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July 20, 2017

LOWER-RISK CANNABIS USE GUIDELINES: A COMPREHENSIVE UPDATE OF EVIDENCE AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The American Journal of Public Health has published a systematic review by Fischer and colleagues called "Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines: A Comprehensive Update of Evidence and Recommendations", examining the evidence on the adverse health outcomes from cannabis that may be modified by the user. Ten major recommendations were developed for lower risk use, some of which include avoiding early initiation, particularly before 16 years, choosing low potency THC or balanced THC to CBD ratio products, avoiding synthetic cannabinoids, deep inhalation practices, high frequency use and driving while under the influence. The authors conclude that poor health outcomes may be reduced by informed behavioural choices among users and with cannabis laws evolving in North America, suggest Lower-Risk Use Cannabis Guidelines could serve as a population level education tool to help improve public health outcomes.

Read and download the review here

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March 10, 2017

ADF DRUG FACTS

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (formerly known as the Australian Drug Foundation) have re-launched their Drug Facts website.  The site contains information on a broad range of drugs, in an accessible format suitable for any worker.  Each fact sheet contains information on the specific substance including how the substance is used, an overview of the effects and harms, and information on rates of use in the population.

Go to the ADF Drug Facts website

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July 15, 2016

CANNABIS: THE WAFT OF CHANGE

Dr Adam Winstock from the Global Drug Survey presented this keynote presentation at the Scottish Drug Forum's Cannabis Conference earlier this year called "Cannabis: the waft of change". In the presentation Dr Winstock talks about the types of cannabis, the harms related to cannabis, motivations for change and clinical issues. Dr Winstock describes some recent innovations including the increasing use of vaporisers, and even cannabis suppositories.

You can view the presentation here.

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May 13, 2016

CANNABIS USE IN PEOPLE WITH PSYCHOSIS

An article has been published in The Lancet Psychiatry titled "Continued versus discontinued cannabis use in patients with psychosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis".  The authors looked at 24 studies that included 16 565 participants.  They found that people who were diagnosed with psychosis and continued to use cannabis had a greater increase in relapse of psychosis than those who ceased cannabis use.  The people who continued using cannabis also had longer hospital admissions than non cannabis users.  The authors conclude with "Continued cannabis use after onset of psychosis predicts adverse outcome, including higher relapse rates, longer hospital admissions, and more severe positive symptoms than for individuals who discontinue cannabis use and those who are non-users."  This article is followed by a response titled "Correlation still does not imply causation" which urges caution in these findings, with the authors describing the "shared vulnerability hypothesis".


"Continued versus discontinued cannabis use in patients with psychosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis"

 

"Correlation still does not imply causation"

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October 28, 2015

MEDICINAL CANNABIS REPORT

The Victorian Law Reform Commission has published its report on Medicinal Cannabis. The report contains recommendations for changes to the law to allow people to be treated with medicinal cannabis in exceptional circumstances.

Download the report here

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October 14, 2015

SAFER USE LIMITS

Alcohol guidelines have been developed in many countries, including Australia, in order to help advise people who use alcohol of ways to reduce the short and long term consequences of their drinking.  Similar guidelines for illicit drug use do not exist, and so the folks at the Global Drug Survey have used the data generated by over 100 000 participants from last years survey in order to understand the ways that real people who use illicit drugs minimise harms.  The "Safer Use Limits" website allows a person to enter the current level of substance use and then provides the user with feedback.  The feedback includes an overall assessment of risk, as well as practical strategies to reduce these risks.  Current cannabis is the only substance available, however more drugs will be added in the future including cocaine, MDMA and alcohol.

Go to "Safer Use Limits" website

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September 18, 2015

BECOMING A MARIHUANA USER

"Points" (the blog of the alcohol and drugs history society) has published a fascinating piece about sociologist Howard S. Becker's famous 1953 essay "Becoming a marihuana user". Becker interviewed cannabis users and developed a theory that there are three steps to becoming a cannabis user:  learn how to correctly consume the substance, recognise the effects and then interpret the effects as enjoyable.  A proponent of social learning theory, Becker believed that an individual's peer group and broader community can shape how an individual will experience the drug effects.  He believed that rather than avoiding withdrawal, the primary motivator for continued use is the experience of pleasure.  When an individual no longer finds a substance pleasurable, they will cease using.  Many of the concepts described by Becker are still relevant today.

Read more about "Becoming a marihuana user" here.

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July 17, 2015

MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAWS AND ADOLESCENT MARIJUANA USE IN THE USA

An article has been published in The Lancet titled "Medical marijuana laws and adolescent marijuana use in the USA from 1991 to 2014: results from annual, repeated cross-sectional surveys".  The paper considers rates of cannabis use amongst young people in states where medical marijuana has been legalised, with those in states where it remains restricted.  The authors found that while cannabis use is higher in states that have legalised medical marijuana, these higher rates of use preceded legislative changes.  The authors conclude that "passage of state medical marijuana laws does not increase adolescent use of marijuana."

Go to "Medical marijuana laws and adolescent marijuana use in the USA from 1991 to 2014: results from annual, repeated cross-sectional surveys".

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June 5, 2015

REMIND ME AGAIN, HOW DOES CANNABIS AFFECT THE BRAIN?

An article has been published on The Conversation website titled "Remind me again, how does cannabis affect the brain?".  The article provides a plain English overview of the research into the effects of cannabis on the developing brain, including the research that shows impacts on education attainment and IQ.  Some of the limitations of this research as also discussed, however perhaps most interesting is the research considering whether the brain is able to recover after a period of abstinence.  The authors cite a number of studies showing that relatively short periods of abstinence can lead to improvements in memory, however this may be related to the age at which heavy cannabis use commenced.

Go to "Remind me again, how does cannabis affect the brain?"

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May 1, 2015

DO YOUNG PEOPLE BENEFIT FROM FAMILY THERAPY FOR SUBSTANCE USE ISSUES?

The UK-based "Drug and Alcohol Findings" has published an article looking at the benefits of family therapy for adolescent substance use.  They consider the outcomes of a Dutch study which compared multidimensional family therapy to regular cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for young people with a cannabis use disorder.  The authors of this study found that the CBT alone was just as effective as multidimensional family therapy, except in those with the most severe problems.  The review from the team at "Drug and Alcohol Findings" includes discussion on possible reasons for this and includes links to other research with different outcomes.


Go to "Do heavily substance-using teenagers need family therapy?"

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