View the debate “What would a saner drug policy look like?” between Sean Dunagan, a former DEA Analyst and Kevin Sabet, former Obama Admin. Adviser.
The study led by Associate Professor Mark Asbridge from Dalhousie University in Halifax, is the first to review of data from drivers who had been treated for serious injuries or died in car accidents.
The level of impairment from smoking pot might not be as severe as alcohol intoxication, but it does require a public health response, a researcher says. (Noah Berger/Associated Press)
“To our knowledge this meta-analysis is the first to examine the association between acute cannabis use and the risk of motor vehicle collisions in real life,” the researchers write in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal.
The researchers reviewed nine observational studies with a total sample of 49,411 accident victims. To rule out the effects of alcohol or other drugs the researchers calculated the odds for cases where cannabis — but no alcohol or other drugs — was detected in blood test or the driver had reported smoking three hours before crash.
They found that smoking cannabis three hours before driving nearly doubled a driver’s risk of having a motor vehicle accident.
Read exhaustive British Medical Journal report on accidents and pot: http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e536
Last week, NORML, the nation’s oldest marijuana legalization organization, published in their weekly newspaper that “medical marijuana has no discernible impact on marijuana use.” NORML cited a new article in the Annals of Epidemiology (a respected journal for sure; the same one that will soon release a study showing that marijuana is significantly linked with car crashes) which critiques an earlier article by Wall and colleagues showing an increase in marijuana use among states with medical marijuana. Essentially, the authors replicated the Wall study using different methods and got different results.
Certainly medical marijuana is a complex issue – one where politics, compassion, ethics and science collide. Sixteen states and D.C. technically have laws allowing marijuana as medicine on the books, but these laws, like other drug laws, vary widely in implementation, so it is tough to even perform studies linking medical marijuana with use changes. NORML doesn’t seem too bothered by that. They went on to cite a Brown University study looking at Rhode Island – a state with a barely discernible medical marijuana program in the first place – as further “proof” that medical marijuana doesn’t impact use. And the usual folks, like Reason Online (I’m just waiting for Maia Szalavitz to get to this as well), essentially republished the NORML line without any critical analysis.
A closer look at these studies shows something a little different, and much more nuanced. First, they completely ignore the more thorough studies that in fact do show increases in use. A major study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence by researchers at Columbia University looked at two separate datasets and found that residents of states with “medical” marijuana had marijuana abuse/dependence rates almost twice as high than states without such laws.
Most importantly, the studies discussed by NORML miss the mark, by failing to take into account the actual implementation of medical marijuana laws. For example, California did not have “dispensaries” until 2003, seven years after the law officially was on the book. And Rhode Island, the state used in the Brown study, had about 1,500 people in the entire program, so it’s not a revelation that would not see any significant effect on teens. Time will tell, with further study and analysis, how medical marijuana is affecting attitudes and use rates in the long term.
What of course is never talked about is how medical marijuana programs in states that have gone full steam ahead actually work. Rarely mentioned is the fact that, for example, according to a 2011 study in the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis that examined 1,655 applicants in California who sought a physician’s recommendation for medical marijuana, very few of those who sought a recommendation had cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, or multiple sclerosis. A study published in the Harm Reduction Journal (not exactly an anti-drug mouthpiece), analyzing over 3,000 “medical marijuana users in California, found that an overwhelming majority (87.9%) of those queried about the details of their marijuana initiation had tried it before the age of 19, and the average user was a 32-year-old white male. 74% of the Caucasians in the sample had used cocaine, and over 50% had used methamphetamine in their lifetime. Hardly any had life-threatening illnesses.
Finally, we know from other surveys like the University of Michigan Monitoring the Future that the perceived harm for smoking marijuana occasionally or regularly has been decreasing among the 8th grade since 2007. Social disapproval for smoking marijuana once or twice, occasionally, and regularly has been decreasing among 8th graders since 2007. That has translated into a major increase in use, which is no surprise to researchers who know that attitudes effect youth use rates.
And how can we say that today’s medical marijuana programs aren’t having an effect on youth attitudes toward the drug? “Marijuana is medicine” has become a common slogan in America today, as people like Dr. Christian Thurstone, a Colorado doctor working with kids, recently talked about on National Public Radio.
It’s time to get the legalization lobby out of the business of medical marijuana and instead focus our attention on scientists developing non-smoked marijuana-based medications for the truly ill. That would make this issue no longer the sick joke that it is today.
Author: Kevin Sabet
The American Society of Addition Medicine says Marijuana is a mood-altering drug capable of producing dependency. Its chief active ingredient is THC (delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol), but there are many other ingredients.
Marijuana has been shown to have adverse effects on memory and learning, on perception, behavior and functioning, and on pregnancy. Because of the widespread use of this drug, its effects on mind and body, and the increasing potency of available supplies.
Persons suffering from alcoholism and other drug dependencies should be educated about the need for abstinence from marijuana and its role in precipitating relapse, even if their original drug of choice is other than marijuana.
Treatment programs providing addictions treatment for chemically dependent patients should include tests for cannabinoids with other drug test panels and consider test results when designing treatment plans.
Read the report ASAM Statement on Marijuana
Of course there are variables, but at .5 grams of marijuana per points, one pound makes about 900 joints — almost 3 a day for a year! (Using half a gram per joint, 28.35 grams per ounce and 16 ounces per pound.)
Recently a Oregon man with a “medical marijuana” card was found in Idaho with almost 69 pounds of marijuana on his way to Utah. He claimed it was legal because he had a card. That was over 62,000 joints worth of pot headed for Utah consumption.
The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. requires that the Governor cause to be published a list of those chemicals “known to the state” to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. The Act specifies that “a chemical is known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity … if in the opinion of the state’s qualified experts the chemical has been clearly shown through scientifically valid testing according to generally accepted principles to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.”
The lead agency for implementing Proposition 65 is the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) of the California Environmental Protection Agency. The “state’s qualified experts” regarding findings of carcinogenicity are identified as the members of the Carcinogen Identification Committee of the OEHHA Science Advisory Board.
OEHHA announced the selection of marijuana smoke as a chemical for consideration for listing by the CIC in the California Regulatory Notice Register on December 12, 2007, subsequent to consultation with the Committee at their November 19, 2007 meeting. At that meeting, the Committee advised OEHHA to prepare hazard identification materials for marijuana smoke.
At their May 29, 2009 meeting the Committee, by a vote of five in favor and one against, found that marijuana smoke had been “clearly shown through scientifically valid testing according to generally accepted principles to cause cancer.”
Read the full report Marijuana Smoke and Cancer
Nationwide in 2009, 63 percent of fatally injured drivers were tested for the presence of drugs. Overall, 3,952 fatally injured drivers tested positive for drug involvement in 2009.
This number represents 18 percent of all fatally injured drivers and 33 percent of those with known drug test results in 2009. Both the proportion of fatally injured drivers tested and the proportion of these drivers testing positive for drugs generally increased over the 5-year time period shown.
Read the report: US DOT Traffic Safety Drug Involvement 2010
The NCI is responsible for coordinating the National Cancer Program and for maintaining our momentum in cancer research. Recent updates to their website include:
“We agree that it is the role of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to evaluate and approve drugs for use in the United States. We also agree that cannabis and cannabinoids should be subjected to the same rigorous scientific investigation as other drugs and medical devices to determine their effectiveness and safety.”
In the General Information section the wording was revised to make it clearer that “Cannabis is not approved by the FDA for any medical use.”
In the General Information section, a sentence was replaced to add clarification. The CAM Editorial Board realized that the previous wording could have been misinterpreted as being a recommendation for prescribing Cannabis, which was not the intent of the Board.
In addition, the current evidence for the antitumor properties of Cannabi is discussed only in the context of laboratory studies and not in research involving humans.
Cannabis use significantly increases the risk for incident psychotic symptoms in individuals with no prior history of psychotic experiences.
In persons with evidence of psychosis, cannabis use increases the persistence of these symptoms, according to researchers from the University of Maastricht in The Netherlands, who have done much of the existing work in the area of cannabis and psychosis.
It has been known for many years that persons with schizophrenia or other psychotic illness use more cannabis than the general population, and other work has shown that individuals using cannabis during adolescence and early adulthood have a higher risk of developing psychotic symptoms. It remains unclear, however, whether the association between cannabis and psychosis is causal or whether an underlying genetic predisposition for psychosis may prompt cannabis use as a way of self-medication. A second issue is whether cannabis impacts on persistence rates of psychosis and which biological mechanisms may underlie this process.
Read more Cannabis use Increases Psychosis Risk.
A total of 1240 persons were killed in the last five years in fatal motor vehicle crashes involving Marijuana. 230 were killed in 2008. Use has increase steadily in the last ten years and is now at 5.5% in fatal passenger vehicle crashes.
The use in single vehicle fatal crashes where most drivers are tested shows an involvement rate of 8.3%.
The largest increases occurred in the 5 years following the ‘decriminalization’ of Medical Marijuana in January 2004.
For the five years following legalization there were 1240 fatalities in fatal crashes, compared to the 631 fatalities for the five years prior, for an increase of almost 100%. In 2008 there were 8 counties where more than 16% of the drivers in fatal crashes tested positive for Marijuana. Five of the 8 counties had rates over 20%.
Based on this experience, a use rate of 16% to 20% is very likely. A rate increase to only 16%, would result in 670 fatalities, and at 20% we would have about 840 fatalities annually. The 20% level would be more than triple the present level of 230 fatalities in 2008. At these levels, Marijuana would rival alcohol at 17.9%, as the top cause of traffic fatalities.
If “TC2010” passes, tax income on Marijuana is estimated at $1.4 billion annually compared to an estimated $4 billion or more economic loss from Marijuana related fatal crashes.
Read the full report CA Motor Fatalities Study.
Is the quality of ‘street’ marijuana in question? Does it contain contaminates like heavy metals, fungus, bacteria and pesticides?
There are various laws and agencies that control the quality of food, drink and medicine we consume.
California AB 390 brought many of these issues to the forefront.
For the full report lick here 2010 Analysis of AB390.
Smoking a joint is equivalent to 20 cigarettes in terms of lung cancer risk, scientists in New Zealand have found, as they warned of an “epidemic” of lung cancers linked to cannabis.
Studies in the past have demonstrated that cannabis can cause cancer, but few have established a strong link between cannabis use and the actual incidence of lung cancer.
In an article published in the European Respiratory Journal, the scientists said cannabis could be expected to harm the airways more than tobacco as its smoke contained twice the level of carcinogens, such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, compared with tobacco cigarettes.
The method of smoking also increases the risk, since joints are typically smoked without a proper filter and almost to the very tip, which increases the amount of smoke inhaled. The cannabis smoker inhales more deeply and for longer, facilitating the deposition of carcinogens in the airways.
“Cannabis smokers end up with five times more carbon monoxide in their bloodstream (than tobacco smokers),” team leader Richard Beasley, at the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, said in a telephone interview.
“There are higher concentrations of carcinogens in cannabis smoke … what is intriguing to us is there is so little work done on cannabis when there is so much done on tobacco.”
The researchers interviewed 79 lung cancer patients and sought to identify the main risk factors for the disease, such as smoking, family history and occupation. The patients were questioned about alcohol and cannabis consumption.
In this high-exposure group, lung cancer risk rose by 5.7 times for patients who smoked more than a joint a day for 10 years, or two joints a day for 5 years, after adjusting for other variables, including cigarette smoking.
“While our study covers a relatively small group, it shows clearly that long-term cannabis smoking increases lung cancer risk,” wrote Beaseley.
“Cannabis use could already be responsible for one in 20 lung cancers diagnosed in New Zealand,” he added.
“In the near future we may see an ‘epidemic’ of lung cancers connected with this new carcinogen. And the future risk probably applies to many other countries, where increasing use of cannabis among young adults and adolescents is becoming a major public health problem.”
Researchers at Columbia University have found that marijuana use is almost twice as high in states with medical marijuana laws compared to states without them. This, according to an article published in an upcoming issue of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Another recent finding underscores that disturbing message. Among youths aged 12 to 17, marijuana usage rates are higher in states with medicinal marijuana laws, says a study in last month’s Annals of Epidemiology.
This is concerning, because marijuana, according to the National Institutes of Health, is linked with dependence, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and cognitive impairment, among other negative effects. In fact, more kids now go to treatment because of a primary marijuana condition than for any other drug, including alcohol.
Read the report Columbia University Teen Attitudes on Substance Abuse.
Advocates for legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes are starting to suffer some scientific setbacks.
They made their case on the basis that cannabis can lessen pain in patients suffering such debilitating diseases as cancer and multiple sclerosis.
If marijuana has particular properties that can do this, those chemicals should indeed be extracted from the plant or artificially manufactured and then dispensed by proper prescription.
Cannabis does more harm than good.
A UCLA study has found a link between marijuana use and increased risk of head and neck cancers.
Another UCLA study, published in the Journal of Immunology, has found there is a chemical in marijuana that can cause cancerous cells to proliferate. The study also suggests that inhaling this substance may be a greater lung cancer risk than inhaling cigarette smoke.
It’s ironic that many advocates for legalizing marijuana are also fierce foes of the tobacco industry and cigarette smoking.
Source: Forbes Magazine, September 4, 2000
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime and is organized to assist members in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.
The three pillars of the UNODC projects include:
- Field-based technical cooperation projects to enhance capacity to counter-act illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.
- Research and analytical work to incease the knowledge and undestanding of drug sna crime issues and expand evidenced-based policy and operational decisions.
- Implementation of international treaties, development of domestic legislationon illicit drugs, crime and terrorism, and provision of services toward those ends.
Arguments Against Legalization
In January 2009, UNODC published a landmark report in support of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) which governs how UN Conventions approach enforcement. This report assesses the issues for an against drug legalization and comes out in support of the INCB stance against legalization based on:
- legal sanction have detered or delayed potential abusers thereby limiting growth the illicit market,
- subtantial drug consumption resulting from inceased availability and competive pricing would increae economic and social costs, particularly health care services and accident-related injuries,
- Organized crime would adapt efforts to maintain or increase their income independent of the legal status of certain drugs.
The report goes on to say that marijuana legalization would:
- increase use rates particularly youth age groups.
- today is much more powerful than in the 1960’s and leads to use of other drugs with destructive health consequences.
- result in higher addiction rates due to inceaed THC content in marijuana today.
- increase birth defects, respiratory system damage, has links to cancer, AIDS, imuume system damage and infertility.
Read the report in full 2009 UN Drug Conventions Argument Against Legaliztion.
The study shows that smoking marijuana before the age of 16 leaves individuals with weakened executive function, such as planning, flexibility and abstract thinking.
One of the tests conducted as part of the study included subjects being asked to sort a deck of cards following one set of rules, and then quickly switching to another set of rules without warning. The individuals who started smoking at an early age performed significantly worse than non-users and those who started using marijuana later in life.
In other tests, early marijuana users continued to make the same errors repeatedly.
Previous studies by neuroscientists had shown that those who smoke large amounts of marijuana on a regular basis do not do well on tests of memory and other mental abilities.
When marijuana is smoked, the THC passes from the lungs and into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the organs throughout the body, including the brain. In the brain, the THC connects to specific sites called cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells and influences the activity of those cells.
Many of these receptors are found in the parts of the brain that influence: Pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement
The short-term effects of marijuana include: Problems with memory and learning, distorted perception, difficulty in thinking and problem-solving, and loss of coordination
The effect of marijuana on perception and coordination are responsible for serious impairments in learning, associative processes, and psychomotor behavior (driving abilities).
Long term, regular use can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal following discontinuation, as well as psychic addiction or dependence.
Clinical studies show that the physiological, psychological, and behavioral effects of marijuana vary among individuals and present a list of common responses to cannabinoids, as described in the scientific literature:
- Dizziness, nausea, tachycardia, facial flushing, dry mouth and tremor initially
- Merriment, happiness, and even exhilaration at high doses
- Disinhibition, relaxation, increased sociability, and talkativeness
- Enhanced sensory perception, giving rise
- Heightened imagination leading to a subjective sense of increased creativity
- Time distortions
- Illusions, delusions, and hallucinations are rare except at high doses
- Impaired judgment, reduced coordination, and ataxia, which can impede driving ability or lead to an increase in risk-taking behavior
- Emotional lability, incongruity of affect, dysphoria, disorganized thinking, inability to converse logically, agitation, paranoia, confusion, restlessness, anxiety, drowsiness, and panic attacks may occur, especially in inexperienced users or in those who have taken a large dose
- Increased appetite and
- Short-term memory impairment are common
Researchers have also found an association between marijuana use and an increased risk of depression, an increased risk and earlier onset of schizophrenia, and other psychotic disorders, especially for teens that have a genetic predisposition.
What is its effect on the body?
Short-term physical effects from marijuana use may include: Sedation, blood shot eyes, increased heart rate, coughing from lung irritation, increased appetite, and decreased blood pressure
Like tobacco smokers, marijuana smokers experience serious health problems such as bronchitis, emphysema, and bronchial asthma. Extended use may cause suppression of the immune system. Because marijuana contains toxins and carcinogens, marijuana smokers increase their risk of cancer of the head, neck, lungs, and respiratory tract.
Withdrawal from chronic use of high doses of marijuana causes physical signs including headache, shakiness, sweating, and stomach pains and nausea.
Withdrawal symptoms also include behavioral signs such as: Restlessness, irritability.
Gram for gram,marijuana contains more cancer causing agents and higher levels of ammonia, hydrogen cyanide and nitric oxide than tobacco.
Smoked tobacco contains at least 70 chemicals and compounds that cause cancer, and there is no “risk-free level of exposure” to tobacco smoke.
Lung cancer killed 158,683 people in 2007 in the US.
There are no medicines that are smoked.
Marijuana is the second highest reason for treatment in the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Summary with 1,243,000 people being admitted for treatment as shown in the graph below.
- In 2009, an estimated 21.8 million Americans aged 12 or older used illicit drugs in the past month. This represents 8.7 percent of the population aged 12 or older. Illicit drugs include marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription-type psychotherapeutics used non-medically.
- The rate of current illicit drug use among persons aged 12 or older grew to 8.7 percent from 8.0 percent in 2008.
- Marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug. In 2009, there were 16.7 million past month users. Among persons aged 12 or older, the rate of past month marijuana use was 6.6 percent in 2009, 6.1 percent in 2008 and 5.8 percent in 2007.
- In 2009, there were 7.0 million people aged 12 or older who used prescription type psychotherapeutic drugs non-medically in the past month. These compare 6.2 million in 2008.
- Among youths aged 12 to 17, illicit drug use rate increased from 9.3 percent in 2008 to 10.0 percent in 2009.
- The rate of current marijuana use among youths aged 12 to 17 increased to 7.3 percent in 2009.
- Between 2008 and 2009, the rate of current use of illicit drugs among young adults aged 18 to 25 increased from 19.6 to 21.2 percent, driven largely by an increase in marijuana use (from 16.5 to 18.1 percent).
- In 2009, 10.5 million persons aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the past year. This corresponds to 4.2 percent of the population aged 12 or older. In 2009, the rate was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (12.8 percent).