California Nixes the Mixing of Weed and Alcohol in Public

California Nixes the Mixing of Weed and Alcohol in Public: This Week in Addiction and Recovery News

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California state regulators have (temporarily, at least) dashed hopes for bars and pubs where people can consume alcohol and marijuana at the same time, according to High Times. The Golden State’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) issued an industry advisory on July 25, drawing a clear line in the sand between alcohol and cannabis in the state, making it illegal to consume the two. While entrepreneurs can hold licenses to sell both pot and alcohol, they won’t be able to do so at the same time at the same location. Additionally, beverages like Canada’s “cannabis beer” will be illegal in the state. Cannabidiol (CBD) is off-limits for ABC licensees, too. “It does not matter if the CBD comes from industrial hemp or from cannabis,” the memo said. “This also includes non-alcoholic beverage products and edibles. It is thus prohibited…regardless of source, in the manufacture or production of any alcoholic beverage, including using it in mixed drinks or cocktails.” Businesses licensed to sell alcohol won’t be allowed to permit their patrons to bring (and use) their own marijuana on the premises, either. “The restriction applies at all times, even after hours or during private functions,” the High Times story detailed. “That means food, wine, and cannabis pairing events are not allowed at ABC licensed establishments.” California’s Cannabis Portal site observed that the memo’s guidelines won’t necessarily stop it from happening, though: “There are many bars and pubs that [currently]turn a blind eye to such behavior, and did well before recreational marijuana was legalized in California.”

Opioid Rx Rates Still Haven’t Declined

Despite the nation’s ever-worsening opioid crisis, the prescription rates of opioids such as oxycodone haven’t declined. According to an alarming Forbes story, a brand-new study from the Mayo Clinic revealed that prescription rates for insured patients has remained flat over the last decade and, in some cases, has actually increased. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 40 Americans (on average) die from opioid-related overdoses on a daily basis, the agency had also reported that prescription rates were declining. “We wanted to know how the declines were experienced by individual people,” Molly Jeffery, PhD, the study’s lead researcher, said in a statement. “Did fewer people have opioid prescriptions? Did people taking opioids take less over time? When we looked at it that way, we found a different picture.” Researchers used anonymous insurance data in their study, finding that the highest rates of use were found among disabled people covered by Medicare Advantage plans. Perhaps the most eye-opening part of the study was the fact that the US consumes 88% more opioids per capita than the second-highest user of drugs, Germany. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have drafted a proposal to limit opioid prescription fills, among other controls.

Rival Opioid Makers Capitalized on the Oxycontin Panic

As pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma, the drugmaker behind OxyContin, endured intense public scrutiny and criticism over its role in America’s opioid epidemic, its rivals saw an opportunity to cash in. The Daily Beast reported on Tuesday that rival drugmakers ratcheted up the marketing of their own painkillers, such as fentanyl, methadone and morphine. Recently released Purdue documents revealed how the company and its competitors fought for market control between 1996 and 2002, spending millions in order to “push opioids for growing legions of pain sufferers.” In 2000 alone, OxyContin sales topped $1 billion, the story said. Purdue and its competitors “downplayed or ignored the risks of taking opioids, or made false claims about their safety.” Since Purdue is the highest-profile manufacturer of opioids, it now faces a litany of lawsuits while its competitors are able to continue producing the drugs without increased attention, the story suggested.

Insider Says That Demi Lovato’s Sobriety Was a “Fight”

A source close to singer Demi Lovato told People that her six-year stretch of sobriety was a daily struggle. “Demi never wanted to be a role model. Her sobriety over the last six years was a fight every single day,” the source revealed. “After she finally got clean [in 2010], her team was very hard on her and treated her like she was a kid. It’s so hard to have all these eyes on you all the time.” While the 25-year-old is expected to leave L.A.’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center soon, many questions about her overdose remain, including the substances involved and what events led up to it. Meanwhile, Lovato has apparently experienced some “complications,” including nausea and a high fever. “(We are) taking it day by day,” one of the sources close to the situation reported this week.

Drug Decriminalization Might Not Be the Answer for Canada

A “growing chorus of activists and health agencies” in Canada are calling for the country to decriminalize hard drugs, according to the National Post. Many people point toward Portugal as the poster child for success, given that the country was the first-ever to decriminalize drugs back in 2001. That said, legalizing drugs might remain a thorny issue for Canada, the story said, observing that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for Portugal. For one, Portugal didn’t legalize drugs; the country simply decriminalized drug possession “intended for individual consumption” and continues to prosecute anyone caught with more than 10 days’ worth of drugs. (More than 20% of Portugal’s prison population is drug-related.) While the story concedes that Portugal’s overdose rates have gone down in recent years, its rate of “problem drug users” (cocaine, heroin and meth users) is still average for Europe. While Canadians continue to weigh the possibility of decriminalization, especially given its sharp uptick in fentanyl-related deaths, it’s not something America is considering. The Obama Administration firmly shot down the idea in 2010, citing the need for more research and Portugal’s “unique circumstances” and “disproportionately high rates of heroin use.”

Opioid Addicts Turning to Unapproved Antidepressant for High

A new government report indicated that opioid addicts are turning to an unapproved antidepressant to get high, according to U.S. News & World Report. Poison control centers across the US have received a growing number of calls about tianeptine, which has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. In the last four years alone, 207 calls have been made, as compared to just 11 in the 14 years before that. “There’s essentially been an exponential increase in cases being reported to poison control, which likely underestimates the prevalence of tianeptine use or exposure by many orders of magnitude,” Dr. Harshal Kirane told the magazine. The drug produces opioid-like effects and medical experts suggest that addicts are taking the drug as an alternative. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the uptick in these tianeptine reports coincides with some of the broader changes in [tightening]prescribing policies,” Kirane said. Another expert added that the drug is a “dual threat,” in that it produces euphoria as well as opiate withdrawal.

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Paul Fuhr is a writer who lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and two cats named Dr. No and Vesper. He's hard at work writing a novel and putting his life back together.