INCD Press Release UNIS/NAR/1367 16 November 2018
VIENNA, 16 November 2018 (UN Information Service) - The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) concluded today its 123rd session in Vienna. In closing the session, theINCB President, Dr. Viroj Sumyai, recognized once again the importance of compliance by countries with the three international drug control treaties to ensure the health and well-being of their people, and emphasized the importance of cooperation at all levels.
Over the past three weeks, the Board addressed diverse challenges at the core of the world drug problem. The Board devoted a significant amount of time to consider the matter of treaty implementation, in particular with respect to recent developments concerning the legalization of cannabis for non-medical and non-scientific purposes. The Board reiterated that the drug control treaties limit the use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances exclusively to medical and scientific purposes, and highlighted the serious consequences that non-compliance can have on public health, especially among vulnerable groups.
The Board also gave significant attention to the opioid overdose crisis in North America, and the potential opioid abuse problems in other parts of the world. The Board, and its Standing Committee on Estimates, reviewed the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical purposes in different countries. In this context, the Board finalized a special report on the matter to be published in early 2019 as a supplement to its Annual Report for 2018.
The Board finalized during the session its 2018 Annual Report, dedicating a thematic chapter to the use of cannabis and cannabinoids for medical, scientific and "recreational" purposes, and approved its report on precursors and its technical publications on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The 2018 Annual Report, its supplement on availability and the report on precursors will be launched worldwide in March 2019.
During the session, the Board also focused its attention on the findings of its recent country missions and agreed on recommendations to be made to the respective Governments on improving their national drug control systems.
This session also marked the 50 th anniversary of INCB. On this occasion, INCB invited Member States to discuss the international drug control system, challenges and the way forward. The Board reiterated its commitment to continuous cooperation with Member States, as well as international organizations and civil society.
On the margins of the session, the INCB President addressed the fifth intersessional meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, where he emphasized that the fundamental objective of the drug control treaties is to safeguard "the health and welfare of humankind by ensuring the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific use, preventing drug abuse and providing treatment for those affected by drug use, as well as address the diversion of controlled substances and precursors chemical to illicit activities".
The Board met with the Chair of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs as part of ongoing cooperation and in preparation for the ministerial segment of the sixty-second session of the Commission to be held in March 2019. In line with the Joint Statement of INCB, UNODC and WHO in Implementation of the UNGASS 2016 Recommendations , and in the spirit of ongoing cooperation, the Board held consultations with officials from the World Health Organizations (WHO), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The discussions focused on cooperation among the agencies within their respective mandates to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly relating to health and well-being.
The Board will continue its work in February 2019.
The Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is an independent body, established by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, mandated to monitor and support governments' compliance with the three international drug control treaties. Its 13 members are elected by the Economic and Social Council to serve in their individual capacities for a term of five years.
The 123 rd session of the Board was held from 30 October - 16 November 2018.
Breast milk is a live substance with unmatched immunological and anti-inflammatory characteristics that protect an infant against a variety of illnesses, infections, and diseases. It provides all the necessary nutrients a baby needs for its first six months.
Breastfeeding is deemed extremely beneficial and essential for both the mother and the child. However, it is essential to understand that nicotine and alcohol affect breastfeeding and harmful substances can be transferred to the baby through breast milk.
A recent study has noted a significant impact of drinking while breastfeeding upon children’s future cognition. Infants exposed to alcohol through breastmilk were found exposed to dose-dependent reductions in their cognitive abilities. The study, that appeared earlier this year in the journal Pediatrics, conclusively established that drinking alcohol while breastfeeding can impact the cognitive development of the child.
Three studies in rodents suggest prenatal exposure to the drug may pose risks for infants
DANA G. SMITH NOVEMBER 18, 2018
This article was originally published by Scientific American.
One recent study revealed that in 2016 7 percent of pregnant women in California used marijuana, with rates as high as 22 percent among teenage mothers. In Colorado 69 percent of dispensariesrecommended the drug to pregnant women to help with morning sickness.
… prenatal drug exposure can be harmful to unborn babies. Previous research has shown infants exposed to cannabis in the womb are 50 percent more likely to have a lower birth weight. Now three new studies presented Tuesday at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting here suggest prenatal cannabis exposure—at least in rodents—could have serious consequences for fetal brain development.
In one study researchers at Washington State University in Pullman showed rat pups born to mothers exposed to high amounts of cannabis vapor during pregnancy had trouble with cognitive flexibility. Twice a day the scientists filled the pregnant rats’ containers with marijuana vapor from an e-cigarette, elevating levels of the psychoactive chemical THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in the rats’ blood to roughly the human equivalent of smoking a joint. After the pups grew up the researchers trained them on a task that measured their ability to think flexibly and learn new rules. The young rats first learned to follow a light cue to push one of two levers in order to receive a sugary treat. The next day, pushing only the left lever would deliver the reward, regardless of which side the light had been on.
The rats exposed to cannabis in utero learned the first rule (following the light cue) without a problem, but they took significantly longer to learn the new rule (pushing the left lever) than did rats not exposed to the drug. The cannabis-exposed rats also made many more mistakes on the second day.
In a similar study, scientists at Auburn University in Alabama found rats born to mothers that had been injected with a low, continuous dose of synthetic cannabis during pregnancy were significantly impaired on several different memory tasks involving mazes…“There was a gap in the acquisition of the memory and the consolidation of the memory.”
The young rats whose mothers were dosed with the drug also had abnormalities in the hippocampus, the brain’s primary memory center. Specifically, they had difficulty creating new connections between neurons—the basis for forming new memories. The researchers think the differences in the hippocampus stem from changes in levels of glutamate, the brain’s main excitatory neurochemical involved in learning and memory..
By GUY ADAMS FOR THE DAILY MAIL PUBLISHED: 24 November 2018
Each of the 400 phone calls to the cannabis dispensaries followed a script. ‘Hi,’ said a female voice. ‘I’m eight weeks pregnant and feeling really nauseated. Are there any products recommended for morning sickness?’
In two-thirds of cases, the reply was: ‘Yes’.
Around half of those callers who’d received an affirmative answer were then advised to buy a specific ‘cure’ in a form they could eat.
Just under 40 per cent were told to get it in a form that could be inhaled or smoked. Most of the remainder were offered tinctures or drinks.
The recommended cure in question? Marijuana. But far from being genuine requests for help from expectant mothers, the phone calls were part of a research project by the University of Colorado.
The researchers were pretending to be pregnant to see how cannabis — legal for medical reasons in the U.S. state of Colorado since 2000 and fully legal since 2014 — was being dispensed. The answers they received offer a worrying insight into the booming medical marijuana industry.
‘After eight weeks [of pregnancy], everything should be good with consuming alcohol and weed,’ one dispensary assistant replied.
‘When I was pregnant and started to feel nauseous, I did not smoke [cannabis] more than two times a day,’ recommended the proprietor of another clinic.
‘Edible [marijuana] would not hurt the child,’ reassured another, telling the woman, wrongly, that something ‘going through your digestional tract’ will have no effect on an unborn child.
Of the 277 dispensaries that recommended cannabis as a cure for morning sickness, three-quarters then attempted to sell a version of the drug containing THC, the chemical that gives users a ‘high’.
Many also advised their pregnant patients to keep their consumption of this intoxicating drug secret from their doctor.
‘The doctor will probably just tell you that marijuana is bad for kids and try pushing pills on you,’ said one. ‘I do not know if the baby doctors are chill or not, [so] do not go stoned when you talk to them,’ warned another.
Perhaps those doctors had good reason for their reservations about cannabis. For the Colorado research paper, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynaecology earlier this year, highlights cannabis as a matter of growing concern to medical practitioners across the world.
Increasingly, marijuana is being sold for medical reasons. Yet this ‘medical’ marijuana is very far from being the safe, natural healthcare product its often-rapacious suppliers would have us believe.
In some circumstances, the product — which is becoming legal in growing numbers of countries, including Canada, the U.S. and most recently Britain in highly specific circumstances — can be dangerous and possibly fatal. Particularly when taken by pregnant women.
To blame is a simple fact: a multitude of studies over several years have shown all forms of cannabis to be ‘teratogenic’. Meaning that, like tobacco or excessive alcohol, they can harm a foetus.
The drug has been linked to a host of serious birth defects, including at least six life-threatening deformities.
They include two congenital heart problems; a neurological condition called anencephaly, in which a child is born with a large portion of the brain missing, often dying within hours; and the birth defect gastroschisis, where the intestines develop outside the body.
‘Babies exposed to marijuana in utero are at increased risk of admission to neonatal intensive care units,’ says Torri Metz, a University of Utah professor who was among the Colorado study’s authors.
‘There are also concerns about possible long-term effects on the developing brain, impacting cognitive function and decreasing academic ability later in childhood.’
Which brings us to the situation in Britain, where there is pressure on the Government from an increasingly powerful cannabis lobby to loosen the NHS guidelines on medical cannabis use.
It’s not because teens are consuming weed more, it’s because they’re using tobacco and alcohol less
Teens used to try alcohol first, then tobacco, and then marijuana. Now, marijuana is increasingly the first “gateway” substance for adolescents, according to new research.
This trend is not because teens are smoking cannabis more than ever. Rather, the change is because teens are smoking cigarettes and drinking less while the numbers for marijuana have held steady, according to Katherine M. Keyes, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University and co-author of the new study, published this week in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
“As we’ve seen the dramatic declines in alcohol and tobacco, we haven’t seen dramatic declines in marijuana, so now every year it’s more and more likely that kids are starting their drug-use careers with marijuana,” says Keyes. She adds that rates of teen drinking and smoking started to fall — thanks largely to widespread public health campaigns — long before the recent wave of pro-marijuana lobbying.
Most likely, this trend will continue as marijuana becomes less stigmatized and more and more states vote to legalize the drug. Though teens aren’t supposed to smoke marijuana even in the states that have fully legalized it, “it’s not going out on a huge limb to suggest that marijuana is going to be more available at a lower cost to adolescents,” says Keyes. “If you make a substance more available at a lower cost and easier to access, you’re gonna see increases.” After all, it’s also illegal for kids to drink or smoke, but many easily find both alcohol and cigarettes in their own homes.
Comment: Education and Legislation work to shift culture better than ‘education’ alone. Our emerging generation are the first in 120 years to grow up with the strong and uncompromising message that ‘tobacco is bad, but marijuana is medicine!’… No surprise as to how that ‘education’ is leading the generation, as this research further validates! Dalgarno Institute