Study: significant brain differences found even among casual marijuana users

marijuana

Society for Neuroscience News:

The size and shape of two brain regions involved in emotion and motivation may differ in young adults who smoke marijuana at least once a week, according to a study published April 16 in The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings suggest that recreational marijuana use may lead to previously unidentified brain changes, and highlight the importance of research aimed at understanding the long-term effects of low to moderate marijuana use on the brain.

[...]

In the current study, Jodi Gilman, PhD, Anne Blood, PhD, and Hans Breiter, MD, of Northwestern University and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to compare the brains of 18- to 25-year olds who reported smoking marijuana at least once per week with those with little to no history of marijuana use. Although psychiatric evaluations ruled out the possibility that the marijuana users were dependent on the drug, imaging data revealed they had significant brain differences. The nucleus accumbens — a brain region known to be involved in reward processing — was larger and altered in its shape and structure in the marijuana users compared to non-users.

“This study suggests that even light to moderate recreational marijuana use can cause changes in brain anatomy,” said Carl Lupica, PhD, who studies drug addiction at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and was not involved with this study. “These observations are particularly interesting because previous studies have focused primarily on the brains of heavy marijuana smokers, and have largely ignored the brains of casual users.”

The team of scientists compared the size, shape, and density of the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala — a brain region that plays a central role in emotion — in 20 marijuana users and 20 non-users. Each marijuana user was asked to estimate their drug consumption over a three-month period, including the number of days they smoked and the amount of the drug consumed each day.  The scientists found that the more the marijuana users reported consuming, the greater the abnormalities in the nucleus accumbens and amygdala. The shape and density of both of these regions also differed between marijuana users and non-users.

“This study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences,” Breiter said.

While marijuana has been decriminalized in Maryland now, it has not been fully legalized. Opponents of legalization, including Greg Kline, will likely point to this study to bolster their arguments.

Report: Steve Schuh’s temper leads to fireworks at GOP dinner

schuh-ferrari

The Anne Arundel County GOP held their Lincoln-Reagan Dinner last night at Michael’s Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie (I’ll have more on the dinner itself later.) For a second year in a row, there were fireworks.

This year the fireworks appear to have involved Delegate Steve Schuh (owner of the Ferrari pictured above) and Scott Shaffer. Shaffer is a member of the Anne Arundel County Republican Central Committee and is supporting Schuh’s opponent (Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman.)

Monday night, Shaffer made this snarky post on Facebook – which was a thinly-veiled reference to Schuh:

shaffer-schuh

Last night, Shaffer was apparently putting up signs for Neuman when Schuh approached him. There were reportedly numerous witnesses to the Schuh tirade that ensued. Witnesses reported that Schuh was “livid” as he “cursed out” Shaffer and yelled at him about the Facebook post above. One source said that Schuh “exploded” at Shaffer and was “bombastic.” Schuh took issue with the Ferrari reference in Shaffer’s post and claimed Shaffer must be jealous of his wealth. Schuh also reportedly argued about the tax references in Shaffer’s post and claimed to not remember the votes Shaffer was referring to.

Schuh also reportedly referred to Shaffer as an “asshole” and a “dickhead.”

Catholic candidate for MD Governor supports physician-assisted suicide

mizeur

Long-shot Democratic gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur has come out in favor of physician-assisted suicide.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

“If terminally ill, mentally competent adults choose to end their life, they should be able to seek a life-ending dose of medicine from their physician,” Mizeur said in a policy proposal released late Tuesday.

Three states — Oregon, Washington, and Vermont — have similar policies, dubbed by advocates “Death with Dignity” laws.

Mizeur, a Democrat from Montgomery County, outlined her call for legalization of doctor-assisted suicide along with ideas to help seniors as they retire, age, get sick and approach death.

Here’s what F. Michael Gloth, III, an Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of Outpatient Services
in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology at Johns Hopkins, has written on physician-assisted suicide:

Catholic teaching condemns physician-assisted suicide because it, like murder, involves taking an innocent human life…

Policy makers and the public are not always receptive to appeals to Catholic moral teaching. Fortunately, well-established principles of medicine and bioethics provide sound and abundant grounds for opposing physician-assisted suicide.

McGloth goes on to discuss many of the medical reasons to oppose physician-assisted suicide. He also points out that both the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians oppose the practice.

McGloth closes with this:

There is, of course, a final reason to advocate for physician-assisted suicide. It is cheaper to kill a person than to provide care. Yet a physician’s first obligation is to “Do No Harm.” Until that is replaced with “Save more money,” it will be difficult to support physician-assisted suicide.

It’s not like anyone pro-life would be supporting Mizeur anyway, but this announcement reinforces the fact that the Democratic gubernatorial field is hostile to the protection of human life in Maryland.

Mizeur has been endorsed by Emily’s List in the race for Governor and in previous bids for office. Her gubernatorial campaign has also been endorsed by the Maryland National Organization for Women PAC – in part because of her position on abortion.

In 2006 Mizeur said:

I fully support a woman’s right to choice and reproductive freedom.

Mizeur has served as a volunteer advisor to Community Clinic, Inc.  which offers family planning services, which may or may not include abortion referrals. In 2011, she received the Choice Advocate Award from NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland and in other election years she consistently has received 100% ratings from the group.

Her current campaign website makes little mention of the issue other than saying she was behind the Family Planning Works Act which she says will reduce abortions (Not that we will ever find out for sure since the State of Maryland no longer tracks abortion-related statistics.)

Mizeur’s position on same-sex marriage  (including her own marriage to another woman) is also another place she goes against church teachings.

Mizeur’s campaign biographies in the past have noted that she is Catholic and attends St. Aloysius, which she referred to once as a “progressive Jesuit parish.” She was named to a list of 12 Catholic Women Under 40 Making A Difference by National Catholic Reporter, a source that even USA Today referred to as a liberal outlet. Her current campaign biography makes no mention of her faith.

In 1998, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops noted that:

“Catholics who are privileged to serve in public leadership positions have an obligation to place their faith at the heart of their public service, particularly on issues regarding the sanctity and dignity of human life.” (12) They then declared: “We urge those Catholic officials who choose to depart from the Church teaching on the inviolability of human life in their public life to consider the consequences for their own spiritual well-being, as well as the scandal they risk by leading others into serious sin. We call on them to reflect on the grave contradiction of assuming public office and presenting themselves as credible Catholics when their actions on fundamental issues of human life are not in agreement with Church teaching“. Concluding this passage they then solemnly proclaimed: “No public official, especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can reasonably advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life…. no appeal to policy, procedure, majority will or pluralism ever excuses a public official from defending life to the greatest extent possible”.  [emphasis added]

There have been some, including bishops with the authority to do something about it , who have argued that Catholics in public office who support abortion (or physician-assisted suicide) should be excommunicated or denied communion. I won’t sidetrack this discussion by delving into that debate right now.

I will just echo the above sentiments from the USCCB, especially the statement calling on public officials “to reflect on the grave contradiction of assuming public office and presenting themselves as credible Catholics when their actions on fundamental issues of human life are not in agreement with Church teaching.”

Poll: Gansler Gaining on Brown

gansler-poll

The above graphic is from an internal poll the campaign of Doug Gansler released (the poll memo is included at the bottom of this post.)

Bryan Sears of The Daily Record has more on the poll:

The poll, conducted for the campaign earlier this month by the Mellman Group, claims Gansler has made up as much as 14 points on Brown in the 2014 Democratic primary contest for governor.

In the internal poll, 31 percent of people who responded said they favored Brown compared to 22 percent for Gansler with 40 percent still undecided.

[...]

In February, the same pollster found in another internal survey that Gansler trailed Brown by 23 points.

In that same month, a poll conducted for The Washington Post showed Brown had a 19 point lead over Gansler with 43 percent undecided.

A Baltimore Sun poll showed Brown with a 21 percentage point lead over Gansler with 40 percent undecided.

Sears also has a statement from the Gansler campaign:

Katie Hill, a spokeswoman for the campaign, said the poll shows that the gap narrowed a public awareness of the failures of the state’s health benefit exchange grew.

“It’s clear that the more Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown tries to rewrite history, claiming that he’s been successful in rolling out a failed health exchange, the more voters realize he’s not being honest with them,” Hill said in a statement. “Voters in Maryland expect real leadership, and they are finding a clear contrast between Lt. Governor Brown’s phony claims of success and Attorney General Doug Gansler’s record of rolling up his sleeves and getting things done for the people of Maryland.”

Here’s the poll memo:

Gansler Internal Poll – April 12, 2014

Watch David Craig’s new campaign ad

craig-haddaway

According to a campaign email the video below is a new campaign commercial by the Craig-Haddaway campaign.

Here’s the ad:

Here’s the email:

VOTE Yourself A Raise!

We all know the necessity of paying taxes. But the only necessity for the 40 new taxes and fees imposed by the O’Malley-Brown administration over the past 7 years was to perpetuate the fiscally insane, tax and spend culture of state government.

Did our state budget really have to increase a billion dollars in each of those years? Did we really have to impose taxes on everything from gas to rain? Instead of all those new taxes, would it not have been better to control the obscene growth of the state bureaucracy?

We know there is a better way and with your help we can change that culture forever. Recently, we proposed a common-sense plan to put Maryland on a glide path to gradually eliminating the state’s personal income tax.

In the coming days, we will be airing a TV commercial highlighting our plan to cut and eliminate taxes. You can view it here. [emphasis added]

The eventual result would be an actual PAY RAISE for taxpayers: $1500 for those filing jointly and $750 for singles.
This tax plan would help stop the thousands of Marylanders who are fleeing to tax-friendlier states every year for one simple reason, they cannot afford to live here.

In fact, over the last eight years this exodus has cost the state over $8 billion in lost revenue.

The truth is I am the only candidate for governor with a plan to eliminate the state income tax. I also have plans to do away with a lot of other unnecessary and unfair taxes, like eliminating state taxes on the pensions of anyone who served the public in uniform.

As Harford County Executive, I cut taxes without affecting services and still managed to build schools, create jobs and preserve open spaces. So it can be done, and it will be done as your next governor.
Remember, on June 24th to vote yourself a pay raise and a tax cut! With your help we can turn Maryland around and make the future brighter.

David and Jeannie

A note about Ryan Miner

miner

If you’ve read my site for any length of time, you know I wrote extensively about Ryan Miner in 2013. After hearing from a teacher in Washington County over the weekend asking about what I wrote before, I wanted to write this update in light of Miner running for the Board of Education there in the June election. From what I’ve seen, he’s already running a thorough and comprehensive campaign. To risk being cliched, he hit the ground running from filing day and is working to try to earn votes.

I wrote before about bad things involving Ryan Miner and mistakes he had made in the past. I wanted to write now about his candidacy and also things that have happened involving him and me since last fall.

Last November, a mutual friend suggested that Miner talk to me (after I indicated I was amenable to it) during the Maryland Republican Party’s Fall Convention in Annapolis.

As I noted at the time:

I had a very nice conversation with Ryan Miner Saturday afternoon.

Miner also made a tweet about our conversation:

During that conversation, and in subsequent ones since then, Miner has shown himself to be contrite and humble about his past mistakes. He admitted his mistakes and affirmed much of what I wrote about him had been correct. He has said he has given up alcohol and all evidence I’ve seen firsthand and heard from others confirms that. I’ve also heard from others that he has made amends with them. He shows all outwards signs of being very remorseful about mistakes he has made in the past and wants to do his best moving forward to serve his community. It will be up to the voters of Washington County to decide whether he deserves to be in office.

I don’t generally endorse any candidates for office unless it’s someone who will be on my local ballot on election day (I live in Baltimore County for anyone who might not know) and usually not even then. So, I won’t be endorsing Miner or any other candidates in the race. However, I do have a message for anyone in Washington County who might have read what I’ve written about Ryan Miner in the past.

Read Miner’s positions on the issues, look at his biography and see what he has done and still does in the community, and then look at the total man he is when you decide whether to vote for him or not.  Better yet, talk to him yourself and ask him why he deserves your vote and then make up your mind. America is a nation of second chances and election day will show whether the voters in Washington County want to give one to Ryan Miner.

All any of us sinners can do is ask for is the forgiveness of our God and our neighbors for mistakes we’ve made in the past. If we really mean it and people believe that, then second chances often come as a result. I wish Ryan Miner the best of luck in the election, but more importantly in his life in general. It’s easy to let pettiness turn some minor disputes into a personal war or vendetta while others egg you on, even though that’s usually not the right thing to do.

Here’s a video Miner released announcing his candidacy:

MD supermarket limiting full-time employees due to Obamacare

obamacare

Snider’s Super Foods, a grocery store in Silver Spring, is limiting its full-time employees to no more than 49 to avoid having to provide health insurance under Obamacare.

WBFF has the full story (via RNC Research):

Schuh uses Boy Scouts as political props

schuh-bsa

The front page of Steve Schuh’s campaign website includes this picture, which was obviously taken inside the Lowe House Office Building. While the picture was not at a political event, it still is problematic for Boy Scouts that Schuh is using it in a political manner. The picture is used in Schuh’s campaign  video featured on the rotating items on his site. (The video is embedded at the bottom of this post.)

Schuh has put these Scouts in violation of a national policy promulgated by Boy Scouts of America (BSA.)

Specifically:

But photos of candidates or Scouts in uniform or BSA marks and logos are not allowed in political campaign materials of any kind.

This policy arose out of political candidates using pictures taken at political rallies of Boy Scouts who were there for things like performing color guard duty or otherwise attending. It is designed to help protect Scouts from being exploited for political purposes by candidates. However, in the case of the Scouts pictured with Schuh, there was no reason for them to think a picture taken in an official setting (Schuh’s state office in Annapolis) might be used for political campaign advertising or other campaign uses,

I will be contacting local and national BSA officials for further comment on this matter.

Steve Schuh for County Executive from Phil Graves on Vimeo.

CDC investigating norovirus outbreak on Royal Caribbean cruise ship

grandeur-seas

A cruise that departed Baltimore on March 28 had a “viral outbreak” caused by norovirus that affected over 100 passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas. The current voyage of that same ship has had almost 100 passengers get sick with similar symptoms. The ship left April 5 for the Bahamas and is returning to Baltimore Saturday.

More details from The Baltimore Sun:

Neither cruise was cut short because of the outbreak. The Grandeur of the Seas is expected to return to Baltimore as scheduled Saturday morning.

Upon its return to Baltimore, the ship is expected to be thoroughly sanitized. In addition, “two CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officers and an epidemiologist will board the ship,” as part of the ongoing investigation, according to disease control officials.

The CDC also is collecting specimens to determine the cause of the outbreak during the second cruise. Cruise ships are required to report illnesses affecting more than 3 percent of passengers or crew members during any cruise of three days or more.

The ship, which has a approximate capacity of 2,000 passengers and 800 crew,  is due to leave Baltimore again on another cruise Saturday evening.

More on the ship itself from The Sun:

The Royal Caribbean ship returned to Baltimore last spring after undergoing a $48 million renovation. Since then it has faced some challenges, including a damaging fire last May that put the ship in dry dock for six weeks for repairs.

Nikki Haley’s primary opponent withdraws

haley-gun

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley now finds herself without a primary opponent. Tom Ervin, a lawyer who previously served as a legislator and a judge, withdrew from the primary today and announced he would now be attempting to run as a petition candidate.

The State has his statement:

“After considerable thought and prayer, I have decided to bypass the June 10th Republican primary in favor of a petition candidacy to place my name on the November general election ballot for governor,” he said in a statement. “Like most South Carolinians, I’m a fiscal and social conservative with an independent streak. I’m running to reform state government and to restore executive competence, honesty and accountability — especially as it relates to protecting our most vulnerable children in harm’s way.”

[...]

“I believe South Carolina is ready for fresh new leadership and ready for a governor who cares about our people and not selfish political ambition,” he said. “Both (Republican Gov.) Nikki Haley and (Democratic challenger) Vince Sheheen are career politicians. I’m a small business owner who will serve as governor and then return home to run my business.”

He said he started gathering signatures of registered voters to have his name added to the November ballot as a “Republican petition candidate.”

“I look forward to offering my vision for South Carolina as a Republican in the general election,” he said.

He wouldn’t have won the primary and now he apparently hopes to be a spoiler in the general if he manages to get on the ballot. In addition to Democrat Vincent Sheheen, there is a Libertarian candidate running who claims to be the only pro-choice candidate in the race (Sheheen is Catholic.)