Drugs and Accidents

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

 

 

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

Haven Dubois, 14, died in accidental drowning on May 20, 2015, coroner says

Family members hold a picture of Haven Dubois, 14, who was found in cardiac arrest in a Regina creek on May 20, 2015. (CBC)

Richelle Dubois, the mother of 14-year-old Haven Dubois, says she is determined to learn more about the circumstances surrounding her son’s death. “I’m not done with this until I’m satisfied that they’ve looked into everything,” Dubois said Wednesday following the release of a coroner’s report that looked into the May 20, 2015 death of Haven. “I need to make sure that they’ve done their job properly.”
According to the report, the Regina boy was found drowned. The report said boys who were with Haven on that day told the coroner that he suffered a bad reaction to marijuana.
The boy’s mother Dubois has expressed concerns the death might have been connected to gangs. Police said foul play had been ruled out. Richelle Dubois said last fall she had waited a long time for the coroner to complete her report on her son Haven’s death. (CBC)
Coroner Maureen Stinnen interviewed a number of boys who were with Dubois, who said he was at school in the morning before getting into a car with friends.
“They apparently smoked some marijuana and they indicated that Haven began ‘freaking out,'” Stinnen’s report said. One of the youths Stinnen interviewed said it was Dubois’s first time smoking drugs. After getting out of the car, Dubois continued suffering ill effects and started walking away from the school, F. W. Johnson Collegiate.

Left alone on a bench

“Witnesses indicate he was ‘spinning in circles’ with his arms crossed at his chest,” the report said. One witness said he sat for a while with Dubois on a bench in a park, but left him alone so he could go get a skateboard and backpack. When the boy returned, Dubois wasn’t at the bench.
A friend said he last saw Dubois walking north by the creek in the area where his mother had discovered the body. Over the noon hour, Dubois was found face down in about a metre of water. Efforts to resuscitate him failed.
Dubois had no history or depression or suicidal tendencies, the coroner said. However, a toxicology report indicated he had the active component of cannabis in his blood.

Reactions to marijuana vary, coroner says

“The effect of marijuana on individuals varies considerably, from minor effects such as general feeling of well-being, to agitation and paranoia,” the report said. “These effects are subject to dose, age and experience of the user. Even in low doses, marijuana can precipitate a panic reaction and irrational behaviour.”
Stinnen said the case was thoroughly investigated by the Regina police and while “questions remain,” there were no indications of foul play. She concluded that Dubois’s death was an accidental drowning with drug use a “significant contributing factor.”

Mother seeks more information

Richelle Dubois said Wednesday she feels she did not get enough information from police about their investigation. “It’s so easy for them to brush it aside. It’s just another dead Indian to them,” Dubois said. “That’s how I feel; that we’re just another Indian family.”
According to a spokesperson from the police, officers met with Dubois three times. Dubois said the findings of the coroner, noting how marijuana can lead some people to panic and act irrationally, provide a possible explanation for her son’s death, but she still has questions.
“l know this isn’t the end of it,” she said. “This little two and a quarter page [report] isn’t the end of it.” Dubois added she has made a formal request to view police reports on the case.

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/marijuana-significant-factor-in-haven-dubois-death-1.3392179

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

“No One Has Died of an Overdose”

This remains the most outrageous claim of the pro-legalization movement. It is not only dangerously misleading, it is a slap in the face to the families who have lost children, spouses and parents. Everyone admits that people are dying in traffic crashes because of stoned drivers, and that some people have died in butane hash oil explosions, but too many people are turning a blind eye to the other deaths caused by what can only be called an overdose. Tachycardia – a racing heart – is a common, well-known side effect of using marijuana. So is increased blood pressure. A growing body of evidence, here and in other countries, is revealing that marijuana has caused previously overlooked deaths through heart attack and stroke. In Colorado last fall, an 11-month-old infant brought to the ER after being exposed to marijuana died from an inflamed heart muscle (myocarditis) caused by the exposure.

Marijuana can also overwhelm the emotional centers of the brain causing paranoia, delusions, and acute psychosis. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report released last January states, “There is substantial evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and the development of schizophrenia or other psychoses, with the highest risk among the most frequent users.” (The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids, Chapter Highlights NAS 2017)

Emergency rooms in Colorado reported a 44 percent increase in marijuana-related visits between 2012 and 2014. Many of these were cases of acute psychosis, particularly in young men, who had to be restrained to keep from harming themselves or others.

Other evidence of marijuana overdose

A growing body of evidence indicates that marijuana is not just associated with suicide but can be a causative factor. The NAS report cited above found an “Increased incidence of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts with a higher incidence among heavier users” and an “Increased incidence of suicide completion.” One of the studies they listed found a seven-fold increase in risk for suicide even after controlling for a prior history of mood disorders.

In 2014, a young man in Colorado either jumped or unwittingly tumbled to his death from a fourth-floor balcony during a psychotic outburst. In July this year, a Vermont father clutching his son to his chest jumped out of a fourth-floor window shortly after smoking marijuana. He said it was God who made him jump.

When a drug drives all sense of reality from your brain, it’s an overdose. In marijuana’s case, these overdoses can and do lead to death.

Dean Whitlock is a freelance writer whose book, Finn’s Clock, a historical fantasy will be coming this fall in paperback. www.deanwhitlock.com.Read the full article in Vermont Digger. Also read why Vermont physicians propose caution with legalization.

Source: http://www.poppot.org/2017/10/18/truth-deaths-by-marijuana-overdose/

Washington’s pot is a bit more potent than the national average. And the state’s teens are more likely to smoke marijuana than young people nationwide.

Although we have the same problems with marijuana as we do with liquor abuse, no blockbuster conclusions came from a recent report on Washington’s marijuana universe.

But a couple of somewhat unexpected environmental wrinkles from Washington’s marijuana industry — both legal and illegal — also emerge in the second annual look at the state’s experience since passage of a 2012 initiative allowing recreational pot sales.

Marijuana growers and processors use 1.63 percent of the state’s electricity, which is a lot, according to the report by the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area — a combined effort by several federal, state and local government agencies. By way of comparison, all forms of lighting — in homes, commercial buildings and manufacturing — account for just 7 to 11 percent of electrical consumption nationally. Or, as the report puts it, the power is enough for 2 million homes.

The high power consumption stems from the heat lamps and the accompanying air conditioning for indoor marijuana growing operations. “They are exceedingly energy-consumptive,” said Steven Freng, manager for prevention and treatment for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

The carbon footprint, according to the report, equals that of about 3 million cars.

And illegal pot growers siphoned off 43.2 million gallons of water from streams and aquifers during the 2016 growing season — water that tribes, farmers and cities would otherwise use as carefully as possible, in part to protect salmon.

Sixty percent of Washington’s illegal pot was grown on state-owned land in 2016. That’s because black-market growers tend to worry about gun-toting owners on private lands, according to Freng and Luci McKean, the organization’s deputy director. The black-market operations use the water during a roughly 120-day growing season.

Marijuana purchases have boomed in Washington. Legal marijuana sales were almost $1 billion in fiscal year 2016 and were on track to be about $1.5 billion in fiscal 2017, which ended June 30. As of February, the state had 1,121 licensed producers, 1,106 licensed processors and 470 licensed retailers.

What Washington’s marijuana users are getting is above average in potency. According to the report, nationwide marijuana products average a THC percentage of 13.2 percent, while Washington state’s THC average percentage was 21.6 percent.

Teen use of marijuana has grown slightly. Depending on how the numbers are crunched, marijuana use among Washington’s young adults and teens ranges from 2 to 5 percent above the national average. Five percent of Washingtonians age 18-to-25 use pot daily, slightly above the national average, the report said.

According to a survey cited in the report, 17 percent of high school seniors and 9 percent of high school sophomores have driven within three hours after smoking pot.

Adult use before driving is still a fuzzy picture. A third of Washingtonians arrested for driving under the influence had THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in their bloodstreams. One study found an increase in dead drivers with THC above the legal limit in their blood from 7.8 percent in 2013 to 12.8 percent in 2014.

“Adults still don’t understand the effects of impairment behind the wheel of a car,” Freng said.

McKean said that one major unknown is marijuana-laced edibles, which authorities believe have become a significant factor in THC-impaired drivers, but has not been studied enough to provide solid numbers.

Another major unknown, McKean and Freng said, is how marijuana consumption contributes to emergency room and hospital cases because the state hospitals have not agreed to release that data to government officials.

Source: http://crosscut.com/2017/10/washingtons-pot-industry-not-environmentally-friendly-marijuana/

Legalizing recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Oregon and Washington has resulted in collision claim frequencies that are about three percent higher overall than would have been expected without legalization, a new insurance report has found.

The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) report says that more drivers admit to using marijuana, and the substance is showing up more frequently among people involved in crashes.

The HLDI report authors note that although there is evidence from simulator and on-road studies that marijuana can degrade some aspects of driving performance, researchers haven’t been able to definitively connect marijuana use with more frequent real-world crashes.

Some studies have found that using the drug could more than double crash risk, while others, including a large-scale federal case-control study, have failed to find a link between marijuana use and crashes. Studies on the effects of legalizing marijuana for medical use also have been inconclusive.

Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize recreational marijuana for adults age 21 and older with voter approval in November 2012. Retail sales began in January 2014 in Colorado and in July 2014 in Washington. Oregon voters approved legalized recreational marijuana in November 2014, and sales started in October 2015.

HLDI conducted a combined analysis using neighbouring states as additional controls to examine the collision claims experience of Colorado, Oregon and Washington before and after law changes. Control states included Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, plus Colorado, Oregon and Washington prior to legalization of recreational use.

During the study period, Nevada and Montana permitted medical use of marijuana, Wyoming and Utah allowed only limited use for medical purposes, and Idaho didn’t permit any use. Oregon and Washington authorized medical marijuana use in 1998, and Colorado authorized it in 2000.

HLDI also looked at loss results for each state individually compared with loss results for adjacent states without legalized recreational marijuana use prior to November 2016.  “The combined-state analysis shows that the first three states to legalize recreational marijuana have experienced more crashes,” says Matt Moore, senior vice president of HLDI. “The individual state analyses suggest that the size of the effect varies by state.”

Colorado saw the biggest estimated increase in claim frequency compared with its control states. After retail marijuana sales began in Colorado, the increase in collision claim frequency was 14 percent higher than in nearby Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming. Washington’s estimated increase in claim frequency was 6 percent higher than in Montana and Idaho, and Oregon’s estimated increase in claim frequency was 4 percent higher than in Idaho, Montana and Nevada.

“The combined effect for the three states was smaller but still significant at 3 percent,” Moore says. “The combined analysis uses a bigger control group and is a good representation of the effect of marijuana legalization overall. The single-state analyses show how the effect differs by state.”

Each of the individual state analyses also showed that the estimated effect of legalizing recreational use of marijuana varies depending on the comparison state examined. For example, results for Colorado vary from a 3 percent increase in claim frequency when compared with Wyoming to a 21 percent increase when compared with Utah.

Data spanned collision claims filed between January 2012 and October 2016 for 1981 to 2017 model vehicles. Analysts controlled for differences in the rated driver population, insured vehicle fleet, the mix of urban versus rural exposure, unemployment, weather and seasonality.

Collision claims are the most frequent kind of claims insurers receive. Collision coverage insures against physical damage to a driver’s vehicle in a crash with an object or other vehicle, generally when the driver is at fault. Collision claim frequency is the number of collision claims divided by the number of insured vehicle years.

HLDI said it will continue to examine insurance claims in states that allow recreational use of marijuana. Meanwhile, IIHS has begun a large-scale case-control study in Oregon to assess how legalized marijuana use may be changing the risk of crashes with injuries. Preliminary results are expected in 2020.

In addition to Colorado, Oregon and Washington, five other states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for all uses, and 21 states have comprehensive medical marijuana programs as of June. An additional 17 states permit limited access for medical use. Marijuana is still an illegal controlled substance under federal law.

“Worry that legalized marijuana is increasing crash rates isn’t misplaced,” says David Zuby, executive vice president and chief research officer of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “HLDI’s findings on the early experience of Colorado, Oregon and Washington should give other states eyeing legalization pause.”

The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) conducts studies of insurance data on vehicle losses and by publishes insurance loss results by vehicle make and model. Its sister research organization, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), is focused reducing the losses from motor vehicle crashes. Both organizations are wholly supported by auto insurers and insurance associations.

State Efforts

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has urged states to equip themselves with the latest research and recommends that they increase drug testing, bolster laboratory resources, track alcohol (DUI) and drugged (DUID) related driving data separately in state records, use surveys to gauge public attitudes, and evaluate the effects of any law or program changes.

The group has issued a guide, Drug Impaired Driving: A Guide for States, for states. Chief among the report’s recommendations is increased training for law enforcement officers to help them identify and arrest drugged drivers.

“As states across the country continue to struggle with drug-impaired driving, it’s critical that we help them understand the current landscape and provide examples of best practices so they can craft the most effective countermeasures,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of GHSA.

GHSA said this year five states are getting grants totalling $100,000 to implement Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) training and Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) programs. The states are Illinois, Montana, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Related Research

The HLDI authors cite other research into drugs and driving including a 2016 IIHS survey that found that drivers in Colorado, Oregon and Washington were more likely to view marijuana as a highway safety problem than drivers in states without legalized use (Drivers say alcohol is bigger threat than pot).

A 2016 Columbia University study looked at traffic fatalities in 19 states before and after they enacted legalized medical marijuana laws. On average there was an 11 percent reduction in fatality rates, although the results varied across states. Seven states saw a reduction, while two had an increase, and the other 10 didn’t change.

Researchers using the National Advanced Driving Simulator found that while drivers under the influence of marijuana had trouble maintaining constant lane position, they drove more slowly and with more headway than drivers not under the influence.

About 1 in 5 weekend night-time drivers tested positive for at least one legal or illegal drug in the 2013-14 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) (More drivers use marijuana, but link to crashes is murky).

A 2016 AAA Foundation study in Washington since legalization estimated that the prevalence of drivers in fatal crashes with marijuana in their blood roughly doubled from 8.3 percent in 2013 to 17 percent in 2014.

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) examined the crash risk associated with driver drug use and found that drivers who tested positive for marijuana were overrepresented in the crash-involved population (More drivers use marijuana, but link to crashes is murky). However, they found no link between marijuana use and driver crash risk. The study, published in 2016, included 2011-12 data on police-reported crashes in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where it is illegal to use marijuana.

Source:  http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/

Highlights

· •Cannabidiol appears often in Norwegian THC-positive blood samples.

· •Cannabidiol does not appear to protect against THC-induced impairment.

· •Cannabidiol may be detected in blood for more than 2 h after cannabis intake.

· •Hashish has revealed far lower THC/cannabidiol ratios than marijuana in Norway.

Abstract

Background and aims

Several publications have suggested increasing cannabis potency over the last decade, which, together with lower amounts of cannabidiol (CBD), could contribute to an increase in adverse effects after cannabis smoking. Naturalistic studies on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD in blood samples are, however, missing. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between THC- and CBD concentrations in blood samples among cannabis users, and to compare cannabinoid concentrations with the outcome of a clinical test of impairment (CTI) and between traffic accidents and non-accident driving under the influence of drugs (DUID)-cases. Assessment of THC- and CBD contents in cannabis seizures was also included.

Methods

THC- and CBD concentrations in blood samples from subjects apprehended in Norway from April 2013–April 2015 were included (n = 6134). A CTI result was compared with analytical findings in cases where only THC and/or CBD were detected (n = 705). THC- and CBD content was measured in 41 cannabis seizures.

Results

Among THC-positive blood samples, 76% also tested positive for CBD. There was a strong correlation between THC- and CBD concentrations in blood samples (Pearson’s r = 0.714, p < 0.0005). Subjects judged as impaired by a CTI had significantly higher THC- (p < 0.001) and CBD (p = 0.008) concentrations compared with not impaired subjects, but after multivariate analyses, impairment could only be related to THC concentration (p = 0.004). Analyzing seizures revealed THC/CBD ratios of 2:1 for hashish and 200:1 for marijuana.

Conclusions

More than ¾ of the blood samples testing positive for THC, among subjects apprehended in Norway, also tested positive for CBD, suggesting frequent consumption of high CBD cannabis products. The simultaneous presence of CBD in blood does, however, not appear to affect THC-induced impairment on a CTI. Seizure sample analysis did not reveal high potency cannabis products, and while CBD content appeared high in hashish, it was almost absent in marijuana.

Source:  http://www.fsijournal.org/article/  July 2017 Volume 276, Pages 12–17

As Cpl. Kevin Phillips pulled up to investigate a suspected opioid overdose, paramedics were already at the Maryland home giving a man a life-saving dose of the overdose reversal drug Narcan.

Drugs were easy to find:  a package of heroin on the railing leading to a basement; another batch on a shelf above a nightstand.

The deputy already had put on gloves and grabbed evidence baggies, his usual routine for canvassing a house.  He swept the first package from the railing into a bag and sealed it; then a torn Crayola crayon box went from the nightstand into a bag of its own.  Inside that basement nightstand:  even more bags, but nothing that looked like drugs.

Then—moments after the man being treated by paramedics come to—the overdose hit.

“My face felt like it was burning.  I felt extremely lightheaded.  I felt like I was getting dizzy,” he said.  “I stood there for two seconds and thought, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t just get exposed to something.’ I just kept thinking about the carfentanil.”

Carfentanil came to mind because just hours earlier, Phillips’ boss, Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler, sent an e-mail to deputies saying the synthetic opioid so powerful that it’s used to tranquilize elephants had, for the first time ever, showed up in a toxicology report from a fatal overdose in the county.  The sheriff had urged everyone to use extra caution when responding to drug scenes.

Carfentanil and fentanyl are driving forces in the most deadly drug epidemic the United States has ever seen.  Because of their potency, it’s not just addicts who are increasingly at risk—it’s those tasked with saving lives and investigating the illegal trade.  Police departments across the U.S. are arming officers with the opioid antidote Narcan.  Now, some first responders have had to use it on colleagues, or themselves.

The paramedic who administered Phillips’ Narcan on May 19 started feeling sick herself soon after;  she didn’t need Narcan but was treated for exposure to the drugs.

Earlier this month, an Ohio officer overdosed in a police station after bushing off with a bare hand a trace of white powder left from a drug scene.  Like Phillips, he was revived after several doses of Narcan.  Last fall, SWAT officers in Hartford, Connecticut, were sickened after a flash-bang grenade sent particles of heroin and fentanyl airborne.

Phillips’ overdose was eye-opening for his department, Gahler said.  Before then, deputies didn’t have a protocol for overdose scenes; many showed up without any protective gear.

Gahler has since spent $5,000 for 100 kits that include a protective suit, booties, gloves, and face masks.  Carfentanil can be absorbed through the skin and easily inhaled. and a single particle is so powerful that simply touching it can cause an overdose, Gahler said.  Additional gear will be distributed to investigators tasked with cataloguing overdose scenes—heavy-duty gloves and more robust suits.

Gahler said 37 people have died so far this year from overdoses in his county, which is between Baltimore and Philadelphia.  The county has received toxicology reports on 19 of those cases, and each showed signs of synthetic opioids.

“This is all a game-changer for us in law enforcement,” Gahler said.  “We are going to have to re-evaluate daily what we’re doing.  We are feeling our way through this every single day . . . we’re dealing with something that’s out of our realm.  I don’t want to lose a deputy ever, but especially not to something the size of a grain of salt.”

Source:  – Erie Times-News, Erie, Pa. – May 28, 2017 – www.goerie.com  The Associated Press

Ohio had the most overdose fatalities in the United States in 2014 and 2015.

A newspaper’s survey of county coroners has painted a grim picture of fatal overdoses in Ohio: more than 4,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016 in the state badly hit by a heroin and opioid epidemic.

At least 4,149 died from unintentional overdoses last year, a 36 percent climb from the previous year, or a time when Ohio had the most overdose fatalities in the United States so far.

“They died in restaurants, theaters, libraries, convenience stores, parks, cars, on the streets and at home,” wrote The Columbus Dispatch in its report revealing the findings.

Survey Findings

It’s likely getting worse, too, as coroners warned that overdose deaths this year are fast outpacing these figures brought on by overdoses from heroin, synthetic opioids fentanyl and carfentanil, and other drugs.

The Dispatch obtained the number by getting in touch with coroners’ offices in all 88 Ohio counties. Coroners in six smaller counties, according to the paper, did not provide the requested figures.

Leading the counties in rapid drug overdose rises are counties such as Cuyahoga, where there were 666 deaths in 2016, as well as Franklin, Hamilton, Lucas, Montgomery, and Summit.

The devastation, added the survey, did not discriminate against big or small cities and towns, urban or rural areas, and rich and poor enclaves.

“It’s a growing, breathing animal, this epidemic,” said Medina County coroner and ER physician Dr. Lisa Deranek, who has sometimes revived the same overdose patients a few times each week.

Fentanyl Overdoses

Cuyahoga County, which covers Cleveland, had its death toll largely blamed on fentanyl use. Heroin remains a leading killer, but the autopsy reports reflected the major role of fentanyl, a synthetic opiate 50 times stronger than morphine, and animal tranquilizer carfentanil.

“We’ve done so much, but the numbers are going the other way. I don’t see the improvement,” said William Denihan, outgoing CEO of Cuyahoga County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board.

Cuyahoga County had 400 fentanyl-linked deaths from Nov. 21 in 2015 to Dec. 31 last year, more than double related deaths of all previous years in combination. The opioid crisis, too, no longer just affected mostly white drug users, but also minority communities.

Dr. Thomas Gilson, medical examiner of Cuyahoga County, warned that cocaine is now getting mixed into the fentanyl distribution and fentanyl analogs in order to bring the drugs closer to the African-American groups.

Plans And Prospects

The state’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services stated that the overdose death toll back in 2015 would have been higher if not for the role of naloxone, an antidote use for opioid overdose cases. It has been administered by family members, other drug users, and friends to revive dying individuals.

State legislature moved to make naloxone accessible in pharmacies without a prescription. Ohio topped the nation’s drug overdose death numbers in 2014 and 2015. In the latter year, it was followed by New York, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation using statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts are pushing for expanding drug prevention as well as education initiatives from schoolkids to young and middle-aged adults, which also make up the bulk of dying people.

And while the state pioneered in crushing “pill mills” that issue prescription painkillers, health officials warned that this sent addicts to heroin and other stronger substances.

Naloxone, too, is merely an overdose treatment and not a cure for the growing addiction. Last May 22 in Pennsylvania, two drug counselors working to help others battle their drug addiction were found dead from opioid overdose at the addiction facility in West Brandywine, Chester County.

Source:  http://www.techtimes.com/articles/208540/20170529/ohio-leads-in-nations-fatal-drug-overdoses-with-4-000-dead-in-2016-survey.htm  29.05.17

Beery points to 50 deaths in 2016, most linked to drugs

Dr. Jeff Beery doesn’t agree with those who think marijuana is a relatively harmless drug that carries medicinal qualities and should even be winked at for recreational purposes.

But Beery doesn’t just think marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs.

“It’s a gateway to hell,” he says flatly.

Beery’s perspective is based on four years serving as Highland County coroner, with more than a decade before that as a deputy coroner. He provided statistics this week from 2016 on 50 fatalities he investigated last year that he deemed suspicious, or at least unusually odd or interesting.

Beery said there has been a steady increase in deaths related one way or another to drugs, raising fatalities connected to illicit drugs to alarming proportions. He said the word “epidemic” is not sufficient to describe the toll being taken on Highland County.  “It’s a craze, not an epidemic,” he said, adding that “epidemic” implies something beyond people’s control.

The 50 cases provided by Beery from 2016 range from deaths by car crashes, burns, gun shots, heart attacks, hyperthermia and suicides to asphyxia and embolisms. But most of them have a common denominator, he said – the presence of drug use, or a history of drug use.

At least eight cases out of the 50 cited by Beery include marijuana as a factor contributing to the fatalities, in his opinion. Six fatalities were connected to heroin, three to cocaine, eight to amphetamines, including methamphetamine, and several to drugs like Xanax, Valium, Clonazepam and, especially, Fentanyl, which has been increasingly found mixed with heroin.

Beery blames a lax attitude by society and particularly by elected officials, including at the state and federal level, for contributing to the rise in drug-related deaths. He said former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision not to pursue marijuana charges at the federal level “opened the door to the wild progression of illicit drugs.”

Holder consistently expressed views on marijuana that were opposed to treating the drug as seriously as other narcotics. In a 2016 PBS interview, after he was no longer attorney general, Holder said, “It’s hard for me to imagine ever decriminalizing crack cocaine, drugs like that. But the whole question of should marijuana be decriminalized, I mean, that’s a conversation I think that we should engage in.”

Beery is aware of the fierce pushback among many people and organizations to his stand on marijuana. Groups like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) – whose mission is “to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable,” according to its website – have won referendums and convinced legislatures to at least legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Many patients suffering from certain serious illnesses or chronic pain insist that marijuana is the only effective relief they have found. Beery disagrees, saying marijuana has no medicinal qualities. He blames Ohio’s Republican-led “so-called conservative” legislature for caving in on the medical marijuana issue, even though the consequences of marijuana use and cultivation are obvious, especially in southern Ohio, he said.

“Just look at Pike County,” said Beery, referring to the murders last year of the Rhoden family, where a large marijuana growing operation worth hundreds of thousands of dollars on the street was found.  Beery said a lax attitude about border security and drugs also contributes to the problem.

Beery said that while investigating deaths in recent years, “I would see other things,” ranging from marijuana to heroin to cocaine that, to him, were obvious contributors not just to overdoses but to car wrecks, gun shots, homicides, burns and suicides.

Source: http://timesgazette.com/news/13879/highland-county-coroner-marijuana-is-gateway-to-hell

March 2017

Highlights

* Cannabis collisions resulted in 75 deaths and 4407 injuries in 2012.

* There were up to 24,879 victims of property damage only cannabis collisions in 2012.

* Cannabis collisions costs ranged from $1.09 to $1.28 billion CAD in 2012.

* Cannabis collision harms were particularly high amongst those ages 16–34 years old.

Abstract

Introduction

In 2012, 10% of Canadians used cannabis and just under half of those who use cannabis were estimated to have driven under the influence of cannabis. Substantial evidence has accumulated to indicate that driving after cannabis use increases collision risk significantly; however, little is known about the extent and costs associated with cannabis-related traffic collisions. This study quantifies the costs of cannabis-related traffic collisions in the Canadian provinces.

Methods

Province and age specific cannabis-attributable fractions (CAFs) were calculated for traffic collisions of varying severity. The CAFs were applied to traffic collision data in order to estimate the total number of persons involved in cannabis-attributable fatal, injury and property damage only collisions. Social cost values, based on willingness-to-pay and direct costs, were applied to estimate the costs associated with cannabis-related traffic collisions. The 95% confidence intervals were calculated using Monte Carlo methodology.

Results

Cannabis-attributable traffic collisions were estimated to have caused 75 deaths (95% CI: 0–213), 4407 injuries (95% CI: 20–11,549) and 7794 people (95% CI: 3107–13,086) were involved in property damage only collisions in Canada in 2012, totalling $1,094,972,062 (95% CI: 37,069,392–2,934,108,175) with costs being highest among younger people.

Discussion

The cannabis-attributable driving harms and costs are substantial. The harm and cost of cannabis-related collisions is an important factor to consider as Canada looks to legalize and regulate the sale of cannabis. This analysis provides evidence to help inform Canadian policy to reduce the human and economic costs of drug-impaired driving.

Source:  Estimating the harms and costs of cannabis-attributable collisions in the Canadian provinces     Drug & Alcohol Dependence , Volume 173 , 185 – 190

Jamaica’s recent decriminalization of possession of up to two ounces of ganja is contributing to a dangerous practice that officials warn needs urgent attention.

Disturbing findings in the 2016 National Drug Prevalence Survey show that one in six males and 17 females drive under the influence, with most admitting to using ganja since it has been decriminalized.

Executive director of the National Council on Drug Abuse Michael Tucker has raised a red flag about the data, which he said highlights the fact that people behind the wheel as well as non-drivers are in serious danger.

He told the Jamaica Gleaner: “This is very troubling, as potentially these persons are not only a harm to themselves, but to other users of the road. Many times they might be carrying passengers, including children.”

More than 4,500 people across Jamaica participated in the survey conducted in April and July last year which sought to find out the pattern of substance abuse among citizens between 12 and 65, and attitudes towards ganja decriminalization, among other things. Tucker was particularly concerned that some of the frequent road users, including the drivers of public transport, were among the offenders.

“We don’t want to raise any alarm on a particular group of persons, but if you look at the population, I would assume that a reasonable number of them, (respondents) would have come from that group (bus drivers),” he said.

At the same time, vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council Dr Lucien Jones lamented that the problems associated with drug use were often misunderstood and underestimated.  Pointing to police data, he noted that distracted driving has been identified as one of the main causes of accidents.

“It goes back to the basic problem we have on the road, which is indiscipline. It’s a mindset, which we are definitely trying to change. So it’s one other issue, apart from just driving recklessly on the road. It’s a major concern for us that people don’t understand the problems, which are associated with drug use,” Jones told The Gleaner.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has suggested that educating citizens about the effects of substance abuse is a key way to tackle the problem.

He noted that while Jamaica is positioning itself to be a major player in the marijuana industry, government would ensure that the drug is not misused or abuse.

Source:  http://www.caribbean360.com/news/jamaica_news/influence-jamaicans-driving-high#ixzz4WEiVvycI   Caribbean360 – January 18, 2017

January 12th, 2017

A new study finds ignition interlocks, devices that prevent a person from starting a car if their blood alcohol level is too high, prevents deadly accidents.

Ignition interlocks are associated with a 7 percent decrease in the rate of fatal crashes involving at least one drunk driver, researchers report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.   Cars with the device will not start if the driver’s blood alcohol level exceeds a preset limit,  HealthDay reports.

While all states have some type of ignition interlock law, only half require everyone convicted of a DUI to use the device, the researchers noted. Some states require them only for repeat offenders, or for those caught driving with very high blood alcohol levels.

Source:  http://www.drugfree.org/news-service/ignition-interlocks-prevent-deadly-drunk-driving-accidents/

Randomised controlled trial 

Battistella G, et al. PLoS One. 2013.

Abstract

Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug, however its effects on cognitive functions underlying safe driving remain mostly unexplored.

Our goal was to evaluate the impact of cannabis on the driving ability of occasional smokers, by investigating changes in the brain network involved in a tracking task. The subject characteristics, the percentage of Δ(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol in the joint, and the inhaled dose were in accordance with real-life conditions.

Thirty-one male volunteers were enrolled in this study that includes clinical and toxicological aspects together with functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and measurements of psychomotor skills. The fMRI paradigm was based on a visuo-motor tracking task, alternating active tracking blocks with passive tracking viewing and rest condition.

We show that cannabis smoking, even at low Δ(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol blood concentrations, decreases psychomotor skills and alters the activity of the brain networks involved in cognition. The relative decrease of Blood Oxygen Level Dependent response (BOLD) after cannabis smoking in the anterior insula, dorsomedial thalamus, and striatum compared to placebo smoking suggests an alteration of the network involved in saliency detection.

In addition, the decrease of BOLD response in the right superior parietal cortex and in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex indicates the involvement of the Control Executive network known to operate once the saliencies are identified. Furthermore, cannabis increases activity in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortices, suggesting an increase in self-oriented mental activity.

Subjects are more attracted by intrapersonal stimuli (“self”) and fail to attend to task performance, leading to an insufficient allocation of task-oriented resources and to sub-optimal performance. These effects correlate with the subjective feeling of confusion rather than with the blood level of Δ(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol. These findings bolster the zero-tolerance policy adopted in several countries that prohibits the presence of any amount of drugs in blood while driving.

Source:  PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e52545. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052545. Epub 2013 Jan 

Getting behind the wheel while high or mashed off your face is obviously a terrible idea.

But even though new laws were introduced last year to clamp down on drug driving, tonnes of people still take the risk.

Illegal or medical drugs contributed to 62 fatal road crashes last year and another 259 causing serious injury. On top of that some 8,000 people were arrested for drug driving between March 2015 and April this year.

This is despite how badly having drugs in your system impairs your driving.  All of the most commonly used illegal drugs will make you a terrible driver. Just take a look at Brake’s summary below:

Drug driving

More than 8,000 people were arrested for drug driving in the first year of the new law .

Cannabis (2µg/L): Slows reactions; affects concentration; often gives a sedative-like effect, resulting in fatigue; affects co-ordination. Research using driver simulators has found cannabis makes drivers less able to steer accurately and slower to react to another vehicle pulling out

Cocaine (10µg/L) : Causes over-confidence; can cause erratic behaviour. After a night out using cocaine, people may feel like they have flu, feel sleepy and lack concentration

Ecstasy (10µg/L) : Makes the heart beat faster, which can cause a surge of adrenaline and result in a driver feeling over-confident and taking risks

Ketamine (20µg/L): Can cause muscle paralysis; hallucinations; confusion, agitation, panic attacks; and memory impairment

LSD: Can speed up or slow down time and movement, making the speed of other vehicles difficult to judge; can distort colour, sound and objects; may cause people to see objects which aren’t there; makes people feel panicky and confused

Speed: Makes people feel wide awake and excited, causing erratic behaviour and risk-taking; and can make people panicky. Users have difficulty sleeping, so will be unsafe to drive due to tiredness, sometimes for several days

But it’s not just illegal drugs that will impair your ability to drive, many prescription drugs will do to.  A UK study in 2000 found 5% of drivers and 4% of motorcyclists who died in road crashes had taken medicines that could have affected their driving.  Aside from the dangers you pose to other drivers by getting behind the wheel with drugs on your system, the legal ramifications are bad too.

Drivers convicted of drug driving receive::

* A minimum 12-month driving ban

* A criminal record; and

* A fine of up to £5,000, or up to 6 months in prison, or both Greg Marah, a spokesperson for Brake, told metro.co.uk that It is estimated that 200 deaths a year in the UK may result from drug driving.

He added: ‘Drink-driving is rightly seen as socially unacceptable, yet the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs are not as well-known and the drivers who choose to drug drive need to know that it’s illegal and potentially lethal.

‘With Police now having the power to test for drugs at the roadside, there is no hiding place for those who engage in this behaviour and endanger lives on our roads.  ‘However, with traffic policing being hit hard by budget cuts and resources stretched, more drivers may still be escaping prosecution despite these advances in testing for drug driving.

‘Every day we see the devastating consequences of crashes caused by drug drivers and people need to understand that these substances will seriously affect their ability to drive safely.’

Source:  http://metro.co.uk/2016/11/22/how-taking-drugs-before-you-get-behind-the-wheel-will-make-you-a-terrible-driver-6276207/

(Photo: Frank Eltman, AP)

The percentage of traffic deaths in which at least one driver tested positive for drugs has nearly doubled over a decade, raising alarms as five states are set to vote on legalization of marijuana.

Amid a disquieting increase in overall U.S. traffic fatalities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has tracked an upswing in the percentage of drivers testing positive for illegal drugs and prescription medications, according to federal data released to USA TODAY and interviews with leaders in the field.

The increase corresponds with a movement to legalize marijuana, troubling experts who readily acknowledge that the effects of pot use on drivers remain poorly understood. Recreational marijuana use is now legal in Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia, even as it remains outlawed on a federal level. Five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — are set to vote on legalization.

It’s “very probable” that Colorado’s move to legalize recreational marijuana has caused an increase in fatal crashes, said Glenn Davis, the state’s highway safety manager.

In 2015, 21% of the 31,166 fatal crashes in the U.S. involved at least one driver who tested positive for drugs after the incident — up from 12% in 2005, according to NHTSA. The rate rose in 14 of the last 15 years, falling for the first time last year. It was down less than one percentage point compared with 2014.

Drugs are emerging as a more significant factor as a cause of crashes, says Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A separate federal study of 11,000 weekend, night time drivers found  15.1% tested positive for illegal drugs in 2013 and 2014, up from 12.4% in 2007. Marijuana represented the largest increase, as 12.6% tested positive in 2013 and 2014, up from 8.6% in 2007.

Researchers caution that the connection between drugs and deadly crashes is not as significant as the effect of drunken driving, which is responsible for more than 30% of road fatalities. Experts also note that available data is not comprehensive — and some drugs, including certain over-the-counter medications, have no effect at all on the driver. Many drivers who get high and then get behind the wheel are subject to arrest for driving under the influence just as those who drink and drive.

One victim, according to prosecutors, was David Aggio of California. He was killed March 8, 2014, when Rodolfo Alberto Contreras, who was high on marijuana, ran a red light at nearly 80 mph, crossed the center divider and demolished Aggio’s Ford Explorer, prosecutors said.

Contreras in June became the first drugged driver in California to be convicted of second-degree murder. According to California prosecutors, his response at the scene of the crime, when confronted about the incident, was: “I want my weed.”

He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

Auto-safety experts are particularly concerned about a spike in drugged driving in states that have legalized recreational marijuana, such as Colorado, where voters approved it in 2012. The nation’s opioid epidemic could also be a contributing factor.

In 2015, 12.4% of fatal crashes in Colorado involved a driver who tested positive for cannabis alone, up from 8.1% in 2013, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. The number of drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for any drug hit a record 18.6% in Colorado in 2015, up from a low of 12.3% in 2012.

Marijuana proponents dispute the suggestion that pot use is killing more people on the road.

Jolene Forman, staff attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports marijuana legalization, cautioned against drawing conclusions on the effect of marijuana legalization on drivers.

“We’re interested in pursuing policies that advance what is empirically shown, rather than knee-jerk, fear-based policies,” Forman said. “It’s too soon to say that it’s had a positive or negative effect but preliminary data look very promising. It looks like marijuana legalization has not led to road safety concerns.”

Complicating matters is that research on the effects of drugged driving is scarce, leaving road-safety experts with little understanding of the full ramifications.

For starters, many drivers involved in fatal crashes aren’t tested for drugs. What’s more, just because drivers have drugs in their system doesn’t mean they are impaired. Marijuana is noticeable in the bloodstream for weeks, but its strongest effects dissipate after a few hours.

In addition, there’s no generally accepted field sobriety test for officers to conduct and there’s no standard level of impairment for marijuana. In contrast, all states punish drivers for blood-alcohol concentration at or above 0.08%, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. But a study released in June by the University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) concluded that drivers with blood concentration of 13.1 ug/L of the main active ingredient in marijuana, THC, “showed increased weaving that was similar to those with” with 0.08 blood-alcohol level.

“As we see more people drive on the road with different controlled substances, whether they be illicit or prescription drugs, the risk is increasing,” said Tim Brown, associate research scientist at NADS and co-author of the study, in an interview.

Anyone who’s driving dangerously because they’re high can be flagged by officers who are looking for drunken drivers, said J.T. Griffin, chief government affairs officer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. MADD last year updated its mission statement to target drugged driving.

“The best way to deal with drugged driving is really to do more work on drunk driving,” Griffin said.

As societal acceptance of recreational marijuana grows, educational efforts are needed to help people understand the potential risks of drugged driving, safety advocates say. Yet while marijuana may be less harmful than other drugs, experts say more research is desperately needed to understand its effect on motorists.

“Any impaired driving is a very serious crime,” Colorado’s Davis said. “Sometimes when we interview focus groups, they’re unaware that they can even get a DUI for marijuana, and some people even feel that they can drive better.”

Source:  Partnership News Service thepartnership@drugfree.org  3rd Nov.16

Filed under: Drugs and Accidents :

* Cannabis impairs cognitive and psychomotor performances.

* An 8-h delay after maximal effects is recommended for cannabis self-treatment.

* Blood THCCOOH level >40 μg/l suggests regular cannabis use and long-term impairment.

* No correlation was found between psychomotor task performance and THC blood levels.

* Acute cannabis consumption nearly doubles the risk of a collision.

Abstract

Traffic policies show growing concerns about driving under the influence of cannabis, since cannabinoids are one of the most frequently encountered psychoactive substances in the blood of drivers who are drug-impaired and/or involved in accidents, and in the context of a legalization of medical marijuana and of recreational use.

The neurobiological mechanisms underlying the effects of cannabis on safe driving remain poorly understood. In order to better understand its acute and long-term effects on psychomotor functions involved in the short term ability and long-term fitness to drive, experimental research has been conducted based on laboratory, simulator or on-road studies, as well as on structural and functional brain imaging.

Results presented in this review show a cannabis-induced impairment of actual driving performance by increasing lane weaving and mean distance headway to the preceding vehicle. Acute and long-term dose-dependent impairments of specific cognitive functions and psychomotor abilities were also noted, extending beyond a few weeks after the cessation of use.

Some discrepancies found between these studies could be explained by factors such as history of cannabis use, routes of administration, dose ranges, or study designs (e.g. treatment blinding). Moreover, use of both alcohol and cannabis has been shown to lead to greater odds of making an error than use of either alcohol or cannabis alone. Although the correlation between blood or oral fluid concentrations and psychoactive effects of THC needs a better understanding, blood sampling has been shown to be the most effective way to evaluate the level of impairment of drivers under the influence of cannabis. The blood tests have also shown to be useful to highlight a chronic use of cannabis that suggests an addiction and therefore a long-term unfitness to drive. Besides blood, hair and repeated urine analyses are useful to confirm abstinence

Source:  Elsevier Journal Alerts Volume 268, Pages 92–102  November 2016

Drug misuse causes 10 times as many deaths as collisions on the roads in parts of England and Wales.

Analysis by BBC News has found drug misuse deaths outnumbered road fatalities in three quarters of local authority areas between 2013 and 2015.  The number of people dying of drug misuse has recently reached a record high.

Public Health England (PHE) said it needed to ensure the most vulnerable drug users could access treatment. Analysing data from the Office for National Statistics BBC News has found that that 75% of all local authorities in England and Wales have seen more people die because of drug misuse than on the roads. Get the data here

There were 6,648 drug misuse deaths recorded compared with 4,683 road deaths between 2013 and 2015.

A drug misuse death is recorded when someone dies after abusing a substance or when they are poisoned by an illegal drug.   Portsmouth saw the highest drug to road death rate, where 18 people died because of drug misuse for every one recorded road fatality.

Other parts of the country such as Blackpool, South Tyneside and Brighton and Hove recorded more than 10 times as many drug deaths in comparison to road deaths.   The rise in drug misuse deaths is being attributed to the greater availability and strength of drugs like heroin.

Ian Hamilton, from the University of York, said it was “horrifying” the number of people dying has continued to rise.   “What this shows is that the issue of drug deaths is not just confined to certain areas but is in fact affecting nearly every part of the country”.  The lecturer in mental health and addiction studies says a decision in 2010 to end a treatment process that saw addicts often prescribed replacement substances like methadone has had unintended consequences.

“Since a policy of total abstinence was introduced we’ve seen the number of people dying of drugs increase every year, I don’t think that’s a coincidence”.  Public Health England says there is no evidence to suggest that changes in drug policy have contributed to an increase in drug deaths.

“Reassuringly, overall drug use has declined” said Rosanna O’Connor, from PHE.

“There is though a need to ensure the most vulnerable can access treatment. We know that the majority of those dying from opiates like heroin have never been involved with treatment services”.

Source:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-37374513   27th September 2016

Heavy marijuana use alters adolescent brain structure and impairs brain function for people of all ages. On March 10, Colorado launched its Drive High, Get a DUI campaign. Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana use and is the first state to roll out public service announcements warning marijuana users about driving when you’re high.

The latest marijuana statistics are noteworthy. Marijuana consumption has increased over 30 percent since 2006. From 2006 through 2012, about half of drivers involved in fatal car accidents were tested for drugs and about 11 percent of those drivers tested positive for marijuana. In a September 2014 Colorado survey, 21 percent of respondents reported consuming marijuana and then driving at some point in the past month.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is now airing three television ads as part of its Drive High, Get a DUI campaign. The public service announcements target men ages 21-34, the demographic that tends to have the highest number of DUIs.

In another PSA, a man finishes installing a new flat screen TV on the wall, gives his partner a high five, and a moment later the TV falls off the wall and shatters on the floor. “Installing your TV while high is now legal,” reads the text in the ad … “Driving to get a new one isn’t.” The campaign also includes tourist outreach to rental car companies and dispensaries about marijuana driving laws in Colorado.

One Trillion Dollars of Illegal Drugs A March 2014 study on national drug use found the amount of marijuana consumed by Americans increased by more than 30 percent from 2006 to 2010. The report was compiled for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and was conducted by researchers affiliated with the RAND Drug Policy Research Center.

“Having credible estimates of the number of heavy drug users and how much they spend is critical for evaluating policies, making decisions about treatment funding and understanding the drug revenues going to criminal organizations,” said Beau Kilmer, the study’s lead author and co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. “This work synthesizes information from many sources to present the best estimates to date for illicit drug consumption and spending in the United States.”

The researchers say that because the study only includes data through 2010 the report doesn’t address the recent reported spike in heroin use or the consequences of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington. The report also does not try to explain the causes behind changes in drug use or evaluate the effectiveness of drug control strategies.

Researchers say that drug users in the United States spent around $100 billion annually on cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine throughout the decade. While the amount remained stable from 2000 to 2010, the spending shifted. While much more was spent on cocaine than on marijuana in 2000, the opposite was true by 2010.

“Our analysis shows that Americans likely spent more than one trillion dollars on cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine between 2000 and 2010,” Kilmer said. The surge in marijuana use is related to an increase in the number of people who reported using the drug on a daily or near-daily basis.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way  March 2016

Industry Taking Advantage of Opiate Problem to Entrap More People

Medical marijuana proponents have a nationwide effort to add opiate addiction to the list of conditions for medical marijuana.  They aren’t just saying medical marijuana is a replacement for opiates; they are now pitching it as a medical treatment for opiate addiction.  The marijuana industry’s savvy marketing campaign is bigger, trickier and even more devious than Big Tobacco and Big Pharma ever dreamed.   Yet people who get addicted to opiates were already addicted to drugs via marijuana. Mixing marijuana with other drugs is becoming so routine that “drugged and stoned” is a new normal.  When Pennsylvania college student Garet Schenker of Bloomsburg University recently died, it was the combination of marijuana wax and Xanax that killed him.   References to  his death and the toxicology report have been removed from the Internet.  Just because another person didn’t die  from doing  “dabs” and mixing it with Xanax doesn’t mean we shouldn’t warn our children of this dangerous practice. Justin Bondi, one of the young men who died in Colorado last year, was a hiker and adventurer who also mixed marijuana with Xanax and other drugs.   In fact, marijuana users have such an affinity for Xanax that doctors should be questioning patients about marijuana use  and wonder if marijuana is the primary cause of the anxiety. The addiction-for-profit industry, i.e., the marijuana industry, is trying every tactic imaginable to promote drug usage.  The current propaganda that pretends marijuana is treatment to opiate abuse is EVIL.  We condemn those shameless promoters who encourage people to use marijuana based on the theory that it doesn’t cause toxic overdose deaths.   Recent deaths have put a dent into that theory, however.   In Seattle, Hamza Warsame jumped six stories to his death, after he the first time he tried marijuana in December, 2015. Drugged and Stoned Many marijuana driving fatalities are caused by drivers on a cocktail of drugs in addition to pot.  The driver that killed two and injured several others in Santa Cruz had marijuana and an unnamed prescription drug.  The driver responsible for a 3-car crash in Indiana had marijuana, Xanax and drug paraphernalia on him.

Demolished building in Philadelphia, July, 2013. A crane operator was impaired from mixing marijuana with codeine. Six died and 13 were injured in the accident. Photo: AP  A crane operator in Philadelphia killed 6 people while high on marijuana and a codeine painkiller pill, in July 2013.  This accident highlights the inability to see accurate perception of depth when stoned.  The crane operator hit the wall of the Salvation Army thrift store next to the  building he was demolishing. He had no intention to harm people.  Operating any type of heavy machinery under the influence of drugs puts all of us in danger. Diane Schuler  The worst car accident by a driver in recent memory was caused by a driver who used both marijuana and alcohol.  Driver Diane Schuler killed 8, including 5 children, in the Taconic State Parkway crash in New York on July 26, 2009.   It appears that the driver was in pain.  Schuler, three of her nieces, her 2-year old daughter and three men in the oncoming minivan died.   Schuler used marijuana regularly to deal with insomnia.  (Insomnia is a condition promoted by medi-pot advocates.)  Marijuana lobbyists try to portray marijuana customers as single drug users.  This is an entirely false characterization.   Multi-substance addiction is the norm today.   STOP THE LIES! 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/2016/05/23/drugged-stoned-deadly-combination/

Highlights

* •People arrested multiple times for drug-related offences have shorter life expectancy.

* •Accidental overdosing with drugs was a common manner of death in repeat offenders.

* •In 44% of poisoning deaths four or more drugs were identified in autopsy blood samples.

* •Illicit recreational drugs, such as heroin, cannabis and amphetamine were common findings.

* •The major prescription drugs identified in blood were opioid analgesics and sedative-hypnotics.

Abstract

Background

Multiple arrests for use of illicit drugs and/or impaired driving strongly suggests the existence of a personality disorder and/or a substance abuse problem.

Methods

This retrospective study (1993–2010) used a national forensic toxicology database (TOXBASE), and we identified 3943 individuals with two or more arrests for use of illicit drugs and/or impaired driving. These individuals had subsequently died from a fatal drug poisoning or some other cause of death, such as trauma.

Results

Of the 3943 repeat offenders 1807 (46%) died from a fatal drug overdose and 2136 (54%) died from other causes (p < 0.001). The repeat offenders were predominantly male (90% vs 10%) and mean age of drug poisoning deaths was 5 y younger (mean 35 y) than other causes of death (mean 40 y). Significantly more repeat offenders (46%) died from drug overdose compared with all other forensic autopsies (14%) (p < 0.001). Four or more drugs were identified in femoral blood in 44% of deaths from poisoning (drug overdose) compared with 18% of deaths by other causes (p < 0.001). The manner of death was considered accidental in 54% of deaths among repeat offenders compared with 28% for other suspicious deaths (p < 0.001). The psychoactive substances most commonly identified in autopsy blood from repeat offenders were ethanol, morphine (from heroin), diazepam, amphetamines, cannabis, and various opioids.

Conclusions

This study shows that people arrested multiple times for use of illicit drugs and/or impaired driving are more likely to die by accidentally overdosing with drugs. Lives might be saved if repeat offenders were sentenced to treatment and rehabilitation for their drug abuse problem instead of conventional penalties for drug-related crimes.

Source:  www.fsijournal.org. August 2016  Volume 265, Pages 138–143  DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2016.01.036

Using marijuana and alcohol together greatly increases the amount of THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, in the blood, a new study concludes. Using the two substances together raises THC levels much more than using marijuana by itself.

The researchers say using alcohol and marijuana together considerably increases the risk of car crashes, compared with using marijuana alone.

The study included 19 people who drank alcohol or a placebo in low doses 10 minutes before they inhaled vaporized marijuana in either a low or high dose, Time reports. When a person drank alcohol, their blood concentration of THC was much higher.  The findings are published in Clinical Chemistry.

A  study published last year  found teenagers who use marijuana and alcohol together are more likely to engage in unsafe driving, compared with those who use one of those substances alone.

Teens who used alcohol alone were 40 percent more likely to admit they had gotten a traffic ticket and 24 percent more likely to admit involvement in a traffic crash, compared with teens who didn’t smoke marijuana or drink. Teens who smoked marijuana and drank were 90 percent more likely to get a ticket and 50 percent more likely to be in a car crash, compared with their peers who didn’t use either sub

Source:   http://www.drugfree.org/join-together     28th May2015

mark-hinkel

daniel-juarez

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Hinkel, a Lexington, Kentucky lawyer, left, was struck by a black pickup truck and killed while participating in a cycling race last Saturday. The driver of the truck told police he had drunk six beers and smoked marijuana before the crash. When hit, Mr. Hinkel was thrown from his bike onto the windshield of the truck and landed in its bed, bleeding but alive.   Apparently unaware that Mr. Hinkel  lay mortally wounded in his truck, the driver continued driving for three more miles before being stopped by police. Mr. Hinkel was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver was arrested and charged with murder, driving under the influence, wanton endangerment, leaving the scene of an accident, and fleeing and evading.   While this death involved marijuana in combination with alcohol, CBS4 investigative reporter Brian Maass in Denver, Colorado has tracked down several deaths caused by marijuana alone.

Daniel Juarez, right, was a high-school student who died in 2012 after stabbing himself 20 times. He had almost 11 times more THC in his blood than the average found in male marijuana users. Mr. Maass obtained Mr. Juarez’s autopsy report never before made public, which revealed Mr. Juarez had 38.2 nanograms of THC in his blood at the time of his death. The level in Colorado that denotes intoxication is 5 nanograms.

 

 

levy-thambakristine-kirk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two marijuana deaths received a fair amount of publicity because they occurred shortly after Colorado implemented legalization in 2014.

Levy Thamba Pongi, left, was a 19-year-old Wyoming college student visiting Denver. Friends said he began acting crazy after eating six times the recommended amount—one-sixth—of a marijuana-infused cookie. He started upending furniture, tipping over lamps, then rushed out to the hotel balcony and jumped to his death. The coroner listed marijuana intoxication as a significant factor in his death. A toxicology report showed he had 7.2 nanograms of THC in his blood.

Kristine Kirk of Denver, right, called 911 to report that her husband was acting erratically after eating marijuana edibles. While on the phone with police, her husband shot and killed her in front of their three children. Mr. Kirk is charged with her murder and has pled not guilty. His lawyer may argue Mr. Kirk was not responsible for his actions due to “involuntary” intoxication, according to news reports.

 

 

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Brant Clark, left, a 17-year-old Boulder, Colorado high-school student, committed suicide eight years ago. His mother is convinced his death is due to marijuana. She says her son consumed a large amount of marijuana at a party and then suffered a major psychotic break that required emergency care at two hospitals over the next three days. Three weeks later, he took his own life, leaving behind a note that said, “Sorry for what I have done. I wasn’t thinking the night I smoked myself out.”

Tron Doshe, right, returned from a Colorado Rockies game in 2012 but apparently lost his keys. He attempted to climb the outside of his apartment building to reach his balcony but fell to his death, which was ruled an accident. Mr. Maass obtained his autopsy report, which revealed that Mr. Doshe’s THC level was 27.3 nanograms, more than five times Colorado’s legal limit. No other drugs were found in his system.

 

 

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Luke Goodman, above, a college student who accompanied his family on a skiing vacation to Colorado’s Keystone Resort, bought marijuana edibles in the form of candies. He ate two and nothing happened, so he ate some more. In all, he consumed more than five times the recommended amount. Soon after, he became agitated and incoherent. When family members left the condo, he refused to go with them. Soon after they left, he shot himself and died. His mother said, “It was 100% because of the drugs.” His cousin agreed that ingesting so much marijuana triggered the suicide, saying, “He was the happiest guy in the world. He had everything going for him.”   Read the report of Mr. Hinkel’s death here.

Read Brian Maass’s report here.

Summary

The 2012/13 New Zealand Health Survey (NZHS) provides valuable information about cannabis use by adults aged 15 years and over. It builds upon and adds value to the findings of the 2007/08 New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey report on cannabis.

This report presents information on cannabis use in New Zealand, including patterns of use, drug-driving, harms from use (productivity and learning, and mental health), legal problems, and cutting down and seeking help. Information on the medicinal use of cannabis is also presented.

Patterns of cannabis use

Eleven percent of adults aged 15 years and over reported using cannabis in the last 12 months (defined here as cannabis users). Cannabis was used by 15% of men and 8.0% of women. Māori adults and adults living in the most deprived areas were more likely to report using cannabis in the last 12 months. Thirty-four percent of cannabis users reported using cannabis at least weekly in the last 12 months. Male cannabis users were more likely to report using cannabis at least weekly in the last 12 months.

Cannabis and driving

Thirty-six percent of cannabis users who drove in the past year reported driving under the influence of cannabis in the last 12 months. Men were more likely to have done so.

Cannabis-related learning and productivity harms

Six percent of cannabis users reported harmful effects on work, studies or employment opportunities, 4.9% reported difficulty learning, and 1.7% reported absence from work or school in the last 12 months due to cannabis use.

Cannabis and mental health harms

Eight percent of cannabis users reported a time in the last 12 months that cannabis use had a harmful effect on their mental health. Younger cannabis users (aged 25–34 years) were most affected, with reported harm to mental health decreasing markedly by age 55+ years.

Cannabis and legal problems

Two percent (2.1%) of cannabis users reported experiencing legal problems because of their use in the last 12 months.

Cutting down and help to reduce cannabis use

Most cannabis users (87%) did not report any concerns from others about their use. Seven percent of cannabis users reported that others had expressed concern about their drug use or had suggested cutting down drug use within the last 12 months. Of cannabis users, 1.2% had received help to reduce their level of drug use in the last 12 months. Few cannabis users who wanted help did not get it (3.6%).

Cannabis use for medicinal purposes

Forty-two percent of cannabis users reported medicinal use (ie, to treat pain or another medical condition) in the last 12 months. Rates were similar for men and women. Older cannabis users (aged 55+ years) reported higher rates of medicinal use.

An  infographic (PDF, 174 KB)  provides a short overview of these findings.

The methodology report for the 2012/13 New Zealand Health Survey is also available on this website.

If you have any queries please email hdi@moh.govt.nz

Downloads

Source:  Ministry of Health. 2015. Cannabis Use 2012/13: New Zealand Health Survey. Wellington: Ministry of Health. Published online:  28 May 2015

http://www.health.govt.nz/publication/cannabis-use-2012-13-new-zealand-health-survey

Driving after smoking even a small amount of marijuana almost doubles the risk of a fatal highway accident, according to an extensive study of 10,748 drivers involved in fatal crashes between 2001 and 2003.

A study by the French National Institute for Transport and Safety Research published in the British Medical Journal found that seven percent of drivers involved in a fatal highway crash used marijuana.

The researchers estimated that at least 2.5 percent of the 10,748 fatal crashes studied were directly caused by the use of marijuana.

Small Amounts Can Cause Impairment

The researchers concluded that the risk of being responsible for a fatal crash increased as the blood concentration of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, increased. Even small amounts of marijuana could double the chance of a driver suffering an accident, researchers said, and larger doses could more than triple the risk.

The number of highway deaths contributed the smoking weed were significant, even though they were dwarfed by the number caused by drinking alcohol. Of the drivers involved in fatal accidents, 21.4 percent tested positive for alcohol consumption. Alcohol was estimated to be responsible for 28.6 percent of all fatal highway accidents.

The French research found that 2.9 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes tested positive for both marijuana and alcohol. Men were more often involved in fatal crashes than women and were more often tested positive for both marijuana and alcohol.

Totally Irresponsible

Young drivers and drivers of motorcycles and mopeds were also more likely to test positive for both substances.

“Research like this proves just how dangerous it is to take drugs, and then get behind the wheel of a car,” Roger Vincent, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, told the BBC. “It is totally irresponsible, as taking drugs such as cannabis does affect your reactions.”

Source: The study was published in the Dec. 3, 2005 issue of the British Medical Journal.  Updated June 04, 2014.

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission released new data showing that legalizing marijuana increases marijuana-impaired traffic fatalities. From 2010 to 2014, some 60 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes were tested for drugs. About 20 percent (349 drivers) tested positive for marijuana. The new data can distinguish between drivers who were high at the time of the crash as opposed to those who had residual traces of marijuana in their systems from use days earlier. The number of drivers involved in fatalities who tested positive for active THC increased from 65 percent (38 of 60 drivers) in 2013 to 85 percent (75 of 89 drivers) in 2014, the year Washington implemented legal pot. About half of these drivers exceeded the 5 ng/ml THC designation denoting impairment in Washington’s legalization law. The driver with the highest THC level tested at 70 mg/ml. Half of the THC positive drivers were also impaired by alcohol, the majority exceeding 0.08 BAC. The largest increase in active THC positive drivers involved in fatal crashes were young males ages 21 to 25, from 6 in 2013 to 19 in 2014.   From 2008 to 2014, more than 1,100 people died in impaired collisions in Washington State, accounting for nearly half of all traffic deaths and more than one-fifth of serious injury collisions.

Source: marijuanareport.org.  Sept.23rd 2015

June 23, 2015

Using the most sophisticated driving simulator of its kind to mirror real-life situations, new research shows that marijuana use impairs one measure of driving performance. People driving with blood concentrations of 13.1 µg/L THC – the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – showed increased weaving within the lane, similar to those with 0.08 breath alcohol, the threshold for impaired driving in many states. Drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana had an additive effect, so that drivers using both substances weaved within lanes even if their blood THC and alcohol concentrations were below the impairment thresholds for each substance alone. Alcohol, but not marijuana, increased the number of times the car actually left the lane and the speed of weaving. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Office on National Drug Control Policy, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funded the study.

THC concentrations drop rapidly during the time required to collect a blood specimen in the U.S., generally within two to four hours. Oral fluid (saliva) tests for THC can be performed roadside without this long wait. However, oral fluid THC showed a two to five fold greater variability than blood tests. This indicates that while oral fluid may be an effective screening tool for detecting recent marijuana use by a driver, it may not be a precise measure of the level of impairment.

In the study, more than 50 percent of participants controlled their marijuana inhalations (called titration) so they had consistent blood THC peak concentrations, regardless of the percentage of THC in the marijuana (2.9% vs. 6.7%). This shows that past driving studies based on cannabis dose rather than blood THC may have missed the importance of dose titration. In addition, it was found that low amounts of alcohol significantly increased peak THC concentrations.

Source:http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871615003142. 23.06.15   

To learn more about drugged driving, go to: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drugged-driving. For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245.

Some cannabis users think they are better drivers after taking the drug, according to a poll by the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC).

The NCPIC, based at the University of New South Wales, survey targeted 4,600 Australians over the age of 18 using social media.

It found nearly 70 per cent of recent cannabis users had driven while under the influence of the drug.  Sixteen per cent of users said they had driven on a daily basis less five hours after using.

“We hear a number of myths from cannabis users like that they may be more aware of their driving when they’re stoned or that they’re driving slower”.

said Dr Peter Gates, Senior researcher at the NCPIC.  Dr Gates said many users were oblivious to the impact cannabis had on driving skills.

He said users’ attitudes conflicted with established scientific evidence, showing cannabis increased the risk of motor vehicle crashes by up to 300 per cent.

“We know from research that any cannabis use will affect your tracking ability, your reaction time, your attention span, your awareness of distance, your co-ordination, concentration,” Dr Gates said.

Dr Gates said users were also unaware of the risk of being drug tested, despite a rise in the number of random roadside drug tests being conducted.

“It is time for a wake-up call,” he said.

Source:  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-10

* A National Institute on Drug Abuse study tasked stoned participants with driving a highly sophisticated driving simulator

* Researchers found that after their blood levels of THC reached a certain point, the drivers weaved similarly to a driver with a BAC of .08

* The study also found that combining cannabis and alcohol decreased motor skills even more than just one or the other

A first-of-its-kind study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has determined that smoking marijuana can, in fact, adversely affect driving ability.  The comprehensive government study put 18 marijuana users behind the wheel of a sophisticated driving simulator after they were given different combinations of marijuana, alcohol or a placebo.

The data revealed that, at certain blood concentrations, marijuana’s active chemical THC affects weaving within a road lane in a similar way to a blood alcohol level of .08, the legal limit in many states. The study was the first to make a sophisticated, scientific examination of the differences in effects of marijuana versus alcohol while driving.

+’One of the things we know happens with cannabis is that it reduces your field of vision and you get tunnel vision, so you’re unable to react as quickly,’ Marilyn Huestis of the NIDA told KABC.

Despite this, drugged driving penalties vary state-to-state as compared to those for drunk driving. In Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, a first offense high driver can expect a mandatory minimum sentence of two days in jail. A first offense DUI can get you up to a year.

The study also found that pot and alcohol have more of an impact on driving when used together, TIME notes.  They found that when people drank alcohol before inhaling marijuana, the level of THC in their blood was ‘significantly higher than without alcohol’.

The combination of cannabis and alcohol raises the chance of crashing more than either substance by itself, they added, pointing to previous research which came to this conclusion.

‘We know cannabis is primarily found with a low dose of alcohol,’ Huestis said. ‘Many young people have a couple beers and then cannabis.’ And this worries researchers in a country where the drug has become legal in some states, a trend that is likely to grow.

‘The significantly higher blood THC values with alcohol possibly explain increased performance impairment observed from cannabis-alcohol combinations,’ said Huestis.

She added she hopes the findings will inform discussions around legislation on driving on drugs.

Previously, experts have warned that the increased concentration of THC in today’s cannabis compared to previous years means smokers are more likely to experience negative effects. These include anxiety, confusion, panic attacks, hallucinations or extreme paranoia, with women more at risk than men.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3137943/Marijuana-DOES-impair-driving-kind-comprehensive-government-study-reveals-cannabis-use-affect-motor-skills-three-drinks.html#ixzz3e5YLNFMo 

If all new cars had devices that prevent drunk drivers from starting the engine, an estimated 85 percent of alcohol-related deaths could be prevented in the United States, a new study concludes.

The devices, called alcohol ignition interlocks, could prevent more than 59,000 crash fatalities and more than 1.25 million non-fatal injuries, according to the University of Michigan researchers. The findings appear in the American Journal of Public Health.

“Alcohol interlocks are used very effectively in all 50 states as a component of sentencing or as a condition for having a license reinstated after DUIs, but this only works for the drunk drivers caught by police and it doesn’t catch the people who choose to drive without a license to avoid having the interlock installed,” said lead author Dr. Patrick Carter.

He said most drunk drivers make about 80 trips under the influence of alcohol before they are stopped for a DUI. “If we decided that every new car should have an alcohol ignition interlock that’s seamless to use for the driver and doesn’t take any time or effort, we suddenly have a way to significantly reduce fatalities and injuries that doesn’t rely solely on police,” he told Reuters.

The study assumed it would take 15 years for older cars to be replaced with new vehicles that required interlock devices, which detect blood-alcohol levels. The devices prevent drivers above a certain threshold from starting the vehicle.

While all age groups would suffer fewer deaths and injuries if they used the interlock devices, the youngest drivers would benefit the most, the study found. Among drivers ages 21 to 29 years, 481,000 deaths and injuries could be prevented. Among drivers under 21, almost 195,000 deaths and injuries could be avoided.

“It is often difficult to penetrate these age groups with effective public health interventions and policies to prevent drinking and driving,” Carter said.

Source:  http://www.drugfree.org/   4th March 2015

President Obama this week told an audience in Jamaica that U.S. efforts against illegal drugs were “counterproductive” because they relied too much on incarceration—particularly for “young people who did not engage in violence.”

In what the president termed “an experiment … to legalize marijuana” in Colorado and Washington state, he said he believed they must “show that they are not suddenly a magnet for additional crime, that they have a strong enough public health infrastructure to push against the potential of increased addiction.”

In regard to Jamaica and the entire Caribbean and Central American region, he said, “a lot of folks think … if we just legalize marijuana, then it’ll reduce the money flowing into the transnational drug trade, there are more revenues and jobs created.”

To some of us, Jamaica hardly seems an auspicious location for encouraging “experimentation” with drugs, in particular because of the challenges already faced by their deficient institutions of public health and criminal justice. The U.S. Department of State 2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report(INCSR) states:

Jamaica remains the largest Caribbean supplier of marijuana to the United States and local Caribbean islands. Although cocaine and synthetic drugs are not produced locally, Jamaica is a transit point for drugs trafficked from South America to North America and other international markets. In 2014, drug production and trafficking were enabled and accompanied by organized crime, domestic and international gang activity, and police and government corruption. Illicit drugs are also a means of exchange for illegally-trafficked firearms entering the country, exacerbating Jamaica’s security situation.

Drugs flow from and through Jamaica by maritime conveyance, air freight, human couriers, and to a limited degree by private aircraft. Marijuana and cocaine are trafficked from and through Jamaica into the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and other Caribbean nations. Jamaica is emerging as a transit point for cocaine leaving Central America and destined for the United States, and some drug trafficking organizations exchange Jamaican marijuana for cocaine. . . .

The conviction rate for murder was approximately five percent, and the courts continued to be plagued with a culture of trial postponements and delay. This lack of efficacy within the criminal courts contributed to impunity for many of the worst criminal offenders and gangs, an abnormally high rate of violent crimes, lack of cooperation by witnesses and potential jurors, frustration among police officers and the public, a significant social cost and drain on the economy, and a disincentive for tourism and international investment.

This does not seem like a place where “legal” marijuana would contribute to “reduced money flow” to the transnational drug trade, or “create jobs.”  The president apparently thinks Jamaica should consider allowing more drugs, based on a faulty understanding of what is actually happening in Jamaica and in the U.S.

His charge of high incarceration rates for non-violent offenders is not factual. For instance, data show that only a fraction of one percent of state prison inmates are low-level marijuana possession offenders, while arrests for marijuana and cocaine/heroin possession and use were no more than 7 percent of all arrests,nationwide, in 2013.

Though critics of drug laws claim that hundreds or even thousands of prisoners are low-level non-violent offenders unjustly sentenced, the reality was shown recently by the President’s inability to find more than a handful of incarcerated drug offenders who would be eligible for commutation of their sentence because they fit the mythological portrait of excessive or unjust drug sentences.

Further, since 2007, the US is currently experiencing a surge in daily marijuana use, an epidemic of heroin overdose deaths (with minorities hardest hit), while the southwest border is flooded with heroin and methamphetamine flow, as shown by skyrocketing border seizures.

Importantly, Colorado, following marijuana “legalization,” has become a black-market magnet, and is currently supplying marijuana, including ultra-high-potency “shatter” to the rest of the U.S., leading to law suits by adjacent states. Legalization has not reduced criminal activity nor the threat of financial corruption.

As for Central America, Obama’s policies have shown stunning neglect. Actual aid for counter-drug activities, and for resources for interdicting smugglers have all diminished, while the countries of Central America have become battlegrounds for Mexican cartels, with meth precursors piling up at the docks, the cocaine transiting Venezuela to Honduras is surging, and violence is at an all-time high, with families fleeing north in unprecedented numbers. The Caribbean/Central American region has become deeply threatened, as noted by the State Department report above—torn apart by drug crime.

In this context the president encourages governments in the region to make drugs more acceptable and more accessible in their communities, and with even greater legal impunity?

Moreover, these developments have been accompanied by a steady drumbeat of medical science reports increasingly showing the serious dangers of marijuana use, especially for youth.   Yet President Obama speaks in a manner increasingly disconnected from the domestic and international reality of the drug problem.

Source:  David W. Murray and John P. Walters  WEEKLY STANDARD  April 11, 2015

Hall W1.

Abstract

AIMS:

To examine changes in the evidence on the adverse health effects of cannabis since 1993.

METHODS:

A comparison of the evidence in 1993 with the evidence and interpretation of the same health outcomes in 2013.

RESULTS:

Research in the past 20 years has shown that driving while cannabis-impaired approximately doubles car crash risk and that around one in 10 regular cannabis users develop dependence. Regular cannabis use in adolescence approximately doubles the risks of early school-leaving and of cognitive impairment and psychoses in adulthood.

Regular cannabis use in adolescence is also associated strongly with the use of other illicit drugs. These associations persist after controlling for plausible confounding variables in longitudinal studies. This suggests that cannabis use is a contributory cause of these outcomes but some researchers still argue that these relationships are explained by shared causes or risk factors. Cannabis smoking probably increases cardiovascular disease risk in middle-aged adults but its effects on respiratory function and respiratory cancer remain unclear, because most cannabis smokers have smoked or still smoke tobacco.

CONCLUSIONS:

The epidemiological literature in the past 20 years shows that cannabis use increases the risk of accidents and can produce dependence, and that there are consistent associations between regular cannabis use and poor psychosocial outcomes and mental health in adulthood.

Source: Addiction. 2015 Jan;110(1):19-35. doi: 10.1111/add.12703. Epub 2014 Oct 7.

FILE – This Oct. 8, 2012 file photo shows the wrecked Subaru Impreza in which four people died as it is loaded onto a flatbed truck on the Southern State Parkway in West Hempstead, N.Y., after and early-morning accident. At the wheel was a New York teenager, Joseph Beer, who had smoked about $20 worth of marijuana, before getting into the car with four friends, and driving over 100 mph before crashing into trees with such force that it split the car in half. As states liberalize their marijuana laws, public officials and safety advocates worry that more drivers high on pot will lead to a spike in traffic deaths. Researchers who have studied the issue, though, are divided over whether toking before taking the wheel in fact leads to more accidents. (AP Photo/Frank Eltman, File)

 Beer, who was 17 in October 2012 when the crash occurred, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and was sentenced last week to 5 years to 15 years in prison.

As states liberalize their marijuana laws, public officials and safety advocates worry there will be more drivers high on pot and a big increase in traffic deaths. It’s not clear, though, whether those concerns are merited. Researchers are divided on the question. A prosecutor blamed the Beer crash on “speed and weed,” but a jury that heard expert testimony on marijuana’s effects at his trial deadlocked on a homicide charge and other felonies related to whether the teenager was impaired by marijuana. Beer was convicted of manslaughter and reckless driving charges.

Studies of marijuana’s effects show that the drug can slow decision-making, decrease peripheral vision and impede multitasking, all of which are important driving skills. But unlike with alcohol, drivers high on pot tend to be aware that they are impaired and try to compensate by driving slowly, avoiding risky actions such as passing other cars, and allowing extra room between vehicles.

On the other hand, combining marijuana with alcohol appears to eliminate the pot smoker’s exaggerated caution and to increase driving impairment beyond the effects of either substance alone.

“We see the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington as a wake-up call for all of us in highway safety,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety offices. “We don’t know enough about the scope of marijuana-impaired driving to call it a big or small problem. But anytime a driver has their ability impaired, it is a problem.”

Colorado and Washington are the only states that allow retail sales of marijuana for recreational use. Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana are underway in Alaska, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and the District of Columbia. Twenty-three states and the nation’s capital permit marijuana use for medical purposes.

It is illegal in all states to drive while impaired by marijuana.

Colorado, Washington and Montana have set an intoxication threshold of 5 parts per billion of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot, in the blood. A few other states have set intoxication thresholds, but most have not set a specific level. In Washington, there was a jump of nearly 25 percent in drivers testing positive for marijuana in 2013 — the first full year after legalization — but no corresponding increase in car accidents or fatalities.

Dr. Mehmet Sofuoglu, a Yale University Medical School expert on drug abuse who testified at Beer’s trial, said studies of marijuana and crash risk are “highly inconclusive.” Some studies show a two- or three-fold increase, while others show none, he said. Some studies even showed less risk if someone was marijuana-positive, he testified.

Teenage boys and young men are the most likely drivers to smoke pot and the most likely drivers to have an accident regardless of whether they’re high, he said.

“Being a teenager, a male teenager, and being involved in reckless behavior could explain both at the same time — not necessarily marijuana causing getting into accidents, but a general reckless behavior leading to both conditions at the same time,” Sofuoglu told jurors.

In 2012, just over 10 percent of high school seniors said they had smoked pot before driving at least once in the prior two weeks, according to Monitoring the Future, an annual University of Michigan survey of 50,000 middle and high school students. Nearly twice as many male students as female students said they had smoked marijuana before driving.

A roadside survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2007 found 8.6 percent of drivers tested positive for THC, but it’s not possible to say how many were high at the time because drivers only were tested for the presence of drugs, not the amount.  A marijuana high generally peaks within a half-hour and dissipates within three hours, but THC can linger for days in the bodies of habitual smokers.  Inexperienced pot smokers are likely to be more impaired than habitual smokers, who develop a tolerance. Some studies show virtually no driving impairment in habitual smokers.

Two recent studies that used similar data to assess crash risk came to opposite conclusions. 

Columbia University researchers compared drivers who tested positive for marijuana in the roadside survey with state drug and alcohol tests of drivers killed in crashes. They found that marijuana alone increased the likelihood of being involved in a fatal crash by 80 percent.

But because the study included states where not all drivers are tested for alcohol and drugs, most drivers in fatal crashes were excluded, possibly skewing the results. Also, the use of urine tests rather than blood tests in some cases may overestimate marijuana use and impairment.

A Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation study used the roadside survey and data from nine states that test more than 80 percent of drivers killed in crashes. When adjusted for alcohol and driver demographics, the study found that otherwise sober drivers who tested positive for marijuana were slightly less likely to have been involved in a crash than drivers who tested negative for all drugs.

“We were expecting a huge impact,” said Eduardo Romano, lead author of the study, “and when we looked at the data from crashes we’re not seeing that much.” But Romano said his study may slightly underestimate the risk and marijuana may lead to accidents caused by distraction.

Many states do not test drivers involved in a fatal crash for drugs unless there is reason to suspect impairment. Even if impairment is suspected, if the driver tests positive for alcohol, there may be no further testing because alcohol alone may be enough to bring criminal charges. Testing procedures also vary from state to state.

“If states legalize marijuana, they must set clear limits for impairment behind the wheel and require mandatory drug testing following a crash,” said Deborah Hersman, former chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board. “Right now we have a patchwork system across the nation regarding mandatory drug testing following highway crashes.”

Source: www.chron.com/news/medical   2nd September 2014

As I  reported a few weeks ago, some professors published a peer-reviewed article on the negative social costs to outright legalization. I noted that although overall traffic fatalities in Colorado have gone down since 2007, they went up by 100 percent for operators testing positive for marijuana—from 39 in 2007 to 78 in 2012. (Colorado legalized marijuana for medical usage in 2009, before legalizing marijuana for other uses in 2012.) Furthermore, in 2007, those pot-positive drivers represented only 7 percent of total fatalities in Colorado, but in 2012 they represented 16 percent of total Colorado fatalities. 

Now, there is even more proof from Colorado that legalizing pot, as I have  argued before, is terrible public policy.  This new report paints an even bleaker picture of what is happening in Colorado since it legalized the possession, sale, and consumption of marijuana.    According to the new  report  by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area entitled “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact,” the impact of legalized marijuana in Colorado has resulted in:

1. The majority of DUI drug arrests involve marijuana and 25 to 40 percent were marijuana alone. 

2. In 2012, 10.47 percent of Colorado youth ages 12 to 17 were considered current marijuana users compared to 7.55 percent nationally. Colorado ranked fourth in the nation, and was 39 percent higher than the national average.

3. Drug-related student suspensions/expulsions increased 32 percent from school years 2008-09 through 2012-13, the vast majority were for marijuana violations.

4. In 2012, 26.81 percent of college age students were considered current marijuana users compared to 18.89 percent nationally, which ranks Colorado third in the nation and 42 percent above the national average.

5. In 2013, 48.4 percent of Denver adult arrestees tested positive for marijuana, which is a 16 percent increase from 2008.

6. From 2011 through 2013 there was a 57 percent increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits.

7. Hospitalizations related to marijuana has increased 82 percent since 2008.

The  report includes other data about the negative effect of legalizing marijuana in Colorado, including marijuana-related exposure to children, treatment, the flood of marijuana in and out of Colorado, the dangers of pot extraction labs and other disturbing factual trends. 

Don’t expect this data to impact the push to legalize pot in Colorado, or elsewhere for that matter. Big pot is big business, and the push to legalize is really all about profit, despite inconvenient facts.  Drug policy should be based on hard science and reliable data. And the data coming out of Colorado points to one and only one conclusion: the legalization of marijuana in the state is terrible public policy.

Source:  http://dailysignal.com/2014/08/20/7

Charles “Cully” D. Stimson is a leading expert in criminal law, military law, military commissions and detention policy at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Read his research.

UK’s youth ‘legal high’ use is the highest in Europe. The drugs were linked to 97 deaths in 2012 – and could top 400 in 2016 Think tank urges punishment for high street shops selling   dangerous drugs.

Deaths linked to ‘legal highs’ could overtake those linked to heroin by 2016, according to experts on addiction. 

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) claims hospital admissions are soaring and forecasts that deaths linked to the drugs, sold with names such as Clockwork Orange’, ‘Bliss’ and ‘Mary Jane’, could be higher than heroin in just two years.  The CSJ says many legal highs are sold in ‘head shops’, of which there are close to 250 in the UK.

It wants to see the introduction of a scheme similar to one in Ireland which made it easier for police and courts to close down head shops that were thought to be selling NPS. This resulted in the number of the shops dropping from more than 100 to less than 10.

Despite small reductions in the number of people using heroin and those drinking every week, the think-tank says the costs of addiction are rising, with alcohol-related admissions to hospital doubling in a decade.

The rise of ‘legal highs’ – or new psychoactive substances (NPS) – were linked to 97 deaths in 2012.

Hospital admissions due to legal highs rose by 56 per cent between 2009-12, according to new CSJ data. The think-tank forecasts that on current trends deaths related to the drugs could be higher than heroin by 2016 – at around 400 deaths per year.  The report also calls for greater investment in the clampdown of online ‘legal high’ sales. 

The problem was highlighted in August last year when Adam Hunt, 18, died after taking the psychoactive substance AMT at his home in Southampton, Hampshire, after purchasing it from a website.

An inquest heard how the keen football fan had told a friend he planned to take the drug, which he believed had the same effects as ecstasy, but died four days later.

A ‘treatment tax’ should be added to the cost of alcohol in shops to fund a new generation of rehabilitation centres and stem the tide of Britain’s addiction problem, the report recommends.

Image

The CSJ says many legal highs are sold in ‘head shops’, of which there are close to 250 in the UK. File picture of a head shop in Dublin 

It is also highly critical of the Government’s flagship drug and alcohol prevention programme, FRANK, which it describes as ‘shamefully inadequate’, noting that a recent survey found that only one in ten children would call the ‘FRANK’ helpline to talk about drugs.

The CSJ also says the NHS, Public Health England and local authorities risk ‘giving up’ on many addicts.   ‘Addiction rips into families, makes communities less safe and entrenches poverty,’ said CSJ Director Christian Guy.

‘For years full recovery has been the preserve of the wealthy – closed off to the poorest people and to those with problems who need to rely on a public system. We want to break this injustice wide open.’

The report says 300,000 people in England are addicted to opiates and/or crack, 1.6 million are dependent on alcohol and one in seven children under the age of one live with a substance-abusing parent.

Every year drugs cost society around £15 billion and alcohol £21 billion.

Researchers say residential treatment – the most effective form of abstinence-based treatment – has been continually cut and are calling for this to be reversed.  A ‘treatment tax’ should be added to off-licence alcohol sales to fund rehab for people with alcohol and drug addictions, the CSJ said.

Under the scheme, a levy of a penny per unit would be added by the end of the next Parliament to fund recovery services to the tune of £1.1billion over the five years.  It would be spent solely on setting up a network of abstinence-based rehabilitation centres and funding sessions within them.

Last month ministers called the rise in the use of legal highs a ‘national emergency’.

MPs spoke out after several leading UK festivals, including Glastonbury and Bestival, banned the sale of the drugs, and called for more action to be taken against a problem blighting communities around the country.

Democratic Unionist Jim Shannon described the festivals’ involvement as proof that there is concern ‘at every level’ about the consequences of new manufactured chemical highs that have not been banned.

He told a Westminster Hall debate: ‘There is concern at every level about what legal highs do. It’s fantastic to see such influential festivals getting involved in the campaign to rid our country of these potentially fatal substances, but more is required.’

Meanwhile, Labour frontbencher Toby Perkins described how legal highs had made a part of his Chesterfield constituency town centre a ‘no-go area’ as they fuel anti-social behaviour among teenagers who use the drugs.  Mr Perkins claimed that head shops are ‘mocking the law’ and called for councils to be given more power to deal with problems in their areas.

He described the problem as a ‘national emergency’, saying: ‘The truth is that some retailers are mocking the law, laughing at powerless regulators, while visiting misery and mayhem on our communities.’

Source:   http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2727072/Legal-highs-kill-people-heroin-two-years-drugs-experts-warn.html#ixzz3AfTr6YYW   17th August 2014

 The proportion of marijuana-positive drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes in Colorado has increased dramatically since the commercialization of medical marijuana in the middle of 2009, according to a study by University of Colorado School of Medicine researchers.

With data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System covering 1994 to 2011, the researchers analyzed fatal motor vehicle crashes in Colorado and in the 34 states that did not have medical marijuana laws, comparing changes over time in the proportion of drivers who were marijuana-positive and alcohol-impaired.

The researchers found that fatal motor vehicle crashes in Colorado involving at least one driver who tested positive for marijuana accounted for 4.5 percent in the first six months of 1994; this percentage increased to 10 percent in the last six months of 2011. They reported that Colorado underwent a significant increase in the proportion of drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were marijuana-positive after the commercialization of medical marijuana in the middle of 2009. The increase in Colorado was significantly greater compared to the 34 non-medical marijuana states from mid-2009 to 2011. The researchers also reported no significant changes over time in the proportion of drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were alcohol-impaired within Colorado and comparing Colorado to the 34 non-medical marijuana states.

Stacy Salomonsen-Sautel, PhD, who was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pharmacology, is the lead author of the study, which is available online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Christian Hopfer, MD, associate professor of psychiatry, is the senior author.

Salomonsen-Sautel said the study raises important concerns about the increase in the proportion of drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were marijuana-positive since the commercialization of medical marijuana in Colorado, particularly in comparison to the 34 non-medical marijuana states. While the study does not determine cause and effect relationships, such as whether marijuana-positive drivers caused or contributed to the fatal crashes, it indicates a need for better education and prevention programs to curb impaired driving.

Other researchers from the School of Medicine who are authors of the study are Sung-Joon Min, Ph.D., Joseph T. Sakai, M.D., and Christian Thurstone, M.D. The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine work to advance science and improve care. These faculty members include physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Hospital, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The school is located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system.

Source: University of Colorado School of Medicine May 15, 2014)

There are consequences of the increased prevalence of marijuana use in society—one of which is undoubtedly drugged driving. According to a new study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, fatal car accidents that involved marijuana have tripled in the last decade, which suggests that the issue will likely become worse as more states push for the legalization of marijuana.

“Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” co-author Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia, told HealthDay News. “If this trend continues, in five or six years non-alcohol drugs will overtake alcohol to become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving.”

The research team drew its conclusions from crash statistics from six states that routinely perform toxicology tests on drivers involved in fatal car wrecks — California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia. The statistics included more than 23,500 drivers who died within one hour of a crash between 1999 and 2010.

Alcohol contributed to about the same percentage of traffic fatalities throughout the decade, about 40 percent, Li said.  But drugs played an increasingly prevalent role in fatal crashes, the researchers found. Drugged driving accounted for more than 28 percent of traffic deaths in 2010, up from more than 16 percent in 1999.

Marijuana proved to be the main drug involved in the increase, contributing to 12 percent of 2010 crashes compared with 4 percent in 1999.

An even deadlier combination is the mixture of alcohol and marijuana. “If a driver is under the influence of alcohol, their risk of a fatal crash is 13 times higher than the risk of the driver who is not under the influence of alcohol,” Li told HealthDaily News. “But if the driver is under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana, their risk increases to 24 times that of a sober person.”

Similar to alcohol, marijuana affects a driver’s judgment, vision, and makes a person more distractible, Deputy Executive Director of the Governors Highway Safety Association Jonathan Adkins explained to HealthDaily.

And groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving are concerned because drugged driving is completely preventable. “When it comes to drugged driving versus drunk driving, the substances may be different but the consequences are the same—needless deaths and injuries,” Jan Withers, national president of MADD, told HealthDaily.

“The public knows about drunk driving, but I don’t think they have awareness of drugged driving, so this is a huge issue,” Adkins said. “We need to alert the public that if you’ve used any type of substance, you should not get behind the wheel. We need to create that culture where, like drunk driving, it is not acceptable.”

Source:  townhall.com  Feb 9th 2014

SMOKED MARIJUANA IS NOT MEDICINE

In 1970, Congress enacted laws against marijuana based in part on its conclusion that marijuana has no scientifically proven medical value. Likewise, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for approving drugs as safe and effective medicine, has thus far declined to approve smoked marijuana for any condition or disease. Indeed, the FDA has noted that “there is currently sound evidence that smoked marijuana is harmful,” and “that no sound scientific studies support medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States, and no animal or human data support the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general medical use.”1

Voices in the medical community likewise do not accept smoked marijuana as medicine:

· The American Medical Association (AMA) in November 2013, amended their position on cannabis, stating that “(1) cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern; (2) sale of cannabis should not be legalized; (3) public health based strategies, rather than incarceration should be utilized in the handling of individuals possessing cannabis for personal use; and (4) that additional research should be encouraged.”2

· The American Society of Addiction Medicine’s (ASAM) public policy statement on “Medical Marijuana,” clearly rejects smoking as a means of drug delivery. ASAM further recommends that “all cannabis, cannabis-based products and cannabis delivery devices should be subject to the same standards applicable to all other prescription medication and medical devices, and should not be distributed or otherwise provided to patients …” without FDA approval. ASAM also “discourages state interference in the federal medication approval process.”3 ASAM continues to support these policies, and has also stated that they do not “support proposals to legalize marijuana anywhere in the United States.”4

· The American Cancer Society (ACS) “is supportive of more research into the benefits of cannabinoids. Better and more effective treatments are needed to overcome the side effects of cancer and its treatment. However, the ACS does not advocate the use of inhaled marijuana or the legalization of marijuana.”5

· The American Glaucoma Society (AGS) has stated that “although marijuana can lower the intraocular pressure, the side effects and short duration of action, coupled with the lack of evidence that its use alters the course of glaucoma, preclude recommending this drug in any form for the treatment of glaucoma at the present time.”6

· The Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) states that “the high dose of marijuana necessary to produce a clinically relevant effect on intraocular pressure in people with glaucoma in the short term requires constant inhalation, as much as every three hours. The number of significant side effects generated by long-term use of marijuana or long-term inhalation of marijuana smoke make marijuana a poor choice in the treatment of glaucoma. To date, no studies have shown that marijuana – or any of its approximately 400 chemical components – can safely and effectively lower intraocular pressure better than the variety of drugs currently on the market.”7 2

· The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believes that “[a]ny change in the legal status of marijuana, even if limited to adults, could affect the prevalence of use among adolescents.” While it supports scientific research on the possible medical use of cannabinoids as opposed to smoked marijuana, it opposes the legalization of marijuana.8

· The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) “is concerned about the negative impact of medical marijuana on youth. Adolescents are especially vulnerable to the many adverse development, cognitive, medical, psychiatric, and addictive effects of marijuana.” Of greater concern to the AACAP is that “adolescent marijuana users are more likely than adult users to develop marijuana dependence, and their heavy use is associated with increased incidence and worsened course of psychotic, mood, and anxiety disorders.” “The “medicalization” of smoked marijuana has distorted the perception of the known risks and purposed benefits of this drug.” Based upon these concerns, the “AACAP opposes medical marijuana dispensing to adolescents.”9

· The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) has stated that “based on studies to date – and the fact that long-term use of marijuana may be associated with significant, serious side effects – it is the opinion of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Medical Advisory Board that there are currently insufficient data to recommend marijuana or its derivatives as a treatment for MS symptoms. Research is continuing to determine if there is a possible role for marijuana or its derivatives in the treatment of MS. In the meantime, other well tested, FDAapproved drugs are available to reduce spasticity.”10

· The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) consensus it that marijuana is properly categorized as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act and concurs with DEA that “the clear weight of the currently available evidence supports this classification, including evidence that smoked marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medicinal value in treatment in the United States, and evidence that there is a general lack of accepted safety for its use even under medical supervision.”11 NASN also supports of the position of the AAP that “any change in the legal status of marijuana, even if limited to adults, could affect the prevalence of use among adolescents.”12

· The American Psychiatric Association (APA) states that there is no current scientific evidence that marijuana is in any way beneficial for treatment of any psychiatric disorder. Current evidence supports, at minimum, a strong association of cannabis use with the onset of psychiatric disorders. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to harm due to the effects of cannabis on neurological development. The APA does support further research of cannabisderived substances as medicine, facilitated by the federal government, and if scientific evidence supports the use for treatment of specific conditions, the approval process should go through the FDA and in no way be authorized by ballot initiatives.13  3

DANGERS OF MARIJUANA

MARIJUANA IS DANGEROUS TO THE USER AND OTHERS

Without a clear understanding of the mental and physical effects of marijuana, its use on our youth, our families, and our society, we will never understand the ramifications it will have on the lives of our younger generation, the impact on their future, and its costs to our society. Legalization of marijuana, no matter how it begins, will come at the expense of our children and public safety. It will create dependency and treatment issues, and open the door to use of other drugs, impaired health, delinquent behavior, and drugged drivers. This is not the marijuana of the 1970s; today’s marijuana is far more powerful. On May 14, 2009, analysis from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring Project revealed that marijuana potency levels in the U.S. are the highest ever reported since the scientific analysis of the drug began.14   This trend continues.

· According to the latest data, the average amount of THC in seized samples has reached 12.98 percent. This compares to an average of just under four percent reported in 1983 and represents more than a tripling of the potency of the drug since that time.15

· “We are increasingly concerned that regular or daily use of marijuana is robbing many young people of their potential to achieve and excel in school or other aspects of life,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, MD. “THC, a key ingredient in marijuana, alters the ability of the hippocampus, a brain area related to learning and memory, to communicate effectively with other brain regions. In addition, we know from recent research that marijuana use that begins during adolescence can lower IQ and impair other measures of mental function in adulthood.”16

· “We should also point out that marijuana use that begins in adolescence increases the risk they will become addicted to the drug,” said Volkow. “The risk of addiction goes from about 1 in 11 overall to 1 in 6 for those who start using in their teens, and even higher among daily smokers.”17 The most recent statistics on the use of marijuana in the United States shows that marijuana use continues to rise.

· In 2012, an estimated 23.9 million American’s aged 12 and older were current (past month) illicit drug users. This represents 9.2 percent of the population 12 and older. Marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug with 18.9 million past month users.18

· The use of illicit drug use among young adults aged 18 to 25 increased from 19.7 percent in 2008 to 21.3 percent in 2012, driven largely by an increase in marijuana use (from 16.6 percent in 2008 to 18.7 percent in 2012). 19

· In 2012, an estimated 2.9 million persons aged 12 and older used an illicit drug for the first time within the past 12 months. That equals about 7,900 initiates per day. The largest number of new initiates used marijuana (2.4 million).20  4

· Among 12 and 13 year olds, 1.2 percent used marijuana; for 14 and 15 year olds, it was 6.1 percent; and for 16 and 17 year olds, it climbed to 14 percent.21

· An estimated 17 percent of past year marijuana users aged 12 and older used marijuana on 300 or more days within the past 12 months. This means that almost 5.4 million persons used marijuana on a daily or almost daily basis over a 12 month period.22

· An estimated 40.3 percent (7.6 million) of current marijuana users aged 12 and older used marijuana on 20 or more days in the past month.23

· Among persons 12 or older, of the estimated 1.4 million first-time past year marijuana users initiated use prior to age 18.24

· On an average day 646,707 adolescents aged 12-17 years of age smoked marijuana, and 4,000 adolescents used marijuana for the first time.25

· According to the 2013 Monitoring the Future Survey, one in every 15 high school seniors (6.5 percent) is a daily or near-daily marijuana user.26

· Nearly 23 percent of high school seniors say they smoked marijuana in the month prior to the survey, and just over 36 percent say they smoked within the previous year. More than 12 percent of eight graders said they used marijuana during the past year.27

· The 2011 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study found that nine percent of teens (nearly 1.5 million) smoked marijuana heavily (at least 20 times) in the past month. Overall, past-month teen use was up 80 percent from 2008.28

§ Nearly half of teens (47 percent) have ever used marijuana – a 21 percent increase from2008.29

 

§ Two out of every five teens (39 percent) have tried marijuana during the past year, an increase from 31 percent in 2008.30

 

§ Past-month use increased 42 percent, from 19 percent in 2008 to 27 percent in 2011 (an increase of 4 million teens).31

 

§ Past-year use is up 26 percent from 31 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2011 (an increase of 6 million teens).32

 

§ Lifetime use is up 21 percent, from 39 percent in 2008 to 47 percent in 2011 (an increase of 8 million teens).33  Increasingly, the international community is joining the United States in recognizing the fallacy of arguments claiming marijuana use is a harmless activity with no consequences to others.

 

· Antonio Maria Costa, then Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, noted in an article published in The Independent on Sunday “The debate over the drug is no longer about liberty; it’s about health.” He continued, “Evidence of the damage to mental 5 health caused by cannabis use–from loss of concentration to paranoia, aggressiveness and outright psychosis–is mounting and cannot be ignored. Emergency-room admissions involving cannabis is rising, as is demand for rehabilitation treatment. …It is time to explode the myth of cannabis as a ‘soft’ drug.”34

 

· The President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Raymond Yans, voiced grave concern about the recent referenda in the United States that would allow the recreational use of cannabis by adults. “Legalization of cannabis within these states would send wrong and confusing signals to youth and society in general, giving the false impression that drug abuse might be considered normal and even, most disturbingly, safe. Such a development could result in the expansion of drug abuse, especially among young people, and we must remember that all young people have a right to be protected from drug abuse and drug dependency.”35 “The concern with marijuana is not born out of any culture war mentality, but out of what science tells us about the drug’s effects.”36

 

MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES RELATED TO MARIJUANA

There is mounting evidence that use of marijuana, particularly by adolescents, can lead to serious mental health problems.

 

· According to Nora Volkow, the Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Regular marijuana use in adolescence is known to be a part of a cluster of behaviors that can produce enduring detrimental effects and alter the trajectory of a young person’s life – thwarting his or her potential. Beyond potentially lower IQ, teen marijuana use is linked to school dropout, other drug use, mental health problems, etc. Given the current number of regular marijuana users (1 in 15 high school seniors) and the possibility of this increasing with marijuana legalization, we cannot afford to divert our focus from the central point: regular marijuana use stands to jeopardize a young person’s chances of success – in school and in life.”37

 

· A major study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in August 2012 provides finding that long-term marijuana use started in teen years does have a negative effect on intellectual function. The more dependent the person becomes

on marijuana, the more significant the impairment. The impairment was significant in five different cognitive areas, especially executive function and processing speed. Participants who used cannabis heavily in their teens and continued through adulthood showed a significant drop in their intelligence quotient (IQ) – an average of eight points. Those who started using marijuana regularly after age 18 showed minor declines. Those who never used marijuana showed no decline. Even after stopping cannabis use, neuropsychological deficits were never recovered among those who started smoking during their teen years.38

 

· “Nearly one in ten first-year college students at a mid-Atlantic university have a cannabis use disorder (CUD) according to a NIDA-funded study of drug use conducted by investigators from the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland.” “Students who had used cannabis five or more times in the past year – regardless of whether or not they met the criteria for CUD – reported problems related to their cannabis use, such as concentration problems (40.1 percent), regularly putting themselves in physical danger (24.3 percent), and driving after using marijuana (18.6 percent).”39   6

 

· According to a report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy on teens, depression and marijuana use: 40

 

§ Depressed teens are twice as likely as non-depressed teens to use marijuana and other illicit drugs.

 

§ Depressed teens are more than twice as likely as their peers to abuse or become

dependent on marijuana.

 

§ Marijuana use can worsen depression and lead to more serious mental illness such as

schizophrenia, anxiety, and even suicide.

 

§ Teens who smoke marijuana at least once a month are three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than non-users.

 

§ The percentage of depressed teens is equal to the percentage of depressed adults, but depressed teens are more likely than depressed adults to use marijuana than other drugs.

 

· Researchers from the University of Oulu in Finland interviewed over 6,000 youth ages 15 and 16 and found that “teenage cannabis users are more likely to suffer psychotic symptoms and have a greater risk of developing schizophrenia in later life.”41

 

· John Walters, then the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Charles G. Curie, then the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

Administration, and experts and scientists from leading mental health organizations joined together in May 2005 to warn parents about the mental health dangers marijuana poses to teens. According to several recent studies, marijuana use has been linked with depression and suicidal thoughts, in addition to schizophrenia. These studies report that weekly marijuana use among teens doubles the risk of developing depression and triples the incidence of suicidal thoughts.42

 

· Dr. Andrew Campbell, a member of the New South Wales (Australia) Mental Health Review Tribunal, published a study in 2005 which revealed that four out of five individuals with schizophrenia were regular cannabis users when they were teenagers. Between 75-80 percent of the patients involved in the study used cannabis habitually between the ages of 12 and 21.43 In addition, a laboratory-controlled study by Yale scientists, published in 2004, found that THC “transiently induced a range of schizophrenia-like effects in healthy people.”44

· In a presentation on “Neuroimaging Marijuana Use and Effects on Cognitive Function”

Professor Krista Lisdahl Medina suggests that chronic heavy marijuana use during adolescence is associated with poorer performance on thinking tasks, including slower psychomotor speed and poorer complex attention, verbal memory and planning ability. “While recent findings suggest partial recovery of verbal memory functioning within the first three weeks of adolescent abstinence from marijuana, complex attention skills continue to be affected. Not only are their thinking abilities worse, their brain activation to cognitive task is abnormal.”45  7 Many of these effects of using marijuana affect all ages, not just youth.

 

· Memory, speed of thinking, and other cognitive abilities get worse over time with marijuana use, according to a study published in the March 14, 2006 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study found that frequent marijuana users performed worse than non-users on tests of cognitive abilities, including divided attention and verbal fluency. Those who had used marijuana for 10 years or more had more problems with their thinking abilities than those who had used marijuana for 5-to-10 years. All of the marijuana users were heavy users, which was defined as smoking four or more joints per week.46

 

· Australian researchers report that long-term, heavy cannabis use may be associated with structural abnormalities in areas of the brain which govern memory, emotion, and aggression. Brain scans showed that the hippocampus was 12 percent smaller and the amygdale 7 percent smaller in men who smoked at least 5 cigarettes daily for almost 10 years. Dr. Mura Yucel, the lead researcher stated that “this new evidence plays an important role in further understanding the effects of marijuana and its impact on brain functions. The study is the first to show that long-term cannabis use can adversely affect all users, not just those in the high-risk categories such as the young, or those susceptible to mental illness, as previously thought.”47

 

· A two-year study by the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, at the

University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia found that cannabis users can be as

aggressive as crystal methamphetamine users, with almost one in four men and one in three women being violent toward hospital staff or injuring themselves after acting aggressively. Almost 12 percent were considered a suicide risk. The head of the Emergency Department at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Gordian Fulde, said “that most people still believed marijuana was a soft drug, but the old image of feeling sleepy and having the munchies after you’ve smoked is entirely inappropriate for modern-day marijuana. With hydroponic cannabis, the levels of THC can be tenfold what they are in normal cannabis so we are seeing some very, very serious fallout.”48

 

· Carleton University researchers published a study in 2005 showing that current marijuana users who smoke at least five “joints” per week did significantly worse than non-users when tested on neurocognition tests such as processing speed, memory, and overall IQ.49

 

· U.S. scientists have discovered that the active ingredient in marijuana interferes with

synchronized activity between neurons in the hippocampus of rats. The authors of this

November 2006 study suggest that action of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, might explain why marijuana impairs memory.50

 

· According to an Australian study, there is now conclusive evidence that smoking cannabis hastens the appearance of psychotic illnesses by up to three years. Dr. Mathew Large from the University of New South Wales reports that “…in addition to early cannabis smoking bringing on schizophrenia it brings it on early by an average of 2.7 years early – earlier than you would have otherwise developed it had you not been a cannabis smoker. The risks for older people is about a doubling of the risk.” “For young people who smoke cannabis regularly, instead of having around a one percent chance of developing schizophrenia during their life they will end up with something like a five percent chance of developing schizophrenia.” Philip Mitchell, 8 head of Psychiatry at the University stated that while “this research can’t distinguish about whether cannabis causes schizophrenia or brings it out in vulnerable people…it makes it very clear that cannabis is playing a significant role in psychosis.”51

 

· Doctors at Yale University documented marijuana’s damaging effect on the brain after nearly half of 150 healthy volunteers experienced psychotic symptoms, including hallucinations and paranoid delusions, when given THC, the drug’s primary active ingredient. The findings were released during a May 2007 international health conference in London. 52

 

· According to Margaret Trudeau, “Marijuana can trigger psychosis.” “Quitting cannabis has been an important part of my recovery from mental illness,” Margaret Trudeau, ex-wife of former Canadian prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, reported at a press conference at the Canadian Mental Health Conference in Vancouver on February 15, 2007. “Every time I was hospitalized it was preceded by heavy marijuana use.”53

 

· A pair of articles in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry reflects that cannabis use can trigger schizophrenia in people already vulnerable to the mental illness and assert that this fact should shape marijuana policy.54

 

· Robin Murray, a professor of psychiatry at London’s Institute of Psychiatry and consultant at the Maudsley Hospital in London, wrote an editorial which appeared in The Independence on Sunday, on March 18, 2007, in which he states that the British Government’s “mistake was rather to give the impression that cannabis was harmless and that there was no link to psychosis.” Based on the fact that “…in the late 1980s and 1990s psychiatrists like me began to see growing numbers of young people with schizophrenia who were taking large amounts of cannabis.” Murray claims that “…at least 10 percent of all people with schizophrenia in the UK would not have developed the illness if they had not smoked cannabis.” By his estimates, 25,000 individuals have ruined their lives because they smoked cannabis. He also points out that the “skunk” variety of cannabis, which is very popular among young people in Great Britain, contains “15 to 20 percent THC, and new resin preparations have up to 30 percent.”55

 

· Dr. John MacLeod, a prominent British psychiatrist states: “If you assume such a link (to schizophrenia with cannabis) then the number of cases of schizophrenia will increase

significantly in line with increased use of the drug.” He predicts that cannabis use may account for a quarter of all new cases of schizophrenia in three years’ time.56

 

· A study by scientists at the Queensland Brain Institute in Australia on long-term marijuana use and the increased risk of psychosis confirms earlier findings. “Compared with those who had never used cannabis, young adults who had six or more years since first use of cannabis were twice as likely to develop a non-affective psychosis (such as schizophrenia), “ McGrath wrote in a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry Journal. “They were also four times as likely to have high scores in clinical tests of delusion.”57

 

· A study published in the March 2008 Journal of the American Academy of Child and

Adolescent Psychiatry cited the harm of smoking marijuana during pregnancy. The study

found a significant relationship between marijuana exposure and child intelligence.

Researchers concluded that “prenatal marijuana exposure has a significant effect on school-age intellectual development.”58 9

 

· A study by doctors from the National Institute of Drug Abuse found that people who smoked marijuana had changes in the blood flow in their brains even after a month of not smoking. The marijuana users had PI (pulsatility index) values somewhat higher

than people with chronic high blood pressure and diabetes, which suggests that marijuana use leads to abnormalities in the small blood vessels in the brain. These findings could explain in part the problems with thinking and remembering found in other studies of marijuana users.59

 

PHYSICAL HEALTH ISSUES RELATED TO MARIJUANA

Marijuana use also affects the physical health of users, both short and long term.

 

· In 2011, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), there were 1,252,000 emergency department (ED) visits involving an illicit drug. Marijuana was involved in 455,668 of these visits, second only to cocaine.60

 

· ED visits for marijuana increased 19 percent between 2009 and 2011.61

 

· Among ED visits made by patients aged 20 or younger resulting in drug misuse or abuse, marijuana was the most commonly involved illicit drug (143.9 visits per 100,000).62

 

· In 2012, an estimated 22.2 million persons aged 12 or older were classified with substance dependence and abuse in the past year (8.5 percent of the population 12 or older). Marijuana was the illicit drug with the largest number of persons (4.3 million) with past year dependence or abuse.63

 

· On an average day in 2010 there were 266 drug related ED visits for youth 12 to17 years of age that involved marijuana.64

 

· Under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, the Governor of

California is required to revise and republish at least once a year the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. On September 11, 2009, the California Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, published the latest list. The list included a chemical added in June, marijuana smoke, and lists cancer as the type of toxicity.65

 

· A study by researchers at the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands found women who smoked pot during pregnancy may impair their baby’s growth and development in the womb. The babies born to marijuana users tended to weigh less and have smaller heads than other infants, both of which are linked to increased risk of problems with thinking, memory, and behavioral problems in childhood.66

 

· A long-term study of over 900 New Zealanders by the University of Otago, New Zealand School of Dentistry has found that “heavy marijuana use has been found to contribute to gum disease, apart from the known effects that tobacco smoke was already known to have.”67  10

 

· A study from Monash University and the Alfred Hospital in Australia has found that “bullous lung disease occurs in marijuana smokers 20 years earlier than tobacco smokers. Often caused by exposure to toxic chemicals or long-term exposure to tobacco smoke, bullae is a condition where air trapped in the lungs causes obstruction to breathing and eventual destruction of the lungs.” Dr. Matthew Naughton explains that  the peak inspiration and held for as long as possible before slow exhalation. This predisposes to greater damage to the lungs and makes marijuana smokers more prone to bullous disease as compared to cigarette smokers.”68

 

· In December 2007 researchers in Canada reported that “marijuana smoke contains significantly higher levels of toxic compounds — including ammonia and hydrogen cyanide — than tobacco smoke and may therefore pose similar health risks.” “Ammonia

levels were 20 times higher in the marijuana smoke than in the tobacco smoke, while hydrogen cyanide, nitric oxide and certain aromatic amines occurred at levels 3-5 times higher in the marijuana smoke.”69

 

· Marijuana worsens breathing problems in current smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study released by the American Thoracic Society in May 2007. Among people age 40 and older, smoking cigarettes and marijuana together boosted the odds of developing COPD to 3.5 times the risk of someone who smoked neither.70

 

· Scientists at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, a medical university, have advanced their

understanding of how smoking marijuana during pregnancy may damage the fetal brain.

Findings from their study, released in May 2007, explain how endogenous cannabinoids exert adverse effects on nerve cells, potentially imposing life-long cognitive and motor deficits in afflicted new born babies.71

 

· A study from New Zealand reports that cannabis smoking may cause five percent of lung cancer cases in that country. Dr. Sarah Aldington of the Medical Research Institute in Wellington presented her study results at the Thoracic Society conference in Auckland on March 26, 2007.72

 

· Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that frequent or long-term marijuana use may significantly increase a man’s risk of developing the most aggressive type of testicular cancer, nonseminoma. Nonseminoma is a fast-growing testicular malignancy that tends to strike early, between the ages of 20 and 35, and accounts for about 40 percent of all testicular cancer cases. Dr. Stephen Schwartz stated that researchers are still studying the long-term health consequences of marijuana smoking, especially heavy marijuana smoking and “in the absence of more certain information, a decision to smoke marijuana recreationally means that one is taking a chance on one’s future health.”73

 

· According to researchers at the Yale School of Medicine, long-term exposure to marijuana smoke is linked to many of the same kinds of health problems as those experienced by long term cigarette smokers. “…[C]linicians should advise their patients of the potential negative impact of marijuana smoking on overall lung health.”74

 

· While smoking cigarettes is known to be a major risk factor for the bladder cancer most common among people age 60 and older, researchers are now finding a correlation between smoking marijuana and bladder cancer. In a study of younger patients with transitional cell 11 bladder cancer, Dr. Martha Terriss found that 88.5 percent had a history of smoking marijuana.

 

Marijuana smoke has many of the same carcinogen-containing tars as cigarettes and may get even more into the body because marijuana cigarettes are unfiltered and users tend to hold the smoke in their lungs for prolonged periods. Dr. Terriss notes that more research is needed, but does recommend that when doctors find blood in a young patient’s urine sample, they may want to include questions about marijuana use in their follow-up.75

 

· Smoking marijuana can cause changes in lung tissue that may promote cancer growth, according to a review of decades of research on marijuana smoking and lung cancer. However, it is not possible to directly link pot use to lung cancer based on existing evidence. Nevertheless, researchers indicate that the precancerous changes seen in studies included in their analysis, as well as the fact that marijuana smokers generally inhale more deeply and hold smoke in their lungs longer than cigarette smokers, and that marijuana is smoked without a filter, do suggest that smoking pot

could indeed boost lung cancer risk. It is known, they add, that marijuana smoking deposits more tar in the lungs than cigarette smoking does.76

 

· Smoking three cannabis joints will cause one to inhale the same amount of toxic chemicals as a whole pack of cigarettes according to researchers from the French National Consumers’ Institute. Cannabis smoke contains seven times more tar and carbon monoxide than cigarette smoke. Someone smoking a joint of cannabis resin rolled with tobacco will inhale twice the amount of benzene and three times as much toluene as if they were smoking a regular cigarette.77

 

· According to research, the use of marijuana by women trying to conceive or those recently becoming pregnant is not recommended, as it endangers the passage of the embryo from the ovary to the uterus and can result in a failed pregnancy. Researchers from Vanderbilt University say a study with mice has shown that marijuana exposure may compromise the pregnancy outcome because an active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), interferes with a fertilized egg’s ability to implant in the lining of the uterus.78

 

· Infants exposed to marijuana in the womb show subtle behavioral changes in their first days of life, according to researchers in Brazil. The newborns were more irritable than non-exposed infants, less responsive, and more difficult to calm. They also cried more, startled more easily, and were jitterier. Such changes have the potential to interfere with the mother-child bonding process. “It is necessary to counter the misconception that marijuana is a ‘benign drug’ and to educate women regarding the risks and possible consequences related to its use during pregnancy,” Dr. Marina Carvahlo de Moraes Barros and her colleagues concluded.79

 

· Marijuana smoking has been implicated as a causative factor in tumors of the head and neck and of the lung. The marijuana smokers in whom these tumors occur are usually much younger than the tobacco smokers who are the usual victims of these malignancies. Although a recent study published by the Medical College of Georgia and Stanford University suggests a causal relationship between marijuana exposure and bladder cancer, larger scale epidemiologic and basic science studies are needed to confirm the role of marijuana smoking as an etiologic agent in the development of transitional cell carcinoma.80

 

· According to a 2005 study of marijuana’s long-term pulmonary effects by Dr. Donald Tashkin at the University of California, Los Angeles, marijuana smoking deposits significantly more tar 12 and known carcinogens within the tar, such a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, into the airways. In addition to precancerous changes, marijuana smoking is associated with impaired function of the immune system components in the lungs.81

 

· Smoked marijuana has also been associated with an increased risk of the same respiratory symptoms as tobacco, including coughing, phlegm production, chronic bronchitis, shortness of breath and wheezing. Because cannabis plants are contaminated with a range of fungal spores, smoking marijuana may also increase the risk of respiratory exposure by infectious organisms (i.e., molds and fungi).82

 

· Marijuana takes the risks of tobacco and raises them. Marijuana smoke contains more than 400 chemicals and increases the risk of serious health consequences, including lung damage.83

 

· An April 2007 article published by the Harm Reduction Journal, and funded by the prolegalization Marijuana Policy Project, argues that the use of a vaporizer has the potential to reduce the danger of cannabis as far as respiratory symptoms are concerned. While these claims remain scientifically unproven, serious negative

consequences still remain. For example, driving skills are still impaired, heavy adolescent use may create deviant brain structure, and 9-12 percent of cannabis users develop symptoms of dependence. A vaporizer offers no protection against these  consequences.84

 

· According to two studies, marijuana use narrows arteries in the brain, “similar to patients with high blood pressure and dementia,” and may explain why memory tests are difficult for marijuana users. In addition, “chronic consumers of cannabis lose molecules called CB1 receptors in the brain’s arteries,” leading to blood flow problems in the brain which can cause memory loss, attention deficits, and impaired learning ability.85

 

· A small study (50 patients) was conducted by the University of California San Francisco, from 2003 to 2005, leading researchers to find that smoked marijuana eased HIV-related foot pain. This pain, known as peripheral neuropathy, was relieved for 52 percent of the patients in the controlled experiment. Dr. Donald Abrams, director of the study said that while subjects’ pain was reduced he and his colleagues “found that adverse events, such as sedation, dizziness and confusion were significantly higher among the cannabis smokers.”86

 

· In response to this study, critics of smoked marijuana were quick to point out that while THC does have some medicinal benefits, smoked marijuana is a poor delivery mechanism. Citing evidence that marijuana smoke is harmful, Dr. David Murray, then chief scientist at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, noted that “People who smoke marijuana are subject to bacterial infections in the lungs…Is this really what a physician who is treating someone with a compromised immune system wants to prescribe?”87

 

§ Dr. Murray also said that the findings are “not particularly persuasive” because of the small number of subjects and the possibility that subjects knew they were smoking marijuana and had an increased expectation of efficacy. He expressed the government’s support for pain relief for HIV-affected individuals and said that while “We’re very much supportive of any effort to ameliorate the suffering of AIDS patients,the delivery mechanism for THC should be pills, and not smoked marijuana, which can cause lung damage and deliver varying dosages of THC.”88  13

 

§ Researchers involved with the University of California, San Francisco, project admitted that there may be a problem with efforts to gauge the effects of marijuana vs. the effects of a placebo. Some users were immediately able to acknowledge that their sample was indeed cannabis because of the effects of that substance. One participant, Diana Dodson said, “I knew immediately [that I received cannabis] because I could feel the effects.”89

 

· Pro-marijuana advocates were encouraged by a medical study published in Cancer

Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The study, published in October 2006, was based on interviews with people in Los Angeles (611 who developed lung cancer, 601 who developed cancer of the head or neck regions, and 1,040 people without cancer who were matched [to other subjects] on age, gender, and neighborhoods). The study found that people who smoke marijuana do not appear to be at increased risk of developing lung cancer.90 While this study’s findings differed from previous studies and researchers’ expectations, “[o]ther experts are warning that the study should not be viewed as a green light to smoke pot, as smoking marijuana has been associated with problems such as cognitive impairment and chronic bronchitis.”91 The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) continues to maintain that smoking marijuana is detrimental to pulmonary functions.

 

§ In its October, 2006, issue of NIDA Notes, mention is made of the most recent Tashkin study. “Biopsies of bronchial tissue provide evidence that regular marijuana smoking injures airway epithelial cells, leading to dysregulation of bronchial epithelial cell growth and eventually to possible malignant changes.” Moreover, he adds, because marijuana smokers typically hold their breath four times as long as tobacco smokers after inhaling, marijuana smoking deposits significantly more tar and known carcinogens within the tar, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, in the airways. In addition to precancerous changes, Dr. Tashkin found that marijuana smoking is associated with a range of damaging pulmonary effects, including inhibition of the tumor-killing and bactericidal activity of alveolar macrophages, the primary immune cells within the lung.”

 

§ NIDA also comments on the Tashkin study in the Director’s Notes from February 2007. While acknowledging that the study concluded “that the association of these cancers with marijuana, even long-term or heavy use, is not strong and may be below practically detectable limits…these results may have been affected by selection bias or error in measuring lifetime exposure and confounder histories.”92

 

§ In October 2006, one of the study’s authors, Dr. Hal Morgenstern, Chair of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said although the risk of cancer did not prove to be large in the recent study, “I wouldn’t go so far as to say there is no increased cancer risk from smoking marijuana.”93

 

· The British Lung Foundation‘s 2012 survey of 1,000 adults found that a third wrongly believed that cannabis did not harm one’s health. The survey also revealed that 88 percent thought tobacco cigarettes were more harmful than cannabis ones, although the risk of lung cancer is actually 20 times higher from a cannabis cigarette than a tobacco cigarette. Part of the reason for this is that people smoking cannabis take deeper puffs and hold them for longer than tobacco smokers. This means that a person smoking a cannabis cigarette inhales four times as 14 much tar and five times as much carbon monoxide as someone smoking a tobacco cigarette. The Foundation warned that smoking one cannabis cigarette increase the chances of developing lung cancer by as much as an entire packet of 20 cigarettes. “It is alarming that, while new research continues to reveal the multiple health consequences of smoking cannabis, there is still a dangerous lack of public awareness of quite how harmful this drug can be,” said Dame Helena Shovelton, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation. “We therefore need a serious public health campaign – of the kind that helped raise awareness of the dangers of eating fatty food or smoking tobacco – to finally dispel the myth that smoking cannabis is somehow a safe pastime.”94

 

· A large international study by researchers from the University of Adelaide found that women who use marijuana during pregnancy double the risk of giving birth prematurely. Preterm or premature births, which is at least three weeks prior to the due date, can result in serious and life-threating health problems for the baby, and increased health problems in later life, such as heart disease and diabetes.95

 

MARIJUANA AS A PRECURSOR TO ABUSE OF OTHER DRUGS

 

· Teens who experiment with marijuana may be making themselves more vulnerable to heroin addiction later in life, if the findings from experiments with rats are any indication. “Cannabis has very long-term, enduring effects on the brain,” according to Dr. Yamin Hurd of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, the study’s lead author.96

 

· Marijuana is a frequent precursor to the use of more dangerous drugs and signals a significantly enhanced likelihood of drug problems in adult life. The Journal of the American  Medical Association reported, based on a study of 300 sets of twins, “that marijuana-using twins were four times more likely than their siblings to use cocaine and crack cocaine, and five times more likely to use hallucinogens such as LSD.”97

 

· Long-term studies on patterns of drug usage among young people show that very few of them use other drugs without first starting with marijuana. For example, one study found that among adults (age 26 and older) who had used cocaine, 62 percent had initiated marijuana use before age 15. By contrast, less than one percent of adults who never tried marijuana went on to use cocaine.98

 

· Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) reports that teens who used marijuana at least once in the last month are 13 times likelier than other teens to use another drug like cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine and almost 26 times likelier than those teens who have never used marijuana to use another drug.99

 

· Marijuana use in early adolescence is particularly ominous. Adults who were early marijuana users were found to be five times more likely to become dependent on any drug, eight times more likely to use cocaine in the future, and fifteen times more likely to use heroin later in life.100

 

· Healthcare workers, legal counsel, police and judges indicate that marijuana is a typical precursor to methamphetamine. For instance, Nancy Kneeland, a substance abuse counselor in Idaho, pointed out that “in almost all cases meth users began with alcohol and pot.”101  15

 

· An estimated 2.9 million persons aged 12 or older – an average of approximately 7,900 per day  used a drug other than alcohol for the first time in the past year according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Almost two-thirds (65.6 percent) of these new users reported that marijuana was the first drug they tried.102

 

· Nearly one in ten high school students (9 percent) report using marijuana 20 times or more in the past month according to the findings of the 2011 Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey.103

 

· Teens past month heavy marijuana users are significantly more likely than teens that have not used marijuana in the past to: use cocaine/crack (30 times more likely); use Ecstasy (20 times more likely); abuse prescription pain relievers (15 times more likely): and abuse over the counter medications (14 times more likely). This clearly denotes that teens that use marijuana regularly are using other substances at a much higher rate than teens who do not smoke marijuana, or smoke less often.104

 

DEPENDENCY AND TREATMENT

 

· “The basic rule with any drug is if the drug becomes more available in the society, there will be more use of the drug,” said Thomas Crowley, a University of Colorado psychiatry professor and director of the university’s Division of Substance Dependence. “And as use expands, there will be more people who have problems with the drug.”105

 

· A study of substance abuse treatment admissions in the United States between 1998 and 2008 found that although admission rates for alcohol treatment were declining, admission rates per 100,000 population for illicit drug use were increasing. One consistent pattern in every region was the increase in the admission rate for marijuana use which rose 30 percent nationally.106

 

· California, a national leader in ‘medical’ marijuana use, saw admission for treatment for marijuana dependence more than double over the past decade. Admissions grew from 52 admissions per 100,000 population in 1998 to 113 per 100,000 in 2008, an increase of 117 percent.107

 

· “Research shows that use of [marijuana] can lead to dependence. Some heavy users of marijuana develop withdrawal symptoms when they have not used the drug for a period of time. Marijuana use, in fact, is often associated with behavior that meets the criteria for substance dependence established by the American Psychiatric Association.”108

 

· Marijuana was the illicit drug with the highest rate of past year dependence or abuse in 2012; of the 7.3 million persons age 12 or older classified with illicit drug dependence or abuse, 4.3 million had marijuana dependence or abuse (representing 1.7 percent of the total population aged 12 or older and 58.9 percent of all those classified with illicit drug dependence or abuse).109  16

 

· Among all ages, marijuana was the second most common illicit drug responsible for treatment admissions in 2011 after opioids, accounting for 18 percent of all admissions—outdistancing cocaine, the next most prevalent cause.110

 

· The proportion of admissions for marijuana as the primary substance of abuse for persons aged 12 or older increased from 15 percent in 2001 to 18 percent in 2011.111

 

· Forty percent of primary marijuana admissions were under age 20 (versus 11 percent of all admissions).112

 

· Twenty-five percent of primary admissions had first used marijuana by age 12 and another 32 percent by age 14.113

 

DANGERS TO NON USERS

DELINQUENT BEHAVIORS

 

Marijuana use is strongly associated with juvenile crime:

 

 

· In a 2008 paper entitled Non-Medical Marijuana III: Rite of Passage or Russian Roulette, CASA reported that in 2006 youth who had been arrested and booked for breaking the law were four times likelier than those who were never arrested to have used marijuana in the past year.114

 

· According to CASA in their report on Criminal Neglect: Substance Abuse, Juvenile Justice and the Children Left Behind, youth who use marijuana are likelier than those who do not to be arrested and arrested repeatedly. The earlier an individual begins to use marijuana, the likelier he or she is to be arrested.

 

· Marijuana is known to contribute to delinquent and aggressive behavior. A June 2007 report released by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) reveals that teenagers who use drugs are more likely to engage in violent and delinquent behavior. Moreover, early use of marijuana, the most commonly used drug among teens, is a warning sign for later criminal behavior. Specifically, research shows that the instances of physically attacking people, stealing property, and destroying property increase in direct proportion to the frequency with which teens smoke marijuana.115

In a report titled The Relationship between Alcohol, Drug Use, and Violence among Students, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) reported that according to the 2006 Pride Surveys, during the 2005-2006 school year:

 

· Of those students who report carrying a gun to school during the 2005-2006 year, 63.9 percent report also using marijuana.

· Of those students who reported hurting others with a weapon at school, 68.4 percent had used marijuana. 17

 

· Of those students who reported being hurt by a weapon at school, 60.3 percent reported using marijuana.

 

· Of those students who reported threatening someone with a gun, knife, or club or threatening to hit, slap, or kick someone, 27 percent reported using marijuana.

 

· Of those students who reported any trouble with the police, 39 percent also reported using marijuana.116

 

· According to ONDCP, the incidence of youth physically attacking others, stealing, and destroying property increased in proportion to the number of days marijuana was smoked in the past year.117

 

· ONDCP reports that marijuana users were twice as likely as non-users to report they disobeyed school rules.118

 

· Youths aged 12 to 17 who had engaged in fighting or other delinquent behaviors were more likely than other youths to have used illicit drugs in the past month. In 2011 past month illicit drug use was reported by 18.5 percent of youths who had gotten into a serious fight at school or work compared with 8 percent of those who had not engaged in fighting at school or work, and by 45.1 percent of those who had stolen or tried to steal something worth over $50 in the past year compared with 8.7 percent who had not attempted or engaged in such theft.119

 

DRUGGED DRIVERS

 

Drugged driving, also referred to as impaired driving, is driving under the influence of alcohol, over-the-counter-medications, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs.

 

· The principal concern regarding drugged driving is that driving under the influence of any drug that acts on the brain could impair one’s motor skills, reaction time, and judgment. Drugged driving is a public health concern because it puts not only the driver at risk, but also passengers and others who share the road.120

 

· In Montana, where there has been an enormous increase in “medical” marijuana cardholders, Narcotics Chief Mark Long told a legislative committee in April 2010 that “DUI arrests involving marijuana have skyrocketed, as have traffic fatalities where marijuana was found in the system of one of the drivers.”121

 

· In 2011 there were 9.4 million persons aged 12 and older who reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the past year. The rate was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25.122

 

· Drugs that may affect driving were detected in one of every seven weekend nighttime drivers in California during the summer of 2012. In the first California statewide roadside survey of alcohol and drug use by drivers, 14 percent of drivers tested positive for drugs and 7.4 percent of drivers tested positive for alcohol, and just as many as tested positive for marijuana as alcohol. 123 18

 

· Since 2000, Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) have been conducting a study of teens driving under the influence. Their most recent report, released in February 2012, found that nearly one in five teens have gotten behind the wheel after smoking marijuana.

§ They also found that driving under the influence of marijuana (19 percent) is a greater threat than driving under the influence of alcohol (13 percent). What greatly concerned the researchers is that many teens don’t even consider marijuana use a distraction to their driving. 124

 

§ “Marijuana affects memory, judgment, and perception and can lead to poor decisions when a teen under the influence of this or other drugs gets behind the wheel of a car,” said Stephen Wallace, Senior Advisor for Policy, Research and Education at SADD. “What keeps me up at night is that this data reflects the dangerous trend toward acceptance of marijuana and other substances compared to our study of teens conducted just two years ago.”125

 

§ The study also found that most teen drivers would not drive while under the influence if asked by their passengers not to. However, even more alarming is that teen passengers are less concerned about riding in a car with a driver who has smoked marijuana than one who has used alcohol.126

 

· A study in the British Medical Journal on the consequences of cannabis impaired driving found that drivers who consume cannabis within three hours of driving are nearly twice as likely to cause a vehicle collision as those who are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.127

 

· A study in the Epidemiologic Reviews by researchers from Columbia University found that drivers who get behind the wheel after smoking pot run more than twice the risk of getting into an accident. This risk is even greater if the driver had also been drinking alcohol. “As more states consider medical use of marijuana, there could be health implications,” said senior author Gouhua Li. 128

 

· Researchers at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Maryland studied a government data base on traffic fatalities and examined the data from 44,000 drivers involved in single-vehicle crashes who died between 1999 and 2009. They found that 24.9 percent of the drivers tested positive for drugs and 37 percent had blood-alcohol levels in excess of .08, the legal limit. The study is one of the first to show the prevalence of drug use among fatally injured drivers. Among the drivers who tested positive for drugs, 22 percent were positive for marijuana, 22 percent for stimulants, and 9 percent for narcotics.129

 

· In a study of seriously injured drivers admitted to a Maryland Level-1 shock-trauma center, 65.7 percent were found to have positive toxicology results for alcohol and/or drugs. Almost 51 percent of the total tested positive for illegal drugs. A total of 26.9 percent of the drivers tested positive for marijuana.130 19

 

· The percentage of fatally injured drivers testing positive for drugs increased over the last five years according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2009, 33 percent of the 12,055 drivers fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes with known test results tested positive for at least one drug compared to 28 percent in 2005. In 2009, marijuana was the most prevalent drug found in this population – approximately 28 percent of fatally injured drivers who tested positive tested positive for marijuana.131

 

· Recognizing that drugged driving is a serious health and safety issue, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has called for a science-based educational campaign targeting drugged driving behavior. In January of 2008, Deputy Director Paul Armentano released a report titled, Cannabis and Driving, noting that motorists should be discouraged from driving if they have recently smoked cannabis and should never operate a motor vehicle after having consumed both marijuana and alcohol. The report also calls for the development of roadside, cannabis-sensitive technology to better assist law enforcement in identifying drivers who may be under the influence of pot.132

· In a 2007 National Roadside Survey of alcohol and drug use by drivers, a random sample of weekend night time drivers across the United States found that 16.3 percent of the drivers tested positive for drugs, compared to 2.2 percent of drivers with blood alcohol concentrations at or above the legal limit. Drugs were present more than 7 times as frequently as alcohol.133

 

· According to a National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded study, a large number of American adolescents are putting themselves and others at great risk by driving under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol. In 2006, 30 percent of high school seniors reported driving after drinking heavily or using drugs, or riding in a car whose driver had been drinking heavily or using drugs, as least once in the prior two weeks. Dr. Patrick O’Malley, lead author of the study, observed that “Driving under the influence is not an alcohol-only problem. In 2006, 13 percent of seniors said they drove after using marijuana while ten percent drove after having five or more drinks.” “Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 20,” added Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of NIDA. “Combining the lack of driving experience among teens with the use of marijuana and/or other substances that impair cognitive and motor abilities can be a deadly combination.” 134

 

· A June 2007 toxicology study conducted at the University of Maryland’s Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore found that over 26 percent of injured drivers tested positive for marijuana. In an earlier study, the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 10.6 million Americans had driven a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs during the previous year. 135

 

· A study of over 3000 fatally-injured drivers in Australia showed that when marijuana was present in the blood of the driver they were much more likely to be at fault for the accident. And the higher the THC concentration, the more likely they were to be culpable.136

 

· The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that marijuana significantly impairs one’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. According to its report, “epidemiology data from road traffic arrests and fatalities indicate that after alcohol, marijuana is the most frequently detected psychoactive substance among driving populations.” Problems reported include: decreased car handling performance, inability to maintain headway, 20 impaired time and distance estimation, increased reaction times, sleepiness, lack of motor coordination, and impaired sustained vigilance.137

 

OTHER CONSEQUENCES OF MARIJUANA USE

· In Massachusetts in 2009 the possession of one ounce of marijuana went from a criminal charge to a civil fine. Police and District Attorneys want residents to know that smoking marijuana is not a victimless crime. Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. says that he fears that “decriminalization has created a booming ‘cottage industry’ for dope dealers to target youths no longer fearing the stigma of arrest or how getting high could affect their already dicey driving. What we’re seeing now is an unfortunate and predictable outcome. It’s a cash and carry business. With more small-time dealers operating turf encroachment is inevitable. This tends to make drug dealers angry.” Wellesley Deputy Police Chief William Brooks III, speaking on behalf of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association said “the whole thing is a mess. The perception out there among a lot of people is it’s ok to do it now, so there’s an uptick in the number of people wanting to do it…Most of the drug-related violence you see now – the shootings, murders – is about weed.” Several 2010 high-profile killings have been linked by law enforcement to the increased market:

§ The May fatal shooting of a 21-year-old inside a Harvard University dorm, allegedly in a bid to rob him of his pot and cash.

 

§ The June murder of a 17-year-old in Callahan State Park, where he was lured by two men seeking revenge in a fight over marijuana.

 

§ The September massacre of four people in Mattapan, including a 21-year-old woman and her 2-year-old son, over an alleged pot-dealing turf dispute.

 

§ The September fatal shooting of a 29-year-old man, by four men, one a high school senior, in connection with robbery and murder of a drug dealer.138

 

· Children often bear the consequences of actions engaged in by parents or guardians involved with marijuana:

§ In Bradenton, Florida a Highway Patrol officer tried to stop a man speeding on  I-75. The driver did not stop until he ran up on the median and crashed into a construction barrel. In the car the troopers found three small children, forty pounds of marijuana and several thousand dollars in cash.139

 

§ A Hamilton, Montana man put his three toddlers in the back seat of his one ton Chevy pickup and then partied with a friend as he drove along the highway. At 50 miles an hour he swerved into another car killing the owner. While partying with his friend in the vehicle he had smoked two bowls of pot.140

 

§ An Ohio mother is accused of teaching her two-year-old daughter smoke pot and recording the incident on her cell phone.141  21

 

§ A Virginia mother and her roommate were charged with reckless child endangerment after her two-year-old daughter ingested an unknown amount of marijuana in a motel room.142

 

§ A California couple was arrested after a video surfaced of them allowing their 23- month-old son to use a marijuana pipe. The video showed the child smoking the pipe. The pipe was tested and found to have marijuana residue in it. Both parents said they had medical marijuana cards, but could not explain why they would give it to their child and then videotape the incident.143

 

§ Cincinnati, Ohio police arrested a woman for allegedly giving her three children, ages seven, four, and one, marijuana. The seven-year-old told the school counselor that she had been forced to smoke marijuana. All three children tested positive for marijuana..144

 

§ In Stockton, California a two-year-old girl was in critical condition after ingesting marijuana resin. Although four adults were home at the time, none were supervising the child when she found a jar lid containing resin.145

 

§ Two toddlers in Louisiana were hospitalized after ingesting marijuana and amphetamines. A search warrant of the home found several unsecured bottles of prescription medication and a hand-rolled cigar containing marijuana.146

 

· In Santa Clara, California, in one week in December, four dispensaries and one marijuana grower were hit by vandals, burglars, or armed robbers. At one location four suspects robbed the victim by throwing him to the floor, holding a piece of metal to his throat, and demanding marijuana and money. At one dispensary, the owner, who is paralyzed and in a wheelchair, was closing up the shop when armed robbers knocked him over and barged in. The robbers tied him up and took marijuana and cash.147

 

· The Los Angeles Police Department investigated a series of robberies and shootings at marijuana dispensaries. Over a one week period in June 2010 a Northridge dispensary robbery left one employee in critical condition after being shot in the face; the shooting was the second at that business that year and the third dispensary to be targeted in three days. Two people were fatally shot in a pot shop robberies in Echo Park and Hollywood, and a third person was wounded.148

 

· On March 4, 2010, a California man was killed after opening fire on two Pentagon Police Officers. In a story on MSNBC, the Friday before the incident, John Patrick Bedell’s parents had warned local authorities that his behavior had become erratic and that he was unstable and had a gun. Bedell was diagnosed as bipolar and had been in and out of treatment programs for years. His psychiatrist, J. Michael Nelson, said “Bedell tried to self-medicate with marijuana, inadvertently making his symptoms more pronounced.”149   Bedell had been given a recommendation for medical use of marijuana in 2006 for chronic insomnia. According to long-time friend Reb Monaco “he was not a person who should have been issued a medical clearance to use marijuana, but he was.”150  22

 

· A marijuana dealer kidnapped and murdered a 15 year-old boy after he got angry at the teen’s half-brother for owing him a $2,500 drug debt.151

 

· Grant Everson and three friends armed with box cutters and a shot-gun slipped into Everson’s parents’ Chaska, Minnesota home demanding money to open a coffee house in the marijuana friendly City of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Although Grant lost his nerve, his friends proceeded to shoot and kill his mother. All four were arrested. Their alibi was that they had been sleeping in the same Burnsville apartment after a night of smoking marijuana and playing video games.152 The National Transportation Safety Board investigation of a small plane crash near Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, killing a passenger and the pilot, was a result of pilot error. Pilot Jason Heard failed to fly high enough and maintain enough airspeed to avoid a stall. The report notes that Pilot Jason Heard had enough marijuana in his system to have contributed to the accident.153

 

MARIJUANA AND INCARCERATION

Federal marijuana investigations and prosecutions usually involve hundreds of pounds of marijuana. Few defendants are incarcerated in federal prison for simple possession of marijuana.

 

· In 2008, according to the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), 25,337 people were sentenced in federal court for drug crimes under six offense categories. Marijuana accounted for 6,337 (25 percent). Looking even further, of the 6,337 people sentenced, only 99 people or 1.6 percent, were sentenced for “simple possession” of marijuana.154

 

· According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of state and federal prisoners published in October 2006, approximately 12.7 percent of state prisoners and 12.4 percent of federal prisoners were serving time for a marijuana-related offense. This is a decrease from 1997 when these figures were 12.9 percent and 18.9 percent respectively.155

 

· Between October 1, 2005 and September 30, 2006, there were 6,423 federal offenders sentenced for marijuana-related charges in the U.S. Courts. Approximately 95.9 percent of the cases involved trafficking.156

 

· In Fiscal Year 2006, there were 25,814 offenders sentenced in federal court on drug charges. Of those, only 1.6 percent (406 people) were sentenced for simple possession.157

· According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, “Many inmates ultimately sentenced for marijuana and possession were initially charged with more serious crimes but were able to negotiate reduced charges or lighter sentences through plea agreements with prosecutors. Therefore the …figure for simple possession defendants may give an inflated impression of the true numbers, since it also includes these inmates who pled down from more serious charges.” 158

 

· While illicit drugs are implicated in three-quarters of incarcerations (75.9 percent), few inmates are incarcerated for marijuana possession as their controlling or only offense. 23 Inmates incarcerated in federal and state prisons and local jails for marijuana possession as the controlling offenses accounted for 1.1 percent of all inmates and 4.4 percent of those only offense accounted for .9 percent of all inmates and 2.9 percent those incarcerated for drug law violations.159

 

· Findings from the 2008 Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring System (ADAM II), which surveys drug use among booked male arrestees in ten major metropolitan areas across the country, shows the majority of arrestees in each city test positive for illicit drug use, with as many as 87 percent of arrestees testing positive for an illegal drug. Marijuana is the most commonly detected drug at the time of the arrest. In seven of the ten sites arrestees who are using marijuana are using it on the average of every other day for the past 30 days.160

 

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

MARIJUANA USE AMONG YOUTH IS RISING AS PERCEPTION OF RISK DECREASES

 

· Historical drug trends from the national Monitoring the Future Survey show that when anti drug attitudes soften there is a corresponding increase in drug use in the coming years. An adolescent’s perception of risks associated with substance use is an important determinant of whether he or she engages in substance abuse. Youths who perceive high risk of harm are less likely to use drugs than youths who perceive low risk of harm.

 

· The 2013 Monitoring the Future Survey, five-year trends are showing significant increase in past-year and past-month (current) marijuana use across all three grades as well as increase in lifetime and daily marijuana use among 10th graders. From 2008 to 2013, past month use increased from 5.8 percent to 7 percent among 8th graders, 13.8 percent to 18 percent among 10th graders and 19.4 percent to 22.7 percent among 12th graders.161

 

· Nearly 23 percent of seniors say they smoked marijuana in the past month, and just over 36 percent smoked it in the past year.162 This means that one in every 15 high school seniors is a daily or near daily user of marijuana.163

 

· For 10th graders, 4 percent say they use marijuana daily, with 18 percent using in the past month, and 29.8 percent using in the past year. More than 12 percent of 8th graders (13 and 14 year olds) say they used marijuana in the past year.164

· This increase in use by teens reiterates the link between use and the perception of risk. Lloyd Johnston, principal investigator of the Monitoring the Future Survey, once again raises this concern as a result of the findings of the survey. “Most noteworthy is the fact that the proportion of adolescents seeing marijuana use as risk declined again sharply in all three grades. Perceived risk- namely the risk to the user that teenagers associate with a drug- has been a lead indicator of use, both for marijuana and other drugs, and it has continued its sharp decline in 2013 among teens. This could foretell further increases in use in the future.”165  24

 

· From 2005 to 2013, the percent of teens seeing great risk from being a regular marijuana user has fallen among 8th graders from 74 percent to 61 percent; among 10th graders, from 66 percent to 47 percent; and among 12th graders, from 58 percent to 40 percent.166

 

· This means that among high school seniors, sixty percent do not view regular marijuana use as harmful.167

 

· Survey results from the past two years also revealed that 34 percent of marijuana-using 12thgraders living in states with medical marijuana laws say that one of the ways the obtain the drug is through someone else’s medical marijuana “prescription.” In addition, more than 6 percent say they get it with their own “prescription.” Thus states with medical marijuana laws do seem to provide another avenue of accessibility to the drug. This link between state laws and marijuana’s accessibility to teens will continue to be explored.168

 

· According to the Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey, 2011 Parents and Teens, nine percent of teens (1.5 million) smoked marijuana heavily (at least 20 times in the past month). Between 2008 and 2011, past month use is up 42 percent, past year use is up 26 percent and lifetime use is up 21 percent among teens.169

 

· Teens report seeing more of their peers smoking marijuana; only 26 percent say that in their school most teens don’t smoke marijuana. Also, 71 percent of teens say they have friends that smoke marijuana regularly, up from 64 percent in 2008.170

 

· A continuing erosion of anti-marijuana attitudes was also noted; only about half of teens (51 percent) say the see great risk in using marijuana, down from 61 percent in 2005.171

 

· Media also plays a role in changing the perception of marijuana use. Nearly half (45 percent) of teens say that the music they listen to makes marijuana seem cool and almost half (47 percent) agree that movies and television shows make drugs seem like the thing to do.172

 

A final note: DEA’s responsibility as it pertains to marijuana is clearly delineated in federal law. But our responsibility to the public goes further – to educate about the fallacy of smoked marijuana as medicine with fact and scientific evidence. DEA supports research into the use of marijuana as a medicine, to be approved through the FDA process, the same as with all other medicines in the U.S.

 

We also want the public to understand the ramifications of the use of this drug and the consequences it will have on our youth and our society as a whole.

 

For more information about marijuana and other drugs of abuse, please visit our websites:

www.DEA.gov; our teen website, written for teens and educators: www.justthinktwice.com; and our parent website, written for parents, caregivers, and educators: www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com.  25

 

Endnotes

1 “Inter-Agency Advisory Regarding Claims That Smoked Marijuana Is a Medicine.” U.S. Food and Drug

Administration, April 20, 2006.

<http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2006/ucm/108643.htm>.

2 “AMA Policy Statement on Cannabis, H-95.998.” American Medical Association House of Delegates (1-13), Council

on Science and Public Health Report 2. November 19, 2013. P. 6

3 ASAM Public Policy on “Medical Marijuana.” (April 23, 2010) http://www.wfad.se/latest-news/1-articles/213-asampublic-

policy-statement-on-qmedical-marijuanaq.

4 “American Society of Addiction Medicine Reiterates ASAM Marijuana Policy Positions.” October 27, 2011,

http://www.asam.org/1MARIJUANA%205-062.pdf. “White Paper on State-Level Proposals to Legalize Marijuana.”

Adopted by the ASAM Board of Directors July 25, 2012. www.asam.org/policies/state–level-proposals-to-legalizemarijuana.

5 “Medical Use of Marijuana: ACS Position.” American Cancer Society. April 14, 2010.

Documents.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/001976-pdf.pdf.

6 “American Glaucoma Society Position Statement: Marijuana and the Treatment of Glaucoma.” Jampel, Henry MD.

MHS, Journal of Glaucoma: February 2010- Volume 19-Issue 2 –pp.75-76 doi:10.1097/IJG.obo13e3181d12e39. also

www.glaucomaweb.org .

7 “Medical Marijuana.” Glaucoma Research Foundation, April 24, 2012, www.glaucoma.org/treatment/medicalmarijuana.

php.

8 Committee on Substance Abuse and Committee on Adolescence. “Legalization of Marijuana: Potential Impact on

Youth.” Pediatrics Vol. 113, No. 6 (June 6, 2004): 1825-1826. See also, Joffe, Alain, MD, MPH, and Yancy,

Samuel, MD. “Legalization of Marijuana: Potential Impact on Youth.” Pediatrics Vol. 113, No. 6 (June 6, 2004):

e632-e638h.

9 “AACAP Medical Marijuana Policy Statement.” Approved by Council, June 11, 2012,

http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/policy_statements/aacap_medical_marijuana_policy_statement.

10 “Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Marijuana” National Multiple Sclerosis Society,

www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/treatments/complementary–

alternative-medicine/index.aspx. January 30, 2013.

11 “Legalization of Marijuana, Consensus Statement.” National Association of School Nurses. March 2013. p. 1

12 Ibid. p.2

13 “Position Statement on Marijuana as Medicine.” American Psychiatric Association. November 10, 2013. P.1

14 “New Report Finds Highest Levels of THC in U.S. Marijuana to Date.” Office of National Drug Control Policy Press

Release. May 14, 2009.

15 “Potency Monitoring Program Quarterly Report Number 123, Reporting Period September 16, 2013 – December 15,

2013.” Mahmoud ElSohly, Director, NIDA Marijuana Project. p.7.

16 “Regular marijuana use by teens continues to be a concern.” National Institute of Drug Abuse, Press Release,

December 19, 2012. P.2

17 Ibid.

18 “Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings.” U.S. Department

of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health

Statistics and Quality. September 2013. p.1

19 Ibid. p.2

20 Ibid. p.4

21 Ibid. p.19

22 Ibid. p.28

23 Ibid. p.28

24 Ibid. p.56

25 “Substance use by adolescents on an average day is alarming.” SAMHSA News Release, September 29, 2013.

www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/advisories/1308285320.

26 “American teens are more cautious about synthetic drugs.” University of Michigan Press Release, December 18, 2013.

P. 3 www.umich.edu/news.

27 “Sixty percent of 12th graders do not view regular marijuana use as harmful.” National Institutes of Health, National

Institute of Drug Abuse, Press Release, December 18, 2013. p. 1.

28 “The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study: 2011 Parents and Teens Full Report.” METLIFE Foundation and the

Partnership at drufree.org. May 2, 2012.

29 Ibid.

26

30 Ibid.

31 Ibid.

32 Ibid.

33 Ibid.

34 “The Debate Over the Drug is No Longer about Liberty. It’s about Health.” Antonio Maria Costa. March 27, 2007.

Independent on Sunday, United Kingdom.

35 “INCB President voices concern about the outcome of recent referenda about non-medical use of cannabis in the

United States in a number of states.” United Nations Information Service. Press Release. November 15, 2012.

36 “Why Marijuana Legalization Would Compromise Public Health and Safety.” ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske,

Speech Delivered at the California Police Chiefs Association Conference. March 4, 2010.

37 “Marijuana’s Lasting Effects on the Brain.” Messages from the Director, Nora Volkow, Director, National Institute of

Drug Abuse. January 2013. www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida-/directors+page/messages-director/2013/01/marijuanaslasting-

effects-brain.

38 “Marijuana Can Lower IQ in Teens.” Sarah Glynn. Medical News Today. September 19, 2012.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/250404.php; “Teen Cannabis Use Linked to Lower IQ.” Christian Nordqvist.

Medical News Today. August 28, 2012. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/249508.php.

39 “Nearly One in Ten First-Year College Students at One University Have a Cannabis Use Disorder; At-Risk Users

Report Potentially Serious Cannabis-Related Problems.” CESAR FAX, Vol. 17, Issue 3, January 21, 2008.

www.cesar.umd.edu.

40 “Teen Marijuana Use Worsens Depression: An Analysis of Recent Data Shows “Self Medication” Could Actually

Make Things Worse.” Office of National Drug Control Policy May 2008.

http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/news/press08/marij_mental_health.pdf.

41 “Cannabis increases risk of psychosis in teens.” Telegraph News, June 2, 2008.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2063199/Cannabis-increases-risk-of-psychosis-in-teens.html.

42 “Drug Abuse; Drug Czar, Others Warn Parents that Teen Marijuana Use Can Lead to Depression.” Life Science

Weekly. May 31, 2005.

43 Kearney, Simon. “Cannabis is Worst Drug for Psychosis.” The Australian. November 21, 2005.

44 Curtis, John. “Study Suggests Marijuana Induces Temporary Schizophrenia-Like Effects.” Yale Medicine.

Fall/Winter 2004.

45 “Marijuana Use Takes Toll on Adolescent Brain Function, Research Finds.” Science Daily, October 15, 2008.

http://www.scienedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081014111156.htm.

46 “Memory, Speed of Thinking and Other Cognitive Abilities Get Worse Over Time With Marijuana Use” March 15,

2006. http://www.news-medical.net

47 “Marijuana May Shrink Parts of the Brain.” Steven Reinberg. U.S. News and World Report – Online. June 2, 2008.

http://health.usnews.com/articles/healthday/2008/06/02/marijuana_may_shrink_parts_of_the_brain.html. “Long-term

Cannabis Users May Have Structural Brain Abnormalities.” Science Daily. June 3, 2008.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080602160845.htm.

48 Kate Benson, “Dope smokers not so mellow.” The Sydney Morning Herald, July 30, 2009.

http://www.smh.com/au/news/health/dope-smokers-not-so-mellow-20090407-9yOi.html.

49 “Neurotoxicology; Neurocognitive Effects of Chronic Marijuana Use Characterized.” Health & Medicine Week. 16

May 2005.

50 “Study: Marijuana may Affect Neuron Firing.” November 29, 2006. UPI.

51 “Marijuana Links with Psychosis.” AM with Tony Eastley. February 8, 2011.

http://www.abc.nte.au/am/content/2011/s3132596.htm.

52 “A Functional MRI Study of the Effects of Cannabis on the Brain.” Prof. Phillip McGuire, UK, May 1, 2007. 2nd

International Cannabis and Mental Health Conference, London, UK.

53 “Quitting Pot Important Part of Trudeau’s Recovery.” Denise Ryan, Vancouver Sun, February 12, 2007.

54 Laucius, Joanne. “Journal Articles Link Marijuana to Schizophrenia” August 28, 2006 www.Canada.com

55 “Teenage Schizophrenia is the Issue, Not Legality.” Robin Murray. Independent on Sunday. March 18, 2007.

www.independent.co.uk.

56 “UN Warns of Cannabis Dangers as it Backs ‘IoS’ Drugs ‘Apology’.” Jonathan Owen. Independent on Sunday.

March 25, 2007. www.independent.co.uk. and “Cannabis-related Schizophrenia Set to Rise, Say Researchers.”

Science Daily. March 26, 2007. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070324132832.htm.

57 “Long-term pot use can double risk of psychosis.” March 1, 2010. http://www.msnbc.com/id/35642202/ns/healthaddictions/?

ns=health-addictions. Also McGrath J, et al “Association between cannabis use and psychosis-related

outcomes using sibling pair analysis in a cohort of young adults” Arch Gen Psych 2010; DOI:

10.1001/archgenspychiatry.2010.6.

27

58 “Prenatal Marijuana Exposure and Intelligence Test Performance at Age 6.” Abstract, Journal of the American

Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 47(3):254-263, March 2008. Goldschmidt, Lidush Ph.D. et al.

59 “Marijuana Use Affects Blood Flow in Brain Even After Abstinence.” Science Daily, February 12, 2005.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050211084701.htm; Neurology, February 8, 2005, 64.488-493.

60 “Highlights of the 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Findings on Drug-Related Emergency Department

Visits.” The DAWN Report, Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality February 22, 2013.p.3

61 Ibid. p.4.

62 “Highlights of the 2010 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Findings on Drug-Related Emergency Department

Visits.” The DAWN Report, Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality July 2, 2012. P.4.

63 “Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of Findings.” U.S. Department of Health

and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health and

Quality Statistics, September 2013. p. 77

64 “A Day in the Life of American Adolescents: Substance Use Facts Update.” The CBHSQ Report, Center for

Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, August 29, 2013. http://www.samhsa.gov/data .

65 State of California, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Safe

Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, “Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer or

Reproductive Toxicity, September 11, 2009. http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65_list/files/P65single091001.pdf.

66 “Pot smoking during pregnancy may stunt fetal growth.” January 22, 2010.

http://www.reuters.com/article/id=Ustre60L55L20100122.

67 “Heavy Marijuana Use Linked to Gum Disease, Study Shows.” Science Daily, February 6, 2008.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080205161239.htm. “Cannabis Smoking and Periodontal Disease

Among Young Adults.” The Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 299, No. 5, February 6, 2008.

http://www.jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/299/5/25.

68 “Marijuana Smokers Face Rapid Lung Destruction – As Much As 20 Years Ahead of Tobacco Smokers.” Science

Daily, January 27, 2008. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080123104017.htm. “Bullous Lung Disease

Due to Marijuana.” Respirology (2008) 13, 122-127.

69 Marijuana Smoke Contains Higher Levels of Certain Toxins Than Tobacco Smoke.” Science Daily, December 18,

2007. http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071217110328.htm. “A Comparison of Mainstream and Sidestream

Marijuana and Tobacco Smoke Produced Under Two Machine Smoking Conditions.” American Chemical Society,

Chemical Research in Toxicology, December 17, 2008.

70 “Marijuana Worsens COPD Symptoms in Current Cigarette Smokers.” American Thoracic Society. Science Daily,

May 23, 2007.

71 “How Smoking Marijuana Damages the Fetal Brain.” Karolinska Institute. Science Daily, May 29, 2007.

72 “Cannabis Linked to Lung Cancer Risk.” Martin Johnston. New Zealand Herald, March 27, 2007.

73 “Marijuana Use Linked to Increased Risk of Testicular Cancer.” Science Daily, February 9, 2009.

http://www.scienedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209075631.htm. “Marijuana Use Linked to Testicular Cancer.

Kelly Fitzgerald. Medical News Today. September 10, 2012.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/250050.php.

74 Tertrault, Jeannette M. MD, et. al., “Effects of Marijuana Smoking on Pulmonary Function Respiratory

Complications: A Systematic Review” Arch. Intern. Med. 2007:167:221-228; Science Daily, “Long-term Marijuana

Smoking Leads to Respiratory Complaints,” www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070212184119.htm.

75 “Marijuana Use Linked to Early Bladder Cancer.” http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articlces/36695.php. January

26, 2006.

76 “Marijuana Tied to Precancerous Lung Changes” Reuters. July 13, 2006. http://today.reuters.com/misc See also:

“The Association Between Marijuana Smoking and Lung Cancer” Archives of Internal Medicine.

http://archinte.ama.assn.org/cgi/content/full/166/12/1359?maxtoshow July 10, 2006.

77 “Cannabis More Toxic than Cigarettes: Study,” French National Consumers’ Institute, 60 Million Consumers

(magazine) April 2006, www.theage.com.au.

78 “Conception and Pregnancy Put at risk by Marijuana Use” News-Medical.Net August 2, 2006 See also: “Fatty Acid

Amide Hydrolase Deficiency Limits Earl Pregnancy Events” Research Article. Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Published March 22, 2006, revised May 23, 2006 http://www.jci.org/cgi/content/full/116/8/2122

79 In utero Marijuana Exposure Alters Infant Behavior. Reuters, January 17, 2007.

80 Metro, Michael J., MD. “Association Between Marijuana Use and the Incidence of Transitional Cell Carcinoma

Suggested” http://www.news.medical.net June 28, 2006.

28

81 Tashkent, D.P., “Smoked Marijuana is a Cause of Lung Injury.” Monaldi Archives for Chest Disease 63(2):93-100,

2005.

82 “Marijuana Associated with Same Respiratory Symptoms as Tobacco,” YALE News Release. January 13, 2005.

<http://www.yale.edu/opa/newsr/05-01-13-01.all.htm> (14 January 2005). See also, “Marijuana Causes Same

Respiratory Symptoms as Tobacco,” January 13, 2005, 14WFIE.com.

83 “What Americans Need to Know about Marijuana,” page 9, ONDCP.

84 “Decreased Respiratory Symptoms in Cannabis Users Who Vaporize,” Harm Reduction Journal 4:11, April 16,

2007.

85 “Marijuana Affects Brain Long-Term, Study Finds.” Reuters. February 8, 2005. See also: “Marijuana Affects

Blood Vessels.” BBC News. 8 February 2005; “Marijuana Affects Blood Flow to Brain.” The Chicago Sun-Times.

February 8, 2005; Querna, Elizabeth. “Pot Head.” US News & World Report. February 8, 2005.

86 Smith, Michael. Medpage Today. February 12, 2007.

http://www.medpagetoday.com/Neurology.GeneralNeurology/tb/5048.

87 “HIV Patients: Marijuana Eases Foot Pain.” Associated Press. February 13, 2007.

88 Weiss, Rick. “Research Supports Medicinal Marijuana.” Washington Post. February 13, 2007.

89 Dahlbert, Carrie Peyton. “Marijuana Can Ease HIV-related Nerve Pain.” McClatchy Newspapers. Feb. 13, 2007.

90 Hashibe M, Morgenstem H, Cui Y, et al. Marijuana use and the risk of lung and upper aerodigestive tract cancers:

results of a population-based case-control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2006; 15:1829-1834.

91 “Heavy marijuana use not linked to lung cancer,” News-Medical.Net, Wednesday, May 24, 2006.

92 http://www.nida.nih.gov/DirReports/DirRep207/DirectorReport8.html.

93 http://www.umich.edu/news/index.html?Releases/2006/Oct06/r101006a.

94 “Health risks of cannabis ‘underestimated,’ experts warn.” BBC News. June 5, 2012.

http://www/bbc.co.uk/news/health-18283689. “The impact of cannabis on your lungs.” British Lung Foundation 2012.

www.wkcia.org/research/blf_cannabis_lungs.pdf.

95 “Risk of Premature Birth Doubled By Marijuana Use.” University of Adelaide. Medical News Today. July 19, 2012.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/247945.php.

96 Harding, Anne. “Pot May Indeed Lead to Heroin Use, Rat Study Shows” Reuters. July 12, 2006. See also: “Why

Teenagers Should Steer Clear of Cannabis” Vine, Gaia. www.NewScientist.com

97 “What Americans Need to Know about Marijuana.” Office of National Drug Control Policy. October 2003.

98 Gfroerer, Joseph C., et al. “Initiation of Marijuana Use: Trends, Patterns and Implications.” Department of Health

and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies. July

2002. Page 71.

99 “Non-Medical Marijuana II: Rite of Passage or Russian Roulette?” CASA Reports. April 2004. Chapter V, Page 15.

100 “What Americans Need to Know about Marijuana,” page 9, ONDCP.

101 Furber, Matt. “Threat of Meth—‘the Devil’s Drug’—increases.” Idaho Mountain Express and Guide. December

28, 2005.

102 “Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings.” U.S. Department

of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health

Statistics and Quality. September 2013. p.52

103 “Nearly One in Ten U.S High School Students Report Heavy Marijuana Use in the Past Month: One Third or More of

Heavy Users Also Used Cocaine, Ecstasy, or Other Drugs.” CESARFAX, Vol 21. Issue 21. May 29, 2012.

104 The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study: 2011 Parents and Teens Full Report.” MetLife and the Partnership At

Drugfree.org. May 2, 2012. P7.

105 “Medical pot laws result in increased teen drug use. “White Mountain Independent. January 13, 2011.

http://www.wmicentral.com/news/atests_news/medical-pot-laws-result-in-increased-teen-drug-use/article_a6622a0c-

1f42-11e0-a38e-001cc4c002e0.html.

106 “New Study shows dramatic shifts in substance abuse treatment admissions among states between 1998 and 2008.”

Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, Office of Applied

Studies. Press Release. December 22, 2010. http://www.samhsa.gov.

107 California No. 1 in marijuana admissions.” Cheryl Wetzstein. The Washington Times. December 30, 2010.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/30/

108 “Marijuana Myths & Facts: The Truth Behind 10 Popular Misperceptions.” Office of National Drug Control Policy.

<http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/marijuana_myths_facts/index.html> (January 12, 2006).

109 Ibid. p. 77

110 Treatment Episode Data Sets (TEDS) 2001-2011: National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services.”

Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for

Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. July 2012. p.1

29

111 Ibid. P.2

112 Ibid. p19.

113 Ibid. 19.

114 “Non-Medical Marijuana III: Rite of Passage or Russian Roulette?” A CASA White Paper, June 2008.

http://www.casacolumbia.org.

115 “Early Marijuana Use a Warning Sign For Later Gang Involvement,” ONDCP press release, June 19, 2007.

116 “The Relationship Between Alcohol, Drug Use and Violence Among Students.” Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of

American (CADCA). www.cadca.org. Pride Surveys, (2006) Questionnaire report for grades 6-12: 2006 National

Summary. Page 184. http://www.pridesurveys.com/customercetner/us05ns.pdf.

117 Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2006) “Marijuana Myths and Facts: The Truth Behind 10 Popular

Misperceptions. “Page 10. http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/marijuana_mythis_facts.

118 Ibid.

119 “Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings.” U.S. Department

of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health

Statistics and Quality. September 2012.

120 NIDA Info Facts: Drugged Driving, September 10, 2009, page 1. http://drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/driving.html.

121 Volz, Matt. “Drug overdose: Medical marijuana facing a backlash.” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37282436.

122 Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of

Applied Studies. Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings.

September 2012. P.2.

123 “California Roadside Survey Finds Twice as Many Weekend Nighttime Drivers Test Positive for Other Drugs as for

Alcohol: Marijuana as Likely as Alcohol.” CESARFAX, Col. 21, Issue 48, December 3, 2012.

www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/vol21/21-48.pdf.

124 “Hazy Logic: Liberty Mutual Insurance/SADD Study Finds Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana a Greater

Threat to Teen Drivers than Alcohol.” Liberty Mutual Press Release. February 22, 2012.

http://www.sadd.org/press/presspdfs/marijuana%20Teen%20Release.pdf.

125 Ibid.

126 Ibid.

127 “Cannabis Use Doubles Chances of Vehicle Crash, Review Finds.” Sciencedaily. February 9, 2012.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120210111254.htm.

128 Marijuana and Crash Risk Linked. Caitlin Bronson. ThirdAge. October 13, 2011.

http://www.thirdage.com/news/marijuna-and-crash-risk-linked_10-13-2011.

129 “Drug use involved in 25% of fatal crashes, study finds.” Jonathan Shorman. USA Today. July 23, 2011.

http://www.yourlife.usatoday.com/yhealth/story/2011/06/Drug-use-involved-in-25-of-fatal-chrashes-studyfinds/

48740704/1. “Drugs and Alcohol Involvement in Four Types of Fatal Crashes.” Eduardo Romano and Robert Voas.

Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. July 2011.

130 DuPont, Robert. “National Survey Confirms that Drugged Driving is Significantly More Widespread than Drunk

Driving.” Commentary, Institute for Behavior and Health, July 17, 2009. page 1. http://www..ibhinc.org.

131 “One-third of Fatally Injured Drivers with Known Test Results Tested Positive for at Least one Drug in 2009.

CESARFAX. Vol. 19, Issue 49. December 20, 2010. www.cesar.umd.edu.

132 “Cannabis and Driving: A Scientific and Rational Review.” Armentano, Paul. NORML/NORML Foundation. January

10, 2008. http://normal.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7475 for article and http://normal.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7459

for the full report.

133 DuPont, Robert. “National Survey Confirms that Drugged Driving is Significantly More Widespread than Drunk

Driving.” Commentary, Institute for Behavior and Health, July 17, 2009. page 1. http://www.ibhinc.org.

134 “Drug-Impaired Driving by Youth Remains Serious Problem.” NIDA News Release, October 29, 2007.

http://www.drugabuse.gov/newsroom/07/NR10-29.html.

135 “The Drugged Driving Epidemic,” The Washington Post, June 17, 2007.

136 Drummer, OH, Gerostamoulos J, Batziris H, Chu M, Caplehorn J, Robertson MD, Swann P. “The Involvement of

drugs in drivers of motor vehicles killed in Australian road traffic crashes..” Accid Anal Prev 36(2):229-48, 2004.

137 Couper, Fiona, J, and Logan, Barry Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets National Highway Traffic Safety

Administration., page 11. April 2004.

138 “New pot law blamed as violence escalates.” Laurel J. Sweet and O’Ryan Johnson. Boston Herald. November 15,

2010. http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view.bg?articleid=1296392.

139 “FHP: Man led trooper on chase with kids-and pot – in car.” Bay News 9. February 3, 2011.

http://www.baynews9.com/article/news/2011/february/204034/FHP:-Man-led-trooper-on-chase-with-kids-in-car-

?cid=rss.

30

140 “Driving under influence of marijuana a growing problem.” Gwen Florio. Missoulian.com January 16, 2011.

http://missoulian.com/news/local/article_1d9f6f8a-2137-11e0-a0be-001cc4c002e0.html.

141 “Jessica Gamble, Ohio Mom, Charged for Teaching 2-Year-Old Daughter to Smoke Marijuana.” Caroline Black.

CBS WKRC. September 16, 2010. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20016662-504083.html.

142 “Va. Pair Charged After Toddler Eats Marijuana.” Whz.com. October 8, 2010.

http://wjz.com/wireapnewsva/Manassas.pair.charged.2.1953794.html.

143 “Video shows parents giving pot pipe to toddler.” Beatriz Valenzuela. Daily Press. January 17, 2011.

http://www.vvdailypress.com/articles/parents-25426-pipe.pot.html.

144 “Police: Mom gave pot to her 3 kids.” Lance Berry. October 28, 2010.

http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/region/_east_cincinnati/madisonville/police%3A-mom-gave-pot-to-3-kids.

145 “Toddler in Critical Condition After Ingesting Marijuana.” February 2, 2011.

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2011/02/02/toddler-in-critical-condition-after-ingesting-marijuana.

146 “Mother charged after toddler hospitalized for eating marijuana, pills.” Michelle Hunter. The Times-Picayune.

October 13, 2008. http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2008/10children_3_and_4_hospitalized. html.

147 “Police: Criminal targeting San Jose’s medicinal marijuana clubs.” Sean Webby. The Mercury News. December 16,

2010. http://www.mercurynews.com/fdcp?1293042861859.

148 “LAPD investigates third shooting at a medical marijuana dispensary.” Andrew Blackstein, Los Angeles Times, July

1, 2010. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-pot-shooting-201000701,0,4009176.story.

149 “Pentagon shooter had a history of mental illness.” March 5, 2010.

http://www.msnbc.com/id/35716821/ns/us_news_crime_and_courts/

150 Parents warned police of Pentagon shooter’s bizarre mental state.” Washington Post. March 5, 2010.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/cotnent/article/2010/03/05/AR2010030500957_2.html?hpid=dynamiclead.

151 “Calif. Drug dealer guilty of murdering 15-year-old.” San Diego Union Tribune, July 9, 2008. www.sandiego.com.

152 “4 charged in Chaska Slaying.” David Hanners. Pioneer Press. January 13, 2006. http://www.twincities.com.

153 “NTSB: Pilot Had Marijuana In His System.” KTHV Little Rock. February 6, 2006. www.todaysthv.com.

154 U.S. Sentencing Commission, “2008 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics, see:

http://www.ussc.gov/ANNRPT/2008/SBTOC08.htm, Table 33.

155 Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Drug Use and Dependence”, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004, October 2006.

156 United States Sentencing Commission, “2006 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics,” June 2007.

157 Ibid.

158 Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Who’s Really in Prison for Marijuana?” May 2005 Page 22.

159 “Behind Bars II: Substance Abuse and America’s Prison Population.” The National Center on Addiction and

Substance Abuse, Columbia University. February 2010. P. 2.

160 “New study Reveals Scope of Drug and Crime Connection: As Many as 87 Percent of People Arrested for Any Crime

Test Positive for Drug Use.” Office of National Drug Control Policy Press Release, May 28, 2009 and Fact Sheet

2008 ADAM II Report, www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov.

161 “Monitoring the Future Survey, Overview of Findings.” National Institute of Drug Abuse, December 2013. P.2.

www.drugabuse.gov/mointoring-the-future-survey-overview-findings-2013.

162 “Sixty percent of 12 graders do not view regular marijuana use as harmful.” NIDA Press Release, National Institutes

of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, December 18, 2013. P. 1

January 30, 2014

Summary:

The prevalence of non-alcohol drugs detected in fatally injured drivers in the US steadily rose from 1999 to 2010 and especially for drivers who tested positive for marijuana. Researchers found that of 23,591 drivers who were killed within one hour of a crash, 39.7 percent tested positive for alcohol and 24.8 percent for other drugs. The prevalence of non-alcohol drugs rose from 16.6 percent in 1999 to 28.3 percent in 2010; for marijuana, rates rose from 4.2 percent to 12.2 percent.

Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

Source: www.sciencedaily.com 30th Jan 2014  

Question: What are the real facts on marijuana, and can you be arrested for driving after smoking it? How bad is it really? I know some people want to legalize it to tax it and for medicinal purposes.

Answer: Yes, you can be arrested for impaired driving. Minnesota has already been taxing marijuana since around 1980 (and so we do not have to legalize it to tax it).

As far as the medicinal purposes go, we have already had it for several years in Minnesota, although in pill form. Also, there are several other already-legal existing drugs that are reported to have the same (or close to the same) effect as smoking the weed, probably making the legalization of it for that reason unnecessary.

There is much information available in reference to the actual physical harm to the human body and to society as a whole, from smoking marijuana. Marijuana produces a carefree state of mind and the illusion that senses are extra sharp. In reality, you are more likely to be preoccupied with unusual thoughts or visions than your responsibilities as a driver.

Relaxed inhibitions alter your sense of time and space, making it difficult to make quick decisions and judge distances and speed. Marijuana use causes slow, disconnected thoughts, poor memory and paranoia. Even hours after the effect seems to be gone, your ability to make driving decisions will still be impaired.

One of the last reports that came out showed that at least 17 percent of persons in addiction treatment are there because of the use of marijuana. It largely has a lot of the same hazardous chemicals that (legal) cigarettes do, and would continue to have those damaging effects even if made legal.

Some of the health effects of smoking marijuana are known to include: exposure to known carcinogens (marijuana smoke contains up to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke); impaired ability to create new memories; episodes of acute psychosis (from large ingested doses), which can include “hallucinations and a loss of personal identity”; and increased risk of chronic cough and bronchitis. New studies show much worse results for marijuana users.

Marijuana is known accurately as a gateway drug. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration(SAMHSA), more teens were in treatment for marijuana than for all other illicit drugs combined in 2006.

Fact: According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2007, in some localities approximately 4 percent-14 percent of drivers injured or killed in crashes tested positive for marijuana use. More results from their studies show that at least 9 percent of all marijuana users will become addicted; 17 percent of all marijuana users who start using in their teens will become addicted and between 25-50 percent of daily marijuana users become addicted.

Other effects are known to include: lower work productivity and earning power, persons functioning at a reduced intellectual level all or most of the time, extra sick days from work; respiratory illnesses, lower grade point averages, lower yearly earnings, lower levels of educational attainment, poor school attendance, negative attitude toward school, absences, tardiness for school and work, accidents, workers compensation claims, job turnover.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association examining a certain group of workers showed that the marijuana users (compared to non-marijuana users in that vocation) had 55 percent more industrial accidents, 85 percent more injuries and 75 percent increase in absenteeism.

All figures were received from a marijuana fact sheet put out by the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) of Washington D.C. in January 2012. They also cite numerous other sources for their publication.  A lot more information is available if you look for it. Just a few weeks ago, I saw in the news that a long term study was recently completed. Not surprisingly, it revealed even more harmful results from smoking marijuana than known ever before

Source:  www.meagemedia.co/aitkin/news   Nov.2013

A meta-analysis was conducted using nine epidemiological studies of motor vehicle collisions that measured recent cannabis use and also included control groups. Experimental and simulation studies were excluded.

The results indicated that driving under the influence of cannabis was associated with a 92% increased risk of vehicular crashes. Important is the fact that such driving was associated with a 110% increase in fatal crashes.

It appears that the public is generally unaware of the significant risk of marijuana use to traffic accidents and deaths.

We have made great strides in reducing alcohol-related traffic crashes and fatalities. We must continue doing so. But we must also be direct our preventive efforts to additional major causes of vehicular deaths, including marijuana use and cell phone use.

Source:www2.potsdam.edu  January 2014

Filed under: Drugs and Accidents :

Fatal car crashes that involved marijuana tripled in the past decade, a new study concludes. One in nine drivers involved in a fatal crash tests positive for marijuana, according to the Columbia University researchers.

“If this trend continues, in five or six years non-alcohol drugs will overtake alcohol to become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving,” said study co-author Dr. Guohua Li.

The researchers analysed crash statistics from six states that routinely perform toxicology tests on drivers involved in fatal crashes, HealthDay reports. The study included data on more than 23,500 drivers who died within an hour of a crash between 1999 and 2010. Throughout the decade, alcohol contributed to about 40 percent of crashes. Drugged driving accounted for about 16 percent of fatal crashes in 1999, and more than 28 percent in 2010.

Marijuana use contributed to about 4 percent of fatal crashes in 1999, and 12 percent in 2010. The combination of marijuana and alcohol is particularly dangerous, the researchers found. “If a driver is under the influence of alcohol, their risk of a fatal crash is 13 times higher than the risk of the driver who is not under the influence of alcohol,” Li said. “But if the driver is under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana, their risk increases to 24 times that of a sober person.” The findings appear in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

“Given the increasing availability of marijuana and the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic, understanding the role of controlled substances in motor vehicle crashes is of significant public health importance,” Li said in a news release.

Source: www.drugfree.org  5th Feb 2014

Saturday 28 September 2013 – 12am PST

Drugged driving has been a safety issue of increasing public concern in the United States and many other countries but its role in motor vehicle crashes had not been adequately examined. In a new study conducted at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, researchers assessed the association of driver drug use, as well as the combination of drugs and alcohol, with the risk of fatal crash. They found that drug use is associated with a significantly increased risk of fatal crash involvement, particularly when used in combination with alcohol. The study provides critical data for understanding the joint effect of alcohol and drugs on driving safety.

Data for the study came from two national information systems sources sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: the 2007 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a repository of investigation data for all crashes that resulted in at least one fatality within 30 days of the crash and that occurred on a public road. This second data source also contains detailed information about the crash circumstances as well as individuals and vehicles involved in the crash. This is the first study to use both data sources to quantify relative risks of fatal crash involvement associated with different drugs.

Results of the Mailman School study led by Guohua Li, MD, DrPH, professor of Epidemiology and director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention, show that 31.9% of the drivers involved in fatal car crashes (cases) and 13.7% of the drivers interviewed at the roadside survey (controls) tested positive for at least one non-alcohol drug. Overall, drivers testing positive for drugs were three times as likely as those testing negative to be involved in a fatal crash. Among the drugs studied, depressants conferred the highest risk, followed by stimulants, narcotics, and marijuana.

Elevated blood alcohol levels were found in 57.0% of the cases and 8.8% of the controls; and the risk of fatal crash involvement increased exponentially as these levels rose. About one-fifth (20.5%) of the cases tested positive for alcohol and one or more drugs, compared with 2.2% of the controls. Relative to drivers who tested positive for neither alcohol nor drugs, the odds of fatal crash involvement increased by more than 13 times for those who were alcohol-positive but drug-negative, more than two-fold for those who were alcohol-negative but drug-positive, and 23 times for those who were positive for both alcohol and drugs.

While heightened risk of fatal crash involvement associated with driver drug use was comparable across demographic groups and geographic regions, Dr. Li cautions that findings need to be carefully interpreted. First, a positive test indicates that the driver had used the drug detected but does not necessarily mean that the driver was impaired by the drug at the time of crash or survey. Secondly, variations in individual tolerance and pharmacological characteristics of different drugs make it difficult to determine drug impairment. Also, there is no uniformly accepted definition of impairment for different drugs.

“The possible interaction of drugs in combination with alcohol on driving safety has long been a concern,” said Dr. Li, who is also professor of Anesthesiology at Columbia. “While alcohol-impaired driving remains the greatest threat to traffic safety, these findings about drugged driving are particularly salient in light of the increases in the availability of prescription stimulants and opioids over the past decade.”

Source:  http://preview.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/266654#rate  Sept. 2013

Not as bad as alcohol is hardly a selling point, nor is it much consolation

The research on stoned driving and the reports from states with medical marijuana laws make it clear, when it comes to driving, marijuana poses all the same problems that alcohol does. A research study by the University of Auckland compared a random sample of drivers with people who had either been killed or hospitalized by car accidents. Regular and heavy pot-smokers were 9.5 times more likely to get into a serious accident as non-users. Another study looked at patients in a hospital trauma unit who had been in car or motorcycle accidents. Fifteen percent had been using marijuana alone and an additional 17 percent had both THC and alcohol in their blood streams.  A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine looked only at impaired drivers who were not using alcohol. They found that 45 percent of people stopped for reckless driving tested positive for marijuana.  A significant percent of impaired drivers and serious accidents, including fatal accidents, are caused by marijuana. Part of the problem is that so many people drive stoned. One study found that 16 percent of adolescents drove within one hour after smoking pot. Also, while there’s been a huge education campaign against drunk driving, the pro-marijuana groups often insist thatmarijuana makes people safer drivers.

Marijuana advocates often insist that marijuana never killed anyone. One look at the stoned driving statistics should make it clear that’s not true. They also frequently argue that marijuana is safer than alcohol. But judging by these statistics, it’s possible that the main reason alcohol kills more people on the highway is because it is more widely available. Laws that make marijuana more widely available could even the gap between the two drugs.

In fact, that has happened. When Montana first passed its law, very few people were prescribed, or recommended, medical marijuana. Then marijuana caravans began criss-crossing the state, bringing with them pot doctors who made all their money handing out marijuana cards. In less than a year, the number of “medical marijuana” users increased 5-fold. And shortly after that, according to Montana narcotics chief Mark Long, marijuana DUIs skyrocketed as did the number of fatal car accidents where one of the drivers had marijuana in his blood stream. In two years, the number of fatal car accidents caused by marijuana increased 25 percent. In Montana, marijuana now causes half as many traffic fatalities as alcohol, and the gap is narrowing. In California, the number of fatal car crashes caused by marijuana doubled in the five years after they passed their medical marijuana law. Marijuana is just as deadly behind the wheel as alcohol, and if marijuana use increases it could overtake alcohol as the deadliest drug on the road.

Source: www.thecaseagainstmarijuana.com   August 31, 2013

New research appearing online today in Clinical Chemistry, the journal of AACC, shows that cannabis can be detected in the blood of daily smokers for a month after last intake. The scientific data in this paper by Bergamaschi et al. can provide real help in the public safety need for a drugged driving policy that reduces the number of drugged driving accidents on the road.

Cannabis is second only to alcohol for causing impaired driving and motor vehicle accidents. In 2009, 12.8% of young adults reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs and in the 2007 National Roadside Survey, more drivers tested positive for drugs than for alcohol. These cannabis smokers had a 10-fold increase in car crash injury compared with infrequent or nonusers after adjustment for blood alcohol concentration.

In this paper, 30 male chronic daily cannabis smokers resided on a secure research unit for up to 33 days, with daily blood collection. Twenty-seven of 30 participants were THC-positive on admission, with a median (range) concentration of 1.4 µg/L (0.3–6.3). THC decreased gradually with only 1 of 11 participants negative at 26 days; 2 of 5 remained THC-positive (0.3 µg/L) for 30 days.

These results demonstrate, for the first time, that cannabinoids can be detected in blood of chronic daily cannabis smokers during a month of sustained abstinence. This is consistent with the time course of persisting neurocognitive impairment reported in recent studies and suggests that establishment of ‘per se’ THC legislation might achieve a reduction in motor vehicle injuries and deaths. This same type of ‘per se’ alcohol legislation improved prosecution of drunk drivers and dramatically reduced alcohol-related deaths.

“These data have never been obtained previously due to the cost and difficulty of studying chronic daily cannabis smoking over an extended period,” said Dr. Marylin Huestis of the National Institutes of Health and author on the paper. “These data add critical information to the debate about the toxicity of chronic daily cannabis smoking.”

Source: American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) : 1st March 2013


It is not surprising to see the outrage from the Colorado Pot Cartel and its many customers upon hearing the news that I am again running legislation addressing driving under the influence of drugs per se in our state. What is surprising is the naiveté of the industry thinking that the defeat of my legislation last session would somehow silence the issue. Studies on the effects of THC indicate that if a driver has greater than 1 nanogram/ml, they are impaired. In fact, if a driver has between 2 and 5 nanograms/ml in their system, even if they are a chronic user, they are six to seven times more likely to crash than a sober driver. While chronic users can compensate for some effects, they can never fully compensate for all effects of THC while driving. Marijuana users driving a motor vehicle on the streets and highways of Colorado while under the influence of THC are a clear and present danger to the innocent traveling public. The number of marijuana-impaired drivers who caused fatal crashes more than doubled from 2.9 percent to 7 percent between 2006 and 2010. In 53 percent of fatal crashes caused by an impaired driver, the driver tested positive for cannabis. Steven Ryan was convicted of DUI vehicular homicide for the 2010 deaths of a mother and her 2-week-old child in Aurora. Ryan had 4 nanograms of THC and no other substances in his system. The smoke and mirrors used by the Colorado Pot Cartel to put citizens at risk for another year in 2011 will not stand the focus of the legislature in 2012. There are 14 states that have some form of a per se DUI law for marijuana. Thirteen of those states have a zero-tolerance law. Two of the 14 only have a zero-tolerance law for people under 21. And two of the 14 states have a per se limit of 2 nanograms of THC in whole blood (not plasma). I predict that with the realization of the lives at risk from this true public safety threat, the Colorado Senate will pass this legislation unanimously.

http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_19838120?source=pkg#ixzz2KiE7kAEA 01/30/2012

 

Drug-drivers face more rigorous tests after a kit for detecting cannabis was approved for use in police stations across the UK, the Home Office said.

A positive saliva test with the new device means officers will no longer have to call a doctor before asking for a blood sample if they suspect a driver of being on drugs.

The testing kit is able to detect tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis; equipment capable of accurately identifying other substances is still under development.

In 2011 a total of 644 accidents, including 49 deaths, were caused by drug-drivers (using both illegal and medicinal substances), according to the Department for Transport.

A survey by the RAC showed that the number of 17- to 24-year-olds driving after taking drugs increased from five per cent to nine per cent in the 12 months to May 2012.

Motorists can already be punished for driving while impaired by drugs, but the new testing equipment will make it easier for the police to prove a case, the Home Office said.

Offenders will face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to £5,000, as well as an automatic driving ban of at least 12 months.

The new device is made by Draeger, a Hemel Hempstead firm.

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/cannabis-tester-to-catch-drugdrivers-8439093.html Fri. 4th January

 


If drug problems are greater in African American communities, providing more of the poison that serves as the root cause of the problem is not the answer. Marijuana causes the following:

Crime

According to ONDCP[1] 64 – 87% of people arrested test positive for drugs, depending on location. Marijuana is the most prevalent drug of abuse. Making marijuana more readily available will increase crime, as it has been the case in Sacramento, Stockton, Oakland and other cities which are witnessing record number of murders. According to African American Bishop Ron Allen, 90% of the black homicides are committed by blacks. Many of the crimes are directly related to drug deals or burglaries involving marijuana.

Permanent Brain Damage

A recent study in Australia[2]of 59 people who had been using marijuana for 15 years proved that marijuana interrupts the development of white matter in the brain, the complex wiring system. “Unlike grey matter, the brain’s thinking areas which peak at age 8, white matter continues developing over a lifetime.” (Dr. Marc Seal) There were disruptions and reductions in white matter of as much as 80%. The hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in memory, shrank in heavy users causing memory impairment and concentration. The average age of first use was 16, but as young as 10 or 11. The younger they started, the worse the damage.

Insanity
Marijuana’s impact on white matter has also been related to development of psychosis, including schizophrenia, paranoia and suicidal depression.. Age 14 – 16 is a critical period because the brain is going through a major development period, and cannabis can cause permanent damage.[3] A Dutch study showed teenagers who indulge in cannabis as few as 5 times in their life significantly increase their risk of psychotic symptoms.[4]

Still Births And Deformities[5]

Because today’s pot is 20 times stronger than decades ago, brain damage and physical deformities can occur to a fetus even two weeks after conception, before the mother even knows she is pregnant. The mother can quit but it’s too late for the unborn child. Studies from the 1973 done by Dr. Akira Miroshima showed that even low potency marijuana caused “more DNA damage than even heroin.” [6] While normal cells have 46 chromosomes, he discovered that one-third of “weekend smokers” who averaged two joints a week had only 20 to 30 chromosomes, about the same as a frog, which can cause mutations in sperm and ova and result in fetal damage. What’s worse, another study showed it is mutagenic, meaning it can skip one generation and affect the next.[7] Numerous studies confirm fetal damage by marijuana is a causal factor in physical deformities and behavioral problems of young people.

Addiction, Destruction and Death

According to the ONDCP, 17% of those under 18 and 9% of those over 18 years old who use marijuana will become addicted to it. Addicts either can’t work as well, or at all, so many turn to crime to feed their habit. More people are in treatment for marijuana that all other drugs combined. It doesn’t kill by overdose, but it is a major factor in suicides and a gateway to hard drugs that kill 3,400 Americans a month.

Adverse Impacts On Education

Impact on memory, motivation and ability to learn is a major factor in the 1.2 million high school drop outs nationally. America has declined to 26th in the world academically and going downhill. Preventing marijuana use by kids is of paramount importance.

Traffic Injuries and Death

33% of traffic deaths are related to drugged driving.[8] Marijuana, being fat soluble, stays in the brain for a month, compounding with each additional joint, adversely effecting memory, cognition, motor skills and reaction time. Nobody is in prison for simple possession, but rather for committing crimes while under the influence. Making marijuana more readily available will only exacerbate the problem. Black markets for those 21 and under will still exist, and drug dealers will relish the opportunity to advance marijuana users to the hard drugs. The focus should be on prevention, and keeping ALL kids in the system, safe and drug free.

——————————————————————————–

[1] Office of National Drug Control, The White House

[2] Seal, Dr. Marc 08/09/21012 Melbourne Murdoch Children’s Research Institute; Marijuana Causes Brain Damage.

[3] Dr. McGrath. University of Queensland.

[4] Patton, G.C. et al (2006) Cannabis use and mental health in young people. British Medical Journal.

[5] Science Daily (Aug 15, 2012) Study By Dr. Delphine Psychoyos, Texas A & M University

[6] Miroshima, Dr. Akira)

[7] Daliterio, Dr. Susan, U of Texas Medical School, San Antonio.

[8] DuPont, Dr. Robert – Institute of Behavior and Health www.stopdruggeddriving.com

Source: ROGER MORGAN rogermorgan.339@gmail.com 24th August 2012

Founder and Director of the Take-Back America Campaign, prior Chairman and Executive Director of the Coalition for A Drug-Free California. He is author of two books published on digital sites Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, called MARIJUANA: Brain Damage. Birth Defects. Addiction and SOROS. The Drug Lord. Pricking the Bubble of American Supremacy. CEO of Steelheart International LLC, engaged in international business development, and an entrepreneur and businessman in California for 30 years He was Founding Chairman of the Coronado SAFE Foundation (1997), a non-profit dealing with drug prevention; prior Board Member of the San Diego Prevention Coalition; member of the National Coalition for Student Drug Testing, and Special Advisor to the Golden Rule Society in Coronado. His passion for drug prevention stems from two step-children who became drug addicted at age 12 and 14 roughly 30 years ago, and two nephews who died from drug related causes. He is a Rotarian; a charter member of the Coronado Community Church; two adult children, three grandchildren; and currently lives in Lincoln, Ca.

Roger Morgan

Steelheart International LLC

(916) 434 5629

Since May 14, 1988, when 27 people died in the deadliest alcohol-impaired driving crash

in U.S. history, the country has had over 300,000 lives lost, millions injured and 200 law enforcement officers killed, all due to impaired driving.

Since 1988, there have been significant accomplishments such as the percentage of impaired driving fatalities to all highway fatalities dropping from 41% in 1988 to 31% in 2010. Also, the total number of impaired driving fatalities in 1988 was 18,611; in 2010 it was at 10,228.

Mr. Tucker from ONDCP observed that it is just as dangerous as alcohol-impaired driving,

citing such facts as:

    Approximately one in eight weekend, night time drivers tested positive for illicit drugs in 2007.

    In 2009, 1 in 3 drivers killed in a motor vehicle crash with a known drug test result tested positive for an illegal drug.

    Cannabinoids were reported in almost half (43%) of the fatally injured drivers aged 24 or younger who tested positive for drugs.

Source Mr. Benjamin Tucker, Deputy Director of State, Local, and Tribal Affairs for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). : NADCP 18th Annual Training Conference. DWI Courts Vo.5 Issue 4 July 2012

Position Statement – December 2011

The flawed proposition of drug legalisation

Various well funded pressure groups have mounted campaigns to overturn the United Nations Conventions on drugs. These groups claim that society should accept the fact of drugs as a problem that will remain and, therefore, should be managed in a way that would enable millions of people to take advantage of an alleged ‘legal right’ to use drugs of their choice.

It is important to note that international law makes a distinction between “hard law” and “soft law.” Hard law is legally binding upon the States. Soft law is not binding. UN Conventions, such as the Conventions on Drugs, are considered hard law and must be upheld by the countries that have ratified the UN Drug Conventions.

International narcotics legislation is mainly made up of the three UN Conventions from 1961 (Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs), 1971 (Convention on Psychotropic Substances), and 1988 (Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances):

• The 1961 Convention sets out that “the possession, use, trade in, distribution,import, export, manufacture and the production of drugs is exclusively limited to medical and scientific purposes”. Penal cooperation is to be established so as to ensure that drugs are only used licitly (for prescribed medical purposes).

• The 1971 Convention resembles closely the 1961 Convention, whilst
establishing an international control system for Psychotropic Substances.

• The 1988 Convention reflects the response of the international community to increasing illicit cultivation, production, manufacture, and trafficking activities. International narcotics legislation draws a line between licit (medical) and illicit (non-medical) use, and sets out measures for prevention of illicit use, including penal measures. The preamble to the 1961 Convention states that the parties to the Convention are “Recognizing that addiction to narcotic drugs constitutes a serious evil for the individual and is fraught with social and economic danger to mankind”. The Conventions are reviewed every ten years and have consistently been upheld.

The UN system of drug control includes the Office of Drugs and Crime, the International Narcotics Control Board, and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The works of these bodies are positive and essential in international drug demand and supply reduction. They are also attacked by those seeking to legalise drugs.

It is frequently and falsely asserted that the so-called “War on Drugs” is inappropriate and has become a very costly and demonstrable failure. It is declared by some that vast resources have been poured into the prevention of drug use and the suppression of illicit manufacturing, trafficking, and supply. It is further claimed that what is essentially a chronic medical problem has been turned into a criminal justice issue with inappropriate remedies that make “innocent” people criminals. In short, the flawed argument is that “prohibition” monies have been wasted and the immeasurable financial resources applied to this activity would be better spent for the general benefit of the community.

The groups supporting legalisation are: people who use drugs, those who believe that the present system of control does more harm than good, and those who are keen to make significant profits from marketing newly authorised addictive substances. In addition to pernicious distribution of drugs, dealers circulate specious and misleading information. They foster the erroneous belief that drugs are harmless, thus adding to even more confused thinking.

Superficially crafted, yet pseudo-persuasive arguments are put forward that can be accepted by many concerned, well intentioned people who have neither the time nor the knowledge to research the matter thoroughly, but accept them in good faith. Frequently high profile people claim that legalisation is the best way of addressing a major social problem without cogent supporting evidence. This too influences others, especially the ill informed who accept statements as being accurate and well informed. Through this ill-informed propaganda, people are asked to believe that such action would defeat the traffickers, take the profit out of the drug trade and solve the drug problem completely.

The total case for legalisation seems to be based on the assertion that the government assault on alleged civil liberties has been disastrously and expensively ineffective and counter-productive. In short, it is alleged, in contradiction to evidence, that prohibition has produced more costs than benefits and, therefore, the use of drugs on a personal basis should be permitted. Advocates claim that legalisation would eliminate the massive expenditure incurred by prohibition and would take the profit out of crime for suppliers and dealers. They further claim that it would decriminalise what they consider “understandable” human behaviour and thus prevent the overburdening of the criminal justice system that is manifestly failing to cope. It is further argued irrationally that police time would not be wasted on minor drug offences, the courts would be freed from the backlog of trivial cases and the prisons would not be used as warehouses for those who choose to use drugs, and the saved resources could be used more effectively.

Types of drug legalisation

The term “legalisation” can have any one of the following meanings:

1. Total Legalisation – All illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana would be legal and treated as commercial products. No government regulation would be required to oversee production, marketing, or distribution.

2. Regulated Legalisation – The production and distribution of drugs would be regulated by the government with limits on amounts that can be purchased and the age of purchasers. There would be no criminal or civil sanctions for possessing, manufacturing, or distributing drugs unless these actions violated the regulatory system. Drug sales could be taxed.

3. Decriminalisation – Decriminalisation eliminates criminal sanctions for drug use and provides civil sanctions for possession of drugs. To achieve the agenda of drug legalisation, advocates argue for:

• legalising drugs by lowering or ending penalties for drug possession and use – particularly marijuana;

• legalising marijuana and other illicit drugs as a so-called medicine;
• harm reduction programmes such as needle exchange programmes, drug injection sites, heroin distribution to addicts, and facilitation of so-called safe use of drugs that normalize drug use, create the illusion that drugs can be used safely if one just knows how, and eliminates a goal of abstinence from drugs;

• legalised growing of industrial hemp;
• an inclusion of drug users as equal partners in establishing and enforcing drug policy; and

• protection for drug users at the expense and to the detriment of non-users under the pretence of “human rights.”

The problem is with the drugs and not the drug policies

Legalisation of current illicit drugs, including marijuana, is not a viable solution to the global drug problem and would actually exacerbate the problem. The UN Drug Conventions were adopted because of the recognition by the international community that drugs are an enormous social problem and that the trade adversely affects the global economy and the viability of some countries that have become transit routes.

The huge sums of illegal money generated by the drug trade encourage money laundering and have become inextricably linked with other international organised criminal activities such as terrorism, human trafficking, prostitution and the arms trade. Drug Lords have subverted the democratic governments of some countries to the great detriment of law abiding citizens.

Drug abuse has had a major adverse effect on global health and the spread of communicable diseases such as AIDS/HIV. Control is vitally important for the protection of communities against these problems. There is international agreement in the UN Conventions that drugs should be produced legally under strict supervision to ensure adequate supplies only for medical and research purposes. The cumulative effects of prohibition and interdiction combined with education and treatment during 100 years of international drug control have had a significant impact in stemming the drug problem. Control is working and one can only imagine how much worse the problem would have become without it. For instance:

• In 2007, drug control had reduced the global opium supply to one-third the level in 1907 and even though current reports indicate recent increased cultivation in Afghanistan and production in Southeast Asia, overall production has not increased.

• During the last decade, world output of cocaine and amphetamines has stabilized; cannabis output has declined since 2004; and opium production has declined since 2008. We, therefore, strongly urge nations to uphold and enhance current efforts to prevent the use, cultivation, production, traffic, and sale of illegal drugs. We further urge our leaders to reject the legalisation of currently illicit drugs as an acceptable solution to the world’s drug problem because of the following reasons:

• Only 6.1% of people globally between the ages of 15 and 64 use drugs (World Drug Report 2011 UNODC) and there is little public support for the legalisation of highly dangerous substances. Prohibition has ensured that the total number of users is low because legal sanctions do influence people’s behaviour.

• There is a specific obligation to protect children from the harms of drugs, as is
evidenced through the ratification by the majority of United Nations Member States of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Article 33 states that Member States “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 the illicit production and trafficking of such substances”.

• Legalisation sends the dangerous tacit message of approval, that drug use is
acceptable and cannot be very harmful.

• Permissibility, availability and accessibility of dangerous drugs will result in
increased consumption by many who otherwise would not consider using them.

• Enforcement of laws creates risks that discourage drug use. Laws clearly define what is legal and illegal and emphasise the boundaries.

• Legalisation would increase the risks to individuals, families, communities and world regions without any compensating benefits.

• Legalisation would remove the social sanctions normally supported by a legal system and expose people to additional risk, especially the young and vulnerable.

• The legalisation of drugs would lead inevitably to a greater number of dependencies and addictions likely to match the levels of licit addictive substances. In turn, this would lead to increasing related morbidity and mortality, the spread of communicable diseases such as AIDS/HIV and the other blood borne viruses exacerbated by the sharing of needles and drugs paraphernalia, and an increased burden on the health and social services.

• There would be no diminution in criminal justice costs as, contrary to the view held by those who support legalisation, crime would not be eliminated or reduced. Dependency often brings with it dysfunctional families together with increased domestic child abuse.

• There will be increases in drugged driving and industrial accidents.

• Drug Control is a safeguard protecting millions from the effects of drug abuse and addiction particularly, but not exclusively, in developing countries.

• Statements about taxation offsetting any additional costs are demonstrably flawed and this has been shown in the case of alcohol and tobacco taxes. Short of governments distributing free drugs, those who commit crime now to obtain them would continue to do so if they became legal.

• Legalisation would not take the profit out of the drug trade as criminals will always find ways of countering legislation. They would continue their dangerous activities including cutting drugs with harmful substances to maximise sales and profits. Aggressive marketing techniques, designed to promote increased sales and use, would be applied rigorously to devastating effect.

• Other ‘legal’ drugs – alcohol and tobacco, are regularly traded on the black market and are an international smuggling problem; an estimated 600 billion cigarettes are smuggled annually (World Drug report 2009). Taxation monies raised from these products go nowhere near addressing consequential costs.

• Many prisons have become incubators for infection and the spread of drug related diseases at great risk to individual prisoners, prison staff and the general public. Failure to eliminate drug use in these institutions exacerbates the problem.

• The prisons are not full of people who have been convicted for mere possession of drugs for personal use. This sanction is usually reserved for dealers and those who commit crime in the furtherance of their possession.

• The claim that alcohol and tobacco may cause more harm than some drugs is not a pharmacokinetics of psychotropic substances suggest that more, not less, control of their access is warranted.

• Research regularly and increasingly demonstrates the harms associated with drug use and misuse. There is uncertainty, yet growing evidence, about the long-term detrimental effects of drug use on the physical, psychological and emotional health of substance users.

• It is inaccurate to suggest that the personal use of drugs has no consequential and damaging effects. Apart from the harm to the individual users, drugs affect others by addiction, violence, criminal behaviour and road accidents. Some drugs remain in the body for long periods and adversely affect performance and behaviour beyond the time of so-called ‘private’ use. Legalisation would not diminish the adverse effects associated with drug misuse such as criminal, irrational and violent behaviour and the mental and physical harm that occurs in many users.

• All drugs can be dangerous including prescription and over the counter medicines if they are taken without attention to medical guidance. Recent research has confirmed just how harmful drug use can be and there is now overwhelming evidence (certainly in the case of cannabis) to make consideration of legalisation irresponsible.

• The toxicity of drugs is not a matter for debate or a vote. People are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. Those who advocate freedom of choice cannot create freedom from adverse consequences.

• Drug production causes huge ecological damage and crop erosion in drug producing areas.

• Nearly every nation has signed the UN Conventions on drug control. Any government of signatory countries contemplating legalisation would be in breach of agreements under the UN Conventions which recognise that unity is the best approach to combating the global drug problem. The administrative burden associated with legalisation would become enormous and probably unaffordable to most governments. Legalisation would require a massive government commitment to production, supply, security and a bureaucracy that would necessarily increase the need for the employment at great and unaffordable cost for all of the staff necessary to facilitate that development.

• Any government policy must be motivated by the consideration that it must first do no harm. There is an obligation to protect citizens and the compassionate and sensible method must be to do everything possible to reduce drug dependency and misuse, not to encourage or facilitate it. Any failures in a common approach to a problem would result in a complete breakdown in effectiveness. Differing and fragmented responses to a common predicament are unacceptable for the wellbeing of the international community. It is incumbent on national governments to cooperate in securing the greatest good for the greatest number.

ISSUED this 21st day of December, 2011 by the following groups:
Drug Prevention Network of the Americas (DPNA)
Institute on Global Drug Policy
International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse
International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy
People Against Drug Dependence & Ignorance (PADDI), Nigeria
Europe Against Drugs (EURAD)
World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD)
Peoples Recovery, Empowerment and Development Assistance (PREDA)
Drug Free Scotland

Illegal drugs not only harm a user’s mind and body, they devastate families, communities, and neighborhoods. They jeopardize public safety, prevent too many Americans from reaching their full potential, and place obstacles in the way of raising a healthy generation of young people.

To address these challenges, today we are releasing the 2012 National Drug Control Strategy — the Obama Administration’s primary policy blueprint for reducing drug use and its consequences in America. The President’s inaugural National Drug Control Strategy, published in 2010, charted a new direction in our approach to drug policy. Today’s strategy builds upon that approach, which is based on science, evidence, and research. Most important, it is based on the premise that drug addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated. Simply put, we are not powerless against the challenge of substance abuse — people can recover, and millions are in recovery. These individuals are our neighbors, friends and family members. They contribute to our communities, our workforce, our economy, and help make America stronger.

Our emphasis on addressing the drug problem through a public health approach is grounded in decades of research and scientific study. There is overwhelming evidence that drug prevention and treatment programs achieve meaningful results with significant long-term cost savings. In fact, recent research has shown that each dollar invested in an evidence-based prevention program can reduce costs related to substance use disorders by an average of $18.

But reducing the burden of our nation’s drug problem stretches beyond prevention and treatment. We need an all of the above approach. To address this problem in a comprehensive way, the President’s new strategy also applies the principles of public health to reforming the criminal justice system, which continues to play a vital role in drug policy. It outlines ways to break the cycle of drug use, crime, incarceration, and arrest by diverting non-violent drug offenders into treatment, bolstering support for reentry programs that help offenders rejoin their communities, and advancing support for innovative enforcement programs proven to improve public health while protecting public safety.

Together, we have achieved significant reform in the way we address substance abuse. And the Affordable Care Act will — for the first time — require insurers to cover treatment for drug addiction the same way they would other chronic diseases. This is a revolutionary shift in how we address drug policy in America.
Over the past three decades, we have reduced illegal drug use in America. Over the long term, rates of drug use among young people today are far lower than they were 30 years ago. More recently cocaine use has dropped nearly 40 percent and meth use has dropped by half. And we can do more. As President Obama has noted, we have successfully changed attitudes regarding rates of smoking and drunk driving, and with your help we can do the same with our illegal drug problem.

Source: R. Gil Kerlikowske
Director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy 18th April 2012

 

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA –  In new survey, 19 percent of teens admit to driving while under influence of marijuana, more than drunk driving. The survey, conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), found that more teens are driving after smoking weed than after drinking alcohol. Only 13 percent of teens said they have driven after drinking. Read news release, click here.

Source:  paul@drugfreecalifornia.org  Feb.201

 

The percentage of fatally injured drivers testing positive for drugs increased over the last five years, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Each year between 56% and 65% of drivers fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes were tested for the presence of drugs in their systems.

In 2009, 33% of the 12,055 of drivers fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes with known test results tested positive* for at least one drug, compared to 28% in 2005 (see figure below). The drugs tested for included both illegal substances as well as over-the counter and prescription medications, (which may or may not have been misused). In 2009, marijuana was the most prevalent drug found in this population—approximately 28% of fatally injured drivers who tested positive were positive for marijuana. The authors caution that “drug involvement rates among those with unavailable drug test results may be similar to those for whom results are available, or there may be a systematic bias that could influence the unavailable rates in a positive or negative direction.”

*Nicotine, aspirin, alcohol, and drugs administered after the crash are excluded. Testing positive for drugs only means that the drugs were found in the driver’s system and does not imply impairment or indicate that drug use was the cause of the crash or the fatality.

SOURCE: Adapted by CESAR from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),
drug Involvement of Fatally Injured Drivers,” Traffic Safety Facts, November 2010.
Available online at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811415.pdf

Abstract

Delta (9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most important psychoactive substance in cannabis, is frequently detected in blood from apprehended drivers suspected for drugged driving. Both experimental and epidemiological studies have demonstrated the negative effects of THC upon cognitive functions and psychomotor skills. These effects could last longer than a measurable concentration of THC in blood. Culpability studies have recently demonstrated an increased risk of becoming responsible in fatal or injurious traffic accidents, even with low blood concentrations of THC. It has also been demonstrated that there is a correlation between the degree of impairment, the drug dose and the THC blood concentration. It is very important to focus on the negative effect of cannabis on fitness to drive in order to prevent injuries and loss of human life and to avoid large economic consequences to the society.

Source:  Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2007 Mar 1;127(5):583-4.


1. 12/17 states (including DC) with “medical” marijuana” have 20% + traffic fatalities involving drugs
70.6% of states with MMJ laws have driver fatalities testing positive for drugs of 20% or greater

2. 13/17 states with “medical” marijuana” has 19% + traffic fatalities involving drugs (Arizona)
76% of states with MMJ have driver fatalities testing positive for drugs of 19% or higher

3. 3/17 states with “medical” marijuana” laws that have low rates of driver fatalities also have low rates of testing for drugs (Oregon, Rhode Island, Maine: not tested 79%, 41%, 100% ).

4. 1/17 states with “medical” marijuana”, New Mexico, tests all, but has anomalous 1% positive tests (an outlier, along with Mississippi, North Carolina).
Drug testing of drivers in fatal accidents should be 100%!

STATES WITHOUT “MEDICAL MARIJUANA” LAWS HAVE LOWER PREVALENCE OF DRIVER FATALITIES INVOLVING DRUGS: 27%

1. 24/33 states with no “medical” marijuana” laws have fewer than 20% of driver fatalities involving drugs
73% of states with no “medical marijuana” laws have fewer than 20% driver fatalities testing positive for drug.

2. 9/33 states with no “medical” marijuana” approval have 20% or more driver fatalities involving drugs.
27% of states with no “medical marijuana” laws have 20% or more of driver fatalities involving drugs

3. Ct, state with highest number of fatalities also has highest rate of testing, 99%
Prevalence of driver fatalities involving drugs is three times higher, on average, in states with approved “medical marijuana” laws.

Source: Bertha Madras PhD Harvard Medical School Dec. 2010

R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, this week called attention to the high percentage of fatalities on USA roadways involving drivers who had drugs in their system and called on communities to continue to prevent drug use before it starts. Kerlikowske’s announcement was shared in light of a new traffic fatality analysis released by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

According to the inaugural analysis of drug involvement from NHTSA’s Fatal Accident Reporting System census, one in three motor vehicle fatalities (33 percent) with known drug test results tested positive for drugs in 2009. Additionally, according to the new analysis, the involvement of drugs in fatal crashes has increased by five percent over the past five years, even as the overall number of drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States has declined.

Kerlikowske said campaigns against drunk driving have been effective and should continue, but more emphasis should be placed on ‘drugged driving.’

In a news release, Kerlikowske said, “It is critical that communities across the nation address the threat of drugged driving as we redouble our efforts to make America’s roadways safer by increasing public awareness, employing more targeted enforcement, and developing better tools to detect the presence of drugs among drivers.”

According to a 2007 NHTSA Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, 1 in 8 nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for an illicit drug. The most recent Monitoring the Future survey revealed that one in 10 high school seniors reported that in the two weeks prior to the survey they had driven after smoking marijuana.

Source: www.CADCA.org Dec.2010

 

Filed under: Drugs and Accidents :

Even mild alcohol intoxication can seriously impair drinkers’ visual acuity, according to a study from the University of Washington.
Researchers found that test subjects who consumed just enough alcohol to reach half the legal alcohol intoxication level in the U.S. performed poorly on tests of their ability to notice an unexpected visual object when they were performing another simple task. Researchers said this was the first study to demonstrate that alcohol can cause such “inattentional blindness.”
“We rely on our ability to perceive a multitude of information when we drive (speed limit, road signs, other cars, etc.),” said study lead author Seema Clifasefi. “If even a mild dose of alcohol compromises our ability to take in some of this information, in other words, limits our attention span, then it seems likely that our driving ability may also be compromised.”
The study was published in the July 2006 issue of the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology.
Reference:
Clifasefi, S. L., Takarangi, M. K. T., Bergman, J. S. (2006) Blind drunk: the effects of alcohol on inattentional blindness. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20(5): 697-704.

Source:Reported in Medical News Today July 7, 2006

J. Michael Walsh, Ph.D.
October 12, 2010
The consumption of illegal psychoactive drugs (e.g. amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, etc.) is a problem of growing concern in many countries around the world, as these substances are increasingly detected in impaired and injured drivers. Drugged driving is a serious public health concern because it puts not only the user at risk, but all others who share the road. Despite the mounting evidence that drugged driving is common, the American public seems unaware of this fact. Perhaps this is because drugged drivers are less frequently detected, prosecuted, or referred to treatment, compared to drunk drivers.
Other than alcohol, Marijuana is the most prevalent drug detected in impaired and injured drivers. Marijuana affects areas of the brain that control the body’s movements, balance, coordination, memory, and judgment abilities, and its effects last for hours after the drug is used. Evidence from both on-the-road and simulated driving studies indicate marijuana can negatively influence a driver’s attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and the ability to draw on information obtained through past experiences.
Driving is a complex task that requires continuous information processing and coordinated responses to ever-changing traffic, while operating a multi-ton vehicle. Clearly, illegal drugs like marijuana that alter a driver’s normal brain functioning can create an extremely dangerous situation.

Source: www.ofSubstance.gov/blogs Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Marijuana used for medical purposes has the same long term effect on the user as marijuana used for recreation. Marijuana use can cause impairment of short-term memory, attention, motor skills, reaction time, and the organization and integration of complex information.

Marijuana use alters perceptions and creates time distortion and can cause drowsiness and lethargy. Heavy marijuana use can cause apathy, decreased motivation, and impair cognitive performance and can cause mental health problems.

Employees who use marijuana off-duty are still effected by it. Impaired cognition that can cause lapses in judgement can remain for a long period. Memory defects can last as long as six weeks. See: Abbie Crites-Leoni, Medicinal Use of Marijuana: Is the Debate a Smoke Screen for Movement Toward Legalization? 19 J. Legal Med. 273, 280 (1998) (citing Schwartz, et al., Short- Term Memory Impairment in Cannabis-Dependent Adolescents, 143 Am. J. Dis. Child. 1214 (1989)

Employers may be liable for the actions of employee who use marijuana especially those employees in safety sensitive positions. The more chronic the use of “medical” marijuana the higher the risk.

VIOLATIONS OF FEDERAL LAW

Will employers have to accommodate marijuana use that violates federal law? Marijuana, remains illegal under federal law because of its “high potential for abuse,” its lack of any “currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” and its “lack of accepted safety for use … under medical supervision.”Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1 (2005); United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative, 532 U.S. 483 (2001)

IF THIS BILL PASSES “MEDICAL” MARIJUANA WILL RESULT IN MORE MARIJUANA USE AMONG EMPLOYEES

As consumers we all pay for lost productivity and job-related accidents in the final costs of the produced goods and higher insurance premiums due to workplace accidents. Drug using employees are not as safe. They are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in a work-related accident than their non-using employee, and 5 times more likely to file workers’ compensation claims. As many as 50% of all workers’ compensation claims may involve substance abuse.[FN1]

The U.S. Postal Service did a study that showed that substance abusers have 55% more accidents, experience 85% more on-the-job injuries, and have a 78% higher rate of absenteeism when compared to non-substance abusing employees.[FN2] A report by the National Safety Council claimed that 80% of those injured in serious drug-related work accidents are not the drug using employees, but innocent employees and others.[FN3]

Drug using employees commit workplace crimes. There is a very significant statistical correlation between drug use and criminal conduct.[FN4]

Substance abuse also causes:
Domestic and financial difficulties for employees;
Poor judgment in employment decision making;
Potential embarrassment to the employer as a result of off-duty conduct, which may be publicized, including criminal charges, diversion of supervisory and managerial time;
Damage to company property; and
Time devoted to discipline and grievance matters.[FN5]

While the studies vary somewhat, it is clear that there is substantial substance abuse in the workplace and it has a powerful negative impact on our economy and productivity. The increased use of “medical” marijuana will magnify all these problems.

References

[FN1] Current, The Truth About Drug Testing: Answers to the Questions Everyone Is Asking, p. 3 (1st Ed., Fort Lauderdale, FL, 1998).

[FN2] “Pre-employment Drug Testing: Association with EAP, Disciplinary, and Medical Claims Information” U.S. Postal Service, Personnel Research and Development Branch, Office of Selection and Evaluation, July 1992.

[FN3] Wisotsky, The Ideology of Drug Testing [Ideology of Drug Testing], 11 Nova L Rev 763, 768 (1987).

[FN4] See Stewart, Proof Positive of Drug Link to Crime, Wall St J, May 28, 1987, at 26, col 3.

[FN5]Alcohol & Drugs in the Workplace: Costs, Control and Controversies, A BNA Special Report [Costs, Control and Controversies], 7 (Bureau of National Affairs, Washington, D.C. 1986)

Source: David Evans sent to DFAF May 2010

Neuropharmacologists ran clinical trials to find that a drug called topiramate is an effective therapeutic medication for decreasing heavy drinking and diminishing the physical and psychosocial harm caused by alcohol dependence.

The drug works by blocking the right amount of the feel good effects of alcohol (brought on by increased levels of dopamine), making drinking less enjoyable and thus reducing cravings and helping to stop heavy drinking.

Topiramate was also found to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels which may lead to a decrease in heart disease in alcohol dependent patients.

Alcoholism affects over 17 million people. Without proper treatment, it’s a devastating disease that can ruin lives and relationships. A new therapy that comes in a pill is bringing new hope to alcoholics.

There was a time in Christine Flemming’s life when alcohol came before her kids.
“I can’t remember when my daughter was very little, because I was drinking so much,” said Flemming. “That affected me a lot.”

Flemming needed help, but traditional treatment methods didn’t work. Now she’s on a new kind of therapy in the form of a pill called topiramate. It has changed her life. “I can tell you that it cuts my cravings, and I don’t feel like I have to drink,” Flemming said. “I don’t feel like that’s something I need in my life and I have to do.”

Alcohol increases levels of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that makes us feel good. The drug works by blocking the right amount of the feel-good effects from alcohol to reduce cravings and help stop heavy drinking. During clinical trials, neuropharmacologists were surprised to learn it also lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which may lead to a decrease in heart disease in alcohol dependent patients.

“Most of the morbidity due to alcoholism is caused by secondary effects of all these other systems, so to have a drug that begins to correct all those other physical abnormalities is extremely helpful,” said Bankhole Johnson, Ph.D., a Neuropharmacologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

The drug helped improve Fleming’s health and end her dependence on alcohol. She cut her drinking from 15 beers a day to just three, so time with her kids is now a priority.
“It’s made a big difference,” Flemming said. “It’s made a really big difference, and I feel like I’m actually there for my family.”

Qualifying patients can find out how to receive the drug by contacting their primary care doctors.

WHAT IS TOPIRAMATE? Topiramate is a drug originally discovered in 1979. It is prescribed as an epilepsy medication and for migraine headaches. It is also used for a number of other purposes, including as a treatment for people with alcoholism.

Researchers believe that topiramate works in two ways. First, it reduces the release of dopamine that follows the consumption of alcohol. This reduces the positive feeling that people receive from alcohol, and thus reduce the incentive to drink. Second, topiramate interferes with the protein glutamate which normally excites dopamine neurons and again, lessening the ýfeel goodý effect of dopamine from alcohol.

WHAT IS ALCOHOL? Alcohol is created through the natural process of fermentation. This happens when yeast and sugar from vegetables and grains change the sugar into alcohol. When you drink alcohol, it is absorbed into your bloodstream, where it can affect the central nervous system, which is the control center for your entire body.

Alcohol slows down this control center with its sedative effect. In moderation it can reduce anxiety, but it also blocks some of the commands the brain sends to other parts of the body, so it alters your senses. That’s why, when drunk, people often have trouble walking, talking, and some may even “black out,” forgetting what they said or did. Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can even be fatal.

Source www.ScienceDaily June 2010

California data on drivers involved in passenger vehicle fatal crashes using Marijuana were analyzed to determine the impact on traffic safety and to provide information on the possible impact of an initiative, the Tax and Regulate Cannabis Initiative or “TC2010” which is on the California ballot in November 2010 to reform and partially legalize Marijuana.

A total of 1240 persons were killed in the last five years in fatal motor vehicle crashes involving Marijuana. 230 were killed in 2008. Use has increase steadily in the last ten years and is now at 5.5% in fatal passenger vehicle crashes. The use in single vehicle fatal crashes where most drivers are tested shows an involvement rate of 8.3%.

The largest increases occurred in the 5 years following the establishment of the Medical Marijuana Program in January 2004. For the five years following legalization there were 1240 fatalities in fatal crashes, compared to the 631 fatalities for the five years prior, for an increase of almost 100%.

In 2008 there were 8 counties where more than 16% of the drivers in fatal crashes tested positive for Marijuana. Five of the 8 counties had rates over 20% Based on this experience, a use rate of 16% to 20% is very likely. A rate increase to only 16%, would result in 670
fatalities, and at 20% we would have about 840 fatalities annually. The 20% level would be more than triple the present level of 230 fatalities in 2008. At these levels, Marijuana would rival alcohol at 17.9%, as the top cause of traffic fatalities.

If “TC2010” passes, tax income on Marijuana is estimated at $1.4 billion annually compared to an estimated $4 billion or more economic loss from Marijuana related fatal crashes.
Over 80% of the Marijuana drivers are male, with a median age of 25. In addition, about half (48%) of the drivers using Marijuana also were legally intoxicated. About 75% of the drivers that used Marijuana did not use any other drug. About 1.2 fatalities were reported for each Marijuana involved driver.

Authors: Alfred Crancer and Alan Crancer

Source: -Received June 2010 from Drug Free America Foundation

Steroids are linked to manic episodes, depression, suicide, psychotic episodes and increased aggression and hostility, occasionally triggering violent behavior, including murder.

Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden studied the relationship between crime and steroid use in 1,440 Swedish residents tested for the drugs between 1995 and 2001 from clinics, including substance abuse facilities, as well as police and customs stations.

Of those involved in the study, 241 tested positive, with an average age of about 20.
The research team found those who tested positive for steroid use were roughly twice as likely to have been convicted of a weapons offense and one-and-a-half times as likely to have been convicted of fraud.

When the researchers excluded people from substance abuse facilities from their analysis the connection with armed crime remained, but the link between steroid use and fraud disappeared.
While steroids are linked with outbursts of uncontrolled violence known as “‘roid rage,” they did not appear to be connected with sexual offenses, violent crimes such as murder, assault and robbery, or crimes against property such as theft.

This investigation instead reveals that steroid use may be linked with premeditated crimes—those involving preparation and advance planning.
One explanation the researchers suggest for the findings is that criminals involved in serious crimes such as armed robbery or the collection of crime-related debts might benefit from the muscularity, heavy build and increase in aggression that comes with steroid use.

The scientists report their findings in the November issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Source: Fox News Live Science Monday , November 06, 2006

Abstract
California data on drivers involved in passenger vehicle fatal crashes using Marijuana were analyzed to determine the impact on traffic safety and to provide information on the possible impact of an initiative, the Tax and Regulate Cannabis Initiative or “TC2010” which is on the California ballot in November 2010 to reform and partially legalize Marijuana.

A total of 1240 persons were killed in the last five years in fatal motor vehicle crashes involving Marijuana. 230 were killed in 2008. Use has increase steadily in the last ten years and is now at 5.5% in fatal passenger vehicle crashes. The use in single vehicle fatal crashes where most drivers are tested shows an involvement rate of 8.3%.

The largest increases occurred in the 5 years following the legalization of Medical Marijuana in January 2004. For the five years following legalization there were 1240 fatalities in fatal crashes, compared to the 631 fatalities for the five years prior, for an increase of almost 100%. In 2008 there were 8 counties where more than 16% of the drivers in fatal crashes
tested positive for Marijuana. Five of the 8 counties had rates over 20%

Based on this experience, a use rate of 16% to 20% is very likely. A rate increase to only 16%, would result in 670 fatalities, and at 20% we would have about 840 fatalities annually. The 20% level would be more than triple the present level of 230 fatalities in 2008. At these levels, Marijuana would rival alcohol at 17.9%, as the top cause of traffic fatalities.

If “TC2010” passes, tax income on Marijuana is estimated at $1.4 billion annually compared to an estimated $4 billion or more economic loss from Marijuana related fatal crashes.
Over 80% of the Marijuana drivers are male, with a median age of 25. In addition, about half (48%) of the drivers using Marijuana also were legally intoxicated. About 75% of the drivers that used Marijuana did not use any other drug. About 1.2 fatalities were reported for each Marijuana involved driver.

Source: Sent by Ronald E. Brooks Northern California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area June 2010

Scientists at Melbourne’s Howard Florey Institute have discovered a system in the brain that stops an alcoholic’s craving for alcohol, as well as prevent relapse once they have recovered from alcohol addiction.
________________________________________
The ‘Orexin’ system is a group of cells in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. These cells produce Orexin, which was originally implicated in the regulation of feeding, but it soon became apparent that Orexin was also involved in the ‘high’ felt after drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs.

In studies conducted with rats, Dr Andrew Lawrence and his Florey colleagues used a drug that blocked Orexin’s euphoric effects in the brain and the results were remarkable.
“In one experiment, rats that had alcohol freely available to them stopped drinking it after receiving the Orexin blocker.” Dr Lawrence said. “In another experiment, rats that had gone through a detox program and were then given the Orexin blocking drug, did not relapse into alcohol addiction when they were reintroduced to an environment in which they had been conditioned to associate with alcohol use.

“Orexin reinforces the euphoria felt when drinking alcohol, so if a drug can be developed to block the Orexin system in humans, we should be able to stop an alcoholic’s craving for alcohol, as well as preventing relapse once the alcoholic has recovered,” he said.
Dr Lawrence said that this research could also lead to treatments for eating disorders, such chronic over-eating, which leads to obesity. “Our research shows that alcohol addiction and eating disorders set off common triggers in the brain, so further investigations may uncover drug targets in the Orexin system to treat both conditions,” Dr Lawrence said.

The Florey scientists are now conducting multiple experiments to discover the precise circumstances that activate the Orexin system. “To explore this discovery further we are now investigating how different experimental paradigms and environmental situations impact on the Orexin system, which will hopefully pinpoint therapeutic drug targets,” Dr Lawrence said.
“Before a therapeutic Orexin-blocking drug can be developed, we need to ensure that it will be safe to use in the long-term and that issues surrounding a person’s compliance in taking the drug are considered,” he said.

According to the World Health Organisation, alcohol is one of the most widely used and abused substances in the world and causes as much, if not more death and disability as measles, malaria, tobacco, or illegal drugs.
Dr Lawrence and his colleagues were the first in the world to demonstrate the Orexin system’s involvement in alcohol addiction and their research paper was recently published in the prestigious British Journal of Pharmacology. Dr Lawrence’s paper was downloaded 658 times by researchers from around the world in the first three months of its publication, making it the most downloaded research paper in that issue and supporting the research’s importance.
The Howard Florey Institute is Australia’s leading brain research centre. Its scientists undertake clinical and applied research that can be developed into treatments to combat brain disorders, and new medical practices. Their discoveries will improve the lives of those directly, and indirectly, affected by brain and mind disorders in Australia, and around the world. The Florey’s research areas cover a variety of brain and mind disorders including Parkinson’s disease, stroke, motor neuron disease, addiction, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, autism and dementia.

Source: ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2010 Howard Florey Institute (2006, December 13).
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Driving under the influence of cannabis almost doubles the risk of a fatal road crash, finds a study published online by the British Medical Journal. However its share in fatal crashes is significantly lower than those involving alcohol.The study took place in France and involved 10,748 drivers who were involved in fatal crashes from October 2001 to September 2003. All drivers underwent compulsory tests for drugs and alcohol.

A total of 681 drivers tested positive for cannabis (7%) and 2096 for alcohol (21.4%), including 285 for both (2.9%). Men were more often involved in crashes than women, and were also more often positive for both cannabis and alcohol, as were the youngest drivers, and users of mopeds and motorcycles.

The risk of being responsible for a fatal crash increased as the blood concentration of cannabis increased (known as a dose effect). The odds increased from 1.9 at a concentration of 0-1 ng/ml to 3.1 at or above 5 ng/ml. These effects were adjusted for alcohol and remained significant when also adjusted for other factors.

These results give credence to a causal relationship between cannabis and crashes, say the authors.

Samples show that the prevalence of cannabis (2.9%) within the driving population is similar to that for alcohol (2.7%) at or above 0.5 g/l, they add. However, in France, its share in fatal crashes is significantly lower than that associated with alcohol (2.5% compared with 29% for alcohol).

Source: BMJ-British Medical Journal (2005, December 5). Cannabis Almost Doubles Risk Of Fatal Crashes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 5, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2005/12/051205115540.htm

The State Government figures show that out of 4619 drivers pulled over, one in 73 tested positive to either cannabis or methamphetamines. This compared to an average of one in 250 drivers testing positive for alcohol. The results surprised police.The  results come just two days after research by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre showed 57 per cent of clubbers admitted driving under the influence of alcohol and 52 per cent under the influence of cannabis. The VicRoads-commissioned study reported that just under half of those surveyed admitted driving soon after taking other drugs.

43% said they had taken ecstasy and 42 % speed.

Source:  Minister for Police & Emergency Services. Victoria. Australia. April 15 2005

Filed under: Drugs and Accidents :


Since states began setting the legal drinking age to 21, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates over 26,000 lives have been saved. And as one of the most studied public health laws in history, the scientific research from 46 high-quality studies all found that the 21 Law saves lives.² In addition, studies show that the 21 Law reduces causes those under the age of 21 to drink less and to continue to drink less throughout their 20s.³ Of the 5,000 total alcohol-related deaths among 18-24 year-olds, 80 percent, or 4,000, were alcohol-related traffic deaths.4
“Lowering the minimum drinking age to 18 is both misguided and dangerous,” said IACP former President Ronald Ruecker, Director of Public Safety in Sherwood, Oregon. “The worst thing any police officer has to do is knock on a door in the dead of night to tell parents that their child will not be coming home because he or she is a victim of impaired driving. Lowering the national drinking age would inevitably lead to more tragedies for more families.”
The public strongly disagrees with efforts to lower the drinking age. According to a 2008 survey by Nationwide Insurance, 78 percent of adults support 21 as the minimum drinking age and 72 percent believe lowering the drinking age would make alcohol more accessible to youth.
Bill Windsor, Associate Vice President of Safety for Nationwide, said, “While advocates argue a lower drinking age will curb teen binge drinking, our survey shows only 14 percent of Americans agree and 47 percent believe it will actually make a huge problem worse. Americans feel so strongly about teen binge drinking more than half say they are less likely to vote for a politician who supports lowering the legal limit or to send their child to a known ‘party school.'”
Parents are crucial in addressing this problem and can do more by talking and listening to their son or daughter about the many challenges they will face in college. In fact, research shows that parents should educate children before they reach middle school about the dangers of alcohol. We do not want to pass the problem on to high school principals. Parents need to ask themselves whether they want their kids to have more or less access to alcohol. When searching for the right college, parents should ask questions about the college’s policies on alcohol and what the consequences are for underage drinking while on campus. MADD strongly believes parents should be notified if their son or daughter is disciplined or arrested for alcohol.
Dean-Mooney said, “Underage drinking is not just a youth problem, but an adult problem.” Parents and other adults are the key to reducing underage drinking. MADD is developing a program for parents that will give them proven-effective tools for communicating to their teens about this issue.
Source: February 23, 2009 Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)

The Transport Research Laboratory published studies in 1993 and produced a
follow-up study in 2001 that found that, over a period of nearly ten years, there had been a steep rise in the number of drivers killed in road accidents with drugs in their system. The results from 1,184 cases in the 2001 study show that illicit drug taking (mainly cannabis) had increased by a factor of six since the earlier study. At least one medicinal or illicit drug was detected in 24 percent of the casualties – in other words, nearly one in four drivers. Illicit drugs were significantly more prevalent.

The University of Glasgow conducted research in 2001 and 2002, as part of the
European project ‘Impaired Motorists, Methods of Roadside Testing and
Assessment for Licensing’ (IMMORTAL), and was required to analyse 1,396 oral
fluid samples collected from drivers for a wide range of drugs. The study group
included drivers who were stopped at random and participation was entirely
voluntary. The results showed that out of the 1,396 samples tested, 16.8% were
positive for at least one drug. This study demonstrated that a significant number of the driving population is positive for at least one drug.

Research from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health presented at the
European Traffic Police Network (TISPOL)’s conference in Harrogate in October
2008 comprised a representative selection of 10,835 drivers who were tested for drugs and alcohol. TISPOL estimated that if the results from that study were
applied to the UK, the number of journeys taken by drivers unfit to drive because of drugs would be equivalent to around one million car journeys.

In Australia’s State of Victoria, data collected from more than 70,000 roadside drug tests indicated a clear trend. Over a four-year period of roadside testing and educational drug-driving campaigns, drug driving in the State has decreased by almost 50 percent from one driver in 44 (2004 figures) to one driver in 76 (2008 figures).

Similar studies from other countries, including Italy, which has been conducting
roadside testing since a change in legislation in 2002, show that the availability of a greater depth of evidentiary data supports the revision and implementation of
related legislation and strategies to reduce the risks of drug driving in these
countries

Australian Roadside Case Study
Concateno has been working with the Australian police since 2004 to introduce random roadside testing. The State of Victoria, which is at the forefront of road safety initiatives, was the first in the world to effect a change in legislation and allow random testing, other Australian states have subsequently followed, including Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.

Since the introduction of this testing regime, a clear trend can be seen, with a reduction in the numbers of drivers that were confirmed as positive. In 2004 it was 1:445, whereas by the end of 2008 it has dropped to 1:76. This means that fewer drivers are driving while taking drugs, indicating that a regime such as the one adopted by Australia is effective in reducing drug driving and contributing to safer roads. Most recently, on July 14 2009, Australia’s Transport Accident Commission announced a new campaign targeting those who drive while under the influence of cannabis

Source: July 14, 2009 Response from Concateno plc to ‘A Safer Way’ Consultation, Department for Transport

Filed under: Drugs and Accidents :

According to a study from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) in New Zealand, more than one in five drivers who died on the roads 1995-1997 had been smoking cannabis in the-hours before they crashed. The study found 82 of a sample of 386 drivers had cannabis in their bloodstreams and 54 per cent of the cannabis smokers were over the legal alcohol limit.

Source: Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) in New Zealand. Jan 2000.

 In 2000, an estimated 310,000 people were injured in crashes where police reported that alcohol was present — an average of one person injured approximately every 2 minutes.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2000) Traffic Safety Facts 2000: Alcohol

A University of Tennessee study reveals extensive alcohol and other drug problems among emergency-room patients, but most go undiagnosed.
The study, led by Dr. Ian Rockett, included 1,502 adults seeking emergency care at seven hospitals throughout Tennessee from June 1996 to January 1997. Patients were interviewed and underwent saliva and urine screenings. The research team found that 27 percent of the patients needed addiction treatment. However, a diagnosis of a drug-related problem was recorded in the charts of only 1.1 percent of the patients.On a larger scale, the researchers determined that 22 million patients, or one in every four entering emergency rooms in Tennessee, are dependent on drugs.

“I think people who work in emergency rooms are well aware that many patients have drug problems,” said Rockett, who is now with West Virginia University. “But I don’t think they are truly aware of the extent of it.”

source:Rockett, I., Putnam, S., Jia, H., & Smith, G. (2003) Assessing substance abuse treatment need:
A statewide hospital emergency department study. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 41(6): 818-826.


Filed under: Drugs and Accidents,Health :

Tests Driving Drug-Affected Motorists Off The Road 

Victoria’s world-first random roadside saliva tests have highlighted an alarming rate of drug use among drivers, the Minister for Police & Emergency Services, Tim Holding, said today.

 

Mr Holding said independent laboratory analysis had shown drug driving was more than three times as prevalent as drink driving, with one in every 73 drivers testing positive for cannabis or methamphetamine-based drugs. This compares to an average of one in every 250 drivers who are breathalysed testing positive for alcohol.

“Drug driving tests have been an outstanding success in reliably identifying drivers whose capacity to drive is dangerously compromised,” Mr Holding said. “There can be no mistake that driving under the influence of illicit drugs is just as dangerous as driving while affected by alcohol and is a major contributor to death and trauma on Victoria’s roads.

“The first four months of the saliva drug testing program have identified a worrying level of substance use among drivers that will not be tolerated.” Mr Holding said a three-step process ensured the integrity of the tests. Drivers are initially asked to provide a saliva sample by placing a small absorbent pad on their tongue for a few seconds.

Drivers who return a positive test are then asked to accompany police into a drug bus, similar to a booze bus, for two further saliva samples – one to be kept by the driver and the other for further on-the-spot analysis. If this indicates a positive result, the sample is sent to a laboratory for verification. Motorists who return positive laboratory results for cannabis or methamphetamines are fined $307 and lose three demerit points, or are prosecuted in court. If the offence progresses to court, the maximum penalty for a first offence is $614 and three months’ licence cancellation. Subsequent convictions can result in fines of up to $1227 and up to six months’ licence cancellation.

Mr Holding said in the four months to 17 March 2005, a total of 4619 drivers were tested, with 63 drivers testing positive for drugs. He said 21 drivers tested positive for cannabis and methamphetamine-based drugs. Five drivers tested positive for only cannabis, with 37 testing positive to only methamphetamine-based drugs.

Of the 3488 car drivers tested, 47 returned a positive result. Sixteen out of 1131 truck drivers tested positive for drugs. Eight preliminary tests were not confirmed by the drug bus.

Mr Holding said test handling procedures had been reviewed after three drivers’ final tests ultimately came up negative in the very early stages of the program. “Independent laboratory tests since have conclusively verified the accuracy of saliva drug testing,” Mr Holding said.

Source: Minister for Police & Emergency Services. Australia April’05

Aims To investigate the relationship between marijuana use prior to driving, habitual marijuana use and car crash injury

Design and setting Population based case control study in Auckland, New Zealand.

Participants Case vehicles were all cars involved in crashes in which at least one occupant was hospitalized or killed anywhere in the Auckland region, and control vehicles were a random sample of cars driving on Auckland roads. The drivers of 571 case and 588 control vehicles completed a structured interview.

Measurements Self reported marijuana use in the 3 hours prior to the crash/survey and habitual marijuana use over the previous 12 months were recorded, along with a range of other variables potentially related to crash risk. The main outcome measure was hospitalization or death of a vehicle occupant due to car crash injury.

Findings Acute marijuana use was significantly associated with car crash injury, after controlling for the confounders age, gender, ethnicity, education level, passenger carriage, driving exposure and time of day (OR 3.9, 95% CI 1.2 12.9). However, after adjustment for these confounders plus other risky driving at the time of the crash (blood alcohol concentration, seat-belt use, travelling speed and sleepiness score), the effect of acute marijuana intake was no longer significant (OR 0.8, 95% CI 0.2 3.3). There was a strong significant association between habitual use and car crash injury after adjustment for all the above confounders plus acute use prior to driving (OR 9.5, 95% CI 2.8 32.3).

Conclusions This population-based case control study indicates that habitual use of marijuana is strongly associated with car crash injury. The nature of the relationship between marijuana use and risk-taking is unclear and needs further research. The prevalence of marijuana use in this driving population was low, and acute use was associated with habitual marijuana use, suggesting that intervention strategies may be more effective if they are targeted towards high use groups.

Source: www.blackwell-synergy.com May 2005

Alcohol-related injury deaths and drunk driving both increased among college students over the past few years, according to a new report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

More than 1,700 college students ages 18-24 died in 2001 as the result of alcohol-related injuries, up from about 1,500 in 1988. Moreover, according to NIAAA, an estimated 2.8 million drove while under the influence of alcohol in 2001, compared to 2.3 million in 1998.

The study authors said that the problems could be mitigated through greater enforcement of drinking-age and zero-tolerance laws, increases in alcohol taxes, wider implementation of screening and counseling programs, and comprehensive community interventions.

Researchers from Boston University and Harvard University analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, and the Harvard College Alcohol Survey, as well as other reports.

“In both 1998 and 2001 more than 500,000 students were unintentionally injured because of drinking and more than 600,000 were assaulted by another student who had been drinking,” said lead study author Ralph W. Hingson, Sc.D, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health and Center to Prevent Alcohol Problems Among Young People. “We must remember, however, that since the 18-to-24-year-old non-college population vastly outnumbers the college population, they actually account for more alcohol-related problems than do college students. For example, while 2.8 million college students drove under the influence of alcohol in 2001, so too did 4.5 million college-aged persons who were not in college.”

“The magnitude of problems posed by excessive drinking among college students should stimulate both improved measurement of these problems and efforts to reduce them,” added Hingson.

Source: The study was published in the Annual Review of Public Health. March 2005

By Antony Stone, PA News

A teenage boy knocked down and killed by an express train was probably under the influence of cannabis at the time, an inquest jury heard today.

Phillip Francis, 18, from West Wales, turned his back on the speeding train and walked down the track as its driver sounded the horn. Within seconds he was hit by the 415-ton First Great Western high-speed train heading to London Paddington from Carmarthen at 7.58am on May 6.

An inquest jury in Llanelli heard today how the parents and friends of the teenage labourer, of Randall Square, Pembrey, had been devastated by his death. Driver Michael Jonah said he had already been slowing the train from 75mph to 65mph as he approached Pembrey station from a mile away.

He saw the teenager walk out from the side of Talybank Bridge, Pembrey, and continue on to the track. He just continued to walk on the running lines and turned his back. He made no acknowledgement of the horn.

He said that he appeared to raise both of his arms to shoulder height in the moment before being struck. The front of the driver’s cab then struck this young person and he disappeared from view below the train, Mr Jonah added.

David Emmott, a British Transport Police investigator, said Phillip had been at a sleepover at a friend’s home in Burry Port that night. He said his parents were aware that he had been using cannabis for about one year but had been unable to stop him taking it.

He had left no suicide note, did not suffer from depression and was seen as pleasant and well-balanced by all who knew him. “It seems most likely that his death is the result of disorientation as a result of his use of the drug,” Mr Emmott said.

Pauline Mainwaring, deputy coroner for Llanelli, said a post-mortem report had concluded the teenager had died of multiple injuries.

Toxicology tests confirmed that he had taken cannabis not long before the accident. It was likely that he was experiencing one or more of the psychological effects associated with the drug at the time of his death. These include disturbances of memory and judgment, anxiety and panic attacks, irritability and hallucinations. The jury recorded a verdict of accidental death

Source: http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=3371489

Research SummaryResearchers from the University of Michigan Health System tested 443 patients ages 14-17 who entered the emergency room at the school’s hospital for treatment of severe injuries. They found that 29 percent tested positive for opiates, 11.2 percent tested positive for alcohol, and 20 percent tested positive for marijuana.

 

“The two major preventable health issues facing adolescents are injuries that result in death or disability, and lifestyle choices that have long-term, adverse health consequences,” said lead researcher Peter Ehrlich. “To help alter this risk-taking behavior, it is essential that drug testing and brief substance-abuse intervention programs be included in the treatment of all injured adolescents.”

Ehrlich called for comprehensive drug screening in emergency rooms.

The research was published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery.

Reference:

Ehrlich PF, Brown JK, Drongowski R. (2006) Characterization of the drug-positive adolescent trauma population: should we, do we, and does it make a difference if we test? Journal of Pediatric Surgery, 41(5): 927-930.

Source: , Reuters reported May 17 2006
Filed under: Drugs and Accidents,Youth :

Marijuana Impairs Driving-Related Skills and Workplace Performance.Marijuana use impairs driving-related functions and is linked to a pattern of behaviors that leads to poor job performance, according to two NIDA-supported studies on the effects of marijuana on human performance. Findings from the studies were presented at NIDA’s first National Conference on Marijuana Use.
At NIDA ‘s National Conference on Marijuana Use, Dr. Stephen Heishman presented data from laboratory studies showing that marijuana impairs functions important to driving. Figures from previous studies of automobile accident victims show that from 6 to 12 percent of nonfatally injured drivers and 4 to 16 percent of fatally injured drivers had tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in their bloodstream. One study showed that 32 percent of drivers in a shock trauma unit in Baltimore had marijuana in their bloodstream. However, in most of these studies, the majority of subjects who tested positive for THC also tested positive for alcohol, making it difficult to single out THC’s effect on driving.
In a laboratory study at NIDAs Addiction Research Center in Baltimore that controlled for alcohol’s confounding effect, Dr.Stephen Heishiman,a research psycologist in clinical pharmocology, tested marijuana’s effects on the functional components of driving. Study subjects smoked a marijuana cigarette, waited 10 minutes. then smoked another cigarette. Both cigarettes contained either 0. 1.8. or 3.6 percent THC. Twenty minutes after smoking the cigarettes. the subjects were given a standard sobriety test similar to a roadside sobriety test. The test showed that marijuana significantly impaired their ability to stand on one leg for 30 seconds or touch their finger to their nose. As the dose of THC increased, the subjects swayed more, raised their arms, and had to put their feet down in an attempt to maintain their balance. Subjects also committed 2.5 times more errors when they attempted to touch their nose with their finger.
The data from these laboratory studies show that marijuana impairs balance and coordination – functional components important to driving – in a dose-related way, said Dr. Heishman. These effects may be related to reported marijuana-induced impairment of automobile driving, he stated.
Highway and urban driving studies conducted in the Netherlands show less impact on actual driving. However. these driving studies used very low doses of marijuana for safety reasons, Dr. Heishman said. Future research using appropriate safety measures should test the effect of higher doses of marijuana on driving as well as the combined effect of marijuana and alcohol on driving, he concluded.

Source:NIDA conference on Marijuana use,Reported in NIDA notes vol 11.


Dr. Wayne Lehman of Texas Christian University looked at how marijuana affects job performance. A series of surveys he conducted among 4,600 municipal employees in four cities in the Southwest indicated that 8 percent of employees had smoked marijuana in the past year, and a large percentage of these users had smoked marijuana in the past month, Dr. Lehman said.
‘Employees who report marijuana use are different from nonusers,” said Dr. Lehman. They are much more likely than nonusers to have arrest histories, low self-esteem, high rates of depression, and friends who are deviant. Many marijuana smokers also have alcohol-related problems. One-third of marijuana users in the suneys reported they drank frequently. one-half said they got drunk, and 60 percent reported a problem with alcohol use, according to Dr. Lehman.
This behavioral pattern in the personal backgrounds of marijuana-smoking employees was associated with negative attitudes toward work and job performance, Dr. Lehman said. The surveys found that marijuana users were less likely than nonusers to commit to the organization. had less faith in management, and experienced low job satisfaction. These workers reported more absenteeism, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover than workers who had not used marijuana. They were also more likely to report to work with a hangover, miss work because of a hangover, and be drunk or use drugs at work.
These data indicate that marijuana use is strongly associated with problematic alcohol use and a pattern of general deviance that leads to impaired behaviors and poor workplace performance, Dr. Lehman concluded.

Source: Dr.Wayne Lehman Reported in NIDA JAN/FEB 1996


DRUG misuse is leading more young people than ever before to show up at hospital A&E departments with chest pain.

While chest pain is perceived as being associated with older generations, the increase in heroin and cocaine abuse is becoming more and more evident in hospitals as large numbers of young people present with symptoms mimicking heart related illnesses as a direct consequence of drug misuse.

“We are seeing a big increase in the abuse of cocaine and heroin and we are now also seeing it show up in our hospitals,” said Tony Barden, regional drugs co-ordination with the HSE South East.

“Young people are now coming in with chest pains association with drug misuse. This is an indication of heart and lung damage but we are just in our infancy where damage is concerned. The picture of just how serious the problem is will become a lot clearer over the next 18 months or so.”

Tony Barden says that serious health problems associated with cocaine and heroin abuse will only get worse and lead to more heart and lung complaints among those who use drugs.

“A lot of people are going out and having seven or eight, even 10 pints, and then mixing it with cocaine,” he said. “We need to be moving towards a scenario where we are working on testing for drugs as well as alcohol among motorists.”

The recently published Drugs Misuse Report 2005 showed that while the numbers coming forward for alcohol abuse treatment had dipped, there had been a marked increase in those seeking help for heroin and cocaine.

Data from the Liaison Officer at WRH, contained in the report, showed that 409 people admitted to the hospital after collapsing, hurting themselves or suffering serious ill-health, were then referred onto addiction services.
Source: Waterford News & Star 2nd June 2006

Published: Monday, 20-Feb-2006

A fifth of young adults whose blood vessels ruptured inside their brain abused drugs and more than 40% had malformed blood vessels, according to a study reported Feb. 17 at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2006 in Kissimmee, FL.

The study included 307 patients with intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) — a stroke caused by a blood vessel bursting inside the brain. Of the 75 patients 49-years-old or younger, 20% had drugs in their system.

“The dominant drug of abuse was cocaine, long recognized as a risk factor for ICH,” said Michael Hoffmann, MD, lead author of the study and director of the stroke program at the University of South Florida-Tampa General Hospital. “Marijuana was another frequently abused drug and is beginning to emerge as a risk factor for stroke. Amphetamines also were commonly abused.”

How these drugs make brain blood vessels prone to rupture is not clear, but is being studied, Dr. Hoffmann said.

The study analyzed the causes and outcomes of ICH patients. 24% of ICH patients in a registry at Tampa General Hospital were ages 18 to 49. Half were women, about two thirds were Caucasian, 15% were black and 12% were Hispanic.

ICH is often linked with high blood pressure in people over age 50, and in this study, 57% of those age 50 and older had it. Only 33% of ICH patients ages 18 to 49 had high blood pressure.

Of the younger patients in the study, 41% had malformed blood vessels, known as arteriovenous malformations, aneurysms or other vascular disorders. Cerebral arteriovenous malformation occurs when blood vessels in the brain develop in an abnormal tangle in which the arteries connect directly to the veins without the normal capillaries between them. A cerebral aneurysm is the bulging of the wall of an artery in the brain. Both these conditions weaken blood vessels and increase the risk of a hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke.

The good news is that patients under age 50 who experience this vessel rupture inside the brain have better outcomes than older patients.

“Surprisingly, our study showed a low mortality rate compared to population studies,” said Dr. Hoffmann, professor of neurology at USF.

The 30-day mortality was 14.6% for the younger group, significantly lower than for older patients, whose mortality rate was 21%, he said. Previously, national population studies have found a high 30-day mortality rate for stroke patients with ICH. Some epidemiological data have suggested a 45% to 50% mortality rate, Dr. Hoffmann said.

ICH has traditionally been associated with older age groups and higher mortality rates.

Dr. Hoffmann attributes the low mortality rate in younger ICH patients to intensive neurocritical care management at Tampa General. The protocol includes decreasing intracranial pressure and using drains to prevent hydrocephalus, mechanical ventilation, sepsis control, blood pressure control and cooling.

The younger patients came into the emergency room, then were rapidly transferred to a neurocritical care unit within six hours. Typically, patients are hospitalized in the neurocritical care unit for one to eight weeks. Patients were evaluated by MRI, CT and angiography.

“This new way of thinking about how to manage patients with ICH is an important approach, and patients are reaping benefits,” Dr. Hoffmann said.

Most of the younger patients were able to live independently three to six months after their ICH, with only mild to moderate cognitive impairment that tends to improve over time, he said.

Dr. Hoffmann said the degree and nature of disability at six months is now the focus of the extension of this study.

“Intensive neurocritical care is the key to successful outcome,” Dr. Hoffmann said. “Good medical care can salvage a high quality of life after a stroke.”

The study was funded by USF Health and the Tampa General Hospital Stroke Registry. Co-author is Ali Malek, MD, USF assistant professor of neurology.
Source: http://www.hsc.usf.edu ; News-medical.net

(The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Drug Abuse Warning Network ( DAWN ) found that the most common single-drug suicide deaths involved opiates, followed by antidepressants and then cocaine, sedatives and anti-anxiety medications.

DAWN information showed that 7 out of 10 of the suicide deaths involved multiple drugs. The highest rates included combinations of alcohol and antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and opiates, alcohol and opiates, and then antidepressants with opiates. One quarter of the overall deaths in the metropolitan areas and states involved multiple antidepressants.

“What this data shows is what we teach in our education presentations,” comments a supervisor at Narconon Arrowhead, which is one of the nation’s largest and most successful drug rehabilitation and education programs, “that all drugs are basically poisons and that enough of any drug can cause extreme adverse reactions and even death.”

The DAWN study of 32 metropolitan areas and six states also looked for mortality rates for drug abuse. Of the cities that were examined, Baltimore and Albuquerque had the highest rates with more than 200 deaths per million people. Another 14 metropolitan areas had drug misuse death rates that exceeded 100 per 1,000,000.

In the six states, the number of deaths related to drug misuse or abuse ranged from 74 to 697. After adjusting for population differences, the rates of drug misuse/abuse deaths ranged from 88 deaths per 1,000,000 in Maine and New Hampshire to 162 deaths per million in New Mexico.

The Drug Abuse Warning Network is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related hospital emergency department visits and drug-related deaths to track the impact of drug use, misuse, and abuse in the U.S.

This survey did not include any deaths from adverse reactions to drugs. Such cases would include the consequences of using a prescription or over-the-counter pharmaceutical for therapeutic purposes and include deaths related to adverse drug reactions, side effects, drug-drug interactions, and drug-alcohol interactions.

Source: I-Newswire.com Jan.2006

A little light relief in amongst all the serious data – there are occasionally sections – which although still serious – can bring a smile to one’s face. One such is this extract from the book ‘Marijuana – Deceptive Weed’ by Professor Gabriel Nahas.

Experiments carried out in Germany by Luff (1972) indicate that driving under the effects of Cannabis intoxication induced by active material is hazardous. Twelve young volunteers Ingested 3.2 gr. of a potent preparation, and were tested under actual driving conditions. They passed through 35 stop signs, ignored three red lights, made 233 parking mistakes, ran through l9 pedestrian crossings, demolished a simulated wall of plastic blocks and ran over a large stuffed lion. The dose of delta-9-THC these volunteers absorbed was certainly elevated (60 – 100 mg) but the results are nevertheless sobering.

Source: ‘Marijuana – Deceptive Weed’ by Professor Gabriel Nahas, O.B.E., Ph.D. Published Raven press NY 1975.

Much of the push toward drug testing has come from the federal government. In 1982, the Navy began the first broad-scale random drug testing after an aircraft accident aboard the USS Nimitz uncovered widespread drug use about the ship. The practice soon spread to other branches of the military. Then drug testing was introduced in safety-sensitive government agencies such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and mandated for government contractors with contracts worth more than $25,OOO.

Several horrific accidents spurred drug testing in the transportation industry. In 1987, two trains collided in Chase, Md., causing 16 deaths, and it was later revealed that one of the trains engineers had been smoking marijuana before the collision. And in 1991, eight people were killed in a New York subway train crash; the train’s driver later tested positive for alcohol.

These incidents led to the passage of the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991 which required the Department of Transportation to mandate drug and alcohol  testing of employees in safety-sensitive transportation positions in private companies.

A snapshot of how drug testing works comes from Tom Warner, president of three D.C-based plumbing, heating and air conditioning companies that together employ 92 workers.  He wasn’t pushed to his drug-testing policy because of any big disaster. Instead, it was little things such as recurring minor accidents and foolish mistakes.  He remembers one experienced technician, for example, who had used his bare hands on a sewer-contaminated piece of machinery, rather than use his gloves. “It wasn’t something a rational person would do” he recalled thinking at the time.

Warner decided to introduce drug testing, and the first results startled him.  About half of a group of new trainees failed. as did the worker who had failed to use his safety gloves. Some drug users quit rather than be tested. Warner decided to clean out the problem workers by simply firing people who tested positive for drug use.  They are invited to reapply after one year and will be rehired if they pledge to remain drug-free.  Few drug users either apply or reapply now, Warner said. “It’s known we’re a drug-free company,”  he said. “People who do drugs want to do drugs — and want to be in a place where they can.” The percentage of major firms requiring employee drug tests has escalated in the past decade, … and the percentage of employees who test positive has declined significantly.

Construction workers are among the category of employees reporting the highest usage rate of Illegal drugs. Percentage of employees, 18-49, reporting use of illicit drugs in the past month :-
 

Construction  15.6%
Sales  11.4%
Wait staff. bartenders  11.2%
Handlers, laborers  10.6%
Machine operators 10.5%
Precision production  8.6%
Administrative support  5.9%
Other service  5.6%
Executive, managerial  5.5%
Technicians, related support  5.5%
By Kirstin Downey Grimsley Washington Post Staff  Writer Sunday, May 10, 1998

At the Department of forensic Medicine in Stockholm various studies on drug-related mortality are carried out. One important object is to create a register of deaths related to illicit drug use in the Stockholm area. This register includes users of heavy drugs chiefly amphetamine and heroin.

However, in recent years a number of cases were found with tetrahydrocannabinol but no other illicit drugs, in blood or cannabinoids in urine.
At closer investigation, it appeared that manners of death among the cannabis users were unexpectedly violent compared to the ways of death among other drug addicts. The proportion of suicides, 10 out of 24, was particularly high. This finding was remarkable, since cannabis use is not generally associated with violence.
The literature contains several descriptions of delusional states, paranoid symptoms and personality disturbances in cannabis users . These abnormal mental states are of comparatively short duration, usually lasting for just a few hours. Even first-time users may be affected.

These so-called cannabis psychoses are not very frequent and are often induced by long periods of intensive cannabis use. It is uncertain whether or not these psychoses can be separated from schizophrenia or other known paranoid states . The entity distinguishing cannabis psychosis from other mental disorders is the significant subsidence of the symptoms after some days or a few weeks. In most cases, the patient recovers totally but remains at risk for relapse in connection with repeated cannabis use. In case studies of cannabis psychoses, it is not uncommon to see descriptions of violent and destructive outbursts, suicide attempts and assaults on other persons, often with major violence. In a Swedish follow-up study of conscripts with a history of cannabis use, an excess mortality was noted 15 years after conscription. The excess mortality from suicides was particularly high, and the share of suicides increased in proportion to the magnitude of the cannabis abuse.

During these four years, a total of 13,417 medico-legal autopsies were made on males and females of all ages (about 26% after violent deaths). A total of 1.9 million people resided in the service area in 1987; of these, about 1.6 million lived in Stockholm county and 668,810 in the city of Stockholm. Information about deceased persons was obtained from police reports and was, when possible, supplemented with information from clinical journals, families and friends as well as from social workers. Complete autopsies were carried out, with few exceptions, when the blood tests analyses concerning HIV-infection were positive The autopsies were supplemented with histological investigations. Toxicological analyses were made, with the purpose of disclosing the presence of alcohol, barbiturates, tranquilizers, opiates, central stimulants and cannabis, as suggested by autopsy findings, past history, police records, or circumstances of death. Toxicological analyses were also carried out when insufficient information about the circumstances of death was at hand, for instance in cases of violent death, or when the postmortem findings were inconclusive, and also when information about unusual behaviour or symptoms was available.

RESULTS
During the four-year period of 1987-1990, cannabis was found to be the only narcotic drug in postmortem samples in 24 cases; in 8 of these, cannabis was the only finding, while alcohol, alcohol and medicinal drugs, or only medicinal drugs was demonstrated together with cannabis in 10, 5 and 1 instance, respectively. The number of deaths among these 24 cannabis users during the study period is shown in Figure 1.

There were 23 males and 1 female, 20-43 years of age (mean age 29.6 years). About two thirds (15) of the persons in this series were, at the time of death, under the influence of alcohol.

Figure 1. Numbers of cannabis user deaths in Stockholm 1987-1990

Figure 2. Manners of death among 24 cannabis users in comparison to the same number randomly selected alcohol users, amphetamine and heroin users’ deaths. N = Natural deaths. A = Accidental deaths. S = Suicides. H = Homicides. U = Undetermined deaths.

Among the 24 cannabis users, only one died from a non-violent cause, while the remaining 23 (96%) died as a result of violence, compared to a total of 26% of the entire number of 13,417 investigated postmortems during the same period (Table I). No stigmata which could be indicative of cannabis use were noted at the postmortems. None of the cannabis users had blood tests that were positive for HIV.

CAUSE AND MANNER OF DEATH AMONG 25 CANNABIS-ASSOCIATED DEATHS DURING THE FOUR YEAR PERIOD 1987-1990

Cause and manner of death Total n=24
Non-violent deaths, total 1

Complications of alcohol abuse (303)

1
Violent deaths, total 23
Accidental deaths, total 8

Traffic accidents (E 89)
Alcohol intoxication (E 859)
Drowning (E 910)

5
2
1
Suicide 10

Tablet intoxication (E 950)
Carbon monoxide intoxication (E 951, 952)
Jumping from high place (E 957)

3
2
1
Homicide, total 5
Stabbing (E 966) 5

The manners of death among 24 cannabis users were compared with those in the same number of users of alcohol, amphetamine and heroin (Figure 2); a similar distribution for alcohol users and amphetamine users was noted. There were obvious differences between cannabis users and heroin users, with suicides dominating for cannabis users, while deaths of undetermined origin, following collapse in connection with intravenous drug administration, predominated among heroin users.

Accidental deaths
Eight of the 24 cannabis users died in accidents, 7 males and one female, ranging in age from 22 to 43 years (mean 32.5 years). Two users died of alcohol intoxication. At the time of death, the concentrations of THC in the blood were only 0.8 and 2.0 ng/g. One male with 0.5 ng THC/g blood and 2.7 g ethanol/l blood died from drowning after suddenly loosing his balance and falling into the water. Five cannabis users died in traffic accidents, 3 as drivers of motor vehicles, and 2 as passengers with cannabis-influenced drivers. One of the deceased car drivers had 30 ng THC/g blood (and no other drug), while the remaining 4 traffic accident victims had 1-4 ng THC/g blood in combination with alcohol (0.3, 0.9, 2.8 and 3.2 g/1), in two cases also with low concentrations of chlormezanon and paracetamol. In one of the automobile accidents, high speed ( 3 times exceeding the speed limit through central Stockholm) preceded collision with another car; in another, the cannabis influenced driver passed another car, at twice the speed limit, and just continued to drive on the left side of the road until he collided with a car coming from the opposite direction. In the two others, the drivers were not able to keep their cars on the road in a minor curve; and in yet another, the car was simply driven into a ditch.

Cannabis Associated Deaths in Medico-Legal Postmortem Studies Preliminary Report
Rajs, Fugelstad and Jonsson. Dept.of Forensic Medicine. Karolinska Institute, Stockholm
Dept. of Psychiatry, St.Goran’s Hospital, Stockholm and National Laboratory of Forensic Chemistry, Linkoping, Sweden. Reported in the procedings of the Second Int.Symposium. Paris. April 1992

The operator of the Baltimore Light Rail train that ploughed into a steel barrier at Baltimore Washington International Airport on Feb 13, injuring 22 passengers, tested positive for cocaine after the crash, transportation officials said yesterday: Sam Epps, who had worked for the Maryland Mass Transit Administration for 25-years, was fired Feb 17. He told investigators he was under the influence of prescription drugs at the time of the crash, MTA officials said. The next day, agency officials said, they received the drug test results that showed Epps was under the influence of cocaine.

Source: Reported in Washington post Feb 24th 2000

People who abuse both alcohol and other drugs have the highest risk of injury. The association among alcohol and other drug use and injury is well documented. Alcohol alone is known to be a factor in 60 to 70 percent of homicides, 40 percent of suicides, 40 to 50 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes, 60 percent of fatal burn injuries, 60 percent of drownings, and 40 percent of fatal falls. Miller and his co-authors examined medical claims data from a database for 1.5 million people with health care coverage provided by 70 large corporations. Specifically, they analysed the injury-claims histories during a three-year period of people who were treated for an alcohol-or drug-related diagnosis.

“We included all medically treated non-work injuries except alcohol and drug poisonings,” said Miller. “This included falls, car crash injuries, assaults, suicide attempts, near-drownings, suffocations, poisonings that were not substance-abuse related, injury deaths in the hospital, among many others. We excluded medical misadventures that resulted in injury. We also excluded injuries treated at the same time that someone was admitted to the hospital primarily for substance-abuse treatment, because some of those injuries might not have been treated in the absence of the substance-abuse treatment. This latter decision considerably lowered our injury counts for substance abusers, making them conservative.’ Despite the conservatism of their injury findings, the researchers found a notable difference in the risk of injury between those who abused alcohol and other drugs and those who did not. Those individuals clinically identified as substance abusers had an elevated risk of injury. Alcohol-and-drug abusers had the highest risk of injury (58%), followed by drug-only abusers (49%), alcohol-only abusers (46%), and those who did not abuse any drugs (38%). Compared to those without a diagnosed substance-abuse problem, said Miller, alcohol abusers were twice as likely, drug abusers were three times as likely, and alcohol-and-drug abusers were almost four times as likely to be hospitalized for an injury during the three years examined.

“This study provides important evidence regarding the extent of substance abuse disorders and injuries in a population of people who are employed and receive insurance coverage through their employers, said Linda C. Degutis, assistant professor of surgery and public health at Yale University. Each year, she added, substance abuse costs businesses at least $10 billion in absenteeism, injuries, medical liability and health care costs.

Investment in treatment is an effective strategy to reduce these costs,’ said Degutis “Research shows that, following substance abuse treatment, absenteeism, disability days and disciplinary actions all decrease by more than 50%. Adults who complete inpatient alcohol treatment have significantly lower health care utilization than they had prior to treatment. Their use of medical services is cut in half, while they use 60 percent fewer psychiatric services, have a third fewer emergency admissions, and show a 75% reduction in detoxification admissions. However, in order for treatment to occur, the problems must first be identified.”

Both Miller and Degutis noted that health care practitioners – particularly family physicians and trauma personnel – have an invaluable, yet often overlooked, role in detecting, intervening on the behalf of, and referring substance-abusing patients to the appropriate care. Miller said that family physicians have an especially important role in helping older, female substance abusers. “Addiction is a brain disease,” she said “Too often, addiction is treated as a moral issue, or a ‘defect’ in someone’s personality or behaviour or judgement. There are many things that can place someone at risk for developing an addiction, and we now know that it can have a genetic basis, It is a chronic disease, just like heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases. Unfortunately, there is still a great deal of stigma related to addiction and substance abuse, In fact, the very term ‘substance abuse’ somehow implies that the person with an addiction is responsible for the problem. We should not be reluctant to discuss these issues, and should bring them out into the open, just as we have done with diseases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, and heart disease.”

Source: Miller et al at Pacific Institute for Research and Education Dec 2000

The number of people killed in road construction zones around Illinois has varied from year to year, but been relentless:
17 in 1999
38 in 2000
36 in 2001
31 in 2002
according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Police have been doing a fine job making DUI arrests. Legislators have been doing a fine job passing stricter laws against DUI offenders. Some judges, however, have fallen short when it comes to enforcing those laws. That deserves far more scrutiny than it has received.

Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com

Drunken driving has pushed Alabama’s highway death toll up to its highest point in four years.

Forty percent of all highway fatalities last year were alcohol-related and most of those wrecks happened Sunday mornings. The critical time was between 1am and 3am on Sundays – about the time most bars close. Alabama alcohol-related highway fatalities increased 10 percent in 2002 over the previous year. They rose from 374 in 2001 to 413 in 2002, according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System of the National Highways Safety Administration.

Source: http://www.al.com

In June 1997, the Department published preliminary results from the first 7 months of a new 3 year study into the incidence of drugs in road accident fatalities. At that time the Department committed itself to publishing a further report on the study  when at least 12 months data were available.

This report summarises the findings from the first 15 months of the study (up to 7 January 1998), and reports on the findings from 619 road user fatalities. As before, these include drivers, riders of two-wheeled vehicles (21 of them cyclists), passengers in vehicles and pedestrians.

Table 1 gives the percentage of those testing positive for medicinal and illicit drugs by road user groups. The figures for medicinal drugs include those cases where more than one such drug was found; those for illicit drugs are shown separately. This table is directly comparable to that published in the report issued in June 1997 (based on 301 fatalities).

The figures released on drugs and driving indicate that the scale of illicit drug use among people who have been killed in road accidents has increased considerably over the last decade. They show that among all road users, medicinal drugs were present in six per cent of fatalities. Illicit drugs (mainly cannabis) in 16 per cent, and alcohol in 34 per cent (23 per cent over 80 mg per 100ml) Among drivers alone four percent of those killed had taken medicinal drugs, 18 per cent illicit drugs and 30 per cent, (22 per cent over 80mg per 100 ml) alcohol. All these figures indicate a considerable increase in drug taking compared with the previous 1985-87 study.

Speaking at the PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Committee on Transport Safety) conference, Keith Hellawell, the UK Anti-Drugs Co-ordinator said: “These figures do not allow simplistic conclusions but they do show that illicit drug use may be a significant factor on road fatalities. In my new role as UK Anti Drugs Co-ordinator I am drawing up a strategy to deal with drugs and the harm they can cause. I look forward to working with colleagues in a wide range of agencies as we learn more about this problem.”

Interim results of survey, January 1998. Published DETR.

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