27Jun 2017

Legalizing recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Oregon and Washington has resulted in collision claim frequencies that are about 3% higher overall than would have been expected without legalization, according to a new analysis from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

HLDI, part of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), reported in a statement on Thursday that it conducted a combined analysis using neighbouring states as additional controls to examine the collision claims experience of Colorado, Oregon and Washington before and after law changes. Control states included Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, plus Colorado, Oregon and Washington prior to legalization of recreational use, the statement said. During the study period, Nevada and Montana permitted medical use of marijuana, Wyoming and Utah allowed only limited use for medical purposes, and Idaho didn’t permit any use. Oregon and Washington authorized medical marijuana use in 1998, and Colorado authorized it in 2000.

HLDI also looked at loss results for each state individually compared with loss results for adjacent states without legalized recreational marijuana use prior to November 2016.

Data spanned collision claims filed between January 2012 and October 2016 for 1981 to 2017 model vehicles. Analysts controlled for differences in the rated driver population, insured vehicle fleet, the mix of urban versus rural exposure, unemployment, weather and seasonality.

HLDI noted that that collision claims are the most frequent kind of claims insurers receive. Collision coverage insures against physical damage to a driver’s vehicle in a crash with an object or other vehicle, generally when the driver is at fault. Collision claim frequency is the number of collision claims divided by the number of insured vehicle years (one vehicle insured for one year or two vehicles insured for six months each).

“The combined-state analysis shows that the first three states to legalize recreational marijuana have experienced more crashes,” said Matt Moore, senior vice president of HLDI, in the statement. “The individual state analyses suggest that the size of the effect varies by state.”

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23Jun 2017

Beginning in October when the 2017-18 season starts, the PGA Tour will begin blood testing as part of its revised anti-doping program.

The Tour also is updating its list of banned substances to include those currently forbidden by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Further, any suspensions of players abusing any banned substance will be announced publicly for the first time.

“We believe that these changes to our program are prudent in that they further our objectives of protecting the well-being of our members and better substantiate the integrity of golf as a clean sport,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement released Tuesday.

Kevin Kisner, who won the Dean & DeLuca Invitational at Colonial in May, said it was inevitable that the Tour, which began drug testing in 2008, added blood testing.

“If we’re going to test, we might as well do it the most efficient way. And if urine can’t detect for all the drugs they want to test for, and blood is another option, we should do it,” Kisner said Tuesday. “I don’t think anyone will be thrilled about giving blood during golf tournaments. Hopefully it will be done earlier in the week. Testing becomes annoying when you play late on Thursday and early Friday, and you’re out there late knowing you have to get up early.”

Similar to how tests are administered in the Olympics, blood will be drawn from a player’s arm. Urine testing will still account for the vast majority of tests administered by the Tour, and while urine testing can detect most banned substances, it cannot detect human growth hormone.

“If you’re going to do drug testing out here you might as well do drug testing for everything and the big elephant in the room the past few years has been HGH,” eight-time Tour winner Brandt Snedeker said.

Snedeker has long been against drug testing, saying it’s a waste of time, money and energy in a game built on honor and integrity. But he understands golf’s return to the Olympics necessitated the action.

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22Jun 2017

Tiger Woods is receiving help to manage his medications.

“I’m currently receiving professional help to manage my medications and the ways that I deal with back pain and a sleep disorder,” Woods said in a statement on Monday night. He underwent back surgery in April.

“I want to thank everyone for the amazing outpouring of support and understanding especially the fans and players on tour.”

Woods was charged with driving under the influence after police in Jupiter, Florida, found him asleep at the wheel of his Mercedes-Benz about 2 a.m. May 29. Breath tests showed no presence of alcohol, but Woods told officers he had a reaction to several prescription drugs, including Vicodin and Xanax. His arraignment has been delayed until Aug. 9.

Woods could qualify for a diversion program in which the DUI charge is downgraded to reckless driving, which results in probation, fine and other conditions such as taking a DUI course.

Last week, reports said Woods was entering a rehab program near his home in Jupiter, Florida. He previously sought treatment for sex addiction in 2009 and an addiction to prescription drugs in 2010.

21Jun 2017


More than 400 Ontarians died from an opioid overdose in just the first six months of last year, a grim statistic that was revealed as the provincial government launched an online tracker to monitor the drug’s impact across the province.

“The opioid crisis in Ontario is a growing and evolving problem, and one we are continuing to work diligently to combat,” said a joint statement from Health Minister Eric Hoskins, Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams and Chief Coroner Dirk Huyer, all of whom are doctors.

Having access to data on the opioid situation is a part of the provincial strategy to fight addiction and overdose deaths and the numbers show that “the opioid problem is affecting people of all ages, right across Ontario,” they also said.

In 2015, some 371 people died of an opioid overdose in the first six months of the year, and 412 during the same time period in 2016, which represents an 11 per cent increase.

The province’s new “opioid tracker” has more 13 years’ worth of statistics, listing cases that required medical care, hospitalization or resulted in death, and is meant primarily for health-care workers but is also accessible to the public.

Opioids are painkilling drugs that can be illegal — such as heroin — or prescribed, including morphine and oxycodone. Prolonged or regular use can lead to addiction.

The provincial government has previously announced opioid-fighting strategies including free naxolone, supervised injection sites and better supports for addicts.

Naxolone, or Narcan, is a life-saving drug that can be given to combat an opioid overdose. It can be taken via injection or nasal spray, and works almost immediately.

In all of 2015, more than 700 Ontarians died from using opioids, a number that has increased 94 per cent since 2003.

03May 2016

Bertha Madras is a professor of psychobiology at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School, with a research focus on how drugs affect the brain. She is former deputy director for demand reduction in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Data from 2015 indicate that 30 percent of current cannabis users harbor a use disorder — more Americans are dependent on cannabis than on any other illicit drug. Yet marijuana advocates have relentlessly pressured the federal government to shift marijuana from Schedule I — the most restrictive category of drug — to another schedule or to de-schedule it completely. Their rationale? “States have already approved medical marijuana”; “rescheduling will open the floodgates for research”; and “many people claim that marijuana alone alleviates their symptoms.”


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20May 2015

The primary challenges addressed by the group are the medical marijuana laws in place in 23 states and Washington D.C.*, and legal ‘recreational’ marijuana use in Colorado and Washington. Ambiguous, often changing, and inconsistent laws in these states can be confusing for employers who seek to maintain drug-free workplaces. This report explores marijuana history, policy, science, use trends and legality examined through an objective lens based in research and analysis.

Employee marijuana use is a problem for employers. A common misperception is that drug users are unemployed but SAMHSA data from 2013 cited by this whitepaper shows that this is actually far from true in that “68.9 percent of all illicit drug users aged 18 and older (15.4 million) were employed full or part-time.” In addition, results from a blind longitudinal study from the U.S. Department of Labor showed that job applicants who test positive on pre-employment drug tests are 77 percent more likely to be terminated within the first 3 years of employment and be absent from work 6 percent more frequently.

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