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U.N. Reports Global Cocaine, Opium Production At Heights

The report says most of the world’s cocaine comes from Colombia and is sold in North America

opioid epidemic
Cataldo Ambulance medics and other first responders revive a 32-year-old man who was found unresponsive and not breathing after an opioid overdose on a sidewalk in the Boston suburb of Everett, Massachusetts, Aug. 23, 2017. VOA

A U.N. report warns the global production of cocaine and opium has reached record-breaking levels as the markets for those and other illicit drugs expand.

In its World Drug Report 2018, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime finds global opium production jumped by 65 percent to 10,500 tons from 2016 to 2017, and in 2016 more than 1,400 tons of cocaine were manufactured globally, the highest level ever recorded.

The report says most of the world’s cocaine comes from Colombia and is sold in North America. It says Africa and Asia are emerging as trafficking and consumption hubs. It says opium is mainly produced in Afghanistan and shipped through the so-called Balkan route into Turkey and West Europe.

Director of Division for Operations of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime Miwa Kato tells VOA the growing opioid crisis, that is the non-medical use of prescription drugs, is becoming a major threat to public health and law enforcement worldwide.

“It is now accounting for three-quarters of addiction-related deaths around the world. So, it is a growing concern both in contexts like the North America context where the media attention very much is, but also in large parts of Africa and parts of Asia, where we do see similar problems,” Miwa Kato said.

Field Of poppies, Opium
Field Of poppies, Opium. Pixabay

The report finds 275 million people between the ages of 15 and 64 used illicit drugs at least once last year and nearly one-half-million drug abusers have died. Kato says the data is always very conservative and the true number of users and deaths is likely to be much higher.

The report says cannabis was the most widely consumed drug in 2016. It says it is too early to know the impact of the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis.

Also read: Fighting Cocaine Addiction! Buddhist Monastery in Thailand known for its Drug Rehabilitation Program

But the report says data from Colorado, one of the first states in the U.S. to legalize marijuana, show a rise in emergency hospital admissions from marijuana intoxication and an increase in traffic accidents and deaths. (VOA)

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Cannabis-Based Drug May Aid in Motor Neuron Disease

For the trial, the team included 60 adults (aged 18-80 years)

Cannabis-based drug may help in motor neuron disease: Lancet. pixabay

A cannabis-based drug may help ease muscle movement for people suffering from motor neuron disease, the results of a clinical trial have shown.

The study, published in The Lancet Neurology journal, showed that chemical compounds — delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol THC and cannabidiol (THC-CBD) — derived from the cannabis sativa plant given as an add-on treatment may help ease symptoms of spasticity (tight or stiff muscles).

Spasticity is a rapidly progressive, fatal neurodegenerative disorder affecting the nerve cells that control muscle movement. It is a major cause of disability and reduced quality of life in people with motor neuron disease.

Adults with motor neuron disease who took a combination of anti-spasticity drugs and cannabidiol experienced less spasticity and pain at six weeks follow-up compared with those given placebo.

“There is no cure for motor neuron disease so improved symptom control and quality of life are important for patients,” said lead researcher Nilo Riva from the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Italy.

Marijuana, Canada
In this July 12, 2018 file photo, a newly-transplanted cannabis cuttings grow in pots at a medical marijuana cultivation facility in Massachusetts. (VOA)

“Our trial showed a beneficial effect of THC-CBD spray in people on treatment-resistant spasticity and pain,” Riva added.

However, there is a need to confirm efficacy and safety of THC-CBD spray in larger, longer term phase 3 trials, Riva said.

For the trial, the team included 60 adults (aged 18-80 years).

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Spasticity and pain was significantly improved in the THC-CBD spray group compared with placebo.

Overall, THC-CBD spray was well tolerated and adverse events were mild to moderate, the researchers said. (IANS)