Global Drug Legalisation Efforts

This week’s stories inadvertently illustrate the step-by-step process proponents employ to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use.

Step 1. Target states with ballot initiatives.
Tell voters patients need marijuana for medical use, despite a lack of supporting evidence. Deny evidence that the drug is addictive, harmful to the developing brain, and is associated with increased traffic fatalities, ER visits, hospitalizations, and mental illnesses. [Of 26 ballot initiative states, 19 have legalized marijuana for medical use since 1996, 4 more have initiatives pending this November, and two have legalized cannabidiol (CBD). Only one initiative state, Nebraska, remains free of “medical” or “recreational” pot.]

Tired of the legislature’s refusal to legalize marijuana for medical use, the Marijuana Policy Project from Washington DC, has brought 72 percent of the $267,000 raised to place a ballot initiative on the state’s November ballot, contributing 44 percent — $118,000 – on its own. MPP, along with the Drug Policy Alliance and NORML, are the three organizations most responsible for the legalization of marijuana in the US.

Read The Salt Lake Tribune’s “From Legalizing Medical Marijuana to Raising Taxes for Schools, Utah Voters Will Have a Lot of Decisions to Make in November” here.

Step 2. Expand eligible conditions.
Once you’ve got marijuana legalized for medical use, expand the number of conditions that are eligible for its use.

Regulators in Michigan are thinking about adding 22 more conditions to the list of 14 that are currently eligible for “medical” marijuana use. (States have “approved” marijuana to treat more than 70 different conditions thus far.)

Read WXYZ.com “Michigan Considering Expanding Conditions Covered under Medical Marijuana Law” here.

Step 3. With a little help from the media . . .
Conduct research with pharmaceutical-grade marijuana components, but always illustrate news articles about the research with a marijuana plant.

Two new, privately funded studies were announced today. One, a $740,000 grant, is to the University of Utah to study how THC and CBD interact with the brain. The other, a $4.7 million grant, is to the University of San Diego School of Medicine’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research to study childhood autism. The latter study (and presumably the former) will administer pharmaceutical-grade synthesized CBD manufactured by INSYS Therapeutics. Its CBD product is in Phase 2 clinical trials seeking FDA approval. It looks nothing like the picture above that accompanies The Salt Lake Tribune’s story or the picture below that accompanies the Newswise.com story.

One caveat: The gifts to the two universities come from the Rae and Tye Noorda Foundation of Utah in partnership with the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation of California. Andy Noorda, who serves as a board member of his deceased parents’ foundation, co-founded the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation along with Mana Artisan Botanics of Hawaii. The company makes CBD products from hemp grown in Colorado. We have learned from alcohol and tobacco that industry-funded research is not always trustworthy.

Read The Salt Lake Tribune’s “University of Utah Launches $740,000 Study on How Marijuana Interacts with the Human Brain” here and Newswise.com’s “Philanthropic Gift will Fund Multidisciplinary Investigation of Mechanisms and Potential Therapeutic Benefits of Cannabidiol for Treating Neurodevelopmental Disorder” here.
Visit the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation here and Mana Artisan Botanics here.

Step 4. Join marijuana Industry to legalize recreational pot.
Link up with the marijuana industry that makes medicines, not one of which has been approved by FDA. Join forces to legalize marijuana for recreational use. (All 8 states that have done this legalized pot for medicine first.)

Proponents have succeeded in placing an initiative on Michigan’s November 2018 ballot that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. Among other provisions, the initiative calls for a 10 percent excise tax and a 6 percent sales tax. While allowing communities to ban marijuana businesses within their boundaries, 15 percent of those revenues would go to “communities that allow marijuana businesses within their borders and 15 percent would go to counties where marijuana business are located.”

Read the Detroit Free Press article, “Michigan Approves Marijuana Legalization Vote for November” here.

Step 5. Deny the consequences of legalization.
Colorado legalized marijuana for medical use in 2000, legalized cultivation and dispensaries in 2009, and legalized recreational use in 2012, effective 2014. Drug-related deaths have nearly tripled since legalization began.

Read KOAA’s “Overdose Fatalities Continue to Reach New Record Highs in Colorado” here.

See Step 5.
More than 3,400 marijuana violations occurred in Colorado elementary, middle, and high schools last academic year, up more than 18 percent from two years before.

Read Fox 31’s “Marijuana Violations in Colorado K-12 Schools Up 18 Percent” here.

Source: nfia@nationalfamilies.org

The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).

May 2018

The proliferation of retail boutiques in California did not really bother him, Evan told me, but the billboards did. Advertisements for delivery, advertisements promoting the substance for relaxation, for fun, for health. “Shop. It’s legal.” “Hello marijuana, goodbye hangover.” “It’s not a trigger,” he told me. “But it is in your face.”

When we spoke, he had been sober for a hard-fought seven weeks: seven weeks of sleepless nights, intermittent nausea, irritability, trouble focusing, and psychological turmoil. There were upsides, he said, in terms of reduced mental fog, a fatter wallet, and a growing sense of confidence that he could quit. “I don’t think it’s a ‘can’ as much as a ‘must,'” he said.

Evan, who asked that his full name not be used for fear of the professional repercussions, has a self-described cannabis-use disorder. If not necessarily because of legalization, but alongside legalization, such problems are becoming more common: The share of adults with one has doubled since the early aughts, as the share of cannabis users who consume it daily or near-daily has jumped nearly 50 percent-all “in the context of increasingly permissive cannabis legislation, attitudes, and lower risk perception,” as the National Institutes of Health put it.

Public-health experts worry about the increasingly potent options available, and the striking number of constant users. “Cannabis is potentially a real public-health problem,” said Mark A. R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University. “It wasn’t obvious to me 25 years ago, when 9 percent of self-reported cannabis users over the last month reported daily or near-daily use. I always was prepared to say, ‘No, it’s not a very abusable drug. Nine percent of anybody will do something stupid.’ But that number is now [something like] 40 percent.” They argue that state and local governments are setting up legal regimes without sufficient public-health protection, with some even warning that the country is replacing one form of reefer madness with another, careening from treating cannabis as if it were as dangerous as heroin to treating it as if it were as benign as kombucha.

But cannabis is not benign, even if it is relatively benign, compared with alcohol, opiates, and cigarettes, among other substances. Thousands of Americans are finding their own use problematic-in a climate where pot products are getting more potent, more socially acceptable to use, and yet easier to come by, not that it was particularly hard before.

For Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, the most compelling evidence of the deleterious effects comes from users themselves. “In large national surveys, about one in 10 people who smoke it say they have a lot of problems. They say things like, ‘I have trouble quitting. I think a lot about quitting and I can’t do it. I smoked more than I intended to. I neglect responsibilities.’ There are plenty of people who have problems with it, in terms of things like concentration, short-term memory, and motivation,” he said. “People will say, ‘Oh, that’s just you fuddy-duddy doctors.’ Actually, no. It’s millions of people who use the drug who say that it causes problems.”

Users or former users I spoke with described lost jobs, lost marriages, lost houses, lost money, lost time. Foreclosures and divorces. Weight gain and mental-health problems. And one other thing: the problem of convincing other people that what they were experiencing was real. A few mentioned jokes about Doritos, and comments implying that the real issue was that they were lazy stoners. Others mentioned the common belief that you can be “psychologically” addicted to pot, but not “physically” or “really” addicted. The condition remains misunderstood, discounted, and strangely invisible, even as legalization and white-marketization pitches ahead.

The country is in the midst of a volte-face on marijuana. The federal government still classifies cannabis as Schedule I drug, with no accepted medical use. (Meth and PCP, among other drugs, are Schedule II.) Politicians still argue it is a gateway to the use of things like heroin and cocaine. The country still spends billions of dollars fighting it in a bloody and futile drug war, and still arrests more people for offenses related to cannabis than it does for all violent crimes combined.

Yet dozens of states have pushed ahead with legalization for medical or recreational purposes, given that for decades physicians have argued that marijuana’s health risks have been overstated and its medical uses overlooked; activists have stressed prohibition’s tremendous fiscal cost and far worse human cost; and researchers have convincingly argued that cannabis is far less dangerous than alcohol. A solid majority of Americans support legalization nowadays.

Academics and public-health officials, though, have raised the concern that cannabis’s real risks have been overlooked or underplayed-perhaps as part of a counter-reaction to federal prohibition, and perhaps because millions and millions cannabis users have no problems controlling their use. “Part of how legalization was sold was with this assumption that there was no harm, in reaction to the message that everyone has smoked marijuana was going to ruin their whole life,” Humphreys told me. It was a point Kleiman agreed with. “I do think that not legalization, but the legalization movement, does have a lot on its conscience now,” he said. “The mantra about how this is a harmless, natural, and non-addictive substance-it’s now known by everybody. And it’s a lie.”

Thousands of businesses, as well as local governments earning tax money off of sales, are now literally invested in that lie. “The liquor companies are salivating,” Matt Karnes of GreenWave Advisors told me. “They can’t wait to come in full force.” He added that Big Pharma was targeting the medical market, with Wall Street, Silicon Valley, food businesses, and tobacco companies aiming at the recreational market.

Sellers are targeting broad swaths of the consumer market-soccer moms, recent retirees, folks looking to replace their nightly glass of chardonnay with a precisely dosed, low-calorie, and hangover-free mint. Many have consciously played up cannabis as a lifestyle product, a gift to give yourself, like a nice crystal or an antioxidant face cream. “This is not about marijuana,” one executive at the California retailer MedMen recently argued. “This is about the people who use cannabis for all the reasons people have used cannabis for hundreds of years. Yes for recreation, just like alcohol, but also for wellness.”

Evan started off smoking with his friends when they were playing sports or video games, lighting up to chill out after his nine-to-five as a paralegal at a law office. But that soon became couch-lock, and he lost interest in working out, going out, doing anything with his roommates. Then came a lack of motivation and the slow erosion of ambition, and law school moving further out of reach. He started smoking before work and after work. Eventually, he realized it was impossible to get through the day without it. “I was smoking anytime I had to do anything boring, and it took a long time before I realized that I wasn’t doing anything without getting stoned,” he said.

His first attempts to reduce his use went miserably, as the consequences on his health and his life piled up. He gained nearly 40 pounds, he said, when he stopped working out and cooking his own food at home. He recognized that he was just barely getting by at work, and was continually worried about getting fired. Worse, his friends were unsympathetic to the idea that he was struggling and needed help. “[You have to] try to convince someone that something that is hurting you is hurting you,” he said.

Other people who found their use problematic or had managed to quit, none of whom wanted to use their names, described similar struggles and consequences. “I was running two companies at the time, and fitting smoking in between running those companies. Then, we sold those companies and I had a whole lot of time on my hands,” one other former cannabis user told me. “I just started sitting around smoking all the time. And things just came to a halt. I was in terrible shape. I was depressed.”

Lax regulatory standards and aggressive commercialization in some states have compounded some existing public-health risks, raised new ones, and failed to tamp down on others, experts argue. In terms of compounding risks, many cite the availability of hyper-potent marijuana products. “We’re seeing these increases in the strength of cannabis, as we are also seeing an emergence of new types of products,” such as edibles, tinctures, vape pens, sublingual sprays, and concentrates, Ziva Cooper, an associate professor of clinical neurobiology in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, told me. “A lot of these concentrates can have up to 90 percent THC,” she said, whereas the kind of flower you could get 30 years ago was far, far weaker. Scientists are not sure how such high-octane products affect people’s bodies, she said, but worry that they might have more potential for raising tolerance, introducing brain damage, and inculcating dependence.

As for new risks: In many stores, budtenders are providing medical advice with no licensing or training whatsoever. “I’m most scared of the advice to smoke marijuana during pregnancy for cramps,” said Humphreys, arguing that sellers were providing recommendations with no scientific backing, good or bad, at all.

In terms of long-standing risks, the lack of federal involvement in legalization has meant that marijuana products are not being safety-tested like pharmaceuticals; measured and dosed like food products; subjected to agricultural-safety and pesticide standards like crops; and held to labelling standards like alcohol. (Different states have different rules and testing regimes, complicating things further.)

Health experts also cited an uncomfortable truth about allowing a vice product to be widely available, loosely regulated, and fully commercialized: Heavy users will make up a huge share of sales, with businesses wanting them to buy more and spend more and use more, despite any health consequences.

“The reckless way that we are legalizing marijuana so far is mind-boggling from a public-health perspective,” Kevin Sabet, an Obama administration official and a founder of the non-profit Smart Approaches to Marijuana, told me. “The issue now is that we have lobbyists, special interests, and people whose motivation is to make money that are writing all of these laws and taking control of the conversation.”

This is not to say that prohibition is a more attractive policy, or that legalization has proven a public-health disaster. “The big-picture view is that the vast majority of people who use cannabis are not going to be problematic users,” said Jolene Forman, an attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance. “They’re not going to have a cannabis-use disorder. They’re going to have a healthy relationship with it. And criminalization actually increases the harms related to cannabis, and so having like a strictly regulated market where there can be limits on advertising, where only adults can purchase cannabis, and where you’re going to get a wide variety of products makes sense.”

Still, strictly regulated might mean more strictly regulated than today, at least in some places, drug-policy experts argue. “Here, what we’ve done is we’ve copied the alcohol industry fully formed, and then on steroids with very minimal regulation,” Humphreys said. “The oversight boards of a number of states are the industry themselves. We’ve learned enough about capitalism to know that’s very dangerous.”

A number of policy reforms might tamp down on problem use and protect consumers, without quashing the legal market or pivoting back to prohibition and all its harms. One extreme option would be to require markets to be non-commercial: The District of Columbia, for instance, does not allow recreational sales, but does allow home cultivation and the gifting of marijuana products among adults. “If I got to pick a policy, that would probably be it,” Kleiman told me. “That would be a fine place to be if we were starting from prohibition, but we are starting from patchwork legalization. As the Vermont farmer says, I don’t think you can get there from here. I fear its time has passed. It’s generally true that the drug warriors have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

There’s no shortage of other reasonable proposals, many already in place or under consideration in some states. The government could run marijuana stores, as in Canada. States could require budtenders to have some training or to refrain from making medical claims. They could ask users to set a monthly THC purchase cap and remain under it. They could cap the amount of THC in products, and bar producers from making edibles that are attractive to kids, like candies. A ban or limits on marijuana advertising are also options, as is requiring cannabis dispensaries to post public-health information.

Then, there are THC taxes, designed to hit heavy users the hardest. Some drug-policy experts argue that such levies would just push people from marijuana to alcohol, with dangerous health consequences. “It would be like saying, ‘Let’s let the beef and pork industries market and do whatever they wish, but let’s have much tougher restrictions on tofu and seitan,'” said Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project. “In light of the current system, where alcohol is so prevalent and is a more harmful substance, it is bad policy to steer people toward that.” Yet reducing the commercial appeal of all vice products-cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana-is an option, if not necessarily a popular one.

Perhaps most important might be reintroducing some reasonable skepticism about cannabis, especially until scientists have a better sense of the health effects of high-potency products, used frequently. Until then, listening to and believing the hundreds of thousands of users who argue marijuana is not always benign might be a good start.

Source: info@learnaboutsam.org   20th August 2018

www.learnaboutsam.org

It is no accident that in almost the same week both Australia and UK have decided that cannabis is to be recommended for a host of medical disorders mostly in advance of gold standard clinical trials. This is a direct product of the organized transnational global drug liberalization movement orchestrated from New York.

I wish to most respectfully disagree with the points made by BMJ editor Dr. Godlee. Diarrhoea and colic occur in cannabis withdrawal; Crohn’s disease has a prominent immune aspect, and cannabinoids are likely acting partly as immune modulators. Statements from patients are uninterpretable without understanding the treatments tried, their withdrawal symptomatology and their personal preferences.

Most importantly, as Dr Godlee states, cannabis is a mixture of 104 cannabinoids. The tide cannot be both out and in at the same time. Medicines in western nations are universally pure substances. This comprises a fundamental difficulty.

Medical research has confirmed that the body’s endocannabinoid system is a finely regulated and highly complex system which is involved in the detailed regulation of essentially all body systems including the brain and cardiovascular systems and stem cell niches.

Studies have shown that the rate of use of cannabis by expecting mothers closely parallels that in the wider community. In fact given the long half-life of cannabis in tissues even were a maternal habitual smoker to stop when she discovered her pregnancy, her infant would continue to be exposed to her on-board cannabinoid load for several months afterwards during critical periods of organogenesis. And other studies show that the father’s cannabis use is even more damaging than the mothers’.

Whilst much research has focussed on the effects of endocannabinoids in the adult brain relatively little research has looked at the impact of these same effects in the developing brain of the foetus and neonate. Whilst the brain stem is almost devoid of type 1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1Rs) they are in high concentration in many parts of the midbrain, limbic system, subcortical regions and cerebral and cerebellar cortices. Foetal CB1Rs have been shown to play key roles in virtually all aspects of brain development including neural stem cell function, determining the ratio of glial v neuronal differentiation, brain inflammation, axonal growth cone guidance, stem cell niche function and signalling, blood flow signalling, white matter and CNS tract formation, glial cell differentiation, myelination, dendrite formation, neural migration into the developing cortex, synapse formation and integration of newly formed neurons into the neural network. They are also found in high density on endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria from which latter they indirectly control major issues including cognition, DNA maintenance and repair systems both by supplying energy and by metabolite shuttle and RNA signalling.

Hence it is not surprising that gestational cannabis has been linked with a clear continuum of defects, including in protracted longitudinal studies from Pittsburgh, Ottawa and Netherlands impaired cortical and executive functioning; reduced spatial judgement; the need to recruit more brain to perform similar computational tasks; microcephaly; lifelong smaller heads and smaller brains; anencephaly (in two CDC studies), and increased foetal death. This progression clearly reflects a spectrum of congenital neurological impairment which is quite consistent with the known distribution of CB1Rs mainly across the foetal and adult forebrain and midbrain and its derivatives.

It is also consistent with a recent explosion of autism in Colorado, California, New Jersey and many other sites in USA and internationally in recent years. Moreover cannabis induced synpatopathy closely mimics that seen in autism, as do similar white matter disconnection endophenotypes.

A similar scenario plays out in the cardiovasculature. The American Heart Association and American Academy of Pediatrics issued a joint statement as long ago as 2007 noting that foetal cannabis exposure was linked with increased rates of ventricular septal defect and Ebstein’s anomaly (complex tricuspid valvopathy). This is consistent with recent Colorado experience where ventricular septal defect has risen from 43.9 to 59.4 / 10,000 live births, or 35.3% 2000-2013. Both of these structures are derivatives of the endocardial cushions which are rich in CB1Rs. Concerningly Colorado has also seen a 262% rise in atrial septal defects over the same period. Exposure to other drugs does not explain this change as they were falling across this period. It has also been reported that the father’s use of cannabis is the strongest environmental factor implicated in cardiovascular defects, here involving transposition of the great arteries, which is a derivative of the conoventricular ridges immediately distal and continuous with embryonic endocardial cushions, and also rich in CB1Rs.

Similar findings play out in gastroschisis. There is an impressive concordance amongst the larger studies of the relationship of gastroschisis and congenital cannabis exposure where senior Canadian authors concluded that cannabis caused a three-fold rise in gastroschisis, consistent with a high density of CB1Rs on the umbilical vessels.

And cannabis has also been implicated as an indirect chromosomal clastogen and indirect genotoxin through its effect to disrupt the mitotic spindle by microtubule inhibition, and likely DNA maintenance and repair by its effect on nuclear actin filaments.

Moreover cannabidiol has been shown to alter the epigenome, to be genotoxic, and to bind to CB1Rs at high doses, so the simplistic case that “Cannabidiol is good” – fails.

These considerations imply that if clinical trials continue to show efficacy for additional indications for cannabinoids, their genotoxic and teratogenic potential, from both mother and father, will need to be carefully balanced with their clinical utility. They also imply that these issues will need to be more widely canvassed and discussed in order to introduce more balance into the heavily biased present global media coverage of the highly misleading misnomer “medical cannabis”.

Only once before has a known teratogen been marketed globally: the thalidomide disaster is the proximate reason for modern pharmaceutical laws. With its widespread uptake, rising concentrations, asymptotic genotoxic dose-response curves and actions through the paternal line cannabis could be much worse.

Albert S Reece
Doctor
University of Western Australia and Edith Cowan University at Joondalup in Western Australia
Brisbane

Source: https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3357/rr-0

 

Source:

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/article-abstract/2689028

These are very shocking videos with information about some of the effects of drug legalisation in the USA.

 

 

Report by prominent marijuana policy group finds costs would outweigh any tax revenue under legalization; Healthy and Productive Illinois coalition urges rejection of legalization

Today, the day before the unofficial “marijuana holiday,” Healthy and Productive Illinois (HPIL) – a project of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action (SAM Action) – released a comprehensive working paper on the projected costs of legalization in Illinois, finding that legalization would cost the state $670.5 million, far outweighing estimated tax revenue projections of approximately $566 million. The report will be released today at 9:30 am in Room N505 of the Thompson State Building in Chicago, during a press conference by HPIL to announce opposition to legalization.

This report uses data from states like Colorado that have legalized marijuana to debunk the myth that taxed marijuana sales will be a boon to the state’s well-reported fiscal crisis. A conservative approximation of quantifiable data such as administrative and regulatory enforcement, increased drugged driving fatalities and other vehicle related property damages, short term health costs, and increased workplace absenteeism and accidents would cost the state $670.5 million in 2020.

“This study clearly demonstrates that the only people who will make money from marijuana commercialization are those in the industry that grow and sell it, at the direct expense of public health and safety,” said Dr. Aaron Weiner Director of Addiction Services at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health. “This industry is actively lobbying in Springfield to move their agenda forward, misleading our leaders and the general public. We have to speak up about the truth to protect the health of our State,” continued Dr. Weiner.

Healthy and Productive Illinois is a coalition formed to spread science-based awareness on marijuana harms and push back against the movement to legalize marijuana. The group believes the marijuana industry is mimicking the tactics of the Big Tobacco industry.

“We know that when citizens of Illinois are informed that marijuana is already decriminalized, only 23% want to fully legalize it,” said Andy Duran, Executive Director of Linking Efforts Against Drugs (LEAD). “Lack of knowledge and confusion is the fuel that drives the commercial marijuana market forward, just like tobacco before it. Imagine what would happen if everyone was aware that the State will lose money, too,” continued Duran.

There is sufficient information available to suggest that marijuana legalization could incur additional costly side effects, but at this time data is not robust enough to quantify their long-term impact. One of these additional costs would be controlling an expanded black market.

“In Oregon and Colorado, we are seeing thriving black markets and illegal grow operations hiding amongst legal growers,” said Chief James Black, Vice President of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. “This expanded black market creates a real problem for law enforcement who now have to work even harder and allocate more precious resources to weed out illegal grow ops,” continued Chief Black.

Additional costs include:

* Additional workplace injuries among part-time employees

* Increases in alcohol use and abuse

* Increases in tobacco use

* More opioid abuse

* Increases in short-term/long-term recovery for marijuana use disorders

* Greater marijuana use among underage students

* Property and other economic damage from marijuana extraction lab explosions

* Controlling an expanded black market, sales to minors, and public intoxication

* Other administrative burdens of most state legalization programs, such as:

– money for drugged driving awareness campaigns;

– drug prevention programs; and

– pesticide control and other agricultural oversight mechanisms

* Long-term health impacts of marijuana use

“Cost reports such as this are the dirty truth that the pot industry doesn’t want law makers and the general public to see,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, Founder and President of SAMA and former senior drug policy advisor to President Obama. “The pot industry is dead set on becoming the next Big Tobacco. The men in suits behind Big Pot will become rich while communities of color continue to suffer with addiction, black markets thrive, and states are left to foot the bill,” continued Dr. Sabet.

Source: Email from SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) <info@learnaboutsam.org>

April 2018

There was big news in Congress today that I wanted you to know about. A proposed government spending bill released today eliminated a provision that has protected the marijuana industry from federal prosecution for violating the Controlled Substances Act.

The Rohrabacher-Farr language was eliminated from the Commerce, Justice, Science bill that funds the Department of Justice, even though the language had previously been included in the 2017 base text. In addition, the Financial Services bill retained language preventing Washington, DC from implementing full retail sales and commercialization of recreational marijuana.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) submitted testimony to the Appropriations Committee to push back against this provision, which has allowed unsafe and untested products to masquerade as medicine. Rather than submit their products to the FDA for approval as safe and effective medicines, the marijuana industry has instead been using medical marijuana laws as a guise to increase demand for marijuana consumption and service the black market with large amounts of high-potency marijuana.

“If I were an investor, I would sell my marijuana stocks short,” said Kevin Sabet, President of SAM. “The marijuana industry has lost in every state in which they were pushing legislation in 2017, the industry’s largest lobbying group is losing its bank account , and now they are losing protection that has helped them thrive despite marijuana’s illegal status. Although the debate over Rohrbacher-Farr is far from over, the bad news just keeps coming for the pot industry. But it’s great news for parents, prevention groups, law enforcement, medical professionals, victims’ rights advocates and everyone who cares about putting public health before profits.”

Evidence demonstrates that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decade – 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.

Thank you for the work that you are doing to help with these big wins for public health and safety!  

Source: Email from Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) June 2017

There was big news in Congress yesterday that I wanted you to know about. We are pleased to report that the House has not included any pro-pot riders in its spending bills this year! Thank you for all of your efforts, including calls and emails. Congress has heard your voice and acted to preserve the public health and safety of our kids and communities.

Pro-pot advocates filed more than ten amendments to protect the marijuana industry and increase marijuana investment opportunities, but none of the amendments were allowed to proceed. The lessons of legalization are getting out, and it’s clear the experiment has failed, as our recent Cole Memo Report has shown. The black market is thriving, kids are ending up in emergency rooms, and drugged driving fatalities are soaring .

The fight isn’t over, though. Even though the House bill is clear, the Senate version of the spending bill still contains key marijuana industry protections. Those differences will be resolved in the coming months. We will continue to send out alerts to let you know when it’s time to come together and act.

Thank you again for all your work over the past years. You’ve made a difference, and we are grateful for your partnership. Please consider a donation to help with our efforts as we continue this battle in the coming months.

Source: Email SAM Action <info@samaction.net> from Kevin Sabet September 2017

The Oregon Health Authority also issued this month a baseline report titled Marijuana Report: Use, Attitudes, and Health Effects in Oregon. This comprehensive report includes several key findings.
 
Pictured above, for example, is a state map showing the 40 cities and 11 counties that have banned marijuana businesses within their boundaries. However, the Oregon Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program shows those numbers to be higher. Some 80 of the state’s 242 cities and 17 of its 36 counties have banned marijuana processing businesses and marijuana dispensaries from conducting business within their boundaries.
 
Oregon legalized marijuana for medical use in 1998 and for recreational use in 2014. Possession of up to eight ounces became legal for those age 21 or older July 1, 2015. Because recreational dispensaries will not open until late this year, the state allowed dispensaries selling pot for medical use to begin selling pot for recreational use as well October 1, 2015.
 
In just three months, however, some changes are already being seen. Marijuana-related calls to the state’s Poison Control Center increased in the last half of 2015, for example, from 105 in 2014 to 158 in 2015.
 
Other data include:

  • One in ten 8th-graders and one in five 11th-graders used marijuana in the past month, about the same as national levels.
  • Approximately 90% of marijuana users smoke the drug.
  • Some 62% of 11th-graders report marijuana is easy to get, some say easier than cigarettes.
  • Nearly half of current marijuana using 11th-graders who drive say they drove within three hours of using the drug.
  • Half (51%) of Oregon adults have seen marijuana store or product advertising, but less than one-third (29%) have seen information about marijuana health effects.
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Oregon adults say they don’t know when it is legal to drive after using marijuana.

Read this report here.

TO ALL OUR READERS: THE NDPA WOULD URGE YOU TO READ THE REPORT MENTIONED IN THE ARTICLE BELOW, (Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters), WHICH GIVES A DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF HOW MARIJUANA BECAME THE NUMBER ONE DRUG OF CHOICE FOR MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WORLDWIDE, HOW IT BECAME ‘BIG BUSINESS’ IN THE USA AND WHY WE NEED TO DISSEMINATE THIS INFORMATION WIDELY.

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, March 14, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A new report by National Families in Action (NFIA) uncovers and documents how three billionaires, who favor 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 non-profit 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.”
The paper and the supporting data are available at www.nationalfamilies.org.
About National Families in Action

National Families in Action is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1977. The organization helped lead a national parent movement credited with reducing drug use among U.S. adolescents and young adults by two-thirds between 1979 and 1992. For forty years, it has provided complex scientific information in understandable language to help parents and others protect children’s health. It tracks marijuana science and the marijuana legalization movement on its Marijuana Report website and its weekly e-newsletter of the same name.

Source: https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2017/03/14/936283/0/en/New-Report-by-National-Families-in-Action-Rips-the-Veil-Off-the-Medical-Marijuana-Industry.html

Submitted by Livia Edegger 

As support for decriminalising and legalising marijuana is growing, several new studies highlight the potentially harmful effects of the drug on its user’s brain and heart. The findings are particularly revealing in the field of recreational cannabis use. While studying the brains of a group of twenty occasional cannabis smokers, researchers from Harvard University found that as few as one or two uses a week can change the brain. Smoking marijuana was found to primarily affect the areas involved in decision making, emotions and motivations. Along the same lines, a group of French researchers found that marijuana use ups the risk of developing heart problems (i.e. strokes, heart attacks and circulation problems). More research is needed to better understand the health risks associated with marijuana.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/even-casual-cannabis-use-can-affect-health

A teenage rugby player cut off his own penis and stabbed his mother while high on skunk, his father has revealed, as he called for the drug to be reclassified.

The father, named only as Nick because he wants to remain anonymous as his son is rebuilding his life, is backing Lord Nicholas Monson’s campaign to have skunk reclassified from a class B to a class A drug and for the traditional weaker form of cannabis to be decriminalised.

Lord Monson launched his call following the suicide of his 21-year-old son Rupert, who was addicted to skunk.

Nick, speaking for the first time in an interview with Radio Five Live, said his son, a county rugby player, started smoking “weed” when he was around sixteen and a half before switching to skunk because of “boredom”.

That was the beginning of what Nick said his son would describe as “two and a half years of hell” which culminated in a psychotic episode.

His son went from a “very bright, bubbly lad” to a “waste of space”. The teenager became delusional and paranoid, including sleeping “with a tennis racket in his bed because he thought people were living in the walls”.

Describing the horrific incident when his son attacked his mother and inflicted “incredibly deep self harm”, Nick said it had been a “perfectly normal day” before his son woke in the middle of the night ranting and raving.

“It was absolutely devastating, you can’t imagine anything of that nature happening…the whole episode was just surreal, I remember looking back its almost as if I’m peering in through a window and it’s happening to someone else.”

Nick’s son was in a mental institute for around 6 months, and in total spent almost two years in prison following the incident.

He has undergone surgery, and will have more operations to repair the damage, though Nick said he couldn’t say whether his son would be able to have children. He is clean of drink and drugs, but Nick cautioned that even being around other people smoking skunk could trigger another psychotic episode. His ex-wife has recovered, and has fully reconciled with her son who, Nick said, is “actually in really good form.”

“We recognise that this was an illness… he was totally oblivious, actually has no real memory of anything that happened, even now,” Nick said. “Maybe that’s for the best.”

Source:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/02/teenage-rugby-player-cut-penis-high-onskunk-says-father-wants/

July 2017 Revised January 2018

Injury Prevention Centre: Who we are

The Injury Prevention Centre (IPC) is a provincial organization that focuses on reducing catastrophic injury and death in Alberta. We act as a catalyst for action by supporting communities and decision-makers with knowledge and tools. We raise awareness about preventable injuries as an important component of lifelong health and wellness. We are funded by an operating grant from Alberta Health and we are housed at the School of Public Health, University of Alberta.

Injury in Alberta

Injuries are the leading cause of death for Albertans aged 1 to 44 years. In 2014, injuries resulted in 2,118 deaths, 63,913 hospital admissions and 572,653 emergency department visits. Of all age groups, young adults, 20 to 24 years old had the highest percentage of injury deaths with 84.9%. Youth, 15 to 19 years of age had the second highest percentage of injury deaths with 76.4%.

1. Alberta is spending an estimated $4 billion annually on injury – that amounts to $1,083.00 for every Albertan.

2. Potential impact of cannabis legalization on injury in Alberta In 2018, the Government of Canada will legalize the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. In the United States, some jurisdictions have similarly legalized cannabis for recreational use and have collected data on the changes in injuries due to cannabis use. Jurisdictions that have legalized the use of recreational as well as medical cannabis have experienced increases in injuries due to burns (100%), pediatric ingestion of cannabis (48%), drivers testing positive for cannabis and/or alcohol and drugs (9%), drivers testing positive for THC (6%) and drivers testing positive for the metabolite caboxy-THC (12%) when comparing pre- and post-legalization numbers.

3. (pg. 149) Of greatest concern are the traffic outcomes. “Fatalities substantially increased after legislation in Colorado and Washington, from 49 (in 2010) to 94 (in 2015) in Colorado, and from 40 to 85 in Washington. These outcomes suggest that after legislation, more people are driving while impaired by cannabis.”

4. (pg.155) Alberta can expect to see similar changes in injuries when the new laws take effect. The objective of this document is to recommend policies for inclusion in the Alberta Cannabis Framework that will minimize negative impacts of cannabis legalization on injuries to Albertans. Our focus is on:

* Preventing Cannabis-Impaired Driving

* Preventing Poisoning of Children by Cannabis

* Preventing Burns due to Combustible Solvent Hash Oil Extraction

* Preventing Other Injuries due to Cannabis Impairment

* Developing Surveillance to Identify Trends in Cannabis-Related injury

* Implementing a Comprehensive Public Education Plan

Injuries due to cannabis impairment in Alberta can be expected to rise following the legalization of recreational cannabis use. To mitigate the negative effects of legalization on injuries in Alberta, the Injury Prevention Centre recommends the Government of Alberta take the following actions for:

Preventing Cannabis-Impaired Driving

Impose administrative sanctions at a lower limit than Criminal Code impairment

Mandate a lower per se levels for THC/alcohol co-use

Increase sanctions for co-use of alcohol and cannabis

Separate cannabis and alcohol outlets by the creation of a public retail system for the distribution of cannabis products

Support Research to Improve Enforcement Tools

Apply sufficient resources to training and enforcement

Conduct public education regarding cannabis-impaired driving .

Preventing Poisoning of Children by Cannabis

Uphold federal legislation regarding packaging

Support public education on cannabis poisoning’

Preventing Burns due to Combustible Solvent Hash Oil Extraction

Prohibit the production of cannabis products using combustible solvents if it fails to appear in federal Bill C45.

Implement public education regarding the dangers of producing cannabis products using combustible solvents

Preventing Other Injuries due to Cannabis-Impairment

Inform the public about the risks of other activities when impaired

Develop Surveillance to Identify Trends in Cannabis-Related injury

Collect and analyze emergency department, hospital admission and death data for injuries involving cannabis impairment

Develop and implement a comprehensive public education campaign about the safe use of cannabis

Source: https://injurypreventioncentre.ca/downloads/positions/IPC%20-%20Cannabis%20Legalization Jan. 2018

The following video is long – 52 minutes, but it is essential viewing to help people understand some of the consequences of legalisation for both medicinal and recreational use of cannabis in the USA. Make yourself a cup of coffee and watch this in its entirety.

Subject: Marijuana X https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156320599628035&id=670743034&ref=content_filter

While writing, I wondered what kind of details I should publish about the previous lives of people in the marijuana industry. Virgil Grant, one of the article’s subjects, told me stories about how he would sell marijuana from his family grocery store in Compton in the 1980s and 1990s by putting the weed in empty boxes of Lucky Charms. He mentioned, without much elaboration, that would-be competitors in Compton regretted going up against him.

It’s an awkward and confusing transition period in the marijuana industry. What was illegal yesterday in California may be legal today, but that’s of course not the way the federal government sees it. Mr. Grant has spent time in both federal and state prisons.

Since legalization of recreational sales came into effect in California in January, there have been stories about cities and counties that banned marijuana. But I had never seen reporting on the bigger picture. So I reached out to a company called Weedmaps, a website that hosts online reviews of cannabis businesses. When they added it up, the data surprised me: Only 14 percent of California’s cities and towns authorize the sale of recreational marijuana. By contrast, Proposition 64, the ballot measure that allowed marijuana legalization, passed with 57 percent voter approval in 2016, a seemingly solid majority.

The low acceptance of marijuana businesses strikes me as part of the liberal, not-in-my-backyard paradox in California. Yes, Californians want shelters for the homeless, but just not across the street. Yes, Californians want more housing built, but not if it changes the character of the neighborhood. A marijuana dispensary? Sure, preferably in the next town.

A New York Times reporter wanted to find out why California cities are taking such different approaches to legal pot. Previously, he covered a story about why California growers are so reluctant to leave the black market and seek a state license to become legitimate. He found that only about 10 percent have done so. The other 90 percent remain in black market. California is the nation’s biggest producer and consumer of marijuana. One estimate projects the state produces seven times the amount of pot it consumes and exports the surplus to non-legal states. Pursuing this story took the reporter to Compton, in Los Angeles County, where residents voted in January to ban marijuana businesses by a 3-to-1 margin. He compared this to Oakland, near San Francisco, which has embraced the marijuana industry. It’s as if the two cities had been asked the same question and come up with completely different answers, he opined. To get a bigger picture, he consulted Weedmaps to find out how common industry bans are. He was surprised to find that only 14 percent of California’s cities and towns authorize marijuana sales, even though legalization passed in 2016 with 57 percent voter approval.

It’s still early days — it’s been less than three months since legal sales started — but for now the trend is that larger cities like Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego are the hubs of the marijuana industry, while smaller cities and towns are ambivalent or outright hostile to the idea of opening marijuana dispensaries. Orange County, in Southern California, is a recreational marijuana desert, with only a handful of dispensaries allowed.

California has a reputation for very tolerant attitudes toward pot, and it’s the biggest consumer and producer of the drug in the United States by a wide margin. It is also the nation’s premier exporter to other states: By one estimate, the state produces seven times more than it consumes.

But the visit to Compton helped peel back another, more conservative set of attitudes toward marijuana.

At the Compton airport, Shawn Wildgoose, a former enlisted Marine who lives in Compton and works in the construction industry, told me he wanted to see the city focusing on its homeless problem and reducing crime, which is sharply down from previous decades.

Legal marijuana?

“Compton has other issues,” Mr. Wildgoose said. “We don’t need that distraction.”

Source: National Families in Action’s The Marijuana Report nfia@nationalfamilies.org 21st March 2018

Marijuana has always been seen as the laid-back drug. It might make you crave ice cream and chocolate cake or induce you to fall asleep, but it certainly wasn’t dangerous.

Yet, as governments in Britain and Canada consider decriminalizing the drug, medical researchers are warning that smoking cannabis increases the risk of lung disease and, more disturbingly, that its use can exacerbate psychosis and that it is linked with the onset of schizophrenia in adolescents.

“We have the evidence of cannabis and its dangers,” said Dr. Richard Russell, a respiratory specialist and a spokesman for the British Lung Foundation, which published a report this week on the dangers of cannabis.

“What we really want to avoid is the situation we had in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s with cigarettes, where doctors were recommending tobacco as being good for you.”

In its report, the lung foundation warns that cannabis is more harmful to the lungs than tobacco. It says smoking three joints a day can cause the same damage as 20 cigarettes, and tar from marijuana contains 50 per cent more carcinogens than that from tobacco.

Persistent users are risking lung cancer, emphysema, bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses, it says.

One of the major problems is posed by the way users smoke marijuana and hashish: They take puffs that are almost twice as large as those tobacco smokers take and hold the smoke in four times as long. “This means that there is a greater respiratory burden of carbon monoxide and smoke particulates such as tar than when smoking a similar quantity of tobacco.”

The foundation also noted that in the 1960s, the average marijuana joint contained about 10 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which accounts for the drug’s psychoactive properties. Because of sophisticated cultivation techniques, the average joint today has 150 mg of THC, a 15-fold increase.

Dr. Russell, the respiratory specialist, worries that young people think cannabis is a “cool drug” that is risk-free. A survey carried out this year showed that 79 per cent of British children believe cannabis is safe.

The Canadian government indicated in its Speech from the Throne last month that it is considering the decriminalization of marijuana possession.

Already, it gives exemptions to drug laws to allow sick people to have marijuana. On the other hand, pot grown for medicinal purposes in an abandoned Manitoba mine with Ottawa’s sanction sits in storage.

In Britain, under a proposal due to become law next year, simple possession of a small amount of cannabis will no longer result in an automatic arrest although police will still be able to go after users in “aggravated” circumstances, such as smoking in the presence of children. Cannabis trafficking will also continue to bring a prison sentence.

Meanwhile, clinical studies on the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes are under way with HIV patients in Canada and with people suffering from multiple sclerosis in Britain.

The British Lung Foundation says it is not trying to get involved in the debate over whether cannabis should be legalized, leaving that to politicians. “Our report is not about the moral rights and wrongs of cannabis, but simply making sure everyone is completely clear about the respiratory health risks involved,” said Dr. Mark Britton, chairman of the foundation.

Dr. Russell says he recently saw a 40-year-old patient in his clinic with “severe end-stage emphysema” and has about 18 months to live. The patient has been smoking three joints a day for the past 25 years, the equivalent of smoking 60 cigarettes a day from the age of 15, he says.

Studies of heavy cannabis smoking among Rastafarians in the Caribbean have also pointed to increased danger of early lung cancer, Dr. Russell says.

Les Iversen, a professor of pharmacology at King’s College in London and an expert on cannabis, agrees that smoking marijuana poses dangers, but he says the report’s findings are exaggerated.

There is no specific evidence linking cannabis smoking with lung cancer, Prof. Iversen says.

He says it’s absurd to say smoking three joints is equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes because joints come in different sizes and strengths as do commercial cigarettes.

Although he adds, “I don’t think any drug is safe.”

Psychiatrists have also linked cannabis use to schizophrenia.

“People with schizophrenia do not take more alcohol, heroin or ecstasy than the rest of us, but they are twice as likely to smoke cannabis regularly,” says Dr. Robin Murray, a professor of psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry in London.

Dr. Murray says cannabis, along with cocaine and amphetamines, encourage the release of dopamine in the brain, which in turn leads to increased hallucinations.

He notes that the incidence of schizophrenia in south London has doubled in the past 40 years, and he says increased use of both cannabis and cocaine could be at fault.

Dr. Murray cites a study that interviewed 50,000 conscripts to the Swedish Army about their drug use and followed up later. Heavy users of cannabis at the age of 18 were six times as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia by the time they were 33 than those who kept away from the drug.

Another study, this one in the Netherlands, interviewed 7,500 people about their consumption of drugs and looked at their behaviour over the next three years. Regular users of cannabis were more likely to develop psychosis than those who did not use the drug.

“Any public debate on cannabis needs to take account of the risks as well as the pleasure,” Dr. Murray says. “Pro-marijuana campaigners claim, extrapolating from their Saturday-night joint, that cannabis is totally safe. Yet they would be unlikely to claim that a bottle of vodka a day is healthy on the basis of sharing a bottle of Chablis over dinner.

“No drugs that alter brain chemistry are totally safe,” he says. “Just as some who drink heavily become alcoholic, so a minority of those who smoke cannabis daily go psychotic.”

A major study on the links between cannabis and schizophrenia is due to be published in the British Medical Journal next week by Louise Arsenault, a biomedical researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry who was trained at the University of Montreal.

Research made public last year by Dr. Arsenault showed that young men who regularly smoke cannabis are five times more likely to be violent than those who avoid the drug. Using data from a study of 961 young adults in Dunedin, New Zealand, she discovered that one-third of those with a cannabis habit had a court conviction for violence by the time they hit 21 or had displayed violent behaviour. That was three times the level of those who drank excessive amounts of alcohol.

The warnings about marijuana have not deterred members of Britain’s Legalize Cannabis Alliance, who say the report is merely a selective study of existing medical literature, which ignores studies that discount the health threats posed by the drug.

“I’ve used it for 30 years and it doesn’t seem to have affected my health,” says Alun Buffry, the alliance’s national co-ordinator.

“I stopped tobacco three or four years ago and I have noticed that since then my health has improved. My general level of energy has improved and I get more of a high from cannabis than the sleepiness I used to get, which I think had to do with tobacco.”

Mr. Buffry argues that it would be best to legalize cannabis to control the quality of what is sold and eliminate “dirty supplies” that may include potentially harmful glues, fillers and colouring agents.

“I would argue that it would be far more dangerous illegal than it would be legalized,” he says. “Even if cannabis were the most dangerous substance in the world, it is still consumed by millions of people.”

Alan Freeman is The Globe and Mail’s European correspondent.

Source:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/incoming/theres-a-reason-they-call-it-getting-wasted/article1028091/  Mar. 21 2009

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Even as a marijuana legalization gains traction around the U.S. and the world, the anti-pot contingent soldiers on to promote its own agenda. These advocates are on a mission to keep marijuana illegal where it is, make it illegal where it is not and to inform the public of the dangers of marijuana legalization as they see it.

So who are these anti-marijuana legalization crusaders?

They come from different backgrounds. Some come from the business world. Two are former White House cabinet members. Another is an academic. Two are former ambassadors. One is the scion of a famous political family. Many are psychiatrists or psychologists. Others are former addicts. Still others are in the field of communications. Oh – one is a Pope.

They have different motivations. Some act because of the people they met who suffered from drug abuse. Others are staunch in their positions for moral reasons and concern for the nation’s future; still others for medical and scientific reasons.

Here is a list of the most significant:

  1. Calvina Fay

Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. and Save Our Society From Drugs (SOS). She is also the founder and director of the International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse.

She was a drug policy advisor to President George W. Bush and former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander. She has been a U.S. delegate and lecturer at international conferences.

President Bush acknowledged her efforts in drug prevention in 2008, and in 2009 she received the President’s Award from the National Narcotics Officers Associations Coalition.

She related during an interview that she became involved in the world of countering drug abuse as a businessperson. She started a company that wrote drug policy for employers, educated employees on the dangers of drugs and trained supervisors on how to recognize drug abuse. It was from this that she became aware of the gravity of the issue.

“People used to come to me to tell me they had a nephew or niece who had a drug problem,” Fay said. “This was when I realized how broad a problem this is. It became personally relevant at one point.”

President Bush acknowledged her efforts in drug prevention in 2008, and in 2009 she received the President’s Award from the National Narcotics Officers Associations Coalition.

I realized how broad a problem this is. It became personally relevant at one point.”

After she sold her company, she was approached by the DEA and the Houston Chamber of Commerce to improve the way substance abuse in the workplace was addressed. After a while she built a coalition of about 3,000 employers.

During this time she kept meeting more and more people who were addicted or had loved ones who were. So it became important to her to be involved in drug abuse prevention and treatment. She then became aware of the movement to legalize drugs.

“I knew that we had to push back against legalization, because if we did not prevention and treatment would not matter,” Fay asserted.

  1. Kevin Sabet

Sabet is the director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, where he is an assistant professor in the psychiatry department at the College of Medicine.

He is a co-founder of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) and has been called the quarterback of the anti-drug movement.

Sabet served in the Obama Administration as a senior advisor for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) from 2009-2011. He previously worked on research, policy and speech writing at ONDCP in 2000 and from 2003-2004 in the Clinton and Bush Administrations, respectively. This gives him the distinction of being the only staff member at ONDCP to hold a political appointment in both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

He was one of three main writers of President Obama’s first National Drug Control Strategy, and his tasks included leading the office’s efforts on marijuana policy, legalization issues, international demand reduction,drugged driving and synthetic drug (e.g. “Spice” and “Bath Salts”) policy. Sabet represented ONDCP in numerous meetings and conferences, and played a key role in the Administration’s international drug legislative and diplomatic efforts at the United Nations.

He is also a policy consultant to numerous domestic and international organizations through his company, the Policy Solutions Lab. His current clients include the United Nations, where he holds a senior advisor position at the Italy-based United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and other governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Sabet is published widely in peer-reviewed journals and books on the topics of legalization, marijuana decriminalization, medical marijuana, addiction treatment, drug prevention, crime and law enforcement.

He is a Marshall Scholar. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Social Policy at Oxford University and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

  1. Bill Bennett

Bennett was a former “drug czar” (i.e. director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy) during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. Prior to that he was the Secretary of Education in the Reagan administration. Bennett is a prolific author – including two New York Times Number- One bestsellers; he is the host of the number seven ranked nationally syndicated radio show Morning in America. He studied philosophy at Williams College (B.A.) and the University of Texas (Ph.D.) and earned a law degree from Harvard.

Bennett, along with former prosecutor Robert White, recently penned an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal calling marijuana a public health menace. The two are also finishing a book about marijuana legalization which is due out in February 2015.

Bennett frequently features on his radio show guests warning of the dangers of marijuana legalization. He is concerned that while the science shows that legalizing marijuana is not beneficial, public opinion is going in the other direction.

Why is he involved in this? Simply put, he thinks marijuana legalization is bad for America. The author of the acclaimed series of books about American history called America: The Last Best Hope thinks marijuana legalization will have deleterious effect on Americans, especially the youth of America.

“Because as Jim Wilson said, drugs destroy your mind and enslave your soul,” he told MainStreet.

“Medical science now proves it,” he added.

  1. Patrick Kennedy

The other co-founder of Project SAM is former Rhode Island Democrat congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of Ted Kennedy. When he started SAM in Denver in 2013, Kennedy, who has admitted past drug use, was quoted as saying, “I believe that drug use, which is to alter the mind, is injurious to the mind … It’s nothing that society should sanction.”

His organization seeks a third way to address the drug problem, one that “neither legalizes or demonizes marijuana.” Kennedy does not think incarceration is the answer. He wants to make small amounts a civil offense. He emphasizes his belief that public health officials need to be heeded on this issue and they are not. He predicts that, if legalized, marijuana will become another tobacco industry.

“The thought that we will have a new legalized drug does not make sense to me,” Kennedy said during a 2013 MSNBC interview.

  1. Joseph Califano

This former Carter administration U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare founded, in 1992, the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (since 2013, it has been called CASAColumbia). He is currently the chairman emeritus. The center has been a powerful voice for research, fundraising and outreach on the dangers of addiction. It shines the light, especially on the perils of marijuana for adolescents.

Recently Califano released an updated edition of his book How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents. He believes an update was needed because of the advances in science regarding youth and substance abuse that have occurred during the past five years.

He zeroes in on marijuana in the book, which he says is more potent today than it was 30 or 40 years ago. He points out – during an interview about the book published on the CASAColumbia website – the hazards of “synthetic marijuana” also known as Spice or K2. He says this is available in convenient stores and gas stations but is so lethal it was banned in New Hampshire.

Califano stresses that parents are the bulwark against substance abuse and addiction. He cited data during the interview that “70% of college students say their parents’ concerns or expectations influence whether or how much they drink, smoke or use drugs. Parental disapproval of such conduct is key to kids getting through the college years drug free. This is the time for you to use social media to keep in touch with your kids.”

He makes the analogy that “sending your children to college without coaching them about how to deal with drugs and alcohol is like giving them the keys to the car without teaching them how to drive.”

  1. Stuart Gitlow

Gitlow is the President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), a professional organization representing over 3,000 addiction specialist physicians.

In 2005, he also started the Annenberg Physician Training Program in Addictive Disease at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, NY. He is currently executive director. He is on the faculty of both the University of Florida and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

About ASAM’s attitudes toward marijuana, he said:

“Our positions and policies with respect to marijuana have been developed over many decades and have been updated based upon the latest scientific evidence. We are firmly opposed to legalization of marijuana and reject the notion that the plant marijuana has any medical application.”

That said, he believes anecdotal evidence supports that more research should be conducted to deduce which parts of the marijuana plan can havemedical value.

Why did he get involved in this?

“I didn’t get involved in this as a “crusader” or because of a specific interest, but rather because I serve as the spokesperson for ASAM,” he told MainStreet.com. “In fact, though, given that there is so much industry-sourced money financing the marijuana proponents, and that the science-based opposition has little funding at all, I recognize the need for the public to actually hear what the facts are, particularly given the media bias and conflict of interest in terms of being motivated by potential ad revenue.”

  1. David Murray

A senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Washington D.C., Murray co-directs the Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research. While serving previous posts as chief scientist and associate deputy director for supply reduction in the federal government’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. Before entering government, Murray, who holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Chicago, was executive director of the Statistical Assessment Service and held academic appointments at Connecticut College, Brown, Brandeis and Georgetown Universities.

What motivated him to get involved in a campaign to oppose marijuana legalization?

“It results from a steady regress from encountering a host of social pathologies (homelessness, failed school performance, domestic violence, child neglect, poverty, early crime, despair and suicide) and then time and again stumbling over a common denominator that either was a trigger or an accelerator of that pathology – substance abuse,” Murray told MainStreet. “Yet one finds as a dispassionate social analyst that the matter is either discounted, or overlooked, or not given sufficient weight, in the efforts to remediate the other surface manifestation pathologies,” he continued. “Moreover, one keeps encountering a sense that there is a closet with a door that is shut and it holds behind the door a host of explanations or guides to understanding of our woes, yet few are willing to open that door and address what lies behind it.”

He notes that even those who acknowledge the impact of substance abuse across so many maladies seem to not approach the problem with an open and searching mind. He said often one finds a ready-made narrative that serves to explain away the impact. The more that narrative is refuted “with counter argument or robust data indicating otherwise” the more social analysts resist or are in denial about the inadequacy of the standard narrative.

Subsequently, people who do criticize this encounter pressure from peers essentially telling to accept the narrative or shut up.

He mentions a good specific example can be found by encountering the reaction to the “gateway hypothesis” regarding early marijuana exposure. The literature in support of the gateway is quite strong he says.

“Yet everywhere the dominant response is to evade the implications,” he points out. “Our analysts pose alternative and unlikely accountings that seem practically Ptolemaic in their complicated denial of the obviously more simple and more real mechanism: exposure to the drug does, in fact, increase the likelihood of developing dependency on other, ‘harder’ drugs in a measurable way.“

  1. John Walters

He was, from December 2001 to January 2009, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and a cabinet member during the Bush Administration. During this time he helped implement policies which decreased teen drug use 25% and increased substance abuse treatment and screening in the healthcare system.

He is a frequent media commentator and has written many articles opposing the legalization of marijuana. He points out many of the fallacies of the pro-legalization movement. His editorials, essays, and media appearances have refuted the claims of the New York Times, pro-legalization libertarians and others.

For example, during a July 2014 appearance on Fox News Walters responded to the editorial boards condoning legalizing pot. Walters said when the science is increasingly revealing the risks of marijuana the “New York Times wants to act like it time to be ruled by Cheech and Chong.”

Walters has taught political science at Michigan State University’s James Madison College and at Boston College. He holds a BA from Michigan State University and an MA from the University of Toronto.

  1. Robert DuPont

DuPont was the founding director of National Institute on Drug Abuse. He has written more than three hundred professional articles and fifteen books including Getting Tough on Gateway Drugs: A Guide for the Family, A Bridge to Recovery: An Introduction to Twelve-Step Programs and The Selfish Brain: Learning from Addiction. Hazelden, the nation’s leading publisher of books on addiction and recovery, published, in 2005, three books on drug testing by DuPont: Drug Testing in Drug Abuse Treatment, Drug Testing in Schools and Drug Testing in the Criminal Justice System.

DuPont is active in the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He continues to practice psychiatry with an emphasis on addiction and anxiety disorders. He has been Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine since 1980. He is also the vice president of a consulting firm he co-founded in 1982 with former DEA director Peter Bensinger – Bensinger, DuPont and Associates. DuPont also founded, in 1978, the Institute for Behavior and Health a drug abuse prevention organization.

  1. Bertha Madras

A professor of psychobiology for the Department of Psychiatry of Harvard Medical School. She is in a new position at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School hospital affiliate. She was a former deputy director for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

She has done numerous studies about the nature of marijuana. She is the co-editor of The Cell Biology of Addiction, as well as the co-editor of the 2014 books Effects of Drug Abuse in the Human Nervous System andImaging of the Human Brain in Health and Disease.

She rejects the claims of pot proponents. For example, she states that the marijuana chemical content is not known or controlled. She also notes that the “effects of marijuana can vary considerably between plants” and that “no federal agency oversees marijuana, so dose or purity of the plant and the contaminants are not known.”

  1. Carla Lowe

A mother of five grown children, grandmother of nine, graduate of UC Berkeley and former high-school teacher, Lowe got started as a volunteer anti-drug activist in 1977 when her PTA Survey to Parents identified “drugs/alcohol” as their priority concern. She organized one of the nation’s first “Parent/Community” groups in her hometown of Sacramento and co-founded Californians for Drug-Free Youth. She also chaired the Nancy Reagan Speakers’ Bureau of the National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth, co-founded Californians for Drug-Free Schools, and in 2010 founded an all-volunteer Political Action Committee, Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM)

She has travelled throughout the U.S. and the world speaking to the issue of illicit drug use, primarily marijuana, and its impact on our young people. As a volunteer consultant for the U.S. State Department and Department of Education, she has addressed parents, students, community groups and heads of state in Brazil, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Pakistan, Germany, Italy, Ireland, and Australia.

CALM, is currently working with parents, law enforcement, and local community elected officials to stop the proliferation of marijuana by banning “medical” marijuana dispensaries and defeating the proposed 2016 ballot measure in California that will legalize recreational use of marijuana.

She wants to go national and is part of an effort to start Citizens Against Legalization of Marijuana-U.S.A. that will also function as a Political Action Committee dedicated to defeating legalization efforts throughout the country.

Lowe is a strong proponent of non-punitive random student drug testing. She believes this is the single most effective tool for preventing illicit drug use by our youth, and will result in billions of dollars in savings to our budget and downstream savings from the wreckage to our society in law enforcement, health and welfare, and education.

 

  1. Christian Thurstone

He is one of a few dozen mental health professionals in America who are board certified in general, child and adolescent, and addictions psychiatry. He is the medical director of one of Colorado’s largest youth substance-abuse treatment clinics and an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Denver, where he conducts research on youth substance use and addiction.

According to a May 2013 interview posted on the University of Colorado website, Thurstone was named an Advocate for Action by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in October 2012 for his “outstanding leadership in promoting an evidence-based approach to youth substance use and addiction.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper named Thurstone to a state task force convened to make recommendations about how to implement Amendment 64, a constitutional amendment approved by Colorado voters in November 2012 to legalize the personal use and regulation of marijuana for adults 21 and older.

He became involved in the marijuana issue in 2009 “when a whole confluence of events occurred that led to the commercialization of marijuana….What matters is not so much the decriminalization; it’s the commercialization that affects people, especially kids. …95% of the treatment referrals to Denver Health are for marijuana. Nationwide, it’s two-thirds of the treatment referrals according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).”

  1. Peter Bensinger

Bensinger was a former DEA chief during the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations. He was in the vanguard opposing medical marijuana in Illinois. He acknowledges medical marijuana as a value but he notes that it is available as a pill or spray, so the idea of legalizing smoked marijuana for medicinal purposes is merely a ploy.

  1. David Evans

The executive director of the Drug Free Schools Coalition before becoming a lawyer he was a research scientist, in the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, New Jersey Department of Health. He was also the manager of the New Jersey intoxicated driving program. He has written numerous articles warning of the dangers of marijuana legalization.

  1. Pope Francis

The new pontiff, while being hailed by many as being a liberal influence in the Catholic Church has taken an intransigent line against marijuana legalization. This past June the new international pop culture icon told the 31st International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome, “No a ogni tipo di droga (No to every type of drug).”

He was an active opponent of marijuana while a bishop in his native Argentina. He says now that attempts to legalize drugs do not produce the desired results.

He deplores the international drug trade as a scourge on humanity. Pope Francis has said it is a fallacy to say that more drug legalization will lead to less drug use.

  1. Dennis Prager

A nationally syndicated radio talk show host in Los Angeles, Prager has used his microphone to condemn marijuana legalization. He has asked rhetorically, “Would you rather your pilot smoke cigarettes or pot? and “ How would Britain have fared in World War II if Winston Churchill had smoked pot instead of cigars?

  1. Mel and Betty Sembler

The Semblers are longtime soldiers in the war on drugs. They co-founded, in 1976, a nonprofit drug treatment program called Straight, Inc. that successfully treated more than 12,000 young people with drug addiction in eight cities nationally from Dallas to Boston. They also help fund other organizations dedicated to opposing legalizing drugs including marijuana. Betty Sembler is the founder and Board Chair of Save Our Society From Drugs (S.O.S.) and the Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. Both organizations work to educate people about attempts to legalize as “medicine” unsafe, ineffective and unapproved drugs such as marijuana,heroin, PCP and crack as well as to reduce illegal drug use, drug addiction and drug-related illnesses and death.

  1. Seth Leibsohn

Leibsohn is a radio host, writer, editor, policy, political and communications expert. He is a former member of the board of directors of the Partnership for a Drug Free America-Arizona Affiliate.

He told MainStreet that he got involved in the campaign against marijuana after seeing the effects of pot smoking on a college friend.

“One thing I noticed and never left my mind was a friend I had in college who so very clearly, freshman year, was one of the most gifted and intelligent thinkers and writers I had ever met,” he said. ” I predicted to myself and others, he’d be the next big American author, published in The New Yorker, books of short stories galore. But then he picked up a really habitual marijuana smoking practice. He smoked, probably, daily. This was the mid to late ’80s. And to this day, I believe he is still a smoker….and he is a waste-case. Lazy, never had a serious job, never published a serious piece of writing, totally ended up opposite what I had predicted. That story never left my mind.”

Leibsohn also noticed this was happening more and more. But the problem really was driven home while he was the producer and co-host for the Bill Bennett radio show, Morning in America.

“We noticed something very interesting: whenever we dealt with the issues of drug abuse, and particularly marijuana, the phone lines lit up like no other issue,” he said. “We had doctors, we had nurses, we had truckers, we had small businessmen, we had housewives, we had moms, we had brothers, we had teachers, we had sisters, we had aunts, we had uncles telling us story after story of the damage marijuana and other drugs had done to their and their loved ones lives. It amazed me how widespread the issue is. I concluded, to myself, this issue of substance abuse may very well be the most important and damaging health issue in America.”

He also noticed that “there just weren’t that many who seemed to give a serious damn about it.” He said Joe Califano and Bill Bennett were about the only ones he knew with a large microphone or following who would address the issue. The silence in other precincts and from others was astounding to him.

“I still am amazed not more people are taking this as seriously as it should be taken,” he said. “But I know, too, that any family that has been through the substance abuse roller coaster, needs to know they are not alone, and they are the real experts–their stories tell the tale I wish more children and pro-legalizers could hear. Today, I still talk, write, and research on the issue and have joined the board of a non-profit dedicated to helping on it as well,” he explained.

  1. Alexandra Datig

A political advisor and consultant who has experience of more than 13 years on issues of drug policy she was instrumental in the defeat of California Proposition 19, The Regulate Control & Tax Cannabis Act. Datig serves on the Advisory Board for the Coalition for a Drug Free California, the largest drug prevention coalition in California.

She became involved in the anti-marijuana legalization movement because of her own experiences. She was working in politics at the local and state level for over eight years by 2009, but she also reached ten years in sobriety from a 13-year drug addiction that nearly cost her her life. When California Proposition 19 came along, she decided “to jump in and form my own independent campaign committee “Nip It In The Bud.”

“I began reaching out to several other committees, drug prevention groups and law enforcement and together we built a powerful statewide coalition for which I became one of its leading advisors and strategists,” she told MainStreet

“Today, I consider myself a miracle, because I was able to turn my life around,” she told MainStreet. “This is not something I could have done had I not gotten sober. Having rebuilt my life in recovery, I believed that my experience could convince voters that legalizing a drug like marijuana for recreational use would make our roads more dangerous and, much like cigarettes, was targeted at our youth. That legalization would cause harm to first time users, people who suffer from depression and mental disorders and especially people vulnerable to addiction or relapse.”

  1. Monte Stiles

A former state and federal prosecutor, Stiles supervised the Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Force – a group of agents and prosecutors who investigate and prosecute high-level drug trafficking organizations, including Los Angeles street gangs, Mexican cartels and international drug smuggling and money laundering operations.

One of his proudest personal and career achievements was the organization and implementation of the statewide “Enough is Enough” anti-drug campaign which produced community coalitions in every area of Idaho. In addition to the prosecution of drug traffickers, Monte has been a passionate drug educator and motivational speaker for schools, businesses, churches, law enforcement agencies, and other youth and parent organizations. He left government service in April 2011 to devote all of his time to drug education, other motivational speaking and nature photography.

 

I was recently moderating several nights of focus groups in Denver when the subject of marijuana suddenly and unexpectedly broke into the conversation.

At the beginning of each group I asked respondents to introduce themselves, stating their favorite hobbies or leisure time interests, and one thing they would change about Colorado. I’ve been doing this for decades and am used to hearing “the usual suspects” when it comes to what respondents want to change. Fix the traffic. Improve the schools. Stop the influx of new residents, particularly those from California and Texas. I even got a few mentions of the oddly standard, “I wish we had an ocean and a beach.”

But this time, in every group, someone mentioned he or she would go back on the state’s wholesale legalization of marijuana. I probed Coloradans some on the topic this trip, and the buyers’ remorse is palpable. People didn’t really know what they were getting into.I wrote about the possibility of second thoughts on marijuana previously, in early April; ordinarily I wouldn’t circle back so quickly, but I am seeing too much evidence to ignore the growing backlash.

It’s not just ordinary voters who now are second-guessing the move. Leaders are wondering aloud whether they should have done more to fight against approval of the referendum. Colorado’s mainstream civic elite, which ordinarily and routinely organizes large coalitions to fight ballot measures it deems bad for the state, generally chose to stand aside during the two referenda — one on medical marijuana and the other on leisure use — leaving the opposition to movement to conservative groups alone.

The problem with new policies enacted through the referendum process is that there are always unintended consequences. I spotted one on this last trip to Mile High country. Some voters now think that the marijuana trade, and the associated tax revenue, is such a financial bonanza that it should pay for most everything. It’s going to be a lot harder to pass any increases in general sales or property taxes because voters will instead want pot tax dollars to carry the burden.

It may be only a statistical margin of error quirk, but looking at the latest CBS News polling on marijuana legalization, I am wondering if there is a larger doubting of the wisdom of legalization.

For the first time in any time series I’ve monitored, support for legalization actually declined in mid-May’s CBS poll.

CBS found that just 48 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legal, down from 51 percent in two earlier polls taken by CBS in January and February. Given that each study interviewed samples of approximately 1,000 adults, for a 3 percent margin of error, a 4-point drop in legalization support is just outside the margin — and more importantly, it’s a rare drop of any magnitude in momentum for legalization. For more than a decade, every successive poll saw rising support for marijuana. The latest CBS numbers are a throwback to a poll the organization took in 2012. That’s a serious regression for marijuana advocates.

Pot’s regress since January in the CBS polling is most noteworthy among the middle-aged (45-64) population (-13 percentage points in support for legalization) and by liberals (-9 points in support). Frankly, I am not at all surprised by the latter. Overall, support by liberals still stands at a stout 63 percent, but if I had deeper crosstabs, I’d expect that some green liberals with children under the age of 18 are starting to have some reservations about pot, just as many do about tobacco.

Pollsters will be keeping a close watch on these numbers. Is the trend in rising support for marijuana reaching a ceiling? Could there even be a growing pushback? Could the backlash be more about health and air quality than about conservative ideology? 

Hill is a pollster who has worked for Republican campaigns and causes since 1984.

Source:

http://thehill.com/opinion/david-hill/207342-david-hill-buyers-remorse-on-marijuana

It’s a question often raised in today’s heated discussion about the efficacy of drug policy in America: Do regulations outlawing certain drugs actually work?

Let’s go to the data. Here’s what the Nation’s largest, longest-running, and most comprehensive source on the state of drug use in America shows:

As you can see, the use of legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco far outpaces the use of illegal drugs. It is clear, then, that laws discouraging drug use do have an effect in keeping rates relatively low compared to rates for other drugs that are legal and therefore more available.  Even beyond this one-year snapshot, we know that significant progress has been made in the long term.  Since 1979, there has been a roughly 30 percent decline in the overall use of illicit drugs in America.

So our challenge is not that we’re powerless against the problem of substance use in America. The challenge is that rates of drug use – a behavior that harms too many of our fellow citizens — are still too high. That’s why the President’s National Drug Control Strategy supports innovative and proven programs that aim to reduce drug use and its consequences through a combination of public health and public safety interventions.

It boils down to simple arithmetic: The more Americans use drugs, the higher the health, safety, productivity, and criminal justice costs we all have to bear. And if sensible drug laws (in combination with a wide array of prevention, treatment, and other health interventions, of course) help keep those numbers down, then the answer is yes, they are working.

Source: www.whitehouse.gov   2013 ONDCP                                                                                                  

.

 

Many of the Op-Eds on the subject of the legalisation or otherwise of cannabis are written by journalists or protagonists of one or other point of view. The following links give scientific evidence from scientist and medics in the USA and do not support the use of cannabis.

Authoritative organisations which do not support smoked pot or edibles as a legitimate form of medication:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: http://www.dbrecoveryresources.com/2015/02/medical-organisations-do-not-support-smoked-pot-or-edibles/

 This excellent interview  by Kevin Sabet was published in a Brazilian newspaper and has been translated.

Legalize the use of marijuana creates another “addiction industry” and also does not help to end trafficking, said Kevin Sabet, 35, an American expert who joined the team of drug control of the government of Barack Obama. For him, the politicization of “fashion theme” masks the impact of drugs on public health, whose consumption is increasing among adolescents. to use the term “medical marijuana” only confuses people. “We do not call the morphine ‘medicinal heroin'”

In an exclusive interview with UOL , Sabet showed data from a recent survey that will present the lecture “Impact of drug legalization”, organized by the SPDM – Paulista Association for the Advancement of Medicine. The event takes place on Saturday (23) in Sao Paulo.

One of the cases analyzed by Sabet is Colorado, which allows both the use of “medical marijuana” (since 2001) and recreational (starting this year). In the state, the sale of the drug is banned for children under 21 years. Even so, seven in ten adolescents in treatment for chemical dependency admitted to have used medical marijuana to another person-and, on average, it occurred 50 times.

Even in Colorado, Sabet says the number of young people between 12 and 17 who used marijuana increased from 8.15% (in 2009) to 10.47% (in 2011), well above the national average, which is 7, 55%.

For adults in the state doubled the number of drivers who, under the influence of marijuana, were involved in car accidents with death. The index rose from 5% in 2009 to 10% in 2011.

In the 19 American states that allow marijuana use for medical treatments, Sabet says three in five students in their final year of high school can drugs with “friends”. Only 25% buy drugs from dealers or strangers. The margin of error was not informed.

Art / UOL

Map of legalizing marijuana in the United States

  • Medicinal and recreational use legalized

Colorado and Washington

  • Legalized medicinal use

Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont

  • Legalization analysis

Florida and Alaska

The sociologist who studies politics for 18 years for drugs and is currently a senior advisor to the Institute for Research of Crimes Justice and the UN (United Nations), says the numbers are alarming. “It’s the opening of a new industry that just wants to increase the addiction of the people.”

Even the use of marijuana for medical treatment is frowned upon by Sabet. “We do not call the morphine ‘medicinal heroin.” Using the term’ medical marijuana ‘only confuses people and comes from the belief that you have to smoke to get the benefits, “he criticizes. 

Currently, he is dedicated to Project SAM – Smart Approaches to Marijuana (Intelligent Approaches for Marijuana). The non-profit organization’s mission is to reduce the use of cannabis in the world, “without demonizing or legalize” drugs. 

Check out the full interview:

UOL – Do you agree with the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes and for recreation? 

                                                                     Kevin Sabet – Often the debate is painted in white and black, as if you had to be either in favor of higher spending or criminals in favor of legalization. I do not agree with that. I think there are many more intelligent policies that do not fall into this polarization.

 What we’re seeing in states like Colorado and Washington [where the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana is allowed] is the inauguration of a new industry that just wants to increase the addiction of people.

 

It is very curious that we have politicians who do not already hold more executive positions in favor of legalization. It’s the latest fashion, it makes them come back to the news and makes them more relevant. I do not know in Brazil, but in the United States, when you become a former president, you’re no longer relevant Kevin Sabet

The type of legalization that worries me is what is happening in the United States and tends to happen in the rest of the world: industrialization and promotion of other addictive industry.

In terms of effects, we also have to think, whether in relation to marijuana and other drugs like cigarettes and even alcohol in the future of our workforce. What kind of workers and students want? Of course we do not want to promote the use of cigarettes for our students, but if you go to school and smokes, her cognition is not impaired, you can still learn. You will not get lung cancer tomorrow. But if marijuana is different. It impairs the person in terms of learning, memorization, attention, motivation.

We have lived through a disaster compared to the tobacco and alcohol industry, and I do not want to raise the pot at that level.

UOL – There are several studies cited including marijuana help cancer patients, since contain tumor growth, stimulate appetite, reduce nausea and relieve pain. With so many benefits, it is possible to advocate a total ban on drugs? 

Sabet – Tue drugs using substances derived from cannabis is something promising. But we do not smoke opium to have the effects of morphine. We do not call the morphine “medical heroin”. Use the term “medical marijuana” only confuses people and comes from the belief that you have to smoke to get the benefits.

In the United States, the so-called “users” of this medical marijuana are in 98% of cases men between 30 and 40 years without terminal cancer. They are also not seropositive for HIV, do not have multiple sclerosis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Basically, they have pain in the lumbar region. Logical that we should treat their pain, but there are other outputs.

The impression of people is that marijuana is good because there are patients dying of cancer who need it. But frankly, if you’re dying of cancer, with six months to live, I do not care what you’re going to use [for pain].

In addition, laws are being written very broadly and in many American states, legislation is flawed. The Colorado began selling the drug in 2008 All you need is to be 18 years and have headaches to get marijuana.

UOL – What must we do to help patients in need of “medical marijuana?” 

Sabet – We have to do special research programs that give patients access to experimental drugs. We should not sell marijuana on the corner, in a store, and say that is medicine, because this is not the way to act of medicine. I do not like this politicization of medicine, the medicine should be in the scientific field.If scientists in Brazil say tomorrow that we need to smoke pot to get the [beneficial] effects, we need to understand why this is and learn. But do not think that is the current case.

Let us study the components of the plant. I know it can be very good for a politician to say that it is in favor of medical marijuana. But honestly, we should not trust politicians talking about scientific issues [laughs]. Let’s hear scientists. And they are not telling you to smoke pot to get rid of your cancer.  

UOL – Earlier this year, Obama said that smoking marijuana is no more dangerous than drinking alcohol, but stressed that in any case, is “a bad idea.” Do you agree with him? 

Sabet – First, do not think that there is healthy this equivalence to say that one thing is better than another because they are different. Alcohol affects your liver, marijuana affects your lungs. Alcohol affects certain parts of your brain, marijuana, other.

In the case of alcohol, we have a cultural acceptance. Alcohol is not legalized because it is a success for public health. It is legal because it has been used for thousands of years in Western culture, that’s the only reason.

In the case of marijuana, it is not used for thousands of years by the majority of the western population and do not want to repeat the experience [like alcohol] again.

I know far more people who drink a glass of wine with no intention of getting drunk. I know who smoke a joint without the intention to “have a cheap”. The reason for smoking a joint is drugging. I do not drink, so would not explain properly, but I’m not justifying do one thing and not another. There is a cultural difference in relation to alcohol which makes the comparison with the fake marijuana.

UOL – Our former president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, is one of the advocates of marijuana legalization. What do you think of politicians like him? 

Sabet – It is very curious that we have politicians who no longer occupy the executive positions in favor of legalization. It’s the latest fashion, it makes them come back to the news and makes them more relevant. I do not know in Brazil, but in the United States, when you become a former president, you’re no longer relevant [laughs]. Nobody talks about George W. Bush, even Bill Clinton.

It is a very simplistic approach. Visit the slums. Do you think that more drugs will help these communities? This offers some hope to them? Not a hopeful vision.

Marijuana causes infertility? Partially true: laboratory research showed that marijuana can lead to a drop in the amount of sperm and cause them to move about a bit differently, more slowly. “In real life, however, there is nothing showing that it causes infertility among users,” explains psychiatrist at the Hospital Clinicas in Sao Paulo Mario Ivan Braun, author of “Drugs – questions and answers” Read More Getty Images

UOL – If you were a candidate for president of Brazil and was asked in a debate whether you are for or against the legalization of the drug, which speak? 

Sabet – I advocate a health-related approach to drugs in general. This means increasing access to treatment, early intervention, training of physicians to identify the signs of addiction. Treat all problems early, without waiting for someone to give input in the hospital because it is using crack cocaine or four years ago. I want you to discover the defect in the first month of use to prevent the disease from worsening.

And I certainly would not want to start a new industry like tobacco or alcohol, selling the drug. And I also would look at the key issues. Why are people using crack? What happens in the community where they live? Are much more difficult questions, but they are much more important than say if we legalize a drug or not.

UOL – Data collected by lord over the Colorado show that the legalization of drugs had bad consequences, especially for teenagers. 

                                                                    

Sabet – This happens because legalization would not eliminate the black market trafficking. And this is the promise that we get rid of gangs. Gangs are very happy because they now have lower prices. In Colorado, it costs $ 300 (R $ 684) to buy 35 grams of marijuana legalized. With traffickers, the price is $ 150 (R $ 342) for the same amount of drug. You do not go to recreational marijuana store to pay twice the price? In addition, the sale is prohibited for minors. If you want marijuana, which will buy? With traffickers. All these promises that would end the trafficking and increase tax collection are not being met. The governor of Colorado for the fifth consecutive time, decreased the estimate of tax collection with this trade.

Junior Lake / UOL I will not say a parent of a child suffering hundreds of seizures per day should not use something that will help her. Trafficking or grow marijuana in the backyard does not solve the problem, either. It is necessary to regulate the use of cannabidiol Kevin Sabet

UOL – So, how to stop drug trafficking?

 
Sabet – The only way would be to stop trafficking is sell the drug at cost of production. In other words, it would be like trying to get rid of trafficking in crack cocaine or selling the drug for pennies for each dose. From the standpoint of public health, you do not want that. You just want to raise taxes cigarette, you try to increase costs because the more expensive, fewer people will want it. You may be able to get rid of some of the harms and reduce some traffic, but not eliminate it. The output, once again, is to reduce the number of addicts in treatment and awareness campaigns.

UOL – For adults, shows that you doubled the number of fatal accidents involving drivers under the influence of marijuana in Colorado. 

Sabet – legalization advocates could even argue that drivers “were not under the influence of drugs”, but as they were fatal accidents, tests on the victims showed high levels of substances derived from cannabis in organisms. Of course not every accident caused by a drunk driver occurs due to intake of alcohol. Most likely, it could be because he sent an SMS at the time. But it is a big risk factor.

Many teens think that driving under the influence of marijuana is safe. But I say that it is dangerous to drive on a road where the limit is 70 km / h, so 30 km / h to 100 km / h. Even if marijuana makes you slower, it is also dangerous. It also affects your depth perception and your reaction time.

UOL – There should be stricter laws in Colorado against these drivers? 

Sabet – The issue of legalization is that you create space for a completely new political group that will do anything to make access to drugs as easy as possible. Then, during the campaigns of legalization they say: “do not worry, we will oversee and regulate.”The next minute, they shy away. In power, they hold the money, will influence the advice of the small towns, giving money to politicians to create 20 shops selling marijuana in a local community. Ie, you have these defenders who will try to minimize all the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs. Their message to the children, for example, is that smoking marijuana is safer than drinking alcohol.   

UOL – If legalization is not an option, which would then be proposed to reduce the consumption of drugs? 

Sabet – The question is: what do you think the worst? A legal market to reach 25-50% of the population, because it will increase the use of the drug or an illegal market that reaches 7%? Both are bad, but I would opt for the second scenario and work to reduce this rate.

We need better prevention and awareness, particularly for teenagers campaigns. Over the past decade, scientific research have advanced tremendously with regard to the effects of drugs on the adolescent brain, but at the same time, the perception of these young people from the harmful effects of marijuana is decreasing. This owes much to discussions of legalization.

Many people find that marijuana is not addictive, but rather addictive. And is also associated with severe mental illness. We need more campaigns, more research, more treatment. In the case of trafficking, we need to give more alternatives for youth, for the sale of the drug did not show more profitable than legitimate work. It is necessary to solve social problems.

UOL – Uruguay recently legalized the sale of the drug in the country, which should start in November, but was postponed to 2015 This precisely because the government is still studying efficient methods to identify the buyer.. On occasion, José Mujica criticized how the drug has been legalized in the USA, “anyway” and “irresponsibly that scares”. Do you agree with Mujica? 

Sabet – He is too smart to say it did not want to copy the state of Colorado and Washington, because that would be a total disaster. Would not be surprised if the sale of marijuana in Uruguay even start, or even never happen. It is not a popular measure, the government spent a few million on campaigns trying to convince people that this is something good, and yet 70% are against.

Rational argument is “let’s stop trafficking”, but again, unless you take the drug, give marijuana to children 10 years will still be traffickers. And is not that what you want. The president himself [Mujica] said he does not like marijuana, is not in favor of it, just want to control it. This is a much better approach than the American states. It is much more honest than some guys in the USA. But still do not think Uruguayans have a viable program. They are realizing that it is much more complicated than they thought it would be. So, good luck to them. I am very skeptical.

UOL – For the United States, it is worrying that a Latin American country to legalize marijuana? 

Sabet – I do not know if it would be a problem, but it is strange to the United States. The country does not want legalization, but it is happening at the state level. The American government will simply ignore the issue. To be honest, we only see them [and Uruguay Mujica] mentioned in the paper when the subject is marijuana. They [Obama and Mujica] nor talked about it when they met. So it’s not a concern for the United States.

UOL – recently had here in Brazil the case of a five year old girl with severe epilepsy that caused more than 60 seizures daily. After cannabidiol , she had significant improvement in health status. However, the parents were “smuggling” the substance, and were not satisfied with that. How is this question in the USA? 

Sabet – also have this problem in the United States. More than 400 children are receiving cannabidiol in liquid form legally by the government. However, you do not have data to show the effectiveness of the substance. If a parent is a substance that is experimental, unproven, then fine by me accordingly. I will not say to a parent of a child suffering hundreds of seizures per day not to use something that will help.

But traffic or planting marijuana in the backyard does not solve the problem. It is necessary to regulate the use of cannabidiol by pharmaceutical and health areas.

Source:  http://noticias.uol.com.br/internacional/ultimas-noticias/   23rd August 2014

 

The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area released its third annual report this week. The organization has been tracking the impact of marijuana legalization in Colorado since the state first legalized the drug for medical use in 2000, passed legislation to allow dispensaries beginning in 2009–which spawned a commercial marijuana industry–and legalized pot for recreational use in 2012. The 2015 report shows that by 2013, Colorado marijuana use was nearly double the national usage rate. The state ranked 3rd in the nation for youth use in 2013, up from 14th in 2006; 2nd in the nation for young adult use in 2013, up from 8th in 2006; and 5th in the nation for adults, up from 8th in 2006.

Drug-related school expulsions, most of which are marijuana-related, far exceed school expulsions for alcohol use. Note the sudden jump in drug expulsions that began in 2009 when Colorado allowed a commercial marijuana industry to emerge. Total school suspensions and expulsions rose from 3,736 by the end of the 2008-2009 school year to 5,249 by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

Marijuana-related traffic fatalities in Colorado also began rising with the introduction and growth of the commercial marijuana industry in 2009. While total State wide fatalities decreased between 2006 and 2014, marijuana-related fatalities increased over that time.

Colorado marijuana-related emergency room visits increased to 18,255 in in 2014.

Marijuana-related hospitalizations have nearly quintupled since Colorado first legalized marijuana for medical use. Again, note the surge starting in 2009 when growers, processors, and dispensaries were first authorized, and a commercial industry began developing extensive marijuana products such as edibles, vape pens, and butane hash oils (BHO) to attract new customers. BHO has elevated THC levels to the highest seen in the nation; some contain 75 percent to 100 percent THC.

Although there is no data to document whether the increase in homelessness in Denver and other Colorado cities is marijuana-related, those who provide services to the homeless report that many say they relocated to Colorado because of marijuana’s legality.

In Colorado, marijuana is not available in about three-fourths of the state. Of a total 321 local jurisdictions, 228 (71 percent) ban all forms of marijuana businesses; 67 (21 percent) allow both medical and recreational marijuana businesses; and 26 (8 percent) allow only medical or recreational marijuana businesses.

Read report here.
Source: www.themarijuanareport.org  16th September 2015

By Kathy Gyngell Posted 12th September 2014

For years the great and the good of the drug legalising world – including members and former members of the Government’s own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs – have consistently denied that cannabis is a gateway drug or addictive. They have downplayed its devastating consequences for adolescents. They have derided or ignored cannabis prevention campaigners and the evidence presented to them.

It is time for them to recant  – now and publicly – for their misleading and casual advice.

They can no longer remain in denial about the drug they have appeared so keen to defend, to normalise and to claim is less harmful than alcohol.

Irrefutable evidence of its damaging consequences for adolescents was published yesterday, in a new study of adolescent cannabis use , in The Lancet Psychiatry  –  a study in which almost  3,800 people took part.

Its objective was to find out more about the link between the frequency of cannabis use before the age of 17 and seven outcomes up to the age of 30, such as completing high school, obtaining a university degree and cannabis and welfare dependence.

The researchers found that the risks increased relative to dose, with daily cannabis users suffering the greatest harm.

They found that teenagers who smoked cannabis daily were over 60 per cent less likely to complete school or get a degree than those who never had. They were also 60 per cent less likely to graduate college, seven times more likely to attempt suicide, eight times as likely to go on and use other illegal drugs, and 18 times more likely to develop a cannabis dependence.

To its shame, the Washington Post described these findings as ‘startling”.  The fact is that they only reflect numerous previously published studies and surveys.

However, let’s hope that the that self-styled Global Commission on Drugs Policy and its leading light, Sir Richard Branson, will take note that Professor Neil McKeganeyrightly excoriated them on Tuesday   for promoting the legalisation of all currently illegal drugs.

It should be concerned and reflect on its gung-ho recommendations in light of this catalogue of damage; and so should President Obama – who seems to think kids smoking dope is OK.  He should really be worrying for under the lax approach of his administration cannabis use, or marijuana as Americans call it, has risen 29 per cent in six years, that is nearly a 5 per cent increase per year.  It is difficult to detach this rise from the effective decriminalisation of the drug in 23 states under so called medical marijuana legislation.  And the US is yet to see the full effects of the January 2014 initiation of legal marijuana in Colorado and Washington on the rest of the nation.

Thankfully, in the UK the number of 11–15 year olds who say they’d used cannabis in the past month (4 per cent) has been dropping consistently over the last 13 years or so.  The number significantly less than in the US where a worrying 7 per cent of high-school seniors (aged 17-18) are daily or near-daily users.

Richard Mattick, the study author and Professor of Drug and Alcohol Studies at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, in Australia, is right to stress: “Our findings are particularly timely given that several US states and countries in Latin America have made moves to decriminalise or legalise cannabis, raising the possibility that the drug might become more accessible to young people.”

The cat is out of the bag in the US. Let’s hope here in the UK, those seeking to normalise cannabis use, including the Lib Dems, several members of the ACMD and a number of Government-funded charities will finally see how irresponsible they have been and are.

Source:  www.conservativewoman   12th Sept. 2013

WASHINGTON — A new report out from the Governors Highway Safety Association finds that driving while on drugs, even marijuana, poses a significant safety risk on our roadways, on par with drunken driving.

Researchers found that the percentage of drivers killed who tested positive for drugs is almost the same as those who tested positive for any alcohol — 40 percent.  More than 5,000 drivers killed each year have drugs in their system at the time of the crash.

“The proportion with drugs in their system has increased over the past several years and now the level is about the same with alcohol in their systems,” says Dr. Jim Hedlund, author of the report.

The report puts a special emphasis on marijuana use and its impact on driving because lawmakers across the country are debating whether to legalize the drug.

“The evidence is very clear that marijuana affects decision times, reaction times and so forth.  If you are using marijuana, you are at an increased risk of being in a crash,” says Hedlund.

He is particularly concerned that lawmakers are not considering the impact of marijuana on deadly crashes when talking about legalizing the drug.  Hedlund also says the laws on the books for drug-impaired driving need to be clearer and more in line with drunken driving laws.

“Every state must take steps to reduce drug-impaired driving, regardless of the legal status of marijuana,” says Jonathan Adkins, executive director of GHSA.

“This is the first report to provide states and other stakeholders with the information that they need.  And we encourage [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] to issue guidance on best practices to prevent marijuana-impaired driving.  We look to the federal government to take a leadership role in this issue similar to that of drunk driving and seat belt use,” he adds.

The report calls on states to take several measures to address the issue head-on.  It urges states to assess the data in their region, examine and update drug-impaired driving laws, test all drivers who are killed in a crash for drugs and separate statistics between drunken driving from driving while on drugs.

Source:    Governors Highway Safety Association  Sept.2015

Proponents raised $7.6 million to opponents’ $169,000 to legalize marijuana for recreational use, a ratio of 45 to 1. Opponents in Alaska and Oregon could not afford to present other viewpoints in TV commercials. Meanwhile, after just ten months of legal marijuana, five Colorado cities passed amendments to ban the sale of recreational marijuana within their borders. The Republican gubernatorial challenger ran on a platform calling for the repeal of legalization. As citizens’ anger mounts over outsiders sweeping in, getting what they want, and leaving behind a mess for taxpayers to clean up, we are likely to see more of that.

Alaska Legalizes Recreational Marijuana–You might think the 23 states that have legalized marijuana were responding to citizen demand. You would be wrong. The Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijauna Policy Project, their funders George Soros and the late Peter Lewis, a by-now burgeoning marijuana industry, and an estimated $200 million are behind the drive to legalize marijuana. Imagine a Congress where all 435 Representatives and 100 Senators belong to just one party, and you can begin to understand how one-sided marijuana initiatives have been.

Source:  TheMarijuanaReport.org  Nov. 2014

 

Big Business made a lot of money out of selling tobacco products  –  and it took many years before the link between smoking and  cancer were accepted.   Big Pharma make a lot of money from selling pharmaceutical drugs.  Big Business Mark II intends to make a lot of money out of selling marijuana (cannabis) products – regardless of the research that now shows this substance is not harmless.

The graphics above show just how much money was spent by the proponents of drug legalisation compared to the amounts that those who oppose legalisation were able to muster from grass roots supporters.   It is not surprising that so many of the American public were hoodwinked into voting for easier access to drugs – beginning with marijuana but eventually all currently illegal substances.

There was much misinformation, errors of omission and emphasis on ‘ individual freedoms’ – and no information about scientific research showing the dangers – particularly to young people – of using marijuana.

Already there are signs of discontent in many places with legalised marijuana – more driving accidents,  more instances of children being made ill from consuming what appeared to be sweets but was in reality marijuana packaged as a candy or chocolate bar …..how long will it be before the

Pandora’s Box can be tightly closed ?

National Drug Prevention Alliance   November 2014

My blood boils when I hear loony liberal politicians (I’m thinking Nick Clegg) and middle class do-gooders telling us that ALL drugs should be legalised. That heroin, crack cocaine and LSD should all be freely available – even to teenagers.

Their argument is that if the State was in charge of the drugs industry instead of criminal gangs then the drugs wouldn’t be toxic and fewer people would die.

And there’ll be more of that silly talk in the coming weeks thanks to a Home Office report – trumpeted by Clegg – which claims punitive laws have no effect on curbing drug use.

What, so do we just give up and legalise them? If we can’t win the war on drugs do we just call it off? Do we do what we’ve done with other crimes we don’t have the money or the will to police – and just ignore them?

One of the countries cited as an example of decriminalisation in this report was Portugal. They legalised drugs in 2001. But now we know the numbers of 15 and 16 year olds using drugs has doubled there since laws were relaxed. Which is a total no brainer.

Then a bloke called Ian Birrell said on TV this week our Government spends billions of pounds on failed drugs policies. I’m sorry – unlike Portugal – our drugs policies aren’t failing. Since 1996 the use of Class A drugs among 16 to 24 year olds has plummeted by 47 per cent and the use of Class B by 48 per cent.

But commentators like Birrell still argue we should legalise them anyway because they’re everywhere and people can take them whenever they want. Well, maybe in his world they can, but not in mine. I don’t mix with people who shoot up every day or trip on LSD.

Don’t these lettuce-munching liberals realise millions of mums and dads all over Britain are fighting tooth and nail to keep their kids away from drugs?

And even though many of these parents live on estates where gangs sell drugs openly they’ll do ­whatever it takes to keep their kids away from them. Because they’ve seen what drugs can do.

Unlike those middle-class liberals, they live among hordes of hopelessly addicted youngsters whose lives are over before they’ve even started. These parents don’t want that for their kids. And they sure as hell don’t want to be lectured on the “benefits” of legalisation by a bunch of jumped-up modernisers who’ve never even set foot on a council estate.

PA

Should this be legal? Ecstasy Tablets 

Have we forgotten the World Health Organisation’s recent 20-year study on cannabis which says this supposedly “soft” drug doubles the risk of schizophrenia and psychotic ­disorders, stunts intellectual ­development and doubles the risk of its users causing a car crash?

So all those liberals who for years have been shouting that cannabis was perfectly safe were talking out of their backsides.

And why is it these people always try to make those who object to legalisation look like out of touch fuddy-duddies? Why do we listen when they scream that drugs laws are an abuse of our human rights?

We need to be telling teenagers that smoking cannabis is like playing Russian roulette with your brain, not changing the law so they can pop down the Co-op and score an ounce.

Yes, young people will always­ ­experiment with drugs but why make it easier? We need drugs laws because they make getting drugs just that bit harder. In fact, we need more than we currently have to criminalise those deadly legal highs which have killed 68 people this year.

And imagine if they WERE all ­legalised. The price would plummet and they’d be available to everyone including vulnerable 10-year-olds who’d buy them with their pocket money on the black market.

I’m not saying kids should be given criminal records for experimenting. But every little relaxation of our drugs laws takes us one step closer to ­legalisation.

And that would be catastrophic for ­generations of children whose minds will be ravaged with the full blessing of the State.

Source:  Mirror.co.uk   Nov. 1st 2014Top of Form

By Fabrizio Schifano Chair in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics at University of Hertfordshire

Fabrizio is a member of the UK advisory council on the misuse of drugs. He has also received EC funding in relation to researching the effects of novel psychoactive substances. These views are his own and in no way represent either the council or the EC.

In one respect, the world’s drug problem is not getting much worse. The UN believes that the use of drugs such as cocaine and heroin has stabilised, for example. In fact, the ground in the drugs battle has just shifted. The focus is now increasingly on legal highs.

People might be aware that altered versions of ecstasy or cannabis are available nowadays, but the true range of what we in the trade call novel psychoactive drugs is far more varied. There are derivatives of everything from ketamine to cocaine, from opiates to psychotropics. Their use is rising, and so is the number of fatalities. Some people fear that the figures are only going in one direction.

Enforcers vs chemists

Why has this happened? In recent years there was a worldwide decrease in the purity of drugs like amphetamine and cocaine and the MDMA content of ecstasy. This decrease helped fuel demand for alternatives (though admittedly there are signs that this purity decrease is now reversing). The internet has also made possible the sort of sharing of information that makes it much easier to sell these substances nowadays. And as has been well documented, banning these drugs is difficult because the manufacturers can constantly bring out new varieties with slight alterations to the chemistry.

It has turned into a battle between the drug enforcers and the drug chemists, who are typically based in the Far East, for example in China and Hong Kong. There are many databases online with information on the molecular structures of existing drugs. This makes it easier for these people to modify them to create a new product.

The market is very strong in the UK. You might think it is because the information online is often written in English. This would explain why Ireland has a big problem too, but then again the US does not. And other problem countries includeLatvia, Hungary, Estonia and Russia.

The big worries

Certain categories particularly worry us. One is the ecstasy derivatives known as phenethylamines. One of the well-known ones in the UK is PMA, which has been nicknamed “Dr Death” because of the number of fatalities. Another is known as “blue mystique”. These have been made illegal in a number of European countries, but many more keep appearing. A related group is known as NBOMe, which are very powerful and therefore also a great concern.

Then there are cannabimimetics, which are sometimes known as the “spice drugs”. There are a few hundred known variations, many of which are very powerful, sometimes thousands of times more than cannabis. They were behind the “spiceophrenia” epidemic in Russia, but are prevalent closer to home too. Last week a new HM Prisons report mentioned them among a number of legal-high concerns in British prisons. To make matters worse, they are very easy to modify and have the big selling point that they can’t always be traced in urine.

Sometimes legal highs are marketed as a solution to a problem that an illegal drug might cause. For example ketamine (“special K”) is known to damage the intestine and bladder, so a new drug reached the market called methoxetamine, or “special M,” which claimed to be bladder-friendly. But in fact it is still toxic for the bladder and also the kidney and central nervous system. And after it was made illegal, a number of other derivatives appeared such as diphenidine. The health risks associated with this class makes the new versions particularly scary.

The unwinnable battle?

We often don’t know how these drugs affect people. Researchers like myself are working on this, but the number of new substances is increasing too quickly for us to keep up. By the time we publish papers focusing on more popular versions, the market has changed. When something goes wrong, doctors don’t know how to treat the effects – in many cases they can’t even ascertain the exact drug.

We have reached the point where I am now more worried about legal highs than illegal drugs. Whenever I see a heroin client in my clinic, I know exactly what to do. That is often not the case with legal highs. And as a psychiatrist I know that they potentially have far more psychiatric consequences than heroin. Whenever you tamper with very sensitive mechanisms in your brain, it’s difficult to know what will happen.

One argument is that we should keep these drugs legal since we are facing an unwinnable battle. But the big drawback with this is that it makes adolescents and other susceptible people think that the drug must be safe. New Zealand tried this approach by permitting drugs to remain in circulation if the producers could demonstrate they were low risk, but this year the government U-turned after there were a number of adverse incidents. Now its approach is similar to the UK with its expanding prohibition schedule.

The problem with the New Zealand low-risk policy is that establishing the safety of a drug is a very slow process if you are going to do it properly. Proving through clinical trials that a drug works, is safe and is not toxic takes upwards of 10 years. Anything less would be cutting corners. If a manufacturer were to go through that process and prove that a drug was low risk, that might be a different discussion, but it’s not going to help with today’s problem.

Similarly there has been some debate about permitting the supply of legal highs but keeping it tightly restricted – perhaps allowing one distributor per town, for example. But this both ignores the reality of the internet and offers no answer to the safety problem.

Another possibility is to legalise the illegal drugs that we know much more about, so that people are encouraged to take them instead. But even if this was politically possible, it doesn’t sound like the right course of action either. I see disasters from drug-taking on a daily basis. And it wouldn’t necessarily stop people from taking legal highs anyway.

The answer to what we actually should do is complex. The answer probably lies in prevention: we need dedicated resources and funding, we need new ideas to try and convince youngsters that these drugs are not safe just because they are legal. This requires a big change in how we see these substances. These are not just some marginal concern. This is the new drug battle for the decades ahead.

Source:  http://theconversation.com/legal-highs-regulation-wont-work  29th October 2014

There has been a lot of talk recently about marijuana legalization — increasing tax revenue for states, getting nonviolent offenders out of the prison system, protecting personal liberty, possible health benefits for those with severe illnesses. These are good and important conversations to have, and smart people from across the ideological spectrum are sharing their perspectives.

But one key dimension of the issue has been left out of the discussion until now: the marketing machine that will spring up to support these now-legal businesses, and the detrimental effect this will have on our kids.

Curious how this might work? Look no further than Big Tobacco. In 1999, the year after a massive legal settlement that restricted certain forms of advertising, the major cigarette companies spent a record $8.4 billion on marketing. In 2011, that number reached $8.8 billion, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. To put it into context, the auto industry spent less than half of that on advertising in 2011, and car ads are everywhere.

At the same time, despite advertising bans, these notoriously sneaky tobacco companies continue to find creative ways to target kids. Data from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that the most heavily marketed brands of cigarettes were also the most popular among people under 18.

This is not a coincidence, and gets to the very core of Big Tobacco’s approach: Hook them young, and they have a customer for life. Why do we think the legal marijuana industry will behave differently from Big Tobacco? When the goal is addiction, all bets are off.

In Colorado, where there are new rules governing how legal marijuana is advertised in traditional media, there are still many opportunities to market online and at concerts, festivals and other venues where kids will be present. Joe Camel might be retired, but he’s been replaced by other gimmicks to get kids hooked — like snus and flavored cigarettes. The marijuana industry is following suit by manufacturing THC candies, cookies, lollipops and other edibles that look harmless but aren’t. Making marijuana mainstream will also make it more available, more acceptable and more dangerous to our kids.

Addiction is big business, and with legal marijuana it’s only getting bigger.

Not surprisingly, Big Tobacco is also getting on the marijuana bandwagon. Manufacturers Altria and Brown & Williamson have registered domain names that include the words “marijuana” and “cannabis.” Imagine how much they will spend peddling their new brand of addiction to our kids. We cannot sit by while these companies open a new front in their battle against our children’s health.

Why is this an issue? There is a mistaken assumption that marijuana is harmless. It is not. Marijuana use is linked with mental illness, depression, anxiety and psychosis. It affects parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention and reaction time. Developing brains are especially susceptible to all of the negative effects of marijuana and other drug use. In fact, poison control centers in Colorado and Washington state have seen an increase in the number of calls regarding marijuana poisoning. This isn’t a surprise — with legal marijuana comes a host of unintended consequences.

I’ve spent the past several years after leaving Congress advocating for a health care system that treats the brain like it does any other organ in the body. Effective mental health care, especially when it comes to children, is critically important.

Knowing what we now know about the effects of marijuana on the brain, can we really afford to ignore its consequences in the name of legalization? Our No. 1 priority needs to be protecting our kids from this emerging public health crisis. The rights of pot smokers and the marijuana industry end where our children’s health begins.

I’m not alone in my concerns about this trend toward legalization. Even Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has said that marijuana legalization in his state was “reckless” and reaffirmed his opposition to it during his campaign for re-election. He also said he will “regulate the heck” out of it. For that, I applaud his leadership and courage.

Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia have legalization ballot measures up for a vote this fall. I hope common sense will prevail, and they choose a better path than making addiction the law of the land.

At the end of the day, legalizing and marketing marijuana is making drug use acceptable and mainstream. Just as Big Tobacco lied to Americans for decades about the deadly consequences of smoking, we can’t let “big marijuana” follow in its footsteps, target our kids and profit from addiction.

Patrick J. Kennedy is a former United States representative from the state of Rhode Island.

Source: http://www.npr.org/2014/10/30/360217001/kennedy-are-we-ready-for-big-tobacco-style-marketing-for-marijuana

 

National Families in Action (NFIA) was founded in Atlanta in 1977, to protect children from drugs.   It led a national effort to help parents  prevent the marketing of drugs and drug use to children and helped them form parent groups to protect children’s health.

Today NFIA publishes the weekly Marijuana Report, an update on major news affecting marijuana across the US.  NFIA has worked continuously for many years.    Tobacco and alcohol cause enough problems in the US and it’s unwise to add a third addictive drug.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: http://www.poppot.org/2015/05/22/national-families-of-action-states-marijuana-policy />

 

 

 

 

 

 

The percentage of drivers testing positive for marijuana or other illegal drugs is increasing, according to a new report. In 2013 and 2014, 15.1 percent of drivers tested positive for drugs, up from 12.4 percent in 2007.

The findings come from the Governors Highway Safety Association. The group found 38 percent of people who died in auto accidents in 2013 and were tested had detectable levels of potentially impairing drugs – both legal and illegal – in their system. That percentage is almost the same as those testing positive for alcohol, CNN reports.

The most common drugs detected were marijuana (34.7 percent) and amphetamines (9.7 percent), which includes nasal decongestants and drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“Alcohol-impaired driving is still a big deal, but we have paid more attention to it than to drug-impaired driving and it’s time to pay more attention to drug-impaired driving,” said report author James Hedlund. He notes drunk driving has been decreasing as drugged driving increases.

He noted one reason for the rise in drugged driving could be that “marijuana use is increasing, driven in parts by the states that legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, and the second is that prescription painkiller use has gone up substantially.”

The report found 6.9 percent of people killed in auto accidents had hydrocodone in their system, while 3.6 percent had detectable levels of oxycodone, 4.5 percent had benzodiazepines (found in anti-anxiety and anti-depression drugs), and 4.5 percent had cocaine.

“Alcohol is the deadliest drug we have by practically any metric…and alcohol in combination with [marijuana] is particularly malignant,” Dr. Gary Reisfield, professor of psychiatry at the University of Florida, told CNN.

The report recommends that states train law enforcement officers to recognize the physical and behavioral signs associated with different substances.

Source:  www.drugfree.org 1st October 2015

 

 

 

PHOENIX (December 18) — New state data from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that Colorado now leads the nation in marijuana use across all age levels and, most disturbingly, in the 12-17 and 18-25 age categories. Marijuana legalization advocates have persistently claimed that marijuana use will not rise with legalization, and that legalization will have little bearing on under-age use. This latest data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proves otherwise.

“Sadly for Colorado’s youth, the data now substantiates the theory that increased availability leads to increased use — despite being assured the contrary by legalization advocates. Arizonans should pay close attention,” said Seth Leibsohn, chair of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. “In Colorado, teen marijuana use has not only increased since legalization, it is now the highest in the nation — more than 73 percent higher than the national average. For those who recommended a ‘wait-and-see’ approach based on Colorado’s experience, the results are in and they are not good. It should be crystal clear, in Arizona and any other state considering legalizing marijuana, that going down the same path would be devastating to our youth and our communities.”

“According to this data, Colorado is not only number one for marijuana use but also ranks near the top in the nation in its use of other illicit drugs,” said Sheila Polk, vice chair of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. “Serious peer-reviewed science warns us that marijuana does significant harm to the developing adolescent brain, causes impaired memory and judgment, lowers IQ and increases school drop-out rates. It is unconscionable to unleash this harmful drug on Arizona’s youth.”

###

About Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy

The Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy PAC was formed to actively oppose any initiative that would legalize the recreational use of the drug marijuana in the state of Arizona. Visit www.arizonansforresponsibledrugpolicy.org for more information.

Source:  Press Release 18th Dec 2015  melissa@axiompublicaffairs.com

Theresa May has walked into the sunshine again after a few awful days. Such is the magic of politics.

Just a few days ago, much of her shine as a tough and competent Home Secretary had worn off.  Her child abuse inquiry appeared doomed before it had begun. With the prospect of an expensive and endless white elephant ahead (what the experience of both the Saville and Chilcot probes portend) as she apologised to the victims, she must have been ruing the day she ever gave into their demands.

Yes, it was just a few days ago that she could please no one. Her insistence on opting back into the European Arrest Warrant infuriated her backbenchers and left the Eurosceptic public astonished. Could she really be giving carte blanche for us to be picked off our own streets and dumped in a Latvian, Czech or Bulgarian gaol where due process, habeas corpus and so forth are, despite their EU member status, still  pretty much conspicuous for their absence?

Then at the nadir of her fortunes up she comes smiling.  All thanks to the Daily Mail – and very grateful she should be to them too – she was handed Norman Baker’s scalp on a plate.  Overnight she became the new scourge of the Lib Dems, to the joy of her party and her admirers.

Nick Clegg, the Mail discovered, had encouraged the BBC to give airtime to the drug-legalising organisations (Transform and Release) to promote the controversial and highly (Lib Dem) spun Home Office report pushed by his Home Office placeman, one Norman Baker.

This report was already proving a severe embarrassment to her, adding to her woe.

Opening up the drug debate to ‘legalising liberals’ had never been of her choosing.  She was bounced into it.  At the time of the Home Affairs Select Committee report and Nick Clegg’s demand for a Royal Commission on Drugs Policy (a couple of years ago now), giving permission to her then (Lib Dem) Minister, Jeremy Browne, to go on a jaunt (sorry, I meant an international drugs policy fact-finding mission) must have seemed infinitely preferable.

But instead of subsequently chucking into the bin the contents of this ‘jolly’ (to the drug-loving countries of Uruguay, Colorado, the Czech Republic and Portugal, to name but a few of those selected)  – which she should and could have done on the basis of its questionable content – she sat on it.

At that moment she made herself a hostage to fortune. Specifically, she made herself a hostage to Norman Baker, the conspiracy theorist, ageing hippy and would-be rock star that Clegg had chosen to replace the more cogent and intelligent Mr Browne.

But for the Daily Mail scoop, but for their forensic research, which exposed the report’s dodgy facts, but for their pinning the whole thing on Calamity Clegg and Barmy Baker, Theresa would today still be doing daily battle with an unbearably smug Norm and seeming rather less than in charge.

Indeed, she still might be blissfully unaware of the civil servant porkies they so glibly presented in her name as ‘evidence-based’ policy  – of the false facts it took the Mail to expose.

“It is clear that there has not been a lasting and significant increase in drug use in Portugal since 2001”, the civil servants, who drafted the report with Baker’s blessing, asserted.     Except there has been.

In the decade following decriminalisation, school-age drug use, as the Mail correctly pointed out, rose from 12 per cent to 19 per cent of the age group. Back in 1995 (before decriminalisation) only 8 per cent of this group had tried drugs.

Either the researchers were not going  to let an inconvenient fact get in the way of good story or they just didn’t bother to do their homework. That’s why anyone interested in reading through the entire report is advised to put down the rose-tinted spectacles accompanying it.

It skates through medical marijuana in the United States, legalisation of cannabis in Colorado and Uruguay, drug consumption rooms, ‘assisted heroin injecting’ and other liberal ‘harm reduction’ but ethically dubious policies in other countries. It ignores swathes of criticism of these back door to legalisation policies and lacks the rigour and detail to provide a credible basis for discussion.

Predictably, it treats Portugal’s ‘dissuasion commissions’ on a par with the USA’s longstanding, 2,500-strong federal wide and much respected drug court network – of which independent evaluations have demonstrated positive outcomes and over whose time span  cocaine use has dropped by 75 per cent.

Frankly, Mrs May is lucky to no longer have this dodgy dossier still hanging round her neck.  With all the plaudits that have been raining down on her – from the Mail to the Telegraph – for being the longest-serving Home Secretary since Rab Butler, for surviving one of the most difficult senior roles in Cabinet, for regaining the top spot in the battle for the Tory succession in the regular poll of activists by Conservative Home and accompanying fulsome praise –  she’d do well to reflect how lucky she has been.

She might think it is time to sharpen up those micro-management skills that The Times’s Francis Elliott rather kindly supposes to have kept her on top.  The Daily Mail scoop and the Lib-Dems’ shenanigans and spin surrounding the publication of a report that she herself signed off show these much-hyped qualities have not been much in evidence.

A bit more micro-management and she’d have sent her civil servants back to the drawing board and queried their ‘facts’, instead of letting Norman’s day arrive and allowing the report’s publication on the very same day as ‘loopy’ Caroline Lucas’s much heralded and Russell Brand-supported parliamentary drugs debate.

For all her apparent skills this is far from her first mistake. She made a far worse one on her first day in office when she signed off Harriet Harman’s horrendous and costly Equalities Act without any further discussion or reflection.  She didn’t stop there but published her own ‘right on’ Contract for Equalities.  There is nothing that ‘We’re all in this together’ does not cover.

I guess we just have to be thankful she didn’t then, this last week, under Lib Dem pressure for ‘evidence-based policy’,  action equal access to illicit drug use by decriminalising it.  Her featherbrained new feminist minister Lynne “gay marriage” Featherstone (responsible for crime prevention) is bound to suggest it. Be warned.

Source: By Kathy Gyngell conservativewoman.co.uk    6th November 2014

The truth is it can indeed mean trouble, especially for young people.

These days, it’s become fairly square to criticize marijuana and its rush toward legalization. Twenty-three states have condoned the drug in some form, with four permitting recreational use, and Massachusetts is set to vote on permitting it next year. The proposed federal CARERS Act of 2015 would let states legalize medical marijuana without federal interference and demote pot from a Schedule I drug — one with high abuse potential — to Schedule II. The path toward nationwide decriminalization is looking unobstructed.

But underscoring the incredible momentum to legalize marijuana is the misconception that the drug can’t hurt anybody. It can, especially young people.

The myth that marijuana is not habit-forming is constantly challenged by physicians. “There’s no question at all that marijuana is addictive,” Dr. Sharon Levy tells me. She is the director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, one of a few programs designed to pre-emptively identify substance use problems in teens. At least 1 in 11 young adults who begin smoking will develop an addiction to marijuana, even more among those who use the more potent products that are entering the market.

Levy speaks of an 18-year-old patient who had started smoking marijuana several times a day in 10th grade, dropped out of high school, and been stealing money from her parents. “She and her family were at their wits’ end trying to find appropriate treatment in a health care system that doesn’t consider addiction to marijuana a serious problem,” Levy says. “We are simply not prepared for the fallout of marijuana legalization.”

Such perspectives have been obfuscated by those who might gain from legalization. “People strongly defend marijuana because they don’t want legalization to be derailed,” says Jodi Gilman, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School with the Center for Addiction Medicine.

An insistence on the banality of the drug is especially dangerous among younger smokers, a population with an epidemic level of pot use. According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the use of tobacco and alcohol among 12-to-17-year-olds has fallen in the past year, but habitual use of marijuana among those 12 and up is increasing.   “If you go into a high school and ask the classroom, ‘Are cigarettes harmful? Is alcohol harmful?’ every kid raises their hands,” Gilman says. “But if I ask, ‘Is marijuana harmful?’ not a hand goes up.”

To bring balance to a narrative driven by pro-legalization campaigns, Gilman and others are interested in leveraging data to show pot’s real effects. Last year, Gilman published research on 18-to-25-year-olds that showed differences in the brain’s reward system between users and non-users. (“I got a lot of hate mail after that,” Gilman says.) And data supporting the hazards keep accumulating. Recently Gilman found that in a group of college students, smokers had impaired working memory even when not acutely high.

Physician concern for marijuana’s acceptance isn’t because doctors are a stodgy bunch — their scepticism is rooted in science and in history. In the 1950s, nearly half of Americans smoked tobacco, a level of adoption that rendered its health hazards invisible. Meanwhile, the corporate forces that drove cigarette smoking to its ascendancy actively subverted those that governed public health.

While marijuana has not been definitively shown to cause cancer or heart disease, its harmful cognitive and psychological effects will take time to capture in studies. The underlying biochemistry at work suggests deeply pathologic consequences. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana attaches to receptors in the brain that subtly modulate systems ordinarily involved in healthy behaviors like eating, learning, and forming relationships. But THC — which has been increasing in potency in legal products being sold in places like Colorado — throws the finely tuned system off balance.

“Smoking pot turns the volume on this system way, way up,” says Jonathan Long, a research fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Each hit of THC rewires the function of this critical cognitive system: Early evidence in mice has shown that repeated exposure to THC causes these receptors to disappear altogether, blunting the natural response to positive behaviors and requiring higher doses to achieve the same effect. Marijuana exploits essential pathways we’ve evolved to retrieve a memory, to delicately regulate our metabolism, and to derive happiness from everyday life.

Medical science at its best operates independently of forces that drive the market and its associated politics. It was science that eventually curtailed the power of Big Tobacco and prevented nearly 800,000 cancer deaths in the United States between 1975 and 2000. As marijuana marches toward the same legal status as cigarettes, its potential hazards will require equal attention by science.    The argument here isn’t whether marijuana should be legal. There are champions on either side of that debate. Instead, should the drug become widely available, it’s to our detriment to blindly consider marijuana’s legalization a victory worthy of celebration. We must be cautious when societal shifts can affect health, especially among our most vulnerable populations.

Source: http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2015/10/08/can-please-stop-pretending-marijuana-harmless/MneQebFPWg79ifTAXc1PkM/story.html

 

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.

References

1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2014) Results from the 2013 National

Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

2. HallW, Weier M (2015) Assessing the Public Health Impacts of Legalizing Recreational Cannabis Use in the USA. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics 97: 607–615.

3. Room R (2014) Legalizing a Market for Cannabis for Pleasure: Colorado,Washington, Uruguay and Beyond. Addiction 109: 345–351. doi: 10.1111/add.12355 PMID: 24180513

4. Babor T, Caetano R, Casswell S, Edwards G, Giesbrecht N, Graham K (2010) Alcohol: No Ordinary Commodity: Research and Public Policy ( 2nd Ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

5. Weitzer R (2014) Legalizing Recreational Marijuana: Comparing Ballot Outcomes in Four States. J Qual Crim Justice Criminol 2.

6. World Health Organization (2014) Global Progress Report on Implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

7. Watts J (2013) Uruguay’s Likely Cannabis Law Could Set Tone forWar on Drugs in Latin America. The Guardian.

8. ArcView Market Research, New Frontier (2016) The State of Legal Marijuana Markets 4th Edition.

9. Shibuya K, Ciecierski C, Guindon E, BettcherDW, Evans DB, Murray CJ, et al. (2003)WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: Development of an Evidence Based Global Public Health Treaty. BMJ 327: 154–157. PMID: 12869461

10. Barry RA, Hiilamo H, Glantz SA (2014)Waiting for the Opportune Moment: The Tobacco Industry and Marijuana Legalization. Milbank Quarterly 92: 207–242. doi: 10.1111/1468-0009.12055 PMID: 24890245

11. Richter KP, Levy S (2014) Big Marijuana—Lessons from Big Tobacco. New England Journal of Medicine 371: 399–401. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1406074 PMID: 24918955

12. Imtiaz S, Shield KD, Roerecke M, Cheng J, Popova S, Kurdyak P, et al. (2016) The Burden of Disease Attributable to Cannabis Use in Canada in 2012. Addiction 111: 653–662. doi: 10.1111/add.13237 PMID: 26598973

13. Auer R, Vittinghoff E, Yaffe K, Kunzi A, Kertesz SG, Levine DA, et al. (2016) Association between Lifetime Marijuana Use and Cognitive Function in Middle Age: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (Cardia) Study. JAMA InternMed 176: 352–361. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2015. 7841 PMID: 26831916

14. Cougle JR, Hakes JK, Macatee RJ, Zvolensky MJ, Chavarria J (2016) Probability and Correlates of Dependence among Regular Users of Alcohol, Nicotine, Cannabis, and Cocaine: Concurrent and Prospective Analyses of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. J Clin Psychiatry 77: e444–450. doi: 10.4088/JCP.14m09469 PMID: 27137428

15. World Health Organization. The Health and Social Effects of Nonmedical Cannabis Use. http://www. who.int/substance_abuse/publications/cannabis_report/en/. Accessed 16 Aug 2016

16. Jernigan DH (2009) The Global Alcohol Industry:An Overview. Addiction 104: 6–12. doi: 10.1111/j. 1360-0443.2008.02430.x PMID: 19133910

17. Cook PJ (2007) Paying the Tab: The Economics of Alcohol Policy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. xiii, 262 p. p.

18. Hastings G (2012)Why Corporate Power Is a Public Health Priority. BMJ 345: e5124. doi: 10.1136/ bmj.e5124 PMID: 22915664

19. Freudenberg N (2012) The Manufacture of Lifestyle: The Role of Corporations in Unhealthy Living. Journal of Public Health Policy 33: 244–256. doi: 10.1057/jphp.2011.60 PMID: 22258282

20. Krupnik M(2016) High Times and Agency Unite to Sell Marijuana to Mainstream. New York Times. New York.

21. Berg CJ, Stratton E, Schauer GL, Lewis M,Wang Y, Windle M, et al. (2015) Perceived Harm, Addictiveness, and Social Acceptability of Tobacco Products and Marijuana among Young Adults: Marijuana, Hookah, and Electronic Cigarettes Win. Subst Use Misuse 50: 79–89. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2014. 958857 PMID: 25268294

22. Moir D, RickertWS, Levasseur G, Larose Y, Maertens R, White P, et al. (2008) A Comparison of Mainstream and Sidestream Marijuana and Tobacco Cigarette Smoke Produced under Two Machine Smoking Conditions. Chem Res Toxicol 21: 494–502. PMID: 18062674

23. Reproductive and Cancer Hazard Assessment Branch, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency (2009) Evidence on the Carcinogenicity of Marijuana Smoke. Sacramento, Ca.

24. Volkow ND, Compton WM,Weiss SR (2014) Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use. N Engl J Med 371: 879.

25. Owen KP, Sutter ME, Albertson TE (2014) Marijuana: Respiratory Tract Effects. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol 46: 65–81. doi: 10.1007/s12016-013-8374-y PMID: 23715638

26. HallW, Lynskey M (2016) Evaluating the Public Health Impacts of Legalizing Recreational Cannabis Use in the USA. Addiction.

27. Yeboah J, Crouse J, Hsu F, Burke G, Herrington D (2007) Brachial Flow-Mediated Dilation Predicts Incident Cardiovascular Events in Older Adults: The Cardiovascular Health Study. Circulation 115: 2390–2397. PMID: 17452608

28. Yeboah J, Sutton-Tyrrell K, McBurnie M, Burke G, Herrington D, Crouse J (2008) Association between Brachial Artery Reactivity and Cardiovascular Disease Status in an Elderly Cohort: The Cardiovascular Health Study. Atheroschlerosis 197.

29. Yeboah J, Folsom A, Burke G, Johnson C, Polak J, Post W, et al. (2009) Predictive Value of Brachial

Flow-Mediated Dilation for Incident Cardiovascular Events in a Population-Based Study: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Circulation 120: 502–509. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.864801 PMID: 19635967

30. HartmanRL, Brown TL, Milavetz G, Spurgin A, Pierce RS, Gorelick DA, et al. (2016) Cannabis Effects on Driving Longitudinal Control with and without Alcohol. J Appl Toxicol.

31. RogebergO, Elvik R (2016) The Effects of Cannabis Intoxication on Motor Vehicle Collision Revisited and Revised. Addiction.

32. Haardörfer R, Berg C, Lewis M, McDonald B, Pillai D. Polytobacco, Alcohol, and Marijuana Use Patterns in College Students: A Latent Class Analysis. https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.srnt.org/resource/ resmgr/Conferences/2016_Annual_Meeting/Program/61820_SRNT_Program_web.pdf. (Accessed July 6)

33. Evans-Polce R, Lanza S, Maggs J (2016) Heterogeneity of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Substance Use Behaviors in U.S. College Students: A Latent Class Analysis. Addict Behav 53: 80–85. doi: 10. 1016/j.addbeh.2015.10.010 PMID: 26476004

34. Tanski SE, McClure AC, Li Z, Jackson K, Morgenstern M, Sargent JD (2015) Cued Recall of Alcohol Advertising on Television and Underage Drinking Behavior. JAMA Pediatr 169: 264–271. doi: 10.1001/ jamapediatrics.2014.3345 PMID: 25599526

35. Jernigan DH, Ostroff J, Ross C (2005) Alcohol Advertising and Youth: A Measured Approach. Journal of Public Health Policy 26: 312–325. PMID: 16167559

36. Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (2002) Overexposed: Youth a Target of Alcohol Advertising in Magazines. Washington D.C.: Institute for Health Care Research and Policy, Georgetown University.

37. Conference of the Parties (2003)WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

38. Murphy P, Carnevale J (2016) Regulating Marijuana in California. Sacramento, CA: Public Policy Institute of California.

39. Washington State Legislature (2015) Bill: Hb2136.

40. Lantz PM, Jacobson PD, Warner KE,Wasserman J, Pollack HA, Berson J, et al. (2000) Investing in Youth Tobacco Control: A Review of Smoking Prevention and Control Strategies. Tob Control 9: 47– 63. PMID: 10691758

41. Mosher J (2006) Alcohol Industry Voluntary Regulation of Its Advertising Practices: A Status Report.

42. Chriqui JF, Ribisl KM,Wallace RM, WilliamsRS, O’Connor JC, el Arculli R (2008) A Comprehensive Review of State Laws Governing Internetand Other Delivery Sales of Cigarettes in the United States. Nicotine Tob Res 10: 253–265. doi: 10.1080/14622200701838232 PMID: 18236290

43. World Health Organization (2008) Guidelines for Implementation of Article 11 of the WHOFramework Convention on Tobacco Control (Packaging and Labelling of Tobacco Products).

44. Wang X, Derakhshandeh R, Liu J, Narayan S, Nabavizadeh P, Le S, et al. (2016) One Minute of Marijuana Secondhand Smoke Exposure Substantially Impairs Vascular Endothelial Function. J Am Heart Assoc 5: pii: e003858. doi: 003810.001161/JAHA.003116.003858.

45. Thomas G, Kloner RA, Rezkalla S (2014) Adverse Cardiovascular, Cerebrovascular, and Peripheral Vascular Effects of Marijuana Inhalation: What Cardiologists Need to Know. Am J Cardiol 113: 187–190. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2013.09.042 PMID:24176069

46. Meier MH, Caspi A, Ambler A, Harrington H, Houts R, Keefe RS, et al. (2012) Persistent Cannabis Users Show Neuropsychological Decline from Childhood to Midlife. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109: E2657–2664. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1206820109 PMID: 22927402

47. Gilmore AB, Fooks G, McKee M (2011) A Review of the Impacts of Tobacco Industry Privatisation: Implications for Policy. Glob Public Health 6: 621–642. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2011.595727 PMID: 21790502

48. Grubesic TH, Murray AT, Pridemore WA, Tabb LP, Liu Y, Wei R (2012) Alcohol Beverage Control, Privatization and the Geographic Distribution of Alcohol Outlets.BMC Public Health 12: 1015. doi: 10. 1186/1471-2458-12-1015 PMID: 23170899

49. Pratt A (2016) Can State Ownership of the Tobacco Industry Really Advance Tobacco Control? Tob Control 25: 365–366. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2015-052594 PMID: 26437809

50. Pardo B (2014) Cannabis Policy Reforms in the Americas: A Comparative Analysis of Colorado, Washington, and Uruguay. Int J Drug Policy 25: 727–735. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.05.010 PMID: 24970383

51. Hogg SL, Hill SE, Collin J (2015) State-Ownership of Tobacco Industry:

‘A Fundamental Conflict of Interest’ or a ‘Tremendous Opportunity’ for Tobacco Control? Tob Control.

52. Rehm J, Fischer B (2015) Cannabis Legalization with Strict Regulation, the Overall SuperiorPolicy Option for Public Health. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics 97: 541–544.

53. Caulkins J, Kilmer B, Kleinman M, MacCoun R, Midgette G, Oglesby P, et al. (2015) Considering Marijuana Legalization Insights for Vermont and Other Jurisdictions. RAND Institute.

54. Pacula RL, Kilmer B, Wagenaar AC, Chaloupka FJ, Caulkins JP (2014) Developing Public Health Regulations for Marijuana: Lessons from Alcohol and Tobacco. Am J Public Health 104: 1021–1028. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301766 PMID: 24825201

55. Crosbie E, Gonzalez M, Glantz SA (2014) Health Pre-emption Behind Closed Doors: Trade Agreements and Fast-Track Authority. Am J Public Health 104: e7–e13.

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

Picture

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.
Picture

Hash Oil explosion Walnut Creek, CA 2014
Picture

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 Am