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Introduction: Welcome to AODstats, the Victorian alcohol and drug interactive statistics and mapping webpage.
AODstats provides information on the harms related to alcohol, illicit and pharmaceutical drug use in Victoria.

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By JAY BARMANN IN NEWS  2017

Cannabis sold at Bay Area dispensaries is regularly referred to as "medicine," however a lack of regulation and testing around the product has led to significant supply of marijuana on dispensary shelves being tainted and/or toxic to the people who consume it.

Following the recent HempCon at the Cow Palace in August, an array of medical marijuana products underwent testing by Hunters Point-based Anresco Laboratories. As San Francisco Magazine reports, some 80 percent of those tested from California-based growers and dispensaries, were tainted with mold, fungus, bacteria, pesticides, or harmful solvents — and the popular concentrates and oils used in vape pens and dabs can, because they're concentrated, contain much higher amounts of these toxins.

"We sometimes see 20 or 30 percent of our samples coming through the lab significantly contaminated with molds," said Dr. Donald Land of Steep Hill Laboratories in Berkeley. But after sampling from 20 dispensaries across California and analyzing the cannabis down to its DNA, Land told CBS 5 at the time that he was shocked to find "ninety percent of those samples had something on them. Some DNA of some pathogen."

SF Mag goes further into Anresco's results, finding that pesticides and fungicides can appear in cannabis extracts at 1,000 times the level of concentration typically found in foods. These chemicals include things like myclobutanil, which sold under the brand name Eagle 20, and which can cause cancer and has reportedly sickened cannabis consumers in Canada.

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The Bill and the report

The Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill 2016 passed through the Dáil on 1 December when the government chose not to oppose it.

The bill would allow for the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal purposes. It proposes the establishment of a Cannabis Regulation Authority which would manage and licence the sale of cannabis for medicinal use.

The bill also contains provisions for cannabis to be prescribed by general registered doctors and for cannabis to be removed from the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The Joint Health Committee report is strongly critical of the bill on multiple grounds.

It states that the establishment of a Cannabis Regulation Authority would undermine the current framework for regulation for medicine in Ireland. As things stand, new medicines are regulated by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).

The report also criticises the provision around removing cannabis from the Misuse of Drugs Act, saying that this could have “unintended policy consequences” like decriminalising cannabis in non-medicinal circumstances.

It also says access to cannabis would be too loose under the bill, meaning that it could be potentially harmful for patients.

Finally, the committee notes that an approach is already being considered by government over medicinal cannabis under existing laws. A HPRA report published in January found that there was insufficient evidence for its benefits to prescribe cannabis generally.

The approach whereby cannabis could be prescribed by a medical consultant in a controlled and monitored manner for a limited number of clearly defined medical conditions is already being pursued by government.

The Joint Health Committee recommends that this approach be continued and that. It states that due to the large number of issues, the Solidarity People Before Profit Bill should not progress any further.

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Rachel Worsley

30th May 2017

None of WA’s 10,679 doctors have applied to prescribe medical cannabis since it was legalized in November.

According to the AMA WA, the lack of interest is because doctors do not believe there is evidence to prescribe medical cannabis for anything other than in paediatric epilepsy and MS.

https://www.australiandoctor.com.au/news/latest-news/wa-doctors-shun-medical-cannabis

AMA cautious about medicinal cannabis

But the Australian Medical Association of WA said it remained cautious about the use of medicinal cannabis.

AMA WA president Omar Khorshid said it was important rules around the use of medicinal cannabis remained strict, as its efficacy was still being tested.

"The AMA is certainly not supportive of shortcuts, and instead of avoiding all the regulatory steps, we should be investigating cannabis-based products, how good they are, how safe they are, and once that's been done, they should available just like any other drug," he said.

"The AMA is calling for more research on cannabis-based drugs so that we know what's in them, how well they work, and how safe they are, and once that's done, we'll be able to prescribe to prescribe better drugs for patients to manage these conditions."

Ms Neville said there was international research to show cannabinoid-based products were safe and efficient.

The Department of Health said an application was yet to be received from Ms Neville's doctor, and the department had contacted this doctor to provide information and regulatory assistance.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-07/families-struggling-to-access-to-medicinal-cannabis/8685712

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Abstract

We report the cases of two young German male patients with treatment-resistant Tourette syndrome (TS), who suffer from incapacitating stuttering-like speech disfluencies caused by vocal blocking tics and palilalia. Case 1: a 19-year old patient received medical cannabis at a dose of 1 × 0.1 g cannabis daily. Case 2: a 16-year old patient initially received dronabinol at a maximum dose of 22.4-33.6 mg daily. Both treatments provided significant symptom improvement of vocal blocking tics as well as of comorbid conditions and were well tolerated. Thus, cannabis-based medicine appears to be effective in treatment-resistant TS patients with vocal blocking tics.

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21 July 2017

University of Queensland researchers are concerned the recent legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia may give rise to super-potent cannabis concentrates with associated harmful effects.

UQ Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research’s Dr Gary Chan, who led the butane hash oil study, said a significant proportion of cannabis users used the concentrate.

“Butane hash oil is a cannabis concentrate that is over 10 times more potent than herbal cannabis,” Dr Chan said.

“Although users were more likely to report medical use, the use of butane hash oil was associated with high levels of depression, anxiety disorder and other illicit substance use.

“These results were consistent globally.”

The research was based on data from the Global Drug Survey, the world’s largest drug survey that collects data about drug users.

The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of butane hash oil can be as high as 80 per cent. In comparison, the THC content in herbal cannabis is approximately 9-15 per cent, depending on the method of cultivation.

Butane hash oil is produced by solvent extraction (maceration, infusion or percolation) of marijuana or hashish.

After filtering and evaporating the solvent, a sticky resinous dark liquid with a strong herbal odour remains.

Dr Chan said there had been a rise of butane hash oil use in the United States, and considered it to be an unexpected by-product of cannabis legalisation.

“The production and promotion of hyper-potent cannabis concentrates with 70 to 80 per cent THC now account for 20 per cent of the markets in Washington and Colorado, and use of these hyper-potent products seem to be gaining popularity in Canada,” he said.

“Given that Australia has recently legalised medical cannabis use, surveillance needs to take note of any rise in the use of concentrates because it can be produced with relatively simple equipment that is easily accessible.

“However, at this stage there is no evidence for medical use of butane hash oil for any health condition.”

The study is published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal.

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