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A year before cannabis legalization, people in Ontario smoked up more

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In the year leading up to legalization, there was a significant uptick in the use of cannabis, notably among millennials and people aged 50 and older, a long-running survey has found.

The survey by the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH) — called the Monitor — shows the proportion of Ontario adults reporting previous-year marijuana use rose from 15.7 per cent in 2016 to 19.4 per cent in 2017, representing more than two million people.

That 2017 figure also marks a record high following a steady year-over-year rise in use of the previously illicit drug, which more than doubled from almost nine per cent 20 years ago.

“The biggest increase seemed to be among young adults 18 to 29, over the long term,” said Robert Mann, a senior scientist at CAMH.

“So in 1996, 18.3 per cent of people in that age group reported using cannabis in the last year.

“And it’s now up to 39.1 per cent in 2017.”

‘My academic performance has never been better’

Quinn Halman of Toronto is among those who found herself smoking marijuana more regularly after taking her first tokes at about age 15.

“At university, it was just that it sort of amplified,” said the 21-year-old, a fourth-year cultural studies major at McGill University in Montreal. “January of last year is when I really began to use it habitually every night pretty much.”

The straight-A student said smoking pot helps her sleep, eases anxiety and also helps her better focus on her studies.

“My academic performance has never been better,” said Halman.

“I see it as something that keeps me disciplined. I know I have to get every single thing done in order for me to smoke.”

A man holds a joint while smoking marijuana to celebrate the legalization of recreational cannabis, in Vancouver, on Oct. 17, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Young adults like Halman aren’t the only demographic demonstrating an upswing in cannabis use. The survey found there’s been an aging of marijuana aficionados over the last two decades: between 1996 and 2017, the percentage of respondents aged 50 and older who reported previous-year use soared from two per cent to 29 per cent.

So why is this happening?

“The nature of the data are such that we really can’t identify causes for any of these trends,” said Mann.

However, he speculated that for those 50 and older, in particular, there has been a growing interest in cannabis for medicinal purposes, such as pain control.

The Monitor survey of more than 2,800 adults aged 18 and older found that along with the rising number of cannabis users, there was also a concurrent increase in people  driving high.

Toking behind the wheel

CAMH found that 2.6 per cent of respondents admitted to getting behind the wheel after toking or vaping marijuana, double the 1.3 per cent from five years earlier.

“It’s not a huge percentage, but it is a significant increase and it does suggest there are quite a few drivers on the road who drive under the influence of cannabis — about 250,000 roughly in Ontario in the past year,” Mann said.

At the same time, the proportion of people who drive after downing alcoholic drinks has dropped substantially, falling to just over five per cent in 2017 from 13 per cent in 1996 — likely the result of strong public health messaging aimed at discouraging the potentially deadly practice as well as ramped-up fines for convictions.

So given the upward trajectory of both cannabis use and drug-impaired driving pre-legalization, what might that portend for the future? Will the widespread availability of legal weed mean the numbers could spiral ever higher?

“It’s certainly something that we’re interested in tracking,” Mann said. “I think experiences in other jurisdictions suggest that we may not necessarily see any huge changes with legalization.

“And, in fact, the goal of legalization was really not to increase the use of cannabis, but to control and reduce the hazardous use of cannabis, get public health control over cannabis use.

“Because as we’ve seen, even though cannabis has been illegal, the use has increased significantly over the past decade or so.”

Increase in reported mental health problems

The CAMH Monitor is a collection of survey data that has been published every two years for almost four decades, allowing researchers to track long-term trends in the use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, as well as identifying problematic behaviours related to mental health within the province’s population.

When it comes to taking the pulse of Ontarians’ mental health status, the 2017 iteration identified some disturbing trends.

“In this report, we saw for example that the proportion of those 18 and over who are reporting fair or poor mental health increased from about seven per cent to 10.1 per cent between 2016 and 2017,” said Monitor co-author Hayley Hamilton, a senior scientist at CAMH.

High levels of stress among millennials

The proportion of respondents who identified the need to take frequent mental distress days grew, from seven per cent to close to 12 per cent, she said, adding that there was also a jump in those reporting thoughts of suicide in the previous 12 months,  figure that roughly doubled from 2.2 per cent in 2016 to four per cent a year later.

“These numbers are concerning and are consistent with what we are seeing at the CAMH ER, where visits increased by 70 per cent between 2012 and 2017,” she said.

Respondents aged 18 to 29, a range that covers some within the so-called Gen Z and millennial generations, were more likely to report psychological distress, as well as being more likely to engage in problematic use of alcohol, cannabis and opioids for recreational purposes.

“These multiple indicators of problematic and high-risk behaviours occur at a time when these young people are charting their lives, finding careers and starting families,” said CAMH psychiatrist Dr. Sanjeev Sockalingam.

“These data point to the high levels of stress during this stage in life and the importance of recognizing these risks and responding to them in a timely manner.”

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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