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10/27/14 1:00pm

Dutch Study Claims Creativity Not Improved By Smoking Weed



A Dutch research team has disproved the urban legend that smoking marijuana boosts creativity.

A new study by researchers from Leiden University in the Netherlands claims not only is this not the case, but smoking pot may even inhibit and damage a person’s ability to be creative. Led by Lorenza Colzato of the Cognitive Psychology Unit at the Institute of Psychology at Leiden University and the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, the research team recently published their findings in the journal Psychopharmacology.

For years, pot smokers have justified their use of the drug by claiming that getting high enhances their creativity. Such effects were attributed to the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Even Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, once said, "The best way I could describe the effect of the marijuana and hashish is that it would make me relaxed and creative."

The researchers wanted to test whether different doses of THC would influence creative thinking in a positive or negative way. After signing up 59 healthy regular marijuana users (52 males and seven females), they divided them into three groups. The first group was given cannabis with high THC content (22 mg), which is equivalent to three joints of strong marijuana. The second group was given cannabis with a low dose of THC (5.5 mg) that would be equivalent to a single joint. The remaining group that probably was disappointed at first was given a placebo. None of the candidates were aware of what they were being given.

The test subjects were then required to complete a series of cognitive tasks that measured two forms of creative thinking: divergent thinking, i.e. coming up with ideas by exploring as many solutions as possible, and convergent thinking, or finding the only correct answer to a question. The low-dose THC did not significantly outperform the placebo when it came to divergent thinking, and the results were relatively equal. In other words, a little marijuana led to very little change.

On the other hand, researchers did find that the first group with a high-dose of THC were significantly impaired when it came to divergent thinking when compared to the other two groups. Such impairments included "…decreased scores for fluency, flexibility, and originality of responses of participants in the high-dose condition.” It is important to note that both low- and high-dose marijuana intake appeared to have no effect on convergent thinking among the subjects of the study.

Commenting on the team's findings, Lorenza Colzato said: "The improved creativity that (marijuana users) believe they experience is an illusion. If you want to overcome writer's block or any other creative gap, lighting up a joint isn't the best solution. Smoking several joints one after the other can even be counterproductive to creative thinking."

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By John Lavitt

cure for alcoholism?

10/27/14 10:30am

Is Nalmefene the 'Magic Bullet' for Alcoholism?



A series of recent tests in Europe may finally open the doors in the U.S. to using nalmefene as a viable means to curb heavy or compulsive drinking.

Typical medical treatments for alcoholism include naltrexone and nalmefene, two “opiate antagonists” that interfere with neurotransmitter systems in the brain to interrupt pleasurable sensations associated with alcohol. While naltrexone was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1995, nalmefene—also known as Selincro—has remained in the test phase of development.

The most recent of these studies, sponsored by the Danish pharmaceutical Lundbeck A/S, which manufactures nalmefene, administered the drug to 604 individuals as part of a double blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted over a six-month period. Those individuals who received nalmefene reduced the number of heavy drinking days—days in which men consumed 7.5 units of alcohol, or three to four pints of beer, and women consumed five units, or roughly a half bottle of wine—from 19 to eight per month, with an overall reduction of alcohol consumption by two-thirds.

The placebo group also saw diminished daily drinking by nearly half of previous amounts. Additional studies produced similar results, prompting study leader Wim van der Brink of the Amsterdam Institute of Addiction Research to proclaim nalmefene as a viable alternative to traditional means of curbing alcoholism like 12-step programs.

“[Abstinence] is heroic and dangerous, and it doesn’t do anything,” he said. “[Nalmefene] brings some of the responsibility back to the person.” Nalmefene is already available in Europe, and a U.S. study began in August to further determine whether the drug can be considered for stateside sales.

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By Paul Gaita

stomping out cigs

10/27/14 8:30am

Cigarette Company Finally Puts Out the Smoking Lamp



Reynolds American Inc., the company that manufactures Camel cigarettes, has finally banned smoking inside of its facilities.

Previously, employees were permitted to light up practically anywhere while at work, including at their desks. But Reynolds American Inc.’s new no-smoking policy will prohibit the use of all traditional cigarettes, cigars, and pipes.

According to Reynolds American Inc. spokesman David Howard, the company’s new tobacco use policy will benefit all employees. “We believe it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it because updating our tobacco use policies will better accommodate both non-smokers and smokers who work in and visit our facilities,” Howard said. “We’re just better aligning our tobacco use policies with the realities of what you’re seeing in society today.”

While it may seem like employees who work at a cigarette manufacturing plant would be more likely to pick up the habit, the Reynolds American Inc. employee smoking rate is about the same as the rest of the nation, which is approximately 18%.

Reynolds American Inc. plans to build designated smoking areas for those who wish to continue their habit, and will still allow the use of electronic cigarettes, moist snuff, Eclipse, and the finely milled tobacco "snoose."

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By Brent McCluskey


10/27/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: Oct. 27, 2014


Really? Shutterstock

By Shawn Dwyer

in the news

10/24/14 7:30pm

Ottawa Gunman Had Lengthy History Of Drug Addiction


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Acquaintances of the Ottawa gunman who killed a soldier and shot up Parliament claim that he was a crack cocaine and heroin addict who tried in vain for years to get clean.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, then attempted to shoot up Parliament before he was killed himself. He reportedly entered a detox in 2012 to kick his drug habit, while those who met him at homeless shelters throughout Canada said he relied on constant prayer as a means of trying to get over his addiction. He carried the Koran around with him as a means of trying to “heal” himself from addiction, but became withdrawn when he was abusing drugs.

“He was isolating himself. He was always sleeping. For three days he wasn’t talking,” said Abdel Kareem Abubakir, a volunteer at the Ottawa shelter that Zehaf-Bibeau stayed in earlier this month. “His intention was to get a passport and get home. He had to stay away from drugs.”

It also appears that Zehaf-Bibeau had a history of being in trouble with the law as a result of his addiction. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 60 days in prison in Quebec for drug possession in 2004, in addition to being sentenced to a day in jail in Vancouver for robbery and uttering threats in 2011.

Prior to his Vancouver trial, he asked to go to jail as a means of trying to overcome his crack addiction and “as a sacrifice to pay for his mistakes in the past.” However, psychiatrists did not identify any type of mental disorder in Zehaf-Bibeau.

Susan Bibeau issued a statement last Thursday on behalf of her and her husband, Bulgasem Zehaf, stating they had “no explanation to offer” for the shooting. “I am mad at our son, I don’t understand and part of me wants to hate him at this time,” she said in an e-mail to the Associated Press. “I have very little insight to offer. No words can express the sadness we are feeling at this time. We are so sad that a man lost his life. He has lost everything and he leaves behind a family that must feel nothing but pain and sorrow. We send our deepest condolences to them although words seem pretty useless.”

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By McCarton Ackerman


10/24/14 5:30pm

Daughter of Porn King Larry Flynt in Critical Condition After Drunk Driving Accident



The daughter of prominent porn king Larry Flynt remains in critical condition after a car accident in which she was drunk behind the wheel, but it's still an upgrade from her condition earlier this week.

Lisa Flynt, 47, is being treated at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. She drunkenly crashed into a semitrailer outside of a Dollar General store last Friday, was ejected from her vehicle, and became trapped underneath it. Police later reported that her blood alcohol was double the legal limit.

Dozens of people even held a vigil near the scene of the incident after doctors told Flynt's family that she had limited brain activity and her body was shutting down. "She'll give you the shirt off her back," said Pam Jones, a friend of Lisa's. "She was such a great person, a good loving person." Flynt's husband, Glenn Fugate, appeared optimistic to reporters and said that "for some reason, she's holding on."

Larry and his wife, Althea, notoriously struggled with drug addiction during the late ‘70s and early '80s. After being shot by an unknown attacker, Larry was given Dilaudid to help manage the pain. Althea joined him in his drug use and the pair spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on cocaine, tranquilizers and marijuana, among other substances. The pair were hospitalized four times for drug overdoses and Althea lost 30 pounds from her cocaine use. Larry eventually kicked her out of his house and filed for divorce when she tried to withdraw $250,000 from their joint checking account to buy cocaine.

“It was the only way I knew to save her,” he told People magazine in 1983. “I figured I was already dead.”

After undergoing surgery that resolved his pain issues, Larry quit drugs cold turkey, but the effects of that led to a month-long depression that nearly resulted in suicide. He has remained sober since, but Althea died in June 1987 after passing out from a prescription drug overdose and drowning in their bathtub. Larry later revealed that she was in the advanced stages of AIDS and would have died by the end of the year regardless.

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By McCarton Ackerman


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