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Need relief from chronic pain? Marijuana may not help after all, studies say

Published: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 @ 3:48 PM

Five Fast Facts: Marijuana

When it comes to treating chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder, an increasing number of people are turning to marijuana for relief. However, those efforts may be in vain, because new research has found little evidence to support its effectiveness.

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A group of scientists from the Veterans Health Administration recently completed two meta studies, which were both published in Annals of Internal Medicine, to determine the usefulness of the drug. To do so, they reviewed data that linked the use of cannabis with chronic pain and PTSD alleviation. 

First, they reviewed 27 pain trials that examined the use of the plant as a remedy. They concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” to prove its effectiveness for symptoms related to illnesses, including cancer and multiple sclerosis. They did, however, see some improvement for those with neuropathic pain. 

“We found low-strength evidence that cannabis preparations with precisely defined THC–cannabidiol content may alleviate neuropathic pain, but insufficient evidence in populations with other types of pain. Most studies are small, many have methodological flaws, and the long-term effects are unclear given the brief follow-up of most studies,” the report said. 

In fact, they had sufficient evidence linking marijuana use with an increased risk of car accidents, psychotic symptoms and short-term cognitive impairment. 

The researchers next took a look at five studies and reviews that assessed cannabis use for treating PTSD. They found that the evidence here was also lacking. One portion of a study even showed that symptoms worsened for veterans who used the drug during the assessment. 

»RELATED: Veteran allowed to keep ducks that help with PTSD

“Overall, we found insufficient evidence regarding the benefits and harms of plant-based cannabis preparations for patients with PTSD. The body of literature currently available is limited by small sample sizes, lack of adjustment for important potential confounders, cross-sectional study designs, and a paucity of studies with non–cannabis-using control groups,” the study said. 

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and Washington D.C., and up to 80 percent of people who request it say they use it for pain management. However, the latest research suggests there isn’t enough proof that it works. 

“The current studies highlight the real and urgent need for high-quality clinical trials in both of these areas,” Dr. Sachin Patel, a psychiatry researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Reuters

“If cannabis is being considered for medical use,” she continued, "it should certainly be after all well-established treatments have failed.” 

»RELATED: Here’s what happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep 

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)(David McNew/Getty Images)

Montreal man fools police with detailed snow car sculpture

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 3:52 PM

A man in Montreal made a car out of snow (not pictured), tricking police.
Ryan Remiorz/AP
A man in Montreal made a car out of snow (not pictured), tricking police.(Ryan Remiorz/AP)

A Montreal man was able to briefly dupe police with his creation after a snowstorm Monday.

KMSP reported that Simon Laprise created a sports car out of snow in a snow removal zone. The sculpture, which he posted photos of on Facebook, looked like a real car that had been parked during a snowstorm and was covered in powder.

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Laprise, a 33-year-old machinist and artist, modeled the car after the DeLorean DMC-12, famously featured in the “Back to the Future” movies, KMSP reported. The final detail that made it so life-like was the Laprise’s incorporation of an actual windshield, which he found across the street.

Once he completed his duplicate, Laprise hid out of view and waited for the police.

A police car soon drove up to investigate the car in a snow removal zone. The officer soon realized the car was made entirely of snow.

Laprise got a “ticket” with a note that read, “You made our night hahahahaha :)”

By the next morning, snowplows had removed the sculpture from the snow removal zone.

Elderly Louisiana man freezes to death in home with no heat

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 11:23 AM

Louisiana Man Dies In Cold Home With No Heat

An elderly Louisiana man whose home had no heat was found dead Wednesday morning, and his wife was hospitalized, after temperatures dropped into the teens overnight. 

Paul Maker, 84, of New Roads, was found lying on the floor of his home by sheriff’s deputies, the Baton Rouge Advocate reported. Both Maker and his wife were disabled and wheelchair-bound.

The house had no heat, and the couple was afraid to run their space heaters because of the fire hazard, law enforcement officials said. Deputies went to their home Wednesday morning after a neighbor who often checked on the Makers called 911 to request a welfare check.  

“He was in the house with his wife, and they were deathly afraid of running their space heaters overnight,” Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres told the newspaper. “This is just a sad situation.”

The couple’s children live in New Orleans and, upon learning of their father’s death and their mother’s hospitalization, could not travel the more than 100 miles to New Roads because most roads in south Louisiana were shut down due to the weather.

“I tried to call them all day yesterday to check on them and never got an answer,” Wanda Curly, the couple’s daughter, told the Advocate. “I knew the weather was bad, and I knew they couldn’t do a lot for themselves.”

The temperature in the house was about 20 degrees when deputies got there, Pointe Coupee Chief Deputy Coroner Joe Gannon said. Maker died of hypothermia. 

Gannon said he believes Maker’s wife would have succumbed to the cold if the couple’s neighbor had not sought help.

“She would have been next, I think,” Gannon said

Maker’s wife told deputies that she heard her husband fall in their living room around midnight, but could not check on him because she could not get out of bed on her own, the newspaper reported. 

Curly said her parents moved to New Roads after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She and her siblings tried in vain to get them to relocate to New Orleans over the years, but the couple, who were together for more than 60 years, valued their independence. 

She said her mother would have to move to the city under this week’s tragic circumstances.

“She doesn’t have a choice now,” Curly said. “She can’t stay there by herself.”

Central Florida workers relieved as work authorization extended for Haitian refugees

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 3:44 PM

The temporary protection status allowing Haitians who immigrated after the 2010 earthquake to live in the U.S. was extended. (Photo: WFTV.com)
The temporary protection status allowing Haitians who immigrated after the 2010 earthquake to live in the U.S. was extended. (Photo: WFTV.com)

Haitians living in the U.S. under the temporary protection status will get to keep working in the country -- for now.

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The status, which was granted to Haitians who immigrated to the U.S. after the devastating 2010 earthquake, was extended to July 2019, but the employment authorization documents were not.

The work authorizations were set to expire this week, but starting Thursday, workers will be able to re-register their paperwork, officials with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said.

Officials will automatically extend the validity of the documents for Haitians with TPS for 180 days, through July 21.

Wilna Destin had no idea what would have happened to her and her husband if the U.S. Department of Homeland Security hadn't announced the extension. 

"Yeah, it's really a relief for us," Destin said. "Everything is good for now. For now, but yeah."

The extension was good news for immigrants, but also for companies like Rosen Hotels and Resorts, which rely on the Haitian refugees who make up a large part of the workforce.

The company operates numerous hotels in Orlando, and without the Haitian workers, president Harris Rosen said that they wouldn't be able to operate.

"A third of our associates are from Haiti, and without them, we could cease to exist," Rosen said. "We need them so desperately."

About 50,000 Haitian refugees live in the United States, and if their temporary protected status isn't extended again in July 2019, all will have to leave at some point.

Rosen didn't understand why the Trump administration would cause so many people to be forced from the country, and vowed to push back.

"They're working," Rosen said. "We love them. Why disrupt their lives?

"We are fighting, fighting to make sure that TPE is going to be extended."

Disney union leaders reiterated Rosen's stance, saying they will be fighting for the hundreds of Haitian refugees currently working for the company.

"If we don't fight, then 2019 is going to be the same thing, the same worry," Destin said. "So that's why we have to fight and to make it permanent."

Documents reveal violent, disturbing last moments of homicide victim

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 3:00 PM

Jennifer Ayers. (Photo: KIRO7.com)
Jennifer Ayers. (Photo: KIRO7.com)

The following story contains some graphic details.

Seattle police found 63-year-old Jennifer Ayers dead in her Lake City home Monday.

The suspect in her death, Michael Giordano, 23, was wheeled into court to face a judge Wednesday afternoon. 

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Prosecutors charged the suspect with aggravated first-degree murder, and say the crime also included robbery, burglary, arson and rape.

“The facts here are extremely violent and disturbing,” the prosecutor told the judge. 

Prosecuting documents detailed what happened in the horrific final moments of Ayers’ life. 

The documents say someone by the initials of R.H. on 36th Avenue Northeast in Lake City called 911 after seeing Giordano in the street with blood on his hands, and seeing him throw credit cards into the street and bushes. 

The documents say when officers went inside they found the house had been ransacked and was filled with smoke. They also saw "a significant amount of blood," the documents reveal. 

Officers found Ayers lying on the floor, partly on fire, with her hands tied behind her back with what appeared to be Xbox controller cords.

“The officers immediately dragged the woman out of the house and into the backyard. Once clear of the smoke, officers were able to see the woman’s hands were bound behind her back, she was only partially clothed, a large knife handle was sticking out of her right buttock, and her inner thighs and crotch had been severely burned away. She was clearly deceased,” the documents read.

Documents say the victim's throat was slashed. 

“In addition to suffering a multitude of stab wounds throughout her body, the victim had extremely large lacerations on her neck. There was writing on the walls inside the home and it appeared to be written in blood. In the immediate area of the fire where the victim’s body was found burning, detectives found a red plastic gasoline can,” the documents read. 

In court, the prosecutor said Giordano was a stranger to Ayers. 

KIRO7 talked with a friend of Ayers' before learning the details of the crimes. Thom Head says he and Ayers were “two peas in a pod” and walked their dogs together every day for 20 years. 

“I was absolutely stunned that it was Jen. And it was tough. Because I thought about all of her neighbors and her poor little dog and her son,” Head said, his voice breaking. 

He and her neighbors describe Ayers as someone always helping others. 

“She would bend over backwards for her neighbors,” Head said. “She was so smart, on top of it, very well-informed, knew everything that was going on.” 

He said he can’t help thinking about her final moments. 

“Jen was a very small person, she was 4 feet 11 inches tall in her high heels so she probably had a tough time trying to defend herself,” Head said. 

The prosecuting documents say Giordano at first told investigators he had been mugged and had killed a man in self-defense. The documents say, “However, Giordano eventually admitted that those were lies he created to distract police from his real crime.” 

“Giordano admitted to detectives that he picked the victim at random, based primarily on the cars parked outside her residence. He admitted that he snuck in through an unlocked door, tied the victim up with cords, stabbed her multiple times in an attempt to induce her to tell him where her valuables were located, forcibly raped her and eventually killed her. 

“He also explained that he used gasoline and intentionally set the victim’s crotch on fire to destroy evidence of the rape,” the documents said. 

“Additionally, Giordano admitted that the writings on the victim’s wall with blood was done by him with the specific intention of misleading police into believing that the killer was someone with satanic beliefs,” the documents continued.

In court Wednesday, Giordano looked into the KIRO7 cameras and mouthed “(Expletive) you,” and later smiled and mouthed “bye” to the camera as he was wheeled out of court. 

A judge set his bail at $10 million. 

GRAPHIC WARNING: The documents embedded in the tweet below contain graphic details.