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medical marijuana

4/23/13 3:31pm

Can a Marijuana Pill Cure Your Pain?

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Choices, choices. Photo via

Marijuana is legal for medical use in 18 states, and past studies have suggested that smoking the drug can be an effective pain reliever. But new research finds that THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) may be more effective at reducing pain in pill form. In a small test group of 30 people, scientists found that those who either smoked marijuana or took a dronabinol (a pill containing THC) could hold their hands in an ice bath and endure the pain for longer than those who took a placebo. But there are a few pros and cons to each method: the pill starts working about an after after swallowed and keeps the pain at bay for about 4.5 hours, whereas smoking the drug causes pain relief to kick in sooner (around 15 minutes), but only fights pain for about 2.5 hours. However, "smoking anything presents certain health risks," said study researcher Ziva Cooper, an assistant professor of clinical neurobiology at Columbia University. Substances in the smoke can harm the lungs or raise the risk of cancer, which could make the pill a safer option. Study participants also reported that they found the effects of dronabinol less pleasurable than smoking, which could mean that the pill has less potential for abuse. The study was limited to regular marijuana smokers, so more research is needed into how the THC pill might work on those who rarely use the drug. Dr. John Roberts, an oncologist at the Yale School of Medicine, says the study provides "additional evidence to suggest that both marijuana and dronabinol can be somewhat effective in reliving pain."

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By Bryan Le

prescription drugs

4/23/13 2:02pm

Parents Underestimate Rx Drug Dangers

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Talk to your kids. Photo via

Prescription drug abuse by teens is rising rapidly, but most parents still see the drugs as less dangerous than marijuana or alcohol, according to a new study by The Partnership at Drugfree.org. In a survey of 3,884 high schoolers, one in four teens said they have misused or abused a prescription drug at least once—a 33% increase in the last five years. And one in eight kids reported abusing Ritalin or Adderall. But while 81% said they had discussed the risks of marijuana and alcohol use with their parents, only 14% had talked about abuse of prescription drugs. One-third said their parents had spoken to them about the dangers of crack and cocaine.

Parents were surveyed as well, and one in six said they thought prescription drugs were safer than street drugs, which is why they'd chosen not to discuss them with their kids. "For parents, it really comes down to not using the power they have because they don't think this is an immediate problem, meaning their own home, own neighborhood kind of thing," says Steve Pasierb, president of the partnership. "They believe that this is probably a safer way, not as bad as illegal street drugs." In fact, almost a third of the parents believe medications such as Ritalin or Adderall can improve a teen’s academic ability—even if the student does not have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Experts say the most important thing for parents to do is talk early and often with their children about the dangers of all drugs, including prescriptions. Says Pasierb: "They need to tell their children that this isn't healthy for you and it will break my heart if you do this.”

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By Chrisanne Grise

rock stars

4/23/13 12:44pm

Drunk Liam Gallagher Tries To Ride a Dog

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A hairy day for the dog Photo via

Is it possible to get a DUI if your vehicle is a dog? Liam Gallagher apparently tried to find out after attempting to ride the dog of a fellow drinker while he was "absolutely hammered" in a London pub on Sunday. The former Oasis frontman-turned-Beady Eye frontman was reportedly drinking champagne with seven other friends when he "tried to get on the dog's back and they were they just taking little steps—but it just didn't work. It was really funny," an onlooker told The Sun. The singer walked out after reportedly forgetting to pay his $458 bar bill, but was tracked down by the pub manager after his waitress burst into tears. "After £300 of drink you forget things. He was happy to pay straight away when I caught up with him," says the manager. Last month, the notoriously boozy Gallagher was reportedly kicked out of the same pub twice on (UK) Mother's Day for being too drunk.

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By McCarton Ackerman

alcohol testing

4/23/13 11:51am

Fingerprint Scanner Tests Workers for Booze

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A rough night could lead to an even rougher
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Drug testing is common practice at many workplaces, and now companies are starting to test for booze as well. The new AlcoSense TruTouch scanner, introduced on the market earlier this month, uses fingerprints to measure blood alcohol content in the skin and gives a reading within eight seconds. Several major US companies, including the Coca-Cola factory, have already started using the device; in the UK, the transport and security industries, as well as public sector staff in local government, may soon adopt it too. But British workers' unions have slammed the tactic, claiming that problem drinkers should be helped rather than punished. "[It's using] a sledgehammer to crack a nut," says Unison General secretary Dave Prentis. "If workers have a problem with alcohol, their employers should not be relying on a gadget to entrap them, but should be providing them with proper support." The AlcoDigital website encourages rigorous daily testing across the board, rather than random screenings in order to fully stamp out problem drinking in the workplace. "Random screening can deter the casual user, but those with a serious alcohol problem are far less likely to change their inherent behavior patterns," reads a statement on the website, "Testing every person, every day changes the the underlying behavior itself." Suzannah Robin, director of AlcoDigital, says it's important for workers to feel like they are not under attack and she encourages those who use the device to consult their staff about it first. "This way, it involves everyone from the managing director down. It's difficult to say anyone is being fingered or singled out," she says. "From our point of view, it's important that any alcohol testing policy that is brought in has the full support of employees."

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By McCarton Ackerman

legally drunk

4/23/13 10:37am

Reese Witherspoon Adjusts to Life as a Bad Girl

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This was funny at the time. Photo via

In the wake of Reese Witherspoon's headline-grabbing arrest for drunken disorderly conduct during her husband's DUI bust, a TV joke from back in January may just be haunting the star. The 37-year-old appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live with Matt Damon. As part of a comedy routine, the Legally Blonde actress was seen hanging outside the studio carrying grocery bags. Damon asked what was in the bags: "Baby formula?" The actress then pulled out bottles of hard liquor: "You know, I bought some Hennessy...Cuervo...I am a working mother, as you know, Nicole, Amy...It was a long time between dropoffs!" The Oscar winner has previously had a squeaky-clean persona, and seemed proud of it when accepting an MTV Generation Award back in June 2011. "I just want to say to all of the girls out there: I know it's cool to be bad, I get it, alright?" she said then. "But it's also possible to make it in Hollywood without a reality show. When I came up in this business, if you made a sex tape, you were embarrassed and you hid it under your bed. And if you took naked pictures of yourself on your cell phone, you would hide your face. It's totally possible. So for all the girls out there, it's possible to be a good girl. I'm going to try to make it cool..." Witherspoon has now apologized for her conduct last Friday, stating, "I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said. It was definitely a scary situation and I was frightened for my husband, but that is no excuse. I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job." The actress is currently lying low, having cancelled a number of planned TV appearances.

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By Valerie Tejeda

headlines

4/23/13 5:00am

Morning Roundup: April 23, 2013

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Amanda Bynes tried to celebrate 4/20 with a
blunt at the gym. Photo via

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