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Health Highlights: Nov. 10, 2016

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Colorado Voters Approve Aid-in-Dying Measure

A ballot measure to allow terminally ill people to take their own lives with medication prescribed by a doctor was approved by Colorado voters Tuesday.

The aid-in-dying measure requires mentally competent patients with less than six months to live to have the approval of two doctors, according to US News & World Report.

It also says doctors must discuss alternatives as well as safe storage, tracking and disposal of lethal drugs, in case a patient has a change of mind.

Oregon, Washington, California, Montana and Vermont also permit aid-in-dying. Supporters say that allowing terminally ill patients to end their lives when and how they choose gives them control, dignity and peace of mind in their final days, CNN reported.

Critics argue that doctor-assisted death is morally wrong, doesn't require a doctor to be present at the time of death, and that doctors might make an incorrect diagnosis about a terminal illness.

Seventeen other states and the District of Columbia are also considering aid-in-dying legislation this year, CNN reported.

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Canadian Lab Worker Possibly Exposed to Ebola

A worker at a Canadian government lab who may have been exposed to Ebola will spend 21 days in isolation and be monitored by health officials.

"At this point, there is no risk to Canadians, to the community or to other employees of the lab, because the individual is not infectious," said Dr. Theresa Tam, deputy chief public health officer of the Public Health Agency, CNN reported.

The incident occurred Monday while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency employee at the National Center for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg, Manitoba was working with Ebola-infected pigs as part of an effort to learn more about their immune reaction to the deadly virus.

The worker's protective suit had a split in the seam, which may have caused exposure to Ebola.

"Our employees are well aware of the risks and how to control them. All proper emergency procedures were followed," said Dr. John Copps, director of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, CNN reported.

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Recreational Marijuana Use Approved in California, Massachusetts and Nevada

Recreational use of marijuana was approved Tuesday by voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada, while Arizona voters rejected it, and the results in Maine are too close to call.

In other ballot proposals, voters in Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas approved medical marijuana measures, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

In general, the rules for recreational marijuana use would be similar to those for alcohol. The drug's use would be limited to people 21 or older and banned in most public spaces. Marijuana would be strictly regulated and heavily taxed, and some states would let people grow their own.

Opponents argue that legalization of recreational marijuana use endangers youngsters and creates another major industry that, like big tobacco, would promote an unhealthy drug, CBS/AP reported.

The victory in California -- the nation's most populous state -- could trigger similar moves in other states and put pressure on the federal government to change its classification of marijuana as a dangerously addictive drug with no medical benefits.

Massachusetts became the first state in the eastern U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana use. That state's proposal includes a 3.75 percent surcharge on retail sales of marijuana in addition to the state's regular 6.25 percent sales tax, CBS/AP reported.

Local governments could also add up a 2 percent tax, which means a potential combined maximum tax of 12 percent on marijuana products.

In Nevada, there would be a 15 percent excise tax on marijuana sales and that revenue would used for education. Supporters say it could generate $20 million a year in revenues for schools, CBS/AP reported.

Posted: November 2016


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