Is Marijuana as Safe as We Think?


Permitting pot is one thing; promoting its use is another.


A few years ago, the National Academy of Medicine convened a panel of sixteen leading medical experts to analyze the scientific literature on cannabis. The report they prepared, which came out in January of 2017, runs to four hundred and sixty-eight pages. It contains no bombshells or surprises, which perhaps explains why it went largely unnoticed. It simply stated, over and over again, that a drug North Americans have become enthusiastic about remains a mystery.

For example, smoking pot is widely supposed to diminish the nausea associated with chemotherapy. But, the panel pointed out, “there are no good-quality randomized trials investigating this option.” We have evidence for marijuana as a treatment for pain, but “very little is known about the efficacy, dose, routes of administration, or side effects of commonly used and commercially available cannabis products in the United States.” The caveats continue. Is it good for epilepsy? “Insufficient evidence.” Tourette’s syndrome? Limited evidence. A.L.S., Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s? Insufficient evidence. Irritable-bowel syndrome? Insufficient evidence. Dementia and glaucoma? Probably not. Anxiety? Maybe. Depression? Probably not.


Full article here:


Women and the Opioid Epidemic: Why Opioid Interventions Should Include a Focus on Women


The opioid epidemic is growing disproportionately among women. From 1999 through 2016, mortality rates for opioid overdose increased 507% among women, compared to 321% among men, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Deaths related to prescription opioid as well as heroin use increased at nearly twice the rate for women as for men.

There is no question about the tragic dimensions of the opioid epidemic for people of all genders, their families and their loved ones. However, decades of research have taught us that women experience substance use, addiction, and treatment differently than men. For example, women transition from substance use to addiction more quickly than men, and they are less likely to participate in traditional substance abuse treatment programs. We need to apply this knowledge to the opioid epidemic and ensure women’s needs are met. Understanding and serving women who use opioids is vital to an effective public health response.

Polysubstance use—the consumption of more than one drug at once—is one aspect of the opioid epidemic that is particularly relevant to women. A recent national study of women who used opioids for nonmedical purposes found that 89% used additional substances, suggesting that “polysubstance use is the norm.”

Benzodiazepines and alcohol are particularly worrisome in this regard. As depressant drugs, the use of either substance along with opioids greatly increases the risk of opioid overdose. Since 1999, there has been over a 1,000% increase in the number of fatal overdoses among women using opioids and benzodiazepines at the same time. More than 3,700 U.S. women died from this drug combination in 2016 alone. Furthermore, women are more likely than men to receive concurrent prescriptions of opioids and benzodiazepines, enhancing this risk. Our recent research conducted in Oakland, California, showed that a third of women who used illicit opioids in the past 30 days had also used benzodiazepines.

Alcohol is the most common secondary substance found in opioid overdose deaths. In our research, we found that three-quarters of women who used opioids also used alcohol—and half reported binge drinking, consuming four or more drinks in a single sitting. The hazards of binge drinking in the context of opioid use have received little attention, despite the implications for overdose.

Fortunately, there is an extensive body of research on substance use among women to inform our response. Harm reduction services, such as syringe exchange and naloxone distribution, are essential. Medication-assisted therapy for opioid dependence needs to be widely available and available on demand. An emphasis on treatments that recognize the relationship between trauma and substance use is vital, as study after study has established the pervasive presence of trauma among women who use drugs. Similarly, the frequent occurrence of gender-based violence speaks to the importance of offering programs and service venues that create safe spaces for women.

In response to risks of polysubstance use, educational messages can emphasize the need to carefully manage or eliminate the concurrent use of substances. We know many of the answers to helping women survive the opioid epidemic—let’s implement them.

Written by Dr. Jennifer Lorvick, RTI International:

“I am passionate about making hepatitis C virus treatment available to all infected people. It is within our grasp to eradicate this disease, and I am fed up with the lack of political and public health leadership around this.”

Originally posted on

InWomen’s 2019: Call for Poster Abstracts


Poster Abstracts are due January 18, 2019
at 11:59AM EDT

Poster Abstracts are now being accepted for the
2019 InWomen’s conference

Friday, June 14, 2019
San Antonio, Texas, USA
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa



Key Dates

  • Abstract Submission and Travel Award Application Deadline: 
    January 18, 2019 at 11:59am Eastern Standard USA Time
  • Abstract and Travel Award Notifications will be sent by:
    Late February 2019
  • Early-bird Registration Opens: March/April 2019
  • Visa Letters Issued: February 25 – May 25, 2019


Abstract Guidelines

Only poster abstracts with a focus or component on women, children, youth, LGBT+ individuals, and/or gender differences in areas pertaining to substance use will be considered. Priority will be given to abstracts that relate to the InWomen’s mission and vision. You may submit up to three abstracts for consideration.

*Please note that the 2019 InWomen’s conference will focus on: How the Global Opioid Epidemic is Affecting Women and Families; and Marijuana-use Among Children, Teens, and Young Adults.

Word Limit
Limit the body of each abstract to 300 words,  including section headers.

Abstracts must be submitted in English.

Abstract submissions should adhere as closely as possible to the following section headers:

  • Background OR Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results OR Findings
  • Conclusion OR Discussion

Abstract Categories
Poster Abstracts should fall under one Primary Category:

  • Basic Science
  • Epidemiology
  • Implementation Science
  • Prevention
  • Treatment
  • Other – Related Category

And at least one Secondary Category:
(e.g., Alcohol Use; Children and Adolescents; Co-occurring Disorders; Gender Differences; Health Disparities; HIV; Gender-based Violence; LGBT+ Individuals; Marijuana Use; Mental Health; Opiate Use; Pregnant and Parenting Women; Program Evaluation; Sexual Risk; Smoking; Trafficking; Other – Related Category)


Abstract Submission Process

Access the Abstract Submission Form above or here:

The online submission system permits the abstract(s) to be copied from a word processing document or a clipboard and pasted directly into the submission field (abstracts are limited to 300 words)

Please ensure that:

  • Your information and selections are correct
  • Authors are listed in the proper order
  • No typographical errors appear in the title, the authors’ names, or the text of the abstract.

*Abstracts will be included as submitted in the conference materials. Keep an original copy of your submitted abstract(s) and your electronic submission confirmation.


Travel Awards

Several merit-based travel awards will be awarded to students and new investigators (not more than 7 years post their terminal degree). Priority will be given to those whose abstracts clearly align with InWomen’s mission and topical focus, as well as to individuals who have not previously received awards. You may apply for a travel award during the abstract submission process.

Only the presenting author is eligible for a travel award. Travel awards are non transferable and are electronically wired to awardees following the conference at the USD rate. Travel award amounts vary by country region.


Abstract Review and Notification 

All abstracts submitted for the 2019 InWomen’s Conference will be reviewed and scored by the Abstract Review Committee. Presenting authors of selected abstracts will be offered the opportunity to present at the 2019 conference.

You will be notified via email whether or not your abstract has been accepted by late February 2019. If your abstract is accepted, you will receive a request to confirm your availability to attend. Instructions on poster preparation, including presentation format and poster session time, will be emailed to you in advance of the meeting.


Formal Invitation and Visa Letters

For participants who require a formal letter of invitation to the 2019 meeting in order to obtain a visa or for their institutions, InWomen’s will accept letter requests and issue them between February 25 and May 25, 2019. Requests should be sent to


Tax-deductible Donations

We are working to raise funds so we can offer travel to those who qualify with the best abstracts that have been accepted for the poster session. If you would like to contribute to an end-of-year tax-deductible travel award fund, please click here:


Conference Registration

Please note that conference registration is separate from the abstract submission process, but you must register and attend the conference to have your abstract published and to receive the travel award. Registration for the InWomen’s Conference will be opened following travel award notifications. Those who submitted an abstract will be sent an email with a conference registration link.


For More Information

Please contact Dr. Wendee Wechsberg, Conference Chair at
or visit our blog at

Save the Date: InWomen’s Is Back!


InWomen’s Returns

Friday, June 14, 2018
San Antonio, Texas, USA


  • Call for Poster Abstracts Issued:
    November 2018
  • Poster Abstract Submission and Travel Award Application Deadline:
    January 2019
  • Acceptance and Award Decision Notifications: February 2019
  • Early-bird Registration Opens: March/April 2019
    *Exact dates to be announced shortly


JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
San Antonio, Texas

InWomen’s 2019 will address two key themes.

We’ve missed you, and we hope you’ve missed us!  For those of you interested in addressing issues of addiction among women and gender differences, the 2019 International Women’s and Children’s Health and Gender (InWomen’s) Group conference will return in conjunction with CPDD and the NIDA International Forum for its 11th meeting with a focus on the following:

How the Global Opioid Epidemic is Affecting
Women and Families


Marijuana-use Among Children, Teens,
and Young Adults


In addition to the usual Poster Abstract submission topics.

Poster abstracts with a focus or component on women, children, youth, LGBT+ individuals, and/or gender differences in areas pertaining to substance use will be considered.

  • Primary Abstract Categories
    • Basic Science
    • Epidemiology
    • Implementation Science
    • Prevention
    • Treatment
    • Other – Related Category
  • Secondary Abstract Categories
    • Alcohol Use
    • Children and Adolescents
    • Co-occurring Disorders
    • Gender Differences 
    • Health Disparities
    • HIV
    • Gender-based Violence
    • Marijuana Use
    • Mental Health
    • Opiate Use
    • Pregnant and Parenting Women
    • Program Evaluation
    • Sexual Risk
    • Smoking
    • Trafficking
    • Other – Related Category 

For more information please contact
or visit our blog at

In adolescents, oral Truvada and vaginal ring for HIV prevention are safe, acceptable


A monthly vaginal ring and a daily oral tablet, both containing anti-HIV drugs, were safe and acceptable in studies of adolescents, two teams of investigators reported today at the 9th IAS Conference on HIV Science in Paris. The experimental ring is designed for HIV prevention and the oral tablet is already used for this purpose in adults. Adherence to the ring was high, while adherence to the tablet was moderate and diminished substantially when study visits became less frequent. These studies mark the first time the vaginal ring was tested in adolescent girls younger than 18 years and the first time a clinical trial of the oral tablet as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) specifically for adolescents included girls. The findings pave the way for larger trials of the vaginal ring and oral PrEP in this vulnerable age group.


Read more here:

Thanks for another successful InWomen’s Conference!


It is with much gratitude that I thank you all for attending the 10th Annual International Women’s and Children’s Health and Gender Group Conference. Every year I am overjoyed to witness the number of researchers, pre- and post-docs, and clinicians who are committed to the InWomen’s mission of addressing issues in substance use among women, children, youth, LGBTQ populations, and also looking at gender differences globally. I hope this conference gave you the opportunity to expand your network and forge valuable connections with the many leading gender experts and emerging leaders. From the panels to the discussion tables to the evening reception, this year’s meeting was truly spectacular. I was also touched by the lunch tribute. Click here for a recap of the event, including photos.

I hope to see you all at the next InWomen’s Conference in 2019, which will take place in San Antonio, TX.   Most sincerely, Dr. Wendee Wechsberg Director, RTI Global Gender Center InWomen’s Chair

Tell us what you think!

Please take a moment to complete the evaluation form for the 2017 InWomen’s Conference. Your feedback is valuable, and will help us as we plan future events. And if you complete the evaluation by June 30, 2017, you’ll be entered for a chance to win an Amazon gift card!

Take the Survey

2017 InWomen’s Conference Highlights


The International Women’s and Children’s Health and Gender (InWomen’s) Group celebrated its 10th year anniversary on Friday, June 16, 2017 in Montréal, Canada. Over 85 attendees representing 18 different countries gathered at the Hotel Bonaventure, to learn about and discuss recent research concerning the intersections of gender, substance use, and treatment. Special Guest, Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, a licensed psychologist, ordained minister, professor at Pepperdine University, and sacred artist shared empowering words and poetry in the morning before the first panel session and during lunch. Special welcome messages were also shared by Dr. Loretta Finnegan, CPDD Executive Officer, Dr. Claire Sterk, President of Emory University, and Conference Chair, Dr. Wendee Wechsberg.

Panel Sessions

The meeting consisted of two panel sessions that focused on Prenatal Alcohol and Cannabis Use, and Substance Use Disorders in Women and Families. Presentations will be uploaded to the InWomen’s Wiki site shortly.

Panel Session I speakers presented on:

  • Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol and Child Internalizing and Externalizing Problems
  • Prenatal Cannabis Exposure and the Current State of the Evidence
  • Prenatal Cannabis Exposure and Child Neurodevelopment

Panel Session II speakers presented on:

  • Implementing a Parenting Intervention for Mothers and Fathers in Substance Use Treatment Programs
  • Identity, Culture, and Healing from Opioid Use Disorder and other Addictions: Indigenous Women in Canada
  • Who is a SMARTgirl? Demographics, Risk, and HIV among Cambodian Female Entertainment and Sex Workers Participating in an HIV Risk Reduction Intervention in Cambodia

Discussion Tables

The conference also included a discussion table session that encouraged attendees to discuss specific topics and future research areas. Discussion table topics included:

  1. Caring for Women with Co-Occurring Mental Health Conditions in Primary Care Settings
  2. Cannabis, Opioids, and Other Drug Use and Neonatal Outcomes
  3. Global Perspective on Women’s Access to Treatment: Stigma, Discrimination, and Other Critical Issue
  4. LGBTQ and Substance Use: Factors Associated with Use and Recovery
  5. Women and Substance Use, HIV, IPV, and Sex Trafficking
  6. Gender and Culturally Centered Treatment Approaches for Indigenous People with Substance Use Disorder
  7. The Next 10 Years: Critical Issues and Moving the Field Forward Faster

Poster Presentations

A poster session took place at the meeting with attendees presenting nearly 50 posters. Travel awards were also awarded to 19 poster presenters, who represented 9 different nations, with many coming from the United States, Singapore, and South Africa. Ms. Natasha Ludwig-Barron’s poster “Double Vulnerability: A Qualitative Analysis of Experiences of Partner Violence and Barriers to Help-Seeking among Stimulant-Using Women with Disabilities” received the 2017 Best Poster Award.

Evening Celebration

An evening celebration was also held to commemorate the 10th year of InWomen’s. Guests enjoyed a selfie booth, delicious hors d’oeuvre, dancing, and music provided by Montreal native, DJ TIZI.

Conference Photos

For conference photos visit here: Link on blog

Post-Conference Evaluation

Tell us how it went! Please complete the 2017 InWomen’s Conference online evaluation by 5pm EST on June 30, 2017, for a chance to win a gift card. We appreciate your feedback and will incorporate it into the planning of future conferences.

Click here: