Australia was apprehensive about its health care system due to the approaching flu season amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike these negative expectations, the actual results have been very promising so far.
Flue season in Australia
Being located in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia generally experiences the flu season from April to October, with the peak taking place in August.
Cases of influenza are sometimes followed by hospitalizations, with deaths occurring in severe circumstances. Being respiratory diseases, both influenza and coronavirus present similar symptoms in patients, although coronavirus is about ten times more deadly.
This year authorities were fearing the ‘dreaded duo’ to affect a large proportion of the Australian population. The estimated numbers were expected to double every three to six days. This had put healthcare systems under tremendous pressure of an unknown amount hospitalizations and ICU admissions that would likely follow.
Contrary to these anticipations, cases of influenza infections have been unusually low in Australia. According to Ian Barr, deputy director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Influenza based in Melbourne, Australia, “It’s been a bit of a non-entity really. Since the end of March, the influenza season has virtually dropped off to baseline or negligible levels,”
As of August, the total number of influenza cases stood at 21,000 in the region. In contrast to this, there were about 247,000 cases reported around the same period last year.
Why have influenza cases seen a drastic decline in Australia?
According to experts, the measures that were put in place to inhibit the spread of COVID-19 helped to control influenza.
“All the measures which have been taken for COVID-19 — the social distancing, the low circulation of people, hand hygiene, now mask-wearing and one of the big ones I think is school closures,” Barr said.
In addition to this, an increased uptake of flue vaccines by the Australian population has also helped considerably. The record-breaking demand of flue vaccines from the public resulted in about 18 million vaccinations throughout the region. Earlier, in 2019, the numbers stood at 13 million only.
According to Mary-Louise McLaws, PhD, a member of the WHO Health Emergencies Program Experts Advisory Panel for Infection Prevention and Control Preparedness, Readiness and Response to COVID-19, ” It was a combination of luck during an adverse event and… Australians are now increasing their uptake of flu vaccine, which has helped considerably. We’ve been fortunate, really fortunate not to have had to deal with that, and I’m not sure that the public fully appreciates how lucky they’ve been that the uptake of vaccine has actually protected them,”
What does this mean for other countries?
Results in Australia have shown that increasing flue vaccinations can definitely help the reduce burden on the healthcare system.
According to the reports of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccination will hold a major importance this year to curb the impact of respiratory illnesses and reduce infections among the population.
From here, the health care system is highly dependent on private manufacturers of the vaccines.“The manufacturers have produced more and shall continue to do so, and every professional organization is promoting influenza vaccine. I’ve even said that figuratively speaking I’m down on my knees begging people to get their flu shots,” said Dr. William Schaffner specialist in infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.
Dr. William Schaffner addresses the fact that the trends seen in Australia might not necessarily translate equally effectively for other regions. “What happens in the Southern Hemisphere does not always predict what happens in the subsequent winter in the Northern Hemisphere,” he said.
Despite of this he has stressed the need to get vaccinated and follow proper SOPs. “We would like in public health to promote more of that because we really think it’s effective in reducing the transmission of these respiratory viruses in the wintertime,” he added. “We’ll see if the American public cottons to that.”
He further added, ” We don’t need a double barrel flu season. There would be, of course, much confusion because the clinical presentations are entirely similar. There would be further stress on our testing program which still is not sufficient, and, of course, there would be a big strain on our healthcare system, which here and there is keeping up but struggling.”
Impaired Driving: A Must Consideration for the State’s Cannabis Bill
Even with the concept of Vision Zero and more raising concerns for the traffic rules, Albany legislators aren’t focused on it, while rushing to legalize the use of cannabis in New York. Silive shares the thoughts of how important it is to slow down the process of legalization and first pass on a bill that would stop impaired driving and hold marijuana-impaired drivers accountable for accidents.
Before the legalization of marijuana, to create a safer environment, it is extremely important to put pressure on the notion that studies categorize all intoxicating substances as unsafe for driving.
Impaired Driving Same as a Speeding Ticket
No consideration against the impaired driving would make people think it unimportant as a speeding ticket. This indirect message by the leaders would eventually lead to a greater number of casualties with each passing day.
It is nothing but a truth that marijuana has the potency to affect concentration, response time, motor function, and movement. Also, the science links a high concentration of THC in the blood due to cannabis intake to impaired driving. Surprisingly, marijuana is a second substance that has a major influence on driving capability after alcohol.
Need to Reinforce the Drug Definition in New York
Apart from considering classifying impaired driving due to marijuana as a minor criminal act, some light should also be shed on revising the term drug as other 45 states have done. Any substance should be called a drug that can compromise the ability to think, focus, and react.
If this act is not taken, according to the law, they cannot be charged if the alleged impaired drivers refuse to have a chemical test. The dismissal would eventually result in chaos and poor law enforcement. Such impaired drivers could not be held accountable and would be back on the roads again, risking the lives of hundreds of people.
The legislators of Albany must think about the message they are conveying to the younger generation out there. Already, as shown by the personal accounts of many teenagers, marijuana is nothing big for them and seems harmless.
Different treatment for impaired drivers than those drunken drivers would further strengthen this perception among people. Since neighboring states have already legalized marijuana for recreational and other purposes, New York seems to be next.
Strict Laws and More Investment in the Traffic Sector
Along with the modifications in the law to serve a better criminal justice system, there is a need to pass on better provisions to ensure safety on roads. No person should become a target of people managing a 3,00 pounds vehicle while being impaired by marijuana, asserts the source.
There should be provisions in the law to hold such people against the criminal act. To run a smooth traffic system, it is mandatory to design out complete traffic safety rules. There should be more people, funding, and resources to train the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) officers and create awareness of the possible effects of drug abuse, including marijuana. As time has changed, the use of synthetic drugs has made it difficult to articulate a specific one; thus, the need for DRE officers has become as important as the need to include the provisions in the bill.
The legalization in New York for cannabis should be set straight from the start. Before the bill includes and assures safety on roads, the legalization of recreational cannabis is a non-starter. All the roads
Update: Cannabis Stocks Reaching New Heights
The cannabis market is moving higher and higher day by day as stocks reach new highest levels this March. In January, the stock prices immensely increased. Moreover, marijuana sales increase and decrease depending upon the government policies and individuals that are actively part of the marijuana industry.
In Mexico on Thursday, stock prices shot higher, reported Investors. A day earlier, lawmakers proposed a bill to legalize and decriminalize cannabis for recreational use. A subsidiary of British American Tobacco is planning to take the big-stakes Canadian pot producer Organigram.
The bill for the legalization of cannabis receives 316-129 votes in the Chamber of Deputies. The Chamber of Deputies is the lower house of Mexico. According to various media reports, the marijuana legalization bill is expected to clear the Senate and become law soon.
The legalization of cannabis for recreational use will enable adults to buy and use marijuana freely. Moreover, the bill’s approval will result in permitting individuals to grow a handful of marijuana plants.
Furthermore, another change likely to occur with the approval of the legislation is that the law would create a licensing system. This licensing system is for businesses and farmers, and it will enable them to produce and sell marijuana products legally.
After gaining momentum for U.S. cannabis legalization, stocks of weed have been ramping high. There is uncertainty whether international commerce laws will allow cross-border sales or not. Furthermore, it is not clear how many challenges cannabis producers will face upon entering a new pot industry in another country.
Possibilities are that new weed producers will face challenges in building infrastructure for growing and selling marijuana in a new market and nation. Other countries are also legalizing cannabis use for recreational purposes. However, some nations or communities do not agree to legalize international pot activities.
Cannabis Stocks Rise Percentage And Deal
The stock price of various companies increased, including a 7.4% rise in the stocks of Canopy Growth, 17% in Tilray, 12% gain by Aphria, and 7.7% Cronos Group. Moreover, Tilray and Aphria have a plan of merging for good.
Marijuana stocks for over-the-counter products also increased. Curaleaf OTC dipped 0.1%, Cresco Labs OTC gains 4.4%, Acreage Holdings (OTC: ACRHF) rose 0.8%.
A deal between the Organigram and a subsidiary of British American Tobacco occurred. As per the deal, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco will invest worth $175 million.
Furthermore, under the contract, the two companies will establish a Center of Excellence in Organigram indoor facility in New Brunswick, Canada. The Center of Excellence will focus on developing cannabis products.
However, cannabis products will contain more CBD. The focused substance of the marijuana products will be CBD, which is present in the weed plant as a non-psychoactive compound.
A deal between Altria and Cronos Group occurred in 2018. According to experts, the results of this contract are yet slow to analyze progress rate and materialize.
Do Other Nations Legalize Marijuana Use?
Cannabis is legal for recreational use in Canada and Uruguay. However, the market for marijuana products present in Mexico is the biggest to date. Mexico has a population of 130 million. The highest number of possible consumers are available in Mexico.
Many states have already legalized cannabis for recreational use. Moreover, Virginia became the 16th state to legalize weed for adult-use. However, sales of pot products will begin in 2024.
Colombia legalized medical marijuana several years ago to keep farmers out of illegal activities. Other states are also discussing legalizing cannabis activities. Therefore, controlling non-legal activities is possible. Furthermore, it will generate revenue for the state, and small farmers will benefit from the bill.
People Of Color Hit With Brunt Of Cannabis Arrests
Cannabis is an illicit drug but lawmakers’ efforts to legalize and decriminalize marijuana activities. Some states have legalized medical and recreational use of marijuana, but others are discussing making the final decision.
The situation has produced confusion as some individuals think the possession of marijuana is legal already by law, but it is not, says The City. As a result, large-scale imprisonment occurs in many states.
In 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his plan to legalize cannabis. However, a final decision has not yet occurred. As a result, many Black New Yorkers are getting arrested. Moreover, people of color in New York receive summonses at vastly disproportionate rates.
According to Allan Gandelman, the state must legalize cannabis activities and include productive-measures into the legislation for better outputs. So that Blacks and other people in minorities get justice.
Data Analysis Regarding Cannabis Arrest
According to an analysis of NYPD data by the Legal Aid Society, 94% of the Black And Latinos in New York face arrest and summons in 2020. Moreover, according to an analysis report, 57% of arrested New Yorkers were Black, and 35.7% were Latino. According to the Census Bureau, concerning the population, the city has 24% Black population and 29% Latino.
Moreover, the analysis data elaborates that people of color face more imprisonment and summons regarding marijuana activities than any other citizen. Other individuals get free passes while Black and Latino have to pay penalties or go to prison for the same action as done by others.
According to Anthony Posada, Blacks and Latinos are suffering from injustice in the marijuana business.
In 2019 the number of arrests and summons was 16411. However, in 2020 the number decreased to 10811, yet the percentage of Black and Latino arrests remained the same through-out the pandemic.
As a result of disproportionate arrests and summons, the Black and Latinos are suffering immensely. Therefore, members of the Legal Aid Society are requesting to pass the legalization bills as soon as possible.
Cuomo Response To Legalizing Marijuana Bills
Passing the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act on governors’ approval will end the disproportionate arrests and summon cycle. This will put an end to the sufferings of the people of color and provide equal rights to them, resulting in racial justice and equity.
During the 2018 elections, Governor Cuomo promised to legalize marijuana, but he did nothing to bring it to action. Moreover, in the following year, Cuomo showed a lack of support towards the legalization of cannabis.
In 2020, lawmakers were hopeful that the governor would pass the bill. However, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the matter remains unsolved. Moreover, the governor is currently trying to pass through the state’s annual budget process legislation regarding marijuana. Furthermore, he designed the marijuana legislation himself.
The governor desires to pass his own designed bill that enables delivery services and provides marijuana equity funds worth $100 million. The funds will also be used to provide substance use disorder treatment, financial literacy help, and jobs.
Some lawmakers agree with the state’s legislature, but others recommend passing Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act. With both bills, legalization will occur. Moreover, legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana is the need of the hour. However, with the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act, the government will collect about 30% to 50% of tax. But with the state’s legislature-plan, only 18% will be the tax rate.
Allan Gandelman is NY Cannabis Growers and Processors Association President. Gandelman appreciates MRTA-efforts that allow the growth of marijuana, home-delivery, weed microbusinesses, and funding for social-equity applicants. Moreover, he understands the importance of legalizing marijuana bills.
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