Maine Nurse Practitioners to Prescribe Medical Marijuana

Under a recent change to the medical marijuana law in Maine, nurse practitioners are now permitted to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from certain medical conditions. Before this change in the law, only physicians were allowed to prescribe medical marijuana in Maine.

Physicians and nurse practitioners are permitted to recommend marijuana to patients who suffer from certain medical conditions approved by the State, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, and post-traumatic stress disorder. On August 6th, the Department of Health and Human Services held a public hearing on the issue of whether Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) should be added as a qualifying condition for the medical use of marijuana.

A patient who has been legally certified by their treating provider (physician or nurse practitioner) will be allowed to grow their own marijuana for medicinal purposes, or to obtain marijuana from a marijuana dispensary. Certification requires that a patient has had a continuous relationship with their medical provider for at least six months prior to the certification.

The law does not permit medical providers to assist a patient with obtaining, cultivating, or using the marijuana.

Advocates of medical marijuana believe that the new law will be of particular help to rural Mainers, many of whom treat with nurse practitioners, not physicians.

It is important to note that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, despite its legalization in many states. Because of this conflict in the laws, there may still be many medical providers who are reluctant to recommend marijuana to their patients.

Suicide Rates Higher for Smokers According to Study

A recent study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research raises the possibility that the link between smoking and suicide may be stronger than previously believed.

The researchers compared suicide rates in states with aggressive anti-smoking policies with the suicide rates in states where such policies do not exist. States with higher cigarette excise taxes and regulations regarding smoke-free air had lower suicide rates than states with fewer anti-smoking regulations.

The study's lead author, Richard Grucza, concludes a lower risk of suicide exists in states that have implemented strong anti-smoking policies.

Moose-Vehicle Collisions Trending Down in Maine

According to a recent article in the Portland Press Herald, though there have been several moose-vehicle collisions in Maine in the month of July, the actual number of these crashes has decreased over the past three years.

Statistics from the Maine Department of Transportation show that from 1995 through 2007, our state averaged 674 collisions annually. However, from 2008 to 2013, the annual average had declined to about 443.

Typically, moose-vehicle accidents are most common in May and June, as these are the months when animals roam for food after Winter.

According to the Maine DOT, 80 percent of these types of accidents occur between dusk and dawn.

Safety officers with the DOT believe that both public outreach/awareness and road signage have contributed to the recent decline in the number of these accidents. Last summer, the department installed reflector strips that reflect a moose's outline on roads in Caribou and Fort Kent, where these animals are most often struck by vehicles. 

For more information on moose-vehicle accident statistics in our state and measures that Maine safety officials are taking to reduce these, please visit: http://www.maine.gov/mdot/

United States Department of Agriculture Proposes New Rules to Improve Food Safety

The federal government is proposing changes in the rules governing the processing and sale of raw ground beef. The rule changes are designed to make it easier for the USDA to track the sources of contaminated meat, so that fewer people will be affected by food-borne illnesses.

Under the proposed new rule, retailers will be required to keep detailed records that identify the source and supplier of the raw ground beef they sell. This improved record-keeping will allow the USDA to process food recalls more quickly and efficiently. The USDA expects that the additional record keeping requirements imposed on retailers will reduce illnesses from E.Coli, and will lower the cost of ground beef recalls.

More information is available on the website of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/home 

High Rate of Opiate Pain Medication Prescriptions in Maine Causing Concern

The National Center for Disease Control has expressed concern about Maine's high rate of prescriptions for opiate pain medication.

According to recent data from the National Center for Disease Control, doctors in Maine prescribe opiate pain medications, including Oxycodone and OxyContin, at a much higher rate than doctors in other parts of the country. Because these medications include significant risk of overdose and addiction, the CDC recommends that further action  be considered as part of continuing effort to reduce these risks.

The Maine Office of Substance Abuse data from 2012 and 2013 shows an increase in the number of Mainers seeking treatment for addition to opiates including OxyContin and Oxycodone.

The mission of the Office of Substance Abuse is to 'provide leadership in substance abuse prevention, intervention and treatment. The OSA's website offers comprehensive information about substance abuse issues (including alcohol abuse), including information about prevention and treatment of substance abuse. More information can be found on the OSA's website, is www.maine.gov/dhhs/osa.

Mainers To Participate in National Diabetes Clinical Study

As was reported by the Portland Press Herald in an article on March 31st, Maine is one of 20 sites that has been chosen to participate in a nationwide medical study that will examine the relationship between Vitamin D and diabetes. The study, conducted by the National Institutes of Health, is a large-scale $40 million endeavor that will work to determine whether Vitamin D can prevent Type 2 diabetes.

The Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough is currently seeking 600 to 700 who are possibly at risk for becoming diabetic to agree to take part in the study. Participants will be asked to tae either a Vitamin D pill or a placebo pill, and in addition may be asked to have their blood drawn. The clinical trial at the Scarborough research center will be among the largest to ever be held in Maine, with Maine Medical Center being given a $1.6 million budget to conduct the process and analyze the findings.

The study will take over a year to complete with participants being followed-up with screenings every six months to see if they went from being at risk of diabetes to having the disease.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of Mainers with diabetes has doubled since the mid-1990's, and furthermore, Type 2 diabetes is the more common form found among our state's residents.

Per the Portland Press article, within the ongoing research and studies on diabetes, the working medical theory is that Vitamin D helps the body produce insulin. Diabetics have a difficult time producing insulin thus eventually requiring those with the disease to use insulin shots.

While the study will be focused primarily on those who are already at risk for diabetes, medical professionals believe that the findings could also be helpful in determining if Vitamin D can help slow the progression of the disease. In addition, doctors want to be clear that even if the study is effective and the results are conclusive, Vitamin D should not be used as an alternative for diet, exercise and leading a healthy life style as means to prevent diabetes. 

The national research, called the "D2d" human clinical trial, will be led by Tufts Medial Center in Boston and will include thousands of participants from several states.

Those interested in learning more about participation in the study can call (207) 661-7624. The research institute is currently accepting applications from people who might be at risk for Type 2 diabetes. For more information please visit: www.d2dstudy.org 

General Motors Preparing to Recall 1.6 Million Cars

General Motors is preparing to recall 1.6 million of its cars due to problems with the ignition switch. In certain vehicles, this switch can turn off suddenly, which in turn disables the air bags and engines in the cars.

Customers affected by the recall will receive notices from General Motors beginning the week of March 10th. These customers will be invited to schedule an appointment with their local car dealer in order to have a replacement ignition switch installed. According to General Motors, the replacement parts have not yet been manufactured, therefore, it is not yet clear when customers will be able to schedule the needed repairs.

The vehicles covered under the recall include: Chevrolet Cobalt (years 2005 - 2007); Pontiac G5 compact (year 2007) ; Saturn Ion (years 2003- 2007); Chevrolet HHR (years 2006-2007); Saturn Sky (year 2007) , and Pontiac solstice (years 2006 and 2007.)

For further information about this recall, please go to www.nhtsa.gov.

Joe Bornstein and Portland Celebrate ART WALK

Today is March 7th, in other words - the first Friday of a new month. Portlanders know what that means... it's time for another First Friday Art Walk!

Portland's Art Walk, which started 12 years ago, is a monthly celebration of our city's vast creativity. On the first Friday of a new month, downtown galleries and businesses host a big artistic, cultural open house party. Over 3,000 people flock to the downtown area each month to enjoy live performances, support local street artists, visit galleries and museums and take in Portland's eclectic restaurants while strolling along Congress Street. 

Art Walk is sponsored by Creative Portland, "a nonprofit organization that leverages, grows and sustains Portland's creative industries, enterprises and workforce." 

The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein is proud to honor Art Walk and Creative Portland with the following message on the Time & Temperature Building - 'ART WALK.' For an interactive GIF of the sign, please visit: www.timeandtempblog.joebornstein.com 

Cheers to our city's many talented artists and to our communities who come out each and every month to love, appreciate and celebrate their work. 

Walk on, Portland!  

Maine Affordable Care Act

Mainers are signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act in numbers that exceed the enrollment target established by the federal government.

The vast majority of Mainers who have signed up for insurance under the Act will qualify for federal assistance in paying for their health insurance premiums.  Eligibility for federal help with payment of premiums is based on income.

To date, more than twenty thousand Mainers have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

More information about the Affordable Care Act is available at  www.healthcare.gov

Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care (www.mainecahc.org) is a valuable resource for Mainers seeking information about health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act.

2014 STRIVE Rocks Dance Marathon Supported by Joe Bornstein

Mainers, should you find yourself on Congress Street today, be sure to glance up at the Time and Temperature Building and see the new message on Portland's only skyscraper!

The illuminated sign will display the words 'STRV ROCKS' until March 3rd in honor of the wonderful organization, STRIVE and their upcoming 2014 STRIVE Rocks Dance Marathon.

According to their official website, the program, which is part of PSL Services, "is designed to address the many issues faced by young adults (ages 11-24) with disabilities." 

The 10th Annual overnight dance marathon, which will be held at The Maine Mall, begins on Saturday, March 1st at 9pm and ends on Sunday, March 2nd at 9am.  

STRIVE's goal is to have 1,000 people participate in the dance marathon. 

For more information on this wonderful organization, the important work that they do in our communities, and their upcoming exciting event, please visit: http://www.pslstrive.org/striverocks

 

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