Thursday, August 29, 2019

Vaping THC and the vague warnings from the CDC

Some of our readers may be vaping either THC or nicotine. There's been a lot of noise on broadcast media about the people around the country who have become very ill from vaping. Some say it's the added chemicals to the oils that are causing this to happen. 
The CDC in the USA Today piece is criticized by experts as being overly vague in it's warning's. Either way, vapers should only be vaping cartridges from reliable suppliers, like medical or licensed retail marijuana shops. There is much doubt about how this has all of a sudden appeared on the collective radar. Millions of x-cigarette smokers have been vaping for a few years now along with thousands of medical marijuana patients without adverse health effects. The CDC should forensically find the root cause and do it quickly. And until then, patients and non-patients should use the vape pens less or switch to an edible, or if you can, consume the flower like before we had vape pens. 

Federal health officials are under fire for their unclear public warnings after one death and nearly 200 cases of vaping-related lung illnesses, which some say are related to the far riskier practice of vaping marijuana oil rather than nicotine. 
Some state health department and news reports suggest many of the cases of lung problems involve tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, the chemical in marijuana that causes psychological effects.
Boston University public health professor Michael Siegel said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being “unnecessarily vague” about describing the injuries as simply vaping-related when many people might have been injured by vaping THC oil. 

“Based on what we know now, I think there’s enough to tell people: Don’t vape THC oils – especially products that are bought off the street,” Siegel said. "There are certain things the agency could be recommending right now that could potentially save lives and prevent this from happening by being much more specific.”

Dylan Nelson of Burlington, Wis., with his sister, Andrea, was rushed to the hospital with severe breathing problems after he vaped nicotine and THC oil. Doctors put him into a medically induced coma and hooked him up to a ventilator. (Photo: Rick Wood / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
The CDC, the Food and Drug Administration and state health agencies say they are completing the painstaking work of tracing common factors that may have triggered the spate of vaping-related lung illnesses mainly harming young adults.
Siegel acknowledged he is not privy to all the information the CDC has gathered. The agency probably does not know whether THC is the only culprit, he said, but the public would likely benefit if the agency warned vapers to avoid THC oil. 

Michael Siegel is a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. (Photo: Boston University)
“There are millions of people vaping out there,” said Siegel, who supports vaping as a way for adults to quit smoking. “When they get this advice ‘Well, we don’t know what it is; it’s vaping,’ that doesn’t help anyone. So I think they need to try to be specific."
Marijuana oil vaping was cited in at least 21 cases of severe lung illness reported by the San Francisco Chronicle last week. In Utah, officials said marijuana oil was a likely culprit in most cases of lung illnesses in teens. A Wisconsin man had so much trouble breathing after he vaped nicotine and THC oil that doctors put Dylan Nelson into a medically induced coma and hooked him up to a ventilator. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

our highway system ranked poorly... any suprise?

I still contend that tolling on the major routes into Mass would generate millions and millions of dollars yearly for new critically needed transportation projects.And why is our costs per mile of roadway so much higher than the national average?

BOSTON — Potholes, poor pavement and gridlock all conspire to make Massachusetts' highway system the fifth worst in the country, according to a new report that suggests the state's road and traffic woes are getting worse.
The annual study by The Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank based in Los Angeles, ranks Massachusetts as 46th in highway performance — two spots lower than the previous year.
The Bay State also spent more than other states on roadway upgrades in 2016 — an average of $216,066 a mile, a figure exceeded by only Florida and New Jersey.
By comparison, New Hampshire spent about $64,176 a mile in 2016, while Vermont spent $72,032, according to the report. The national average was $71,117 per mile.
"To improve in the rankings, Massachusetts needs to reduce its disbursements, improve its arterial pavement condition, and reduce its traffic congestion," the report's authors said in a statement.
The dismal rankings come as no surprise to transit advocates, who say the crumbling highway and transportation system has reached a crisis point.
"It's yet another indication of how dire the situation is," said Matt Casale, transportation campaign director for Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group. "This shows that our entire transportation system is struggling and that we need to prioritize things that will make a difference to build a modern, sustainable and efficient network."
Conservative groups such as the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance said the report shows the state isn’t focused on reducing the cost of roadway upgrades and "throwing more money at the issue will not solve our transportation problems."
"Taxpayers should be skeptical of any lawmaker who claims we need to 'invest' in our transportation without offering reforms," said Paul Craney, the group's spokesman. "Doing that would just be throwing good money after bad."
The Reason Foundation report, which is based on data provided to the federal government for 2016, ranks highways in categories that include pavement condition, congestion, deficient bridges, fatality rates and expenses for capital projects, administration and maintenance per mile.
Traffic congestion in Massachusetts causes more than 44 hours of delay annually per commuter, among the highest in the nation. Only four other states — New York, California, New Jersey and Georgia — are as congested.
Despite the poor rankings, Massachusetts has the lowest rate of fatal crashes in the country — 0.63 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles — well below the national average.
Transportation advocates say the state must come up with new revenue sources to fund road, bridge and infrastructure upgrades.
A proposed 4% tax on incomes more than $1 million would have drummed up an estimated $2 billion a year for transportation and education, but it was knocked off the November 2016 ballot by the state Supreme Judicial Court following a challenge by business groups.
Advocates have refiled the proposal with goal of putting it on the 2022 ballot.
Gov. Charlie Baker has filed a bill to authorize borrowing up to $18 billion over the next 10 years for transportation work. His proposal is being reviewed by lawmakers.
The Baker administration released a report two weeks ago suggesting the state has reached a "tipping point" on transportation needs. It recommends adding new highway lanes, working with businesses to create new commuting routes, encouraging telecommuting and pushing forward with more MBTA upgrades.
Transportation advocates want the state to pursue bolder initiatives to ease traffic-choked roadways, such as congestion pricing for commuters — an idea the Baker administration has rejected.
"We are in a transportation crisis and we need state leaders to act accordingly," Chris Dempsey, director of the advocacy group Transportation for Massachusetts, said in a statement. "This is going to require going beyond 'business as usual' to embrace some ideas and innovations that other states have adopted but on which Massachusetts has lagged."
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites.

J&J to pay 1/2 billion in the flood gates

Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay more than half a billion dollars for its part in fuelling the opioid epidemic, which has led to tens of thousands of deaths a year in the United States.
The order to pay $572m (£468m) comes from an Oklahoma judge, in a case that has been closely watched to see if a court would hold the drugmaker responsible for its contribution to the American crisis. It marks the first major blow for the pharmaceutical industry on the issue, as it faces numerous lawsuits across the country from states and municipalities torn by the impact of the potent drugs.
In his ruling, Judge Thad Balkman found that the state of Oklahoma had met its burden of proof in accusing Johnson & Johnson, through its subsidiary Janssen, of creating a public nuisance by spreading misinformation about the painkillers.
The companies, Oklahoma attorney general Mike Hunter alleged in the state’s lawsuit, had used deceptive and aggressive marketing campaigns to push the addictive drugs and their use across the country.
“Specifically, defendants caused an opioid crisis that’s evidenced by increased rates of addiction, overdose deaths and neonatal abstinence syndrome,” Mr Balkman said. He described the opioid crisis as an “imminent danger and menace”.