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
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
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
1. Our current legal drugs—alcohol and tobacco—are examples of commercialized products with addiction potential and high usage rates fueled by easy availability. Although these products are taxed, neither produces a net economic benefit to society. The healthcare and criminal justice costs associated with alcohol and tobacco far surpass the tax revenue they generate, and little of the taxes collected on these substances is contributed to the offset of their substantial social and health costs.
2. Federal excise taxes collected on alcohol in 2007 totaled around $9 billion and states collected around $5.6 billion. Taken together, this is less than 10 percent of the more than $185 billion in alcohol-related social costs such as healthcare, lost productivity, and criminal justice system expenses.53 Nor does tobacco carry its economic weight when taxed: each year, tobacco use generates only about $23 billion in taxes but results in more than $183 billion per year in direct medical expenses as well as lost productivity.
3. Advocates of legalization say the costs of prohibition, mainly through the criminal justice system, place a great burden on taxpayers and governments. While there are certainly costs to current prohibitions, legalizing drugs would not cut costs associated with the criminal justice system.
4. Marijuana use is the highest it has been in 8 years. In 2010, daily marijuana use increased significantly among all three grades surveyed (8th, 10th, and 12th graders) in the Monitor The Future (MTF) study.
5. One in 11 people who start marijuana use will become addicted—a rate that rises to one in six when use begins during adolescence. In 2009, marijuana was involved in 376,000 emergency department visits nationwide.
6. Making matters worse, confusing messages being conveyed by the entertainment industry, media, proponents of “medical” marijuana, and political campaigns to legalize all marijuana use perpetuate the false notion that marijuana use is harmless and aim to establish commercial access to the drug. This significantly diminishes efforts to keep our young people drug free and hampers the struggle of those recovering from addiction.
7. The Administration steadfastly opposes drug legalization. Legalization runs counter to a public health approach to drug control because it would increase the availability of drugs, reduce their price, undermine prevention activities, hinder recovery support efforts, and pose a significant health and safety risk to all Americans, especially our youth.
8. There is no substitute for the scientific approval process employed by the FDA. For a drug to be made available to the public as medicine, the FDA requires rigorous research followed by tests for safety and efficacy. Only then can a substance be classified as medicine and prescribed by qualified health care professionals to patients.
9. In the wake of state and local laws that permit distribution of “medical” marijuana, dozens of localities have been left to grapple with poorly written laws that bypass the FDA process and allow marijuana to be used as a so-called medicine. John Knight, director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Children’s Hospital Boston, recently wrote: “Marijuana has gotten a free ride of sorts among the general public, who view it as non-addictive and less impairing than other drugs. However, medical science tells a different story.”
10. Similarly, Christian Thurstone, a board-certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, an Addiction Psychiatrist, and also an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado, said: In the absence of credible data, this debate is being dominated by bad science and misinformation from people interested in using medical marijuana as a step to legalization for recreational use. Bypassing the FDA’s well-established approval process has created a mess that especially affects children and adolescents. Young people, who are clearly being targeted with medical marijuana advertising and diversion, are most vulnerable to developing marijuana addiction and suffering from its lasting effects.
11. Outside the context of Federally approved research, the use and distribution of marijuana is prohibited in the United States.
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.
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.
In October 2009, Ms. Rosalie Pacula of the Rand Corporation provided the following report on the issue facing states considering ‘decriminalization’ of Marijuana.
“If use increases, known harms will also increase. We know that today over one third of self-reported past year users in the household population meet criteria for marijuana dependence.
Additionally, over 160,000 people showed up in treatment facilities with marijuana as a primary diagnosis that were not referred from the criminal justice system.
However, the cost of treating people who are dependent and seeking treatment needs to be considered in a benefit-cost calculation, as the State pays for the vast majority of drug treatment.
There also may be costs associated with treating other marijuana-induced health problems.”
Read the report in full RAND Study, Issues to Consider
Visit RAND at www.rand.org
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.
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).
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.