Vitamin E Acetate Is Leading Suspect in Vaping-Linked Lung Illnesses: CDC

FRIDAY, Nov. 8, 2019 — A new federal report points to an oily chemical known as vitamin E acetate as the likely culprit behind more than 2,000 cases of severe lung illness among vapers.

After taking fluid samples from the lungs of 29 vapers who were hospitalized for the illness in 10 states, scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spotted the chemical in all of the samples.

“This is the first reported identification of a potential toxicant of concern (vitamin E acetate) in biologic specimens obtained from [these] patients,” the researchers said in the Nov. 8 online edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury.”

But the CDC researchers added that more study is still needed.

“Based on these data from 29 patients, it appears that vitamin E acetate is associated with [severe lung illness]; however, it is possible that more than one compound or ingredient could be a cause of lung injury, and evidence is not yet sufficient to rule out contribution of other toxicants,” according to Benjamin Blount and his colleagues at the CDC.

Vitamin E acetate is derived from vitamin E, which is found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, and leafy green veggies. It is available as a dietary supplement and skin treatment.

But when vaped and inhaled, this oil can harm lung cells, one respiratory expert has said.

“My understanding of vitamin E acetate, the oil, is that it needs to be heated to a very high temperature in order to be transformed into a vapor,” said Patricia Folan, who directs the Center for Tobacco Control at Northwell Health, in Great Neck, N.Y.

“However, when an individual inhales the vapor into their lungs, the temperature in their lungs is lower, causing the substance to return to its oil state,” she added. “This in turn causes shortness of breath, lung damage and the respiratory illness being seen in [these] individuals.”

Dr. Teresa Murray Amato is chair of emergency medicine at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, in New York City. She noted that, “once inhaled, oil can set off an inflammatory response that can lead to severe lung injury. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is one of the dreaded complications as it can lead to the need for intubation — placing a breathing tube — and being placed on a ventilator to assist in the respiratory effort.” In the most severe cases, ARDS can prove fatal, she added.

As of Thursday, the number of Americans stricken with severe lung illness tied to vaping had reached 2,051, the CDC reported.

That’s a rise from the 1,888 case total from a week ago.

Cases have been reported in every state except Alaska, the agency noted.

The related death toll has also risen by two over the past week, to 39 fatalities, spread across 24 states and the District of Columbia. Deaths have involved patients ranging from the ages of 17 to 75, with a median age of 53.

The CDC has noted that 86% of cases involved products that contained THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Young men are being especially affected, with 70% of patients being male and 79% under the age of 35.

In light of the most recent findings on vitamin E acetate, the CDC continues to recommend that people refrain from vaping.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about vaping and lung health.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019 – Daily MedNews

Your Dog May Be Leading You to a Healthier Heart

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 23, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Your dog might be your heart‘s best friend, if a new study is any indication.

Researchers found that compared with people who had no pets, dog owners tended to have fewer risk factors for heart disease: They got more exercise, and had healthier diets and lower blood sugar levels.

Even compared with other pet owners, they were doing better with diet and exercise.

The study of nearly 1,800 Czech adults is not the first to suggest our canine friends can do our hearts good. In fact, in 2013 the American Heart Association (AHA) issued a scientific statement saying that dog ownership is likely linked to a lower risk of heart disease.

That was largely based on evidence that people with dogs are more physically active. The new findings suggest the benefit might extend to diet and blood sugar levels.

It’s easy to see how having a dog could get people moving, according to senior researcher Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez.

And it’s possible that dog owners’ lower blood sugar levels were related to their exercise habits, said Lopez-Jimenez, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

It’s less obvious, though, why dog ownership would encourage a healthier diet. One possibility is that the two are not directly related, he said.

On the other hand, past research has shown that dogs do more than demand walks and get us moving: They offer companionship and emotional support, according to Lopez-Jimenez.

“They can decrease your feelings of loneliness, and give you a sense of purpose,” he said. “You have someone to look after.”

And that, he speculated, might encourage people to take better care of themselves.

Dr. Glenn Levine, a volunteer medical expert with the AHA, was lead author of its statement on pets and heart health. He said that, overall, there is “reasonably good data” that adopting a dog can increase people’s physical activity levels.

“That’s the strongest and most direct (cardiovascular) benefit,” said Levine, who is also a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.


He agreed, though, that pets might support heart health in less-direct ways, too. “There may be other benefits as well — including reduced stress, greater companionship and happiness, and other factors that could lead people to take better care of themselves.”

For the study, the researchers used data from a health survey of 1,769 Czech adults, aged 25 to 64.

Overall, more than two-thirds of dog owners (67%) met the “ideal” AHA recommendations for exercise. That means 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, each week — along with muscle strengthening exercises a couple of days per week.

In contrast, only 48% of people without pets met that ideal, as did 55% of other pet owners, the findings showed.

When it came to diet, few people met the AHA ideal, which includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, fiber-rich grains, fish and lean meat. But dog owners were doing better than others: Fewer than 7% scored in the “poor” range for diet, versus 16% of people without pets, and 13% of other pet owners.

Dog owners did, however, fall short in one heart-health measure: Their smoking rates were highest.

It’s not clear why, according to Lopez-Jimenez — and it might not hold true in other countries, such as the United States. In general, smoking is more common in Eastern Europe.

The bottom line, according to Levine, is that people might enjoy health benefits from having a canine companion. But the AHA does not advocate adopting a dog for that purpose.

“The primary purpose of adopting or rescuing a dog should be to give the dog a loving and caring home,” Levine said. “The health benefits that may come from this are a bonus.”

The findings were published Aug. 23 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D., M.B.A., cardiologist, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; Glenn Levine, M.D., volunteer medical expert, American Heart Association, and professor of medicine-cardiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston;  Aug. 23, 2019,Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

What Maureen West Learned From Running the Nation’s Leading Hemp Program

As with many emerging industries, getting ahead in the industrial-hemp industry often involves hiring the people who created the original regulations. In legal marijuana, for example, everyone from former state legislators to past Marijuana Enforcement Division officials have moved to the business side, helping companies and clients stay on top of Colorado’s strict cannabis laws.

One of the largest moves from government to the hemp industry (so far, at least) came last month, when Maureen West jumped from managing the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Program to take a job as compliance officer for hemp-oil company Functional Remedies.

As head of the CDA’s hemp program from 2016 to 2019, West witnessed the recent hemp and CBD booms in Colorado and had to deal with such issues as hot hemp with too much THC and lack of guidance from the Food and Drug Administration. Those challenges didn’t prevent Colorado from leading the nation in hemp farming acreage during that span, however.

We recently caught up with West to learn more about the future of the plant now that it’s legal at the federal level.

Westword: How would you compare Colorado’s hemp industry and regulations with those of other states? I hear some are relatively friendly, like Oregon, while others, like South Dakota, aren’t so much.

Maureen West: Over the course of my career as the head of the CDA Industrial Hemp Program, we built one of the most robust state-level industrial-hemp programs in the country. We worked closely with farmers across the state and listened to their needs and concerns. Hemp could be the next big cash crop that saves small farmers across America, and we are proving that to be true right here in Colorado at Functional Remedies.

What have you learned about hemp since you started at the CDA, and how did that help you with your new job?

Marijuana Deals Near You

Hemp has been a product in America’s history since the founding fathers; George Washington famously grew hemp. But today’s hemp landscape, because of stigma and prohibition, is confusing without clear guidelines at the state and federal levels. The work we did at the CDA was to put those guidelines in place to not only help legitimate businesses bring good jobs to Colorado, but also to protect consumers from products that they shouldn’t be ingesting. We did this all when there was no real blueprint. So my role will be to help Functional Remedies navigate, influence and stay within those guidelines, even as they are being created.

What challenges are hemp farmers and product makers facing today that the public might not know about?

One of the biggest challenges right now is that we aren’t getting any clear guidance from the FDA. This is leaving a huge gap for illegitimate companies to compete with legitimate companies, all while consumers lose trust with hemp or CBD products. The saying goes, ‘A bad apple spoils the bunch.’ With tighter regulations, it’s much easier to find and toss those bad apples.

Is the 0.3 THC limit a looming problem for hemp farmers as it becomes legal nationwide?

The 0.3 percent THC limit has already presented problems for companies shipping hemp across state borders. The hemp industry doesn’t have standard testing protocols across the United States. In part, we need the FDA or Congress to help set those standards. Another solution would be to allow an acceptable range. Plants are plants; the top of the plant can test differently than the bottom, and two plants of the same strain could test differently.

How ethical do you think the CBD industry really is? We hear a lot of snake-oil stories, but a lot of companies are operating in unregulated markets.

The problem is that we don’t have any real consistent regulations across the board, and many people and companies are happy to jump on what they see is a trend or act within that gray area. This is why it’s so incredibly important that we put them in place to protect consumers and help legitimate businesses thrive.

How far behind is America’s hemp industry from Europe’s or Canada’s?

America is just starting to overcome the decades of stigma against hemp because of its ties with cannabis. However, we are moving incredibly quickly as we see states enacting their own hemp laws across the U.S. The faster we can build this momentum and gain additional clarity from the FDA and Congress, the faster we can create a globally competitive hemp industry.

Toke of the Town

Leading German VFX & Animation House Trixter Teams with Cinesite

Cinesite has forged a partnership with leading German/European visual effects and feature animation provider Trixter, which lead lead to Cinesite’s 100% acquisition of the Trixter business once regulatory and legal work is completed. The new partnership will allow Trixter’s existing senior leadership to continue guiding the business in Germany, building its reputation and growing operations with the support of a large parent company.

As with Cinesite’s 2015 acquisition of Vancouver-based Image Engine Design, Trixter will retain its brand and creative center.

“The Trixter team has a fantastic reputation for producing high quality concept art, character design alongside complex VFX and feature animation. In partnering with Trixter, we are executing our strategic objective of enhancing our market position in both visual effects and animation and getting the benefit of an amazing creative team of people in Munich and Berlin,” said Cinesite group CEO Antony Hunt. “The skills transfer, technology collaboration, shared resources and approaches across our international studios brings benefits to all our teams and the quality of the work they create. This is borne out by the success of the Cinesite group, which has continued to grow its market share and has seen its revenue increase 40% year on year since 2014.”

Founded two decades ago by Simone Kraus Townsend and Michael Coldewey, Professor at the Munich Filmschool, Trixter creates high-end VFX work and character animation for film, broadcast and streaming media platforms. The studio, which has capacity for 220 professionals in Munich and Berlin, has collaborated with Marvel Studios to bring characters like Iron Man, Black Panther, Rocket and Baby Groot to life. The company contributed to many other projects, including feature films Spider-Man: Homecoming for Columbia Pictures, The Fate of the Furious for Universal Pictures, and episodes for Netflix’s Lost in Space and AMC’s The Walking Dead.

“I am incredibly proud of our people and the business and brand equity we have all built,” said Christian Sommer, CEO of Trixter. “By joining forces with Cinesite we will benefit from both their global infrastructure and a broader range of clients to further strengthen our position in the international market.”

Trixter co-founders Simone Kraus Townsend and Michael Coldewey commented; “This is an incredibly exciting time for everybody involved and there are huge opportunities for all of us. We are pleased to have found a supportive and forward-thinking partner in Cinesite and are eager to share Trixter’s talents and expertise with the group.”

Outside this new development, Cinesite has in 2018 secured a $ 70 million financial capacity plan with Pemberton Capital. The studio’s artists and techs have also been hard at work on VFX for blockbuster movies and event TV series such as Ant Man and The Wasp, Skyscraper, Avengers Infinity War, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, HBO’s Game of Thrones and The Commuter. Upcoming projects include Mary Poppins Returns (Disney), Robin Hood (Lionsgate) and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Warner Bros.)

Financial details of the agreement with Trixter will not be disclosed.

Animation Magazine

Sepsis is a leading cause of hospital deaths. Now, researchers at several hospitals are trying to reproduce the success one Virginia doctor had with a combination of vitamins and steroids.

May 21, 2018 — A simple vitamin cocktail to treat sepsis has shaken up the medical world, raising hopes of a more effective treatment for one of history’s great killers. But will it stand up to tougher tests?

Researchers at several hospitals around the world are trying to reproduce the success reported by an emergency room doctor in Virginia in beating back sepsis, one of the leading causes of hospital deaths.

An ancient danger

Sepsis has been in the medical books since the time of Hippocrates. It happens when the body’s immune system responds to an infection with overwhelming force, triggering complications that can cause blood clots, inflammation, and other problems, leading to organ failure and death.

In the days before sterile instruments and antibiotics, sepsis was a frequent and deadly complication of wounds. It still hits than 1 million people in the United States every year, and between a quarter and half of them die.

Survival often depends on an immediate dose of antibiotics and intravenous fluids, along with tests to look for signs of an infection or organ failure. Estimates of how much it costs to treat sepsis approach $ 24 billion a year.

Jarone Lee, MD, medical director of the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, says finding a good treatment for sepsis would solve a lot of health care problems. ­

But it’s too early to declare victory without better data, says Lee, who is not involved in the ongoing trials.

“What I think we’re looking for is essentially hard science and great science about how this will work,” he says. “It doesn’t even have to show the amazing results like Paul did, just that we’re moving the needle forward and decreasing mortality or some other process measure that improves outcomes.”

Ambitious studies planned

Sevransky’s study plans to involve at least 500 and up to 2,000 patients at multiple hospitals for about a year and a half. The plan is to wrap up work in December 2019.

Limited risk of side effects

Marik says he’s pleased with the interest and has spoken with some of the researchers involved in the planned trials, but he’s not waiting on the results. He’s now treated more than 700 sepsis patients with the vitamin-steroid mixture, which supplements — but doesn’t replace — other drugs like antibiotics. He says his patients have not had any serious side effects.

People who take a lot of vitamin C can be more likely to get kidney stones, Sevransky says. And vitamin C can throw off measurements of blood sugar, which may be a concern for people who are getting extra glucose in the hospital. So people who are being given the therapy should use meters that aren’t likely to be thrown off by that effect, he says.

The dose being studied is about 1.5 grams intravenously, every 6 hours for 4 days — several times higher than people get from ordinary vitamin supplements or eating fruit, but less than some patients get while having chemotherapy, he said.

Lee says Massachusetts General has used Marik’s cocktail sometimes in patients that aren’t responding to conventional treatment — “But it’s not routine in any way, and I don’t think it should be routine in any way until the data is better.”

In a follow-up paper in April, Marik wrote that vitamin C lowers oxidative stress and inflammation, and it helps stop blood vessels from dilating, which helps maintain blood pressure. People who have sepsis often don’t have enough vitamins C and B1, and those vitamins appear to combine with the steroid hydrocortisone to boost the effects.

“There is in fact an enormous amount of basic science to support this,” he says. An Australian study found that if Marik’s mixture works, it could shave more than 40% off the long-term cost of treating the disease.

“The bottom line is it saves billions of dollars and millions of life-years, and at worst, if it doesn’t work, all it does is waste a little bit of money and nothing is lost,” he says.

Sevransky says previous research has suggested vitamin C can improve blood flow to tissues in the body of a sepsis patient, keeping the cells supplied with nutrients and oxygen and preventing organ failure.

And an earlier study by Donnino’s team at Harvard found that vitamin B1, or thiamine, could help prevent kidney failure in sepsis patients. Thiamine is essential to the mitochondria, your cells’ powerhouses, and patients with vitamin B and C deficiencies show some of the same symptoms as people with sepsis — including low blood pressure and an increase in blood acid levels.

“When we targeted select populations of critically ill patients, we have found that upwards of 30% may be thiamine deficient,” Harvard’s Moskowitz says.

But Sevransky says research is full of promising cures that never panned out.

“Even though the theory behind it was solid, the treatment didn’t work,” he says.


National Institute of General Medical Sciences: “Sepsis.”

Chest: “Hydrocortisone, Vitamin C, and Thiamine for the Treatment of Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock.”

Jonathan Sevransky, MD, Emory University Hospital.

German Sepsis Society: “Sepsis history.”

News release, Sepsis Alliance: “New U.S. Government Report Reveals Annual Cost of Hospital Treatment of Sepsis Has Grown by $ 3.4 Billion.”

Jarone Lee, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Ari Moskowitz, MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Paul Marik, MD, Eastern Virginia Medical School.

National Library of Medicine,

F1000Research: “Septicaemia: The impact on the health system and patients of delaying new treatments with uncertain evidence; a case study of the sepsis bundle.”

Pharmacology & Therapeutics: “Vitamin C for the treatment of sepsis: The scientific rationale.”

Subcellular Biochemistry: “Vitamin C in sepsis.”

Critical Care Medicine: “Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Thiamine as a Metabolic Resuscitator in Septic Shock: A Pilot Study.”

© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

WebMD Health

CU Leading $5.5 Million Study on How Marijuana Affects Adult Twins

One of the challenges of the campaign to legalize cannabis across the country is the lack of benchmark data that compares social-health issues before and after states legalize pot. Now the University of Colorado hopes to fill in some of those gaps with a long-term study on groups of test subjects with very similar makeups: twins.

The $ 5.5 million study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will monitor 2,500 sets of twins aged 23 to 29 in Colorado and Minnesota over a five-year span to see how using alcohol, cannabis and other substances during adolescence and beyond affects their psychological health and social functioning. According to an announcement from CU, researchers have already been following the participants for fifteen to twenty years in a collaborative effort with the University of Minnesota.

Through phone and Internet surveys, the team will compare Colorado participants’ behavior from before and after January 2014, when retail cannabis sales began in this state. Half of the twins studied live in Minnesota, where the only legal form of legal marijuana is extracted oil for medical patients suffering from a handful of conditions. Aiming to reflect consumer trends instead of traditional study methods, researchers will look into how participants are consuming and how potent the products are.

“By including twins living in Minnesota, the researchers can control for factors – aside from legalization – that might influence outcomes regardless of what state one lives in. In addition to looking at how frequently subjects are using marijuana, the researchers will also look at the methods by which people are using it (edibles, dabbing, smoking, etc.) and how potent — in terms of THC levels — it is,” the study announcement reads.

The human brain is still developing into the mid-twenties, and that development is likely affected by cannabis use, according to neuroscientists from Harvard Medical School. As more potent strains and concentrates become available commercially, CU psychiatry officials want to be ahead of the issue.

“Increasing numbers of states are legalizing recreational marijuana, but we know almost nothing about the health and social consequences of this dramatic and rapid shift in public policy,” John Hewitt, director of the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at CU Boulder and a co-principal investigator of the study, said in the announcement. “There is clear need for solid scientific evidence, and the experiment now unfolding in Colorado provides a rare opportunity to accumulate such evidence.”

Researchers will ask participants about any legal or psychological challenges they’re dealing with, as well as whether they’re fulfilling career goals and the state of their family relationships. By looking at both identical and fraternal twins, the study hopes to discover any genetic and environmental factors that “may play a role in making some people more vulnerable than others to any negative impacts of legalization.”

Although the results should speak for themselves, it sounds like Hewitt and his team have formed a hypothesis. “Some people will be fine. Some people may benefit. But for a subset of people, we suspect there will be adverse consequences,” he says.

Toke of the Town

Cancer Now Leading Killer in 12 European Nations

MONDAY Aug. 15, 2016, 2016 — Cancer has overtaken heart disease and stroke as the leading cause of death in 12 European countries, a new study reports.

However, cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) is still the leading cause of death worldwide, killing more than 17 million people a year, according to the study.

In the 53 countries defined as the European region by the World Health Organization, heart disease killed more than 4 million people in 2016. Those deaths accounted for 45 percent of all deaths in those nations. Cancer accounted for less than half the number of deaths from heart disease in Europe as a whole, researchers said.

However, success in preventing and treating heart disease seems to have led to large declines in heart disease deaths in a number of countries.

Cancer now kills more men than heart disease in these 12 countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom, the study showed.

The study also found that cancer now kills more women than heart disease in Denmark and Israel.

Findings from the study were published Aug. 15 in the European Heart Journal.

“These figures highlight the wide inequalities between European countries in deaths from [heart disease and stroke],” said study leader Nick Townsend in a journal news release. He is a senior researcher at the British Heart Foundation Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention at the University of Oxford in England.

The countries where cancer caused more death than heart disease were all found in Western Europe, he noted, adding that nine of them were members of the European Union before 2004.

In contrast, the highest numbers of deaths from heart disease and stroke still tend to be seen in Eastern European countries, Townsend said.

“Although we have seen progress across Europe in the prevention and treatment of [heart disease and stroke], leading to decreases in mortality from it, it is clear that such progress is not consistent across the continent,” he said.

“We need more research into why some countries are showing improved outcomes, while others are not,” Townsend said. Data must be collected and compared between countries “so that health professionals and national governments can target interventions more effectively to reduce inequalities,” he said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on heart disease.

Posted: August 2016

View comments – Daily MedNews

Leading Health Experts: Decriminalize Drugs

On the same day Hawaii lawmakers are set to consider moves that could lead to making their state the first in the U.S. to decriminalize all drugs, a panel of health experts has endorsed doing so globally.

Decriminalizing drugs can lead to “significant financial savings, less incarceration, significant public health benefits and no significant increase in drug use,” says a new report released Thursday from a commission set up by leading British medical journal The Lancet and top U.S. medical school Johns Hopkins University.

The 26-member commission is comprised of scientists and researchers from countries around the world, including Malaysia, Switzerland, Hungary, Nigeria and India.

“The harms of prohibition far outweigh the benefits,” their 54-page report concludes.

“Policies that pursue drug prohibition or heavy suppression do not represent the least harmful way to address drugs, the aim they pursue is not well defined or realistic, their interventions are not proportionate to the problem, they destabilize democratic societies and people harmed by them often have no recourse to remedies to mitigate those harms,” the commissioners write.

In addition to recommending a removal of criminal penalties for drug possession and low-level sales, the report also endorses moves toward legalizing and regulating drugs.

“Regulated legal markets for drugs that have long been harshly criminalized are clearly not politically possible in the short term in many countries,” it reads. “But we believe that the weight of evidence for the health and other harms of criminal markets and other consequences of prohibition catalogued in this Commission is likely to lead more countries (and more US states) to move gradually towards regulated drug markets—a direction we endorse.”

The report’s release comes on the same day that lawmakers in Hawaii will hold a hearing on a resolution requesting that the state’s Legislative Reference Bureau conduct a study on the feasibility of ending the criminalization of drugs in the state.

The resolution cites the example of Portugal, which in 2001 decriminalized all drugs, including marijuana, heroin and cocaine. While use and possession remain technically illegal, people caught with small amounts of drugs are not arrested or sent to prison. Rather, they are brought before three-member commissions that can recommend treatment or assign fines and other administrative remedies. Drug trafficking and sales are still punishable as crimes.

A 2009 Cato Institute report found that since decriminalization went into effect, drug use by Portuguese teenagers has dropped, as have drug-related deaths and HIV/AIDS rates among drug users. Enrollment in drug treatment is up.

It is unknown whether or when the Hawaii House Judiciary Committee will vote on the decriminalization study resolution following Thursday’s hearing, but drug policy reform advocates are already pushing to broaden its scope.

“We would suggest adding a twin study to this resolution, requesting that the LRB also study the effects of legalization of marijuana for adult use,” Carl Bergquist, executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, says in testimony obtained by

“This seems like a most opportune time to conduct this twin study,” he wrote, citing the growing number of states considering and enacting marijuana legalization policies.

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett


WIA Steps Up With Leading Role at Annecy


With this year’s Annecy festival celebrating the contributions of women animators, it was clear that the organization Women in Animation had to take a big role at this year’s event.

Last year, WIA co-president Marge Dean attended and did a small presentation to a group of women animators form Paris, but that’s nothing compared to what the group has planned for this year.

“This is the first time we’ve gone out and done a big push,” says Dean, who took over as co-president of the org along with Kristy Scanlan in late 2013.

She also met briefly with the Annecy organizers and says she was touched when they announced this year as spotlighting women animators. She also says the organizers have been fantastic to work with and have solicited suggestions from her for panelists and jurors.

For 2015, the organization has set up a trio of major events for the festival, which runs June 15-20 in Annecy, France.

  • Jinko Gotoh will deliver June 16 a keynote address as part of a program titled “The Future of Animation: Combining Viewpoints.” Gotoh is chairperson of chapter support for WIA and executive producer on the animated feature The Little Prince. The program will be held from 6:15-7:30 p.m. in La Petite Salle-Bonlieu and also will feature Lisa Henson and Francoise Guyonnet. Peter Debruge of Variety will moderate.
  • WIA will host June 17 a program titled “Women in Animation” that will include WIA Advisory Board members Bonnie Arnold, Margie Cohn, Lenora Hume, Julia Pistor and Adina Pitt as well as Scanlan and Gotoh, with moderation by WIA Co-President Marge Dean. The program will be held from 10 a.m.-noon in Verdi A&B, on the third floor of the Imperial Palace.
  • WIA Advisory Board members Margie Cohn, Julia Pistor and Adina Pitt will participate in a June 18 panel discussion titled “Is There a Recipe for a Successful Girl/Boy TV Series?” Producer Natalie Altman will moderate the discussion and Avril Blondelot, Eleanor Coleman and David Michel will round out the pool of panelists. The panel will take place from 2-4 p.m. in Ravel A&B at the Imperial Palace.

Additionally, WIA will hand out pins for its members to wear and will create a “WIA Picks” pamphlet with recommendations for screenings, panels and events.

WIA also will play host to more intimate gatherings of its members and supporters via coffee talks, dinner and cocktail party functions.

The group’s increased presence at this year’s festival reflects its own growth as well as a growing interest in their mission all over the globe.

“The small group of women from Paris I spoke to last year have organized … and started moving toward a full-fledged chapter,” says Dean. That group is hosting a cocktail party June 18 at Annecy.

Chapters also have started in London, joining a roster that includes Dublin, Montreal, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver and Pune, India.

And the group hit a milestone last week, when membership hit 1,000. “When Kristy and I started in 2013, there were 125 members,” says Dean, who is serving as a juror for Annecy’s features competition. “It reflects the hard work that our board has put in, but it also reflects the hunger for this kind of group. Everyone knows and recognizes that it’s time to uncap this creative force.”

Marge Dean and Kristy Scanlon

Marge Dean and Kristy Scanlon

Animation Magazine

Scooters Leading Cause of Toy-Linked Injuries in Kids

A Leading Cause of Toy-Linked Injuries in Kids

New report also shows that a child winds up in the ER with a toy-related injury every 3 minutes in the U.S.

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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Here’s a sobering statistic to ponder before buying holiday gifts for your kids: A new study shows that a child with a toy-related injury is treated in a U.S. emergency department every 3 minutes.

Much of that increase was due to one type of toy: foot-powered scooters.

The researchers found that about 3.3 million children with toy-related injuries were treated in ERs between 1990 and 2011, and the toy-related injury rate rose nearly 40 percent during that time.

“The frequency and increasing rate of injuries to children associated with toys, especially those associated with foot-powered scooters, is concerning,” study senior author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said in a hospital news release.

Slightly more than half of toy-related injuries occurred among children younger than 5. Children under 3 years of age were at particular risk of choking on small toys and small parts of toys, the findings showed. And there were more than 109,000 cases of children younger than 5 years swallowing or inhaling “foreign bodies” during the study period, or nearly 14 cases a day.

Injuries involving riding toys such as foot-powered scooters, wagons and tricycles increased as children got older, accounting for 42 percent of injuries among children aged 5 to 17, and 28 percent of injuries among children younger than 5.

Injuries involving ride-on toys were three times more likely to involve a broken bone or dislocation than other toys, according to the study published online Dec. 1 in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.

Falls (46 percent) and collisions (22 percent) were the most common causes of injuries caused by all types of toys, the investigators found.

The researchers highlighted the dangers of foot-powered scooters, which accounted for more than 580,000 injuries between 2000 and 2011, or about one every 11 minutes.

Smith offered some safety tips for parents and caregivers.

  • Read and follow age restrictions and other manufacturer guidelines for toys, and examine all toys for small parts that could pose choking hazards for small children.
  • Restrict the use of riding toys to dry, flat surfaces away from traffic, and closely supervise any child who is younger than 8 on a riding toy. Make children wear helmets, knee pads and elbow pads when they use scooters and other riding toys with wheels.
  • Check the federal government’s recall website ( to see if toys you own or plan to buy have been recalled.

WebMD Health

Falls Leading Cause of Serious Head Trauma for Kids, Study Shows

Falls Leading Cause of Serious Head Trauma for Kids

Seatbelts and bike helmets can help prevent severe head injuries, experts say

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) — A new study of more than 43,000 children finds that falls are the most common cause of head injuries among younger kids.

For children under the age of 2, falls accounted for 77 percent of head injuries. For kids aged 2 to 12, falls caused 38 percent of head injuries, the researchers said.

Many of these serious brain injuries result from car and bicycle accidents, said lead researcher Dr. Nathan Kuppermann, a professor in the departments of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine.

“Bike helmets and seatbelts can save your kid’s brain,” he said.

Among kids who suffered a head injury in a car accident, fewer than half were wearing a seatbelt. Children injured in bicycle accidents were wearing helmets less than 20 percent of the time, Kuppermann said.

Among teens aged 13 to 17, head injuries were most often caused by assaults, sports and car crashes, the researchers added.

The study did not include concussions, which are injuries that jostle the brain, but rather injuries that cause bleeding in the brain, he said.

“The study gives a picture of how children suffer serious head injuries, and how often they get CT scans and how often they undergo brain surgery,” Kuppermann said.

The report was published Nov. 13 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. John Kuluz, director of traumatic brain injury and neurorehabilitation at Miami Children’s Hospital, said, “According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths among children from car accidents has dropped 40 percent.”

That decline is largely the result of seatbelts and air bags, he said. In addition, there are fewer severe head injuries being seen in emergency rooms. The majority of head injuries (98 percent) seen are “mild,” Kuluz said.

Among the children in the study, nearly 16,000 (37 percent overall) had a CT scan: 32 percent of those under 2 years of age; 32 percent of those aged 2 to 12; and 53 percent of those aged 13 to 17.

Kuluz said that fewer CT scans are being done, especially among younger children whose brains are more likely to be damaged by radiation.

In all, 7 percent of those who had CT scans had a traumatic brain injury and another 3 percent had skull fractures, the investigators found.

The most common injuries were various types of brain bleeds, with half of the children having several types of head injuries. Among all the children in the study, 78 died (0.2 percent).

Of the children with traumatic brain injury, 17 percent had brain operations and 43 percent of those had more than one procedure, the study noted.

For the study, the researchers used data collected from 2004 to 2006 from emergency departments in 25 U.S. hospitals.

WebMD Health

Couple Claims McDonalds for Put Pot in Their Burgers, Leading to Police Investigation

If stereotypes held true, most people who choose to eat Big Macs would be cool with a little Kush in between their patties. But stoners are actually savvy enough to choose getting fried over eating fries.

Because if they found weed in their burgers, they’d take the Mari-juan-a and a run. Unlike a recently engaged couple in Iowa that found weed in their patties, freaked out, and brought the burger to police authorities for a full-fledged “investigation.”

The two bought the cheeseburgers at the restaurant’s drive-thru about 8:15 p.m. After taking at least one bite each, the two noticed the plant material, which smelled and looked like marijuana, Ottumwa Police Lt. Jason Bell said.

The couple went back to the restaurant and told management of their suspicions about the substance.

The two then contacted the Ottumwa Police Department. Police began an investigation to try to determine if the substance was marijuana.

Spoiler alert: this is exactly how True Detective Season two begins.

Bell couldn’t say how much of the substance was on the burgers, but said it “appears to be consistent with marijuana.” Police will send the substance to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to test if it is marijuana, Bell said. [USA Today]

No charges have been made and the authorities are still trying to figure out exactly “how” the cannabis entered the cow. So the saga continues, and we’ll let you know if this substance was indeed marijuana–and not, say, oregano, Spice, or Salvia (substances that do look like weed and have a similar texture to weed).

And if it was weed? Whoever was rolling the blunts at this McDonald’s burger station would not make a very good Jenga player and has probably already moved to Denver.



Pro-marijuana Florida gubernatorial candidate leading race over anti-cannabis opponent

Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Will Florida’s 2014 governor’s race become the election that was over before it even began? Ever since Governor Rick Scott’s approval ratings plummeted shortly into his tenure, rumors have floated that Charlie Crist would officially become a Democrat and trounce Scott in an election … and that seems to be what’s going to happen. Maybe.

Recent polls show Crist with a comfortable lead over Scott, but the margin has shrunk since 2013 when several polls showed him with a double digit lead. Miami New Times has more.

More links from around the web!

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Toke of the Town

Falls Top Car Crashes as Leading Cause of U.S. Spinal Injuries

TUESDAY Jan. 28, 2014, 2014 — Spinal cord injury rates in the United States are rising, and the leading cause now appears to be falls suffered by seniors rather than traffic crashes, according to a new study.

The findings suggest that programs to prevent falls in elderly people could significantly reduce the number of spinal injuries in the nation, the researchers said.

They analyzed data from more than 43,000 adults with spinal cord injuries who were treated in hospital emergency rooms between 2007 and 2009. The incidence rate among people aged 18 to 64 dipped from about 52 people per million in 2007 to about 50 per million in 2009, according to a Johns Hopkins Medicine news release.

The rate of spinal injuries among people 65 and older rose from about 79 people per million to nearly 88 per million during that time, according to the study, which was published in the Jan. 23 issue of the Journal of Neurotrauma.

“We are seeing a changing face in the epidemiology of spinal cord injury,” study co-leader Dr. Edward Hammond, a research associate at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, said in the news release.

Falls accounted for 41.5 percent of spinal cord injuries during the study period, followed by traffic crashes at 35.5 percent. The researchers also found that fall-related spinal cord injuries accounted for 30 percent of all injuries among seniors in 2009, compared to 23.6 percent in 2007.

A previous study found that the average age of adults with spinal cord injuries was 41 between 2000 and 2005. It was 51 in the current study, according to the news release.

The researchers also found that seniors with spinal cord injuries are four times more likely than younger patients to die from those injuries in the emergency room. Older patients also are six times more likely to die after being admitted to the hospital with a spinal injury.

The precise reason spinal cord injuries are more likely to be caused by falls than traffic crashes is unclear, the researchers said. It might be a combination of the overall aging of the U.S. population, the more active lifestyles of seniors and increased crash protection provided by airbags and seatbelt laws, they said.

The researchers also found that spinal cord injuries are a growing financial burden on the health care system. From 2007 to 2009, emergency-room charges alone for spinal cord injuries totaled $ 1.6 billion. Those charges increased 20 percent over the study period — well above the rate of inflation, they said.

“We have demonstrated how costly traumatic spinal cord injury is and how lethal and disabling it can be among older people,” study co-leader Dr. Shalini Selvarajah, a postdoctoral surgical research fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in the news release. “It’s an area that is ripe for prevention.”

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about spinal cord injuries.

Posted: January 2014

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Air Pollution a Leading Cause of Cancer

Air Pollution a Leading Cause of Cancer

WebMD News from HealthDay

The United Nation’s World Health Organization (WHO) has classified air pollution as a prime cause of cancer worldwide, especially in the case of lung cancer.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has now placed dirty air in the same category of carcinogens as tobacco smoke, ultraviolet (UV) radiation and plutonium, BBC News reported.

According to IARC, about 223,000 lung cancer deaths globally can be blamed on exposure to air pollution. The majority of these deaths are occurring in rapidly industrializing Asian nations such as China.

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