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Marijuana Recommendation By US Health Agency Hailed As First Step To Easing Weed Restrictions

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has made a proposal to the Drug Enforcement Administration on marijuana policy, which Senate leaders applauded on Wednesday as a first step towards loosening federal marijuana regulations.

On Wednesday, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra stated on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that the department had answered President Joe Biden’s request “to provide a scheduling recommendation for marijuana to the DEA.”

“We’ve worked hard to ensure that a scientific evaluation is completed and shared as soon as possible,” he added.

In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that HHS had recommended that marijuana be reclassified from Schedule I to Schedule III.

“HHS has done the right thing,” said Schumer, D-N.Y. “The DEA should now take this critical step to significantly reduce the harm caused by draconian marijuana laws.”

Criminal sanctions for possession would be reduced or eliminated if the drug was rescheduled. Marijuana, heroin and LSD are currently classed as Schedule I substances.

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The U.S. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has made a proposal to the Drug Enforcement Administration on marijuana policy.

Schedule I medications, according to the DEA, “have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.”

Schedule III drugs “have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule I or II substances, and abuse may result in moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.” Ketamine and anabolic steroids are currently among them.

In October 2022, Biden ordered the study while pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law.

Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, issued a statement urging marijuana to be entirely rescheduled. “However, HHS’s recommendation to reclassify cannabis as a Schedule III drug is not insignificant,” he continued. “If HHS’s recommendation is ultimately implemented, it will be a historic step for a nation whose cannabis policies have been out of touch with reality.”

Bloomberg News first published the HHS recommendation.

The nonprofit U.S. Cannabis Council responded to the Bloomberg report by saying, “We enthusiastically welcome today’s news.” Rescheduling will have many benefits, including signaling to the criminal justice system that cannabis is a lesser priority and giving the cannabis business a critical economic lifeline.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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What Is Alaskapox? Recent Death Brings Attention To Virus Seen In Small Animals

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NEW YORK (— Alaska health officials have been aware of a unique virus producing rare, mild diseases in the Fairbanks region for nine years. However, a recent incidence in another section of the state, which resulted in the death of a man, has re-focused attention on the so-called Alaskapox virus.

Here is some background about the virus.

alaskapox

WHAT IS ALASKAPOX?

Alaskapox is part of a family of brick-shaped viruses that can infect both animals and humans. These bugs, known as orthopoxviruses, produce skin sores, sometimes known as pox. Each has unique qualities, and some are deemed more dangerous than others.

Smallpox is likely the most well-known of the family members, but others include camelpox, cowpox, horsepox, and mpox, previously known as monkeypox.

Alaskapox was detected in 2015 in a lady living in Fairbanks, Alaska. It has primarily been found in tiny animals, such as red-backed voles and shrews. However, health officials warn that pets like dogs and cats may also transmit the infection.

In the last nine years, seven persons, all living in Alaska, have been infected.

alaskapox

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ALASKAPOX?

Alaskapox patients experience one or more skin lumps or bumps, joint or muscular discomfort, and swollen lymph nodes.

Almost all patients had minor ailments that were cured independently within a few weeks. However, people with compromised immune systems risk developing more serious illnesses.

alaskapox

HOW DOES ALASKAPOX SPREAD?

Officials believe that Alaskapox spreads through interaction with diseased animals.

There is no reported instance of it spreading from one person to another. However, other viruses in the same family can be transmitted when one person touches another’s lesions. Therefore, Alaska health officials advise anyone with an Alaskapox lesion to cover it with a bandage.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LATEST CASE?

Alaska health officials are aware of seven persons infected with Alaskapox since the virus was discovered, but the most recent case is its first documented death.

The older man, who lived on the Kenai Peninsula, was being treated for cancer and had a reduced immune system due to the medications. In September, he discovered a red sore under his right armpit and visited doctors for the next two months due to exhaustion and burning. He was hospitalised in November and died last month, according to a statement issued last week by Alaska public health officials.

The man lived in a secluded, forested location and did not travel. According to officials, a stray cat that hunted small animals had frequently scratched him, and one of the scratches was close to the man’s armpit.

How Can I Protect Myself and My Pets?
According to health officials, Alaskapox is a rare illness with often mild symptoms.

However, wildlife can provide an infectious risk. According to health officials, the best way to keep pets and family members safe is to maintain a safe distance and wash your hands after being outside. Also, do not try to keep wildlife as pets.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Zyn Nicotine Pouches Are Flying Off Shelves. Critics Say They’re Dangerous For Kids

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Move over, vapes; Americans appear to have a new addiction: Zyn, a tobacco-free nicotine pouch product that has seen a surge in sales over the last year.

Philip Morris International stated on Thursday that it would export around 350 million cans of Zyn in 2023, representing a 62% increase over the previous year. Shipments usually correlate with sales, even if they are a slightly different indicator of demand.

Growth is projected to continue this year, with the business aiming to supply more than 520 million cans, strengthening Marlboro’s full-year estimate.

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Zyn Nicotine Pouches Are Flying Off Shelves. Critics Say They’re Dangerous For Kids

Zyn has been a cultural hit over the last year, capturing the attention of Gen-Z consumers who have become devoted customers. According to Zyn’s website, it is intended for adults over the age of 21 who are already nicotine users.

“We follow the law and voluntarily do more than the regulations require,” a company spokeswoman said. “For example, we age-gate our digital channels to people over the age of 21 and do not use social media influencers in the United States. Aside from that, we frequently request the removal of inappropriate internet information.”

A can of Zyn costs around $5 and contains roughly 15 pouches (in a range of flavours) with varying quantities of nicotine that are absorbed in a person’s gum and lip over an hour before being spat out. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, nicotine is highly addictive and can impair young people’s developing brains.

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yn Nicotine Pouches Are Flying Off Shelves. Critics Say They’re Dangerous For Kids

However, like Juul, the popularity and growth of Zyn may need help, particularly from the US authorities.

By law, anyone who manufactures or distributes “non-tobacco nicotine” must follow FDA laws, which include:

  • Not selling to anyone under the age of 21.
  • Not giving away samples.
  • Not making claims that their products are less harmful than cigarettes without FDA approval.

Last month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration to investigate Zyn’s marketing to young people.

“I’m delivering a warning to parents, because these nicotine pouches seem to lock their sights on young kids—teenagers, and even lower—and then use the social media to hook them,” Schumer stated at the time of the press conference. “Zyn is the next battle.”

In response, a Phillip Morris International spokeswoman stated that Zyn’s “marketing and advertising are strictly directed” to clients 21 and older and that the materials only include people aged 35 and up.

Phillip Morris International’s shares fell 2% in early trading despite the gain due to weaker cigarette demand. Big Tobacco has steadily turned its focus away from cigarettes and towards smokeless alternatives such as vapes or “heatsticks” for people to obtain their nicotine fix.

Phillip Morris International purchased Zyn-maker Swedish Match in 2022 to support the company’s shift towards investing in additional “smoke-free products.”

zyn

Zyn Nicotine Pouches Are Flying Off Shelves. Critics Say They’re Dangerous For Kids

According to the earnings statement, CEO Jacek Olczak stated that newer products now account for 40% of total revenue, surpassing the traditional Marlboro brand in sales.

“The fourth quarter also marked the first anniversary of our combination with Swedish Match, which delivered very strong results in 2023 driven by the stellar US performance of Zyn,” according to Olczak.

The business stated that it will invest approximately $1 billion this year to increase Zyn manufacturing in the United States in response to demand.

SOURCE – (CNN)

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Is Medical Cannabis a Risk Factor for AFIB When used for Chronic Pain?

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Is Medical Cannabis a Risk Factor for AFIB When used for Chronic Pain?

(VORNews) – In a new study from Denmark, people with medical cannabis prescriptions are slightly more likely to develop atrial fibrillation within 180 days of beginning treatment.

According to the study, patients treated with medical cannabis were 0.8% more likely to develop new-onset atrial fibrillation in the first six months following treatment.

After 180 days, patients not taking medical cannabis had an increased risk of new-onset AFib of 0.4%. The federal government has approved medical cannabis for use in 38 states, the District of Columbia, and three territories as of April 2023. There are several European countries, such as the U.K., Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, and others around the world, that now allow its legal medicinal use.

In the absence of treatment, atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is associated with more serious outcomes, including stroke, heart failure, and blood clots. Researchers compared data from 5,391 Danish people who used medical cannabis to relieve chronic pain with data from people who did not use cannabis.

Women constituted 63.2% of the participants, and their median age was 59. At six months, there was less than a 1% chance of developing AFib in both groups. Researchers found that patients with cardiometabolic disease and cancer experienced the greatest increase in AFib.

Medical Cannabis use after one year is associated with a lower risk

The association between medicinal cannabis usage and an increased risk of atrial fibrillation was most during the first six months but faded during the first year. Copenhagen University Hospital’s Department of Cardiology’s Dr. Anders Holt offered some potential answers as the study’s lead author.

He speculated that the differences might be less pronounced over a longer period of follow-up if the patient stopped taking the medication due to severe adverse effects. “It could be due to patients halting treatment during follow-up for other unknown reasons,” he added. Plus,

The overall picture may be less clear due to other complicating circumstances, as Dr. Holt also noted.

Cannabis increases AFib risk in young people

Dr. Holt stated that the results of his study are especially noteworthy because so little is known about the effects of medicinal cannabis. “But I don’t think there’s cause for serious concern about the health implications of this study because of its observational design and the small risk differences that were found,” he stated.

Dr. Holt tells the European Heart Journal in a news release that he doesn’t think “this research should make patients with chronic pain refrain from trying medical cannabis if other treatment has been inadequate.”

“This study should simply serve as a reminder that all medical treatment may carry the risk of side effects and that we should always make sure that benefits outweigh the possible risk,” Dr. Holt told Medical News Today.

Cardiologist and MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute medical director of the Structural Heart Program Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, who was not affiliated with the study, expressed concern over its findings.

A doubling of the danger, even if the absolute risk is tiny, was Dr. Chen’s statement. The fact that these patients are younger, in his view, shouldn’t be developing atrial fibrillation, is another source of concern for him.

Cannabis users and AFib

A medical cannabis patient may want to be aware of the following warning signs, according to Dr. Jayne Morgan, who was not involved in the study. “Symptoms of atrial fibrillation independent of any cause include palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat.”

To that list, Dr. Chen added lightheadedness and fatigue.

Heart disease risk associated with recreational cannabis

Although there has been a dearth of clinical research on cannabis owing to its lengthy history of prohibition in many countries, more studies have looked at recreational cannabis than medicinal cannabis.

The first larger-scale cohort research to investigate cardiovascular adverse effects associated with medicinal cannabis prescriptions has never been conducted before, according to Dr. Holt.

If we want to make a difference, we need more research like this, Dr. Morgan remarked. Medical cannabis should be the subject of more rigorous research, according to Dr. Holt.

Dr. Chen stated that recreational cannabis use has been “linked to elevated risk of heart attack, particularly in younger individuals.” How cannabis affects the health of the elderly is one of the many unanswered questions at this time. ”

Cardiology patients with known cardiovascular disease tend to be older and more frequently encountered, so it’s important to take that into account,” Dr. Morgan noted. In addition, “been associated with an elevated risk of arrhythmia and acute coronary syndromes” was Dr. Holt’s commentary on recreational cannabis use.

The current study did find a correlation between medicinal cannabis and atrial fibrillation, but no such correlation with acute coronary syndrome, which is an intriguing finding.

How much medical cannabis should I take?

One of the challenging factors to monitor in the context of medicinal cannabis, according to Dr. Chen, is that “the medical model differs from that of prescribing a medication for a heart condition, in which physicians constantly observe patients closely for adverse effects and side effects.”

Dosing medical cannabis differs from administering known-quantity tablets or capsules to a patient regularly. Dr. Chen stated that his knowledge of the prescription process for medical cannabis is limited.

Nevertheless, he stated, “From what I understand, a significant number of patients can obtain a prescription for cannabis from a third party and have it filled elsewhere.” Furthermore, the current state of monitoring in the United States appears to differ significantly from that of a typical medication prescription.

Further information regarding administration and dosing, in addition to short-term and long-term adverse effects, was requested by Dr. Morgan. For instance, medicinal cannabis may be vaporized, inhaled, ingested, or applied.

“When conducting research, we attempt to compare apples to apples,” explained Dr. Chen. “If the dosage is administered “as required” and there is significant variation in the way the medication is administered, it becomes considerably more challenging to identify patterns.”

Dr. Morgan stated, “As medical cannabis use increases and the principle of avoiding harm prevails, more rigor and data will be required for physician prescribing guidance in this area, including whether reversible arterial vasospasm, endothelial inflammation, and possibly vasospasm exist.”

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