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Just as Canada made a sweeping decision to fully legalize marijuana, former Mexican President Vicente Fox made headlines of his own after joining the board of “High Times”, a publication that has carried the crusade for cannabis legalization since its inception. In an interview with the Associated Press, Fox argues in favor of extending legalization not just to marijuana but to all so-called street drugs. Fox cites as a reason for his position the brutality associated with the illegal drug trades. Government cannot successfully regulate people’s behavior, he argues, and so individuals ought to be free to do what they wish without fear of criminal repercussion.

Fox’s support of drug legalization is no longer the minority opinion it once was among national leaders. In the U.S., eight states — Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Colorado, Maine and Vermont — have legalized recreational marijuana. Lawmakers are increasingly supportive of marijuana legalization not just as a means to relieve prison overcrowding but as another source of jobs, tax and investment revenue. When it comes to an across-the-board legalization at the federal level, however, a wait-and-see approach ought to be embraced. Why? Because early evidence in the wake of successful State-based decriminalization initiatives reveal problems policymakers have yet to resolve.

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It’s not often that I make us of this blog to write about my firsthand experiences. But I’m here today to do just that. Thanks to a slew of antibiotic allergies — for which I broke out in dangerous quantities of hives — I have been limited only to doxycycline-family antibiotics since the mid 1990s. I’ve always wondered since then — with a foreboding sense that I’ve been thrown into the antibiotic dark ages — what would happen in the event my old standby, doxycycline, failed to work in the event of a severe infection. As antibiotics go, doxycycline, like its better-known counterpart tetracycline, is not a new or particularly heavy-duty drug. If anything, this class of antibiotics is seriously overused — ubiquitous in agriculture and dermatology alike.

Recently, I was talking to an old friend and, quite coincidentally, learned that my friend belongs to the same bizarre club: limited to the use of doxycycline, as an antibiotic treatment, because all others have begun to provoke serious allergic reactions. She’s the fourth-such person I’ve met to have become so over-reactive to multiple classes of antibiotics as an adult, and yet anecdotally the trend would appear to be on the uptick. In a recent case, a child not known to be allergic to blueberries made medical headlines after researchers determined that antibiotic residues — not the blueberries themselves — had provoked a life-threatening reaction. It’s not just factory-farmed animals that pose antibiotic-linked health risks. Antibiotics have shown up in corn, potatoes and even lettuce, researchers have found. (more…)

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A year ago, the Ebola crisis in West Africa became all too real as American healthcare workers from afflicted regions returned for treatment in the U.S., and a visiting West African national took ill and later died at a Texas hospital.

Although Ebola was successfully contained, a recent incident in New Jersey points to a gap in healthcare security that remains as troublesome as ever.

According to a May 25 Associated Press article, an American suffering from symptoms that very well could have been confused with Ebola — Lassa fever — allegedly failed to inform hospital workers in New Jersey that he had recently returned from a trip to Liberia.

Hospital officials said they had asked the man about his travel history and that he did not say he had recently been to West Africa, CDC officials said. (more…)

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