Friday November 24, 2017

Substance abuse of Marijuana rises in the United States

Research says, even after knowing the side effects of Marijuana, it is being used and the numbers are rising instead of falling

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Image from Pixabay

USA, September 2,2016: Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a product of the Cannabis plant used as a psychoactive drug or medicine. It can be used for smoking, vaporization, within food, or as an extract. It is also used for its mental and physical effects, such as a “high” or “stoned” feeling, a general change in perception,euphoria, and an increase in appetite.

  • The substance abuse of Cannabis or Marijuana which is a drug, increases in the United States
  • The dangers and risks associated with it doesn’t bother its users, rather, the fact that it’s used for medical purposes, lessens the dangers associated with it in the mind of the users

As attitudes about marijuana change in the United States, more adults are using the drug, according to a new study.

Researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, writing in The Lancet Psychiatry, say that as more states legalize recreational and medical use of marijuana, fewer adults feel there are dangers associated with its use.

Marijuana plants for sale are displayed at the medical marijuana farmers market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles, July 11, 2014. (VOA)
Marijuana plants for sale are displayed at the medical marijuana farmers market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles, July 11, 2014. (VOA)

Using data from nearly 600,000 adults over the age of 18, the researchers found that from 2002 to 2014 marijuana use increased from 10.4 percent of adults in 2002 to 13.3 percent in 2014. Usage was defined as having consumed marijuana in the previous year.

The study also found that adults reporting using marijuana for the first time in the previous year also rose from .7 percent in 2002 to 1.1 percent in 2014. Additionally, those reporting daily or near daily use jumped from 1.9 percent to 3.5 percent over the same time period.

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Extrapolating this data, researchers say, means that 823,000 adults reported first using marijuana in 2002 compared to 1.4 million in 2014. They estimate that during the same time period the overall number of marijuana users jumped from 21.9 million to 31.9 million. The number of daily or near daily users was 8.4 million in 2014, up 3.9 million from 2002.

These increases, researchers say, are being driven by a decline in the number of people who perceive marijuana as dangerous. Short term side effects may include a decrease in short-term memory, dry mouth, impaired motor skills, red eyes, and feelings of paranoia or anxiety. Long term side effects may include addiction, decreased mental ability in those who started as teenagers, and behavioural problems in children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy. Onset of effects is within minutes when smoked and about 30 to 60 minutes when cooked and eaten. They last for between two and six hours. For example the percentage of people who felt that smoking marijuana once or twice a week was dangerous fell from 50.4 percent to 33.3 percent.

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“Although shifts in perceived risk have historically been important predictors of adolescent marijuana trends, no previous research has examined this relationship in adults,” said study author Dr Wilson M. Compton of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health. “State laws related to marijuana use in the U.S.A. have changed considerably over the past 20 years with medical marijuana now legalized in 25 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, several jurisdictions have legalized non-medical marijuana use.”

Cannabis sativa leaves (Wikimedia Commons)
Cannabis sativa leaves (Wikimedia Commons)

Despite the rise in number of adults using marijuana, the researchers say did not see a corresponding rise in “marijuana use disorders” such as abuse or dependence, though they add more study is needed to confirm the trend.

“Understanding patterns of marijuana use and dependence, and how these have changed over time is essential for policy makers who continue to consider whether and how to modify laws related to marijuana and for health-care practitioners who care for patients using marijuana,” said Compton. “Perceived risk of marijuana use is associated with high frequency of use suggesting the potential value for modifying risk perceptions of marijuana use in adults through effective education and prevention messages.” (VOA)

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Restrictions on Freedom of Expression : Pakistani Journalists Struggle with Growing Threats from Government and Militants alike

A recent cybercrime bill in Pakistan has become a vehicle for curbing media freedom, allowing the government to censor digital content, criminalize internet user activity and access bloggers' data without judicial review. Media defenders say the country's blasphemy laws also are being used to cut off public debate.

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Pakistani journalists protest to condemn an attack on their colleague, in Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. Assailants riding on motorcycles have attacked an outspoken Pakistani journalist, leaving him badly hurt with head injuries. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil) VOA

Pakistan, November 2, 2017 : Journalists in Pakistan say they are facing increasing risks ranging from the government’s expanding control over social media to extremist threats that have spread from long-volatile regions to the streets of the capital.

The latest attack left a journalist badly beaten on a street in Islamabad. Earlier this year, security agencies picked up several bloggers from urban centers who said after their release that they had been tortured and humiliated.

Threats to reporters have long been a problem in volatile Baluchistan and the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, but the recent incidents have reinforced complaints by media groups that the danger is spreading to the nation’s heartland.

The victim of the beating in Islamabad was Ahmad Noorani, a senior reporter for the influential Daily News newspaper, who previously had been warned to close his Twitter account after criticizing the powerful military. The attack attracted widespread condemnation on social media, where many posts blamed Pakistan’s intelligence agencies for the attack.

Other journalists have been charged with violating the country’s vague Anti-Terrorism Act, which defines terrorism as creating “a sense of fear or insecurity in society.” Critics say it has broad potential for abuse.

Several bloggers critical of the government or the military have vanished for weeks, later saying they had been kidnapped by the intelligence services.

Popular blogger Asim Saeed was snatched by unknown men earlier this year. He told the BBC in an interview last week that he was picked up by Pakistan intelligence agencies and tortured during his detention.

Digital media rights activists, meanwhile, are warning that Pakistan is attempting to cut back on internet freedom.

“In my opinion, the government is terrifying the social media activists,” Usama Khilji, director of the internet freedom organization Bolo Bhi, told VOA’s Deewa service. “Social media is a democratic medium where people can express their thoughts without any restrictions. However, it has been observed, when people share their thoughts, the government feels insecure.”

Anwar Iqbal, a Washington-based senior journalist and correspondent for the leading English-language newspaper Daily Dawn, agreed.

“The Pakistani state feels vulnerable in the presence of growing social media and wants to stifle the discourse on topics it considers sensitive,” he said.

The state does not want media to discuss sensitive issues like relations with the U.S., China, Afghanistan and India, Iqbal said, particularly in light of President Donald Trump’s new policy for the region calling for Islamabad to crack down on terrorist safe havens.

Reports from watchdog groups

Human Rights Watch’s 2016 report said media were being deterred from reporting on or criticizing human rights violations by the security services.

“Many journalists increasingly practiced self-censorship, fearing retribution from both state security forces and militant groups. Media outlets remained under pressure to avoid reporting on or criticizing human rights violations by the military in counterterrorism operations,” the report said.

Reporters Without Borders, a global media watchdog, in its annual report this year, ranked Pakistan 139 of 180 countries on its Press Freedom Index, despite its reputation having one of the most free media environments in Asia. The report says the nation’s media “are targeted by extremist groups, Islamist organizations, and the feared intelligence agencies” — all of which are on the group’s list of “Predators of Press Freedom.”

Even when the threats come from extremist groups, journalists say, the government has done little to pursue the perpetrators.

But Interior Minister Talal Chaudry defended the government’s actions, suggesting the reporters should be doing more to protect themselves.

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Journalist Zafar Achakzai, who was held for sharing content criticizing security forces on social media, sits in his office after being released from jail, in Quetta, Pakistan, July 9, 2017. VOA

“We have included insurance for journalists in the journalists ‘protection bill,” he said. “Sometimes, journalists are not trained or not properly equipped, and that is why they become victims of violence. We understand journalists are sometimes victims of violence, and that is why we are bringing a comprehensive bill for working journalists in the parliament.”

Journalists: Situation worsening

But many journalists say things are getting worse. A recent cybercrime bill has become a vehicle for curbing media freedom, allowing the government to censor digital content, criminalize internet user activity and access bloggers’ data without judicial review. Media defenders say the country’s blasphemy laws also are being used to cut off public debate.

“We have laws in place for social media, but it’s not being controlled,” Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Yousef told Deewa when asked how the government can avoid the blasphemy law from being misused against social media.

Such problems are longstanding in Pakistan’s troubled southwestern Baluchistan province, where newspapers have been shut down and newsstands shuttered for more than a week amid threats from militant groups claiming the local media are too supportive of the central government.

“The resistance [militant] groups are calling on boycotting all media houses, threatening press offices and journalists,” Behram Baloch, who is now working from home, told VOA. “To address this issue, we held a meeting here at the press club. We decided to suspend our activities for a while, and press club will remain closed. Our movement is limited, and many of our colleagues have left their jobs.”

Militants from separatist groups, banned by the state, threw a hand grenade at an office of a newspaper agency in Turbat, Baluchistan, injuring eight people.

“Journalists as well as the Newspaper Editors Council received threats. As a result, our workers were forced not to leave their homes. They include press workers and hawkers. We were, thus, unable to pick up newspapers [for delivery],” said Mir Ahmed, general secretary of the Newspapers Wholesalers Association.

“Life and death are in the hands of God.” (VOA)

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4 Ships Banned From All Ports For Violating North Korea Sanctions

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South Korea's naval ships
South Korea's naval ships take part in a military drill for possible attack from North Korea in the water of the East Sea, South Korea. voa

The U.N. Security Council has banned all nations from allowing four ships that transported prohibited goods to and from North Korea to enter any port in their country.

Hugh Griffiths, head of the panel of experts investigating the implementation of U.N. sanctions against North Korea, announced the port bans at a briefing to U.N. member states on Monday. A North Korean diplomat attended the hour-long session.

Griffiths later told several reporters that “this is the first time in U.N. history” that the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Pyongyang has prohibited ships from entering all ports.

He identified the four cargo ships as the Petrel 8, Hao Fan 6, Tong San 2 and Jie Shun.

According to MarineTraffic, a maritime database that monitors vessels and their moments, Petrel 8 is registered in Comoros, Hao Fan 6 in St. Kitts and Nevis, and Tong San 2 in North Korea. It does not list the flag of Tong San 2 but said that on Oct. 3 it was in the Bohai Sea off north China.

Griffiths said the four ships were officially listed on Oct. 5 “for transporting prohibited goods,” stressing that this was “swift action” by the sanctions committee following the Aug. 6 Security Council resolution that authorized port bans.

That resolution, which followed North Korea’s first successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, also banned the country from exporting coal, iron, lead and seafood products. Those goods are estimated to be worth over $1 billion – about one-third of the country’s estimated $3 billion in exports in 2016.

The Security Council unanimously approved more sanctions on Sept. 11, responding to North Korea’s sixth and strongest nuclear test explosion on Sept. 3.

These latest sanctions ban North Korea from importing all natural gas liquids and condensates, and cap its crude oil imports. They also prohibit all textile exports, ban all joint ventures and cooperative operations, and bars any country from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers-key sources of hard currency for the northeast Asian nation.

Both resolutions are aimed at increasing economic pressure on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – the country’s official name – to return to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs.

Griffiths told U.N. diplomats that the panel of experts is getting reports that the DPRK “is continuing its attempts to export coal” in violation of U.N. sanctions.

“We have as yet no evidence whatsoever of state complicity, but given the large quantities of money involved and the excess capacity of coal in the DPRK it probably comes as no surprise to you all that they’re seeking to make some money here,” he said.

Griffiths said the panel is “doing our very best to monitor the situation and to follow up with member states who maybe have been taken advantage of by the tactics deployed by DPRK coal export entities.”

As for joint ventures and cooperative arrangements, Griffiths said the resolution gives them 120 days from Sept. 11 to close down.

But “in a number of cases, the indications are that these joint ventures aren’t shutting down at all but are on the contrary expanding _ and therefore joint ventures is a major feature of the panel’s current investigations,” he said.

Griffiths also asked all countries to pay “special attention” to North Korea’s Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies, also known as the Mansudae Art Studio, which is on the sanctions blacklist and subject to an asset freeze and travel ban.

According to the sanctions listing, Mansudae exports North Korea workers to other countries “for construction-related activities including for statues and monuments to generate revenue for the government of the DPRK or the (ruling) Workers’ Party of Korea.”

Griffiths said Mansudae “has representatives, branches and affiliates in the Asia-Pacific region, all over Africa and all over Europe.” Without elaborating, he added that “they’re doing an awful lot more than producing statues in Africa.” (voa)

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Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner Used Private email Account for White House officials

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Jared Kushner
Jared Kushner is senior advisor at the White House .

Washington, Sep 25: US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner has occasionally used a private email account for correspondence with fellow administration officials, his lawyer confirmed.

“Fewer than a hundred emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account,” counsel Abbe Lowell told CNN on Sunday night.

Politico news had first reported Kushner’s use of a private account and said it was set up in December and was used to sometimes trade emails with senior White House officials, outside advisers and some others about media coverage.

Lowell said that the emails on Kushner’s private account were “usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal, rather than his White House, address”.

Federal law requires that all White House records be preserved, including emails.

Regarding concerns that some of the emails might not have been preserved since Kushner was not using a White House account, Lowell told CNN: “All non-personal emails were forwarded to his official address, and all have been preserved, in any event.”

During his campaign, Trump repeatedly criticised Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server to send and receive an email during her tenure as Secretary of State.(IANS)