Haircuts and golf in Melbourne as virus curbs ease

Residents of Australia’s second-biggest city flocked to salons and golf courses Monday as some stay-at-home restrictions were eased after coronavirus infection rates fell.

Melbourne’s five million people had been barred from leaving their homes with a few exceptions—including shopping for essentials, exercising, or going to work—for three months.

They still face a litany of travel restrictions and tough-to-remember rules for even the most mundane activities, but will now be able to get a much-needed haircut and do more outdoor socially distanced activities.

“We’re already fully booked until December,” salon owner Daniel Choi told AFP.

“From yesterday, there are so many messages for me: ‘I want a haircut’. They want to change their style.”

Salon owners still have to contend with restrictions on the number of people allowed on the premises at the same time, meaning those eager to correct self-inflicted dye jobs or improvised trims could face a long wait.

But for the lucky first customers there was a sense of elation.

“It’s a sense of relief actually that finally I could get it done,” said customer Karen Ng.

“It’s nice actually to have some normality.”

Golfers can also tee it up again, although they will have to go around in groups of two and, according to Golf Australia, “masks must still be worn when playing”.

“It’s a great sight… GOLFERS ON COURSE!” Green Acres Golf Club tweeted.

But many restrictions remain in place in the city.

Masks are mandatory, restaurants are limited to takeaways and deliveries, non-essential shops have to remain closed and there is a ban on travel outside the greater Melbourne area or more than 25 kilometres (16 miles) from home.

The city’s second round of stay-at-home restrictions began in July, when the state of Victoria saw around 190 new cases a day, rising to 700 in August.

Victoria recorded just four new cases on Monday.

But not everyone was happy with the limited easing, including Australia’s conservative treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who criticised the regional authorities for not going further.

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It's a … ! Pregnant Lesley Anne Murphy and Alex Kavanagh Reveal Baby's Sex

Spilling the beans! Lesley Anne Murphy and her fiancé, Alex Kavanagh, announced the sex of their unborn baby with an adorable reveal.

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The Bachelor alum, 33, shared the news in an Instagram video posted on Friday, October 16. In the clip, the DRONEGEAR founder came home to find Murphy surrounded by pink balloons and popping a pink bottle. The pair showed off balloons that read “Oh baby” and “Baby girl” while the Temptations’ song “My Girl” plays in the background.

“Excited to announce … We’re having a BABY GIRL!!!!” the season 17 contestant captioned the post. “This is how I surprised Alex that the future is female🎉🎉🎉 #itsagirl #babygirl #girldad #thefutureisfemale.”

Excited to announce… We’re having a BABY GIRL!!!!💝This is how I surprised Alex that the future is female🎉🎉🎉 #itsagirl #babygirl #girldad #thefutureisfemale

A post shared byLesley • The Road Les Traveled (@lesleyannemurphy) on

The couple announced in September that they are expecting their first child. Murphy shared an Instagram video of herself jumping down to dance with Kavanagh before he cradled and kissed her growing bump. The sweet clip was set to The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.”

“Started from the kitchen now we’re here,” Murphy captioned the post. “Baby Kavanagh taking flight in 2021! Finally someone to occupy the middle seat 🙂 @drone.pilot and I couldn’t be more excited to grow our little family!!! #family #love #travel #adventure #coronababy #thelastdance #kitchendance #encore.”

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The Arkansas native detailed how she discovered her pregnancy in a blog post on October 6. Murphy wrote that she found out she was expecting when she missed a period and took a pregnancy test.

“I walked into the living room and blurted out, ‘Ummmm … we’re pregnant!’” she wrote. “As I was brushing my teeth, I could hear him taking really deep breaths from our bedroom. As I walked back in, he immediately ran out and vomited in the toilet. Talk about a physiological response to pregnancy news! And I thought I was supposed to be the sick one! We laugh about it all the time. He’s very excited to become a dad regardless of the response.”

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The twosome announced their engagement in February after one year of dating. However, their wedding plans have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Wedding planning turned into prenatal care,” Murphy wrote in her October 6 blog post. “Scheduled flights transformed into scheduled house tours. When life gives you 2020 lemons, make lemonade because it’s yummy, refreshing and well, nonalcoholic.”

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New developments for the treatment of muscle spasticity after stroke and nervous system defects

Chronic muscle spasticity after nervous system defects like stroke, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and painful low back pain affect more than 10% of the population, with a socioeconomic cost of about 500 billion USD. Currently, there is no adequate remedy to help these suffering people, which generates an immense medical need for a new generation antispastic drugs.

András Málnási-Csizmadia, co-founder of Motorpharma Ltd. and professor at Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary leads the development of a first-in-class drug candidate co-sponsored by Printnet Ltd. MPH-220 directly targets and inhibits the effector protein of muscle contraction, potentially by taking one pill per day. By contrast, current treatments have low efficacy and cause a wide range of side effects because they act indirectly, through the nervous system.

“We receive desperate emails from stroke survivors, who suffer from the excruciating symptoms of spasticity, asking if they could participate in our research. We work hard to accelerate the development of MPH-220 to alleviate these people’s chronic spasticity,” said Prof. Málnási-Csizmadia.

The mechanism of action of MPH-220 and preclinical studies are recently published in Cell. Dr. Máté Gyimesi, CSO of Motorpharma Ltd. highlighted: “The scientific challenge was to develop a chemical compound which discriminates between skeletal and cardiac muscle myosins, the motor proteins of these contractile systems. This feature of MPH-220 makes it highly specific and safe.”

Prof. James Spudich, co-founder of Cytokinetics, MyoKardia and Kainomyx, all companies developing drugs targeting cytoskeletal components, is also very excited about MPH-220 as a possible next generation muscle relaxant. “Cytokinetics and MyoKardia have shown that cardiac myosin is highly druggable, and both companies have potential drugs acting on cardiac myosin in late phase clinical trials. Skeletal myosin effectors, however, have not been reported. Motorpharma Ltd. has now developed a specific inhibitor of skeletal myosin, MPH-220, a drug candidate that may reduce the everyday painful spasticity for about 10% of the population that suffers from low back pain and neurological injury related diseases,” said Professor Spudich, former chair of Stanford medical school’s Biochemistry department, a Lasker awardee.

Drug development specifically targeting myosins is becoming a distinguished area, as indicated by last week’s acquisition of MyoKardia by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. for 13.1 billion dollars in an all-cash deal, in the hope of marketing their experimental heart drug targeting cardiac myosin. This business activity shows the demand for start-up biotech companies such as Myokardia or Motorpharma.

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Ryan Lochte: When Kayla and I Will Consider Having Baby No. 3

Room for one more? Ryan Lochte dished on when he and his wife, Kayla Rae Reid, will consider expanding their brood further with a third child.

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“I am so happy right now with [what we have]. We wanted a boy and then a girl afterwards, and it worked out in our favor,” the 36-year-old pro swimmer told Us Weekly exclusively on Thursday, October 15, while promoting the Piñata app. “Like, it was just perfect. We had the perfect family right now.”

Lochte continued, “But, I mean, it’s not really up to me [if and when we have more kids]. It’s up to the boss lady. And if she wants more, we’re gonna have more. … But I said, ‘Let’s wait after 2021, the Olympics.’ Then we can start popping out more kids if we want.”

The 12-time Olympic medalist married the 29-year-old model in 2018. They welcomed their son Caiden, 3, in 2017 and daughter Liv, 15 months, in 2019.

Ryan Lochte and Kayla Rae Reid’s Baby Boy: See the First Photos!

Last year, Lochte spoke to Us exclusively about how much his life has changed since becoming the father of two young children. “Kids have changed everything,” he said at the time. “It’s not just me and her anymore. We have to always wake up and care for our little ones.”

The athlete added, “One was hard, two is very hard, but it’s so much fun knowing every time we see our kids, we created this. … It’s pretty awesome to see them grow into people that they’re going to become.”

One thing that hasn’t changed for Lochte and Reid since becoming parents is the strong foundation they have in their romantic relationship. Speaking to Us on Thursday, he explained that the key to their successful marriage is making sure to “do something nice” for your partner every day.

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“I have little Post-it notes in the cupboard. So, when she opens up to get coffee or something, she sees like, ‘You’re beautiful,’ stuff like that,” he explained. “So, I still do a lot of things like that and just being there all the time as much as I can when I’m not swimming. I mean, she’s, like, my best friend. So, that’s awesome.”

Instead of gearing up to expand his family with Reid, Lochte currently has his sights focused on his new partnership with Piñata alongside pal and Celebrity Big Brother costar Jonathan Bennett. Through the unique app, users are rewarded for paying their rent on time.

“Being an Olympian, I was always traveling [and] going to different places, always on the road. Renting was the best thing that fit my lifestyle at the time,” he told Us. “Then, when I found out about Piñata and the rewards that you can get while paying rent, I was, like, my mind was blown. I was like, ‘What? Are you serious? I can actually get rewards for paying rent?’ This is unheard of. So, I immediately teamed up with them.”

With reporting by Christina Garibaldi

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Study examines Medicaid and adults on the autism spectrum

While much attention has been paid to the increasing prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among U.S. children and adolescents, less is known about the population of adults with ASD. Medicaid is an important health care coverage provider for individuals with autism, including adults. Using administrative data from the Medicaid Analytic eXtract (MAX), researchers from Drexel University’s A.J. Drexel Autism Institute found a substantial increase in the percent of adults receiving services for autism in the Medicaid population from 2008-2012.

“An increasing number of adults will be relying on Medicaid, often through home and community-based services waiver programs, for key services, such as support for community integration and for maintaining employment, into the future,” said Whitney Schott, Ph.D., an assistant researcher professor in the Autism Institute and lead author on the study.

There was higher prevalence of ASD among younger adults (ages 18-24) over the 2008-2012 time period than other adults. Prevalence was lowest among older adults (ages 41-64).

“These results underline the importance of identifying effective and efficient service delivery models within Medicaid to serve the growing number of adults with ASD,” said Schott.

Researchers examined Medicaid administrative claims data from 2008-2012, including the population of adults with autism as well as a random sample of adults without autism, in order to identify the administrative prevalence of autism by age category. They looked at individuals that were enrolled in Medicaid for at least nine out of 12 months per year, in order to get a better sense of true administrative prevalence.

“Little is known about the age composition of the adult population with autism,” said Schott. “Our research provides key information about the distribution of autism across adult ages over the period 2008-2012, showing that prevalence is higher and growing more quickly among younger adults (ages 18-24) compared to older adults.”

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Relationship Explored Between Physical Activity and Lymphoma

TUESDAY, Oct. 13, 2020 — High levels of physical activity may lower the risk for developing lymphoma, according to a review/meta-analysis published online Oct. 6 in BMC Cancer.

Gwynivere A. Davies, M.D., M.P.H., from the Juravinski Cancer Centre-Hamilton Health Sciences in Canada, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review/meta-analysis to examine the association between physical activity and incident lymphoma. Eighteen studies (nine cohort, nine case-control) were included in the final analysis.

The researchers found that for all lymphoma, comparing the highest with the lowest activity categories showed physical activity was protective (relative risk, 0.89; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.81 to 0.98). In a sensitivity analysis, the effect persisted in case-control studies (relative risk, 0.82; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.71 to 0.96) but not in cohort studies (relative risk, 0.95; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.84 to 1.07). A subgroup analysis showed some protective effect of physical activity for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (relative risk, 0.92; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.84 to 1.00) but not for Hodgkin lymphoma (relative risk, 0.72; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.50 to 1.04). A protective effect was demonstrated in a dose-response analysis, with a 1 percent reduction in risk per three metabolic equivalent of task (MET) hours/week (relative risk, 0.99; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.98 to 1.00; P = 0.034).

“Dose response analysis supports these conclusions, with a linear decrease in incidence seen with increasing recreational physical activity,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

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Italy imposes mask mandate outside and in as virus rebounds

Italy imposed a nationwide outdoor mask mandate Wednesday with fines of up to 1,000 euros ($1,163) for violators, as the European country where COVID-19 first hit hard scrambles to keep rebounding infections from spiraling out of control.

The government passed the decree even though Italy’s overall per capita infection rate is among the lowest in Europe. But Premier Giuseppe Conte warned that a steady, nine-week rise in infections nationwide demanded new preventive measures to stave off economically-devastating closures and shutdowns.

“We have to be more rigorous because we want to avoid at all cost more restrictive measures for production and social activities,” Conte said.

The decree was passed on the same day that Italy added 3,678 new infections and 31 deaths to its official coronavirus toll, the highest increase in new cases since the peak of the outbreak in April. Both hard-hit Lombardy and southern Campania added more than 500 cases each.

Italy has over 36,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, the second-highest number in Europe after Britain.

Even though the World Health Organization doesn’t specifically recommend masks outdoors for the general population, the trend has taken off in Italy, particularly as new clusters have been identified in southern regions that largely escaped the first wave of infection.

The new mask mandate was contained in a government decree extending the state of emergency until Jan. 31. It requires residents to have masks on them at all times outdoors, and wear them unless they can guarantee that they can remain completely isolated from anyone other than family. That effectively makes them obligatory outdoors in all urban and semi-urban settings, with exemptions for eating in restaurants and bars.

In addition, masks must now be worn indoors everywhere except private homes, but even at home, Conte urged Italians to keep their distances with relatives, given most new infections are occurring within families.

“The state can’t ask citizens to wear masks in their own homes,” Conte said. “But we have a strong recommendation for all citizens: Even in our families we have to be careful.”

Exceptions include for outdoor sporting activities, children under 6 and for people with health conditions that preclude wearing masks.

Fines ranging from 400 to 1,000 euros ($463 to $1,163) are foreseen for violations, Italian news agency ANSA said.

Italy thus is joining Spain, Turkey, North Macedonia, India and a handful of other Asian countries in imposing a nationwide, outdoor mask mandate. Spain has had such a requirement in place since mid-May and Turkey since last month.

Elsewhere in Europe, such outdoor mandates are in effect in hot spot cities such as Paris, Brussels and Pristina, Kosovo. In many Asian countries, social pressure to wear masks outdoors has made binding government decrees unnecessary. The Australian state of Victoria has had one in place for weeks.

Italy has one of the lowest infection rates in Europe, at 46.5 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks. By contrast, the Czech Republic counts 327 per 100,000 while Spain has 302, France 248 and Belgium 233 per 100,000.

While Paris and Brussels have closured bars to cope with the rising infections and Britain has capped pub hours, Conte has said that Italy wouldn’t impose any curfews or close bars.

The Vatican, which followed Italy’s strict lockdown in spring and summer, also imposed an outdoor mask mandate this week in the tiny city state in the center of Rome. Pope Francis, however, didn’t wear a mask during his indoor general audience Wednesday, even as he greeted well-wishers and shook their hands.

Italy became the epicenter of the European outbreak after the first domestic case was identified Feb. 21 in northern Lombardy. The country largely tamed the virus with a strict, nationwide 10-week lockdown, but infections have crept up since August vacations.

There have been various hypotheses for why Italy’s rebound has been slower than in neighboring countries like Spain or France, where daily new cases often top 10,000. Chief among them is the fact that Italians, seriously scared by the devastation of the initial outbreak in the north, have generally abided by mask mandates and social distancing norms.










Also, Italy’s national health care system has continued to aggressively trace new infection, as well as test passengers on arrival from at-risk countries—and even from its own island of Sardinia after the jet-set destination became a hotspot this summer.

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Study identifies brain cells most affected by epilepsy and new targets for their treatment

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases. It is caused by a malfunction in brain cells and is usually treated with medicines that control or counteract the seizures.

Scientists from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen and Rigshospitalet have now identified the exact neurons that are most affected by epilepsy. Some of which have never been linked to epilepsy before. The newfound neurons might contribute to epileptogenesis—the process by which a normal brain develops epilepsy—and could therefore be ideal treatment targets.

“Our findings potentially allows for the development of entirely new therapeutic approaches tailored towards specific neurons, which are malfunctioning in cases of epilepsy. This could be a breakthrough in personalized medicine-based treatment of patients suffering from epileptic seizures,” says Associate Professor Konstantin Khodosevich from Biotech Research & Innovation Center (BRIC), Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.

A major step towards more effective drugs

It is the first time a study investigates how every single neuron in the epileptic zone of the human brain is affected by epilepsy. The researchers have analyzed more than 117,000 neurons, which makes it the largest single cell dataset for a brain disorder published so far.

Neurons have been isolated from tissue resected from patients being operated as part of the Danish Epilepsy Surgery Programme at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen.

“These patients continue to have seizures despite the best possible combination of anti-seizure drugs. Unfortunately, this is the case for 30-40% of epilepsy patients. Active epilepsy imposes serious physical, cognitive, psychiatric and social consequences on patients and families. A more precise understanding of the cellular mechanism behind epilepsy could be a major step forward for developing drugs specifically directed against the epileptogenic process compared to the current mode of action reducing neuronal excitability in general throughout the brain’ says associate professor Lars Pinborg, head of the Danish Epilepsy Surgery Program at Rigshospitalet.

From ‘neuronal soup’ to single cell analysis

The study from the Khodosevich Group differs from previous work by using single cell analysis. Earlier studies on neuronal behavior in regards to epilepsy have taken a piece of the human brain and investigated all the neurons together as a group or a ‘neuronal soup.” When using this approach, diseased cells and healthy cells are mixed together, which makes it impossible to identify potential treatment targets.

“By splitting the neurons into many thousands of single cells, we can analyze each of them separately. From this huge number of single cells, we can pinpoint exactly what neurons are affected by epilepsy. We can even make a scale from least to most affected, which means that we can identify the molecules with the most promising potential to be effective therapeutic targets,” says Khodosevich.

Next step is to study the identified neurons and how their functional changes contribute to epileptic seizures. The hope is to then find molecules that can restore epilepsy related neuronal function back to normal and inhibit seizure generation.

Expanding knowledge on underlying mechanisms of epilepsy

The study confirms expression from key genes known from a number of previous studies, but is also a dramatic expansion of knowledge on the subject. Previously, gene expression studies have identified a couple of hundred genes that changes in epilepsy.

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Depression and anxiety twice as common among older people who were shielding

Older people who were instructed to shield and self-isolate at the beginning of the pandemic experienced higher levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness compared with those who were not shielding, according to a new study co-led by UCL.

The research shows that the increase in poor mental health was not related to reductions in social contacts, but due to higher levels of worry about obtaining food and other essentials, and less physical activity and sleep.

The findings are published today in a series of working papers using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and funded by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19.

The ELSA COVID-19 substudy gathered data from 5,800 older women and men in June and July 2020 with a mean age of 70 to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on mental health, quality of life, social connectedness, worries, and health-related behaviour.

Other key findings include:

  • Only 60% of older people instructed to shield were strictly isolating in April and May, staying at home and trying to limit face-to-face contact.
  • Severe depression and anxiety symptoms were twice as common among high risk older individuals who were socially isolating compared with average risk participants (32% vs 17%).
  • Loneliness was much more common in the shielded group who were strictly isolating compared with average risk participants, even when factors such as age, sex, number of people in the household, and whether or not the person had a partner were taken into account (33% vs 21%).
  • Participants in the high risk group were more likely to have been hospitalised with COVID-19 (15% vs 3%) and to be worried about obtaining food and other essentials (12% vs 6%).
  • People who were in the shielded group were more likely to be less physically active than usual and to spend more time sitting compared with others (47% vs 33%).

Professor Andrew Steptoe (UCL Behavioural Science & Health and ELSA lead) said: “The advice to people at risk of COVID-19 may have saved lives and reduced infection, but it has come at a cost. With an increase in COVID-19 cases across the UK, efforts should be made to allay concerns and encourage health promoting behaviour to avoid further impairment of quality of life and mental health.”

Other findings from the ELSA COVID-19 substudy have looked at the effect of the pandemic on older people with multiple long-term health conditions (multimorbidity).

Key findings from the report show:

  • 35% of older people with multimorbidity were instructed by the NHS or GP to shield.
  • 94% of people with multimorbidity reported either isolating or staying at home in April 2020, whether they were asked to shield or not.
  • 20% of people with multimorbidity did not have access to community health and social care services and support needed (such as dentist, podiatrist, nurse, counselling or personal care).

Dr. Paola Zaninotto (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health) and author of the ELSA COVID-19 report on multimorbidity said: “When considering policies which advise people to shield or self-isolate because of their COVID-19 risk, it is important for policymakers to acknowledge that older people with multiple long-term health conditions are at higher risk of experiencing greater mental distress and worry, of engaging in unhealthy behaviors and are less likely to access health services when needed; all these factors together could potentially influence disease progression.

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Undecided on the cannabis referendum: 10 pros and cons of legalising the drug

The latest poll shows a drop in support by New Zealanders for the recreational use of cannabis ahead of next month’s referendum on the issue.

The 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll found only 35% of people polled said they supported the bill, down from 40% in June’s poll. Those who said they did not support the bill were at 53%, up from 49% in June. Another 11% either did not know or refused to answer.

Other polls had earlier shown a close vote, neck and neck, too close to call.

National leader Judith Collins says the party caucus will vote no in the referendum. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has maintained a strict “no comment” on her voting intentions, despite admitting she once smoked cannabis “a long time ago”.

So with less than a month to go to the vote, if you’re undecided, here’s a list of the pros and cons of what the consequences could be.

Pros: taking control

1. Economic growth

Establishing a legal cannabis industry creates a range of skilled and unskilled jobs. It could generate more than NZ$640 million in tax revenue for the NZ government.

The cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing job markets in the United States. In one year, cannabis retailers netted the state of Massachusetts US$393 million in gross sales.

Two years after launching a legal cannabis market, California has surpassed US$1 billion in tax revenue.

2. Health not handcuffs

Prohibition has not stopped New Zealanders from using cannabis. Research shows 15% of men and 8% of women in NZ used cannabis over a 12-month period in 2012-13.

Legalizing cannabis could save the NZ justice system a staggering NZ$11.4 million a year. Not to mention the social benefit of no longer incarcerating non-violent, otherwise law-abiding citizens who then have to cope with a life-long criminal record.

Māori have higher rates of cannabis use than non-Māori. Even accounting for higher usage rates, research found Māori are more likely to be convicted on cannabis charges then non-Māori.

By legalizing cannabis, use becomes an issue of health and social welfare rather than a criminal one.

3. Improves access for health patients

Cannabis is used as therapy for a number of health applications. It has been legally available for medical use in NZ since April 2020.

Cannabis is used to treat nausea and vomiting, the common side effects of cancer treatment. It may be a therapy to treat epileptic seizures.

It has been used to treat muscle spasms among those with multiple sclerosis. It has also helped people alleviate chronic pain, headaches and anxiety.

If cannabis is legalized for recreational use, those using it for medical purposes will have greater access at a more affordable price.

4. Regulated for consumer safety

A standard requirement for legalized cannabis markets includes product testing, which means consumers know more about the products they are using.

Cannabis bought off the street can contain fungus, harmful substances, mold and pesticides. Mandatory testing ensures the cannabis is free of toxins.

To protect children in the United States from exposure to cannabis, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington all passed child-resistant packaging regulations.

Under New Zealand’s referendum, any retailers who sell cannabis to people aged under 20 would face serious penalties. To further deter youth, the NZ Drug Foundation, which is leading a yes vote, unequivocally supports the referendum’s inclusion of advertising bans.

5. Takes money away from street gangs

Over the past two-and-half years, street gangs in New Zealand have grown by more than 30%. The illegal cannabis market, estimated to be worth NZ$1–3 billion, potentially funds these gangs to some extent.

In Colorado in the US, 90% of the cannabis market is supplied under regulation. Over the past decade there, cannabis seizures by border control are at their lowest levels and their value has reduced by millions of dollars.

Legalizing cannabis places control of the market in the hands of the government rather then criminals.

Cons: social and fiscal

1. Unknown costs for society and taxpayers

The long-term health effects are not fully understood. Similar to tobacco, the negative health consequences of cannabis might not be realized for decades. Again, in Colorado, for every cannabis tax dollar raised, its citizens spend US$4.50 to offset the negative effects of legalization.

2. It will turn NZ’s youth to other drugs

A Christchurch Health and Development study shows adolescent weekly users of cannabis were 100 times more likely to use other illicit drugs.

Concerns have been raised about the level of influence the cannabis industry has over the drafting of legislation since its motivation is profit maximization, not public health.

3. Workplace safety and productivity

A 25-year study in Norway shows workers who use cannabis are less dedicated to their work than those who don’t.

In the US, cannabis use by employees leads to increases in absenteeism, accidents, job turnover and worker compensation claims.

4. Bad for the environment

Cannabis plants require double the water needed to grow grapes for wine. Growing cannabis may cause deforestation, habitat destruction, river diversion and soil erosion.

When grown hydroponically, yearly greenhouse gas emissions in the US equal that of 3 million cars.

5. Property prices could rise, or fall

Once again in Colorado in the US, legalizing cannabis was found to increase the value of property prices by up to 6%.

A separate study in Colorado found house prices could increase by up to 8.4% if they were within 160m of a retail outlet selling cannabis.

But 42% of Canadians believe a cannabis retailer will negatively affect their home values.

The median housing market price in NZ recently rose by 12% in one year. Further sharp growth could price many out of the market.

Still undecided?

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