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Medical marijuana may reduce opioid use a little

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The researchers looked at the prescription records of people using Medicaid and also Medicare Part D – the prescription add-on plan for Medicare recipients.

In the Medicare study, Wen and colleagues found that states with medical marijuana laws had a more than 8 percent reduction in opioid prescriptions compared to states with no such laws.

“We found that overall opioid prescribing in Part D was lower when states permit access to medical cannabis,” they wrote.

“Prescriptions filled for all opioids decreased by 2.11 million daily doses per year from an average of 23.08 million daily doses per year when a state instituted any medical cannabis law,” they added.

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“Prescriptions for all opioids decreased by 3.742 million daily doses per year when medical cannabis dispensaries opened.”

State and federal officials are looking for ways to reduce opioid deaths and to reduce the overuse of opioid prescriptions.

The National Center for Health Statistics says 63,600 people died of drug overdoses in 2016.

Opioids killed or helped kill 42,249 people in 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Opioid overdose deaths were five times higher in 2016 than in 1999.

The researchers cannot say if people switched from opioid prescriptions to using a medical marijuana product. They also note that the findings only apply to people using Medicare and Medicaid, which are government health insurance plans for people who are elderly, disabled, low-income or pregnant.

But addiction experts said the findings are an important piece of science in an area in which laws are often passed based on emotions and not on medical research.

“For many reasons, ranging from significant barriers to research on cannabis and cannabinoids to impatience, cannabis policy has raced ahead of cannabis science in the United States,” wrote Dr. Kevin Hill of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Dr. Andrew Saxon of the University of Washington, who were not involved in the research.

And there’s evidence cannabis can fight pain.

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Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing the medical use of cannabis.

They are usually restricted and don’t allow just anyone to freely use marijuana.

“In medical marijuana laws, states typically specify a list of conditions that are eligible for medical marijuana, and most states have included in the list generic terms such as ‘severe pain,’ ‘chronic pain’, or ‘intractable pain unrelieved by standard medical treatment and medications’,” they wrote.

“Patients with eligible conditions are expected to obtain recommendation from qualified physicians and enroll in a patient registry. Patients are then issued identification cards that allow them or their caregivers to possess a certain amount of marijuana through home cultivation and licensed dispensaries.”

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Coronavirus: Ireland may return to full national lockdown for six weeks in ‘surprise move’ | World News

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Ireland’s government is considering going back into a full national lockdown for six weeks, Sky News understands.

The lockdown, which would put the country on its highest coronavirus alert level – 5 – has been recommended by health experts to halt the surge in COVID-19 cases.

It is thought that schools and creches will be allowed to stay open, and elite level sports can continue, but that non-essential retail, hairdressers and salons will close.

Ireland will close non-essential businesses for six weeks
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Ireland will close non-essential businesses for six weeks

Funerals will reportedly be limited to 10 people, and only six people will be able to attend weddings.

Under the proposals, it is thought that people could be asked to restrict their movements to within five kilometres of their home.

In Ireland, counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan are currently all at Level 4, while the rest of the country is at Level 3.

Political leaders had briefings on Saturday in Dublin from health officials, over concerns that the virus was spreading, while the Cabinet’s sub-committee met on Monday morning to discuss the plan.

A formal announcement is expected later on Monday evening.

Monday’s data shows that there are 298 people with COVID-19 in hospital, 31 of which are in intensive care.

The country reported no coronavirus-related deaths on Monday, and 1,031 cases.

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has called for social support to be put in place, as well as cuts to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) to be fully restored.

Ms McDonald added that restriction changes must “balanced” and clearly communicated, during an interview with RTE.

Analysis: ‘The government is reluctant to impose new measures’

By Stephen Murphy, Ireland correspondent

All day the signs had been that a compromise Level 4 or ‘Level Four Plus’ response had been on the cards from a government that is privately quite reluctant to impose a draconian lockdown.

However, we now understand that the original proposal from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is the one being considered at this afternoon’s cabinet meeting.

The news will be met with dismay from retailers and the hospitality sector, which will grind to a halt again if the plan is approved.

The restrictions would be similar to the initial lockdown in March, although it’s thought that schools will be kept open and the construction industry protected under the proposals.

It’s important to stress that no final decision has yet been made – an anxious nation won’t get the official details until Prime Minister Micheal Martin gives a public address sometime around 9pm.

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Instagram investigated over potential leak of children’s data | Science & Tech News

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Instagram is being investigated for a potential leak of children’s personal information by the Irish privacy watchdog, which is the EU’s lead authority on Facebook.

The Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) is investigating whether Instagram‘s parent company Facebook has been illegally processing children’s data.

“The DPC has been actively monitoring complaints received from individuals in this area and has identified potential concerns in relation to the processing of children’s personal data on Instagram which require further examination,” it said in a statement.

If the social media company is found to have violated European privacy regulations then it could face a fine of up to 4% of its global turnover, although a fine of that scale has never been issued.

The complaints stem from Instagram requiring business accounts to provide public contact information – and potentially allowing some children on its platform to change their accounts into business ones.

Back in 2019, data scientist David Stier found that millions of personal accounts on Instagram which had been switched to business accounts were leaking phone numbers.

Mr Stier reported to Facebook his discovery that accounts apparently belonging to minors were leaking the children’s phone numbers and their email addresses.

“Speaking as a parent, I want to be assured that the experience Instagram offers to teens is as ‘adult-overseen’ as possible,” he added.

The Irish DPC said its investigation “will also consider whether Facebook meets its obligations as a data controller with regard to transparency requirements in its provision of Instagram to children”.

The complaint also follows Facebook admitting that the coronavirus pandemic meant images of child nudity and sexual exploitation have been spreading on its platforms.

The tech giant said moderation levels dropped when content moderators were sent to work from home in March during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Migrant found on Calais beach ‘almost certainly’ died trying to reach UK | World News

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A man found dead on a beach near Calais was “almost certainly” a migrant who drowned trying to reach the UK by crossing the English Channel in a small boat, French officials have said.

The man, whose body was found on a beach near Sangatte, outside Calais, at around 8am on Sunday, was wearing a life jacket, a local prosecutor said.

An initial examination of the body found no evidence of third party involvement, nor did it appear he had been in the water long, Pascal Marconville, prosecutor of the nearby town of Boulogne-sur-Mer, told local media.

French rescue teams in Calais helping a group of 17 migrants rescued while trying to reach England by crossing the Channel on an inflatable boat
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The group of 17 migrants included a mother and three children suffering from hypothermia, French media said

It was likely the victim had drowned trying to make the crossing at the weekend and that his body had washed up on the shore just a few hours later, Mr Marconville said.

Officers investigating the incident would work with the migrant communities based in Calais and Dunkirk to try to find out who he was and how he died, the prosecutor added.

Local news site La Voix du Nord reported that several other vessels, including one containing 17 people, had been intercepted on Sunday morning and made to return to Calais.

The group included a mother and three children suffering from hypothermia, La Voix du Nord said, adding that another 30 migrants were brought back to Boulogne on Sunday on a “hectic” day for rescuers.

According to Home Office figures, 170 migrants crossed the Channel in just 12 small boats on Saturday, while a further 222 were prevented from crossing by the French authorities.

The Home Office’s clandestine Channel threat commander, Dan O’Mahoney, said that the French had stopped 188 people making the crossing on Sunday.

Two men walk returning to Calais after being picked up with 15 others  by a rescue boat
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Two men walk returning to Calais after being picked up with 15 others by a rescue boat

The Home Office has yet to comment on the death in France or the number of people who managed to cross successfully despite the journey being extremely dangerous.

The co-founder of refugee charity Care4Calais, Clare Moseley, said: “Refugees take this risk because they are frightened, fleeing appalling horrors in some of the most dangerous places on earth.

“They do it because of the grim and unsanitary conditions in Calais, where they are constantly harassed and abused by the authorities.”

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September: Migrants arrive on Dover beach

On Saturday, UK authorities warned that favourable conditions in the Channel were likely to encourage migrants to try before winter weather makes it impossible.

Record numbers of migrants have crossed the English Channel in small boats in 2020, with a new single-day record, 416, reaching the UK in early September.

More than 6,100 migrants have arrived in the UK on small boats so far this year.

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