Tag Archives: Addiction

Trump signs bill to allow states to drug-test applicants for unemployment benefits

Ted and Heidi Cruz have a plan to simplify the tax code
Ted Cruz and and his supportive wife Heidi

I liked this story, because not only did it talk about Ted Cruz, but it also shows a major difference between Republicans and Democrats.

The story is from the far left Dallas Morning News.

Excerpt:

President Donald Trump on Friday signed legislation backed by two Texas Republicans that will allow states to expand the pool of applicants for unemployment benefits who can be drug tested.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Kevin Brady of The Woodlands, nullifies a Labor Department rule that went into effect in September limiting drug tests to applicants who had a job that does regular drug screenings.

“Under the previous administration, the Department of Labor undermined the ability of states to conduct drug testing in their programs as permitted by Congress,” Cruz said in a written statement. “This rule was yet another example of executive overreach by the Obama administration, and I commend President Trump for signing this resolution into law.”

The measure traveled down a partisan path in Congress, passing through the Senate earlier this month with a party-line vote. Four Democrats in the House voted in favor of the bill in February, but no Texans.

“After 5 years of battling with the Obama Department of Labor, states like Texas will now be allowed to drug test folks on unemployment to ensure they are job ready from day one,” Brady said in a written statement. “This is a win for families, workers, job creators, and local economies.”

[…]“We are not helping anyone by leaving them in a position where they are dependent on and addicted to drugs,” Cruz said.

I find this law so reasonable that I cannot believe that anyone who has a job and pays taxes could oppose it. Now, it’s true that a lot of Democrats either don’t work or get money from government salaries, government spending, or welfare. But even so, I would expect them to see that it is wrong to waste the taxpayer dollars of honest workers and their entrepreneurial employers on people who are addicted to drugs.

I hope that this bill will clear the way for conservative governors to get people off of welfare and into the workplace.

My favorite governor is Scott Walker, and he is discussed in this recent article from the center-left The Hill.

Excerpt:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Monday said he would ask the state’s Republican-led legislature to undertake one of the most aggressive welfare reform packages since a wave of new measures passed in the mid-1990s.

Walker’s plan, “Wisconsin Works for Everyone,” would impose new work requirements on both able-bodied adults with school-age children who receive state food assistance and those who receive housing assistance. Both work plans, which would be tested on a pilot basis, would require recipients to be employed for at least 80 hours per month, or to be enrolled in job training programs. Those who do not meet work requirements would see part of their benefits cut.

“We believe our public assistance programs should ask able-bodied adults to take steps toward self-sufficiency through work, while also providing comprehensive tools to help them get and keep a job,” Walker said Monday.

The Wisconsin Republican has made welfare reform a key element of his second term in office.

“In 2017, we are going to push the federal government to allow Wisconsin to go even further, to be a leader once again on welfare reform,” Walker said last week during his State of the State address.

The plan proposed Monday would expand job training programs and employer resource networks for those who receive government aid. It would create an earned income tax credit specifically aimed at getting younger Wisconsinites into the workforce, and it would require existing business license requirements to be reviewed by a state panel in hopes of reducing red tape.

 

I also expect that Walker’s plans will get no Democrat support.

It really says something about how differently Republicans and Democrats view the money they take from taxpayers. Republicans want to be responsible in how they spend taxpayer money, whereas Democrats want to waste it so they can feel generous and preen in front of crowds about how generous they are. But you can’t be generous with someone else’s money.

The best way to help a person who is dependent on government is not to keep them on drugs, and keep them on welfare. They need to guided out of drug use, and into a job. Forging your own success makes you happier than being dependent anyway.

New study: long-term marijuana use causes decline in memory in middle age

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery
I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

Cool new study reported by Reuters.

It says:

As marijuana becomes more accessible to young and old alike in the U.S., researchers warn that long-term use of the drug may cause lasting harm to at least one type of brain function.

A new study based on following thousands of young adults into middle age finds that long-term marijuana use is linked to poorer performance on verbal memory tests, but other areas of brain function do not appear to be affected.

“We did not expect to find such a consistent association with verbal memory for chronic exposure to marijuana,” especially since the link held even when other factors like cigarette smoking, alcohol use and other behavioral factors associated with marijuana use were accounted for, said lead author Dr. Reto Auer of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Auer and colleagues analyzed data from a 25-year U.S. study of young adults, which included repeated measures of marijuana exposure over time and a standardized test of verbal memory, processing speed and executive function in year 25. Almost 3,500 participants completed the standardized tests.

At the beginning of the study period in the 1980s, participants were 18 to 30 years old and more than 80 percent reported past marijuana use. Just 12 percent continued to use marijuana into middle age, according to the results in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers found that as past years of marijuana use increased, verbal memory scores decreased. In practical terms, the results meant that for every additional five years of exposure, 50 percent of marijuana users would remember one less word from a list of 15 tested words.

“Recreational marijuana users use it to get high, to benefit from the transient change it produces,” Auer told Reuters Health by email. “But this transient effect might have long term consequences on the way the brain processes information and could also have direct toxic effects on neurons.”

What I am finding out as I age is that I have to keep pushing back the date of my “retirement”. I thought I  could quit working at 30, then 35, then 40. Now I am thinking 45 before I can be more free. The point is that the world is becoming a more difficult place to be independent. A lot of government spending is going on, and a lot of debt is being added to our national debt. I may never be able to stop working. And it’s a good thing that I will have all my faculties intact when I have to keep working. Be careful with exchanging short-term fun and thrills for long-term poverty. Things are not getting easier, you’ll have to work just to get by.

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After legalizing marijuana, Colorado sees higher number of “daily” users

Lee Strobel tweeted this story from the Denver Post.

Excerpt:

As marijuana legalization took hold in Colorado, the estimated percentage of regular cannabis users in the state jumped to the second-highest level in the country, according to new federal data.

When asked, roughly one out of every eight Colorado residents over the age of 12 reported using marijuana in the previous month. Only Rhode Island topped Colorado in the percentage of residents who reported using marijuana as frequently.

The results come from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and represent the average of estimates gathered in 2012 and 2013.

[…]State-specific data from the survey are averaged over two-year periods to compensate for relatively small sample sizes.

For the 2011-12 period, 10.4 percent of Coloradans 12 and older reported using marijuana in the month prior to being surveyed. That placed Colorado seventh in the country for monthly marijuana use.

Monthly use in Colorado jumped to 12.7 percent — a 22 percent increase — in the 2012-13 data. The result means the survey estimates about 530,000 people in Colorado use marijuana at least once a month.

Nationally, monthly marijuana use by people 12 and older nudged upward by about 4 percent to 7.4 percent. In Washington state — which, like Colorado, in 2012 legalized marijuana use and limited possession for adults — monthly marijuana use rose by about 20 percent to 12.3 percent.

Kleiman said researchers will get a better idea about marijuana use in Colorado once they are able to zoom in on data showing how many people use marijuana daily. A study commissioned by Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division this year found that people who use marijuana almost every day account for about 22 percent of cannabis users in Colorado but consume nearly 67 percent of the marijuana used. Other studies have warned about a possible uptick in heavy marijuana use.

“The fraction of people who are monthly users who are in fact daily users has gone way, way up,” Kleiman said.

Monthly marijuana use increased across all age groups in Colorado, according to the new survey numbers. The number of people who reported using marijuana in the past year also increased in Colorado in the 2012-13 data, but the state ranked only sixth nationally in the measurement. Measurements for alcohol consumption and illicit drug use increased, as well.

What will be interesting will be to see how this increased usage affects tax revenues and the crime rate. I think when more people use mind-altering drugs, it is going to harm their ability to get and keep jobs, which affects tax revenue. And when people are addicted to something, they are more inclined to take a risk on committing a crime to get the money to pay for their next fix. Should be interesting to learn from Colorado’s little experiment.

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New study: even casual use of marijuana / cannabis alters brain

Reported by the UK Telegraph.

Excerpt:

Experimenting with cannabis on a casual basis damages the brain permanently, research has found.

It is far from being a “safe” drug and no one under the age of 30 should ever use it, experts said.

People who had only used cannabis once or twice a week for a matter of months were found to have changes in the brain that govern emotion, motivation and addiction.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School in America carried out detailed 3D scans on the brains of students who used cannabis casually and were not addicted and compared them with those who had never used it.

Two major sections of the brain were found to be affected.

The scientists found that the more cannabis the 40 subjects had used, the greater the abnormalities.

Around 10 million people in Britain, almost a third of the population, have used illegal drugs, with cannabis the most popular. The research author, Dr Hans Breiter, professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said: “This study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences. Some people only used marijuana to get high once or twice a week.

“People think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem, if someone is doing OK with work or school. Our data directly says this is not the case.

[…]Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “For too long cannabis has been seen as a safe drug, but as this study suggests, it can have a really serious impact on your mental health.

“Research also shows that when people smoke cannabis before the age of 15, it quadruples their chance of developing psychosis. But very few people are aware of the risks involved.”

I troubled by this study because I know people who act as if smoking marijuana were as much a right as free speech.

What I would really like to see is that people who insist on engaging in irresponsible behaviors then go on bear the consequences of that behavior. The problem is that it’s not only these people who are affected, it’s the innocent people around them. There are the innocent victims of car accidents or theft or the children who suffer because their parents want to “alter their brains”. Those are the people I am worried about.

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New study: teen pot use could hurt brain and memory

NBC News reports.

Excerpt:

Teenage pot smokers could be damaging brain structures critical to memory and reasoning, according to new research that found changes in the brains of heavy users.

Research released Monday in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin showed the brains of young heavy marijuana users were altered in so-called sub-cortical regions — primitive structures that are part of the memory and reasoning circuits. And young people with such alterations performed worse on memory tests than non-using controls, despite the fact that the heavy users had not indulged for more than two years, on average, before the testing.

“We see that adolescents are at a very vulnerable stage neurodevelopmentally,” said Matthew Smith, who led the research team at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “And if you throw stuff into the brain that’s not supposed to be there, there are long-term implications for their development.”

The portion of people ages 12 to 17 who used marijuana during the past month fell to 9.5 percent last year from almost 12 percent in 2002, according to the latest figures from the government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. But that still represents millions of adolescents and teenagers — and the legalization of marijuana has raised the specter that underage people will have easier access.

Adults who smoked pot regularly as teens were shown to have “neuropsychological decline” and “more cognitive problems” than non-users in a study last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). This was true even if users stopped using long before the study.

I think these papers are useful when talking to young people about drugs. You don’t want it to be a situation where you are ordering them around based on nothing more than YOUR needs and YOUR beliefs. Then it turns into a head-butting contest, and you can’t watch them all the time. A better alternative is to produce the studies that show the real effects and then ask them what they have on their side. If they are going to rebel anyway, at least you have tried to persuade them rather than control them, and that’s good parenting.

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