,000 times the usual amount to cause a fatal accident.

Though cannabis has yet to lead to a fatal overdose in the U.S., it does have the potential to be abused and lead to dangerous actions such as drugged driving – but taking too much will likely lead to a really bad high. Despite the changing tide in American attitudes in reference to cannabis for both therapeutic and recreational uses, legalization is still vigorously opposed by groups like the pharmaceutical lobby and police unions.

Even among 2016 presidential candidates, Democratic hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders is the only competitor from either party to support outright legalization of cannabis by removing it from the federal list of Schedule 1 drugs, which includes substances like heroin and LSD.

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Those who have access to marijuana usually lower the amount of prescription pills that they consume. In addition, they also lower the amount of alcohol and hard drugs consumed, say the Canadian investigators who recorded the habits of patients with legal medical marijuana.

“Substituting cannabis for one or more of alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription drugs was reported by 87 percent of respondents, with 80.3 percent reporting substitution for prescription drugs, 51.7 percent for alcohol, and 32.6 percent for illicit substances,” the investigators reported.

Those between the ages of 18-40 typically had the highest rates of substitution; that is to say that those who smoked marijuana for pain relief were more likely to use the drug instead of prescription drugs.

“The finding that cannabis was substituted for alcohol and illicit substances suggests that the medical use of cannabis may play a harm reduction role in the context of use of these substances, and could have implications for substance use treatment approaches requiring abstinence from cannabis in the process of reducing the use of other substances,” the authors stated.

The finding was released this September in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review. Many are not at all surprised. A recent recording of the patients involved in Arizona’s medical marijuana program shows that most of those patients “used conventional pharmaceuticals ‘less frequently’ after initiating pot therapy.” Another record of patients participating in Rhode Island’s program produced the same results. A study in 2012 written by investigators at the Centre for Addictions showed that those who suffered from chronic pain used pot along with opioids. According to them, this resulted in “a greater cumulative relief of pain [and] in a reduction in the use of opiates.” According to data published in 2011 by the journal Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, “inhaled cannabis augments the analgesic effect of opioids” and that this “combination may allow for opioid treatment at lower doses with fewer side effects.”

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Painkillers have become a serious issue in the United States. During the past 15 years, America has seen a tremendous growth in both the sales of prescription opiates and the number of people who die each year from abusing them. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), painkillers accounted for 60% of all overdose deaths in 2013. Researchers from the RAND Corporation and the University of California-Irvine (UCI) may have found the answer and that is marijuana.

The researchers discovered a reduction in the number of opioids related overdoses, as well as a reduction in number admissions to addiction treatment center in states that legalized marijuana. The researchers also found that these states experienced significant reductions in both measures if they also legalized marijuana dispensaries.

In the six states where doctors can prescribe marijuana, but retail dispensaries are prohibited, the study found no evidence of reductions in substance abuse or mortality. In the 18 states where medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed, the researchers found a 16% reduction in opioid-related mortality and 28% reduction in opioid-abuse treatment admissions.

No one has ever died from smoking marijuana

No one has ever died from smoking marijuana but every year more than half a million people die from alcohol and tobacco. Every year, people die from the following substances:

  • 400,000 people die from tobacco
  • 100,000 people die from alcohol
  • 20,000 people die from legal drugs
  • 15,000 people die from illegal drugs
  • 2,000 people die from caffeine
  • 500 people die from aspirin

Joe Rogan said it best: The only reason why marijuana is illegal is because of economics. If marijuana was legal, it would cost pharmaceutical and alcohol companies billions of dollars every year.  The Partnership for a Drug-Free America is funded by alcohol companies. Alcohol is a sanctioned drug!

Authored By: Michael Berger

Michael Berger is the president and founder of Technical420, an independent research firm focused specifically on the cannabis sector. He was working for the equity research department at Raymond James Financial Inc., when he recognized a need for a service that provides up-to-date research and analysis on companies that operate in the cannabis industry. Mr. Berger studied finance and economics at Florida State University and is working toward achieving his CFA charter.

Sincerely,

Michael Berger

Founder/President 

Technical 420 LLC

C: 305-458-9982

E: michael.berger@technical420.com

W:  www.technical420.com

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