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Marijuana and drug testing: Will you pass?
- Occasional users (Once per week or less): Stays in system for 1-5 days after the last use
- Regular users (More than once per week): Stays in system for 1-3 weeks after last use
- Heavy users (Multiple times per day, or regular use for a prolonged period of time): Can stay in system up to 4-6 weeks after last use
Of course, the safest option is to abstain from marijuana use completely in the weeks leading up to a drug test, so you don’t need to have an uncomfortable conversation with your boss or potential HR manager. Even if you’re using marijuana within the confines of your state and local laws, a positive test result could spell trouble for your career.
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Staci Gruber vividly remembers her first hit of marijuana, back when she was in college. It made her so paranoid, she locked herself in a bathroom. She couldn’t decide whether to remain in hiding or to run. But she knew she’d never try pot again.
She didn’t lose interest in the drug, however. Today, she runs the 2-year-old Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery, or MIND, project at McLean Hospital in this suburb of Boston. With cognitive testing and neuroimaging, MIND is conducting a longitudinal study of medical marijuana.
“There’s a lot we don’t know about long-term effects, and that’s what I’m here to find out,” Gruber said.
Gruber, 49, has already made her mark on the field.
She ran a small study, published in 2013, that found teenagers and young adults who smoked marijuana were more likely to exhibit impulsive behavior than their peers and were more likely to have certain changes in the brain’s white matter. A follow-up study found that those changes couldreorganize brain regions associated with inhibitions. This year, Gruber’s research team also found that chronic recreational users of pot had poorer cognitive and executive functioning, particularly if they began using marijuana as teens.
MIND’s current work involves adults who are legally permitted to use marijuana-based products for medical conditions. The researchers are particularly interested in the non-psychoactive components of the marijuana plant, such as cannabidiol, an ingredient in many preparations of medical marijuana.
“We have this one word, marijuana, which we think means every part of the plant, and it doesn’t. The cannabinoids I study aren’t even the ones that get you high,” Gruber said. “But whether you’re for medical marijuana or against it, what we really need is information.”
Marijuana has been studied before. But previous research has focused on the cognitive effects of smoking pot recreationally. Earlier studies of medical marijuana have looked mostly at efficacy — how well it treats symptoms of conditions like multiple sclerosis, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.
Gruber and her colleagues, by contrast, are trying to determine the long- and short-term impact of medical marijuana on cognition, brain structure and function, quality of life, sleep, and other clinical measures.
“[This] is a primary concern for patients considering cannabinoid treatment, and it may have implications for public policy,” Gruber said.
Peering into the brain
The first phase of the MIND study is observational. Before patients begin their treatment, Gruber and her colleagues establish a baseline — using imaging, interviews, and task performance tests — to see what patients’ brains look like before they use medical marijuana.
The patients then record how much marijuana they’re using, and how often. At intervals of three, nine, 12, 18, and 24 months, MIND researchers conduct more tests, brain scans, and interviews to measure the effects of the cannabis on their brain structures, cognition, and daily life.
This is the part of Gruber’s research that will be most valuable, said Madeline Meier, a marijuana researcher at the University of Arizona.
“The most important goal right now is to obtain high-quality data on the potential harms and benefits of cannabis,” Meier said.
There are currently 30 study participants; Gruber plans to enroll up to 200. A separate MIND study will examine military veterans who use cannabinoids.
“People drive two to three hours sometimes to get [here for] the study,” Gruber said. “They’re really committed. They really want to know what effect this will have on them.”
As they wait for long-term results, MIND researchers have made a few interim discoveries. They have found, for example, that marijuana could possibly ease symptoms for people with bipolar disorder and that a medication for strokes and Alzheimer’s disease may reverse the cognitive effects of chronic recreational marijuana use.
Gruber’s earlier findings, raising red flags about the dangers of recreational pot smoking, have caught the eye of some activists, like the Seattle-based drug prevention program SAMA, short for Science and Management of Addictions.
“We brought her out here because she had done this great research on adolescents and THC,” said SAMA president Kim Brackett. “We call her ‘the rock star scientist.’ She has a very nice way of translating scientific information in a way that non-scientists can understand, from grandparents to 8-year-olds.”
New interest in funding research
The patients in MIND’s studies bring their own marijuana products, which Gruber’s team analyzes for potency. Studying marijuana can be challenging because the federal Drug Enforcement Administration classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug, a category reserved for substances with a high potential for addiction and no medicinal value. The DEA recently considered changing that classification — but decided not to.
As a result, the federal government is currently the only approved source of cannabis for clinical trials of medicinal marijuana. “But that’s not what people are using,” said Francesca Filbey, who researches marijuana at the University of Texas at Dallas. “The only way science can study what people do is to let them do it.”
Gruber, Filbey, and several other researchers have formed a consortium, dubbed IDEAA, to pool their research data. Their goal is to make their data widely available, and to get more funding for marijuana research.
“We also hope to do some joint projects — pun intended — that can get funding,” Gruber said. “People are warming up to the idea of marijuana as medicine and funding is opening up.”
For now, Gruber’s project is funded with private donations. The first one came in 2014 when MIND launched with a $500,000 gift to McLean Hospital from Gruber’s wife, crime novelist Patricia Cornwell. The two married in 2006, having met when Cornwell visited McLean to research a book.
“She was asking a lot of really good questions,” said Gruber. “Then I found out she wanted to meet and talk more. We went out for dinner and ended up talking about neuroscience until 2 o’clock in the morning.”
Gruber first came to McLean Hospital in the 1990s to work as a lab assistant while completing two undergraduate degrees at schools 10 miles apart. She majored in psychology at Tufts University in suburban Boston. She was also studying vocal performance and jazz at the New England Conservatory of Music.
“I spent most of those years just running,” Gruber said, shaking her head with the memory. “You look back and wonder, ‘How did I ever do that? I could never do that now.’ I guess that’s what’s great about being young.”
While in college, Gruber landed an internship at McLean in a lab studying the effects of marijuana on college students. “From there,” she said, with a wait-for-it grin, “I was hooked.”
She continued working at McLean while earning graduate degrees in psychology and experimental cognitive neuroscience at Tufts and at Harvard, where she is now an associate professor.
‘It takes emotion and soul’
While Gruber has always loved music, she’s only recently fully embraced that side of herself.
“When I was little, I used to sing in the closet because I was terrified that I wasn’t any good,” she said. “But then I had this music teacher who said, ‘Hey you, you should have a solo.'”
At the conservatory, she fell in love with jazz singing, which she said resonated with her much more than classical arias.
“If you’re not feeling what you’re doing, what’s the point?” she said. “And that’s true in science, too. You can scientifically break down all these parts of music, like tone and pitch, but it takes emotion and a soul to make it real. In science, you can have all the findings in the world, but if you can’t communicate them, what good are they?”
Today, Gruber has a home studio and a Youtube channel for her music, which includes covers of popular songs along with her own compositions. And she has recorded two CDs.
“It’s okay to not be comfortable 100 percent of the time,” Gruber added. “You have to put yourself out there, to sing and be true and be you.”
That is no more than what she asks of study subjects, she explained.
“The whole point of this is getting people to tell the truth, sometimes about illegal activity, so they have to trust you,” she said. “I don’t know that I would be able to do studies like this if I couldn’t connect with people.”
In case you’re interested..
When first smoking, feel free to giggle your ass off and gorge on Oreos. But please, if you continue, learn some dignity.
The decidedly uphill battle to legalize marijuana, medical or otherwise, is likely to be with us for decades to come. Legislating morality in our country (and in human societies down through the ages) has always been fraught. As we have seen, even if marijuana is legal in some localities, that doesn’t mean the feds won’t shut down licensed operations, as I discovered woefully when the owners of my own dear collective in Malibu, California, were forced to pack up and flee after receiving a threatening letter from Obama’s U.S. Attorney General’s office. (Has anyone looked into the reason for our seemingly liberal president’s hard line on pot? Do you think it has something to do with being a father of teenage daughters who attend a pricey prep school in Washington, D.C.? Everybody knows how hardy those rich preppies like to party.)
Meanwhile, glassy eyes around the nation are turned toward Colorado’s legalization experiment. Given the choice between a drunk (and impaired) asshole and a pleasant stoner… Well, put it this way: If my college-bound kid was to ask my advice on the subject, I’d tell him I prefer he smoked weed in lieu of drinking. Watch one episode of Real World. That’s what our kids are emulating, people. (Of course I’d also tell him to watch his butt — people still get busted for simple marijuana possession every day in America.)
There’s not a lot to know to get you started, and I am not here advocating the use of illegal substances. But if you happen to be interested…
1. Indica vs. Sativa
Learn the difference. Indica makes you sleepy; it’s more of a body high, good for pain, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping — you’ll likely nod out a couple hours after smoking. Sativa is a more upbeat, artistic, and cerebral high. It sparks the imagination and energizes you directly after smoking and will keep you awake if you smoke too close to bedtime. Most stoners remember the difference in a somewhat anti-intuitive way. Sativa starts with an S = NOT sleepy.
2. Just Say No to Blunts
The hip-hop generation has popularized the use of tobacco leaf rolling papers or hollowed-out/re-rolled Swisher Sweets as the delivery device of choice for weed. Not only can this lead to an addiction to nicotine (every heroin user I’ve ever known agrees that nicotine is the hardest drug to kick). It also kills the taste of the myriad delicious strains now on the market. Nobody would ever mix a shot of red wine in a glass with ice and Coke, would they? [Eds. note: Okay, we sometimes do that.]
3. Know Your Equipment
Some people swear by vaporizers, which eliminate the intense skunky smell (good for dorm rooms and public spots) and the inhalation of smoke (possibly but not medically proven to adversely affect the lungs). However, the vape high is considerably less intense and shorter lasting. While a bong can be unruly and downright disgusting, a small water pipe can fulfill the same purpose, filtering the more noxious elements of combustion. For cleaning, isopropyl alcohol cuts resin nicely. Remember the container full of combs soaking in blue liquid on the barber’s counter? I do the same with my glass pipes.
4. Giggling Man is an Oxymoron
The first time you smoke, feel free to giggle your ass off, munch down on Double Stuf Oreos and barbecue potato chips, and marvel at the new found intensity of movies, music, sex, et al. The primary effect of weed is to enhance the sensory enjoyment of everything around you. But please, if you continue to smoke, learn some dignity. Conquer the munchies and the giggles. Concentrate instead on these newly opened doors of perception.
If pot makes you feel paranoid, it’s because it affords the user a slightly different view of him or herself. When you’re high, your words echo discreetly in your own coconut, your point of view is slightly off center from normal, affording you a kind of fleeting glimpse of yourself and your actions that you might not ordinarily have. Weed invites self-observation, which is not for everyone. Even though it should be.
When Mark Watkins headed out for a fishing trip off the coast of Western Australia, he’d hoped to come home with dinner. Instead, he came home with one heck of a story.
That’s because, as he and his father drove their boat through the choppy morning waves, they happened upon an amazingly bizarre sight. At first they thought it was a boat, then, a hot air balloon. The truth, however, was even crazier.
A controversial surgeon is preparing to carry out the first ever whole head transplant by the end of 2017 after “successful” experiments on monkeys and mice.
Neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero introduced the strategy in 2013 and has been touting his experiments since.
In 2015, the 51-year-old presented at the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons’s 39th annual conference, where his speech about the ambitious procedure served as the keynote talk.
Earlier this year, Dr Canavero told New Scientist he had been conducting a series of experiments on animals and human cadavers with the help of scientists in China and South Korea.
“I would say we have plenty of data to go on,” Dr Canavero said.
“It’s important that people stop thinking this is impossible.”
Dr Canavero is working with Xiaoping Ren from Harbin Medical University in China.
According to the publication, Mr Ren has already performed a monkey head transplant and more than 1000 head transplants on mice.
Dr Canavero’s first patient is Russian program manager, Valery Spiridonov, who is suffering from the rare muscular atrophy disorder Werdnig-Hoffman disease.
The 31-year-old volunteered for the transplant and says that he’s willing to risk death to escape his disease.
His transplant will be done in a vegetative state and is set to take place at Harbin Medical University in China.
The two-part procedure is composed of HEAVEN (head anastomosis venture) and Gemini (the subsequent spinal cord fusion).
The whole process involves 36 hours, 150 people (doctors, nurses, technicians, psychologists, and virtual reality engineers), and around $20 million.
According to Dr Canavero, there will be two surgical teams working on the Russian patient at the same time.
One will focus on the Mr Spiridonov, the living patient, while the other will focus on a donor’s body.
The donor will be brain-dead and selected based on height, build, and immunotype.
Until the rise of streaming video, the only people eating up tons of data were high-end gamers and maybe people stealing movies. It simply wasn’t possible to be a data hog for the average person watching cat videos, checking sports scores, and/or visiting social media websites.
Because of that — much like wireless providers were more receptive to unlimited plans when the mobile web was a barren wasteland of repurposed sites and little else — broadband providers never bothered to cap their plans. Consumers got “unlimited” service only because the vast majority of us barely moved the needle. It wasn’t generosity.
Before streaming video came along, ISPs offered consumers the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring nothing but egg salad and clams of a questionable age. Now however streaming video has added prime rib, crab legs, and lobster tails to the mix and the all-you-can-eat offers are going away or getting more expensive
How are Comcast and AT&T using data caps?
In both cases, the two ISPs have not set data caps in order to make more money today. Instead, they have cleverly laid the groundwork to collect them down the road. The two broadband providers have set relatively high caps — 1 TB across the board for Comcast and the same for many AT&T users — and they are not quick to add charges, giving consumers multiple months over the cap before charging them.
At 1TB, or even at half that number, few people are likely to go over the cap today. Going forward however, as streaming video grows, gets joined by virtual reality, and Internet of Things devices all eating data, then what seems like a huge number today may not be so big going forward.
As data needs grow, consumers will use more, and going over may become the norm. When that happens, Comcast and AT&T won’t be adding new charges, they will simply be collecting ones that had been in place for years.
Why will unlimited broadband go away?
It all boils down to two things. The first is that all the major ISPs also operate as cable providers and if a customer cuts the cord they lose revenue. Adding data caps makes it possible to recoup lost pay-television revenue and even dissuade people from leaving cable. If it’s cheaper to stay and pay overage fees due to increased streaming, then why cut the cord at all?
The second reason, however, may be the more important one. Comcast, AT&T, and any other ISPs see how much overages have made the wireless carriers. First it was through people exceeding their allotted calling minutes and now it has moved to money made from people either exceeding their data cap or buying bigger data plans than they actually need in hopes of avoiding overage charges.
T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) CEO John Legere, a crusader against overage charges, peggedthe total current annual total at $2.5 billion, but noted at a November 2015 Uncarrier X eventthat the number might be closer to $45 billion a year when you factor in over-buying.
Not every ISP will be on board
In the same way that T-Mobile has made not charging overage charges part of its business model (it instead slows data speeds when consumers reach their limit), there will be ISPs that continue to offer unlimited broadband. Charter Communications, the second biggest provider behind Comcast, can’t implement a cap for seven years under the deal it made to win Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval of its deal to buy Time Warner Cable.
But while it might not happen quickly and it won’t be universal, data caps and overage charges are coming because ISPs see how much money the wireless carriers make from a confused public. People accept the idea that if they consume more data they should pay for it and people have shown with their phones that they are either unwilling or unable to keep track.
Comcast and AT&T are building up the expectation that using more data means paying more money. That will lead to people paying for unlimited plans when they don’t need them or running up overage charges when they do. The profit potential for ISPs is simply too high to let unlimited broadband live and it’s slow death has already begun.
Daniel B. Kline (TMFDankline
This article was originally published on May 27, 2015.
Now that pot legislation is making its way across the country, it’s time for a refresher on the difference between the main types of marijuana strains: indica and sativa. It’s a lesson some of us have had to learn over and over again. But, this infographic from the recently-released Green: A Field Guide To Marijuana will help us get it right.
At a basic level, we may be aware that sativa strains produce a sort of “up” high that gives users a feeling of euphoria, increased creativity, and energy. Meanwhile, indica strains usually leave us relaxed and “in-da-couch.”
But, as the infographic shows, the differences start with the shape of the plants: Sativas tend to have longer, thinner leaves and are lighter in color. Indica strains, meanwhile, often have shorter, fatter leaves and dark, dense buds.
And then, of course, there’s a whole host of hybrid strains that may produce a high that’s between the two ends of that spectrum. But, when they’re up-close — like in Erik Christiansen’s photos in the book — the differences are easy to spot. Check out the full infographic, below.
‘In its locked position it will be virtually undetectable because it hides in plain sight.’
MarketWatch photo illustration/Ideal Conceal, Everett Collection
MarketWatch photo illustration/Ideal Conceal, Everett Collection
Is that a pistol in your pocket, or are you just… carrying an iPhone?
The Ideal Conceal handgun has made waves for what its maker calls an “ingenious” design that looks exactly like a smartphone when in the “locked” position.
Ideal Conceal says on its website that, indeed, hardly anybody will notice it: “Smartphones are EVERYWHERE, so your new pistol will easily blend in with today’s environment. In its locked position it will be virtually undetectable because it hides in plain sight.”
The Ideal Conceal weapon is a .380-caliber derringer. Two bullets in two barrels. While the gun is still patent-pending, It’s expected to be available by mid-2016 for $395 each.
“From soccer moms to professionals of every type, this gun allows you the option of not being a victim,” the company says. “Most threats will occur in less than a 30’ range. Ease and speed of deployment will mean the difference in the outcome. With the Ideal Conceal pistol you can be quick on the draw stopping a threat effectively and immediately.”
Ideal Conceal looks to be tapping into the gun market at an opportune time. Earlier this month, firearms giant Smith & Wesson SWHC, -0.62% rode a groundswell of demand to surprisingly strong quarterly results. The stock has more than doubled in the past year, as uncertainty over gun laws and the rising threat of terrorism have caused customers to load up.
Not everyone on social media reacted to the gun in the way Ideal Conceal may have hoped:
Business Insider reached out to Cuban to ask about his tips for potential lottery winners, and he shared the advice he gave his local paper, the Dallas Morning News:
[The first thing you should do is] hire a tax attorney.
Don’t take the lump sum. You don’t want to blow it all in one spot.
If you weren’t happy yesterday, you won’t be happy tomorrow. It’s money. It’s not happiness.
If you were happy yesterday, you are going to be a lot happier tomorrow. It’s money. Life gets easier when you don’t have to worry about the bills.
Tell all your friends and relatives no. They will ask. Tell them no. If you are close to them, you already know who needs help and what they need. Feel free to help SOME, but talk to your accountant before you do anything and remember this, no one needs $1 million for anything. No one needs $100,000 for anything. Anyone who asks is not your friend.
You don’t become a smart investor when you win the lottery. Don’t make investments. You can put it in the bank and live comfortably. Forever. You will sleep a lot better knowing you won’t lose money.
He also shared one last bonus tip with Business Insider: “Be nice. No one likes a mean billionaire. :)”