NEWS Manitoba to survey residents about marijuana use in light of legalization WINNIPEG – The Manitoba government plans to poll residents about their marijuana consumption and what kind of rules they would like to see when recreational pot is legalized next year. The provincial liquor and gaming authority is looking for a company to do 15-minute surveys of at least 1,200 Manitobans in the coming months as it prepares for the new law. “We don’t have a great understanding about cannabis as a substance and how people use it,” said Kristianne Dechant, the authority’s communications and research manager. “And this is really unlike with liquor and gambling – which are two products that we currently regulate – where we have a great understanding about the gaps in people’s knowledge.” Dechant said the aim is to develop ways to advise people about safe levels of consumption – whether the cannabis be eaten, smoked or otherwise ingested. “I think Manitobans are really looking to the province to define what responsible use could look like and to provide information about how, if they choose to use it, they could minimize the harm.” Survey results will help shape a “regulatory framework for cannabis that meets public expectations for safety and consumer protection,” says the authority’s request for proposals issued Tuesday. The sample must include a reasonable representation across the province, including people between 18 and 24, “as this demographic is notoriously hard to reach, yet of particular interest with respect to cannabis knowledge and choices.” The federal government is setting a minimum age of 18 for pot use, but many of the details are being left to the provinces, including how and where cannabis will be sold when the law takes effect next July. Manitoba has yet to determine where pot will be available at the retail level and whether the liquor and gaming authority, or some other agency, will regulate it. Mani to ba’s Porgressive Conservative government asked Ottawa last December to delay its plan for legalization. Premier Brian Pallister said there were many details still to be worked out, including who would pay for increased police resources. He also said a big awareness campaign was needed to convince people of the dangers of driving while using cannabis. – Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press RESEARCH Study sheds light on migraine sufferers’ preference for darkness People experiencing migraines often avoid light and find relief in darkness. A new study led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston has revealed a previously unknown connection between the light-sensitive nerve cells in the eye and centres in the brain that regulate mood and a host of physical parameters such as heart rate, shortness of breath, fatigue, congestion and nausea. The findings, which explain how light can induce the negative emotions and unpleasant physical sensations that often accompany migraines, were published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “While studying the effects of colour on headache intensity, we found that some patients reported finding light uncomfortable even when it didn’t make their headaches worse,” said lead author Rami Burstein, vice-chairman of research in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at BIDMC, and professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School. “We found that exposure to different colours of light could make patients experiencing a migraine feel irritable, angry, nervous, depressed and anxious. These patients also reported feeling physical discomfort, including tightness in the chest or throat, shortness of breath, light -headedness and nausea.” Burstein and colleagues showed different coloured lights to 81 people who frequently experienced migraines and 17 people who had never had a migraine and asked them to describe what they experienced. The effects of light and colour were tested three times: once for those who never experience migraines and twice for patients with migraines – once during an attack and once between attacks. The researchers found that all colours of light triggered unpleasant physiological sensations in patients with migraines both during and between attacks. Additionally, migraine sufferers reported intense emotional responses such as anger, nervousness, hopelessnes, sadness, depression, anxiety and fear when exposed to all light colours, except green. Participants who did not suffer from migraines did not report a strong physiological response when exposed to any colour of light, but they did report that all colours of light evoked pleasant emotions. “These findings explained accounts from earlier work from blind migraine sufferers in a previous study,” said Burstein. “We had noticed that light exacerbated headache intensity in participants who perceive light but have no sight as a result of loss of rods and cones, but not in those who lack light perception because of optic nerve degeneration. This suggested the nerves relaying signals from the eye to the brain played a critical role in the discomfort associated with migraine.” In a pre-clinical experiment with albino rats, first author Rodrigo Noseda, researcher at BIDMC and assistant professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, identified previously unknown connections between nerve cells in the retina – the back of the eye where light is detected – and neurons extending into regions of the brain that regulate physiological, autonomic, endocrine and emotional responses to changes in the external environment. “We now have a physical explanation of why migraine patients have negative reactions to light,” said Burstein. “And now we are working on ways to use this information in hopes that soon migraine sufferers will be able to avoid not only the pain but also the negative emotions and physical discomfort that light creates for them.” These findings build on research published by Burstein and colleagues last year, which reported that migraine headache intensity increases with blue, red, amber and white lights but decreases with a specific wavelength of green light. This green light, they discovered, activates the neurons in the retina and the brain to a lesser extent than blue, red, amber and white lights do, and is therefore less likely to trigger the physiological, autonomic, endocrine and emotional responses migraine sufferers often report. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School. - Newswise WELLNESS App that rewards healthy living gets $1.5 million from Ontario Ontarians who want to improve their health and personal finance skills can get points from popular consumer rewards programs for their efforts, paid for in part by the provincial government. Ontario government officials have announced the province is spending $1.5 million on the Carrot Rewards smartphone app, which allows users to get reward points from programs including Aeroplan and Petro-Points for completing tasks such as walking a certain number of steps or taking quizzes on healthy living and personal finance. The app gives users advice on topics such as eating seasonal fruits and vegetables and following a budget. Eleanor McMahon, Ontario’s minister of sport, says the government’s investment in the app is about giving people an incentive to make good choices and showing that leading a healthier life can be fun. Toronto-based company Carrot Insights developed the app in 2015 with funding from the federal government and British Columbia. It became available to Ontarians in February and the company says it has about 200,000 active users in the province today. – The Canadian Press
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