Global Drug Legalisation Efforts

Executive Summary

Purpose

Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) is tracking the impact of marijuana legalization in the state of Colorado. This report will utilize, whenever possible, a comparison of three different eras in Colorado’s legalization history:

· 2006 – 2008: Medical marijuana pre-commercialization era

· 2009 – Present: Medical marijuana commercialization and expansion era

· 2013 – Present: Recreational marijuana era

Rocky Mountain HIDTA will collect and report comparative data in a variety of areas, including but not limited to:

· Impaired driving and fatalities

· Youth marijuana use

· Adult marijuana use

· Emergency room admissions

· Marijuana-related exposure cases

· Diversion of Colorado marijuana

This is the fifth annual report on the impact of legalized marijuana in Colorado. It is divided into ten sections, each providing information on the impact of marijuana legalization. The sections are as follows:

Section 1 – Impaired Driving and Fatalities:

· Marijuana-related traffic deaths when a driver was positive for marijuana more than doubled from 55 deaths in 2013 to 123 deaths in 2016.

· Marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 66 percent in the four-year average (2013-2016) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the four-year average (2009-2012) prior to legalization.

o During the same time period, all traffic deaths increased 16 percent.

· In 2009, Colorado marijuana-related traffic deaths involving drivers testing positive for marijuana represented 9 percent of all traffic deaths. By 2016, that number has more than doubled to 20 percent.

Section 2 – Youth Marijuana Use:

· Youth past month marijuana use increased 12 percent in the three-year average (2013-2015) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the three-year average prior to legalization (2010-2012).

· The latest 2014/2015 results show Colorado youth ranked #1 in the nation for past month marijuana use, up from #4 in 2011/2012 and #14 in 2005/2006.

· Colorado youth past month marijuana use for 2014/2015 was 55 percent higher than the national average compared to 39 percent higher in 2011/2012.

Section 3 – Adult Marijuana Use:

· College age past month marijuana use increased 16 percent in the three-year average (2013-2015) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the three-year average prior to legalization (2010-2012).

· The latest 2014/2015 results show Colorado college-age adults ranked #2 in the nation for past-month marijuana use, up from #3 in 2011/2012 and #8 in 2005/2006.

· Colorado college age past month marijuana use for 2014/2015 was 61 percent higher than the national average compared to 42 percent higher in 2011/2012.

· Adult past-month marijuana use increased 71 percent in the three-year average (2013-2015) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the three-year average prior to legalization (2010-2012).

· The latest 2014/2015 results show Colorado adults ranked #1 in the nation for past month marijuana use, up from #7 in 2011/2012 and #8 in 2005/2006.

· Colorado adult past month marijuana use for 2014/2015 was 124 percent higher than the national average compared to 51 percent higher in 2011/2012.

Section 4 – Emergency Department and Hospital Marijuana-Related Admissions:

· The yearly rate of emergency department visits related to marijuana increased 35 percent after the legalization of recreational marijuana (2011-2012 vs. 2013-2015).

· Number of hospitalizations related to marijuana:

o 2011 – 6,305

o 2012 – 6,715

o 2013 – 8,272

o 2014 – 11,439

o Jan-Sept 2015 – 10,901

· The yearly number of marijuana-related hospitalizations increased 72 percent after the legalization of recreational marijuana (2009-2012 vs. 2013-2015).

Section 5 – Marijuana-Related Exposure:

· Marijuana-related exposures increased 139 percent in the four-year average (2013-2016) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the four-year average (2009-2012) prior to legalization.

· Marijuana-Only exposures more than doubled (increased 210 percent) in the four-year average (2013-2016) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the four-year average (2009-2012) prior to legalization.

Section 6 – Treatment:

· Marijuana treatment data from Colorado in years 2006 – 2016 does not appear to demonstrate a definitive trend. Colorado averages 6,683 treatment admissions annually for marijuana abuse.

· Over the last ten years, the top four drugs involved in treatment admissions were alcohol (average 13,551), marijuana (average 6,712), methamphetamine (average 5,578), and heroin (average 3,024).

Section 7 – Diversion of Colorado Marijuana:

· In 2016, RMHIDTA Colorado drug task forces completed 163 investigations of individuals or organizations involved in illegally selling Colorado marijuana both in and out of state.

o These cases led to:

§ 252 felony arrests

§ 7,116 (3.5 tons) pounds of marijuana seized

§ 47,108 marijuana plants seized

§ 2,111 marijuana edibles seized

§ 232 pounds of concentrate seized

§ 29 different states to which marijuana was destined

· Highway interdiction seizures of Colorado marijuana increased 43 percent in the four-year average (2013-2016) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the four-year average (2009-2012) prior to legalization.

· Of the 346 highway interdiction seizures in 2016, there were 36 different states destined to receive marijuana from Colorado.

o The most common destinations identified were Illinois, Missouri, Texas, Kansas and Florida.

Section 8 – Diversion by Parcel:

· Seizures of Colorado marijuana in the U.S. mail has increased 844 percent from an average of 52 parcels (2009-2012) to 491 parcels (2013-2016) in the four-year average that recreational marijuana has been legal.

· Seizures of Colorado marijuana in the U.S. mail has increased 914 percent from an average of 97 pounds (2009-2012) to 984 pounds (2013-2016) in the four-year average that recreational marijuana has been legal.

Section 9 – Related Data:

· Crime in Denver increased 17 percent and crime in Colorado increased 11 percent from 2013 to 2016.

· Colorado annual tax revenue from the sale of recreational and medical marijuana was 0.8 percent of Colorado’s total statewide budget (FY 2016).

· As of June 2017, there were 491 retail marijuana stores in the state of Colorado compared to 392 Starbucks and 208 McDonald’s.

· 66 percent of local jurisdictions have banned medical and recreational marijuana businesses.

Section 10 – Reference Materials:

This section lists various studies and reports regarding marijuana.

THERE IS MUCH MORE DATA IN EACH OF THE TEN SECTIONS. THIS PUBLICATION MAY BE FOUND ON THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIDTA WEBSITE; GO TO WWW.RMHIDTA.ORG AND SELECT REPORTS.

Source: WWW.RMHIDTA.ORG October 2017

Legalising marijuana can lead to increased use of the drug, according to a French study that looked at consumption levels in two US states and Uruguay in the midst of a debate over France’s narcotics laws.

The study conducted by France’s National Institute of Higher Security and Justice Studies and the French Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction examined data from Washington and Colorado, which in 2012 became the first two US states to legalise marijuana for recreational use.

Like several US studies on the subject it noted that legalisation in the states had not increased marijuana use among teenagers, “which nonetheless remains at a high level.”

Among adults, however, marijuana use had increased, particularly among over-25s, the French researchers found.

But in Uruguay, which in July became the first country to legalise marijuana nationwide, “all the indicators of use have risen”, including among teens, the study showed.

In the two American states, the legalisation had led to a “significant” increase in the number of people admitted to hospital with suspected cannabis poisoning, particularly tourists, it added.

On the economic front, it found that sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington had steadily increased, reaching $1 billion a year in each case.

State tax receipts from the sales had surpassed taxes on cigarettes, the report said, while noting that legalisation had not stamped out marijuana trafficking.

In Uruguay, trafficking was driven by the huge gap between demand and legal production, which accounted for just 10 to 20 percent of marijuana use.

In the American states, by contrast, the black market was being fuelled by the higher cost of over-the-counter marijuana, the report concluded.

The researchers acknowledged, however, that legalisation of marijuana had eased the caseload of the police and judiciary.

In France, marijuana use is a crime punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of 3,750 euros ($4,400). President Emmanuel Macron has proposed easing the penalty to an on-the-spot fine.

Source: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-10-legalising-marijuana-french.html

The Liberal government, thanks to Justin Trudeau’s mindless statements during the federal election of 2015, became committed to legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. The purpose of this initiative was to encourage millennials to vote for the Liberal Party.

Like many of its other policies, the Liberal government was clueless about the unintended consequences of this promise. For example, it has yet to solve the problem that has arisen because Canada ratified UN drug treaties that prohibit the use of marijuana. Further, S. 33 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) specifically states that it is the responsibility of governments to protect children from the use and trafficking of drugs:

33. Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in their illicit production and trafficking of such substances.

The CRC defines “child” as anyone under 18 years of age. However, once marijuana is legalized, it becomes normalized and becomes acceptable. As a result, adolescents under the age of 18 years will have access to it, as they have easy access, today, to cigarettes.

The Liberals are merrily proceeding with their legalization of marijuana, ignoring their treaty obligations as well as many other serious problems inherent with the legalization.

Unfortunately, the government thinks it cannot back down from its proposal on marijuana as its credibility is already seriously on the line with its accumulating failures on other policies. These include the defeat of electoral reform; the enormous, accumulating national debt, far in excess of what had been promised; the incompetence of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Inquiry; failure to provide transparency and honesty, insisting on continuing with its pay-for-access scheme for corporate high rollers; the flaunting of regulations by Trudeau to vacation with billionaire, the Imam Aga Khan, in the latter’s private island, and the $10.5 million award to terrorist Omar Khadr, who killed an American soldier and blinded another in Afghanistan. Under all these circumstances, it is not unreasonable to describe the Trudeau government as dumb and dumber, as the Liberal blunders are piling up.

Despite this, on April 13, 2017, the Liberal government tabled legislation on marijuana. It provides only a vague and little considered framework for the sale, distribution and possession of it. This framework is based on the federal government’s use of its criminal law provisions to supposedly provide “protection of public health”. This is why Trudeau has been going across the country loudly proclaiming that the objective of his marijuana legislation is “to reduce harm to Canadians” and to “decrease the black market of marijuana”. These comments are nothing more than mindless prattle.

The government is ignoring the reality of recreational marijuana use which occurred in Colorado when it legalized recreational marijuana in 2013. Since that time, Colorado has experienced:

· Marijuana use by Colorado youth between the ages of 12 and 17 years old increased by 20%; this was 74% higher than the national average of that age group;

· Marijuana use of university age youths increased by 17%;

· Marijuana use by adults age 26+ years old increased 63% in comparison to an increase nationally of 21%;

· In 2014 when retail marijuana businesses began operating in Colorado, there was a 32% increase in marijuana related traffic deaths. During the same period of time, alltraffic deaths increased by only 8%. Marijuana related traffic deaths were approximately 20% of all traffic deaths;

· There was a 29% increase in the number of marijuana related emergency room visits in 2014 and a 38% increase in the number of marijuana related hospitalizations;

· During the years 2013-2014, the average number of children exposed to marijuana was 31 per year. This was an increase of 138%;

· According to the Colorado Attorney General, legalization of marijuana did not reduce black market marijuana activity “the criminals are still selling on the black market…. We have plenty of cartel activity and plenty of illegal activity that has not decreased at all”; and

· Homelessness in Colorado surged by 50% with 20 to 30% of newcomers living in shelters, having moved to Colorado to have easy access to marijuana.

Trudeau and his government apparently haven’t even read their own Health Canada Website, which lists the risks of marijuana to include:

· Risks to health, some of which may not be known or fully understood. Studies supporting the safety and efficacy of cannabis for therapeutic purposes are limited and do not meet the standard required by the Food and Drug Regulations for marketed drugs in Canada.

· Smoking cannabis is not recommended. Do not smoke or vapourize cannabis in the presence of children.

· Using cannabis or any cannabis product can impair concentration, ability to think and make decisions, reaction time and coordination. This can affect your motor skills, including ability to drive. It can also increase anxiety and cause panic attacks, and in some cases cause paranoia and hallucinations.

· Cognitive impairment may be greatly increased when cannabis is consumed along with alcohol or other drugs which affect the activity of the nervous system (e.g. opioids, sleeping pills, other psychoactive drugs)

The warning goes on to list specifically when cannabis should never be used by anyone:

· under the age of 25

· who has serious liver, kidney, heart or lung disease

· who has a personal or family history of serious mental disorder such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, or bipolar disorder

· who is pregnant, is planning to get pregnant, or is breast-feeding

· who is a man who wishes to start a family

· who has a history of alcohol or drug abuse or substance dependence

In June 2016, ignoring this crucial information, Trudeau established a Task Force to make recommendations on marijuana use. The Committee was headed by former Liberal Justice Minister Anne McLellan. The bad news was that the nine-member Committee included the controversial Dr. Perry Kendall, who, both as Ontario Medical Officer of Health and BC Provincial Health Officer, has advocated for legalization of drugs. In June, 2010, Dr. Kendall claimed that the use of the drug ecstasy can be “safe” when consumed “responsibly”. In 2016, Dr. Kendall called for the decriminalization of personal drug use and possession.

The Committee’s Report, released in December, 2016, could have been written by the marijuana industry. It is void of concerns for public safety and, if implemented, will cause damage to generations of Canadians to the benefit of the marijuana industry.

The Committee recommended that the age of majority, that is 18, be set for the use of marijuana (nineteen years for those in provinces where that is the age of majority).

On May 29th, 2017 an alarmed Canadian Medical Association (CMA), in an editorial in its Journal, stated that current research shows the brain doesn’t reach maturity until around age 25. The CMA editorial referred to the fact that the 9% risk of developing dependence over a lifetime rises to 17% if marijuana use is started in the teen years.

The CMA recommends that the government raise the legal age for buying marijuana to 21, and that it restrict the quantity and potency of the marijuana available to those under 25 years of age.

The Canadian Paediatric Society position paper on the effects of cannabis on children and youth cites serious potential effects, such as: increased presence of mental illness, including depression, anxiety and psychosis; diminished school performance and lifetime achievement; increased risk of tobacco smoking; impaired neurological development and cognitive decline; and a risk of addiction.

In 2010, Canadian youth were ranked No. 1 for cannabis use among 43 countries in Europe and North America. Are we trying to maintain this record?

The federal Task Force also recommended that individuals be allowed to possess 30 grams of marijuana and be permitted to cultivate marijuana for non-medical purposes providing it is limited to four plants per residence, and has the maximum height limit of 100 centimetres. No doubt the police will be knocking on doors with their measuring sticks to ensure that the width and height of the marijuana plants conform to the law.

Just like the Big Tobacco Industry before it, the Big Marijuana Industry is pumping up its corporate growers, in anticipation of grabbing billions of dollars in the growing, distribution and selling of pot across the country. Tobacco smoking is the second biggest risk factor for early death and disability after high blood pressure. Fortunately, because of intense advertising against tobacco smoking, its prevalence has dropped from 35% to 25% among men and from 8% to 5% among women. What on earth then, are we doing by reversing ourselves and adding dangerous marijuana smoke to the deadly mix?

Provinces Concerned About the Marijuana Proposal

Each of the provinces will be required to implement its own rules and restrictions in respect of the distribution and sale of marijuana. This means the provinces will have the last say on the method of sale and point-of-sale restrictions, having regard to the key objective of the federal legislation – supposedly, to prevent or reduce harm to Canadians. In deciding their own rules, Houdini wouldn’t be able to accomplish this. Neither are the provinces likely to reap the supposed vast profits from the sale of marijuana. The provinces are rightly skeptical about any such windfall since taxes on pot are expected to stay low to ensure the regulated market elbows out illegal dealers.

It is significant that on November 1, 2016, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), Jean-Denis Frechette, released a 77 page study entitled, “Legalized Cannabis: Fiscal Considerations”, which states that the federal government may have little fiscal space to heavily tax cannabis the way it does tobacco, without pushing the legal price well beyond that of currently illicit pot. Price legal pot too high and the black market will continue to flourish; too low and governments could be seen to be encouraging its use.

The PBO projects that sales tax revenue in 2018 could be as low as $356 million and as high as $959 million, with a likely take of about $618 million based on legalized retail cannabis selling for $9 per gram – in line with current street prices.

In addition, health care costs are expected to soar with the legalized use of recreational marijuana. As an example, a new study presented to the Pediatric Academic Societies in 2016, found that one in six toddlers admitted to a Colorado hospital with coughing, wheezing and other symptoms of bronchiolitis tested positive for marijuana exposure.

The Liberal government hopes to have this marijuana muddle all sorted out by July 1, 2018, disregarding the harm to society caused by this legislation. What seems to matter to this government, only, is that millennials vote for the party in the 2019 federal election – even if they are all spaced-out from the use of marijuana!

The Liberal government is reckless and utterly irresponsible in bringing this marijuana legislation forward.

Reality Volume XXXVI Issue No. 10 October 2017 Source: http://www.realwomenofcanada.ca/big-bad-liberal-marijuana-muddle/

NEW REPORT BY NATIONAL FAMILIES IN ACTION RIPS THE VEIL OFF THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA INDUSTRY

Research Traces the Money Trail and Reveals the Motivation Behind Marijuana as Medicine

  • Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters documents state-by-state financial data, exposing the groups and the amount of money used either to fund or oppose ballot initiatives legalizing medical or recreational marijuana in 16 U.S. states.
  •  NFIA report reveals three billionaires—George Soros, Peter Lewis and John Sperling—who contributed 80 percent of the money to medicalize marijuana through state ballot initiatives during a 13-year period, with the strategy to use medical marijuana as a runway to legalized recreational pot.
  •  Report shows how billionaires and marijuana legalizers manipulated the ballot initiative process, outspent the people who opposed marijuana and convinced voters that marijuana is medicine, even while most of the scientific and medical communities say marijuana is not medicine and should not be legal.
  •  Children in Colorado treated with unregulated cannabis oil have had severe dystonic reactions, other movement disorders, developmental regression, intractable vomiting and worsening seizures.
  •  A medical marijuana industry has emerged to join the billionaires in financing initiatives to legalize recreational pot.

Atlanta, Ga. (March 14, 2017)—A new report by National Families in Action (NFIA) uncovers and documents how three billionaires, who favour legal recreational marijuana, manipulated the ballot initiative process in 16 U.S. states for more than a decade, convincing voters to legalize medical marijuana. NFIA is an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization, founded in 1977, that has been helping parents prevent children from using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. NFIA researched and issued the paper to mark its 40th anniversary.

The NFIA study, Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters, exposes, for the first time, the money trail behind the marijuana legalization effort during a 13-year period. The report lays bare the strategy to use medical marijuana as a runway to legalized recreational pot, describing how financier George Soros, insurance magnate Peter Lewis, and for-profit education baron John Sperling (and groups they and their families fund) systematically chipped away at resistance to marijuana while denying that full legalization was their goal.

The report documents state-by-state financial data, identifying the groups and the amount of money used either to fund or oppose ballot initiatives legalizing medical or recreational marijuana in 16 states. The paper unearths how legalizers fleeced voters and outspent—sometimes by hundreds of times—the people who opposed marijuana.

Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters illustrates that legalizers lied about the health benefits of marijuana, preyed on the hopes of sick people, flouted scientific evidence and advice from the medical community and gutted consumer protections against unsafe, ineffective drugs. And, it proves that once the billionaires achieved their goal of legalizing recreational marijuana (in Colorado and Washington in 2012), they virtually stopped financing medical pot ballot initiatives and switched to financing recreational pot. In 2014 and 2016, they donated $44 million to legalize recreational pot in Alaska, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine. Only Arizona defeated the onslaught (for recreational marijuana).

Unravelling the Legalization Strategy: Behind the Curtain In 1992, financier George Soros contributed an estimated $15 million to several groups he advised to stop advocating for outright legalization and start working toward what he called more winnable issues such as medical marijuana.

At a press conference in 1993, Richard Cowen, then-director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said, “The key to it [full legalization] is medical access. Because, once you have hundreds of thousands of people using marijuana medically, under medical supervision, the whole scam is going to be blown. The consensus here is that medical marijuana is our strongest suit. It is our point of leverage which will move us toward the legalization of marijuana for personal use.”

Between 1996 and 2009, Soros, Lewis and Sperling contributed 80 percent of the money to medicalize marijuana through state ballot initiatives. Their financial contributions, exceeding $15.7 million (of the $19.5 million total funding), enabled their groups to lie to voters in advertising campaigns, cover up marijuana’s harmful effects, and portray pot as medicine—leading people to believe that the drug is safe and should be legal for any use.

Today, polls show how successful the billionaires and their money have been. In 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, voters and, later, legislators have shown they believe marijuana is medicine, even though most of the scientific and medical communities say marijuana is not medicine and should not be legal. While the most recent report, issued by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS), finds that marijuana may alleviate certain kinds of pain, it also finds there is no rigorous, medically acceptable documentation that marijuana is effective in treating any other illness. At the same time, science offers irrefutable evidence that marijuana is addictive, harmful and can hinder brain development in adolescents. At the distribution level, there are no controls on the people who sell to consumers. Budtenders (marijuana bartenders) have no medical or pharmaceutical training or qualifications.

One tactic used by legalizers was taking advantage of voter empathy for sick people, along with the confusion about science and how the FDA approves drugs. A positive finding in a test tube or petri dish is merely a first step in a long, rigorous process leading to scientific consensus about the efficacy of a drug. Scientific proof comes after randomized, controlled clinical trials, and many drugs with promising early stage results never make it through the complex sets of hurdles that prove efficacy and safety. But marijuana legalizers use early promise and thin science to persuade and manipulate empathetic legislators and voters into buying the spin that marijuana is a cure-all.

People who are sick already have access to two FDA-approved drugs, Dronabinol and Nabilone, that are not marijuana, but contain identical copies of some of the components of marijuana. These drugs, available as pills, effectively treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting. The NAS reviewed 10,700 abstracts of marijuana studies conducted since 1999, finding that these two oral drugs are effective in adults for the conditions described above. An extract containing two marijuana chemicals that is approved in other countries, reduces spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis. But there is no evidence that marijuana treats other diseases, including epilepsy and most of the other medical conditions the states have legalized marijuana to treat. These conditions range from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Crohn’s disease to Hepatitis-C, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even sickle cell disease.

Not So Fast – What about the Regulations?

Legalizers also have convinced Americans that unregulated cannabidiol, a marijuana component branded as cannabis oil, CBD, or Charlotte’s Web, cures intractable seizures in children with epilepsy, and polls show some 90 percent of Americans want medical marijuana legalized, particularly for these sick children. In Colorado, the American Epilepsy Society reports that children with epilepsy are receiving unregulated, highly variable artisanal preparations of cannabis oil recommended, in most cases, by doctors with no training in paediatrics, neurology or epilepsy. Young patients have had severe dystonic reactions and other movement disorders, developmental regression, intractable vomiting and worsening seizures that can be so severe that their physicians have to put the child into a coma to get the seizures to stop. Because of these dangerous side effects, not one paediatric neurologist in Colorado, where unregulated cannabidiol is legal, recommends it for these children.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta further clouded the issue when he produced Weed in 2013, a three-part documentary series for CNN on marijuana as medicine. In all three programs, Dr. Gupta promoted CBD oil, the kind the American Epilepsy Society calls artisanal. This is because not one CBD product sold in legal states has been purified to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, tested, or proven safe and effective. The U.S. Congress and the FDA developed rigid processes to review drugs and prevent medical tragedies such as birth defects caused by thalidomide. These processes have facilitated the greatest advances in medicine in history.

“By end-running the FDA, three billionaires have been willing to wreck the drug approval process that has protected Americans from unsafe, ineffective drugs for more than a century,” said Sue Rusche, president and CEO of National Families in Action and author of the report. “Unsubstantiated claims for the curative powers of marijuana abound.” No one can be sure of the purity, content, side effects or potential of medical marijuana to cause cancer or any other disease. When people get sick from medical marijuana, there are no uniform mechanisms to recall products causing the harm. Some pot medicines contain no active ingredients. Others contain contaminants. “Sick people, especially children, suffer while marijuana medicine men make money at their expense,” added Ms. Rusche.

Marijuana Industry – Taking a Page from the Tobacco Industry The paper draws a parallel between the marijuana and tobacco industries, both built with the knowledge that a certain percentage of users will become addicted and guaranteed lifetime customers. Like tobacco, legalized marijuana will produce an unprecedented array of new health, safety and financial consequences to Americans and their children.

“Americans learned the hard way about the tragic effects of tobacco and the deceptive practices of the tobacco industry. Making another addictive drug legal unleashes a commercial business that is unable to resist the opportunity to make billions of dollars on the back of human suffering, unattained life goals, disease, and death,” said Ms. Rusche. “If people genuinely understood that marijuana can cause cognitive, safety and mental health problems, is addictive, and that addiction rates may be three times higher than reported, neither voters nor legislators would legalize pot.” NDPA recommends readers to read the whole report Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters

Source: www.nationalfamilies.org. 2017

Draft rules are unlikely to contain an exemption to state law barring smoking in public places, so pot would have to be consumed through edibles or tincture.

Maine may be the first state in the country to license marijuana social clubs, but the pot could not be smoked in the clubs and would have to be consumed in another manner.

The legislation to regulate adult-use marijuana under consideration in Augusta now would push club licensing off until at least June 2019, about a year after Maine’s first retail stores are likely to open. Although not thrilled with the delay, most legalization advocates say they are just happy that club licensing was not stripped out of the bill, which is a legislative rewrite of last November’s successful citizen initiative.

The bill does not expressly prohibit smoking in the clubs, but it also doesn’t carve out an exemption to the state’s no-smoking law, which bans smoking of any kind, including vaping, in public places such as bars and restaurants. That means the clubs would be limited to the sale of pot edibles or tinctures that patrons would have to use on site, said state Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, co-chairman of the Legislature’s Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation.

“The committee was divided on this issue,” Katz said. “Some of us, including myself, did not want to be the first state to experiment with social clubs because of the public safety concerns. Others said it was going to happen anyway, better we recognize it and appropriately license and regulate them, which is what voters wanted. But we had consensus on keeping our smoking ban intact.”

NO POT SMOKING-LAW EXEMPTION

Maine law currently allows smoking in cigar bars, but Katz said a majority of committee members didn’t want to add a smoking law exemption for marijuana. The bill is still in draft form, however, so it could undergo many changes before it is sent to the full Legislature for a vote next month. A public hearing on the bill is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the State House in Augusta.

Advocates in Maine are pleased that the bill would allow club patrons to buy and use marijuana in the same location, but they argue that the 2019 licensing date is too late. They want cannabis social clubs to have the same rights as alcohol and tobacco clubs. A city like Portland should be able to license a marijuana club with a rooftop patio that would allow outdoor smoking, said advocate David Boyer.

“We have social clubs for alcohol, and they are called bars,” said Boyer, director of the Maine chapter of the Marijuana Policy Project, one of the groups that helped pass the Marijuana Legalization Act last fall. “Bars can have outside smoking patios. And cigar clubs, they certainly allow smoking. Marijuana is safer than either of those substances.”

Boyer’s organization is considering a petition drive in Portland to establish local licensing rules for social clubs that would be ready to implement in order to speed up the process once the clubs are approved. That might not be necessary, however, because city officials are thinking along the same lines and are already planning a fact-finding trip to Denver.

But legalization opponents say social clubs are just one of the reasons they lobbied against the ballot question last year. The leader of Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities, Scott Gagnon, has said social clubs would put more impaired drivers on

Maine roads. Since no state has yet licensed social clubs, there are no data available on whether they would lead to more traffic accidents or fatalities.

IMPACT ON ROAD SAFETY UNCLEAR

Data on the impact of legalization on traffic safety are mixed.

Like many other states, Maine has had its share of underground marijuana-friendly clubs, and certain parks and beaches are popular spots to use marijuana with different degrees of discretion. The adult-use law adopted last fall allows adults to grow six plants on their own property or someone else’s, with permission, and have up to 2½ ounces of marijuana in their possession for personal use.

Current law bans public cultivation or consumption, which doesn’t give the 36 million people who visit Maine each year a place to use any pot that they might buy when here, because most hotels ban smoking inside rooms. Club advocates have said pot lounges would give tourists a legal place to use the pot they buy here and keep them out of the parks and off the beaches.

But a review of other states’ marijuana laws and regulations reveals that marijuana clubs remain uncharted territory in the national landscape. Even in Colorado, which was the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana, government officials have been reluctant to license pot clubs, worried that it would invite federal authorities to crack down on a drug that is still illegal under federal law.

Oregon does not allow pot social clubs. Alaska and California are considering whether to license them. California, Nevada and Colorado laws do not prohibit clubs, so local governments could agree to grant licenses. So far, only Colorado City has any licensed social clubs, where consumers can use pot they bring with them – but even those are under order to shut down by 2023.

Denver adopted a pot social club pilot program and announced it was ready to begin accepting applications last month, but so far no one has applied. Would-be club operators say the rules are too restrictive, partly because they ban consumption at places that sell marijuana, essentially making clubs a bring-your-own venue, and require clubs to be twice as far away from schools or playgrounds as bars.

Massachusetts law allows social clubs in local municipalities, but the newly appointed Cannabis Control Commission will likely take up that issue while it writes state regulations. A Denver-based party bus service, Loopr, which bills itself as a mobile cannabis lounge, is targeting Boston for expansion into New England next year, as well as having franchises in California and Nevada.

ADVICE: DON’T BE THE GUINEA PIG

“I always advise clients you don’t want to be the first at something,” said Andrew Freedman, former director of marijuana coordination for Colorado who now works as a marijuana consultant. “It’s better to see what other states have done to see what works, and what doesn’t, with marijuana. There’s a lot of public health and safety on the line, and the federal authorities are always watching. Freedman’s firm is now taking on state clients to advise them on how to set up their adult-use markets, and would like to find work in Maine.

Source: http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/25/maines-marijuana-social-clubs-likely-to-be-no-smoking-venues/

Consumption of alcohol, tobacco and illegal psychoactive substances, mainly cannabis, have increased in the last five years in Portugal, according to a study by the Intervention Service for Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD).

“We have seen a rise in the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco consumption and of every illicit psychoactive substance (essentially affected by the weight of cannabis use in the population aged 15-74) between 2012 and 2016/17, according to the 4thNational Survey on the Use of Psychoactive Substances in the General Population, Portugal 2016/17.

The study focused on the use of legal psychoactive substance (alcohol, tobacco, sedatives, tranquilizers and/or hypnotics, and anabolic steroids), and illegal drugs (cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms and of new psychoactive substances), as well as gambling practices.

According to the study, alcohol consumption shows increases in lifetime prevalence, both among the total population (15-74 years) and among the young adult population (15-34 years), and among both men and women.

Tobacco consumption shows a slight rise in lifetime prevalence, which, according to the report, “is mainly due to increased consumption among women.”

The study also saw an increase from 8.3% in 2012, to 10.2% in 2016/17, in the prevalence of illegal psychoactive substance use. There were increases in both genders when considering the total population, a decrease among men and a rise among young adult women.

“These are the trends found for cannabis,” the most popular illegal substance, according to the provisional results of the study.

Compared to 2012, there is a later average onset age of consumption for alcohol, tobacco, drugs, amphetamines, heroin, LSD and hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Source: http://theportugalnews.com/news/alcohol-tobacco-and-drug-consumption-rise-over-last-five-years/43214 20th Sept.2017

[As illustrated in the Obituary of pioneering FDA scientist, Frances Oldham Kelsey in The Washington Post 8/8/15.]

THIS POST OBITUARY WAS A GODSEND, COMING JUST AS MANY POLITICAL LEADERS ARE BEGINNING A HEADLONG RUSH TO USURP FDA’S AUTHORITY TO APPROVE MARIJUANA-BASED MEDICINES IN FAVOR Of MONEY-CORRUPTED POLITICAL APPROVAL. THE ENDANGERED CITIZENRY, THEIR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS,POLITICAL LEADERS AND OBJECTIVE NEWS MEDIA JOURNALISTS , MUST STRONGLY RESIST THIS MISGUIDED ACTION BY POLTICIANS WHO ARE BLINDLY IGNORING THE HORRIFIC THALIDOMIDE PRECEDENT.

Edited excerpts with commentary follow: The full article is available at the following link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/frances-oldham-kelsey-heroine-of-thalidomide-tragedy-dies-at-101/2015/08/07/ae57335e-c5da-11df-94e1-c5afa35a9e59_story.html

Frances Oldham Kelsey, FDA scientist who kept thalidomide off U.S. market, dies at 101

In the annals of modern medicine, it was a horror story of international scope: thousands of babies dead in the womb and at least 10,000 others in 46 countries born with severe deformities… The cause, scientists discovered by late 1961, was thalidomide, a drug that, during four years of commercial sales… was marketed to pregnant women as a miracle cure for morning sickness and insomnia.

The tragedy was largely averted in the United States, with much credit due to Frances Oldham Kelsey, a medical officer at the Food and Drug Administration in Washington, who raised concerns about thalidomide before its effects were conclusively known. For a critical 19-month period, she fastidiously blocked its approval while drug company officials maligned her as a bureaucratic nitpicker…

The global thalidomide calamity precipitated legislation…in October 1962 that substantially strengthened the FDA’s authority over drug testing. The new regulations, still in force, required pharmaceutical companies to conduct phased clinical trials, obtain informed consent from participants in drug testing, and warn the FDA of adverse effects, and granted the FDA with important controls over prescription-drug advertising…

In Washington, (Kelsey) joined a corps of reform-minded scientists who, although not yet empowered by the 1962 law that required affirmative FDA approval of any new drug, demanded strong evidence of effectiveness before giving their imprimatur.

At the time, a drug could go on the market 60 days after the manufacturer filed an application with the FDA… Meanwhile, pharmaceutical drug companies commonly supplied doctors with new drugs and encouraged them to test the product on patients, an uncontrolled and dangerous practice that relied almost entirely on anecdotal evidence. NICAP note: Much like today’s treatment of “medical marijuana.”

Thalidomide, which was widely marketed as a sedative as well as a treatment for pregnancy-related nausea during the first trimester of pregnancy, had proven wildly popular in Europe and a boon for its German manufacturer. NICAP note: Much like pro-pot propaganda today has created “wildly popular” support among a fact-deprived public, and boom-times for the Big Marijuana industry.

By the fall of 1960, a Cincinnati-based drug company, William S. Merrell, had licensed the drug and began to distribute it under the trade name Kevadon to 1,200 U.S. doctors in advance of what executives anticipated would be its quick approval by the FDA. NICAP note: Today, illegal drug companies produce and market hundreds of uncontrolled marijuana products and distribute them to corrupt doctors willing to “recommend” such unapproved marijuana “medicines.”

The Merrell application landed on Dr. Kelsey’s desk within weeks of her arrival at the agency…Immediately the application alarmed her. Despite what she called the company’s “quite fulsome” claims, the absorption and toxicity studies were so incomplete as to be almost meaningless. NICAP note: Much like the “quite fulsome claims” for pot medicines are legion today, as is the dearth of valid

studies verifying those claims. For the true documented scientific case against smoking weed as “medicine” see “The DEA Position on Marijuana” at link:

www.justice.gov/dea/docs/marijuana_position_2011.pdf

Dr. Kelsey rejected the application numerous times and requested more data. Merrell representatives, who had large potential profits riding on the application, began to complain to her bosses and show up at her office, with respected clinical investigators in tow, to protest the hold-up. NICAP note: Much as the Pot Legalization Lobbyists and ACLU show up at any attempts to limit sales and use of marijuana—and for the same reason: “large potential profits.”

Another reason for her concern was that the company had apparently done no studies on pregnant animals. At the time, a prevailing view among doctors held that the placental barrier protected the fetus from (harms from) what Dr. Kelsey once called “the indiscretions of the mother,” such as abuse of alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs. Earlier in her career, however, she had investigated the ways in which drugs did in fact pass through the placenta from mother to baby… NICAP note: Today there are numerous valid studies showing that both mental and physical defects in children can be caused by a pregnant mother’s use of marijuana and other illegal drugs.

While Dr. Kelsey stood her ground on Kevadon, infant deaths and deformities were occurring at an alarming rate in places where thalidomide had been sold… NICAP note: Today, drug addiction, drug-related permanent disabilities and overdose deaths are “occurring at an alarming rate,” nearly all of which began with a shared joint of marijuana from a schoolmate or friend.

Dr. Kelsey might have remained an anonymous bureaucrat if not for a (previous) front-page story in The Post. The newspaper had received a tip about her from staffers working for Sen. Estes Kefauver, a Tennessee Democrat who had been stalled in his years-long battle with the pharmaceutical industry to bolster the country’s drug laws.

The coverage of Dr. Kelsey gave her — and Kefauver — a lift. As thousands of grateful letters flowed in to Dr. Kelsey from the public, the proposed legislation became hard to ignore or to water down. The new law was widely known as the Kefauver-Harris Amendments.

“She had a huge effect on the regulations adopted in the 1960s to help create the modern clinical trial system,” said Daniel Carpenter, a professor of government at Harvard University and the author of “Reputation and Power,” a definitive history of the FDA. “She may have had a bigger effect after thalidomide than before.”…

For decades, Dr. Kelsey played a critical role at the agency in enforcing federal regulations for drug development — protocols that were credited with forcing more rigorous standards around the world…

In Chicago, she helped Geiling investigate the 107 deaths that occurred nationwide in 1937 from the newly marketed liquid form of sulfanilamide, a synthetic antibacterial drug used to treat streptococcal infections. In tablet form, it had been heralded as a wonder-drug of the age, but it tasted unpleasant.

Because the drug was not soluble in water or alcohol, the chief chemist of its manufacturer, S.E. Massengill Co. of Bristol, Tenn., dissolved the sulfanilamide with an industrial substance that was a chemical relative of antifreeze. He then added cherry flavoring and pink coloring to remedy the taste and appearance.

Massengill rushed the new elixir to market without adequately testing its safety. Many who took the medicine — including a high number of children — suffered an agonizing death.

At the time, the FDA’s chief mandate, stemming from an obsolete 1906 law, was food safety. At the agency’s request, Geiling joined the Elixir Sulfanilamide investigation and put Dr. Kelsey to work on animal testing of the drug. She recalled observing rats as they “shriveled up and died.”

Amid national outrage over Elixir Sulfanilamide, Congress passed the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938, legislation that vastly expanded federal regulatory oversight over drugs and set a new benchmark for drug safety before marketing… NICAP note: Today, pro-pot politicians are rushing headlong into a massive campaign to block that objective FDA approval process for drugs and instead substitute a money-driven political process that will create a new “Thalidomide” out of marijuana and destroy many more American lives and futures.

Babies who suffered from the effects of thalidomide and survived grew up with a range of impairments. Some required lifelong home care… NICAP note: Is this to be the legacy of current politicians whose corrupt abandonment of the nation’s premier drug approval system will create generations of children “who suffered from the effects of POLITICAL APPROVED “medical” marijuana and survived with a range of impairments, some requiring lifelong home care?”

—————————————————————————————————————

Source: National Institute of Citizen Anti-drug Policy (NICAP)

NICAP COMMENTARY BY: DeForest Rathbone, Chairman.NICAP 8/9/15, Rev. 8/26/15

2015 will be remembered as the year legalization hit bumps most supporters never anticipated.

For pro-health advocates that oppose marijuana legalization, it was a year of fantastic victories! Here are the top 10:

10. Big Marijuana is Real — and People are Writing About It.

When we started talking about Big Marijuana in 2013, many people laughed. Could marijuana even be compared with Big Tobacco in any credible way? But now, that’s ancient history. Several articles – even in legalization-friendly blogs like this one – mention the term. And the term is not just rhetoric — the most senior federal legalization lobbyist in the country resigned in protest because, in his words, “industry was taking over the legalization movement.” Not only was that heroic of him, it was historic for us.

9. Continuing Positive Press Coverage of Groups Opposing Legalization. 

With the exception of some very pro-pot columnists, this year represented one in which our side was represented just a little bit better than in the past. A profile of SAM was featured in the International Business Times, and other articles continued to broadcast our message to new audiences.

With the hiring of a new Communications Director in 2016, you can bet we won’t let up on this next year.

8. Several States Resisted Full-Blown Legalization. 

We entered 2014 after setbacks in Alaska and Oregon; but we stuck to winning messages and formed coalitions in a bloc of New England states that were all under attack in the early part of 2015. From Maine to Massachusetts to New Hampshire to Rhode Island, our partners and affiliates fought back —- and not one state legalized via legislature as the legalizers had promised. We’ll be taking this momentum into 2016.

7. Lawyering Up.

 Many of our friends made strong statements in court — “Colorado and other states cannot legalize in the face of federal law,” they argue. Of course we know they are right, and we know that regardless of legal outcomes the statement they sent was loud and clear. (We’re also happy that the Justice Department, in its opposition to the suit, solely argued against it on procedural grounds — they did not substantively come out in favor of legalization to the Solicitor General). The plaintiff’s bar should take notice—just like Big Tobacco became a big target for lawsuits, Big Marijuana and those who sell the drug will, too.

6. Marijuana Stores Banned in California, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, and Elsewhere. 

Despite legalization in some states, we know that local ordinances are one of the key strategies to keeping marijuana out of communities. The majority of towns in most weed-friendly states have indeed banned stores altogether. Even in Detroit, up to half of Detroit’s roughly 150 medical marijuana dispensaries could close following a Detroit City Council vote to approve a restrictive zoning ordinance. We will keep pushing hard for more bans in 2016.

5. Legalizers Made No Gains in Congress This Year
.

 For the past decade, it seemed that every year we lost a little more in Congress. Not in 2015. Despite the most aggressive lobbying effort yet by pro-marijuana folks, they made no progress on key provisions:

· They wanted to give tax breaks to pot shops—just like Big Tobacco lobbies to lower taxes on cigarettes.

  • They wanted to allow pot businesses to leverage Wall Street money through the banking system.
  • They wanted to stop the Justice Department from enforcing the law in states with legalized recreational marijuana.
  • They wanted to give pot to our most vulnerable citizens to “treat” PTSD — even though science says marijuana makes PTSD, as well as other mental illness, worse.
  • They wanted Washington, DC, to become a mecca for Big Marijuana.

And we won – on every issue.

4. Continued Support from ONDCP, DEA, and NIDA.

2015 was a transitional year for key federal drug policy agencies. A new ONDCP Director was appointed — and even though we are still waiting for the Obama Administration to enforce federal law, it is clear where Director Botticelli’s heart is. Right after getting into office, the Director sat down with me for a one-to-one on-the-record interview where he blasted legal pot. And only a few weeks ago, he was featured on 60 Minutes talking about the harms of marijuana and the harms of the industry.

Additionally, we saw the appointment of a new DEA Administrator — this time from the FBI. Administrator Rosenberg has been an excellent leader by moving to support legitimate medical research over faux claims of “medical” marijuana.

And we continue to receive support from NIDA Director Nora Volkow, who headlined SAM’s summit last year, for her unwavering support of public health above profits. 

3. Real Progress on Researching the Medical Components of Marijuana.

 I’m proud that SAM took a bold stand this year to defend the legitimate research of medical components of marijuana. And our ground-breaking report paid off. The federal government has already adopted two of the report’s provisions — eliminating the Public Health Service review and getting rid of onerous CBD handling requirements. We will continue to fight for legitimate marijuana research, and to separate it from faux medicine-by-ballot-initiative. 

2. No States Legalized “Medical” Marijuana in 2015.

This is a big one, given where the country is on the “medical” marijuana issue. No state legalized the drug for medical purposes this year, despite several tries in key states. Even in Georgia, where legalizers have been emboldened by a few pot-friendly legislators, a government-convened panel voted to follow science and impose sensible restrictions on the drug. 

1. Ohio! 

Of course, the victory in Ohio tops the field. Despite being outspent 12-to-1, our affiliates and partners brought us a huge victory in November. We plan to build on this for 2016, but we need your help.

Despite the nonstop talking point of “inevitability,” we know that the 8% of Americans who use pot don’t speak for 92% of Americans that don’t want to see Big Tobacco 2.0, don’t want to worry about another drug impairing drivers on the road, and don’t want to think about keeping things like innocuous-looking “pot gummy bears” away from their kids. We know that the pot lobby will work hard for things like not only full-blown legalization in several more states next year, but also things like on-site pot smoking “bars” (they are really proposing these in Alaska and Colorado as we speak) and an expansion of pot edibles.

In 2016, let’s nip Big Marijuana in the bud.

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-a-sabet-phd/top-10-antimarijuana-lega_b_8879338.html

Priorities for Reform of UK Drug Policy : Policy-UK Forum

Dear Mr Marsh.

Thank you for the invitation. I shall not be attending.

You have included in the Speakers Niamh Eastwood & Mike Trace, both people who push drugs legalisation. I have debated publicly with both. Their positions are well known. I do not take either seriously as unbiased commentators on drugs policy. I doubt government does either. I regard both as paid apostles of a particular point of view. A point of view which is not shared by most MPs or members of the public.

In Mike’s case, he was, in his own word “disgraced”, when forced to resign from his then new job at the UN, when he was exposed as  being (again in his own words), “a fifth columnist”, for the George Soros financed, “Open Society”, worldwide, drug legalisation campaign, (of all possible drugs) . Release has been similarly supported by Soros and was named in Mr Trace’s covert plan on this subject, when it was exposed several years ago..

Given those two speakers, your conference seems to me, to be just another platform for the legalisation lobby, not a genuine, open and serious debate, which can improve policy making or add significant value.

That legalisation lobby has lost the debate in the U.K. The starting point was the exposing of Mike Trace. Further debate involving these two very discredited speakers (discredited by association), is in my view pointless. The drug legalisation debate in the U.K, is over. The Psychoactive Substances Bill, approaching 3rd reading, also overtakes some of your agenda.

Thank you for the invitation.

David Raynes

NDPA

Source: Response to invitation to

UK Drugs Policy – Criminal Justice, Public Health and the Psychoactive Substances Bill

Policy-UK Forum, letter from David Raynes, consultant and media spokesman for NDPA.

Sent January 2016.

 

 

Legalizing opioids may give Americans greater freedom over their decision-making, but at what cost? One painful aspect of the public debates over the opioid-addiction crisis is how much they mirror the arguments that arise from personal addiction crises.

If you’ve ever had a loved one struggle with drugs — in my case, my late brother, Josh — the national exercise in guilt-driven blame-shifting and finger-pointing, combined with flights of sanctimony and ideological righteousness, has a familiar echo. The difference between the public arguing and the personal agonizing is that, at the national level, we can afford our abstractions.

When you have skin in the game, none of the easy answers seem all that easy. For instance, “tough love” sounds great until you contemplate the possible real-world consequences. My father summarized the dilemma well. “Tough love” — i.e., cutting off all support for my brother so he could hit rock bottom and then start over — had the best chance of success. It also had the best chance for failure — i.e., death. There’s also a lot of truth to “just say no,” but once someone has already said “yes,” it’s tantamount to preaching “keep your horses in the barn” long after they’ve left.

But if there’s one seemingly simple answer that has been fully discredited by the opioid crisis, it’s that the solution lies in wholesale drug legalization. In Libertarianism: A Primer, David Boaz argues that “if drugs were produced by reputable firms, and sold in liquor stores, fewer people would die from overdoses and tainted drugs, and fewer people would be the victims of prohibition-related robberies, muggings and drive-by-shootings.”

Maybe. But you know what else would happen if we legalized heroin and opioids? More people would use heroin and opioids. And the more people who use such addictive drugs, the more addicts you get. Think of the opioid crisis as the fruit of partial legalization. In the 1990s, for good reasons and bad, the medical profession, policymakers, and the pharmaceutical industry made it much easier to obtain opioids in order to confront an alleged pain epidemic. Doctors prescribed more opioids, and government subsidies made them more affordable. Because they were prescribed by doctors and came in pill form, the stigma reserved for heroin didn’t exist. When you increase supply, lower costs, and reduce stigma, you increase use.

And guess what? Increased use equals more addicts. A survey by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that one-third of the people who were prescribed opioids for more than two months became addicted. A Centers for Disease Control study found that a very small number of people exposed to opioids are likely to become addicted after a single use. The overdose crisis is largely driven by the fact that once addicted to legal opioids, people seek out illegal ones — heroin, for example — to fend off the agony of withdrawal once they can’t get, or afford, any more pills. Last year, 64,000 Americans died from overdoses. Some 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War.

Experts rightly point out that a large share of opioid addiction stems not from prescribed use but from people selling the drugs secondhand on the black market, or from teenagers stealing them from their parents. That’s important, but it doesn’t help the argument for legalization. Because the point remains: When these drugs become more widely available, more people avail themselves of them. How would stacking heroin or OxyContin next to the Jim Beam lower the availability? Liquor companies advertise — a lot. Would we let, say, Pfizer run ads for their brand of heroin? At least it might cut down on the Viagra commercials. I think it’s probably true that legalization would reduce crime, insofar as some violent illegal drug dealers would be driven out of the business.

I’m less sure that legalization would curtail crimes committed by addicts in order to feed their habits. As a rule, addiction is not conducive to sustained gainful employment, and addicts are just as capable of stealing and prostitution to pay for legal drugs as illegal ones. The fundamental assumption behind legalization is that people are rational actors and can make their own decisions. As a general proposition, I believe that. But what people forget is that drug addiction makes people irrational. If you think more addicts are worth it in the name of freedom, fine. Just be prepared to accept that the costs of such freedom are felt very close to home.

Source: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/453304/opioid-crisis-legalization-not-solution

 

by  Elizabeth Stuyt, MD

For the past 27 years, working as an addiction psychiatrist, I have struggled with big industries that push their products more for their financial gain rather than the best interests of the clients they serve. The most disconcerting piece occurs when physicians or other treatment providers or governmental entities appear to be influenced by big industry, touting the party line and minimizing any downsides to the product. I have experienced this with the tobacco industry, the pharmaceutical industry and now with the marijuana industry.

It is clear to me that wherever it happens, the push to legalize medical marijuana is simply a back-door effort, by industry, to legalize retail marijuana. However, the lack of any regulations on the potency of THC in marijuana or marijuana products in Colorado has allowed the cannabis industry to increase the potency of THC to astronomical proportions, resulting in a burgeoning public health crisis.

The potency of THC in currently available marijuana has quadrupled since the mid-1990s. The marijuana of the 1980s had <2% THC, 4.5% in 1997, 8.5% in 2006 and by 2015 the average potency of THC in the flower was 17%, with concentrated products averaging 62% THC.

Sadly, the cannabidiol (CBD) concentrations in currently available marijuana have remained the same or decreased. CBD is the component of marijuana that appears to block or ameliorate the effects of THC. Plants that are bred to produce high concentrations of THC cannot simultaneously produce high CBD. Higher-potency THC has been achieved by genetically engineering plants to product more THC and then preventing pollination so that the plant puts more energy into producing cannabinoids rather than seeds. This type of cannabis is referred to as sinsemilla (Spanish for without seed). (It has also been referred to as “skunk” due to its strong smell.)

In my view, this is no different than when the tobacco industry increased the potency of nicotine by genetically engineering tobacco plants to produce more nicotine and then used additives like ammonia to increase the absorption of nicotine. Industry’s efforts to increase the potency of an addictive substance seem to be done purely with the idea of addicting as many people as possible to guarantee continued customers. This certainly worked for the tobacco industry. And we have increasing evidence that high potency THC cannabis use is associated with an increased severity of cannabis dependence, especially in young people.12

Although marijuana has been used for thousands of years for various medical conditions, we have no idea if the benefit comes from the THC or CBD or one of the other multiple cannabinoids present in marijuana, or a combination. And we have no idea how much is needed or how often. Most of the research indicates that it is likely the CBD that is more helpful but we obviously need research on this. There is no evidence that increasing the potency of THC has any medical benefits. In fact, a study on the benefits of smoked cannabis on pain actually demonstrated that too high a dose of THC can cause hyperalgesia – similar to what is seen with high dose opiates – meaning that the person becomes more sensitive to pain with continued use. They found that 2% THC had no effect on pain, 4% THC had some beneficial effects on chronic pain and 8% resulted in hyperalgesia.3

The discovery of the “active component” in marijuana that makes it so desirable is a fairly recent phenomenon. THC and CBD were first discovered in 1963 in Israel.4

Because cannabis was made a DEA schedule I drug in 1970, very little research has been done on cannabis in the United States and most of the indications for medical marijuana have very little good research backing up the use. The chemical that is made by the body and fits the receptor which accommodates THC was discovered in 1992.5

The researcher named the chemical anandamide which means “supreme joy” in Sanskrit.  However, it turns out that the endocannabinoid system plays a very significant role in brain development that occurs during childhood and adolescence. It controls glutamate and GABA homeostasis and plays a role in strengthening and pruning synaptic connections in the prefrontal motor cortex. The consequences of using the high potency THC products during this period, especially without the protective benefits of CBD, are multifaceted and include disturbance of the endocannabinoid system, which can result in impaired cognitive development, lower IQ and increased risk of psychosis.

There is also evidence that marijuana use contributes to anxiety and depression. A very large prospective study out of Australia tracked 1600 girls for 7 years and found that those who used marijuana every day were 5 times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than non-users.6

Teenage girls who used the drug a least once a week were twice as likely to develop depression as those who did not use. In this study, cannabis use prior to age 15 also increased the risk of developing schizophrenia symptoms.

While there definitely are people who can use marijuana responsibly without any untoward effects, similar to how some people can drink alcohol responsibly and not have any problems, there are people who are very sensitive to the effects of THC, and its use can precipitate psychosis. The higher the potency of THC the more likely this may happen and we have no idea how to predict who will be affected. In one of the first double blind randomized placebo controlled trials on smoked cannabis (maximum of 8% THC) for the treatment of pain, a cannabis naïve participant had a psychotic reaction to the marijuana in the study and this then required that all future study participants have some experience with smoking marijuana.7

This kind of makes it difficult to have “blind” unbiased participants.

A 2015 study out of London analyzed 780 people ages 18-65, 410 with first episode psychosis and 370 healthy controls, and found that users of high potency (“skunk-like”) cannabis (THC > 15%) are three times as likely to have a psychotic episode as people who never use cannabis, and the risk is fivefold in people who smoke this form of the drug every day.89 There was no association of psychosis with THC levels < 5%. Most of the marijuana in the U.S. is of the high-THC variety. Many retailers in Colorado sell strains of weed that contain 25 percent THC or more.

Sadly, Colorado has now joined several other states in approving PTSD as an indication for the use of medical marijuana. Marijuana does not “treat” PTSD any more than benzodiazepines or opiates “treat” PTSD. All these addictive drugs do is mask the symptoms, allowing the person to continue life unaffected by the memory of the trauma. However, the psychological trauma is never resolved and the individual has to continue to use the substance in order to cope. This sets the individual up for the development of addiction to the substance or the use of other addictive substances. There is absolutely no good research to support the use of marijuana for PTSD, and there is observational data that this would be a bad idea unless this use was supported by a lot more (and better-designed) longitudinal research.

In an excellent longitudinal, observational study from 1992 to 2011, 2,276 Veterans admitted to specialized VA treatment programs for PTSD had their symptoms evaluated at intake and four months after discharge.10

They found that those who never used marijuana or quit using while in treatment had the lowest levels of PTSD symptoms, while those who continued to use or started using marijuana after treatment had worse symptoms of PTSD. Those who started using the drug during treatment had higher levels of violent behavior too.

Those of us working in the trenches in Colorado are seeing the downsides of what our governor has called “one of the great social experiments of the 21st century.” Emergency room physicians are seeing a significant increase in people experiencing consequences from marijuana use since it was legalized. One such physician wrote a very poignant piece about his experience returning to his home town of Pueblo, Colorado where he is now practicing.11

His experiences are totally supported by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Report, volume 4 from September 2016 which documents significant increases in marijuana related emergency department visits (49%) and hospitalizations related to marijuana (32%) compared to rates prior to retail legalization. This report also documents significant increases in the use of marijuana by youth, with Colorado youth “past month marijuana use” for 2013/2014 being 74% higher than the national average, compared with 39% higher in 2011/2012.

 

In Pueblo, Colorado, where I practice, it has developed into a perfect storm. According to the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey in 2015, we have the highest incidence of youth marijuana use in the state, with 30.1% reporting using marijuana in the last 30 days. The legalization of retail marijuana seems to be reflected in the increased abuse of opiates and heroin too. In addition to the highest rates of marijuana use by youth, Pueblo has the highest rates of heroin-related deaths in the state.

 

This is a very disturbing correlation that needs attention. I have definitely seen in my practice that marijuana acts as a gateway drug to opiates, and to relapse to opiates after treatment if the person goes back to using marijuana. The Smart Approaches to Marijuana status report, which assesses state compliance with federal marijuana enforcement policy, following what is known as the Cole memo, documents that Colorado, four years after legalization, has failed to meet the specific DOJ requirements on controlling recreational marijuana production, distribution and use. This report documents a significant increase in drugged driving crashes, youth marijuana use, a thriving illegal black market and unabated sales of alcohol, which supports the idea that people are not using marijuana instead of alcohol but rather in addition to alcohol.

In spite of all this information, powerful people in the government of Colorado have publicly minimized the consequences. Larry Wolk, MD, the Chief Medical Officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, has reported that he has “not seen any significant problems” with the legalization of marijuana.

Governor Hickenlooper’s response to Attorney General Sessions recent questions about compliance with the Cole Memo minimized the adolescent use of marijuana by saying that youth marijuana use in Colorado has “remained stable since legalization.” This is not true for Pueblo, but in any event, any use of marijuana by youth in Colorado should not be minimized and should be a major concern for future generations.

While there are people who believe we need to enforce federal law and go back to making marijuana illegal, I am afraid the horse is already out of the barn and cannot be put back in as we already have several states with “legal” retail marijuana and multiple more with “medical marijuana.” I cannot conceive of any way this could be reversed at this point, when the majority of society supports the legalization of marijuana.

Solutions to our marijuana problems have to be realistic to our current situation/environment. The number one solution is more education. Many people seem to lack a true understanding of the drug and all the potential negative consequences of the higher-potency THC. This is why education is so important. Adults should have the right to make their own decisions but they need informed consent, just like with any drug.

The biggest concern is with adolescent use and the developing brain. This requires a lot more education and increased efforts at prevention, early intervention and treatment. I believe society would be truly served by a federal ban on all advertising of addicting drugs including alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, as well as all pharmaceutical drugs. The decision to use a pharmaceutical medication should be between the patient and the medical professional, not influenced by big industry. We clearly have the big industries— alcohol, tobacco and marijuana—doing everything they can to influence the public and convince them to use their product.

Since we only have anecdotal evidence at this point that marijuana can aid any medical condition, I recommend eliminating “medical marijuana” and just have retail marijuana with limits on THC and regulations similar to alcohol and tobacco. This could help take away the perception, which adolescents and others have, that because is it “medical” it must be “safe.” In order to be able to say it is medical, it should go through the same standards for testing the safety and efficacy of any prescription drug.

In this vein, I believe we do need more research and that marijuana should be reclassified as a schedule II drug so this can occur. Since marijuana has been used medicinally for thousands of years, I believe that the plant deserves some true research to determine if and what parts of the plant are helpful medicinally. The reports that marijuana use resulted in less than 10% becoming addicted to it were done back in the 1990s when THC levels were <5%. Since we are seeing significant increases in people developing marijuana use disorder with the higher doses of THC, perhaps the limits on THC should be <5%. Editor’s note: for more information, see the pdf of the author’s talk on this topic.     Show 11 footnotes

Source:  https://www.madinamerica.com/2017/09/unintended-consequences-colorado-social-experiment/  11th September 2017

The BBC Today programme has long been a shill for liberalising the drug laws. This morning’s edition, however, ran an item at 0810 which almost caused me to fall off my chair.

The item was pegged to the collapse of the prosecution case against people accused of supplying nitrous oxide (the “laughing gas” used by dentists). This has called into question a law passed last year banning such so-called “legal highs” which are considered a loophole in the drug laws. All too predictably, the discussion was soon steered from this specific issue into “bringing fresh thinking to bear on the whole problem” (code for drug liberalisation).

What was startling was the choice of interviewees and the way in which they were introduced by the Today anchor, John Humphreys.

The first, Kirstie Douse, was described as “head of legal services for Release, that’s an organisation that campaigns on drugs and drugs law”.

Humphrys didn’t say whether Release campaigned for drug liberalisation or further restriction. But Release is Britain’s veteran drug liberalisation campaign group which for decades has been at the centre of attempts to liberalise the drug laws. So why so coy?

The second interviewee in such a discussion would normally be expected to provide balance through an alternative view. The person chosen for this role turned out to be Mike Trace. Humphrys introduced him with these words: “Mike Trace, the former deputy drugs czar”. That was it.

What was not revealed was that, in 2003, Trace was outed in a newspaper article as a pro-drug legalisation mole who had just been appointed to a key position in global anti-drug strategies which he was helping to undermine.

I know this because I was the journalist who outed him.

Trace was appointed deputy drug czar in Tony Blair’s government. For a time, he occupied a position of great influence in the drugs world. He was Director of Performance at the Government’s National Treatment Agency. He was chairman of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, (ENCDDA) the body which effectively draws up EU drug policy. And he was appointed Head of Demand Reduction at the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime. In all these posts, he was supposed to be upholding laws to reduce drug use.

In 2003, however, he was forced to resign from his new role as the UN’s Head of Demand Reduction after I exposed him helping assemble a secret network of lobbyists working to subvert the UN drug control laws — which underpin the use of criminal penalties for the drug trade — and pressurise governments into legalising drugs.

Trace was — in his own words — a “fifth columnist”: an underground agitator who was supposed to be upholding the laws to reduce drug use but who was a key player in a co-ordinated international effort to disband the world’s anti-drug laws by stealth – and who was being secretly paid to do so by notorious international legalisers.

The legalisers’ main obstacle was the UN conventions on drugs which require countries to prevent the possession, use, production and distribution of illegal narcotics. I discovered that Trace was at the heart of a network operating covertly to undermine those conventions.

The British headquarters of his operation was to be financed in part by the Open Society Institute, funded by the billionaire financier George Soros, which openly campaigns for “harm reduction” and legalisation on the grounds that the war on drugs causes more harm than drugs themselves. I wrote:

“But that’s not all. For Mr Trace’s attempts to obtain additional funds from European sources disclose a vast and intricate web of non-governmental organisations, all beavering away at drug legalisation.

“In particular, Mr Trace sought funding from the Brussels-based Network of European Foundations for Innovative Cooperation (NEF). This innocuous-sounding grant-giving body has actually spawned a proliferation of drug legalisation efforts through its offshoot ENCOD, the European NGO Council on Drugs and Development.

“ENCOD says that ‘drug use as such does not represent the huge threat for society as it is supposed to do’. The real threat, it says, is posed by the war on drugs to the ‘millions of peasants in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia’ — the people cultivating the drug crops! So it wants a legal framework to bring about the industrialisation of drug production, no less. And to achieve this, it proposes that public opinion should be softened up by ‘harm reduction’ policies which will pave the way to eventual legalisation.”

Subsequently, Trace claimed he had been selectively quoted, that he had used the term “fifth columnist” as a joke and that the idea of some organised conspiracy was “completely insane.”

But I had drawn my revelations from a cache of Trace’s email correspondence detailing this huge covert attempt to subvert the UN drug laws. Here are some extracts from that correspondence.

“In terms of my own involvement”, Trace wrote, “I think that it would be of most use providing advice and consultancy from behind the scenes, in the light of my continuing role as chair of the EMCDDA, my association with the UK government and some work I am being asked to put together by the UNDCPD in Vienna. This ‘fifth column’ role would allow me to oversee the setting up of the agency – while promoting its aims subtly in the formal governmental settings.’

In another message, he wrote: “The host organisation in London [to challenge the UN drugs conventions] will be Release, a long established drugs and civil liberties NGO.”

He wrote to Aryeh Neier, president of Open Society Institute New York: “The basic objectives remain the same – to assemble a combination of research, policy analysis, lobbying and media management that is sufficiently sophisticated to influence governments and international agencies as they review global drug policies in the coming years. The key decision points remain the reviews of the European Union Drug Strategy in 2003 (and again in 2004), and the political summit of the UN Drug Programme in Vienna in April 2003.”

His involvement was kept secret and advice was given about the line to take to conceal it. One meeting minuted thus: 

“Mike to remain on the group, and contribute to the initiative, but members need to ensure that, externally, the line is that he gave advice on policy and lobbying in the summer but is no longer involved.”

Trace himself wrote: “Now I have taken up my post at the UN, I absolutely cannot be associated with a lobbying initiative – the line I am using is that, through the summer, I gave advice to several groups on how the EU and UN policy structures worked, but am now no longer in contact.” He also warned a colleague: “A small but crucial point – can I from now on not be referred to by name in any written material.”

He also wrote: “Finally, I have been offered the post of Head of Demand Reduction at the UN, and intend to accept it. The Executive Director, Antonio Costa, is, at least for the moment, asking me for guidance on how to handle the April meeting, so I have the opportunity to influence events from the inside, while continuing to work on this initiative.”

I put a stop to that. Now the BBC is adding its own underhand efforts to this sinister, and sinisterly sanitised, cause.

Source:  http://www.melaniephillips.com/no-trace-objectivity/31st August 2017

Background

On August 29, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued guidelines to Federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials regarding where to focus their drug enforcement efforts in states that have passed laws legalizing the retail sales of marijuana. The so-called “Cole Memo” directs enforcement officials to focus resources, including prosecutions, “on persons and organizations whose conduct interferes with any one or more of [eight] priorities, regardless of state law.”

Per the memorandum, the eight DOJ priorities are:

● Preventing distribution of marijuana to minors

● Preventing marijuana revenue from funding criminal enterprises, gangs or cartels

● Preventing marijuana from moving out of states where it is legal

● Preventing use of state-legal marijuana sales as a cover for illegal activity

● Preventing violence and use of firearms in growing or distributing marijuana

● Preventing drugged driving or exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use

● Preventing growing marijuana on public lands

● Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property

According to the Department of Justice, the Federal “hands-off” approach to marijuana enforcement enumerated in the Cole Memo is contingent on its expectation that “states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health, and other law enforcement interests.

A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper, it must also be effective in practice.”

Unfortunately, since Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational sale of marijuana in 2012, evidence has emerged that regulations intended to control the sale and use of marijuana have failed to meet the promises made by advocates for legalization.

For example, states with legal marijuana are seeing an increase in drugged driving crashes and youth marijuana use. States that have legalized marijuana are also failing to shore up state budget shortfalls with marijuana taxes, continuing to see a thriving illegal black market, and are experiencing an unabated sales of alcohol, despite campaign promises from advocates promising that marijuana would be used as a “safer” alternative instead.

Moreover, state regulatory frameworks established post-legalization have failed to meet each of the specific DOJ requirements on controlling recreational marijuana production, distribution, and use.

While long-term studies and research on the public health and safety impacts of marijuana legalization are ongoing, this report provides a partial census of readily available information that demonstrates how Colorado, Oregon, and Washington State –

the jurisdictions with the most mature regulatory markets and schemes – have not fulfilled the requirements of the Cole Memo.

DOJ Guideline 1: “Preventing distribution of marijuana to minors”

● According to the nation’s largest and most comprehensive survey of drug use trends in the nation, past-month use of marijuana among 12 to 17-year-olds in Colorado increased significantly – from 9.82% to 12.56% after marijuana retail sales began (Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012 and implemented legal marijuana stores in 2014).

The same study notes that teens and adults in Colorado now use marijuana at a higher rate than the rest of the country. No other representative sample of drug users in Colorado has contradicted this sample.

● A 2017 study from the University of Colorado found that marijuana-related emergency room visits and visits to its satellite urgent care centers by teens in Colorado more than quadrupled after the state legalized marijuana.

● In Colorado, a new report from the state’s public safety agency reveals that after the state legalized the drug, marijuana-related arrests for black and Hispanic youth rose by 58% and 29% respectively, while arrest rates for white kids dropped by eight percent. School Resource Officers in Colorado have reported a substantial increase in marijuana-related offenses in Colorado schools after the state commercialized the drug.

● According to data from the State of Washington, there have been over 240 violations of legal marijuana sales to minors and of minors frequenting restricted marijuana sales areas as of July 2017. ● Youth use – among 8th and 10th graders at least – is increasing in Washington State. According to a special analysis of teenage drug use published in the peer-reviewed, highly regarded Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics, the perceived  harmfulness of marijuana in Washington declined 14.2% and 16.1% among eighth and 10th graders, respectively, while marijuana use increased 2.0% and 4.1% from 2010-2012 to 2013-2015.

● According to the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction during 2013-2014, 48 percent of statewide student expulsions were for marijuana in comparison to alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs. During the 2014-2015 school year, statewide student expulsions for marijuana increased to 60 percent. Marijuana related suspensions for the 2013-2014 school year reported 42 percent and for the 2014-2015 school year, suspensions increased to 49 percent.

● In Washington State, youth (12-17) accounted for 64.9% of all state marijuana seizures in 2015 as compared to 29.9% in 2010, according to data from the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS).

● From 2012 to 2016, reported exposure calls for marijuana increased 105 percent in Washington. According to the 2016 Annual Cannabis Toxic Trends Report, of exposures related to children under the age of five, 73 percent occurred in those one to three years of age. The counties with the highest reported exposures for both 2015 and 2016 were: King, Spokane, Snohomish, and Pierce.

DOJ Guideline 2: “Preventing revenue of the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels”

● In June 2017, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman announced a takedown of a massive illegal marijuana trafficking ring in Colorado. The bust is the largest since legalization and indicted 62 individuals and 12 businesses in Colorado. The operation stretched into other states including Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, Ohio and Oklahoma.

● In March 2017, a leaked report from the Oregon State Police uncovered evidence from state officials that the black market for marijuana continues to thrive in the state. The 39-page report noted that, “The illicit exportation of cannabis must be stemmed as it undermines the spirit of the law and the integrity of the legal market…it steals economic power from the market, the government, and the citizens of Oregon, and furnishes it to criminals, thereby tarnishing state compliance efforts.”

Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Instruction. (2016, Jan. 26). Behavior Report. http://www.k12.wa.us/SafetyCenter/Behavior/default.aspx

Washington State Poison Center – Toxic Trends Report: 2016 Annual Cannabis Report

● In 2016, Seattle Police spokesman Sean Whitcomb noted that “large-scale illegal grow operations… are still prevalent in Seattle, and we do come across those with a degree of frequency.” DOJ Guideline 3: “Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states”

● In 2014, two states – Nebraska and Oklahoma – sued their neighbor state of Colorado by citing evidence of increased marijuana flowing into those states. Law enforcement officials have reported a substantial increase in marijuana flow across state borders into neighboring states.

● In 2016, there were multiple raids conducted by state law enforcement in Colorado, leading authorities to seize more than 22,0000 pounds of marijuana intended for sales outside of Colorado.

● According to the Oregon State Police, the state has an “expansive geographic footprint” on marijuana exports across the U.S. Several counties in Oregon including Jackson, Multnomah, Josephine, Lane, Deschutes and Washington “lead the way” in supplying marijuana to states where it is not legal.

● According to the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force, “there were 360 seizures of marijuana in Colorado destined for other states. This is nearly a 600% increase in the number of individual stops in a decade, seizing about 3,671 pounds in 2014. Of the 360 seizures reported in 2014, 36 different states were identified as destinations, the most common being Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma and Florida.”

● Law enforcement officials report that since legalization in 2012, Washington State marijuana has been found to be destined for 38 different states throughout the United States. Between 2012 and 2017, 8,242.39 kilograms (18,171.35 pounds) have been seized in 733 individual seizure events across 38 states. From 2012 to 2016, 470 pounds of marijuana have been seized on Washington State highways and interstates. Since 2012, 320 pounds of Washington State-origin marijuana have been seized during attempted parcel diversions. DOJ Guideline 4: “Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity”

● According to Jorge Duque from the Colorado Department of Law, cartels operating in Colorado are now “trading drugs like heroin for marijuana,” and the trade has since opened the door to drug and human trafficking. Duque also explains that money 5 laundering is a growing problem as “cartels are often disguising their money through legally purchasing marijuana or buying houses and growing marijuana in it.”

● In June 2017, a former Colorado marijuana enforcement officer and a Denver-based marijuana entrepreneur were indicted for running a statewide marijuana trafficking ring that illegally produced and sold “millions of dollars worth of marijuana across state lines.” This trafficking organization obtained 14 marijuana licenses in order to present their activities as protected business endeavors, despite “never ma[king] a single legal sale of cannabis in their two years of operation.”

● In Oregon, State Police officials report that criminals are exploiting Oregon’s legal marijuana industry for financial crimes and fraud. In one example, according to the Oregon State Police report, “Tisha Silver of Cannacea Medical Marijuana Dispensary falsified licensing to solicit investors and worked with Green Rush Consulting to locate unwitting investors. Silver exploited the burgeoning cannabis industry in the state to entice investors to back an illegitimate company, securing a quarter of a million dollars in fraudulent gains. According to some analysts, cannabis investors fell prey to ‘pump and dump’ schemes and lost up to $23.3 billion in 2014 alone.”

● Officials in Oregon note that the U.S. Postal Service is being exploited to ship marijuana products and revenue. According to former Attorney General Eric Holder, “The Postal Service is being used to facilitate drug dealing,” a clear violation of federal law and a violation of the sanctity of the U.S. mailing system.

DOJ Guideline 5: “Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana”

● While crime rates dropped or remained stable in many of the nation’s largest cities, Colorado’s crime rate increased. There has been an increase in rape, murder, robbery and auto thefts. While it is not possible to link legalization to a direct change in crime rates, officials in Colorado cited marijuana legalization as one of the reasons behind the rise.

● In Colorado, prosecutors are reporting an increase in marijuana-related homicides since the state legalized the drug.  This situation is detailed here: http://www.oregonlive.com/marijuana/index.ssf/2016/07/state_slaps_portland_dispensar.h tml.

Other instances of fraud have been discussed here: Sapient Investigations Newsletters (2015, Feb. 10) “High Times for Fraud,” available online at https://sapientinvestigations.com/spi-news/high-times-for-fraud/

● In Oregon, state police report that, “Cannabis is a lucrative target for robbery. As recently as December 2016, a state-licensed cannabis producer was targeted for a violent armed robbery. In the aforementioned case, a well-known cannabis grower in Jackson County was assaulted, bound, and his harvest was taken by armed assailants.”

● In Prince George’s County Maryland, Police Chief Henry Stawinski noted a significant rise in marijuana-related homicides since neighboring D.C. legalized the drug. Stawinski said 19 homicides in 2016 were related to marijuana.

DOJ Guideline 6:  “Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other public health consequences associated with marijuana use”

● Drugged driving has increased in states with legal marijuana sales. According to a study published by the American Automobile Association, fatal drugged driving crashes doubled in Washington State after the state legalized marijuana. The Governors Highway Safety Association also notes a disturbing rise in drugged driving crashes even as alcohol-related crashes are declining.

● A Denver Post analysis found the number of marijuana-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado more than doubled since 2013, the year after the state voted to legalize recreational marijuana use. Colorado saw a 145 percent increase in the number of marijuana-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes between 2013 and 2016. Marijuana is also figuring into more of Colorado’s fatal crashes overall: in 2013, marijuana-impaired drivers accounted for 10 percent of all fatal crashes, but by 2016 it reached 20 percent.

● According to a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, poison control calls for children more than tripled after marijuana legalization. Much of this is linked to a boom in the sale of marijuana “edibles.” THC concentrate is mixed into almost any type of food or drink, including gummy candy, soda, and lollipops. Today, these edibles comprise at least half of Colorado’s marijuana market.

● In Washington State, the number of marijuana-involved DUIs are increasing with 38 percent of total cases submitted in 2016 testing above the five nanogram per milliliter of blood legal limit for those over the age of twenty-one. In addition, 10 percent of drivers involved in a fatal accident from 2010 to 2014 were THC-positive.

● A study by the Highway Loss Data Institute reveals that Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have experienced three percent more collision claims overall than would ( NWHIDTA Drug Threat Assessment For Program Year 2018)  have been expected without legalization.

Colorado witnessed the largest jump in claims. The state experienced a rate 14 percent higher than neighboring states.

● In Washington State, from 2012 to 2016, calls to poison control centers increased by 79.48%. Exposures increased 19.65% from the time of marijuana commercialization in 2014 to 2016. Of the marijuana calls answered by the Poison Center in 2016, youth under the age of 20 accounted for almost 40% of all calls.

According to the 2016 Annual Cannabis Toxic Trends Report, 42% of the calls reported were for persons aged 13 to 29. Additionally, among exposures related to children under the age of five, 73% involved children one to three years of age. The counties with the highest reported number of exposures for 2015 remained in the top four for 2016: King, Spokane, Snohomish, and Pierce.

DOJ Guideline 7: “Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana on public lands”

● In Washington State, 373,778 marijuana plants were found growing illegally on public and private lands between 2012 and 2016. Of the illegal marijuana plants eradicated in 2016, 60% were being cultivated on state land, and the 58,604 illegal marijuana plants eradicated in 2016 consumed an estimated 43.2 million gallons of water over a full growing season (120-day cycle).

More than 400 pounds of fertilizers, chemicals, and pesticides were removed from illegal marijuana growing operations in 2016, and Furadan, a neurotoxin that is extremely dangerous to humans, was found in an illegal marijuana growing operation the same year.

● In June 2017, Colorado officials found more than 7,000 illegal plants on federal land in the state’s San Isabel National Forest. This was the fifth illegal grow found in that area alone since the year marijuana legalization passed, demonstrating legalization has not curbed the problem of grows exploiting public lands.

● In Oregon, the legalization of marijuana in the state has failed to eliminate illegal growing operations and public lands continue to be exploited despite a legal market. According to a report from state officials, “To date in Oregon, cannabis legalization has not had a noticeable influence on Mexican National [Drug Trafficking Organizations] illicit cannabis cultivation operations on public lands… leaving a lasting scar on Oregon’s unique ecosystems.

Illicit cannabis grows employ excessive amounts of pesticides, rodenticides, and herbicides, thereby threatening local wildlife habitats. Additionally, many illicit grow sites clear-cut timber, furthering soil erosion and water contamination. Research on the environmental impact of illicit cannabis grows indicates that grows tend to be bunched near water sources, resulting in disproportionate impacts on ecologically important areas…

Oregon is robbed of roughly 122 Olympic swimming pools 8 worth of water annually, or roughly 442,200 gallons of water daily during the growth season.”

DOJ Guideline 8: “Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property”

● Advocates for legal marijuana frequently flout federal laws by possessing and using marijuana on federal properties purportedly in acts of civil disobedience. In January 2017, one group gave away free marijuana in Washington, D.C. to smoke on the National Mall during the inauguration of President Trump. On April 24, 2017, four activists were arrested after purposely flouting federal law and publicly using marijuana on U.S. Capitol grounds.

Conclusion and Key Recommendations

Federal resources should target the big players in the marijuana industry. Individual marijuana users should not be targeted or arrested, but large-scale marijuana businesses, several of which now boast of having raised over $100 million in capital, and their financial backers, should be a priority. These large businesses are pocketing millions by flouting federal law, deceiving Americans about the risks of their products, and targeting the most vulnerable.

They should not have access to banks, where their financial prowess would be expanded significantly, nor should they be able to advertise or commercialize marijuana.

These businesses target many of the marijuana products they sell toward kids, such as pot candies, cookies, and ice cream. And despite state regulations, these products continue to have problems with contamination. Recently, one of the largest, most sophisticated manufacturers of these pot “edibles” was forced to recall a number of products because they contained non-food-grade ingredients.

Additionally, the black market continues unabated in legalized states. A leaked report from Oregon police showed that at least 70 percent of that state’s marijuana market is illegal, despite legalization. In June 2017, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said, “The black market for marijuana has not gone away since recreational marijuana was legalized in our state, and in fact continues to flourish.”

Further, state-legal businesses have acted as top cover for these illegal operations, as recent large-scale arrests in Colorado have shown. These large marijuana operations, which combine the tactics of Big Tobacco with black marketeering, should form the focus of federal law enforcement, not individual users.  Recalls are becoming more commonplace because of pesticides, moulds, and other issues.

See The Denver Post for news stories related to these recalls in legalized states: http://www.thecannabist.co/tag/marijuana-recall/

At the same time, the federal government along with non-government partners should implement a strong, evidence-based marijuana information campaign, similar to the truth ® campaign for tobacco, which alerts all Americans about the harms of marijuana and the deceitful practices of the marijuana industry.

Arrests are up. We still have a black market. And people are in danger.

Last week, Senator Cory Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act in an effort to legalize marijuana across the nation and penalize local communities that want nothing to do with this dangerous drug. This is the furthest reaching marijuana legalization effort to date and marks another sad moment in our nation’s embrace of a drug that will have generational consequences.

Our country is facing a drug epidemic. Legalizing recreational marijuana will do nothing that Senator Booker expects. We heard many of these same promises in 2012 when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana.

In the years since, Colorado has seen an increase in marijuana related traffic deaths, poison control calls, and emergency room visits. The marijuana black market has increased in Colorado, not decreased. And, numerous Colorado marijuana regulators have been indicted for corruption.

In 2012, we were promised funds from marijuana taxes would benefit our communities, particularly schools. Dr. Harry Bull, the Superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools, one of the largest school districts in the state, said, “So far, the only thing that the legalization of marijuana has brought to our schools has been marijuana.”

In fiscal year 2016, marijuana tax revenue resulted in $156,701,018. The total tax revenue for Colorado was $13,327,123,798, making marijuana only 1.18% of the state’s total tax revenue. The cost of marijuana legalization in public awareness campaigns, law enforcement, healthcare treatment, addiction recovery, and preventative work is an unknown cost to date.

Senator Booker stated his reasons for legalizing marijuana is to reduce “marijuana arrests happening so much in our country, targeting certain communities – poor communities, minority communities.” It’s a noble cause to seek to reduce incarceration rates among these communities but legalizing marijuana has had the opposite effect.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Safety, arrests in Colorado of black and Latino youth for marijuana possession have increased 58% and 29% respectively after legalization. This means that Black and Latino youth are being arrested more for marijuana possession after it became legal.

Furthermore, a vast majority of Colorado’s marijuana businesses are concentrated in neighborhoods of color. Leaders from these communities, many of whom initially voted to legalize recreational marijuana, often speak out about the negative impacts of these businesses.

Senator Booker released his bill just a few days after the Washington Post reported on a study by the Review of Economic Studies that found “college students with access to recreational cannabis on average earn worse grades and fail classes at a higher rate.” Getting off marijuana especially helped lower performing students who were at risk of dropping out.

Since legalizing marijuana, Colorado’s youth marijuana use rate is the highest in the nation, 74% higher than the national average, according to the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Report. This is having terribly negative effects on the education of our youth.

If Senator Booker is interested in serving poor and minority communities, legalizing marijuana is one of the worst decisions. There is much work to be done to reduce incarceration and recidivism, but flooding communities with drugs will do nothing but exacerbate the problems.

The true impact of marijuana on our communities is just starting to be learned. The negative consequences of legalizing recreational marijuana will be felt for generations. I encourage Senator Booker to spend time with parents, educators, law enforcement, counsellors, community leaders, pastors, and legislators before rushing to legalize marijuana nationally. We’ve seen the effects in our neighborhoods in Colorado, and this is nothing we wish upon the nation.

Jeff Hunt is the Vice President of Public Policy at Colorado Christian University. Follow him on Twitter: @jeffhunt.

Source:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/08/07/marijuana 

Kevin Sabet, the president and CEO of Virginia-based Smart Approaches to Marijuana, has become arguably the most influential critic of marijuana legalization in the United States. But in an extended interview on view below, he fights against the perception that he’s a one-dimensional prohibitionist along the lines of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sabet stresses that he and his organization, shorthanded as SAM, take what he sees as a sensible approach to cannabis by arguing in favor of treatment rather than jail time for users in trouble and advocating for greater study of the substance to determine the best ways to utilize it medically.

We first spoke to Sabet in January 2013, just prior to SAM’s launch in Denver, when he appeared alongside co-founder Patrick Kennedy, a former congressman from Rhode Island and a member of the Kennedy political dynasty. Sabet’s background is similarly stocked with connections to heavyweights. The author of Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana, he served stints in the Clinton and Bush administrations and spent two years as senior adviser to President Barack Obama’s drug-control director before taking on the SAM cause.

In the more than four years since then, he’s made countless media appearances while lobbying behind the scenes to try and stop the momentum generated by the pot legalization bandwagon.

Sabet, who says SAM’s funding mainly comes from small donors and grants as opposed to hard-core drug-war groups or Big Pharma, doesn’t think it’s too late to accomplish this goal, in part because only a relatively small percentage of the populace actually uses marijuana. Moreover, he feels that plenty of those who abstain will more actively fight against pot’s normalization if public use (and its attendant smoke and scent) becomes more prevalent in cities such as Denver, which he sees as having been demonstrably harmed by legalization. He blames cannabis for turning the 16th Street Mall into a homeless haven that visitors actively avoid and suspects that in his heart of hearts, Governor John Hicklenlooper knows legalization was a terrible mistake but can’t admit it publicly because the right to toke is enshrined in the state constitution.

Likewise, Sabet considers it inarguable that the marijuana industry is targeting young people with colorfully packaged pot edibles and argues that simply keeping cannabis away from kids isn’t enough. He cites studies showing that the brains of 25-30 year olds are still developing — and can still be harmed by weed.

Continue to learn more about Sabet’s cause and the arguments he makes to support it.

Westword: SAM recently put out a release about the amount of tax revenue Colorado has collected as a result of the marijuana industry [in reference to a VS Strategies report estimating that the state has generated more than $500 million in cannabis revenue since legalization]. In it, you talk about how drug use and its consequences cost taxpayers $193 billion per year, with Colorado’s annual share being approximately $3.3 billion. But that’s for all drugs, correct?

Kevin Sabet: Oh, yeah, absolutely. But you need to look at the fact that marijuana is used far more than any of the other drugs, and look at the costs associated with driving, crashing, mental illness — and long-term costs we’re not able to account for. Marijuana isn’t correlated with mental illness overnight. If often takes time. And so the cost of that can’t be calculated in any way. There was a study done a few weeks ago by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction finding that just in

Canada alone, a much smaller country than the U.S. in population, marijuana-related car crashes cost a billion dollars. That’s just the car crashes, and those were directly related to marijuana. And the report came from a government think tank, not any kind of anti-drug group.

I honestly think it isn’t surprising coming from this group [VS Strategies]. It’s an industry group that wants to basically make money from marijuana — much more money than the State of Colorado will make after you account for costs. When you look at the actual number and context of just education alone, the marijuana revenue is barely newsworthy. The Department of Education in Colorado says they need $18 billion in capital construction funds alone. The reality is, the Colorado budget deficit is actually rising, not falling. This isn’t plugging a hole in the deficit. It’s actually costing money. There’s one area where I’d agree with [former Colorado Director of Marijuana Coordination] Andrew Freedman: You don’t do this for the money. But it’s a great talking point, and it polls well, just like the talking point of it being safer than alcohol polls well. This polls well, too, so you’re going to have an industry group that thrives off commercialization touting the numbers. That’s not surprising at all.

SAM is usually described as an anti-marijuana organization. Is that an accurate description from your viewpoint? Or is it pejorative in some way?

I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s pejorative, but I think it’s overly simplistic. It’s true that we don’t want to see the legalization of another illegal substance. We think that our experience with pharmaceuticals, which are, of course, legal, as well as alcohol and tobacco, has been an utter disaster from a public cost and public-policy point of view. We’ve never regulated those drugs in a responsible way. Lobbyists and special interests own the rule-making when it comes to these drugs. And what we’re saying is, do we really want to repeat history once again? It just happens to be marijuana. It really could have been any substance. And we will be talking about the legalization of other drugs if marijuana goes through. Because it doesn’t stop with marijuana in terms of the policy goals of many of these organizations. So I think it is overly simplistic. And we’re very concerned about commercialization.

Also, we don’t want to see a return to an enforcement-heavy policy that throws everybody behind bars or saddles young people, especially, with criminal records that prevent them from getting a job or being able to access public benefits or being able to go to school. We want to see people given another chance. But we also want to see this treated as a health issue, and you don’t treat marijuana as a health issue by ignoring it or facilitating its use. You do brief interventions if they’re needed, treatment if it’s needed. I don’t think everyone who uses marijuana needs treatment, just like everyone who drinks or uses other drugs doesn’t need treatment. But some people are using it in a way that is problematic, and they need an early intervention, perhaps, to prevent them from moving on to a substance-use disorder — or they need more intense treatment. It really just depends.

We also want to see research into components of marijuana that may have therapeutic value. We don’t want to see people needlessly suffering. But if Perdue Pharma or Pfizer said tomorrow that they have a new blockbuster drug but they don’t want it to go through the FDA and instead want to put it up to a vote, we’d be up in arms. And rightfully so. Everybody would be up in arms. And we don’t think marijuana should get a free pass because there are stories of it helping people. I don’t doubt that it helps some people — things like cannabidiol oil, etc., or even smoking marijuana to relieve pain. I don’t doubt that it helps some people. But we don’t want to turn back the clock to pre-FDA days, where we had snake-oil salesmen and wild claims about drugs. We want to put it through the same system, and if that system is problematic and difficult, then let’s look at what those barriers are and resolve them.

So I think we are a sensible organization that takes our cues from science. That’s why, on our board, you don’t see people benefiting from the policy position that we take. If anything, people like the doctors from Boston Children’s Hospital who are on our advisory board, or Harvard professors, they’re going to have more business if marijuana is legal, because they’re going to have people with more problems. We’re working counter to their self-benefit, if you think about it. That’s why we’re led by the science. And the reason we started this…. I left the White House and saw there was a huge disconnect between the public’s understanding of marijuana and what was being told to them by various sources, and we’re trying to bridge that gap. Many of the things you just touched upon are on the four items in the “What We Do” section of your website. But some things, such as “To promote research on marijuana in order to obtain FDA-approved, pharmacy-based cannabis medications,” we don’t hear your organization talking about very often. Is that the fault of the media, because they’re only focusing on the legalization-is-bad angle? Are you giving equal weight to some of these other goals?

I think that’s just people looking through the glasses they want to look through. I think the legalization groups are threatened by a sensible organization led by Harvard doctors that doesn’t want to put people in prison, so they want to paint us as the most irrational dinosaurs from the Stone Age on these issues. The reality is, we spend a lot of our time on all of these issues. In fact, we have released the most comprehensive document that any policy organization has released, I think, on the hurdles of medical marijuana research. That’s right on our website — the six-point plan. And we’ve also done a CBD guide — everything you need to know about CBD. After the guide to everything you need to know about CBD, we did a report on research barriers, and we got a lot of people from both extremes that didn’t like it. John Walters, my former boss, wrote a scathing editorial, saying we were off the mark in calling for more research. When we get criticized from multiple angles, I think people can decide for themselves whether that’s credible or not….

It’s just not sexy, though. I can’t remember the last time that someone from USA Today or Huffington Post said, “Oh, we want to cover the fact that you released a wonky policy document aimed at FDA senior scientists with ten letters after their name.” They’re not banging on the door to get that story. Instead, they’re banging on the door to say, “The governor of Nevada has just declared a state of emergency on pot. What do you think?”

I’m not going to say it’s the fault of the media. I think that’s overused these days. But we’re doing our best, and whether it’s noticed by USA Today or the Huffington Post or the Washington Post or not, that doesn’t matter as much. We’re getting it out there, and I know that hundreds of lawmakers have read it. In fact, three out of our six recommendations have been adopted since we released that report. I don’t think we’re the only reason they’ve been adopted, but I think us pushing and prodding and putting it down on paper gave some political cover to some people who may not have supported it in the past, and I’m very proud of that. I know it doesn’t satisfy Medical Marijuana Inc. or these hundreds of CBD manufacturers who are selling God knows what because they don’t get it looked at by the FDA; they’re not going to be happy about that. But I think the science speaks for itself, and scientists and others have noticed. That’s why they’ve asked to join my advisory board — top researchers who want to be part of this team not because we’re zealots, but because we look at the science and are able to get it out there….

Another of the talking points on your website says, “Alcohol is legal. Why shouldn’t marijuana be legal?” How do you answer that question?

To me, saying, “Alcohol is bad and it’s legal, so why shouldn’t marijuana be legal?” is like saying, “My headlights are broken, so why don’t we break the taillights, too?” It doesn’t make much sense. First of all, alcohol and marijuana are apples and oranges in many ways. They’re different just because of their biology and their pharmacology, but they’re also different in their cultural acceptance and prevalence in Western society. Alcohol has been a fixed part in Western civilization since before the Old Testament. The reason alcohol prohibition didn’t work — and that’s debatable….

What’s the debate?

If you look at scholars who studied Prohibition much more than I have, there is a vigorous debate. Alcohol use fell during Prohibition, harm fell as well. Cirrhosis of the liver, which is a top-ten killer of white men, wasn’t a top-ten killer. Organized crime had been in place, and obviously it was strengthened from Prohibition, although it isn’t like it caused it, and it certainly didn’t go away when Prohibition ended…. But it’s very difficult to prohibit something that 60 to 70 percent of the population are doing on a regular basis. Marijuana is still used by fewer than 10 percent of the population monthly, and so the idea that it’s the same in terms of acceptance is wrong. Right now, those 10 percent of users have convinced 55 percent of Americans that this is a good idea.  HOW

That also points to the fact that I think support for marijuana is very soft. I think the industry has overplayed its hand about things like public nuisance, public use, secondhand smoke, car crashes. Once these things become greater in prevalence, which they inevitably will if more states legalize and commercialize, then I think you’re going to have the backlash I think will come, and it will come because of the increased problems….

Alcohol is such an accepted part of society. We accept the negative consequences. Alcohol is not legal because it’s safe. Alcohol isn’t legal because it’s so good for you. Alcohol is legal because it’s been a fixed part of Western civilization for millennia. Marijuana has not been. Of course it was used thousands of years ago. Was it used by certain cultures? Absolutely. But there’s no comparison, complete apples and oranges, when it comes to alcohol’s culture acceptability. So that’s why alcohol is legal — not because we love the effects it has on society. No parent, no teacher, no police officer, says, “I’d be better if I was drinking all the time.” No police officer says, “Man, I wish more people drank.” No parent says, “I wish my kid drank more.” That’s not why it’s legal, because it’s so great.

And alcohol has done very little for our tax base. One of the reasons Prohibition was repealed was because the industrialists were convinced that it would help eliminate or mitigate the corporate tax or even the personal income tax. That’s laughable today. It doesn’t do that at all. Instead it costs us way more money than any revenue we bring in. I think marijuana would be the same story. It affects our bodies differently.

Alcohol affects the liver, marijuana affects the lungs. Alcohol is in and out of your system quite rapidly, but marijuana lingers in the system longer, and according to studies, the effects also linger for longer. They affect different parts of the brain. So they’re different in many ways, but in some respects, they’re the same. They’re both intoxicants, and unlike tobacco, they specifically cause changes in behavior. And that’s a difference with tobacco, another legal drug. Tobacco isn’t correlated with paranoia or obsessiveness or mental illness and car crashes, and obviously, marijuana is.

In some ways, legal drugs offer an interesting example. I think they offer an example of the sort of social and financial consequences that would come with legalizing other drugs.

Source:  http://www.westword.com  14th August 2017

Legalizing marijuana not only harms public health and safety, it places a significant strain on local economies and weakens the ability of the American workforce to compete in an increasingly global marketplace.

Today, a growing class of well-heeled lobbyists intent on commercializing marijuana are doing everything they can to sell legal weed as a panacea for every contemporary challenge we face in America. Over the past several years we’ve been barraged by claims that legal pot can cure the opioid crisis, cure cancer, eliminate international drug cartels, and even solve climate change.

One seemingly compelling case made by special interest groups is that legal marijuana can boost our economy too: after all, marijuana businesses create jobs and bring in millions of dollars in much-needed tax revenue.

Yet, a closer look at the facts reveals a starkly different reality. The truth is, a commercial market for marijuana not only harms public health and safety, it also places a significant strain on local economies and weakens the ability of the American workforce to compete in an increasingly global marketplace.

We already know that drug use costs our economy hundreds of millions of dollars a year in public health and safety costs. The last comprehensive study to look at costs of drugs in society found that drug use cost taxpayers more than $193 billion – due to lost work productivity, health care costs, and higher crime. A new study out of Canada found that marijuana-impaired driving alone costs more than $1 billion. Laws commercializing marijuana only make this problem worse and hamper local communities’ ability to deal with the health and safety fallout of increased drug use.

“So far in Colorado, marijuana taxes have failed to shore up state budget shortfalls. The budget deficit there doubled in the last few years, despite claims that pot taxes could turn deficit into surplus.”

This isn’t just a theory – it’s already happening. As marijuana use has increased in states that have legalized it, so has use by employees, both on and off the job. Large businesses in Colorado now state that after legalization they have had to hire out-of-state residents in order to find employees that can pass a pre-employment drug screen, particularly for safety-sensitive jobs like bus drivers, train operators, and pilots.

And now drug using employees – supported by special interest groups – are organizing to make drug use a “right” despite the negative impacts we know it will have on employers and the companies that hire them.

And what about that promised tax revenue? So far in Colorado, marijuana taxes have failed to shore up state budget shortfalls. The budget deficit there doubled in the last few years, despite claims that pot taxes could turn deficit into surplus.

Collected pot taxes only comprise a tiny fraction of the Colorado state budget— less than one percent. After costs of enforcement and regulation are subtracted, the remaining revenue used for public good is very limited.

Even viewed solely in the context of Colorado’s educational needs, pot revenue is not newsworthy. The Colorado Department of Education indicates their schools require about $18 billion in capital construction funds alone. Marijuana taxes do not even make a dent in this gap.

In Washington State, half of the $42 million of marijuana tax money legalization advocates promised would reach prevention programs and schools by 2016 never materialized. We’ve seen this movie before: witness our experience with gambling, the lottery, and other vices.

We should also care about the human fallout of increased marijuana acceptance. Recent evidence demonstrates that today’s marijuana isn’t the weed of the 1960s. It is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents.

Moreover, in states that have already legalized the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes and youth marijuana use. States that have legalized marijuana also continue to see a thriving black market, and are experiencing a continued rise in alcohol sales despite arguing users will switch to a “safer” drug.

Over the past several months, the Trump Administration has signaled it is considering a crackdown on marijuana in states where it is legal. We don’t yet know what this policy change may look like, but one thing we know for sure is that incarcerating low-level, nonviolent offenders in federal prisons is not the answer. Individual users need incentives to encourage them to make healthy decisions, not handcuffs.

But we do need to enforce federal law. Indeed, by reasserting federal control over the exploding marijuana industry, we know we can make a positive difference in preventing the commercialization of a drug that will put profits over public health and fight every regulation proposed to control its sale and use. Marijuana addiction is real, and simply ignoring this health condition will only cost us down the road. We should assess marijuana users for drug use disorders as well as mental health problems, and assist those into recovery. This can’t happen in a climate that promotes use.

Source:  http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/27/trump-should-crackdown-on-legal-weed-commentary.html

Werewolf in London? Or maybe it’s a Skunk.

Cannabis is now the most popular illicit drug in the world. Several US states have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use and more are in the process of doing the same. Numerous prospective epidemiological studies have reported that use of cannabis is a modifiable risk factor for schizophrenia-like psychosis. In 2012, the Schizophrenia Commission in the UK concluded that research to quantify the link between cannabis use and serious mental illness should be pursued.

Between May 1, 2005, and May 31, 2011, researchers culled data from 410 patients with first-episode psychosis and 370 controls. The risk of individuals having a psychotic disorder was approximately three-fold higher among users of “skunk-like” cannabis, compared with those who never used cannabis (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 2•92, 95% CI 1•52–3•45, p=0•001). Further, daily use of skunk-like cannabis resulted in the highest risk of psychotic disorders, compared with no use of cannabis (adjusted OR 5•4, 95% CI 2•81–11•31, p=0•002).

The population attributable fraction of first episode psychosis for skunk use for the geographical area of south London was 24% (95% CI 17–31), possibly because of the high prevalence of high-potency cannabis (218 [53%] of 410 patients) in the study.

Clearly, and as seen elsewhere, availability of high potency cannabis in south London most likely resulted in a greater proportion of first onset psychosis than in previous studies where the cannabis is less potent.

Why Does this Matter?

Changes in marijuana potency and the increased prevalence of use by adolescents and young adults increases the risk of serious mental illness and the burden on the mental health system.

Chronic, relapsing psychotic illness produced by cannabis is similar to that produced naturally in Schizophrenia. However, treatment responses are not the same. Indeed, skunk use appears to contribute to 24% of cases of first episode psychosis in south London. Our findings show the importance of raising awareness among young people of the risks associated with the use of high-potency cannabis. The need for such public education is emphasized by the worldwide trend of liberalization of the constraints on cannabis and the fact that high potency varieties are becoming increasingly available.

Finally, in both primary care and mental health services, developing a simple screening instrument as simple as yes-or-no questions of whether people use skunk or other drugs will aid public health officials to identify epidemiological maps and “hot spots” of increased drug use and to develop interdiction, education and prevention efforts.

Source:  https://www.rivermendhealth.com/resources/cannabis-induced-psychosis-now-spreading-uk     July 2017

Canada’s Liberal government has stated that marijuana will be decriminalized by July 2018. This means the removal, or at the least, a lessening of laws and restrictions related to marijuana use and associated pot services.

While people on both sides of the debate have strongly held and differing opinions, the protection of youth is an area of agreement.

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, has been illegal in Canada for close to 100 years. Marijuana can’t be produced, sold or even possessed. If caught, one faces fines, jail time or both.

Despite this, Canada has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the world. Over 40 per cent of Canadians have used cannabis during their lifetime. Furthermore, studies conducted by Health Canada indicate that between 10.2 and 12.2 per cent of Canadians use cannabis at least once a year.

As changes in cannabis regulation occur, new research has been conducted. The findings are, in a word, alarming. According to published research, someone who uses marijuana regularly has, on average, less grey matter in the orbital frontal cortex of the brain. Other research has found increasing evidence of a link between pot and schizophrenia symptoms.

A major factor is the potency of cannabis, which has gone through the roof for the last two decades. In the 1960s, THC levels were reported to have been in the one-to-four-per-cent range. Research reported in the science journal, Live Science, in 21014 indicates that marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient, THC, in random marijuana samples, rose from about four per cent in 1995 to about 12 per cent in 2014. In a more-recent article, the leader of the American Chemical Society stated: “We’ve seen potency values close to 30-per-cent THC, which is huge.”

Despite these clear and increasing dangers, the Government of Canada’s stated objective is to “legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis for non-medical purposes.” Unfortunately, the government’s approach has serious flaws.  Most importantly, their approach lacks protections for youth, despite this being another specifically stated objective of the Canadian government’s new law.

While supporters of cannabis often compare it with alcohol, a legal, but carefully controlled substance in Canada, there is an important difference. Cannabis is commonly consumed by smoking, which leads to significant, second-hand affects and, as a result, second-hand structural changes in the brain.

In my neighbourhood, cannabis-users in one house, taking advantage of the decreasing legal response to cannabis in B.C. these days, happily smoke the substance on their back deck, only to have the blue smoke waft across to the trampoline next door, where my younger brother and his friends often play.

The government’s proposed new policy actually encourages youth exposure by making it legal for citizens to grow cannabis in their homes. There is no mention of the protection of children living in those residences, where cannabis is grown, consumed and potentially sold.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police makes this point well. They warn that allowing home-grown cultivation will fuel the cannabis black market and that the four-plant limit proposed under the legislation is impossible to enforce. The chiefs further note that home cultivation is a direct contradiction to the government’s promise to create a highly regulated environment that minimizes youth access to the drug.

The biggest concern that the youth of Canada should have about the government’s approach to decriminalization is, however, drug quality — potentially with deadly results. The opportunity for tampering is obvious. A high school friend and classmate of mine casually uses cannabis and landed in the hospital for a few weeks. She believes that some of the cannabis she used was laced with another substance. I often wonder how close my friend came to dying like another of our fellow students at New Westminster Secondary School.

Canada isn’t ready for the decriminalization of cannabis. The Canadian government, and our health-care and legal systems, aren’t fully prepared for the problems and long-term effects that’ll have serious consequences for our youth. Important issues, including second-hand effects and basic safety, not to mention enforcement and legal implications, have yet to be fully defined and planned for. The federal government’s plan to decriminalize pot, as it stands now, doesn’t provide enough protection for Canada’s young people.

Mitchell Moir is a Grade 12 student at New Westminster Secondary.

Source:  http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/opinion-proposed-cannabis-policy-doesnt-do-enough-to-protect-youth   23rd June 2017

 

In the first 5 months of this year,  nine children had been treated at the Colorado Children’s Hospital in Aurora for ingesting marijuana.  Seven of these children were in intensive care.    By August, at least 3 more children had been in emergency treatment for marijuana at the same hospital.

The first stores for recreational marijuana opened in January, 2014.  Marijuana overdoses in children began October, 2009, when medical marijuana suddenly exploded in Colorado.  There were no such incidences recorded between 2005 and 2009, according to Dr.George Wang, head of emergency services at Colorado Children’s Hospital.  He explained the problem in a Colorado Public Radio interview last year.   Colorado’s medical marijuana was approved by voters in 2000, but the expansion of medical marijuana in 2009 caused the new problem.  The pace doubled this year, as a commercialized marijuana industry started selling new products.  “Legalizing creates greater promotion…. and also legitimizes the drug,” according to Bob Doyle, who was featured in a video we shared.

In response to two deaths from edible marijuana, the governor signed legislation to regulate marijuana in May.  The laws will go into effect in 2016.  Edible pot will require child-proofing, as is required for pharmaceutical and over-the-the-counter medicine.

Despite labels, many of the children who have been hospitalized were too young to read.

A TV investigation showed that most children can’t tell the difference between the “adult candies” and those that are only for children.  Previously, we published pictures of commercial pot candies available in Colorado, and in California.  Here’s an additional sampling.

Even when parents try to keep it away from them, children go for sweets.  Cartoon-like characters and bright colors will always attract children.   It’s logical that school-age children could be so attracted to the packaging that they would not bother to read.

Both the manufacturing of marijuana sweets and the packaging make them so appealing.  Edible pot processors make products that closely imitate familiar products, like Cap’N Crunch cereal and Pop Tarts. One company’s Pot-tarts are hard to distinguish from Kellogg’s Pop-tarts.

The Hershey Co. has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Tincture Belle, a Colorado marijuana edibles company, claiming it makes four pot-infused candies that too closely resemble iconic products of the chocolate maker.

The specific products which mimic the look of Hershey’s candies are: Ganja Joy, like Almond Joy; Hasheath, which looks like Heath Bars; Hashees which resemble Reese’s peanut cups, and Dabby Patty, made to look like York peppermint patties.  The company’s website says its products “diabetic safe and delicious” and helpful with a variety of issues, including pain, headaches and insomnia.

Hershey says the products are packaged in a way that will confuse consumers, including children. The lawsuit alleges that Tincture Belle “creates a genuine safety risk with regard to consumers” who may inadvertently eat them thinking they are ordinary chocolate candy.   Other pot candies that look like Kit Kats, Milky Ways, Nestle’s Crunch and Butterfingers.  Will other candy companies like Nestles or Mars file a lawsuits, also?

Source:  http://www.poppot.org/2014/08/24/new-marijuana-candy-tricks-kids/

Mass Illness from Marijuana Edibles in San Francisco There’s more potential for overdose from edibles than smoked marijuana, although the teen in Seattle who jumped to his death last December did it after smoking pot for the first time.  Two shocking incidents in California suggest that overdose emergencies will increase if that states vote to legalize marijuana in November.  Here’s a summary of recent cases of toxicity from edibles:

· 19 people were hospitalized in San Francisco on August 7 from THC, after attending a quinceañera party.  The source is believed be marijuana-infused candies, perhaps gummy bears. Several children were among those poisoned, one as young as six.  A 9-year-old had severe difficulty breathing.

· Pot brownies sent a bachelorette party to the emergency room in South Lake Tahoe over the weekend of July 30-31. Eight of the 10 women were admitted to the hospital according to the City of South Lake Tahoe’s website.

· A JAMA Paediatrics article explains the dramatic rise in children’s hospitalizations related to marijuana in Colorado since legalization.  In 10 cases, the product was not in a child-resistant container; in 40 scenarios (34%) there was poor child supervision or product storage.  Edible products were responsible for 51 (52% ) of exposures.  The report claimed that child-resistant packaging has not been as effective in reducing kids’ unintended exposure to pot as hoped.

· The report mentions the death of one child, an 11-month-old baby.  Nine of the children had symptoms so serious that they ended up in the intensive care unit of Colorado Children’s Hospital.  Two children needed breathing tubes.

· The state of Washington has a similar problem with edibles, as reported on the King County Health Department’s website.  From 2013 to May 2015, there were 46 cases of children’s intoxications related to marijuana edibles reported in Washington.  However, reporting is voluntary and the state estimates that number could be much higher.

·  In May, a father plead guilty to deliberately giving his 4-year-old daughter marijuana-laced cake in Vancouver, Washington.  He was sentenced to two years in prison.

Intoxication from marijuana edibles has risen steadily since legalization. Source: King County Department of Health. Top photo: AP

· In Hingham, MA, there was a 911 related to teen girl who ingested marijuana edibles.  The candies were in a package labelled Conscious Creations, which didn’t disclose ingredients.   Massachusetts has a medical marijuana program, but it is not clear how or to whom they were sold or dispensed.

 

· July, 2016: Two California teens were hospitalized after eating a marijuana-laced cookie. The teens reported purchasing the cookie from a third teenager who was subsequently arrested.

· July, 2016: A California man was arrested for giving candy laced with marijuana to a 6-year-old boy and an 8-year-old boy; the 6-year-old was hospitalized for marijuana poisoning.

· July, 2016: Police in Arizona arrested a mother for allegedly giving her 11- and 12-year-old children gummy candy infused with marijuana. Police say the marijuana-infused candy was originally purchased by an Arizona medical marijuana user, but was illegally transferred to the mother in question.  (State medical marijuana programs have poor track records of assuring the “medicine” goes to whom it is intended.)

· On April 27, a Georgia woman was arrested after a 5- year-old said he ate a marijuana cake for breakfast.  The child was taken to the hospital for treatment following the incident; according to officials, his pulse was measured at over 200 beats per minute.

· Last year there were more than 4,000 treatments at hospitals and poison center treatments in the US related to marijuana toxicity in children and teens.

Growth of marijuana edibles intoxication by age. Source: King County, Washington

Edible marijuana poses a “unique problem,” because “no other drug is infused into a palatable and appetizing form” – such as cookies, brownies and candy.    Many household items cause poisonings, but marijuana edibles are different because they’re made to look appealing and they appeal to children.

 

Source:  http://www.poppot.org/2016/08/08/latest-child-dangers-marijuana-e

A volunteer non-partisan coalition of people from across the US and Canada who have come to understand the negative local-to-global public health and safety implications of an organized, legal, freely-traded, commercialized and industrialized marijuana market. Here’s What’s Coming to Your Back Yard — A tour of a Colorado Commercial Marijuana Operation

Our colleague,  Jo McGuire, in Denver was recently asked to accompany a group of delegates from other states investigating commercial marijuana legalization on a tour of the Colorado marijuana industry. Here’s her account of what they observed:

A delegation from out of state came to Denver in late April to see how the Colorado marijuana industry is working. I was asked to help guide the tour and ask questions of the industry leaders.

This was an all-day experience, so I will give you the highlights that stand out to me.

After the delegation heard a bit about my experience and area of expertise in safe & drug free workplaces, we were given a presentation by two officers of the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) in Colorado.

They started off the presentation by repeating how utterly impossible it is to regulate marijuana and keep all the rules and know all the enforcement measures they are supposed to follow (these are the people overseeing enforcement for the whole state.) They bragged that they now have 98 people in their office overseeing regulation but later in the day admitted that only 25% of those do on-site inspections statewide (3,000 facilities), the rest are trying to keep up with paperwork.

They cannot get to every site in the state for inspections (again – impossible) so they respond to complaints, spot-check and rely on other community entities to report anything they may find or see. The largest amount of complainants come from other MJ facilities trying to get their competition shut-down.

The greatest violations are: 1. Using pesticides banned in the U.S. 2. Not using the proper inventory tracking system 3. Waste disposal violations 4. Circumventing the required video-monitoring system

They were asked how potency of marijuana is determined and they said, “It is impossible to determine potency.” When challenged – they were adamant that it is not possible.

When asked how their office is paid for (marijuana money? state coffers?) they did not know. (It’s state coffers – I was on the committee.)

After their presentation, we headed to a marijuana grow facility in downtown Denver. You could smell it from a block away. They grow over 600,000 plants at this one location.

Guards with guns let us into the gate and gave us security badges, telling us that no photos were allowed and we would be on-camera at all times, escorted out if we broke any rules.

First we were shown a tray of baby plants with no tags. There is supposed to be a seed-to-sale tracking system. They said, “Well you can’t track every single one, so we track them in batch numbers when they are less than 8 inches high and then they get individual tags after that.” (More on that later).

This facility does not use “seeds” anyway. They clone their grows from mother plants – so their system is completely different.

They ship dirt over from Sri Lanka because the coconut shells are natural fertilizer for marijuana. So they have a huge room that smells like elephant poo with pallets of dirt “squares” stacked 20 feet high. What else is in it? Is it subject to inspection? No one knew. We were told, “If there were harmful bugs, we would find out eventually.”

Into the first state-of-the-art grow room. There were plants labelled “REC” and “MED”. When asked the difference between recreational and medical marijuana the grower said, “The tags and the tax rates.”

There was an environmental researcher on the tour who asked if the …. 6 gallons of water per plant per day …. is being recycled. The grower said they could not possibly store the massive thousands of gallons it would take to recycle the water. The researcher asked if Denver has any plan in place to test the water for contaminants because many contaminants have been found at both legal and illegal grow sites in northern California and the Enforcement Officers said, “We hadn’t really thought about that.”

When asked if they recycle the dirt, the grower said, “No way. My quality of production ensures every plant has fresh dirt.”

(A side note – the researcher told us later that he expects the contaminants from marijuana will impact our communities for generations on a level similar to DDT exposure.) His research is another story for another day.

Next we passed through the processing area where the trimmers, dryers and baggers were working. Employees are mostly young or people who can’t find jobs elsewhere. They used to have to pass a federal background check (no felonies allowed) but the enforcement guys said, “That was too hard, so we don’t have that requirement anymore.”

An employee perk is “highly discounted product“. They make minimum wage with no benefits, but “everyone is happy”. They discourage Work Comp claims (trimmers get carpal tunnel) because “they would melt the drug cup.” He said they have very high employee turn-over. Some were wearing hazard gear and some were not. Some were wearing protective gear and some were not. This owner also keeps his 11 locations under 11 separate LLC’s so that he can maintain “Eleven separate small businesses” so that he is not to subject to requirements that large employers must meet for employee volume.

I saw rolls of un-printed bags and asked how they determine the potency of their weed. This owner voluntarily sends random samples (of each strain) to a 3rd party lab twice a year. When the lab tells him the approximate potency – correct within 4 nanograms – they print their labels according to that potency until the next random sample is sent in.

GET THIS: He has had product labelled at 18% but the next batch came back at 30%. He said that people know it’s a guessing game and you don’t expect accuracy in

the labelling – just that it’s labelled and it may or may not be close. Also – the product in the package doesn’t necessarily have to be what is printed on the label, as long as he is volunteering for the lab spot checks.

Not all facilities submit to the spot checks that regularly. Remember – we are at this particular place because this business owner is cream-of-the-crop. And by the way, ALL products in the state to include edibles are only subject to random spot checks for quality and potency. That having been said, each brand begins with a lab analysis in order to create the initial labels – but once the creation has been approved – they move full steam ahead with mass production, inspection free (unless it’s voluntary quality checks or complaints are filed).

Also – the labs are not state-owned or run. They are independently owned and operated by “other marijuana industry investors” and they just choose who is cheapest and fastest. For quality checks.

Next we went into the drying room and I asked about how he prevents mould. He doesn’t. It happens. They remove it by hand when they find it. (Pesticides to remove it are illegal and lights are ineffective). At one point he took a few of us down a row to see the dried buds in hundreds of rows of trays … where the labels went from individual plants back to mass batches. Why is this important? Voters believe in “seed-to-sale” tracking but no one knows how much one plant will produce. Will it produce 10 buds or 50 buds? 50 buds cannot have “one” label so this goes in batches. How do you know if buds come up missing from the tracking system? You don’t.

As we were asking these questions and I was curious about some of his branding – he speaks in a very low voice to us while we were rows away from the enforcement team. “Listen, you’re safe in my facility because I am the one that follows the rules – thus why you are here, right? But if you go to any other place, don’t touch anything, don’t go near any equipment and be careful of anything that could contaminate you“. This business is filthy, dirty, scummy, underhanded and full of cheaters, liars and the majority of this industry is shady as hell. Just be careful.”

On to the BIG grow room ….

I thought I had seen and heard everything up to this point.

We walked into one of the rooms where mature “plants” (TREES) are growing and I saw buds that were the length of my entire forearm. He said, “That’s nothing, I’ve got some as big as your whole arm!” And these trees have so many of these HUGE, heavy buds, they are drooping down and propped-up with dozens of bamboo sticks. One bud by itself can bring in hundreds of dollars … and the seed-to-sale tracking system has loopholes bigger than the buds.

One of the enforcement officers shared, “Now these are labelled with THC-A … which is not impairing and has no euphoric effect unless and until it’s smoked.” (I am not sure what comment to place here … but imagine every policy maker outside of our state getting this “sell”.)

I asked a lot of questions to make sure that what I say in my presentations are accurate – I had heard natural marijuana could not grow over 22% – he said he regularly grows it at 33% with no additives. I have been told that I was lying when I said “it is impossible to test every single product that is sold” and this young man laughed and said, “Here is my card, I will go with you and tell them you are right and back you up all the way. If you want them to hear it straight from my mouth – call me.”

Onto the retail store where two ATM’s sit side-by-side in the lobby. This is a cash only business and banking is not allowed, no credit-cards or checks, etc. So the “work-around” is that the Marijuana Facilities take the cash they get from customers and load-up their own ATM’s so electronic transactions go to their separate non-marijuana LLC

and they can deal through the banking system that way. In law enforcement circles this is called money laundering.

The store products ranged from stash devices to pipes and rigs, to intimacy “helpers”, candies, gums, mints and apparel, to a filled syringe and a 90% THC wax product, etc. There are pictures on my FB page … you should check them out.

The store staff are extremely friendly, proud of their work, answer all questions without hesitation and often let slip very damning information without even realizing it’s coming out of their mouth. So interesting.

When we returned to the van, there were people who were stunned to near tears because they truly didn’t believe what they had heard – how it really doesn’t and cannot work successfully, but we are simply doing the best we can at lightning speed. The shock was palpable. Some were extremely angry.

Another interesting tidbit: Colorado just outlawed gummy bears because they are too attractive to children. So we asked what the new rule means for the production of gummy candies. “That’s easy – you can’t use shapes of people, animals or fruit – but vegetables are o.k. because kids hate those and geometric designs are o.k. You know, like Lucky Charms!” They have a year to “sell” all of the candies “attractive to children” before they have to get them off the shelves.

As an aside, I discovered later that evening that I had broken out in hives wherever my skin was exposed and itched terribly for days after this trip.

I know that many other states are “new” to legal pot and if any of your states delegations here for this same tour – PLEASE – make sure I am notified and either I, or one of my colleagues, accompany them. Jo McGuire jo@jomcguire.org

Source:  http://marijuana-policy.org/heres-whats-coming-back-yard-tour-colorado-commercial-marijuana-operation/   2nd July 2017

It comes as no surprise that the prevalence of marijuana use has significantly increased over the last decade. With marijuana legal for recreational use in four states and the District of Columbia and for medical use in an additional 31 states, the public perception about marijuana has shifted, with more people reporting that they support legalization. However, there is little public awareness, and close to zero media attention, to the near-doubling of past year marijuana use nationally among adults age 18 and older and the corresponding increase in problems related to its use. Because the addiction rate for marijuana remains stable—with about one in three past year marijuana users experiencing a marijuana use disorder—the total number of Americans with marijuana use disorders also has significantly increased. It is particularly disturbing that the public is unaware of the fact that of all Americans with substance use disorders due to drugs other than alcohol; nearly 60 percent are due to marijuana. That means that more Americans are addicted to marijuana than any other drug, including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and the nonmedical use of prescription drugs.

Stores in Colorado and Washington with commercialized marijuana sell innovative marijuana products offering users record-high levels of THC potency. Enticing forms of marijuana, including hash oil used in discreet vaporizer pens and edibles like cookies, candy and soda are attractive to users of all ages, particularly those underage. The legal marijuana producers are creatively and avidly embracing these new trends in marijuana product development, all of which encourage not only more users but also more intense marijuana use.

Yet despite the expansion of state legal marijuana markets, the illegal market for marijuana remains robust, leaving state regulators two uncomfortable choices: either a ban can be placed on the highest potency—and most enticing—marijuana products which will push the legal market back to products with more moderate levels of THC, or the current evolution to ever-more potent and more attractive products can be considered acceptable despite its considerable negative health and safety consequences. If tighter regulations are the chosen option, the illegal market will continue to exploit the desire of marijuana users to consume more potent and attractive products. If state governments let the market have its way, there will be no limit to the potency of legally marketed addicting marijuana products.

The illegal marijuana market thrives in competition with the legal market by offering products at considerably lower prices because it neither complies with regulations on growth and sale, nor pays taxes on sales or their profits. Unsurprisingly, much of the illegal marijuana in the states with legalized marijuana is diverted from the local legal marijuana supply. It is troubling that in response to the decline in demand for Mexican marijuana, Mexican cartels are increasing the production of heroin, a more lucrative drug.

When alcohol prohibition ended in 1933, bootlegged alcohol gradually and almost completely disappeared. Those who favour drug legalization are confident that the same will occur in the market for drugs; they argue that legalizing drugs will eliminate the illegal market with all its negative characteristics including violence and corruption. The initial experience with marijuana legalization shows that this is dangerous, wishful thinking. Why doesn’t legalization now work for marijuana as it did for alcohol 80 years ago? One obvious reason is that there is little similarity between the bootleg industry of alcohol production that existed during prohibition and contemporary drug trafficking organizations. Today’s illegal drug production and distribution system is deeply entrenched, highly sophisticated, and powerfully globalized. Traffickers are resourceful and able to rapidly to adjust to changes in the market, including competing with legal drugs.

The legalization of marijuana or any other drug is making a bargain with the devil. All drugs of abuse, legal and illegal, including marijuana, produce intense brain reward that users value highly—so highly that they are willing to pay high prices and suffer serious negative consequences for their use. Marijuana users’ brains do not know the difference between legal and illegal marijuana, but, as with other drugs, the brain prefers higher potency products. Drug suppliers, legal and illegal, are eager to provide the drugs that users prefer.

The challenge of drug policy today is to find better ways to reduce drug use by using strategies that are cost-effective and compatible with modern values. Legalization fails this test because it encourages drug use. Most of the costs of drug use are the result of the drug use itself and not from efforts to curb that use. It is hard to imagine a drug user who would be better off with having more drugs available at cheaper prices. Supply matters. More supply means more use. Drug legalization enhances drug supply and reduces social disapproval of drugs.

Our nation must prepare itself for the serious negative consequences both to public health and safety from the growth of marijuana use fuelled by both the legal and the illegal marijuana markets.

Source: http://www.rivermendhealth.com/resources/marijuana-legalization-led-use-addiction-illegal-market-continues-thrive/    June 2017  Author: Robert L. DuPont, M.D.

Today, Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a national group promoting evidence-based marijuana laws, issued the following statement regarding medical marijuana legislation introduced by Senators Booker (D-NJ) and Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN):

“No one wants to deprive chronically ill patients of medication that could be helpful for them, but that’s not what the legislation being introduced today is about. We wouldn’t allow Pfizer to bypass the FDA – why would we let the marijuana industry? This bill would completely undermine the FDA approval process, and encourage the use of marijuana and marijuana products that have not been proven either safe or effective. The FDA approval process should set the standard for smart, safe, and sound healthcare in our country, so we can be sure that patients are receiving the best treatments that do more help than harm,” said SAM President and former senior White House drug policy advisor Kevin Sabet.

“Raw marijuana is not medicine, so marijuana in crude form should not be legal, but the medicinal components properly researched, purified, and dosed should be made available through compassionate research programs, as outlined in SAM’s six-point plan entitled “Researching Marijuana’s Medical Potential Responsibly.” We understand the FDA process can seem cumbersome to those suffering from intractable diseases, but early access programs to drugs in development are already available.

“Also, while FDA approval is the long-term goal, seizure patients shouldn’t have to go to the unregulated market to get products full of contaminants. Responsible legislation that fast-tracks these medications for those truly in need should be supported, rather than diverting patients to an unregulated CBD market proven to be hawking contaminated or mislabeled products as medicine, as this bill would endorse. In 2015 and 2016 the FDA sent multiple warning letters to numerous CBD manufacturers, outlining these concerns. We support the development of FDA-approved CBD medications, like Epidolex, which is in the final stages of approval.”

News media requesting a one-one-one interview with a representative from SAM can contact anisha@learnaboutsam.org.

 About SAM

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states. For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit http://www.learnaboutsam.org.

– Mary’s Comments in bold

I fully understand your doubts because this subject has been hotly debated within the Party in recent conferences.  I hope that I can persuade you of the validity of the arguments that have swayed the majority of our membership.

Research disproves these arguments, as follows.

The approach to cannabis has been a catastrophic failure.  Every year, it generates millions of pounds for the leaders of organised crime. (Leaders of organised crime turn to worse when their cannabis commodity is legalised and less profitable; they turn to harder drugs and people trafficking (see Colorado to follow) whilst our law enforcement agencies wastefully prosecute thousands of people (and in a few cases imprison them).  This criminal record blights their chances of gainful employment (The loss of IQ from cannabis, damaged school records, lack of motivation and impaired functionality due to using the drug blights their chances even more) yet it does nothing to tackle the damage of cannabis to their health and the evidence reveals that it achieves no deterrent.

10-year follow-up research on the depenalisation experiment in Lambeth, south London, proved that not prosecuting people for cannabis resulted in more crime (despite an accompanying increased anti-crime effort) and more hospitalisations. The statistics from Colorado show a similar pattern.

Alcohol and tobacco are regulated, yet alcohol kills 10 times more people than illegal drugs do, and tobacco 100 times more people. This shows that keeping drugs illegal keeps the associated harms down.

The catastrophic failure is the £2 billion spent on illegal skunk-induced cannabis treatment every year in the country. How much more would be needed for legal cannabis. Because usage would rise, it always does.

Police guidelines state that no arrest should be made for possession of a small amount of cannabis for the person’s use on the first two occasions, and that a warning or fine is preferred.  Arrests for cannabis possession in England and Wales have dropped by 46% since 2010, cautions by 48% and people charged by 33%. Drug use has been at a steady rate during this time, so this can only suggest that drug enforcement has become a backseat issue for the police. Proof of the liberalisation of the law on cannabis possession appeared with the new Police Crime Harm Index in April, where it appeared 2nd bottom of the list of priorities. Police time is not adequately spent on preventing and halting drug use.

Two surveys among young people, 20 years apart, one in the USA and one in the UK found similar results for the number deterred by the law which was around 40%.

Cannabis remains very popular in spite of decades of prohibition.  It is by far the most popular illegal drug in the UK and is used by more than 2 million people a year. In 2015, 30 tonnes of herbal cannabis and 400,000 cannabis plants were seized.

One in five young people (aged 18-24) have used illegal drugs in the past year and one in 6 have used cannabis.  So the law cannot be justified on grounds of its effective prevention or cure.

Let’s look at your figures. Last year use could be as little as once or twice. Regular drug use (more than once/month) is a much more valuable indicator of the problem. Only 3.3% of 16-59 year olds are regular users – around 1.1 million. Drug use is definitely not the norm.

Overall drug use has actually gone down. The NHS Statistics on Drugs Misuse England 2017 reports the following: ‘Drug use among adults (England and Wales) In 2015/16, around 1 in 12 (8.4 per cent) adults aged 16 to 59 had taken an illicit drug in the last year. This equates to around 2.7 million people. This level of drug use was similar to the 2014/15 survey (8.6 per cent), but is significantly lower than a decade ago (10.5 per cent in the 2005/06 survey)’.

The popularity of cannabis use is increasingly linked by researchers to legalisation lobbyists’ disinformation, so that children do not perceive its multitude of harms.

Add to this the unwillingness of the police to enforce the law and the unceasing efforts of the harm reduction lobby who, by handing out ‘safer use’ tips, actually condone the breaking of the law by flashing a green light to try it. I taught children for over 30 years and to them ‘legal’ means ‘safe’. No drug, legal or illegal can be guaranteed safe, look at the side-effect warnings on prescription drugs.      In addition, research shows that cannabis users are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who do not use cannabis.  These legalisation efforts would be better spent on drug prevention and demand reduction in order to reduce use instead of encouraging it. 

The National Crime Agency estimates that people in the UK consume 270 tonnes of cannabis a year.  The UK cannabis economy is worth an estimated £7bn a year.  Sadly business is booming.  No responsible government would allow a public health crisis to be administered by criminal gangs, yet that is exactly what we are doing with the war on drugs.  Liberal Democrats accept the reality that many people use cannabis and that it’s irresponsible to leave the supply in the hands of criminals.  It is questionable whether police time should be spent in tackling users who are no more harmful than cigarette smokers.

To claim that cannabis users are no more harmful than cigarette smokers is both inaccurate and irresponsible. For a start, the British Lung Foundation reports that one cannabis cigarette, in cancer terms is equivalent to 20 tobacco cigarettes. Cannabis is also linked to extreme violence – the terrorists on both Westminster and London Bridges in recent weeks are linked to it.  Suicides occur and 2nd-hand smoke harms others including children. Permanent brain damage can result and IQ can drop by about 8 points – permanently. The same is not true of tobacco. Criminal gangs will still function. They will undercut prices, target under-18s, and helpfully supply skunk to those who have been regularly using it. Some may turn to people trafficking or other crimes. The only type of cannabis available in London now is skunk. The black market is flourishing in Colorado. 

There is no war on drugs and never has been. De-facto decriminalisation has been covertly practised in the UK for years, mainly by the police as explained above. I would hope that the Lib-Dems accept that many drivers exceed the speed limit from time to time but they don’t seem to think it a good idea to get rid of speed limits, or accept graffiti which disfigures buildings in many of our towns and cities. We don’t have a perfect record on burglary or rape or murder – yet we do not call for them to be decriminalised, as we KNOW they would increase. Same with drug use. In no other area of life do lobbyists insist on 100% perfection. Why put up your hands and surrender over a drug that it much more harmful than tobacco smoking. This is defeatism. 

Internationally, a dramatic shift is taking place.  Eight US states have established legal, regulated cannabis markets for recreational purposes since 2012.  Cannabis is now legal for medical purposes in 29 states plus Washington DC.  Uruguay has become the first country to legalise fully with Canada set to follow later this year. The Canadian government published its legislation to establish a legal cannabis market a few weeks ago with a strong emphasis on protecting children and reducing crime.  A growing number of EU member states have recently changed their law to permit the medical use of cannabis, including Germany, Italy and Greece.  When legislators in a country as conservative as Canada have come to the conclusion that regulation is better than prohibition, you know that the tide has turned.  The question is now how to regulate it responsibly and effectively, which is what we are setting out to achieve.

Most of these are linked to 3 billionaires, George Soros, Peter Lewis and John Sperling, who have spent over $100million to achieve exactly what you describe, in a cynical chess game with our lives. Canada’s Trudeau is being called out in the press for his gifts from George Soros (via immigration), who also met with the president of Uruquay. This is no grassroots movement. Just because other countries are liberalising their cannabis laws is no reason for us to blindly follow. For your information, it has just been reported that the Canadians are changing their minds about cannabis legalisation. The latest Hill+Knowlton Strategies survey shows approval has dropped to 43 per cent from polling done this time last year, which found 60 per cent of Canadians support pot sales. Maybe they have seen the disastrous results of legalisation in Colorado and Washington. 

Usage of marijuana among all age groups has risen, emergency admissions to hospitals have soared, including very young children who have consumed edibles. The numbers of marijuana-impaired driving fatalities and marijuana-addicted users in treatment are increasing. Crime overall is rising and as I said before, the black market flourishes. So-called ‘medical cannabis’ is a scam. To be licensed, substances must be purified single chemicals or combinations of these, pass clinical trials which may take years and only then can they be licensed as medicines. Cannabis contains some 700 different chemicals, some are carcinogenic and the effects of many others are unknown. Nabilone (synthetic THC) has been used for about 30 years for appetite stimulation and to combat nausea, and now CBD ( purified extract of cannabis) is undergoing clinical trials for forms of epilepsy. No-one would eat mouldy bread to get their penicillin or chew willow bark to get aspirin. 

Liberal Democrats believe that drugs policy should be based on evidence, not dogma or the desire to sound ‘tough’.  We need a radically smarter approach, if we are serious about tackling this problem.  The aim of drug policy should be primarily to reduce public health harm and, as such, responsibility for drugs policy should sit predominantly with the Department of Health.

I entirely agree with the above. The problem is that the Lib-Dems ignore the evidence and quote only what suits a predetermined agenda. There is a vast amount of scientific evidence about its dangers to show that liberalising cannabis would be a disaster. Reducing public harm I would have thought is something we can all agree on but the only way to do it is by prevention – stopping people from ever starting to take drugs. It can be done. The huge prevention campaign in the USA (Just say no), contrary to popular myth, was a great success. The number of marijuana users fell from 23 million to 14 million, cocaine and cannabis use halved. Daily pot use fell by 75%. In a high school student survey, giving people the truth about its physical and psychological effects helped over 70% to abstain, the law deterred 40% and parental disapproval 60%.

In October 2015, the Liberal Democrat health spokesperson and former Health Minister, Norman Lamb MP, commissioned an independent panel to investigate the case for a fully regulated cannabis market.  The panel comprised of senior police officers, drug policy analysts and public health experts.  The experts considered evidence from Colorado in the United States and Uruguay – both places where cannabis has already been legalised.  The final report concluded that up to £1 billion could be raised in taxes, were the cannabis market to be legally regulated.  Critically, the expert panel also concluded that regulating the sale of cannabis would actually improve public health.  An additional benefit would be that the considerable tax revenues generated could be spent on better education about the dangers of drug use and better treatment.

Your panel consisted solely of pro-legalise or liberalisation members. Steve Rolles, your Chair is Head of Transform, a Soros funded pro-legalisation organisation. Professor David Nutt, sacked from The ACMD and not himself a cannabis researcher, and Brian Paddick, instigator of the failed attempt to depenalise cannabis in Lambeth, are just 3 of them. The £1 billion raised in tax would only cover about half the cost of treating the skunk-related schizophrenia I mentioned before; that’s if it were to be raised – statistics from US legalised states indicate not. The tax revenue claims in the US states which legalised cannabis have fallen far short (by 80%) of promises. As regards tax revenue, the Institute for Social & Economic Research found that there might be £280-460 million benefit IF there was a low-demand response to legalisation BUT a cost to society of £400 million -£1.3 billion if there was a high-demand response. The law of supply and demand indicate the latter.

The other inaccuracies in the above paragraph have been refuted in previous pages.

Our first objective should be to minimise the threat from drug dealers who use cannabis as the gateway to addiction to much more harmful and profitable hard drugs.  It is against the background of this research and evidence that Liberal Democrats have concluded that the benefits of legalisation of cannabis outweigh the harm of its existence or use and I hope that you are open to persuasion.

Of course drug dealers need to feel the full force of the law. And there should be more interception of the supply of drugs arriving in the country. I was a biology teacher and have read too many scientific papers on cannabis and seen for myself the terrible consequences in some families for you to have any hope of persuading me that you are right. There are so many despairing parents in our charity who have been pushed downstairs, had ribs broken, and hands shut in doors by their offspring They have had money and other goods stolen, been threatened by dealers, had to have their letterboxes sealed and a police car at the end of their road. They have seen their once bright clever children end up mentally ill and sectioned and in one father’s words ‘a waste of space’.  Perhaps drug prevention and demand reduction should take precedence over the threat of drug dealers; at the least, they should be on equal footing.

I note that you told The Telegraph that you would not allow your children to use cannabis – Why?  This is a double standard, just as legalisation lobbyist Richard Branson operates a zero-drug policy for his own employees. One law for you, another for the electorate. 

To source the research references in this letter, please visit our website www.cannabisskunksense.co.uk     

With best wishes,   Yours sincerely,   Mary Brett (Chair).

Source:  Letter sent from Mary Brett, of Cannabis Skunk Sense to Tim Farron MP

A Colorado children’s hospital reports visits by teens to its emergency department and satellite urgent care centers more than quadrupled after the state legalized marijuana, a new study finds.

Researchers examined the hospital’s records for 13- to 21-year-olds between 2005 and 2015.

Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2010 and recreational marijuana in 2014.

The annual number of visits related to marijuana or involving a positive marijuana urine drug screen more than quadrupled, from 146 in 2005 to 639 in 2014, the researchers found.

They will present their research at the 2017 Paediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco.

“The state-level effect of marijuana legalization on adolescent use has only begun to be evaluated,” lead author George Sam Wang, MD said in a news release. “As our results suggest, targeted marijuana education and prevention strategies are necessary to reduce the significant public health impact of the drug can have on adolescent populations, particularly on mental health.”

Source:  https://www.ncadd.org/blogs/in-the-news/teen-marijuana-related-visits-to-colorado-er-rose-rapidly-after-legalization   8th May 2017

Sirs,

I believe that a state’s Attorney General and Secretary of State have the obligation to reject any petition that is obviously in violation of any law.

Whether a ballot initiative is properly worded or not, if it proposes, facilitates or allows the violation of any law – it is illegal.

EXCERPT:  “In an opinion dated Tuesday and released Wednesday, Rutledge said the ballot title of the proposal is ambiguous and “that a number of additions or changes” are needed “to more fully and correctly summarize” the proposal.

“The proposal [to legalize recreational marijuana use in the state] by Larry Morris of West Fork would allow for the cultivation, production, distribution, sale and possession of marijuana for recreational use in Arkansas.”:

As you can readily see, Mr. Morris’ proposal would violate federal law and place persons who engage in any of those activities at risk of federal prosecution or other liability.

I draw to your attention a  LEGAL PRIMER(BELOW) ON: ENFORCING THE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE ACT IN STATES THAT HAVE COMMERCIALIZED MARIJUANA by Mr. David Evans, Esq. in which he concludes that: “Anyone who participates in the growing, possession, manufacturing, distribution, or sales of marijuana under state law or aids or facilitates or finances such actions is at risk of federal prosecution or other liability.”

I ask that you continue to reject these illegal proposals to legalize marijuana in any form in our state of Arkansas.

I reiterate, it is your job to UPHOLD the LAW, not facilitate LAWBREAKING.

Jeanette McDougal

Board Member, Drug Watch, Intl.

Director, NAHAS – National Alliance of Health and Safety dems8692@aol.com

During the 2015 election, the Liberals campaigned on a plan to greenlight marijuana for recreational use to keep it out of the hands of children and the profits out of the hands of criminals.

The party’s election platform said Canada’s current approach — criminalizing people for possession and use — traps too many Canadians in the justice system for minor offences.

Last month, the government spelled out its plans in legislation, setting sweeping policy changes in motion.  The new law proposes setting the national minimum age to legally buy cannabis at 18 years old. It will be up to the provinces should they want to restrict it further.

Is it true, as Wilson-Raybould and the Liberals suggest, that legalization will in fact keep cannabis out of the hands of kids?

Spoiler alert: The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney” (complete methodology below)

This one earns a lot of baloney — the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth. Here’s why:

THE FACTS

There is no doubt cannabis is in the hands of young people today.

In fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of teenage and early-age adulthood use of marijuana, says Dr. Mark Ware, the vice-chair of the federally-appointed task force on cannabis and a medicinal marijuana researcher at McGill University.

“We don’t anticipate that this is going to eliminate it; but the public health approach is to make it less easy for young adolescents, young kids, to access cannabis than it is at the moment,” he said.

Bonnie Leadbeater, a psychology professor at the University of Victoria who specializes in adolescent behaviour, said as many as 60 per cent of 18-year-olds have used marijuana at some point in their lives.

The aim of a regulated, controlled system of legalized cannabis is to make it more difficult for kids to access pot, Ware said, noting the principle goal is to delay the onset of use.

So will a recreational market for adults coupled with a regulatory regime really keep pot out of the hands of kids?

THE EXPERTS

Public health experts — including proponents of legalization — say that probably won’t happen.

“I don’t exactly know what they are planning to do to keep it out of the hands of young people and I think some elaboration of that might be helpful,” Leadbeater said. “It is unlikely that it will change … it has been very, very accessible to young people.”

Benedikt Fischer, a University of Toronto psychiatry professor and senior scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, agrees the expectation that legalization will suddenly reduce or eliminate use among young people is counter-intuitive and unrealistic to a large extent.

“The only thing we could hope for is that maybe because it is legal, all of a sudden it is so much more boring for young people that they’re not interested in it anymore,” he said.

Increasing penalties for people who facilitate access to kids will help discourage law-abiding Canadians from doing so, says Steven Hoffman, director of a global strategy lab at the University of Ottawa Centre for health law, policy and ethics.

“That being said, when there’s a drug, there’s no foolproof way of keeping it out of the hands of all children,” Hoffman said. “For sure, there will still be children who are still consuming cannabis.”

Cannabis will not be legal for people of all ages under the legislation, he added, noting this means there may still be a market for criminal activity for cannabis in the form of selling it to children.

In Colorado, officials thought there would be an increase in use as a result of legalization, according to Dr. Larry Wolk, chief medical officer at the Department of Public Health and Environment, but he said there’s been no increase among either youth or adults.    Nor has there been a noticeable decrease.

“What it looks like is folks who may have been using illicitly before are using legally now and teens or youth that were using illicitly before, it’s still the same rate of illicit use,” he said.

THE VERDICT

Donald MacPherson, executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, said the Liberal government could provide a more nuanced, realistic message about its plans to legalize marijuana.

“To suddenly go over to the rhetoric … that strict regulation is going to keep it out of the hands of young people doesn’t work,” he said.

“There’s a better chance of reducing the harm to young people through a … public health, regulatory approach. That’s ideally what they should be saying.”

Careful messaging around legalized marijuana — like the approach taken by the Netherlands — could make cannabis less of a tempting forbidden fruit for young people, said Mark Haden, an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia.

“What we know is that prohibition maximizes the engagement of youth, so if we did it well and skillfully and ended prohibition with a wise approach and made cannabis boring, it would keep it out of the hands of kids,” he said.

“It isn’t completely baloney, it just hasn’t gone far enough in terms of a rich, real discussion. It is just political soundbites.”

For this reason, Wilson-Raybould’s statement contains “a lot of baloney.”

METHODOLOGY

The Baloney Meter is a project of The Canadian Press that examines the level of accuracy in statements made by politicians. Each claim is researched and assigned a rating based on the following scale:

· No baloney – the statement is completely accurate

· A little baloney – the statement is mostly accurate but more information is required

· Some baloney – the statement is partly accurate but important details are missing

· A lot of baloney – the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth

· Full of baloney – the statement is completely inaccurate

Source:   http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/fact-check-will-legalizing-pot-keep-it-out-of-the-hands-of-kids-1.3397542   4th May 2017

SAN FRANCISCO – Visits by teens to a Colorado children’s hospital emergency department and its satellite urgent care centers increased rapidly after legalization of marijuana for commercialized medical and recreational use, according to new research being presented at the 2017 Paediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco.

The study abstract, “Impact of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado on Adolescent Emergency Visits” on Monday, May 8 at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco.

Colorado legalized the commercialization of medical marijuana in 2010 and recreational marijuana use in 2014. For the study, researchers reviewed the hospital system’s emergency department and urgent care records for 13- to 21-year-olds seen between January 2005 and June 2015.

They found that the annual number of visits with a cannabis related diagnostic code or positive for marijuana from a urine drug screen more than quadrupled during the decade, from 146 in 2005 to 639 in 2014.

Adolescents with symptoms of mental illness accounted for a large proportion (66%) of the 3,443 marijuana-related visits during the study period, said lead author George Sam Wang, M.D., FAAP, with psychiatry consultations increasing from 65 to 442. More than half also had positive urine drug screen tests for other drugs. Ethanol, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, opiates and cocaine were the most commonly detected.

Dr. Wang, an assistant professor of paediatrics at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, said national data on teen marijuana use suggest rates remained roughly the same (about 7%) in 2015 as they’d been for a decade prior, with many concluding no significant impact from legalization. Based on the findings of his study, however, he said he suspects these national surveys do not entirely reflect the effect legalization may be having on teen usage.

“The state-level effect of marijuana legalization on adolescent use has only begun to be evaluated,” he said. “As our results suggest, targeted marijuana education and prevention strategies are necessary to reduce the significant public health impact of the drug can have on adolescent populations, particularly on mental health.”

Dr. Wang will present the abstract, “Impact of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado on Adolescent Emergency Department (ED) Visits,” from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Numbers in this news release reflect updated information provided by the researchers. The abstract is available at https://registration.pas-meeting.org/2017/reports/rptPAS17_abstract.asp?abstract_final_id=3160.11.

The Paediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting brings together thousands of individuals united by a common mission: to improve child health and well-being worldwide. This international gathering includes paediatric researchers, leaders in academic paediatrics, experts in child health, and practitioners. The PAS Meeting is produced through a partnership of four organizations leading the advancement of paediatric research and child advocacy: Academic Paediatric Association, American Academy of Paediatrics, American Paediatric Society, and Society for Paediatric Research. For more information, visit the PAS Meeting online at www.pas-meeting.org, follow us on Twitter @PASMeeting and #pasm17, or like us on Facebook. For additional AAP News coverage, visit http://www.aappublications.org/collection/pas-meeting-updates.

Source:   http://www.aappublications.org/news/2017/05/04/PASMarijuana050417

by David Sergeant  of The Bow Group

The Bow Group is a leading conservative think tank based in London. Founded in 1951, the Bow Group is the oldest conservative think tank in the UK and exists to publish the research of its members, stimulate policy debate through an events programme and to provide an intellectual home to conservatives. Although firmly housed in the conservative family, the Bow Group does not take a corporate view and represents all strands of conservative opinion. The Group’s Patrons are The Rt Hon. The Lord Lamont of Lerwick, The Rt Hon. The Lord Tebbit of Chingford CH, Dr David Starkey CBE & Professor Sir Roger Scruton.  The Group’s Parliamentary Board consists of The Rt Hon. The Lord Tebbit of Chingford CH, The Rt Hon. David Davis MP, Sir Gerald Howarth MP, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP FRICS, Daniel Hannan MEP, The Rt Hon. Dominic Grieve QC MP, David Rutley MP, The Rt Hon. John Redwood MP, Dr. Phillip Lee MP and Adam Afriyie MP.

 INTRODUCTION

The evidence couldn’t be clearer. Cannabis is a hugely damaging drug that causes misery, particularly for our poorest citizens. Our aim should be its eradication and that can never be achieved through legalised capitulation. According to a report published last November by the Adam Smith Institute, our drug policy is: ‘An embarrassment.’ (Laven-Morris, 2016, para. 1) Commenting on the report, Steve Moore, Director of ‘Volteface’ concurred, insisting that: ‘The global movement towards legalisation, regulation and taxation of cannabis is now inexorable.’ (Laven-Morris, 2016, para. 16)

While this supposed ‘inexorability’ may have political and social elites jumping for joy, it’s yet another step toward greater suffering for those vulnerable individuals at risk of damage from the mind-altering drug, as well as for families and communities who are, and will increasingly, be forced to pick up the pieces. Within this paper, I will seek to address some of the primary points of contention and concern surrounding cannabis and counter the myths and assertions propounded by ideologues, corporate lobbyists, and the liberal media, each dogmatic in their pursuit of recreational cannabis legalisation. I will conclude that the consistent application of the meaningful criminal penalties already legislatively available, aggressive and rigorous policing across the socio-economic spectrum, the use of evidence based education, conferring the real health-risks of the drug and well-funded, compassionate, abstinence-based treatment for those who have become dependent on cannabis can, deliver its eradication.

 1) HARM 

Forgive my scepticism, but when that all-knowing beacon of progress and morality, billionaire Richard Branson insisted that, ‘most of us’ could smoke skunk without it doing us ‘any harm,’ I was not immediately convinced. (Holehouse, 2015, para. 2) The problem is that most of the people that Mr Branson has ever met are wealthy, expensively educated elites, who likely have access to the private health insurance he’s so keen for ‘Virgin Healthcare’ to bestow on the rest of us. Even if Mr Branson was right and cannabis, for most, presented no tangible health risks, this would still not be sufficient moral rationale for its legalisation. If we care about all our fellow citizens we cannot sacrifice the mental health of some for the recreational pleasure of ‘most.’

Correspondingly, also in support of legalisation is Amanda Fielding, Countess of Wemyss and March and founder of the pro-drug Beckley Foundation – located at Fielding’s Oxfordshire Tudor estate. The foundation boldly assert in their book: ‘Cannabis Policy: Moving beyond Stalemate,’ that with regards to cannabis: ‘Those harms at the population level are modest in comparison with alcohol or cocaine.’ (Beckley Foundation, 2009, para. 2) While there is no doubt that both alcohol and cocaine can create as much if not more misery than cannabis, its possible nature as a ‘slightly lesser’ evil is no cause for its celebration. Long gone are the 3 days in which advocates could claim that the effects of cannabis were ‘modest.’ This well perpetuated myth of ‘harmlessness’ has now been comprehensively medically discredited.

There is an increasingly diverse research consensus that cannabis use is directly connected to serious mental health issues. Timms and Atakin (2014) revealed that Adolescents who use cannabis daily are ‘five times more likely to develop depression and anxiety later in life,’ (para. 36) while Hall & Degenhardt’s (2011) strong body of evidence indicates that: ‘cannabis precipitates schizophrenia in vulnerable people.’ (p. 511) Further, Hall & Degenhardt discovered that, for those with a family history of psychosis, regular cannabis use doubles the likelihood of development from one in ten, to one in five. (2011, p. 512)

When we look at expectant mothers who smoke cannabis we see a direct correlation. The more they smoke, the greater the likelihood that their children will report feelings of depression and anxiety at the age of ten. (Goldschmidta, Richardson, Cornelius & Dayb, 2004, p. 526) Moreover, a huge American study, utilising the latest technology in brain-scanning equipment discovered that cannabis users had: ‘abnormally low blood flow in virtually every area of the brain.’ This means that users are at considerably higher risk of developing diseases such as Alzheimer’s. (Tatera, 2016, para. 1)   Even Professor Nutt, a well-known proponent of legalisation, concedes that cannabis smokers are ‘2.6 times more likely to have a psychotic-like experience than non-smokers.’ (Nutt, 2009, para. 7).

In addition to the real danger cannabis poses to mental health, research suggests that the use of cannabis doubles the risk of infertility in men under the age of 30. (Connor, 2014, para. 1) The mind is complicated beyond the possibility of human comprehension. A cautious and respectful approach to its potential damage is surely wise, as once it is lost it must be an exceedingly difficult thing to get back. There are few more disturbing things than seeing a friend or relative struggle with mental health issues – a daily battle not with the world but with themselves. Indeed, youngsters who use cannabis daily are seven times more likely to commit suicide. (Laccino, 2014, para. 1) So, while Mr Branson might encourage you to smoke cannabis with your children, (Janssen, 2016, para 4) the evidence would suggest that doing so could be very damaging indeed.

 2) USAGE RATES AND CANNABIS AS A GATEWAY DRUG 

Those who back legalisation might argue that it is they who truly care about cannabis users and they who truly want to reduce the drug’s harmful impacts. This, they insist, will be made possible by the reduction in usage rates that a legalised market will deliver. Indeed, the entire foundation of the argument for legalisation rests on its ability to decrease the numbers of people using cannabis. The facts and evidence stand comprehensibly against this assertion. Every single location in which there has been meaningful analysis of usage rates before and after legalisation or decriminalisation, including Portugal, Colorado, Southern Australia and Amsterdam, show an upsurge in the number of people using the drug. (Hughes and Steven, 2010, p. 1005), (Korf, 2002 pp. 854-856), (Single, Christie & Ali para. 25), (Keyes, 2015) Even within individual nations, the difference between usage rates in jurisdictions with varying legislative approaches is stark. 15.6% of citizens in the Netherlands have used cannabis compared to 36.7% of residents in Amsterdam. (Korf, 2002, p. 854-856) In fact, following the mainstream promotion of coffee-shops in Amsterdam, the rate of regular cannabis use among 18-to-20-year-olds more than doubled. (MacCoun and Reuter, 2010 as cited in Mineta, n.d para. 8) Furthermore, legal cannabis would mean cheaper cannabis. Prohibition drives up the price of the drug by ‘at least’ 400%. (Mineta, n.d, para. 7) Studies have shown that when cigarettes are reduced in price by 10% their consumption shoots up by 7-8%.(Mineta, n.d, para. 7)

While its proponents might have you believe ‘everyone’s getting high nowadays,’ it’s worth remembering that only 5% of our population regularly smoke cannabis. (Dunt 2013 para. 1) This compared to 19% who smoke tobacco (Ash, 2016, para. 1) and 58% of adults who regularly drink alcohol. (Drinkaware, n.d, para. 10) For some advocates of legalisation who, either genuinely believe or pretend to believe that legalisation will lead usage rates to decline, this evidence will, of course, be somewhat inconvenient.

For others, it brings only adulation. In the US state of Colorado, the CEO of the Harvest Company dispensary, rejoiced that: ‘People who would never have considered pot before are now popping their heads in.’ (Keyes, 2015, para. 7) Likewise, when asked why he believed cannabis use had increased in the state since its legalisation, Henson, President of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, argued that more people felt at ease with the drug: ‘They don’t see it as something that’s bad for them.’ (Keyes, 2015, para. 6) What’s more, with regards to the gateway theory, the evidence is clear. Cannabis is a gateway drug. A 25-year longitude study revealed that in 86% of cases of those who had taken two or more illegal drugs, cannabis had been the substance they had used first. (Fergusson. D, Boden. J & Horwood. J 2011, p. 556)

Moreover, those who used cannabis weekly were a staggering 59 times more likely to use other illegal drugs than those who did not use cannabis at all. (Fergusson, D. & Horwood J. 2000, pp. 505–520) In the United States, research revealed that only 7% of young people who had never used cannabis had indulged in other illegal drug use, compare this to 33% of the young people who reported using cannabis regularly and 84% of those who used it daily. (Kandel, 1984, pp. 200 – 209)

Advocates of legalisation, while often conceding the gateway theory, insist that this can easily be countered through legalisation that would disentangle legal cannabis from the illegal ‘hard drug’ black market. However, cannabis users are not using other drugs because their dealers are forcing them down their throats or up their noses. Rather: ‘the biochemical changes induced by marijuana in the brain result in a drug-seeking, drug-taking behaviour, which in many instances will lead the user to experiment with other pleasurable substances.’ (Nahas, 1990, p. 52) Thus, cannabis users will likely seek to experiment with other illegal drugs regardless of the legal status of cannabis. Legalisation would result only in more cannabis users and thus a higher secondary demand for and entanglement within the remaining illegal drug market.

 3) MONEY: A PRICE WORTH PAYING?

The Adam Smith Institute have promised the UK one billion pounds in additional annual tax revenue. All we must do is legalise the drug. However, we can see by examining the cost of alcohol

abuse that any additional tax revenue would be dwarfed by the hugely increased medical and social costs brought about by increased usage. The taxes raised from alcohol cover only a tiny percentage of the societal cost brought about by alcohol misuse. Indeed, while there are no similar statistics available in the UK, a 2002 analysis of alcohol-related costs in America was estimated to be 184 billion dollars annually. (Mineta, n.d. para 10) But surely the billions of dollars raised in taxes more than covered it? Not quite! Taxes on alcohol raised only 8.3 billon dollars in the same timeframe, just 4.5% of costs. (Mineta, n.d. para 10)

In addition, we can be sure that where there is profit to be made, there will be also be predatory capitalism. The aggressive commercialisation of cannabis has already begun, with ‘big tobacco’ companies investing considerable funding in their next project for the betterment of humanity. Similarly, Microsoft have unashamedly announced their partnership with ‘Kind financial,’ a business that ‘logistically supports’ cannabis growers. (Becker, 2016, para. 1) By definition, the purpose of dope companies within legal markets is to sell as much cannabis to as many people as possible and crucial to this pursuit is persuading new users to try their product. In the US there is growing concern these companies have already begun to target a young, impressionable audience with their advertisement.

Likewise, disingenuous associations between cannabis and wellness and barefaced lies regarding the non-existent curative potential of the drug are becoming common-place. According to Vara, the aim is simple. Make as much money as possible by making: ‘Pot seem as all American as an ice-cold beer.’ (Vara, 2016, para. 1)

4) SOCIAL MOBILITY and PUBLIC OPINION 

Inevitably, it is working class young people who are least able to afford the damage that cannabis wreaks on their focus, self-belief and motivation, as well as on their education and career opportunities. It’s well known that cannabis users have lower levels of dopamine in the striatum part of their brains, meaning lower levels of motivation and aspiration. (Bergland, 2013, para. 1) Even after a wide ranging and comprehensive allowance for confounding factors, a Christchurch study observing 1265 children found a strong link between educational underachievement and the use of cannabis. (Fergusson, Horwood & Beautrais, 2003, p. 1682) Those who had used the drug one hundred times or more before the age of sixteen were three times more likely than those who had never used cannabis to leave education without any qualifications. (Fergusson, Horwood & Beautrais, 2003, p. 1690)

In addition, the numbing effect the drug has on the brain of a user and its ability to concentrate and remember things can continue for days after usage. This means that, for regular users, they may never be able to operate at the best of their ability and fulfil their potential. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016, p. 1) Overall then, after adjustment for confounding factors, Fergusson & Boden conclude that cannabis usage between the ages of 14 and 18 was ‘Associated significantly’ with ‘lower levels of life and relationship satisfaction, lower income and higher levels of unemployment and welfare dependency.’ (2011, p. 974)

Nevertheless, unlike many prominent proponents of legalisation, I’m a true believer in democracy. If working-class communities genuinely believe that the best way to combat cannabis is through legalisation, then who am I to argue. The reality is quite the contrary. While many, like Lib Dem

Norman Lamb falsely claim that Brits want cannabis to be legalised. (Doward, 2016, para. 1) A comprehensive poll showed that the British public oppose cannabis legalisation by forty-nine to thirty-two percent. (Jordan, 2015, para. 7) Moreover, various surveys show that those groups who are amongst the hardest hit by cannabis, namely the poor and ethnic 6 minorities, often hold the toughest legal views. In 2010 30% of intermediate non-manual workers had used cannabis compared to 10% of unskilled manual workers. (Park, Curtice & Thompson, 2007, p. 127) Likewise, ‘restrictive views’ on cannabis were higher among those with lower educational attainment. In 2001, just 25% of those with a degree held ‘restrictive’ views compared to 40% of those with A levels as highest qualification and 61% with no qualifications. (Park, Curtice &Thompson, 2007, p. 126)

Even an Ipsos Mori poll which found a slight majority of the overall public in favour of decriminalisation, found that this was supported by only 25% of Asians and 41% of blacks, compared to 55% of whites. (Ames & Worsley, 2013, p. 17) Is this really surprising? After all, the dark world of drug-related crime, violence and addiction hit harder in the streets of Hull than they do in Hampstead. If we as a society, truly care about those who suffer the most at the hands of cannabis, maybe we should take the revolutionary approach of listening to what they think we should do about it.

 5) SOLUTIONS AND PROPOSALS

Having demonstrated the toxic and damaging effects of cannabis on our society we must consider how we can best eradicate it. In 1999, The Runciman report was published, calling for the decriminalisation of cannabis and concluding that … ‘The present law on cannabis produces more harm than it prevents.’ (Runciman Report, 1999). This paper fully agrees that the present laws produce more harm than they prevent. However, this is not due to our nation’s refusal to give in to the drug completely, but because we refuse to properly confront it. Law enforcement Insisting the only way to tackle drug criminality in working class communities is to capitulate to those terrorising them by legalising their product is defeatist madness. The legislative framework and established penalties for the possession of cannabis are, in theory, suitable and rigorous. The maximum sentence for cannabis possession stands at five years’ imprisonment. It is not therefore the theoretical legislative provision that is at fault, we require no new dramatic laws or hard-line legislation. To eradicate cannabis, we require only the practical application of existing legal provision by responsible judges and a police service, uniformly educated in and committed to this endeavour.

The Runciman report itself acknowledged that: ‘almost no one is given an immediate custodial sentence solely for possession of cannabis.’ (Runciman Report, 1999, p. 105) Real deterrence in the form of strict criminal penalties must be consistently enforced to stem the demand side of the trade. Police forces in the United Kingdom should operate a zero-tolerance approach to cannabis possession, with every case leading to arrest and a formal criminal record. In addition, the criminal justice system ought to implement a ‘two strikes’ policy. Upon a second arrest for cannabis possession the individual must always be given a prison sentence of meaningful length. This can be enforced in several ways. Rigorous, visible and aggressive policing can drive up the price of cannabis while mitigating the drug’s negative secondary societal consequences. Community policing must, once again, be the focus of our law enforcement.

Areas synonymous with youth cannabis usage must be visibly policed  and dimly lit, urban, cannabis ‘trouble spots’ should be provided, where possible, with better lighting provision and mainstream

public access. The two-tier, confused policing of cannabis must also be immediately halted, while drug-snobbery and police profiling stamped out. Why are extensive bag searches and sniffer dogs common place at music festivals whose attendees are predominantly working class, such as Creamfields, while glittercovered Home County revellers at Glastonbury can visibly consume drugs without consequence?

The message that drugs are ok so long as secondary behaviour does not cause a nuisance must end – replaced by the message that taking drugs is wrong full-stop. Similarly, distinctions between supposed ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ drugs are largely unhelpful. The consumption of any illegal drug is morally wrong and so the use of all drugs must be discouraged with equal vigour. Equally as important is the insistence that our police force consistently and fairly enforce the law and that certain, politically motivated members of the police hierarchy, who have sought to enact a backdoor decriminalisation process, stop.

In a 2013 study, 103 officers out of 150 interviewed admitted they did not always arrest for cannabis possession. (Warburton May & Hough, 2005, p. 118) One officer stated: ‘I never nick anyone for cannabis, and never will, unless it’s a van load.’ (Warburton May & Hough, 2005, p. 119) Nowhere is this problem better illustrated as in County Durham, who’s Police Chief Constable, Mick Barton, has taken it upon himself to give criminals in the county permission to grow skunk for their own consumption. (Evans, 2015, para. 1)

Sweden provides a useful case study into the potential effectiveness of this approach. Largely considered to have the toughest cannabis laws in Europe, few consider the drug ‘soft.’ Police have pursued a zero-tolerance approach with the vast majority of instances of possession leading to prosecution. This, coupled with the visible and proactive ‘disturb and annoy’ tactics of the national police force (Mapes, 2016, p. 1) have delivered a cannabis usage rate of just 3%. Lower than any other nation in Northern, Western or Southern Europe, with the exception of Lithuania, on 2%. (European monitoring centre for drugs and drug addiction, 2016)

Treatment and education

Further, we must counter the false claim that only legalisation can allow for effective and compassionate treatment for those who have become mentally dependent. Judgement-free, abstinence based assistance for those struggling, but willing to cease their habitual high should be well funded and available. This should be coupled with early intervention for those who have developed mental health problems. Likewise, we cannot be seen to be shying away from the debate on drugs, why would we? The facts and the evidence regarding the harmfulness of cannabis stand in our support. Education, countering fanciful claims that cannabis is ‘twenty-two thousand’ times less dangerous than alcohol ,should be comprehensive. Of course, there could indeed be occasional situations in which cannabis might be a small force for good. Whilst it possesses no curative potential, it is reasonable to conduct a serious and evidence based debate on the merits of tightly-regulated, prescriptive cannabinoids medication for the relief of specific symptoms in exceptional circumstances. In certain situations, morphine is of invaluable  medical assistance. Using heroin recreationally is of great societal and personal damage. Nonetheless, this tiny element of cannabis usage has long been hijacked by those dogmatic in their pursuit of legalised recreational usage and until this ends, progress will be difficult.

Similarly, this paper is not an attack on the middle class in general, or even all those members of the middle class who smoke the drug. While sensible support networks and access to early intervention may help many navigate the pitfalls of cannabis, schizophrenia and depression respect not income nor family stability. It’s our societal responsibility to safeguard all our people from a drug that may not, but may well, ruin their life.

 CONCLUSION 

However, most of those pushing for cannabis legalisation aren’t doing so because they truly believe it is in the best interests of anyone’s health or even finances. They’re doing so because a world that gets high, is a world that appeals to them. If cannabis was legalised it would be a monumental mistake impossible to reverse. We owe it to everyone to resist, with all our might, the ‘inevitable’ social normalisation and legislative legalisation of cannabis.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR David Sergeant read Politics at Durham University and is an Intern and Research Contributor at the Bow Group. He Co-Chaired the High Peak Constituency ‘Vote Leave’ group, sits on the Australian Monarchist League’s New South Wales Committee and is Treasurer of Conservatives Abroad – Sydney.

Source:  https://www.bowgroup.org/sites/bowgroup.uat.pleasetest.co.uk/files/David%20Sergeant%20-%20Cannabis%20paper%20evidence_0.pdf

O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven. Keep me in temper and keep the Liberal Democrats away from government. For they would make us all mad.

On Friday, new meaning was given to the Progressive Alliance. Maybe the Lib Dems have taken pity seeing Labour struggling to convince even the BBC that the nationalisation of everything can be paid for just by whacking more taxes on the rich. That was my first thought on reading of their pledge to completely legalise cannabis.

In the spirit of cooperation, I thought they have dreamt up a way to raise a billion quid of Labour’s shortfall. People won’t notice, not when they are stoned anyway.

Yes, the Lib Dems’ great money-raising wheeze depends on getting all us puffing away on the weed, just like we knock back the alcohol or used to grab a fag at the first excuse. Why not? Cigarettes and alcohol have always proved nice little earners, even if smuggling went up with every tax hike.  So why not add dope and kill two birds with one stone (no pun intended) and make yourself popular with all those ageing liberal hippies like Simon Jenkins, Mary Ann Seighart and Camilla Cavendish, former head of David Cameron’s policy unit, who are all forever bellyaching on about accepting drugs as part of the fabric of life and restoring sanity to society.

Hang on a minute – that’s the Lib Dem plan! It’s nothing to do with helping Labour out of a hole. It’s to finance their own mental health programme. Yes, you have read that. Wasn’t it last week that the well-meaning Norman Lamb earmarked, guess what, but a billion quid to fight that historic injustice, he says, is faced by people with mental ill health? An historic injustice that goes back all of 2 years.

‘Under the Conservative Government, services have been stretched to breaking point at a time when the prevalence of mental ill health appears to be rising.’

It is more than bizarre that the Lib Dems fail to join up the dots of mental illness and treatment (on which they have been campaigning vigorously) with increased use of drugs, particularly cannabis (which is what legalisation means).

Have they missed entirely the connection between cannabis use and mental ill health? Are they unaware that cannabis use triples psychosis risk? And from 17 to 38 can lose you 8 IQ points? Perhaps they are suffering that IQ loss already.

In Lib Dem happy land, everything can be squared – even Tiny Tim’s evangelical religious beliefs with gay marriage – and on drugs it is back to the future of hippy protest.

They have all been out straggling the airwaves, forgotten but former Lib Dem MPs – Dr Evan Harris (Dr Death as he was better known) and Dame Molly Meacher’s former sidekick Dr Julian Huppert – emerging into the daylight blinking to press their old cause, along with their Frankenstein master, the suitably named Professor David Nutt, of magic mushroom and alcohol antidote research fame.

One wonders whether the God-fearing Tim knows what he’s conjured up.  As a concerned parent, he should know that if legalisation means anything at all it means drug use going up as the latest stats from Colorado underline. Past-month marijuana use among 12-to-17 year-olds there has increased from 9.82 per cent to 12.56 per cent, according to the most recent year-by-year comparison looking at pre-legalisation data.

Well I for one am looking forward to seeing the contortions he’ll have to go through to join up the dots on his mental health and drugs legalisation policies. I suggest before he finds himself being asked to justify adding to our already overcrowded and underfunded secure psychiatric units – peopled with male psychotics addicted to cannabis – he reads one of the many comprehensive reviews of the link between cannabis and mental illness.

However, I am not holding my breath that Andrew Marr or any other progressive liberal BBC interviewer will press him on it.

Source:  http://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/kathy-gyngell-potty-lib-dems-want-legalise-cannabis-boost-mental-health/   14th May 2017

Challenges Top Marijuana Lobbyist to Answer Four Questions

[Alexandria, VA, May 2, 2017] – Today, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a national organization committed to promoting evidence-based marijuana laws at the Federal, state, and local levels, released the following statement in reaction to the admission by Rob Kampia, the Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project, that the special interest group is actively soliciting financial contributions from the tobacco industry in exchange for shaping their marijuana legalization initiatives. MPP is the lead lobbying group responsible for funding and organizing every state-based marijuana commercialization campaign in the U.S.

“Rob Kampia’s shameless solicitation for contributions from the tobacco industry is quid pro quo special interest politics at its worst,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, President and CEO of SAM. “Marijuana laws in our country should be informed by science and evidence, not the financial interests of the tobacco industry or a growing for-profit marijuana industry.  When the head of the lobbying group responsible for every single marijuana legalization initiative in America asks tobacco companies, ‘what do you want?’ it should send chills down the spine of every public health and safety official in America.

This is an outrage and we challenge the Marijuana Policy Project to immediately disclose any and all ties to the tobacco industry so that communities in Michigan and across the country considering changes to marijuana laws can see through the haze of what’s really driving pro-marijuana legalization campaigns in America.”

Kampia’s admission was published last week in the Marijuana Business Daily in a story entitled, “MPP Chief Ready to Barter For Marijuana Campaign Donations.” According to the Daily:

The executive director of Marijuana Policy Project, Kampia called Marijuana Business Daily on Thursday after reading an MJBizDaily story about negotiations in Michigan over a likely ballot measure to legalize recreational cannabis in the state.

He solicited tobacco business interests in Michigan in search of campaign donations to run what will likely be a multimillion-dollar, 19-month endeavor, but he said he was largely unsuccessful.

“It’s the kind of thing where I actually go out and I try to court well-funded constituencies and philanthropists, and say, ‘What do you want, what do you hate, what’s going to turn you off so I can’t actually ask you for money later,’ and sometimes you get so far as to say … ‘Is there something that we put something in here that would cause you to immediately escalate your commitment?'” Kampia explained…

In response to Kampia’s latest comments, SAM also challenged MPP to answer four questions regarding MPP’s ties to the tobacco industry:

1. How much total money has MPP taken from the tobacco industry since the organization was established in 1995?

2. Which state-based marijuana ballot initiatives led by MPP have been influenced by input from the tobacco industry?

3. What specific changes to marijuana legislation or ballot initiatives has the tobacco industry proposed in exchange for financial contributions to MPP?

4. Has MPP disclosed its ties to the tobacco industry with Members of Congress it is currently lobbying in support of Federal legislation that would incentivize the commercialization of marijuana in the United States?

Evidence demonstrates that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. Moreover, in states that have already legalized the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes and youth marijuana use. States that have legalized marijuana have also failed to shore up state budget shortfalls with marijuana taxes, continue to see a thriving black market, and are experiencing a continued rise in alcohol sales.

Source:  learnaboutsam.org.  2nd May 2017

Fifty years on, I still wince in recalling those two frightened high school kids I saw hauled into an Oshawa courtroom and handed stiff jail terms, two years less a day, for possessing miniscule amounts of marijuana.

They weren’t dealers. They were just teens dabbling in the latest thing, but they had the misfortune of being the first “drug arrests” in a tough, beer-swilling automotive city that was close to hysteria over the arrival of dirty, long-haired hippies and their damn weed.

Those kids would be senior citizens now, but I still wonder what became of them. Were their lives ruined by that jail time and the criminal records that followed them everywhere? Or did they move on and become brain surgeons and bank presidents?

I get the argument behind decriminalizing marijuana consumption. Nobody should do jail time for simply consuming a product less damaging, at least to the liver, than alcohol. If deterrence was the intent of those harsh marijuana sentences, they utterly failed. By the early 1970s, it was all but impossible to attend a social gathering without being handed a joint and expected to partake, at least a polite puff or two, or be labelled a pariah.

But the pendulum has swung. The anti-weed hysteria of the late ’60s has become raging 21st-century fury that anyone would dare voice concerns about the fallout of Justinian Canada becoming only the second nation to give marijuana its full blessing.

Mayor Drew Dilkens ran afoul of the pot crusaders and their missionary zeal three weeks ago when he described, in this space, how a trip to Denver, Colo., where marijuana was legalized four years ago, left him worried about the possible impact on a border city like Windsor. On the 16th Street pedestrian mall, he had encountered throngs of aggressive “riff-raff and undesirables.” Denver’s mayor has gone even further, decrying the area’s “scourge of hoodlums.”

Enraged readers dumped on Dilkens. They ripped him for being out-of-touch with the times and failing to recognize a potential tourism bonanza for our downtown. They mocked him for being concerned for his safety in Denver and wailed that he was trying to deny them their precious medicinal marijuana.

Never mind that Dilkens never mentioned medical marijuana and didn’t say whether he’s for or against legalization. Facts don’t matter. All that matters is that he wasn’t out front leading the marijuana welcoming parade, pompoms in hand, and that merited condemnation.

The most interesting message Dilkens received after the column appeared came from someone who actually knows what he’s talking about.

“As a Colorado sheriff who’s had to deal with the impacts of commercialized marijuana, I will tell you that your concerns are warranted,” wrote Justin Smith, the outspoken sheriff of Larimer County, population 334,000, an hour’s drive north of Denver.

“Since we approved commercial marijuana production and sales, we’ve been overrun by transients and transient-related crime. In the last three years my jail population has soared by more than 25 per cent. Six years ago, transients accounted for one-in-eight inmates in my jail. Today, they account for one-in-three inmates and many have multiple pending cases. Our county prosecutor predicts a 90 per cent increase in felony crime prosecutions over the last three years.

“Decriminalized marijuana has proven to be anything but safe and well-regulated in my state,” the sheriff warned. “If I could give your country any words of wisdom, they would be, don’t sell the future of your country to the pot industry.”

Too late, sheriff. The industry, now in the clutches of powerful corporations and feverish investors, is slathering over the immense profits to be made now that our flower child PM has given them the all clear.

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel joked a few nights ago that Canada is becoming “the stoner in America’s attic.”

Funny, yes.   But insightful as well.  Next summer, when the stoners and those who feed off them occupy our downtown, which will be enveloped in the acrid stench of burning weed, we’ll see who’s laughing.

Source:http://www.theprovince.com/opinion/columnists/henderson+laughing+when+recreational+legalized/13316471/story.html

[Alexandria, VA, April 20, 2017]

Today, a group of national drug policy leaders, elected officials, and public health experts convened in Atlanta to coordinate the opposition to marijuana legalization in the U.S. and advance evidence-based marijuana laws. Held in conjunction with the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, the 4th Annual Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) Summit featured keynote speakers including Former Clinton Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. The day-long program highlighted concerns about the special interest marijuana lobby and empowered concerned citizens with grassroots advocacy strategies to protect public health and safety in their local communities.

“So far, 2017 has been a bad year for the pro-marijuana special interests looking to profit off the next big addictive industry,” said SAM President and CEO Kevin A. Sabet. “More states are realizing that marijuana legalization produces more costs than benefits, so this momentum gives our summit new significance as we look to energize our base and move the needle toward evidence-based marijuana policy that puts people over profit.”

“Smart drug policy starts with science and research, not ideology or profit,” said SAM Honorary Advisor and Former Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey. “SAM embodies this belief by advocating for common-sense laws that protect American families and communities from the social and health consequences of marijuana legalization. I continue to be concerned about the serious problems around drug abuse and its effects on our country, so I’m proud to stand up for SAM’s health first agenda today.”

“Last year, Arizonans went to the ballot and soundly rejected the misguided and harmful proposal to legalize marijuana,” said Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. “This vote shows that Arizonans don’t want the harmful consequences of legalizing this drug that have been seen in other states, like drugged driving incidents and more kids using marijuana. I am honored to stand with SAM today in support of the message that the health and safety of our communities must come first.”

Evidence shows that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. Moreover, in states that have already legalized the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes and youth marijuana use. States that have legalized marijuana have also failed to shore up state budget shortfalls with marijuana taxes, continue to see a thriving black market, and are experiencing a continued rise in alcohol sales.

Source:  anisha@learnaboutsam.org   20th April 2017 About SAM Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states. For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit http://www.learnaboutsam.org.

Business Insider published a harrowing account of the expansion of illegal marijuana grows on public lands in California and the ways these grows are damaging the environment. “The lethal poisons these growers use to protect their crops and campsites from pests are annihilating wildlife, polluting pristine public lands, and maybe even turning up in your next bong hit,” writes Julian Smith, the report’s author. He follows agents from several federal and state agencies assigned to eliminate illegal grows and clean up the areas they have damaged. The agents’ lives are endangered not only from armed growers who may be present at the sites but from pesticides and rodenticides that are so toxic they are banned in the US, Canada, and the EU. Containers of a neurotoxic insecticide called carbofuran, for example, are often strewn around such sites. It can cause such symptoms as nausea, blurred vision, convulsions, and death. Small animals who eat the poison can pass it on to larger animals. One study of barred owls in the Pacific Northwest found 80 percent tested positive for such pesticides. Agents are concerned that the poisons used in grow sites could contaminate the water supply of cities and towns downstream. The author says  nationwide  legalization  would bring an end to illegal grows.  However, states that have legalized find illegal grows increase so growers can undercut the cost of commercial marijuana.

Source:    We recommend you read full story at:  http://finance.yahoo.com/news/cartels-growing-marijuana-illegally-california-194700553.html   8th April 2017  

Marijuana Legalization Proposals Die in Committee

[Alexandria, VA, April 12, 2017] –  Yesterday, an alliance of concerned citizens, public health experts, and safety officials soundly defeated two marijuana legalization bills in Maryland. The bills, which would have permitted commercial pot shops in communities throughout the state, died without a vote in the Maryland Senate last night. SAM Executive Vice President Jeff Zinsmeister and Maryland-based neuroscientist and SAM Science Advisor Dr.Christine Miller testified in Annapolis last month, urging the legislature to reject marijuana legalization and commercialization. AAA Mid-Atlantic also testified against the bills, citing traffic safety concerns due to drugged driving increases in states that have legalized marijuana.

“This is a major victory in the effort to put public health and common sense before special interests,” said SAM Executive Vice President Jeff Zinsmeister. “The costs of legalization, including more stoned drivers on the roads causing fatalities, more people being driven into treatment for addiction, and higher regulatory costs far outweighed any benefit Maryland would see. The Big Marijuana lobbyists came into Maryland touting the notion that marijuana legalization would fix our criminal justice system and rake in millions – but Maryland smartly concluded that legalization actually exacerbates these issues. All they had to do was look to Colorado, where more minority youth are being arrested for marijuana and the state deficit is growing.”

“We believe that science and research, not profit, should drive what marijuana laws look like in our state,” said Dr. Christine Miller, a Maryland neuroscientist and member of SAM’s Science Advisory Board.  “The pro-marijuana lobby was looking to profit by selling a harmful, addictive substance that would harm our communities and endanger public safety. I’m proud that evidence-based policy putting health first prevailed in Maryland yesterday.”

Evidence demonstrates that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. Moreover, in states that have already legalized the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes and youth marijuana use. States that have legalized marijuana have also failed to shore up state budget shortfalls with marijuana taxes, continue to see a thriving black market, and are experiencing a continued rise in alcohol sales.

Source: info@learnaboutsam.org  April 2017

Australia21 and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) have been telling politicians and the media of the ‘success’ of Portugal’s decriminalisation of all drugs.[i],[ii]  Their claim is that decriminalisation will not increase drug use. But here is what is really happening in Portugal.

Implemented in 2001, drug use in Portugal is reported, as with every other country in the European Union according to the requirements of the REITOX reporting network controlled by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.[iii]These reports are readily available on the worldwide web and are referenced below.

According to the first 2007 national survey in Portugal after decriminalisation, Portugal’s overall drug use rose, with a small rise in cannabis use but a doubling of cocaine and of speed and ice use as well for those aged 15-64.[iv] For those under the age of 34, use of speed and ice quadrupled. Admirably, heroin use decreased from the highest level in the developed world at 0.9% in 1998 to 0.46% by 2005, however much of these decreases already predated decriminalisation, moving to 0.7% by 2000, the year before decriminalisation.[v] It is important to note that use of all other illicit drugs in Portugal, other than heroin, had been well below European averages before decriminalisation.[vi]

In the second Portuguese national survey in 2012 overall drug use decreased 21% below 2001 levels for those aged 15-64. This is what prompts the campaign by Australia21 and NDARC. What they fail to mention is that the decreases are not as significant as for various other European nations at that same time.[vii]

Italy – Opiates                    0.8% (2005)                         0.48% (2011)

Spain – Opiates                  0.6% (2000)                         0.29% (2012)

Switzerland – Opiates     0.61% (2000)                      0.1% (2011)

Italy – Cocaine                    1.1% (2001)                         0.6% (2012)

Italy – Speed/Ice               0.4% (2005)                         0.09% (2012)

Austria – Speed/Ice         0.8% (2004)                         0.5% (2012)

They also fail to mention the alarming 36% rise in drug use by high-school-age children 16-18 years old from 2001 to 2011, accompanied by a smaller rise in drug use by 13-15 year olds off 2001 levels.[viii]

By comparison Australia’s Tough on Drugs policy, without decriminalisation of all drugs running interference as in Portugal, decreased overall drug use from 1998 to 2007 by 39%.[ix]

Decriminalisation has not worked for Portugal, whereas Tough on Drugs, which maintained criminal penalties as a deterrent to drug use, did.

We encourage all Australian Parliamentarians to check each of the references cited below, and also see Drug Free Australia’s evidence in ‘Why Australia Should Not Decriminalise Drugs’ indicating that drug use normatively increases after decriminalisation, whether in Australia or overseas at:   http://drugfree.org.au/images/13Books-FP/pdf/Decriminalisation.pdf.

Source:  Gary Christian , Secretary Drug Free Australia  Feb.2017

[i] https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/ndarc/resources/Decriminalisation%20briefing%20note%20Feb%202016%20FINAL.pdf

[ii] https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/ndarc/resources/Australia21%20background%20paper%20July%202012.pdf

[iii] http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/publications/695/EMCDDA_brochure_ReitoxFAQs_EN_326619.pdf

[iv] See REITOX report 2014 graphs (p 36) comparing surveys of drug use in the previous 12 months in 2001, 2007 and 2012  http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/publications/996/2014_NATIONAL_REPORT.pdf

[v] See World Drug Report  2004 http://www.unodc.org/pdf/WDR_2004/Chap6_drug_abuse.pdf

[vi] See United Nations’ World Drug Report 2004 tables for drug consumption pp 389-401 http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/WDR-2004.html

[vii] Figures below are taken from United Nations’ World Drug Report drug consumption tables from various years from 2000 through 2013 https://www.unodc.org/wdr2016/en/previous-reports.html

[viii] Compare Portugal’s REITOX National Report 2008 for school age children’s use in the last month (p 23) http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/publications/522/NR_2008_PT_168550.pdf with 2014 (p 37)  http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/publications/996/2014_NATIONAL_REPORT.pdf

[ix] See Table 2.1 (p 8) –  ‘Any illicit’ comparing 1998 with2007 http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=10737421139&libID=10737421138

I totally agree that we all need to let Attorney General Jeff Sessions know that the majority of Americans suffer because of marijuana …. whether they choose to use it or not.  It is a factor in crime, physical and mental health, academic failure, lost productivity, et al.  American cannot be great again if we continue to allow poison to be grown and distributed to the masses.

The President has taken a position that “medical marijuana” should be a State’s right, because he is not yet enlightened on the reality of what that means.  If asked to define “medical marijuana” that has helped his friends, I doubt that he would say gummy bears, Heavenly brownies and other edibles with 60 to 80% potency, sold in quantities that are potentially lethal; smoked pot at 25% THC content; or waxes and oils used for dabbing and vaping that are as high as 98% potency that cause psychotic breaks, mental illness, suicides, traffic deaths and more.

Further, if states are to have a right to offer “medical marijuana”, it has to be done under tightly controlled conditions and the profit motive eliminated.  Privately owned cultivation and dispensaries must be banned … including one’s ability to grow 6 plants at home.  6 plants grown hydroponically with 4 harvests a year could generate 24 lbs of pot, the equivalent of about 24,000 joints. That obviously would not be for personal use.  We would just have thousands of new drug dealers, with more crime, more child endangerment, more BHO labs blowing up, more traffic deaths, et al.

Source:   Letter from Roger Morgan to DrugWatch International  Feb. 2017

SACRAMENTO (KPIX 5) – Did the medicine contribute to the patient’s death? That was the question facing doctors when a California man died from a relatively rare fungal infection.

“It started with a couple patients that were undergoing very intensive chemotherapy and a stem cell therapy, and those patients were very immune compromised,” explained Dr. Joseph Tuscano of the University of California, Davis Cancer Center.  Those patients were already in a very serious cancer fight when that fight suddenly became much more complicated with a relatively rare but particularly lethal fungal infection.

“We thought it was strange to have cases of such a bad fungal disease in such a short amount of time,” said Dr. George Thompson, a fungal infection expert with UC Davis Medical Center.

The patients were relatively young, in winnable cancer battles. For one of them, it was the fungal infection that proved deadly. So the doctors set out to find that killer, and right away, they had a suspect.

“What struck me is both of these gentlemen were at least medicinal marijuana users, that helped them with nausea and appetite issues that come with the treatment,” said Tuscano, who joined with Thompson to investigate further.  Only problem, federal law prohibited them from doing that research at UC Davis, so they joined forces with Steep Hill Laboratories in Berkeley.

“We kind of go on the credo of  ‘do no harm,’” said Dr. Donald Land, who has been analyzing contaminated marijuana for over a decade.

“We sometimes see 20 or 30 percent of our samples coming through the lab significantly contaminated with molds,” said Land, who had plenty of experience finding mold and fungus strains, but this time, he and his team went deeper.

They gathered 20 samples of medical marijuana from across California and took them apart, pulling out a range of dangerous bacteria and fungi which they analyzed right down to their DNA.  Even Land was surprised by the results. “We were a little bit startled that ninety percent of those samples had something on them. Some DNA of some pathogen,” he told KPIX 5.

These weren’t just any pathogens, they were looking at the very fingerprints of a killer. “The cannabis was contaminated with many bacteria and fungi, some of which was compatible with the infections that I saw in my patients,” Tuscano said.

“Klebsiella, E.coli, Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter, these are all very serious infections for anybody in the hospital. But particularly in that population, the cancer population,” Thompson.

One of questions this raises is whether the risk is made worse by smoking, which could send pathogens directly into the lungs, which are particularly vulnerable.  Truth is, there’s really isn’t much research on any of this.  “But we think now,” Thompson says, “with some of these patients, it’s really unknowingly self-inflicted form cannabis use.”

Cannabis, labelled medicinal, that could pose a lethal threat to already vulnerable patients.

When this research is published it will suggest more warnings for patients with weakened immune systems, because, as Dr. Tuscano explains, “the problem in my opinion is that there’s this misconception that these dispensaries produce products that have been tested to be safe for patients, and that’s not necessarily the case.”

Source: sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/02/06/medical-marijuana-fungus-death-uc-davis-medical-center/  6th Feb. 2017

UC Davis researcher Dr. George Thompson advises cancer patients and others with weakened immune systems to avoid vaping or smoking marijuana.

In uneasy news for medical marijuana users, UC Davis researchers have identified potentially lethal bacteria and mold on samples from 20 Northern California pot growers and dispensaries, leading the doctors to warn patients with weakened immune systems to avoid smoking, vaping or inhaling aerosolized cannabis.

“For the vast majority of cannabis users, this is not of great concern,” said Dr. George Thompson, professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. But those with weakened immune systems – such as from leukemia, lymphoma, AIDS or cancer treatments – could unwittingly be exposing themselves to serious lung infections when they smoke or vape medical marijuana.

“We strongly advise them to avoid it,” Thompson said.

The study’s findings were published online in a research letter in the journal Clinical Microbiology and Infection.  It comes as California and a majority of states have eased laws on medical and recreational marijuana use, and a majority of U.S. doctors support the use of medical marijuana to relieve patients’ symptoms, such as pain, nausea and loss of appetite during chemotherapy and other treatments.

Typically, patients with lower-functioning immune systems are advised to avoid unwashed fruits or vegetables and cut flowers because they may harbor potentially harmful bacteria and mold, or fungi. Marijuana belongs in that same risk category, according to Thompson.

“Cannabis is not on that list and it’s a big oversight, in our opinion,” Thompson said. “It’s basically dead vegetative material and always covered in fungi.”

The study began several years ago after Dr. Joseph Tuscano, a UC Davis blood cancer specialist, began seeing leukemia patients who were developing rare, very severe lung infections. One patient died.

Suspecting there might be a link between the infections and his patients’ use of medical marijuana, Tuscano teamed with Thompson to study whether soil-borne pathogens might be hiding in medical marijuana samples.

The marijuana was gathered from 20 Northern California growers and dispensaries by Steep Hill Labs, a cannabis testing company in Berkeley. It was distilled into DNA samples and sent to UC Davis for analysis, which found multiple kinds of bacteria and fungi, some of which are linked to serious lung infections.

There was a “surprisingly” large number of bacteria and mold, said Donald Land, a UC Davis chemistry professor who is chief scientific consultant for Steep Hill Labs. The analysis found numerous types of bacteria and fungi, including organic pathogens that can lead to a particularly deadly infection known as Mucor.

“There’s a misconception by people who think that because it’s from a dispensary, then it must be safe. That’s not the case,” said UC Davis’ Tuscano. “This is potentially a direct

inoculation into the lungs of these contaminated organisms, especially if you use a bong or vaporization technique.”

Patients with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to infections, usually acquired in their environment or in the hospital. But given the testing results, Tuscano said, it’s possible that even some of the more common infections, such as aspergillus, could also be attributed to contaminated medical marijuana.   Tuscano emphasized that until more research is done, he can’t be 100 percent assured that contaminated cannabis caused the infections, but “it’s highly suspicious.” Under California’s Proposition 64, the voter-approved initiative that eased restrictions on personal marijuana use, the state is expected to have cannabis testing regulations in place for medical marijuana by Jan. 1.

“Patient safety is one of our chief concerns in this process,” said Alex Traverso, spokesman for the state Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, in an email. He said the state’s new medical-marijuana testing standards will soon be available for public review. “We welcome everyone’s input to ensure that testing standards are as strong as we need them to be.”

Until then, consumers are largely on their own.  The vast majority of cannabis sold in California is not tested, according to Land.

“You can’t tell what’s in (a marijuana product) by looking at it, smelling it, feeling it, or a person in a dispensary telling you it’s safe or clean,” he said. “The only way to ensure you have a safe, clean product is to test it and be sure it’s handled according to good manufacturing practices.”

Some medical marijuana clinics already do voluntary testing of their products. Kimberly Cargile, director of A Therapeutic Alternative, a medical marijuana clinic in Sacramento, said a sample from every incoming pound of pot is sent to a local, independent testing lab.

“It’s for consumer protection. It’s a healthy first step,” Cargile said.

To avoid the risk of exposure to severe lung infections, Thompson and Tuscano advise cancer patients and others with hampered immune systems to avoid smoking, vaping or inhaling aerosolized cannabis altogether. Cannabis edibles, such as baked cookies or brownies, could be a safer alternative.  Theoretically, Thompson said, the consumption of cooked edibles seems safer than smoking or vaping, but it’s not scientifically proven.

“I give that advice with a caveat: We don’t know it’s safer; we think it probably is,” he said.

For patients heeding the UC Davis advice to avoid smoking or vaping medical marijuana, “it’s always better to err on the side of caution,” said medical marijuana advocate Cargile. There are plenty of alternatives, she noted, including cannabis salves, lotions, sprays, tinctures and suppositories.

Source:  http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/health-and-medicine/article131391629.html Feb.2017

The following extract is from an email a colleague in the USA sent to the NDPA in February 2017.

Friends, according to the article below, the Utah legislature has decided to forgo any medi-pot legislation this year because of uncertainty regarding the new administration. Although they may consider bills that encourage research, they have decided against pursuing legalization itself. This is very encouraging in light of discussions I had with legislators less than six months ago who were “full speed ahead” despite strong advice to the contrary.

Although the commercial pot industry is increasingly nervous about what lies ahead, they seem to be doubling their efforts in pushing additional states to legalize pot before the hammer comes down. In my opinion, the intent is to continue their momentum in the hope of making it more difficult for the new administration to reign in the chaos.

Instead of careening towards political, medical, social, and legal chaos, other states should seriously consider the time and resources being squandered over legislative schemes that promote federal crimes and dupe the general public into believing that a crude street drug cures everything. It is all extremely foolish, especially when the legalization landscape could change overnight.   I think it is equally foolish that other states are rushing to implement medi-pot and recreational laws since their drug proceeds (disguised as tax revenues) could easily go up in a cloud of smoke.

Furthermore, in light of the recent decision of the Colorado Supreme Court regarding federal pre-emption, these get rich quick schemes may also “vaporize” through litigation in a variety of forms. I would not want to be a pot doctor when the medical malpractice lawsuits pick up steam. And how will government attorneys and public officials, who represent cities, counties and states, explain their failure to provide competent legal advice and protect their citizens if all of this comes crashing down?

The only sane response during this time of change is to wait until the dust settles. Even if dramatic changes do not occur immediately, it is virtually certain that rules, regulations, and criminal/civil liabilities will not be interpreted by the same folks who cynically and purposely allowed human suffering to launch the commercial pot industry.

If you live in a state that is considering legalization this session, or live in a state that is rushing to implement state sponsored felonies, you might consider the rationale used by the Utah legislature. Things are going to change, people are starting to wake up, science will continue to develop safe and effective medicines, and common snake oil salesmen will be seen as the pariahs they are.

No individual, family, school, community or nation can be great when government promotes a culture that revels in being stoned, high, wasted, baked, fried, cooked, toasted, burnt, dazed, bent, couch-locked, cheeched, chonged, chumbed, dopefaced, crapfaced, blazed, blitzed, blunted, blasted, ripped, danked, marinated, gone, done, faded, stupid, and wrecked.

(Their words, not mine.)

Source: http://www.sltrib.com/news/4871711-155/lawmakers-put-medical-pot-on-pause

Since the state legalized marijuana for recreational use, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued a report on marijuana and health every two years. Colorado legalized recreational pot in 2012 to go into effect in 2014. This is the second health report. The report contains a huge amount of data. An executive summary appears on pages 1-6. The most startling data about the consequences of legalization are the number of marijuana-related hospitalizations that have occurred from 2000, the year Colorado legalized marijuana for medical use to September 2015, 21 months after recreational legalization began. A graph showing rates of these hospitalizations by age is pictured below. They are rates per 100,000 and have nearly doubled among adolescents and quintupled among young adults. A graph of the data broken down by race on page 291 of the report are equally stunning. Read report here.

Source:  http://themarijuanareport.org/  Feb.2017

FRAMINHAM, Mass. – A Framingham middle school student was hospitalized Monday after he and another student ate a marijuana edible on the school bus, according to a letter released by Fuller Middle School.   School officials are trying to find out who brought the edibles on the bus and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Stacy Velasquez says her 12-year-old son was riding the bus to school Monday morning when he found a container of gummy bears that got him very sick.   He called her crying.

“He said, ‘I ate something.’ I said, ‘what did you eat?’ He said candy. Where did you get it? He said he found it on the bus,” Velasquez explained.   When she arrived at Fuller Middle School, she says he was in a trance-like state, barely able to speak. She rushed him to the emergency room, snapping a video of his behavior.

“Once the tox screen came back, they said they’d never seen this before in a child so small, like an overdose so to speak of marijuana, but basically it would run its course and he would sleep it off.  And that’s what he did last night,” said Velasquez.

The district superintendent says they have no comment in regards to what happened, just that the police are now investigating.   Though marijuana is now legal in the state of Massachusetts, it’s not legal for anyone under the age of 21 to handle or ingest the drug.

“I would just like someone to make sure the school is doing their part and the bus drivers are doing their part to make sure the children get to and from school safely and that something like this doesn’t happen to someone else’s child,” Velasquez said. “I think the teenager involved [should be charged], because right now, it’s expected to be one of the high schoolers.”

Velasquez said her son is doing fine, he’s just embarrassed about what happened.   As for possible charges, police are looking through video taken on the bus to see who the edibles link back to.

Source:  http://www.fox25boston.com/news/framingham-middle-schooler-hospitalized-after-eating-marijuana-edible-on-school-bus/483211673?utm_source=January 11th 2017

As well as targeting children with ‘marijuana edibles’ children’s books are now being used as ‘a tool in (his) campaign for legalisation’.  Cannabis is addictive and the younger a person is when they begin to use the more likely they are to have problems later.

The author of ‘Hairy Pothead’ and ‘Green Buds and Hash’ explains why children’s books are the perfect way to make weed approachable.

When marijuana activist Dana Larsen first started writing his pot-themed fan fiction, he just thought it would be fun for other cannabis users to read. But after years of selling thousands of copies of his parody children’s stories like Green Buds and Hash and Hairy Pothead and the Marijuana Stone, Larsen realized they could be more: a tool in his campaign for legalization.

In Canada, where Larsen lives, a nationwide legalization policy probably isn’t far off. Possessing and selling weed is still illegal across the country, but this spring, the Canadian government will propose new laws that could make it the first major country to legalize marijuana across the board. Marijuana activists hope that this shift in regulation up north will trickle down to the United States—and eventually the rest of the world—in a major victory against the war on drugs.

That’s where Larsen believes his books come in. And he’s not the only one: An emerging collection of books—from It’s Just a Plant to If a Peacock Finds a Pot Leaf—are looking to make marijuana part of children’s literature. We talked to Larsen about how he believes his children’s book parodies can open up new dialogues about cannabis and can help usher in a new era of legalized, normalized weed.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

VICE: So how did this all start?

Dana Larsen: Well, I wrote the Hairy Pothead book quite a few years ago. It came out in 2008, and it’s been re-published a couple of times since then. I read the Harry Potter books to my daughter and thought they were quite good. When I was reading them, I could just see this whole parallel world of it all being cannabis related. I just wrote it all down, and people liked it. I’ve got a sequel to that coming out, but it’s taking a bit. I’m hoping to put out  Hairy Pothead and the 420 Code next year sometime. I wrote the Green Buds and Hash poem quite a few years ago, and I just posted it online. It picked up a lot of traction, and I thought, Well, this should be a book.

Are these books meant to be for children?

I didn’t really write them for kids. I write them because they amuse me, and I enjoy them. What actually struck me—especially with the Green Buds and Hash book—is how many parents do read it to their kids, and often it’s because either the parent or the child is a medical-marijuana user. It’s a way for them to have this dialogue in a non-judgmental way with their kid. There are plenty of children who I know that who have epilepsy and use cannabis medicinally or their parents do, and I’ve had some kids send me drawings of characters from the book that say, “My daddy’s medicine,” or something. That’s not what I expected when I wrote it. I don’t really write these for kids,

but I don’t see any harm in anybody of any age reading a story or thinking about these ideas. I don’t think that an eight-year-old is going to read this book and start lighting up a joint or whatever.

Are you hoping your market shifts toward more children in the future?

I have had many parents tell me they read my books to their kids, or that they’re buying them for their kids to read. But usually those kids are teenagers or older, and not children. If I had written Green Buds and Hash for children, I wouldn’t have had lines like, “Do you suffer from sclerosis, epilepsy, or neurosis?” I doubt many pre-teens know what those words mean. However, that book does get read to some young children, and it does please me to know that some parents are using my books—and that one especially—as a way of talking to their kids and teaching them about marijuana medicine. Especially when parent or child is a medical cannabis user themselves.

I don’t think reading Hairy Pothead will make someone start smoking pot, any more than reading Harry Potter will make them start practicing witchcraft. Right now, I have four books, and I do see an age progression in them. Green Buds and Hash is the early reader; The Pie Eyed Piper is for elementary school age. Hairy Pothead and the Marijuana Stone is for teens, and the Cannabis in Canada history book is for young adults and up.

If children are reading these books, how does that help normalize weed?

Much of the information that we get about cannabis is government and corporate propaganda against it. Cannabis and cannabis users are regularly demonized and mocked in the mainstream media. Even pro-cannabis media often portray cannabis users as dopey, lazy, and ignorant. In my stories, cannabis users are usually a little smarter than non-users—like they’re part of a secret group that has extra insight and wisdom. My stories portray cannabis as a magical substance with many uses and transformative powers, which I think is a valid assessment. Although the stories are fantastical, the cannabis information is accurate, and the stories can be educational.

The first Hairy Pothead book is 242 pages long—that’s close to the same length as the original. How long did that take you to do?

It took me about a year to write it. The sequel has been taking me a while because it should be about double the length. I’m also working on a new series coming out next year called, The Hash-tastic Voyages of Sinbad the Strain Hunter. He goes around finding giant cannabis plants that are hundreds of feet tall or finding little, tiny microscopic ones or other crazy adventures that sort of parallel all those stories from The Arabian Nights. I’ve got Jack and the Hemp Stalk and Little Green Riding Hood. I’m hoping to put out some of those stories next year as well.

Are you smoking pot every time you sit down to write?

Yeah. I smoke pot all day, every day, pretty much. I’m a very chronic cannabis user and have been for the past 20 years or so. I run dispensaries in Vancouver and do a lot of political activism work, so writing is not really my main focus. Most of my work is more like, I led a big referendum campaign in 2013 to collect signatures to try to force a vote here. We didn’t hit the signature target because it’s brutally hard in British Columbia compared to any American state. I work with the New Democratic Party; I do a lot of political stuff, and I’m a big part of the dispensary movement here in Canada.

What are your goals for legalization, and how do you see it playing out?

I think that legalizing cannabis is going to be the first step in a bigger shift to ending the whole global war on drugs. I think it’s going to take many years for all of this to play out, but to me, the war on drugs is really a war on the world’s best, most medicinal and culturally relevant plants—opium, poppy, coco, mushrooms, peyote, cactus, cannabis flowers, etc. These are things that are safest and most beneficial in their natural forms, and it’s really prohibition that makes them dangerous. My work has been focused on cannabis because although users of other drugs might have it worse in some ways, most of the policing, most of the enforcement, most of the money in the war on drugs goes against cannabis users because there’s more of us. I think that comes out in my fiction a lot, where a lot of my fairy tales end up in a transformative kind of way where everything changes because the metaphor of prohibition in that story is eliminated in some way.

It’s really a testament that Canada [could be] the first major country [to legalize marijuana nationally]. People will look to Canada and see what we do here, and it will definitely have an influence around the world with what other models come out there. Canada will hopefully be an example, and we’ll keep pushing here. Once it starts to happen, it’s going to happen everywhere.

Do you think educational tools like your books will help transform the overall perspective on pot over time?

Yeah. These things can be dangerous and risky, but they can also be wonderful and positive. I think a thing to compare that to, in a way, is sex. You want to be honest with your kids about sex and want them to understand how it works. We have sex-education classes in school. You might tell your children that abstinence is better, and you’d prefer them to be abstinent, but if you’re going to have sex, it’s better in a loving relationship, and it’s better if you use condoms or birth control. I don’t see any dichotomy or contradiction between those things, between encouraging abstinence and also saying, “If you’re going to do it, here’s a way to not kill yourself and to be safer.” With cannabis and drug use, that message can be there, too. You might not want your kid taking anything, but if you’re going to use something, cannabis is a lot safer than other substances.

I hope that my books and stories help normalize cannabis, because cannabis is normal. Especially in the Hairy Pothead book, as Hairy goes through his time at Hempwards School of Herbcraft and Weedery, you learn along with him. You learn a lot about hemp and cannabis and extracts and all the different classes. I sneak in a lot of learning and information in there. If people learn a little bit while they’re laughing and enjoying my stories, that is exactly what I want.

Source:  https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/childrens-books-are-the-new-frontier-in-weed-normalization

Does Medical Marijuana Have a ‘Visit Florida’ Future? Check Out the New Las Vegas

Las Vegas has changed, folks. I couldn’t believe how much since I last visited. And I’m not talking about the glitzy hotels or the towering slot machines or the raving nightlife. I’m talking about changes you can see on the airport concourse two minutes after you deplane. I’m talking about medical marijuana. OMG.

Could this be Any Florida Airport in 2020?

You know how you used to walk down the moving walkway toward baggage claim, past casino show ads, and you’d hear a flutter of jokes from resident comedians? Now the jokes are gone. Most of the show ads are still there, but the posters directing visitors to medical marijuana will knock your eyes out.

Ads for businesses like Las Vegas ReLeaf, a 3,700-square-foot “pharm” that bills itself as “the Bellagio of dispensaries.” Or, if you prefer, set your GPS for Dr. Green Relief. Or, Sahara Wellness. Or, The Travel Joint.   On the other hand, once you reach the strip, you can always keep an eye out for the “Cannabus,” run by 420 Tours, Las Vegas’ first cannabis tour company. It’s more an SUV than a bus, but its promise is, “We take people looking for a medical marijuana card and legal pot from street corner to dispensary in less than an hour.”

I have to admit, it sounds wilder and woollier than it actually is. Las Vegas isn’t Colorado or California or Oregon yet. There are strict rules about how dispensaries can advertise in the city limits, for one thing. But it has a proposition on the November ballot similar to United for Care’s in Florida. That’s all cannabis entrepreneurs are waiting for to put doctors in charge and get the government out. Then, they say, medical marijuana will be snuggled in right next to — probably even part of — every corner of the Vegas tourist scene. They are so ready to set up shop in a bigger way. You can feel it in the air.

I saw one ad on television — shot in what amounted to a greenhouse, or a grow house, with all the “plant attendants” wearing white coats, soft music playing in the background. Strangest ad I ever saw. Memorable, somehow.

At any rate, right now it’s tough for long-suffering Nevadans with conditions that might be helped with pot to get it. They have to stumble through the state’s months-long red tape to get a medical marijuana card. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are cashing in on the state’s reciprocity laws. In 2015 Nevada became the first state to allow non-resident reciprocity, giving medical marijuana cardholders from other states the legal ability to buy medical marijuana in Nevada.

To explain further:

The Las Vegas Sun reports the Nevada Legislature legalized medical marijuana dispensaries in 2013. Although lawmakers undeniably had fiscal considerations in mind, they wanted to make it easier for patients with cancer, AIDS, seizures and other serious conditions to find legal relief from pain and chronic suffering. Medical marijuana itself had been legalized in 2000 in Nevada, but it was pretty much a bust. Patients had to grow their own supply and had few legal options for obtaining seeds or clones. 

Medical marijuana cards in Nevada are valid for one year, but because of the state’s lengthy processing time, by the time many patients receive their card, it often is valid for only eight or nine months.

“Just in case you haven’t waited long enough for your card, you have that much less time before you have to reapply,” Andrew Jolley, owner of the Source dispensary, told the Sun.

Nevada Organic Remedies’ grow house in Las Vegas

While Nevada law states that a medical marijuana patient’s application should be processed in fewer than 30 days, it almost always takes longer, explains Pam Graber, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Public and Behavioral Health. The process, which includes a background check, often takes state officials 33 to 35 days to finish. 

And that’s for only a portion of what’s required. That timeframe doesn’t include the time needed to process a prospective patient’s original application request to the state, nor does it account for getting a signed physician statement or completing the last step — making a trip to the DMV.

In other pot-friendly states, such as California, Washington and Oregon, patients need only a doctor’s note to load up at dispensaries, including those in Nevada.

The lawmaker who championed the medical marijuana cause in the Nevada Legislature, Sen. Tick Segerblom, told the Sun the reciprocity law, which has attracted “thousands” of out-of-state patients, is part of a move to increase tourism in the state.

“We encourage the convention authority to promote that for our visitors,” Segerblom said.

Why would residents of California or Oregon buy their meds in Las Vegas instead of at home? One dispenser claims it’s because “people just don’t want to travel with their meds because it’s still a federal crime.”

In some ways, I understand casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s hostility toward medical marijuana. He’s a very savvy billionaire who can see the future. He doesn’t want visitors spending their money in dispensaries instead of his casinos. Anyway, by Nevada law, casinos aren’t allowed to get into the cannabis business, and so therefore have little incentive to back legalized marijuana.

Many people are nevertheless optimistic that soon enough, Nevada will allow everyone — locals and visitors alike — to use marijuana. That includes longtime local marijuana activist Jason Sturtsman. The International Business Times writes that while Sturtsman advocates for patient rights as a part of the organization Wellness Education Cannabis Advocates of Nevada and is lobbying to keep testing requirements reasonable as a member of the state’s Independent Lab Advisory Committee, he’s also working as a part-time manager at Las Vegas ReLeaf and welcomes the Las Vegas-ification of cannabis. Even if that means exacting regulations and an industry dominated by the rich and powerful, he believes the payoff nationwide will be worth it. 

Oh, yes, and there are 43 pending medical marijuana business licenses in Clark County, and more than a dozen more pending in the county seat Las Vegas and in Henderson and Reno. There are eight production facilities, 21 cultivation facilities and five testing labs operating in Clark County.  I walked the Strip this past weekend, from MGM Grand to Harrah’s, and at more than half a dozen spots along the way, smoke from the weed — legal or not — was clearly wafting in the air. I make that walk every trip, and the unmistakable aroma of cannabis there, in cold light of day, was a first in my experience.

I felt as if I were getting a vision of things to come — the changing face of tourism — not just in Sin City, but eventually in Florida. Florida is a tourism state, too. In fact, a state with more cities than Nevada to attract out-of-state visitors, many of them carrying notes from their doctors. Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Tampa and Orlando for starters. Walt Disney World might be a family-friendly Magic Kingdom now, but I can see it developing another identity down the road. And it has nothing to do with casinos.

Source:  Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423.

 Twitter: @NancyLBSmith   April 21st 2016

See more at: http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/does-medical-marijuana-have-visit-florida-future-check-out-new-las-vegas?utm_source=Constant%20Contact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Morning%20Lead&utm_source=April+22%2C+2016&utm_campaign=Morning+Lead+3%2F10%2F2016&utm_medium=email#sthash.VQZl60Jo.dpuf

 

Governor says other states should learn from Colorado’s example, noting that state initially failed to regulate edibles strongly enough

States preparing to legalize cannabis for recreational use in 2017 have been warned to impose strong regulations on edible products, in order to help prevent children mistaking the drug for candy. John Hickenlooper, governor of Colorado, which pioneered legal cannabis for recreational use in 2014, said other states should learn from his state’s example.

“We didn’t regulate edibles strongly enough at first,” he said this week, at a gathering of the Western Governors’ Association.  Colorado has seen a rise in numbers of children taken to the hospital after eating marijuana products. California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine are the latest states to legalize recreational cannabis, after voters passed ballot measures in the November elections.

Recreational use is currently legal in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia. More than half of the 50 states now allow marijuana for medical use.  Los Angeles could become the weed capital of the world, one industry insider has predicted, estimating that the southern California city already generated close to $1bn in annual medical marijuana sales.

The whole of Colorado had just under $1bn in sales in 2015, on which the industry paid $135m in taxes and fees to the state. Revenues are likely to grow to $1.3bn in 2017, according to the state department of revenue. Hickenlooper, who said he had been fielding calls from governors asking for his advice, California’s Jerry Brown among them, opposed legalizing recreational pot. The drug nonetheless became legal for leisure use in Colorado in January 2014. The state has since been forced to toughen regulations, particularly on edible products, because many emerged that looked exactly like non-cannabis-containing products such as gummy bears, lollipops, brownies, cookies and chocolates. Lawmakers in Colorado passed rules requiring manufacturers to improve child-proofing on packaging and use better labelling,  including stamps on food to say it contains pot.  Recent measures will prohibit animal and fruit-shaped edibles. The state also started a public education campaign aimed at teens and children.  Hickenlooper, speaking in California, said that in a few cases children had died. There are, however, no confirmed statistics or details available for the state.

Hickenlooper spokeswoman Holly Shrewsbury told the Guardian there have been no such deaths of under-18s and the governor was including young adults in his reference to children, without citing exact numbers. A study by the University of Colorado published last July reported that in 2015, 16 children under the age of 10 were admitted to the emergency room of the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, in Aurora, with edible-related complaints.

In the same year, state poison control authorities received 47 calls about children falling sick after taking pot. Around half of those incidents involved edibles. In 2009, there were nine such calls to poison control.  It’s more regulated than plutonium at this stage but I’m in favour of common sense rules backed by science, not fear.  Most children affected became drowsy and recovered after a few hours. A small number became seriously ill and ended up in intensive care.

Julie Dooley, who owns Julie’s Natural Edibles, a Denver company that makes cannabis-infused granola, echoed the governor’s advice that states should regulate better from the start of legalization, rather than bring in laws retroactively.

“It’s important to regulate ahead of time,” she said. “We’ve just gone through our fourth round of regulation since legalization and it’s very expensive having to change the labelling and packaging all the time.   “It’s more regulated than plutonium at this stage, but I’m in favour of common sense rules, backed by science, not fear.”

Dooley said it was incumbent on parents to store cannabis and cannabis products safely away from children, but said the state should do “a lot more” to educate the public.  Hickenlooper said that if he could have had a magic wand in 2013, he would have reversed Colorado’s legalization vote.

“Now if I have that magic wand, I probably wouldn’t,” he said. “I would wait and see if we can make a better system.”  He described America’s wider policy of waging a law enforcement “war on drugs” as “a train wreck”.  “It didn’t work, so it remains to be seen whether the new system is actually going to be better,” he said.

Last week, Colorado announced $2.35m in funding for research grants to look into the effects of cannabis on driving ability and cognitive functioning.  Henny Lasley, executive director of Smart Colorado, an advocacy group that campaigns for better protections from cannabis for youth, said: “Cannabis products should not look like candy, or like anything a child would pick up and eat.”

She called for more research and data at the state level and warned about the strength of highly concentrated pot coming on to the market for recreational use.  “I would like states to limit the potency of the products,” she said.

Source:   https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/18/recreational-marijuana-legalization-states-edibles-candy

Since marijuana is currently illegal in all but physician-approved circumstances, there have been no properly constructed clinical trials of smoking this drug in Canada, writes Lawrie McFarlane of the Victoria Times .

The greatest public-health disaster our species ever brought upon itself began in Europe 400 years ago — the introduction and use of tobacco.

In the 20th century alone, 100 million people died from cigarette smoking worldwide. And while the incidence rate has fallen in western countries, it remains high in Third World nations. Six million tobacco users still die each year. The cause of smoking deaths is not, primarily, the active ingredient in tobacco — nicotine. Rather it is the chemicals that comprise tobacco smoke — among them various tars, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide and formaldehyde.  Collectively, these chemicals cause a host of fatal maladies, including cancer, heart disease and emphysema. In short, a perfect horror show.

Now at this point, you’re probably saying: Tell me something I didn’t know. Well, here it is: Many of those same chemicals form marijuana smoke, and we are about to legalize the consumption of this drug. It’s not clear yet which forms of use might be authorized. If smoking is not among them, we might yet avoid another public-health calamity.

True, there are worrisome effects that come with consuming marijuana by other means, among them elevated pulse rates and memory loss. But these are minor matters, by comparison.

However, if smoking marijuana is blessed for general use, we might have an entirely different situation on our hands. For here is what is currently known with medical certainty about the health impacts of lighting up a joint: Nothing.  Since marijuana is currently illegal in all but physician-approved circumstances, there have been no properly constructed clinical trials of smoking this drug.

For the same reason, there have been no robust after-market research projects, in which users are tracked down years later, and their health status compared with that of non-users. Yet this is an essential process in revealing whether drugs that appear safe at first blush turn out to have serious side-effects downstream.  There have been suggestions that marijuana might act as a gateway drug to such potent narcotics as heroin and fentanyl. But whether these are anecdotal or fact-based, no one really knows.

There is also the matter of what is called the dose effect. Cigarettes have a high dose effect, meaning the risk of illness increases exponentially the more you consume. Hence the toxicology maxim: “The dose is the poison.”  So what is the dose effect of smoking marijuana? Again, we simply do not know and this is no small concern.

Generally speaking, it seems fair to assume that making an addictive substance more readily available will increase consumption rates. So what happens if people begin smoking 20 marijuana joints a day?  What happens if manufacturers find ways to strengthen the active ingredient — THC — while making their product less harsh? That’s what cigarette companies did.

In short, we are on the brink of approving a form of drug use, the medical consequences of which remain uncertain, but which might involve inhaling carcinogens. You would think the history of tobacco might have taught us something about fooling with addictive substances before we know the facts. In particular, you might think we would have learned how difficult, if not impossible, it is to close a Pandora’s box like this after it has been opened.

Once a government-sanctioned infrastructure of production, marketing and distribution is erected around marijuana, and millions of additional users are recruited, there will be no going back, regardless of whatever medical verdict is finally rendered. That’s principally why we continue to license tobacco production, despite its many ills.

I recognize we already turn a blind eye to occasional or “recreational” use of marijuana. But between turning a blind eye and conferring on this drug an official stamp of approval lies a world of unknown harm.

— Lawrie McFarlane is a columnist for the Victoria Times Colonist

Source:   http://theprovince.com/opinion/little-research-on-marijuanas-dangers  2nd Jan 2017

November 28, 2016

This shows a sample case of a visual 3-D rendering of a baseline SPECT scan of a long standing marijuana user compared to a control subject. The marijuana user has multiple perfusion defects with lower perfusion shown as scalloping and gaps …more

As the U.S. races to legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, a new, large scale brain imaging study gives reason for caution. Published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), a sophisticated imaging study that evaluates blood flow and activity patterns, demonstrated abnormally low blood flow in virtually every area of the brain studies in nearly 1,000 marijuana compared to healthy controls, including areas known to be affected by Alzheimer’s pathology such as the hippocampus.

Hippocampus, the brain’s key memory and learning center, has the lowest blood flow in marijuana users suggesting higher vulnerability to Alzheimer’s. As the U.S. races to legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, a new, large scale brain imaging study gives reason for caution. Published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), a sophisticated imaging study that evaluates blood flow and activity patterns, demonstrated abnormally low blood flow in virtually every area of the brain studies in nearly 1,000 marijuana compared to healthy controls, including areas known to be affected by Alzheimer’s pathology such as the hippocampus.

All data were obtained for analysis from a large multisite database, involving 26,268 patients who came for evaluation of complex, treatment resistant issues to one of nine outpatient neuropsychiatric clinics across the United States (Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fairfield, and Brisbane, CA, Tacoma and Bellevue, WA, Reston, VA, Atlanta, GA and New York, NY) between 1995-2015. Of these, 982 current or former marijuana users had brain SPECT at rest and during a mental concentration task compared to almost 100 healthy controls. Predictive analytics with discriminant analysis was done to determine if brain SPECT regions can distinguish marijuana user brains from controls brain. Low blood flow in the hippocampus in marijuana users reliably distinguished marijuana users

from controls. The right hippocampus during a concentration task was the single most predictive region in distinguishing marijuana users from their normal counterparts. Marijuana use is thought to interfere with memory formation by inhibiting activity in this part of the brain.

According to one of the co-authors on the study Elisabeth Jorandby, M.D., “As a physician who routinely sees marijuana users, what struck me was not only the global reduction in blood flow in the marijuana users brains , but that the hippocampus was the most affected region due to its role in memory and Alzheimer’s disease. Our research has proven that marijuana users have lower cerebral blood flow than non-users. Second, the most predictive region separating these two groups is low blood flow in the hippocampus on concentration brain SPECT imaging. This work suggests that marijuana use has damaging influences in the brain – particularly regions important in memory and learning and known to be affected by Alzheimer’s.”

Dr. George Perry, editor in chief of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease said, “Open use of marijuana, through legalization, will reveal the wide range of marijuana’s benefits and threats to human health. This study indicates troubling effects on the hippocampus that may be the harbingers of brain damage.”

According to Daniel Amen, M.D., Founder of Amen Clinics, “Our research demonstrates that marijuana can have significant negative effects on brain function. The media has given the general impression that marijuana is a safe recreational drug, this research directly challenges that notion. In another new study just released, researchers showed that marijuana use tripled the risk of psychosis. Caution is clearly in order.”

More information: Daniel G. Amen et al. Discriminative Properties of Hippocampal Hypo perfusion in Marijuana Users Compared to Healthy Controls: Implications for Marijuana Administration in Alzheimer’s Dementia, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (2016). DOI: 10.3233/JAD-160833

Source:http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-11-marijuana-users-bloodbrain.html#nRlv

Currently, 29 states and Washington, DC, have passed laws to legalize medical marijuana. Although evidence for the effectiveness of marijuana or its extracts for most medical indications is limited and in many cases completely lacking, there are a handful of exceptions. For example, there is increasing evidence for the efficacy of marijuana in treating some forms of pain and spasticity, and 2 cannabinoid medications (dronabinol and nabilone) are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for alleviating nausea induced by cancer chemotherapy.

A systematic review and meta-analysis by Whiting et al1 found evidence, although of low quality, for the effectiveness of cannabinoid drugs in the latter indication. The anti -nausea effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, are mediated by the interactions of THC with type cannabinoid (CB1) receptors in the dorsal vagal complex. Cannabidiol, another cannabinoid in marijuana, exerts antiemetic properties through other mechanisms. Nausea is a medically approved indication for marijuana in all states where medical use of this drug has been legalized. However, some sources on the internet are touting marijuana as a solution for the nausea that commonly accompanies pregnancy, including the severe condition hyperemesis gravidarum.

Although research on the prevalence of marijuana use by pregnant women is limited, some data suggest that this population is turning to marijuana for its antiemetic properties, particularly during the first trimester of pregnancy, which is the period of greatest risk for the deleterious effects of drug exposure to the foetus. Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug during pregnancy, and its use is increasing. Using data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, Brown et al report in this issue of JAMA that 3.85%of pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 44 years reported past-month marijuana use in 2014, compared with 2.37%in 2002. In addition, an analysis of pregnancy data from Hawaii reported that women with severe nausea during pregnancy, compared with other pregnant women, were significantly more likely to use marijuana (3.7%vs 2.3%, respectively).

Although the evidence for the effects of marijuana on human prenatal development is limited at this point, research does suggest that there is cause for concern. A recent review and a meta-analysis found that infants of women who used marijuana during pregnancy were more likely to be anaemic, have lower birth weight, and require placement in neonatal intensive care than infants of mothers who did not use marijuana. Studies have also shown links between prenatal marijuana exposure and impaired higher-order executive functions such as impulse control, visual memory, and attention during the school years.

The potential for marijuana to interfere with neurodevelopment has substantial theoretical justification. The endocannabinoid system is present from the beginning of central nervous system development, around day 16 of human gestation, and is increasingly thought to play a significant role in the proper formation of neural circuitry early in brain development, including the genesis and migration of neurons, the outgrowth of their axons and dendrites, and axonal pathfinding. Substances that interfere with this system could affect foetal brain growth and structural and functional neurodevelopment.

An ongoing prospective study, for example, found an association between prenatal cannabis exposure and foetal growth restriction during pregnancy and increased frontal cortical thickness among school-aged children. Some synthetic cannabinoids, such as those found in “K2/Spice” products, interact with cannabinoid receptors even more strongly than THC and have been shown to be teratogenic in animals.

A recent study in mice found brain abnormalities, eye deformations, and facial disfigurement (cleft palate) in mouse foetuses exposed at day 8 of gestation to a potent full cannabinoid agonist, CP-55,940. The percentage of mouse foetuses with birth defects increased in a linear fashion with dose. (The eighth day of mouse gestation is roughly equivalent to the third or fourth week of embryonic development in humans, which is before many mothers know they are pregnant.) It is unknown whether these kinds of effects translate to humans; thus far, use of synthetic cannabinoids has not been linked to human birth defects, although use of these substances is still relatively new.

THC is only a partial agonist at the CB1 receptor, but the marijuana being used both medicinally and recreationally today has much higher THC content than in previous generations (12% in 2014 vs 4% in 1995), when many of the existing studies of the teratogenicity of marijuana were performed. Marijuana is also being used in new ways that have the potential to expose the user to much higher THC concentrations—such as the practice of using concentrated extracts (eg, hash oil). More research is needed to clarify the neurodevelopmental effects of prenatal exposure to marijuana, especially high-potency formulations, and synthetic cannabinoids.

One challenge is separating these effects from those of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, because many users of marijuana or K2/Spice also use other substances. In women who use drugs during pregnancy, there are often other confounding variables related to nutrition, prenatal care, and failure to disclose substance use because of concerns about adverse legal consequences.    Even with the current level of uncertainty about the influence of marijuana on human neurodevelopment, physicians and other health care providers in a position to recommend medical marijuana must be mindful of the possible risks and err on the side of caution by not recommending this drug for patients who are pregnant. Although no states specifically list pregnancy-related conditions among the allowed recommendations for medical marijuana, neither do any states currently prohibit or include warnings about the possible harms of marijuana to the foetus when the drug is used during pregnancy. (Only 1 state, Connecticut, currently includes an exception to the medical marijuana exemption in cases in which medical marijuana use could harm another individual, although potential harm to a foetus is not specifically listed.)

In 2015, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a committee opinion discouraging physicians from suggesting use of marijuana during preconception, pregnancy, and lactation. Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should be advised to avoid using marijuana or other cannabinoids either recreationally or to treat their nausea.

Source:  http://jamanetwork.com/ on 12/21/2016

States with Lax Marijuana Laws Also Show Higher Marijuana “Edible” Use than Other States

[WASHINGTON, DC] – The nation’s annual school survey of drug use, Monitoring the Future (MTF), shows marijuana use among adolescents, including heavy marijuana use, remaining stubbornly high and higher than ten years ago — despite reductions across the board among other drugs. Past year and past month marijuana use among high school seniors is up versus last year, and marijuana use among almost all categories is higher than ten years ago. And students in states with lax marijuana laws are much more likely to use marijuana in candy or edible form than students in other states.

“Why would marijuana use not be falling like the use of other substances? The answer is likely marijuana commercialization and industrialization, spurred by legalization initiatives,” said Dr. Kevin A. Sabet, a former White House drug policy advisor and President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). “It also might explain why six percent of high school seniors use marijuana daily. Moreover, this study does not include kids who have dropped out of school — and are thus more likely to be using drugs than the study’s sample.”

Additionally, the MTF showed differences between students in states with loose marijuana laws and students in other states. Students in lax policy states were much more likely to use marijuana, and also more likely to use edibles. Among 12th graders reporting marijuana use in the past year, 40.2 percent consumed marijuana in food in states with medical marijuana laws compared to 28.1 percent in states without such laws.

“While drug, cigarette, and alcohol use are falling almost across the board, due to decades of work and millions of taxpayer dollars, kids are turning more and more to marijuana,” said Jeffrey Zinsmeister, SAM’s Executive Vice President. “It’s unsurprising now that the marijuana industry — following in the footsteps of the tobacco industry — is pouring millions into marketing kid-friendly edible products like pot candy to maximize their profits.”

According to statements from the American Medical Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the American Psychiatric Association, marijuana use, especially among youth, should be avoided, and legalization efforts opposed.

“Medical research is very clear that marijuana is both addictive and harmful,” noted Dr. Stu Gitlow, immediate past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. “One in six adolescents that use marijuana develop an addiction, and use is associated with lower IQ, lower grades, and higher dropout rates in that same population. It is therefore of significant concern that this year’s study may actually underreport marijuana use and downplay its impact.”

Meanwhile, the toll of legalized marijuana continues to climb in Colorado and Washington. For example, the AAA Foundation reported earlier this year that the percentage of fatal crashes in the state of Washington linked to drivers who had recently used marijuana more than doubled the year marijuana retail sales were authorized. Similarly, cases of marijuana poisonings are up 108% in Colorado after legalization, and up 206% among children ages 0 to 8 years old. (More data on these trends is available in SAM’s recent report on legalization in both states.)

Source:  jeff@learnaboutsam.org  Dec. 2016  For more information about marijuana use and its effects, see http://www.learnaboutsam.org.

Examining the data closely and correctly.

By:  By DAVID W. MURRAY, BRIAN BLAKE, JOHN P. WALTERS

The closing reports on the Obama administration’s drug policy were delivered this week. Drug-induced deaths for the year 2015 were reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on December 8, and the youth school survey of drug use for 2016, Monitoring the Future (MTF), was just released by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The findings document Obama’s eight years of unbroken failure.

Simply put, it appears inescapable that the two sets of findings are related, in that the flood of commercial, high-potency marijuana unleashed by legalization in the states has served as a “gateway” to the opioid problem, both by priming greater drug use by those who initiate with heavy, developmentally early marijuana use, and further by empowering the illicit drug market controlled by criminal cartels.

Both data releases were somewhat muddled in the offering, neither of them being presented with public briefings at venues such as the National Press Club, as was common in the past.

Instead, the MTF data were only presented in a teleconference for reporters, while the CDC at the last minute determined that the official data for drug overdoses would not be ready until next year, instead directing researchers and the press to their online data system, WONDER, where searchers could uncover them for themselves.

These data releases are bookends—the youth survey showing us the likely future patterns of drug misuse as the high-school-aged cohort ages through adulthood, while the CDC overdose death data are retrospective, revealing where the worst drug epidemic in American experience was more than a year ago.

Data on deaths for 2016, which by all indications from states and municipalities are accelerating upward even more sharply, have not even been analyzed yet (their release is scheduled for December 2017), and will no doubt surface as a further shock in a succeeding administration.

Because there has yet to be a formal report of 2015 final numbers, the precise CDC figures for overdoses by drug remain troublingly vague. That said, the increases are shocking. There were 52,404 overall drug-induced deaths for 2015. That figure has climbed from about 38,000 (and stable) as recently as 2008. For 2015, fully 33,091 deaths were attributable to the opioids, alone (up from 28,647 in 2014, the toll rising most steeply dating from 2010).

Regarding the recent increase, the head of death statistics at the CDC stated; “I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this. Certainly not in modern times.”

For the MTF survey, marijuana use rose between 2015 and 2016. High school seniors saw their past month (or current) use rise to a rate of 23 percent, (up from 21 percent in 2015), while past year use rose to 36 percent (up from 35 percent). For the past year category, the rise since 2007 exceeds a 12 percent increase, but most of that rise took place earlier in the Obama years, peaking in 2011-2012 and then stabilizing at the higher level.

Somewhat surprisingly, given the anticipated impact of commercial legalization of marijuana in some states in 2014, with yet other states being added in this last election cycle, the overall impact on youth marijuana use appears modest, especially when compared to the wider data showing steep increases in young adults and those 26 and older, from other national surveys.

There are two immediate cautions in reading these data, however. The first is that many teens are now consuming marijuana in forms other than smoking; that is, as edibles and drinks, which this survey has difficulty detecting. In other words, there may be a hidden dimension of use of what is now a drug of unprecedented potency and availability. The second caveat is the known impact of marijuana use on high-school drop-out rates, pushing them higher. The effect is that the very students most at risk of heavy use are no longer captured in this school-based survey, which might be systematically understating actual prevalence increases because we have lost our ability to capture them.

The real drug use stunner lies elsewhere, largely in the CDC overdose data. The United States is in the grip of a wide and deepening drug use crisis, the most visible alarm being the opioid overdose contribution to the overall drug-induced death data, which by 2015 were sufficient to show up in general health data as driving a decrease in American life-expectancy tables.

Moreover, it is clear that the situation will worsen quickly, for both opioids and for newly resurgent cocaine use, which also registered as an increase in drug overdose deaths, and in recent measures of college-age youth, where use of cocaine, after steep declines, suddenly shot up 63 percent in a single year, 2013-2014, and remained high.

Coupled with the nationwide spread of adult commercial marijuana use and the still surging methamphetamine crisis, the situation is dire across all the major illicit drugs.

The opioid crisis has two dimensions, only one of which has received administration attention. The epidemic has been driven by misuse of prescription opioids, which climbed steadily for several years, and by the emergence of surging illicit drugs, both heroin and new synthetics like fentanyl and its analogs, from illicit rogue labs and smuggled into the United States.

Curiously, even though production increases of heroin and of cocaine have shot up in source countries such as Mexico and Colombia, and as synthetic opioid seizures have rocketed up in border seizures, the administration and the press seem seized by the prescription overdose dimension, which has begun to slow and even abate.

For instance, outlets such as the Washington Post continue to misstate the actual data. In a recent editorial, they insist that “the prescription opioid category accounted for the largest share of deaths, at 17,536.” Accordingly, they urge further policy attention to doctor prescribing practices.

But the latest data show otherwise. According to the CDC WONDER database, there were 19,885 deaths from illicit opioid production, heroin/illicit fentanyl and analogs. And that latter category is the one surging, rising 23 percent for heroin and a stunning 73 percent for synthetics from 2014 to 2015, while strictly prescription deaths rose only 4 percent.

Apparently, the blind spot for the administration (and the press) is that to address the real engine of overdose deaths, they must confront international and cross-border production and smuggling, an understanding of the problem that the Obama administration has abjured, since it requires the forces of law enforcement, national security, and reductions in illicit drug supply.

Two final notes on the 2015 opioid data, which are but harbingers for the hurricane of use and deaths already being seen in the states for 2016.

First, the steep line of ascent for overdose deaths can be closely paralleled by the administration’s mainstay, the insistent distribution and use of naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote medication. Without that reversal drug being deployed, the true death toll would be much worse. But it also means that simply giving out more and more naloxone cannot be a solution to the crisis, as deaths have accelerated away in spite of a reliance on such measures, which prove ineffectual in the long run and faced with new potencies.

The second sobering realization can be found in an analysis we published on the crisis in November, where we noted that for 2014, heroin overdose deaths were now comparable to those from gun homicides nationwide, both standing at 10,500 per year. The point may have been an inspiration for the Washington Post article on CDC WONDER data for 2015, proclaiming that heroin overdoses now exceeded gun homicide deaths (12,989 to 12,979, respectively).

The fact is true, but what is remarkable is the deep parallel in the rise of the respective figures in a single year, both keeping pace by climbing at a nearly identical rate.

It’s almost as if the trafficking in heroin driving the overdoses is itself tied to the emergent gun homicide crisis surging in our major cities. Those who lived through the violent 1980s and early 1990s will remember the connection well.

The Obama drug policy began with unilateral executive action opening the floodgates to marijuana commercial legalization and it is closing with never-before-seen death rates from drug use. The Trump administration faces a drug death epidemic worse than the crisis the Reagan administration inherited from President Jimmy Carter—and that contributed to even greater levels of violence and addiction before the Carter legacy was reversed.

David W. Murray and Brian Blake are senior fellows at Hudson Institute’s Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research; both served in the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the George W. Bush administration. John P. Walters is Hudson’s chief operating officer and former director of drug control policy for President George W. Bush.

Source:  WEEKLY STANDARD  DEC 15, 2016

By Robert Charles

The Christmas carol is poignant – reminder of Christmas, and beyond.  “What child is this, who, laid to rest …” the carol begins.  “Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?” it continues.  The stanza ends, “Haste, haste ….”  Lovely, lilting, full of promise – like the birth of a child.  Here, a special child – but also every child.

In a season of joy, it is a message of joy.  But the mind wanders, to our mortal world.  New numbers on drug addiction and drugged driving death, so many lost souls – mitigate the joy.   They caught me off guard this week. My brother, a high school teacher, shared with me the loss of another student, another fatal crash, as drugged driving numbers rise.  What is the season for heartbroken parents – but a season of loss?  Each year, upwards of 100,000 parents lose a child to drug abuse.

What child is this?  It is America’s child, and America’s childhood.  How is it that we have, collectively, forgotten to keep watch over those entrusted to our watch – especially from high office?  Last year, 47,055 Americans, most of them young, were lost to drug abuse – just statistics now.  Why?

In part, because so many Americans have heard a mixed message from their leaders – with devastating effects. Led to believe drugs are “recreation,” something not different from beer or wine, kids try and die.  Synthetic opioids, heroin, cocaine, high potency marijuana – then to ER, or not even, and mortuary. Numbers do not lie.

Drugged driving is now another epidemic.  Drivers and helpless passengers are all at risk, along with everyone on the road.  Near home, not long ago, several kids died in a terrible car crash.  They missed a bend and hit a tree.  The sister of a child known to my son was almost in that car – but courageously declined the ride.  She knew the driver was compromised.  That decision saved her life.  Unfortunately, the searing truth caught others off guard.  Drugged driving is death on wheels, period.  Drug legalization is the unabashed promoter of that death.  So, where are the shepherds?  Where are the outspoken leaders, why silent?

What child is this, who starts with marijuana, soon is addicted, ends overdosing on opiates or as a roadside cross?  What child is this, who needed knowledge from someone they trusted – but got misinformation?  What child is this, who is force-fed popular lies, that drug abuse is “recreation?”

And what child is this, “greeted by angels,” who was forsaken here – by leaders for political advantage?  “Laid to rest” by parents’ inconsolable hands?  Where were those leaders, a thoughtful president, governor, congressman, legislator, mayor?  How could we, in a blink, give up 50,000 souls – this year, again?  Silence is not just holy – it can also be complicit.  Permitting legal expansion of drug abuse, legalized money laundering, an insidious tax grab, or turning a Federal blind eye – comes at the expense of young lives.  That is the truth.

Needed in this season of change are new national and community leaders, who are unafraid to say:   Do not compromise your future.  Do not risk everything for nothing.  Do not break faith with yourself, or those who are counting on you.   The mind wanders … from a Christmas carol to those not here to celebrate.  To parents, siblings, friends and teachers sadly asking “what if…”  And bigger questions:  What if the legalization pabulum and knowing disinformation were stopped?  What if drugs sure to addict and kill were less available?  What if policy indifference turned to saving young lives, not putting them at risk?

Said Henry David Thoreau, every child is an “empire.”  But today, these empires are falling fast.  Risk is inherent in our indifference, disinformation, disregard for truth, and treating death as recreation.  Addiction’s darkness comes on so fast, too.  A life soon narrows, ambitions die, dependence rises, users feel boxed in, relationships and functions are degraded, nightmares start, and then an awful and big question – who cares?

These days, few seem to – not this President, Congress, many of our State “leaders.”  They just go along.  Meantime, more families are drained and left alone – victims of accelerating drug abuse, drugged driving, drug-related crime, and life-changing addiction.  The Trump team has a chance:  To say enough, this experiment is over.  That would help American families stop grieving, save kids from this unparalleled dance with false information and societal indifference.  That would be real leadership – and long overdue.  So, pull the Drug Czar back up to Cabinet rank, put Federal resources and smart people into enforcing the law, and re-educate the country.

“What child is this?”  It is America’s child.  With new hope and real leadership, may we have no more compromises with evil.  Instead, truth spoken to power, power asserted by well-informed people.  Let us stand watch, shepherds for young America.  “Haste, haste …” in this, and in all seasons.  Here may be a resolution for the new year.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement under George W. Bush, former Naval Intelligence Officer and litigator, who served in the Reagan and Bush 41 White Houses.  He wrote the book “Narcotics and Terrorism,” and writes widely on national security and law.

Source: townhall.com/columnists 10th December 2016

Homeless people in the streets are a staple of the landscape in downtown areas of Colorado Springs, Denver and most other Colorado communities. Visitors from other states are struck by the dilemma, even when visiting from large cities on the coasts. Experts on homelessness point to marijuana.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday confirmed a homeless phenomenon anyone can see.

HUD ranks Colorado fourth behind California, Washington and the District of Columbia for its absolute increase in the homeless population this year. All four jurisdictions have legalized recreational pot.

Colorado’s growth in homeless veterans leads the nation, at 24 percent. Other states averaged a decrease of 17 percent in veteran homeless populations. They are leaving other states and moving to Colorado.

To put this in perspective, compare Colorado and New York. Colorado has a general population of 5.4 million. New York has general population of 20 million. The number of homeless veterans is nearly identical in the two states.

“While most states saw their homeless veteran populations drop an average of 17 percent in the past year to a total of 39,471, Colorado was one of only eight states going in the opposite direction with increasing numbers,” explained The Denver Post.

Daniel Warvi, spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs, told the Post how veterans come to Colorado hoping to work in the marijuana industry. Few come here knowing they must prove a year of residence before the law allows them to work in marijuana-related jobs.

“They don’t have a plan B,” Warvi told the Post. Those who find employment typically cannot afford the state’s soaring housing costs.

Larry Smith, executive director of Catholic Charities of Denver, said his staff sees “a direct correlation” between marijuana migration and increasing homelessness. Smith oversees the 380-bed Samaritan House homeless shelter, three other major homeless shelters in northern Colorado, single-family shelters and multiple food pantries and soup kitchens.

“It’s epidemic,” Smith told The Gazette. “We’ve never seen the kind of street living, and camping, that we’re seeing. It is exploding this year, and it is a different type of homeless population. They won’t come in. They won’t take a bed and a shelter, and there are beds available. It’s a different behavior and mentality. They are more aggressive, much more agitated. A large part of that is due to marijuana. This is insanity.”

Even impassioned advocates of legalization should be concerned when professionals link marijuana to increasing homelessness. If the connection is proved, the marijuana industry should take responsibility for some of the social costs.

When states determined the tobacco industry strained Medicaid resources, Big Tobacco agreed to mitigate burdens associated with its trade. In a settlement, states won a minimum $206 billion settlement and concessions that curtail the industry’s marketing practices.

Colorado has long attracted the homeless, for reasons it attracts other demographics. It would be a stretch to blame all new homelessness on legal marijuana. It is reasonable to heed the increasingly impassioned warnings of social workers who say marijuana plays a big role in the recent surge.

When the General Assembly convenes in January, legislators should cooperate to commission a nonpartisan study that assesses the suspected link between marijuana and homelessness. From there, non-profits, politicians and businesses can determine the scope of a constructive and compassionate response.

The Gazette editorial board

Source:  http://gazette.com/editorial-experts-link-homeless-surge-to-pot/article/1590734 Nov. 22nd  2016

By Dr. Carlton E. Turner

As the former Drug Czar under President Ronald Reagan, with an extensive background in marijuana research, I thought I should share some of my thoughts about ‘medical’ marijuana.

From 1970 to 1981, I held various positions at the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy at the University of Mississippi. During this time, I published over 100 original papers, chapters in books, patents, and two large Marijuana Bibliographies covering marijuana research starting in the 1880s. I also served as the Director of the federal government’s Marijuana Project.

That research project was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The project grew Cannabis sativa L. plants from seeds obtained from over 100 sites worldwide. We processed the plant material into marijuana and supplied this standardized research marijuana to researchers throughout the world. All of the marijuana shipped was analyzed by a procedure developed at the University and recognized as the world standard by the United Nations Narcotic Laboratory.

Now that you know a bit of my background let me give you the facts about marijuana:

Marijuana is a very crudely prepared drug comprised of the dried leaves, small stems, and flowers of the Cannabis plant. Marijuana contains unique chemicals called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids have biological activity and have been the subject of thousands of research studies since the 1970s. Some cannabinoids can be medicinal and have been regulated by the FDA, and prescribed by licensed physicians since 1985.

The synthetic form of the major psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, Delta-9-THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), known as Marinol®, is prescribed daily by physicians for nausea, vomiting, as an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients, and to ease the pain in multiple sclerosis patients. Another drug, which has been approved by the FDA is the Nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, which is prescribed for vomiting in patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Pro-drug groups, marijuana users, the media, politicians, and those wanting to profit from marijuana sales distort the truth about FDA-approved cannabinoid drugs and all cannabinoid research findings. They claim that society should not use marijuana derivative drugs approved by the FDA. That only “natural” marijuana should be used as medicine. To further cloud the facts, medical reporters claim marijuana works for many ailments, but in reality, they are referring to cannabinoid drugs.  The marijuana legalization advocates want to confuse the public to accept that ‘natural’ marijuana as a panacea for any human condition, and falsely claim it is safe to use as an unregulated “medicine.” But this so-called “medical marijuana” is a fraud and a con job.

The fact is that marijuana is a dirty drug with so many different side effects that it will never pass the required safety and efficacy testing for medicine. Marijuana can contain over 700 individual chemicals, and when smoked the number of chemicals expand to the thousands. The smoke contains 50 percent to 70 percent more cancer-causing compounds than tobacco. To argue that the “natural” plant form of marijuana should be used over FDA approved marijuana derivatives is like telling a mother whose child is suffering from a bacterial infection that she should offer her child moldy bread instead of penicillin. Think about the life expectancy when people took herbs for medical conditions compared to the life expectancy with modern medicines. Marijuana is not, and will never be medicine. * Carlton E. Turner, Ph.D., served as Deputy Assistant to President Ronald Reagan for Drug Abuse Policy and as Director of the White House Drug Abuse Policy Office. Turner is considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the pharmacology of marijuana.

Source:  : brent@brentbeleskey.com  American Center for Democracy  19th November 2016

ABOUT ACD American Center for Democracy is a New York-based not-for-profit organization, which monitors and exposes the enemies of freedom and their modus operandi, and explores pragmatic ways to counteract them.

The new data confirms mounting body of scientific evidence highlighting problems with rising marijuana use; SAM Honorary Advisor Patrick Kennedy to speak as part of report’s official release

[ALEXANDRIA, VA] – A new report, released today by the office of the U.S. Surgeon General, adds to the mounting body of scientific evidence highlighting the dangers of marijuana use and emphasizing prevention as essential for protecting youth. It also stands as a further warning of the large impending public health costs of marijuana legalization policies, which permit the marijuana industry to profit from the patterns of heavy marijuana use that pose the greatest threat to public health and safety.

Among the report’s findings:

* Long-term health consequences of marijuana use:  mental health problems, chronic cough, frequent respiratory infections, increased risk for cancer, and suppression of the immune system.

* Other serious health-related issues stemming from marijuana use: breathing problems; increased risk of cancer of the head, neck, lungs, and respiratory tract; possible loss of IQ points when repeated use begins in adolescence; babies born with problems with attention, memory, and problem solving (when used by the mother during pregnancy).

* Increased risk for traffic accidents:  Marijuana use “is linked to a roughly two-fold increase in accident risk.”

* Increased risk of schizophrenia:  “[T]he use of marijuana, particularly marijuana with a high THC content, might contribute to schizophrenia in those who have specific genetic vulnerabilities.

* Increased risk of addiction from high-potency marijuana available in legalized states:  “Concern is growing that increasing use of marijuana extracts with extremely high amounts of THC could lead to higher rates of addiction among marijuana users.”

* Permanent Loss of IQ:  “One study followed people from age 13 to 38 and found that those who began marijuana use in their teens and developed a persistent cannabis use disorder had up to an eight point drop in IQ, even if they stopped using in adulthood.”

“Once again, the scientific community has spoken loud and clear on the numerous, and serious health risks of marijuana,” said Kevin Sabet, President of SAM. “The more we know about marijuana, the worse it appears for public health and safety. Policymakers, especially those in the incoming Presidential administration and Congress, should read this report closely and heed the advice of the scientific community.”

“In particular, the Surgeon General’s report underscores the serious problems with patterns of heavy marijuana use — the same patterns that furnish the pot industry with the vast majority of its revenues,” commented Jeffrey Zinsmeister, SAM’s Executive Vice President. “As we seek to avoid the mistakes we made with Big Tobacco, we should be aware that the pot industry profits off of the very types of marijuana use that most harm public health and safety.”

Source:     http://www.learnaboutsam.org.  Press release  17th Nov.2016   Email: austin.galovski@curastrategies.com

Note:  Uruguayan legislator Sebastian Sabini, suggests future legalization of all drugs – starting with marijuana, then cocaine, then …??

Diego Prandini is bent over in a small, brightly lit room, watering marijuana plants of all shapes and sizes. He crawls into a corner to reach some smaller specimens, labelled with names like “Ushua” and “RGB1,” all of which will be part of the next two-kilogram harvest.

“I’ve been at this for seven hours today,” he says, standing and smiling. “So my back is starting to get a little tired.”

Until recently, this job would have been illegal, and he might have worked for dangerous narcotraficantes, perhaps in hidden in nearby Paraguay. But Prandini, 37 and sporting a T-shirt and mohawk, tends his plants in a pleasant middle-class neighborhood of Uruguay’s capital, and as a break, he heads downstairs to enjoy a joint with his co-workers and watch YouTube videos.

The copious smoke they blow out is visible from the street, and next door, their shop sells pipes, marijuana seeds and smoking paraphernalia. Some Brazilian tourists wander in, asking if they can buy some finished marijuana. They can’t.

It’s not legal to buy weed on the street in Uruguay — yet — but Prandini and his colleagues are taking advantage of Latin America’s first full pot legalization project, which has been carefully and gradually rolled out as Uruguay hopes to serve as a model for its neighbors and minimize unintended consequences of the effort.

The country now has many legal cannabis clubs, which pool resources to grow copious amounts of marijuana and distribute it to registered, paying members — no doctor’s note required — who can then smoke where they please. Legislation passed in 2013 also allows Uruguayan residents to sign up to grow plants at home for personal use; soon, pharmacies will begin selling small amounts of cannabis to enlisted users across the country.

Some here have criticized the slow, uneven pace of the program, but legislator Sebastian Sabini, one of the main proponents of the law, said that it is far more important to do the program right so that it serves as a model for legalizing other substances and ending the deadly and unproductive war on drugs.

“Latin America is one of the regions which has suffered the most from the politics of prohibition,” said Sabini, sitting in his congressional office in Montevideo decorated with a Che Guevara poster and a flier he picked up while visiting a marijuana shop in Colorado. “We have a low-intensity undeclared war in Mexico, with 25,000 disappeared and 60,000 killed in recent years; we have wide-scale impunity and areas where narco traffickers control daily life. We see drug groups donating to political campaigns, forming alliances with the state and infiltrating our institutions, all of which generates more violence than we already would have as a poor and unequal part of the world.”

The Uruguay program comes as states in the U.S. consider legalizing marijuana. On Tuesday, California, Nevada and Massachusetts voted to legalize pot for recreational use and a similar vote in Maine was too close to call.

In contrast with the United States, Uruguay aims to avoid the creation of lucrative marijuana businesses. Profits are tightly controlled, there are no brands and advertising is banned. It’s an approach Sabini would like to see extended to other intoxicating substances. He hopes that by proving careful regulation can prevent increased usage, decriminalization can be extended to cocaine. He also would like to ban all advertising on alcohol.

Uruguay, a quiet nation of just 3.5 million residents, is considered one of the most safe and stable countries in Latin America, and its residents enjoy a quality of life often approaching parts of Europe. It’s also often led other countries in the region in adopting liberal causes. The country legalized divorce and votes for women early in the 20th century, and more recently, popular former president José “Pepe” Mujica — a former left-wing guerrilla who ruled the country while driving around in an old Volkswagen Bug — oversaw the legalization of abortion and same-sex marriage, as well as the cannabis law.

Neighboring Brazil and Argentina have no plans to legalize marijuana, so Uruguay took steps to avoid becoming a marijuana tourist destination.

The cannabis registration program is only open to Uruguayans and long-term residents, which doesn’t stop Brazilians and Argentines from often stumbling into grow shops trying — and failing — to buy a gram of weed. Club members and home growers are technically prohibited from selling their finished product, but authorities admit many probably do so.

Since Uruguay passed its 2013 law, both Colombia and Chile have taken steps to legalize medical marijuana — allowing clubs to grow for personal use — but stopped far short of allowing cultivation and sale for recreational use.

Jorge Suarez, president of Uruguay’s Pharmacy Assn., says he sees no problem with eventually selling the product directly to tourists. “If Uruguayans can buy a little bit of the drug, why can’t they?”

Suarez has agreed to sell the drug when it becomes available, but he admits many of his colleagues have balked at being asked to sell a narcotic at low prices and have yet to sign up for the program.

“Many simple pharmacies say they don’t have much in the terms of security to protect a valuable product like that. But if we are selling it so cheap, and it’s everywhere, why would people rob us for that? I think they’d be more likely to ask for money or take our hair-care products, like they usually do,” he said.

The marijuana supplied to the shops is being mass produced by two companies licensed by the government, and the final launch of the pharmacy program is being held up by a postal service labor dispute.

Even as members of Uruguay’s smoking clubs say they strongly support the broad spirit of the law, some mumble about its specifics, saying they’re worried the pharmacy weed will be low-quality, or complaining that they should be able to use their growing experience to expand their small businesses and sell.

Laura Blanco, president of Uruguay’s Cannabis Studies Assn., admits she has her own small quibbles with the law. But she says it would be an error to go the more North American route and treat marijuana just like any other consumer good.

“We strongly defend a collective system not motivated by profit. Basically, because we believe that this needed to be separated from the market,” says Blanco, surrounded by American books from back to the ’60s and ’70s on marijuana and other drugs. “It’s a substance that changes your mind.”

Source:    http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-uruguay-marijuana-20161109-story.html

Ben Cort, an addiction treatment specialist from Colorado, speaks in opposition to Proposition 64 during a panel about the legalization of marijuana at the Anaheim Convention Center.

An addiction expert from Colorado, where marijuana is legal, Cort is drowning in a sea of concern over Proposition 64, California’s ballot initiative that would allow recreational weed.

Once an addict himself, Cort can’t believe the Golden State appears on the verge of legalizing something that terrifies him. Though he’s no fan of pot, it’s not so much the plant that scares Cort. What worries him is that science allows THC – the active ingredient in marijuana that gets you high – to become nuclear-charged.

A little THC wax or oil, he cautions, can go a very long way, especially when it’s ingested.

“We’re the canary in the coal mine,” says Cort, a manager with the University of Colorado Hospital’s rehab program. “We’re treating more addicts for cannabis than we are for opiates.”

Cort says he’s seen THC levels in so-called gummy bears 20 times higher than levels that are legal in Oregon, another state where recreational marijuana is law but where THC percentages are controlled.

Prop. 64, Cort says, will legalize dangerously high THC. That’s not Snoop Dogg cool. That’s emergency room serious.

The federal National Institute on Drug Abuse reports, “These extracts can deliver extremely large amounts of THC to users, and their use has sent some people to the emergency room.” Such high THC levels, institute officials warn, also can turn what many consider a relatively benign drug into something addictive.

UNICORN PROMISES

While writing about marijuana, I’ve interviewed doctors, lawyers, pot growers, medical marijuana dispensary owners, officials with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and patients in pain.

Until I attended a two-hour informational panel discussion Tuesday sponsored by the Anaheim Police Department, I figured I knew all about pot. Speakers included Cort; Police Chief John Jackson of the Greenwood Village, Colo., Police Department; Chief Justin Nordhorn of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board; Attorney Robert Bovett of Oregon Counties Legal Counsel; Lauren Michaels, legislative affairs manager

for the California Police Chiefs’ Association; and Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association.

When a speaker asked who had read Prop. 64, only one hand went up and it wasn’t mine. So to prepare for this column I also read – OK, I skimmed some chunks – all 62 pages. A lot of Prop. 64 is wonky and details who can do what and where. But some reads more like dreams of fairies and unicorns than reality.

“Incapacitate the black market,” the proposal promises “and move marijuana purchases into a legal structure with strict safeguards against children accessing it.”

Untrue, said Jackson, who stressed that illegal sales continue in Colorado.

“Revenues will,” Prop. 64 predicts, “provide funds to invest in public health programs that educate youth to prevent and treat serious substance abuse.”

Wrong, Jackson said. More teens in Colorado are being sent to emergency rooms because of THC-laced edibles.

Revenues will pay to “train local law enforcement to enforce the new law with a focus on DUI enforcement.”

Incorrect again. Jackson said his department is busier than ever dealing with more drivers high on weed and handling more THC-related traffic fatalities.

Other parts of Prop. 64 are just dumb and dumberer.   Like allowing radio and television advertising.

“Make no mistake,” Jackson said of Prop. 64. “This whole thing is about money.

“A drug dealer in a suit is still a drug dealer.”

‘NECESSARY REFORM’

Once marijuana became legal in Washington in 2012, Nordhorn said, children and teens considered it less harmful, and that had ripple effects.

With the advent of vaping, for example, young people inhale THC without anyone knowing if they are taking in an innocent type of e-juice or marijuana.

“Legal marijuana,” Nordhorn said, “is not a silver bullet to get rid of marijuana problems.”

Bovett echoed other panelists, saying that Oregon also has seen an increase in impaired driving, although he added that has been going up since the state approved medical marijuana.

The Oregon Poison Center also reports increases in marijuana-related calls.

Even Bradley, the lone pro-Prop. 64 voice on the panel, admitted he’s concerned about edibles.

Instead of THC levels, Bradley focused on dollars. He said the initiative will take $100 million out of the hands of criminals and the measure will generate $300 million for law enforcement to focus on such things as protecting children.

Bradley has plenty of backers. Among the most visible are Gavin Newsom, lieutenant governor, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa. Our local representative has said, “Current marijuana laws have undermined many of the things conservatives hold dear – individual freedom, limited government and the right to privacy.”

Rohrabacher went on to say, “This measure is a necessary reform which will end the failed system of marijuana prohibition in our state, provide California law enforcement the resources it needs to redouble its focus on serious crimes while providing a policy blueprint for other states to follow.”

‘SEED TO SALE’

The most sobering speaker was Michaels of the chiefs’ association. She simply defended California’s newly revamped medical marijuana policies.

Called “seed to sale,” three new laws inked last year shoot down the need for Prop. 64, Michaels said. She stated California now has an enhanced working system to distribute medicinal marijuana legally.

California, Michaels said, already allows local control, protects current producers and includes checkpoints at distribution.

In contrast, she said, Prop. 64 is vertically integrated, favors big business and independent distribution, appoints the state as sole actor for operating licenses and ensures regulatory confusion. Research, learn, vote. Contact the writer: dwhiting@scng.com

Source:   http://www.ocregister.com/articles/marijuana-731244-thc-prop.html   5th October 2016

In a report aired on Sunday’s 60 Minutes on CBS — and previewed in a piece on Friday’s CBS Evening News — medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook highlighted some of the problems seen in Colorado that have increased in the couple of years since the state legalized marijuana use in 2014.

LaPook spoke with a doctor from Pueblo County who recalled a substantial increase in women giving birth whose newborn babies test positive for marijuana, threatening the babies with permanent brain development problems. After also recounting a substantial increase in illegal production forcing many more law enforcement actions, the CBS correspondent also recalled the difficulty in detecting marijuana use in drivers.

LaPook began by forwarding the views of Dr. Steven Simerville of Pueblo’s St. Mary Corwin Medical Center, who supports an effort in his county to ban marijuana use there. LaPook:

He supports the ballot initiative to ban recreational pot — in part because he says he’s noticed more babies being born with marijuana in their system. His observations are anecdotal, but he’s concerned by what he has seen in his own hospital. In the first nine months of this year, 27 babies born at this hospital tested positive for THC — the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. That’s on track to be about 15 percent higher than last year.

After Dr. Simerville was seen informing LaPook that there are currently newborn babies at the hospital being treated for marijuana exposure, LaPook followed up: “What does the mother say when you say, ‘Your baby just tested positive for marijuana and it can possibly harm the baby’? What does the mother say?”

Dr. Simerville recalled that pot legalization has contributed to the misconception that, because it is legal, it is not harmful for the babies of pregnant women:

SIMERVILLE: They are not surprised that they tested positive. Obviously they know they’ve been smoking marijuana. But they’re in disbelief that it’s harmful. They frequently say, “How can it be harmful? It’s a legal drug.”

LAPOOK: Dr. Simerville says that’s a common misconception, especially because 25 states have approved marijuana for medical use for conditions like epilepsy, pain, and stimulation of appetite. But on the federal level, it’s still illegal. Today’s pot is, on average, four to five times stronger than it was in the 1980s. It can also get passed on to babies in high concentrations in breast milk.

Viewers were then informed of the dangers for babies in brain development:

SIMERVILLE: I try to explain to them that even though you’re not smoking very much, the baby is getting seven time more than you’re taking, and that this drug has been shown to cause harm in developing brains.

LAPOOK: Research suggests babies exposed to marijuana in utero may develop verbal, memory, and behavioral problems during early childhood.

After recalling a 70 percent increase in teenagers visiting the emergency room testing positive for marijuana, LaPook informed viewers of the possible ill effects for teens using marijuana:

That worries Dr. Simerville because evidence is emerging that heavy teenage use — using four to five days a week — may be linked to long-term damage in areas of the brain that help control cognitive functions like attention, memory, and decision-making.

It’s not known if there’s any amount of marijuana that is safe for the developing brain, which may still be maturing during the mid to late 20s.

The piece then moved to dealing with the burdens on law enforcement in having to find increased illegal growing of marijuana, and the difficulty in detecting the substance in the bodies of those illegally driving under the influence.

Source: http://blabber.buzz/index.php?option=com_k2&amp;view=item&amp;id=47494:cbs-highlights-problems-after-marijuana-legalization-in-colorado&amp;Itemid=1005 c

.1) Here is link to today’s Denver Post article highlighting proposed budget cuts by Colorado’s Governor.  http://www.denverpost.com/2016/11/01/2018-colorado-budget-john-hickenlooper-cuts/

While many representing Colorado along with media often portray the roll out of marijuana legalization/commercialization as going  “fairly well” or not  “as bad as we thought”,  the actual budget numbers paint a very concerning picture.

The Governor is now proposing new and significant budget cuts for this upcoming legislation session in the following areas:  capital construction for our schools, health and human services,  public safety/courts, healthcare including Colorado hospitals, and education including K-12 and higher education.  Areas that have experienced and reported increased negative impacts and/or costs associated with increased marijuana availability/commercialization.

Areas mentioned where marijuana tax revenues will be spent highlight some of the negative impacts from increased marijuana availability/commercialization, and include:

“Hiring of more mental health professionals in schools and child welfare caseworkers“

$18 million program to create affordable housing for the homeless” (Denver has reported dramatic increases in student homelessness as has other areas in Colorado)

“$16 million in marijuana taxes for forthcoming initiative to control the illegal pot trade operating in the shadows of the state’s legal industry” (Attached below is recent state report highlighting growth of illegal grey and black markets in Colorado to include new criminal and cartel activities and involvement)

Colorado’s Governor Hickenlooper says the budget plan’s priority is “to minimize the pain”

Yet, Coloradans were promised that marijuana tax revenues would be a boon to our state and schools.  And sadly and most disappointedly, many of the cuts being proposed are in the precise areas that funds are now needed more than ever because of the negative impacts from marijuana legalization/commercialization.

Article also highlights the possible elimination of marijuana coordination staff/office (Andrew Freedman and his staff) . Which may potentially make it even more difficult to ensure that the special interests and powerful commercial marijuana interests guiding much of Colorado’s policy making to date along with key leaders,  may never be held accountable for the costs and or negative impacts/burdens to the public of its troublesome implementation.   Further, it may make capturing data and impacts from marijuana legalization/commercialization, even more difficult than it already has been.  Which is deeply troubling as capturing such data and reporting impacts has been something few state leaders have wanted to be held responsible for doing.  With few having the courage or wherewithall, including media,  to ask:  “Why?”  Even though marijuana has been legalized/commercialized in Colorado for years now.

2) Below is recent editorial of Pueblo Chieftain, Pueblo’s main newspaper, in support of the citizen effort to reverse decision by Pueblo City Council members opting for marijuana commercialization.  Which was an important provision in Colorado’s Constitution legalizing marijuana with approximately 70% of Colorado’s cities and

counties wisely opting out in order to better protect kids, schools and communities in their municipalities.  This is very significant as the Pueblo Chieftain, like other newspapers in Colorado including Colorado’s main newspaper, The Denver Post,  have benefited tremendously from increased advertising revenues from commercial marijuana businesses/interests.  And due to the fact the Pueblo Chieftain was initially very supportive of marijuana commercialization, and now feels differently due to negative impacts as described in their editorial, which is attached below.

3) Regarding messaging around Colorado’s Healthy Kid Survey which in 2015   “randomly” selected youth surveys to use (i.e didn’t use all surveys collected)  in its final data analysis versus national health surveys that use different and more weighted approaches that show Colorado now ranks number one for youth marijuana use ages 12 and up.  With Colorado educators as reported in both Colorado’s main newspapers (The Denver Post and Colorado Gazette) reporting that marijuana has become number one issue Colorado public schools are facing.

As Colorado’s 2015 statewide Healthy Kid Survey shows, reported marijuana use in our state varies dramatically by region for several reasons. Here is link to infographic by Colorado State Health Department.  https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/PF_Youth_HKCS_MJ-Infographic-Digital.pdf.

Please note that in areas where there has been tremendous marijuana availability/commercialization (with Denver and Pueblo being the two municipalities that have become epicenters of commercialized marijuana businesses and special interests)  youth use is very high and reaches up to 30.1% of  high schoolers reporting using once or more in last month (which prevention world defines as “regular”  use).

This is very high and far exceeds levels that led to national youth tobacco campaigns and public outcry around youth tobacco use years ago.  It’s even more concerning when one considers that the average THC levels of Colorado marijuana today far exceeds levels what health experts in the Netherland concluded in 2014 report, should be considered a hard drug.   Also, note that in 2015 Healthy Kid Survey while 91% of surveyed high schoolers reporting regular marijuana use say they are smoking it, 28% say they are dabbing it, 28% say they are eating it, and 21% say they are vaping it, which is deeply troubling as is the lowering perception of harm of our youth throughout the state (an evidence based predictor of future increased use based on what we’ve learned from studying other substances) as  highlighted in the infographic provided by Colorado’s Public Health Department.

4) Additional information.  Attached is link to recent article published in Denver Post highlighting that Colorado adults now rank as top consumers of not only marijuana, but also alcohol, cocaine, and non prescription opioids. http://www.denverpost.com/2016/05/23/colorado-first-in-drugs-survey/

Links to PBS segment covering deaths associated to Colorado’s high THC marijuana can be found in recent press release and action alert, attached below.  Here is link to pdf of October 10th presentation that can be downloaded http://smartcolorado.org/resources/ from our website and contains additional information, and a link to brief policy brief of what we at Smart Colorado have learned from Colorado’s marijuana commercialization experiment  smartcolorado.org/lessons-learned.  Of course, the recent 60 minute news segment was powerful and gave only small a window into the heart wrenching impacts marijuana commercialization is having on Pueblo citizens.  I have also included recent report presented to state legislators from Pueblo’s largest human service agency, Posada, regarding impacts.

http://www.chieftain.com/mobile/msearch/5258397-123/marijuana-pueblo-retail-community

EDITORIAL

Retail marijuana: Yes or no?

CHIEFTAIN EDITORIAL

Published: October 29, 2016; Last modified: October 29, 2016 04:16PM

The legalization of retail marijuana stores two years ago has had profound impacts on the city and county of Pueblo. Some good. Some bad.

Now, the time has come for Pueblo voters to decide whether the benefits outweigh the negatives.

For months, The Pueblo Chieftain has been intensely studying this issue, both with special and ongoing news reporting, and also with private editorial board discussions with those for and against retail marijuana stores and grow operations.   It is an understatement to say the issue is complicated. So bear with us as we try today to discuss the essential concerns.

On the positive side, retail marijuana in Pueblo County — not in the city, where a moratorium on retail sales has been in place since legalization in 2014 — has meant jobs. The figure of 1,300 new jobs has been tossed about, but frankly, we’ve been unable to pin down the exact number.

The jobs range from cultivation workers to retail management. Some of the jobs pay fairly well, but others pay relatively low wages. There are many part-time workers in the field.

Tax revenues have benefited the county, with the total for 2016 expected to be somewhere in the $2.5 million range. Those proceeds have been used for a variety of purposes such as road paving in Pueblo West and scholarships for local students. And the revenues have risen in each of the years retail marijuana has been sold here.

There have been secondary benefits such as to the construction industry, which has remodeled buildings and built new stores, greenhouses and other structures. A number of vacant warehouse-type buildings have been purchased and put to use by marijuana retailers and related businesses.

That all adds up to a significant impact in terms of primary and secondary jobs, and increased revenue for local county government.

The City Council, on the other hand, put a moratorium on retail stores, but is asking voters this year to approve Ballot Question 2B to allow retail operations within the city limits.

If that were to pass, there is no doubt that the city would see benefits similar to what the county has experienced.  There also are the arguments that center around health, with proponents praising marijuana for helping treat all sorts of conditions, perhaps most visibly post-traumatic stress disorder, especially among military veterans.

Opponents argue that more testing is needed before such claims can be verified, and they point to medical studies that clearly establish the negative effects of marijuana on adolescents and young adults as their brains still are developing. They say it’s indisputable that marijuana impedes brain development.

The arguments over health claims cannot be resolved here, or anywhere for that matter. Passion runs high on both sides and there are conflicting test results.  Besides, we feel the time to make those arguments should have been in 2014.

No, we feel we must put the focus today on the benefits and negatives to the community, not the individuals. Sure, the latter is a valid debate topic, but for the sake of today’s conversation, let’s set that one aside for a different time.  So far, we’ve discussed the benefits, and there is no doubt that they are significant.

The negative impacts likewise are significant.

Local experts in law enforcement and nonprofits, particularly those who work with the homeless such as Posada, estimate that some 2,500 additional homeless people — added to an estimated 1,700 homeless here before retail marijuana was legalized — have come to Pueblo to buy and use marijuana. Maybe they came here with a dream to work in the industry, but that hasn’t materialized for most of them.

You see them everywhere, young people on street corners with their backpacks and their dogs, holding signs asking people for money. “Need money for gas,” “Need money for food” the signs read, but the reality is that they want money so they can go into a retail marijuana store, buy product and get stoned.  It is almost impossible to go into a grocery store or big box store parking lot and not be confronted by these individuals. And many are aggressive.

Where do they live? In tents along the Fountain Creek and Arkansas River, in cars parked on the edges of big parking lots, camping out wherever they can find shelter.  Emergency rooms at our local hospitals are beset by these individuals. Doctors and staff tell of heartbreaking stories of young families with malnourished children who are putting those youths through hell so the parents can smoke marijuana.

Ominously, doctors also tell about other individuals they see in the ERs, people who suffer from brain disorders such as schizophrenia who have stopped taking their medications and have come to Pueblo for marijuana. Never mind that marijuana doesn’t successfully treat schizophrenia, a potentially dangerous disorder if, for example, it manifests itself as paranoid schizophrenia. No, these ill people have come to Pueblo for marijuana, thinking incorrectly that they can substitute their pharmaceuticals for pot, and our local ERs and their staffs have to deal with this every day.

These homeless who have come into our community have brought nothing but trouble with them. Yet our community is straining to provide them resources, resources that had been dedicated to Puebloans in need.  But of all of the negative impacts on our community, the worst is the impact of image.  One county commissioner predicted early on — and astoundingly, he thought this was a good thing — that Pueblo is on the way to becoming the “Napa Valley of marijuana.”  That may be the case if the retail industry — especially grow operations — continues to expand at the exponential rate we’ve seen since 2014.

However, we think it’s a negative for our community to be regarded as a center for a drug culture. There’s no doubt, local economic development people say, that our community already is known nationwide for marijuana. And that means, they continue, that many businesses considering relocating to Pueblo or opening a new business here want no part of a community that worships marijuana.

Likewise, existing businesses have struggled to hire employees who can pass drug tests. And those who are required by law to maintain a drug-free work environment have struggled to meet that standard because of drug or alcohol use. Business leaders note

they have seen a dramatic worsening of these issues since recreational marijuana was legalized in 2014.

There have been crime issues. Sophisticated drug operations based in Florida, with Cuban ties, have set up marijuana grow operations, most notably in Pueblo West. And there has been an increase in thefts since marijuana has been available in stores, with opponents of marijuana saying the explanation for the increase is simple: Users, especially those not working and homeless, need money for marijuana.

A group of citizens calling themselves Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo circulated petitions and have placed two issues on this fall’s election ballot. Issues 300 and 200 would ban retail marijuana establishments in the city and county, respectively, and existing stores would have until Oct. 31, 2017, to close.  The group acknowledges that there have been financial benefits and some jobs created. But they argue that Pueblo has made a deal with the devil and they ask a simple question, “Is this really what we want, for Pueblo to be synonymous with marijuana?”

We have the same concern. Has Pueblo sold its soul for a few million dollars in revenue and jobs, the majority of which are relatively low-paying? Do we want our warehouses full of marijuana grows and/or related products?  Do we want to be hassled by someone on every major street corner, or when we go to restaurants and go shopping? Do we want our community overrun by outsiders who offer us nothing except grief and who deplete the resources of our nonprofits, which struggle just to meet Puebloans’ many needs?

In short, while some benefits are real, the costs have been too high.  It’s time to say we have tried this social experiment, tried allowing retail marijuana stores in Pueblo, and we don’t want it anymore.

We urge you to vote yes on County Ballot Question 200 and City Ballot Question 300, and vote no on City Ballot Question 2B (which would allow retail stores within the city limits, as there are none currently).

We know this won’t get rid of marijuana in Pueblo, as medical marijuana was approved years ago by state voters. However, the process to get a medical marijuana card has become significantly more difficult in recent years, and we encourage the state Legislature to make it even tougher.

And while lawmakers are at it, raise the age to 21 from 18 for those eligible for a medical marijuana card. Also, eliminate the entire caregivers system. If marijuana is really a medication, then grow it in a controlled, government-regulated and government-tested facility, with complete product standards — as opposed to being grown in someone’s garage.

The notion of a person growing a drug for another is ludicrous. We demand that the Legislature put an end to this nonsense.

Those who truly need marijuana will still be able to get it. And, we realize, those who want it for recreational use can drive elsewhere in the state to purchase it.

But we are convinced that this is not the image of Pueblo that our community wants to project. We are better than this.   We made a mistake in even going this far, but frankly, that was in large part thanks to our county commissioners, who shoved retail marijuana operations down the throats of communities such as Pueblo West and the St. Charles Mesa, where there was and is significant opposition.  Then the commissioners set up a buffer, a bogus marijuana licensing board made up of the usual suspects to rubber-stamp applications and protect the commissioners from those objecting.

Very well. We have the opportunity now to admit our mistake.

Vote yes on 200 and 300; and no on City Ballot Question 2B.

Source:  : Diane Carlson <diane@smartcolorado.org> Sent: Wed, Nov 2, 2016 3:27 pm Subject: Information from CO for states considering marijuana ballot initiatives

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is concern that medical marijuana laws (MMLs) could negatively affect adolescents. To better understand these policies, we assess how adolescent exposure to MMLs is related to educational attainment.

METHODS:

Data from the 2000 Census and 2001-2014 American Community Surveys were restricted to individuals who were of high school age (14-18) between 1990 and 2012 (n=5,483,715). MML exposure was coded as: (i) a dichotomous “any MML” indicator, and (ii) number of years of high school age exposure. We used logistic regression to model whether MMLs affected: (a) completing high school by age 19; (b) beginning college, irrespective of completion; and (c) obtaining any degree after beginning college. A similar dataset based on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) was also constructed for confirmatory analyses assessing marijuana use.

RESULTS:

MMLs were associated with a 0.40 percentage point increase in the probability of not earning a high school diploma or GED after completing the 12th grade (from 3.99% to 4.39%). High school MML exposure was also associated with a 1.84 and 0.85 percentage point increase in the probability of college non-enrollment and degree non-completion, respectively (from 31.12% to 32.96% and 45.30% to 46.15%, respectively). Years of MML exposure exhibited a consistent dose response relationship for all outcomes. MMLs were also associated with 0.85 percentage point increase in daily marijuana use among 12th graders (up from 1.26%).

CONCLUSIONS:

Medical marijuana law exposure between age 14 to 18 likely has a delayed effect on use and education that persists over time.

Source:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27742490 Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016 Nov 1;168:320-327. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.09.002. Epub 2016 Oct 11.

Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

Marijuana is now legal in 25 states for medicinal purposes and in four for recreational use. Voters in another five have a chance on Nov. 8 to legalize the retail consumption of pot, but the evidence rolling in from these real-time experiments should give voters pause to consider the consequences.

In 2012 Colorado and Washington voters legalized recreational pot, followed by Alaska and Oregon two years later. Initiatives this year in California, Arizona, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts would allow businesses to sell and market pot to adults age 21 and older.

Adults could possess up to one ounce (more in Maine) and grow six marijuana plants. Public consumption would remain prohibited, as would driving under the influence. Marijuana would be taxed at rates from 3.75% in Massachusetts to 15% in the western states, which would license and regulate retailers.

Marijuana is a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which prohibits states from regulating possession, use, distribution and sale of narcotics. However, the Justice Department in 2013 announced it wouldn’t enforce the law in states that legalize pot. Justice also promised to monitor and document the outcomes, which it hasn’t done. But someone should, because evidence from Colorado and Washington compiled by the nonprofit Smart Approaches to Marijuana suggests that legalization isn’t achieving what supporters promised.

One problem is that legalization and celebrity glamorization have removed any social stigma from pot and it is now ubiquitous. Minors can get pot as easily a six pack. Since 2011 marijuana consumption among youth rose by 9.5% in Colorado and 3.2% in Washington even as it dropped 2.2% nationwide. The Denver Post reports that a “disproportionate share” of marijuana businesses are in low-income and minority communities. Many resemble candy stores with lollipops, gummy bears and brownies loaded with marijuana’s active ingredient known as THC.

The science of how THC affects young minds is still evolving. However, studies have shown that pot use during adolescence can shave off several IQ points and increase the risk for schizophrenic breaks. One in six kids who try the drug will become addicted, a higher rate than for alcohol. Pot today is six times more potent than 30 years ago, so it’s easier to get hooked and high.

Employers have also reported having a harder time finding workers who pass drug tests. Positive workplace drug tests for marijuana have increased 178% nationwide since 2012. The construction company GE Johnson says it is recruiting construction workers from other states because it can’t find enough in Colorado to pass a drug test.

Honest legalizers admitted that these social costs might increase but said they’d be offset by fewer arrests and lower law enforcement costs. Yet arrests of black and Hispanic youth in Colorado for pot-related offenses have soared 58% and 29%, respectively, while falling 8% for whites.

The share of pot-related traffic deaths has roughly doubled in Washington and increased by a third in Colorado since legalization, and in the Centennial State pot is now involved in more than one of five traffic fatalities. Calls to poison control for overdoses have jumped 108% in Colorado and 68% in Washington since 2012.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has said that “criminals are still selling on the black market,” in part because state taxes make legal marijuana pricier than on the street. Drug cartels have moved to grow marijuana in the states or have switched to trafficking in more profitable drugs like heroin.

One irony is that a Big Pot industry is developing even as tobacco smokers are increasingly ostracized. The Arcview Group projects that the pot market could triple over four years to $22 billion. Pot retailers aren’t supposed to market specifically to kids, though they can still advertise on the radio or TV during, say, a college football game. Tobacco companies have been prohibited from advertising on TV since 1971.

The legalization movement is backed by the likes of George Soros and Napster co-founder Sean Parker, and this year they are vastly outspending opponents. No wonder U.S. support for legalizing marijuana has increased to 57% from 32% a decade ago, according to the Pew Research Center.

We realize it’s déclassé to resist this cultural imperative, and maybe voters think the right to get high when you want is worth the social and health costs of millions of more stoners. Then again, since four states have volunteered to be guinea pigs, maybe other states should wait and see if these negative trends continue.

Source:  Release from SAM  October 2016

October 19, 2016 2.02am BST

Currently 25 states and the District of Columbia have medical cannabis programs. On Nov. 8, Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota will vote on medical cannabis ballot initiatives, while Montana will vote on repealing limitations in its existing law.

We have no political position on cannabis legalization. We study the cannabis plant, also known as marijuana, and its related chemical compounds. Despite claims that cannabis or its extracts relieve all sorts of maladies, the research has been sparse and the results mixed. At the moment, we just don’t know enough about cannabis or its elements to judge how effective it is as a medicine.

What does the available research suggest about medical cannabis, and why do we know so little about it?

What are researchers studying?

While some researchers are investigating smoked or vaporized cannabis most are looking at specific cannabis compounds, called cannabinoids.

From a research standpoint, cannabis is considered a “dirty” drug because it contains hundreds of compounds with poorly understood effects. That’s why researchers tend to focus on just one cannabinoid at a time. Only two plant-based cannabinoids, THC and cannabidiol, have been studied extensively, but there could be others with medical benefits that we don’t know about yet. THC is the main active component of cannabis. It activates cannabinoid receptors in the brain, causing the “high” associated with cannabis, as well as in the liver, and other parts of the body. The only FDA-approved cannabinoids that doctors can legally prescribe are both lab produced drugs similar to THC. They are prescribed to increase appetite and prevent wasting caused by cancer or AIDS.

Cannabidiol (also called CBD), on the other hand, doesn’t interact with cannabinoid receptors. It doesn’t cause a high. Seventeen states have passed laws allowing access to CBD for people with certain medical conditions.

Our bodies also produce cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. Researchers are creating new drugs that alter their function, to better understand how cannabinoid receptors work. The goal of these studies is to discover treatments that can use the body’s own cannabinoids to treat conditions such as chronic pain and epilepsy, instead of using cannabis itself.

Cannabis is promoted as a treatment for many medical conditions. We’ll take a look at two, chronic pain and epilepsy, to illustrate what we actually know about its medical benefits.

Is it a chronic pain treatment? Research suggests that some people with chronic pain self-medicate with cannabis. However, there is limited human research on whether cannabis or cannabinoids effectively reduce chronic pain. Research in people suggest that certain conditions, such as chronic pain caused by nerve injury, may respond to smoked or vaporized cannabis, as well as an FDA-approved THC drug. But, most of these studies rely on subjective self-reported pain ratings, a significant limitation. Only a few controlled clinical trials have been run, so we can’t yet conclude whether cannabis is an effective pain treatment.

An alternative research approach focuses on drug combination therapies, where an experimental cannabinoid drug is combined with an existing drug. For instance, a recent study in mice combined a low dose of a THC-like drug with an aspirin-like drug. The combination blocked nerve-related pain better than either drug alone.

In theory, the advantage to combination drug therapies is that less of each drug is needed, and side effects are reduced. In addition, some people may respond better to one drug ingredient than the other, so the drug combination may work for more people. Similar studies have not yet been run in people.

Well-designed epilepsy studies are badly needed Despite some sensational news stories and widespread speculation on the internet, the use of cannabis to reduce epileptic seizures is supported more by research in rodents than in people. In people the evidence is much less clear. There are many anecdotes and surveys about the positive effects of cannabis flowers or extracts for treating epilepsy. But these aren’t the same thing as well-controlled clinical trials, which can tell us which types of seizure, if any, respond positively to cannabinoids and give us stronger predictions about how most people respond.

While CBD has gained interest as a potential treatment for seizures in people, the physiological link between the two is unknown. As with chronic pain, the few clinical studies have been done included very few patients. Studies of larger groups of people can tell us whether only some patients respond positively to CBD.

We also need to know more about the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body, what systems they regulate, and how they could be influenced by CBD. For instance, CBD may interact with anti-epileptic drugs in ways we are still learning about. It may also have different effects in a developing brain than

in an adult brain. Caution is particularly urged when seeking to medicate children with CBD or cannabis products.

Cannabis research is hard

Well-designed studies are the most effective way for us to understand what medical benefits cannabis may have. But research on cannabis or cannabinoids is particularly difficult. Cannabis and its related compounds, THC and CBD, are on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which is for drugs with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” and includes Ecstasy and heroin.

In order to study cannabis, a researcher must first request permission at the state and federal level. This is followed by a lengthy federal review process involving inspections to ensure high security and detailed record-keeping.

In our labs, even the very small amounts of cannabinoids we need to conduct research in mice are highly scrutinized. This regulatory burden discourages many researchers.

Designing studies can also be a challenge. Many are based on users’ memories of their symptoms and how much cannabis they use. Bias is a limitation of any study that includes self-reports. Furthermore, laboratory-based studies usually include only moderate to heavy users, who are likely to have formed some tolerance to marijuana’s effects and may not reflect the general population. These studies are also limited by using whole cannabis, which contains many cannabinoids, most of which are poorly understood.

Placebo trials can be a challenge because the euphoria associated with cannabis makes it easy to identify, especially at high THC doses. People know when they are high. Another type of bias, called expectancy bias, is a particular issue with cannabis research. This is the idea that we tend to experience what we expect, based on our previous knowledge. For example, people report feeling more alert after drinking what they are told is regular coffee, even if it is actually decaffeinated. Similarly, research participants may report pain relief after ingesting cannabis, because they believe that cannabis relieves pain. The best way to overcome expectancy effects is with a balanced placebo design, in which participants are told that they are taking a placebo or varying cannabis dose, regardless of what they actually receive.

Studies should also include objective, biological measures, such as blood levels of THC or CBD, or physiological and sensory measures routinely used in other areas of biomedical research. At the moment, few do this, prioritizing self-reported measures instead.

Cannabis isn’t without risks

Abuse potential is a concern with any drug that affects the brain, and cannabinoids are no exception. Cannabis is somewhat similar to tobacco, in that some people have great difficulty quitting. And like tobacco, cannabis is a natural product that has been selectively bred to have strong effects on the brain and is not without risk. Although many cannabis users are able to stop using the drug without problem, 2-6 percent of users have difficulty quitting. Repeated use, despite the desire to decrease or stop using, is known as cannabis use disorder.

As more states more states pass medical cannabis or recreational cannabis laws, the number of people with some degree of cannabis use disorder is also likely to increase.

It is too soon to say for certain that the potential benefits of cannabis outweigh the risks. But with restrictions to cannabis (and cannabidiol) loosening at the state level, research is badly needed to get the facts in order.

Source: https://theconversation.com/what-do-we-know-about-marijuanas-medical-benefits-two-experts-explain-the-evidence-64200   Oct.2016

This November, several states will vote on whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and the proponents of legalization have seized on a seemingly clever argument: marijuana is safer than alcohol.  The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, an effort of the Marijuana Policy Project (or MPP), has taken this argument across the country.  Their latest strategy is labelled Marijuana vs. Alcohol.  It is a very misleading, even dangerous, message, based on bad social science and sophistic public deception. Citing out-of-date studies that go back ten years and more, even using that well-known scientific journal, Wikipedia, the MPP never references current research on the harms of today’s high potency and edible marijuana, studies that come out monthly if not more frequently.  Indeed, their Marijuana vs. Alcohol page concludes with a 1988 statement about the negligible harms of marijuana—but that is a marijuana that simply does not exist anymore, neither in mode nor potency.  Today’s marijuana is at least five times more potent, and sold in much different form.  And the science of marijuana and its effects on the brain have come some distance since 1988 as well.

So out-of-date is the science and knowledge of marijuana from thirty years ago, it would be malpractice in any other field to suggest that kind of information about a drug having any contemporary relevance at all.  One almost wonders if the MPP thinks public health professors still instruct their students on how to use microfiche to perform their research as they prepare to write their papers on 5k memory typewriters.

It is simply misleading in a public health campaign to cite dated research while at the same time ignore a larger body of current evidence that points in the opposite direction of a desired outcome.  At great potential peril to our public health, political science (in the hands of the marijuana industry) is far outrunning medical science.  But the danger is clear: with the further promotion, marketing, and use of an increasingly known dangerous substance, public health and safety will pay the price.

Consider three basic problems with the industry’s latest campaign:

I.  Comparisons of relative dangers of various drugs are simply impossible and can often lead to paradoxical conclusions.  It is impossible to compare a glass of chardonnay and its effects on various adults of various weights and tolerance levels with the inhalation or consumption of a high-potency marijuana joint or edible.  Is the joint from the 5 percent THC level or the 25 percent level?  How about a 30 mg—or stronger—gummy bear?  A glass of wine with dinner processes through the body in about an hour and has little remaining effect.  A marijuana brownie or candy can take up to 90 minutes to even begin to take effect.

Consider a consumer of a glass of wine who ate a full meal and waited an hour or more before driving and a consumer of a marijuana edible taking the wheel of a plane, train, automobile, or anything else.  The wine drinker would likely be sober, the marijuana consumer would just be getting high, and, given the dose, possibly very high at that.

True, marijuana consumption rarely causes death, but its use is not benign.  Last year, an ASU professor took a standard dose of edible marijuana, just two marijuana coffee beans. The effect?  “Episodes of convulsive twitching and jerking and passing out” before the paramedics were called.  Such episodes are rare for alcohol, but they are increasingly happening with marijuana.

Beyond acute effects, the chronic impact of marijuana is also damaging.  Approximately twice the percentage of regular marijuana users will experience Marijuana Use Disorder than will alcohol users experience Alcohol Use Disorder—both disorders categorized by the Diagnostic Statistics Manual (DSM).[1]   Marijuana is also the number one substance of abuse for teens admitted to treatment, far higher than the percentage who present with alcohol problems.  In fact, the most recent data out of Colorado shows 20 percent of teens admitted for treatment have marijuana listed as their primary substance of abuse compared to less than one percent for alcohol.

Still, the Campaign persists in its deceptions—as if they have not even read their own literature.  One online marketing tool it recently deployed was the “Consume Responsibly” campaign.  Delve into that site and you will find this warning: “[Smoked marijuana] varies from person to person, you should wait at least three to four hours before driving a vehicle.”  And: “Edible marijuana products and some other infused products remain in your system several hours longer, so you should not operate a vehicle for the rest of the day after consuming them.”  Who has ever been told that they should not operate a vehicle for four hours, much less for the rest of the day, if they had a glass of wine or beer?  Safer than alcohol?  This is not even true according to the MPP’s own advice.

Beyond unscientific dose and effect comparisons, there is a growing list of problems where marijuana use does, indeed, appear to be more harmful than alcohol.  According to Carnegie Mellon’s Jonathan Caulkins: “Marijuana is significantly more likely to interfere with life functioning” than alcohol and “it is moderately more likely to create challenges of self-control and to be associated with social and mental health problems.” Additionally, a recent study out of UC Davis revealed that marijuana dependence was more strongly linked to financial difficulties than alcohol dependence and had the same impacts on downward mobility, antisocial behavior in the workplace, and relationship conflict as alcohol.

II.  The marijuana industry pushes and promotes the use of a smoked or vaped substance, but never compares marijuana to tobacco.  Indeed, the two substances have much more in common than marijuana and alcohol, especially with regard to the products themselves and the method of consumption (though we are also seeing increasing sales of child-attractive marijuana candies).  But why is the comparison never made?  The answer lies in the clear impossibility.

Consider: Almost every claim about marijuana’s harms in relation to alcohol has to do with the deaths associated with alcohol.  But, hundreds of thousands more people die from tobacco than alcohol.  Based on their measures of mortality, which is safer: alcohol or tobacco?  Can one safely drink and drive?  No.  Can one smoke as many cigarettes as one wants while driving?  Of course. So, what’s the more dangerous substance?  Mortality does not answer that question.

Alcohol consumption can create acute problems, while tobacco consumption can create chronic problems.  And those chronic problems particularly affect organs like the lungs, throat, and heart.  But what of the chronic impact on the brain?  That’s the marijuana risk, and, seemingly, society is being told that brains are less important than lungs.  Nobody can seriously believe that, which is why these comparisons simply fail scrutiny.

This illustrates but one of the problems in comparing dangerous substances. As Professor Caulkins recently wrote:

The real trouble is not that marijuana is more or less dangerous than alcohol; the problem is that they are altogether different….The country is not considering whether to switch the legal statuses of alcohol and marijuana. Unfortunately, our society does not get to choose either to have alcohol’s dangers or to have marijuana’s dangers. Rather, it gets to have alcohol’s dangers…and also marijuana’s dangers. Further, marijuana problems are associated with alcohol problems.  New research out of Columbia University reveals that marijuana users are five times more likely to have an alcohol abuse disorder.  Society doesn’t just switch alcohol for marijuana—too often, one ends up with use of both, compounding both problems.

The larger point for voters to understand:  The marijuana legalization movement is not trying to ban or end alcohol sales or consumption; rather, it wants to add marijuana to the dangerous substances already available, including alcohol.  This is not about marijuana or alcohol, after all.  It’s about marijuana and alcohol. We can see this effect in states like Colorado, with headlines such as “Alcohol sales get higher after weed legalization.”  And, according to the most recent federal data [2], alcohol use by teens, as well as adults, has increased in Colorado since 2012 (the year of legalization). If alcohol is the problem for the MPP, in their model state–Colorado–alcohol consumption has increased with marijuana legalization.  Legalizing marijuana will, in the end, only make alcohol problems worse. III.  The legalization movement regularly cites to one study in the Journal of Scientific Reports to “prove” that marijuana is safer than alcohol.  But this study leads to odd conclusions in what the authors, themselves, call a “novel risk assessment methodology.”  For instance, the researchers find that every drug, from cocaine to meth to MDMA to LSD, is found to be safer than alcohol. (See this graph).  By the MPP standard, we should thereby make these substances legal as well.  But, seeing such data in its full light, we all know this would be nonsensical.

Further, the authors specifically write that they only looked at acute effects and did not analyze “chronic toxicity,” and cannot judge marijuana and “long term effects.”  Indeed, they specifically write in their study the toxicity of marijuana“may therefore be underestimated” given the limitations of their examination.  Yet legalizers ignore these statements.  Always.  It simply does not fit their narrative. What long-term effects are we talking about?  To cite the New England Journal of Medicine: “addiction, altered brain development, poor educational outcomes, cognitive impairment,” and “increased risk of chronic psychosis disorders.”  Now think about what it will mean to make a drug with those adverse effects more available, and for recreational use.

Finally, the very authors of the much-cited Journal of Scientific Reports study specifically warn their research should be “treated carefully particularly in regard to dissemination to lay people….especially considering the differences of risks between individuals and the whole population.”  But this is precisely what commercialization is about—not individual adult use but making a dangerous drug more available to “the whole population.”

Given what we know in states like Colorado, we clearly see that legalization creates more availability which translates into more use, affecting whole populations—Colorado college-age use, for example, is now 62 percent higher than the national average. [See FN2, below]. And the science is coming in, regularly.  Indeed, the same journal the MPP points to in its two-year old “novel” study, just this year published another study and found:

Neurocognitive function of daily or near daily cannabis users can be substantially impaired from repeated cannabis use, during and beyond the initial phase of intoxication. As a consequence, frequent cannabis use and intoxication can be expected to interfere with neurocognitive performance in many daily environments such as school, work or traffic.

That is why these comparisons of safety and harm are—in the end—absurd and dangerous.  In asking what is safer, the true answer is “neither.”  And for a variety of reasons.  But where one option is impossible to eliminate (as in alcohol), society should not add to the threat that exists:  One doesn’t say because a playground is near train tracks you should also put a highway there.  You fence off the playground.

That, however, is not the choice the MPP has given us.  They are not sponsoring legislation to reduce the harms of alcohol, they are, instead, saying that with all the harms of alcohol, we should now add marijuana.  But looking at all the problems society now has with substance abuse, the task of the serious is to reduce the problems with what already exists, not advance additional dangers.

If the MPP and its Campaigns to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol are serious about working on substance abuse problems, we invite them to join those of us who have labored in these fields for years.  One thing we do know: adding to the problems with faulty arguments, sloppy reasoning, and questionable science, will not reduce the problems they point to.  It will increase them.  And that, beyond faulty argument and sloppy reasoning, is public policy malfeasance. [1] See http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2464591 compared to http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2300494

Source:  http://amgreatness.com/2016/09/25/lie-travels-comparing-alcohol-marijuana/  Sept 25th 2016

The “bud tender” had shoulder length black hair, a deep well of patience and a connoisseur’s pride in his wares as he spread tray after tray of marijuana-based products on the glass counter top.

There were fruit gums, chocolate caramels, granola packets, medicated sugar to drop in your coffee or tea in the morning, Rosemary Cheddar Crackers for a savoury taste, a bath soak and even sensual oil for the bedroom, Charles Watson explained.

Then he moved on to his dozen jars of green, frosted-looking marijuana lumps for smoking, all grown legally in Denver and all named and labelled with a percentage breakdown of their chemical composition to indicate their potency and character.

How marijuana changed Colorado

Mr Watson, a salesman for the prominent Colorado marijuana chain Native Roots, explained that he had a higher tolerance than most users to his products’ effects. For a novice he suggested Harlequin, which would be similar to the cannabis you would have found in the Sixties or early Seventies. It was milder than something like Alien OG with its sky-high THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, content. “Even smoking a tiny bit of that can get you nice and elevated,” Mr Watson said.

Almost anywhere else in the world Native Roots would be considered an unusually well-stocked drug den and Mr Watson could be facing time in jail. In Colorado, where sales of recreational marijuana to adults over 21 have been legal since January 2014, he is one of more than 27,000 people licensed to work in a booming new industry with global ambitions.

“We’re trying to show the world you can sell and regulate it in a responsible manner,” Mr Watson said. His clients are not only stereotypical stoners — they include everyone from the healthy guy that’s just run a marathon to wheelchair users who are inhaling oxygen.

Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, opposed legalisation at the time of the vote in 2012 and subsequently said that he wished he could wave a magic wand and abolish it. In May, however, he changed his tune. “If I had that magic wand now, I don’t know if I would wave it,” he said. “It’s beginning to look like it might work.”

By the end of this year, if a series of state referendums fall in favour of legalisation, recreational marijuana could be approved in nine states, including California, whose economy was the sixth largest in the world last year.

Colorado raised $135 million from marijuana fees, licences and taxes last year, a fraction of the overall state budget of $27 billion but welcome revenue all the same.

Recreational and medical marijuana customers pay a 2.9 per cent regular Colorado sales tax charge and any local taxes. Recreational consumers are also charged an additional 10 per cent state marijuana sales tax and the price of their marijuana includes a 15 per cent excise tax paid by the retailer when purchasing his wares from the grower. The revenue feeds into a state schools building programme. If it is legalised in California, voters will decide whether a portion of the taxes from recreational marijuana sales will go towards tackling the state’s homelessness problem.

There are still marijuana-related crimes in Colorado, for example where the supplier is unlicensed or the customer is under 21 but there are far fewer than previously. The total number of marijuana-related prosecutions fell by more than 8,000 a year between 2012 and 2015, and was down 69 per cent among the 10-17 age group.

Violent crime fell by 6 per cent and property crime dropped by 3 per cent between 2009 and 2014, the first year of the experiment, debunking pessimistic forecasts made before legalisation.

The state’s senior law enforcement official, Stan Hilkey, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, said he was surprised by the results. “During the debate there was a ‘sky is gonna fall’ mentality from a lot of us, including me,” he said. “I haven’t seen that.” He said, however, that after three decades as a police officer he found it difficult “to shed my cop glasses”. Asked if legalisation had brought any benefits to the public or to law enforcement, he said: “None that I’m aware of.”

In May the state’s county sheriffs, prosecutors and police chiefs wrote to Colorado legislators to complain about the extra workload foisted on them by legalisation. They called for a two-year break from the constant tweaks to the regulation of

medical and recreational marijuana. Their letter said that there had been 81 bills on the subject introduced in the previous four years.

They wrote: “Industry forces are working constantly to chip away at regulations put in place to protect public health and safety.”

Mr Hilkey added that legalisation had failed to defeat the black market, which continues to thrive because its product is cheaper and not restricted by age. It has also created new problems, including the illegal export of licensed and unlicensed marijuana to neighbouring states and almost certainly brought greater profits to organised crime activity in Colorado.

The ban on marijuana sales at national level means that officially at least, banks will not open accounts for marijuana growers or vendors, so the industry remained a cash business, he said. Therefore this made it ripe for criminals.

There were 2,538 licensed marijuana businesses in Colorado last December, many of which hire security to protect against armed robberies.

Last month a former Marine Corps veteran working as a guard at the Green Heart dispensary in Aurora, near Denver, was shot dead in a botched robbery, the first killing at a licensed marijuana business, though not the first robbery.

Two days later a small group of Republicans in Congress blocked a measure backed by both parties that would have effectively opened the banking system to marijuana businesses.

You get dirty looks if you smoke a cigarette in the street but people barely think twice if they smell weed

A spokesman for Blue Line Protection Group, one of the largest companies competing to provide security and compliance services to the new industry, said that it was a myth that there was no banking. In practice some local banks and credit agencies now feel comfortable offering services to the marijuana industry but the national chains are still waiting for approval from the federal government.

Andrew Freedman, the governor’s director of marijuana coordination, said that if California voters passed recreational legalisation, the federal government would feel compelled to step in to open up legitimate banking for the industry.

Mr Freedman, a lawyer who refuses to give a personal opinion on legalisation, said that Colorado had succeeded in creating a heavily regulated marijuana industry where consumers could safely buy a healthier product than was available on the black market.

He said that it was too early to answer many of the most pressing questions about legalisation, including what impact it had on alcohol, tobacco and opioid usage although he had been pleasantly surprised by how few tragedies there had been through marijuana overdoses.

His greatest worry is that over time people’s comfort with legalisation could make radically different patterns of marijuana use socially acceptable.

That may be happening already though. Evan Borman, 33, an architect who lives down the street from a medical marijuana shop, said attitudes in the state were shifting, though he claimed that he smoked “no less and no more” than he did before legalisation. He said: “You get dirty looks if you smoke a cigarette in the street but people barely even think twice if they smell weed.”

Source: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/yes-it-s-legal-but-the-law-s-still-a-drag-j8rdh3nbj    August 22nd 2016

No on Prop 205 highlights dangers of edible marijuana

PHOENIX (Oct 4) – In states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, accidental marijuana ingestion by kids has risen by 600 percent, according to a study of the National Poison Data system. Poison Control centers across the country reported more than 4,000 children exposed to marijuana in 2015. Watch more here.

Perhaps that’s because, in states like Colorado, almost half of the marijuana market is the sale of highly-concentrated edibles – packaged to look like your kids’ favorite after-school treat.

Of the many disturbing provisions buried in Proposition 205, one of the most troubling is not only that it would allow the production and sale of edible marijuana in Arizona, but also would allow such with no restriction on potency.

Edible marijuana in the form of candies, gummies, cookies, and sodas would be blatantly advertised and sold out of current medical marijuana dispensaries, as detailed in the proposition language.

This is what today’s marijuana looks like:

email_banner-1-300x200

In Colorado, lawmakers recently banned the production of edible marijuana in the shape of animals or people, so as to diminish its marketability toward youth. Due to the Voter Protection Act paired with Prop 205’s sneaky language, Arizona wouldn’t be able to protect our kids by limiting edibles in any way.

Poison Control centers across the country reported more than 4,000 children exposed to marijuana in 2015. Watch more here.

Source: https://noprop205.com/marijuana-marketed-kids/   4th Oct.2016

1.  Marijuana use creates neurocognitive impairments and cannabis intoxication in both frequent and infrequent users. –Journal of Scientific Reports, May 2016. (Cannabis and Tolerance: Acute Drug Impairment as a Function of Cannabis Use History).

2. Prevalence of cannabis use is expected to increase if cannabis is legal to use and legally available. –International Journal of Drug Policy, May 2016 (Correlates of Intentions to Use Cannabis among US High School Seniors in the Case of Cannabis Legalization).

3. Regular exposure to cannabis is associated with neuroanatomic alterations in several brain regions. –Journal of Biological Psychiatry, April 2016  (The Role of Cannabinoids in Neuroanatomic Alterations in Cannabis Users).

4. Marijuana is addicting, has adverse effects upon the adolescent brain, is a risk for both cardio-respiratory disease and testicular cancer, and is associated with both psychiatric illness and negative social outcomes. –Statement of the American College of Pediatricians, April 2016 (Marijuana Use: Detrimental to Youth).

5. Marijuana use has significant neuropharmacologic, cognitive, behavioral, and somatic   consequences. –Statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics, March 2015 (The Impact of Marijuana Policies on Youth: Clinical, Research, and Legal Update).

6. Marijuana use is associated with increased incidence and worsened course of psychotic, mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders across the lifespan….and marijuana’s deleterious effects on adolescent brain development, cognition, and social functioning may have immediate and long-term implications. –Statement of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2014 (AACAP Marijuana Legalization Policy Statement).

7. Marijuana use may cause impairment in memory, concentration, and executive  functioning…and may lead to permanent nervous system toxicity. –Statement of the American Academy of Neurology (Position Statement: Use of Medical Marijuana for Neurologic Disorders).

8. There is a strong association of cannabis use with the onset of psychiatric disorders. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to harm, given the effects of cannabis on neurological development. –Statement of the American Psychiatric Association (Position Statement on Marijuana as Medicine).

9. Both marijuana-related hospitalizations and ED visits have increased substantially in recent years. –Newsletter of the American College of Physicians, January 2016 (Public Health Researchers Look at Rise in Marijuana-related Hospitalizations).

10. Cannabis dependence is not associated with fewer harmful economic and social

problems than alcohol dependence. –Journal of Clinical Psychological Science, June 2016 (Persistent Cannabis Dependence and Alcohol Dependence Represent Risks for Midlife Economic and Social Problems:  A Longitudinal Cohort Study.)

11. Repeated exposure to cannabis during adolescence may have detrimental effects on brain resting functional connectivity, intelligence, and cognitive function. –Journal of the Cerebral Cortex, February 2016 (Adverse Effects of Cannabis on Adolescent Brain Development: A Longitudinal Study).

12. Negative health effects of marijuana use can include addiction, abnormal brain development, psychosis, and other negative outcomes. –New England Journal of Medicine, June 2014 (Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use).

13. One in six infants and toddlers admitted to a Colorado hospital with coughing, wheezing and other symptoms of bronchiolitis tested positive for marijuana exposure. –American Academy of Pediatrics, April 2016 (One in Six Children Hospitalized for Lung Inflammation Positive for Marijuana Exposure).

14. Study respondents who were high had higher odds driving while intoxicated (on either marijuana or alcohol). –Journal of Health Education Research, April 2016 (Association Between Self-reports of Being High and Perceptions About the Safety of Drugged and Drunk Driving).

15. Cannabis use during adolescence increases the risk of developing a psychiatric disorder in adulthood, including anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. –Frontiers in Neuroscience, November 2014.  (Long-term Consequences of Adolescent Cannabinoid Exposure in Adult Psychopathology).

16. Childhood exposure to marijuana increases in marijuana friendly states and can lead to coma, decreased breathing, or seizures. –Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, June 2015, (Marijuana Exposure Among Children Younger Than Six Years in the United States).

17. Use of marijuana in adolescence found to increase developing psychosis, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression in adulthood. –Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, 2014 (Marijuana 101, Dr. Sharon Levy).

18. Cannabis use may cause enduring neuropsychological impairment that persists beyond the period of acute intoxication. –Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 2012. (Persistent Cannabis Users Show Neuropsychological Decline from Childhood to Midlife).

19. Cannabis use disorder is prevalent, associated with comorbidity and disability, and largely untreated. –The American Journal of Psychiatry, March 2016. (Prevalence and Correlates of DSM-5 Cannabis Use Disorder, 2012-2013: Findings from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions–III).

20. We recorded clear and consistent associations and dose-response relations between the frequency of adolescent cannabis use and all adverse young adult outcomes. –The Lancet-Psychiatry, September 2014.  (Young Adult Sequelae of Adolescent Cannabis Use: An Integrative Analysis).

21. While marijuana may be safer than alcohol in some respects, there are important dimensions along which marijuana appears to be the riskier substance. –Carnegie Mellon Research/Jonathan P. Caulkins, October 2014. (Is Marijuana Safer than Alcohol? Insights from Users’ Self-Reports).

22. Potential impacts of recreational marijuana include not only increased availability, resulting in ED visits for acute intoxicating effects of marijuana use, but also effects on mental health disorders and psychiatric-related illnesses. –American College of Emergency Physicians/ACEP NOW, October 2014. (How Legalizing Marijuana Has Impacted Colorado).

23. Marijuana changes the structure and function of the adolescent brain. –Bertha Madras, Professor of Psychobiology, Harvard University, May 2014.  (Marijuana and Opioids Risks for the Unborn, the Born).

24. Dramatic increase in newborns testing positive for marijuana in Colorado hospitals.

–Parkview Medical Center, St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center, Pueblo Community Health Center, April 2016. (Recreational Retail Marijuana Endangers Health of Community & Drains Precious Health Resources).

25. Casual use of marijuana is related to major brain changes. –Journal of Neuroscience, April 2014.  (Cannabis Use Is Quantitatively Associated with Nucleus Accumbens and Amygdala Abnormalities in Young Adult Recreational Users).

26. It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, defined here as once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth. –Journal of Current Addiction Reports, April 2014. (Considering Cannabis: The Effects of Regular Cannabis Useon Neurocognition in Adolescents and Young Adults).

27. Exposure to cannabis in adolescence is associated with a risk for later psychotic disorder in adulthood. –Journal of Current Addiction Reports, June 2014.  (Impact of Cannabis Use on the Development of Psychotic Disorders).

28. Marijuana is not benign and there’s a mountain of scientific evidence, compiled over nearly 30 years, to prove it poses serious risks, particularly for developing brains.

–Diane McIntosh, Professor of Psychiatry-University of British Columbia, April 2016.  (You Can’t Deny Marijuana Is Dangerous For Developing Minds).

28. Marijuana may actually worsen PTSD symptoms or nullify the benefits of specialized, intensive treatment. Cessation or prevention of use may be an important goal of treatment. –Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, September 2015.  (Marijuana Use is Associated With Worse Outcomes in Symptom Severity and Violent Behavior in Patients With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder).

29. Converging epidemiological data indicate that adolescent cannabis abusers are more likely to develop psychosis and PFC-related cognitive impairments later in life. –Journal of Molecular Psychiatry, March 2014. (CB1 Cannabinoid Receptor Stimulation During Adolescence Impairs the Maturation of GABA Function in the Adult Rat Prefrontal Cortex).

30. Regular cannabis use in adolescence approximately doubles the risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia or reporting psychotic symptoms in adulthood. –Journal of Addiction, January 2015. (What Has Research Over the Past Two Decades Revealed About the Adverse Health Effects of Recreational Cannabis Use).

**This is a sample of 30 studies and statements, of over 20,000, on the harms of marijuana.  More found here.

Source:  https://noprop205.com/research/    2016

Avoiding a New Tobacco Industry

SummaryPoints

• The US states that have legalized retail marijuana are using US alcohol policies as a model for regulating retail marijuana, which prioritizes business interests over public health.

• The history of major multinational corporations using aggressive marketing strategies to increase and sustain tobacco and alcohol use illustrates the risks of corporate domination of a legalized marijuana market.

• To protect public health, marijuana should be treated like tobacco, not as the US treats alcohol: legal but subject to a robust demand reduction program modelled on successful evidence-based tobacco control programs.

• Because marijuana is illegal in most places, jurisdictions worldwide (including other US states) considering legalization can learn from the US experience to shape regulations that prioritize public health over profits.

Introduction

While illegal in the United States, marijuana use has been increasing since 2007 [1]. In response to political campaigns to legalize retail sales, by 2016 four US states (Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon) had enacted citizen initiatives to implement regulatory frameworks for marijuana, modelled on US alcohol policies [2], where state agencies issue licenses to and regulate private marijuana businesses [2,3,4]. Arguments for legalization have stressed the negative impact marijuana criminalization has had on social justice, public safety, and the economy [5].

Uruguay, an international leader in tobacco control [6], became the first country to legalize the sale of marijuana in 2014, and, as of July 2016, was implementing a state monopoly for marijuana production and distribution [7]. None of the US laws [2], or pending proposals in other states [8], prioritize public health. Because marijuana is illegal in most places, jurisdictions worldwide (including other US states) considering legalization can learn from the US experience to shape regulations that favor public health over profits.

PLOS Medicine | DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002131 September 27, 2016 1 / 9a11111

OPEN ACCESS

Citation: Barry RA, Glantz S (2016) A Public Health

Framework for Legalized Retail Marijuana Based on

the US Experience: Avoiding a New Tobacco

Industry. PLoS Med 13(9): e1002131. doi:10.1371/

journal.pmed.1002131

Published: September 27, 2016

Copyright: © 2016 Barry, Glantz. This is an open

access article distributed under the terms of the

Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits

unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any

medium, provided the original author and source are

credited.

Funding: This work was supported in part by

National Cancer Institute grant CA-061021 and UCSF

funds from SG’s Truth Initiative Distinguished Professorship. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Provenance: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed

In contrast, while legal, US tobacco use has been declining [1]. To protect public health,

marijuana should be treated like tobacco, legal but subject to a robust demand reduction program modelledon evidence-based tobacco control programs [9] before a large industry (akin to tobacco [10]) develops and takes control of the market and regulatory environment [11].

Likely Effect of Marijuana Commercialization on Public Health.

While the harms of marijuana do not currently approach those of tobacco [12], the extent to which legal restrictions on marijuana may have functioned to limit these harms is unknown. Currently, regular heavy marijuana use is uncommon, and few users become life time marijuana smokers [13]. However, marijuana use is not without risk. The risk for developing marijuana dependence (25%) is lower than for nicotine addiction (67%) and higher than for alcohol dependence (16%) [14], but is still substantial, with rising numbers of marijuana users in high income countries seeking treatment [15]. Reversing the historic pattern, in some places, marijuana has become a gateway to tobacco and nicotine addiction [15]. This situation will likely change as legal barriers that have kept major corporations out of the market [10] are removed. Unlike small-scale growers and marijuana retailers, large corporations seek profits through consolidation, market expansion, product engineering, international branding, and promotion of heavy use to maximize sales, and use lobbying, campaign contributions, and public relations to create a favorable regulatory environment [2,11,16,17,18,19]. By 2016, US marijuana companies had developed highly potent products [15] and were advertising via the Internet [11] and developing marketing strategies to rebrand marijuana for a more sophisticated audience [20].Without effective controls in place, it is likely that a large marijuana industry, akin to tobacco and alcohol, will quickly emerge and work to manipulate regulatory frameworks and use aggressive marketing strategies to increase and sustain marijuana use [10,11] with a corresponding increase in social and health costs.

Public perception of the low risk of marijuana [21] is discordant with available evidence.

Marijuana smoke has a similar toxicity profile as tobacco smoke [22] and, regardless of whether marijuana is more or less dangerous than tobacco, it is not harmless [2]. The California Environmental Protection Agency has identified marijuana smoke as a cause of cancer [23], and marijuana smokers are at increased risk of respiratory disease [24,25]. Epidemiological studies in Europe have found associations between smokingmarijuana and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke in young adults [15,26]. One minute of exposure to marijuana smoke significantly impairs vascular function in a rat model [27]. In humans, impaired vascular function is associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes including atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction [27,28,29].

Acute risks associated with highly potent marijuana products (i.e., cannabinoid concentrates, edibles) include anxiety, panic attacks, and hallucinations [15]. Other health risks associated with use include long-lasting detrimental changes in cognitive function [13,15], poor educational outcomes, accidental childhood ingestion and adult intoxication [26], and auto fatalities [30,31]. US Alcohol Policy Is Not a Good Model for Regulating Marijuana The fact that US marijuana legalization is modelled on US alcohol policies is not reassuring. In 2014, 61% of US college students (age 18–25) reported using alcohol in the past 30 days, compared to 19% for marijuana and 13% for tobacco

[32]. Binge drinking is a serious problem, with 41% of young Americans reporting heavy episodic drinking in the past year [33].

Aggressive alcohol marketing likely contributes to this pattern [34]. Even though the alcohol industry’s voluntary rules prohibit advertising on broadcast, cable, radio, print, and digital communications if more than 30% of the audience is under age 21, this standard permits them to advertise in media outlets with substantial youth audiences [35], including Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone, resulting in American youth (ages 12–20) being exposed to 45% more beer

and 27% more spirits advertisements than legal drinking-aged adults [36]. If such alcohol marketing regulations were applied universally to marijuana, consumption would likely be higher, not lower, than it is now [26].

Using a Public Health Framework from Evidence-Based Tobacco Control to Regulate Retail Marijuana

Table 1 compares the situation in the four US states that have legalized retail marijuana to a public health standard based on successes and failures in tobacco and alcohol control. A public health framework for marijuana legalization would designate the health department as the lead agency with, like tobacco, a mandate to protect the public by minimizing all (not just youth) use. The health department would implement policies to protect nonusers, prevent initiation, and encourage users to quit, as well as regulate the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of marijuana products, with other agencies (such as tax authorities) playing supporting roles.

Because public health regulations are often in direct conflict with the interests of profit driven corporations [19], it is important to protect the policy process from industry influence. In contrast to what states that have legalized retail marijuana have done to date, a public health framework would require that expert advisory committees involved in regulatory oversight and public education policymaking processes consist solely of public health officials and experts and limit the marijuana industry’s role in decision-making to participation as a member of the “public.” Including the tobacco industry on advisory committees when developing tobacco regulations blocks, delays, and weakens public health policies [37].

TheWorld Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a global public health treaty ratified by 180 parties as of April 2016, recognizes the need to protect the policymaking process from industry interference:

“[Governments] should not allow any person employed by the tobacco industry or any entity working to further its interests to be a member of any government body, committee or advisory group that sets or implements tobacco control or public health policy.” [37, Article 5.3]”

A marijuana regulatory framework that prioritizes public health would have similar provisions. A public health framework would avoid regulatory complexity that favors corporations with financial resources to hire lawyers and lobbyists to create and manipulate weak or unenforceable policies [11]. To simplify regulatory efforts, including licensing enforcement, implementation of underage access laws, prevention and education programs, and taxation, a public health framework would create a unitary market, in which all legal sales, regardless of whether use is intended for recreational or medical purposes, follow the same rules [38]. Unlike Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska, in 2015,Washington State accomplished this public health goal when it merged its retail and medical markets [39].

Earmarked funds to support comprehensive prevention and control programs over time,  hich are not included in the four US states’ regulatory regimes, will be critical to reduce marijuana prevalence, marijuana-related diseases, and costs arising from marijuana use. A public health framework would set taxes high enough to discourage use and cover the full cost of legalization, including a broad-based marijuana prevention and control program. Using a public health approach, the prevention program would implement social norm change strategies, modelled on evidence-based tobacco control programs, aimed at the population as a whole—not just users or youth [9].

Key: ✓ Required by law or regulation; X Not required by law or regulation; –Pending legislative approval or rulemaking process Demand reduction strategies applied to marijuana would include:

1) countering pro-marijuana business influence in the community;

2) reducing exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke and aerosol and other marijuana products (including protecting workers vulnerable to these exposures);

3) controlling availability of marijuana and marijuana products;

4) promoting services to help marijuana users quit.

A public health framework would protect the public from second hand smoke exposure by including marijuana in existing national and local smoke free laws for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Local governments would have authority to adopt stronger regulations than the state or nation. There would be no exemptions for indoor use in hospitality venues, marijuana retail stores, or lounges, including for “vaped” marijuana. To protect the public from industry strategies to increase and sustain marijuana use, a public health framework would prohibit or severely restrict (within constitutional limitations) marketing and advertising, including prohibitions on free or discounted samples, the use of cartoon characters, event sponsorship, product placement in popular media, cobranded-merchandise, and therapeutic claims (unless approved by the government agency that regulates such claims).Marketing would be prohibited on television, radio, billboards, and public transit and restricted in print and digital communications (e.g., internet and social media) with the percentage of youth between ages 12 and 20 as the maximum underage audience composition for permitted advertising (roughly 15% in the US) [35]. These advertising restrictions are justified and would likely pass US Constitutional muster because they are implemented for important public health purposes, are evidence-based[35], and have worked to promote similar goals in other contexts. Legal sellers of the newly legal  marijuana products would be permitted to communicate relevant product information to their legal adult customers.

A scenario in which a public health regulatory framework is applied to marijuana would require licensees to pay for strong licensing provisions for retailers, with active enforcement and license revocation for underage sales. As has been done in the four US states (Table 1), outlets would be limited to the sale of marijuana only to avoid the proliferation and normalization of sales in convenience stores or “big box” retailers. No retailer that sold tobacco or alcohol would be granted a license to sell marijuana products. Based on best public health practices for tobacco retailers [40], marijuana retail stores would be prohibited within 1,000 feet of underage- sensitive areas including postsecondary schools, with limits on new licenses in areas that already have a significant number of retail outlets. Electronic commerce, including internet, mail order, text messaging, and social media sales, would be prohibited because these forms of non traditional sales are difficult to regulate, age-verification is practically impossible [41], and they can easily avoid taxation [42].

Central to a public health framework would be assigning the health department with the authority to enact strong potency limits, dosage, serving size, and product quality testing for marijuana and marijuana products (e.g., edibles, tinctures, oils), with a clear mission to protect public health. Additives that could increase potency, toxicity, or addictive potential, or that would create unsafe combinations with other psychoactive substances, including nicotine and alcohol, would be illegal. Unlike US restrictions on marijuana products, flavors (that largely appeal to children), would be prohibited.

A public health model applied to marijuana would include health warning labels that follow state-of-the-art tobacco requirements implemented in several countries outside of the United States, including Uruguay, Brazil, Canada, and Australia [43]. Public health-oriented labels would:

1) be large, (at least 50% of packaging) on front and back and not limited to the sides,

prominently featured, and contain dissuasive imagery in addition to text;

2) be clear and direct and communicate accurate information to the user regarding health risks associated with marijuana use and secondhand exposure; and

3) use language appropriate for low-literacy adults.

Health messages would include risk of dependence [2], cardiovascular [2,44,45], respiratory [25], and neurological disease [46], and cancer [23], and would warn against driving a vehicle or operating equipment, as well as the risks of co-use with tobacco or alcohol. While there is already adequate scientific evidence to raise concern about a wide range of adverse health effects, there is more to learn. Earmarked funds from marijuana taxes would also provide an ongoing revenue stream for research that would guide marijuana prevention and control efforts and mitigate the human and economic costs of marijuana use, as well as better define medical uses as the basis for proper regulation of marijuana for therapeutic purposes.

Avoiding a Private Market

Privatizing tobacco and alcohol sales leads to intensified marketing efforts, lower prices, more effective distribution, and an industry that will aggressively oppose any public health effort to control use [47,48]. Avoiding a privatized marijuana market and the associated pressures to increase consumption in order to maximize profits would likely lead to lower consumer demand, consumption, and prevalence, even among youth, and would reduce the associated public health harm [49].

Governments may avoid marijuana commercialization by implementing a state monopoly over its production and distribution, similar to Uruguay’s regulatory structure for marijuana [3,50] and to the Nordic countries’ alcohol control systems [51], which are designed to protect public health over maximizing government revenue. The state would have more control over access, price, and product characteristics (including youth-appealing products or packaging, potency, and additives) and would refrain from marketing that promotes increased use [3,52].

In cases where national laws cause concern about local authority’s ability to adopt government monopolies, a public health authority could be used as an alternative [53].

It is important to avoid intrinsic conflicts of interest created by state ownership. As is the case with state-ownership of tobacco, without specific policies to prioritize public health, a state’s desire to increase revenue often supersedes public health goals to minimize use [51,52]. Beyond mitigating potential conflicts of interest inherent in state monopolies, a public health framework for marijuana would instruct the government agency that manages the monopoly to minimize individual consumption in order to maximize public health at the population level. (Similar public health goals are explicit in Nordic alcohol monopolies [51].)

While a state monopoly is an effective approach to protect public health [51,54], in practice, however, even the strongest government monopolies for alcohol (i.e., Nordic Countries) have been eroded over time by multinational companies that argue such controls are illegal protectionism under international and regional trade agreements [4,51].While trade agreements have been used to threaten tobacco control and other public health policies [55], clearly identifying protection of public health as the goal of the state monopoly would make it more difficult to challenge these controls, especially if sales revenues were used to help fund evidence-based demand reduction policies [49] (Table 1).

Conclusion

It is important that jurisdictions worldwide learn from the US experience and implement, concurrently with full legalization, a public health framework for marijuana that minimizes consumption to maximize public health (Table 1). A key goal of the public health framework would be to make it harder for a new, wealthy, and powerful marijuana industry to manipulate the policy environment and thwart public health efforts to minimize use and associated health problems.

Acknowledgments

This paper is based on an invited presentation at the Marijuana and Cannabinoids: A Neuroscience Research Summit held at the National Institutes of Health onMarch 22–23, 2016.

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PLOS Medicine | DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002131 September 27, 2016 9 / 9

Source:  http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1002131

As a parent and grandparent, I believe legalizing recreational marijuana would result in serious harm to public health and safety, and urge my fellow Californians to vote “No” on Proposition 64 on Nov. 8.

Marijuana is a complicated issue. I support its medicinal use and have introduced federal legislation to make it easier to research and potentially bring marijuana-derived medicines to the market with FDA approval.

I also recognize that our nation’s failure to treat drug addiction as a public health issue has resulted in broken families and overcrowded prisons. That’s why I support the sentencing reform that would reduce the use of mandatory minimum sentences in certain drug crimes, give judges more flexibility to set sentences and promote treatment programs to address the underlying addiction.

But Proposition 64 would allow marijuana of any strength to be sold. It could make it easier for children to access marijuana and marijuana-infused foods. It could add to the already exorbitant costs of treating addiction. And it does not do enough to keep stoned drivers, including minors, off the roads.

With 25 million drivers in our state, that should set off alarm bells. While we do not fully understand how marijuana affects an individual’s driving ability, we do know that it significantly impacts judgment, motor coordination and reaction time.

In Washington, deaths in marijuana-related car crashes have more than doubled since legalization. In Colorado, 21 percent of 2015 traffic deaths were marijuana-related, double the rate five years earlier – before marijuana was legalized.

In California, even without recreational legalization, fatalities caused by drivers testing positive for marijuana increased by nearly 17 percent from 2005 to 2014. While the presence of marijuana does not prove causation, these numbers are concerning. A study on drugged driving and roadside tests to detect impairment required by Proposition 64 should be completed before, not after, legalization goes into effect.

Proposition 64 does not limit the strength of marijuana that could be sold. Since 1995, levels of THC – the psychoactive component of marijuana – have tripled. Increased strength can increase the risk of adverse health effects, ranging from hallucinations to uncontrollable vomiting.

We’ve already seen examples of harm. This summer in San Francisco, 13 children, one only 6 years old, were taken to hospitals after ingesting marijuana-infused candy – a product permitted under Proposition 64.

The combination of unlimited strength and the ability to sell marijuana-edibles should concern all parents. So should the risk of increased youth access. Age restrictions don’t prevent youths from using alcohol; marijuana will not be any different.

Nearly 10 million Californians are under age 18. Studies show that marijuana may cause damage to developing brains, and one in six adolescents who uses marijuana becomes addicted.

While more research on prolonged use is needed, a large-scale study found that people who began using heavily as teens and developed an addiction lost up to eight IQ points, which were not recoverable.

This means that a child of average intelligence could end up a child of below-average intelligence, a lifelong consequence.

The proposition could also allow children to see marijuana advertisements, making it more enticing for them to experiment.

In fact, Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang ruled that Proposition 64 “could roll back” the prohibition of smoking ads on television. Even though it is against federal law, the proposition explicitly permits television and other advertisements, provided that three in four audience members are “reasonably expected” to be adults.

We need criminal justice reform and a renewed focus on treatment. But legalizing marijuana is not the answer, particularly in the nation’s largest state. Proposition 64 fails to adequately address the public health and safety consequences associated with recreational marijuana use.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is the senior senator from California.

Source:  http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/article104501076.html#storylink=cpy

Though Idaho’s drug policy head says there is nothing medicinal or benign about pot, neighboring states have a different take.

It seems that each time we open a newspaper we are assailed with stories of marijuana’s ability to rescue state economies and its power to heal. But little if any data is included about what actually is happening in states that have legalized the drug. Idahoans deserve to know what outcomes this social experiment has produced so far.

Is it the panacea voters were promised? Is there really no harm being done? The data show:

Youth use of marijuana has increased.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Coloradoans of all age groups (12-17, 18-25, 26 and over) rank first in the nation for past-month marijuana use. Before legalization they ranked fourth, third and seventh, respectively.

After recreational marijuana was legalized there, Colorado youth’s past-month use for 2013/2014 was a whopping 74 percent higher than the national average.

Impaired driving has increased.

The number of Washington drivers with active THC in their blood in fatal driving accidents increased by more than 122 percent between 2010 and 2014 (Washington State Traffic Safety Commission).

The percentage of Colorado vehicle operators who were found positive for marijuana increased from 7.88 percent in 2006 to 24.03 percent in 2014 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), 2006-2013; CDOT, 2014).

Poison control calls and emergency department visits have increased.

Calls to Washington’s Poison Control Center related to marijuana-infused products increased 312.5 percent from 2012 to 2014, and calls related to marijuana oils increased by 850 percent.

The Colorado Hospital Association reported that marijuana-related emergency room visits increased from 8,197 in 2011 to 18,255 in 2014.

Marijuana remains a Schedule I drug.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently refused to downgrade marijuana from its federal status as a Schedule I controlled substance. Chuck Rosenberg, acting DEA administrator, stated, “This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine. And it’s not.”

The DEA and Food and Drug Administration’s decision is consistent with major medical organizations including the American Medical Association, which states, “(1) cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern; (2) sale and possession of cannabis should not be legalized.”

Likewise, the American Academy of Paediatrics opposes “medical marijuana” outside the regulatory process of the FDA due to potential harms to children and adolescents.

These facts barely skim the surface of the destructive outcomes of drug legalization.

As Idaho’s chief drug policy authority, I urge Idahoans to diligently study the scientifically valid research being released from numerous reliable data sources. The Idaho Office of Drug Policy’s position is that components of the marijuana plant should be evaluated by the same rigorous, scientific FDA process through which every legal medication in our country is tested.

When our way of life and the health and safety of our communities are jeopardized, we must be vigilant seekers of the truth and not swayed by stories filled with emotion and half-truths.

Elisha Figueroa is administrator of the Idaho Office of Drug Policy.

Source:http://www.idahostatesman.com/opinion/August  24th 2016

Born in Massachusetts, our son started out life with a very bright future.  As a toddler he was interested in things with wheels, and anything his big sister was doing. As he got older, Lego was his obsession. In his early school days he tended to get really into a subject, even those of his own choosing. For a while it was Russian language and then it was the Periodic Table.  He begged me to buy him a 2½-inch thick used Chemistry textbook before he was a pre-teen. I did.

I was able to be a stay-at-home parent until our son was 8. I tried to do all the right things. We played outside, limited screen time, and got together with other little ones and their moms for play groups. I read to him and his sister every night until they both reached middle school and wouldn’t let me anymore. Our son routinely tested in the 99th percentile on standardized tests and at least 3 grade levels above. Now, at age 17, he has dropped out of high school.

My husband and I both have Master’s degrees, and my husband is a public school administrator. His father is a retired architect. My mother is a retired elementary school teacher. Our family believes in education, we believe in learning and growing.     When asked why he continues to use drugs, mostly marijuana, my son said, “I think it’s because of the people we’re around.”

In reflecting back on “What happened?”   I blame marijuana. We now live in Colorado, where marijuana is legal and widely available to everyone.  What if we had never moved here?

How it All Began

My son’s first time using was in 7th grade when marijuana was legal only if used medicinally with a “Red Card,” if recommended by a physician.   Coloradans voted on legalization in November 2012 and marijuana stores opened in January, 2014. But back in 2012, he and some buddies got it from a friend’s older brother who had a Red Card.  From what I can tell, the use just kept escalating until his junior year in high school when he was using at least once a day…and when he attempted suicide.

Between that first incident in 2012 and the suicide attempt in 2015, his father and I waged an all-out battle on the drug that was invading our home. We grounded him; I took to sleeping on the couch outside his bedroom because he was sneaking out in the middle of the night; we yelled and screamed; I cried, we cajoled and tried to reason with him: ”You have a beautiful brain! Why are you doing things that will hurt your brain?”

We did weekly drug tests, we enlisted the school’s support, we enlisted our family’s support and we even tried talking to his friends.

But nothing worked. Our son was in love with marijuana. Our sweet, smart, funny, sarcastic, irreverent, adorable boy was so enamoured with this drug that nothing we did — NOTHING — made any difference. And we slowly lost him.

At the same time I was battling marijuana at home, I was also leading a group in our community to vote against legalizing it in our small town.  I had teamed with a local business-owner and a physician and the three of us got the support of many prominent community members, including the school superintendent, the police chief, and the fire chief. We ran a full campaign, complete with a website where you could donate money, a Facebook page, and yard signs.

Why does he continue to use marijuana? “I think it’s because of the people we’re around.”

My son’s use isn’t the reason I got involved. I had started advocating against marijuana legalization long before I even realized he had a problem. My background is in health communication and I work in the hospital industry.  I sit on our local Board of Health, so allowing retail stores to sell an addictive drug just doesn’t make any sense. I did think about my children; what I was modeling for them; what kind of community we were raising them in, and the kind of world I envisioned for their future. Those are the reasons I got involved. My son’s use is actually the reason that I’ve pulled away from any sort of campaigning.

Unfortunately, we lost our fight. So in 2014, it became legal in our small town to purchase pot without a Red Card. And the following year, his junior year, he almost slipped away from us forever.

It Got Scarier and Scarier

His use by then had escalated to daily (and I suspect often more than once a day). Pot seemed to be everywhere! We found it hidden all over the house — in the bathroom, on top of the china cabinet, in his closet, outside, even in his sister’s bedroom. It’s a hard substance to hide because of the strong smell. Even in the “pharmacy” bottles and wrapped in plastic bags, the skunk stench still manages to seep out. But it sure seemed easy for a young boy to get!

He started leaving school in the middle of the day, or skipping school altogether, and his grades plummeted. Where he was once an A/B student and on the varsity cross-country team, he was now failing classes and not involved in anything. This boy who had tested in the 99th percentile was failing high school. And this boy who had once been the levity in our home, who used to make me laugh like no one else could or has since, this boy became a stranger.

Our son withdrew from everything except his beloved drug. His circle of friends (never big in the first place), was reduced to only those who could supply him with marijuana.

His relationship with his older sister all but disappeared. And his relationship with his father has been strained beyond almost all hope of repair.

Then in late 2015 our son attempted suicide. He was hospitalized, first overnight at the very hospital where I work, and then for a 3-day locked psychiatric unit stay. I remember very little from this difficult (and surreal) time except learning that it wasn’t his first attempt, and that he blamed us for how awful he felt. He started taking an antidepressant and after he was released we took him to a drug counselor for a total of three visits but after that he refused to go — he threatened to jump out of the car if we tried to take him. We tried a different counselor and that only lasted for one visit.

Changing Strategies and a Truce

At this point I convinced my husband that we had to approach things differently, because obviously what we were doing wasn’t working. We stopped the weekly drug tests (we knew he was using so there seemed to be no point anyway). We stopped yelling and punishing. And basically my husband stopped talking to our son altogether — they are both so angry and hurt that any communication turns toxic very quickly. He refused to go back to school so we agreed that he could do online classes.

More and more, our son is feeling isolated from the rest of his family.

There is an uneasy truce in our home right now. Now it just feels like waiting. Waiting for what will happen next. Waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Our son, 17, still lives with us.  His sister left for college this past summer. I acknowledge that he uses pot and doesn’t want to quit, but I continue sending the message that it’s not good for his brain. The one thing my husband and I won’t bend on is no drugs on our property. He has started five different online classes, but has so far finished only one. He doesn’t feel any pressure to finish school — he says he’ll get a GED, but hasn’t made any effort towards that end. He doesn’t drive and doesn’t express any desire to learn, which is probably good because I doubt he could be trusted to drive sober. He started working at a local restaurant recently and has been getting good feedback from his managers, which I take to be a positive sign.   (I’ll take any positive signs at this point!)

Trying Something Else and Blacking Out

I don’t know if the suicide attempt and hospitalization were rock bottom for our family, but I suspect not. Just this past weekend our son came home and I could tell he was on something — and it wasn’t marijuana or alcohol. I checked him periodically throughout the night and in the early morning he was awake and asked me how much trouble he was in. I replied that it depended on what he had taken. He said Xanax. He also said that he had blacked out and couldn’t remember anything that had happened from about an hour after he took it.

Later in the morning, when we were both more awake, I asked him about the Xanax (he got it from someone at the restaurant) and the pot use and what he saw for his future. He has no plans to stop using, but said that he probably wouldn’t take Xanax again (he didn’t like blacking out). He said that he’s very happy with his life right now, that he knows a lot of people who didn’t go to college who work two or three jobs and live in little apartments, and that he’s happy with that kind of future for himself.

I tried not to cry.  Imagine that as the goal for a boy who started life with so much curiosity and such a desire to learn.

It’s not that I don’t think he can have a good and decent life without a college education. But I know that he’ll have a much harder life. Statistically, Americans with fewer years of education have poorer health and shorter lives (partly due to lack of adequate health insurance), and Americans without a high school diploma are at greatest risk.   It’s not just life without a college education, but it is life with a brain that has been changed by marijuana.  Will he be able to give up pot?  If he does give up pot, will he recover the brain he had at one time?  Will he lose motivation?

I asked him why he used pot when he knew how his father and I felt about it and when we had tried so hard to steer him in a different direction.

He said: “I think it’s because of the people we’re around. And all the drugs that are around.”

I’ve finally accepted that his use is not in the range of normal teenage experimentation, and I’m barely surviving on the hope that he’ll eventually grow out of it…and that he doesn’t do any permanent damage.  In the meantime, I’m sorry that we ever moved here.

Parents Opposed to Pot is totally funded by private donations, rather than industry or government. If you have an article to submit, or want to support us, please go to Contact or Donate page.

Source:  http://www.poppot.org/2016/09/19/colorado-move-larger-forces-she-cant-control/#comments

States that have legalized marijuana are contending with a new criminal tactic — smugglers who grow and process it for export to states where it’s illegal and worth a lot more.

Colorado is the epicenter of the phenomenon, although it’s popping up in Oregon and Washington too. Now as Maine, Massachusetts and Canada consider legalizing recreational marijuana, the question arises — will the Northeast see a wave of new-age bootleggers?

During the Prohibition era, it was whiskey being run from Canada or Mexico to the U.S. Now it’s marijuana that’s being smuggled — from Colorado, where it has been fully legal since 2014, to neighboring states and beyond.

“It’s probably our No. 1 concern.” says Andrew Freedman, who directs marijuana policy for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Freedman says organized criminals are exploiting legal loopholes by collecting home-grow licenses that allow for as many as 99 marijuana plants each. And more generally, he says, criminals are using the state’s fully legalized pot economy as cover.

“Different ways you can use Amendment 20 and 64, the medical and the recreational, to kind of cloak yourself in legitimate growing. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who want to do that in order to sell out of state because there’s a huge economic incentive to want to sell out of state right now,” he says.

As in, a pound of pot, worth, say, $1,500 at the counter of a legal Colorado marijuana shop is worth $3,000 or more when it crosses the state border, instantly transmuted into a prized black-market commodity. And criminal gangs are moving in, creating a headache for Colorado law enforcement, danger to public safety and a field day for the media.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says last year, state highway patrols intercepted more than 3,500 pounds of marijuana that was destined for states beyond Colorado’s border. That’s just a tenth, they estimate, of the actual cross-border market, making it, conservatively, a $100 million-plus proposition. Those numbers do not include busts of some pretty big syndicates, many of them recently involving Cuban nationals shipping product to Florida.

And for Colorado’s neighboring states, it’s a doubly-frustrating problem, because it’s not of their own making.

“In Nebraska, Colorado’s become ground zero for marijuana production and trafficking,” says Jon Bruning, Nebraska’s attorney general, who with his counterpart in Oklahoma is trying to sue Colorado and force it to overturn its marijuana laws. “This contraband has been heavily trafficked in our state. While Colorado reaps millions from the production and sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost. Virtually every aspect of Nebraska’s criminal justice system has experienced increased expense to deal with the interdiction and prosecution of Colorado marijuana trafficking.” One Nebraska study found that border counties saw gradual increases in pot-related arrests, jailings and costs since medicinal marijuana was legalized in Colorado, and a surge in 2014, when the recreational pot law went into effect. But the U.S. Supreme

Court recently declined to review the complaint by Colorado’s neighbors, which are looking for other venues to pursue their case.

Meanwhile, here on the East Coast, voters in Massachusetts and Maine are considering full legalization on the November ballot, and Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling for legalization there. If those measures are all approved, police in New Hampshire are wondering what it would be like to be nearly surrounded by legal pot territory.

Andrew Shagoury is Tuftonboro’s chief of police, and the New Hampshire Chiefs of Police Association’s point-man on pot. If Maine or Massachusetts does go for legalization, he expects that at the least, problems such as small-scale smuggling and intoxicated driving will spill over the border.

“If more does spill over, the direct effect I suspect will be more accidents with people under the influence — obviously that would be a public safety concern. And I think politically you’d see more pressure for it to pass here too,” he says.

And Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy expects organized crime to open up new fields of operation.

“What’s going to stop a drug cartel from purchasing property, renting property here and running an operation at the property? And that’s something that could be situated next to a school, next to a hospital, in a suburban neighborhood. That’s a real problem,” she says.

But some note that Colorado neighbors such as Nebraska and Omaha have relatively strict marijuana laws, creating a strong incentive for smugglers there. In New England there is a more relaxed culture around marijuana — every state in the region, except for New Hampshire, has decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot and allowed use of medicinal marijuana, perhaps reducing potential black-market demand.

Essentially, says Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, Vermonters are already growing enough pot to meet most of their smoking needs. But Sorrell is worried about the introduction of edible marijuana products into the regional marketplace.

“And I really think the regulators have to do a lot more effective work on quality control so that buyers know what is the THC content, what is a legitimate serving or portion because I think there has been and will continue to be a problem with over ingestion of marijuana,” he says.

There are specific parts of the measures in Maine and Massachusetts that could make it harder for criminals to aggregate licenses for big grow operations. And advocates of ending pot prohibition point to what they believe would be the most effective way to end the black market economy — to legalize marijuana in every state.

Source: http://mainepublic.org/post/will-legalizing-marijuana-create-modern-bootlegger 21st Sept.2016

The number of school-children who have used cannabis has doubled in the European country that decriminalised drugs, according to a major international survey.

Number of pupils taking cannabis doubles under softer drug laws in Portuguese system hailed by Nick Clegg

*  Fifteen per cent of 15 and 16-year-olds in Portugal admitted to use of drug

*  In 1995, when tougher drug laws were in place, it was just 7 per cent

*  Findings led to fresh warnings Britain should not follow decriminalization

Portugal’s liberal policies, which mean those caught with drugs for personal use are no longer treated as criminals, have been hailed by campaigners including former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg

Fifteen per cent of 15 and 16-year-olds in Portugal admitted having used the drug in the survey carried out last year.  In 1995, when tougher drug laws were in place, the number of teenagers in the country who had used cannabis was just 7 per cent.

Portugal’s liberal policies, which mean those caught with drugs for personal use are no longer treated as criminals, have been hailed by campaigners including former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, tycoon Sir Richard Branson, and even Home Office civil servants.

But the findings on the Portuguese experiment led to fresh warnings yesterday that Britain should not follow the decriminalisation lead.   In contrast to Portugal, the number of teenagers who use cannabis in Britain – where laws against drug abuse are frequently criticised by reform campaigners – has more than halved over the past 12 years.

Kathy Gyngell, a fellow of the right-wing Centre for Policy Studies think-tank, said that the Portuguese outcome was entirely predictable.

She added: ‘It is what happens when you remove sanctions. It is a disaster for young people in Portugal, and it would be a disaster for young people in this country if the Portuguese example were ever followed here. ‘Even though our laws against cannabis and other drugs are hardly enforced, removing them would send a highly damaging signal. It would be playing Russian roulette with the lives of young people.’

In Britain, according to government-backed studies, 30 per cent of school pupils between 11 and 15 had tried illegal drugs in 2003. But by 2014 the level was down to 11 per cent of 15-year-olds who had tried cannabis, and 2 per cent any other illegal drug.

The findings on cannabis in Portugal come from the respected European School Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD), which carried out a survey last year in 35 European countries. Nearly 3,500 Portuguese schoolchildren took part.

But the findings on the Portuguese experiment led to fresh warnings yesterday that Britain should not follow the decriminalisation lead

Portugal brought in its decriminalisation law in 2001. Instead of being arrested, those caught with drugs for personal use are considered to have a health problem and are required to appear before a committee which considers the best treatment.

In 1999, the number of 15 and 16-year-olds in Portugal who had used cannabis was 9 per cent. According to the ESPAD survey, this rose to 15 per cent in 2003, dropped to 13 per cent in 2007 and, in 2011, rose again to 16 per cent.

The latest finding shows that cannabis use among pupils has remained at around double mid-1990s levels consistently for a dozen years.

In Britain brief experiments with drug liberalisation under Tony Blair’s government led to indicators of rising cannabis use among the young.  However levels appear to have more than halved since 2003, matching falls in smoking and drinking among young people, and, since 2008, record falls in numbers of teen pregnancies.

The increasing number of clean-living teens in Britain has been associated with the rise of social media and the development of a ‘Facebook generation’ more likely to be exchanging messages from their bedrooms than hanging around on the streets.

Portuguese drug policies were praised in a 2014 Home Office report, inspired by Lib Dem Coalition ministers, which said the country had seen ‘improvement in health outcomes for drug users’.

In 2012 the Commons home affairs select committee, then led by recently-disgraced MP Keith Vaz, said it was ‘impressed’ by Portuguese policies and that the country had ‘a model that merits significantly closer consideration’ in this country.

Even last week Mr Clegg was praising the Portuguese example, saying that ‘there have been dramatic reductions in addiction, HIV infections and drug-related deaths. In other words, you don’t need criminal penalties in order to intervene and change people’s drug habits’.

Cannabis has been assessed as increasingly dangerous in recent years as stronger variants of the drug, such as ‘skunk’, have become more widely available. Cannabis use is also increasingly associated with violent crime.

And an inquiry by Manchester University published in May found that nearly a third of the children and young people who commit suicide have been taking illegal drugs.

Source:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3801297/Number-pupils-taking-cannabis-doubles 22.09.16

As of 2015, almost half of US states allow medical marijuana, and 4 states allow recreational marijuana. To our knowledge, the effect of recreational marijuana on the paediatric population has not been evaluated.

Objective:

To compare the incidence of paediatric marijuana exposures evaluated at a children’s hospital and regional poison center (RPC) in Colorado before and after recreational marijuana legalization and to compare population rate trends of RPC cases for marijuana exposures with the rest of the United States.

Design, Setting and Participants:

Retrospective cohort study of hospital admissions and RPC cases between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2015, at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Aurora, a tertiary care children’s hospital. Participants included patients 0 to 9 years of age evaluated at the hospital’s emergency department, urgent care centers, or inpatient unit and RPC cases from Colorado for single-substance marijuana exposures.

EXPOSURE:

Marijuana.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES:

Marijuana exposure visits and RPC cases, marijuana source and type, clinical effects, scenarios, disposition, and length of stay.

RESULTS:

Eighty-one patients were evaluated at the children’s hospital, and Colorado’s RPC received 163 marijuana exposure cases between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2015, for children younger than 10 years of age. The median age of children’s hospital visits was 2.4 years (IQR, 1.4-3.4); 25 were girls (40%) . The median age of RPC marijuana exposures was 2 years (IQR, 1.3-4.0), and 85 patients were girls (52%). The mean rate of marijuana-related visits to the children’s hospital increased from 1.2 per 100 000 population 2 years prior to legalization to 2.3 per 100,000 population 2 years after legalization (P = .02). Known marijuana products involved in the exposure included 30 infused edibles (48%). Median length of stay was 11 hours (interquartile range [IQR], 6-19) and 26 hours (IQR, 19-38) for admitted patients. Annual RPC paediatric marijuana cases increased more than 5-fold from 2009 (9) to 2015 (47). Colorado had an average increase in RPC cases of 34% (P < .001) per year while the remainder of the United States had an increase of 19% (P < .001). For 10 exposure scenarios (9%), the product was not in a child-resistant container; for an additional 40 scenarios (34%), poor child supervision or product storage was reported. Edible products were responsible for 51 exposures (52%).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE:

Colorado RPC cases for paediatric marijuana increased significantly and at a higher rate than the rest of the United States. The number of children’s hospital visits and RPC case rates for marijuana exposures increased between the 2 years prior to and the 2 years after legalization. Almost half of the patients seen in the children’s hospital in the 2 years after legalization had exposures from recreational marijuana, suggesting that legalization did affect the incidence of exposures.

Source:  JAMA Pediatr. 2016 Sep 6;170(9):e160971. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.0971. Epub 2016 Sep 6. Pub.Med

These are some of the voices (videos) from attendees at a conference in Colorado

who are speaking about legalization of marijuana in Colorado and what it is doing to their youth.  The negative impact has been appalling for many neighbourhoods – children are hospitalized from using edibles,  youth in schools are using in classrooms and their grades are dropping dramatically.   Big money has commercialized this substance to the detriment of the local population and in particular the children and youth.

http://smartcolorado.org/community-voices/ Sept 2016

 

7/27/2016

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Butane Hash Oil explosions on the rise in legal states and beyond
 The DEA has released a new report showing how Hash labs are becoming the new meth labs. In this new report they outline how Colorado’s legalization is not only responsible for these labs existing, but also how the state has no way to enforce them. The Denver office is reporting that Amendment 20 and Amendment 64 are helping to create these hash labs because of the language in regards to personal grow limits.

“There is no mechanism at the state-level to document or regulate home grows, even large ones. This has led to a proliferation of large-scale marijuana grow operations in hundreds of homes throughout the state.” says the DEA report. They also say that Loopholes in Amendment 20 and 64 have led to unfettered production in private residences throughout the state.  Amendment 20 alone allows patients to possess up to six plants unless more are recommended by a Physician. In 2016 it wasn’t uncommon for a Physician to recommend 75 plants or more, which lead to the license suspension of 4 Doctors this month. Amendment 20 was pretty much set up with no regulatory system put into place to track who was growing the marijuana or where it was going, which partnered with the excessive grow amounts, lead to a good portion of this marijuana to be transported out of state for illegal sales.

 Amendment 64 lead to even more loopholes. While the law only permits an individual over the age of 21 to possess six plants, it also allows any adult to “Assist”  another adult with “possessing, growing, processing, or transporting” his/her marijuana.  This loophole can be used when questioned to say that they are holding the product for their friend who cannot grow, process or possess in their home, such as a renter. The state created the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) with the passage of Amendment 64, but they do not have authority over home grows. The report says that “Local police departments often receive numerous calls from neighbors about marijuana grow houses. Common complaints include strong odors, excessive noise from industrial air-conditioning units, blown electrical transformers, and heavy vehicle traffic”.
When you travel around Colorado or other legal states you’re starting to see displays pop up in corner markets or other stores with cases of Butane for sale. Normally this wouldn’t be alarming, but try to buy a single canister. These shops are selling these by the case only, so unless you have a Zippo the size of a hippo, there is only one reason why you’re buying butane by the case.  So with the “Unfettered” access to marijuana products and then the abundance of butane being sold to individuals it is literally a ticking time bomb and it could be your neighbor that is next.
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Hash Oil explosion Walnut Creek, CA 2014
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Hash Oil explosion Bellvue, Wa 2013
People are going to say that there are other ways of extracting the hash oil from the flower, but most people don’t have uncontrolled access to things like CO2. Butane is much more cost effective than CO2 and easier to get in higher quantities without raising red flags.

If you live in a state that is set to vote on legalization in the near future please pay close attention to this because the next explosion could be in your backyard. Colorado, Washington and Oregon are showing you what legalization will do to your state and the bad gravely outweighs any good that can come from it.  Marijuana proponents will tell you that you have nothing to worry about from hash oil explosion because they are nothing like Meth lab explosions, well they would be lying to you. Does the damage from the above pictures look like “Nothing to worry about”?

Source:  http://legallies.weebly.com/home/dea-says-hash-labs-are-the-new-meth-labs  Aug.2016

The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area has released a new marijuana legalization impact report.

The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 4 shows increases in marijuana-related traffic deaths, youth use, adult use, marijuana-related violations on school campuses, marijuana-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations, marijuana ingestions among children, and many more negative impacts.    This report is a great resource to use when educating the public, community stakeholders and lawmakers about the dangers marijuana legalization poses to public health and safety.

Link to full Report

Source: www.dfaf.org 1st Sept.2016

This email was sent to the NDPA by a colleague in the USA.

Last week I visited an old friend who lives along the Columbia River, south of Wenatchee, WA. He has a “huge” open-air marijuana grow operation nearby and another greenhouse grow operation also nearby.

Are people living close to marijuana grow operations also risking pulmonary problems with fine pollen  in the air ?  Just asking.

Both of these are “legal” operations under Washington State’s recreational marijuana law. Please see his email to me below:

Hi Tom,

As we had discussed last week.  We are experiencing what we think is Marijuana pollen in our swimming pool.  This stuff is a very fine yellow powder that is impossible to remove through the normal filtration system. To remove this material we have had to add various clarifying chemicals to the water and vacuum pump the water out of the pool several times which is not only wasteful but time consuming. I don’t know the effect of this pollen on people or animals but the amount that collects in the swimming pool would suggest that there is a substantial amount of this stuff airborne that could affect those with allergies or other health issues. In fact our kids have experienced allergic symptoms recently when visiting us here.   It started to appear about the same time as marijuana growing started just across the river from us in the Malaga, WA area. The problem appears to be more prevalent this year as more marijuana growing facilities start up.   The winds predominately blow from the direction of these growing operations and is more apparent after a windy period.  I have contacted the Department of Ecology and the EPA but neither of these organizations could provide any meaningful assistance.  They did however suggest I contact the Liquor & Cannabis Control Board for help.  I have attempted to contact them by phone several times but got no answer and no response to my voice mails to date. 

Please let me know if you can provide any insight into this issue. 

This issue, of pollen and/or nuisance is apparently not addressed or even mentioned by the WA State Liquor & Cannabis Board prior reports of this problem? I know that Shirley Morgan has been cataloging similar nuisances and decreases of property values, and other collateral damage from pot legalization.

Source:  Private email from colleague in  the USA.  August 2016 

NATIONAL FAMILIES IN ACTION RELEASES
WHITE PAPER ON LEGALIZED MARIJUANA

national-families-in-action

 

Paper Addresses Impact of Legalized Marijuana on Employers


Atlanta, Ga.– What effect will legalized marijuana have on employers? National Families in Action, a drug policy and education organization, is releasing a White Paper that examines problems employers are facing in states that have legalized marijuana for medical or retail use.

The paper addresses how marijuana laws are changing, how these laws will affect employers’ ability to conduct business, and what employers can do to protect that ability.It was written by Sue Rusche, president and CEO of National Families in Action and Kevin Sabet, PhD, president and cofounder of SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). Guided by an advisory group of experts representing diverse fields, from employment law to occupational nursing to company executives to drug policy, the White Paper asks tough questions informed by events transpiring in legal marijuana states.

The paper addresses issues such as:
• Will employers be able to maintain a drug-free workplace?
• How will employers accommodate employees who use medical marijuana?
• How can employers with employees in multiple states comply with drug laws
that differ from state to state?
• Will employers be able to shift employees who use marijuana to other jobs?
• Will employers have an adequate supply of qualified workers?

Lawsuits have already begun in states with legalized marijuana as employees try to establish various rights that clash with employers’ commitments to maintain drug-free workplaces mandated by federal funding and federal contracts, to conduct business with conflicting laws from state to state, and to protect employees and the public from the consequences of increased marijuana use and related problems.

The White Paper examines some of these lawsuits and provides a scientific evaluation of the consequences of marijuana use to alert employers about what lies ahead if marijuana is fully legalized. It also suggests steps employers can take to protect safety, productivity, and the bottom line.

What Will Legal Marijuana Cost Employers can be found on National Families in Action’s website here.

Source: http://nationalfamilies.org/reports/What_Will_Legal_Marijuana_Cost_Employers

March 30, 2015

Two groups of legal highs that imitate the hallucinogenic effects of LSD and of heroin are to be banned as class A drugs on the recommendation of the government’s drug advisers.

The home secretary, Theresa May, is expected to confirm that AMT, which acts in a similar way to LSD, should be banned along with other chemicals known as tryptamines that have been sold at festivals and in head shops with names including “rockstar” and “green beans”.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) said the tryptamine group of chemicals had become widely available in Britain. The experts said four deaths in 2012 and three deaths in 2013 in Britain were attributed to tryptamines. The ACMD also said a synthetic opiate known as AH-7921, sometimes sold as “legal heroin”, should be class A. It follows the death last August of Jason Nock, 41, who overdosed on AH-7921 after buying the “research chemical” on the internet for £25 to help him sleep.

Professor Les Iversen, the ACMD chair, said the substances marketed as legal highs could cause serious damage to health and, in some cases, even death.

He said the ACMD would continue to review new substances as they were picked up by the forensic early warning system in Britain.

“The UK is leading the way by using generic definitions to ban groups of similar compounds to ensure we keep pace within the fast moving marketplace for these drugs,” said Iversen.

 

Source:   theguardian.com 10th June 2014

Historic fundraising effort to counter non-medical marijuana initiatives comes on the heels of proposed measures that would legalize pot advertising and candies.  [Alexandria, VA] – SAM Action, the non-profit 501(c)(4) affiliate of SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, co-founded by a former Obama Administration drug policy advisor Kevin Sabet, announced today a fundraising milestone of more than $2 million dedicated to defeating ballot measures that would legalize marijuana advertising, pot candies, and legitimize massive marijuana special interest groups across the country.

“The ballot initiatives in California, Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine usher in massive commercialization of kid-friendly marijuana products,” said Sabet. “They go way beyond just legalization for adults’ personal use. These proposed initiatives do things like legalize marijuana advertising on television and industrial production and marketing of pot candies like gummy bears and lollipops. It’s a money grab by a massive new addictive industry – and particularly ironic given how we are in the process of tightening tobacco laws.”

For example, the initiatives include provisions that would:

* allow pot smoking ads on prime-time television (CA)

* pack the state marijuana advisory bodies with industry representatives (AZ, CA, MA)

* weaken impaired driving laws (AZ, CA)

* give special treatment to existing marijuana business over ordinary citizens (AZ, CA, NV, MA, ME)

* allow kid-friendly edibles to be advertised and sold (AZ, CA, NV, MA, ME)

* provide no criminal penalties for pot shops that sell to minors (ME),

“For those of us who care about public health and civil rights, marijuana legalization can sound like a good idea at first,” said Patrick J. Kennedy, SAM’s Honorary Advisor. “But marijuana legalization has turned out to be a false promise on both fronts. It is putting our children at-risk, and has exposed children from communities of color to more racial discrimination than before. ”

“The marijuana industry wants to turn back the clock to the 1970s and put smoking commercials back on TV after a 40-year ban,” noted Jeffrey Zinsmeister, SAM Action’s Executive Vice President. “And in one state, unlike cigarettes, they’ll also be able to advertise pot candies and brownies on prime-time shows with millions of children and teenage viewers. These are regressive initiatives in the most literal sense of the word.”

The multimillion dollar commitment represents the single largest fundraising amount ever dedicated to fighting the legalization of non-medical marijuana via ballot initiative. The money was given by private citizens concerned about addiction for profit. None of this money was donated by corporations, corporate interest groups, or people acting on their behalf.

“Private citizens heard that these initiatives were written so broadly, and they acted,” said Sabet. “This is about stopping the next Big Tobacco.”

Source:  www.samaction.net  1st August 2016

At one point a few days ago I feared to turn on the radio or TV because of the ceaseless accounts of blood, death and screams, one outrage after another, which would pour out of screen or loudspeaker if I did so.

And I thought that one of the most important questions we face is this: How can we prevent or at least reduce the horrifying number of rampage murders across the world?

Let me suggest that we might best do so by thinking, and studying. A strange new sort of violence is abroad in the world. From Japan to Florida to Texas to France to Germany, Norway and Finland, we learn almost weekly of wild massacres, in which the weapon is sometimes a gun, sometimes a knife, or even a lorry. In one case the pilot of an airliner deliberately flew his craft into a hillside and slaughtered everyone on board. But the victims are always wholly innocent – and could have been us.

The culprits of the Charlie Hebdo murders, all had drugs records or connections. The same was true of the Bataclan gang, of the Tunis beach killer and of the Thalys train terrorist

I absolutely do not claim to know the answer to this. But I have, with the limited resources at my disposal, been following up as many of these cases as I can, way beyond the original headlines.

* Those easiest to follow are the major tragedies, such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the Nice, Orlando, Munich and Paris killings, the Anders Breivik affair and the awful care-home massacre in Japan last week. These are covered in depth. Facts emerge that do not emerge in more routine crimes, even if they are present.

Let me tell you what I have found. Timothy McVeigh, the 1995 Oklahoma bomber, used cannabis and methamphetamine. Anders Breivik took the steroid Stanozolol and the quasi-amphetamine ephedrine. Omar Mateen, culprit of the more recent Orlando massacre, also took steroids, as did Raoul Moat, who a few years ago terrorised the North East of England. So did the remorseless David Bieber, who killed a policeman and nearly murdered two others on a rampage in Leeds in 2003.

Eric Harris, one of the culprits of the Columbine school shooting, took the SSRI antidepressant Luvox. His accomplice Dylan Klebold’s medical records remain sealed, as do those of several other school killers. But we know for sure that Patrick Purdy, culprit of the 1989 Cleveland school shooting, and Jeff Weise, culprit of the 2005 Red Lake Senior High School shootings, had been taking ‘antidepressants’.

So had Michael McDermott, culprit of the 2000 Wakefield massacre in Massachusetts. So had Kip Kinkel, responsible for a 1998 murder spree in Oregon. So had John Hinckley, who tried to murder US President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and is now being prepared for release. So had Andreas Lubitz, the German wings pilot who murdered all his passengers last year. The San Bernardino killers had been taking the benzodiazepine Xanax and the amphetamine Adderall.

The killers of Lee Rigby were (like McVeigh) cannabis users. So was the killer of Canadian soldier Nathan Cirillo in 2014 in Ottawa (and the separate killer of another Canadian soldier elsewhere in the same year). So was Jared Loughner, culprit of a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona. So was the Leytonstone Tube station knife attacker last year. So is Satoshi Uematsu, filmed grinning at Japanese TV cameras after being accused of a horrible knife rampage in a home for the disabled in Sagamihara.

I know that many wish to accept the simple explanation that recent violence is solely explained by Islamic fanaticism. No doubt it’s involved. Please understand that I am not trying to excuse or exonerate terrorism when I say what follows.

But when I checked the culprits of the Charlie Hebdo murders, all had drugs records or connections. The same was true of the Bataclan gang, of the Tunis beach killer and of the Thalys train terrorist.

It is also true of the two young men who murdered a defenceless and aged priest near Rouen last week. One of them had also been hospitalised as a teenager for mental disorders and so almost certainly prescribed powerful psychiatric drugs.

The Nice killer had been smoking marijuana and taking mind-altering prescription drugs, almost certainly ‘antidepressants’.

As an experienced Paris journalist said to me on Friday: ‘After covering all of the recent terrorist attacks here, I’d conclude that the hit-and-die killers involved all spent the vast majority of their miserable lives smoking cannabis while playing hugely violent video games.’

The Munich shopping mall killer had spent months in a mental hospital being treated (almost certainly with drugs) for depression and anxiety

Now look at the German events, eclipsed by Rouen. The Ansbach suicide bomber had a string of drug offences. So did the machete killer who murdered a woman on a train in Stuttgart. The Munich shopping mall killer had spent months in a mental hospital being treated (almost certainly with drugs) for depression and anxiety.

Here is my point. We know far more about these highly publicised cases than we do about most crimes. Given that mind-altering drugs, legal or illegal, are present in so many of them, shouldn’t we be enquiring into the possibility that the link might be significant in a much wider number of violent killings? And, if it turns out that it is, we might be able to save many lives in future.

Isn’t that worth a little thought and effort?

Source:  PETER HITCHENS FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY

PUBLISHED: 00:55, 31 July 2016 | UPDATED: 18:36, 31 July 2016

 

Pot for the poor! That could be the new slogan of marijuana legalization advocates.

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize the use of medical marijuana. There are now 25 states that permit the use of marijuana, including four as well as the District of Columbia that permit it for purely recreational use.

Colorado and Washington were the first to pass those laws in 2012. At least five states have measures on the ballot this fall that would legalize recreational use. And that number is only likely to rise with an all-time high (no pun intended) of 58 percent of Americans (according to a Gallup poll last year) favoring legalization.

The effects of these new laws have been immediate. One study, which collected data from 2011-12 and 2012-13, showed a 22 percent increase in monthly use in Colorado. The percentage of people there who used daily or almost daily also went up. So have marijuana-related driving fatalities. And so have incidents of children being hospitalized for accidentally ingesting edible marijuana products.

But legalization and our growing cultural acceptance of marijuana have disproportionately affected one group in particular: the lower class.

A recent study by Steven Davenport of RAND and Jonathan Caulkins of Carnegie Mellon notes that “despite the popular stereotype of marijuana users as well-off and well-educated . . . they lag behind national averages” on both income and schooling.

For instance, people who have a household income of less than $20,000 a year comprise 19 percent of the population but make up 28 percent of marijuana users. And even though those who earn more than $75,000 make up 33 percent of the population, 25 percent of them are marijuana users. Having more education also seems to make it less likely that you are a user. College graduates make up 27 percent of the population but only 19 percent of marijuana users.

The middle and upper classes have been the ones out there pushing for decriminalization and legalization measures, and they have also tried to demolish the cultural taboo against smoking pot. But they themselves have chosen not to partake very much. Which is not surprising. Middle-class men and women who have jobs and families know that this is not a habit they want to take up with any regularity because it will interfere with their ability to do their jobs and take care of their families.

But the poor, who already have a hard time holding down jobs and taking care of their families, are more frequently using a drug that makes it harder for them to focus, to remember things and to behave responsibly.

Legalization and our growing cultural acceptance of marijuana have disproportionately affected one group in particular: the lower class.

The new study, which looked at use rates between 1992 and 2013, also found that the intensity of use had increased in this time. The proportion of users who smoke daily or near daily has increased from 1 in 9 to 1 in 3. As Davenport tells me, “This dispels the idea that the typical user is someone on weekends who has a casual habit.”

Sally Satel, a psychiatrist and lecturer at Yale, says that “it is ironic that the people lobbying for liberalized marijuana access do not appear to be the group that is consuming the bulk of it.” Instead, it’s “daily and near-daily users, who are less educated, less affluent and less in control of their use.”

In fact, the typical user is much more likely to be someone at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, whose daily life is driven, at least in part, by the question of how and where to get more marijuana. Just consider the cost. Almost a third of users are spending a tenth of their income on marijuana. And 15 percent of users spend nearly a quarter of their income to purchase the drug. The poor have not only become the heaviest users, but their use is making them poorer.

To all the middle-class professionals out there reading this: Do you know anyone who spends a quarter of their income on pot? Of course not. But these are the people our policies and attitudes are affecting.

As the authors of the study note, marijuana use today actually more closely resembles tobacco use than alcohol use. Cigarette smoking has completely fallen off among the educated and well-off, while the poor and working class have continued their habits. Even as far back as 2008, a Gallup poll found that the rate of smoking among people making less than $24,000 a year was more than double that of those making $90,000 or more.

But at least the rates have been going down for everyone. Thanks to a cultural shift on the acceptability of smoking, awareness campaigns about its dangers and a variety of legal measures regarding smoking in public facilities, smoking is significantly less popular. You could object to some of these public policies on the grounds that the government should mind its own business. But the truth is that Americans across all incomes are now less likely to suffer from the harmful effects of smoking.

Maybe the upper classes in this country have some romantic notion of what marijuana can do to the mind (though we once thought cigarettes were terribly classy too). But it is time to get over such silliness and consider the real effects of our attitudes.

As Manhattan Institute fellow and psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple says, this is like the 1960s all over again. He tells me, “I’m afraid I can’t hear all that stuff about ‘tune in, drop out’ without being infuriated because the people affected really deleteriously [are] people at the bottom.”

Source: http://nypost.com/2016/08/20/legalized-pot-is-making-americas-lower-class-poorer-and-less-responsible/

Colorado’s marijuana industry, brought into being by a state ballot initiative, stopped citizens from floating a public-health initiative by paying companies hundreds of thousands of dollars NOT to collect signatures for it. The initiative, Amendment 139, would have limited THC potencies and required health warnings on labels and child protective packaging.

Background

Some 26 states and the District of Columbia allow citizens to write laws and take them to voters. Americans who live in the other 24 states are generally not aware of how the ballot initiative process works.

In his book, Democracy Derailed: Initiative Campaigns and the Power of Money, journalist David Broder, now deceased, revealed how political campaigns and moneyed special interest groups are threatening our democracy.

“Government by initiative is not only a radical departure from the Constitution’s system of checks and balances,” he wrote, “it is also a big business, in which lawyers and campaign consultants, signature-gathering firms, and other players sell their services to affluent interest groups or millionaire do-gooders with private policy and political agendas.” Many don’t live in the states whose laws they are writing.

Signature-gathering firms? To place an initiative on the ballot, most initiative states require proponents to collect signatures from a given percent of people who voted in the last election. The standard is five percent, but it can vary from state to state.

There are actually businesses whose single purpose is to pay people, usually from $2 to $5 per signature, to go out and collect them. In fact, all of the ballot initiatives that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, have succeeded because proponents were able to pay millions of dollars to collect enough signatures to get their measures on the ballot and then pay millions more to promote them to voters in TV commercials.

With the exception of Florida last year, opponents of these measures have been unable to come close to matching proponents’ riches, raising only thousands vs millions of dollars. Where’s the check and balance in that?

Amendment 139

Last week, we reported that a court decision gave a group of Colorado citizens, Healthy Colorado, clearance to begin collecting signatures for Amendment 139.

Colorado’s marijuana industry claimed that 139’s THC cap would shut down the industry. It took the issue to the state Supreme Court to challenge the initiatives and reduce the amount of time proponents had to collect signatures. But the Court ruled in Healthy Colorado’s favor two months later.

With polls showing widespread support for the amendment, the marijuana industry struck back by paying signature-gathering firms NOT to gather signatures for Amendment 139.

“The 139 opponents went out and bought up some of the most important circulators in the state, and without them we didn’t have the ability to get it to the ballot,” said a 139 spokesman. “They went out and paid these circulating firms to not circulate petitions for 139.”

Last Friday, July 8, Healthy Colorado withdrew Amendment 139.

Said Ali Pruitt, a Denver mother and a designated representative of Amendment 139, “As concerned moms, dads, teachers and friends, we simply couldn’t keep up with the financial costs brought on by the underhanded tactics and baseless delays used by the marijuana industry to keep us off of the ballot. The marijuana industry built a wall of money between us and the November ballot that we simply couldn’t break through.”

Added Healthy Colorado member Jo McGuire, “Unlimited THC has allowed the marijuana industry to create marijuana by-products that pose a public health and safety risk. THC potencies as high as 80 to 90 percent have not only caused an upsurge in Colorado ER visits and hospitalizations, but also have caused psychotic episodes that have led to death. The industry has refused to hear voters’ concerns by disabling the very process by which it introduced legalization in Colorado in 2012.”

Charlotte’s Web Maker Targets Broader Market with CBD from Domestic Hemp

Here’s another Colorado marijuana company that refuses to play by the rules.

Marijuana is illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. But an entirely different federal law makes it illegal to market a medicine to the public before it has been approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration.

A lack of FDA approval hasn’t stopped Colorado’s Stanley Brothers from marketing Charlotte’s Web CBD Oil to parents of children with epilepsy throughout the United States. CBD is cannabidiol, one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in marijuana along with some 400 more chemicals, few of which have been studied.

Made famous by Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN specials Weed, Weed II, and Weed III, in which Dr. Gupta declared marijuana is medicine, the brothers claim the oil is a “low THC, high CBD” marijuana product.

But on their Facebook pages and in their non-profit Realm of Caring private patient portal, there is much discussion about how much THC parents should add to Charlotte’s Web to quell their children’s seizures. This is deeply troubling because THC damages the developing brain.

Now the brothers are re-branding their company name and its products. CW Botanicals, their old company, is now CW Hemp, their new one. Same company, different name.

Because an amendment to the federal farm bill a few years ago enabled state universities and agricultural departments to legally grow hemp for research, the brothers believe it is legal to skip research, skip FDA approval, skip the US Controlled Substances Act, and ship Charlotte’s Web Oil to all 50 states. Sales have grown to $1 million a month in the past few months.

Not content with Charlotte’s Web as a medicine for epilepsy, CW Hemp is now marketing Charlotte’s Web Hemp Extract to veterans who suffer PTSD and as a general wellness product. This expands its market from half a million children suffering intractable seizures to hundreds of millions of Americans who care about being healthy.

The company also is raising funds for a survey of current and retired NFL players to build a case for CW Hemp as a cure for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma.

While little to no scientific evidence supports any of the Stanleys’ claims, GW Pharmaceuticals has spent years developing and testing a new drug, Epidiolex. This drug is currently going through FDA Phase III clinical trials to treat intractable seizures.

What’s the difference between Charlotte’s Web and Epidiolex? Plenty.

Charlotte’s Web contains about 20 percent CBD and “low” levels of THC. Epidiolex contains 98 percent CBD and only trace amounts of THC. GW worked hard to eliminate all but trace amounts of THC from Epidiolex because of THC’s effect on the brain.

Further, Epidiolex has been:

* Extracted from marijuana grown in greenhouses without pesticides

* Purified

* Tested in animals to make sure it’s safe to give to humans

* Tested in randomized controlled clinical trials involving patients who have been given informed consent, meaning they have been told all known harms of the drug before consenting to participate in the trials

* Is expected to be approved by FDA in 2017.

If so, doctors will be able to prescribe, rather than recommend, Epidiolex. Pharmacists will be able to dispense it, rather than budtenders. Insurance companies will likely cover its cost. Charlotte’s Web?

* None of the above.

Also underway is a top secret, million-dollar research and development project to help CW Hemp compete with legitimate companies like GW Pharmaceuticals.

It would be nice if CW Hemp would devote its research and development towards obtaining FDA approval for the good of its patients rather than using it to find ways to compete with companies that play by the rules and comply with federal law.

Maybe then, Colorado epilepsy specialists would no longer “have to be at the bedside of children having severe dystonic reactions and other movement disorders, developmental regression, intractable vomiting, and worsening seizures that can be so severe they have to put the child into a coma to get the seizures to stop,” as the American Epilepsy Society reports. It explains that no one knows whether these severe side-effects result from contaminants or unregulated, artisanal CBD products, like Charlotte’s Web.

Only research and testing on the road to FDA approval can tell us that – as well as whether artisanal CBD products have any positive effect at all.

Source:  The Marijuana Report 13th July 2016 The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).

Subscribe to The Marijuana Report and visit our website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation. About National Families in Action (NFIA) NFIA consists of families, scientists, business leaders, physicians, addiction specialists, policymakers, and others committed to protecting children from addictive drugs. Our vision is: * Healthy, drug-free kids * Nurturing, addiction-free families * Scientifically accurate information and education * A nation free of Big Marijuana * Smart, safe, FDA-approved medicines developed from the cannabis plant (and other plants)  * Expanded access to medicines in FDA clinical trials for children with epilepsy About SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)  SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of “incarceration versus legalization” when discussing marijuana use and instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug. SAM supports a treatment, health-first marijuana policy.  SAM has four main goals:  * To inform public policy with the science of today’s marijuana. * To reduce the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to arrest.

* To prevent the establishment of “Big Marijuana” – and a 21st-Century tobacco industry that would market marijuana to children. * To promote research of marijuana’s medical properties and produce, non-smoked, non-psychoactive pharmacy-attainable medications.

As legislation looms in Arizona, voters need to say ‘show me the money’ and ‘what are the real costs?’

Efforts to legalize marijuana in Arizona this fall are currently focused on touting the revenue it would create for education.

Whether or not that money is really going to improve education is a key concern. The other is this: People seem to think marijuana is the answer to school funding — but not that long ago, school districts nationwide seemed appalled at taking money from soda machine revenues.

“Pot legalization brings far more costs than benefits, in the form of car accidents, emergency room admissions from pot edibles, and school dropouts,” said a drug expert.

The effort is polling badly, said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of the nonprofit group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM Action), which is dedicated to  defeating recreational pot initiatives. Sabet said the effort has barely more than 40 percent support.

“People are seeing through the smoke and mirrors — that pot legalization brings far more costs than benefits, in the form of car accidents, emergency room admissions from pot edibles, school drop outs, and other costs,” Sabet told LifeZette. “The Arizona initiative would commercialize pot candies, high THC concentrates, and other items marketable to young people.”    We’ve seen how poorly legalization has gone in Colorado, where money is not building new schools or helping the education system, he said. “In fact, they are experiencing more problems since legalization.”

Taxes Laid Bare In Colorado, there is a 15 percent excise tax, a 10 percent special sales tax that goes to state and local governments, and a 2.9 percent state sales tax on recreational marijuana. For medical marijuana, there is a 2.9 percent state sales tax.

Pro-legalization efforts claim Colorado was successful in giving money to education. In 2014, the state collected about $87.3 million in taxes, licenses, and fees. The state vowed to give the first $40 million raised by its marijuana tax to public school construction — but only about $13.6 million was collected last year for schools.

“Slick pro-pot pollsters know that by saying marijuana will bring in revenue, they attract key voters,” said Kevin Sabet.

Instead, most of the Colorado marijuana tax money goes directly into the state’s general fund, not the school-construction account, according to a USA Today report.

Advocates in Arizona claim legalization will bring in an additional $40 million a year for education. They say it would come in under the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, which allows adults 21 and older to have up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes without obtaining licenses if the plants are in a secure area. It would entail a distribution system similar to the one in Colorado, where licensed businesses can generate and sell marijuana.

They would then pay a 15 percent tax on recreational sales to be allocated to education (including full-day kindergarten) and public health.

Of those funds, 40 percent of taxes would go to the Department of Education for construction, maintenance, and operational costs at schools — including teacher compensation, according to The Arizona Republic. Another 40 percent would go toward a full-day kindergarten program, and the other 20 percent would go to the Department of Health Services for “unspecified uses.”

While the dollar signs appear to be what everyone is trying to sell in order to win votes, others firmly believe the dangers of legalization outweigh the perks of new school funding.

Long-term Effects of Marijuana

*  Respiratory issues

*  Lowered mental functionality

*  Decreased fertility

*  Compromised immune system

*  Increased risk of cancer  Source: http://www.muirwoodteen.com

Legalizing marijuana in the state could create “social, educational and health damage that would outweigh all of the potential collected revenue,” Seth Leibsohn, chairman of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, told The Arizona Republic.

Backers of recreational marijuana never talk about how to pay for the other financial consequences of legalization, said Sheila Polk, vice chair of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. There are increased addiction and treatment needs, increased emergency room visits, hospitalizations that are marijuana-related, lower academic outcomes for students, and increased marijuana-related traffic fatalities, she said. There is also underemployment and unemployment, and an increase in homelessness, among other issues.

All of this is from the “new normalcy” of marijuana use.

Arizona voters need to know what they’re voting for, said Henny Lasley, a founder of the Smart Colorado initiative, which aims to protect kids’ health in that state.    “Products can include those with exceptionally high, dangerous potencies,” she noted.

“I think if you talk to teachers and principals, most will tell you marijuana has had a negative effect at school. It isn’t as if schools see pot revenue as their saviour — rather, slick pro-pot pollsters know that by saying marijuana will bring in revenue, they attract key voters,” Sabet said.

“I think it won’t be too long before most of us will look at today’s effort by the pot lobby as Big Tobacco 2.0. We will regret we were taken for another ride,” he added.

Source:  http://www.lifezette.com/healthzette/arizona-divided-dope/   14th July 2016

A backlash is growing in a state where marijuana has quickly become a $1 billion legal business. For months, Paula McPheeters and a handful of like-minded volunteers have spent their weekends in grocery-store parking lots, even in 95° F heat. Sitting around a folding table draped with an American flag, they asked passing shoppers to sign a petition. Inevitably a few sign-wielding young protesters would show up to argue that McPheeters’s group was dead wrong. With the two sides often just yards away from each other, shouting matches erupted. “We’re peaceful people,” one woman yelled. “You’re drugged out,” countered an angry man. Threats and phone calls to police became the norm.  The wedge dividing the people of this small blue-collar city of Pueblo, Colo.?   Legal marijuana.

Colorado gave the green light to recreational marijuana back in 2012, when it passed a law to make nonmedical pot sales legal starting Jan. 1, 2014. But now opposition is rising in communities across the state. Colorado has become a great social experiment, the results of which are still not clear. “The jury is still out as to whether this was a good idea,” says Colorado attorney general Cynthia Coffman.

What’s undeniable is this: Legal marijuana is in high demand in Colorado. Only three other states—Alaska, Washington, and Oregon—plus the District of Columbia currently permit recreational adult use of cannabis. (It’s legal for medical use in another 19 states.) Of that group, Colorado led the way in 2015 with $996.5 million in licensed pot sales—a 41.7% jump over 2014 and nearly three times the figure in Washington State. Recreational sales made up nearly two-thirds of the total.

Now, as citizen groups attempt to put the brakes on the growing industry, a heated debate has emerged about the drug’s societal impact. Doctors report a spike in pot-related emergency room visits—mostly due to people accidentally consuming too much of potent edible pot products. Police face new cartel-related drug operations. Parents worry about marijuana being sold near their homes and schools. And less affluent communities like Pueblo struggle with the unintended consequences of becoming home to this emerging and controversial industry.

Amendment 64 decriminalized marijuana statewide, but Colorado’s cities and counties still decide if the drug can be grown and sold locally. At least 70% of the municipalities in the state have banned commercial operations, either by popular vote or board decisions.

Many other communities have begun pushing back. Last fall, controversy arose in the small western Colorado town of Parachute when an antipot group attempted to recall members of the town council who had welcomed pot shops. (Voters defeated the recall 3 to 1.) Debate has since emerged in Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Littleton, and Rifle over the number, location, smell, and mere existence of retail and cultivation facilities. Citizens in the San Luis Valley, in the southern part of the state, say their schools and social services have been overwhelmed by a flood of newcomers coming to grow cannabis on cheap land, despite limited water. And just this spring officials in Colorado Springs and Englewood opted to ban pot social clubs, which are akin to lounges in which people can legally smoke weed in public.

“I’m getting calls now from people who voted for legalization thinking it wouldn’t affect them,” says Kevin Sabet, co-founder of national antimarijuana legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “They’re surprised to see these are sophisticated businesses opening up next to their schools selling things like marijuana gummy bears. And they’re angry.”

Officials in Denver, which is home to one-third of the state’s cannabis market, moved this spring to rein in pot capitalism. The city passed an ordinance capping the number of dispensaries and grow facilities at the present level. But discontent continues to fester in poorer communities, where many of these operations inevitably land. “We were told that legalization would take drugs out of our community,” says Candi CdeBaca, a community activist who grew up in the mostly Latino and poor Denver neighborhood of Elyria-Swansea. “The drugs stayed—and the drug dealers changed.”

CdeBaca points to, for example, an increase in school suspensions related to marijuana. And unlike the meatpacking plants and refineries that once dotted the area, CdeBaca says, this new industry hasn’t brought her neighbors jobs. Instead, the money is flowing to outsiders.

“It’s the Wild West, and the well-funded marijuana industry has dominated the regulatory process, and people are finally speaking up,” says Frank McNulty, a lawyer for Healthy Colorado, which plans to put a measure on the November state ballot—an easier task in Colorado than in many other states—that would limit the active drug ingredient THC in cannabis candy and concentrates and require health warnings on packaging. The marijuana industry has objected to the proposal, and the issue is now before the Colorado Supreme Court.

Cannabis backers bristle at the pushback, calling it a back-door effort by prohibitionists who simply disagree with the legalization of the drug. Mason Tvert, director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which leads legalization efforts nationwide, cites studies showing minimal impact on society and no harm to Colorado’s growing economy. Says Tvert: “Anyone who says it’s caused an increase in this or that [problem] is full of shit.”

What plays out in Colorado may influence what happens across the nation. Pot remains illegal under federal law. But legalization of recreational marijuana for adult use will be on the November ballot in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada, and likely in Arizona and Maine too. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, and Missouri will be voting on whether to approve it for medical use. The growth of the cannabis industry has begun to attract the interest of big companies. Microsoft announced in mid-June that it has developed a software product to help states track marijuana growth and sales.

In a recent appearance on CNBC, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper offered this advice to other states considering legalization: “I would suggest wait a year or two and see how it goes.”

Nowhere has the impact of legalization in Colorado been felt more powerfully than in the small community of Pueblo, located 114 miles south of Denver. At least 20 dispensaries and 100 growing facilities with 4 million square feet of cultivation now dot the highways near this town of 160,000, which has aggressively embraced the budding industry, making it the top cultivation spot in the state. “We’re sort of like the Napa Valley of cannabis,” says Pueblo County commissioner Sal Pace.

Pueblo has struggled for decades, ever since the 1983 recession, when most of the jobs at the local CF&I steel mill disappeared. Today the community is dealing with failingschools, rising gang activity, and increased crime. With a total of 26 homicides in 2014 and 2015, Pueblo earned the highest per capita murder rate in the state.

When the county’s three commissioners approved licenses for marijuana operations in 2014, Pueblo’s problems got worse, argues McPheeters, a Pueblo mom and community-college budget manager who is the driving force behind a group called Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo. “The promises of marijuana have not come true,” she argues. After weeks of contentious petition drives, McPheeters’s group believes it has gathered enough signatures to put a measure on the November ballot to revoke all the recreational marijuana licenses in the county. Marijuana industry groups, however, have sued, arguing that the number of signatures falls short under a new state law. A judge is set to decide in July.

Groups serving the poor in Pueblo report a flood of homeless people arriving from other states. Local homeless shelter Posada, for instance, has witnessed a 47% jump in demand since 2014, including 1,200 people who reported to shelter workers that they came to smoke pot or get jobs in the industry, says Posada’s director, Anne Stattelman. She says her funding is tapped out. “It’s changed the culture of our community,” she says.

The city’s three hospitals officially threw their support behind the antipot ballot measure after reporting a 50% spike in marijuana-related ER visits among youth under age 18 and more newborns with marijuana in their system. A number of local businesses are also backing the ban after struggling to find sober employees.

Commissioner Pace, in particular, has emerged as a target of criticism for citizens hoping to rid Pueblo of legal marijuana.  As a state legislator he drafted early pot regulations and then as commissioner led local efforts to launch the industry in Pueblo County after 56% of voters in the city approved Amendment 64. “It will take time to change some people’s opinions that pot is bad,” he says.

The pro-marijuana contingent in Pueblo say critics are misplacing blame for the area’s problems. They argue that the pot business has generated jobs and taxes as well as a college scholarship and a local playground. Revoking the licenses of cannabis shops, they say, will only fuel the black market. Says Chris Jones, an employee at a local dispensary clad in a Bob Marley T-shirt: “We already voted on this one time. Let it stand.”

Both antipot groups and marijuana advocates tend to cherry-pick data to support their claims. However, Larry Wolk, chief medical officer for the state department of health, says it’s too early to draw conclusions about the true social and health impacts on Colorado.

Marijuana-related hospitalizations have tripled in Colorado since legalization, and emergency room visits have climbed 30%, according to a state report released this spring. And pot-related calls to poison control have jumped from 20 to 100 a year, says Wolk. Drug-related school suspensions have also climbed. Yet teen usage hasn’t shot up dramatically, and crime has remained fairly stable. Marijuana-related DUIs increased 3%, and traffic fatalities involving THC increased 44%—but the absolute numbers were small in comparison to those that involved alcohol, according to the report.

The data is tricky, Wolk says, because Colorado didn’t track these numbers the same way prior to legalization. Are there more suspensions, he asks, because teachers are more aware? Are doctors now asking about marijuana at hospitals when they didn’t previously? “It may be a year or two before we’ll really have good answers,” says Wolk.

Marijuana legalization has delivered some surprises statewide to regulators, police, and citizens alike. For instance, many people thought legalization would quash the black market for the drug. “That’s been a fallacy,” says Coffman, Colorado’s attorney general. Legalization of cannabis stores and grow operations has drawn more drug-related crime, she says, including cartels that grow the plant in Colorado and then illegally move it and sell it out of state. “They use the law,” she says, “to break the law.”

Since 2013, law officials say, they have busted 88 drug cartel operations across the state, and just last year law-enforcement made a bust that recovered $12 million in illegal marijuana. Adds Coffman: “That’s crime we hadn’t previously had in Colorado.”

The state legislature is trying to play catch-up. Last year it passed 81 bills enacting changes to drug laws, prompting state law-enforcement groups to request a two-year moratorium on new laws so that they could have time to adjust. Lawsuits are also flying—including one from Colorado’s neighbors. Nebraska and Oklahoma have sued Colorado, claiming that it is violating federal drug statutes and contributing to the illegal drug trade in their states.

Another surprise to many Coloradans is that a promised huge tax windfall to benefit schools hasn’t materialized. Of the $135 million generated in 2015, for example, $20 million goes to regulatory and public-safety efforts related to cannabis, $40 million funds small rural school construction projects, and the rest goes to youth drug prevention and abuse programs. That’s a drop in the bucket for a $6.2 billion education budget.

A third revelation to parents in particular is the potency of today’s pot, says Diane Carlson, a mother of five who started Smart Colorado to protect teens from the drug. The weed, edibles, and concentrates sold in stores have THC levels that average 62% and sometimes as high as 95%, according to a 2015 state report. That compares with levels of 2% to 8% in the 1990s. “We passed this thinking it was benign, that it was the stuff from college,” says Carlson. “The industry is just moving too fast, and we’re playing catch-up while the industry is innovating.”

Sitting in a Denver café, Carlson compares marketing by the marijuana industry to that of Big Tobacco in the 1950s, portraying the product as a harmless cure-all for everything from ADHD to anxiety. Yet research shows that marijuana is harmful to the developing brain. She supports Healthy Colorado’s ballot initiative to limit the active drug ingredient in THC in marijuana edibles, candy, and concentrates to 17%.

The backlash worries Mike Stettler, the founder of Marisol, one of Pueblo County’s largest dispensaries, which has been endorsed by comedian and weed smokers’ icon Tommy Chong. The onetime construction worker fears that Pueblo’s pushback against pot will shut down his entire recreational dispensary and its 10-acre grow operation,

which generated $4.5 million in revenue last year. “I’m hoping and praying this thing doesn’t go through, but you don’t know,” he says.

He says he has invested millions in his business and has more plans for growth. In May he flew to Las Vegas to discuss a partnership with famed guitarist Carlos Santana to create a Santana brand of weed called Smooth, named after the artist’s hit song.

Inside, Marisol is a veritable wonderland for cannabis enthusiasts. Customers can consult a “budtender” for advice on the right weed for energy, sleep, or relaxation. They can also choose from a seemingly boundless variety of marijuana merchandise—from vegan “dabbing” concentrates for water pipes to pot-infused bottled beverages to peanut-butter-and-jelly-flavored THC candies. There are even liquid products designed to alleviate marijuana overdoses.

Giving a tour of the store, employee Santana O’Dell, clad in green tights with tiny marijuana leaves on them, sighs as a beatific smile appears on her face. “This is freedom,” she says.

For a growing number of her neighbors, however, legalized marijuana is starting to feel like a really bad high.

Source:  a version of this article appears in the July 1, 2016 issue of Fortune.

American Thinker

 

 

 

By Thomas Lifson

George Soros is a brilliant mastermind, the closest thing to a real-life Bond villain in human history.  He thinks strategically, targeting sources of leverage, and he wants to bring about structural change.  See, for instance, his close involvement in the Secretary of States Project.

Another attempt at targeting strategic sources of leverage has been outed at Politico (!) by Scott Bland:

While America’s political kingmakers inject their millions into high-profile presidential and congressional contests, Democratic mega-donor George Soros has directed his wealth into an under-the-radar 2016 campaign to advance one of the progressive movement’s core goals — reshaping the American justice system.

The billionaire financier has channeled more than $3 million into seven local district attorney campaigns in six states over the past year — a sum that exceeds the total spent on the 2016 presidential campaign by all but a handful of rival super-donors.

Typically, D.A. races do not attract big bucks, so the Soros money can become a major factor.  Needless to say:

His money has supported African-American and Hispanic candidates for these powerful local roles, all of whom ran on platforms sharing major goals of Soros’, like reducing racial disparities in sentencing and directing some drug offenders to diversion programs instead of to trial. It is by far the most tangible action in a progressive push to find, prepare and finance criminal justice reform-oriented candidates for jobs that have been held by long-time incumbents and serve as pipelines to the federal courts — and it has inspired fury among opponents angry about the outside influence in local elections.

That is a remarkably long time horizon for a man as old as Soros to embrace.  Generational in scope.  Maybe he expects his sons to complete his vision, but my guess is that his money has funded a vast organization that will operate tax-free to accomplish this huge political transformation.

Throughout the progressive agenda.  For many decades ahead.

There is a lot of good reporting in the story on the various races Soros has funded.  Kudos to Politico for this one.

Ed Lasky adds:

Soros runs rings around the Koch brothers and everyone else yet merits little attention from the media.  He drills down to state level and probably county levels when it comes to judges as well.  Also, he led the way with the Secretary of State Project that helped elect various secretaries of state – positions responsible for ensuring the integrity of voting practices and results – and can be manipulated, as was most probably the reason we have Al Franken as the senator from Minnesota.  I wrote about the SOS strategy of his and the Democracy Alliance years ago.  The judiciary is supposed to be independent.  There is no branch of government on the federal or state level – and county level – that Soros does not want to manipulate.

Richard Baehr adds:

The amount Soros spends – a few million here, a few million there – look benign compared to Adelson throwing 100 million into the 2012 campaign.  But he is far more effective.

The recent release of emails was a complete non-story for major media.  They won’t attack him.

Source:  http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/08/another_soros_puppet

The public is lately inundated with stories about “non-violent” drug offenders who have been sent to prison. One case-in-point is the story of Larry Duke, allegedly a fine upstanding citizen and “non-violent drug offender” who received two life sentences for a 1989 conviction involving 14,000 pounds of marijuana.

Please read the original story at the link below and then read the additional facts not contained in the first article. As you will see, the pro-pot people are happy to lie to the American public to gain sympathy for “non-violent” drug offenders who are anything but.

http://blogs.ajc.com/news-to-me/2013/11/14/non-violent-life-sentences/

Here’s the rest of the story.

Duke originally wanted 18,000 pounds but settled on 16,000 (8 tons) at a wholesale price of over $7 million.

During the undercover operation, Duke was described as the “largest marijuana dealer on the eastern seaboard.” In recorded conversations, Duke admitted that he had marijuana warehouses across the country and boasted that he recently moved 70,000 pounds (35 tons) in four days. Duke stressed that the money and the dope should never be in the same place.

After being convicted at trial, the court determined that Duke was a habitual offender since this was Duke’s third felony drug conviction. One of those convictions involved 18 tons of pot (36,000 pounds) which was smuggled into Canada in 1983.

The bottom line is this:

Multiple tons of pot do not get manufactured, harvested,  imported, transported, packaged and sold unless there are a lot of guns around to protect the dope and the money.

The pro-pot lobbyists lie about the statistics because it furthers their claim that a lot of non-violent drug users are going to prison. Besides being untrue, they couldn’t have picked a worse person to highlight than Mr. Duke.

Source: email to DrugWatch International from  Monte Stiles   2014

When The Baltimore Sun ran an editorial about the Maryland mall shooter, who killed two people and then himself, the newspaper said that mental health problems need to be identified sooner. But it failed to breathe a word about killer Darion Aguilar’s admitted marijuana use. Dr. Christine Miller, a semi-retired molecular neuroscientist living in Maryland, was not too surprised by the omission. She says the liberal media tend to ignore the relationship between marijuana and mental illness.

 

“I know that the editors are aware of the marijuana-psychosis connection because I have corresponded in the past with one of their journalists who was unable to get them interested in a story on the topic,” she told Accuracy in Media. “They did publish one letter I wrote to their local Towson Times affiliate.”

Miller has researched the cause of schizophrenia for many years, and is working to stave off marijuana legalization in Maryland. “Though none of my work involved the study of marijuana use, I became aware of the growing body of literature showing its association with the onset of schizophrenia, and I now regard those numerous reports as the most well-replicated finding in schizophrenia research,” she says.

In a case in Colorado, where marijuana has been legalized, the national news media recently aired a video of a man stealing an SUV with a 4-year-old boy inside, but did not emphasize his history of drug abuse, including marijuana. The Denver Post reported that a pickup truck he had stolen earlier was found with drug paraphernalia, including empty syringes, five pipes containing residues believed to be of methamphetamine and marijuana, as well as 2.1 grams of pot.

 

In another sensational case, in Tennessee, a woman who said she smoked marijuana all day and all night drove her car into a church and stabbed her husband. Church Hill Police Department Chief Mark Johnson told The Kingsport Times News that the woman stated that God had told her to stab her husband for “worshipping” NASCAR. The woman said, “I smoke a bunch of weed. I love to smoke it. Sometimes when I do, I start seeing things that others don’t. Isn’t God good? He told me that this would happen, and just look, I am okay.”

 

In the Washington, D.C. area, The Baltimore Sun isn’t the only paper reluctant to examine the marijuana link to mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and psychosis. After Dr. Miller testified to the Maryland House Judiciary Committee about the marijuana-psychosis connection, she was contacted by Frederick Krunkel of The Washington Post, asking for a phone interview. She said, “I replied, along with my phone number and a time to call, but they never called.”

“It turns out that 15 percent of marijuana users experience psychosis, half of whom will go on to become schizophrenic if they don’t stop using,” she told AIM. “Fortunately, many do stop if they aren’t addicted already, because paranoia is no fun.” She says some people are under the misimpression that if someone is psychotic due to marijuana, it comes from what the marijuana is laced with. “In fact,” she says, “the converse is true—a large study out of Finland last year shows that in acute substance-induced psychosis cases, the cannabis users convert to schizophrenia spectrum disorder at the highest rate.”

Incredibly, however, the Maryland House of Delegates passed Del. Cheryl Glenn and Del. Dan Morhaim’s medical marijuana bill in a 127-9 vote. The dope lobby, known as the Marijuana Policy Project, is saying, “Maryland may finally become the 21st state with an effective medical marijuana law!”   In attempting to explain the media’s failure to cover both sides of this debate, Miller said, “I think we are losing our journalistic standards.” She believes that papers like the Post no longer have the “depth of talent” from reporters who understand how to cover scientific evidence in controversies like this.

 

Another factor, she said, is that there’s a “giddy rush” by the media to jump on the “progressive bandwagon,” which views the marijuana movement as fashionable. In this regard, she singled out CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who has been promoting “medical marijuana” without taking into account the serious mental health problems associated with its use. She said liberal reporters are also influenced by the perception that too many members of minority groups are being punished for drug use.

 

Despite the rush to legalize marijuana for various purposes, Miller said the media will eventually be forced to cover the link between marijuana use and mental illness because of the growing number and severity of violent incidents involving schizophrenic individuals using the drug. Those whose schizophrenia manifests in the context of drug use are much more likely to be violent. She also says that in the wake of its legalization in Colorado, data is coming out of that state about impaired driving associated with the increasing use of marijuana.

Source:   http://www.aim.org/aim-column/media-continue-cover-up-of-marijuana-induced-mental-illness/   27th March 2014

I continue to be puzzled by an attitude that if something is difficult to enforce then we should abandon attempts and just legalize it. That is apparently the attitude of Oregon’s politicians (Republican and Democrat alike) and is reflected in the comments of the official spokesman for the government elites – The Oregonian – in its August 23 edition:

“Oregon has had a wink-wink, nudge-nudge relationship with recreational marijuana use since 1998, when legalization for medical purposes created a wide, open system that distributes pot cards to just about anyone with a vague medical claim and the signature of a compliant physician. We’re not suggesting that marijuana has no palliative value to those with genuine medical problems. But let’s be honest: Recreational marijuana is all but legal in Oregon now and has been for years. Measure 91, which deserves Oregonians’ support, would eliminate the charade and give adults freer access to an intoxicant that should not have been prohibited in the first place.”

There it is. The marijuana advocates foisted a canard on Oregonians by exploiting the plight of those benefiting from the use of medical marijuana. Having convinced Oregonians that those is need should not be denied, they set up a system that guaranteed abuses and then urged others to look the other way when the abuses became obvious and widespread. Wink, wink, nod, nod. There’s a solid foundation for change. (For those of you forced to endure a teachers union led education in Portland public schools, that is what is meant by “sarcasm”.)

And now the second canard is upon us with the assertion that “everyone is already doing it” and that recreational marijuana is not harmful. When the push began, those supporting it chanted “nobody has ever died from marijuana.” And that folks, is just plain bulls—t.

A New York Times article on May 31, 2014, noted:

“Five months after Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana sales, the battle over legalization is still raging.

“Law enforcement officers in Colorado and neighboring states, emergency room doctors and legalization opponents increasingly are highlighting a series of recent problems as cautionary lessons for other states flirting with loosening marijuana laws.

“There is the Denver man who, hours after buying a package of marijuana-infused Karma Kandy from one of Colorado’s new recreational marijuana shops, began raving about the end of the world and then pulled a handgun from the family safe and killed his wife, the authorities say. Some hospital officials say they are treating growing numbers of children and adults sickened by potent doses of edible marijuana. Sheriffs in neighboring states complain about stoned drivers streaming out of Colorado and through their towns.”

On May 24, 2014, Newsweek reported:

“Wednesday’s move in Colorado to tighten rules on edible goods made with pot comes after two adult deaths possibly linked to such products. Meanwhile, a Colorado children’s hospital said it has seen an uptick in the number of admissions of children who ingested marijuana-laced foods since the start of the year.

“’Since the … legalization of recreational marijuana sales, Children’s Colorado has treated nine children, six of whom became critically ill from edible marijuana,’ the statement from Colorado Children’s Hospital said.”

And The Raw Story reported on April 2, 2014:

“A Wyoming college student visiting Colorado on spring break is the first reported death related to the legal sale of recreational marijuana.

“Levy Thamba, a student at Northwest College, fell to his death last month from the balcony of a Holiday Inn in Denver.

“Autopsy results released Monday showed the 19-year-old Thamba, who was also known as Levi Thamba Pongi, died from multiple injuries caused by the fall. But the coroner also listed ‘marijuana intoxication’ from a pot-infused cookie as a significant contributor to the student’s death.”

And finally, CBS reported from Seattle on February 4, 2014:

“According to a recent study, fatal car crashes involving pot use have tripled in the U.S.

‘Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,’ Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia, and co-author of the study told HealthDay News.”

But the Oregonian is undeterred by the mounting evidence of harm:

“Opponents of the measure are right about a couple of things. Allowing retail sales of recreational marijuana inevitably will make it easier for kids to get their hands on the stuff, as will Measure 91′s provision allowing Oregonians to grow their own. It’s also true that outright legalization will increase the number of people driving under the influence, which is particularly problematic given the absence of a simple and reliable test for intoxication. There is no bong Breathalyzer.

“As real as these consequences are, Oregonians should support outright legalization. . .”

We have imposed safety requirements on a whole host of things including guns, automobiles, golf carts, children’s toys and food products that have a lower incident rate of death and injury than is being currently compiled by the unrestricted use of marijuana. Oregon is now tying itself in knots trying to eliminate the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) with no scientific evidence of harm and only a speculation as to what might become. But there is no apparent concern about the modification of marijuana to increase its potency which has resulted in numerous adverse health issues with children and adults alike.

And while the Oregonian acknowledges that there is no “simple and reliable test for marijuana intoxication” it fails to note that there is similarly no simple and reliable test for testing potency. There are no labeling requirements and no guidelines as to the limits of consumption and impairment. Contrast that with the liquor industry that has defined limits and labeling on the alcohol content of various beers, wine and liquors. There are exacting studies that demonstrate the effects of alcohol on a person given weight variations.

And yet the Oregonian ignores that in favor of addressing it sometime in the future – maybe.

And Oregon’s politicians are even less helpful because they are fixated on tax revenue opportunities from the unrestricted use of marijuana. Little thought is

being given to the problems that will be caused. Their sole focus is upon using regression analysis to determine how high the tax can be without seriously reducing the volume of consumption – it is the same myopic view used when determining the tax on tobacco. That amount of tax will increase over time as the use becomes more widespread and the dependency becomes more pronounced and as state government becomes more dependent on the revenue generated, the ability to correct the abuses of marijuana will be marginalized – just like tobacco.

In the end, this is all about the “me generation” and that pervasive attitude that “if it feels good, do it.” It furthers the myth of life without consequences. The only upside is for those who eschew getting high in favor of getting hired – your prospects for getting a good job and routine promotion are greatly enhanced.

Source: www.oregoncatalyst.com 27th August 2014

I live in Denver, where marijuana dispensaries outnumber pharmacies, liquor stores, McDonald’s and Starbucks. When I walk and drive the streets of this beautiful Rocky Mountain city, I often encounter the smell of marijuana smoke. Marijuana users are not allowed to smoke openly and publicly, but a bench in the front yard is considered private property, allowing the smell to pollute the clean mountain air. 

The problems in Colorado began 14 years ago with the passage of Amendment 20 legalizing medical marijuana. Abuse and fraud flourished under its provisions because medical marijuana became easily available for recreational use.

In November, Florida voters will be faced with the choice to legalize marijuana for “medical use.” Voters should instead ask themselves whether they want marijuana legalized in Florida for recreational use. That’s essentially what Amendment 2 will do. The amendment is so flawed that if it passes, medical marijuana will be readily available for anyone who wants to obtain it.

Like Colorado, Florida’s Amendment 2 allows “Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers” to develop edibles. These food products have been developed intentionally to allow discreet consumption of marijuana in public places, at schools and in the workplace, and to introduce the product to a larger – younger – consumer base.

In Colorado, marijuana is sold in soda, salty snacks like nuts, granola bars, breakfast cereals, cookies, rice cereal treats, cooking oil and even salad dressing. Some companies buy commercially available children’s candies like Swedish fish, Sour Patch Kids, lollipops or lemon drops and infuse them with marijuana. Others make chocolate bars, Tootsie Rolls and truffles.   So now in Colorado, parents who once taught their children not to take candy from a stranger must tell their children not to take candy from a friend because it could very well contain marijuana. Our emergency rooms report a striking increase in children who have unintentionally ingested marijuana edibles and require medical treatment.

Florida’s Amendment 2 allows for any medical condition, not just terminal, chronic or debilitating conditions, to qualify for marijuana treatment, as long as “a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.” This exception will result in patients who use marijuana to get high, despite the stated intention of the amendment to prohibit such conduct.

Colorado’s marijuana patient registry statistics show that only 1 percent of patients list HIV/AIDS; 2 percent, seizures; and 3 percent, cancer. A whopping 94 percent of those using “medical marijuana” claim to have “severe pain,” a subjective and unverifiable condition.

Sixty-six percent of users are male with an average age of 41, despite severe pain being a condition more closely associated with older, female patients. In Denver, it is common to see young, 20-something able-bodied men flocking to medical marijuana centers Friday and Saturday nights to get their “medicine.”  Since outright legalization in 2012 for all persons 21 or older, Colorado has seen an explosion of medical marijuana patients between 18-20 years old.

Moreover, the long-term health implications from youth marijuana use are troubling. A longitudinal study found an association between weekly marijuana use by persons under the age of 18 and permanent decline in IQ.

You might think Florida won’t go as far as Colorado and Washington, but it will be one step closer. Every state that passes medical marijuana laws believes they will be able to correct the errors of those who have paved the way. This has yet to be accomplished.

The Colorado experiment is failing our children, and so will Florida’s. Coloradans may not be able to go back in time, but you can stop yours before it starts.

Rachel O’Bryan is a Colorado resident and an attorney who spent 18 months serving at the request of Governor John Hickenlooper and the Colorado Department of Revenue to aid in the development of recreational marijuana legislation and regulation. She is a founding member of SMART Colorado, a citizen-led nonprofit that protects Colorado kids from the unintended negative consequences of legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Source:  http://www.pnj.com/story/opinion/2014/09/13/viewpoint-colorado-going-pot-let-florida/15534781/

Those who despise Big Tobacco’s notorious electioneering ain’t seen nothing yet. Big Tobacco 2.0, aka Big Marijuana, can negate Colorado’s grassroots petition process — which helped establish the industry.

When Colorado voters legalized marijuana, they meant well. They wanted a safe trade, regulated like alcohol.

They ended up with a system of, by and for Big Marijuana. It is a racket in which the will of voters gets quashed before votes are cast.

Any doubt about Big Marijuana’s disregard for Colorado’s desire for good regulation will disappear with a new revelation: the industry bought away the public’s chance to vote.

That’s right. Big Marijuana bought away a proposed vote on regulations in Colorado, where we vote on fixing potholes.

At issue is proposed ballot initiative 139, written to give voters a few reasonable options to improve regulation of recreational pot sales. The measure proposed no changes for medical marijuana. On recreational sales, it would have:

* Required child-resistant packaging, as we have for aspirin and ibuprofen.

* Put health warnings on marijuana labels.

* Restricted product THC potency to 16 percent, even though THC occurs naturally at only .2 to .5 percent in cannabis.

Initiative 139 was so reasonable, so in line with the intentions of voters who legalized pot, recent polling showed 80 percent support among registered voters.

Big Marijuana opposes 139 because the industry wants to do as it pleases. It views potency restrictions, which would keep Colorado’s pot products among the more potent in the world, as a sales barrier. Big Marijuana doesn’t want the nuisance of labelling requirements and child-resistant packaging.

Knowing 139 was likely to pass, Big Marijuana sued to keep it off the ballot. The suit stalled efforts to raise money and recruit voluntary signature gatherers. When the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in defense of letting voters decide, Big Marijuana’s anti-139 campaign paid Colorado’s major signature firms to avoid gathering signatures for the pro-139 campaign.

“They were offering $75,000 to $200,0000, depending on size of each company, to get contracts that say they will not gather signatures for this ballot measure,” said attorney and former Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty, passing along information an anti-139 consultant shared with him.

As Big Marijuana paid for anti-petition contracts, the price of collecting signatures rose. Advocates of 139 responded by raising more money. Former lawmaker Patrick Kennedy, son of former Sen. Ted Kennedy, swooped in to help with a last-ditch fundraising effort this week that boosted the 139 war chest to nearly $800,000.

Just when the campaign planned to hire an Arizona-based firm to gather signatures, Big Marijuana paid the company off.

“The narrative of the marijuana industry has been ‘don’t meddle with our business, because the voters have spoken and the will of the voters is sacred. This is a democracy.’ Then we have a genuine democratic effort to improve recreational marijuana regulation, and the industry shuts down democracy with big money and a bag of dirty tricks,” said Ben Cort, a member of the board of directors of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “It became clear. No matter how much money we raised, and who we tried to hire, they were going to prevent voters from having any say.”

It is a sad day when an industry’s lawyers can buy away the people’s opportunity to petition for a vote, even after the state’s highest court defended the process. Big Marijuana stopped 139 by stomping on Colorado voters — the people who legalized their industry — as if their will should no longer count. Big Marijuana is officially corrupt.

Source: www.gazette.com  Editorial.  8th July 2016

The seizure of a massive cartel marijuana operation in the mountains of Oregon this week reveals the absurdity of one of the primary arguments used to dupe the general public and politicians. Consider the following:

The pro-pot crowd claims that legalization will eliminate the black market. This is a lie.

The legalization of marijuana allows the pot industry to aggressively advertise and market a crude street drug and 100s of additional products containing extremely high levels of THC. The marketing of these products, and easy access to unlimited supplies, expands the customer base for marijuana and normalizes its use. As a result, the pot industry is free to openly advertise, manufacture, process, transport, and distribute massive quantities of drugs. This gives other “unlicensed” drug dealers the ability to blend in – to literally “hide in plain sight.”

Because the black market exists to avoid taxes, regulations, and make money, cartels can easily undercut the price of “legal” sources and provide a “best price guarantee.”

The demand for high-grade pot from Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon and other legalized states means that massive quantities are exported to every other state in the country. None of this happens legally.

Because of massive fraud and abuse, California has effectively been a recreational use state since 1996, and yet their hills and mountains are full of cartel grows. Despite all of their claims of regulation and enforcement, Colorado has become a source nation for the rest of the country. And in Oregon, where over $9 million in pro-pot spending caused the people of Oregon to legalize “personal use” possession of one half pound quantities of pot, the black market continues to thrive.

Just like the other big pro-pot lie, that regulation keeps marijuana out of the hands of children, we have never had better evidence to reveal the absurd and fraudulent nature of their half-baked claims.

As a federal drug prosecutor who has interviewed 1000s of drug traffickers for over two decades, I can say the following with absolute certainty:

Drug cartels and other criminal drug trafficking organizations are not intimidated by legalization, they are emboldened by it.

Here is the latest evidence of that. A  massive marijuana grow connected to a Mexican drug trafficking organization was raided early Tuesday morning, resulting in one arrest and the seizure of more than 6,500 plants.

A two-month long investigation in rural Dayton led the Yamhill County Interagency Narcotics Team to the illegal marijuana grow in the wetlands near the Willamette River, according to the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office.

In the early morning darkness, the team, with tactical help from the Oregon State Police SWAT, raided the production site. They discovered thousands of plants valued at more than $9 million.

Officials found an elaborate living area and kitchen hidden underneath a tarp within the marijuana gardens. They discovered 42-year-old Manuel Madrigal hiding in the secret living area. Deputies detained Madrigal, a resident of San Antonio, Texas, who had previous drug arrests.

Madrigal was arrested on federal charges of drug trafficking and transferred into U.S. Marshal custody in Portland.

Yamhill County Sheriff Tim Svenson said the raid was a good example of the dangers Oregon faces from marijuana, even though it is now legal in certain quantities.

“There is still a profit to be made in marijuana by these illegal organizations,” Svenson said. “As long as this continues, we will need to remain diligent in our investigations to keep this money from being routed to other areas of criminal activity.”

The grow was the first-large scale drug trafficking organization operation Yamhill County has seen in several years.

“Historically, these grows have been located on public lands in the mountains of western Yamhill County, and were difficult to access due to steep, dangerous terrain,” a sheriff’s official said in a statement. “This shows a shift in tactics by the drug trafficking organizations.”

The sheriff’s office said the investigation remained ongoing and encouraged anyone with information about the operation to contact the narcotics team at 503-472-6565.

Source:  monte@montestiles.com    July  2016

A broad coalition of organizations working to prevent and treat substance abuse sent a letter today to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ahead of their decision on their party platform, including marijuana policy.

These groups, which include Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR), the National Alliance of Alcohol and Drug Counselors (NAADAC), Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities (TASC) , and Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) specifically urge the DNC “not to view legalization and commercialization of marijuana as a solution” to any current issues related to marijuana policy.

The letter was also signed by Patrick Kennedy, Honorary Chair of SAM, who once chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  “The DNC should resist any calls to legalize drugs,” said Kevin Sabet, a former advisor to the Obama Administration and current President of SAM, a bipartisan organization dedicated to implementing science-based marijuana-policies. “The legalization of marijuana is about one thing: the creation of the next Big Tobacco. Marketers cleverly package pot candies to make them attractive to kids, and pot shops do nothing to improve neighborhoods and communities. Moreover, there are other, more effective ways to address questions of racial justice and incarceration.

So does the DNC want to be known for fostering the next tobacco industry, or will it stand with the scientific community, parents, and public health?” Indeed, the letter also details how legalization has resulted in huge spikes in arrests of Colorado youth from communities of color-up 29 percent among Hispanics from 2012 (pre-legalization) to 2014 (post-legalization), and up 58 percent among Black youth in the same timeframe-while arrests of White children fell. Additionally, there has been a doubling of the percentage of marijuana-related traffic fatalities in Washington in just one year after legalization (2013 to 2014).

Emergency poison control calls related to marijuana from 2013 to 2014 in both Colorado and Washington rose, by 72 percent and 56 percent, respectively, and there has been a 15 percent average annual increase in drug and narcotics crime in Denver since 2014, when retail sales of marijuana began. “The pot lobby has successfully fought off Colorado’s attempts to regulate advertising targeting children, rules restricting the use of pesticides, and rules to limit marijuana potency. This same lobby is now exporting these tactics to other states in November,” said Jeffrey Zinsmeister, Executive Vice President of SAM. “This assault on health and safety regulations is no less than a repeat of Big Tobacco’s tactics from the 1960s and 1970s. Our broad coalition urges the DNC to resist these calls.”

Source:   jeff@learnaboutsam.org   6th July 2016

For more information about marijuana policy, please visit http://www.learnaboutsam.org. ### About SAM Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens who oppose marijuana legalization and want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. Learn more at www.learnaboutsam.org.

A new coalition funded by the cannabis industry has formed in Colorado to fight a ballot measure that some say would crush the state’s billion-dollar marijuana industry.

The Colorado Health Research Council (CHRC) announced its formation Thursday to oppose Amendment 139, a constitutional amendment that would limit the THC-potency of marijuana and pot products at 16 percent. The average potency of Colorado pot products is already higher — 17.1 percent for cannabis flower and 62.1 percent for marijuana extracts, according to a state study.

The amendment also would mandate warnings printed on pot packaging that say marijuana’s health risks include “permanent loss of brain abilities” and “birth defects and reduced brain development.”

If passed by voters, the amendment “would have devastating unintended consequences to the citizens and economy of Colorado,” according to CHRC media materials, which add that 80 percent of the pot products on shelves now would be considered illegal under the measure.

Source:  http://www.denverpost.com/2016/06/30/pot-potency-campaign

* There is no Colorado “survey;” and no capacity to “represent” Colorado youth.

* The sample represents no more than the kids who participated.

* Media reported youth use “flat,” but steep increases were nonetheless widespread.

* Colorado youth marijuana use cannot be “below the national average.” They have the highest rate of marijuana use in the nation.

* The survey response rate, only 46 percent, was inadequate; crucially, below the threshold set by the Centers for Disease Control.

* The only “lesson” about legalization is a warning sign.

What is wrong with the marijuana legalization debate, and who is responsible for its sorry state? No better example of misdirection can be offered than the results of a recent Colorado poll. Because of the public health stakes for the nation’s youth, getting this right is essential. The 2015 version of the Healthy Kids Colorado (HKCS) school survey, which polled both middle school and high school students, garnered a tremendous amount of news. Since it is the first state level estimate to be taken after marijuana legalization (accelerated with retail sales in January 2014), there was reporting concerning possible impact, compared to the previous HKCS taken in 2013.

While not without flaws, the study is an interesting snap-shot of youth health concerns, and legitimately alerts us to some genuine problem areas for marijuana use. But the media reporting was appalling, and theHKCS did little to prevent misunderstanding.

Media Advocacy

Uniformly, media described good news for marijuana legalization advocates. Most coverage (in the Washington Post, Denver Post, Fox News) reported that, compared to two years prior, marijuana use was “flat,” because not “statistically significant.”

Yet even a flat outcome is surprising, not least because other national surveys in Colorado have disclosed alarming increases in use for adults and young adults, rates rising in ten years some 99 percent (7.5 percent to 14.93 percent).

Moreover, in the regional breakdown there were major increases since 2013 in past month use for some students who were juniors and seniors, the increase in some regional breakdowns rising between 50 and 90 percent.

But the survey combined those results with younger grades to produce an overall mean (an ill-advised methodology without weightings), so officials were reported to declare no statistically significant change in marijuana prevalence.

Predictably, the results were treated as a report card on legalization, and media seized on the purported lesson — no rising rates, hence, no worries. There was even more confusion (or worse) by some media. Both Timemagazine and the Scientific American ran articles claiming that the survey had indeed found change, after all. But remarkably, they reported that the new results showed marijuana use had “dipped” from 2013. Of course, in the absence of significance, this claim would be simply wrong. If the non-significant outcome cannot be up, it certainly cannot be down.

There is worse in store. Media thought that calling the changes “not significant” meant that changes were not sufficiently large. But as we shall see, what happened is that the survey did not, methodologically, produce an outcome capable of being statistically significant, as a true weighted probability survey would be. That is a very different matter.

What they seem to have produced is a (partial) census of students, for whom marijuana is variously steeply up or on occasion down, depending on grade and geography. But this survey does not fulfill the necessary criteria for a probability sample.

What National Average?

A further question is, to what are the results being compared? Both theHKCS report itself, and the media, compared the outcome of HKCS 2015 not only to HKCS 2013, but to what they termed the “national average” of youth marijuana use.

According to the reports, 21.2% of Colorado teens were past month marijuana users in 2015. The “national rate” of pot use by youth was reported as higher, at 21.7%.

What is the possible source for deriving that “national average”? There is one genuinely national sample of youth drug use, that from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) that covers all states. But this cannot be the basis for the claim. In their latest 2014 estimates, NSDUHreported that 7.2 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 across the nation used marijuana in the past month – that figure, not 21.7 percent, would be the youth “national average.”

Moreover, the NSDUH specifically declared that Colorado had the nation’s highest rates. Adolescent marijuana use ranged from 4.98 percent in Alabama to 12.56 percent in Colorado. Worse, the NSDUH showed for youth that from 2009, when medical marijuana took off in Colorado, there has been a stunning rise of 27 percent through 2014 (from 9.91 percent to 12.56 percent). So Colorado youth use rates in the NSDUH are not only higher than the national average, but, after freer access to marijuana, have been steeply climbing.

There is also Monitoring the Future (MTF), a school survey (8th, 10th, an 12th grades) produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2014 MTF showed 21.2 percent of students reporting past month marijuana use. But that rate applied only to seniors in their survey, while the HKCS results were supposed to represent all grades. (Rates for 8th graders in the MTF stood at only 6.5 percent.)

Apparently worried about such data contradictions, the Washington Postsought to mitigate concern by pointing out that the HKCS had a very large in-state sample, of 17,000 kids. Says the Post, “That much larger sample could produce a more accurate estimate than the smaller numbers in the federal drug survey.”

But the Post‘s maneuver only magnifies the problems. HKCS is modeled on the Youth Risk Behavioral Survey (YRBS) conducted every two years by the Centers for Disease Control, and the YRBS (which covers most but not every state), also has a sample that estimates a national average.

Critically, however, the YRBS has nowhere near 17,000 youth in each state as their national sample. Their national estimate is based on a total 13,600 responses, for the entire nation; that would average just a few hundred kids per state if evenly distributed. Moreover, the YRBSsurveys youth in 9th through 12th grade. Hence, the YRBS is not really comparable to what happened in Colorado.

Likely Missed Most At-Risk Youth

The fact that HKCS and YRBS are both school-based surveys (that is, not taken in households, as is the NSDUH) may account for some of the difference in their respective magnitudes – school surveys produce traditionally higher figures. But this fact raises questions about the validity of any school-based survey.

School-base surveys cannot capture youth not in schools. Given that marijuana use itself is strongly associated with school drop-out rates (as well as high rates of absenteeism), the population of interest may not have been included in a representative fashion. Further, the rising number of young homeless marijuana users flooding into Colorado shows another side of the problem; they are not captured in the school surveys.

That is, the HKCS survey might have systematically missed exactly the kids most at-risk of using marijuana. Of course, if true, the same impact might have affected the HKCS 2013 results that formed the contrast. However, if marijuana use had

increased substantially since legalization, there could be a differential impact on student attrition by 2015, as the situation worsened.

Response Rates Undermined Validity

The 2013 survey reported in their “demographics” breakdown that the earlier iteration had an even larger sample than the 2015 run. The 2013sample was 40,000 youth, who answered with a response rate of 58 percent. But the 2015 sample, the 17,000, registered a truly dismal 46 percent response rate. This is a real problem.

First, when fewer than half of the sample responds, there is a risk that those who did answer are not representative of the actual youth total. Second, that drop in response could signal that there were more youth at risk in the 2015 sample, and hence, not present in the classroom during the second round.

Third, however, these data also show the non-comparability of the surveys. The 58 percent response in the 2013 survey, with a much larger sample, stands in genuine contrast with the lower 46 percent response rate and smaller initial sample for 2015. By way of contrast, the CDCYRBS has an 88 percent student response rate, while the NSDUH stands at 71.2 percent.

Here the point made by the Post about larger samples can be turned back on them; surely the smaller 2015 HKCS would be less accurate than the previous iteration, by the Post‘s own logic. Moreover, the surveys are non-comparable not only because of sample size and response rates, but further because a different set of schools was included in the 2015 iteration, not reporting, for instance, some large school districts near urban areas, where rates of use are often higher.

Given such differences, the two different sets of results cannot meaningfully be put side-by-side. And as we have seen, because theHKCS study was unique to Colorado, there is no methodologically comparable “national average” to which comparisons could be made. Hence, there is no lesson to be derived regarding the impact of legalization; certainly not one sufficiently robust to counter the worrisome NSDUH data to the contrary.

But here’s the most devastating problem of all. The official YRBS, run every two years, requires a 60 percent “participation” rate in order to generate valid weightings for the results. If they are unable to weight a state survey (such as HKCS), they cannot provide an estimate that is representative of the state population. As the CDC participation map shows, Colorado did not receive a proper weighted sample.

This means that the HKCS, according to the criteria offered by the CDC, cannot be used to represent all students in Colorado – there can be no extrapolation of the findings beyond the survey respondents. According to the CDC criteria, these results cannot be extrapolated beyond the participants themselves, and therefore “stands for” no one but the kids who participated. As such, there can be no statistically significant comparisons between these results and previous years, nor with what was termed a “national sample.”

Correction Needed

And yet the media were allowed (where they were not encouraged) to run the “top line” results as though they stood for Colorado youth. And to declare the results “better” following legalization. And to declare use in Colorado post-legalization to be below the national average. As we have seen, none of these statements is warranted. In fact, we now learn about other states that did not participate in the latest 2015 YRBS round. They include Minnesota, but more importantly, both Oregon and Washington, states that have recently legalized marijuana – that is, states that could have provided a report-card on legalization, but about which we will learn even less than we learned about Colorado. (The next NSDUH state-level estimate won’t come until 2017, post-election.)

This apparent coincidence does little to allay concerns that we are witnessing the effects of a pro-marijuana agenda, perhaps forwarded by well-meaning state boosters and,

more surely, by their enablers in the media. Given that other states are looking to Colorado to comprehend their own legalization risks, it is important that the record be corrected.

Marijuana use remains stubbornly high, survey of high school students shows Fewer Colorado high school students view regular marijuana use as risky behavior, according the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS), which was released today. Only 48 percent of high school students surveyed saw marijuana use as risky in 2015, compared to 54 percent of those surveyed in the HKCS survey two years earlier. While youth tobacco use has declined, high school marijuana use inched up, the HKCS data shows. Twenty one percent of Colorado high school students used marijuana at least once in the last month, the HKCS shows. Even more troubling, high school use is reported as high as 30.1 percent in some parts of Colorado, according to the HKCS. Meanwhile, only 9 percent of Colorado high schools students reported smoking a cigarette at least once in the last 30 days.   The HKCS collects health information every odd year from Colorado public school students. The data released today was collected in 2015. While the HKCS says Colorado high school youth marijuana use is in line with national data, Colorado ranks first in the nation for past month marijuana usage by those 12-17 years old, according to National Surveys on Drug Use and Health data released in December by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Colorado voters were promised marijuana would be kept out of the hands of Colorado kids.  And yet, after  three and half years of commercialized recreational marijuana and after over six years of commercialized medical marijuana, that has yet to happen,” said Diane Carlson, a co-founder of Smart Colorado. “Meanwhile, the perception of harm from consuming marijuana for high school students is on the decline according to the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, which is deeply concerning as much of  Colorado’s marijuana has become an increasingly different, harder, stronger drug,” Carlson added. “Youth marijuana use can have lifelong implications.  The risks, which include psychosis, suicide, drug addiction and lower IQs, have been reported based on research on much lower THC potencies than are typically sold on Colorado’s commercial market. That means the risks and harms for Colorado kids using today’s pot are far more serious and potentially long lasting. And yet too few Colorado kids are aware of just how harmful and risky today’s high-potency pot can be.”

Source:    www.smartcolorado.com  June 2016

bud-busters

Amy Reid followed three Surrey teens as they took a stand against pot and bumped heads with the Prince of Pot

From left, Surrey teens Jordan Smith with twins Connor and Duncan Fesenmaier at the Vancouver Art Gallery on April 20. The high school students were protesting the use and legalization or marijuana. (Photos: AMY REID)

VANCOUVER — There were the inquisitive stoners, the happy-go-lucky potheads and the young punks yelling “smoke weed everyday.”

As thousands flocked to the Vancouver Art Gallery on April 20 for the 21st year, in celebration of the unofficial stoner’s holiday, it was the usual scene. Bags of blunts right out in the open, people sparking joints everywhere you look and plenty of cookies and other edibles with the green stuff baked right in.

But there was a new voice at the ganja gathering this year: Three Surrey high school students weren’t there to light up. Wearing anti-pot T-shirts and sporting gas masks, twins Duncan and Connor Fesenmaier and Jordan Smith from Princess Margaret Secondary took the trek to Vancouver to protest the use of marijuana and spread their anti-legalization message.

As one man quite accurately dubbed them, they’re the “bud busters.” I hooked up with the guys at King George SkyTrain station. On the train ride, I asked what they thought would happen at the rally. Connor wasn’t sure. “The VPD (Vancouver Police Department) didn’t want us to go,” he said. “They said it wasn’t the smartest thing, that it could start a riot or start a problem.”

As we got off the SkyTrain at Granville, the boys opened up their bag and put on their gas masks. “They’re the good ones,” said Connor. On the street, people recognized the boys from the news, where they spoke out after they say their vice-principal at Princess Margaret Secondary told them to remove the shirts while at school. Some pointed and laughed, others were more aggressive.

“You have to recognize you can’t change the opinion of some people,” Connor said. “You have to let it bounce off like rubber.” The closer we get to the art gallery, the stronger the smell of pot – and the insults – becomes.

“Are you ready for some abuse?” asked a cop as we were steps away from entering the event. And they were.

The boys took all kinds of nasty verbal abuse throughout the day. Many people took to toking up in front of them and blowing smoke in their faces. It didn’t seem to faze them. Polite and diplomatic all the way through, they talked to anyone who would listen.

The hate is something they’ve already experienced online, both through their Facebook page Canadians Against the Legalization of Marijuana and also via email, where they were slammed with insults and even death threats.

“Everyone thinks it’s all passive, free-loving hippies… but they’re angry,” said Connor. Pamela McColl is a director on the advisory council of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada, an anti-marijuana-legalization group. She said she’s proud of what the boys were doing.

“We had hesitation because of safety,” she said of having the boys come out to protest 420. “But they’re young people who want to have a voice – and they should have a voice.” In the mid-afternoon, Connor noticed people were getting angry toward them.

“The police presence definitely keeps them at bay a bit,” he said.“I do feel scared, I do feel scared in the sense of watching my back.”

Connor, the unofficial spokesperson of the trio, said when he was first offered a joint, he said ‘no,’ wanting to arm himself with knowledge before trying it. After doing some research, including through the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a U.S. government research institute, he said he knew where he stood.

“They had tons of research and facts and it was all done scientifically,” he said. “It was scary.” All three boys are with SAMC, which believes legalization will usher in Canada’s new version of big tobacco, that use will increase and that public and social costs will well outweigh the tax revenues the government receives.

DEBATING EMERY

Shortly before 4:20 p.m., the “Prince of Pot” himself found his way to Connor, where the two took to debating facts on marijuana as a crowd formed around them.

“You’re presuming marijuana impairs people,” Marc Emery said after hearing Connor’s stance. “Getting high… is being self-aware. That’s why people get enhanced sounds of music and enhanced sounds of nature when they’re high.” Connor argued the negatives outweigh the positives.

“But how do you know?” Emery fired back. “You’re believing a government study, right? This is the same government that’s lied to us consistently about every war, about the effects of drugs, about their secrecy, about their surveillance.”

Connor said many argue it’s not addictive and it’s not dangerous, adding, “you don’t need to die for something to be dangerous.”

Emery said Connor sounded like a “pompous, sanctimonious teenager,” while Connor told Emery he sounded like a “self-indulged hippie.” While the parties didn’t agree on much, they shook hands before parting.

Emery said he doesn’t understand the boys’ protest. “What they’re doing is laying a judgment trip on people, telling them what they’re doing with their own body is bad. I don’t know if anybody has a right to really go around doing that,” he said.

“Marijuana is extremely unique in that it’s useful for dozens and dozens of applications, medical, fibre, euphoria, soaps, lotions, it’s just incredible. There’s really nothing else like it on the planet. So for them to choose marijuana to come here and protest against shows that they’re just not well informed.”

Emery said he’s never seen pot protestors at the event before.

“You’re allowed to not smoke pot every day of the year. There’s only one day for us and it’s this day. We’re here just to ask for the dignity of being treated like first-class citizens and not second-class citizens.

“He’s here judging us and I think he’s wrong.”

Connor said he’s glad he got to debate marijuana with Emery. “I was kind of hoping I would. I think it went well, but of course he had his entourage with him.”

And after all was said and done, the boys were all glad they went, with plans to return next year. “We’re definitely a strong force,” said Connor. “We know our science, we know we’re right and we just have to put that out there.”

areid@thenownewspaper.com

BY MATTHEW ROBINSON, VANCOUVER SUN APRIL 29, 2015

Vancouver police make arrests at Weeds marijuana store amid regulation debate

The political showdown between the Harper government and Vancouver intensified Tuesday in advance of city council’s consideration of a plan to strictly regulate the fast-growing pot dispensary business.

Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann , PNG

Vancouver police officers raided a marijuana dispensary in Kitsilano on Wednesday, one day after city councillors voted to send a plan to regulate the illegal shops to public hearing.

Police began investigating Weeds Glass and Gifts at 2916 West 4th Avenue in March after a 15-year-old allegedly bought marijuana-infused edibles at the shop, according to a Vancouver Police Department news release.

Officers armed with a search warrant seized evidence during the raid, arrested staff and identified customers. They were all released pending further investigation, according to the release.

Don Briere, the owner of 11 Weeds Glass and Gifts shops in Vancouver, said in a statement he supported police and believed they were just doing their job. “The 4th avenue store was raided today because there was an employee who might have sold to a minor and I do believe overdosed on it. The employee will be reprimanded and most likely fired for it,” he said. The shop will reopen after police leave, according to the statement.

Police warned operators and staff at marijuana dispensaries in the VPD release, stating they could be subject to criminal charges while owners or landlords could potentially face asset forfeiture. Sergeant Randy Fincham, a VPD spokesman, used the analogy “the tallest nail gets hit first” to describe the department’s policy on marijuana earlier this month. He said officers deal first with drug dealers who supply to children, draw community concern and complaints, or are violent or prey on marginalized people.

The federal government opposes the city’s plan to regulate pot shops and told police Tuesday they should crack down on them instead. A Weeds Glass and Gifts shop on Kingsway was raided last August “for operating in an unsafe manner,” according to VPD. A month later, officers raided Budzilla at 2267 Kingsway for selling products “to virtually anyone that walked in the door.” Earlier that year police raided Jim’s Weeds Lounge at 882 East Hastings St., alleging that marijuana was being purchased at the store then sold to neighbourhood youth.

The department has obtained nine search warrants for marijuana dispensaries in the past 18 months, according to police.

Source: mrobinson@vancouversun.com 29th April 2015

April 30, 2015 Special Reports, Addiction, Substance Use Disorder

By Robin M. Murray, MD

Attitudes toward cannabis are changing. Uruguay has legalized its use as have 4 American states; Jamaica is in the process of following suit. In addition, 17 US states have decriminalized cannabis, while 23 others have passed medical marijuana laws.

In many ways, cannabis is similar to alcohol; most of those who use it do so moderately, enjoy it, and suffer few if any adverse effects. However, in a minority of heavy users, problems develop. Given the likelihood that cannabis will become more available, it is important to establish any harms its use may cause so clinicians can identify and treat these. The main psychological harms that have been reported are dependence, cognitive impairment, and psychosis.

Why do people enjoy smoking cannabis?

The cannabis plant produces compounds known as cannabinoids in glandular trichomes, mostly around the flowering tops of the plant. Recreational cannabis is derived from these and has been traditionally available as herb (marijuana, grass, weed) or resin (hashish, hash). The cannabis plant produces more than 70 cannabinoids, but the one responsible for the “high” that users enjoy is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This activates the CB1 receptor, part of the endocannabinoid system, which, in turn, affects the dopaminergic reward system that is altered by all drugs of abuse.

Psychological dependence and tolerance can occur with cannabis. It remains in the body for several weeks, so withdrawal is very gradual but anxiety, insomnia, appetite disturbance, and depression can develop. Some reports claim that in 10% of persons who use cannabis and in 25% of daily users, dependence develops.1 Cannabis dependence is an increasingly common reason why patients seek help from drug treatment clinics.

Cognitive impairment

Many studies implicate adolescent cannabis use with poor subsequent educational achievement. Silins and colleagues2 observed more than 2500 young people in Australia and New Zealand. Their findings suggest that daily cannabis use before age 17 was associated with “clear reductions” in the likelihood of completing high school and obtaining a university degree.

THC disrupts the function of the hippocampus, a structure crucial to memory, and when it is given to volunteers, transient cognitive impairment is seen. Such impairment likely is why drivers under the influence of cannabis are at double the risk for traffic accidents.2 Long-term users show more obvious deficits, but questions remain about what happens when they stop. Some studies suggest they can recover fully, while others indicate that only partial recovery is possible.3

Risk of psychosis

It has long been known that persons with schizophrenia are more likely to smoke cannabis than is the rest of the population. Until recently, the general view was that they must be smoking to self-medicate or otherwise help them to cope with their illness. If this were so, then one might expect psychotic cannabis users to have a better outcome than non-users. However, the opposite is the case; the patients who continue to use cannabis are much more likely to continue to have delusions and hallucinations.4

However, this does not prove that cannabis use causes the poor outcomes. The possible causal role of cannabis can only be answered by prospective epidemiological studies. In the first of these, 45,750 young men were asked about their drug use when they were conscripted into the Swedish army.5 Those who had used cannabis more than 50 times when conscripted, were 6 times more likely to receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia over the next 15 years(Figure 1). Since 2002, a series of prospective studies have confirmed that individuals who used cannabis at the baseline evaluation had a great-er risk of subsequently developing psychotic symptoms or full-blown schizophrenia than non-users.4-7

Some skeptics have suggested that perhaps those who are predisposed to schizophrenia are especially likely to use cannabis. However, in the Dunedin birth cohort study, the subjects were intensively studied since childhood, so those who had already appeared psychosis-prone at age 11 were excluded.6 The researchers found a link between cannabis use and later schizophrenia, even when the effects of other drugs known to increase risk of psychosis were excluded (Figure 2). Another criticism was that some individuals might have been using cannabis in an attempt to ameliorate symptoms of psychosis or its precursors. However, a second New Zealand study, this time from Christchurch, showed that once minor psychotic symptoms developed, individuals tended to smoke less.7

Anyone familiar with the effects of alcohol would immediately accept that the frequency of drinking is relevant to its adverse effects. The same is true with cannabis; long-term daily users are most at risk. Nevertheless, the majority of daily users will not become psychotic. Indeed, when a young man in whom schizophrenia has developed after years of smoking cannabis is asked whether he thinks his habit may have contributed to the disorder, he might answer, “No, my friends smoke as much as I do, and they’re fine.” It seems that some people are especially vulnerable.

Individuals with a paranoid personality are at greatest risk, along with those who have a family history of psychosis. Inheriting certain variants of genes that influence the dopamine system, which is implicated in psychosis, may also make some users especially susceptible; examples include AKT1, DRD2, and possibly COMT.8,9

Changes in potency

In 1845, French psychiatrist Jacques-Joseph Moreau used cannabis and gave it to some of his students and patients. He concluded that cannabis could precipitate “acute psychotic reactions, generally lasting but a few hours, but occasionally as long as a week.”10 Modern experimental studies confirm that intravenous administration of THC in healthy volunteers can produce acute psychotic symptoms in a dose-dependent manner.8

The proportion of THC in traditional marijuana and resin in the 1960s was approximately 1% to 3%. Potency began to rise in the 1980s, when cannabis growers such as David Watson, commonly known as “Sam the Skunkman,” fled the Reagan-inspired “War on Drugs” and brought cannabis seeds to Amsterdam, where cannabis could be sold legally in “coffee shops.” Together with Dutch enthusiasts, they bred more potent plants, setting the scene for a slow but steady increase in new varieties of marijuana, including sensimilla (often called “skunk” because of its strong smell) harvested from unpollinated female flowers. The proportion of THC in sensimilla has risen to between 16% and 20% in England and Holland, respectively, and high-potency varieties have taken over much of the traditional market9,11; the same trend, although lagging a few years behind, has occurred in the US.12

Traditional cannabis often contained not only THC but an equivalent amount of cannabidiol. This has been shown in experimental studies to ameliorate the psychotomimetic effects of THC, and possibly to have antipsychotic properties (Figure 3).13 However, plants bred to produce a high concentration of THC cannot also produce much cannabidiol, so the high THC types of cannabis contain little or no cannabidiol. Such varieties are more psychotogenic; one study showed that persons who used high-THC–low-cannabidiol cannabis on a daily basis were 5 times more likely than non-users to suffer from a psychotic disorder.14 Another study that tested hair for cannabinoids showed that users with both detectable THC and cannabidiol in their hair had fewer psychotic symptoms than those with only THC.15

The increasing availability of high-potency cannabis explains why psychiatrists are more concerned about cannabis now than they were in the 1960s and 1970s. The trend toward greater potency continues: new forms of resin oil reportedly contain up to 60% of THC.11 These very potent forms remain unusual, but synthetic cannabinoids, often termed “spice” or “K2,” are now commonly advertised and sold on Web sites that keep within the law by labeling their products as incense—or adding “not for human consumption.” While THC only partially activates the CB1 receptor, most spice/K2 molecules fully activate the receptor and, consequently, acute adverse reactions are more common. A survey of 80,000 drug users showed that those who used synthetic cannabinoids were 30 times more likely to end up in an emergency department than users of traditional cannabis.16

Cannabis and the developing brain

It seems that starting cannabis use in early adolescence increases the likelihood of problems. For example, in the Dunedin study, those starting at 18 years or later showed only a nonsignificant increase in the risk of psychosis by age 26, but among those starting at age 15 or earlier, risk was increased 4-fold (Figure 2).6

Those starting cannabis use early also appear more likely to develop cognitive impairment. Pope and colleagues17 found that long-term heavy cannabis users who began smoking before age 17 had lower verbal IQ scores than those who began smoking at age 17 or older. Meier and colleagues18 followed a birth cohort in Dunedin, New Zealand, up to age 38 years. Their findings suggest that persistent cannabis use over several decades causes a decline of up to 8 points in IQ; such dramatic findings need to be replicated before they can be accepted.

The results from animal studies also show that THC administration produces a greater effect on cognitive function in juvenile rats than in adult rats. Moreover, imaging studies in persons with long-term, very heavy cannabis use indicate detectable brain changes, especially in those who started smoking in adolescence.19 Although the studies remain contentious, a possible explanation is that beginning cannabis use at an age when the brain is still developing might permanently impair the endocannabinoid system; this may affect other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine—known to be implicated in both learning and in psychosis.

Implications

Cannabis is now generally recognized as a contributory cause of schizophrenia. Although psychosis develops in only a small minority of cannabis users, when you consider that almost 200 million people worldwide use cannabis, the number of people who suffer cannabis-induced psychosis is likely to be in the millions, and the impact on mental health services is significant. The proportion of psychosis that has been attributed to cannabis use in different countries ranges from 8% to 24%, depending, in part, on the prevalence of use and the potency of the cannabis.16

Politicians have the difficult job of balancing the enjoyment that many people get from cannabis against the harm that afflicts some people. Furthermore, cannabis can alleviate chronic pain or symptoms associated with chemotherapy. Medical marijuana may be largely a cover used by the increasingly powerful marijuana industry to introduce recreational use, but research into the numerous components of cannabis should be encouraged, since it may produce drugs with important therapeutic uses.

Current trends are toward relaxing laws on cannabis, but no one knows the likely outcome. Will legalization mean an increase in consumption? Early reports from Colorado and Washington suggest an increase. Will this have knock-on effects on use by those in their early teens who seem most susceptible to adverse effects? Will the mental health and addiction services be able to cope? How effective will educational campaigns regarding the risks of regular use of high-potency cannabis or synthetic cannabinoids be? Might a simple genetic test reveal who is most likely to suffer adverse mental effects?

Many questions remain to be answered. In the meantime, as cannabis use continues to win acceptance, psychiatrists are likely to see more of the casualties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethan Nadelmann is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the nation’s richest drug legalization organization with a budget of some $45 million last year. It has financed ballot initiatives in states to legalize first “medical,” now “recreational” marijuana.

Ethan Nadelmann is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the nation’s richest drug legalization organization with a budget of some $45 million last year. It has financed ballot initiatives in states to legalize first “medical,” now “recreational” marijuana

Riding high on his success of fully legalizing pot in four states and D.C., Mr. Nadelmann cannot resist applying the DPA legalization strategy to other drugs now.

“Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine are global commodities,” he told his TED audience. “Legally regulating and taxing most of the drugs that are now criminalized would radically reduce crime, violence, corruption, and black markets.” He cites no evidence to support this statement, perhaps because there is none.

Nonetheless, he says he has dedicated his life “to building an organization and a movement of people who believe we need to turn our backs on the failed prohibitions of the past and embrace new drug policies based on science, compassion, health, and human rights.”

Who doesn’t want drug policies based on those admirable goals? But commercializing heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine–the end result of legalization, as we are seeing in Colorado with marijuana–won’t get us there. Mr.Nadelmann also asserts that “our desire to alter our consciousness may be as fundamental as our desire for food, companionship, and sex.”

We don’t argue that the desire for food, companionship, and sex is universal, but the desire to be stoned?

  • 7.5% of Americans ages 12 or older used marijuana in the past month, according to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health. That means 92.5% of Americans didn’t.

  • 0.6% used cocaine in the past month; 99.4% didn’t.

  • 0.2% used methamphetamine; 99.8% didn’t.

  • 0.1% used heroin, the drug that now kills more Americans than traffic crashes; 99.9% didn’t.

Ethan Nadelmann may find the desire to be stoned as fundamental as food and sex, but please, Ethan, leave the rest of us out of it! Dedicate your life to something else.

See Mr. Nadelmann’s TED Talk here.

The impact that so-called medical marijuana and later the legalisation of marijuana in Colorado, USA has had serious consequences, a few are show in snippets below.  The items shown are taken from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Report.  The complete report can be found at:

http://www.rmhidta.org/default.aspx/MenuItemID/687/MenuGroup/RMHIDTAHome.htm.

The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact Vol. 3 Preview 2015 

Medical Marijuana Registry Identification Cards 

December 31, 2009 – 41,039

December 31, 2010 – 116,198

December 31, 2011 – 82,089

December 31, 2012 – 108,526

December 31, 2013 – 110,979

December 31, 2014 – 115,467

Colorado: 

505 medical marijuana centers (“dispensaries”)1

322 recreational marijuana stores1

405 Starbucks coffee shops2

227 McDonalds restaurants3

Denver: 

198 licensed medical marijuana centers (“dispensaries”)1

117 pharmacies (as of February 12, 2015

  • In one year, from 2013 to 2014 when retail marijuana businesses began operating, there was a 167 percent increase in explosions involving THC extraction labs.

 

 

 

Findings 

There has been an upward trend of marijuana-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations since medical marijuana was commercialized in 2009.

There has also been a significant increase in both categories in the first six months of 2014 when retail marijuana businesses began operating

It is important to note that, for purposes of the debate on legalizing marijuana in Colorado, there are three distinct timeframes to consider. Those are:

The early medical marijuana era (2000 – 2008), the medical marijuana commercialization era (2009 – current) and the recreational marijuana era (2013 – current).

2000 – 2008: In November 2000, Colorado voters passed Amendment 20 which permitted a qualifying patient and/or caregiver of a patient to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana and grow 6 marijuana plants for medical purposes. During that time there were between 1,000 and 4,800 medical marijuana cardholders and no known dispensaries operating in the state.

2009 – Current: Beginning in 2009 due to a number of events, marijuana became de facto legalized through the commercialization of the medical marijuana industry. By the end of 2012, there were over 100,000 medical marijuana cardholders and 500 licensed dispensaries operating in Colorado. There were also licensed cultivation operations and edible manufacturers.

2013 – Current: In November 2012, Colorado voters passed Constitutional Amendment 64 which legalized marijuana for recreational purposes for anyone over the age of 21. The amendment also allowed for licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation operations and edible manufacturers.

Findings 

Youth (ages 12 to 17 years) Past Month Marijuana Use,

2013 o National average for youth was 7.15 percent

o Colorado average for youth was 11.16 percent

Colorado was ranked 3rd in the nation for current marijuana use among youth (56.08 percent higher than the national average)

In 2006, Colorado ranked 14th in the nation for current marijuana use among youth

In just one year when Colorado legalized marijuana (2013), past month marijuana use among those ages 12 to 17 years increased 6.6 percent.

June 6th. 2015

Dear Jessica McDonald

President and CEO BC Hydro:

I am writing to bring to your attention the fact that there are 93+ illegal marijuana dispensaries operating in the City of Vancouver. If your company is supplying these illegal businesses with hydro power you should seriously consider seeking advice from your legal counsel for being in conflict with the drug laws of Canada and laws pertaining to and potential penalties for facilitating criminal enterprises.

You will find it of benefit to review several court cases that have been filed by plaintiffs in the State of Colorado. These pleadings advance claims for damages from parties who are engaged in aiding and abetting marijuana businesses operating in violation of federal law. The Canadian Federal Government has verified, and made well publicized public statements that the marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver are illegal enterprises. BC Hydro customers should not be known illegal operations.

In Parksville BC, the RCMP closed down a marijuana dispensary and issued a warning to the landlord that if they rent to the company or a company conducting illegal business they could face charges under the provisions of Canadian law that prohibit any business from profiting from crime.

It is the position of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada – a national organization with representation from the medical and legal sectors, that these illegal businesses should be closed and federal drug laws be respected, adhered to.

We ask BC Hydro to comply with Canadian Federal Drugs Laws. We ask that BC Hydro disconnect all hydro service to these illegal businesses immediately and a public statement be made of this action. We respectfully also request that a letter be sent to the Mayor and Council, and the Federal Minister of Health Rona Ambrose that clearly states your actions on this matter.

https://www.scribd.com/doc/256277197/Colorado-marijuana-legalization-lawsuit-Civil-Action-No-15-349-Safe-Streets-Alliance-lawsuit-1

https://www.scribd.com/doc/256279229/Colorado-marijuana-legalization-lawsuit-Civil-Action-No-15-350-Safe-Streets-Alliance-lawsuit-2

Pamela McColl

Member of the Advisory Council of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada

samcanadanet@gmail.com

 

Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada (SAMC) Mission:

The mission of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada (SAMC) is to promote a health-first approach to marijuana policy that neither legalizes marijuana, nor demonizes its users. SAMC’s commonsense, third-way approach to marijuana policy is based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety. At SAMC we reject dichotomies — such as “incarceration versus legalization” — that offer only simplistic solutions to the highly complex problems stemming from marijuana use. Our aim is to champion smart policies that decrease marijuana use, like prevention and early intervention. Yet in rejecting legalization, we also do not believe that low-level marijuana users should be saddled with criminal records that stigmatize them for life.

 

SAMC’s Vision is to:

  • inform the public on the science of today’s marijuana;
  • have an honest conversation about reducing the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to criminal records;
  • prevent the expansion of a Big Tobacco-like industry that will target children and vulnerable populations;
  • promote scientific research on marijuana in order to obtain scientifically-approved, cannabis-based medications.

 

SAMC Will Advocate For:

  • a complete Health Canada assessment of the impact of marijuana use on Canadian society;
  • a public health campaign focused on the harms of marijuana, including the devastating impact on mental and physical health, especially for youth;
  • sensible policies that do not legalize marijuana

 

SAMC’s Actions Will Consist Of:

conducting information briefings for the public and decision makers about the science of today’s marijuana and the evidence of effectiveness for different law makers;

  • engaging with the media, key stakeholders, the business community, families, and other sectors of society on the issue of smart marijuana policy;
  • advocating, alongside leaders in the medical and scientific fields, for smart marijuana policies that do not legalize nor demonize marijuana;
  • advocate for medical education addiction and the harms of marijuana.

 

Marijuana and Public Health:

People often refer to their own experiences with marijuana, rather than to what science has taught us. No matter what people think about the drug and the policies surrounding it, it is vitally important to be well-versed in the science and public health and safety impacts of marijuana use and addiction:

  • Today’s marijuana is four to five times stronger than it was in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • One in eleven adults and one in six adolescents who try marijuana for the first time will become addicted to marijuana.[1]
  • Because their brains are in development, marijuana acutely affects young people before age 25. Marijuana use directly affects memory, learning, attention, and reaction time. These effects can last up to 28 days after abstinence from use.[2]
  • Marijuana use can contribute to psychosis, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.[3]
  • Marijuana use can reduce IQ by six to eight points among those who started smoking before age 18.[4]

 

Marijuana and the Criminal Justice System

Statistics show that very few people are actually in prison for simple marijuana-only possession. Majority of offenders in Canada who are sentenced to prison have a prior criminal history or are found in possession of marijuana while committing other serious offences such as impaired driving or domestic violence. For instance, in 2011 in British Columbia, only 3% of founded cases of marijuana possession were cleared by a charge. And of that 3%, only seven cases (1.3% of the 3%) resulted in a custody sentence.[5]

 

Marijuana and Big Business

Tobacco companies lied to Canada for more than a century about the dangers of smoking. They deliberately targeted kids and had doctors promote cigarettes as medicine. And today we are paying the price.  Tobacco use is our nation’s top cause of preventable death and contributes to about 37,000 deaths each year. Tobacco use costs our country at least $17 billion annually — which is about 3 times the amount of money our state and federal governments collect from today’s taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. If it is legalized, marijuana will be commercialized just as tobacco was. The examples of tobacco and alcohol should teach us that legalizing any third substance would be a public health disaster

 

Hall W & Degenhard L. (2009). Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use.  Lancet, 374.

Andréasson S, et al. (1987). Cannabis and Schizophrenia: A longitudinal study of Swedish conscripts. Lancet, 2(8574).

Meier, M.H. (2012). Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Pauls, K., et al. (2013). The nature and extent of marijuana possession in British Columbia. University of Fraser Valley Center for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research.

 

Source:   www.learnabout.ca  June 2015

[1] Wagner, F.A. & Anthony, J.C. (2002). From first drug use to drug dependence; developmental periods of risk for dependence upon cannabis, cocaine, and alcohol. Neuropsychopharmacology 26.

[2] Hall W & Degenhard L. (2009). Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use.  Lancet, 374.

[3] Andréasson S, et al. (1987). Cannabis and Schizophrenia: A longitudinal study of Swedish conscripts. Lancet, 2(8574).

[4] Meier, M.H. (2012). Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

[5] Pauls, K., et al. (2013). The nature and extent of marijuana possession in British Columbia. University of Fraser Valley Center for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research.

 

  • There is high risk of overdose with flakka, which can lead to violent behavior, hyperthermia and superhuman strength
  • The chemical in flakka is similar to a key ingredient in “bath salts,” which were banned in 2012
  • Flakka and “bath salts” could be more dangerous than stimulants such as cocaine

(CNN)It goes by the name flakka. In some parts of the country, it is also called “gravel” because of its white crystal chunks that have been compared to aquarium gravel.

The man-made drug causes a high similar to cocaine. But like “bath salts,” a group of related synthetic drugs that were banned in 2012, flakka has the potential to be much more dangerous than cocaine.

“It’s so difficult to control the exact dose [of flakka],” said Jim Hall, a drug abuse epidemiologist at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Just a little bit of difference in how much is consumed can be the difference between getting high and dying. It’s that critical.”

A small overdose of the drug, which can be smoked, injected, snorted or injected, can lead to a range of extreme symptoms: “excited delirium,” as experts call it, marked by violent behavior; spikes in body temperature (105 degrees and higher, Hall said); paranoia. Probably what has brought flakka the most attention is that it gives users what feels like the strength and fury of the Incredible Hulk.

Flakka stories are starting to pile up. A man in South Florida who broke down the hurricane-proof doors of a police department admitted to being on flakka. A girl in Melbourne, Florida, ran through the street screaming that she was Satan while on a flakka trip. Authorities in the state are warning people about the dangers of the drug.

Florida seems to be particularly hard hit by flakka overdoses.

Hall said that there are about three or four hospitalizations a day in Broward County in South Florida, and more on weekends. It is unclear why the Sunshine State is a hotbed for flakka abuse; “it’s a major question in our community,” Hall said.

Cases have also been reported in Alabama, Mississippi and New Jersey.

Flakka, which gets its name from Spanish slang for a beautiful woman (“la flaca”), contains a chemical that is a close cousin to MDPV, a key ingredient in “bath salts.” These chemicals bind and thwart molecules on the surface of neurons that normally keep the levels of mood-regulating neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, in check. The result is to “flood the brain” with these chemicals, Hall said. Cocaine and methamphetamine have similar modes of action in the brain, but the chemicals in flakka have longer-lasting effects, Hall said.

Although a typical flakka high can last one to several hours, it is possible that the neurological effects can be permanent. Not only does the drug sit on neurons, it could also destroy them, Hall said. And because flakka, like bath salts, hang around in the brain for longer than cocaine, the extent of the destruction could be greater.

Another serious, potentially lingering side effect of flakka is the effect on kidneys. The drug can cause muscles to break down, as a result of hyperthermia, taking a toll on kidneys. Experts worry that some survivors of flakka overdoses may be on dialysis for the rest of their life.

Like most synthetic drugs, the bulk of flakka seems to come from China and is either sold over the Internet or through gas stations or other dealers. A dose can go for $3 to $5, which makes it a cheap alternative to cocaine. Dealers often target young and poor people and also try to enlist homeless people to buy and sell, Hall said. These are “people who are already disadvantaged in terms of chronic disease and access to health care,” he added.

It is unclear at this point whether flakka is more dangerous than the “bath salts” that came before it. But it does have one advantage over its predecessor: it has not been banned — yet.

“Flakka largely emerged as a replacement to MDVP [in ‘bath salts’],” said Lucas Watterson, a postdoctoral researcher at Temple University School of Medicine Center for Substance Abuse Research.

Although the Drug Enforcement Administration has placed a temporary ban on flakka, drug makers can work around this ban, such as by sticking a “not for human consumption” label on the drug, Watterson said. It will probably take several years to get the data necessary to put a federal ban on flakka, he added. And a ban can be effective, at least in discouraging potential users.

“The problem is when one of these drugs is banned or illegal, the drug manufacturer responds by producing a number of different alternatives,” Watterson said. “It’s sort of a flavor of the month.”

Source:  http://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/26

mark-hinkel

daniel-juarez

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Hinkel, a Lexington, Kentucky lawyer, left, was struck by a black pickup truck and killed while participating in a cycling race last Saturday. The driver of the truck told police he had drunk six beers and smoked marijuana before the crash. When hit, Mr. Hinkel was thrown from his bike onto the windshield of the truck and landed in its bed, bleeding but alive.   Apparently unaware that Mr. Hinkel  lay mortally wounded in his truck, the driver continued driving for three more miles before being stopped by police. Mr. Hinkel was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver was arrested and charged with murder, driving under the influence, wanton endangerment, leaving the scene of an accident, and fleeing and evading.   While this death involved marijuana in combination with alcohol, CBS4 investigative reporter Brian Maass in Denver, Colorado has tracked down several deaths caused by marijuana alone.

Daniel Juarez, right, was a high-school student who died in 2012 after stabbing himself 20 times. He had almost 11 times more THC in his blood than the average found in male marijuana users. Mr. Maass obtained Mr. Juarez’s autopsy report never before made public, which revealed Mr. Juarez had 38.2 nanograms of THC in his blood at the time of his death. The level in Colorado that denotes intoxication is 5 nanograms.

 

 

levy-thambakristine-kirk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two marijuana deaths received a fair amount of publicity because they occurred shortly after Colorado implemented legalization in 2014.

Levy Thamba Pongi, left, was a 19-year-old Wyoming college student visiting Denver. Friends said he began acting crazy after eating six times the recommended amount—one-sixth—of a marijuana-infused cookie. He started upending furniture, tipping over lamps, then rushed out to the hotel balcony and jumped to his death. The coroner listed marijuana intoxication as a significant factor in his death. A toxicology report showed he had 7.2 nanograms of THC in his blood.

Kristine Kirk of Denver, right, called 911 to report that her husband was acting erratically after eating marijuana edibles. While on the phone with police, her husband shot and killed her in front of their three children. Mr. Kirk is charged with her murder and has pled not guilty. His lawyer may argue Mr. Kirk was not responsible for his actions due to “involuntary” intoxication, according to news reports.

 

 

brant-clarktron-doshe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brant Clark, left, a 17-year-old Boulder, Colorado high-school student, committed suicide eight years ago. His mother is convinced his death is due to marijuana. She says her son consumed a large amount of marijuana at a party and then suffered a major psychotic break that required emergency care at two hospitals over the next three days. Three weeks later, he took his own life, leaving behind a note that said, “Sorry for what I have done. I wasn’t thinking the night I smoked myself out.”

Tron Doshe, right, returned from a Colorado Rockies game in 2012 but apparently lost his keys. He attempted to climb the outside of his apartment building to reach his balcony but fell to his death, which was ruled an accident. Mr. Maass obtained his autopsy report, which revealed that Mr. Doshe’s THC level was 27.3 nanograms, more than five times Colorado’s legal limit. No other drugs were found in his system.

 

 

luke-goodman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luke Goodman, above, a college student who accompanied his family on a skiing vacation to Colorado’s Keystone Resort, bought marijuana edibles in the form of candies. He ate two and nothing happened, so he ate some more. In all, he consumed more than five times the recommended amount. Soon after, he became agitated and incoherent. When family members left the condo, he refused to go with them. Soon after they left, he shot himself and died. His mother said, “It was 100% because of the drugs.” His cousin agreed that ingesting so much marijuana triggered the suicide, saying, “He was the happiest guy in the world. He had everything going for him.”   Read the report of Mr. Hinkel’s death here.

Read Brian Maass’s report here.

The young woman was shocked when the addiction-treatment clinic’s drug test showed extraordinary levels of THC in her system. She knew she had a drug problem. But she wasn’t like those acquaintances who sat around smoking pipes, bongs and joints all day.

“We asked how she could have had such an extremely high level of THC in her system,” explained Joanie Lewis, founder of Insight Services, an outpatient addictions treatment facility in Colorado Springs. “We learned her parents were preparing almost all of their food in a marijuana butter. You got the feeling they didn’t really consider it drug abuse. But her level of intoxication was much higher than if she had been a traditional user who sat down and smoked pot several times a day. The impairment crept up on her slowly but profoundly. This kind of thing may be why we’re seeing more impairment, more addiction and more serious withdrawals.”

The proliferation of foods infused or coated with THC has become a growing concern, even among some marijuana advocates. Several high-profile marijuana crimes and deaths involve consumption of edible THC products.

“When THC is available in food, it’s even harder for people to see it as a drug,” Lewis said. “But it is a drug. It is a depressant, a hallucinogen and an addictive substance that changes chemistry in the brain. Research shows all of the above.”

Given the United States’ hard-fought and continuing battles against tobacco and illness caused by its use, Americans would rebuff sales of lemon drops, cookies and soda pops infused with nicotine. Yet, the marijuana industry — quickly emerging as Big Tobacco 2.0 — infuses child-friendly snacks and drinks with doses of mind-
altering and brain-damaging THC up to 50 times stronger than 1960s-era pot.

“Practically nobody had even heard of THC concentrates until after Colorado voted to legalize marijuana, and, honestly, this state had no idea what it was unleashing before it made that decision,” said Dr. Ken Finn, a Colorado Springs physician who is board certified in pain medicine. “Even today, a lot of people don’t seem to understand how potent and addictive this drug is or how easily it is concealed.”

When voters enacted Amendment 64, which sanctioned marijuana for recreational use, many did not envision a cookie more potent than dozens of Woodstock joints. Concealed in Amendment 64’s definitions of “marijuana” and “marihuana” is the phrase “marihuana concentrate.” It means the law allows sale, transport, possession and use of up to one1 ounce of leafy marijuana. It also means one 1 ounce of any form of THC concentrate, which can compare to 50 ounces or more of traditional pot that is smoked.

“I would appreciate it very much if people would send me links to news stories or government-sponsored communications explaining the THC levels that were established by Amendment 64,” Dr. Christian Thurstone, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado who treats adolescent addiction and serves on the board of Safe Approaches to Marijuana, wrote on his website in February 2013. “I am unaware of any attempt of this nature to educate the public before Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012.”

Now the threats THC concentrates pose to public health and safety loom large. A new study from researchers at Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital finds more American children are exposed to marijuana before reaching their fifth birthday. The report, published in the peer-reviewed journal Clinical Pediatrics, found that between 2006 and 2013, the marijuana exposure rate rose 147.5 percent among children age 5 and under. In that same period, the rate rose nearly 610 percent in states that sanctioned medical marijuana before 2000, the year Colorado followed suit.

While consequences of most exposures reportedly were minor, the study’s researchers found 17 marijuana-exposed children fell comatose and 10 had seizures.

In Colorado, the number of exposures to THC-infused edibles in young children increased fourfold in one year, from 19 cases in 2013 to 95 in 2014, according to the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center.

Experts overwhelmingly attribute spikes in marijuana exposure among children to THC-infused “edibles.” The drug-laced food is the most promising aspect of Big Marijuana’s economic future. Edibles make up about 45 percent of Colorado’s marijuana sales, based on state figures, and are projected to quickly surpass the sale of THC products that are smoked.

Advocates for edibles say the products provide a healthy alternative to inhaling smoke. Others go further, marketing drug-infused foods and drinks as health food.

“Here comes the Whole Foods-
ification of Marijuana,” states the headline for a story published by Fast Company, a news organization founded by former editors of Harvard Business Review, touting its focus on “ethical economics.” . The report describes the author’s experience with ordering front-door delivery of a jar of “organic, sun-grown marijuana from farmers Casey and Amber in Mendocino, Calif.”

“There’s a whole industry being built around the upscale branding of weed,” author Ariel Schwartz explains. “Marijuana is now something that should be organic, grown by friendly farmers…”

For marijuana sellers, edibles mean a potentially boundless market share. “Edibles are the future of the industry due to their familiarity,” explains an article on a website that markets “The Stoner’s Cookbook.” “Non-smokers are not inclined to medicate with a joint, but an infused cookie is something familiar that they’re comfortable ingesting.”

Indeed, THC-infused foods and drinks — all fashioned from marijuana the state doesn’t yet test for contaminants — are sold in hundreds of store-front establishments throughout the state. They are shared and traded on the campuses of middle schools and high schools, where young users with developing brains are especially susceptible to addiction. They are stowed in lunch boxes in the workplace.

Employers, law enforcement officials, educators and addiction treatment providers say Colorado has cooked up a poorly regulated THC-food fiasco that crisscrosses the country with the ease of exporting gummy bears in glove compartments, pockets and handbags. For taxpayers, the growing edibles market means an array of social costs — including hospitalizations, traffic accidents, school dropouts and lost work productivity — that state and federal officials haven’t fully investigated, estimated and made public.

Known as hash oil, wax, dabs, and shatter, concentrates deliver a high so fast and intense many users refer to them as “green crack.” One ounce of the highest potency THC concentrate can yield 560 average tokes on an electronic cigarette. In edibles, Colorado law defines an average serving of THC as 10 milligrams.

“That average serving size? That’s a political number, not anything rooted in real, reputable science,” said Kevin Sabet, a former senior White House drug policy advisoer and co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an organization opposed to marijuana legalization and supported by several of the country’s top addiction treatment experts.

The 10-milligram serving size established by Colorado lawmakers means one1 ounce of high-potency THC oil — the amount one adult is allowed to buy or possess at any given time — also can equal 2,800 average servings. That’s a well-stocked bakery.

“I don’t need scientific evidence to show me that students are completely zoned out and that more stoned kids are showing up for class,” said Kelly Landen, a high school teacher in Denver. “If they’ve smoked marijuana, you smell it on them. But students also show up with candy and cookies and whatever … and there’s no way to know for certain what’s in that food. They could be eating (THC) right in front of me.”

Unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, concentrated THC is practically undetectable. There is no pill. Unlike alcohol and cigarettes, there is no smell. Users can get high on food and beverages while hiding in plain sight in almost any location.

“There is great danger in how easy these food products are to conceal,” said Frank Szachta, director of The Cornerstone Program, an adolescent addiction treatment center in Centennial. “Someone could do this drug in front of you, or in front of a teacher, in front of the boss. … No one would have to know.”

Colorado legislators have grappled with the problem of people — particularly children and adolescents — consuming marijuana in common snacks that land them in emergency rooms with panic attacks and hallucinations. Authorities have linked at least three deaths in Colorado, including a murder, to excessive consumption of THC-laced foods.

When ingested through the stomach, the user may not experience effects for an hour or more. The delayed effect is blamed in part for new users becoming impatient and eating too much.

“Like a bottle of vodka, you can’t just drink the entire bottle. You have to take it slow and understand what you’re doing,” said Julie Berliner in a YouTube video. She’s the founder of Sweet Grass Kitchen, an edibles manufacturing company in Denver.

But edibles are not like a bottle of vodka in important ways. The vodka’s contents are exactly known, and drinks can be measured precisely. The label on a THC-infused brownie or candy bar might state “servings per package: 10,” but the maker can’t say whether the consumer will ingest all of those servings in one small bite. The folly is akin to cutting a cupcake into tenths and presuming each piece contains exactly one serving of vanilla extract.

Making matters worse, said Lewis of Insight Services, is that many people are not inclined to follow recommended serving sizes.

“The state says a serving size is 10 milligrams, so that’s how much THC you might find in one small piece of candy,” she said. “But very few people sit down with a bag of candy and eat only one piece.”

State lawmakers’ efforts to regulate edibles and their packaging have done little to stop accidental overdoses and deter underage use — in part because they haven’t applied to homemade goods infused with THC, health professionals say. State law also is undermined when someone removes the contents of a package and stores the THC-infused food in a bowl, jar or other container.

A law enacted in 2014 instructs the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment to devise standards and procedures that will make unpackaged, commercial food products easily stand out if they contain THC. It’s a tall order when dealing with small pieces of food — such as crumbs of granola — and the agency continues to grasping for a solution.

Since legalization and the mass marketing of highly potent, THC foods began, Colorado addiction treatment providers have reported increasing levels of toxicity among clients, more severe addiction and poorer prognoses for recovery from substance use disorders.

For example, the average level of THC found in the urine of about 5,000 adolescents ages 13-19 by researchers at the University of Colorado jumped from 358 nanograms per milliliter in 2007 through 2009 — just before the state’s boom in medical marijuana dispensaries — to 536 milliliters from 2010 through 2013.

The rapidly widening scope of THC-infused food is shaping up to be a recipe for great losses for individuals, families and the entire state, Lewis said.

“People are coming to us later in the addiction cycle than they used to,” she said. “When people get high on food, there is the perception that they’re not really using a drug. It seems less harmful than taking pills or smoking. By the time they realize there’s a problem, some of them are quite a ways further into the addiction than if they had been smoking it.”

Source: http://m.gazette.com/clearing-the-haze-thc-extracts-concentrate-problems/article/1554097   June 2015

Production of a dangerous street drug called ‘Moon Rocks’ is soaring and the DEA can’t keep up

Moon Rocks, otherwise known as Spice, K2, or Skunk is a lab-produced, mind-altering drug that’s been soaring in popularity in recent years.

Giant  underground laboratories , many of which are in China, are churning out  thousands of pounds  of the stuff.  This week, the DEA arrested a man whose lab likely produced the chemicals in some  70% of the spice sold in the US,  the New York Times reports .

Although it’s often marketed as a “safer alternative to traditional marijuana,” spice is dangerous and can be deadly.

 

 

This is spice. It looks fairly harmless — like herbs in a shiny package — but it isn’t.  Reports suggest that since 2009, drugs like spice, or synthetic marijuana, have killed roughly 1,000 Americans — many of them young people in high school.

The drugmakers change up the specific ingredients in the drugs so fast — and produce them in such massive quantities — that drug enforcement can’t keep up.  The drugs are created in powdered form in giant underground laboratories . Many of the labs are in China. Then they are packed up in large bags……and shipped to the US in huge containers labelled “fertilizer” or “industrial solvent.” A small bag of the powdered drug is liquefied and added to plant material.

Then wholesale buyers purchase the drugs and turn them into liquids by dissolving them in acetone or alcohol. Next, they use the liquid to douse dry plant matter, and package it up in shiny metallic baggies. The stuff inside is then rolled up and smoked.

Often, the drugs are packaged as “plant food” or “potpourri” so they can be legally sold in stores. The back of these packages often includes the coy warning, “Not intended for human consumption.” Regardless, the drugs have continued to soar in popularity. So far this year, poison centers received reports of 3,548 exposures to synthetic marijuana, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Many experts say “synthetic marijuana” is a huge misnomer for these drugs, since they produce far different effects and can be up to 100 times more potent than traditional marijuana. For example, the first form of the psychoactive ingredient used in spice was called JWH-018, named for the initials of the scientist John W. Huffman who first invented it in 2008.

Just like with the main psychoactive ingredient in traditional marijuana, THC, the psychoactive ingredients in synthetic marijuana bind to the brain’s CB1 receptors. Because spice is so much stronger, however, it is much more likely to cause everything from seizures to psychosis.

Source:   http://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/production-of-a-dangerous-street-drug-called-moon-rocks-is-soaring-and-the-dea-cant-keep-up/ar-BBkmxRN?ocid=iehp  May 2015

The photos below show just how the marijuana business in the USA is targeting the youth market. Young children who would hesitate to smoke a joint are encouraged by the packaging to believe these products are safe.

All these ‘edibles’ are on sale openly. Look at the cynical way they use genuine products:

Kit Kat ok, Kif Kat not ok

Kellogs Pop Tarts ok,  Pot tarts not ok

Twix bars ok, Twigz not ok.

We are amazed that Nestle, Kellogs and Mars have not sued over this.

There have already been severe problems from young people overdosing on marijuana edibles. Those parents who do not want their children using cannabis must teach their family that marijuana edibles are just as harmful as smoking joints ( – perhaps more so because of the risk of overdosing) and they are not products to use like sweets.

Learn more by logging on to: https://learnaboutsam.org/

Rancho Mirage. It is so unbelievably hot here it’s well, it’s unbelievable. That’s how hot it is. 106 degrees with no breeze at all.

I am not at all sure why we are even here, but the son of a close relative is visiting and he had expressed an interest in playing golf. We have a super course here at the Club at Morningside and we might have played a few holes but it’s far too hot now. It is heat stroke, sunstroke weather. Cruel.

As I drove our guest to dinner, on my disk of Civil War songs, what should we hear but the stirring strains of “Dixie.” Our guest, age 27, a family man who had gone to college in the deep, rural south, and who now lives in the deep, semi-rural south, had no idea of what the song was or what it represented. None at all.

This young man, extremely eloquent with language, is high all day long. Literally there is no waking moment when he is not high. He smokes powerful pot all day long and late into the night. He used to have a great high school athletic career and intellectual ambitions. Then, in 11th grade, he discovered marijuana and all of his drive, all of his motivation, all of his discipline disappeared.

Marijuana ate this young man’s soul. It was very much like that movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where space aliens invade the bodies of humans. I have never known any chronic user of the chronic whose ambitions and good sense have not been either demolished or very substantially lessened by the use of the weed. It is eating up the soul of the nation altogether.

The most bitter enemies of the United States could not have imagined a more wicked attack on a society based on individual initiative than the mass use of marijuana. To think we have a President in favor of its legalization, a Mayor of Gotham who is a huge proponent of the poison, a rap culture that celebrates this vile poison, is heart breaking.

At dinner, our guest had to excuse himself from the table repeatedly. Each time, he came back smelling like reefer. He was far too stupefied to make conversation. The other people at the table began to talk about a nearby retirement community called “Sun City.” Meals available. Nurses available. Shuffleboard. Many channels of cable TV.

“That sounds perfect for me,” said our young guest. “I could just spend all day getting high.”

We stared at him. “You’re twenty-seven,” I said to this former high school football star.

“I know,” he answered. “Hospice sounds even better. Just a slow morphine drip until I die, with everyone bringing me food and a remote control in my hand for The Simpsons. High on morphine all of the time. Can you believe how great that would be? Like for forty years.”

If ISIS could have its fondest wishes granted, it could ask for no more ruinous fate for America than a drug addicted last, formerly best hope for mankind.

Late that night I spoke to a super-smart friend who has a Ph.D. in psychology from UC. “There used to be studies about how marijuana use destroys motivation,” he said. “They aren’t allowed to do them any longer. It isn’t PC to even question what marijuana use does to young people. Cannot even be questioned.”

By the way, how did our young guest — who stayed at a hotel — get his super-strong ganja? One 20-minute visit with a “pot doctor” he had never seen before out here in the desert. Then a five-minute visit to a “dispensary.”

“All I had to do,” said the guest, “was tell him I had trouble sleeping.”

So much for pot as a salvation in terminal cancer. Pot is the cancer.
Read more at http://spectator.org/articles/62926/marijuana-cancer

A recent example of the logical abandon of today’s backers of legal marijuana is the plan to defund the Drug Enforcement Administration’s program to eradicate illegal marijuana (DEA/CESP), an $18 million program that eliminates millions of plants a year and arrests thousands of criminals, many of whom were brought here to labor for Mexican drug cartels controlling the marijuana black market.

Yet Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) wants to end the effort as a “ridiculous waste” of federal resources, when multiple states “have already legalized marijuana,” use of which should “no longer be a federal crime.” Clearly, the congressman has not thought this through. He is, in fact, arguing against his own legal marijuana case.

A central tenet of the legalization movement is that criminal marijuana was to be supplanted by “safe, regulated and taxed” marijuana under careful control. It is a contradiction of that principle to foster, by cutting the DEA program, the proliferation of unregulated, untaxed and “unsafe” marijuana plants controlled by violent criminals, thereby corrupting the entire point of a “legalized” marijuana market.

While a “regulated and taxed market” was the position sold to legislators, the real objective seems to be a dope-growing paradise, unregulated and unopposed. Congressman Lieu doesn’t even try to explain how this is supposed to advance America’s well-being.

For years now, Americans have been subjected to efforts by advocates for legalized marijuana to make their case. Today, the arguments often come from legalization lobbyists, often with legal or political training, seeking to legitimize what they hope will become a billion-dollar business in addictive toxins – repeat customers guaranteed.

Or consider the argument that marijuana is “safer to use” than alcohol. That alcohol is dangerous all acknowledge, costing the health of thousands. But the proper argument is that each intoxicant presents its own unique threats. It is not productive medically to “rank” them. But what is the logical implication of the alcohol talking point?

The regulation of alcohol is precisely the idealized model that lobbyists put forth for legal drugs. Hence, every time they insist that alcohol is the more damaging substance, what they are actually showing is that the model of legal, regulated sales of addictive substances produces widespread harm to adults and adolescents.

A major dimension of alcohol damage is the sheer prevalence of use, some six times greater than the prohibited marijuana, driving up the “disease burden.” Were regulated marijuana to reach the proportions of use of alcohol, the public health impact would be staggering.

One cannot argue simultaneously that marijuana should be treated like alcohol in order to reduce societal harm, and then reveal this model fails as policy, as witnessed by the ensuing alcohol damage (to be compounded by vastly expanded cannabis use). Once again, one suspects that the regulated alcohol model is but a stalking horse, useful to advance the cause, but not to be taken as serious policy.

Further, advocates claim that a legalized regime will better keep marijuana out of the hands of children. Yet a recent pediatric journal reported on the nearly 147 percent rise in emergency episodes for children from marijuana “edibles” nationwide.

Marijuana lobbyists counter that poisoning happens “in all states,” and therefore legalization in some states can’t be blamed. But in states with medical marijuana dispensaries, the rate increase was four times greater (610 percent) than in states without.

Repeatedly, when such facts are presented, they are ignored by the marijuana lobbyists.

In like fashion you hear “marijuana is medicine” (case not made by medical standards); that the criminal element will be eliminated (the black market cartels are thriving in Colorado); that legalization will not promote nationwide smuggling of high-potency dope (it’s rampant, even leading to interstate lawsuits); or that legal drugs will do more good than harm to America (What family is stronger or safer or healthier with drug use?).

If marijuana legalization were a good idea, the facts would support it, and the arguments of advocates wouldn’t be so lame.

Murray and Walters direct the Hudson Institute’s Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research. They both served in the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the George W. Bush administration.

Source:   By David W. Murray & John P. Walters  San Diego UT July 30, 2015

 

no-one-serves-jail-time-for-smoking-pot

A currently hip cause is to rail against sentencing pot smokers to jail time. It sounds good considering alcohol is legal, smoking pot is not considered harmful to others, and our jails are already overcrowded, straining taxpayers’ wallets. The only problem is there isn’t a shred of truth to it.

Sadly, many on the right have fallen into this trap. Attend a Republicans for Liberty meeting and some young, charismatic leader will give an impassioned speech ranting and raving about how terrible it is that we lock up people for simply smoking pot. To a cheering audience, they declare it’s all about liberty and stopping big government from its unsuccessful war on drugs.

I was a prosecutor for several years, and the facts are quite different. Smoking pot has actually been “de facto” legalized across the U.S. The police look the other way, even if a neighbor rats on someone. There aren’t enough police officers to enforce marijuana possession laws. In fact, when states began legalizing pot for medicinal and recreational use, most pot smokers didn’t bother leaving their illegal dealers, because there is so little risk.

As a county prosecutor, I came across thousands of criminal cases (I frequently covered multiple hearings in different cases on a daily basis for other prosecutors assigned to those cases). I never saw a single defendant who was really sentenced to jail for marijuana possession. Former Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley once said, “No first-time offender arrested in California solely for drug possession goes to prison — ever.”

Here is why there is confusion: the only time someone is sentenced to jail for smoking pot is if there is a more serious crime they are clearly guilty of, and the prosecutor or judge wants to give them a lighter sentence. Theft or burglary were the most common crimes I came across. Instead of being required to sentence a defendant to a year imprisonment for stealing, a defendant could plead guilty to marijuana possession instead and get a much lesser sentence. So on paper, it looks like they are serving time for drug possession, but in reality, they were let off the hook for a serious crime.

Police arrest individuals for other crimes and discover marijuana in the process — which can then, ironically, be used to the defendant’s advantage to get a lighter sentence! Additionally, no judge wants to go on record sentencing someone to jail for merely marijuana possession unless the defendant has a serious crime accompanying it.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of the defendants I came across had long rap sheets; pages and pages of criminal history. Much of it was not permitted to be disclosed to the judge, it was considered inadmissible; things like arrests with no conviction, dismissals, juvenile crimes, convictions older than the statute of limitations, etc. Many defendants had been arrested 10 to 20 times and it was clear they had a pattern of theft or other crimes — and generally caught with drugs every time — but the outcome was always the same, they were allowed to plead guilty to some lesser crime and often escape any jail time. It was eye-opening to see how many crimes a defendant had clearly committed based on their rap sheet, yet they would only end up getting sentenced for one of them.

Additionally, it has been found that the average criminal is only caught once for about every 12 crimes committed. FBI crime data from 2013 reveals that only 13.1 percent of burglary offenses are ever solved. Add that to the crimes criminals do get caught committing, but escape consequences due to a good defense attorney, technical error by the prosecution, or other factor, and it becomes pretty clear that these folks are actually getting pretty lucky pleading guilty to marijuana possession.

Harder drugs and pot dealers don’t fare quite as well. But as long as they stay away from other criminal activity, they too are frequently left alone by the law. When caught, prosecutors also let them plea down to a lesser crime.

The problem is no one has the guts to stand up to this myth, afraid of being called a big government, authoritarian conservative. It’s much easier to look hip and make vague statements like “The war on drugs is not working.” There is no longer a war on drugs. There is the occasional ad campaign to warn teenagers against using drugs — and usually just hard drugs — but even those are directed at youth, not your average adult pot smoker. No one cares and no one enforces the law, it is treated like illegal immigration with law enforcement and the legal system looking the other way.

Obama is calling to end mandatory minimum sentencing, claiming there are too many nonviolent offenders behind bars. Several prominent Republicans are jumping on the bandwagon with him. Last month, Obama commuted the sentences of 46 “nonviolent drug offenders.” Does anyone actually believe even one of them was really serving time for drug possession, much less marijuana possession? Only the prosecutor and defense attorney will ever see their entire rap sheet, and are prohibited by law from disclosing it, so Obama gets away with this ruse.

Conservatives and libertarians shouldn’t buy into this typical rhetoric from the left, which is to stand for something because it sounds good on the surface, when in reality the truth is much different. Regardless of one’s position on drug legalization, stop saying that people are serving time behind bars for marijuana possession. You just look silly.

Source:  http://townhall.com/columnists/rachelalexander/2015/08/03/no-one-serves-jail-time-for-smoking-pot-   August 3rd 2015

Officials in cities across the United States are reporting a rise in overdoses related to synthetic marijuana, CNN reports. Police chiefs meeting in Washington this week said they need field tests to help them quickly determine whether suspects have taken the drug.

Synthetic marijuana, sold under names such as “K2,” “Spice” and “Scooby Snax,” is very different from marijuana, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. It is made with dried herbs and spices that are sprayed with chemicals that induce a marijuana-type high when smoked. The drug is not tested for safety, so there is no way for a person to know what chemicals they are using.

Health effects can include severe agitation and anxiety; fast, racing heartbeat and high blood pressure; nausea and vomiting; muscle spasms, seizures, and tremors; intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes; and suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions.  From January 1 to August 2, 2015, poison control centers received calls about 5,008 exposures to synthetic marijuana, compared with 3,682 in all of last year.

According to a survey of 35 major city police departments, 30 percent have attributed some violent crimes to synthetic marijuana, the article notes. Overdoses in some cities are clustered in homeless populations.

On Tuesday, New York Police Commissioner William Bratton called the drug “weaponized marijuana,” and called it “a great and growing concern.”

The products are widely available, despite laws prohibiting them. With the passing of each regulation to control synthetic marijuana, drug manufacturers and suppliers are quickly changing the ingredients to new, non-controlled variations.

Source:  http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/   5th August 2015

This is an excellent report.  It shows how seemingly accurate information is being disseminated by pro-marijuana groups heavily funded by George Soros.  Every claim is disputed by scientific evidence from responsible contributors.

University of Florida Drug Policy Institute Joins Senior Researchers at Harvard, Boston Children’s Hospital, University of Texas, and Others in Responding to Latest Claims by the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy

A team of researchers from the UF Drug Policy Institute, Harvard University, and other institutions authored a lengthy response to a recent monograph written by the George Soros-funded ICSDP claiming that cannabis health claims have been overblown.

The team, led by former American Society of Addiction Medicine President Stu Gitlow, and other researchers with leadership ties to groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics, Boston Children’s Hospital, the University of Texas, the University of Pennsylvania, and other institutions found that the ICSDP report is an example of deceptive and biased research and that it contains abundant factual errors and logical flaws.

The report’s introduction reads: “The ICSDP conveniently cites evidence that supports its own predetermined narrative, concluding that only the pro-marijuana lobby has any substantive evidence in its favor-and ignores evidence to the contrary. Its main strategy is to attribute overblown “straw man” arguments to established marijuana researchers, misstating their positions and then claiming to “rebut” these positions with research.

“This response/critique reveals the lack of objectivity present in the report and, point-by-point, shows how the interests of the nascent Big Marijuana industry, private equity firms, and lobbyists lining up to capitalize on a new marijuana industry, are served.”

 

About the UF Drug Policy Institute

The UF Drug Policy Institute (DPI) serves the state of Florida, the Nation, and the global community in delivering evidence-based, policy-relevant, information to policymakers, practitioners, scholars, and the community to make educated decisions about issues of policy significance in the field of substance use, abuse, and addiction.

Read about our Distinguished Fellows Here

There are at least two sides to every debate, but in the case of marijuana legalization, only proponents’ side is being heard. That changes with the publication this month of Marijuana Debunked.

One of the favorite claims of marijuana-legalization proponents (and biased journalists, see next story) is that marijuana cures cancer. Like most other claims for the drug’s ability to cure or relieve some 250 different diseases, this one originates from 1) a lack of understanding about how science works and 2) plain, old-fashioned greed.

Ed Gogek, MD, is an addiction psychiatrist who has treated more than 10,000 addicts over his 30-year practice. Like all doctors, he has been trained to evaluate evidence that leads to FDA drug approval as well as insufficient evidence that fails to support such medical claims.

In Marijuana Debunked, Dr. Gogek exposes medical marijuana for what it is: the camel’s nose under the recreational marijuana tent. The four states and the District of Columbia that have legalized recreational pot got there by first legalizing medical pot. And medical pot provided the opening for a commercial industry to develop that already rivals the tobacco and alcohol industries in targeting children and the addicted as lifetime consumers.

Dr. Gogek analyzes the substantial research that shows how marijuana hurts people, especially children. He calls out the media for biased reporting about the drug and the entertainment industry for promoting it’s use. He asks us to rethink marijauna policy to find a “third way” between prohibition and legalization and describes what that might look like.

In short, Dr. Gogek has made a powerful, passionate case against legalization and its inevitable consequences. He shows that we have a choice: we can base marijuana policy on science and find an alternative to current policy or we can succumb to the siren call of free-market profits and increased tax revenues (that won’t cover costs) and legalize a third addictive drug. Everyone concerned about health, justice, and the ability of our citizens to thrive should read his book.

Did the National Cancer Institute “Finally Admit that Marijuana Cures Cancer”?
When a news story begins like this—“For the medical industrial complex, there is nothing as terrifying as a cure, or remedy, for a highly profitable and fatal disease like cancer”—you know you are in for a biased read.

Politicususa.com published a story Sunday that asserts the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is now “advising that cannabinoids are useful in treating cancer and its side effects by smoking, eating it in a baked product, drinking herbal teas, or even spraying it under the tongue.”

Deconstructing this quotation word-for-word reveals it is actually a combination of phrases from different questions in Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ): Questions and Answers about Cannabis on NCI’s website:

advising–not found anywhere in “Cannabis and Cannabinoids.”

that cannabinoids are useful in treating cancer and its side effects—these words are from Question 2, What are cannabinoids, second paragraph: “Cannabinoids may be useful in treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment” (emphasis added).

by smoking, eating it in a baked product, drinking herbal teas, or even spraying it under the tongue—these words and phrases are lifted from different parts of Question 5, How is cannabis administered?

“Cannabis may be taken by mouth or may be inhaled. When taken by mouth (in baked products or as an herbal tea), the main psychoactive ingredient in Cannabis (delta-9-THC) is processed by the liver, making an additional psychoactive chemical.  . . . A growing number of clinical trials are studying a medicine made from a whole-plant extract of Cannabis that contains specific amounts of cannabinoids. This medicine is sprayed under the tongue.”

[The medicine is nabiximols, trade-name Sativex, which is 50 percent THC and 50 percent cannabidiol extracted from the marijuana plant and purified.]

In addition to doctoring his quotation, the author presents his claim as information NCI quietly slipped onto its website only two weeks ago. He fails to notice that the mid-July date is an update, not a brand new “admission” of information “previously concealed from the public.”

He also fails to report Questions 9 and 10 which point out that FDA has not approved cannabis or cannabinoids for cancer treatment, not approved cannabis for treating the side effects of chemotherapy, but has approved two drugs which are synthetic THC, Dronabinol and Nabilone, for relieving chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in patients who do not respond to standard therapy.

But reporting that would make it hard to conclude, as the author does, that “it is absolutely despicable, and frankly evil, that the medical industry helped keep an incredibly inexpensive and highly-effective cancer-killing drug out of reach.”

Politicususa.com gets an “A” for spin, but an “F” for accuracy. File this story in the trash can where it belongs.

Read Politicususa.com story here. Read National Cancer Institute Cannabis and Cannabinoids Q&A here.

Source: TheMarijuanaReport.org  26th August 2015

Marijuana Use: Detrimental to Youth

ABSTRACT: Although increasing legalization of marijuana has contributed to the growing belief that marijuana is harmless, research documents the risks of its use by youth are grave. Marijuana is addicting, has adverse effects upon the adolescent brain, is a risk for both cardio-respiratory disease and testicular cancer, and is associated with both psychiatric illness and negative social outcomes. Evidence indicates limited legalization of marijuana has already raised rates of unintended marijuana exposure among young children, and may increase adolescent use. Therefore, the American College of Pediatricians supports legislation that continues to restrict the availability of marijuana except in the context of well controlled scientific studies which demonstrate medicinal benefit together with evidence-based guidelines for optimal routes of delivery and dosing for specific medical conditions.

Introduction

Federal Law has prohibited the manufacture, sale, and distribution of marijuana for more than 70 years. However, with the discovery of potential medicinal properties of marijuana and the increasing misperception that the drug is harmless, there have arisen increased efforts to achieve its broad legalization despite persistent problems of abuse. Medical use of marijuana has prompted many states to establish programs for sale of medically-prescribed marijuana. As public perception of marijuana’s safety has grown, some states have also passed voter-approved referenda legalizing recreational use of marijuana by adults. The result has been the same: limited legalization has led to greater availability of marijuana to youth.

How is Marijuana Used?

Whether used licitly or illicitly, marijuana is smoked or ingested. It may be smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints), pipes or water pipes (bongs), and cigars that have been refilled with a mixture of marijuana and tobacco (blunts). Marijuana emits a distinctive pungent usually sweet-and-sour odour when it is smoked. Marijuana is not so easily detectable, however, when ingested in candy, other foods or as a tea.

 

Has Legalization Escalated Youth Exposure to Marijuana?

There is evidence legalization of marijuana limited to medical dispensaries and/or adult recreational use has led to increased unintended exposure to marijuana among young children. By 2011, rates of poison center calls for accidental paediatric marijuana ingestion more than tripled in states that decriminalized marijuana before 2005. In states which passed legislation between 2005 and 2011 call rates increased nearly 11.5% per year. There was no similar increase in states that had not decriminalized marijuana as of December 31, 2011. Additionally, exposures in decriminalized states where marijuana use was legalized were more likely than those in non-legal states to present with moderate to severe symptoms requiring admission to a paediatric intensive care unit. The median age of children involved was 18-24 months.1

Marijuana use by adolescents has grown steadily as more states enact various decriminalization laws.2 According to CDC data, more teens now smoke marijuana than cigarettes.3 It is unclear, however, whether this trend indicates a causal relationship or mere correlation. There is some evidence legalization may encourage more youth to experiment with the drug. A national study of 6116 high school seniors, prior to legalization of recreational use in any state, found 10% of nonusers said they would try marijuana if the drug were legal in their state. Significantly, this included large subgroups of students normally at low risk for drug experimentation, including non-cigarette smokers, those with strong religious affiliation, and those with peers who frown upon drug use. Among high school seniors already using marijuana, 18% said they would use more under legalization.

There is also evidence of medical marijuana diversion having a significant impact upon adolescents. For example, researchers in Colorado found that approximately 74% of adolescents in substance abuse treatment had used someone else’s medical marijuana. After adjusting for sex, race and ethnicity, those who used medical marijuana had an earlier age of regular marijuana use, and more marijuana abuse and dependence symptoms than those who did not use medical marijuana.4-5 Conclusions from this study may not apply to adolescents as a whole due to the select population surveyed. There are broader adolescent population studies suggesting no significant increase in use due to enactment of medical marijuana laws.6-10 These authors, however, caution that their results may not be definitive for five reasons: not all states with medical marijuana laws are represented in the various studies; the studies rely upon survey data from a voluntary survey (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) which has the potential for reporting bias; there are gaps in the annual youth risk behavior data; the primary outcome measure was obtained from a single survey item; and the research is not long-term relative to when medical marijuana laws were implemented. Consequently, while all reported their data did not find medical marijuana laws to significantly increase teen use, they also advised continued long-term observation and research.

 

Is Marijuana Medicine?

A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted there is very little scientific evidence to support the use of medical marijuana. Authors Samuel Wilkinson and Deepak D’Souza explain that medical marijuana is considerably different from all other prescription medications in that “evidence supporting its efficacy varies substantially and in general falls short of the standards required for approval of other drugs by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”11 The FDA requires carefully conducted studies consisting of hundreds to thousands of patients in order to accurately assess the benefits and risks of a potential medication.

Although some studies suggest marijuana may palliate chemotherapy-induced vomiting, cachexia in HIV/AIDS patients, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, and neuropathic pain, there is no significant evidence marijuana is superior to FDA approved medications currently available to treat these conditions. Additionally, support for use of marijuana in other conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, Crohn’s disease and Alzheimer’s, is not scientific, relying on emotion-laden anecdotes instead of adequately powered, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials.11

Also, to be considered a legitimate medicine, a substance must have well-defined and measurable ingredients that are consistent from one unit (such as a pill or injection) to the next. This consistency allows researchers to determine optimal dosing and frequency. Drs. Samuel Wilkinson and Deepak D’Souza state:

Prescription drugs are produced according to exacting standards to ensure uniformity and purity of active constituents … Because regulatory standards of the production process vary by state, the composition, purity, and concentration of the active constituents of marijuana are also likely to vary. This is especially problematic because unlike most other prescription medications that are single active compounds, marijuana contains more than 100 cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids that produce individual, interactive, and entourage effects.”11

 As a consequence, there are no dosing guidelines for marijuana for any of the conditions it has been approved to treat. And finally, there is no scientific evidence that the potential healthful effects of marijuana outweigh its documented adverse effects.11 Sound ethics demands that physicians “First do no harm.” This is why a dozen national health organizations, including the College, presently oppose further legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes.12 If and when rigorous research delineates marijuana’s true benefits relative to its hazards, compares its efficacy with current medications on the market, determines its optimal routes of delivery and dosing, and standardizes its production and dispensing (to match that of schedule II medications like narcotics and opioids), then medical opposition will dissipate.

 

The Extent of Marijuana Abuse

In the United States, marijuana is the most frequently used illicit drug,13-14 with 23.9 million of those at least 12 years old having used an illegal drug within the past month in 2012.15 The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded 2013 Monitoring the Future study of the year 2012 showed that 12.7 percent of 8th graders, 29.8 percent of 10th graders, and 36.4 percent of 12th graders had used marijuana at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. They also found that 7, 18 and 22.7 percent respectively for these groups used marijuana in the past month.13

Figure 1. Long-Term Trends in Annual Marijuana Use by Grade14

After a period of decline in the last decade, marijuana use has generally increased among young people since 2007, corresponding with both its increased availability through limited legalization and a diminishing perception of the drug’s risks. The number of current (past month) users aged 12 and up increased from 14.5 to 18.9 million.15

In 2010, 7.3 percent of all persons admitted to publicly funded treatment facilities were aged 12-17. Marijuana is the leading illicit substance mentioned in adolescent emergency department admissions and autopsy reports, and is considered one of the major contributing factors leading to violent deaths and accidents among adolescents.16

Figure 2.  Emergency Department Visits by Type of Substance Abuse16

 

Such data indicate that marijuana use in adolescents is a major and growing problem. Given the widespread availability and abuse of marijuana, and its increasing decriminalization, it is important to examine the adverse clinical consequences of marijuana use.

Marijuana and Addiction

Marijuana is addictive. While approximately 9 percent of users overall become addicted to marijuana, about 17 percent of those who start during adolescence and 25-50 percent of daily users become addicted. Thus, many of the nearly 6.5 percent of high school seniors who report smoking marijuana daily or almost daily are well on their way to addiction, if not already addicted.13 In fact, between 70-72% of 12-17 year olds who enter drug treatment programs, do so primarily because of marijuana addiction.18,13

Long-term marijuana users trying to quit report various withdrawal symptoms including irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, all of which can make it difficult to remain abstinent.  These withdrawal symptoms can begin within the first 24 hours following cessation, peak at two to three days, and subside within one or two weeks follow drug cessation. Behavioral interventions, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational incentives (i.e., providing vouchers for goods or services to patients who remain abstinent) have proven to be effective in treating marijuana addiction.19 Although no medications are currently available, recent discoveries about the workings of the endocannabinoid system offer promise for the development of medications to ease withdrawal, block the intoxicating effects of marijuana, and prevent relapse.20

Is Marijuana a Gateway Leading to the Abuse of Other Illicit Drugs?

An additional danger associated with marijuana use observed in adolescents is a sequential pattern of involvement in other legal and illegal drugs. Marijuana is frequently a stepping stone that bridges the gap between cigarette and alcohol use and the use of other more powerful and dangerous substances like cocaine and heroin. This stage-like progression of substance abuse, known as the gateway phenomenon, is common among youth from all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds.19, 21 Additionally, marijuana is often intentionally used with other substances, including alcohol or crack cocaine, to magnify its effects. Phencyclidine (PCP), formaldehyde, crack cocaine, and codeine cough syrup are also often mixed with marijuana without the user’s knowledge.21

 

Other Effects of Marijuana on the Brain

The main active chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). When marijuana is smoked, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. It is absorbed more slowly when ingested in food or drink.13 In all cases, however, THC acts upon specific molecular targets on brain cells, called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are ordinarily activated by chemicals similar to THC called endocannabinoids, such as anandamide. These receptors are naturally occurring in the body and are part of a neural communication network (the endocannabinoid system) that plays an important role in normal brain development and function. The highest density of cannabinoid receptors is found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. Marijuana over activates the endocannabinoid system, causing the high and other effects that users experience. These effects include distorted perceptions, psychotic symptoms, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, disrupted learning and memory, and impaired reaction time, attention span, judgment, balance and coordination.21 Chronic exposure to THC may also hasten the age-related loss of nerve cells.22

 Numerous mechanisms have been postulated to link cannabis use, attentional deficits, psychotic symptoms, and neural desynchronization.23 The hippocampus, a component of the brain’s limbic system, is necessary for memory, learning, and integrating sensory experiences with emotions and motivations. THC suppresses neurons in the information-processing system of the hippocampus, thus learned behaviors, dependent on the hippocampus, also deteriorate.24 Brain MRI studies now report that in young recreational marijuana users, structural abnormalities in gray matter density, volume, and shape occur in areas of the brain associated with drug craving and dependence. There also was significant abnormality measures associated with increasing drug use behavior. In addition to the regions of the nucleus accumbens and amygdala, the whole-brain gray matter density analysis revealed other brain regions that showed reduced density in marijuana users compared with control participants, including several regions in the prefrontal cortex: right/left frontal pole, right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and right middle frontal gyrus (although another small region in the right middle frontal gyrus showed higher gray matter density in marijuana users). Countless studies have also shown that prefrontal cortex dysfunction is involved with decision-making abnormalities and functional MRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies have shown that cannabis use may affect the function of this region.25 Brain imaging with MRI was used to map areas of working memory in the brain and showed similar findings in normal and schizophrenic subjects who did not use marijuana, but decreases in the size of the working memory areas of the striatum and thalamus for those who had a history of cannabis use, that was more marked in those who used marijuana at a younger age and in users with schizophrenia.26

 In chronic adolescent users, marijuana’s adverse impact on learning and memory persists long after the acute effects of the drug wear off. A major study published in 2012 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides objective evidence that marijuana is harmful to the adolescent brain. As part of this large-scale study of health and development, researchers in New Zealand administered IQ tests to over 1,000 individuals at age 13 (born in 1972 and 1973) and assessed their patterns of cannabis use at several points as they aged. Participants were again IQ tested at age 38, and their two scores were compared as a function of their marijuana use.

The results were striking: Participants who used cannabis heavily in their teens and continued through adulthood showed a significant drop in IQ between the ages of 13 and 38—an average of eight points for those who met criteria for cannabis dependence. Those who started using marijuana regularly or heavily after age 18 showed minor declines. By comparison, those who never used marijuana showed no declines in IQ.27 This is the first prospective study to test young people before their first use of marijuana and again after long-term use (as much as 20+ years later) thereby ruling out a pre-existing difference in IQ. This means the finding of a significant mental decline among those who used marijuana heavily before age 18, even after they quit taking the drug, is consistent with the theory that drug use during adolescence—when the brain is still rewiring, pruning, and organizing itself—has long-lasting negative effects on the brain.

Other studies have also shown a link between prolonged marijuana use and cognitive or neural impairment. A recent report in Brain, for example, reveals neural-connectivity impairment in some brain regions following prolonged cannabis use initiated in adolescence or young adulthood.28

 

Effects on Activities of Daily Living

Consistent with marijuana’s impact upon the brain, research demonstrates marijuana has the potential to cause difficulties in daily life and/or worsen a person’s existing problems. Heavy marijuana users generally report lower life satisfaction, reduced mental and physical health, more relationship problems, and less academic and career success compared to their peers who come from similar backgrounds. Marijuana use is also associated with a higher likelihood of dropping out of school, workplace tardiness and absence, more accidents on the job with concomitant workman compensation claims, and increased job turnover.29-30

A 2014 study combined the data of 3 investigations from Australia and New Zealand which compared a series of outcome measures of young adults according to their marijuana use at age 17. The researchers found a significant dose-response effect for each of these.  After adjusting for co-variables, compared to those who never used cannabis prior to age 17 (OR 1.0), the odds of graduating from high school by age 25 dropped to 0.78 (95% CI,0.67-0.90) for those who used cannabis less than monthly to 0.61 (95% CI,0.45-0.81) for those using it monthly or more to 0.47 (95% CI,0.30-0.73) for those using it weekly or more to 0.37 (95% CI,0.20-0.66) for daily users.  The decrease in attaining a university degree was almost identical.  The odds of dependence on cannabis between the ages of 17 and 25 rose progressively from 2.06 (95% CI,1.75-2.42) for less than monthly users to 17.95 (95% CI,9.44-34.12) for daily users, and the odds of other illicit drug use between the ages of 23-25 rose from 1.67 (95% CI,1.45-1.92) for less than monthly users to 7.80 (95% CI,4.46-13.63) for those who were daily users prior to age 17.  The odds of a making a suicide attempt between the ages of 17 and 25 were increased from 1.62 (95% CI,1.19-2.19) for less than monthly users to 6.83 (95% CI,2.04-22.9) for daily users.  While unadjusted odds ratios were progressively higher for progressively higher amounts of cannabis used before age 17 for both depression (between ages 17-25) and for welfare dependence (at ages 27-30 depending on the study), these differences were no longer significant after adjusting for co-variables.31Although the greatest harm was among heavier users, it is most concerning that even less than monthly usage prior to age 17 was associated with a significantly lower educational achievement, and significantly higher rates of drug dependence and suicide attempts.

 Marijuana and Mental Illness

Figure 3.  Mood and Anxiety Disorders Among Users and Non-Users of Marijuana32

 A number of studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and mental illness. People who are dependent on marijuana frequently have other comorbid mental disorders including but not limited to anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and personality disturbances, including amotivation and failure to engage in activities that are typically rewarding (see figure 3).13 Marijuana use is associated with a 7-fold increased risk of depression (OR 7.10, 95% CI,4.39-11.73) and a 5-fold increased risk of suicidal ideation (OR 5.38, 95% CI,3.31-8.73) when used alone, and with a 9-fold increased risk of depression (OR 9.15, 95% CI,4.58-18.29) and nearly 9 fold increased risk of suicidal ideation when marijuana plus other drugs are involved (OR 8.74, 95% CI 4.29-17.79).17 Daily marijuana use in young women has been associated with a five-fold increase in depression and anxiety.33

Population studies also reveal an association between cannabis use and increased risk of schizophrenia. In the short term, high doses of marijuana can produce a temporary psychotic reaction involving hallucinations and paranoia. There is also sufficient data indicating that chronic marijuana use may trigger the onset or relapse of schizophrenia in people predisposed to it, perhaps also intensifying their symptoms .13,34,32A series of large prospective studies showed a link between marijuana use and the later development of psychosis with genetic variables, the amount of drug used, and the younger the age at which use began increasing the risk of occurrence.13 Although it is possible that pre-existing mental illness may lead some individuals to self-medicate with (abuse) marijuana and other illicit drugs, further prospective studies similar to those examining psychosis, will more firmly establish marijuana as a causative factor for other forms of mental illness.

 Marijuana and Driving

Marijuana contributes to accidents while driving due to its significant impairment of judgment and motor coordination. Data from several studies was analyzed and documented that use of marijuana more than doubles a driver’s risk of involvement in an accident.13 Because they impede different driving functions, the combination of even low levels of marijuana and alcohol is worse than either substance alone.35 Studies have shown a statistically significant increase in non-alcohol drugs detected in fatally injured drivers in the past decade. The most commonly detected non-alcohol drug was cannabinol, the prevalence of which increased from 4.2% in 1999 to 12.2% in 2010 (Z = -13.63, P < 0.0001).  The increase in the prevalence of non-alcohol drugs was observed in all age groups and in both sexes. In this study, increases in the prevalence of narcotics and cannabinol detected in fatally injured drivers were particularly apparent.36

 Other Health Effects of Marijuana

Since marijuana contains many of the same compounds as tobacco, it has the same adverse effects on the respiratory system when smoked as tobacco. These include chronic cough, respiratory infections, and bronchitis.19 In the longer term emphysema and lung cancer are also among its effects.21In fact, smoking marijuana is more harmful than tobacco for two reasons: first, because it contains more tar and carcinogens than tobacco, and secondly, because marijuana smokers tend to inhale more deeply and for a longer period of time as compared to tobacco smokers.

Marijuana use also has a variety of adverse, short- and long-term effects, especially on the cardiopulmonary system. Marijuana raises the heart rate by 20-100 percent shortly after smoking; this effect can last up to three hours. In one study, it was estimated that marijuana users had a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug. This elevated risk may be due to increased heart rate as well as the effects of marijuana on heart rhythms, causing palpitations and arrhythmias. This risk may be greater in older individuals or in those with cardiac vulnerabilities. Marijuana use has been found to increase blood pressure and heart rate and to decrease the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.37

 Chronic smoking of marijuana and its active chemical THC has consistently been shown to increase the risk of developing testicular cancer, in particular a more aggressive form of the disease. One study compared 369 Seattle-area men aged 18-44 with testicular cancer, to 979 men in the same age bracket without the disease. The researchers found that current marijuana users were 1.7 times more likely to develop testicular cancer than nonusers, and that the younger the age of initiation (below 18) and the heavier the use, the greater the risk of developing testicular cancer.38,39,40 A similar study of 455 men in Los Angeles found that men with testicular germ cell tumors were twice as likely to have used marijuana as men without these tumors.41 THC can also cause endocrine disruption resulting in gynecomastia, decreased sperm count, and impotence.42

 

Effects of prenatal exposure to marijuana

The risk of using marijuana during pregnancy is unrecognized by the general public, but infants and children exposed prenatally to marijuana have a higher incidence of neurobehavioral problems. THC and other compounds in marijuana mimic the human brain’s cannabinoid-like chemicals, thus prenatal marijuana exposure may alter the developing endocannabinoid system in the fetal brain, which may result in attention deficit, difficulty with problem solving, and poorer memory.13 Evidence especially suggests an association between prenatal marijuana exposure and impaired executive functioning skills beyond the age of three. Specifically, children with a history of exposure are found to have an increased rate of impulsivity, attention deficits, and difficulty solving problems requiring the integration and manipulation of basic visuoperceptual skills.43

 

Rising Potency and Contaminants

The potency of marijuana has been increasing for decades, with THC concentrations rising from 4% in the 1980s to 14.5% in 2012 in samples confiscated by police.  Some strains now contain as much as 30% THC.19 For a new user, this may mean exposure to higher concentrations of THC, with a greater chance of an adverse or unpredictable reaction. Increases in potency may account for the rise in emergency department visits involving marijuana use. For experienced users, it may mean a greater risk for addiction if they are exposing themselves to high doses on a regular basis. However, the full range of consequences associated with marijuana’s higher potency is not well understood, nor is it known whether experienced marijuana users adjust for the increase in potency by using less. Since the legalization in Colorado, one certified lab there has reported that much of the marijuana they have studied and tested has been found to be laced with heavy metals, pesticides, fungus and bacteria.44

 

Health Risks Underestimated

 Health risks associated with marijuana use are often underestimated by adolescents, their parents, and health professionals. As explained above, there are newer, stronger forms of marijuana available than that which existed in 1960; current forms of marijuana are known to be three to five times more potent. Parents underestimate the availability of marijuana to teens, the extent of their use of the drug, and the risks associated with its use. In a 1995 survey, the Hazelden Foundation found that only 40 percent of parents advised their teenagers not to use marijuana, 20 percent emphasized its illegal status, and 19 percent communicated to their teenagers that it is addictive.45

 

Parental Monitoring Important

 Research shows that appropriate parental monitoring can reduce drug use, even among those adolescents who may be prone to marijuana use, such as those with conduct, anxiety, or affective mood disorders.45

Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) found that adolescents were much less likely to use marijuana if their parents stated their disapproval. “Parents who do not want their kids getting drunk and using drugs should begin by sending a strong message to their kids about the importance of avoiding alcohol. Our survey results this year show how important it is for teens to get a clear anti-use message from their parents, especially from Dad. Teens who get drunk monthly are 18 times more likely to report marijuana use than teens who do not drink; those who believe their father is okay with them drinking are two and a half times more likely to get drunk in a typical month.  Therefore, parents who do not want their kids getting drunk and using drugs should begin by sending a strong message to their children about the importance of avoiding alcohol.”45

 

In 2011, past month use of illicit drugs, cigarettes, and binge alcohol use were lower among youth aged 12 to 17 who reported that their parents always or sometimes engaged in monitoring behaviors compared to youths whose parents seldom or never engaged in monitoring behaviors. The rate of past month use of any illicit drug was 8.2 percent for youths whose parents always or sometimes helped with homework compared with 18.7 percent among youth who indicated that their parents seldom or never helped.

Columbia Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse found that teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven per week) were less likely to have used marijuana.46

Compared to teens who had infrequent family dinners (2 or fewer per week), teens who had frequent family dinners were almost 1.5 times likelier to have said they had an excellent relationship with their mother and their father. The report also found that compared to teens who said they had an excellent relationship with their fathers, teens that had a less than very good relationship with their father were:

o    Almost 4 times likelier to have used marijuana

o    Twice as likely to have used alcohol

o    2.5 times as likely to have used tobacco

 

Compared to teens who said they had an excellent relationship with their mothers, teens who had a less than very good relationship with their mother were:

o    Almost 3 times likelier to have used marijuana

o    2.5 times as likely to have used alcohol

o    2.5 times likelier to have used tobacco

 

Consequently, the College encourages parents to take advantage of the “family table,” and to become involved in drug abuse prevention programs in the community or in the child’s school in order to minimize the risk of their children experimenting with drug use.

In Conclusion

In summary, marijuana use is harmful to children and adolescents.  For this reason, the American College of Pediatricians opposes its legalization for recreational use and urges extreme caution in legalizing it for medicinal use.  Likewise, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) recently offered their own policy statement opposing efforts to legalize marijuana. They similarly pointed out that “marijuana’s deleterious effects on adolescent brain development, cognition, and social functioning may have immediate and long-term implications, including increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, sexual victimization, academic failure, lasting decline in intelligence measures, psychopathology, addiction, and psychosocial and occupational impairment.”

Thus the AACAP (a) opposes efforts to legalize marijuana, (b) supports initiatives to increase awareness of marijuana’s harmful effects on adolescents, (c) supports improved access to evidence-based treatment, rather than emphasis on criminal charges, for adolescents with cannabis use disorder, and (d) supports careful monitoring of the effects of marijuana-related policy changes on child and adolescent mental health.47  The College agrees with this position on marijuana.

 

The College urges parents to do all they can to oppose the legalization of marijuana, such as working with elected officials against the drug’s legalization and scrutinizing a candidate’s positions on this important children’s issue when making voting decisions. The College encourages legislators to consider the establishment and generous funding of more facilities to treat marijuana addiction. Children look to their parents for help and guidance in working out problems and in making decisions, including the decision to not use drugs. Therefore, parents should be role models, and not use marijuana or other illicit drugs. Finally, these reports strikingly emphasize the need for parents to recognize and discuss these serious health consequences of marijuana use with their children and adolescents. They also point to the requirement for medical experts and legislators to seriously discuss and review these observations prior to promoting any state or federal effort considering legalization.

For more information on this topic, the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI) offers an extensive collection of publications, videotapes, and educational materials to help parents talk to their children about drug use. For more information on marijuana and other drugs, contact: National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, P. O. Box 2345, Rockville, MD 20847; 1-800-729-6686. Additional helpful information is provided at the following websites: www.drugabuse.gov, www.marijuana-info.org, and www.teens.drugabuse.gov.

Primary Author: Donald Hagler, MD, FCP

Original: January 2007

Revised March 2015

Revised September 2015

 

ADDENDUM added September 2015:

The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact”48 is a compilation of data by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area that analyzes the effects of marijuana legalization in the state. This third volume allows readers to compare and contrast statistics observed from 2006 – 2009 during Colorado’s early medical marijuana era with those from 2009 to 2013 as medical marijuana commercialization grew, and also with those from the current legalized recreational marijuana era from 2013 to the present. The statistics reveal that between 2013 and 2014 there was a 45% increase in marijuana-associated impaired driving, a 32% increase in marijuana-related motor vehicle deaths (with a 92% increase from 2010 to 2014), as well as 29% and 38% increases in emergency room visits and hospital admissions secondary to marijuana use. By 2013, marijuana use in Colorado was 55% above the national average among teens and young adults, and 86% higher among those over age 25. Diversion of marijuana from Colorado to other states has also increased several fold. This new data further supports the College Position Statement above emphasizing concerns that marijuana legalization will result in increased adolescent usage, addiction and its associated risks for them.

 A downloadable web source for parents can be found at this link, Marijuana Talk Kit, from Partnership for Drug-free Kids.

The American College of Pediatricians is a national medical association of licensed physicians and healthcare professionals who specialize in the care of infants, children, and adolescents. The mission of the College is to enable all children to reach their optimal physical and emotional health and well-being.

A PDF copy of this statement is available here: Marijuana Use Detrimental to Youth

 

Source: http://www.acpeds.org/marijuana-use-detrimental-to-youth  Sept.2015

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45. National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XIV: Teens and Parents. Columbia Center for Alcohol & Substance Abuse. http://www.casacolumbia.org/addiction-research/reports/national-survey-american-attitudes-substance-abuse-teens-2012. Published 2012.

46. The Importance of Family Dinners VII. Columbia Center for Alcohol & Substance Abuse. http://www.casacolumbia.org/upload/2011/2011922familydinnersVII.pdf. Published September 2011. Accessed January 29, 2013.

47. AACAP Marijuana Legalization Policy Statement. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Policy_Statements/2014/aacap_marijuana_legalization_policy.aspx. Published April 15, 2014.

48.   The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact. http://www.rmhidta.org/html/2015%20PREVIEW%20Legalization%20of%20MJ%20in%20Colorado%20the%20Impact.pdf. Accessed 9/22/15.

PRESS RELEASE                                                                    
September 25, 2015                                                       

 

Millions of Americans Turn Out to See the World’sMost Prominent Opponent to Marijuana Legalization-

Pope Francis

A mid the headlines highlighting the Pope’s stances on an array of hot button political issues like climate change, immigration, poverty, the death penalty and capitalism, we would like to highlight one of his positions that is perhaps less well-known –  

Attempts, however limited, to legalize so-called ‘recreational drugs,’ are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects.   – Pope Francis 

In his address to the  International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome held in June of 2014,  Pope Francis could not have been any clearer. He emphasized his opposition to legalization saying,“Let me state this in the clearest terms possible: the problem of drug use is not solved with drugs!”

 

Pope Francis says he opposes making recreational drugs legal

 

Pope says nope to dope – that is, legalized marijuana


 

Pope Francis Condemns Legalization of Marijuana

 

Pope Francis condemns ‘evil’ marijuana

Pope condemns efforts to legalize marijuana

Pope Francis Speaks Out Against Legalization of Marijuana and Other Drugs

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About SAM

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in 30 states.

 

Source: www.learnaboutsam.org  25th September 2015 Contact: Will Jones

From time-to-time proponents of marijuana legalization throw out some fuzzy statistics claiming no one has ever died from marijuana.

Case-in-point, earlier this month a group in Arkansas advocating major changes in our state’s marijuana laws tweeted the following:

“No one has ever died from cannabis.” Let’s investigate this claim.

Unpacking the Statistics on Alcohol and Marijuana

In the tweet above, Arkansans for Compassionate Care is apparently citing a statistic from the Center for Disease Controlon the number of deaths from alcohol every year (88,000, on average). If we read how the CDC arrived at that figure, we see it was by calculating the number of alcohol-related accidents and health problems.

In other words, it isn’t simply that 88,000 people die from blood alcohol poisoning (which some might describe as an “alcohol overdose”) each year. Alcohol is contributing to the deaths of about 88,000 people each year in the form of heart and liver problems, car crashes, and so on.

These are what the CDC calls “alcohol attributable deaths” (you can see a full list of them here). They are deaths caused by something that was a direct effect of alcohol use.

So let’s take a look at marijuana-attributable deaths. Has marijuana really never killed anyone, as so many of its proponents claim?

Kevin Sabet with Smart Approaches to Marijuana did an interview with The Daily Signal last year in which he took the claim to task, saying,

“Saying marijuana…has never killed anyone is like saying tobacco has never killed anyone. Nobody dies from a tobacco overdose. You can’t smoke yourself to death. And yet nobody would dispute that tobacco causes death. … You die from lung cancer–you don’t die from smoking. You die from what smoking did to your lungs, which is a direct effect from smoking. And so in that same way marijuana does kill people in the form of mental illnesses and suicide, in the form of car crashes. … You can’t say marijuana doesn’t kill.”

Marijuana-Attributable Deaths

A little research reveals news articles, police reports, and academic studies on a number of marijuana-attributable deaths:

1. December, 2014: The National Institute on Drug Abuse updated its marijuana research paper, saying, “Marijuana is the illicit drug most frequently found in the blood of drivers who have been involved in accidents, including fatal ones,” and citing research that marijuana is increasingly detected in fatal vehicle accidents.

2. December, 2014: Oklahoma authorities reported a man with marijuana both in his system and on his person drove into oncoming traffic, crashing into another vehicle and killing its driver.

3. May, 2014: A study published by the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that, “the proportion of marijuana-positive drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes in Colorado has increased dramatically since the commercialization of medical marijuana in the middle of 2009.”

4. April, 2014: A 47-year-old Denver man allegedly shot his wife while she spoke with a 911 dispatcher over the phone. According to various reports, the wife called 911 after her husband consumed candy laced with marijuana and began hallucinating and frightening the couple’s children. Some sources indicate the man may have taken prescription drugs with the marijuana. CBS News reports that 12 minutes into the call with 911, the wife “told dispatchers her husband was getting a gun from a safe before a gunshot sounded and the line went quiet.” The marijuana candy had, apparently, been purchased a licensed shop in the Denver area.

5. April, 2014: Researchers writing in the Journal of the American Heart Association investigated marijuana’s effects on cardiovascular health. They reviewed 1,979 incidents from 2006 to 2011, and found, “there were 22 cardiac complications (20 acute coronary syndromes), 10 peripheral complications (lower limb or juvenile arteriopathies and Buerger‐like diseases), and 3 cerebral complications (acute cerebral angiopathy, transient cortical blindness, and spasm of cerebral artery). In 9 cases, the event led to patient death.” (Emphasis added).

6. March, 2014: A 19-year-old college student jumped to his death after eating a marijuana-laced cookie purchased at a licensed marijuana store in Colorado. Reports indicate the man began shaking, screaming, and throwing objects in his hotel room after eating the marijuana “edible.” He ultimately jumped over the fourth-floor railing, into the lobby of the hotel at which he was staying. According to CBS News, the autopsy report listed marijuana as a “significant contributing factor” to his death.

7. February, 2014: researchers from Germany determined the deaths of two apparently-healthy, young men were in fact the result of marijuana. According to their article published in the journal Forensic Science International. Researchers concluded, “After exclusion of other causes of death, we assume that the young men died from cardiovascular complications evoked by smoking cannabis.”

8. November, 2013: Seattle news outlets reported an elderly Washington resident was killed after a neighbor’s apartment exploded as a result of a hash oil operation. Hash oil is a highly-potent extract produced from marijuana using flammable chemicals such as butane.

9. June, 2013: A 35-year-old Oregon man died as a result of an explosion and fire caused by a hash oil operation he and a friend were conducting in a garage.

10. October, 2011: The Office of National Drug Control Policy released a report analyzing traffic accidents from 2005 – 2009. The report noted, “Among fatally injured males who tested positive for drugs, 28 percent tested positive for cannabinoids compared with 17 percent of females,” and that, “Cannabinoids were reported in 43 percent of fatally injured drivers under age 24 who tested positive for drugs.”

11. 2004: A study in the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics examined case studies of three otherwise-healthy adolescent boys who were admitted to hospitals due to stroke following heavy marijuana use; two of the boys ultimately died, and the study concluded marijuana may cause stroke and death.

These are just a few reports on deaths linked to marijuana. According to well-publicized FOIA responses, from 1997 to 2005 the FDA recorded 279 marijuana-related deaths–long before Colorado voters decided to legalize the drug.

We have brought up many of these statistics before in our discussions on marijuana. Each time we did, marijuana supporters tried to evade by arguing that marijuana hasn’t caused as many deaths as other drugs. However, there is a world of difference between claiming marijuana has never killed a single person and claiming marijuana has not killed as many people as other substances.

Emergencies Caused by Marijuana

Besides death, marijuana has caused or contributed to many well-documented emergencies. Some of these emergencies easily could have resulted in death or serious injury.

Here are just a few examples of emergency situations caused by marijuana:

1. March, 2015: Four high school students were hospitalized after eating brownies laced with marijuana hash oil. One student was actually found unresponsive in a school bathroom after eating a marijuana-laced brownie.

2. February, 2015: A 20-month-old Canadian toddler overdosed after eating a marijuana-laced cookie authorities say his father baked. The child survived, but suffered seizures and had to be admitted to a hospital.

3. February, 2015: News outlets report guests at Colorado hotels often leave unused food and beverages as tips for housekeeping staff. However, with the legalization of marijuana–and marijuana-infused foods–in Colorado, some guests are leaving marijuana edibles behind. One Breckenridge hotel employee reported accidentally overdosing when she ate a candy she did not realize was laced with marijuana.

4. February, 2015: An explosion occurred at an Arizona apartment complex. Witnesses indicated one of the people involved in the explosion was attempting to extract hash oil from marijuana using butane.

5. January, 2015: News outlets in Oregon reported a woman overdosed after she ate three gummy candies laced with marijuana.

6. December, 2014: A high school teacher in Maryland was hospitalized after a student gave her a brownie containing marijuana.

7. December, 2014: Two middle school students in Oklahomawere rushed to the hospital after one of them reportedly passed out following marijuana-use at school.

8. November, 2014: A Connecticut teen was taken to the hospitalfrom school after she started having difficulty breathing following ingestion of a marijuana-laced gummy bear.

9. June, 2014: According to The Aspen Times, a seven-year-old girl was taken to the hospital after eating marijuana-laced candy her mother brought home from work at an area hotel. The candy was left by a hotel guest–presumably as a tip.

10. March, 2014: A Colorado man attempting to extract hash oil from his marijuana was taken to the hospital after the butane used to extract the oil ignited.

11. December, 2013: A two-year-old in Colorado overdosed and was hospitalized after eating a cookie laced with marijuana. News outlet indicate the girl found the cookie in the yard of an apartment complex.

Recurring Themes: Kids and Accidental Overdoses

A recurring theme in many of these news stories is that children and teens are becoming severely ill after ingesting marijuana-laced food (often referred to as “edibles”).

In July of 2013, researchers writing in JAMA Pediatrics determined accidental ingestion of marijuana by young children is on the rise and carries serious risks.

The greatest dangers appear to be toddlers and young children who accidentally find cookies or candy laced with marijuana and teens acquiring marijuana edibles at school without realizing how potent the drug-infused food is.

In both scenarios, children accidentally overdose on marijuana and must be taken to the ER. In some cases, as noted above, the children even pass out or become unresponsive.

A child who loses consciousness from marijuana overdose could easily fall and strike their head or suffer another serious injury. A teen who ingests a marijuana edible–without realizing its potency–before climbing behind the wheel of a car to drive away from school could easily be involved in a serious traffic accident.

Side-Effects May Including Exploding Apartments

A few of the cases we have cited include explosions caused by marijuana hash oil operations.

Many marijuana users produce their own hash oil at home by extracting the oil from marijuana using flammable chemicals like butane. In many cases, the room fills up with butane and is ignited by a stray spark, causing a serious explosion.

The people most at-risk are apartment dwellers. A person who lives in an apartment complex may have their home destroyed because a neighbor’s hash oil operation exploded. In Washington, at least one person was actually killed as a result of a hash oil operation that exploded in a neighbor’s apartment.

The legality of hash oil extraction is questionable under state laws in Washington, Colorado, and elsewhere. Colorado’s Attorney General released an opined in December that home production of marijuana hash oil is illegal. However, many people disagree. Regardless of its legality, it is clearly dangerous to the marijuana users and their family members and neighbors.

Conclusion: Marijuana Has Caused Far More Than 0 Deaths

Given the amount of evidence–both scientific and anecdotal–there simply does not seem to be any way around it: Marijuana is responsible for many deaths.

Moreover, marijuana has caused numerous medical emergencies that could have been fatal under different circumstances.

We continue to say it over and over again: Marijuana may be many things, but “harmless” simply

Source: www.familycouncil.org March 19, 2015 By Jerry Cox

 

Another death in Colorado has been listed as having “marijuana intoxication” as a factor, according to a CBS4 investigation, and several other families are now saying they believed the deaths of their loved ones can be traced to recreational marijuana use.

Daniel Juarez, an 18-year-old from Brighton, died Sept. 26, 2012 after stabbing himself 20 times. In an autopsy report that had never been made public before, but was obtained by CBS4, his THC level — the active ingredient in marijuana — was measured at 38.2 nanograms. In Colorado, anything over 5 nanograms is considered impaired for driving.

Juarez was nearly eight times the legal limit. “If he had not smoked marijuana that night he would still be here,” said his sister, Erika Juarez. “He was extremely high. There’s no other reason he would do it,” said his older sister.

According to police reports and interviews obtained by CBS4, Juarez and a friend were smoking marijuana that night when Juarez told his friend “he didn’t want anymore because he was too high.” Juarez, who was a standout soccer player for Brighton High School, then told his friend “I just had an epiphany.”

(RELATED STORIES: Marijuana Legalization Story Archive)

 

Police and witnesses then say Juarez literally ran wild, stripping off most of his clothing and running into his nearby apartment. There, he got a knife and stabbed himself 20 times, one of the stab wounds piercing his heart. Juarez’s autopsy report lists his manner of death as suicide with “marijuana intoxication” as a “significant condition.”

A police report in the death notes that the THC in the teenager’s blood was “almost 11 times more than the average amount found in a male using marijuana.”

Police and medical personnel suspected the marijuana Juarez smoked might have been laced with methamphetamine or another substance that could have triggered the irrational behavior. The autopsy shows that tests were done for amphetamines, synthetic stimulants and synthetic cannabinoid drugs, but all those tests were negative.

“I lost my brother to it,” said Erika Juarez. “It’s not harmless, it can kill people and most people don’t see that.”

Up until now, just three other deaths in Colorado were seen as having links to marijuana. Levy Thamba Pongi, a 19-year-old college student jumped from a Denver balcony to his death in 2014 after eating marijuana edibles. Marijuana intoxication was listed as a factor in his death.

 

Richard Kirk of Denver is accused of killing his wife, Kristine. Before her death, she called police and said her husband seemed to be hallucinating after ingesting marijuana edibles and prescription medications.

And college student Luke Goodman killed himself in Keystone in March shortly after ingesting marijuana edibles. His mother told CBS4 she believes the marijuana caused her son to kill himself. An autopsy report showed Goodman’s THC level at 3.1 nanograms, below the impaired driving limit.

 

The Juarez case adds another to the list of death cases with links to marijuana.

CBS4 found another Colorado death with strong ties to recreational marijuana. On May 18, 2012, Tron Dohse was returning to his Thornton apartment after attending a Rockies game. When he arrived home he had apparently lost his keys so he attempted to climb the outside of the apartment building to get to his balcony and gain access to his apartment.

He fell to his death, which was ruled an accident.

According to his autopsy report obtained by CBS4, Dohse’s THC level was 27.3 nanograms, more than five times the Colorado limit for impaired driving.

An autopsy on the 26-year-old restaurant worker showed no other drugs or alcohol in his system. His older sister, Tori Castagna, told CBS4 she now believes marijuana impairment led her brother to make poor decisions the night of his death.

“I couldn’t believe how high the (THC) level was,” said Castagna. “I think it had a very strong impact on what he did that night. I think his judgment was completely skewed. I really believe that was the main contributor.”

According to a Thornton police report, the first officer to arrive wrote that he smelled “a strong odor of an unknown alcoholic beverage coming from his person/breath.” And a witness told police that prior to the late night fall, Dohse “was intoxicated.” But by the time Dohse’s blood was drawn, no alcohol was present, only an elevated level of THC.

“I do believe he was very impaired from that high level,” said Castagna. “We’re seeing more things like this that are showing how serious it can be.”

Dr. Chris Colwell, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Denver Health Medical Center, said since the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, he has seen more and more cases like these of people who have ingested marijuana making poor decisions, decisions they would not otherwise make.  ‘In some cases they will ingest marijuana and behave in a way we would describe as psychotic,” he said.

Colwell said several times each week people enter the Denver Health emergency department after ingesting marijuana and acting suicidal.  “We’ll see several of those every week … that we have to restrain to insure they aren’t a danger to themselves or other people,” Colwell said.  Colwell said after ingesting marijuana he has seen people jumping off balconies, driving at high speeds and driving erratically.

“They’re making decisions they would not have made when not under the influence of marijuana,” he said.  Colwell said recalled one particular case from last Halloween when a man ingested marijuana edibles, dressed up as Superman, and then jumped off a balcony, “Almost as if he could fly as the costume would imply.” Colwell said the man suffered seven fractures but survived.  “It was a very dangerous situation.”He said later he didn’t know why he did what he did. Colwell said his ER is seeing more and more of the same issues from marijuana that it has historically seen from alcohol.

Marijuana activists call these kinds of stories scare tactics and say the problems associated with marijuana ingestion are infinitesimal when compared to alcohol and prescription drugs.

Mason Tvert, a pro-marijuana activist, said he wasn’t buying stories of suicides following pot ingestion.  “There is no evidence that using marijuana makes you want to kill yourself,” said Tvert. “There is no science, no research that says by using marijuana you are going to become suicidal. There is evidence that people who tend to be suicidal may be more likely to use marijuana.”  Tvert went on to say that the number of adverse incidents following the ingestion of marijuana are infinitesimal when compared to alcohol.  “The fact that we are talking about the handful of incidents over the past several years suggests that this is not an exceptionally large problem, but it is something that needs to be talked about,” he said.  Tvert said these deaths are “absolutely” being blown out of proportion by the media, especially when compared to deaths connected to alcohol.

 

In Boulder, eight years after her son’s death, Ann Clark believes her son’s own words show that marijuana led him to kill himself.

Her son Brant was a 17-year-old high school student who attended a party, and according to his mother, smoked a large amount of marijuana. She said that session caused a “major psychotic break. The changes in my son were so intense that in the next three days he required emergency care at two hospitals.”

Hospital documents examined by CBS4 from December 2007 say Brant told doctors, “Marijuana really messed me up.” Brant “reported feelings of paranoia after marijuana that he couldn’t shake.”  Three weeks later, Brant Clark took his own life leaving behind two notes, one for his mother and a second addressed to God.   “Sorry for what I have done I wasn’t thinking the night I smoked myself out’, the note said.

“I believe my son would be alive today if he had never used marijuana,” said Ann Clark.

In a 2014 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors from the National Institutes of Health published an article entitled, “Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use” and wrote, “Both immediate exposure and long-term exposure to marijuana impair driving ability; marijuana is the illicit drug most frequently reported in connection with impaired driving and accidents, including fatal accidents. There is a relationship between the blood THC concentration and performance in controlled driving-simulation studies.”

The authors go on to write, “Recent marijuana smoking and blood THC levels of 2 to 5 ng per milliliter are associated with substantial driving impairment.”

The doctors who wrote the article concluded, “During intoxication, marijuana can interfere with cognitive function and motor function and these effects can have detrimental consequences.”

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter@Briancbs4

 

Source:  http://denver.cbslocal.com/2015/05/18/marijuana-intoxication-blamed-in-more-deaths-injuries/

DENVER (CBS4) – The results of a new study about the impact of Colorado’s marijuana legalization is raising troubling questions for parents. The study cites a significant increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths, hospital visits and school suspensions. The parents CBS4’s Melissa Garcia spoke with say they’re concerned about their children seeing messages promoting pot all over town. Activists say it’s the way pot is marketed and sold that has started to create some serious problems.

“I never dreamed in a million years that this would happen to my son,” said parent Kendal, who didn’t want to use his last name.

Kendal came home one evening to find his 13-year-old son unconscious from what he says was a marijuana overdose.

He was grey. His heart wasn’t beating and he wasn’t breathing,” he said.

Kendal used CPR to resuscitate him and later talked to his son’s high school peer and supplier.

“I had heard from kids that there was 60 percent of this particular high school using drugs, and she shook her head and said, ‘That’s way low,’” Kendal said.

“Kendal’s story breaks my heart, but I’ve got to tell you we have heard that from hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of parents throughout the state,” said Diane Carlson, Smart Colorado co-founder.

Carlson says Colorado’s child and teen use of marijuana has become an epidemic.

“Kids have no idea how dangerous or harmful Colorado’s pot is,” she said.Carlson says Colorado’s child and teen use of marijuana has become an epidemic.

According to a report released this month by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Colorado saw a 29 percent increase in emergency room visits, and a 38 percent increase in hospitalizations during retail marijuana’s first year.

The study states that over 11 percent of Colorado’s 12 to 17 year-olds use pot — 56 percent higher than the national average. It also cites a 40 percent increase in drug-related suspensions and expulsions — the vast majority from marijuana.

Carlson says the culprit is its commercialization. “Marijuana might have been legalized in our state; it did not have to mean massive commercialization and promotion of marijuana use,” she said.

Source: http://denver.cbslocal.com/2015/09/20/smart-colorado

 

A new report provides insight into how traffickers move cocaine to the lucrative European market, including the key trafficking routes and smuggling techniques criminal groups have adopted to skirt drug interdiction efforts.

The recently released 2016 EU Drug Trafficking Report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Europol explains Latin America’s role in the European cocaine industry, and the different routes and methods used to traffic the drug across the Atlantic (see map below).

Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela are singled out as “key departure points” for Europe-bound cocaine, from where the drug is smuggled out in vessels, private yachts or by air, among other methods.

According to the report, the increasing importance of Brazil suggests that Bolivia and Peru are expanding their role as suppliers for the European market. The traffic of Colombian cocaine into Venezuela across a “porous border” has similarly increased. From Venezuela, criminal groups use both flights and maritime routes — capitalizing on the busy traffic off the Venezuelan coast — to send the drugs to Europe.

Despite data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) suggesting otherwise, the report adds, Colombia is likely to continue being a key shipment point for cocaine heading to Europe, as evidenced by its growing production figures and continuing seizures. Ecuador and Argentina are also mentioned as departure points for the drug.

The Caribbean and West Africa are reportedly the two most common transit zones for cocaine moving across the Atlantic, and Central America appears to be becoming an increasingly important stop-off point. The Caribbean Sea’s main trafficking hubs are the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, although there have been reports that some activity has shifted to Caribbean countries further east.

Central America and the Caribbean was the only area to see a rise in cocaine seizures in 2013, with confiscations nearly doubling to 162 metric tons from 78 metric tons a year earlier, according to the EMCDDA. Behind the increase was a 800 percent spike in Dominican Republic seizures, which reached 86 metric tons in 2015. The apparent escalation of illegal trafficking through the Caribbean is described as a possible result of recent crackdowns in Mexico and Central America.

West Africa’s Bight of Benin — between Ghana and Nigeria — as well as the islands of Cape Verde, Madeira and the Canary Islands, make up the second major transit zone for cocaine heading to Europe. Nevertheless, the report points out that the Bight of Benin may be have lost importance in recent years.

Once on the other side of the Atlantic, cocaine continues its journey by sea, land or air, principally to western or southern Europe. In 2014, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Italy reportedly accounted for 80 percent of the 61.6 metic tons of cocaine seized in the European Union.

The largest ports on the continent — Rotterdam in Holland, and Antwerp, Belgium — are thought to be key entry points for cocaine. Dutch police estimated that 25 to 50 percent of all cocaine filtered into Europe through Rotterdam, following the seizure of 10 metric tons of the drug at the port in 2013. Of the 11 million containers that pass through the Rotterdam annually, only 50,000 are scanned (0.45 percent). Other key entry ports are Algeciras and Valencia in Spain, and Hamburg in Germany.

The EMCDDA expressed increasing concern over the use of existing trafficking routes for other drugs to move cocaine, including cannabis corridors in Morocco and Algeria and heroin corridors in Tanzania. The report warns that Tanzania may emerge as a new cocaine route to Europe, given an increase in seizures in East Africa and as a consequence of the Panama Canal’s expansion.

The vast capacity for moving drugs and diversity of routes offered by maritime transport makes it the preferred option for cocaine traffickers to Europe. Traffickers are increasingly hiding cocaine in shipping containers aboard commercial vessels, which makes it harder to detect. Seizures involving containers have reportedly gone up sixfold since 2006.

Colombian and Italian organized crime networks reportedly continue to dominate the cocaine trade in Europe, in cooperation with Dutch, British, Spanish and Nigerian groups. The Netherlands and Spain are primary distribution centers.

InSight Crime Analysis

One of the most interesting trends highlighted by the report is that traffickers prefer to transit through the Caribbean rather than Central America on their way to Europe. While this may appear to be the easiest route, in the past organizations were known to send drugs to Central American countries before crossing the Atlantic.

The theory that the Caribbean is re-emerging as a popular drug route as Central American traffic declines has been suggested since at least 2010, and evidence over the years has both supported and refuted this theory.

There is a general consensus that tougher interdiction in Central America and Mexico is behind the supposed revival of the Caribbean corridor that had been popular in the 1980s, although such predictions have mainly be applied to drug trafficking to the United States. Still, it appears that the Caribbean route is more significant for Europe-bound cargo, as Central America remains the main trafficking corridor for northbound narcotics.

Another revealing takeaway from the report is the evolution of trafficking techniques used by criminals to skirt interdiction efforts.

The growing use of shipping containers to move cocaine demonstrates how criminal organizations are taking advantage of increasing global maritime traffic to run their business. Part of this trend is the increasingly popular “rip-on/rip-off” technique, which relies on the use of corrupt port officials to slip drugs into legitimate containers by breaking and replacing the security seal at the point of origin. Concealing cocaine with perishable goods also ensures the drugs pass through controls faster.

It is unsurprising that traffickers should take advantage of shipping routes — maritime trade handles tremendous volume and is a sector often overlooked in the fight against organized crime, providing the perfect cover for drug smugglers.

In addition, corruption, informality and a lack of resources in many departure ports makes it easier for groups to smuggle their drugs onto ships. Such is the case in Peru, where Mexican traffickers reportedly control Pacific drug routes to Europe.

The report illustrates how criminal groups must be consistently creative to survive, noting new smuggling techniques used by drug mules that include ingesting liquid rather than powder cocaine, and concealing drugs in breast implants.

Europe’s relevance to the global cocaine trade is not to be underestimated. High profit margins for traffickers and a saturated US market are likely to increase its importance in the coming years.

Source:  http://www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/cocaine-trafficking-to-europe-explained-by-new-report  2016

 

 

Posh Spectator and Sunday Times journalist James Delingpole has got his Y-fronts in a twist over outing the PM as former closet stoner. His former mates in the PM’s inner circle don’t approve and have been letting him have it. I can imagine why he’s felt such an urgent need to justify breaking this public school ‘omerta’. He hadn’t anticipated the fall out, he says, in a mea culpa in the Sunday Times. He hadn’t anticipated the impact his revelation to Cameron biographer Isabel Oakeshott would have because he thought that ‘puffing on a reefer’ at Oxford  was no big deal. It was barmy that it was ever a criminal act, he argues in self defence. And he still thinks so.

So since the law’s an ass, what was wrong with putting up two fingers to it? Nor does he see any reason to change his mind about dope now, thirty years later:

“Marijuana is being decriminalised across the world. Quite soon we’ll find the idea that (it) was ever a criminal act about as barmy and illiberal as the notion, that, not so long ago, a man could be imprisoned for sleeping with another man.”

So ‘me lud’, he effectively argued in mitigation, under the impression that we all (not least Dave and his inner sanctum) share liberal views about dope smoking, his and the future PM’s casual disregard for the law (then) was OK.

And besides what was the worst that could have happened as a result of his revelation in today’s modern and progressive world? Dave looking a hypocrite if he ever votes against the decriminalisation of cannabis or Barack Obama cracking a few retro Cheech and Chong jokes next time he meets our PM for a hamburger/baseball love in?

Ho, ho – all very amusing and just about how flippant Mr Delingpole perceives drug use. He really didn’t need to tell us of the state of arrested adolescence he says he is in.

The irony of this self observation is that arrested development is indeed one of the effects of cannabis on the brain. It affects normal maturity (as any drug counsellor will tell you) and specifically the brain development of adolescents. It affects attention, memory and executive functions in the brain. Its use risks worse effects  – from psychotic episodes to full blown schizophrenia for those with a genetic vulnerability. Its victims often do not know until it too late.

Delingpole, although a journalist, seems blissfully unaware of these research findings. It is also hard to believe he is unaware of cases where this apparently ‘innocent’ activity has destroyed the lives of children from affluent families similar to those he and his former friend Dave hail from.

It is hard too to believe as a journalist he’s remained oblivious to the crisis of NHS mental health and psychiatric units, which are bursting at the seams with young male psychotic cannabis addicts –  many incurable.

Maybe it’s a matter of I’m all right Jack. Maybe, he has no children of his own to worry about. Maybe, he’s naive enough to think by some magic of making cannabis freely available these cases would not exist. I have no idea.

As a journalist he should, at the very least, acknowledge that cannabis is a dangerous and for young people, in particular, a very undesirable and addictive drug.

His self-serving attempt to claim the moral high ground (he is not a slave to anyone you’ll be pleased to hear; he does not ingratiate himself with the powerful and he deplores those who do and have compromised themselves to benefit from the Cameron regime) is no substitute for responsible  journalism.

Before he so blithely downplays this drug again and so casually assumes its eventual legalisation is a world wide done deal, I suggest he first acquaint himself with a few more facts and then attend this debate where Dr Kevin Sabet, author of Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana, President of Smart Approaches to Marihuana (SAM) and a former advisor on drug policy to President Obama will be speaking.

Source: By Kathy Gyngell www.conservativewoman.co.uk  Sept.2015

Definition of a Nightmare: Trying to Enforce Colorado’s Conflicting Marijuana Regulatory Laws
The Police Foundation and the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police released the above report this week to guide law enforcement about marijuana in other states. The report points to the Byzantine layers of regulations that evolved from constitutional amendments voters passed to legalize medical marijuana in 2000 (Amendment 20) and recreational marijuana in 2012 (Amendment 64).

From June 1, 2001 to December 21, 2008, Colorado issued medical marijuana cards to 4,819 patients. Each cardholder could designate a caregiver to grow marijuana for up to five patients. In 2009, a court decision overturned the limit of five patients per caregiver. That year, with virtually no limits on the number of patients caregivers could supply, 41,039 citizens obtained medical marijuana cards, an increase of 762 percent.

The legislature responded by passing bills in 2010 and 2011 to create the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code. Among other things, the Code legalized commercial medical marijuana centers to grow and sell medical marijuana, reinstated the five-patient limit for caregivers, set up a business-licensing regimen, and allowed for marijuana-infused products to be sold to patients. In 2012, citizens passed Amendment 64, legalizing recreational marijuana, and new sets or regulations were created for both home growers and commercial growers, processors, and retail sales outlets. This resulted in four models of regulation.

Caregiver/Patient
Caregivers can grow medical marijuana for up to five patients and themselves.
Patients licensed by the Department of Public Health and Environment
Regulatory authorities: Department of Public Health and Environment & local law enforcement

Medical Commercial
Businesses, owners, and employees licensed
Regulatory authority: Department of Revenue, Marijuana Enforcement Division

Recreational Commercial
Businesses, owners, and employees licensed
Regulatory authority: Department of Revenue, Marijuana Enforcement Division

Recreational Home Grows
Anyone age 21 or older can grow up to six plants
Law enforcement seeing “co-op cultivations” where many home growers are growing at one location
No license required
Regulatory authority: local law enforcement

Caregivers must register the location of their cultivation sites, but no punishment is specified for those who do not, and many don’t. Because of privacy laws, patient information cannot be accessed to check for whom caregivers are growing. Caregivers have no cards and no sanctions if they fail to register. Attempting to establish probable cause under conflicting regulatory mechanisms makes it difficult to prosecute those who ignore the regulations.

Data kept by the Denver Police Department and the Department of Revenue show the number of marijuana facilities in Denver and statewide:

Medical Centers–Denver 198, Statewide 501
Infused Medical Product Factories–Denver 78, Statewide 158
Medical Cultivations–Denver 376, Statewide 739

Recreational Stores–Denver 126, Statewide 306
Infused Recreational Factories–Denver 44, Statewide 92
Recreational Cultivations–Denver 190, Statewide 375
Labs Checking Recreational for THC–Denver 9, Statewide 15

Total Marijuana Facilities–Denver 1,021, statewide 2,186

The result of trying to enforce conflicting regulatory laws can be seen in another recently released Colorado report. It estimated that demand for marijuana in Colorado in 2014 was 130 metric tons but legal supplies could only account for 77 metric tons. The rest, according to press reports, came from criminals in the black market or legal cultivators selling under the table in the “grey” market.

“Colorado law enforcement officials . . . are convinced that the black and the grey markets are thriving in Colorado primarily through unregulated grows, large quantities of marijuana stashed in homes, and by undercutting the price of legitimate marijuana sales. In fact, police have stated that legalized marijuana may have increased the illegal drug trade.”

Source: www.The Marijuana Report.Org  February 2015

A new call to action has been released from scientists around the world, reflecting “a growing consensus among experts that frequent cannabis use can increase the risk of psychosis in vulnerable people and lead to a range of other medical and social problems,” according to the The Guardian.

Researchers now believe the evidence for harm is strong enough to issue clear warnings, said the article.  For example, Sir Robin Murray, professor of psychiatric research at King’s College London, stated:

“It’s not sensible to wait for absolute proof that cannabis is a component cause of psychosis. There’s already ample evidence to warrant public education around the risks of heavy use of cannabis, particularly the high-potency varieties. For many reasons, we should have public warnings.”

Estimates suggest that deterring heavy use of cannabis could prevent 8 to 24% of psychosis cases handled by treatment centers, depending on the area. In London alone, where the most common form of cannabis is high-potency marijuana (or “skunk” as it is sometimes called in the United Kingdom), avoiding heavy use could avert many hundreds of cases of psychosis every year.

“It is important to educate the public about this now,” said Nora Volkow, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “Kids who start using drugs in their teen years may never know their full potential. This is also true in relation to the risk for psychosis. The risk is significantly higher for people who begin using marijuana during adolescence. And unfortunately at this point, most people don’t know their genetic risk for psychosis or addiction.”

Ian Hamilton, a mental health lecturer at the University of York, said more detailed monitoring of cannabis use is crucial to ensure that information given out is credible and useful. Most research on cannabis, particularly the major studies that have informed policy, is based on older low-potency cannabis resin, he points out. “In effect, we have a mass population experiment going on where people are exposed to higher potency forms of cannabis, but we don’t fully understand what the short- or long-term risks are,” he said.

Prof Wayne Hall, director of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland, said that while most people can use cannabis without putting themselves at risk of psychosis, there is still a need for public education:

“We want public health messages because, for those who develop the illness, it can be devastating. It can transform people’s lives for the worse. People are not going to develop psychosis from having a couple of joints at a party. It’s getting involved in daily use that seems to be the riskiest pattern of behavior: we’re talking about people who smoke every day and throughout the day.”

“When you’re faced with a situation where you cannot determine causality, my personal opinion is why not take the safer route rather than the riskier one, and then figure out ways to minimize harm?” said Amir Englund, a cannabis researcher at King’s College London.

A UK government spokesperson also said its position on cannabis was clear.

“We must prevent drug use in our communities and help people who are dependent to recover, while ensuring our drugs laws are enforced. There is clear scientific and medical evidence that cannabis is a harmful drug which can damage people’s mental and physical health, and harms communities.”

These comments underline the need for a global drug policy that prevents drug use, instead of promoting it. Global drug policy should continue to evolve to match the new scientific evidence available, and that includes taking into account the heavy price that increases in drug use entail, particularly in less-developed countries.

Source:    www.preventdontpromote.org   16th April  2016

Prevent. Don’t Promote. (http://preventdontpromote.org/) is a global campaign that more than 300 organizations across the world are launching at UNGASS 2016 to support the UN drug conventions.  This consortium of organizations advocates fora global drug policy based on public health and safety through the prevention of drug use and drug problems.

Aligned with the principles of Drug Policy Futures, we believe that drug policies should:

  • Prevent initiation of drug use.
  • Respect human rights (for users and non-users alike) as well as the principle of proportionality.
  • Strike a balance of efforts to reduce the use of drugs and the supply of drugs.
  • Protect children from drug use.
  • Ensure access to medical help, treatment and recovery services.
  • Provide access to controlled drugs for legitimate scientific and medical purposes.

Ensure that medical and judicial responses are coordinated with the goal of reducing drug use and drug-related consequences.

Bertha Madras is a professor of psychobiology at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School, with a research focus on how drugs affect the brain. She is former deputy director for demand reduction in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Data from 2015 indicate that 30 percent of current cannabis users harbor a use disorder — more Americans are dependent on cannabis than on any other illicit drug. Yet marijuana advocates have relentlessly pressured the federal government to shift marijuana from Schedule I — the most restrictive category of drug — to another schedule or to de-schedule it completely. Their rationale? “States have already approved medical marijuana”; “rescheduling will open the floodgates for research”; and “many people claim that marijuana alone alleviates their symptoms.”

Yet unlike drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration, “dispensary marijuana” has no quality control, no standardized composition or dosage for specific medical conditions. It has no prescribing information or no high-quality studies of effectiveness or long-term safety. While the FDA is not averse to approving cannabinoids as medicines and has approved two cannabinoid medications, the decision to keep marijuana in Schedule I was reaffirmed in a 2015 federal court ruling. That ruling was correct. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/in-theory/wp/2016/04/29/scientists-want-to-study-marijuana-big-pot-just-wants-to-sell-it/]

To reside in Schedules II-V and be approved for diagnosing, mitigating, treating or curing a specific medical condition, a substance or botanical must proceed through a rigorous FDA scientific process proving safety and efficacy. Not one form of “dispensary marijuana” with a wide range of THC levels — butane hash oil, smokables, vapors, edibles, liquids — has gone through this rigorous process for a single medical condition (let alone 20 to 40 conditions).

To approve a medicine, the FDA requires five criteria to be fulfilled:

1. The drug’s chemistry must be known and reproducible.Evidence of a standardized product, consistency, ultra-high purity, fixed dose and a measured shelf life are required by the FDA. The chemistry of “dispensary marijuana” is not standardized. Smoked, vaporized or ingested marijuana may deliver inconsistent amounts of active chemicals. Levels of the main psychoactive constituent, THC, can vary from 1 to 80 percent. Cannabidiol (known as CBD) produces effects opposite to THC, yet THC-to-CBD ratios are unregulated.

2. There must be adequate safety studies. “Dispensary marijuana” cannot be studied or used safely under medical supervision if the substance is not standardized. And while clinical research on long-term side effects has not been reported, drawing from recreational users we know that marijuana impairs or degrades brain function, and intoxicating levels interfere with learning, memory, cognition and driving. Long-term use is associated with addiction to marijuana or other drugs, loss of motivation, reduced IQ, psychosis, anxiety, excessive vomiting, sleep problems and reduced lifespan. Without a standardized product and long-term studies, the safety of indefinite use of marijuana remains unknown.

3. There must be adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy. Twelve meta-analyses of clinical trials scrutinizing smoked marijuana and cannabinoids conclude that there is no or insufficient evidence for the use of smoked marijuana for specific medical conditions. There are no studies of raw marijuana that include high-quality, unbiased, blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled or long-duration trials.

4. The drug must be accepted by well-qualified experts. Medical associations generally call for more cannabinoid research but do not endorse smoked marijuana as a medicine. The American Medical Association: “Cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern”; the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: “Medicalization” of smoked marijuana has distorted the perception of the known risks and purposed benefits of this drug;” the American Psychiatric Association: “No current scientific evidence that marijuana is in any way beneficial for treatment of any psychiatric disorder … the approval process should go through the FDA.”

5. Scientific evidence must be widely available. The evidence for approval of medical conditions in state ballot and legislative initiatives did not conform to rigorous, objective clinical trials nor was it widely available for scrutiny.

Marijuana fails to meet any of these five criteria for accepted medical use in the United States. At present, it belongs in Schedule I.

Is Schedule I drug a roadblock to marijuana research? Not really. The major roadblock to five proposed studies at the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research was not the Schedule I label, but the scarcity of patients willing to enrol in five major clinical trials. The process for marijuana research could be streamlined by Drug Enforcement Administration oversight and expansion of marijuana production, and a special sub-category of Schedule I could further reduce paperwork. But moving marijuana to Schedule II “to promote research” is conceivably unethical, as marijuana would then be designated a safe and effective medicine in the absence of high-quality evidence.

Should we dismiss heartfelt appeals from people suffering various diseases, knowing that a host of chronic, debilitating ailments are inadequately managed? Human stories should not be ignored, and rigorous, creative solutions can be formulated in response. However, the “marijuana mess” and its “new realities” were created not by the federal government but by political processes designed to circumvent the FDA, the only federal agency that safeguards our nation’s medicines. If the more than $100 million spent on ballot and legislative initiatives instead had been used for quality clinical trials, our nation would know much more about the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids. Instead, “dispensary marijuana” is evolving into a human experiment without informed consent.

We revere the brain more than other body part because it is the repository of our humanity. When a brain disease strikes, it can fundamentally transform an individual. We schedule and restrict psychoactive drugs because they can negatively affect the human brain and behavior. Of brain diseases, substance use disorders are among the most lamentable forms of human anguish. They are also among the most preventable.

Source:  www.washingtonpost.com/news/in-theory/wp/2016/04/29/5

The legalisation of cannabis financed by Soros and encouraged by Obama will lead to social decay

Fresh research has shown once again that cannabis is intensely harmful. A Swedish study of more than 45,000 men, published by The American Journal of Psychiatry, has revealed that those who used marijuana more than 50 times in their late teens were 40 per cent more likely to die by the age of 60 than those who never used it.

Study after study has flagged up the damage cannabis does to users and others in their ambit. Long-term potheads display on average an eight-point decline in IQ over time, a higher risk of psychosis and permanent brain damage.

They display more antisocial behaviour, such as stealing money or lying to get a job. They manifest more depression and demotivation, and conversely also a greater association with aggression and violent death.

Scientists from Britain, the US, Europe and Australia recently warned that the threat to mental health from heavy cannabis use was serious enough to warrant a global public health campaign.

If cannabis were legalised or decriminalised, more would use it. Untold millions more would then be enslaved to this drug. Given its numerous devastating side-effects, not to mention the gateway it provides to other illegal drugs, this would amount to a social catastrophe.

Almost without public comment, however, that is precisely what America is inflicting upon itself. It was President Obama who started this ball rolling. In his 2008 presidential campaign, he said he supported the “basic concept of using medical marijuana”. Subsequently, his administration has winked at serial violations of federal drugs laws.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalised cannabis for “medical” purposes. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have gone further and made recreational cannabis legal.

In Britain, many have fallen for the legalisers’ seductive siren song

Two years ago, Obama said he was “encouraged” to see states allowing greater access to marijuana. One wonders if he is encouraged by the outcome. The US government’s national survey on drug use and health reported in 2014 that one in ten Americans over the age of 12 had used an illicit drug in the previous 30 days, a higher percentage than in every year from 2002 to 2013.

In part, it said, this reflected the rising use of cannabis which had reached a similar record level. By an amazing coincidence, it turns out this rise was fastest in those states that had legalised the drug. Colorado legalised medical marijuana in 2006 and its recreational use in 2012. Now it leads the country in cannabis use by 12 to 18 year-olds over the past month, with Oregon fifth and Washington in sixth place. Between 2007 and 2009, an average 5.6 per

cent of Colorado’s high school students tested positive for cannabis. By 2012 this had soared to 57 per cent.

Of course it doesn’t stop there. “Soft” drugs open doors to hard drugs. So the US is also buckling under a wave of heroin and opiate addiction, described by a medical witness to the Senate judiciary committee last January as a “public health epidemic”.

While Obama lifted the bar, this epidemic is principally the result of the transnational multi-million dollar campaign to legalise drugs, funded in large measure by the financier George Soros.

He wrote in his autobiography that his remedy for drug abuse would be to establish a “strictly controlled distribution network” that he would run and through which he would make most drugs legally available.

According to Forbes magazine, he has spent some $200 million since 1994 campaigning for drug legalisation in the US and throughout the West. His globally embedded activist groups have distorted the entire drugs debate through their ubiquitous propaganda. Their core mantra is that “the war on drugs has failed”. On the contrary, in stubbornly prohibitionist Britain illegal drug use has been declining.

Legalisation, they claim, will end drug crime. Nonsense. Unless all drugs are distributed free of cost or without restrictions, there will always be a black market. Last year, Colorado’s attorney-general Cynthia Coffman admitted: “We have plenty of cartel activity in Colorado (and) plenty of illegal activity that has not decreased at all.”

In Britain, many whose ignorance is exceeded only by their credulity have fallen for the legalisers’ siren song. The all-party parliamentary group for drug policy reform, which has called for the possession and use of all drugs to be decriminalised and said users have a human right to feed their habit, states on its website that it has “received financial assistance from the Open Society Fund”, which is financed by George Soros.

The legalisers’ goal is overturning the UN drug conventions that underpin the criminalisation of the drugs trade. Recently, a special assembly of the UN General Assembly was convened at their behest to discuss drug policy reform.

Soros spent a reported $48 million on this alone. Soros-funded activists and their supporters claimed that 1,000 world leaders were calling for the decriminalisation and regulation of drugs. These alleged leaders, however, were largely Soros fronts and other legalisers. They failed. The UN and its member states decided to hold the line against illegal narcotics.

The US hasn’t done so. America has now embarked on a process that leads ineluctably to social and cultural decay, nudged into it by none other than the leader of the free world himself.

Source: The Times   MELANIE PHILLIPS April 26 2016

NDPA comment:  This article from Canada suggests that organised crime may well infiltrate a new drug policy regime.  We would suggest that at the street level successful small time dealers will not willingly give up their business either; they will simply undercut the price of legally obtainable marijuana and/or target the under-age customers who will not be allowed to purchase legally.

———————-

OTTAWA – Legalizing marijuana won’t automatically make Canada’s black market for weed go up in smoke or banish organized crime, warns a draft federal discussion paper on regulation of the drug.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government says a legal marijuana regime will keep pot out of the hands of children and deny criminals the profits of illicit dealing.

However, the December draft paper, obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act, flags the ongoing involvement of organized crime — including possible infiltration of the new system — as a key issue the government must confront.

The Liberals plan to introduce legislation next year to remove marijuana consumption and incidental possession from the Criminal Code, and create new laws to more severely punish those who provide pot to minors or drive while under its influence. In the House of Commons, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale recently said the new system would do a far better job of stopping the flow of shady money “to illegal gangs and organized crime.”

The draft discussion paper outlines a more complex scenario.

“As the experiences of other jurisdictions and of the regulation of alcohol and tobacco in Canada have shown, regulating a substance does not automatically remove it from illicit markets as evidenced by importation and sales of contraband tobacco,” the paper says.

“Given the degree to which organized crime is currently involved in the marijuana market, they could continue to produce marijuana illicitly and may attempt to infiltrate a regulated industry.”

Canada’s illegal market for marijuana is estimated to be worth billions of dollars and organized crime is known to play a major role in illicit production, importation and distribution, the paper says. That means those who obtain pot — with the exception of sanctioned medical users — are exposed to criminal elements.

The paper warns of severe risks and consequences:

— Pressure from criminal elements to use more serious and dangerous drugs such as cocaine and crystal meth;

— Enticement of purchasers to become local distributors and therefore embark on a serious criminal path;

— Exposure to extortion, particularly those who do not pay for purchases or, if entangled in dealing, fail to follow orders or meet quotas.

The federal and provincial governments should have the power to levy taxes on marijuana, with Ottawa responsible for taxing manufacturers and importers, and provinces levying taxes at the retail level, the C.D. Howe Institute recommended in a recently published report.

The federal government should discourage black-market activity by defining the legal amount of pot someone can possess, as well as maintaining and building on penalties for illegal production and trafficking, the think tank argued.

“The challenge for policymakers is to set tax rates that do not foster an illicit market alongside legal sales.”

Source:  http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/organized+crime  3rd April 2016

“Between a battle lost and a battle won, the distance is immense and there stand empires” – Napoleon

The emperor Napoleon used two key interchangeable battle plans: manoeuvre and attrition. In the first, Napoleon’s main force held the enemy’s attention to his front, while other forces fell upon one of his flanks. The second poured frontal firepower into those he wished to overthrow in enormous amounts until they appeared to weaken, then great masses of men would be thrown in to smash their way through. Such a battle was costly affair. But it worked until Wellington beat him at Waterloo, in a far-from-guaranteed victory.

This week, history repeated itself. From 19-21 April, for the first time in almost 20 years, the United Nations held a General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem and policy. This session, in New York, was the grand finale of heavily financed global pro-cannabis, pro-legalisation media manoeuvres. Taking up the rear, personal attacks including internet trolling were used to silence individuals wishing to prevent and reduce drug use worldwide – as my own and this website’s experience can attest. According to the Washington Times, over $48million was poured into this campaign by George Soros alone, a man feted for his philanthropic funding of international-policy and journalism schools and scholarships in strategic areas.

Another $70million of his firepower was directed to pro-legalisation organisations, enabling groups such as the International Drugs Policy Consortium (IDPC, funded also by unwitting taxpayers via the EU Commission) and Stop The Harm, to smash their way via a further 213 organisations into UNGASS debates.

“The pro-legalisation movement hasn’t come from a groundswell of the people. A great deal of its funding and fraud has been perpetrated by George Soros and then promoted by celebrities,” confirmed John Walters, former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. For example, Soros donated $5million in 2008 and more in 2012 for Barack Obama’s US presidential campaigns and has funded current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Soros’ accounts also show that he also donated at least $250,000 to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s foundation with Annan most strongly adding his voice to the ranks of the pro-cannabis campaign.

The largest single recipient of Soros’s $200million largesse in this area since 1994, according to Forbes magazine is the Drug Policy Alliance headed by Ethan Nadelmann.

The outcome of all this investment has been, as no doubt planned, a constant salvo of headlines. “The war on drugs is dead,” wrote IDPC. “The best reasons why we must reform our drug laws,” blasted Richard Branson via the Virgin website, referring to and praising a pro-legalisation letter “brilliantly collated by the Drug Policy Alliance”.

And who else but the DPA called the press conference proclaiming that: “World leaders call for decriminalisation and regulation of drugs,” ironically referring to many of those it had itself been involved in funding. Dutifully and obediently, the Washington Post wrote that “More than 1,000 world leaders say the drug war has been a disaster” while the Huffington Post wrote of “Censorship and exclusion on Day One of UNGASS” (HuffPo and WP links to Soros). Abroad, Kerry Cullinan, director of South Africa Health News Service funded by – well you probably guessed – fired a broadside with “How to get rid of a ‘delusional, dangerous’ policy on drugs”. In the UK, Nick Clegg speaking on behalf of the Global Commission on Drugs Policy (GCDP) funded by – yes, you’ve guessed again –charged in, accusing Home Secretary Theresa May of tampering with a Coalition pro-legalisation report he’d engineered when deputy PM. Ironically, his attack merely succeeded in showing the ‘Portuguese Model’ of decriminalisation hadn’t emerged  so bright and shiny under scrutiny. The Lancet was also on hand to publish its sympathetic ‘scientific’ evidence for the legalisation cause. But then its editor chief editor, Sir Richard Horton, is a key adviser to the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy which in turn is funded by… do I need to repeat it again? Hence its promotion by Soros-funded Transform Drugs Policy Foundation. The British Medical Journal and the BMA have long given platforms to Transform to spin pro-drugs propaganda dressed up as science, as The Conservative Woman revealed in another blog.

All these roads, so to speak, trace back back to one source – to one man.

Given his massive investment and global campaign, many feared that this month’s United Nations’ session would mark the beginning of the end of drugs control. But to the surprise of many, the UNGASS battle didn’t play out as the legalising lobby hoped. “UN drugs summit opens with worldwide divisions laid bare,” came the BBC headline.

Yes, Jamaica defended its decriminalisation of possession of small amounts of marijuana; Canada stated its intention to liberalise drugs; and Switzerland argued for a four-pronged approach: prevention, therapy, damage limitation and repression.

But Iran stated it had seized 620 tons of drugs last year and was helping protect the world from “the evils of addiction”. Singapore, too, slammed calls for a soft approach. Indonesia called for a zero-tolerance approach.Cuba (please note) also opposed the legalisation of drugs and condemned any declaration suggesting them to be harmless: “It will be really difficult to solve the problems of mass production of and trafficking in drugs from the South, if the majority demand from the North [ie, US] is not eliminated”. Did Obama take this on board on his recent Cuban sojourn, I wonder?

But while US drug czar Michael Botticelli wobbled on the political tightrope, it was Russia and Putin who provided the most powerful resistance to the pro-legalisation campaign.

So, despite the barrage, on 19 April the United Nations, led by UNODC head Yury Fedotov of Russia, opted for a ‘new’ framework that wasn’t new at all. It reaffirmed the cornerstone principles of the global drug control system, emphasising “the health and welfare of humankind that is the founding purpose of the international drug conventions”.  Who won the UNGASS battle then? Not George Soros and his liberal American political allies, but the Russians filling the leadership void that the US under Obama has abandoned – with the backing of the majority of the world’s leaders (press: please note).

There was a Parthian shot. On the last day of the week, hors de combat, The Guardian proclaimed: “Legalise all drugs,’ business and world leaders tell UN”. Actually, the world leaders had agreed and signed the UN document. The Guardian referred merely to former leaders, members of the Soros-funded GCDP.

“You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war,” Bonaparte advised. We have been taught much.

Source:  http://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/deirdre-boyd-strip-away-the-spin-and-the-world-has-again-trashed-drugs-thanks-russia-and-iran/   April 2016

The well-funded movement to medicalize marijuana spreading across our nation calls out for caution and restraint. Activists claim that marijuana is a safe medicine but de facto, it is evolving into a gateway for marijuana legalization. The claim conflicts with current science, with intelligent public health policy, with rigorous standards of the drug approval process, and with best practices of medicine.

In 2014, Floridians wisely rejected legalization of marijuana as a medicine by their votes on a ballot initiative. This sensible outcome was shaped by enough funds to educate the public on the realities of this critical issue and to counter misinformation circulating in Florida. But once again, the persistent marijuana industry is knocking on the gates of Florida, this time through legislative action in the Florida state House. Florida Senator Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, recently introduced an amendment to Florida Bill SB 460. In its original form, the bill limits the potency THC, of the main psychoactive, intoxicating, and addictive substance in marijuana, to 0.8%. The spirit of the bill was to provide access to cannabidiol, a candidate anti-seizure medication that has been essentially bred out of most of the marijuana sold in dispensaries nation-wide. Cannabidiol is not intoxicating, is not addictive, does not interfere with learning and memory, and may even oppose the psychosis induced by THC in susceptible people. In its original language, the bill allows for “low-THC cannabis”, the dried flowers of which contain 0.8 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive and addictive component of marijuana and more than 10 percent of cannabidiol (CBD). The Bradley amendment is a “Hail Mary pass” or a “cloaking device” or a “stealth bomber” –choose your metaphor. It is a furtive attempt to circumvent the decision of sage Florida voters who turned down the medical marijuana ballot initiative in 2014. The original bill wisely set THC levels at 0.8%, which are not generally intoxicating. Instead of referring to low-THC-cannabis, the amendment (line 35 onwards) now refers to low-THC cannabis and/or medical cannabis. By not defining medical cannabis, nor stating limits on THC doses, it opens the floodgates to “anything goes” – unspecified THC levels in marijuana that may range from 0.8 percent to 80 percent. In its current amended form, SB 460 creates a marijuana industry, allowing high potency marijuana and marijuana edibles (cookies, sodas, candy), which are inherently hazardous and without any scientific evidence of medical safety or effectiveness. To circumvent FDA experts and the process, the marijuana industry and their advocates devised ballot or legislative initiatives, flooded public media, engaged in extensive lobbying of legislative bodies, with scientifically barren emotional claims. Whole plant marijuana as a medicine is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as the evidence is insufficient to fulfill rigorous criteria for approval. To weigh the scientific evidence within the legitimate drug approval process, the FDA convenes an expert team of chemists, pharmacologists, physicians, other scientists, statisticians who study thousands of pages of scientific data, before a decision is made to approve a drug and provide surveillance after approval. This effective and rigorous scientific process is reflected in physician and patient packet inserts of prescription drugs – they include the precise chemical composition of a drug that a patient will introduce into their body, how

often to use it, evidence-based safe doses, how frequently it should be taken, what types of studies were used to show the drug’s effectiveness for a specific condition, how long it takes to have an effect and stay in the body, how the body metabolizes the drug, drug interactions, who should/should not use the drug, a list of unwanted side effects and what proportion of people manifest them, adverse events, and precautions, and other information. This type of document does not exist in marijuana dispensaries. If a false claim is made or an adverse effect sets in, who will protect the public? If a pharmaceutical company makes a false claim for an approved drug, the FDA sweeps in and fines them. It has extracted over $10 billion from drug companies in the past few years for unapproved claims. If adverse events rise to unacceptable levels, the FDA can restrict use of the drug, or label the drug with a severe “Black Box” warning, or withdraw the drug. These protections don’t exist for marijuana; there is no recourse for patients. Why is whole plant marijuana not approved? Concerns focus on abuse liability, safety and effectiveness.

Abuse liability. Marijuana has high abuse potential, no currently approved medical use and is considered unsafe. At least 4.2 million Americans have a cannabis (marijuana) use disorder, with about 30.5 percent of current marijuana users harboring this problem. Long-time heavy users can experience a robust withdrawal, reflecting adaptive changes in the brain and body caused by the drug. Shortly after use, marijuana intoxicates and impairs higher brain functions, learning, memory, planning, and decision-making. Driving skills are reduced and the risk for injuries increases. Functioning at school or at work is compromised, especially because marijuana takes so long to clear from the body, days to weeks, and much longer compared with an alcohol binge. Complex human performance can be impaired as long as 24 hours after smoking a moderate dose of marijuana and the user may be unaware of the drug’s influence. For 7 to 20 days, abstinent marijuana users may have impaired attention, concentration and impulse control. The most robust, durable deficits are documented in heavy, steady marijuana users. Even after one month of withdrawal, daily, heavy marijuana smokers can manifest impaired higher brain functions. Yet the indications for marijuana are for chronic medical conditions, requiring daily or more frequent use.

Safety. There is a strong association between marijuana use and psychosis or schizophrenia, in at least four ways: (1) marijuana can produce transient schizophrenia-like symptoms in some healthy individuals; (2) in those harboring a psychotic disorder, marijuana may worsen the symptoms, trigger relapse, and negatively affect the course of the illness; (3) susceptible individuals in the general population develop a psychotic illness with heavy marijuana use, which is associated with age of onset of use, strength of THC in marijuana, frequency and duration of use; (4) marijuana use is associated with lowering the age of onset of schizophrenia. Among youth, marijuana use is associated with poor grades and with high school drop-out rates, with those dropping out of school engaging in high rates of frequent marijuana use. Early use of heavy marijuana is associated with lower income, lower college degree completion, greater need for economic assistance, and higher unemployment. In sum, marijuana use is associated with an increased risk of degraded brain function, increased motor vehicle crashes, emergency department visits, psychiatric symptoms, reduced educational and employment achievement, reduced motivation, increased use of, and addiction to other drugs, and adverse health effects on the developing fetus. Effectiveness. The FDA is not the only body that has questioned the effectiveness of marijuana. Non-government academic physicians and scientists have extensively scrutinized biomedical research (meta-analyses) on the use of whole plant marijuana for medical indications. Independently, they have concluded that there is scant, inadequate or no evidence that whole plant medicine is valuable as a first line treatment for a myriad of medical conditions claimed by the marijuana lobby. For edibles, rigorous evidence is at zero or near-zero levels. Indeed, many specialty medical associations

(Neurology, Psychiatry, Ophthalmology, Pediatrics) do not endorse marijuana as a medicine. Clearly, this collective information impacts the amended Florida bill! First, the amendment places no limits on THC concentration, and does not address marijuana potency to be used for a single medical condition. No potency limits for chronic conditions are incompatible with growing evidence that the stronger the marijuana and the more frequently it is used, the more likely (1) for symptoms of psychosis to appear, (2) for reduced age of onset of schizophrenia, (3) for increased impairment of driving and brain function. Second, in chronic medical conditions, daily and more frequent use of marijuana is likely and this will increase the many risks outlined above. Third, the amendment is vague on who can use, at what dose and for which specific diseases or symptoms. Yet, the more frequently marijuana is used and the longer the period of use, the more likely (1) for susceptible persons to become addicted to marijuana; (2) to become addicted to other drugs; (3) to sustain a reduction in I.Q.; (4) to be on welfare and unemployed; (5) to have psychotic episodes; and (6) to be less likely to complete high school or college. The Bradley amendment, whether intended or not, is likely to set Florida on a well-trodden path to legalization of marijuana. Its current objective is to normalize and legalize distribution of potent, intoxicating marijuana as a medicine, in the absence of solid medical evidence. If it passes, the safeguards in the amended bill will not protect the public from an inevitable march towards unfettered access to, and de facto legalization of marijuana. The bill has little to do with compassionate use of marijuana for health, as open-ended THC doses have no scientific basis in medicine. But it will ensure that high potency marijuana becomes available to the public at large, inevitably spreading to youth, the real target of the marijuana industry. Early onset of marijuana use greatly increases the risk of becoming addicted to marijuana and to other drugs. Efforts to shield youth from marijuana have failed in states with “medical marijuana” laws as in these states, youth use marijuana more than in nonmedical marijuana states. This amendment ignores the FDA, ignores meta-analyses completed by independent biomedical researchers, ignores the policy statements of reputable medical associations, and ignores current marijuana science. In 2014, Floridians wisely voted not to accept THC-laden marijuana as a “medical option”. Senator Bradley’s current amendment maneuvers the bill around the will of the people. Above all, this bill ignores the voters of Florida and the democratic process. Floridians should protest this amendment, a blunt force to suppress their opposition to marijuana. Bertha K. Madras is a professor at Harvard Medical School.

Source: http://www.sunshinestatenews.com 2nd March 2016

The letter below was written by a doctor in response to an article suggesting that  marijuana could be used to get people  off heroin.  Note that in Maine, before so-called medical marijuana was made legal it ranked 28th in teen use; seven years later, it was No. 1.

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The recent op-ed by a spokesperson for the marijuana industry saying that pot can be used for people trying to get off heroin, is both wrong and dangerous.

I’m a doctor who has spent 30 years treating drug addicts, starting in my residency at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

The aim in treating addicts is to get them off all addictive drugs, including alcohol and marijuana, not substitute one for another. And the reason is that addicts and alcoholics are happiest clean and sober. It is bad medical practice to prescribe marijuana or any other addictive drug to a recovering addict. Pope Francis probably said it best: “The problem of drug use is not solved with drugs!”

It’s actually bad practice to recommend marijuana for any medical condition. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry opposes medical marijuana laws because they make the drug widely available to teenagers. In 1999, shortly before Maine became one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana, it ranked 28th in teen use; seven years later, it was No. 1.

Yes, cannabinoids help with certain medical conditions, but the prescription cannabinoids Marinol and Cesamet work just as well as pot, have fewer side effects and are much longer-acting, so people don’t have to dose every few hours. No one needs to smoke pot, and we don’t need to make it so widely available that we create an epidemic of teenage use.

Medical marijuana laws are both unnecessary and bad for public health.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Ed Gogek, M.D., of Prescott, Ariz., is an addiction psychiatrist.

Source:  http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/14/another-view-treatment-for-drug-addiction-should-never-include-marijuana/   Feb. 2016

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Patrick J. Kennedy, who is a former member of Congress from Rhode Island and an honorary adviser to SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

The epidemic of drug addiction and overdoses gripping Vermont, and our country at large, cries out for reform. We must change the perception that jail is an effective treatment for the disease of drug addiction, and give mental health issues the attention and funding they deserve, an opinion I know many Vermonters share.

But the legalization and commercialization of another addictive drug — marijuana — is precisely the wrong way to address this critical problem. Legalization has nothing to do with whether we lock up pot users, and everything to do with making money. Marijuana industry lobbyists that are pushing legalization to the Vermont Legislature disingenuously conflate the two issues, claiming that the only way to stop imprisoning marijuana users is to legalize the drug. They also make sweeping claims about how commercialization will control the black market and make the drug “safer.”

But both claims are demonstrably false. First of all, we can stop jailing marijuana users without letting big business sell marijuana at corner stores. Vermont has already decriminalized marijuana use for adults, and will not arrest or jail you if you possess an ounce or less of marijuana for personal use. And our Congress is already debating broader criminal justice reforms that may reduce the burden of arrests and imprisonment for drug offenses, especially on minority and low-income communities.

Second, and more broadly, we know from other states’ experiences that the billion-dollar marijuana industry — the folks behind the legalization effort — is more interested in profits than our health and safety. Legalization means inviting a powerful lobby into Vermont that pushes hard against regulations. Pot lobbyists in Colorado defeated restrictions on pot ads aimed at children. They have opposed restrictions on marijuana potency. And they are fighting laws keeping pot shops away from schools, parks, and day care centers in Oregon. Vermont legislators may think they have cracked the code on how to implement legalization “safely,” but it will not be long until industry forces expose and exploit any openings they see for the sake of profits.

Now, I put the call out to the Vermont Legislature: Please learn from the experiences of other states, and heed the warning signs — marijuana legalization does not reduce the toll drug addiction takes on our communities.

In other words, commercial marijuana behaves just like another large American industry peddling addiction — Big Tobacco. It may surprise Vermonters to know that the large tobacco companies have been studying the marijuana business since the 1960s, seeing it as a natural extension of their product line. And like tobacco, the marijuana business can only profit when it creates and cultivates heavy users. Just 20 percent of pot users consume 80 percent of all marijuana. Those heavy users, many of whom are addicts, are the target market for the pot industry, not the casual smoker.

This profit motive is why legalization and commercialization has yielded more pot use, not less, among children and adults. After legalizing pot, Colorado took the dubious honor of having the highest past-month marijuana use rates in the country in both age groups. A host of related problems have accompanied this dubious honor, including a surge in marijuana poisonings — up 148 percent overall, and up a shocking 153 percent

among children 0 to 5 years old — and a 32 percent spike in marijuana-related traffic fatalities. Even without legalization, Vermont already ranks No. 2 in past-month consumption. Commercialization will only push those numbers higher.

Moreover, legalization has not blunted Colorado’s black market. The state’s attorney general told the press last February that “The criminals are still selling on the black market. … We have plenty of cartel activity in Colorado. …” Colorado law enforcement officers have even indicated that black market activity may have increased, as people illegally export pot to other states.

Finally, like the tobacco companies, who once boasted that they targeted “the young, the poor, the black, and the stupid,” the marijuana industry has had an outsized impact on poor and minority communities in Colorado. A recent exposé showed that Denver’s pot business was highly skewed towards poor areas, with one neighborhood having one marijuana business for every 47 residents. A strategy of “profits before public health” is not the way to serve socioeconomic and racial justice.

Now, I put the call out to the Vermont Legislature: Please learn from the experiences of other states, and heed the warning signs — marijuana legalization does not reduce the toll drug addiction takes on our communities. It represents burning down the village in order to save it, by handing Vermont’s public health over to Wall Street and the marijuana lobby. Rather, I urge you to focus on solutions we know will work — sensible criminal justice reform and serious investments in drug prevention.

Source:   http://vtdigger.org/2016/02/03/patrick-kennedy-say-no-to-marijuana-legalization/

Law enforcement officials would love to have a clear way to tell when a driver is too drugged to drive. But the decades of experience the country has in setting limits for alcohol have turned out to be rather useless so far because the mind-altering compound in cannabis, THC, dissolves in fat, whereas alcohol dissolves in water.

And that changes everything. “It’s really difficult to document drugged driving in a relevant way,” says Margaret Haney, a neurobiologist at Columbia University, “[because of] the simple fact that THC is fat soluble. That makes it absorbed in a very different way and much more difficult to relate behavior to, say, [blood] levels of THC or develop a breathalyzer.”

When you drink, alcohol spreads through your saliva and breath. It evenly saturates your lungs and blood. Measuring the volume of alcohol in one part of your body can predictably tell you how much is in any other part of your body — like how much is affecting your brain at any given time.

That made it possible to do the science on alcohol and crash risk back in the mid-20th century. Eventually, decades of study helped formulate the 0.08 blood alcohol limit as too drunk to drive safely. “The 0.08 standard in alcohol is from decades of careful epidemiological research,” says Andrea Roth, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley.

But marijuana isn’t like that. The height of your intoxication isn’t at the moment when blood THC levels peak, and the high doesn’t rise and fall uniformly based on how much THC leaves and enters your bodily fluids, says Marilyn Huestis, who headed the chemistry and drug metabolism section at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Because THC is fat soluble, it moves readily from water environments, like blood, to fatty environments. Fatty tissues act like sponges for the THC, Huestis says. “And the brain is a very fatty tissue. It’s been proven you can still measure THC in the brain even if it’s no longer measurable in the blood.”

From her research, Huestis found that THC rapidly clears out of the blood in occasional users within a couple of hours. While they’re still high, a trickle of THC leaches out of their brains and other fatty tissues back into the blood until it’s all gone.

That means a lab test would only find a trace amount of THC in the blood of occasional smokers after a few hours. “You could have smoked a good amount, just waited two hours, still be pretty intoxicated and yet pass the drug test [for driving],” says Haney.

And if you eat the weed instead of smoking it, Haney says, your blood never carries that much THC. “With oral THC, it takes several hours for [blood THC] to peak, but it remains very low compared to the smoked route, even though they’re very high. It’s a hundredfold difference,” she says.

But daily users are different. Huestis says that heavy smokers build up so much THC in their body fat that it could continue leaching out for weeks after they last smoked. These chronic, frequent users will also experience a rapid loss of THC from their blood after smoking, but they will also have a constant, moderate level of blood THC even when they’re not high, Huestis says.

It gets trickier when you try to factor in the chronic effect of smoking weed, Huestis says. “We found [chronic, frequent smokers’] brains had changed and reduced the density of cannabinoid receptors,” she says. They were cognitively impaired for up to 28 days after their last use, and their driving might also still be impaired for that long. “It’s pretty scary,” she says.

The attitude difference between stoned drivers and alcohol drivers seems clear, Huestis

says. Pot smokers, she says, “tend to be more aware they’re impaired than alcohol users.” Drunk drivers are more aggressive, and high drivers are slower. But in her studies, she found that being blazed enough, as when a smoker’s blood THC level peaks at 13 nanograms per milliliter, could be just as a dangerous as driving drunk. The marijuana advocacy group NORML emphasizes that driving high can be dangerous, and  advises people to drive sober.

This all translates into a colossal headache for researchers and lawmakers alike. While scientists continue to bang their heads over how to draw up a biological measurement for marijuana intoxication, legislators want a way to quickly identify and penalize people who are too high to drive.

The instinct, Huestis says, is to come up with a law that parallels the 0.08 BAC standard for alcohol. “Everyone is looking for one number,” she says. “And it’s almost impossible to come up with one number. Occasional users can be very impaired at one microgram per liter, and chronic, frequent smokers will be over one microgram per liter maybe for weeks.”

The shaky science around relating blood THC to driving impairment is unfair for people living in marijuana-legal states that have absolute blood THC limits for driving, says Andrea Roth, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley.

In states like Washington, if a driver is found to have over 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter in their blood, they automatically get a DUI-cannabis. “If we are going to criminalize DUI marijuana, we need to take information from scientific studies and use it to decide if that risk is sufficiently high to be so morally blameworthy that we call it a crime. But we don’t, so picking 5 nanograms per milliliter is arbitrary,” Roth says.

The complicated biology of THC makes current DUI cases very tricky.

“Blood isn’t taken in the U.S. until 1.5 to four hours after the [traffic] incident,” Huestis says. By then, THC levels would have fallen significantly, and these people might have been impaired but passed the test. At the same time, a heavy user living in a state like Washington would get a DUI even if she or he hadn’t smoked in weeks.

As a result, it gets difficult to even understand how risky blazed driving is. Traffic studies that rely on blood THC measures could also be inaccurate if blood is drawn too late and THC has already left the system. And some state traffic databases, including Colorado’s, according to state traffic officials, link accidents to 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC, a byproduct of marijuana metabolism that marks only recent exposure and not intoxication. That might result in an overestimation of marijuana-related accidents.

In the meantime, Haney says, the challenge shouldn’t deter people from trying to find a marijuana DUI solution. People are working on breath tests, saliva, other blood markers and behavioral tests, just nothing that so far has stuck, she says. “We need something, because it’s an important public health issue. But how we’re going to get there? I just don’t know.”

Source:  http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/02/09/466147956  Feb.2016

Everything you need to know about fake weed.

If you’re confused by synthetic marijuana, then a series of recent news stories about the drug probably didn’t clear things up. First, the Boston Globe reported that New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones “had a bad reaction to a substance he put into his body” and walked to a nearby police station to get help. That substance, the Globe later explained, was synthetic marijuana. Then last week, police in Washington state reported that another NFL player, Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman, admitted to smoking synthetic weed in October before getting into a hit-and-run car accident. After the accident, witnesses described Coleman as acting “delirious and aggravated.”

Off the sports pages, you might have seen a story about a group of senior citizens in Pennsylvania who got arrested for running a synthetic marijuana trafficking ring worth more than $1.5 million. Or perhaps you saw the one about a pair of brothers in Milwaukee, ages 12 and 13, ending up in the hospital after smoking some fake pot and having a violent reaction that included foaming at the mouth, “throwing up white mucus,” “talking funny,” and shaking.

These are only the latest data points showing the rise of synthetic marijuana as a staple of recreational drug use in America. Against the backdrop of softening attitudes toward actual marijuana, synthetic weed has attracted a strange coalition of users, including athletes, curious teenagers, and desperate homeless people. Here’s a primer on the drug whose ambiguous legal status and unpredictable side effects have turned it into a bleak cultural phenomenon.

What is synthetic marijuana, and how is it different from normal weed?

The most important fact to understand about synthetic marijuana is that it isn’t just one thing. It’s more like a category of things, a family of man-made chemicals that have one major characteristic in common: They interact with the same cell receptors in the brain as THC, the active ingredient in natural cannabis. In theory, someone could ingest these chemicals in any number of ways, but manufacturers play up the association between their products and traditional marijuana by spraying their chemicals onto diced-up dry plant matter that can be sold in baggies and smoked.

When you buy one of these baggies, you’re basically getting a chemical—you never know which one—that’s been dressed up in a weed costume. But the similarities pretty much end there. In fact, most public health experts frown on the phrase “synthetic marijuana” because they think it overstates the extent to which the chemicals used to make it resemble THC. They prefer the term “synthetic cannabinoids.”

Where did synthetic cannabinoids come from, and how long have they been around?

Like ecstasy and LSD, SCs owe their existence to academic research. The chemist who developed the first SC compounds was a Clemson University professor named John W. Huffman, who was interested in the brain receptors that regulate “appetite, nausea, mood, pain and inflammation.” According to this Washington Post profile, Huffman synthesized a compound he called JHW-018 in 1993 and published a series of academic papers that contained the formula. Years later, that formula was used as a recipe by underground drugmakers, causing Huffman—now a reclusive 80-something who lives in the Smoky Mountains—great consternation. When he first heard that people were using the compounds he created to get high, Huffman told the Post, he thought it was kind of funny. “Then I started hearing about some of the bad results, and I thought, ‘Hmm, I guess someone opened Pandora’s box.’ ”

When did people start manufacturing synthetic marijuana as a recreational drug?

Products based on Huffman’s formula started popping up on a large scale in Europe and the United States in 2008 and 2009, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (see p. 23-24).

I’ve heard of Spice and K2. Are those the same thing?

They refer to the same kind of thing, yes, though there’s a huge amount of variation when it comes to what’s actually in this stuff. Other names that have been used to market synthetic cannabinoids—and there are literally hundreds—include Bliss, Cowboy Kush, and Scooby Snax. They are almost universally embarrassing—and therefore, attractive to dumb young people—especially in conjunction with the doofy images of dragons, smiley faces, and cartoon animals that are used on the packaging.

How much does synthetic marijuana cost?

It’s cheap, which is a big part of the draw. You can find it in bulk online, where it costs in the neighborhood of $50 per ounce. In smoke shops and convenience stores, smaller packets are priced as low as $10.

How do synthetic cannabinoids make people feel?

It depends on the chemicals used to make them, plus how large a quantity of those chemicals gets sprayed on by the manufacturer. (According to a Time story from 2014, the “crude way in which producers spray the chemicals … can create hot spots where the concentration of the chemical is dangerously high.”) Side effects of smoking synthetic cannabinoids—or maybe just effects?—include catatonia, profound anxiety and paranoia, nausea and vomiting, elevated heartbeat and blood pressure, seizures, and hallucinations. They also seem to be addictive and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have been linked to acute kidney failure. Synthetic marijuana has also been linked to multiple deaths, including 15 in the first four months of 2015.

That sounds dangerous. Is the media just trying to scare me?

It’s definitely more dangerous than regular marijuana, which has mellowing properties that synthetic cannabinoids don’t have. While drugs like heroin and methamphetamine cause far more deaths in absolute terms, the number of emergency room visits involving synthetic cannabinoids does seem to be growing. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there were approximately 28,531 emergency room visits involving synthetic cannabinoids in 2011, two and a half times more than in 2010. (More recent data are not available.) That’s a drop in the bucket compared with the nearly 2.5 million emergency room visits in 2011 that