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Mexican lawmakers approve medical uses of marijuana

Agency Press France

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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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Health

Drinking 3 cups of coffee or tea daily may keep stroke risk at bay

Raghu Kshitiz

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KATHMANDU — There have been several conflicting studies on the health benefits of drinking coffee and tea and their various varieties. But drinking up to three cups of coffee or tea in a day is safe because it reduces irregular heartbeat and stroke risk, according to a new study published in the journal JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology.

Coffee has previously been believed to worsen abnormal heart rhythms, as doctors generally discourage patients suffering from the condition. However, the results of this particular study say that a daily consumption of upto 300 mg of caffeine may be safe for arrhythmic patients.

This is because the caffeine acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and blocks the effect of adenosine. Adenosine is a chemical which causes Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).

A single cup of coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine. It acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and works to block the effects of adenosine — a chemical that causes AFib.

AFib is the most common heart rhythm disorder, causes the heart to beat rapidly and skip beats, and if left untreated, can cause strokes.

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“There is a public perception, often based on anecdotal experience, that caffeine is a common acute trigger for heart rhythm problems,” said lead author Peter Kistler, Director at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital.

But, “caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea have long-term anti-arrhythmic properties mediated by antioxidant effects and antagonism of adenosine,” he added.

A meta-analysis of 228,465 participants showed that AFib frequency decreasing by 6 per cent in regular coffee drinkers, and an analysis of 115,993 patients showed a 13 per cent reduced risk.

Another study of 103 post-heart attack patients who received an average of 353 mg of caffeine a day showed improvement in heart rate and no significant arrhythmias — or abnormal heart rhythms, that cause the heart to beat too fast, slow or unevenly.

However, in two studies, where patients drank at least 10 cups and nine cups of coffee per day, showed an increased risk for ventricular arrhythmias (VAs) – a condition in which the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) beat very quickly.

On the other hand, patients with pre-existing heart conditions who consumed two or more energy drinks — that contains concentrated caffeine — per day reported palpitations within 24 hours.

With Agency Inputs

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