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October 6, 2017


The alcohol and other drugs blog site "Volteface" recently published an article titled "A problem of 'joint' use: Exploring the interplay between cannabis and tobacco". The article draws on data from the Global Drug Survey, as well as a placebo-controlled double-blind study that compared cannabis and tobacco co-administration. The Global Drug Survey found that people who smoke cannabis mixed with tobacco tended to have less motivation to quit, than those who used cannabis alone. The placebo-controlled study found no difference in how stoned people became, regardless of whether they mixed tobacco with cannabis, but those who combined did show more extreme changes in heart rate and blood pressure - potentially increasing the harm.  The simple take home message is people who smoke cannabis should avoid mixing it with tobacco.

Read "A problem of 'joint' use: Exploring the interplay between cannabis and tobacco"

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August 31, 2017


Vice Media have developed a series of harm reduction videos, including substances such as MDMA, cocaine., cannabis, nitrous oxide and more.  The videos use a scientist from The Loop, a drug testing service from the UK, to answer some key questions that users often have, with practical suggestions to reduce the harms. Obviously, the only way to reduce all of the harms is to not use. However for those who do use, there are some strategies that can be implemented to reduce the harms. Some of the tips in the videos include: not to use MDMA more than once every three months, to reduce the risks of developing tolerance and increasing some of the potential cognitive effects of MDMA.

Go to Vice Media's "Safe Sesh" videos.

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July 20, 2017


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


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


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


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


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


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


"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


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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