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Mexican lawmakers approve medical uses of marijuana

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MEXICO CITY — Mexican lawmakers on Friday gave final and overwhelming approval to a bill legalizing medical marijuana after a national debate on narcotics policy in a country mired in brutal drug violence.

The legislation also allows use of marijuana for scientific research, as well as production and distribution of pot for those two stated purposes.

The vote in the Chamber of Deputies was 371 in favor and seven against with 11 abstentions.

The bill will now go to President Enrique Pena Nieto for his signature and then publication in the official government gazette, the lower house said in a statement.

The Senate approved the bill by a wide margin in December.

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With Friday’s vote, Mexico will join several US states and other nations in Latin America that allow cannabis for medical uses.

Pena Nieto proposed legalizing medical marijuana in a major policy shift in April after his government organized forums to discuss changes to the laws.

The bill fell short of demands from some lawmakers and civil groups that argue that a wider legalization of marijuana use could help the country reduce drug-related violence.

But proponents said it was a major step that will address Mexicans’ need of an alternative medical treatment.

The bill authorizes the Health Ministry to design regulations for the use, import and production of pharmaceutical products made from cannabis or marijuana, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant’s main psychoactive ingredient. Products with one percent concentration of THC will be allowed.

Growing marijuana for medical and scientific purposes will not be punishable.

A family in northern Mexico became a symbol of the push to legalize medical marijuana last year when the parents of a young epileptic girl won a court battle to import a cannabis-based treatment to stop her daily seizures.

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The girl’s father, Raul Elizalde, told AFP then that the legislation represented “great progress,” but that it should make it easier for patients to acquire THC by letting them buy it without a prescription.

In a separate major case in November 2015, the Supreme Court authorized four people to grow and smoke pot for recreational purposes.

Although Pena Nieto is opposed to a broader legalization of marijuana, he has proposed increasing the amount of the drug that can legally be possessed for personal consumption to 28 grams (one ounce) from five grams.

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Kidney disease may up risk of diabetes

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Kidney disease may up risk of diabetes. Representational image.

KATHMANDU — It is known that diabetes increase a person’s risk of kidney disease. But, now a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that the converse also is true which means Kidney dysfunction also increases the risk of diabetes.

The researchers deduced that a likely culprit of the two-way relationship between kidney disease and diabetes is urea. The risk may be attributed to the rising level of urea — the nitrogen-containing waste product in blood, which comes from the breakdown of protein in foods.

“We have known for a long time that diabetes is a major risk factor for kidney disease, but now we have a better understanding that kidney disease, through elevated levels of urea, also raises the risk of diabetes,” said the Ziyad Al-Aly, Assistant Professor at the Washington University in St. Louis.

The nitrogen-containing waste product in blood comes from the breakdown of protein in foods. Kidneys normally remove urea from the blood, but it can build up when kidney function slows down.

Kidneys normally remove urea from the blood, but it can build up when kidney function slows down, resulting in greater insulin resistance as well as secretion in the body.

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“When urea builds up in the blood because of kidney dysfunction, it often results in increased insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion,” Ziyad added.

The findings are significant because urea levels can be lowered through medication, diet — for example, by eating less protein — and other means, thereby allowing for improved treatment and possible prevention of diabetes, the researchers said.

For the study, the team evaluated the records of 1.3 million adults without diabetes over a five-year period, beginning in 2003.

Out of these, 117,000 of those without diabetes — or 9 per cent — had elevated urea levels, signalling poor kidney function and were at 23 per cent higher risk of developing diabetes .

The study, conducted in collaboration with the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System, is published December 11 in Kidney International journal.

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