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
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.
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.
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.
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).
Marijuana smoke contains a greater amount of carcinogens than tobacco smoke.
In addition, marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, further increasing the lungs’ exposure to carcinogenic smoke. Marijuana use is not only associated with adverse physical effects, but also mental, emotional and behavioral changes.
People who smoke marijuana frequently, but do not smoke tobacco, have more health problems and miss more days of work than nonsmokers. Many of these extra sick days are due to respiratory illnesses.
Patients considering using marijuana for medicinal purposes should make this decision in consultation with their doctor, and consider means of administration other than smoking.
Questions about your lung health? Ask an expert.
Call 1-800-LUNGUSA or 1-800-586-4872.
Kevin Sabet, Senior Policy Advisor to President Obama’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowski from 2009-2011 reports:
“No country in the world has fully legalized marijuana, though many have experimented with reducing or eliminating criminal penalties for mere possession. In the Netherlands, high-potency marijuana has been reclassified as hard drug, and its sale will be prohibited in “coffee houses.” So what is the solution to getting the doctors out of their dilemma? Stick to the rules. Real medications must be fully studied, then approved by the FDA, then made available to patients by prescription.”
Drug-related deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in the U.S., with the rise driven by an increase in prescription narcotic overdoses, The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
Government data showed there were more deaths caused by drug use than there were motor vehicle fatalities in 2009. There were at least 37,485 drug-related fatalities that year, according to preliminary data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Today a full 16 percent of the U.S. population is dependent on alcohol, nicotine or other drugs. Another 27 percent of the general population engages in use of these substances in ways that put themselves and others at risk, including underage and adult excessive drinking, tobacco use, and misuse of pain relievers, stimulants and depressants. For a staggering 43 percent of the nation, then — nearly every other American — addiction and risky substance use are a matter of public health.
Addiction is America’s number one health care and health cost problem. Approximately 30 percent of our federal and state health care spending is attributable to this disease. Across all government spending, the total financial cost is nearly $500 billion annually.
The extent of human misery is incalculable.