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3 posts from January 2017

01/26/2017

The Health Benefits of Marijuana and Related Regulatory Policies : A Conversation with Paul Armentano (January 24th)

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This past November, voters in seven states legalized marijuana either for medical or for recreational use.  Twenty-nine states have now legalized cannabis for medicinal use (and of these eight, along with the District of Columbia, for recreational use).   Despite growing state legalization, the debate concerning marijuana's health effects continues.  Recently, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) published an extensive scientific review of research literature published since 1999 to reach nearly 100 conclusions about its therapeutic benefits including in the treatment for chronic pain in adults, chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting and Multiple Sclerosis-related spasticity.  Despite state approval and demonstrated health benefits, at the federal level, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance (along with, e.g., heroin), and its use illegal.  

Mr. Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.  He is Armentanoalso a faculty member at Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California.  His is the author of over 200 publications including more than a dozen contributions to textbooks and anthologies.  His most recent book-length work is, The Citizen's Guide to State-by-State Marijuana Laws (2015) and he is co-author of the 2013 volume, Marijuana is Safer: Why Are We Driving People to Drink?  Mr. Armentano was the principle investigator for the defense counsel in US v Schweder, the first federal evidentiary hearing since 1973 to challenge the constitutionality of cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance.  He also served as an expert in a successful Canadian constitutional challenge, Crown v. Allard, preserving qualified patients right to grow cannabis at home.   Among other awards Mr. Armentano was the 2013 Freedom Law School Health Freedom Champion of the Year.  

The National Academy of Sciences' report, The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research is at: http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/reports/2017/health-effects-of-cannabis-and-cannabinoids.aspx.

For more information regarding NORML go to: http://norml.org/.

01/24/2017

"ACA Repeal and the Ethics of Belief," by David Introcaso (January 24th)

In 1877 William Clifford published an essay titled, The Ethics of Belief."  The essay became a seminal work in the field of ethics because Clifford posed a central question in life.  Is it wrong to believe something based on insufficient evidence? Is it wrong to oppose or support repeal of the Affordable Care Act absent "patient investigation" or based on "insufficient evidence"?  Are those, like the ship owner in Clifford's essay, then responsible for any and all adverse consequences resulting from repeal?

"ACA Repeal and the Ethics of Belief" is at: http://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/2017/01/23/aca-repeal-and-the-ethics-of-belief/.

01/07/2017

NIDCD's Efforts to Reduce Noise-Induced Hearing Loss: A Conversation with Dr. James Battey (January 6th, 2017)

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While there is evidence noise-induced hearing loss among adolescents has increased due to the use of smartphones and other mobile devices, the evidence to date is not compelling or is still the subject of scientific debate.  Nevertheless, noise induced-hearing loss is a legitimate concern and therefore a topic in need of health education to combat, particularly since exposure is frequently voluntary, the consequences are cumulative and because the effects typically do not manifest until years later. Already, it is estimated 12 to 15 percent of school age children have some hearing deficits attributable to noise exposure and in adults, 15 percent of 26 million Ameeicans between the ages 20 and 69 have noise induced hearing loss.  The consequences can be significant.  In children, for example, hearing loss can delay language development, reduce educational achievement, produce social isolation and compromise quality of life.   

During this 21 minute conversation Dr. Battey discusses the effects of being deaf, the physiological causes of deafness, the evidence for noise induced hearing loss and moreover the impetus for the NIDCD's "It's a Noisy Planet" and the educational program's goals, targeted audiences, activities and success or impact to date.  

Since 1998 Dr. James Battey has served as Director of the NIH's NIDCD.  Previously he served as the Institute's Director of Battey_7486Intramural Research.   He has also served as an Investigator and Section Chief at the NIH's National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.  Dr. Battey received his undergraduate degree in physics at the California Institute of Technology and his MD and Ph.D. in biophysics at Stanford University School of Medicine.  He did his residency training in pediatrics also at Stanford and did postdoctoral training in genetics at Harvard Medical School. 

For information concerning NIDCD's "It's a Noisy Planet" go to: https://www.noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov/.

For a review article concerning noise induced hearing loss among children, see, for example, Robert V. Harrison, "The Prevention of Noise Induced Hearing Loss in Children," International Journal of Pediatrics (2012) at: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijpedi/2012/473541/