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11/19/14 10:30am

Bob Marley to Headline Mainstream Marijuana Brand


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Legendary musician Bob Marley will soon be headlining the first global brand of marijuana.

Marley was an open advocate of marijuana during his career, so it should come as no surprise that the Marley family would use his likeness for their new “premium cannabis brand” Marley Natural. The brand will include loose-packed buds, oils or concentrate, as well as pot-infused creams and various accessories.

Marley Natural products will be neatly packaged and marketed by the same company that branded Starbucks Coffee. While the Marley family has previously dabbled in licensing Marley-themed rolling papers and apparel, Marley Natural is their first venture into the marijuana biz.

“It just seems natural that Daddy should be part of this conversation,” said Cedella Marley, 47, Marley’s first-born daughter. “As Daddy would say, ‘make way for the positive day.’”

“Herb is for the healing of the nation; herb is for the mediation; herb is for the higher vibrations,” added Rohan Marley, the 42-year-old son of Bob and Rita Marley.

Marley Natural will begin selling globally in 2015, and while the company will have to wade through the ever-changing tide of marijuana regulations, the market potential is massive. Some argue that Marley would have been against such blatant capitalism, but Rita Marley says that’s simply not the case.

“You can depend on Bob, too. He’s 100% behind what is happening,” said Rita Marley. “He’s happy because this is what we dreamed of.”

Oregon and Alaska just recently voted to legalize marijuana, and as the marijuana reform continues to spread it seems all but inevitable that other states will follow suit. Brendan Kennedy, the CEO of Privateer Holdings, which owns Marley Natural, likens the movement to the end of the alcohol prohibition.

“This is what the end of the prohibition looks like,” said Brendan Kennedy. “Bob Marley started to push for legalization more than 50 years ago. We’re going to help him finish it.”

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By Brent McCluskey


11/19/14 8:30am

Former Nurse Shares Story About Beating Addiction



A former Wisconsin nurse whose drug addiction left her being treated as a patient by her old colleagues is now telling her story in the hopes of helping others.

Mandi Sveom of Manitowoc experienced severe health problems in March 2011 that included constant pain and losing 50 pounds in three months. Doctors removed her gall bladder and eventually put her on oxycodone to deal with the pain. Sveom quickly became addicted. Within just a few weeks, she began stealing narcotics from work and was fired after an investigation that August.

"You'll hear a lot of addicts say that [the drug] changes the way you think. Your instinct is to want more. My brain said, 'I need to take more. I need to take more,'" said Sveom. “When you’re that addicted, you don’t feel normal without it.”

Despite both of her parents being alcoholics, Sveom turned to drinking to numb the shame of being fired and addicted to pain pills. She became addicted to alcohol as well and attempted suicide that November, feeling as though she had failed as a mother to her two children.

"I told myself I'd never be like my mother and put a substance before my children and that's just what was happening," she said. "I don't remember saying it, but I threatened to shoot myself...and I ended up on a 72-hour suicide hold. That night, for the first time in my life, I was handcuffed. To me, being a very spiritual person, I think that was God's way of intervening."

After being cared for by former co-workers, counselors convinced her that she needed to beat her addiction. She spent a month at a counseling services center in Oshkosh before residing for five months at a residential treatment facility in Manitowoc. Sveom has remained sober ever since. Though she no longer works in nursing, Sveom wants to go back to school to become a drug and alcohol counselor.

Sveom has also been spending her free time speaking to local groups about addiction. “We need to treat pain, but if someone does become addicted, I feel we can't have enough resources to get clean. I also feel that the biggest part is education, which is why I speak,” she said. "I might not change the world, but I might reach one person who realizes they might need help. It can happen to anyone.”

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By McCarton Ackerman


11/19/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: Nov. 19, 2014


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By Shawn Dwyer


11/18/14 7:30pm

Bad Meds Suspected in Death of 13 Women at Sterilization Camp



Tainted medications might be to blame for the deaths of more than a dozen women at a government sterilization camp in India on Saturday, according to a district medical officer.

Initially, health officials suspected that the thirteen women had died of septic shock from infections contracted during their tubal ligation operations. But the post-mortem examinations paint a different picture. “Our earlier claim that the deaths were due to septicemia seem to be coming off,” Dr. M.A. Jeemani reported on Thursday. “What I have gathered after the first few post-mortems is that it could be due to the administering of spurious medicines.”

The pills in question—the antibiotic, ciprofloxacin, and the anti-inflammatory and painkiller ibuprofen—were sent home with each patient after surgery. However, the presence of affected patients who fell ill or those who died was not limited to one sterilization camp.

Patients at another sterilization clinic, with a different surgeon, were sickened and hospitalized as well. This has led authorities to believe a tainted batch of ciprofloxacin and ibuprofen are to blame.

“We cannot conclude anything at this point, but we are not ignoring the fact that the deaths happened at multiple camps, which indicate that there is some role of the drugs,” said Sonmani Borah, the divisional commissioner.

On Thursday, a 75-year-old man, who did not undergo surgery but received medicine from the same batches, died as well. In India, women are offered cash and other incentives to be sterilized at “fairs” or “camps.” At the Saturday “fair” Dr. R.K. Gupta, who operated on most of the women, performed 83 surgeries in about six hours.

Gupta, who was arrested on charges of culpable homicide last week, claimed he was pressured to meet sterilization quotas from local authorities, even though under the national government, the practice of setting quotas for the number of women sterilized allegedly ended in the 1990s.

Shipments and distribution of the suspected medications have been confiscated and halted by state authorities.

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By Victoria Kim


11/18/14 5:30pm

Researchers Study Vapers' Brains to Learn About Smoking Addiction



Studying the brain of someone puffing on an e-cigarette, or “vaping,” may bring us closer to understanding smoking addiction.

A small pilot study did just that, revealing interesting activity in brain areas linked to reward and addiction, and in areas involved in perception of taste and smell, according to Matt Wall, study leader and imaging scientist at Imperial College London.

“E-cigarettes…provide a very good simulation of traditional smoking [and] we have shown that using e-cigarettes with fMRI is an excellent paradigm for direct evaluation of the effects of smoking on human neurophysiology,” said Wall.

The benefit of studying the brains of people smoking e-cigarettes is to study the brain effects of what Wall called the behavioral and sensory repertoire of smoking. The vaping devices allow researchers to monitor these effects, which until now were impossible to monitor while burning conventional cigarettes in the confined space of an MRI scanner.

E-cigarettes make it possible to record brain activity with each puff. Wall noted that the limited success of other forms of nicotine replacement therapy, like patches or gum, suggests that smokers are hooked on more than just nicotine.

“There’s something unique about the drug [nicotine] and the delivery system—the smoking—combined which makes it really, really addictive,” Wall said.

The next step is to conduct larger studies, as the pilot study was not large enough to draw any firm conclusions. A similar study in Australia, which started this year, will follow nicotine users over the next five years to determine whether an individual’s neural makeup can determine if they will become addicted to nicotine.

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By Victoria Kim


11/18/14 3:30pm

Demi Lovato Defends Those With Eating Disorders on Twitter



A longtime advocate for those battling anorexia and bulimia, and a sufferer of eating disorders herself, singer Demi Lovato went on Twitter to voice her vehement support for those suffering from the debilitating disease.

After describing eating disorders as a "mental illness [that] can be isolating," Lovato praised the Depression and Bipolar Disorder Alliance for helping her through her own struggles before going on her tweeting spree.

"Having an eating disorder doesn't show 'strength.' Strength is when you are able to overcome your demons after being sick and tired for so long," Lovato wrote. "There's a wide misconception that anorexia and/or bulimia is a choice and you often hear people say things like 'why doesn't she just start eating?' Or even 'just stop throwing up.'"

"It's the ignorance and lack of education on mental illnesses that continues to [put] mental health care on the back burner to Congress even though this is an epidemic that is sweeping our nation, and causing more and more tragedy every day," she continued.

In January 2011, Lovato entered rehab to deal with her ongoing depression that led to bulimia, and abusing drugs and alcohol. During treatment, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has remained strongly committed to her recovery ever since, even to the point of deciding to live in a sober house for a year.

Of course, Lovato is no stranger to using Twitter to speak out against addiction. Earlier this year, she railed against how Hollywood portrayed drug and alcohol abuse in the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman's overdose death. She later scorned Lady Gaga for "glamorizing" eating disorders after the pop queen allowed performance artist Millie Brown to vomit on her during a performance at SXSW.

Lovato's latest Twitter spree wasn't directed at anyone in particular, but was not any less passionate. "Eating disorders do not discriminate. Neither does any other mental illness," she wrote. "These are deadly diseases that are taking lives daily...It's time we start taking mental illness as serious as physical illnesses."

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By Shawn Dwyer


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