Global Drug Legalisation Efforts

Source: Email from Ed Moses to Drug Watch International drug-watch-international@googlegroups.com August 2017

Bertha Madras, a leading expert on weed, outlines the science linking it to psychiatric disorders, permanent brain damage, and other serious harms.

Young people who smoked marijuana in the 1960s were seen as part of the counterculture. Now the cannabis culture is mainstream. A 2022 survey sponsored by the National Institutes of Health found that 28.8% of Americans age 19 to 30 had used marijuana in the preceding 30 days—more than three times as many as smoked cigarettes. Among those 35 to 50, 17.3% had used weed in the previous month, versus 12.2% for cigarettes.

While marijuana use remains a federal crime, 24 states have legalized it and another 14 permit it for medical purposes. Last week media outlets reported that the Biden administration is moving to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous Schedule III drug—on par with anabolic steroids and Tylenol with codeine— which would provide tax benefits and a financial boon to the pot industry.

Bertha Madras thinks this would be a colossal mistake. Ms. Madras, 81, is a psychobiology professor at Harvard Medical School and one of the foremost experts on marijuana. “It’s a political decision, not a scientific one,” she says. “And it’s a tragic one.” In 2024, that is a countercultural view.

Ms. Madras has spent 60 years studying drugs, starting with LSD when she was a graduate student at Allan Memorial Institute of Psychiatry, an affiliate of Montreal’s McGill University, in the 1960s. “I was interested in psychoactive drugs because I thought they could not only give us some insight into how the brain works, but also on how the brain undergoes dysfunction and disease states,” she says.

In 2015 the World Health Organization asked her to do a detailed review of cannabis and its medical uses. The 41-page report documented scant evidence of marijuana’s medicinal benefits and reams of research on its harms, from  cognitive impairment and psychosis to car accidents.

She continued to study marijuana, including at the addiction neurobiology lab she directs at Mass General Brigham McLean Hospital. In a phone interview this week, she walked me through the scientific literature on marijuana, which runs counter to much of what Americans hear in the media.

For starters, she says, the “addiction potential of marijuana is as high or higher than some other drug,” especially for young people. About 30% of those who use cannabis have some degree of a use disorder. By comparison, only 13.5% of drinkers are estimated to be dependent on alcohol. Sure, alcohol can also cause harm if consumed in excess. But Ms. Madras sees several other distinctions.

One or two drinks will cause only mild inebriation, while “most people who use marijuana are using it to become intoxicated and to get high.” Academic outcomes and college completion rates for young people are much worse for those who use marijuana than for those who drink, though there’s a caveat: “It’s still a chicken and egg whether or not these kids are more susceptible to the effects of marijuana or they’re using marijuana for self medication or what have you.”

Marijuana and alcohol both interfere with driving, but with the former there are no medical “cutoff points” to determine whether it’s safe to get behind the wheel. As a result, prohibitions against driving under the influence are less likely to be enforced for people who are high. States where marijuana is legal have seen increases in car accidents.

One of the biggest differences between the two substances is how the body metabolizes them. A drink will clear your system within a couple of hours. “You may wake up after binge drinking in the morning with a headache, but the alcohol is gone.” By contrast, “marijuana just sits there and sits there and promotes brain adaptation.”

That’s worse than it sounds. “We always think of the brain as gray matter,” Ms. Madras says. “But the brain uses fat to insulate its electrical activity, so it has a massive amount of fat called white matter, which is fatty. And that’s where marijuana gets soaked up. . . . My lab showed unequivocally that blood levels and brain levels don’t correspond at all—that brain levels are much higher than blood levels. They’re two to three times higher, and they persist once blood levels go way down.” Even if people quit using pot, “it can persist in their brain for a while.”

Thus marijuana does more lasting damage to the brain than alcohol, especially at the high potencies being consumed today. Levels of THC—the main psychoactive ingredient in pot—are four or more times as high as they were 30 years ago. That heightens the risks, which range from anxiety and depression to impaired memory and cannabis hyperemesis syndrome—cycles of severe vomiting caused by long-term use.

There’s mounting evidence that cannabis can cause schizophrenia. A large-scale study last year that examined health histories of some 6.9 million Danes between 1972 and 2021 estimated that up to 30% of young men’s schizophrenia diagnoses could have been prevented had they not become dependent on pot. Marijuana is  worse in this regard than many drugs usually perceived as more dangerous.

“Users of other potent recreational drugs develop chronic psychosis at much lower rates,” Ms. Madras says. When healthy volunteers in research experiments are given THC—as has been done in 15 studies—they develop transient symptoms of psychosis. “And if you treat them with an antipsychotic drug such as haloperidol, those symptoms will go away.”

Marijuana has also been associated with violent behavior, including in a study published this week in the International Journal of Drug Policy. Data from observational studies are inadequate to demonstrate causal relationships, but Ms. Madras says that the link between marijuana and schizophrenia fits all six criteria that scientists use to determine causality, including the strength of the association and its consistency.

Ms. Madras says at the beginning of the interview that she was operating on three hours of sleep after crashing on scientific projects. Yet she is impressively lucid and energized. She peppers her explanations with citations of studies and is generous in crediting other researchers’ work.

Another cause for concern, she notes, is that more pregnant women are using pot, which has been linked to increased preterm deliveries, admissions of newborns into neonatal intensive care units, lower birth weights and smaller head circumferences. THC crosses the placenta and mimics molecules that our bodies naturally produce that regulate brain development.

“What happens when you examine kids who have been exposed during that critical period?” Ms. Madras asks. During adolescence, she answers, they show an increased incidence of aggressive behavior, cognitive dysfunction, and symptoms of ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorders. They have reduced white and gray matter.

A drug that carries so many serious side effects would be required by the Food and Drug Administration to carry a black-box warning, the highest-level alert for drugs with severe safety risks. Marijuana doesn’t—but only because the FDA hasn’t cleared it.

The agency has selectively approved cannabis compounds for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut or Dravet syndrome, nausea associated with chemotherapy for cancer, and anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients. But these approved products are prescribed at significantly less potent doses than the pot being sold in dispensaries that are legal under state law.

What about medicinal benefits? Ms. Madras says she has reviewed “every single case of therapeutic indication for marijuana—and there are over 100 now that people have claimed—and I frankly found that the only one that came close to having some evidence from randomized controlled trials was the neuropathic pain studies.” That’s “a very specific type of pain, which involves damage to nerve endings like in diabetes or where there’s poor blood supply,” she explains.

For other types of pain, and for all other conditions, there is no strong evidence from high-quality randomized trials to support its use. When researchers did a “challenge test on normal people where they induce pain and tried to see whether or not marijuana reduces the pain, it was ineffective.”

Ms. Madras sees parallels between the marketing of pot now and of opioids a few decades ago. “The benefits have been exaggerated, the risks have been minimized, and skeptics in the scientific community have been ignored,” she says. “The playbook is always to say it’s safe and effective and nonaddictive in people.”

Advocates of legalization assert that cannabis can’t be properly studied unless the federal government removes it from Schedule I. Bunk, Ms. Madras says: “I have been able to study THC in my research program.” It requires more paperwork, but “I did all the paperwork. . . . It’s not too difficult.”

Instead of bankrolling ballot initiatives to legalize pot, she says, George Soros and other wealthy donors who “catalyzed this whole movement” should be funding rigorous research: “If these folks, these billionaires, had just taken that money and put it into clinical trials, I would have been at peace.”

It’s a travesty, Ms. Madras adds, that the “FDA has decided that they’re going to listen to that movement rather than to what the science says.” While the reclassification wouldn’t make recreational marijuana legal under federal law, dispensaries and growers would be able to deduct their business expenses on their taxes. The rescheduling would also send a cultural signal that marijuana use is normal.

Ms. Madras worries that “it sets a precedent for the future.” She points to the movement in states to legalize psychedelic substances, for whose medicinal benefits there also isn’t strong scientific evidence. Meantime, she says it makes no sense that politicians continuously urge more spending on addiction treatment and harm reduction while weakening laws that prevent people from becoming addicted in the first place.
Her rejoinder to critics who say the war on drugs was a failure? “This is not a war on drugs. It’s a defense of the human brain at every possible age from in utero to old age.”

Ms. Finley is a member of the Journal’s editorial board.

Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-you-arent-reading-about-marijuana-permanent-brain-damage-biden-schedule-iii-9660395e May 2024

Appointing Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General infused new life into those of us who know that marijuana is destroying our nation from within. But were we premature in believing that Donald Trump would put an end to what Barack Obama and George Soros inflicted on this nation in the last eight years? After eight months, we still don’t have federal drug policy flowing from the President.

The pattern of past presidents is familiar. Bill Clinton moved the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to a backwater, and reduced its size by about 75 per cent. In 1996, with help from Hillary Clinton and investor George Soros, Clinton allowed California to violate federal laws and become the first victim of the ‘medical marijuana’ hoax. Soros, Peter Lewis and John Sperling, all out-of-state billionaires, financed that campaign with close to $7million (£5.3million).

Obama downgraded the position of Drug Czar from cabinet level to reporting to the Vice President. He then allowed, or directed, Attorney General Eric Holder to ignore the inherent responsibility of the Executive Branch to enforce federal law. Drug strategy in ONDCP was changed to focus on ‘harm reduction’, the subversive ploy of Soros to focus on treatment and rehabilitation, at the expense of primary prevention. The President espoused the claim that ‘marijuana is no worse than alcohol’, leaving most people with a flawed impression. Federal agencies such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) spent their fortunes on anything other than marijuana. Congress passed the Rohrabacher/Farr Bill which withheld federal dollars from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) so they couldn’t even enforce the law. The result? Twenty-nine states now have some form of legalised pot. Marijuana users had increased from about 15million to 22.3million Americans at the last count.

Now comes President Trump. During the campaign he indicated he felt legalising marijuana should be a state’s right. He is wrong, but could be forgiven if he took the time to learn why. He was building a hotel empire while many of us have been fighting the drug problem for 40 years. The truth about marijuana has been so misrepresented and suppressed for the last 20 years that he, like most people, doesn’t know what to believe. He has the best scientific information in the world available to him, but the question is: who is giving him advice? Anyone? Or drug legalisers such as Rohrabacher, Peter Theil, Trump confidant Roger Stone? Or even George Soros?

The truth is, marijuana was a dangerous drug 50 years ago, when the potency was only 0.5 per cent to 2 per cent. Today’s highly potent pot, with an advertised range of 25 per cent (+/-) of the active ingredient THC, and up to 98 per cent as wax or oils used in edibles, dabbing and vaping, has the potential to destroy the country by ruining our collective health and intellectual capacity.

Experts such as Dr Stuart Reece from Australia or Dr Bertha Madras of Harvard will attest that marijuana use by either parent can cause congenital abnormalities in a foetus. What’s worse, these abnormalities can affect the next four generations.

Psychotic breaks, mental illness and addiction caused by marijuana have led to a substantial increase in crime, homelessness, erosion of the quality of our inner cities, academic failure, traffic fatalities and public health costs. The combined economic impact in the US is well over $1trillion per annum.

Only the federal government has the resources to combat billionaire-backed legalisation campaigns and the illicit drug trade; the enforcement of federal laws is the only thing that will save California and the nation. Hopefully the President will step up and get us back on track without further delay.

Roger Morgan

RogerMorgan is the Chairman of the Take Back America Campaign http://www.tbac.us

Source: https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/roger-morgan-trump-must-clamp-marijuana-america-doomed/ October 2017

Nearly half of all U.S. citizens now live in a state where they can purchase cannabis from a recreational market, and all but 13 states have legalized medical use.  These state-level policies have all been developed and adopted under a federal prohibition, which may be changing soon as lawmakers in both the House and the Senate are developing federal proposals to legalize cannabis.

A new USC Schaeffer Center white paper shows how state-level cannabis regulations have weak public health parameters compared to other countries, leaving consumers vulnerable. Federal legalization is an opportunity to implement regulations that better protect consumers and promote reasonable use. Regulations policymakers should consider include placing caps on the amount of the main intoxicant (THC) allowed in products sold in the marketplace and placing purchase limits on popular high-potency cannabis products, like edibles and vape cartridges, as has been done in other legalized jurisdictions abroad.  

“Allowing the industry to self-regulate in the U.S. has generated products that are more potent and diverse than in other countries and has led to a variety of youth-oriented products, including cannabis-infused ice cream, gummies and pot tarts,” says Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, a senior fellow at the USC Schaeffer Center and Elizabeth Garrett Chair in Health Policy, Economics & Law at the USC Price School of Public Policy. “Current state regulations and public advisories are inadequate for protecting vulnerable populations who are more susceptible to addiction and other harm.”

High-potency cannabis products have been linked to short-term memory and coordination issues, impaired cognitive functions, cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, psychosis, and increased risks of anxiety, depression and dependence when used for prolonged periods. Acute health effects associated with high-potency products include unexpected poisonings and acute psychosis.

Policies should discourage excessive cannabis use

Product innovation within the legal cannabis industry has outpaced state regulations and our knowledge of health impacts of nonmedical, adult-use cannabis, write Pacula and her colleagues.  Cannabis concentrates and extracts can reach concentrated THC levels of 90% in certain cases – many, many times more potent than dried flower that ranges between 15-21%. These products are also increasingly popular – sales for concentrates like vape pens rose 145% during the first two years of legalization in Washington state.

But state approaches to regulation have insufficiently considered quantity and potency limits. Just two states, Vermont and Connecticut, have set potency limits on both flower and concentrates. Most states base sales limits on product weight and product type, an approach that allows individuals to purchase excessive amounts of high-potency products in a single transaction.

An individual in most states can purchase 500 10-milligram servings of concentrates in a single transaction. Six states allow purchases that exceed 1,000 servings. By comparison, a full keg of beer, which usually requires registration, provides 165 servings of alcohol.

“Voters in many of these states supported legalization because they were told we would regulate cannabis like alcohol, but in reality, when it comes to product innovation, contents and standard serving sizes, the cannabis market has largely been left on its own,” says Seema Pessar, a senior health policy project associate at the USC Schaeffer Center. “And that is what is concerning for public health.”

“We are seeing evidence of real health consequences from this approach, especially among young adults,” explains Pacula. For example, studies show a rise cannabis-related emergency department visits for acute psychiatric symptoms and cyclical vomiting in states that legalize recreational cannabis.

Key policies to support responsible cannabis use

To better regulate legal cannabis markets and products, researchers find four policy areas in which state laws and federal proposals can do more to encourage responsible use.

  • Placing limits on the amount of THC in legal products soldSetting clear and moderate caps on flower, concentrates and extracts.
  • Instituting potency-based sales limitsRestricting the amount of cannabis that a retailer can sell to an individual in a single transaction or over a period of time, based on the THC amount in the product.
  • Designing a tax structure based on the potency of productsTaxing cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol, based on intoxicating potential rather than by container weight or retail price.
  • Implementing seed-to-sale data-tracking systems: Allowing regulatory agencies to view every gram of legal cannabis that is cultivated and watch it as it migrates throughout supply chain, including the comprehensive monitoring of ingredients added to products that are eventually purchased in stores.

While generating tax revenue and reversing damages from prohibition are important, so is prioritizing public health — and prolonged use of high-potency cannabis products has health consequences, the researchers write.

“It is difficult to implement restrictive health regulations in markets that are already operating, generating jobs and revenue,” Pacula says. “Now is when the federal government has the best chance of ensuring a market that fully considers public health.”

Source: Cannabis Regulations Inadequate Given Rising Health Risks of High-Potency Products – USC Schaeffer July 2022

Drug Free America Foundation is launching its new digital advertisement campaign targeting viewers in Illinois. The digital animated ad is the second in a series titled “Marijuana…Know the Truth” and discusses the real dangers of marijuana use.  

As you know, Illinois is a state that is considering legalizing recreational marijuana this year. We hope this ad campaign will help address the misconceptions about the real dangers of marijuana use

This digital advertising campaign will utilize banner ads to drive viewers to our website where they can view the 2-minute ad. We are excited to say that through a generous donation, this campaign will provide over 10 million digital impressions in Illinois. We are hopeful that through additional donations, we are able to expand this campaign to other states and continue to spread the word on the dangers of marijuana.

Email from Drug Free America Foundation https://www.dfaf.org/ March 2019

Abstract

Background:

Cardiovascular anomalies are the largest group of congenital anomalies and the major cause of death in young children, with various data linking rising atrial septal defect incidence (ASDI) with prenatal cannabis exposure.

Objectives / Hypotheses:

Is cannabis associated with ASDI in USA? Is this relationship causal?

Methods:

Geospatio/temporal cohort study, 1991–2016. Census populations of adults, babies, congenital anomalies, income and ethnicity.

Drug exposure data on cigarettes, alcohol abuse, past month cannabis use, analgesia abuse and cocaine taken from National Survey of Drug Use and Health (78.9% response rate). Cannabinoid concentrations from Drug Enforcement Agency. Inverse probability weighted (ipw) regressions.

Analysis conducted in R.

Results:

 ASDI rose nationally three-fold from 27.4 to 82.8 / 10,000 births 1991–2014 during a period when tobacco and alcohol abuse were falling but cannabis was rising. States including Nevada, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee had steeply rising epidemics (Time: Status β-estimate = 10.72 (95%C.I. 8.39–13.05), P < 2.0 × 10 − 16). ASDI was positively related to exposure to cannabis and most cannabinoids.

Drug exposure data was near-complete from 2006 thus restricting spatial modelling from 2006 to 2014, N = 282. In geospatial regression models cannabis: alcohol abuse term was significant (β-estimate = 19.44 (9.11, 29.77), P = 2.2 × 10 − 4 ); no ethnic or income factors survived model reduction.

Cannabis legalization was associated with a higher ASDI (Time: Status β-estimate = 0.03 (0.01, 0.05), P = 1.1 × 10 -3). Weighted panel regression interactive terms including cannabis significant (from β-estimate = 1418, (1080.6, 1755.4), P = 7.3 × 10 -15). Robust generalized linear models utilizing inverse probability weighting interactive terms including cannabis appear (from β-estimate = 78.88, (64.38, 93.38), P = 1.1 × 10 -8).

Marginal structural models with machine-aided Super Learning association of ASDI with high v. low cannabis exposure R.R. = 1.32 (1.28, 1.36). Model e-values mostly > 1.5.

Conclusions:

ASDI is associated with cannabis use, frequency, intensity and legalization in a spatiotemporally significant manner, robust to socioeconomic demographic adjustment and fulfilled causal criteria, consistent with multiple biological mechanisms and similar reports from Hawaii, Colorado, Canada and Australia. Not only are these results of concern in themselves, but they further imply that our list of the congenital teratology of cannabis is as yet incomplete, and highlight in particular cardiovascular toxicology of prenatal cannabinoid and drug exposure.

Albert Stuart Reece and Gary Kenneth Hulse

Source:  BMC Pediatrics volume 20, Article number: 539 (2020) https://bmcpediatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12887-020-02431-z November 2020

Source: 20-Reasons-to-Vote-NO-in-2020-SAM-VERSION-Cannabis.pdf (saynopetodope.org.nz) May 2020

Police forces in the province collected 795 blood samples from motorists suspected of driving while under the influence.

One year after the legalization of recreational use of cannabis in Canada, the black market for the drug — as well as its use behind the wheel — continues to keep Quebec police forces busy.

In 2018, police collected 795 blood samples from motorists suspected of driving while under the influence, and sent them to Quebec’s medical legal centre for processing. That’s 254 more than in the previous year.

The presence of cannabis was detected in 46 per cent of those cases.

The Sûreté du Québec says cannabis is the most commonly detected drug in its traffic stops.

The provincial force said that since legalization, cannabis was detected in the systems of 113 persons pulled over for impaired driving, compared with 73 cases a year earlier — an increase of 54 per cent.

More than 670 officers trained in drug use evaluation have been deployed across the province.

In a statement issued Thursday detailing its operations over the past year, the SQ said it had opened 1,409 investigations into the illegal production, supply and distribution of cannabis, which led to 1,458 warrants being executed and charges filed against 1,403 individuals.

Meanwhile, raids on illegal outdoor cannabis fields were carried out in August and September, and saw 37,000 plants seized.

Over the past year, the SQ seized 71,500 cannabis plants, 161 kilograms of cannabis, 15.8 kilograms of cannabis oil and resin, 23,460 units of edible cannabis and $180,000 in cash.

Source:  https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/quebec-pot-arrests-behind-the-wheel-up-54-since-legalization October 2019

30 July 2019

I had forgotten how much I disliked cannabis until I found myself under its influence, in the rain, trying and failing to find Toronto’s Union Train Station so I could get to the airport and go home. The plan had been to enhance my mood for a long journey, floating back to the UK in a higher state of consciousness. In practice, I just got confused, wet and was lucky to make my flight.

I had intended to purchase the kind of low-THC, high-CBD weed that disappeared from Britain’s black market when skunk took over in the 1990s. Put simply, THC is the psychoactive component that gets you high but is associated with psychosis, while CBD is the antipsychotic component that gave cannabis its natural balance before it was bred out of the plant by drug dealers. Alas, laziness prevailed and I settled for a ready-rolled joint which my vendor candidly admitted was made up of scrapings from whatever they’d been chopping up that day.

In truth, the spliff had been bought on the ‘when in Rome’ principle. Recreational cannabis has been legal in Canada since last October and I was on a fact-finding trip with a BBC film crew and a cross-party group of MPs, including Norman Lamb, David Lammy and Jonathan Djanogly. In a few months time, Illinois will become the eleventh US state to legalise recreational marijuana. With the dominos falling, it is only a matter of time before a European country, possibly Britain, follows suit. We were there to see how it works.

Only two of us sampled the product. Norman Lamb received a knighthood for his work on mental health while we were there and marked the occasion by becoming the first British politician to be filmed buying and taking cannabis. I wish I could claim that it was a wild party, but the truth is more mundane. Struggling with jet lag and keen to get a decent night’s sleep, he tried a little cannabis oil. I am told the results were satisfactory.

Being male, middle-aged and more or less law-abiding, Sir Norman and I are demographically just the kind of chaps to dabble in the legal marijuana market. More people are consuming cannabis in Canada since it was legalised, with prevalence rising from 14 per cent to 18 per cent in the last year. In the first quarter of 2019, 646,000 people, most of them men and half of them aged over 45, tried cannabis for the first time. The most common reason given by these debutants for buying cannabis on the legal market is ‘quality and safety’. It is not so much that the law was an effective deterrent – everybody knew the police barely enforced it – rather that would-be consumers were put off by the idea of buying an unregulated product from a criminal supply chain.

The problem is that there are more than four million Canadians who are used to buying on the black market and have been given little incentive to stop. An illicit cannabis market that was worth $1,289 million in the last full quarter before legalisation was still worth $1,014 million in the first quarter of this year. The legal, recreational market was worth a mere £377 million. The illicit trade is proving hard to shake off.

Everyone I spoke to in Ontario was eager to point out that these are early days. Canada is only the second country to legalise cannabis (after Uruguay) and there were bound to be teething problems. There is a temporary shortage of both cannabis and shops from which to buy it. Toronto, a city of three million souls, has just four recreational cannabis shops. Nevertheless, the primary goal of legalisation was to take out the criminal element and so it is concerning that most of the country’s weed continues to be sourced on the black market.

Things are unlikely to improve until prices fall. The average gram of cannabis on the street costs $6.37. The average gram in a shop costs $9.99. Casual smokers might be prepared to pay ten bucks for government-approved cannabis, but the costs of switching to the legal market start to add up if you’re one of the two million Canadians who consume the drug at least once a week.

Marijuana is being produced on a truly industrial scale in Canada. Factories are turning seeds into six foot plants in a matter of weeks. The legal product could easily be sold cheaper than its illicit competitors, but over-regulation, taxation and a lack of competition have got in the way. Politicians hoped to smash the black market while regulating the product in such a way that it would not attract new punters. These two goals were never easy to reconcile, and neither has been achieved. High prices, plain packaging and restrictive licensing conditions have deterred long-term users from switching to the legal market while new customers have given it a try anyway.

Everything about Toronto’s cannabis shops feels regulated to the last inch. Browsing their shelves gave me a fresh appreciation for the subtle nudges of consumer capitalism. With logos and colours stripped from the packaging, there is nothing to signal quality, economy or potency; nothing to remember. The windows are blacked out. Edible and vaped cannabis cannot be sold. Small quantities of marijuana are held in over-sized plastic tubs, apparently to provide enough room for large yellow warning labels. The only concession to branding is that some of the tubs are white and some are black.

It all amounts to a concerted effort to suck the fun out of cannabis shopping, which makes sense if your aim is to deter people from buying the stuff, but not if your aim is to switch people from street cannabis to high street cannabis.

On an Indian reservation outside Toronto things could not be more different. Here, in a settlement of 4,100 people, there are no fewer than nineteen cannabis shops. Although it is illegal for visitors to take their shopping off-site, the authorities turn a blind eye to it as part of their efforts to atone for historic wrongs done to the indigenous population. As far as the proprietors are concerned, the unique selling point is their organic, homegrown product which they have reverse-engineered into the Indian way of life, but the real difference between these shops and their state-sanctioned counterparts is variety, low prices and an unabashed pride in selling something that is pleasurable.

All the weed sold here is unlicensed and therefore technically illicit, but when we visited, eight months after federal legalisation, it was doing good business. Until the Canadian government loosens up and allows a little more consumerism into its noble experiment, neither they nor the rest of the unlicensed sector have much to fear.

Source: Christopher Snowdon Spectator Magazine July 2019

INTRODUCTION

In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in fully regulating the marijuana market that now operates under state control.

In a Washington Post feature article on Uruguay’s cannabis laws, they reported that Uruguay is socially liberal and has a wide separation of church and state. Gambling and prostitution are legal and regulated. Uruguay is also the only Latin American nation outside Cuba that has broadly legalised abortion, and it was one of the first to recognize civil unions and adoption by same-sex couples. Uruguay also is accustomed to relatively high levels of regulation and a big state role in the economy, with an array of government-owned banks, gas stations and utilities. Over the years, activists began to argue: Why not weed?

As early as 1974, Uruguay decriminalised possession of “a minimum quantity [of illicit substances], intended solely for personal use.” Exactly what constituted a “minimum quantity” was never clarified, giving judges broad discretion in its interpretation.

The initiative of marijuana regulation was by the then president José Mujica. Lawmakers in Uruguay (population: 3.3m) signed the country’s cannabis bill into law in December 2013 and pharmacies began selling two strains of legal marijuana cultivated by two government-authorised firms in July 2017.

The text of the law expresses its goals through three main objectives, which included reducing drug trafficking-related violence by taking cannabis off the black market, and promoting public health through education and prevention campaigns, thereby “minimising the risks and reducing the harm of cannabis use”.

Uruguay was the first country to leave behind the global ban on non-medical cannabis that began with the United Nations’ 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and despite repeated criticisms from the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), as in the Board’s report for 2016, which states:

The Board notes the continued implementation by the Government of Uruguay of measures aimed at creating a regulated market for the non-medical use of cannabis… [T]he Board wishes to reiterate its position that such legislation is contrary to the provisions of the international drug control conventions… according to which States parties are obliged to ‘limit exclusively to medical and scientific purposes the production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use and possession of drugs.’

Concerned that their policy would come under intense scrutiny from their neighbours and from the broader international community, Uruguayan authorities deliberately opted for a strict approach to regulation, such as a user registry and monthly sales limits.

In an attempt to reassure the international public opinion, President José Mujica, said that his government would not allow unlimited use of marijuana and illicit drug dealing: “And if somebody buys 20 marijuana cigarettes, he will have to smoke them. He won’t be able to sell them“.

And in order to convince the majority of the Uruguayan population, the President Mujica promised to launch at the same time “a campaign aimed at young people on how to consume marijuana. Avoid, for example, to smoke to not damage the lungs but inhale or consume it with food“.

In response to public opposition, the Open Society Foundation headed by the financier George Soros announced the launch of a massive media campaign across the nation to manipulate the public consensus. Time magazine (5 Aug 2013) reported that “a massive media campaign, with television ads funded partly by Soros’ Open Society Foundations group, were required to convince opponents of legalisation”.

STATE CONTROL – HOW IT WORKS

There are three ways to legally obtain cannabis in Uruguay. The first alternative is autocultivo, which allows individuals to grow up to six marijuana plants per household and yield an annual crop of 480 grams per year, or 40 grams per month. All individuals must register with the government agency for the regulation and control of cannabis—called the Instituto de Regulación y Control de Cannabis (Cannabis Regulation and Control Institute) to grow these plants in their home and no person may register more than one location for domestic growth. The second alternative is the Cannabis Club, which allows between 15 to 45 members of a duly-registered civil association to farm up to 99 marijuana plants in specific locations. Each club may not supply any individual with more than 480 grams of marijuana per year. The third alternative is sale through pharmacies. This alternative will allow a registered consumer to buy up to 40 grams of marijuana per month and 480 per year in person from pharmacies that are registered with the IRCCA and the Ministry of Public Health. On July 19, 2017, Uruguay launched the last remaining stage of the cannabis law, with sales finally beginning in 16 pharmacies across the country.

PUBLIC DISAPPROVAL

Public opinion surveys have consistently shown most Uruguayans to be doubtful about the government’s initiative.

According to the results of the 2014 AmericasBarometer survey in Uruguay, only 34% of Uruguayans approved the new regulations regarding the liberalization of marijuana use, while 60.7% showed their disapproval to the new policies. Perhaps not surprisingly, approval for the new regulation of cannabis is closely related to previous personal experimentation with marijuana and a history of marijuana consumption among relatives and close friends.

PUBLIC SKEPTICISM

As of 2014, most Uruguayans remained skeptical about the benefits the new regulation will bring. For instance, 42% of Uruguayans considered that the general situation of the country would worsen as a result of regulation, while only 19% believed that the situation would improve. Among the most negative opinions expressed, 70% of Uruguayans stated that public safety and public health conditions would either worsen or remain the same. The issue that seemed to generate the most positive opinions was related to the fight against drug trafficking organisations.

Source: https://www.vanderbilt.edu/lapop/insights/ITB020en.pdf

PUBLIC USAGE

In 20015.3% of the population admitted to having consumed marijuana.

By 2014, life prevalence had quadrupled with 22.1% of Uruguayans acknowledging some consumption.

Since Uruguay legalised the sale of marijuana, underage use increased from 14% to 21%. Use by those aged 19 to 24 increased from 23% to 36% Those aged 25 to 34 increased from 15% to 25%.

Source: https://wdr.unodc.org/wdr2019/prelaunch/WDR19_Booklet_5_CANNABIS_HALLUCINOGENS.pdf

TEENS

Prevalence doubled among secondary school students from 2003 to 2014. In 20038.4% of students had consumed marijuana during the previous twelve months. in 201417% had.

Almost a quarter of the high-frequency users of Montevideo had their first experience with marijuana before age turning 15 (24.1%).

Prevalence is also higher among 18-25 year-olds than other age categories.

NON-COMPLIANCE

As at February 2018, 8,125 individuals and 78 cannabis clubs with a total of 2,049 members were registered in addition to the 20,900 people registered through pharmacy sales for cannabis. The system potentially provides cannabis to around 30,000 of the 140,000 past-month cannabis users estimated in Uruguay in 2014.

A recent survey found that almost 40% said they would probably or definitely flout the law which requires registration. (19.6% state that it is not probable that they will register, and another 19.6% said that they are certain that they will not register.)

MONITORING AND EVALUATION

A 2018 Brookings Institute report details how the Ministerio de Salud Pública is required to submit an annual report on the impacts of the legalization since 2014 – but the ministry has only submitted such a report once, in 2016, and the findings were not made public.

According to a report by WOLA (funded by Open Society Foundations – aka George Soros) and posted on the Monitor Cannabis Uruguay site, in spite of President Vázquez’s support for monitoring and evaluation, his administration has provided the public with relatively little in the way of hard data on the early effects of initial implementation of the cannabis measure.

The IRCCA’s limited staff – it has a team of six inspectors who are responsible for ensuring compliance – does not realistically allow the institute to check the annual plant yields for all 8,000+ homegrowers and approximately 80 registered clubs.

 PRODUCTS

A recent study of marijuana consumers in Montevideo found that users had consumed it in several different ways during the past year, including vaporizers (15.7%), edibles, such as brownies, cakes, cookies (26.4%), and drinks, such as mate, milkshakes, daiquiris (9.4%).

PERCEPTION OF RISK

The study of marijuana consumers in Montevideo also found that users had a very low perception of risk associated with undertaking several activities while under the influence of marijuana. For instance: 21.4% of respondents drove a car under the influence of marijuana; 28.4% rode a motorcycle; 11.2% operated heavy equipment. More than half of the respondents (55.4%) declared that they consumed marijuana and went to work before four hours had passed.

More than one in every four of those women who were pregnant (26.1%) reported to having continued consuming marijuana while pregnant.

BLACK MARKET

Three years after legalisation, seven out of every ten cannabis consumers still acquire the product on the black market. Authorities admit that “street selling points have multiplied in recent years, along with criminal acts related to micro trafficking.”

Marcos Baudeán, a member of the study group Monitor Cannabis Uruguay, suggests it may be worse than that: “Consider the fact that there are 55,000 regular consumers who are responsible for 80% of the marijuana consumption in the country, but currently only 10% are consuming from the legal market, the rest are buying the drug off the illegal market.”

Others have pointed to the very low concentration of THC in the legal drug as another reason why some users may turn to the black market. Though the price may be higher — a gram of high-potency illegal marijuana can cost as much as $20— some users may be willing to pay this premium in exchange for access to a more powerful drug.

Because sales to tourists are prohibited, some Uruguayan homegrowers and clubs have attempted to get around the ban by offering ‘cannabis tours’, which are framed more as social and educational experiences, in which participants are free to sample cannabis while on a paid tour. Others simply sell directly to tourists behind closed doors, a grey market quietly operating via word of mouth.

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

An unexpected consequence of Uruguay’s marijuana law is that the U.S. government invoked the Patriot Act which prohibits U.S. banks from handling funds for distributors of marijuana.  In Uruguay, this is by way of the pharmacies only.  International banks – both those with U.S. headquarters such as Citibank and European banks such as Santander have advised their Uruguayan branches that they are prohibited from providing services to the distributors of marijuana.

As a result, pharmacies tasked with the sale and distribution of marijuana have been cut off from the entire financial services market because the banks in Uruguay announced that every business associated with the newly legal marijuana industry risked being in violation of the U.S. drug laws and would lose their access to U.S. banks and dollar transactions.

SUMMARY

What we have learned from the data so far indicates that frequency of consumption has significantly increased, especially in the 15-24 age group. The perception of risk with drug use is low, and risky behaviours have increased with the frequency of consumption, including use of marijuana during pregnancy. The black market is alive and well. And the overwhelming support for the regulation among high-frequency marijuana users does not immediately translate into willingness to comply with it. Of most concern is that monitoring and reporting of the effects of legalisation is minimal, and not made public.

The drug-friendly website CannabisWire in July 2018 summed it up perfectly. “What Have We Learned From the First Nation to Legalize Cannabis? Not Enough.”

Source: Uruguay – Say Nope to Dope 2019

The House of Representative threw a pot party in Washington last week under the guise of a hearing on the racial impact of marijuana laws. Shamefully, Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler refused to allow groups opposed to the mass commercialization of marijuana to participate.

Equally disturbing was the behavior of ranking Republican Doug Collins, who refused to invite witnesses who could offer a counterpoint to Big Marijuana and its Big Tobacco investors.

Had these lawmakers not bought the industry’s propaganda and allowed the committee to hear opposing viewpoints, they would have heard the truth about how an addiction-for-profit industry has been targeting and victimizing minority communities across the country, not providing social justice.

The reality is that marijuana legalization is going too far, too fast. We need to press pause.

In one moment of reality, Dr. Malik Burnett, who previously worked on staff for the pro-pot lobbying group Drug Policy Alliance and now profits from the pot industry, acknowledged that the people making money off of the commercial pot industry are wealthy men — not minorities. He also highlighted that the industry’s federal legalization bill, the STATES Act, being pushed by former Speaker of the House John Boehner, includes no provisions for social justice or equity.

Let’s get real: Legalizing pot isn’t about social justice. It’s about making money. Period. And it’s about profit, usually off the backs of low-income and minority communities and other vulnerable populations, like young people. The idea that opportunity, equality and justice will spring from bongs, joints and drug-laced gummy bears is simply nonsensical. If common sense doesn’t make that case, the facts do.

Grand promises of social justice have repeatedly failed to materialize in states that have legalized.

African-American arrest rates for marijuana-related crimes in Colorado are nearly twice that of whites. And despite claims that pot legalization can cure mass incarceration, most states that have legalized marijuana have seen no corresponding drop in prison population.

Like its predecessor, Big Tobacco, the pot industry sees low-income and minority communities as profit centers. In Los Angeles, the majority of pot shops have opened in predominantly African-American communities. In Denver, where there are now more pot shops than McDonald’s and Starbucks combined, shops are located disproportionately in lower income and minority neighborhoods.

Even more concerning is the connection between pot shops and crime. Studies have shown that the density of marijuana retailers is directly linked to increased rates of property crimes. In Denver, neighborhoods adjacent to pot businesses saw roughly 85 more property crimes each year than neighborhoods without a pot shop nearby.

Big Pot doesn’t want the public and lawmakers to know these facts. Apparently, neither do congressmen Nadler and Collins. The industry has spent millions of dollars employing well-heeled lobbyists and PR teams to convince lawmakers and the general public that marijuana use is safe, and legalization has no appreciable negative consequences. It’s a lie.

Today’s high-potency pot products, up to 99 percent THC, is being mass produced and mass marketed in kid-friendly forms such as gummies, candies, sodas and ice creams. The use of these products has recently been linked in a growing body of medical research to the onset of severe psychosis.

These consequences are real. States with “legal” pot are now seeing dramatic increases in mental health issues, emergency room visits due to children accidently ingesting pot products (pets too), and spikes in drugged driving fatalities.

Marijuana legalization and normalization has the money-hungry titans of addiction salivating. Altria, Big Tobacco giant and maker of Marlboro cigarettes, has already dumped billions into a Canadian pot grower. Alcohol conglomerates are doing the same. Even the former head of OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma went on to lead a commercial marijuana business. If you think these guys care one bit about racial or social equity, think again.

Marijuana policy can be reformed without creating another legal addiction-for-profit industry. Expunging prior records and decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot is a start. Effective drug policy discourages use and gets people the help needed for issues with substance abuse. That’s true social justice.

Getting real social justice requires a real debate about this issue, not a sham, one-sided congressional hearing stacked in Big Marijuana’s favor.

Source: Time to Hit Pause on Marijuana Legalization – InsideSources July 2019

IS the Home Office really supporting a scheme which will allow drug users to get their illegal class A drugs tested for ‘purity and quality’ without fear of prosecution? 

Is Sajid Javid really stupid enough to back this idea? The naive justification is that it will reduce ‘overall harm’. While it will not, it will certainly become a licence for addiction and for normalising intrinsically harmful and destructive class A drug use.

Pity the poor children of such drug-users who, on top of putting their habit above their family’s needs and wellbeing, will now be able to take into their homes drugs which they can claim the government has deemed safe.

Such a process gives the misleading impression that that it is only any impurities in these toxic substances that can cause harm. As if impurities in the drugs were the top of drug addicts’ list of concerns; or as if you could take any drug with impunity providing it had been tested and declared pure.

Hello, Sajid! Wake up! I think you are being taken for a ride! Why else is diamorphine so carefully controlled and prescribed? Maybe despite being Home Secretary perhaps you’ve not visited any rehabs or talked to former addicts. They’d put you straight pretty quickly.

Have you not in your time in government visited enough drug ridden estates to know that it is drug use that is the problem that corrupts and endangers families and young people’s lives?

Have you not seen cocaine burn-out amongst your former City colleagues? Have you not seen the fall-off of any moral sense in the lives of those for whom their drug use inevitably becomes paramount, at the expense of everything and everyone else?

In case it has escaped your notice, there is a sustained campaign going on driven by middle-class libertarians to chip away at drug controls and to legalise drug use. It may well suit their selfish sensibilities to be free to do what they like but it is a disaster for those with fewer choices, fewer buffers and more vulnerability. That includes fatherless families, the poor and children, particularly children in care.

We’ve seen it in the campaign, coming from the heart of the establishment, to allow onsite drug-testing at festivals, driven by Dr Fiona Measham, a member of the Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. Never mind that such experiments cannot but encourage and pressurise immature young people to use drugs for the first time. They are safe and legal – hey, you can’t say no!

The elites who are pushing this, just like the elites – headed currently by Crispin Blunt MP  – pushing to legalise cannabis are blind to the harm it wreaks on vulnerable communities. This is what police officer Richard Cooke confirms in the Telegraph, and he is right: cannabis does have a pernicious influence on society. Users are disproportionately found among the underprivileged, criminals and the mentally ill. The consequential knock-on effects do stoke violence both in the home and on the streets.

Yet the last year or so has seen increasingly well-funded and pretty much nonstop attempts to erode our drug laws, from decriminalising or legalising cannabis to the recent costly and non-effective heroin prescription plan. 

And going along with the libertarian Mr Blunt (who last year set up a lobbying firm funded by overseas cannabis corporations) and the well heeled drug advocates of his All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform are too many liberalising Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners, no longer up for their real task, which is to crack down on crime, and who see legalisation as the easy route out.

This is the sustained pressure that Sajid Javid appears to be capitulating to, as he did before under pressure from the so-called ‘medicinal cannabis’ lobby, only to have both Dame Sally Davis, the Chief Medical Officer retract and Simon Stevens, head of the NHS, warn that we are making a big mistake with it.

If Mr Javid lets his subversive civil servants and lobbyists at the Home Office and in Parliament push him into licensed testing of illegal class A drugs, he’ll be making another; the country is going to be in very serious long-term trouble. It is not so much a slippery slope as the runaway rapids we’ll find we are heading down.

Source:  https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/wake-up-home-secretary-this-drug-scheme-is-a-recipe-for-chaos/    June 2019

 

(Image Credit: 7raysmarketing via Pixabay)

Contrary to advocates’ promises, legalizing pot has spurred new illegal enterprises. https://t.co/1k9twTCrmg via @cjstevempic.twitter.com/VKND92hjl5

— City Journal (@CityJournal) June 12, 2019

Unintended consequences of legislation are more commonplace than they should be, but minimizing them would require more nuanced political debate and that option has probably left us forever.

A new article in City Journal details just how legal marijuana is the gateway drug to illegal marijuana enterprises:

Though advocates claim that one of the benefits of  legalizing recreational marijuana is that the black market will disappear and thus end the destructive war on drugs, the opposite is happening. States that have legalized pot have some of the most thriving black markets, creating new headaches for law enforcement and prompting some legalization advocates to call for a crackdown—in effect, a new war on drugs.

Unlicensed pot businesses have already become a problem for Los Angeles just a year and a half after legalization. The city is devoting police resources that are already stretched thin to address the situation.

City Journal notes that it’s not just mom and pop scofflaws that are problematic:

Legal-pot states are attracting international criminal cartels. Mexican drug gangs have smuggled illegals into Colorado to set up growing operations, former U.S. prosecutor Bob Troyer  wrote last September, explaining why his office was stepping up enforcement. Rather than smuggle pot from Mexico, the cartels grow it in Colorado and smuggle it elsewhere—spurring violence. In 2017, seven homicides in Denver were directly connected to marijuana growers. “I would love to be able to shift some of my resources away from marijuana to other things,” Denver lieutenant Andrew Howard said last year. “But right now, the violence is marijuana or marijuana-related.”

More cartel violence and more illegal immigration…yay legal weed!

I’m no anti-pot Puritan, but I am on record as always having been frustrated by the discussions surrounding legalization efforts. They are rarely in-depth and mostly focus on marijuana’s medicinal uses. It is often portrayed as harmless, which is nonsensical. It’s not heroin, but it’s also not baby aspirin.

What were almost never discussed pre-Colorado were the consequences of legalizing a black market drug. It’s a bit naive to think that the major players from the black market would flee into the shadows once their commodity became legit.

Cartels may be illegal enterprises, but they are still businesses. They can adapt to changing markets. It would appear they are also adept at outreach:

Legal-marijuana businesses are getting in on the game, too. Last year, Denver authorities arrested the owners of a licensed chain of pot shops that employed 350 people for supplying the black market. In January, three owners of the business  pled guilty to drug and racketeering charges. In Oregon, federal prosecutors  arrested six individuals in 2018 and charged them with “vast” interstate-trafficking schemes that supplied black-market pot to Texas, Virginia, and Florida. Some of the suspects were also charged with kidnapping, money-laundering, and use of a firearm in a drug-trafficking crime.

So much for the harmless stoner sales pitch.

None of this is surprising for advocates of smaller government. Legalization and regulation were supposed to make the marijuana black market and its problems go away. Instead, as the City Journal conclusion observes, it’s merely created “Black Market 2.0.”

High times indeed.

Source:  https://pjmedia.com/trending/legal-marijuana-a-boon-to-illegal-cartels/  June 2019

Alexandria, VA) – A new study released yesterday in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that the rise in marijuana use in Colorado since the state legalized the drug has led to increased emergency room visits. The study found that 9,973 marijuana-related emergency room visits occurred from 2012-2016, more than triple the number that occurred prior to legalization. Additionally, the study found that 10.7% of visits at UCHealth were due to the ingestion of high potency marijuana edibles. 

“Evidence continues to build the case that marijuana legalization results in harmful impacts on public health and safety,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “Marijuana is no longer the weed of Woodstock. The industry is churning out new, highly potent candies, gummies, sodas, and ice creams as well as concentrates and vape pens that contain up to 99% THC. These kid-friendly products are regularly getting into the hands of children, whose developing brains are incredibly susceptible to permanent damage from this highly potent pot.”

The study found that 17% of emergency room visits were due to uncontrolled vomiting that was associated with the smoked form of the drug. Previous research has labeled this phenomenon as “scromiting,” or Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. 12% of the visits were for acute psychosis and this was associated with high potency edibles. 8% of visits were associated with cardiovascular issues such as irregular heartbeat or even heart attacks after ingestion of edibles.

Another recent study found that the use of high potency edibles was directly linked with increases in severe mental illness, such as psychosis, and stated that if higher potency concentrates and edibles were removed from the market, instances of psychosis would be reduced by a third. 

“Lawmakers rushing to legalize marijuana need to slow down and consider the implications it could bring upon their state,” continued Dr. Sabet. “They are certainly not receiving information such as this from the pot industry’s army of lobbyists. This is why organizations such as SAM are so important. We work tirelessly to combat the industry narrative that marijuana is harmless.

Email from SAM https://www.learnaboutsam.org March 2019

A growing number of countries are deciding to ditch prohibition. What comes next?

In an anonymous-looking building a few minutes’ drive from Denver International Airport, a bald chemotherapy patient and a pair of giggling tourists eye the stock on display. Reeking packets of mossy green buds—Girl Scout Cookies, KoolAid Kush, Power Cheese—sit alongside cabinets of chocolates and chilled drinks. In a warehouse behind the shop pointy-leaved plants bask in the artificial light of two-storey growing rooms. Sally Vander Veer, the president of Medicine Man, which runs this dispensary, reckons the inventory is worth about $4m.

America, and the world, are going to see a lot more such establishments. Since California’s voters legalised the sale of marijuana for medical use in 1996, 22 more states, plus the District of Columbia, have followed suit; in a year’s time the number is likely to be nearer 30. Sales to cannabis “patients” whose conditions range from the serious to the notional are also legal elsewhere in the Americas (Colombia is among the latest to license the drug) and in much of Europe. On February 10th Australia announced similar plans.

Now a growing number of jurisdictions are legalising the sale of cannabis for pure pleasure—or impure, if you prefer. In 2014 the American states of Colorado and Washington began sales of recreational weed; Oregon followed suit last October and Alaska will soon join them. They are all places where the drug is already popular (see chart 1). Jamaica has legalised ganja for broadly defined religious purposes. Spain allows users to grow and buy weed through small collectives. Uruguay expects to begin non-medicinal sales through pharmacies by August.  

Canada’s government plans to legalise cannabis next year, making it the first G7 country to do so. But it may not be the largest pot economy for long; California is one of several states where ballot initiatives to legalise cannabis could well pass in America’s November elections. A majority of Americans are in favour of such changes (see chart 2).

Legalisers argue that regulated markets protect consumers, save the police money, raise revenues and put criminals out of business as well as extending freedom. Though it will be years before some of these claims can be tested, the initial results are encouraging: a big bite has been taken out of the mafia’s market, thousands of young people have been spared criminal records and hundreds of millions of dollars have been legitimately earned and taxed. There has so far been no explosion in consumption, nor of drug-related crime.

To get the most of these benefits, though, requires more than just legalisation. To live outside the law, Bob Dylan memorably if unconvincingly claimed, you must be honest; to live inside it you must be regulated. Ms Vander Veer points to a “two-inch thick” book of rules applicable to Medicine Man’s business.

Such rules should depend on which of legalisation’s benefits a jurisdiction wants to prioritise and what harms it wants to minimise. The first consideration is how much protection users need. As far as anyone has been able to establish (and some have tried very hard indeed) it is as good as impossible to die of a marijuana overdose. But the drug has downsides. Being stoned can lead to other calamities: in the past two years Colorado has seen three deaths associated with cannabis use (one fall, one suicide and one alleged murder, in which the defendant claims the pot made him do it). There may have been more. Colorado has seen an increase in the proportion of drivers involved in accidents who test positive for the drug, though there has been no corresponding rise in traffic fatalities.

The chronic harm done by the drug is still a matter for debate. Heavy cannabis use is associated with mental illness, but researchers struggle to establish the direction of causality; a tendency to mental illness may lead to drug use. It may also be the case that some are more susceptible to harm than others.

Jonathan Caulkins of Carnegie Mellon University has found that cannabis users are more likely than alcohol drinkers to say the drug has caused them problems at work or at home. It is an imperfect comparison because most cannabis users are, by definition, lawbreakers, and therefore perhaps more prone to such problems. Nonetheless it is clear that pot is, in Mr Caulkins’ words, a “performance-degrading drug”.

What’s more, some struggle to give it up: in America 14% of people who used pot in the past month meet the criteria by which doctors define dependence. As in the alcohol and tobacco markets, about 80% of consumption is accounted for by the heaviest-using 20% of users. Startlingly, Mr Caulkins calculates that in America more than half of all cannabis is consumed by people who are high for more than half their waking hours.

To complicate matters, the public-health effects of cannabis should not be looked at in isolation. If taking up weed made people less likely to consume cigarettes or alcohol it might offer net benefits. But if people treat cannabis and other drugs as complements—that is, if doing more pot makes them smoke more tobacco or guzzle more alcohol—an increase in use could be a big public-health problem.

No one yet knows which is more likely. A review of mostly American studies by the RAND Corporation, a think-tank, found mixed evidence on the relationship between cannabis and alcohol. Demand for tobacco seems to go up along with demand for cannabis, though the two are hard to separate because, in Europe at least, they are often smoked together. The data regarding other drugs are more limited. Proponents of the Dutch “coffee shop” system, which allows purchase and consumption in specific places, argue that legalisation keeps users away from dealers who may push them on to harder substances. And there is some evidence that cannabis functions as a substitute for prescription opioids, such as OxyContin, which kill 15,000 Americans each year. People used to worry that cigarettes were a “gateway” to cannabis, and that cannabis was in turn a gateway to hard drugs. It may be the reverse: cannabis could be a useful restraint on the abuse of opioids, but a dangerous pathway to tobacco.

More bong for your buck

Danger and harm are not in themselves a reason to make or keep things illegal. But the available evidence persuades many supporters of legalisation that cannabis consumption should still be discouraged. The simplest way to do so is to keep the drug expensive; children and heavy users, both good candidates for deterrence, are particularly likely to be cost sensitive. And keeping prices up through taxes has political appeal that goes beyond public health. Backers of California’s main legalisation measure make much of the annual $1 billion that could flow to state coffers.

Setting the right level for the tax, though, is challenging. Go too low and you encourage use. Aim too high and you lose one of the other benefits of legalisation: closing down a criminal black market.

Comparing Colorado and Washington illustrates the trade-off. Colorado has set its pot taxes fairly low, at 28% (including an existing sales tax). It has also taken a relaxed approach to licensing sellers; marijuana dispensaries outnumber Starbucks. Washington initially set its taxes higher, at an effective rate of 44%, and was much more conservative with licences for growers and vendors. That meant that when its legalisation effort got under way in 2014, the average retail price was about $25 per gram, compared with Colorado’s $15. The price of black-market weed (mostly an inferior product) in both states was around $10.

The effect on crime seems to have been as one would predict. Colorado’s authorities reckon licensed sales—about 90 tonnes a year—now meet 70% of total estimated demand, with much of the rest covered by a “grey” market of legally home-grown pot illegally sold. In Washington licensed sales accounted for only about 30% of the market in 2014, according to Roger Roffman of the University of Washington. Washington’s large, untaxed and rather wild-west “medical” marijuana market accounts for a lot of the rest. Still, most agree that Colorado’s lower prices have done more to make life hard for organised crime.

Uruguay also plans to set prices comparable to those that illegal dealers offer. “We intend to compete with the illicit market in price, quality and safety,” says Milton Romani, secretary-general of the National Drug Board. To avoid this competitively priced supply encouraging more use, the country will limit the amount that can be sold to any particular person over a month. In America, where such restrictions (along with the register of consumers needed to police them) would probably be rejected, it will be harder to stop prices for legal grass low enough to shut down the black market from also encouraging greater use. Indeed, since legalisation consumption in Colorado appears to have edged up a few percentage points among both adults and under-21s, who in theory shouldn’t be able to get hold of it at all; that said, a similar trend was apparent before legalisation, and the data are sparse.

If, starved of sales, the black market shrinks beyond a point of no return, taxes could later go up, restoring the deterrent. There is precedent for this. When the prohibition of alcohol ended in 1933, Joseph Choate of America’s Federal Alcohol Control Administration recommended “keeping the tax burden on legal alcoholic beverages comparatively low in the earlier post-prohibition period in order to permit the legal industry to offer more severe competition to its illegal competitor.” After three years, he estimated, with the mob “driven from business, the tax burden could be gradually increased.” And so it was (see chart 3).

Those taxes reflected the strength of what was for sale; taxing whiskey more than beer made sense as a deterrent to drunkenness. Here, so far, the regulation of cannabis lags behind. The levies on price or weight used by America’s legalising states are easy to administer, but could push consumers towards stronger strains. In the various lines sold by Medicine Man, for example, the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical compound that gets you high, varies from 7% to over 20%. The prices, though, are mostly the same, and there is no difference in tax. Some like it weak, but on the whole, Ms Vander Veer says, the stronger varieties are what people ask for. If they cost no more, why not? The average potency on sale in Denver is now about 18%, roughly three times the strength of the smuggled Mexican weed that once dominated the market.

Barbara Brohl, the head of Colorado’s Department of Revenue, says THC-based taxation is something the state may try in the future. But the speed with which the regulatory apparatus was set up—sales began just over a year after the ballot initiative passed in November 2012—meant that they had to move fast. “We’re building the airplane while we’re in the air,” she says. Uruguay, clear that it wants to be “a regulated market, not a free market”, as Mr Romani puts it, plans a more direct way of discouraging the stronger stuff. Dispensaries will sell just three government-approved strains of cannabis, their potencies ranging from 5% to 14%.

Another issue for regulators is the increasing number of ways in which cannabis is consumed. The star performer of the legalised pot market is the “edibles” sector, which includes THC-laced chocolates, drinks, lollipops and gummy bears. There are also concentrated “tinctures” to be dropped onto the tongue and vaping products to be consumed through e-cigarettes. Foria, a California company, sells a THC-based personal lubricant (“For all my vagina knew, I was laying on one of San Diego’s fabulous beaches!” reads one testimonial).

The popularity of these products looks set to grow; users appreciate the discretion with which they can be consumed, producers like the ease with which their production can be automated (no hand-picking of buds required). But edibles, in particular, make it easy to take more than intended. A hit on a joint kicks in quickly; cakes or drinks can take an hour or two. Inexperienced users sometimes have a square of chocolate, feel nothing and wolf down the rest of the bar—only to spend the next 12 hours believing they are under attack by spiders from Mars.

The three cannabis-related deaths in Colorado all followed the consumption of edibles. Hospitals in the state also report seeing an increasing number of children who have eaten their parents’ grown-up gummy bears. In response the authorities have tightened their rules on packaging, demanding clearer labelling, childproof containers, and more obvious demarcation of portions.

A second concern about new ways of taking the drug is that they could attract new customers. Ms Vander Veer says that edibles offer a “good way to get comfortable with how THC makes you feel”; women, older people and first-timers are particularly keen on them. If you see cannabis as a harmless high, this is not a problem. If you want to keep usage low, it is.

The innovation seen to date is just a taste of what entrepreneurs might eventually dream up. On landing in Denver—which, uncoincidentally, is now the most popular spring-break destination for American students—you can call a limo from 420AirportPickup which will drive you to a dispensary and then let you smoke in the back while you cruise on to a cannabis-friendly hotel (some style themselves “bud ‘n’ breakfast”). You can take a marijuana cookery course, or sign up for joint-rolling lessons. Dispensaries offer coupons, loyalty points, happy hours and all the other tricks in the marketing book.

Legalisation has also paved the way for better branding. Snoop Dogg, a rap artist, has launched a range of smartly packaged products called “Leafs by Snoop”. The estate of Bob Marley has lent its name to a range of “heirloom marijuana strains” supposedly smoked by the man himself.

Roll up for the mystery tour

Branding means advertising, which may itself promote use. Many in America would like to follow Uruguay’s example and ban all cannabis advertising, but the constitution stands in their way. When Colorado banned advertising in places where more than 30% of the audience is likely to be under-age cannabis companies objected on the grounds of their right to free speech, though the suit was later dropped.

As well as moving into advertising, the industry is growing more professional in its lobbying. In legalisation initiatives the “Yes” side increasingly outspends the “No” side: in Alaska by four to one, in Oregon by more than 50 to one. Rich backers help—in California Sean Parker, an internet billionaire, has donated $1m to the cause. In some states, ballot initiatives have been heavily influenced by the very people who are hoping to sell the drugs once they are legalised. In November 2015 voters in Ohio soundly rejected a measure that would have granted a cannabis-cultivation oligopoly to the handful of firms that had backed it.

Worries about regulatory capture will increase along with the size of the businesses standing to gain. Big alcohol and tobacco firms currently deny any interest in the industry. But they said the same in the 1960s and 1970s, a time when Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, it has since been revealed, were indeed looking at the market. Brendan Kennedy, the chief executive of Privateer Holdings, a private-equity firm focused on the marijuana industry, says that several alcohol distributors have invested in American cannabis firms.

Even without such intervention big companies are likely to emerge. Sam Kamin, a law professor at Denver University who helped draft Colorado’s regulations, suspects that eventual federal legalisation, which would make interstate trade legal, could well see cannabis cultivation become something like the business of growing hops, virtually all of which come from Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Big farms supplying a national market would be much cheaper than the current local-warehouse model, driving local suppliers out of the market, or at least into a niche.

The industry has so far been helped by the fact that many on the left who might normally campaign against selling harmful substances to young people are vocal supporters of legalisation. That could change with the growth of a business lobby that, although understanding that an explosion in demand would trigger a backlash, may have little long-term interest in restraint. The prospect of such a lobby could also serve as an incentive for states to take the initiative on legalisation, rather than waiting for their citizens to demand it. Fine-tuning Colorado’s regime, Mr Kamin says, has been made harder by the fact that the ballot of 2012 enshrined legalisation in the state constitution. Other states “might want [their rules] to be defined instead by legislation, not citizens’ initiative,” suggests Ms Brohl, the Colorado tax chief.

Different places will legalise in different ways; some may never legalise at all; some will make mistakes they later think better of. But those that legalise early may prove to have a lasting influence well beyond their borders, establishing norms that last for a long while. It behoves them to think through what needs regulating, and what does not, with care. Over-regulation risks losing some of the main benefits of liberalisation. But as alcohol and tobacco show, tightening regimes at a later date can be very difficult indeed.

Source:  http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21692873   13 Feb. 2016

Tragically, the last few months of music festivals repeatedly resembled scenes from a hospital emergency ward, witnessing this season’s highest number of drug related hospitalisations and the deaths of predominately young adults ranging from 19 to 25 years-old.
In the aftermath of these heart wrenching events, harm reduction advocates have taken to media on mass advocating for pill testing as the next risk minimisation strategy that could potentially save lives.
Often, supporters are quick to highlight that pill testing is “not a silver bullet”, just one measure among a plethora of strategies. But the metaphor is a false equivocation. Rather, pill testing is more like Russian Roulette.
Similar to Russian Roulette, taking psychotropic illicit drugs is a deadly, unpredictable high stakes ‘game’. It’s the reason they’re illegal. There is no ‘safe’ way to play.
But arguments and groups supporting pill testing construct this false perception, regardless of how strenuously advocates claim otherwise. Organisations such as STA-SAFE, Unharm, Harm Reduction Australia, the ‘Safer Summer’ campaign all exploit the context of harm and safety within an illicit drug taking culture.
To continue the metaphor of Russian Roulette, it’s rather like insisting on testing a ‘bullet’ for velocity or the gun for cleanliness and handing both back. It’s pointless. The bullet might not kill at first, but the odds increase exponentially after each attempt.

No Standard Dose Available and the Limitations of Pill Testing
In reality, no testing of the hundreds of new psychoactive substances flooding nations every year can make a dose safe.

As Drug Watch International succinctly puts it, “Most people have been conned into using the word ‘overdose’ regarding illicit drugs. No such thing. Why? Because it clearly implies there is a ‘safe’ dose which can be taken – and everyone knows that’s a lie. The same goes for the words, ‘use’ and ‘abuse’. Those terms can only be applied to prescribed pharmaceuticals because they have a prescribed safe dose. I have asked each jurisdiction in Australia if the legal amount of alcohol when driving, up to 0.49, is considered safe for driving. All said no – they would not state that.”
These substances remain prohibited because they are not manufactured to a pharmaceutical standard and are poisonous, unpredictable toxins that make it impossible to test which dose either in isolation or in a myriad of combinations proves fatal.
The limitations of pill testing4 have been discussed by Dr John Lewis (University of Technology Sydney) and prominent toxicologist Dr John Ramsey, emphasising that it is:
• Complex process
• Costly and time consuming
• Detects mainly major components of a sample that may not be the active substance
For example, even a relatively small amount of ingredients such as Carfentanil are lethal.
Speaking after Canberra’s pill trial in 2017, forensic toxicologist, Andrew Leibie, warned that pill testing trial is no “magic bullet” for preventing drug deaths but also expressed deep concern surrounding the freedom for scientific debate because public sector employees feared repercussions.

Leading harm reduction activist, Dr David Caldicott, in a 2015 interview admitted that the quality and type of pill testing would affect pill taking behaviour at festivals. When told that users potentially wouldn’t get their drugs back and the lengthy 45-minute process involved, “‘I think there’ll be a lot of people who will say forget it completely.’ His reasoning being that a lot of young people don’t have the money to spare a pill and it would slow down the momentum of the party.”

Could this be the motivation behind current trial of pill testing at Goovin’ the Moo where volunteering attendees where given the choice between testing the entire pill – effectively destroying it – or scraping the contents and handing back the remainder, despite the fact that the latter approach brings even less accuracy. This is another example of drug users, not evidence informing policy procedure.
The irony of course is that many of the advocates for pill testing would object to sugary drinks, foods and caffeinated energy drinks in school cafeterias on the basis these hinder the normal development of healthy children but do not object to the infinitely direr situation facing kids at music festivals.

Purity vs Contaminated – Another Misleading Contrast
The fallacious arguments surrounding safe dosage remain the same irrespective of whether the substance is tested as seemingly pure. Take MDMA that goes by various street names Molly and Ecstasy. It is the most popular recreational drug in Australia and was responsible for many of the deaths at music festivals.
In 1995, 15-year old, Anna Woods, died after several hours from consuming a single pill of pure MDMA at a Rave Party. Pill testing would not have changed this outcome. Anna’s case also highlights the idiosyncratic nature of drug taking in that while her three friends ingested the same tablets, Anna was the only one to have a reaction. Russian Roulette is again the most appropriate metaphor.
The Coroner’s report on Anna Wood’s death stated, “It is not unlikely that a tragedy such as this will occur again in N.S.W. In an effort to reduce the chance of that happening, I propose to recommend that the N.S.W. Health Department publishes a pamphlet, which will have the twofold effect of educating those who use the drug as to its dangers, and also educating the community as to the appropriate care of the individual who becomes ill following ingestion of the drug.”
Nearly twenty-five years later the fatalities involving MDMA keep mounting. In the only Australian study of 82 drug related deaths between 2001 to 2005, MDMA featured predominately. The fluctuating potency of this drug is further established as it is not only fifteen-year-old girls but grown men dying.

“The majority of decedents were male (83%), with a median age of 26 years. Deaths were predominantly due to drug toxicity (82%), with MDMA the sole drug causing death in 23% of cases, and combined drug toxicity in 59% of cases. The remaining deaths (18%) were primarily due to pathological events/disease or injury, with MDMA a significant contributing condition.”
The indiscriminate nature of MDMA was also witnessed with the latest fatalities at music festivals. For example, very different amounts of MDMA accounted for the five young people that died across New South Wales.
“In one case, a single MDMA pill had proved lethal while another young man who ingested six to nine pills over the course of the day had an MDMA purity of 77 per cent… (That is) a very high rate of purity,” Dr Dwyer said.”
Comparable stories are found all over the world including the UK case of Stephanie Jade Shevlin that is eerily similar to Anna Woods.
Drug dealers aware of the naïvely misleading narrative of pure and impure illicit drugs have been caught bringing pill testing kits to concerts in a bid to convince potential buyers of quality and hike up prices.

High Risk-Taking Culture

The prevailing culture at music festivals is one of blissful abandon and haste. It is a no longer fringe groups at the edges of society but the mainstream choice for generations of children and young adults fully embracing the legacy of, “tune in, turn on and drop out”.
Yet despite the prevailing culture, harm reductionists insist that pill testing will better inform partygoers of drug contents and provide the necessary platform for ‘further conversations about the drug dangers.’ (All of which of course can be achieved outside a venue.)
But this is conjecture and another attempt at experimental based policy.
As cited earlier, Dr Caldicott admitted, anything that stops the party momentum experience is likely rejected. This is because when dealing with high-risk behaviour removing too many risks takes away the thrill of reward.

In an age that has more educated men and women than ever before, it’s not the lack of information that is driving this level of experimentation but the growing indifference to it.
In the aftermath of the death of 25-year-old pharmacist, Sylvia Choi (2015), it was discovered that security staff at the Stereosonic festival were consuming and dealing drugs.
Further, the report often cited purporting to show a growing body of research for drug users wanting pill testing actually confirms that those with college degrees were less likely than those with high school qualifications to test their pills.
This seems to be a trend in Australia also with one judge fed up with groups of “well-off pill poppers” and “privileged” young professionals, including nurses and bankers – filling the court.
Another article describes the attitude of drug taking among festival goers (including University students) as not so much concerned about what is on offer but demand for cheap designer drugs.
The author notes, “A few deaths don’t deter experimentation, and if you’re going to experiment, you need to be sure you don’t die.”
But the determination for experimentation with different forms of self-destructive drugs is making staying alive increasingly less likely, as the levels of polydrug use is also on the rise.
According to Global Drug Survey, “Over 90% of people seeking Emergency Medical Treatment each year after MDMA have used other drugs (often cocaine or ketamine) and/or alcohol and more frequent use of MDMA is associated with the higher rates of combined MDMA use with other stimulant drugs and ketamine.”

Australia’s enquiry into MDMA supports this finding, “Nevertheless, the fact that half of the toxicology reports noted the detection of methamphetamine in the blood is consistent with the polydrug use patterns of living MDMA users.”

Pill Testing Overseas Failing to Stop Drug Demand and Supply

The push continues for Australia to adopt front of house or front-line pill testing at music festivals as in Europe and the UK. But not everyone is convinced of its resounding success.
Last year, UK’s largest festival organiser reversed its previous support for drug testing facilities. Managing director, Melvyn Benn, stating, “Front of house testing sounds perfect but has the ability to mislead I fear.”
Mr Benn details those fears, “Determining to a punter that a drug is in the ‘normal boundaries of what a drug should be’ takes no account of how many he or she will take, whether the person will mix it with other drugs or alcohol and nor does it give you any indicator of the receptiveness of a person’s body to that drug.”
In 2001, The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) produced its scientific report, On-Site Pill-Testing Interventions In The European Union.
Incomplete evaluation procedures have hindered the availability for empirical evidence on the effectiveness of pill testing. “The conclusions one can draw from that fact remain ambiguous.”
Perhaps the most disturbing feature of the report is the admission that decreasing black market activity isn’t within the scope of pill testing goals. “Overall, to alter black markets is ‘not a primary goal’ or ‘no goal at all’ for most pill-testing projects.” Within that same report drug users are classed as ‘consumers’ with an entitlement to know what their pills contain.
The report goes on to list the range of services offered alongside pill testing at venues. These include everything from: brain machines, internet consultations, needle exchange, presenting on-site results of pill-testings, chill-out zones, offering massage, giving out fruits, giving out free drinking water and giving out condoms.
And in another twist of just how far the common sense boundaries are stretched, for number of participating nations, tax payer funded pill testing is also offered at illegal rave venues.

Given the overwhelming lack of evidence that pill testing indeed saves lives, Australian toxicologist, Andrew Liebie’s claim is not easily dismissed, “the per capita death rate from new designer drugs was higher in Europe – where pill testing was available in some countries – than in Australia.”
The antipathy to drug taking was also witnessed by the Ambulance Commander at the latest pill testing trial, again in Canberra, Groovin’ the Moo.

No War on Drugs Just a Submission to Harm Reduction Promotion
The narrative for pill testing will at some stage mention the failed “war on drugs” and by association hard line but failing law enforcement measures either explicitly or implicitly such as in the statement below.
“Regardless of the desirability of treating it as a criminal issue rather than a health one, policing at festivals has limited impact on drug consumption, as research presented at the Global Cities After Dark conference last year suggests: 69.6 per cent of survey respondents said they would use drugs if police were present.”
But what this article completely fails to grasp is that police presence makes little impact because the law is rarely or, at best, laxly enforced and a climate of de facto decriminalisation has been the norm for decades. This was the situation with Portugal before finally decriminalising drugs for personal use in 2001.
Journalists for The Weekend Australian attempting to report events at a recent dance party stated sniffer dogs did nothing to stop the “rampart” stream of drugs. They described a scene of disarray; discarded condoms with traces of coffee grounds within toilets (believed to mask the smell of drugs), bodies strewn on the ground littered with drug paraphernalia, others were rushed to waiting ambulances, while one attendant told them “I got away with it” and another admitting popping two pills a night was “average”. Had they been allowed to stay longer maybe more party goers would be openly stating what many know, drugs supply and demand are at all-time highs irrespective of police presence.

Journalists instead were treated as criminal trespassers, threatened by security and ordered to leave under police escort.
The basis of Australia’s National Drug Strategy includes harm minimisation efforts as part of an overall strategy that also supports reductions in drug supply and demand.
The inadvertent admission that pill testing is not about curbing drug demand comes from another harm reduction stalwart, Alex Wodak, “It’s a supposition that this (pill testing) might increase drug use, but if it does increase drug use but decrease the number of deaths, surely that’s what we should be focusing on.”
In fact, Dr Wodak confirms that pill testing would incentivise drug dealers to provide a better product. “There was no commercial pressure on drug dealers to ensure their products were safe. But if we had testing and 10% of drug dealer A’s supply was getting rejected at the drug testing counter, then word would get around.”
A similar focus on consequences rather than causes is expressed by Dr David Caldicott, “I don’t give a s**t about the morality or philosophy of drug use. All I care about is people staying alive.”
In other words, take the pill, just don’t die…this time. What the long-term affects are to those drug users that survive hospitalisation, the impact on development, mental health, employment loss, families, the growing cost to taxpayers and the crushing weight on emergency services, hospitals and physicians let alone the constant appetite and entrenchment for more drugs will have to wait. Just don’t die.
The ongoing dilution of law enforcement is also seen by various experts all but demanding that police and sniffer dogs be removed entirely from music festivals. No doubt to be replaced with on-site massages, electrolyte drinks, brain machinery, chill out zones, fruit and more free condoms.
Prof Alison Ritter from the University of NSW and Fiona Measham from the University of Durham both agree that intensive policing combined with on-site dealing “could significantly increase drug related harm.” How intensive could police efforts be with such blatant on-site dealing was not explained.

The Unrelenting Push for Drug Legalisation
The real end game behind the dubious safety and harm messaging is drug legalisation. Pill testing, minus the caveat of being called a ‘trial’, would unlikely find full approval without a corresponding change in the law.
The limitations of pill testing and the legal ramifications in giving back a tested pill that proved lethal would become a public liability minefield.
This is clearly seen from the article in the Daily Telegraph, Pill Test Death Waiver Revealed, Jan 5, “The testing capabilities are so limited that revellers would be required to sign a death waiver, which includes a warning that tests cannot accurately determine drug purity levels or give any indication of safety.”
Later the article reports, “Mr Vumbaca said he had been given extensive legal advice to include the warnings on the waiver because of the limitations of testing information … we are not a laboratory and we have one piece of equipment … the test gives you an indication of purity, but you can’t tell the exact amount.”
The waiver would release everyone in testing from, “any liability for personal injury or death suffered … in any way from the services.”
Scattered within the pages of countless articles on pill testing released over the last few months, this admission of pill testing tied in within a broader agenda of drug legalisation is repeatedly made but easily missed among the hype.
Gary Barns from the Australian Lawyers Alliance said the latest deaths could be avoided or risk of death could be minimised with a “law change”.
Sydney Criminal Lawyers are more explicit, “And it seems clear that if adults were able to purchase quality controlled MDMA over the counter in plain packaging with the contents marked on the side, it would be far safer than buying from some backyard manufacturer with no oversight or guarantees.”
And disappointingly, even former AFP and DPP speaking on Four Corners state drug legalisation as a necessary public conversation.
It seems that these same advocates for policy and law change are willing to give a platform for the rights of those determined to self-destruct but not the rest of the law abiding community and their common good.

Pill testing – The Climate Change of Drugs
If comparing pill testing as a ‘silver bullet’ was an inaccurate metaphor, then the comparison to climate change shows the extent of not only erroneous but deliberate obfuscation. “This issue of pill-testing is climate change for drugs,” says Dr David Caldicott.
And yet the dark environment which produces the pills and wreaks so much unnecessary destruction to countless thousands of people all over the world is never fully understood or exposed to those that would blissfully take one small pill for a few hours of entertainment.
But talk of boycotting products that pollute the atmosphere, meat that is packaged from abused animals, clothing produced from exploited workers, or products genetically modified, most likely those same illicit pill takers would passionately relinquish and possibly even risk their personal safety to protest these injustices.
Yet, these are dwarfed by illicit drugs. The most barbaric network of human, economic and environmental exploitation.
Some of the social miseries are well known, including international crime syndicates and narco-terrorism. While others such as environmental damage due to deforestation, chemical waste and the recent drug toxicity detected in Adelaide waterways are often overlooked in an age of socially conscientious consumerism.
But the list of downward consequences is always local and personal, with illicit drugs linked to preventable death, disease and poverty. In cases of domestic violence, alcohol and drugs contributed to 49 per cent of women assaulted in the preceding 12 months.

Those who suffer the most are those who can least afford the consequences; the poor, young, vulnerable, indigenous and rural communities as revealed in the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission report.
Faced with such overwhelming statistics pro-drug lobbyists use inevitability mantras such as, “they’re doing it anyway” to sway public opinion toward legalisation; but fail to apply the same arguments to other societal abuses such as paedophilia, obesity, gambling, domestic violence, alcohol or tobacco.
It is time to stop the dishonest rhetoric of harm reductionist activists and the deliberate intellectual disconnect that has greatly influenced the Australian government drug strategy and peak medical bodies toward policies emphasising reducing drug harms (injecting rooms, needle distribution, methadone and now pill testing) while minimising the need to reduce demand and supply.
Eleni Arapoglou
– Writer and Researcher, Drug Advisory Council of Australia (DACA)

Source: PillTestingDACA_PoliticianBrief05-02-19.pdf (drugfree.org.au) February 2019

Three decades ago, I would have been over the moon to see marijuana legalized. It would have saved me a lot of effort spent trying to avoid detection, constantly looking for places to hide a joint. I smoked throughout my teens and early 20s. During this period, upon landing in a new city, my first order of business was to score a quarter-ounce. The thought of a concert or a vacation without weed was simply too bleak.

These days it’s hard to find anybody critical of marijuana.

The drug enjoys broad acceptance by most Americans — 63 percent favoured ending cannabis prohibition in a recent Quinnipiac poll — and legislators on both sides of the aisle are becoming more likely to endorse than condemn it. After years of loosening restrictions on the state level, there are signs that the federal government could follow suit: In April, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) became the first leader of either party to support decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, and President Trump (his attorney general notwithstanding) promised a Republican senator from Colorado that he would protect states that have legalized pot.

And why not? The drug is widely thought to be either benign or beneficial. Even many of those apathetic toward its potential health benefits are ecstatic about its commercial appeal, whether for personal profit or state tax revenue. Legalization in many cases, and for many reasons, can be a good thing. I’m sympathetic.

But I am also a neuroscientist, and I can see that the story is being oversimplified. The debate around legalization — which often focuses on the history of racist drug laws and their selective enforcement — is astoundingly naive about how the widespread use of pot will affect communities and individuals, particularly teenagers. In our rush to throw open the gate, we might want to pause to consider how well the political movement matches up with the science, which is producing inconveniently alarming studies about what pot does to the adolescent brain.

Marijuana for sale at a Colorado dispensary.    (Matthew Staver/Bloomberg Creative Photos)

I took a back-door route to the science of marijuana, starting with a personal investigation of the plant’s effects. When I was growing up in South Florida in the 1980s, pot was readily available, and my appreciation quickly formed the basis for an avid habit. Weed seemed an antidote to my adolescent angst and ennui, without the sloppiness of alcohol or the jaw-grinding intensity of stimulants.

Of the many things I loved about getting high, the one I loved best was that it commuted the voice in my head — usually peevish or bored — to one full of curiosity and delight. Marijuana transformed the mundane into something dramatic: family outings, school, work or just sitting on the couch became endlessly entertaining when I was stoned.

Like any mind-altering substance, marijuana produces its effects by changing the rate of what is already going on in the brain. In this case, the active ingredient delta-9-THC substitutes for your own natural endocannabinoids and mimics their effects. It activates the same chemical processes the brain employs to modulate thoughts, emotions and experiences. These specific neurotransmitters, used in a targeted and judicious way, help us sort the relentless stream of inputs and flag the ones that should stand out from the torrent of neural activity coding stray thoughts, urges and experience. By flooding the entire brain, as opposed to select synapses, marijuana can make everything, including the most boring activities, take on a sparkling transcendence.

Why object to this enhancement? As one new father told me, imbibing made caring for his toddler much more engrossing and thus made him, he thought, a better parent. Unfortunately, there are two important caveats from a neurobiological perspective.

As watering a flooded field is moot, widespread cannabinoid activity, by highlighting everything, conveys nothing. And amid the flood induced by regular marijuana use, the brain dampens its intrinsic machinery to compensate for excessive stimulation. Chronic exposure ultimately impairs our ability to imbue value or importance to experiences that truly warrant it.

In adults, such neuro-adjustment may hamper or derail a successful and otherwise fulfilling life, though these capacities will probably recover with abstinence. But the consequences of this desensitization are more profound, perhaps even permanent, for adolescent brains. Adolescence is a critical period of development, when brain cells are primed to undergo significant organizational changes: Some neural connections are proliferating and strengthening, while others are pared away.

Although studies have not found that legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana leads to increased use among adolescents, perhaps this is because it is already so popular. More teenagers now smoke marijuana than smoke products with nicotine; between 30 and 40 percent of high school seniors report smoking pot in the past year, about 20 percent got high in the past month, and about 6 percent admit to using virtually every day. The potential consequences are unlikely to be rare or trivial.

The decade or so between puberty and brain maturation is a critical period of enhanced sensitivity to internal and external stimuli. Noticing and appreciating new ideas and experiences helps teens develop a sense of personal identity that will influence vocational, romantic and other decisions — and guide their life’s trajectory. Though a boring life is undoubtedly more tolerable when high, with repeated use of marijuana, natural stimuli, like those associated with goals or relationships, are unlikely to be as compelling.

It’s not surprising, then, that heavy-smoking teens show evidence of reduced activity in brain circuits critical for  flagging newsworthy experiences, are 60 percent less likely to graduate from high school, and are at substantially increased risk for heroin addiction and alcoholism. They show alterations in cortical structures associated with impulsivity and negative moods; they’re seven times more likely to attempt suicide.

Recent data is even more alarming: The offspring of partying adolescents, specifically those who used THC, may be at increased risk for mental illness and addiction as a result of changes to the epigenome — even if those children are years away from being conceived. The epigenome is a record of molecular imprints of potent experiences, including cannabis exposure, that lead to persistent changes in gene expression and behavior, even across generations. Though the critical studies are only now beginning, many neuroscientists prophesize a social version of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” in which we learn we’ve burdened our heirs only generations hence.

Might the relationship between marijuana exposure and changes in brain and behavior be coincidence, as tobacco companies asserted about the link between cancer and smoking, or does THC cause these effects? Unfortunately, we can’t assign people to smoking and nonsmoking groups in experiments, but efforts are underway to follow a large sample of children across the course of adolescent development to study the effects of drug exposure, along with a host of other factors, on brain structure and function, so future studies will probably be able to answer this question.

In the same way someone who habitually increases the volume in their headphones reduces their sensitivity to birdsong, I followed the “gateway” pattern from pot and alcohol to harder drugs, leaping into the undertow that eventually swept away much of what mattered in my life. I began and ended each day with the bong on my nightstand as I floundered in school, at work and in my relationships. It took years of abstinence, probably mirroring the duration and intensity of my exposure, but my motivation for adventure seems largely restored. I’ve been sober since 1986 and went on to become a teacher and scholar. The single-mindedness I once directed toward getting high came in handy as I worked on my dissertation. I suspect, though, that my pharmacologic adventures left their mark.

Now, as a scientist, I’m unimpressed with many of the widely used arguments for the legalization of marijuana. “It’s natural!” So is arsenic. “It’s beneficial!” The best-documented medicinal effects of marijuana are achieved without the chemical compound that gets users high. “It’s not addictive!”  This is false, because the brain adapts to marijuana as it does to all abused drugs, and these neural adjustments lead to tolerance, dependence and craving — the hallmarks of addiction.

It’s true that a lack of benefit, or even a risk for addiction, hasn’t stopped other drugs like alcohol or nicotine from being legal, used and abused. The long U.S. history of legislative hypocrisy and selective enforcement surrounding mind-altering substances is plain to see. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, the first legislation designed to regulate pot, was passed amid anti-Mexican sentiment (as well as efforts to restrict cultivation of hemp, which threatened timber production); it had nothing do with scientific evidence of harm. That’s true of most drug legislation in this country. Were it not the case, LSD would be less regulated than alcohol, since the health, economic and social costs of the latter far outweigh those of the former. (Most neuroscientists don’t believe that LSD is addictive; its potential benefits are being studied at Johns Hopkins and New York University, among other places.)

Still, I’m not against legalization. I simply object to the astounding lack of scepticism about pot in our current debate. Whether or not to legalize weed is the wrong question. The right one is: How will growing use of delta-9-THC affect individuals and communities?

Though the evidence is far from complete, wishful thinking and widespread enthusiasm are no substitutes for careful consideration. Instead of rushing to enact new laws that are as nonsensical as the ones they replace, let’s sort out the costs and benefits, using current scientific knowledge, while supporting the research needed to clarify the neural and social consequences of frequent use of THC. Perhaps then we’ll avoid practices that inure future generations to what’s really important.

                                       By Judith Grisel,    May 25, 2018

Source:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/ posteverything/wp/2015/04/30/yes-pot-should-be-legal-but-it-shouldnt-be-sold-for-a-profit/   

(Denver, CO) – Today, a new study on the impact of marijuana legalization in Colorado conducted by the Centennial Institute found that for every one dollar in tax revenue from marijuana, the state spends $4.50 as a result of the effects of the consequences of legalization.

This study used all available data from the state on hospitalizations, treatment for Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD), impaired driving, black market activity, and other parameters to determine the cost of legalization. Of course, calculating the human cost of addiction is nearly impossible, we can assume the cost estimated for treating CUD is a gross underestimate due to the fact that it is widely believed among health officials that CUD goes largely untreated…yet rates have been increasing significantly in the past decade.

That, in conjunction with the fact that there is no way of quantifying the environmental impact the proliferation of single use plastic packaging common within the marijuana industry, leads us to believe this is indeed a very conservative estimate.

“Studies such as this show that the only people making money off the commercialization of marijuana are those in the industry who profit at the expense of public health and safety,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). “The wealthy men in suits behind Big Marijuana will laugh all the way to the bank while minority communities continue to suffer, black markets continue to thrive, and taxpayers are left to foot the bill.”

“The data collected in this study, as in similar studies before it, continues to show the scope of the cost of commercialization. The effects of legalization are far and wide, and affect just about every resident in the state directly and indirectly,” said Jeff Hunt, Vice President of Public Policy for Colorado Christian University.

“The pot industry doesn’t want this dirty truth to be seen by law makers and the taxpayers, who were promised a windfall in tax revenue,” said Justin Luke Riley, president of the Marijuana Accountability Coalition. “The MAC will continue to shine a light on the industry and urge our lawmakers to reign in Big Pot before it brings more harm on Coloradans.”

Source: New Colorado Report: Cost of Marijuana Legalization Far Outweighs Tax Revenues – Smart Approaches to Marijuana (learnaboutsam.org) November 2018

Fullerton, California, police officer Jae Song conducts a field sobriety test on a driver suspected of driving while impaired by marijuana. A growing number of drugged drivers have been killed in crashes. Bill Alkofer/The Orange County Register/SCNG via AP

As legal marijuana spreads and the opioid epidemic rages on, the number of drugged drivers killed in car crashes is rising dramatically, according to a report released today.

Forty-four percent of fatally injured drivers tested for drugs had positive results in 2016, the Governors Highway Safety Association found, up more than 50 percent compared with a decade ago. More than half the drivers tested positive for marijuana, opioids or a combination of the two.

“These are big-deal drugs. They are used a lot,” said Jim Hedlund, an Ithaca, New York-based traffic safety consultant who conducted the highway safety group’s study. “People should not be driving while they’re impaired by anything and these two drugs can impair you.”

Nine states and Washington, D.C., allow marijuana to be sold for recreational and medical use, and 21 others allow it to be sold for medical use. Opioid addiction and overdoses have become a national crisis, with an estimated 115 deaths a day.

States are struggling to get a handle on drugged driving. Traffic safety experts say that while it’s easy for police to test drivers for alcohol impairment using a breathalyzer, it’s much harder to detect and screen them for drug impairment.

There is no nationally accepted method for testing drivers, and the number of drugs to test for is large. Different drugs also have different effects on drivers. And there is no definitive data linking drugged driving to crashes.

“With alcohol, we have 30 years of research looking at the relationship between how much alcohol is in a person’s blood and the odds they will cause a traffic crash,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s traffic safety director. “For drugs, that relationship is not known.”

Another problem is that drivers often are using more than one drug at once. The new study found that about half of drivers who died and tested positive for drugs in 2016 were found to have two or more drugs in their system.

Alcohol is also part of the mix, the report found: About half the dead drivers who tested positive for alcohol also tested positive for drugs.

Drug Testing Varies

More than 37,000 people died in vehicle crashes in 2016, up 5.6 percent from the previous year, according to the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration.

Using fatality data from the federal agency, Hedlund, the governors’ highway safety group’s consultant, found that 54 percent of fatally injured drivers that year were tested for drugs and alcohol. Of those who had drugs in their system, 38 percent tested positive for marijuana, 16 percent for opioids and 4 percent for both. The remaining 42 percent tested positive for a variety of legal and illegal drugs, such as cocaine and Xanax.

That means more than 5,300 drivers who died in fatal crashes in 2016 tested positive for drugs, Hedlund said. Those numbers don’t include all drivers killed in crashes or those who drove impaired but didn’t have a crash.

Driver drug testing varies from state to state. States don’t all test for the same drugs or use the same testing methods.

“A lot of the tools we developed for alcohol don’t work for drugs,” said Russ Martin, government relations director for the highway safety group. “We don’t have as clear a method for every officer to conduct roadside tests.”

Police who stop drivers they think are impaired typically use standard sobriety tests, such as asking the person to walk heel to toe and stand on one leg. That works well for alcohol testing, as does breathing into a breathalyzer, which measures the blood alcohol level.

But these standard sobriety tests don’t work for drugs, which can only be detected by testing blood, urine or saliva. Even then, finding the presence of a drug doesn’t necessarily mean the person is impaired.

With marijuana, for example, metabolites can stay in the body for weeks, long after impairment has ended, making it difficult to determine when the person used the drug.

States have dealt with drugged driving in different ways. In every state it is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs, but some have created zero tolerance laws for some drugs, whereas others have set certain limits for marijuana or some other drugs.

That creates another challenge because policymakers are trying to make changes that aren’t necessarily based on research, said Richard Romer, AAA’s state relations manager.

“The presence of marijuana doesn’t necessarily mean impairment,” Romer said. “You could be releasing drivers who are dangerous and imprisoning people who are not impaired.”

State Statistics

In Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, there were 51 fatalities in 2016 that involved drivers with THC blood levels above the state’s legal limit, according to the state department of transportation. THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana, and causes the euphoria associated with the drug.

An online survey in April by the department found that 69 percent of pot users said they had driven under the influence of marijuana at least once in the past year and 27 percent said they drove high almost daily. Many recreational users said they didn’t think it affected their ability to drive safely.

In Washington state, a 2016 report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that fatal crashes of drivers who recently used marijuana doubled after the state legalized it.

The governors’ highway safety group is recommending that states offer advanced training to a majority of patrol officers about how to recognize drugged drivers at the roadside.

Officers in some states already are using a battery of roadside tests that focus on physiological symptoms, such as involuntary eye twitches, pulse rate and muscle tone, to determine whether a driver is impaired by drugs. And at the police station, some officers trained as drug examiners do a more extensive series of tests to identify the type of drug.

The safety group also wants states to launch a campaign to educate the public about how drugs can impair driving and work with doctors and pharmacists to make patients aware of the risks of driving while using prescription medications such as opioids.

And it is calling on states and the federal government to compile better data on drugged driving, including testing all drivers killed in crashes for drugs and alcohol.

“Not every driver in a fatal crash is tested. And plenty of drivers out there haven’t crashed and haven’t been tested,” Martin said. “We have good reason to believe there are more drug-impaired drivers out there than the data shows.”

Source: Drugged Driving Deaths Spike With Spread of Legal Marijuana, Opioid Abuse – Stateline May 2018

Tell Your Children:
The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence

by alex berenson

free press, 272 pages, $26

The smoking of marijuana, with its careful preparation of the elements and the solemn passing around of the shared joint, was the unholy communion of the counterculture in the late 1960s, when our present elite formed its opinions. Many of them allowed their children to follow their bad examples, and resent that this exposes their young to a (tiny) risk of persecution and career damage. As a result, those who still disapprove of marijuana are much disliked. The book I wrote on the subject six years ago, The War We Never Fought, received a chilly reception and remains so obscure that I don’t think Alex ­Berenson, whose book has received much friendlier coverage, even knows it exists. As a writer who naturally covets readers and sales, I find this mildly infuriating.

But let me say through clenched teeth that it is of course very good news that a fashionable young metropolitan person such as Mr. ­Berenson is at last prepared to say openly that marijuana is a dangerous drug whose use should be severely discouraged. For, as ­Berenson candidly admits, he was until recently one of the great complacent mass of bourgeois bohemians who are pretty relaxed about it. He confesses in the most important passage in the book that he once believed what most of such people believed. He encapsulates this near-universal fantasy thus:

Marijuana is safe. Way safer than alcohol. Barack Obama smoked it. Bill Clinton smoked it too, even if he didn’t inhale. Might as well say it causes presidencies. I’ve smoked it myself, I liked it fine. Maybe I got a little paranoid, but it didn’t last. Nobody ever died from smoking too much pot.

These words are a more or less perfect summary of the lazy, ignorant, self-serving beliefs of highly educated, rather stupid middle-class metropolitans all over the Western world in such places as, let’s just say for example, the editorial offices of the New York Times. Thirty years from now (when it’s too late), they will look as crass and irresponsible as those magazine advertisements from the 1950s in which pink-faced doctors wearing white coats recommended certain brands of cigarettes. But just now, we are in that foggy zone of consciousness where the truth is known to almost nobody except those with a certain kind of direct experience, and can be ignored by everyone else.

One of the experienced ones, thank heaven, is Alex ­Berenson’s wife Jacqueline. She is a psychiatrist who specializes in evaluating mentally ill criminals. One evening, the Berensons were discussing one of her cases, a patient who had committed a terrible, violent act. Casually, Jacqueline remarked, “Of course he was high, been smoking pot his whole life.” Alex doubtfully interjected, “Of course?,” and she replied, “Yeah, they all smoke.” (She didn’t mean tobacco.) And she is right. They all do. You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to know this. You just have to be able to do simple Internet searches.

Most violent crime is scantily reported, since local newspapers lack the resources they once had. The exceptions are rampage mass killings by terrorists (generally in Europe) and non-political crazies (more common in the United States). These crimes are intensively reported, to such an extent that news media find things out they were not even looking for, such as the fact that the perpetrator is almost always a long-term marijuana user. Where he isn’t (and it is almost always a he), some other legal or illegal psychotropic, such as steroids or “antidepressants,” is ­usually in evidence. But you do have to look, and most people don’t. Then you have to see a pattern, one that a lot of important, influential people specifically do not want to see.

That husband-and-wife conversation in the Berenson apartment is the whole book in a nutshell, the epiphany of a former apostle of complacency from the college-­educated classes who suddenly discovers what has been going on around him for years. What he repeats over and over again is very simple: Marijuana can make you permanently crazy. (This is a long-term cumulative effect, not the effect of immediate intoxication.) And once it has made you crazy, it can make you violent, too.

You’ll only find out if you’re susceptible by taking it. It is not soft. It is not safe. It is one of the most dangerous drugs there is, and we are on the verge of allowing it to be advertised and put on open sale. Berenson has gotten into predictable trouble for asserting that the connection is pretty much proved. Alas, this is not quite so. But the correlation is hugely powerful. The chance that it is meaningful is great. Who would be surprised if a drug with powerful psychotropic effects turned out to be the cause of mental illness in its users? Correlation is not causation, but it is one of the main tools of ­epidemiology. Causation, ­especially in matters of the brain, is extraordinarily difficult to prove, and so we may have to base our actions, or our refusals to take action, on something short of total certainty.

Tell Your Children is filled with persuasive, appalling individual case histories of wild violence, including the abuse of small children. It also lists and explains the significance of powerful, large-scale surveys of Swedish soldiers and New Zealand students, which connect the drug to mental illness and lowered school performance. Berenson provides facts and statistics about violent crime in places where marijuana is widely available, and anecdotes so repetitive that they cease to be anecdotes. The puzzle remains as to why it is necessary to say all this repeatedly when a sensible person would listen the first time.

Perhaps it is because of the large, and very well-funded, campaigns for marijuana legalization described by Berenson. People who drink fair-trade coffee and eat vegan, who loathe other greed lobbies—such as pharmaceuticals, tobacco, fast food, or sugary drinks—smile on this campaign to make money from the misery of others.

Berenson shows how mental illness has grown in our midst without being noticed in public statistics. A comparable growth in, say, measles or tuberculosis would have shown up. But deteriorating mental health does not, thanks to privacy concerns, and to the fact that mental illness is not easily classified. It is also a sad truth that rich, advanced Western societies nowadays begrudge money for the mental hospitals needed to house and protect those who have overthrown their own minds. They are reluctant to record the existence and prevalence of the very real suffering that ought to be treated in the hospitals they have sold off, demolished, or never built.

Berenson also witheringly describes the propaganda devised by those who want to legalize the drug, from the mind-expanding zealots who view drug use as liberating to the hard-headed entrepreneurs and political professionals. Argue against them at your peril. Your audience may learn something, but your opponents will not. Wilful ignorance is the most powerful barrier to communication. It seals the human mind up like a fortress. You might as well read the works of Jean-Paul Sartre to a hungry walrus as try to debate with such people. I have attempted it. They don’t hear a word you say, but they hate you for getting in their way.

Berenson gives a fairly thorough account of the “medical marijuana” campaign, an almost comically absurd attempt to portray a poison as a medicine. This campaign is so bogus that it will vanish from the earth within days of full legalization, because in truth there is very little evidence that marijuana-based medicines are of much use. Berenson quotes one refreshingly candid marijuana defender as admitting, “Six percent of all marijuana users use it for medical purposes. Medical marijuana is a way of protecting a subset of society from arrest.”

In the U.S., legalizers are poised to win the modern civil war over the legalization of marijuana which has been dividing the country for half a century. It looks now as if marijuana will soon be legalized, on general sale, advertised and marketed and taxed. This worrying process has already begun in Canada. The United States has approached the issue sideways, conceding states’ rights in a way that would have delighted the Confederates.

The United Kingdom has taken a similar route: It pretends to maintain the law and, when asked, insists it has no plans to change it. But the police and the courts have gradually ceased to enforce it, so that it is now impossible to stroll through central London without nosing the reek of marijuana. Europe has gone the same way, with minor variations. Among the free law-governed nations, only Japan and South Korea still actively and effectively enforce their drug possession laws, and benefit greatly from it. But how long can they hold out?

The legalization campaigners are working like termites to undo the 1961 U.N. Convention that is the basis of most national laws against narcotics, using all the money and dishonesty at their command. They have plenty of both. So, besides the two disastrous, irrevocably legal poisons of alcohol and tobacco, we shall before long have a third—and probably a fourth and fifth not long afterward. If marijuana is legal, how will we keep cocaine and ecstasy illegal for long? Next will come heroin and LSD.

One reason for the default in favor of legalization and non-enforcement is the false association made by so many between marijuana and liberty. The belief that a dangerous, stupefying drug is an element of human liberty has taken hold of two, perhaps three generations. They should know better. Aldous Huxley warned in his much-cited but infrequently read dystopian novel Brave New World that modern men, appalled by the disasters of war and social conflict, would embrace a world where thinking and knowledge were obsolete and pleasure and contentment were the aims of a short life begun in a test-tube and ended by euthanasia. He predicted that they would drug themselves and one another to banish the pains of real life, and—worst of all—come to love their own servitude. In one terrible scene, the authorities spray protesting low-caste workers with the pleasure drug soma, and the workers end up hugging one another and smiling vaguely before returning to their drudgery. (Soma, unlike its real-life modern equivalents, is described as harmless, something easier to achieve in fiction than in reality.) What ruler of a squalid, wasteful, unfair, and ugly society such as ours would not prefer a stupefied, flaccid population to an angry one? Yet somehow, the freedom to stupefy oneself is held up quite seriously by educated people as the equal of the freedoms of thought, speech, and assembly. This is the way the world ends, with a joint, a bong, and a simper.

Whatever was wrong with my intense little segment of the 1960s revolutionary generation (and plenty was wrong with it), we believed that when we saw injustice we should fight it, not dope ourselves into a state of mind where it no longer mattered. But my tiny strand of puritan Bolsheviks was long ago absorbed into a giggling mass of cultural revolutionaries, who scrawled “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll” on their banners instead of “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity,” or even “Workers of All Lands, Unite!”

While Berenson’s facts are devastating, his own response to the crisis is feeble. He opposes marijuana legalization—and what intelligent person does not? He babbles of education and warning our children. But he declares that “decriminalization is a reasonable compromise.” Actually, it is not. It cannot be sustained. If matters are left as they are, legalization—first de facto and then de jure—will follow, because there will be no impetus to resist it. Unless the law decisively disapproves of and discourages the actual use of the drug, it is neither morally consistent nor practically effective.

The global drug trade would be nowhere without the dollars handed over to it by millions of individuals who are the end-users. We search for Mr. Big and never catch him. But we ignore or even indulge Mr. Small, regarding him as a victim, when in truth he keeps the whole thing going. In the end, the logic leads relentlessly to the stern prosecution and deterrent punishment of individual users. It is because I recognize this grim necessity that I remain a pariah. It is because he doesn’t that Alex Berenson is still just about acceptable in the part of the Western world that believes marijuana is a torch of ­freedom. 

Peter Hitchens is a columnist for The Mail on Sunday.

Source:  https://www.firstthings.com/article/2019/05/reefer-sadness

Kevin Sabet was a drug control policy adviser in the White House for both Republicans and Democrats

When most people talk about Canada’s impending legalization of marijuana, they talk about the future. When Kevin Sabet talks about it, he worries about history repeating. 

“There are huge misconceptions, I often feel like we’re living in 1918, not 2018,” he said.” When I say 1918, I mean 1918 for tobacco when everyone thought that smoking cigarettes was no problem and we had a new industry that was just starting.”

In 1918, soldiers returning home from the trenches of the First World War brought cigarettes home with them and unwittingly sowed the seeds of one of 20th century’s biggest health epidemics. 

“We hadn’t had tobacco related deaths before the 20th century because we hadn’t had a lot of cigarettes, which actually gave us the most deadly form of tobacco we’ve ever seen. I feel like we’re like that with marijuana.”

Kevin Sabet is the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, or SAM, a non-profit agency in the United States devoted to ‘preventing another big tobacco.’ (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)

A former drug control policy adviser to the White House under both the Democrats and Republicans, Sabet is the President and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a public health organization opposed to marijuana legalization and commercialization in the United States. 

He said the sudden about-face by Ontario’s newly-elected Progressive Conservative government away from a public monopoly on marijuana sales to a mixed public-private is “a really bad move.” 

“When I see the government monopoly being tossed out the window in favour of a private program that really puts private profit over public health.. I worry about that,” he said. “I think it’s a really bad move.” 

“They are moving from a government monopoly to private retail and that’s going to open the door to all the marketing and promotion and normalization that already is a huge problem for our already legal drugs.”

“We’ve seen how that turned out for pharmaceuticals like opiates, which are highly dangerous and we’ve seen how that turned out for tobacco and alcohol.”

Big investors lining up to cash-in on pot

With legalization still months away, there are growing signs that marijuana and big business are starting to become best buds. (Nicolas Pham/Radio-Canada)

In fact, Sabet points out, some of the same players have already expressed their willingness to provide Canadians with legal marijuana on a massive scale. 

Constellation Brands, the maker of some of the most popular wines and beers in the world, has already paid $5 billion for Canopy Growth, the world’s largest publicly traded licensed producer of marijuana in Smith Falls, Ont. 

Several notable Canadian brands have also expressed an interest in legal bud, including Molson, which has mused publicly about a THC infused beer and Shopper’s Drug Mart, which hopes to branch out in sales of medical marijuana online. 

“We’re already seeing the private market salivating in Canada, waiting to be that next addiction for profit substance and I don’t see how that helps us.” 

‘Not your Woodstock weed’

Why that worries Sabet is the combination of savvy corporate marketing and increasingly intense levels of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana. 

“Today’s marijuana is not your Woodstock weed,” he said. “I think there’s a wild misperception about what today’s marijuana experience really is.” 

There are signs too that marijuana sold on the street is stronger than it used to be. According to a 2017 report from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, an American healthcare organization that helps people struggling with addiction, said the concentration of THC in marijuana has risen three-fold in the last two decades, from four per cent in 1994 to 12 per cent in 2014. 

Sabet notes that marijuana sold commercially in some states goes even further and is available in highly concentrated forms, such as hash, wax, or shatter with no rules or limits on the concentration of marijuana’s active ingredient. 

“It’s not four per cent THC, which is the ingredient that gets you high. It’s up to 99 per cent THC and there are no limits on THC,” he said. “I’m really concerned especially how today’s high potent marijuana is going to contribute to mental illness.” 

Potent pot and drug-induced psychosis

Anecdotally, one only has to look as far as the story of Mark Phillips, a lawyer from a prominent Toronto family, who pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm in April, after he attacked a St. Thomas family with a baseball bat, calling them terrorists. 

During Phillips’ court appearance, his lawyer and psychiatrist said he was suffering from a drug-induced psychosis.

His lawyer, Steve Kurka told Justice John Skowronski that Phillips, whose mental health had been declining in the months and weeks leading up to the December 2017 baseball bat attack, smoked three or four joints before driving to London and then nearby St. Thomas, getting into arguments with people he believed to be Muslims targeting him along the way.

“[It] doesn’t shock me,” Sabet said of the Phillips case. “Today’s highly potent THC can have an aggressive violent effect. I’m not going to say everybody is going to have a psychotic breakdown. We’re going to see stuff like this become more and more common.”

Despite his concerns about pot, Sabet said he doesn’t want to see Canada go back to the days of arresting people for simple pot possession, nor does he see a problem with people growing the plant at home on a small scale either. 

“I don’t care about that,” he said. “The issue is when you make this a legal market and advertise it and throw it to the forces who are in the business of promotion. They are in the business of advertising and commercialization and pot shops next to your kid’s school and billboards and coupons and products, that’s my worry.” 

Sabet believes the real Reefer Madness is giving private companies control of retail sales, where they can use marijuana as a tool in their pursuit of profit at the cost of public health. 

“I worry that Canada is following the example of the United States in terms of this new industry which promotes, recklessly advertises, makes wild claims, ignores all harms and absolutely focuses on advertising to kids.” 

Source: Ontario’s new retail pot plan ‘puts profit over public health’ says former Obama drug adviser | CBC News August 2018

From a Colorado Springs Gazette Opinion

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of Colorado’s decision to sanction the world’s first anything-goes commercial pot trade.

Five years later, we remain an embarrassing cautionary tale.

Visitors to Colorado remark about a new agricultural smell, the wafting odor of pot as they drive near warehouse grow operations along Denver freeways. Residential neighborhoods throughout Colorado Springs reek of marijuana, as producers fill rental homes with plants.

Five years of retail pot coincide with five years of a homelessness growth rate that ranks among the highest rates in the country. Directors of homeless shelters, and people who live on the streets, tell us homeless substance abusers migrate here for easy access to pot.

Five years of Big Marijuana ushered in a doubling in the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana, based on research by the pro-legalization Denver Post.

Five years of commercial pot have been five years of more marijuana in schools than teachers and administrators ever feared.

“An investigation by Education News Colorado, Solutions and the I-News Network shows drug violations reported by Colorado’s K-12 schools have increased 45 percent in the past four years, even as the combined number of all other violations has fallen,” explains an expose on escalating pot use in schools by Rocky Mountain PBS in late 2016.

The investigation found an increase in high school drug violations of 71 percent since legalization. School suspensions for drugs increased 45 percent.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found Colorado ranks first in the country for marijuana use among teens, scoring well above the national average.

The only good news to celebrate on this anniversary is the dawn of another organization to push back against Big Marijuana’s threat to kids, teens and young adults.

The Marijuana Accountability Coalition formed Nov. 6 in Denver and will establish satellites throughout the state. It resulted from discussions among recovery professionals, parents, physicians and others concerned with the long-term effects of a commercial industry profiteering off of substance abuse.

“It’s one thing to decriminalize marijuana, it’s an entirely different thing to legalize an industry that has commercialized a drug that is devastating our kids and devastating whole communities,” said coalition founder Justin Luke Riley. “Coloradans need to know, other states need to know, that Colorado is suffering from massive normalization and commercialization of this drug which has resulted in Colorado being the number one state for youth drug use in the country. Kids are being expelled at higher rates, and more road deaths tied to pot have resulted since legalization.”

Commercial pot’s five-year anniversary is an odious occasion for those who want safer streets, healthier kids and less suffering associated with substance abuse. Experts say the worst effects of widespread pot use will culminate over decades. If so, we can only imagine the somber nature of Big Marijuana’s 25th birthday.

Source: Five Years Later, Colorado Sees Toll of Pot Legalization (illinoisfamily.org) February 2017

The fact that 1 in 6 infants and toddlers admitted to a Colorado hospital with symptoms of bronchiolitis tested positive for marijuana exposure should concern Canadians as they move to legalization on 17 October. The dangers of 2nd-hand, carcinogenic and psychoactive chemically-laden marijuana smoke were ignored by the Trudeau government in its push to legalize pot, Pamela McColl writes.

PAMELA McCOLL’S STATEMENT IN FULL…

What About Us? October 17 2018

No amount of second-hand smoke is safe. Children exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to develop lung diseases and other health problems.  Second hand-smoke is a cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The fact that one in six infants and toddlers admitted to a Colorado hospital with symptoms of bronchiolitis tested positive for marijuana exposure should be of grave to Canadians as they too have moved to legalization.

The dangers of second-hand, carcinogenic and psychoactive chemically-laden marijuana smoke were ignored by the Trudeau government in their push to legalize pot. This government in fact sanctioned the smoking of marijuana in the presence of children.

The government did not commission an in-depth child risk assessment of the draft legalization framework, a study called for by child advocates across the country.

The Alberta Ministry of Children’s Services’ – Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act Placement Resource Policy on Environmental Safety states; that a foster parent must be aware of, and committed to provide a non-smoking environment by not allowing smoking in the home when a foster child is placed; not allowing smoking in a vehicle when a foster child is present; and not allowing use of smokeless tobacco when a foster child is present. As the Alberta government’s policy contains all-inclusive language of “non-smoking environment,” the same rules have been extend to legalized marijuana. Some children in the province of Alberta have been protected under policy while the majority of Albertan children and other children in Canada should rightly ask: “What About Us?”

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms secures the safety of children from threats to their health and their life. Section 15 of the Charter prohibits discrimination perpetrated by the governments of Canada. The Equality Rights section states that every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination. The provisions that protect children in foster care should extend to every child.

Section 7 of the Charter is a constitutional provision that protects an individual’s personal legal rights from actions of the government of Canada, the right to life, liberty and security of the person. The Cannabis Act fails to protect Canadian children’s right to security of the self. The right to security of the person consists of the rights to privacy of the body and its health and of the right protecting the “psychological integrity” of an individual.  Exposure to marijuana in poorly ventilated spaces exposes the non-user to the impact of a psychotropic high, including the distortion of one’s sense of reality.

Canada is a party to the Rights of the Child Treaty, the most widely ratified piece of human rights law in history.  The treaty establishes the human rights of children to health and to protection under law. Placing marijuana products and plants into children’s homes fails to protect their rights under international treaty obligations.

A petition, before the BC Government Legislative Assembly via the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, seeks to make all multi-unit dwellings in BC smoke-free. Smoke-free housing is needed to protect the non-user’s health. Smoke travels, it escapes and contaminates beyond a single unit. Law consists, primarily, in preserving a person from death and violence and in securing their free enjoyment of their property. The Cannabis Act fails to preserve the rights of non-users of marijuana. It rests with citizens to stand up for their rights and those of children. Be prepared this will be an ugly, costly and lengthy process.

“We think that the true rule of law is, that the person who for his own purposes brings on his land and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes, must keep it at his peril, and, if he does not do so, is prima facia answerable for all the damage which is the natural consequence of its escape. “ House of Lords Rule. Doctrine of Strict Liability of Dangerous Conditions Rylands versus Fletcher – 1868. Successful argued in Delta, Canada 1983. Individual prevented from smoking in his residence.

Provincial governments can correct the mistakes made by the federal government. Concerned citizens must see that they do.

Pamela McColl – www.cleartheairnow.org

Source: What about the children? | DB Recovery Resources October 2018

(Denver, CO) – A new state-funded report out of Colorado found that the state continues to hold the top ranking when it comes to past month use of marijuana, more young children are being exposed to highly potent pot products, use of edibles and vaping/dabbing is way up among high school students, and emergency department visits have increased. 

“The data in this report show that Colorado’s marijuana industry is threatening public health,” said Luke Niforatos Senior Policy Advisor to Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and longtime Colorado resident. “Just last year, the industry was caught recommending pot to pregnant mothers. It’s time to start holding them accountable.”

According to the report, past month use has increased 14% over the last year and adult use in the state of Colorado continues to be significantly higher than the national average. Young adults, aged 18-25 reported the greatest instance of past month use at 29.2%. This is concerning as this age group is still in a crucial period of brain development and heavy use at this age can lead to the development of serious mental health issues. 

Adult Past Month Marijuana Use 

The report notes that “at least 23,009 homes with children in Colorado may not be storing marijuana products safely, which increases the risk of accidental ingestion.” On this front, the report also finds that calls to the poison center for marijuana exposure to young children remains high after it began skyrocketing following legalization. Prior to legalization, there was an average of 5 calls per year related to marijuana exposure in children under the age of nine. After legalization, this number shot up to 27 in 2013, 45 in 2014, 40 in 2016, and now 50 in 2017. Ingestion of marijuana edibles comprised 65% of these reports. Additionally, the report finds that approximately 32,800 homes with children 1-14 years old had possible secondhand marijuana smoke or vapor exposures.

Number of Children Exposed to Marijuana

Of note, this report still fails to accurately depict the real data when it comes to youth use in Colorado. The findings on rates of youth use are based on data collected by the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey which suffers from multiple methodological issues. That fact notwithstanding, according to the flawed HKCS data, past month edible use is up significantly among high school students, rising 22% since 2015. Additionally, the “dabbing” of high potency THC concentrates has increased 43% since 2015 among high schoolers.

“As a Colorado physician, I am incredibly concerned with the findings of this report,” said Dr. Ken Finn, a pain doctor in Colorado Springs. “The harms to public health that are documented here are alarming, especially the rising risk of exposure of pot products to young children whose brains are still in development. Additionally, I find this report to be sorely lacking key data points, such as the fact that marijuana is the most prevalent substance found in Colorado completed teen suicide. The state needs to get serious with the documentation of the real consequences of marijuana legalization.”

“Is this the type of outcome people wanted when they voted to legalize? Tens of thousands of young people in Colorado are now living in homes where they are either actively breathing in marijuana smoke or are at risk of eating highly potent THC gummies, candies, brownies, and ice creams,” said Niforatos. “As public health and safety professionals, we will continue to hold the state accountable for this reckless policy of marijuana commercialization.”

Source:  learnaboutSam.org  Feb.2019

Free-marketeers are ignoring the devastating harm it can do as they champion consumer rights.

Four men had to be rescued last weekend from England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, after becoming “incapable of walking due to cannabis use”. Said Cumbria police: “Words fail us.”

Well, yes. Does everyone agree that these men placed an irresponsible burden on a public service? Apparently so. Does everyone agree that the use of cannabis should be discouraged to reduce its irresponsible burden on society? Well, no; quite the opposite.

Last week Prince William raised the “massive issue” of drug legalisation. Although he expressed no opinion, merely to raise it was inescapably to express one, since the only people for whom it is a “massive issue” are those who promote it.

At the Labour Party conference yesterday the comedian Russell Brand called for drugs to be decriminalised. At next week’s Conservative conference, the free-market Adam Smith Institute will be pushing for the legalisation of cannabis. Legalisation means more users. That means more harm, not just to individuals but to society. The institute, however, describes cannabis as “a low-harm consumer product that most users enjoy without major problems”. What? A huge amount of evidence shows that far from cannabis being less harmful than other illicit drugs, as befits its Class B classification, its effects are far more devastating. Long-term potheads display on average an eight-point decline in IQ over time, an elevated risk of psychosis and permanent brain damage.

Cannabis is associated with a host of biological ill-effects including cirrhosis of the liver, strokes and heart attacks. People who use it are more likely than non-users to access other illegal drugs. And so on.

Ah, say the autonomy-loving free-marketeers, but it doesn’t harm anyone other than the user. Well, that’s not true either. It can destroy relationships with family, friends and employers. Users often display more antisocial behaviour, such as stealing money or lying to get a job, as well as a greater association with aggression, paranoia and violent death. According to Stuart Reece, an Australian professor of medicine, cannabis use in pregnancy has also been linked to an epidemic of gastroschisis, in which babies are born with intestines outside their abdomen, in at least 15 nations including the UK.

Long-term potheads display on average an eight-point drop in IQ

The legalisers’ argument is that keeping cannabis illegal does not control the harm it does. Yet wherever its supply has been liberalised, its use and therefore the harm it does have both gone up. In 2001 Portugal decriminalised illegal drugs including cocaine, heroin and cannabis. Sparked by a report by the American free-market Cato Institute, which claimed this policy was a “resounding success”, Portugal has been cited by legalisers everywhere as proof that liberalising drug laws is the magic bullet to erase the harm done by illegal drugs.

The truth is very different. In 2010 Manuel Pinto Coelho, of the Association for a Drug Free Portugal, wrote in the BMJ: “Drug decriminalisation in Portugal is a failure . . . There is a complete and absurd campaign of manipulation of facts and figures of Portuguese drug policy . . .”

According to the Portuguese Institute for Drugs and Drug Addiction, between 2001 and 2007 drug use increased by 4.2 per cent, while the number of people who had used drugs at least once rose from 7.8 per cent to 12 per cent. Cannabis use went up from 12.4 per cent to 17 per cent.

The latest evidence about Portugal, a study by the Intervention Service for Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies, shows “a rise in the prevalence of every illicit psychoactive substance from 8.3 per cent in 2012 to 10.2 per cent in 2016-17”, with most of that rise down to increased cannabis use.

For free-marketeers, this evidence of devastating harm to individuals and society is irrelevant. Nothing can be allowed to dent their dogmatic belief that all human life is a transaction, market forces are a religion and the rights of the consumer are sacrosanct. Says the Adam Smith Institute about cannabis legalisation: “The object isn’t harm elimination, it’s not even harm reduction alone, it’s utility maximisation.” In other words, they want as many people as possible to be puffing on those spliffs.

Free-market libertarians are nothing if not consistent. They oppose policies to reduce social harm across the board. Smoking curbs, mandatory seat-belts, speed cameras, gambling restrictions, controls to end unmanageable immigration — they’ve been against them all.

Despite how they are viewed, there’s nothing conservative about the free-marketeers. Far from conserving legal or social constraints, they want to tear them down in the name of consumer choice. The classical political thinkers they quote in support of applying market principles to every aspect of society never in fact subscribed to such a doctrine. Far from putting the autonomous self on a pedestal, Adam Smith himself in his Theory of Moral Sentiments put personal rights last and the interests of others first.

The distortion of such thinking is why Russell Brand and the Adam Smith Institute are soul mates. In a fearful symmetry, both the left and the free-market right deny the importance of conserving the social good. One calls it paternalism, the other the nanny state. Both are radically irresponsible and destructive. The only difference is the gender. And even that, in our current lifestyle free-for-all, is now surely up for grabs.

Source: Thinking is warped on cannabis legalisation (thetimes.co.uk) September 2017

This Notice of Liability Memo and attached Affidavit of Harms give formal notification to all addressees that they are morally, if not legally liable in cases of harm caused by making toxic marijuana products legally available, or knowingly withholding accurate information about the multiple risks of hemp/marijuana products to the Canadian consumer.  This memo further gives notice that those elected or appointed as representatives of the people of Canada, by voting affirmatively for Bill C45, do so with the knowledge that they are breaching international treaties, conventions and law.  They do so also with the knowledge that Canadian law enforcement have declared that they are not ready for implementation of marijuana legalization, and as they will not be ready to protect the lives of Canadians, there may arise grounds for a Charter of Rights challenge as all Canadian citizens are afforded a the right to security of self.

Scientific researchers and health organizations raise serious questions about the safety of ingesting even small amounts of cannabinoids. Adverse effects include risk of harm to the cardio-vascular system, respiratory tract, immune system, reproductive and endocrine systems, gastrointestinal system and the liver, hyperemesis, cognition, psychomotor performance, psychiatric effects including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and psychosis, a-motivational syndrome, and addiction.  The scientific literature also warns of teratogenicity (causing birth deformities) and epigenetic damage (affecting genetic development) and clearly establishes the need for further study. The attached affidavit cites statements made by Health Canada that are grounded in scientific evidence that documents many harms caused by smoking or ingesting marijuana.  

Putting innocent citizens in “harm’s way” has been a costly bureaucratic mistake as evidenced by the 2015 Canadian $168 million payout to victims of exposure to the drug thalidomide. Health Canada approved thalidomide in 1961 to treat morning sickness in pregnant women but it caused catastrophic birth defects and death.

It would be instructive to reflect on “big tobacco” and their multi-billion-dollar liability in cases of misinformed sick and dead tobacco cigarette smokers. Litigants won lawsuits for harm done by smoking cigarettes even when it was the user’s own choice to obtain and smoke tobacco. In Minnesota during the 1930’s and up to the 1970’s tobacco cigarettes were given to generally healthy “juvenile delinquents’ incarcerated in a facility run by the state.  One of the juveniles, now an adult, who received the state’s tobacco cigarettes, sued the state for addicting him. He won.

The marijuana industry, in making public, unsubstantiated claims of marijuana safety, is placing itself in the same position, in terms of liability, as the tobacco companies.
In 1954, the tobacco industry published a statement that came to be known during Minnesota’s tobacco trial as the “Frank Statement.” Tobacco companies then formed an industry group for the purposes of deceiving and confusing the public.

In the Frank Statement, tobacco industry spokesmen asserted that experiments linking smoking with lung cancer were “inconclusive,” and that there was no proof that cigarette smoking was one of the causes of lung cancer. They stated, “We believe the products we make are not injurious to health.” Judge Kenneth Fitzpatrick instructed the Minnesota jurors: “Jurors should assume in their deliberations that tobacco companies assumed a “special duty” by publishing the ad (Frank Statement), and that jurors will have to determine whether the industry fulfilled that duty.” The verdict ruled against the tobacco industry.

Effective June 19, 2009, marijuana smoke was added to the California Prop 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer. The Carcinogen Identification Committee (CIC) of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) “determined that marijuana smoke was clearly shown, through scientifically valid testing according to generally accepted principles, to cause cancer.”

Products liability and its application to marijuana businesses is a topic that was not discussed in the Senate committee hearings. Proposition 65, requires the State to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other types of reproductive harm. Proposition 65 requires businesses to provide their customers with notice of these cancerous causing chemicals when present in consumer products and provides for both a public and private right of action.

The similarities between the tactics of “Big Tobacco” and the “Canadian Cannabis Trade Alliance Institute” and individual marijuana producers would seem to demand very close scrutiny. On May 23, a witness testified before the Canadian Senate claimed that marijuana is not carcinogenic. This evidence was not challenged.

The International Narcotics Control Board Report for 2017 reads: “Bill C-45, introduced by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada on 13 April 2017, would permit the non-medical use of cannabis. If the bill is enacted, adults aged 18 years or older will legally be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or an equivalent amount in non-dried form. It will also become legal to grow a maximum of four cannabis plants, simultaneously for personal use, buy cannabis from licensed retailers, and produce edible cannabis products. The Board wishes to reiterate that article 4 (c) of the 1961 Convention restricts the use of controlled narcotic drugs to medical and scientific purposes and that legislative measures providing for non-medical use are in contravention of that Convention….

The situation pertaining to cannabis cultivation and trafficking in North America continues to be in flux owing to the widening scope of personal non-medical use schemes in force in certain constituent states of the United States. The decriminalization of cannabis has apparently led organized criminal groups to focus on manufacturing and trafficking other illegal drugs, such as heroin. This could explain why, for example, Canada saw a 32 per cent increase from 2015 to 2016 in criminal incidents involving heroin possession….The Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse issued “Lower-risk cannabis use guidelines” in 2017. The document is a health education and prevention tool that acknowledges that cannabis use carries both immediate and long-term health risks.”

https://www.incb.org/documents/Publications/AnnualReports/AR2017/Annual_Report_chapters/Chapter_3_Americas_2017.pdf

Upon receipt of this Memo and Affidavit, the addressees can no longer say they are ignorant or unaware that promoting and/or distributing marijuana cigarettes for recreational purposes is an endangerment to citizens. Receipt of this Memo and Affidavit removes from the addressees any claim of ignorance as a defense in potential, future litigation.

Pamela McColl www.cleartheairnow.org

pam.mccoll@cleartheairnow.org

 

AFFIDAVIT May 27, 2018

I, Pamela McColl, wish to inform agencies and individuals of known and potential harm done/caused by the use of marijuana (especially marijuana cigarettes) and of the acknowledgement the risk of harm by Health Canada. 

Marijuana is a complex, unstable mixture of over four hundred chemicals that, when smoked, produces over two thousand chemicals.  Among those two thousand chemicals are many pollutants and cancer-causing substances.  Some cannabinoids are psychoactive, all are bioactive, and all may remain in the body’s fatty tissues for long periods of times with unknown consequences. Marijuana smoke contains carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances such as benzo(a)pyrene, benz(a)anthracene, and benzene in higher concentrations than are present in tobacco smoke.  The mechanism by which benzo(a)pyrene causes cancer in smokers was demonstrated scientifically by Denissenko MF et al. Science 274:430-432, 1996. 

Health Canada Consumer Information on Cannabis reads as follows:  “The courts in Canada have ruled that the federal government must provide reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana for medical purposes.”

“Cannabis is not an approved therapeutic product and the provision of this information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes, or of marijuana generally, by Health Canada.”

“Serious Warnings and Precautions: Cannabis (marihuana, marijuana) contains hundreds of substances, some of which can affect the proper functioning of the brain and central nervous system.”

“The use of this product involves risks to health, some of which may not be known or fully understood. Studies supporting the safety and efficacy of cannabis for therapeutic purposes are limited and do not meet the standard required by the Food and Drug Regulations for marketed drugs in Canada.”

Health Canada – “When the product should not be used: Cannabis should not be used if you:-are under the age of 25 -are allergic to any cannabinoid or to smoke-have serious liver, kidney, heart or lung disease -have a personal or family history of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, or bipolar disorder-are pregnant, are planning to get pregnant, or are breast-feeding -are a man who wishes to start a family-have a history of alcohol or drug abuse or substance dependence Talk to your health care practitioner if you have any of these conditions. There may be other conditions where this product should not be used, but which are unknown due to limited scientific information.

Cannabis is not an approved therapeutic product and the provision of this information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the use of this product, or cannabis generally, by Health Canada.”

Prepared by Health Canada Date of latest version: February 2013, accessed May 2018. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/medical-use-marijuana/information-medical-practitioners/information-health-care-professionals-cannabis-marihuana-marijuana-cannabinoids.html

A report published by survey company RIWI Corp. (RIWI.com) can be found at: https://riwi.com/case-study/measuringcanadians-awareness-of-marijuanas-health-effects-may-2018

The report measures Canadians’ awareness of marijuana’s health effects as determined by Health Canada and published on Health Canada’s website. RIWI data indicates: 1. More than 40% of those under age 25 are unaware that marijuana impacts safe driving. Further, 21% of respondents are not aware that marijuana can negatively impact one’s ability to drive safely. Health Canada: “Using cannabis can impair your concentration, your ability to make decisions, and your reaction time and coordination. This can affect your motor skills, including your ability to drive.” 2. One in five women aged 25-34 believes marijuana is safe during pregnancy, while trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding. • RIWI: “For women of prime childbearing age (25-34), roughly one in five believe smoking marijuana is safe during pregnancy, planning to get pregnant, and breastfeeding.” • Health Canada: “Marijuana should not be used if you are pregnant, are planning to get pregnant, or are breastfeeding. … Long-term use may negatively impact the behavioural and cognitive development of children born to mothers who used cannabis during pregnancy.” 3. One in three Canadians do not think that marijuana is addictive. • Health Canada: “Long term use may result in psychological dependence (addiction).” 4. One in three Canadians believe marijuana aids mental health. • Health Canada: “Long term use may increase the risk of triggering or aggravating psychiatric and/or mood disorders (schizophrenia, psychosis, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder).” 5. One in two males were unaware that marijuana could harm a man’s fertility • “Marijuana should not be used if you are a man who wishes to start a family.”

ClearTheAirNow.org, a coalition of concerned Canadians commissioned the survey.

Affiant is willing to provide further sources of information about the toxicity of marijuana.

Pamela McColl

www.cleartheairnow.org

pam.mccoll@cleartheairnow.org

Source: From email sent to Drug Watch International May 2018

Click here to view the video

Source: Chronic State from DrugFree Idaho, Inc. on Vimeo. July 2018

The Internet hosts many unregulated marketplaces for otherwise regulated products. If extended to marijuana (or cannabis), online markets can undermine both the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, which bans marijuana sales, and the regulatory regimes of states that have legalized marijuana. Consequently, regardless of the regulatory regime, understanding the online marijuana market should be a public health
priority. Herein, the scale and growth trajectory of the online marijuana marketplace was assessed for the first time by analyzing aggregate Internet searches and the links searchers typically find.

METHODS
First, the fraction of U.S. Google searches including the terms marijuana, weed, pot, or cannabis relative to all searches was described monthly from January 2005 through June 2017 using data obtained from Google. Searches were also geotagged by state (omitting Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming because of data access restrictions). The subset of shopping searches was then monitored by tracking queries that also included buy, shop, and order (e.g., buy marijuana) in aggregate. Searches that included killer, cooking, or clay (e.g., weed killer) were considered unrelated and excluded from all analyses.
Linear regressions were used to compute pooled means to compare between time periods and log-linear regressions were used to compute average growth. Raw search volumes were estimated based on total Google search volume using comScore (www.comscore.com).
Searches in a Google Chrome browser without cached data were executed during July 2017 using the 12 combinations of marijuana and shopping root terms (i.e., buy marijuana). The results would be indicative of a Google user’s typical search results. The first two pages of links, including duplicates (N¼279, with seven to 12 links per page), were analyzed (because nearly all searchers click a link on the first two pages, with as much as 42% selecting the first link). Investigators recorded whether each linked site advertised mail-order marijuana (excluding local deliveries in legal marijuana states) and its order in the search results. Two authors agreed on all labels. Analyses were computed using R, version 3.4.1.

RESULTS
Marijuana searches grew 98% (95% CI¼84%, 113%) as a proportion of all searches from 2005 through the partial 2017 year (Figure 1). The subset of marijuana searches indicative of shopping grew more rapidly over the same period (199%, 95% CI¼165%, 243%), with 1.4–2.4
million marijuana shopping searches during June 2017. Marijuana shopping searches were highest in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Nevada. The compounding annual growth rate for marijuana shopping searches since 2005 was significantly positive (po0.05) in 42 of
the 44 studied locations (all but Alabama and Mississippi), suggesting demand is growing across the nation. Forty-one percent (95% CI¼35%, 47%) of shopping search results linked to retailers promising mail-order marijuana (Table 1). Retailers occupied 50% (95% CI¼42%, 59%) of the first page results and for eight (of 12) searches, the first link led to a mail-order marijuana retailer. For some searches (e.g., order marijuana), all of the first-page links were marijuana retailers.

Table 1: Online Mail-Order Marijuana Retailers on Internet Search Engines, 2017

Search results
Retailer First link First page Second page Total
Yes 8 (67) 66 (50) 48 (32) 114 (41)
No 4 (33) 65 (50) 100 (68) 165 (59)

Note: Data were collected by executing searches in July 2017. Cells show the frequency and percent of links (by column) in the first two
pages of Google search results that claim to sell mail-order marijuana in response to 12 searches that contained unique combinations of the
following terms: cannabis, marijuana, pot, or weed with buy, order, or shop, such as buy cannabis, buy marijuana, buy pot, or buy weed.
Searches were executed on a new Google browser without cached data. Two authors agreed on the labels 100% of the time.

DISCUSSION
Millions of Americans search for marijuana online, and websites where marijuana can be purchased are often the top search result.
If only a fraction of the millions of searches and thousands of retailers are legitimate, this online marketplace poses a number of potential public health consequences. Children could purchase marijuana online. Marijuana could be sold in states that do not currently allow it.

Initiation and marijuana dependence could increase. Products may have inconsistent potency or be contaminated. State and local tax revenue (which can fund public health programs) could be negatively impacted.
Regulations governing online marijuana markets (even if policy changes favor legalized marijuana) need to be developed and enforced. Policing online regulations will require careful coordination across jurisdictions at the local, state, and federal level with agreements on how to implement regulations where enforcement regimes conflict. Online sales are already prohibited under virtually every regulatory regime—all sales are illegal under federal statute and legal marijuana states like Colorado ban online sales—yet the market appears to be thriving.
Government agencies might work with Internet providers to purge illicit marijuana retailers from search engines, similar to how Facebook removes drug-related pages. Moreover, online payment facilitators could refuse to support marijuana-related online transactions.
This study was limited in that who is buying/selling and the quantity of marijuana exchanged cannot be measured. Further, some searches may be unrelated to seeking marijuana retailers, and some retailers may be illegitimate, including scams or law enforcement bait. The volume of searches and placement of marijuana retailers in search results is a definitive call for public health leaders to address the previously unrecognized dilemma of online marijuana.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health (R21MH103603). Mr. Caputi acknowledges scholarships from the Joseph Wharton Scholars and the George J. Mitchell Scholarship programs. Dr. Leas acknowledges a training grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (T32HL007034). No other financial disclosures were reported by the authors of this paper.

Source: Online Sales of Marijuana: An Unrecognized Public Health Dilemma – American Journal of Preventive Medicine (ajpmonline.org) March 2018

Foreign gangs are finding that black-market marijuana is profitable even in states that have legalized cannabis.

An El Paso County sheriff’s deputy processes bags of distribution-ready marijuana seized from an illegal grow house in Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 15, 2018.Andrew Blankstein / NBC News

Source: Foreign cartels embrace home-grown marijuana in pot-legal states (nbcnews.com) May 2018

Child Neglect and Violence by Marijuana Impaired Parents are the Leading Causes

As articles in popular magazines portray cannabis as the “it” drug, parents are being led to believe that a serving of marijuana is no more dangerous than a glass of beer or wine.”

— Dr. Ken Finn

WASHINGTON, DC, US, April 23, 2018 /EINPresswire.com/ — Parents Opposed to Pot (POP), a nonprofit dedicated to exposing the dangers of marijuana, counts 106 child abuse deaths related to marijuana since states voted to legalize it in November 2012. POP cautions that the normalization of marijuana should be a primary concern to parents and child protection agencies. April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month, and April 25 is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Day.

Parents Opposed to Pot found local newspaper reports of the incidents online, and the number of deaths could actually be much higher. Some states are more likely than other states to report when marijuana drug use is involved. The deaths have occurred in 30 states, and the counts are higher in states that have legalized pot. The problem is serious enough that when the National Alliance for Drug-Endangered Children ran a conference last summer, much of it focused on marijuana. Nationally, approximately 1700 child abuse deaths occur each year, and substance abuse is a major risk factor.

The earliest deaths after 2012 that POP recorded seemed to be from neglect: toddlers who drowned, died in fires, or infants who were left in hot cars when parents smoked pot and forgot about them. However, many deaths related to marijuana were caused by domestic violence, because parents became angry or psychotic from pot use and had paranoid delusions. The potency of marijuana is several times stronger than it was in the 1990s.The public has not been educated well about how marijuana can trigger psychosis and/or schizophrenia, as stated in the 2017 National Academy of Sciences report.

Shortly after Colorado commercialized marijuana in 2014, stories of three tragic deaths of toddlers related to their parents’ use of marijuana emerged. The month Washington legalized possession of marijuana, a two-year-old drank from his mother’s bong and died. After investigating, state officials determined that the toddler had ingested lethal amounts of both THC and meth, enough to kill an adult.

“As articles in popular magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Oprah Winfrey’s ‘O’ portray cannabis as the ‘it’ drug, parents are being led to believe that a serving of marijuana is no more dangerous than a glass of beer or wine,” explains Dr. Ken Finn, a medical advisor to PopPot.org. “However, three sets of twins died in fires when parents abandoned these toddlers for reasons related to their marijuana use.”

The promotion of marijuana as a way to relax is inappropriate for parents or caregivers of small children, and the promotion of marijuana for pregnant women with morning sickness is a dangerous trend.

Marijuana use impairs executive functioning — which led to poor judgement and forgetfulness in many of these deaths. Greater acceptance means more use, and more use means more addiction.

Eleven deaths occurred in Colorado, while 10 took place in California. In both states, at least one child died where butane hash oil (BHO) labs operated, and numerous children were injured in BHO fires. The two most recent deaths in Colorado occurred last summer when a mother followed a cult leader to a marijuana farm. No one knows how long the two girls had been dead when they were discovered locked in a car covered in tarp last September. They were starved to death. An unusual death in California occurred when a babysitter went to her cousin’s car to smoke pot, leaving a 16-month-old boy inside. The toddler eventually came outside and the visiting car ran over him.

Many ER treatments followed the accidental ingestion of marijuana candies and cookies. A medical journal reported last year that an 11-month-old baby suffered from an enlarged heart muscle and couldn’t be revived a few days after ingesting marijuana in Colorado. However, it’s usually not edibles that kill children, but other acts of neglect and violent behavior.

In Florida, three children drowned when parents or babysitters smoked pot and forgot about them. At least 10 deaths occurred when parents left small children in hot cars while they smoked cannabis. The most common forms of death by neglect when parents use cannabis are fires, 15, drownings, 10 and hot cars, 10.

During the intense debate over medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, the number of pot-related child abuse deaths seemed to increase. Much drama was used to discuss children with seizures, while five other children died due to adult pot use between April and December, 2016.

POP is not the only organization to notice the uptick in child deaths related to marijuana. Yvapil County District Attorney Sheila Polk reported that, in 2013, 62 deaths of children in Arizona were associated with cannabis , and that it was the substance most often related to accidental deaths in the state.

Nationally, parents cause about three quarters of child abuse deaths and most child abuse deaths occur because of neglect. When there’s marijuana in the picture, violence or violent neglect are just as likely to cause death. Boyfriends of the mothers caused 14 such deaths, most often from violence, with the moms in these instances often using pot too. One recent death was the beating death of a three-year-old. The stepfather, who was charged, kept marijuana in the house. Research shows that cannabis can trigger negative thoughts and violent behavior. But, we haven’t included this case our list because it’s not clear what role the drug played in this death.

In four cases, children died because babysitters’ neglected the child, while in four different instances a relative was responsible for the deaths.

POP published 18 blog articles on Child Endangerment that explain some of facts surrounding the deaths. A downloadable fact sheet available on the PopPot.org webpage simplifies the statistics.

Parents Opposed to Pot is a 501c3 nonprofit based in Merrifield, Virginia.

Source: Over 100 Child Abuse Deaths Found Related to Cannabis, with Rise of Commercial Industry (einpresswire.com) April 2018

Legalization advocates and the weed industry can support necessary reforms while being honest about the risks of marijuana use, the study’s author says.

A large percentage of marijuana users around the world report signs of dependence, even as cannabis appears to be one of the safest and most commonly used drugs overall, according to the results of a survey released on Wednesday.

The findings are contained in the 2018 Global Drug Survey, a detailed questionnaire that compiled responses from more than 130,00 people in over 40 countries in the past year. One section of the survey used the “Severity of Dependence Scale,” or SDS, a popular tool that asks respondents five questions regarding impaired control over drug use and anxieties related to consumption and quitting.

Around 50,000 of the survey respondents reported having used marijuana in the last 12 months. Only alcohol and tobacco use were more common.

Of all cannabis users, 20.2 percent showed substantial signs of dependence, measured by affirmative answers to at least four of the five SDS questions. Crystal methamphetamine was the drug most closely associated with dependence, with nearly 25 percent of users scoring four or higher on the SDS.

A positive SDS score is not the same as a clinical diagnosis of dependence, Adam Winstock, a British addiction psychiatrist and founder of the Global Drug Survey, told HuffPost. But it does suggest that many marijuana users have considerable misgivings about their habits.

“You’ve got 20 percent of the people who are significantly worried about the impact of their use on their life,” said Winstock. “It’s a measure of subjective worry and concern, but those questions tap into things like how much you use, how often, your sense of control and your desire to stop.”

The responses to individual SDS questions offer a window into some of those feelings of dependence.

Cannabis was the substance most frequently associated with anxiety over the prospect of quitting, for example. Although nearly 74 percent of users said the idea of stopping “never or almost never” made them anxious, 19.7 percent said it “sometimes” did, with the rest reporting that it “often” or “always” did.

A total of 21.4 percent of marijuana users said it would be “quite difficult” for them to stop using, with 6.4 percent responding that it would be either “very difficult” or “impossible.” Around 72 percent said quitting would not be difficult.

Nearly 30 percent of cannabis users reported that their cannabis use was at least occasionally “out of control,” with 22.6 percent of respondents saying it was only “sometimes” an issue, 5.3 percent saying it was “often” an issue and 1.6 percent saying it was “always or nearly always” an issue.

The survey also sought to measure the overall safety of substances by asking respondents if they’d sought emergency medical treatment after using various drugs. Just 0.5 percent of all cannabis users reported seeking treatment after use, the second-lowest rate of any substance. Magic mushrooms appeared to be the safest recreational drug for the second year in a row, with just 0.2 percent of users saying they’d pursued medical intervention.

The cannabis dependence results were particularly surprising to Winstock, who said he would’ve expected to see around 10 to 15 percent of marijuana users report signs of dependence.

“You’re legalizing a drug that a fair number of people who use it have worries about themselves,” Winstock said. “The question is what do you do about that?”

The Global Drug Survey may hold some answers. Since 2014, the independent research company has partnered with medical experts and media groups to conduct an annual survey with the goal of making drug use safer through increased access to education and treatment resources.

Around 300,000 marijuana users have partaken in Global Drug Surveys over the years, said Winstock. Those respondents have consistently shown high levels of support for establishing government guidelines around safe marijuana use. Among cannabis users who have expressed a desire to use less frequently or quit entirely, many have said they’d like assistance in doing so. But very few end up seeking help.

Taken together, the surveys suggest elected officials and the marijuana industry should be engaging in a more honest discussion about the risks associated with cannabis use so they can better address issues that may arise as laws are liberalized, said Winstock.

That advice may be particularly salient in the U.S., where a number of states are considering legalizing recreational marijuana in the face of growing public opposition to prohibition. Eight states, as well as Washington, D.C., have already legalized weed.

“Clearly arresting someone and giving them a criminal record for smoking a joint is a futile and pointless exercise and … nothing I’m suggesting is me saying cannabis is a bad drug and the government made a mistake,” said Winstock.

“What I’m saying is that at the point they regulated cannabis, they should have mandated a whole bunch of things that allowed it to be easier for people to reflect on their cannabis use and how it impacted on them and how to control their use,” he went on. “There should have been mandated health warnings and advice and an index of harm for different products.”

Among the 3,400 U.S. marijuana users surveyed this year, just under 25 percent expressed a desire to use less ― compared to 29.3 percent of users globally. Just over 25 percent reported getting high more than 300 days out of the past year, though that may not be reflective of broader marijuana trends, because the survey didn’t randomly sample users nationwide.

Sixteen percent of the American marijuana users who said they wanted to cut back also responded that they’d like help doing so. Nearly 50 percent of all U.S. users said they’d attempted to quit at some point, with 67 percent of those saying they’d tried in the previous year.

Winstock says it makes sense to increase access to harm reduction tools in order to reach those who say they want help with their dependence on cannabis. But broad support for this sort of comprehensive approach requires people on all sides to confront the fact that marijuana, like pretty much any drug, can lead to dependence with some frequency.

Instead, the legalization debate has played out in a far more polarized fashion, with advocates often pushing back against decades of government anti-weed hysteria by claiming cannabis is a harmless drug, especially when compared to alcohol or tobacco.

In light of the cataclysmic failures of the nation’s war on drugs, there is plenty of reason to be tempted by that portrayal.

“It could just be that so many people are saying we’ve raised billions in taxes, saved thousands of hours of police time, saved loads of innocent young lives from having their careers ruined and being banged up in prison,” said Winstock. “Those are such huge wins that I could see people going, ‘That’s enough.’”

But just because the status quo has been so bad for so long and marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco ― legal drugs that kill more people each year than all illicit drugs combined ― doesn’t mean the push to legalize cannabis can’t learn from past mistakes.

For Winstock, it’s not too late for legal weed states and leaders in the marijuana industry to place more focus on public health.

“Stop for a moment and think about how you cannot become the tobacco industry or the alcohol industry,” said Winstock. “Be the best you can be, don’t just make the biggest profit. Be the most responsible industry you can, and that means be honest.”

Source: Marijuana Users Report High Rates Of Dependence In Global Drug Survey | HuffPost UK Health (huffingtonpost.co.uk) May 2018

They were the mind-altering drugs of the Sixties, but now lysergic acid diethylamide (better known as LSD), magic mushrooms and a range of other banned psychedelic drugs are making a comeback.

Not on the party scene, but as the focus of researchers who believe they could treat a variety of mental health problems, including depression.

British researchers are at the forefront of this renaissance of hallucinogenics. But, as Good Health can reveal, a key organisation funding their work is a pressure group with a parallel agenda.

In addition to supporting research into the potential therapeutic benefits of banned drugs, the Beckley Foundation — created by Amanda Feilding, a wealthy countess who’s spent a lifetime advocating the benefits of LSD — is working ‘to erode the pervasive taboo surrounding . . . recreational drug use’.
It would be wrong to dismiss the ‘Cannabis Countess’ (who’s previously advocated legalising the drug) as simply a colourful character.

For here we reveal the extent of her influence in this controversial area, both in funding the research and also actively participating ‘in the inception, design, and writing up’ of no fewer than 37 studies — despite the fact that she has no scientific qualifications.

In 2012, there were just 58 papers exploring the effects and possible medical benefits of LSD, psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) and ayahuasca, a mind-altering plant used in rituals by Amazon tribes. In the past year alone, there have been at least 135.

In the vanguard are researchers at Imperial College London. Known as the Psychedelic Research Group, they’re exploring the potential of banned drugs for treating conditions including depression and even for dealing with grief.

One of the key figures is David Nutt, the psychiatrist and professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial who, in 2009, had to resign as the government’s chief drugs adviser after he said that LSD, ecstasy and cannabis were less harmful than alcohol.

Since then, Professor Nutt has collaborated with the Beckley Foundation and its founder Feilding — the two are co-directors of what is described by the foundation as the Beckley Imperial Research Programme. Despite lacking scientific qualifications, Feilding is co-author of 24 papers published by researchers at Imperial College London and is one of the 32‑member team of the Psychedelic Research Group, as is Professor Nutt.

Feilding’s involvement may raise a serious question about her foundation’s twin agendas.

On its website, it seeks donations to ‘support psychedelic research’, but also ‘drug policy reform’. Feilding herself insists that the war on drugs has failed and has campaigned tirelessly for reform.

In Jamaica, where Feilding has a house, the foundation played a role in the government’s decision to decriminalise cannabis.

At a conference in 2015, Feilding expressed the hope that ‘the United Kingdom will learn some lessons from Jamaica’s progress, and will at least begin by recognising the rights of those in need of access to cannabis for medicinal and religious purposes’.

But more disturbing, perhaps, is her support for ‘microdosing’, where small amounts of psychedelics are taken supposedly to achieve greater creativity; worryingly, some are reportedly using it to treat depression and anxiety.

At a psychedelics conference in the U.S. last year, Feilding spoke of her use of LSD when younger to ‘hit that sweet spot, where vitality and creativity are enhanced’, a practice she compared to ‘what people are now doing with microdosing’.

She added that microdosing ‘may indeed be the way we break down barriers, and make the psychedelic experience more accessible to people at large’.

Another member of the Beckley Imperial Research Programme with links to the countercultural aspects of psychedelic drugs is Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, a frequent co-author on papers with Feilding.

In 2016, he addressed a London conference of The Psychedelic Society, which ‘advocates the careful use of psychedelics as a tool for personal and spiritual development’ (such drugs, it says, are banned solely ‘on the basis of unsubstantiated health risks and tabloid hysteria’).

This isn’t the first time scientists have experimented with mind-altering drugs for mental health conditions. Between 1954 and 1965 psychiatrists at British hospitals used LSD to treat patients. This ended in 1966, when it was banned amid fears it caused delusions and suicidal thoughts.

But according to Professor Nutt, clinical use and studies before the ban showed that patients with disorders such as depression had ‘sometimes benefited considerably’ from the ability of ‘the classical psychedelic drugs . . . to “loosen” otherwise fixed, maladaptive patterns of cognition and behaviour, particularly when given in a supportive, therapeutic setting’.

He believes such drugs ‘may have a place in the treatment of neurotic disorders, particularly depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, addictions and in the psychological challenges associated with death’.

But for psychedelic treatment to become a reality, what’s needed are large-scale scientific trials. Now, thanks to the support of the Beckley Foundation, that’s about to happen.

Imperial’s Psychedelic Research Group has been recruiting patients with long-term depression for a major trial comparing the effects of a six-week course of the antidepressant escitalopram with a single dose of psilocybin. Dr Carhart-Harris, Professor Nutt and Feilding are the leading members of the research team.

Imperial wouldn’t say if funding is forthcoming from the Beckley Foundation for this study. But in a response to a Freedom of Information request we sent, it revealed that since 2009 it has received ‘a total of £108,519’ from the Foundation for ‘research projects’.

Public funding has also been provided for psychedelic research. In 2012, the Medical Research Council (MRC) gave Professor Nutt £500,000 for research into psilocybin to treat major depression.

The next year they gave him £250,000 for a study on psilocybin and schizophrenia. And the National Institute for Health Research, the research arm of the NHS, told us it funded ‘a small proportion’ of Professor Nutt’s salary.

The new trial follows on from a series of studies by Professor Nutt and colleagues at other UK institutions since 2010 involving psilocybin for depression.

Some involved healthy volunteers. But then, in 2016, a team from Imperial, University College London, Barts Health NHS Trust, King’s College and the Maudsley Hospital conducted the first trial with patients.

Involving just 12 people, it was designed to investigate the safety and feasibility of psilocybin for major long-term depression.

As The Lancet Psychiatry reported, eight of the patients were ‘depression-free’ one week after treatment; five were still clear after three months. But all experienced ‘transient anxiety’ and nine also reported ‘transient confusion or thought disorder’.

Last December, Compass Pathways, a new UK company whose expert advisers include Dr Carhart-Harris and Professor Sir Alasdair Breckenridge, former chair of the drug watchdog the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, announced a programme of clinical trials of psilocybin.

In the past few years, the Psychedelic Research Group has also looked at the potential use of drugs such as LSD.

But are yet more drugs, not least mind-altering psychedelic ones, really the solution for conditions such as depression?

In fact, the recommended treatment is psychological therapy. But as the British Medical Association found this year, thousands of patients with serious mental health problems were waiting up to two years for treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy.

Too often ‘the only thing on offer to patients with depression is medication, which often has significant unwanted side-effects and does not help everyone’, says Anne Cooke, editor of the British Psychological Society report, Understanding Psychosis And Schizophrenia.

As for the use of psychedelics to treat mental health problems, Ms Cooke, a consultant clinical psychologist at Canterbury Christ Church University, adds: ‘My understanding is they could be used as an adjunct to psychological therapy, to try to help the person enter a frame of mind where they can make best use of the therapy.

‘But the same can sometimes be achieved by other means, such as relaxation methods. And, as we know, these drugs can also have adverse effects, so it’s important to exercise caution.’

Peter Kinderman, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Liverpool and a member of the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry, agrees drugs such as psilocybin ‘might help’ encourage ‘flexible thinking’.

He’s even advising a European research project looking at psilocybin for depression.

But he says it’s ‘important we’re very cautious with drugs such as psilocybin and LSD’ and says he’s ‘pretty sceptical’ generally about drug treatments for mental health: ‘I really worry that a lot of people in the mental health system have been prescribed too large quantities of too many drugs for too long.’

Amanda Feilding declined to comment.

I’m all for keeping an open mind about how drugs can be used. Even drugs that were once considered dangerous can, in certain circumstances, have benefits.

Thalidomide, banned after it was found to cause birth deformities, has made a comeback as an effective treatment for certain types of lung cancer, for example.

But I have profound reservations about this sudden interest in illegal drugs and fear it will erode our drug laws further. 

As a doctor who has worked in drug addiction, this makes me profoundly uneasy. Time and again I have seen the destruction these drugs can cause.

Yes, of course, substances such as alcohol are also very dangerous. But that’s not a reason to decriminalise other drugs, too.

It’s perfectly possible that illegal recreational drugs could have a medical use; a major analysis suggested LSD can help in alcoholism. But there are many other drugs that help and which don’t have the potential for abuse or psychiatric complications.

What makes me suspicious is that the resurgence of interest in recreational drugs for mental health conditions hasn’t sprung out of new research or a new discovery about how the brain works.

Why focus on recreational drugs and not on developing new antidepressants, for example? It seems more of a fishing expedition to find results that support a certain view, rather than being led by a solid, scientific reason to research these drugs. We’ve seen a similar thing with cannabis. There’s no doubt it can help some with conditions such as epilepsy. Which is why scientists are trying to identify the specific component responsible and turning it into a medication that can be prescribed to help patients.

That’s what usually happens in medicine. For instance, the key ingredient in aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid, which was originally derived from the leaves of the willow tree.

But when someone has a headache, we don’t give them a bit of tree to chew on. We’ve identified the chemical responsible for the useful property and produced it in a tablet, where the dose and purity can be consistent. But rather than identify the components, campaigners insist we should simply legalise cannabis for medicinal use.

To me, this is just a back-door attempt to make recreational use legal, too.

I’m not convinced LSD even has any benefits. I’ve never met someone who’s used it and said to myself: ‘Well, that’s solved all your problems.’ Rather, too often I’ve come across regular users, typically in their 60s or 70s, and thought how odd they were. I’ve also met many who have spent significant periods in hospital as a result of drug use.

Making illegal drugs medically acceptable is the first step in making them socially acceptable. If decriminalisation is what you really want, at least be honest about it. Don’t try to use medicine to push a social agenda.

The blue-blooded brains behind it – with NO science qualifications! 

One of the driving forces behind the research into psychedelic drugs is Amanda Feilding, the 75-year‑old Countess of Wemyss and March.

She stood unsuccessfully for Parliament on the platform that trepanation — drilling a hole in the head — should be available on the NHS to allow people to experience a higher state of consciousness.

In a speech she gave to a conference on psychedelic drugs last October, Feilding said she ‘learned the value’ of regular doses of LSD back in the Sixties. She was able to ‘live and work on LSD, and in my opinion to see much further and deeper . . .I grew to love this state’.

But it would be a mistake to dismiss Feilding as just eccentric.

She is a leading figure in the explosion of research into the ‘medicinal use’ of psychedelic drugs and a founder and co-director (with Professor David Nutt) of the Beckley Imperial Research Programme at Imperial College London, as well as working with other UK and international universities.

On the website of the Beckley Foundation, which she set up in 1996 as the Foundation to Further Consciousness, she is described as ‘the “hidden hand” behind the renaissance of psychedelic science’.

Since 2010, the foundation, which is based at Beckley Park — her spectacular stately home in Oxfordshire — has funded, or otherwise been involved in, the research for almost 60 papers published in scientific journals investigating the properties and therapeutic potential of illicit mind-altering drugs including LSD, ecstasy and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms).

‘None of it would have been possible without Amanda and the Beckley Foundation,’ Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, the head of Imperial’s Psychedelic Research Group, told a newspaper in 2015.

Good Health has learned that at least five British universities have accepted money from the foundation. Imperial College London has received £108,519 since 2009, while the University of Exeter received £11,488 for a study on cannabidiol (a component of cannabis).

The Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London was given £4,000, also for cannabis studies, and Cardiff University says the foundation has agreed to give it £50,000 to investigate ecstasy for post-traumatic stress disorder.

University College London (UCL) says it has ‘no record of any philanthropic donations from the Beckley Foundation or Amanda Feilding’. But between 2012 and 2015 Feilding collaborated with Val Curran, a professor of psychopharmacology at UCL.

One 2012 paper on cannabis, on which Professor Curran and Feilding are co-authors, clearly states the study was part-funded by the Beckley Foundation. Another paper published in 2013 and co-authored by Feilding looking at ‘the harms and benefits’ of psychoactive drugs acknowledges as ‘a potential conflict of interest . . . the study was funded by the Beckley Foundation which seeks to change global drug policy’.

The Beckley Foundation has a lot of money at its disposal. Accounts filed with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator show that between 2013 and 2017 it had an income of £2.26 million.

Since 2009 the foundation has supported the Beckley Imperial Research Programme which aims ‘to develop a comprehensive account of how substances such as LSD, psilocybin [and] MDMA [ecstasy] affect the brain to alter consciousness, and how they produce their potentially therapeutic effects’.

Feilding’s involvement doesn’t stop at funding. Despite confirming to Good Health that she has ‘no formal qualifications’, she is credited as a co-author on 37 academic papers published in journals ranging from The Lancet Psychiatry to the Journal of Psychopharmacology (24 of these papers, exploring the potential clinical uses of drugs including psilocybin, LSD and ecstasy, have been published in collaboration with Imperial researchers, including Professor Nutt and Dr Carhart-Harris).

On almost all of these 37 papers on which Feilding is a co-author, her foundation is acknowledged as having funded the research. Yet on almost none is her dual role recognised as a potential conflict of interest.

A spokesperson for the Beckley Foundation said that Feilding had ‘actively participated in the inception, design, and writing up’ of all the papers where she was a co-author. All had been peer-reviewed, ‘which means that the scientific community at large is confident that these results speak for themselves, regardless of the author’s viewpoint or political position’.

But criticism of this unusual arrangement was voiced in January 2017 in a paper in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, which queried the merits of a paper on psilocybin published by the Beckley Foundation-funded Imperial College team in the British Journal of Psychiatry in March 2012.

It said: ‘Since detailed information on conflicts of interest has not been provided scepticism may arise as to the role of such foundations [i.e. Beckley] in study design and execution, potentially biasing the results.’

Feilding’s influence extends to the upper reaches of the scientific community. Members of the Beckley Foundation’s scientific advisory board include Sir Colin Blakemore, former chief executive of the Medical Research Council (MRC), which controls much of the public funding for medical research and which, since Sir Colin’s tenure ended, has funded Professor Nutt’s work with psilocybin to the tune of £750,000.

In its annual report for 2017, the Beckley Foundation celebrated the MRC’s backing as ‘the first time UK government funds have been allocated to a classic psychedelic study since before prohibition’.

Sir Colin has been a member of the board since 2001, including during his leadership of the MRC (from 2003 to 2007).

While still head of the MRC, Sir Colin was a co-author with Professor Nutt on a paper in The Lancet that challenged the classification of illegal drugs. ‘Some of the ideas developed in this paper,’ they wrote, ‘arose out of discussion at workshops organised by the Beckley Foundation.’

An MRC spokesperson told us: ‘Neither Colin nor the MRC saw his involvement with the Beckley Foundation as a conflict with his position at the MRC.’

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Beckley Foundation said it was ‘an inaccurate shortcut’ to suggest Feilding wanted banned drugs such as LSD legalised for recreational use. Rather, she believed ‘such drugs should be investigated thoroughly, both in terms of their safety and their therapeutic potential, and that their legal scheduling should be based on facts rather than ungrounded beliefs’.

Imperial College London, Amanda Feilding, Professor Nutt and Dr Carhart-Harris did not respond to requests for their comments.

Source: How you have paid to help legalise lethal party drugs | Daily Mail Online May 2018

SEPARATING MARIJUANA FACT FROM FICTION IN NEW YORK RESPONSE TO THE “ASSESSMENT OF THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF REGULATED MARIJUANA IN NEW YORK STATE”

AUGUST 2018

Executive Summary
Recently, New York State (NYS) released what they claimed to be “an extensive assessment of current research and literature to evaluate the cost-risk benefit of legalizing the recreational adult use of marijuana.”
The overall conclusion of this assessment was that marijuana poses little public health risk and should be considered for legalization. But a closer look finds several flaws in the report that questions its purpose and conclusions. Unfortunately, it appears that the conclusion of the NYS report was written before the data were analyzed. The legalization of recreational marijuana is presented in the introduction as a fait accompli: “It has become less a question of whether to legalize but how to do so responsibly.” Much of the report discusses how to decrease the dangers of legal recreational marijuana. The best way to lessen the danger is to keep it from being commercialized, normalized, promoted – and legalized.
The report conflates the issues of medical marijuana and commercial sales of recreational marijuana. The potential medical benefits of medical cannabis are already available in New York. Adding indiscriminate recreational use does not increase any health benefit to New Yorkers.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is advised by a scientific advisory board of researchers from institutions such as Harvard and Johns Hopkins. SAM believes in the need for rational, well-informed public policy – legislation that maximizes public health benefits and minimizes harms.
This state-issued report reads more like a marijuana lobbyist’s manifesto, as we found no credible opposing evidence cited.
Based on our findings, the reference to unlisted “subject-matter experts” that the report apparently relied on, and the fact that state medical groups like the New York Society for Addiction Medicine (NYSAM) were not consulted with, we are formally requesting that the state of New York publicly disclose all sources that were consulted and those that contributed to creation of the document. We believe that National Institute of Health (NIH) scientists, NYSAM physicians, and other experts should have the chance to review these findings.
Below are the top claims from the report and rebuttals.

CLAIM: “A 2017 Marist Poll showed that 52 percent of Americans 18 years of age or older have tried marijuana at some point in their lives, and 44 percent of these individuals currently use it.”
CORRECTION:
The best usage data are not found in polls, but rather scientific studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health. According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data, 10.58% of Americans 12 or older and 10.84% of New York State residents reported being current users and 44% of Americans have tried marijuana at some point in their life (NSDUH, 2016).

CLAIM: “In 1999 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found a base of evidence to support the benefits of marijuana for medical purposes.”
CORRECTION:
This report is supposed to be about non-medical marijuana. We should not conflate the two issues. Still, there have been several reviews since this was published almost twenty years ago. The 1999 IOM report stated: “Because of the health risks associated with smoking, smoked marijuana should generally not be recommended for long-term medical use” and called for a “heavier investment in research.”
Released at the beginning of 2017, the most recent National Academy of Sciences report said: “Despite increased cannabis use and a changing state-level policy landscape, conclusive evidence regarding the short- and long-term health effects—both harms and benefits—of cannabis use remains elusive.” The July 24, 2018 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine stated that “Americans’ view of marijuana use is more favorable than existing evidence supports.”
Again, this NYS report recommended recreational legalization, and we should separate the issue of the possible therapeutic benefits from this study.

CLAIM: “Most women who use marijuana stop or reduce their use during pregnancy.”
CORRECTION:
Dr. Nora Volkow, NIH’s drug abuse director, published a report last year in response to an alarming trend being seen across the country of increased cannabis use during pregnancy and warned of the detrimental health risks of in utero cannabis exposure (Volkow et al., 2017).
Even more alarming is a recent study that was not included in this report where researchers found nearly 70% of 400 Colorado dispensaries surveyed in a scientific, undercover study were recommending cannabis products to mothers experiencing morning-sickness in the first trimester (Dickson et al., 2018).
A clinically-controlled study published this year found that mothers vulnerable to mental illness who smoked during pregnancy put their child at higher risk to develop significantly more psychotic symptoms earlier in life compared to mothers who didn’t smoke marijuana, but had similar vulnerabilities (Bolhuis et al., 2018).

CLAIM: “Data from multiple sources indicate that legalization in Colorado had no substantive impact on youth marijuana use.”
CORRECTION:
Despite widely publicized reports by the state of Colorado, pro-legalization lobbyists, and others with revenue-producing interests; reliable data sources say otherwise. According to NSDUH state estimates, Colorado now leads the nation in the percentage of 12- to 17-year olds who have tried marijuana for the first time (NSDUH, State Estimates, 2017). In adolescents and adults, Colorado is well above the national average.
All state-collected data related to adolescent substance use is done via the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey – a state sponsored assessment to replace all other national and state surveys administered in school. Until 2017, these data have not met the CDC’s standard qualifications for sampling methodology since 2011 – the year before recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado. The 2015 HKCS has been widely criticized for misrepresenting and promoting misleading messages surrounding adolescent drug use (Murray, 2016).

As a result of questionable reports publicized by the state of Colorado and pro-legalization activists, local investigative journalists at the Denver Post interviewed numerous law enforcement officers, educators and advocates; in addition to analyzing databases. They ultimately concluded that state-produced data appears to be unreliable (Migoya, 2017). “Records do not account for many young offenders who either are not reported to police, are not ticketed because police say there’s too little to cite or have infractions that are not tabulated because of programs designed to protect minors from blemished records.”

CLAIM: “There has been no increase in violent crime or property crime rates around medical marijuana dispensaries.”
CORRECTION:
The relationship between marijuana establishments and crime is mixed at best. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health showed that the density of marijuana dispensaries was linked to increased property crimes in nearby areas (Freisthler, et al., 2017). Colorado Public Radio reported similar findings – particularly in Denver and Pueblo – and noted the visible association with increased gang violence seen in both cities likely due to a high density of dispensaries and illegal activity, including the black market (Markus, 2017).

CLAIM: “Marijuana is an effective treatment for pain, greatly reduces the chance of dependence, and eliminates the risk of fatal overdose compared to most opioid-based medications.”

CORRECTION:
This is inaccurate and is confounding medical and recreational use. This statement was based on a survey that 17 medical marijuana patients took while being prescribed opioids. Self-report data can be useful but have no value in informing serious public health risks. Several recent and widely-circulated studies show strong contradictory evidence to this claim.
Researchers found that patients reporting marijuana use actually experienced more pain on average when admitted to the hospital following a traumatic injury than those that did not. Compared to non-users, they required more opioid medication to cope with the pain and consistently rated their pain higher during the duration of their stay (Salottolo et al., 2018).
A 4-year prospective study in the highly respected Lancet journal followed medical marijuana patients with a dual opioid prescription and found that marijuana use did not reduce opioid use or prescribing. Users reported greater pain severity and more day-to-day interference than those that did not use marijuana (Campbell et al., 2018).

CLAIM: “Regulated marijuana introduces an opportunity to reduce harm for consumers through labeling.”
CORRECTION:
Non-FDA approved commercially-produced products have received only minimal regulatory attention. Recent studies have shown rampant mislabeling of the active cannabinoid ingredients in concentrates and edibles (Peace et al., 2016).
The FDA has published warning letters on the severe mislabeling of commercial products consistently seen on the market since 2015 (FDA, 2015-17). This claim was cited from the Drug Policy Alliance website. The DPA and its affiliates have directly funded campaigns to legalize all forms of marijuana including edible products throughout the US. They also call for the legalization of all drugs. This is not a credible source.

CLAIM: “The status quo (i.e., criminalization of marijuana) has not curbed marijuana use.”

CORRECTION:
Non-public, personal use of Marijuana is not criminalized in NYS nor are possession of small amounts for personal amounts – often a reason for imprisonment. In 2016 23.5% Americans reported using legal drugs compared to 10.6% using illegal ones – signaling that the law matters in preventing drug use (NSDUH, 2016). In 2017 in New York State, marijuana made up 0.003% of non youthful-offender felony sentences to prison. There were no youthful offender felony marijuana sentences for prison. Misdemeanor marijuana arrests made up 8.5% of all state
misdemeanor arrests (NY State Division of Criminal Services, 2018). The recent rush to legalization across the country has pushed marijuana to the number one spot for recent first-time drug users aged 12 or older in 2016 compared to any other illicit drug (NSDUH, 2016).

CLAIM: “Legalizing marijuana results in a reduction in the use of synthetic cannabinoids.”
CORRECTION:
This claim is inaccurately attributed to the report Global Drug Survey which indicates that countries that decriminalize marijuana have lower rates of synthetic marijuana use. The claim cannot be found in that reference. And, even if there is an association between decreased synthetic use and decriminalized marijuana, it does not follow that legalizing marijuana will cause a reduction in synthetic use. We emailed Professor Adam R Winstock, Founder & CEO of the Global Drug Survey, to ask his opinion. He replied, ”It’s not clear cut,” indicating uncertainty. There is not much data on decreased synthetic use in countries with decriminalization (Zucker doesn’t even say “countries with legalization” which is actually the issue at hand because only Uruguay would fall into that category).

CLAIM: “The over-prosecution of marijuana has had significant negative economic, health, and safety impacts that have disproportionately affected low-income communities of color.”
CORRECTION:
Marijuana does not need to be legalized to address valid social justice concerns. Although overall drug-related offenses have decreased in states that have legalized; minorities have still disproportionately been targeted for the arrests that do still occur. Such as in 2014, two years after legalization in Colorado, the marijuana arrest rates for African‐ Americans (348 per 100,000) was almost triple that of Whites (123 per 100,000) (Co. Dept. of Public of Safety, 2016).
Colorado has seen an increase in crime in regions that attract recreational users. Although the rise in crime cannot be attributed to legalization of marijuana alone, much of the violence has been attributed to increased gang violence where dispensaries are densest (Markus, 2017). Current drug policies can be changed without legalization.

CLAIM: “The negative health consequences of marijuana have been found to be lower than alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs including heroin and cocaine.”

CORRECTION:
This statement is questionable because it was based on a theoretical model that estimated human consumption averages for each substance and calculated a risk ratio using lethal doses reported in animal studies. Basic research is necessary for understanding the biology underlying addiction; however, the transferability of dosing schedules between species has not been conclusively established. Much of the reason alcohol and tobacco exert more costs to society than many illegal drugs is because those two drugs are legalized and commercialized. As Dr. Nora Volkow, head of NIH’s drug abuse institute stated, “Repeated marijuana use during adolescence may result in long-lasting changes in brain function that can jeopardize educational, professional, and social achievements.
“However, the effects of a drug (legal or illegal) on individual health are determined not only by its pharmacologic properties but also by its availability and social acceptability.” “In this respect, legal drugs (alcohol and tobacco) offer a sobering perspective, accounting for the greatest burden of disease associated with drugs not because they are more dangerous than illegal drugs but because their legal status allows for more widespread exposure.”

CLAIM: “The impact of legalization in surrounding states has accelerated the need for NYS to address legalization.”
CORRECTION:
This statement reads as if two wrongs somehow make a right. NYS should not be forced into legalizing marijuana because other states are considering it (several surrounding states, it should be noted, have considered and then defeated proposals to legalize marijuana). Even if a surrounding state or two legalizes marijuana, NYS can stand out as the state promoting health, well-being, family-centered tourism – not more drug use.
This statement totally ignores newer polls such as the 2018 Emerson College poll that found that the majority of New Yorkers do not support the legalization of marijuana. A plurality support either decriminalization or the current policy.
“The poll — conducted by the same college that recently conducted a poll for pro-marijuana groups Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) — reported that 56% of respondents did not favor legalizing the recreational sales of marijuana.”

REFERENCES
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Campbell, G., Hall, W. D., Peacock, A., Lintzeris, N., Bruno, R., Larance, B., … & Blyth, F. (2018). Effect of cannabis use in people with chronic non-cancer pain prescribed opioids: findings from a 4-year prospective cohort study. The Lancet Public Health, 3(7), e341-e350.

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Copyright © 2018 National Academy of Sciences. All Rights Reserved. (2017, November 08). Retrieved from http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/Activities/PublicHealth/MarijuanaHealthEffects.aspx

Dickson, B., Mansfield, C., Guiahi, M., Allshouse, A. A., Borgelt, L., Sheeder, J., … & Metz, T. D. (2018). 931: Recommendations from cannabis dispensaries on first trimester marijuana use. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 218(1), S551.

Emerson College. (2018, June). June 2018 Public Opinion Survey of New York Registered Voters Attitudes on Marijuana Policy. Retrieved from https://learnaboutsam.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/nyspoll-1.pdf Commissioned by Smart Approaches to Marijuana

Freisthler, B., Ponicki, W. R., Gaidus, A., & Gruenewald, P. J. (2016). A micro‐temporal geospatial analysis of medical marijuana dispensaries and crime in Long Beach, California. Addiction, 111(6), 1027-1035.

Green, M. C. (2018, June). Criminal Justice Case Processing Arrest through Disposition New York State January – December 2017. Retrieved from http://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/crimnet/ojsa/dar/DAR-4Q-2017-NewYorkState.pdf

Keyhani, S., Steigerwald, S., Ishida, J., Vali, M., Cerdá, M., Hasin, D., . . . Cohen, B. E. (2018). Risks and Benefits of Marijuana Use. Annals of Internal Medicine. doi:10.7326/m18-0810

Markus, B. (2017, July 31). A Dive Into Colorado Crime Data In 5 Charts. Retrieved from http://www.cpr.org/news/story/a-dive-into-colorado-crime-data-in-5-charts

Migoya, D. (2017, December 22). Police across Colorado questioning whether youths are using marijuana less. Retrieved from https://www.denverpost.com/2017/12/22/police-across-colorado-questioning-youth-marijuana-use/

Murray, D. W. (2016, July 2). Misrepresenting Colorado Marijuana – by David W. Murray. Retrieved from https://www.hudson.org/research/12615-misrepresenting-colorado-marijuana

National Families in Action. (n.d.). Colorado | The Marijuana Report.org. Retrieved from http://themarijuanareport.org/colorado/.

Peace, M. R., Butler, K. E., Wolf, C. E., Poklis, J. L., & Poklis, A. (2016). Evaluation of two commercially available cannabidiol formulations for use in electronic cigarettes. Frontiers in pharmacology, 7, 279.

Salottolo, K., Peck, L., Tanner II, A., Carrick, M. M., Madayag, R., McGuire, E., & Bar-Or, D. (2018). The grass is not always greener: a multi-institutional pilot study of marijuana use and acute pain management following traumatic injury. Patient Safety in Surgery, 12(1), 16.

Volkow, N. D., Compton, W. M., & Wargo, E. M. (2017). The risks of marijuana use during pregnancy. Jama, 317(2), 129-130.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM was co-founded by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy and former Obama Administration senior drug policy advisor, Dr. Kevin Sabet. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states.

Source: NY-Rebuttal-Absolute-Final.pdf (learnaboutsam.org) August 2018

POT SHOPS will soon be officially open for business in Massachusetts. While this may be good news for the marijuana industry and its lobbyists, state officials need to proceed with caution — especially when regulating high-potency pot products such as gummies, lollipops, and other treats aimed at children. The fact is that we really don’t know what’s in these products, nor do we know about their long-term effects. More awareness is desperately needed about the dangers of today’s highly potent marijuana. Public health — not the pot industry — should be leading this conversation.

Make no mistake: Pot is no longer about Woodstock — it’s about Wall Street. Replicating the playbook of Big Tobacco, the marijuana industry routinely manufactures and markets kid-friendly products with the intent of creating life-long customers. Some of these new edibles and vaping extracts are 99 percent THC, the ingredient in marijuana that gets you high. Compare this to the 5 percent potency of the average joint in the 1970s.

While more research and data are needed to understand what these newly engineered products do to your brain, the negative impact of marijuana commercialization is already being felt in other legalized states. In the years since these states moved to liberalize their pot laws, drugged driving deaths have increased, emergency room visits have risen, and more young people are using marijuana. Last month, the National Institutes of Health released a study finding that 1 in 4 12th-graders reported that they would try marijuana for the first time, or use it more often, if marijuana were legalized.

What the marijuana industry will not tell you is that regular, heavy marijuana use during adolescence is associated with an 8-point drop in IQ — a loss that is not reversed when marijuana use stops. We also know from several studies that heavy marijuana use among adolescents is associated with lower grades and exam scores, and a lower satisfaction with life. People who use marijuana are less likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college and more likely to earn less income.

Pot potency should be capped. The marijuana industry’s influence on rule-making should be halted. And protections for vulnerable populations should be established and strictly enforced. In Colorado, an undercover study recently found that 69 percent of randomly selected marijuana stores recommended THC products to treat pregnancy-related nausea in the first trimester. Fewer than 1 in 3 of these stores recommended consulting a doctor.

Our choice was never between locking up users or commercializing an addictive substance. But now that we have forsaken a sensible policy of decriminalization for a commercial regime that thrives on addiction, the stakes are too high to let the marijuana industry define the terms of regulation. Public officials have a responsibility to curb industry influence, enforce rigorous THC standards, protect vulnerable populations, and launch comprehensive public health campaigns. Our children, communities, and families deserve nothing less.

Kevin Sabet is a former three-time White House drug policy official and president of SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

Source: The dangers of pot – The Boston Globe July 2018

Businesses are gearing up as previously prohibited cannabis-infused drinks, cakes and candies are about to become a legal alternative to smoking marijuana

These days, the “pot brownie” is as outdated as Betty Crocker, with cannabis edibles reaching new highs in innovation and tastes. At Portland dispensary Oregon’s Finest, cannabis-infused root beer, artisan cake bites, chocolate truffles, gummy candies and even cold brew coffee are among the delicacies.

Recreational cannabis, in the form of flower (or “bud”), has been legal to purchase in Oregon since October 2015, but edibles have remained the forbidden fruit, available only to medical marijuana cardholders. From Thursday all that’s about to change.

Oregon has approved the sale of marijuana edibles to recreational consumers and sellers are preparing to unleash everything from cannabis-infused ice cream and frozen pizza to beef jerky on to the market.

Megan Marchetti of Oregon’s Finest said the shop is expecting a bump in sales, not least from customers who previously took the 10-mile pilgrimage across the bridge into Washington state – where edibles have been recreationally available since 2014.

Oregon becomes fourth US state to legalize recreational marijuana

It’s Marchetti’s opinion that Oregon will be the natural leader in cannabis snacky treats because, simply, it’s got better bud. “I lived in the Netherlands and all over the country, trying to figure out where the best weed in the world is. It’s in Oregon,” said Marchetti. “You combine that with Oregon’s need to have everything artisan and crafted, so you have really great products. Of everything I’ve seen our game is the tightest.”

As more US states move to legalization of cannabis, edibles have worried the authorities because they could potentially fall into the hands of children or prove worryingly strong for some users.

Oregon has arguably gone the furthest in its attempts to address these concerns. The temporary rules for 2 June – as determined by the Oregon health authority (OHA) – permit dispensaries to sell one cannabinoid edible containing a maximum of 15mg THC (the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis) per customer per day. “Fifteen mg can be too high for a lot of people who are new to THC edibles,” said David McNicoll, producer of Dave’s Space Cakes, a gluten-free cupcake. “You really need to start with 5mg and learn what your dosage level is.”

Oregon Responsible Edibles Council (Orec), of which McNicoll is a member, has launched a “Try Five” campaign, which encourages first-time users to consume edibles containing only 5mg THC – and avoid overindulgent freak-outs.

Protecting cannabis users also extends to their children, which is why the OHA requires all edibles, whether retail or medical, to be sealed in child-resistant safety packaging.

The number of reported marijuana exposures in children under the age of six in Oregon increased from 14 in 2014, to 25 in 2015 and already 10 cases have been reported in the first three months of this year. Rob Hendrickson, associate medical director at the Oregon Poison Center, said it’s possible that incidents will increase after 2 June, as edibles can be easily mistaken for regular baked goods or candy.

Packing rules will change again towards the end of 2016, when the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) absorbs the recreational market, as will potency levels. An entire package (or edible) will be limited to 50mg THC, with each serving capped at 5mg. That’s half the strength of medical edibles, and half the dosage permitted in Washington and Colorado.

The shifting rules are causing confusion. Producers of ice cream or soda, which is difficult to divide or score into 15mg THC servings, might have to sit this round out.

Yet some vendors are fast to adapt, like the producers of Sour Bhotz, a robot-shaped gummy edible which is among the top sellers at Oregon’s Finest. The fat-free and gluten-free candy will morph into something closer to “sour bitz” – robot parts – to qualify for the provisional THC limits. But the rewards on offer are huge.

Marijuana millionaires cashing in on cannabis legalisation

Edibles will be a big market, says John Kagia, director of industry analytics at New Frontier, a cannabis data-collecting firm. The reason, he explained, is multifold: edibles are attractive to non-smokers, they offer a discreet way to consume cannabis, and their selection and quality is as appealing for taste as it is for psychoactive effects. In Washington, edibles make up 10% of sales in the recreational market, but that number is growing rapidly. Oregon is expected to follow suit.

“It’s going to be huge,” said Laurie Wolf, founder of Laurie & MaryJane, which produces both sweet and savory edibles. “I think it’s going to be crazy in the beginning,” said Wolf, a professional chef and food author.

“My dream was to become the Martha Stewart of edibles,” said Wolf, whose Nut Mix and Almond Cake Bites took first and second prize at the Seattle DOPE Cup last year. “Since marijuana became recreationally legal, the edibles sales have dropped considerably,” she said. “We’re looking forward to them being back on the market.”

Yet before it can reach watering mouths in food form, all marijuana sold in Oregon must be screened for about 60 pesticides commonly used in cannabis cultivation, along with potency levels. Edibles, like Wolf’s cake bites, will undergo various lab tests, first as bud then as butter.

But that’s where the protocol gets hazy. Most edible producers are operating with small teams, limited funds and under little oversight, contributing to discrepancies between labeling and actual dosage.

According to a 2015 report by the Journal of the American Medical Association, of 75 edible products from 47 different brands across the country, 17% were accurately labeled, 23% were under-labeled, and 60% were over-labeled with respect to THC content.

“It’s complicated, because on a national level weed is illegal,” said Rodger Voelker, lab director at Oregon Grower’s (OG) Analytical, which tests cannabis for dispensary sales. “There is no level playing field in regards to quality, and no accountability. Until somebody tells them you can’t be deceiving customers, it’s going to continue to happen.”

A critical step in producing consistent edibles involves a finished product test. Unfortunately, there isn’t one. Instead, labs have devised their own methods – none of which have been validated by any national regulatory body, like the FDA, which is yet to step into the edibles sector.

OG Analytical is working with other laboratories to devise a uniform set of tests that can shared among states where marijuana is legal. In the meantime, Voelker warns edible producers: “Study up on what you’re supposed to be doing as though the feds were already involved, because I guarantee you that’s the direction it’s going to go.”

Source:  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/02/oregon-cannabis-edibles-marijuana-law June 2016

Researchers from Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, whose crest is pictured above, and other academic medical institutions, surveyed 2630 14- to 18-year-olds via Facebook who live in states that have legalized marijuana for medical use (MMJ states), recreational use (RMJ states), and not legalized the drug (NMJ states).

MMJ and RMJ states vary in what they allow, and the researchers wanted to learn if different provisions influence when adolescents begin marijuana use and which provisions may result in increasing use among young people.

The researchers say it is crucial to understand how marijuana legalization laws affect youth because they are more vulnerable to the drug’s harmful effects. Chronic use during adolescence has been associated with impaired brain development, educational achievement, and psychosocial functioning, as well as an increased risk of developing addiction.

Legalization has spurred the development of new marijuana products with higher potencies, such as marijuana-infused foods called edibles and electronic vaping devices that enable a user to inhale the psychoactive ingredients of tobacco and marijuana without the smoke.

Edibles sold in most legal states lack safety standards or products regulations and are marketed in ways that are attractive to youth, the researchers note. These factors are contributing to the sharp increase in marijuana overdoses among young people. Vaping devices are becoming increasingly popular among middle school and high school children who use them to vape marijuana more often than adults. Moreover, data show adolescents are vaping high-potency marijuana products whose impact on neurodevelopment is unknown but concerning because they may place youth at higher risk for psychosis.

The researchers find that youth in legalization states are twice as likely as those in nonlegalization states to have tried vaping. Moreover, youth in legalization states with high dispensary density are twice as likely to have tried vaping and three times more likely to have tried edibles than youth in nonlegalization states.

The kind and duration of marijuana legalization laws also impact youth. Youth in MMJ states are significantly more likely to have tried vaping and edibles than youth in nonlegalization states, and youth in RMJ states are significantly more likely to have tried both than youth in MMJ states. Youth in legal states that allow home cultivation are twice as likely to have tried edibles (but not vaping) as their peers in legal states that prohibit home grows. States with the oldest legalization laws also see increases in youth lifetime vaping and edible use.

Read Science Daily summary here. Read Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal abstract here.

Source: Email from National Families In Action June 2017

Three months ago, National Families in Action published a report, Tracking the Money that is Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters, that details where the money comes from to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use. Most of it was raised by three billionaires and two organizations they fund, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) to do the work of legalization. The first decade of legalization was accomplished via ballot measures which DPA and/or MPP wrote, paid for collecting voters’ signatures, and paid heavily for advertising with less than accurate information to convince voters to pass them. This effort created a medical marijuana industry that made so much money it began contributing to the legalization effort as well.

In February 2017, five US Representatives formed the Congressional Cannabis Caucus to issue a spate of bills that would set the stage and then ultimately legalize marijuana at the federal level. It turns out that DPA and MPP donations to Congressional campaigns are over-represented among Caucus members and other legislators who are partnering with them to reach this goal. Together, Caucus members, pictured above, and colleagues have introduced more than 20 bills since February.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who received $3,000 from MPP, has introduced three of those bills and is co-sponsoring seven more.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) received $2,000 from MPP, has introduced one bill, and co-sponsored four more.

Rep. Ed Polis (D-CO), the only Caucus member who has not received donations from either group, has introduced one bill and co-sponsored six more.

Rep. Young (R-AK) received $1,000 from MPP, introduced one bill, and co-sponsored five more.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) received $7,000 from MPP and $4,700 from DPA, introduced one bill, and co-sponsored five more bills.

Here are the representatives and senators who signed on as co-sponsors of the 20-plus bills who also received donations from DPA and/or MPP as of June 28:

  • Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) — $5,000/MPP – co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) — $1,000/MPP – co-sponsoring 2 bills.
  • Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) — $8,000/MPP — co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) — $3,000/MPP – co-sponsoring 2 bills.
  • Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) — $1,000/MPP – co-sponsoring 3 bills.
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) — $4,500/MPP/$500/DPA – sponsoring 1 bill, co-sponsoring 5 bills.
  • Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) — $1,000/MPP — co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) — $1,000/MPP — sponsoring 1 bill, co-sponsoring 3 bills.
  • Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) — $1,000/DPA – sponsoring 1 bill, co-sponsoring 2 bills.
  • Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) — $2,600/MPP – co-sponsoring 2 bills.
  • Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) — $1,000/MPP – co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) — $1,000/MPP — co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) — $1,000/MPP — co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) — $3,500/MPP – co-sponsoring 3 bills.
  • Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) — $5,000/MPP — co-sponsoring 2 bills.
  • Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) — $5,750/MPP/$1,000/DPA — co-sponsoring 3 bills.
  • Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) — $2,500/DPA – co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) — $1,000/MPP — co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) — $1,00/MPP – co-sponsoring 2 bills.
  • Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) — $1,000/DPA — sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) — $5,500/MPP — sponsoring 1 bill, co-sponsoring 7 bills.
  • Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) — $1,000/MPP – co-sponsoring 1 bill.
  • Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) — $6,000/MPP/$4,500/DPA — co-sponsoring 5 bills.
  • Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) — $4,000/MPP — co-sponsoring 3 bills.
  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) — $1,500/MPP — co-sponsoring 1 bill.

People who don’t want to see Congress legalize marijuana nationwide can pay to play too. With few exceptions, these are not large amounts of money. They could be matched to replace MPP’s and DPA’s donations so legislators can work for healthy families and healthy communities instead of the marijuana industry.

The Cannabist, the Denver Post’s marijuana website, published a list of bills these folks have introduced in Congress since the Caucus was formed in February. You can read it here.
Note: a few bills in the list do not deal with legalization.

Source: Email from National Families In Action  June 2017

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is seeking signatures to place an initiative on Michigan’s November 2018 ballot. The measure would legalize marijuana for recreational use and allow residents to possess 880 joints at a time, the largest amount of any state in the nation.

Michigan News has done an admirable job of explaining this with pictures as well as words. See how here. The paper also provides a link to the proposed initiative.

Source: Email from National Families In Action The Marijuana Report The Marijuana Report.Org August 2017

Marijuana reporter Joel Warner asks if the media is currently biased in support of marijuana legalization.

He cites a recent incident brought to his attention by Kevin Sabet, founder of SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), who had received a tip that the next-day release of the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health would show that marijuana use in Colorado has reached the highest levels in the nation. Sabet wrote a press release which fell on deaf ears. A Google analysis shows only 17 stories were written about this consequence of legalization in Colorado.

In contrast, a few weeks before, the release of the 2015 Monitoring the Future Survey showed a slight downturn in past-month marijuana use among 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students nationwide. It was hyped by some in the press as a signal that legalization is of no consequence. A total of 156 news stories covered the results of this survey.

Warner notes that there are now “marijuana-business newspapers and marijuana culture magazines, full-time marijuana-industry reporters (this writer included), and even a marijuana-editorial division at the Denver Post called the Cannabist, staffed with a marijuana editor and cannabis strain reviewers,” like Jake Browne, pictured above.
 
He asks if the data supports it, could marijuana journalists “be expected to conclude that legalization has been a failure, if that means they would also be writing the obituaries for their own jobs?”
 
Read Joel Warner’s thoughtful International Business Times article here.

Source: Email from Monte Stiles, National Families in Action January 2016

Subject: Re: Priorities for Reform of UK Drug Policy : Policy-UK Forum : March 2016

Dear Mr Marsh.

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for the invitation.

David Raynes
NDPA

Source: Email from David Raynes January 2016

Police forces in the province collected 795 blood samples from motorists suspected of driving while under the influence.

One year after the legalization of recreational use of cannabis in Canada, the black market for the drug — as well as its use behind the wheel — continues to keep Quebec police forces busy.

In 2018, police collected 795 blood samples from motorists suspected of driving while under the influence, and sent them to Quebec’s medical legal centre for processing. That’s 254 more than in the previous year.

The presence of cannabis was detected in 46 per cent of those cases.

The Sûreté du Québec says cannabis is the most commonly detected drug in its traffic stops.

The provincial force said that since legalization, cannabis was detected in the systems of 113 persons pulled over for impaired driving, compared with 73 cases a year earlier — an increase of 54 per cent.

More than 670 officers trained in drug use evaluation have been deployed across the province.

In a statement issued Thursday detailing its operations over the past year, the SQ said it had opened 1,409 investigations into the illegal production, supply and distribution of cannabis, which led to 1,458 warrants being executed and charges filed against 1,403 individuals.

Meanwhile, raids on illegal outdoor cannabis fields were carried out in August and September, and saw 37,000 plants seized.

Over the past year, the SQ seized 71,500 cannabis plants, 161 kilograms of cannabis, 15.8 kilograms of cannabis oil and resin, 23,460 units of edible cannabis and $180,000 in cash.

Source:  https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/quebec-pot-arrests-behind-the-wheel-up-54-since-legalization October 2019

 

As a growing number of U.S. states legalize the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, an increasing number of American women are using cannabis before becoming pregnant and during early pregnancy often to treat morning sickness, anxiety, and lower back pain. Although emerging evidence indicates that this may have long-term consequences for their babies’ brain development, how this occurs remains unclear.

A University of Maryland School of Medicine study using a preclinical animal model suggests that prenatal exposure to THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, makes the brain’s dopamine neurons (an integral component of the reward system) hyperactive and increases sensitivity to the behavioral effects of THC during pre-adolescence. This may contribute to the increased risk of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis later in adolescence that previous research has linked to prenatal cannabis use, according to the study published today in journal Nature Neuroscience.

The team of researchers, from UMSOM, the University of Cagliari (Italy) and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Hungary), found that exposure to THC in the womb increased susceptibility to THC in offspring on several behavioral tasks that mirrors the effects observed in many psychiatric diseases. These behavioral effects were caused, at least in part, by hyperactivity of dopamine neurons in a brain region called the ventral tegmental area (VTA), which regulates motivated behaviors.

More importantly, the researchers were able to correct these behavioral problems and brain abnormalities by treating experimental animals with pregnenolone, an FDA-approved drug currently under investigation in clinical trials for cannabis use disorder, schizophrenia, autism, and bipolar disorder.

The researchers concluded that as physicians caution pregnant women against alcohol and cocaine intake because of their detrimental effects to the fetus, they should also, based on these new findings, advise them on the potential negative consequences of using cannabis specifically during pregnancy.

Marijuana legalization is on the ballot in 2016 in California, Arizona, Nevada, and elsewhere
The marijuana movement received a big jolt last November. No, it wasn’t another celebrity endorsement or cable news special glorifying the drug. Rather, in the midst of what we’ve been told was an inevitable march to victory, marijuana lost. And it lost big.

Many of us interested in this off-year Ohio race were expecting to be up all night. But at 8:32 p.m. Nov. 3, the Associated Press recorded one of the biggest losses ever for pot, as voters rejected legalization there by more than 2-1. (Full disclosure: The organization I head up, SAM, played a role in the campaign and defeat through our affiliate partners.)

Sure, the question was asked in a year no one usually votes, taking place in a sensible Midwestern state not known for its indulgences. Most of us thought it would lose, despite the victory “polls” constantly trumpeted out by the legalizers , but none of us thought it would lose this big.

What does that tell us for the 2016 races, when five states — California, Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine — are likely to have ballot questions on full legalization? A lot. Here’s what we’ve learned:

Big business wants to take over the marijuana movement — and voters don’t like that, even if profiteers do.

The Ohio initiative would have legalized a constitutionally mandated oligopoly for a few dozen investors to make millions on marijuana. The “No” campaign quickly pivoted from “marijuana is bad” to “marijuana monopolies with people making tons of cash are bad” — and it worked. The Ohio election was the first that tested the “Big Marijuana” message out. Groups like SAM have been saying it now for years, and videos showing the parallels are out there on social media, but it had not been tested out in a real campaign.

Money isn’t everything.

The pro side in Ohio spent more than $12 million to convince Buckeye voters that legalizing a pot monopoly was a good thing, and they still lost bad. While it’s true that money is required to get political messages out, especially when spent in a smart(er) way via targeted social media campaigns, Ohio proved that money isn’t everything.

The “no” side, while gathering an impressive group of organizations to oppose the measure, didn’t even pass the $1-million spending mark. But the message of opposing Big Pot stuck, and the amount of free media gained was remarkable. Every article mentioned the investor scheme.

Marijuana legalization isn’t inevitable.
The five states up for grabs in 2016 are critical, and voters will decide pot’s fate in an important presidential election year. But, all five states have different critical issues.

The granddaddy of the 2016 states, California will once again vote on legalized pot. In 2010, despite outspending the opposition by more than 5-1, voters soundly rejected a marijuana measure. This year, some traditional activists (notably the Reform CA folks) were pushed out by the billionaire Napster-founder Sean Parker, who is pouring his fortune into legalized pot via the “Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act.” Parker’s net worth will likely take the effort a long way, but given the importance of the Hispanic voter bloc, a group of people traditionally against legalization, the campaign won’t be a cakewalk.

A state known for sin and vice — Nevada — might seem the perfect one to try legalizing pot. Except for one man: Sheldon Adelson. The billionaire is dead-set against legalization, and he put his money where his mouth is in 2014 when he helped narrowly defeat a pot initiative in Florida. This time around, legalizers are gunning for his home state, but there’s talk of a well-respected state legislator and a handful of other bipartisan officials coming out against Nevada’s initiative. Stay tuned.

In Arizona, a legalization push has barely gotten off the ground, but is already finding opposition. And in Massachusetts, Democrat Attorney General Maura Healey and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker both oppose the initiative. In Maine, legalizers are trying to sanction pot smoking “social clubs,” though a recent conference highlighted dissension among traditional allies.

If we have learned anything from the brief time marijuana has been legal in Colorado, it is this: We have now entered the age of ‘corporate cannabis’ — slick advertising, child-friendly product placement.

In all of these states, laws are being written largely by lobbyists who have one goal — to make money. And one does not get rich in the drug business from casual users. They must rely on heavy users.

If we have learned anything from the brief time marijuana has been legal in Colorado it is this: We have now entered the age of ‘corporate cannabis’ — slick advertising, child-friendly product placement and companies that spend more on PR and lawyers than they do creating safe products.

The sky may not fall if legalization passes in these states, but voters should ask themselves something before getting into the ballot box. Are your relationships enhanced when your friends or family are smoking marijuana? Does marijuana make for safer roads? Better workplaces? Smarter students?

Despite strong evidence to the contrary, we are being told pot will fund our schools, get rid of drug cartels and cure cancer, all at once. And worst of all, we’re being sold this false dichotomy — that our only choices for drug policy are legalize or lock ‘em up. Promote Pot Tarts or fund private prisons. Give a kid a criminal record for holding a joint or allow another addictive industry to take over meetings in state capitals.

But that is false. No one I know wants to see a young kid marred forever because he happened to get caught with a joint in his pocket. But the alternative to that is not simply to ignore an unhealthy, unproductive behavior and promote its use. With the increasing research linking mental illness and marijuana, we at least should press the pause button before going any further.

We can’t build a great, compassionate society by promoting addiction for profit.

BY 

Source: https://www.lifezette.com/2015/12/legalized-pot-no-its-not-inevitable/
December 2015

The United States is confronting a public health crisis of rising adult drug addiction, most visibly documented by an unprecedented number of opioid overdose deaths. Most of these overdose deaths are not from the use of a single substance – opioids – but rather are underreported polysubstance deaths. This is happening in the context of a swelling national interest in legalizing marijuana use for recreational and/or medical use. As these two epic drug policy developments roil the nation, there is an opportunity to embrace a powerful initiative. Ninety percent of all adult substance use disorders trace back to origins in adolescence. New prevention efforts are needed that inform young people, the age group most at-risk for the onset of substance use problems, of the dangerous minefield of substance use that could have a profound negative impact on their future plans and dreams.

MOVING BEYOND A SUBSTANCE-SPECIFIC APPROACH TO YOUTH PREVENTION

The adolescent brain is uniquely vulnerable to developing substance use disorders because it is actively and rapidly developing until about age 25. This biological fact means that the earlier substance use is initiated the more likely an individual is to develop addiction. Preventing or delaying all adolescent substance use reduces the risk of developing later addiction.

Nationally representative data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that alcohol, tobacco and marijuana are by far the most widely used drugs among teens. This is no surprise because of the legal status of these entry level, or gateway, drugs for adults and because of their wide availability. Importantly, among American teens age 12 to 17, the use of any one of these three substances is highly correlated with the use of the other two and with the use of other illegal drugs. Similarly for youth, not using any one substance is highly correlated with not using the other two or other illegal drugs.

For example, as shown in Figure 1, teen marijuana users compared to their non-marijuana using peers, are 8.9 times more likely to report smoking cigarettes, 5.6, 7.9 and 15.8 times more likely to report using alcohol, binge drink, and drink heavily, respectively, and 9.9 times more likely to report using other illicit drugs, including opioids. There are similar data for youth who use any alcohol or any cigarettes showing that youth who do not use those drugs are unlikely to use the other two drugs. Together, these data show how closely linked is the use by youth of all three of these commonly used drugs.


Among Americans age 12 and older who meet criteria for substance use disorders specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV). Marijuana remains illegal under federal law but is legal in some states for recreational use the legal age is 21, and in some states for medical use, the legal age is 18. Nationally the legal age for tobacco products is 18 and for alcohol it is 21.

These findings show that prevention messaging targeting youth must address all of these three substances specifically. Most current prevention efforts are specific to individual substances or kinds and amounts of use of individual drugs (e.g., cigarette smoking, binge drinking, drunk driving, etc.), all of which have value, but miss a vital broader prevention message. What is needed, based on these new data showing the linkage of all drug use by youth, is a comprehensive drug prevention message: One Choice: no use of any alcohol, nicotine, marijuana or other drugs for youth under age 21 for reasons of health. This no use prevention message provides clarity for young people, parents, physicians, educators, communities and for policymakers. It is not intended to replace public health prevention messages on specific substances, but enhances them with a clear focus on youth.

Some claim adolescent use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana is inevitable, a goal of no use of any drug as unrealistic and that the appropriate goal of youth prevention is to prevent the progression of experimentation to later heavy use or problem-generating use. These opinions are misleading and reflect a poor understanding of neurodevelopment that underpins drug use. Teens are driven to seek new and exciting behaviors which can include substance use if the culture makes them available and promotes them. This need not be the case. New data in Figure 2 (below) show over the last four decades, the percentage of American high school seniors who do not use any alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana or other drugs has increased steadily. In 2014, 52% of high school seniors had not used any alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana or other drugs in the past month and 26% had not used any alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana or other drugs in their lifetimes. Clearly making the choice of no use of any substances is indeed possible – and growing.

 

Key lessons for the future of youth prevention can be learned from the past. Substance use peaked among high school seniors in 1978 when 72% used alcohol, 37% used cigarettes, and 37% used marijuana in the past month. These figures have since dropped significantly (see Figure 3 below). In 2016, 33% of high school seniors used alcohol, 10% used cigarettes and 22% used marijuana in the past month. This impressive public health achievement is largely unrecognized.

Although the use of all substances has declined over the last four decades, their use has not fallen uniformly. The prevalence of alcohol use, illicit drug use and marijuana use took similar trajectories, declining from 1978 to 1992. During this time a grassroots effort known as the Parents’ Movement changed the nation’s thinking about youth marijuana use with the result that youth drug use declined a remarkable 63%. Rates of adolescent alcohol use have continued to decline dramatically as have rates of adolescent cigarette use. Campaigns and corresponding policies focused on reducing alcohol use by teens seem to have made an impact on adolescent drinking behavior. The impressive decline in youth tobacco use has largely been influenced by the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement which provided funding to anti-smoking advocacy groups and the highly-respected Truth media campaign. The good news from these long-term trends is that alcohol and tobacco use by adolescents now are at historic lows.

It is regrettable but understandable that youth marijuana use, as well as use of the other drugs, has risen since 1991 and now has plateaued. The divergence of marijuana trends from those for alcohol and cigarettes began around the time of the collapse of the Parents’ Movement and the birth of a massive, increasingly well-funded marijuana industry promoting marijuana use. Shifting national attitudes to favor legalizing marijuana sale and use for adults both for medical and for recreational use now are at their highest level and contribute to the use by adolescents. Although overall the national rate of marijuana use for Americans age 12 and older has declined since the late seventies, a greater segment of marijuana users are heavy users (see Figure 4). Notably, from 1992 to 2014, the number of daily or near-daily marijuana uses increased 772%. This trend is particularly ominous considering the breathtaking increase in the potency of today’s marijuana compared to the product consumed in earlier decades. These two factors – higher potency products and more daily use – plus the greater social tolerance of marijuana use make the current marijuana scene far more threatening than was the case four decades ago.

Through the Parents’ Movement, the nation united in its opposition to adolescent marijuana use, driving down the use of all youth drug use. Now is the time for a new movement backed by all concerned citizens to call for One Choice: no use of any alcohol, nicotine, marijuana or other drugs for youth under age 21 for reasons of health. This campaign would not be a second iteration of the earlier “Just Say No” campaign. This new no-use message focuses on all of the big three drugs together, not singly and only in certain circumstances such as driving.

We are at a bitterly contentious time in US drug policy, with front page headlines and back page articles about the impact of the rising death rate from opioids, the human impact of these deaths and the addiction itself. At the same time there are frequent heated debates about legalizing adult marijuana and other drug use. Opposing youth substance use as a separate issue is supported by new scientific evidence about the vulnerability of the adolescent brain and is noncontroversial. Even the Drug Policy Alliance, a leading pro-marijuana legalization organization, states “the safest path for teens is to avoid drugs, including alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription drugs outside of a doctor’s recommendations.”

This rare commonality of opinion in an otherwise perfect storm of disagreement provides an opportunity to protect adolescent health and thereby reduce future adult addiction. Young people who do not use substances in their teens are much less likely to use them or other drugs in later decades. The nation is searching for policies to reduce the burden of addiction on our nation’s families, communities and health systems, as well as how to save lives from opioid and other drug overdoses. Now is precisely the time to unite in developing strong, clear public health prevention efforts based on the steady, sound message of no use of any alcohol, nicotine, marijuana or other drugs for youth under age 21 for reasons of health.

Robert L. DuPont, MD, President, Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc.

Source: https://www.ibhinc.org/blog/reducing-adult-addiction-youth-prevention  February 2018

Ontario’s proposal to allow people to consume marijuana in hotel rooms opens the door to a boom in cannabis tourism, says lawyer Matt Maurer.

Maurer heads the cannabis law group at Minden Gross in Toronto, and says he knows businesspeople who are interested in opening cannabis-friendly hotels and resorts.

Maurer says he was surprised by the province’s proposal to loosen up the ban on consuming cannabis anywhere other than private homes. The government has also asked for public comments on whether to allow cannabis lounges.

Maurer said he assumed the provincial government would eventually consider exemptions to the cannabis act passed in December, which bans consumption in public places.

 “I was surprised that it happened so quickly.”

Maurer calls consumption in hotels “step No. 1” in the development of a cannabis tourism industry.

“You could come to Ontario, go to the government-owned retail store, pick up your cannabis, head out to the hotel room, consume it there and head out to where ever you are going that evening, to a show or an event.”

The provincial regulations unveiled last month propose that cannabis could be consumed by residents and their guests at rooms in hotels, motels and inns, as long as the drug is not smoked or vaped. Smoking and vaping marijuana would be allowed in designated smoking rooms.

The regulations have been posted for public comment. The government plans to put them into effect when recreational marijuana is legalized across the country, expected in July.

Ontario has also opened the door to cannabis consumption lounges, asking for public comments on the idea. There’s no time frame for the lounges, but rules won’t be in place be by July. The province says the comments it receives will “inform future policy development and consultations.”

Abi Roach, who runs a cannabis vaping lounge in Toronto called Hotbox Cafe, says she’s interested in opening more if they become legal. She dreams of the day when lounges will be allowed to sell single servings of cannabis, just like drinks are served in a bar or restaurant. 

At the Hotbox (slogan: “serving potheads since … ahh I forget”), guests pay a $5 entry fee and bring their own pot.

If Ontario allows lounges, they probably won’t feature smoking inside because of concerns over the health dangers of second-hand smoke to both customers and employees, said Roach. “I don’t like to be in a big smoky room, either.”

At the Hotbox, only vaping is allowed inside. Pot smokers puff at an outdoor patio.

Roach also sees a demand for pot-friendly hotels. She’s helping design a cannabis-themed room at a hotel to be built in downtown Toronto. Each room in the hotel is owned by a private investor and offers a themed experience. If cannabis consumption is made legal in hotel rooms, they’ll go ahead with that project.

However, Roach said she doubts if Canada will see a big influx of cannabis tourists from the U.S. because we’ll be competing with a growing number of American states that are legalizing pot, some of which have taken a more creative, freewheeling approach. Ontario plans to sell cannabis from behind the counter at a restricted number of government-run stores. That won’t appeal to people who want convenience and innovative products from craft producers, said Roach.

“Canada really has to be careful in terms of blocking innovation in this industry.”

Roach said she recently drove from Vancouver to Washington State, where she stopped at a gas station and bought a joint. “To me as a tourist, it was like, ‘Wow, this is great!’ ”

In the lvillage of Embrun 40 kilometres southeast of Ottawa, Frank Medewar says he plans to open a lounge if they are made legal. He already runs InfoCannabis, a service that advises people about medical marijuana, and Seed 2 Weed, a store that sells growing equipment.

Medewar says his lounge will be modern and upscale, similar to an old-fashioned cigar lounge.

At the headquarters of the world’s largest medical marijuana company, Canopy Growth Corp. in Smiths Falls, spokesman Jordan Sinclair said the company would love to make the huge grow-op a tourist destination.

Canopy is in a former Hershey chocolate factory that was famous for tours taken by thousands of schoolchildren and tourists.

Canopy plans to have the plant open for public tours this summer, said Sinclair.

The company would also like to run a retail store on site, so the experience would be similar to a winery tour. However, the province has nixed that idea.

At Ottawa Tourism, spokesperson Jantine Van Kregten said the legalization of cannabis is on the radar. However, she hasn’t heard of any specific plans for hotels or other tourist ventures. “I think everybody is kind of taking a wait-and-see approach. I haven’t heard a lot of talk, a lot of scuttlebutt, in the industry of what their plans are. I think a lot of questions are unanswered about exactly how the legislation will roll out.”

Source: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/ontario-proposal-to-allow-cannabis-consumption-in-hotel-rooms-could-jump-start-pot-tourism February 2018

January 2019 • Volume 48, Number 1 • Alex Berenson
Alex Berenson Author, Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on January 15, 2019, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.

Seventy miles northwest of New York City is a hospital that looks like a prison, its drab brick buildings wrapped in layers of fencing and barbed wire. This grim facility is called the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute. It’s one of three places the state of New York sends the criminally mentally ill—defendants judged not guilty by reason of insanity.
Until recently, my wife Jackie—Dr. Jacqueline Berenson—was a senior psychiatrist there. Many of Mid-Hudson’s 300 patients are killers and arsonists. At least one is a cannibal. Most have been diagnosed with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia that provoked them to violence against family members or strangers.
A couple of years ago, Jackie was telling me about a patient. In passing, she said something like, Of course he’d been smoking pot his whole life.
Of course? I said.
Yes, they all smoke.

So marijuana causes schizophrenia?
I was surprised, to say the least. I tended to be a libertarian on drugs. Years before, I’d covered the pharmaceutical industry for The New York Times. I was aware of the claims about marijuana as medicine, and I’d watched the slow spread of legalized cannabis without much interest.
Jackie would have been within her rights to say, I know what I’m talking about, unlike you. Instead she offered something neutral like, I think that’s what the big studies say. You should read them.
So I did. The big studies, the little ones, and all the rest. I read everything I could find. I talked to every psychiatrist and brain scientist who would talk to me. And I soon realized that in all my years as a journalist I had never seen a story where the gap between insider and outsider knowledge was so great, or the stakes so high.

I began to wonder why—with the stocks of cannabis companies soaring and politicians promoting legalization as a low-risk way to raise tax revenue and reduce crime—I had never heard the truth about marijuana, mental illness, and violence.
***
Over the last 30 years, psychiatrists and epidemiologists have turned speculation about marijuana’s dangers into science. Yet over the same period, a shrewd and expensive lobbying campaign has pushed public attitudes about marijuana the other way. And the effects are now becoming apparent.
Almost everything you think you know about the health effects of cannabis, almost everything advocates and the media have told you for a generation, is wrong.
They’ve told you marijuana has many different medical uses. In reality marijuana and THC, its active ingredient, have been shown to work only in a few narrow conditions. They are most commonly prescribed for pain relief. But they are rarely tested against other pain relief drugs like ibuprofen—and in July, a large four-year study of patients with chronic pain in Australia showed cannabis use was associated with greater pain over time.
They’ve told you cannabis can stem opioid use—“Two new studies show how marijuana can help fight the opioid epidemic,” according to Wonkblog, a Washington Post website, in April 2018— and that marijuana’s effects as a painkiller make it a potential substitute for opiates. In reality, like alcohol, marijuana is too weak as a painkiller to work for most people who truly need opiates, such as terminal cancer patients. Even cannabis advocates, like Rob Kampia, the co-founder of the Marijuana Policy Project, acknowledge that they have always viewed medical marijuana laws primarily as a way to protect recreational users.

As for the marijuana-reduces-opiate-use theory, it is based largely on a single paper comparing overdose deaths by state before 2010 to the spread of medical marijuana laws— and the paper’s finding is probably a result of simple geographic coincidence. The opiate epidemic began in Appalachia, while the first states to legalize medical marijuana were in the West. Since 2010, as both the epidemic and medical marijuana laws have spread nationally, the finding has vanished. And the United States, the Western country with the most cannabis use, also has by far the worst problem with opioids.
Research on individual users—a better way to trace cause and effect than looking at aggregate state-level data—consistently shows that marijuana use leads to other drug use. For example, a January 2018 paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that people who used cannabis in 2001 were almost three times as likely to use opiates three years later, even after adjusting for other potential risks.
Most of all, advocates have told you that marijuana is not just safe for people with psychiatric problems like depression, but that it is a potential treatment for those patients. On its website, the cannabis delivery service Eaze offers the “Best Marijuana Strains and Products for Treating Anxiety.” “How Does Cannabis Help Depression?” is the topic of an article on Leafly, the largest cannabis website. But a mountain of peer-reviewed research in top medical journals shows that marijuana can cause or worsen severe mental illness, especially psychosis, the medical term for a break from reality. Teenagers who smoke marijuana regularly are about three times as likely to develop schizophrenia, the most devastating psychotic disorder.

After an exhaustive review, the National Academy of Medicine found in 2017 that “cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.” Also that “regular cannabis use is likely to increase the risk for developing social anxiety disorder.”
***
Over the past decade, as legalization has spread, patterns of marijuana use—and the drug itself—have changed in dangerous ways.
Legalization has not led to a huge increase in people using the drug casually. About 15 percent of Americans used cannabis at least once in 2017, up from ten percent in 2006, according to a large federal study called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (By contrast, about 65 percent of Americans had a drink in the last year.) But the number of Americans who use cannabis heavily is soaring. In 2006, about three million Americans reported using cannabis at least 300 times a year, the standard for daily use. By 2017, that number had nearly tripled, to eight million, approaching the twelve million Americans who drank alcohol every day. Put another way, one in 15 drinkers consumed alcohol daily; about one in five marijuana users used cannabis that often.
Cannabis users today are also consuming a drug that is far more potent than ever before, as measured by the amount of THC—delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical in cannabis responsible for its psychoactive effects—it contains. In the 1970s, the last time this many Americans used cannabis, most marijuana contained less than two percent THC. Today, marijuana routinely contains 20 to 25 percent THC, thanks to sophisticated farming and cloning techniques—as well as to a demand by users for cannabis that produces a stronger high more quickly. In states where cannabis is legal, many users prefer extracts that are nearly pure THC. Think of the difference between near-beer and a martini, or even grain alcohol, to understand the difference.

These new patterns of use have caused problems with the drug to soar. In 2014, people who had diagnosable cannabis use disorder, the medical term for marijuana abuse or addiction, made up about 1.5 percent of Americans. But they accounted for eleven percent of all the psychosis cases in emergency rooms—90,000 cases, 250 a day, triple the number in 2006. In states like Colorado, emergency room physicians have become experts on dealing with cannabis-induced psychosis.
Cannabis advocates often argue that the drug can’t be as neurotoxic as studies suggest, because otherwise Western countries would have seen population-wide increases in psychosis alongside rising use. In reality, accurately tracking psychosis cases is impossible in the United States. The government carefully tracks diseases like cancer with central registries, but no such registry exists for schizophrenia or other severe mental illnesses.

On the other hand, research from Finland and Denmark, two countries that track mental illness more comprehensively, shows a significant increase in psychosis since 2000, following an increase in cannabis use. And in September of last year, a large federal survey found a rise in serious mental illness in the United States as well, especially among young adults, the heaviest users of cannabis.
According to this latter study, 7.5 percent of adults age 18-25 met the criteria for serious mental illness in 2017, double the rate in 2008. What’s especially striking is that adolescents age 12-17 don’t show these increases in cannabis use and severe mental illness.

A caveat: this federal survey doesn’t count individual cases, and it lumps psychosis with other severe mental illness. So it isn’t as accurate as the Finnish or Danish studies. Nor do any of these studies prove that rising cannabis use has caused population-wide increases in psychosis or other mental illness. The most that can be said is that they offer intriguing evidence of a link.
Advocates for people with mental illness do not like discussing the link between schizophrenia and crime. They fear it will stigmatize people with the disease. “Most people with mental illness are not violent,” the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) explains on its website. But wishing away the link can’t make it disappear. In truth, psychosis is a shockingly high risk factor for violence. The best analysis came in a 2009 paper in PLOS Medicine by Dr.Seena Fazel, an Oxford University psychiatrist and epidemiologist. Drawing on earlier studies, the paper found that people with schizophrenia are five times as likely to commit violent crimes as healthy people, and almost 20 times as likely to commit homicide.

NAMI’s statement that most people with mental illness are not violent is of course accurate, given that “most” simply means “more than half”; but it is deeply misleading. Schizophrenia is rare. But people with the disorder commit an appreciable fraction of all murders, in the range of six to nine percent.
“The best way to deal with the stigma is to reduce the violence,” says Dr. Sheilagh Hodgins, a professor at the University of Montreal who has studied mental illness and violence for more than 30 years.

The marijuana-psychosis-violence connection is even stronger than those figures suggest. People with schizophrenia are only moderately more likely to become violent than healthy people when they are taking antipsychotic medicine and avoiding recreational drugs. But when they use drugs, their risk of violence skyrockets. “You don’t just have an increased risk of one thing—these things occur in clusters,” Dr. Fazel told me.

Along with alcohol, the drug that psychotic patients use more than any other is cannabis: a 2010 review of earlier studies in Schizophrenia Bulletin found that 27 percent of people with schizophrenia had been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder in their lives. And unfortunately—despite its reputation for making users relaxed and calm—cannabis appears to provoke many of them to violence.
A Swiss study of 265 psychotic patients published in Frontiers of Forensic Psychiatry last June found that over a three-year period, young men with psychosis who used cannabis had a 50 percent chance of becoming violent. That risk was four times higher than for those with psychosis who didn’t use, even after adjusting for factors such as alcohol use. Other researchers have produced similar findings. A 2013 paper in an Italian psychiatric journal examined almost 1,600 psychiatric patients in southern Italy and found that cannabis use was associated with a ten-fold increase in violence.

The most obvious way that cannabis fuels violence in psychotic people is through its tendency to cause paranoia—something even cannabis advocates acknowledge the drug can cause. The risk is so obvious that users joke about it and dispensaries advertise certain strains as less likely to induce paranoia. And for people with psychotic disorders, paranoia can fuel extreme violence. A 2007 paper in the Medical Journal of Australia on 88 defendants who had committed homicide during psychotic episodes found that most believed they were in danger from the victim, and almost two-thirds reported misusing cannabis—more than alcohol and amphetamines combined.

Yet the link between marijuana and violence doesn’t appear limited to people with pre-existing psychosis. Researchers have studied alcohol and violence for generations, proving that alcohol is a risk factor for domestic abuse, assault, and even murder. Far less work has been done on marijuana, in part because advocates have stigmatized anyone who raises the issue. But studies showing that marijuana use is a significant risk factor for violence have quietly piled up. Many of them weren’t even designed to catch the link, but they did. Dozens of such studies exist, covering everything from bullying by high school students to fighting among vacationers in Spain.

In most cases, studies find that the risk is at least as significant as with alcohol. A 2012 paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examined a federal survey of more than 9,000 adolescents and found that marijuana use was associated with a doubling of domestic violence; a 2017 paper in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology examined drivers of violence among 6,000 British and Chinese men and found that drug use—the drug nearly always being cannabis—translated into a five-fold increase in violence.

Today that risk is translating into real-world impacts. Before states legalized recreational cannabis, advocates said that legalization would let police focus on hardened criminals rather than marijuana smokers and thus reduce violent crime. Some advocates go so far as to claim that legalization has reduced violent crime. In a 2017 speech calling for federal legalization, U.S. Senator Cory Booker said that “states [that have legalized marijuana] are seeing decreases in violent crime.” He was wrong.

The first four states to legalize marijuana for recreational use were Colorado and Washington in 2014 and Alaska and Oregon in 2015. Combined, those four states had about 450 murders and 30,300 aggravated assaults in 2013. Last year, they had almost 620 murders and 38,000 aggravated assaults—an increase of 37 percent for murders and 25 percent for aggravated assaults, far greater than the national increase, even after accounting for differences in population growth.

Knowing exactly how much of the increase is related to cannabis is impossible without researching every crime. But police reports, news stories, and arrest warrants suggest a close link in many cases. For example, last September, police in Longmont, Colorado, arrested Daniel Lopez for stabbing his brother Thomas to death as a neighbour watched. Daniel Lopez had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was “self-medicating” with marijuana, according to an arrest affidavit.

In every state, not just those where marijuana is legal, cases like Lopez’s are far more common than either cannabis or mental illness advocates acknowledge. Cannabis is also associated with a disturbing number of child deaths from abuse and neglect—many more than alcohol, and more than cocaine, methamphetamines, and opioids combined—according to reports from Texas, one of the few states to provide detailed information on drug use by perpetrators.

These crimes rarely receive more than local attention. Psychosis-induced violence takes particularly ugly forms and is frequently directed at helpless family members. The elite national media prefers to ignore the crimes as tabloid fodder. Even police departments, which see this violence up close, have been slow to recognize the trend, in part because the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths has overwhelmed them.
So the black tide of psychosis and the red tide of violence are rising steadily, almost unnoticed, on a slow green wave.
***
For centuries, people worldwide have understood that cannabis causes mental illness and violence—just as they’ve known that opiates cause addiction and overdose. Hard data on the relationship between marijuana and madness dates back 150 years, to British asylum registers in India. Yet 20 years ago, the United States moved to encourage wider use of cannabis and opiates.
In both cases, we decided we could outsmart these drugs—that we could have their benefits without their costs. And in both cases we were wrong. Opiates are riskier, and the overdose deaths they cause a more imminent crisis, so we have focused on those. But soon enough the mental illness and violence that follow cannabis use will also be too widespread to ignore.

Whether to use cannabis, or any drug, is a personal decision. Whether cannabis should be legal is a political issue. But its precise legal status is far less important than making sure that anyone who uses it is aware of its risks. Most cigarette smokers don’t die of lung cancer. But we have made it widely known that cigarettes cause cancer, full stop. Most people who drink and drive don’t have fatal accidents. But we have highlighted the cases of those who do.
We need equally unambiguous and well-funded advertising campaigns on the risks of cannabis. Instead, we are now in the worst of all worlds. Marijuana is legal in some states, illegal in others, dangerously potent, and sold without warnings everywhere.

But before we can do anything, we—especially cannabis advocates and those in the elite media who have for too long credulously accepted their claims—need to come to terms with the truth about the science on marijuana. That adjustment may be painful. But the alternative is far worse, as the patients at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute—and their victims—know.

Source: Imprimis January 2019 • Volume 48, Number 1

If you’re a gun-owning Pennsylvania resident, the Pennsylvania State Police are urging you to turn in your firearms if you are seeking medical marijuana cards.

Sorry, what?

statement from the Pennsylvania State Police’s website is receiving a lot of local attention over what appears to be an erroneous statement concerning state and federal law.

The statement reads:

“It is unlawful for you to keep possession of any firearms which you owned or had in your possession prior to obtaining a medical marijuana card, and you should consult an attorney about the best way to dispose of your firearms.”

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, state police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski suggested seeking legal counsel if a citizen possesses firearms before seeking and receiving medical marijuana.

“It’s unlawful to keep possession of firearms obtained prior to registering,” Tarkowski said.

“The Pennsylvania State Police is not in the business of offering legal advice, but it might be a good idea to contact an attorney about how best to dispose of their firearms,” Tarkowski suggested.

Criminal defense attorney Patrick Nightingale told KDKA-TV on Monday that the suggestions being pushed by the state police disturb him.

“It disturbs me greatly to see the Pennsylvania State Police put on their website references to federal law while ignoring the fact that it is legal under Pennsylvania law,” Nightingale said.

“Firearms are woven into the fabric of our country,” Nightingale added. “It’s the second most important right in the Bill of Rights.”

Here’s the catch

According to Pennsylvania state law, the use of medical marijuana is legal, and not a hindrance to owning a firearm. However, according to the state police website, Pennsylvania’s legalization of medical marijuana is not federally recognized.

According to 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) and 27 C.F.R. § 478.32(a)(3), possession of a medical marijuana card and the use of medical marijuana determines that a citizen is an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.”

Federal law prohibits an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” from purchasing, acquiring, or possessing a firearm.

In short, federal law says it is illegal for a citizen to attempt the purchase of a firearm if they are a medical marijuana cardholder.

This isn’t new information: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has held the position since 2011 that no one in possession of a medical marijuana card may also legally own a firearm.

Generally speaking, state police cannot enforce federal law unless a statute gives them express permission to do so. Pennsylvania law is somewhat ambiguous on this point, allowing the PSP make arrests “for all violations of the law,” without specifying whether this includes federal law.

If marijuana is considered a controlled substance — much like opioids — then one might wonder why are opioid users permitted to own firearms.

Attorney Andrew Sacks, co-chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Medical Marijuana and Hemp Law Committee, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the same thing.

“It’s hypocritical,” Sacks said. “You can be an opioid addict, or buy a bottle of rum, drink it and go to a store and buy one. But a person who is registered as a medical marijuana patient in Pennsylvania, and has a very small dosage of THC, can’t own a gun to protect themselves or hunt.”

Dear Friend, 

Let’s take a second to talk about Colorado. 

As you know, Colorado was the first state to commercialize the marijuana industry – and today it stands as the top state in the country for first-time youth marijuana use. The state also suffers from record stoned driving crashes, increased workplace drug positives, and unprecedented levels of opioid deaths.

The pot industry has taken Colorado hostage

A few days ago, Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced he had appointed Ean Seeb to serve as the state’s new “Special Adviser on Cannabis.” From this position, he will help guide Governor Polis’ position on bills as they move through the legislature. 

An example of one such bill is presumably HB 1230 – a bill that would exempt bars, restaurants, and other public places from the Clean Air Indoor Act and allow marijuana use indoors

What is so concerning about this appointment?

You see, Mr. Seeb has been profiting from marijuana for more than a decade. He is a two-time chair of the National Cannabis Industry Association, a former co-owner of Denver Relief dispensary and Denver Relief Consulting. He has lobbied in the past in support of pot deliveries, loosening restrictions on investments into then industry, and social consumption – better known as pot bars. 

The Colorado Springs Gazette stated that this is “like the Marlboro Man monitoring cigarette sales.” I couldn’t agree more.

The fact is, in the short years since it was implemented, legalization in Colorado has been a disaster. Traffic deaths from marijuana-impaired driving have skyrocketed. Emergency room visits from high potency marijuana are through the roof. There has been a 400% increase in exposure of children less than nine years old to the drug. 

The overwhelming majority of pot shops are located in minority and low-income communities and they are recommending highly potent pot to pregnant mothers. Criminal gangs and foreign cartels are setting up shop in housing developments and on public land to grow illegal marijuana next to legal grows and law enforcement is being stretched to its limits to combat the thriving black market. 

And now Governor Polis chooses to put an industry lackey in an oversight position to regulate the industry.

SAM and our Colorado affiliate, the Marijuana Accountability Coalition (MAC), are working tirelessly to combat the industry as it moves to oppose any form of regulation it once favored being imposed on it. We have begun an awareness campaign by covering Denver with billboards pointing out the failures of the marijuana industry in Colorado to help convince Coloradans and Governor Polis to wake up and take action. 

You can help take action, too. Click here to send an email to your member of Congress telling them to oppose legalization of marijuana at the federal level and prevent the spread of this addiction-for-profit industry nationwide. Once you have done that, click here to chip in with a tax-deductible gift to help SAM continue educating lawmakers and the public on the failures of marijuana legalization. 

The industry is strong and deceptive, but together, we can push back,beat them at their own game, and save lives.

All the best, 

Kevin Sabet, PhD

Source: Email from SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) <reply@learnaboutsam.org> May 2019

Last week Scotland’s leading law officer, the Lord Advocate, brought a shuddering halt to a proposal from Glasgow City Council to develop a safe injecting centre in the city. Such a centre would have required a change in UK drug laws to enable individuals in possession of illegal drugs to use those drugs within the centre without fear of prosecution. Supporters of this initiative will be disappointed by the outcome, but they need to recognise that the provision of some level of legal protection covering the possession of illegal drugs within the injecting centre would also, by implication, need to be extended to all of those who might claim, legitimately or otherwise, that their drug possession should be green-lighted because they were en route to the injecting centre. In effect, such an initiative would deliver what many of its supporters actually desire – the legalisation of illegal drugs within at least some part of the UK.

In his judgement, the Lord Advocate has not ruled against setting up a centre where doctors can prescribe opiate drugs to addicts. Rather he has simply pointed out that he is not prepared to offer legal protection to a centre where illegal drugs are being used. The Glasgow proposal sought unwisely to tie the proposal for a doctor-led heroin prescribing clinic, which would be legal, with a setting where individuals are allowed to use illegal drugs which would break UK drug laws. There will be many who rightly question the wisdom (and the cost to the public purse) of linking those two proposals.

It is often said by the supporters of these centres that where they have been established in other countries no individual has actually died in a drug consumption room. That might be so, but the lack of such deaths is not the high-water mark of success for drug treatment services. The rise in addict deaths in Scotland and in England shows that we need to do much more by way of engaging drug users in services. Doing more should entail taking services to drug users themselves wherever they are living and wherever they are using illegal drugs. Setting up a city-centre location where people can use illegal drugs under some level of legal protection betrays a worrying lack of knowledge both about Glasgow itself and about the life of an addict. Glasgow is a territorial city par excellence and there are addicts who cross into different parts of the city at their genuine peril. Similarly, when addicts secure the drugs they so desperately need their first thought is not ‘How do I travel to a city-centre location where I may use these drugs without fear of prosecution?’ but ‘Where is the needle that will enable me to inject now?’ It is for both of those reasons that we should be talking about how to take services to the addicts rather than how to get the addicts to go to the services.

Glasgow’s addiction services have been slow to adopt a focus on recovery, and even to date they are unable to report how many drug users they have treated have managed to overcome their addiction – this despite having a strategy which for the last ten years has emphasised the importance of enabling drug users to become drug-free. That strategy is now being reviewed by the Scottish Government with the real risk that the commitment to abstinence-based recovery will be diluted in preference to the much woollier goal of seeking to reduce the harm associated with addicts’ continued drug use.

Within Scotland we spend more than £100million a year on drug treatment. We should be asking why our services seem to be achieving so little in terms of getting addicts into long-term recovery and why, in the face of that failure, public officials are seeking to promote centres where illegal drug use can take place without fear of prosecution. Injecting on the streets is a terrible reality but the response to that problem should not be the provision of a centre where injecting can occur beyond public view, but actively to discourage injecting at all.

The reason we need to be doing much more to discourage drug injecting is because the substances addicts are injecting are often manufactured, stored, and transported in dreadfully unhygienic conditions with the result that they often contain serious and potentially fatal bacterial contaminants. These drugs do not become safe when they are used in a drug consumption room, but remain harmful wherever they are injected. We need to do all we can to discourage drug use, to discourage injecting, and to ensure that as many addicts as possible are in contact with services focused on assisting their recovery. We need to be very wary of developing initiatives that run the real risk of normalising illegal drug use and driving a possible further increase in the number of people using illegal drugs.

Professor Neil McKeganey is Director of the Centre for Substance Use Research, Glasgow

Source: https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/neil-mckeganey-good-sense-kills-not-safe-injecting-centre/ November 2017

 

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

With the Canadian government legalizing cannabis in the year 2018, the potential harms to certain populations-including those with opioid use disorder-must be investigated. Cannabis is one of the most commonly used substances by patients who are engaged in medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder, the effects of which are largely unknown. In this study, we examine the impact of baseline and ongoing cannabis use, and whether these are impacted differentially by gender.

METHODS:

We conducted a retrospective cohort study using anonymized electronic medical records from 58 clinics offering opioid agonist therapy in Ontario, Canada. One-year treatment retention was the primary outcome of interest and was measured for patients who did and did not have a cannabis positive urine sample in their first month of treatment, and as a function of the proportion of cannabis-positive urine samples throughout treatment.

RESULTS:

Our cohort consisted of 644 patients, 328 of which were considered baseline cannabis users and 256 considered heavy users. Patients with baseline cannabis use and heavy cannabis use were at increased risk of dropout (38.9% and 48.1%, respectively). When evaluating these trends by gender, only female baseline users and male heavy users are at increased risk of premature dropout.

INTERPRETATION:

Both baseline and heavy cannabis use are predictive of decreased treatment retention, and differences do exist between genders. With cannabis being legalized in the near future, physicians should closely monitor cannabis-using patients and provide education surrounding the potential harms of using cannabis while receiving treatment for opioid use disorder.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29117267 November 2017

Psychologist Robert Margolis, PhD, has spent the past 40 years treating substance abuse disorders in adolescents. He founded and ran Solutions, an after-school alcohol and drug treatment program for young people in Atlanta, Georgia. When he retired recently, he merged Solutions with Caron Treatment Center, a nonprofit organization with treatment facilities in several states.

Dr. Margolis wrote an op-ed for the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2002 calling for careful, reasoned debate about the legalization of marijuana. Today, he writes that that debate still hasn’t happened. He lays out what science says about the impact of marijuana use on young people and asks if we are prepared to allow next generations to be so drug damaged.
 
Read his essay here.

Source: Email from National Families In Action http://www.nationalfamilies.org November 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Source: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/453304/opioid-crisis-legalization-not-solution November 2017

The costs of using hard drugs are worse and more horrific than the costs of prohibition. There are times in life when ideas are overtaken by events, when the hard experience of reality meets and overcomes the hopefulness of ideas. Now is just such a time. As the opioid crisis takes lives on a historic scale, it’s time to kill a bad idea. Just say no to legalizing hard drugs.

To be sure, there’s not a large constituency in support of legalizing any drugs other than marijuana, but their legalization, including that of narcotics, has been a topic of lively intellectual debate ever since the war on drugs truly took off. The editors of National Review have long supported legalization, libertarians have argued vociferously for legalization for decades, and a number of influential thinkers on the left and the right have joined in agreement on this one issue.

Outside of college dorms, the argument for legalization, in general, isn’t that drugs should be legalized because they’re fun and people can be trusted to use them responsibly. Rather, it’s that the costs of the war on drugs — in lives lost, lives squandered in prison, and civil liberties curtailed — outweigh the probable harm of legalization. Here are the editors of National Review in 1996: “It is our judgment that the war on drugs has failed, that it is diverting intelligent energy away from how to deal with the problem of addiction, that it is wasting our resources, and that it is encouraging civil, judicial, and penal procedures associated with police states.”

Intelligent supporters of legalization know that drug use would increase, but would it increase so much as to overtake the cost of homicide, robbery, and incarceration? Well, after years of experimenting with opioid prescriptions so promiscuous that they functioned as a form of quasi-legalization, the answer appears to be yes. The costs of drug use are worse and more horrific than the costs of prohibition.

OxyContin. Opioid prescriptions skyrocketed and addiction rates increased, and as addiction increased, so did overdoses. To be clear: Not all these new addicts were the actual patients. Simply put, families and communities were suddenly awash in narcotics, with extraordinarily potent drugs filling medicine cabinets from coast to coast. I distinctly remember the change. I remember my confusion when an emergency-room nurse asked me to measure my pain on a scale from 1 to 10 after a friend scraped my eyeball in a pickup basketball game. It all seemed so subjective. Since I’d never experienced ultimate agony, how could I measure? I said “seven” and got a bottle of Vicodin. In reality, I probably could have managed with a shot of bourbon and a few Advil. Later that same year, I asked my secretary at my law firm if she had some Tylenol to help a stress headache. Her response? “No, but I have some Percocet.”

 As Robert VerBruggen notes in his own piece rethinking drug libertarianism, it seems that most addicts don’t actually get their pain pills from a doctor. Why bother? The drugs were simply everywhere, with enough pill bottles prescribed to provide one to every American, many times over. And once addiction took hold, greater restrictions on prescriptions meant that addicts just switched to a cheaper and deadlier drug, heroin. The numbers are startling.   And now, as virtually every American knows, we face a national crisis.

In 2016 drug-overdose deaths increased 11 percent over 2015’s already-high number. A stunning 52,404 Americans lost their lives. To compare, that’s almost 15,000 more than died in car crashes and roughly 16,000 more than died to guns, including homicides and suicides. In fact, that number probably undercounts the toll from drug abuse, since doubtless some number of suicides represented addicts who’d hit rock bottom and saw no way out but through the barrel of a gun or the bottom of the pill bottle. In other words, opioids are monstrous inventions that overpower the human will on a mass scale. There are no “rational actors” among addicts, and the substances are extraordinarily addictive. Do you know an opioid addict? Then you’ve seen them slide slowly away from reality. The formula is simple — flood the market with pills, and you’ll flood the country with addicts.

A number of smart (no, brilliant) people thought that the costs of enforcement outweighed the costs of legalization. That may well be true of marijuana, but can we make that argument any longer with opioids? If people have access to pills, they tend to take pills, and an uncomfortably large proportion of them get so hooked on them that if you take them away, they move to even harder and more powerful drugs. A horrifying percentage overdose and die. That’s not to say that fighting the war on drugs means winning the war on drugs. It may mean that we do nothing more than contain the problem, preventing it from spiralling out of control even further. And, as Lopez notes in Vox, arguing against legalization isn’t the same thing as arguing against reform, including reforming the way in which the criminal-justice system deals with drug offenders.

There is much room for creativity and thoughtfulness in dealing with the crisis. I see no room for broader availability and greater ease of access. Last year I sat next to a man on a plane who lost his daughter to a combination of Xanax and Lortab. She’d taken both drugs for years, to deal with anxiety and chronic pain. As he told the story, every year she grew more tolerant. Every year she had to take more to achieve the same effect. One terrible and stressful night, she took an extra dose to force herself to sleep. She never woke up. If we legalize hard drugs, there will be more stories like that — many more. Opioids make slaves of men. There is no choice but to continue the fight.

Source:  http://www.nationalreview.com/article/447190/opioid-crisis-legalization-drugs-marijuana-narcotics-pain-killers April 2017

U.S. marijuana growers’ and processors’ greatest fear has just been realized. One of the largest international producers and marketers of beer, wine, and spirits, Constellation Brands, has bought a 9.9 percent stake in a Canadian marijuana grower, Canopy Growth Corporation. The two companies plan to develop a line of marijuana-infused drinks to sell in Canada, expected to legalize the drug for recreational use in 2018

US marijuana growers and processors have long feared that mega corporations like those that make up the alcohol and tobacco industries would swoop in and put them out of business if pot is legalized nationwide. They just didn’t think it would happen in Canada first.
 
Business analysts say this is a smart move on the part of Constellation Brands, given now-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign promise to legalize the drug if elected.
 
Whether parents, public health officials, scientists, and doctors agree is another matter. Marijuana beverages being marketed by an alcoholic beverages company with Constellation Brand’s clout is hardly likely to reduce auto traffic injuries and deaths.
 
Read story here and here.

Source: Email from National Families in Action http://nationalfamilies.org November 2017

By Peter Fimrite

The legalization of cannabis in California has done almost nothing to halt illegal marijuana growing by Mexican drug cartels, which are laying bare large swaths of national forest in California, poisoning wildlife, and siphoning precious water out of creeks and rivers, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said Tuesday.

The situation is so dire that federal, state and local law enforcement officials are using $2.5 million from the Trump administration this year to crack down on illegal growers, who Scott said have been brazenly setting booby traps, confronting hikers and attacking federal drug-sniffing dogs with knives.

Instead of fading away after legal marijuana retail sales went into effect this year, the problem has gotten worse, according to Scott, who was joined in a news conference Tuesday in Sacramento by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and other federal forestry and law enforcement officials.

Most alarming, Scott said, is the increasing use of carbofuran, a federally restricted insecticide so powerful that a teaspoon of it can kill a 600-pound African lion. The insecticide is banned in California.

The problem of illegal growing operations and contaminated lands “is biblical in proportion,” he said. “The chemicals have gone to a different level.”

The cartels, mainly from Mexico, use 760 tons of fertilizer on 400 grows every year hidden on the 20 million acres of national forest land in California, officials said.

The growers clear-cut trees, remove native vegetation, cause erosion, shoot deer and other animals, and litter the landscape with garbage and human waste. They also divert hundreds of millions of gallons of water from streams and creeks, and the runoff is generally contaminated with pesticides, which are also found in the plants, soil and wildlife in the area.

This year, 70 percent of the endangered spotted owls tested near sites that had been used for illegal marijuana cultivation were found to have one rodenticide or more in their systems, officials said. One owl died, leaving a clutch of eggs. Last year, 43 poisoned animals were found, including deer, bears, foxes, coyotes, rabbits and rare Pacific fishers. Another 47 animals had been shot, most likely by illegal growers, authorities said.

Since 2012, 17 Pacific fishers have been killed by pesticides at grow sites, said Mourad Gabriel, the director of the Integral Ecology Research Center, a wildlife and environmental research nonprofit. He said carbofuran was found in 78 percent of the plantations eradicated in 2017. That’s compared with 40 percent in 2015 and only 10 to 12 percent in 2012, when he conducted the first scientific study of illegal marijuana grow sites.

“It’s concerning, because now when we go into these sites we find contamination in the native vegetation, the soil, the water; and it’s increasing,” said Gabriel, whose research is funded by state and federal grants. “Those sites are still contaminated two or three years later.”

In all, 1.4 million illegally grown marijuana plants were destroyed in raids in national forests in California in 2017.

Bill Ruzzamenti, the former director of the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, said California supplies 60 to 80 percent of all the marijuana consumed in the nation. In 2016, he said, 11 million pounds left the state, which is illegal under Proposition 64, the initiative that legalized the drug for recreational use in the state.

The people guarding the grow sites are inevitably armed and “a public safety risk to all of us,” said Becerra.

Margaret Mims, the sheriff of Fresno County, said hikers, backpackers and nature lovers have reported running across fishhooks hanging at eye level and trip wires possibly attached to shotguns.

“I have grandkids and I like to go fishing, but there are places we will not go because I am afraid for my grandkids,” said Ruzzamenti, who is now director of the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program. “That should be unacceptable to everybody.”

The problem isn’t new. Bootleg cannabis has been circulating around Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties — the famed Emerald Triangle — for decades, and backwoods growing is ingrained in the culture.

Ruzzamenti said he has been trying to eradicate black-market growing on public lands since 1983. And Mexican cartels aren’t the only problem. Only a few hundred of the estimated 12,500 retail operators in the state last year have become licensed so far, according to industry officials.

In Mendocino County alone, as many as 75 percent of residents in some remote areas are marijuana growers, and only about 10 percent of the crop is being grown legally.

The issue has taken on a new level of importance as the multibillion-dollar California cannabis industry begins to ramp up. Legal growers and retailers want desperately to protect the regulated, taxed marijuana market in California.

The hope is that taxes collected by the government can fund law enforcement efforts, which will, in turn, deter illegal operations and generate additional taxes. Wholesale prices for marijuana are also expected to drop with the mainstreaming of the industry, providing less incentive for bad actors.

But so far that hasn’t worked. In all, California collected $60.9 million in excise, cultivation and sales taxes related to legal marijuana for the first three months of 2018. Gov. Jerry Brown’s January budget proposal predicted that $175 million would pour in over the first six months from the new taxes. That would have translated to $87.5 million in January, February and March.

In his updated budget plan released earlier this month, Brown proposed spending $14 million to create four investigative teams and one interdiction team to combat illegal activities, tax evasion and crime. The money would come from tax revenue and licensing fees over two years.

Even though marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, Scott said the U.S. Attorney’s office plans to focus only on illegal growers on public lands.

Becerra said that without the help of the federal government, California wouldn’t be able to handle the problem.

“You gotta make it so crime doesn’t pay,” he said.

Source: https://www.sfchronicle.com/green/article/Illegal-pot-grows-spread-deadly-pesticides-other-12952302.php May 2018

Marijuana advocates can no longer claim legalization is devoid of catastrophic results.

The Denver Post, which has embraced legalization, analyzed federal and state data and found results so alarming they published a story last week under the headline “Traffic fatalities linked to marijuana are up sharply in Colorado. Is legalization to blame?”

Of course legalization is to blame. It ushered in a commercial industry that encourages consumption and produces an ever-increasing supply of pot substantially more potent than most users could find when the drug was illegal.

The post reported a 40 percent increase in the number of all drivers, impaired or otherwise, involved in fatal crashes in Colorado between 2013 and 2016. That’s why the Colorado State Patrol posts fatality numbers on electronic signs over the highways.

“Increasingly potent levels of marijuana were found in positive-testing drivers who died in crashes in Front Range counties, according to coroner data since 2013 compiled by The Denver Post. Nearly a dozen in 2016 had levels five times the amount allowed by law, and one was at 22 times the limit. Levels were not as elevated in earlier years,” The Post explained.

All drivers in marijuana-related crashes who survived last year tested at levels indicating use within a few hours of the tests.

“The trends coincide with the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado that began with adult use in late 2012, followed by sales in 2014,” the Post reported.

Greenwood Village Police Chief John Jackson called the trend “a huge public safety problem.”

Colorado Springs Councilwoman Jill Gaebler, who wants a ballot measure to legalize recreational pot in Colorado Springs, tried to downplay the Post’s findings in a comment on Gazette.com.

“…33% or 196 of all traffic deaths that occurred in 2016 were alcohol-related,” Gaebler wrote. “Yet you don’t hear anyone trying to ban alcohol, even though it is far more dangerous, in every regard, to marijuana.”

The Post found fatal crashes involving drivers under the influence of alcohol grew 17 percent from 2013 to 2015. Figures for 2016 were not available. Drivers testing positive for pot during that span grew by 145 percent, and “prevalence of testing drivers for marijuana use did not change appreciably, federal fatal-crash data show.”

The entire country has an enormous problem with alcohol-related traffic fatalities. Given our inability to resolve that problem, it is arguably idiotic to throw another intoxicating substance into the mix with the predictable result of more traffic deaths caused by impairment.

El Paso County Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez gets it, as shown by a comment he left on gazette.com

“Recent data indicates crime is up statewide, homelessness up, black and Hispanic teen arrests related to MJ are up a lot,” Gonzalez wrote. “A Denver TV station did a month long data poll last year at a hospital in Pueblo (which has fully embraced MJ) and found that nearly half of all newborns were testing positive for THC in their bloodstream at birth. Who would want to expand MJ sales in face of such data? And the big supporters of rec MJ can only fall back on their ‘go-to’ arguments, that ‘it isn’t as bad as alcohol’ or that the negative articles are biased or not credible.”

Another Gazette commenter expressed surprise at Gaebler’s “casual attitude” about the Denver Post’s findings.

“…We already have alcohol, let’s add MJ, and why stop there — people want and need their opioids. Let there be drinking, toking, shooting up in our beautiful city,” the commenter wrote.

One must stretch the imagination to deny that legalized pot has caused a substantial increase in Colorado highway deaths. Pot is an intoxicating, psychoactive drug. That means it cannot be harmless. Expect emerging and troubling data to make this fact increasingly clear.

Source: https://gazette.com/editorial-surprise-legal-pot-correlates-with-rising-traffic-deaths/article_2b2d9b27-4ab5-56fa-a042-028433ae1044.html August 2017

Illegal pot growers have turned public lands into industrial agricultural sites. And the ecosystem effects are alarming.

Research ecologist Mourad Gabriel is one of the few scientists studying illegal grow sites in California’s overrun national forests.

On a hot August morning, Mourad Gabriel steps out of his pickup onto the gravel road that winds up the side of Rattlesnake Peak. Dark-bearded and muscular, the research ecologist sports a uniform of blue work clothes, sturdy boots and a floppy, Army-style camo hat. He straps on a pistol. “Just to let you know,” Gabriel says, sensitive to the impression the gun makes, “it’s public land, so I open-carry.”

Another 100-degree day is promised. Gabriel and his four field assistants are headed to work in California’s Plumas National Forest, a few hours’ drive from Lake Tahoe, at the northern terminus of the Sierra Nevada. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has enlisted Gabriel to assess the scars from rampant marijuana cultivation. Today’s field site: an illegal marijuana plantation known as the Rattlesnake Grow.

Gabriel doesn’t take chances because he’s been threatened personally. In 2014, someone poisoned his family dog with a pesticide that’s used at the grow sites. The intruder crept onto Gabriel’s property at night and scattered poisoned meat in his backyard. And last year during raids on plots elsewhere in California, two police dogs were stabbed by men fleeing the scene.

So whenever Gabriel enters a cultivation site with his research team — even one that’s been abandoned, as this one is — he always goes in first.

U.S. Forest Service officers collect coils of plastic pipe used to divert water from springs to marijuana plants at an illegal grow site on public lands.

Most of the U.S. domestic marijuana supply is raised in California. Some pot is grown on private property for legal use by medical marijuana patients. These operations can be monitored, and with Californians having legalized recreational pot last November, the regulation is sure to tighten. But in popular pot-growing regions like Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties — closer to the Northern California coast in the so-called Emerald Triangle — environmental regulation has been slow to catch up. Commandeering streams, growers divert the water into high-tech greenhouses, to the detriment of the aquatic life lower in the drainage, including the threatened coho salmon. Biologists for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have shown that thirsty marijuana plantations can dry up water sources.

What’s more, the rest of the crop — the vast black-market portion — is planted on public or tribal lands by people who ignore the environmental consequences of their activity. When they’re captured, some turn out to be Mexican drug cartel workers, and others come from smaller independent groups. U.S. authorities concede that the great majority of these “trespass grows” are never detected. Even after sites are cleared, the shadowy growers may reclaim them the next year.

“The public doesn’t understand the industrial scale of this,” says wildlife biologist Craig Thompson.

But if you have heard anything about streams being polluted or animals and birds being poisoned by marijuana production, it’s almost certainly because of Gabriel, a soft-spoken scientist who now and then unleashes his inner Rambo.

After the Bust

Gabriel takes his team of biologists over the top of an open, sunbaked ridge and down the other side of the mountain. Immediately, burnt and toppled trunks of pine and fir and head-high tangles of wild lilac shrubs impede the way.

Ten years ago, the Moonlight Fire destroyed 65,000 acres of forest in the Plumas. The marijuana growers stole into the broad footprint left by the blaze in dozens of places. In the section we’re hiking, they cut trails and cleared a series of plots on a steep slope above a ravine. Then the trespassers dug out three springs and diverted their flow into half-inch black plastic piping, which they threaded through the cover of vegetation to their network of plots below. The waterlines emptied into tarp-sealed pits that could store hundreds of gallons of water. Having started thousands of marijuana seedlings in plastic cups, the growers planted them among the shrubs throughout the plots. Each bright green plant was irrigated via drip lines, some triggered by a battery-powered timer. Although the mountainside faced north and east, light was no problem. Where it used to be blocked by trees, the strong California sun now slathered the crop.

Gabriel was with the rangers and deputies when they busted the site in 2015 and uprooted more than 16,000 plants. Judging by bags left around the site back then, he suspects at least 4,000 pounds of potent fertilizer were used. He also recorded several empty containers of a concentrated organophosphate insecticide — a lethal nerve poison that’s toxic to wildlife.

Gabriel’s non-profit organization, Integral Ecology Research Center (IERC), was hired to assess the damage to water sources, soils and sensitive plants and animals. They also inventoried toxic waste, piping, camp materials and trash. Now it’s up to the Forest Service to decide how to repair the damage. Gabriel, enlisting local volunteer groups, will assist with the cleanup, too. The service he offers is soup-to-nuts.

“He’s passionate. He’s a character,” says USFS’s Thompson, who collaborates with Gabriel on research. “He has continued to shine a light on the issue, though it’s still under the radar.”

Connecting the Dots

The first glimmer of impacts to wildlife came to Gabriel from fishers. A fisher — a type of weasel whose body is about the size of a housecat’s — is a denizen of deep woods. It has a wide face and long furry tail, and it can run up and down trees like the woodrats and squirrels it hunts. Fishers have never been overly abundant in the mountains of the West Coast, and their population plummeted after a century of logging and trapping. In the 21st century, biologists have tried to restore the Pacific fisher by reintroducing young animals and tracking them with radio collars. But the fishers’ expansion has been slow because they have been dying more rapidly than researchers expected.

Gabriel joined the fisher reintroduction project in 2009. At the time, he was completing his Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis. He credits an uncle for interesting him in the outdoors. The uncle was also a taxidermist; hence, young Mourad developed an interest in the interiors of animals. In high school, a vocational aptitude test suggested that he could be a game warden, park ranger or biologist. As an undergrad at Humboldt State University, he took courses supporting all three. Gabriel met his future wife, Greta Wengert, while they were both studying wildlife biology in college. After marrying, the two founded IERC in Blue Lake, Calif.

Craig Thompson, a USFS biologist, drops a water filter into a High Sierra stream near a marijuana grow site. Tests have turned up pesticides and fertilizers coming from the grows.

Gabriel’s work for the fisher reintroduction project was lab-based. He conducted necropsies of dead animals that Thompson’s field researchers had picked up. Examining a fisher carcass one day, Gabriel found that its organs had turned to mush. The fisher had been poisoned by a compound that blocks clotting and prompts unchecked internal bleeding, a so-called second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide (AR). D-CON, commonly used against mice and rats, is a familiar brand of AR. But how did a forest carnivore absorb a pesticide typically used around farms and houses?

Gabriel remembers wondering if this one fisher was an outlier. “So we went back to the archival liver tissue,” he says. When he inspected frozen specimens and collected additional carcasses from colleagues, Gabriel discovered that rodenticides had, if not killed, then at least tainted 85 percent of expired fishers.

“It took a while to connect the dots,” he says. From his field experience he was familiar with illegal pot grows, which had plagued the backcountry terrain for 20 years or more. “We’ve all run into it. We’ve been trained,” Gabriel says. “If you come upon a site, you do a 180 and walk away.”

Mounds of Pesticide

Law enforcement officers from different agencies asked him if rat bait from grow sites might be the culprit. It made sense; woodrats and squirrels would gnaw the marijuana plants.

If the growers scattered AR and the rodents were sapped by internal bleeding, they would become easier prey for fishers. Bioaccumulation, as the process is known, would pass the rodenticide up the food chain, where concentrations increase. The fishers in turn might have become prey for bobcats and mountain lions.

Wildlife biologist Greta Wengert (above) carefully handles a suspected neurotoxin found in a Gatorade bottle.

Raids turned up empty bags of AR and sometimes even mounds of the pesticide. To test their hypothesis about bioaccumulation, Thompson, Gabriel and state toxicologists tried to tie the levels of AR exposure in fishers with the locations of grow sites found by law enforcement.

The researchers analyzed 46 female fishers that died over five years. Their results showed that the animals that lived longest had the least rodenticide in their livers and the fewest grow sites within their home ranges. Conversely, animals with roughly four or more grow sites nearby died the soonest.

In a 2015 paper in the journal PLoS ONE, the researchers stepped back and examined all the causes of mortality in their collared fishers. Predation accounted for 70 percent of the deaths, disease an additional 16 percent, and poisoning, which until lately hadn’t been considered, 10 percent. The new factor might explain why fishers weren’t rebounding as fast as they might be. Pesticides might be the major factor in most of the deaths, even those not poisoned outright. “You can argue that the animals that are affected by rodenticide are weaker,” Thompson says, “and that the predation rates on them, as I suspect, are higher.”

Sounding the Siren

In a parallel case, rodenticides have worked their way into some of California’s northern spotted owls, a threatened species. The owls also eat tainted rodents near grow sites. The evidence here is less direct, and depends on analyses of a competing species, the barred owl. For decades, barred owls from Eastern states have been invading the breeding territory of the northern spotted owl in California, Oregon and Washington. Already on the ropes from the logging of old-growth woods, spotted owls were disappearing, and so biologists tried a desperate measure: shooting barred owls.

At the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation in Humboldt County, forestry biologist Mark Higley, who has helped with the fisher project, also takes part in the culling of barred owls. Higley says he and his staff have had run-ins with illegal growers, “taking risks we shouldn’t take.” After Gabriel’s breakthrough with AR and fishers, Higley sent him liver samples of more than 155 barred owls that had been collected at Hoopa. More than half were positive for rodenticide. Gabriel also had positive results from two spotted owls that were hit by cars. Since spotted owls are endangered, Higley and Gabriel use barred owls as a surrogate — their dietary habits are similar — and infer that up to half of spotted owls near grow sites might be exposed to rodenticide. Now Thompson is looking for other examples of bioaccumulation. He’s testing mountain lion scat for rat poison and pesticides.

Researchers examine a Pacific fisher carcass (left). The animals are struggling in part due to rat poison used by illegal marijuana growers

Only Gabriel, Thompson and a handful of other biologists are investigating the ecological effects of toxins from the trespass grows. The funding opportunities are scant, and the fieldwork is hard and potentially dangerous. Although growers who have been surprised at their plots haven’t hurt anybody — usually they just run away — sometimes shots are fired.Adding to the frustration, many important questions are nearly impossible to answer. At what levels do agricultural chemicals and rodenticide interfere with fishers’ reproduction? How much poison does it take to weaken an animal enough that it becomes easy prey for fishers and bobcats? Wildlife toxicology’s pitfall is that lab experiments can’t be performed on wild populations, let alone on sensitive and rare species.

“You have these snippets of field-based evidence,” Gabriel says. “Maybe you could do a liver biopsy on a captive fisher, but it would cause bleeding, and if an anticoagulant were affecting the animal, [the test] could push it over the edge. I’ll leave that work to someone else.” His role, as he sees it, is sounding the siren. “The problem is getting worse,” he says, frustrated. “Who’s documenting this?”

The Unseen Grower

Amid the lilac shrubs, pungent with pollen, marks of the Rattlesnake Grow aren’t immediately obvious. Soon the paths and waterlines of the growers can be spotted, and then other items like fertilizer bags, heavy-duty plant shears and matted clothing, which the wilderness is swallowing up.

As Gabriel investigates a stream angling toward the ravine, the four techs split into pairs. Two young field biologists push off in opposite directions, using their GPS trackers to measure plot boundaries.

The slanting plot, still faintly pocked with bare spots where the marijuana grew, is about 50 yards wide and 100 yards long. They crisscross the area with cans of spray paint, tagging empty bags of chemicals as they count them. When they take a break, they huddle in the shade thrown by the charred trees.

Walking on a diagonal line across the site, the biologists collect at least five samples of soil in plastic bags. The samples will be tested for various pesticides. Five samples for 1,500 square yards might not seem like much. “That’s all we can get funded for,” says Gabriel, who has rejoined the others. He reports spotting boot tracks. “I think they came back and took the tent and sleeping bags, probably sometime last spring.”

Growers often squat in primitive camps on public lands, leaving their mess to the Forest Service after harvest time.

Of all the species Gabriel studies, the human animal — the unseen grower — is the hardest for him to figure out. “I’ve visited between 100 and 200 grow sites,” he says, leaning against a fallen tree. He wonders, why would growers plant so high up on this ridge with limited water?

“We saw a different approach last week,” Gabriel says. “Just 60 meters from a paved road they were growing 5,000 plants. Maybe one criminal organization decides, ‘We’ll go deep in the wilderness,’ and another, ‘Let’s put it by the road.’ You’re trading easier access for greater risk.”

He sees each site as a piece of a larger puzzle. If researchers could better understand the selection process, it might be possible to better handle these trespass grows.

Later, over a beer in his motel room, Gabriel says, “There’s no way I can do this physically 15 or 20 years from now.” He figures he’s got eight more years, after which he hopes the field will be big enough for him to exit and do something else, leaving others to carry on the research. He’s trying to spur other biologists to study illegal grows too. He wants to track the long-term effects of the chemicals by incorporating specialties like hydrology and soil science.

“As an ecologist, I love working on species of conservation concern,” he says. “I want a stable population of fishers and owls. I want basic research and applied management. Not science just for the sake of science but science as a solution.”

 

 

[This article originally appeared in print as “High Consequences.”]

Source:  http://discovermagazine.com/2017/sept/high-consequences September 2017

Donald Trump’s choice of his VP running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, worries the marijuana lobby. They question Pence’s belief that marijuana is a gateway drug and its abuse is a crime, deserving penalty. While the marijuana lobby claims “Marijuana is a happy, healthy, wonderful plant and everybody should have the right to grow it, just as they grow dandelions,” the National Insitute of Drugs (NIDA) findings support Pence’s objection to the legalization of marijuana.  According to NIDA’s latest available data, “illicit drug use in the U.S. is on the rise, and “More than half of new illicit drug users begin with marijuana.” Yet, marijuana legalization has become an issue in the U.S. presidential elections.

How did we get here?

The impresario who staged and pushed to legally dope of the American people is the billionaire financier George Soros. He found a kindred spirit in President Obama who got this dog and pony show on the road. The chosen vehicle was Obama-Care. And the first indication for this came on August 5, 2009, with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)’s little noticed tender for the production and distribution of large quantities of marijuana cigarettes, for purposes other than for research, clocked under the DEA control and supposedly in compliance  with FDA regulations

According to pro-legalization activist Sean Williams, “President Obama has suggested that the best way to get the attention of Congress is to legalize marijuana in as many states as possible at the state level. If a majority of states approve marijuana measures, and public opinion continues to swell in favor of cannabis, Congress may have no choice but to consider decriminalization — or legalize the substance.” Not surprisingly, recently  there have been widely-reported leaks from the DEA  that the agency anticipates making “medical” marijuana” legal in all 50 states, even though this requires FDA approval.

Until the early 1990s, the voices to legalize drugs in the United States were not in sync. This changed with Soros’ first foray into U.S. domestic politics in 1992-1993. Soros, who made his fortune by bidding on instability, is known to say, “If I spend enough, I make it right.” While other billionaires give to the arts, higher education and medicine to better the quality of the lives of their fellow men, Soros chose to “right” illegal drug use, under the guise of a social reformer. “The war on drugs is doing more harm to our society than drug abuse itself.” Due to the widespread social and political opposition to illegal drug use, he chose to begin his efforts to “right” the situation, with a popular getaway drug, marijuana – a brain and mind altering drug that creates life-long dependency. To make his decision more palatable, the ultimate opportunistic Soros, declared marijuana is a “compassionate drug,” and for more than two decades poured tens of millions of dollars into campaigns to first legalize the use of “medical marijuana,” and more recently to decriminalize the use of “recreational” marijuana. 

Pretending to support an “open society,” Soros,  uses his philanthropy to “change” or more accurately deconstruct the moral values and attitudes of the Western world, and particularly of the American people. He claims to support humanitarianism, equality and individual and political freedom, what Karl Pooper, the Austrian-born British philosopher argued were necessary for what he considered an “open society.”nominal contact with Popper while studying at the London School of Economics. Although Popper met with Soros once or twice while Soros was a student at the London School of Economics, Soros failed to make much of an impression on the old philosopher. According to Michael T. Kaufman’s 2003 unauthorized biography of the billionaire, when Soros contacted Popper in 1982 to let him know about how he’d been naming funds, foundations, and various other entities after the concepts enshrined in the The Open Society, Popper wrote back: “Let me first thank you for not having forgotten me. I am afraid I forgot you completely; even your name created at first only the most minute resonance. But I made some effort, and now, I think, I just remember you, though I do not think I should recognize you.”

Not surprisingly, Soros’ “open society” Institute and foundations are not about promoting any of Popper’s ideas. Certainly not freedom.  Instead, by working diligently to legalize drugs, Soros advances the greatest slavery ever–drug addiction. This sits well with his rejection of the notion of ordered liberty, in favor of a progressive ideology of rights and entitlements.

On February 7, 1996, I opined in The Wall Street Journal that Soros’s “sponsorship unified the movement to legalize drugs and gave it the respectability and credibility it lacked.” I suggested “unchallenged, Soros would change the political landscape of America.” It took two decades and lots of money to achieve what he set out to get. For him, legalizing marijuana was a necessary stepping-stone to advancing drug policies in the U.S. and elsewhere toward legalizing the use of all drugs.

Money is but one of the many possible speculations on Soros’s motivation to legalize drugs. If asked, he’ll respond with gibberish that makes no sense.  However, the revenues from the illegal drug trade are enormous. There are no other commodities on the market that yield such high and fast a return. Since 2014, legally listed marijuana producing and distributing companies will be generating huge revenues. Soros seems to believe that state-controlled drug distribution will best serve to increase dependency on the state.

The overwhelming evidence on the short and long term harm caused by marijuana to the user and to society should have stopped any attempt to legalize the drug. However, the vast amounts of money spent on influencing the public and the politicians generated the desired social acceptance of the “compassionate drug,” marijuana. 

In November 1996, Soros’ efforts succeeded in California, making it the first state to legalize “medical marijuana.”

Recreational use of marijuana has nothing to do with medical marijuana. As with other drugs, the development of marijuana/cannabis as medicine has to follow modern medical rules – advancing with clinical trials with specific compounds, looking for side effects and interactions with other drugs, etc.

But when last November, the DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said, “We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether or not we want to legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine. That’s a joke.” Rosenberg opined there was a need for “legitimate research into the efficacy of marijuana for its constituent parts as a medicine. But I think the notion that state legislatures just decree it so is ludicrous.” The pro-drug lobby called for his dismissal. 

Among the ill-effects of marijuana use (whether obtained legally or not) is memory loss, as proven by researchers at Northwestern University. The study also found “evidence of brain alterations … significant deterioration in the thalamus, a key structure for learning, memory, and communications between brain regions.”  If this were not enough, the study concluded, “chronic marijuana use could “memory-related structure [to] shrivel and collapse.s..[and] boosts the underlying process driving schizophrenia.”

This study as many others documented the devastating long-term harm caused by marijuana use. Another National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) study found that “marijuana smoke contains 50% to 70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke … which further increases the lungs’ exposure to carcinogenic smoke.” Moreover, “marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug. … This risk may be greater in aging populations or those with cardiac vulnerabilities.”

Other studies documented “distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem-solving, and problems with learning and memory.”  As a result, someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time.” In conclusion: “Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person’s existing problems worse. In fact, heavy marijuana users generally report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, relationship problems, and less academic and career success compared to their peers who came from similar backgrounds. For example, marijuana use is associated with a higher likelihood of dropping out from school. Several studies also associate workers’ marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover.” NIDA’s latest survey from 2013, show that drug users are exacting more than $700 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and health care. Add yo this the cost of newly hooked Americans on social welfare, including food stamps, Obamacare, public housing, free cell phones, and other entitlements.

Moving to relax Federal oversight on marijuana use, a Department of Justice memo on August 29, 2013, clarified the government’s prosecutorial priorities and stated that the federal government would rely on state and local law enforcement to “address marijuana activity through enforcement of their own narcotics laws.”

When Colorado legalized the use of “recreational” use of marijuana, on January 1, 2014, the TSA announced it stopped deploying detection dogs in the state’s airports, even though these dogs are trained to also detect other illegal drugs, explosives, blood, contraband electronics, stashed currency, and more. Similar measures will take place once marijuana is legalized, exposing American airport to terrorist attacks.

The Obama’s endorsed and Soros’ funded Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, has promised to “defend and build on the progress…made under President Obama,” including his and the billionaire’s efforts to legalize marijuana. American voters should keep this in mind when voting for their next President.

Source: http://acdemocracy.org/the-obama-soro-legacy/ July 2016

This week, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area released its fifth annual report titled The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 5. We devote today’s issue of The Marijuana Report newsletter to highlighting a few of many significant findings the report contains.

National Families in Action has remade some of the graphs and charts in the report to emphasize key findings. This one shows how many of Colorado’s students were expelled, referred to law enforcement, or suspended in the 2015-2016 school year. This is the first year the Colorado Department of Education differentiated marijuana violations from all drug violations, and this year’s report will serve as a baseline to determine whether marijuana violations increase, decrease, or stay fundamentally the same.

Read The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 5 here. This information appears on page 41 (PDF page 49).
The new report explains that although Colorado created its own Healthy Kids Survey, the combination of a poor response rate and the fact that several major counties with large populations had low or no participation rendered the 2015 survey’s results invalid. For a discussion of this see page 33 (PDF page 41). Volume 5 relies on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health to compare Colorado marijuana use with the national average for ages 12-17, 18-25, and 26 & older over a ten year period (2005-2006 to 2014-2015).

See data for these graphs on the following pages:

  • Ages 12-17, page 36 (PDF page 44)
  • Ages 18-25, page 56 (PDF page 64)
  • Ages 26 & Older, page 60 (PDF page 68)

Read The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 5 here.
The report notes that data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2006-2011 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), and 2012-2016 Colorado Department of Transportation show that drivers testing positive for marijuana who were killed in traffic crashes rose from 6 percent of all traffic deaths in 2006 to 20 percent eleven years later. Marijuana-related traffic deaths jumped from 9 percent to 14 percent once the state commercialized marijuana for medical use and from 11 percent to 20 percent after legalizing the drug for recreational use.

Read more about marijuana-related driving in Colorado here starting on page 13 (PDF page 21).
In 2016, more than one-third of Colorado drivers who tested positive for marijuana had marijuana only in their systems. Another 36 percent had marijuana and alcohol. Slightly over one-fifth tested positive for marijuana and other drugs but no alcohol, while 7 percent had marijuana, alcohol, and other drugs on board.

See page 18 (PDF page 26) in The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 5 here.
The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).

Visit National Families in Action’s website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

Our mission is to protect children from addictive drugs
by shining light on the science that underlies their effects.

Addictive drugs harm children, families, and communities.
Legalizing them creates commercial industries that make drugs more available,
increase use, and expand harms.

Science shows that addiction begins in childhood.
It is a pediatric disease that is preventable.

We work to prevent the emergence of commercial
addictive drug industries that will target children.

We support FDA approved medicines.

We support the assessment, treatment, and/or social and educational services
for users and low-level dealers as alternatives to incarceration.

About SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)

SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of “incarceration versus legalization” when discussing marijuana use and instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug. SAM supports a treatment, health-first marijuana policy.  SAM has four main goals:

  • To inform public policy with the science of today’s marijuana.
  • To reduce the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to arrest.
  • To prevent the establishment of “Big Marijuana” – and a 21st-Century tobacco industry that would market marijuana to children.
  • To promote research of marijuana’s medical properties and produce, non-smoked, non-psychoactive pharmacy-attainable medications.

Source: Email from National Families in Action http://nationalfamilies.org October 2017 

For those who are still concerned about ‘evidence based science’ and ‘best medical and pharmaceutical practice’…the following ‘open letter’ with attachments was sent to all Federal Senators, NSW and Victorian Premiers last week. 

Dear Senator,
 
In the coming weeks/months, you will no doubt be presented with a Bill to consider changing both law and process to permit a new version of ‘medical marijuana’. On behalf of our Institute and a concerned public I would like you to carefully consider the following.

Firstly I write with some concerns about the consultation conducted on behalf of Victorian State government by the VLRC in Melbourne on May 6th this year and the now subsequent recommendations that have emerged from this very small Melbourne meeting (Less than 60 people in attendance! – This issue was directly raised with Victorian Health Minister earlier this year).

Whilst we gleaned from radio interviews with VLRC representatives prior to the consultation that the public discussions on the potential introduction of a new form ‘medical marijuana’ (different to existing medicinal forms of cannabis derived pharmaceuticals already in the Australian market) were not for changing laws to suit a particular agenda. It was instead implied that the purpose was to look at potential redundancies that might hinder best practice.  It was to be, for all intents and purposes an unbiased mechanism to: glean evidence, perspectives, opinions and ideas from the general public for consideration in the higher and more important discussion of wise, evidence based, best healthcare practice before making any move on the release of another version of therapeutic cannabis.

Conversely, our affiliate/colleagues experience of the very small Melbourne consultation did not reflect any of the above expectation. Rather those of our affiliates who attended observed the following:

  1. A seemingly deliberately emotively charged atmosphere, in favour of getting cannabis legalised for medical purposes. The tone seemed to be set to that end from the outset.
  2. The meeting was facilitated by representatives of the VLRC who appeared to have a bias toward the legalisation of ‘medical marijuana’ in manner that suited the self-medicating option, regardless of evidence based science.
  3. When attempts were made to present evidence contrary to the seemingly predetermined agenda of these facilitators, they were either quickly shut down (if they dared to speak in the first place) or continually ignored; apparently, dissenting opinions were not welcome. Whilst at the same time, proponents for ‘self-medication’ use of cannabis were given complete and unfettered access to the floor, producing statements such as:“Many, many people have been cured – from just about anything and everything.”
    “What would you rather have – infertility or 35 seizures a day?”
    “Random workplace drug testing is wrong.”Not only are these statements (now on record) outrageous, they are also utterly unsubstantiated by any legitimate clinical trial. This very small contingent of pro-cannabis lobbyists were permitted to simply spruik anecdotes with no evidence based presentation yet also had their evidenced-deprived opinions affirmed and validated by the facilitators.
  4. The facilitators appeared to infer that the Government (of Victoria, at least) already has legislation in place with this current ‘consultation’ process simply in play to validate those changes and therefore it is in essence a forgone conclusion. There was also a strong indication that either the A.M.A. or T.G.A. recommendations or processes would be ignored and negated wherever possible by simple legal changes.

Senator, it is a concern that if this particular experience of ours was repeated in other consultations with the same consensus manufacturing agenda, then this consultative process is a travesty.

If a government negates not only good evidence based science, but also established protective, best practice medical processes to enable a legal rite of passage for self-medication, it is placing itself at an extremely high risk of litigation. Future law-suits are likely, from the ‘victims’ of self-medicating regimes who will cite the changes in law that were NOT based on proper clinical trial or TGA and AMA recommendations and protocols.  When emotionally charged vitriol combines with vote chasing and misguided sympathies, it is the recipients of these untested substances that will be the final casualties – especially children! Compassion and wisdom dictate that all fair and democratic processes be engaged to maximise help and minimise harm, especially to children who will be the ones at greatest risk of an ill-advised self-medicating regime.

Senator, for purposes of clarification about the possible national legalisation of ‘another’ route/process/protocol for medicines are you able to confirm or deny that:

  1. The representations by the facilitators at the Melbourne consultation are in fact reflective of the pre-ordained intent of the public consultation documented above in not only Victoria, but other States and Territories?
  2. If not, will a review of the practice/method/behaviours be made into this particular process and subsequently the clearly questionable recommendations that have emerged from such narrow, non-evidence based and seemingly biased processes?
  3. A fair and proper representation of all views on this matter be gleaned from these meetings/consultations and interpreted and represented fairly without prejudice?
  4. A.M.A. and T.G.A. processes and protocols for best practice on medicines will be upheld and engaged, or simply ignored and by-passed?

Finally Senator, it is of grave concern that a pattern seems to be emerging from this ‘populist’ process, that best practice, evidence based protocols may simply be ignored and by passed.  If this is indeed the plan and the use of VLRC type agencies is the vehicle to do so, then the following must be raised.

The Dalgarno Institute ask:

  • Do you want your government and your ministerial role to be linked with a poorly considered and non-evidenced based process that enables a self-medicating policy – particularly for the ones the State has greatest responsibility to protect – the children?
  • Will your government and ministerial role be the ones who in so ignoring proper clinical processes facilitate a quasi-health regime that will precipitate immediate and long term unwanted side effects that can then be later subject to litigation and class-actions?
  • If an unqualified and unproven self-medicating mechanism is sanctioned and approved by government, and the inevitable damage (particularly to children) emerges, will the taxpayers of Australia have to fund the damages of an ill-conceived and non-TGA/AMA approved medical practice? Or will there be iron-clad caveats in place that ensure those who chose to use their own version of ‘medicine’ be the only ones liable for the outcomes of it, and not place further healthcare and monetary burden on the vast majority of tax-payers who have sought to follow best evidence-based and prescriptive practices?
  • If proper clinical trials and T.G.A and A.M.A. processes and protocols are negated or circumvented and a ‘new’ or ‘alternative’ process for registering, manufacturing, prescribing and dispensing marijuana as medicine be put in place, then how will you/your government  address the following important questions.
    • Who will be ‘growing’ and preparing this ‘medicine’?
    • Who will monitor content and quality of ‘medicine’?
    • Who will determine dosage rates and quantities?
    • What mechanisms will be in place to ensure quality control is followed?
    • What mechanisms will be in place to ensure, movement, dispensing and use of this ‘medicine’ is done without risk to non-patients?
    • Who will be able to prescribe this ‘medicine’ – Doctors, pharmacists, naturopaths, nurses, and counsellors? Who will monitor this process and ensure total safety?
    • What community safe-guards will be in place to ensure this new ‘medicine’ will not be misused?
    • Will the ‘medicine’ come in edible or smoked form and what safeguards will be in play around such a ‘medicine delivery’ system?
    • Will there be advertising and public promotion of this new form of ‘medicine’? Will that be strictly monitored to ensure no misinformation will mislead the public?
    • Which government department will oversee this process and how many more new protocols, processes, staff and finance will be required to set up this new vehicle for ‘medicine’ identification and management?
    • Who will be paying for this new and added cost?

We at Dalgarno Institute and its growing coalition remain very concerned for the overwhelming majority of Australians who are being kept in the dark about this new and illegitimate push to change evidence based processes and the laws that ensure those processes are protected. We are looking to you, in your role, to ensure that there is a genuine and robust pursuit of best medical and health practice outcomes for all Australians, particularly the most vulnerable – the young, very sick and disadvantaged – and that any mechanism that seeks to undermine that platform not be permitted to emerge under any circumstance.  Science and best health practice, NOT lawyers should determine pharmaceutical best practice.

I have also attached just a very small sample of the volumes of evidence-based data currently in the scientific space that raise clear warnings about a ‘new’ and untested version of cannabis as medicine. Please avail yourself of them and consult the people who do know better, compassion and good government demands it.
We look forward to receiving your response.

Sincerely Yours, 

Shane Varcoe
Executive Director
Dalgarno Institute

You can read our compassionate policy stance on M.M titled ‘CANNABIS AS MEDICINE? CAUTION NEEDED’!

https://dalgarnoinstitute.org.au/index.php/advocacy/dalgarno-aod-policy/86-open-letter-to-all-australian-politicians-regarding-new-version-of-medicinal-cannabis

Source: Email from Dalgarno Institute

September 2017

Drug Free America Foundation launched its new Marijuana and the Workplace Tool Kit this morning at a forum co-sponsored with Drug Free Manatee and the Manatee Chamber of Commerce at Pier 22 in Bradenton FL.  The forum featured a presentation by Amy Ronshausen, Deputy Director of Drug Free America Foundation who unveiled the Tool Kit and discussed how the implementation of Florida’s medical marijuana program will affect employers in the state. The forum also included a panel discussion with a group of experts that includes healthcare and labor attorneys, insurance representatives and a state legislator.

            As marijuana legalization efforts gain traction around the country as it has in Florida, the business community needs to be prepared.  “Employers must be diligent and proactive in understanding how the use of marijuana affects individuals, the overall influence to their business, and the level of financial liability that is acceptable,” according to Calvina Fay, executive director of Drug Free America Foundation.  “It is critical that an evaluation be completed based upon legitimate science, the safety-sensitive nature of the business, and risk analysis as opposed to perception and emotion,” she said.

Employees that use marijuana and other drugs negatively impact the bottom line for employers due to increased workplace accidents, injuries, and other effects, increasing the cost of doing business.  “The safety of all employees, vendors, customers, other drivers, pedestrians, or generally anyone encountering an employee while driving under the influence of pot could be impacted,” said Fay.

The tangled web of conflicting and diverse laws and statutes being drawn across the country varies from state to state, from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, making this issue very confusing for all concerned.  No two states’ marijuana laws are identical, further complicating the issue.

Identifying and defining liability related to marijuana use is perhaps one of the most evolving areas of risk management and insurance practices.  “From the viewpoint of an insurer, the conflicting laws are particularly troublesome for insuring a business against unexpected loss with no clear best practice and can potentially impact workers compensation claims and well as health, life and other business insurance coverage and premiums,” Fay suggested.

A smart approach for employers is to implement workplace practices that encourage safe, healthy lifestyles, and discourage behaviors that are counter-productive, both from a personal and a business standpoint. “In this tumultuous time of conflicting laws, confusion, and change, employers are encouraged to stay the course where a drug-free workplace is concerned,” continued Fay.  “We also encourage employers to remain consistent and fair in the application of workplace rules and procedures and to regularly review their program in relation to applicable laws, regulations and statutes that may have changed,” she concluded.

The Marijuana and the Workplace Tool Kit can be found at http://www.ndwa.org/resources/marijuana-in-the-workplace-toolkit/ 

Source: Email from Drug Free American Foundation

September 2017

Thomas M. Nappe, DO* and Christopher O. Hoyte, MD

Abstract

Since marijuana legalization, pediatric exposures to cannabis have increased. To date, pediatric deaths from cannabis exposure have not been reported. The authors report an 11-month-old male who, following cannabis exposure, presented with central nervous system depression after seizure, and progressed to cardiac arrest and died. Myocarditis was diagnosed post-mortem and cannabis exposure was confirmed.

Given the temporal relationship of these two rare occurrences – cannabis exposure and sudden death secondary to myocarditis in an 11-month-old – as well as histological consistency with drug-induced myocarditis without confirmed alternate causes, and prior reported cases of cannabis-associated myocarditis, a possible relationship exists between cannabis exposure in this child and myocarditis leading to death. In areas where marijuana is commercially available or decriminalized, the authors urge clinicians to preventively counsel parents and to include cannabis exposure in the differential diagnosis of patients presenting with myocarditis.

INTRODUCTION

Since marijuana legalization, pediatric exposures to cannabis have increased, resulting in increased pediatric emergency department (ED) visits. Neurologic toxicity is most common after pediatric exposure; however, gastrointestinal and cardiopulmonary toxicity are reported. According to a retrospective review of 986 pediatric cannabis ingestions from 2005 to 2011, pediatric exposure has been specifically linked to a multitude of symptoms including, but not limited to, drowsiness, lethargy, irritability, seizures, nausea and vomiting, respiratory depression, bradycardia and hypotension.Prognosis is often reassuring. 

Specific myocardial complications related to cannabis toxicity that are well documented in adolescence through older adulthood include acute coronary syndrome, cardiomyopathy, myocarditis, pericarditis, dysrhythmias and cardiac arrest. To date, there are no reported pediatric deaths from myocarditis after confirmed, recent cannabis exposure. The authors report an 11-month-old male who, following cannabis exposure, presented in cardiac arrest after seizure and died. Myocarditis was diagnosed post-mortem and cannabis exposure was confirmed. Analyses of serum cannabis metabolites, post-mortem infectious testing, cardiac histopathology, as well as clinical course, support a potential link between the cannabis exposure and myocarditis that would justify preventive parental counseling and consideration of urine drug screening in this reported setting.

CASE REPORT

An 11-month-old male with no known past medical history presented to the ED with central nervous system (CNS) depression and then went into cardiac arrest. The patient was lethargic for two hours after awakening that morning and then had a seizure. During the prior 24–48 hours, he was irritable with decreased activity and was later retching. He was noted to be healthy before developing these symptoms. Upon arrival in the ED, he was unresponsive with no gag reflex. Vital signs were temperature 36.1° Celsius, heart rate 156 beats per minute, respiratory rate 8 breaths per minute, oxygen saturation 80% on room air.

Physical exam revealed a well-nourished, 20.5 lb., 11-month-old male, with normal development, no trauma, normal oropharynx, normal tympanic membranes, no lymphadenopathy, tachycardia, clear lungs, normal abdomen and Glasgow Coma Scale rating of 4. He was intubated for significant CNS depression and required no medications for induction or paralysis. Post-intubation chest radiograph is shown in Image 2. He subsequently became bradycardic with a heart rate in the 40s with a wide complex rhythm. Initial electrocardiogram (ECG) was performed and is shown in Image 1.

He then became pulseless, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation was initiated. Laboratory analysis revealed sodium 136 mmol/L, potassium 7.7 mmol/L, chloride 115 mmol/L, bicarbonate 8.0 mmol/L, blood urea nitrogen 24 mg/dL, creatinine 0.9 mg/dL, and glucose 175 mg/dL Venous blood gas pH was 6.77. An ECG was repeated (Image 3). He received intravenous fluid resuscitation, sodium bicarbonate infusion, calcium chloride, insulin, glucose, ceftriaxone and four doses of epinephrine. Resuscitation continued for approximately one hour but the patient ultimately died.

Initial electrocardiogram demonstrating wide-complex tachycardia.

Post-intubation chest radiograph. Measurement indicates distance of endotracheal tube tip above carina.

Repeat electrocardiogram showing disorganized rhythm, peri-arrest.

Further laboratory findings in the ED included a complete blood count (CBC) with differential, liver function tests (LFTs), one blood culture and toxicology screen. CBC demonstrated white blood cell count 13.8 K/mcL with absolute neutrophil count of 2.5 K/mcL and absolute lymphocyte count of 10.7 K/mcL, hemoglobin 10.0 gm/dL, hematocrit 34.7%, and platelet count 321 K/mcL. LFTs showed total bilirubin 0.6 mg/dL, aspartate aminotransferase 77 IU/L, and alanine transferase 97 IU/U. A single blood culture from the right external jugular vein revealed aerobic gram-positive rods that were reported two days later as Bacillus species (not Bacillus anthracis). Toxicology screening revealed urine enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay positive for tetrahydrocannabinol-carboxylic acid (THC-COOH) and undetectable serum acetaminophen and salicylate concentrations. Route and timing of exposure to cannabis were unknown.

Autopsy revealed a non-dilated heart with normal coronary arteries. Microscopic examination showed a severe, diffuse, primarily lymphocytic myocarditis, with a mixed cellular infiltrate in some areas consisting of histiocytes, plasma cells, and eosinophils. Myocyte necrosis was also observed. There was no evidence of concomitant bacterial or viral infection based on post-mortem cultures obtained from cardiac and peripheral blood, lung pleura, nasopharynx and cerebrospinal fluid. Post-mortem cardiac blood analysis confirmed the presence of Δ-9-carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ-9-carboxy-THC) at a concentration of 7.8 ng/mL. Additional history disclosed an unstable motel-living situation and parental admission of drug possession, including cannabis.

DISCUSSION

As of this writing, this is the first reported pediatric death associated with cannabis exposure. Given the existing relationship between cannabis and cardiovascular (CV) toxicity, as well as the temporal progression of events, post-mortem analysis, and previously reported cases of cannabis-induced myocarditis, the authors propose a relationship between cannabis exposure in this patient and myocarditis, leading to cardiac arrest and ultimately death. This occurrence should justify consideration of urine drug screening for cannabis in pediatric patients presenting with myocarditis of unknown etiology in areas where cannabis is widely used. In addition, parents should be counseled regarding measures to prevent such exposures.

The progressive clinical presentation of this patient during the prior 24–48 hours, including symptoms of somnolence, lethargy, irritability, nausea, seizure and respiratory depression are consistent with previously documented, known complications of recent cannabis exposure in the pediatric population. It is well known that common CV effects of cannabis exposure include tachycardia and decreased vascular resistance with acute use and bradycardia in more chronic use. These effects are believed to be multifactorial, and evidence suggests that cannabinoid effect on the autonomic nervous system, peripheral vasculature, cardiac microvasculature, and myocardial tissue and Purkinje fibers are all likely contributory. The pathogenesis of myocarditis is not fully understood. In general, myocarditis results from direct damage to myocytes from an offending agent such as a virus, or in this case, potentially a toxin. The resulting cellular injury leads to a local inflammatory response. Destruction of cardiac tissue may result in myocyte necrosis and arrhythmogenic activity, or cellular remodeling in chronic myocarditis.

Autopsy findings in this patient were consistent with noninfectious myocarditis as a cause of death. The histological findings of myocyte necrosis with mature lymphocytic mixed cellular infiltrate are consistent with drug-induced, toxic myocarditis.The presence of THC metabolites in the patient’s urine and serum, most likely secondary to ingestion, is the only uncovered risk factor in the etiology for his myocarditis. This is highly unlikely attributable to passive exposure.

It is difficult to extrapolate a specific time of cannabis ingestion given the unknown dose of THC, the individual variability of metabolism and excretion, as well as the lack of data on this topic in the pediatric population and post-mortem redistribution (PMR) kinetics. However, the THC metabolite detected in the patient’s blood, Δ-9-carboxy-THC, is known to peak in less than six hours and be detectable for at least a day, while the parent compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is expected to rapidly metabolize and distribute much more quickly, being potentially undetectable six hours after exposure in an infrequent user. 

The parent compound was below threshold for detection in this patient’s blood. In addition, if cannabis ingestion occurred the day of presentation, it would have been more likely that THC would have been detected with its metabolite after PMR. Given this information, the authors deduce that cannabis consumption occurred within the recent two to six days, assuming this was a single, acute high-potency ingestion. This time frame would overlap with the patient’s symptomatology and allow time for the development of myocarditis, thus supporting cannabis as the etiology.

The link between cannabis use and myocarditis has been documented in multiple teenagers and young adults. In 2008 Leontiadis reported a 16-year-old with severe heart failure requiring a left ventricular assist device, associated with biopsy-diagnosed myocarditis.The authors attributed the heart failure to cannabis use of unknown chronicity. In 2014 Rodríguez-Castro reported a 29-year-old male who had two episodes of myopericarditis several months apart.Each episode occurred within two days of smoking cannabis.In 2016, Tournebize reported a 15-year-old male diagnosed with myocarditis, clinically and by cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, after initiating regular cannabis use eight months earlier. There were no other causes for myocarditis, including infectious, uncovered by these authors, and no adulterants were identified in these patients’ consumed marijuana.Unlike our patient, all three of these previously reported patients recovered.

In the age of legalized marijuana, children are at increased risk of exposure, mainly through ingestion of food products, or “edibles.”These products are attractive in appearance and have very high concentrations of THC, which can make small exposures exceptionally more toxic in small children.

Limitations in this report include the case study design, the limitations on interpreting an exact time, dose and route of cannabis exposure, the specificity of histopathology being used to classify etiology of myocarditis, and inconsistent blood culture results. The inconsistency in blood culture results also raises concern of a contributing bacterial etiology in the development of myocarditis, lending to the possibility that cannabis may have potentially induced the fatal symptomatology in an already-developing silent myocarditis. However, due to high contaminant rates associated with bacillus species and negative subsequent blood cultures, the authors believe this was more likely a contaminant. In addition, the patient had no source of infection on exam or recent history and was afebrile without leukocytosis. All of his subsequent cultures from multiple sites were negative.

CONCLUSION

Of all the previously reported cases of cannabis-induced myocarditis, patients were previously healthy and no evidence was found for other etiologies. All of the prior reported cases were associated with full recovery. In this reported case, however, the patient died after myocarditis-associated cardiac arrest. Given two rare occurrences with a clear temporal relationship – the recent exposure to cannabis and the myocarditis-associated cardiac arrest – we believe there exists a plausible relationship that justifies further research into cannabis-associated cardiotoxicity and related practice adjustments. In states where cannabis is legalized, it is important that physicians not only counsel parents on preventing exposure to cannabis, but to also consider cannabis toxicity in unexplained pediatric myocarditis and cardiac deaths as a basis for urine drug screening in this setting.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5965161/ March 2017

Libby Stuyt, MD spoke at the Oregon Health Forum with Drs. Esther Choo of OHSU and Katrina Hedberg who is the State Epidemiologist and State Health Officer at the Oregon Public Health Division, and at the Oregon Law & Mental Health Conference in June 2017 on the unintended consequences of marijuana legalization.

Stuyt is an addictions psychiatrist and medical director at the Colorado State Hospital in Pueblo. She is also the president of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association.

Stuyt has a unique and expert view on the effect of increased marijuana availability and use, and as Colorado is about two years ahead of Oregon in the process of legalization and regulation of marijuana.

Stuyt’s data is from information collected by the state of Colorado and from her experience as a clinician and researcher.

  • Colorado has had significant increase in marijuana use by people under 18 years old. All use by under-age persons is illicit use. Most Colorado youth get marijuana from adults they know – not from retail stores.
  • Pueblo Colorado, with a population of 106,000 has over 7000 homeless people (Portland with a population of 583,000 has about 4500); many are people who arrived seeking employment in the marijuana industry.
  • 13% of children given CBD for seizure disorders have had “really bad” reactions; the CBD made seizures worse.
  • Estimates of marijuana addiction at 9-10% is from research on low-potency THC; this data should no longer be used. Scientists don’t know addiction rate to high potency THC, but use by youth is increasing, for daily users addiction rate is about 50%, withdrawal is harder, and violence associated with high potency THC is higher.
  • Stuyt calls marijuana addiction a “learning disorder.”
  • Marijuana use significantly reduces neurogenesis in the brain.
  • Doctors are seeing more psychosis related to high-potency THC marijuana.
  • 75% of Stuyt’s patients have PTSD. 83% of her patients are seeking treatment for marijuana addiction. Marijuana masks symptoms of marijuana, it does not treat or cure PTSD. PTSD is treatable and curable – but not with active marijuana use.
  • Increased correlation – not causation – of suicide in adolescents who use marijuana

Source: http://www.mentalhealthportland.org/report-on-marijuana-use-in-colorado/ August 2017

The new 2016-2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health State Estimates is out this week. The graphs above illustrate a few of the findings from this annual survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Numbers in graphs are percentages. The graphs can be downloaded starting Thursday, December 6 here. National Families in Action grants permission to reproduce them for educational purposes.

Source: Email from National Families in Action’s The Marijuana Report <nfia@nationalfamilies.org>  December 2018

Dear David,

I am sending you below a copy of a letter I have sent to the Premiers of Canada – and other members of the worldwide drug prevention community, plus an email to UN HQ in New York.   Since they get so many letters I thought it would be sensible to send you a copy direct as it might take time for you to receive it through UN internal mail.

Dear Premiers,

As members of the worldwide drug prevention community we have been reading with increasing concern and disbelief the way that Canada seems to be bulldozing through legislation that can only damage the citizens of your country – not the least the children.

The Rights of the Child Treaty, under article 33 of the international drug conventions, would be breached if this legislation is allowed to be ratified.

Under the terms of the convention, governments are required to meet children’s basic needs and help them reach their full potential. Since it was adopted by the United Nations in November 1989, 194 countries have signed up to the UNCRC,

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an important international legal instrument that obligates States Parties to protect children and youth from involvement with illicit drugs and the drug trade.

Canada is a signatory to the CRC – which is a legally binding document.  Should your country go ahead with the decision to legalise marijuana – against all the evidence from respected scientists and Health authorities worldwide Canada would be an outcast by those 193 nations who have agreed and signed to Article 33.

We find it astonishing that the wealth of evidence and opinion in Canada and  worldwide,  on the harmfulness of marijuana would seem to have been totally ignored by your parliamentarians.   Indeed new evidence relating to the epidemic of gastrochisis was submitted in good time by our Australian colleague Dr. Stuart Reece and was not allowed to be presented.   Instead you have been persuaded by groups that want marijuana to be ‘the new tobacco’ – headed of course by George Soros, that this will not be harmful to your citizens, that it will bring in tax revenues and that it would destroy the black market. 

However, there was a study done a few weeks ago by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction finding that just in Canada alone, a much smaller country than the U.S. in population, marijuana-related car crashes cost a billion dollars. That’s just the car crashes, and those were directly related to marijuana. And the report came from a government think tank, not any kind of anti-drug group.

We heard many of these same promises in 2012 when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. Yet  in the years since, Colorado has seen an increase in marijuana related traffic deaths, poison control calls, and emergency room visits. The marijuana black market has increased in Colorado, not decreased. And, numerous Colorado marijuana regulators have been indicted for corruption.

New reports out of Colorado indicate that legal marijuana  is posing real risks to the safety of young people. As Colorado rethinks marijuana, the rest of the nation should watch carefully this failing experiment.

Healthcare officials representing three hospitals in Pueblo, Colorado, issued a statement on April 27 in support of a ballot measure that would end Marijuana commercialization in the city and county of Pueblo. “We continue to see first-hand the increased patient harm caused by retail marijuana, and we want the Pueblo community to understand that the commercialization of marijuana is a significant public health and safety issue,” said Mike Baxter, president and CEO of Parkview Medical Center.

Among their concerns are  a 51 percent increase in number of children under 18 being treated in Parkview Medical Center emergency rooms.  Furthermore, of newborn babies at St. Mary-Corwin Hospital, drug tested due to suspected prenatal exposure, nearly half tested positive for marijuana.

Having read the above, how can Canadian legislators possibly believe that legalising marijuana would, in any way, be advantageous for their country ?

Yours faithfully,

Peter Stoker,  Director,  National Drug Prevention Alliance  (UK)

Source: A letter forwarded by Peter Stoker to David Dadge, spokesperson for UN Office ON Drugs and Crime (UNODC), originally sent to the Premiers of Canada  September 2017

According to a Colorado Springs Gazette editorial about legalization in Colorado there has been a doubling of drivers involved in fatal crashes testing positive for marijuana. [1]

Marijuana significantly impairs driving including time and distance estimation and reaction times and motor coordination. [2] The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists marijuana as the most prevalent drug in fatally injured drivers with 28 % testing positive for marijuana. [3]

It is true that the crash risk for a driver on alcohol is higher than on marijuana. But to suggest it is safe to drive after using marijuana is irresponsible. An even greater danger is the combination of alcohol and marijuana that has severe psychomotor effects that impair driving. [4]

What about our kids? Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those aged 16-25. [5] Weekend nighttime driving under the influence of marijuana among young drivers has increased by 48%. [6] About 13 % of high school seniors said they drove after using marijuana while only 10 % drove after having five or more drinks.[7] Another study showed about 28,000 seniors each year admitted to being in at least one motor vehicle accident after using marijuana. [8]

The marijuana industry is backing legalization. Do we want more dangerous drivers on our roads and dead kids so the industry can make money from selling marijuana?

References regarding DUI

[1] http://gazette.com/editorial-the-sad-anniversary-of-big-commercial-pot-in-colorado/article/1614900

[2] NHTSA, Use of Controlled Substances and Highway Safety; A Report to Congress (U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Washington, D.C., 1988)

[3] http://cesar.umd.edu/cesar/cesarfax/vol19/19-49.pdf

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6448a1.htm?s_cid=mm6448a1_w

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid

[7] https://archives.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/drug-impaired-driving-by-youth-remains-serious-problem

[8] “Unsafe Driving by High School Seniors: National Trends from 1976 to 2001 in Tickets and Accidents After Use of Alcohol, Marijuana and Other Illegal Drugs.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol. May 2003

LEGALIZING POT WILL CAUSE MORE OPIATE USE

Legalizing marijuana will cause more marijuana use. Marijuana use is associated with an increased risk for substance use disorders. [1] The interaction between the opioid and the cannabinoid system in the human body might provide a neurobiological basis for a relationship between marijuana use and opiate abuse.[2] Marijuana use appears to increase rather than decrease the risk of developing nonmedical prescription opioid use and opioid use disorder. [3] In 2017, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) landmark report written by top scientists concluded after a review of over 10,000 peer-reviewed academic articles, that marijuana use is connected to progression to and dependence on other drugs, including studies showing connections to heroin use. [4]

New research suggests that marijuana users may be more likely than nonusers to misuse prescription opioids and develop prescription opioid use disorder. The investigators analyzed data from more than 43,000 American adults. The respondents who reported past-year marijuana use had 2.2 times higher odds than nonusers of meeting diagnostic criteria for prescription opioid use disorder. They also had 2.6 times greater odds of initiating prescription opioid misuse. [5]

Marijuana used as a medicine is being sold as reducing the need for other medicines. However, a new study shows that medical marijuana users were significantly more likely to use prescription drugs in the past 12 months. Individuals who used medical marijuana were also significantly more likely to report nonmedical use in the past 12 months of any prescription drug with elevated risks for pain relievers, stimulants and tranquilizers. [6]

References regarding opiates

[1] JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 Apr;73(4):388-95. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.3229.

Cannabis Use and Risk of Psychiatric Disorders: Prospective Evidence From a US National Longitudinal Study. Blanco C1, Hasin DS2, Wall MM2, Flórez-Salamanca L3, Hoertel N4, Wang S2, Kerridge BT2, Olfson M2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26886046

[2] Cadoni C, Pisanu A, Solinas M, Acquas E, Di Chiara G. Behavioural sensitization after repeated exposure to Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cross-sensitization with morphine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001;158(3):259-266. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11640927_Behavioral_sensitization_after_repeated_exposure_to_D9-tetrahydrocannabinol_and_cross-sensitization_with_morphine

[3] Cannabis Use and Risk of Prescription Opioid Use Disorder in the United States, Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., Melanie M. Wall, Ph.D., Shang-Min Liu, M.S., Carlos Blanco, M.D., Ph.D. Published online: September 26, 2017at: https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17040413

[4] Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. See: http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2017/Cannabis-Health-Effects/Cannabis-chapter-highlights.pdf

[5] https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2017/09/marijuana-use-associated-increased-risk-prescription-opioid-misuse-use-disorders

[6] Journal of Addiction Medicine, http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/693004/?sc=dwtn

MARIJUANA USE BEFORE, DURING OR AFTER PREGNANCY CAN CAUSE SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITIONS, LEARNING PROBLEMS, AND BIRTH DEFECTS

Legalizing marijuana will cause more marijuana use among women of child bearing age. Prenatal marijuana use has been linked with:

1. Developmental and neurological disorders and learning deficits in children.

3. Premature birth, miscarriage, stillbirth.

4. An increased likelihood of a person using marijuana as a young adult.

5. The American Medical Association states that marijuana use may be linked with low birth weight, premature birth, behavioral and other problems in young children.

6. Birth defects and childhood cancer.

7. Reproductive toxicity affecting spermatogenesis which is the process of the formation of male gamete including meiosis and formation of sperm cells.

Moderate concentrations of THC, the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, when ingested by mothers while pregnant or nursing, could have long-lasting effects on the child, including increasing stress responsivity and abnormal patterns of social interactions. THC consumed in breast milk could affect brain development.

References regarding pregnancy

Volkow ND, Compton WM, Wargo EM. The risks of marijuana use during pregnancy. JAMA. 2017;317(2):129-130.

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/letter-director

https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Marijuana-Use-During-Pregnancy-and-Lactation

AMA pushes for regulation on pot use during pregnancy

http://omr.bayer.ca/omr/online/sativex-pm-en.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/pdf/marijuana-pregnancy-508.pdf

Risk of Selected Birth Defects with Prenatal Illicit Drug Use, Hawaii, 1986-2002, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, 70: 7-18, 2007

Maternal use of recreational drugs and neuroblastoma in offspring: a report from the Children’s Ocology Group., Cancer Causes Control, 2006 Jun:17(5):663-9, Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

DO YOU CARE?

Do you care…about our Environment? Marijuana growing creates environmental contamination. [1]

Do you care…about Pedestrian and Motor Vehicle Deaths caused by marijuana impaired drivers?

Increased marijuana impaired driving due to the increased potency of THC creates more risk.[2]

Do you care…about Freedom of Choice? Cannabis Use Disorder destroys freedom of choice. [3]

Do you care…about Violence, Domestic Abuse and Child abuse? Oftentimes marijuana is reported in incidents of violence. Continued marijuana use is associated with a 7-fold greater odds for subsequent commission of violent crimes. [4]

Do you care…about Safety in the Workplace? Numerous professions and trades require alertness that marijuana use can impair. Employers experience challenges to requirements for drug free workplaces, finding difficulty in hiring with many failing marijuana THC drug tests. [5]

Do you care…about Substance Use Disorders and the growing Addiction Epidemic? Recent data suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. That sounds small? 22,000,000 US marijuana users x 30% = over 6,000,000 with a marijuana use disorder. There is a link between adolescent pot smoking and psychosis. [6]

Do you care…about Suicide Prevention? Marijuana use greatly increases risk of suicide especially among young people. [7]

Do you care…about your Pets? Vets report increases in marijuana poisoned pets since normalizing and commercializing of marijuana. [8]

Do you care…about our Students and Schools? Normalization of marijuana use brought increased use to schools. Edibles and vaping have made use harder to detect. Colorado has had an increase in high school drug violations of 71% since legalization and school suspensions for drugs increased 45%. [9]

Do you care…about Racial Inequality? Marijuana growers and sellers typically locate in poorer neighborhoods and degrade the quality of the areas. Arrests of people of color have increased since drug legalization while arrests of Caucasians have decreased. [10].

Do you care…about Our Kids and Grandkids, the Next Generations? Help protect them by advocating for their futures. [11] Please oppose increasing the use of marijuana

References

[1] https://silentpoison.com/

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6448a1.htm?s_cid=mm6448a1_w

[3] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive

[4] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-new-brain/201603/marijuana-use-increases-violent-behavior

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/297718566_Continuity_of_cannabis_use_and_violent_offending_over_the_life_course

https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/marijuana-violence-and-law-2155-6105-S11-014.pdf https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/substance-abuse/Pages/legalizing-marijuana.aspx http://www.poppot.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/020518-Child-dangers-fact-sheet-FINAL_updated.pdf?x47959

[5] http://www.questdiagnostics.com/home/physicians/health-trends/drug-testing.html

[6] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2464591

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-scope-marijuana-use-in-united-states https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/link-between-adolescent-pot-smoking-and-psychosis-strengthens/

[7] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wps.20170

http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanpsy/PIIS2215-0366(14)70307-4.pdf

[8] http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/marijuana/

[9] http://gazette.com/editorial-the-sad-anniversary-of-big-commercial-pot-in-colorado/article/1614900

https://youtu.be/BApEKGUpcXs Weed Documentary from a high school in Oregon

[10] https://learnaboutsam.org/comprehensive-study-finds-marijuana-legalization-drives-youth-use-crime-rates-black-market-harms-communities-color/

[11] https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/substance-abuse/Pages/legalizing-marijuana.aspx

Legalization

http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2017/Cannabis-Health-Effects/Cannabis-chapter-highlights.pdf

MARIJUANA EXPOSURES AMONG CHILDREN INCREASE BY UP TO OVER 600%

The rate of marijuana exposures among children under the age of six increased by 610% in the “medical” marijuana states according to a study published in Clinical Pediatrics. The data comes from the National Poison Data System. 75% percent of the children ingested edible marijuana products such as marijuana-infused candy. Clinical effects include drowsiness or lethargy, ataxia [failure of muscle coordination], agitation or irritability, confusion and coma, respiratory depression, and single or multiple seizures.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0009922815589912

MORE FACTS

Today’s marijuana is very high in potency and can reach 99% THC. It is very destructive and causes addiction, mental illness, violence, crime, DUIs and many health and social problems.

https://herb.co/marijuana/news/thc-a-crystalline

FACTS FROM COLORADO

The people who are pushing marijuana legalization paint Colorado as a pot paradise. This is not true according to Peter Droege who is the Marijuana and Drug Addiction Policy Fellow for the Centennial Institute a policy think tank in Lakewood Colorado. In a April 20, 2018 opinion article he states that:

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), Colorado is a national leader among 12-17-year-olds in (1) Last year marijuana use; (2) Last month marijuana use; and (3) The percentage of youth who tried marijuana for the first time.

A 2017 analysis by the Denver Post showed Colorado had experienced a 145% increase in the number of fatal crashes involving marijuana-impaired drivers between 2013 and 2016. While the analysis stresses that the increase cannot definitively be attributed to the legalization of marijuana, it reports that the number of marijuana-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes has more than doubled since 2013, the year before the state legalized recreational marijuana use.

A July 20, 2016 article in Westword magazine reports that increased homelessness, drugs, and crime are causing local residents and convention visitors to shun Denver’s 16th Street Mall, once one of the most vibrant tourist destinations in the region.

A group of concerned scientists from Harvard University and other institutions wrote a letter to Governor Hickenlooper on March 10, 2017, seeking to correct the record after his Feb. 26, 2017, interview on Meet the Press in which he told Chuck Todd that Colorado had not seen a spike in youth drug use after the legalization of recreational marijuana, and that there was “anecdotal” evidence of a decline in drug dealers – claims he repeated in Rolling Stone.

In the letter, the scientists reference numerous studies, including the NSDUH survey, that report a dramatic increase in youth marijuana use, emergency room visits, mental health issues and crime tied to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. They quote an official from the state’s attorney general’s office saying legalization “has inadvertently helped fuel the business of Mexican drug cartels … cartels are now trading drugs like heroin for marijuana, and the trade has since opened the door to drug and human trafficking.”

Today’s high-potency “crack weed” is marketed to youth through vapes, candies, energy drinks, lip balms and other products easy to conceal in homes and schools. Most dispensaries in Colorado are located in low-income neighborhoods, targeting young people who do not need another obstacle in fulfilling their great potential in life. *

* https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/04/20/colorado-governor-marijuana-hickenlooper-column/53

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MARIJUANA RELATED SUICIDES OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN COLORADO

Marijuana is the Number 1 substance now found in suicides of young people in Colorado who are 10-19 years old. Go to the below Colorado website and click on the box that lists “methods, circumstances and toxicology” and then click on the two boxes for 10-19 years olds. The marijuana data will appear.

https://cohealthviz.dphe.state.co.us/t/HSEBPublic/views/CoVDRS_12_1_17/Story1?:embed=y&:showAppBanner=false&:showShareOptions=true&:display_count=no&:showVizHome=no#4)

55% OF COLORADO MARIJUANA USERS THINK IT’S SAFE TO DRIVE WHILE HIGH

55% of marijuana users surveyed by the Colorado Department of Transportation last November said they believed it was safe to drive under the influence of marijuana. Within that group, the same percentage said they had driven high in the past 30 days, on average 12 times. A recent analysis of federal traffic fatality data by the Denver Post found that the number of Colorado drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana has doubled since 2013.

CDOT survey: More than half of Colorado marijuana users think it’s safe to drive while high

TODDLERS WITH LUNG INFLAMMATION

In Colorado one in six infants and toddlers hospitalized for lung inflammation are testing positive for marijuana exposure. This has been a 100% increase since legalization (10% to 21%). Non-white kids are more likely to be exposed than white kids.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160430100247.htm

TEEN ER VISITS

Marijuana related emergency room visits by Colorado teens is substantially on the rise. They see more kids with psychotic symptoms and other mental health problems and chronic vomiting due to marijuana use.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-marijuana-kids/marijuana-related-er-visits-by-colorado-teens-on-the-rise-idUSKBN1HO38A

LOW BIRTH WEIGHTS

The Colorado School of Public Health reports that there is a 50% increase in low birth weights among women who use marijuana during pregnancy. Low birth weight sets the stage for future

health problems including infection and time spent in neonatal intensive care.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180423125052.htm

EMERGENCY CARE

Colorado Cannabis Legalization and Its Effect on Emergency Care

“Not surprisingly, increased marijuana use after legalization has been accompanied by an increase in the number of ED visits and hospitalizations related to acute marijuana intoxication. Retrospective data from the Colorado Hospital Association, a consortium of more than 100 hospitals in the state, has shown that the prevalence of hospitalizations for marijuana exposure in patients aged 9 years and older doubled after the legalization of medical marijuana and that ED visits nearly doubled after the legalization of recreational marijuana, although these findings may be limited because of stigma surrounding disclosure of marijuana use in the prelegalization era. However, this same trend is reflected in the number of civilian calls to the Colorado poison control center. In the years after both medical and recreational marijuana legalization, the call volume for marijuana exposure doubled compared with that during the year before legalization.

Kim HS, Monte AA. Colorado cannabis legalization and its effect on emergency care. Ann Emerg Med. 2016;68:71-75.

https://search.aol.com/aol/search?q=http%3a%2f%2fcolorado%2520cannabis%2520legalization%2520and%2520its%2520effect%2520on%2520emergency%2520care%2e&s_it=loki-dnserror

CONTAMINATION OF MARIJUANA PRODUCTS

There is contamination in marijuana products in Colorado. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment claims that “Cannabis is a novel industry, and currently, no recognized standard methods exist for the testing of cannabis or cannabis products.”

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/marijuana-sciences-reference-library

The medical marijuana market is in a downward spiral as businesses, lured by big money, shift to recreational

At the height of the medical marijuana industry there were 420 dispensaries in Oregon. Now there are only eight.

In 2015, Erich Berkovitz opened his medical marijuana processing company, PharmEx, with the intention of getting sick people their medicine. His passion stemmed from his own illness. Berkovitz has Tourette syndrome, which triggers ticks in his shoulder that causes chronic pain. Cannabis takes that away.

Yet in the rapidly changing marijuana landscape, PharmEx is now one of three medical-only processors left in the entire state of Oregon.

On the retail end, it’s also grim. At the height of the medical marijuana industry in 2016, there were 420 dispensaries in Oregon available to medical cardholders. Today, only eight are left standing and only one of these medical dispensaries carries Berkovitz’s products.

Ironically, Oregon’s medical marijuana market has been on a downward spiral since the state legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2014. The option of making big money inspired many medical businesses to go recreational, dramatically shifting the focus away from patients to consumers. In 2015, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) took over the recreational industry. Between 2016 and 2018, nine bills were passed that expanded consumer access to marijuana while changing regulatory procedures on growing, processing and packaging.

In the shuffle, recreational marijuana turned into a million-dollar industry in Oregon, while the personalized patient-grower network of the medical program quietly dried up.

Now, sick people are suffering.

“For those patients that would need their medicine in an area that’s opted out of recreational sales, and they don’t have a grower or they’re not growing on their own, it does present a real access issue for those individuals,” said André Ourso, an administrator for the Center for Health Protection at the Oregon Health Authority. The woes of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) were outlined in a recently published report by the Oregon Health Authority. The analysis found the program suffers from “insufficient and inaccurate reporting and tracking,” “inspections that did not keep pace with applications”, and “insufficient funding and staffing”.

Operating outside of Salem, Oregon, PharmEx primarily makes extracts – a solid or liquid form of concentrated cannabinoids. Through his OMMP-licensed supply chain, he gets his high dose medicine to people who suffer from cancer, Crohn’s, HIV and other autoimmune diseases. Many are end-of-life patients.

These days, most recreational dispensaries sell both consumer and medical products, which are tax-free for cardholders. The problem for Berkovitz is that he’s only medically licensed. This means recreational dispensaries can’t carry his exacts. Legally, they can

only sell products from companies with an OLCC license. Since issuing almost 1,900 licenses, the OLCC has paused on accepting new applications until further notice.

Limits on THC – a powerful active ingredient in cannabis products – are also an issue, according to Berkovitz. With the dawn of recreational dispensaries, the Oregon Health Authority began regulating THC content. A medical edible, typically in the form of a sweet treat, is now capped at 100mg THC, which Berkovitz says is not enough for a really sick person.

“If you need two 3000mg a day orally and you’re capped at a 100mg candy bar, that means you need 20 candy bars, which cost $20 a pop,” he said. “So you’re spending $400 a day to eat 20 candy bars.”

“The dispensaries never worked for high dose patients, even in the medical program,” continued Berkovitz. “What worked was people who grew their own and were able to legally process it themselves, or go to a processor who did it at a reasonable rate.”

But with increased processing and testing costs, and a decrease on the number of plants a medical grower can produce, patients are likely to seek cannabis products in a more shadowy place – the black market.

“All the people that we made these laws for – the ones who are desperately ill – are being screwed right now and are directed to the black market,” said Karla Kay, the chief of operations at PharmEx.

Kay, who also holds a medical marijuana card for her kidney disease, said some patients she knows have resorted to buying high dose medical marijuana products illegally from local farmers markets – in a state that was one of the first to legally establish a medical cannabis industry back in 1998.

Moreover, the networks between medical patients, growers and processors have diminished.

The OMMP maintains a record of processors and the few remaining dispensaries, but no published list of patients or grow sites – a privacy right protected under Oregon law, much to the chagrin of law enforcement.

According to the Oregon Health Authority’s report, just 58 of more than 20,000 medical growers were inspected last year.

In eastern Oregon’s Deschutes county, the sheriff’s office and the district attorney have repeatedly requested the location of each medical marijuana grower in their county. They’ve been consistently denied by the Oregon Health Authority.

Recently, the sheriff has gone as far as hiring a detective to focus solely on enforcing marijuana operations.

“There is an overproduction of marijuana in Oregon and the state doesn’t have adequate resources to enforce the laws when it comes to recreational marijuana, medical marijuana, as well as ensuring the growth of hemp is within the THC guidelines,” said the Deschutes sheriff, Shane Nelson. As of last February, the state database logged 1.1m pounds of cannabis flower, as reported by the Willamette Week in April. That’s three times what residents buy in a year, which means the excess is slipping out of the regulated market. To help curb the trend, senate bill 1544 was passed this year to funnel part of the state’s marijuana tax revenues into the Criminal Justice Commission and provide the funding needed to go after the black market, especially when it comes to illicit Oregon weed being smuggled to other states. The program’s priority is “placed on rural areas with lots of production and diversion, and little law enforcement”, said Rob Bovett, the legal counsel with the Association of Oregon Counties, who crafted the bill.

In a May 2018 memo on his marijuana enforcement priorities, Billy J Williams, a US attorney for the district of Oregon, noted that “since broader legalization took effect in 2015, large quantities of marijuana from Oregon have been seized in 30 states, most of which continue to prohibit marijuana.”

As of 1 July, however, all medical growers that produce plants for three or more patients – about 2,000 growers in Oregon – must track their marijuana from seed-to-sale using the OLCC’s Cannabis Tracking System.

Berkovitz, however, is looking to cut out the middle man (namely dispensaries) to keep PharmEx afloat. “The only way the patients are going to have large, high doses of medicine is if we revive the patient-grower networks. They need to communicate with each other. No one’s going to get rich, but everybody involved will get clean medicine from the people they trust at a more affordable rate.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/31/oregon-cannabis-medical-marijuana-problems-sick-people

As of yesterday, it’s now legal for adults in California to purchase recreational marijuana. This is being hailed as a breakthrough against marijuana prohibition, but the masses of would-be pot smokers in California seem to carry a popular delusion that rests on the false idea that marijuana is safe to smoke in unlimited quantities because it’s “natural.”

As much as I disdain prohibition against any medicinal plant — and I’m convinced the “War on Drugs” was a miserable failure — I have news for all those who smoke pot: Smoking anything is a health risk because you’re inhaling a toxic stew of carcinogens produced in the smoke itself. Whether you’re smoking pot or tobacco, you’re still poisoning yourself with the very kind of carcinogens that promote lung cancer, heart disease, accelerated aging and cognitive decline.

Just because cannabis is now legal to smoke in California doesn’t mean it’s a wise habit to embrace. (There’s also a much better way to consume cannabis: Liquid form for oral consumption, as explained below…)

California, which increasingly seems to be operating in a delusional fairy tale bubble on every issue from immigration to transgenderism, believes the legalization of recreational marijuana is a breakthrough worth celebrating. “The dispensary staff cheered as hundreds stood in line outside the club, waiting to shop and celebrate,” reports SF Gate. “At some shops, the coming-out party was expected to feature live music, coffee and doughnuts, prizes for those first in line and speeches from supportive local politicians…”

Because, y’know, in a state that’s being overrun by illegal aliens, the junk science of “infinite genders” and university mobs of climate change cultists, what’s really needed is a whole new wave of lung cancer victims to add even more burden to the state’s health care costs. Genius! Gov. Brown should run for President or something…

Inhale some more pesticides and see how “natural” you feel

Sadly, many pro-cannabis consumers in California have convinced themselves that Big Tobacco is evil, but smoking pot is safe and natural… even “green.” Yet the cold hard truth of the matter it that marijuana in California is often produced with a toxic cocktail of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Yep, the very same people who buy “organic” at the grocery store are now smoking and inhaling cancer-causing weed grown with conventional pesticides. These are the same people who are concerned about 1 ppb of glyphosate in their Cheerios while simultaneously smoking 1,000 ppb of Atrazine in their weed. But science be damned, there’s a bong and a gas mask handy. Smoke up!

California pot has already been scientifically proven to be shockingly contaminated. A whopping “…93 percent of samples collected by KNBC-TV from 15 dispensaries in four Southern California counties tested positive for pesticides,” reports the UK Daily Mail, which also reports:

That may come as a surprise for consumers who tend to trust what’s on store shelves because of federal regulations by the US Agriculture Department or the US Food and Drug Administration. ‘Unfortunately, that’s not true of cannabis,’ Land said. ‘They wrongly assume it’s been tested for safety.’

I suppose all the science in the world is irrelevant when you have a mob of people who just want to get high. These are the same people who will March Against Monsanto, but they won’t even buy pesticide-free weed that they’re inhaling.

Edible cannabis products often contain toxic solvents, too

It’s not just the pesticides in weed that are a major concern: Edible pot products also frequently contain traces of toxic solvents such as hexane. Because of the shocking lack of regulation of cannabis product production in places like Colorado, many small-scale producers are using insanely dangerous solvents to extract CBD, THC and other molecules from raw cannabis plants. Those solvents include:

  • Hexane (a highly explosive solvent also used by the soy industry to extract soy protein)
  • IPA (isopropyl alcohol, which causes permanent nerve damage if you drink it)
  • Gasoline (also used to extract heroin in Third World countries)

Anyone who thinks consuming these solvents is somehow “healthy” may have already suffered extensive brain damage from consuming those solvents. Yet edible cannabis products are almost universally looked upon as health-enhancing products, often with no thought given whatsoever to the pesticides, solvents or other toxins they may contain. (Some shops do conduct lab testing of their products, so if you’re going to consume these products, make sure you get lab-tested cannabis products.)

In essence, the very same state where “progressives” have now come to believe there are an infinite number of genders — and that global warming causes extremely cold weather — have now embraced a delusional fairy tale about the imagined safety of consuming cannabis. All the news about the health benefits of cannabis only seems to have made the delusion worse: Some people now perceive smoking weed as a form of nutritional supplementation. They’ve even made it part of their holistic lifestyles, in a twisted kind of way.

But what California has actually unleashed with all this is a whole new wave of:

  • Heart disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Cognitive decline
  • Accelerated aging
  • Increased health care costs state-wide

Check with your friends in California and you’ll find that they have little to no awareness of the devastating health consequences of long-term pot smoking. It’s not going to turn you into a raging lunatic as depicted in Refer Madness, but it is going to expose your lungs, bloodstream and brain to a shockingly toxic stew of cell-damaging carcinogens. That gives pot smoke many of the same health risks as cigarette smoke.

So what’s the right answer on all this? If you want to stay healthy, stop smoking cannabis. Take it in liquid form instead.

The safer option: Liquid cannabis extracts

Liquid cannabis extracts are not only far safer to consume (because they don’t contain toxic carcinogens found in smoke); they also contain a far more diverse composition of cannabinoids.

CBD-A, for example, the carboxylic acid form of cannabidiol, is destroyed by heat. This means that when you smoke cannabis, you’re not getting any CBD-A, even if it’s naturally present in the plant. The heat of the incineration destroys it before you inhale.

The same is true with THC-A and other carboxylic acid forms of cannabinoids. In fact, cannabis extracts that are heated to destroy those components are called “decarboxylated” or just “de-carbed” for short. Lighting up a joint and burning the cannabis as you inhale actually destroys many of the more medicinal components of cannabis.

Taking cannabis extracts orally, on the other hand, gives you the full complement of all the cannabinoids, terpenes and other constituents… without the health risks associated with inhaling smoke.

The cannabis extract brand that we test and certify in our lab to meet or exceed label claims is called Native Hemp Solutions. It’s a whole-plant extract that maintains the natural cannabinoids and other constituents found in the living plant. Because it’s not an isolate, its molecules work synergistically to provide a more profound effect.

Liquid forms of cannabis are vastly superior to cannabis smoke in terms of their synergistic phytonutrients (chemical constituents). While smoking marijuana provides a more rapid assimilation of THC into your bloodstream, the oral form of cannabis extracts actually provide a vastly more diverse array of nutrients, many of which are being studied for therapeutic use.

That’s why I don’t smoke cannabis. In fact, the only cannabis I consume is high-CBD, near-zero-THC liquid forms. That’s because I don’t want to give myself lung cancer or heart disease as a side effect of consuming a cannabis product.

Smoking pot isn’t harmless: Think rationally about the way to ingest cannabis molecules

The bottom line here is that I want to encourage you to think carefully about the vectors through which you introduce cannabis molecules into your body. Smoking pot is rapid but carries long-term health risks due to carcinogenic smoke that you’re inhaling. I’m thrilled that California finally decriminalized this healing plant, but the fanfare surrounding the change in the law almost seems to be a celebration of smoking, which is a truly hazardous habit no matter what you’re smoking.

Oral forms are vastly superior in terms of ingesting the full array of nutrients, and some people on the extreme end of the spectrum actually use cannabis suppositories for a rapid effect that doesn’t involve damaging the lungs. Personally, I’m happy with taking CBD oils as a dietary supplement for the simple reason that I don’t ingest cannabis to get high; I ingest it for its health supporting effects.

Now, let us hope Jeff Sessions and the feds can finally get around to ending marijuana prohibition, too. It’s time to end the senseless war on this promising natural herb, but we must also think carefully about the ways we ingest it.

Source: https://www.naturalnews.com/2018-01-01-california-legalize-pot-smokers-cannabis-contaminated-pesticides-mold-heavy-metals.html

Source http://www.learnaboutsam.org

“Permission empowered models of drug policy interpretation are driving demand for drug use – NOT prohibition models. The ‘law’ is not what ruins lives, it’s those who tear down that protective fence to simply ‘get wasted’, that do that!”

“Acceptability – Accessibility – Availability, all increase consumption!”  D.I
__________________________________________________________________

It is certainly no surprise that the pro-drug, cannabis promoting lobby, manifesting itself through The Greens, continue to employ tired mantras that:

  • deny science,
  • ignore best health-care practice and
  • propagandize harms away, with promises of tax revenues!

Here’s the first anomaly: the same lobbyists rail against alcohol harms and seek to limit the pervasive nature of this ‘legal’ drug – to the point of even stating; ‘If alcohol was bought to market for the first time today, it would be prohibited/banned!” Yet in breathtaking cognitive dissonance they want to unleash cannabis into the same promotable arena that alcohol and tobacco occupy – legal entitlement!

The second anomaly is: the tobacco fiasco – millions of dollars where spent on keeping/promoting cigarettes as not only legal and socially acceptable, but even healthy for you. Billions has been spent over the last 50 years dealing with the health outcomes of this drug – and then Billions more spent on driving this legal drug into the pariah space that is pseudo-prohibition!

Make no mistake, the cannabis industry and those promoting its regulation is just Big Tobacco all over again, but with new and greater levels of pernicious harms.

The active push to normalise and legitimise Cannabis for ‘recreational’ use has been in play since late 70’s with Richard Cowen, a former Director of NORML (National Organisation for Reform of Marijuana Laws), going on public record (speaking at 1993 conference celebrating the 50 year anniversary of the discovery of LSD) stating “The key to it [legalizing marijuana for recreational use] is to have 100’s of thousands of people using it ‘medically’ under medical supervision, the whole scam is going to be blown. Once there is medical access and we do what we continually have to do, and we will, then we will get full legalisation!”

The National Drug Strategy

The latest National Drug Strategy 2017-26, now puts Demand Reduction as the priority!
The strategy states that “Harm Minimisation includes a range of approaches to help prevent and reduce drug related problems…including a focus on abstinence-oriented strategies [Harm minimisation] policy approach does not condone drug use.” (page 6)

Prevention of uptake reduces personal, family and community harms, allow better use of health and law enforcement resources, generates substantial social and economic benefits and produces a healthier workforce. Demand Reduction strategies that prevent drug use are more cost effective than treating established drug-related problems…Strategies that delay the onset of use prevent longer term harms and costs to the community.” (page 8)

We need to be reducing demand for cannabis, not increasing it through the undermining of both demand and supply reduction pillars in our National Drug Strategy!

Is the de-facto legalisation and ‘regulation’ of cannabis going to reduce demand, supply and harm, or will it promote/permit the same and to an even wider cohort?

If we have a regulated market for recreational Cannabis, will the already law-breaking and recalcitrant users suddenly line up to pay for, a now taxed product? We have seen the ‘black’ or ‘grey’ market on decriminalised prostitution continue alongside the now regulated industry for the simple reason that people do not want to pay more or be regulated as we are now seeing in the US State of Colorado!

Let us cut through the propagandised mantras about the so called ‘benign nature’ of this plant that buries evidence-based data with emotionalism and ‘big dollar’ revenue rhetoric.
 
“If one was to read at least three academically sourced evidence-based articles/resources on the inherent physical, psychological, environmental, genetic, social, productivity, familial & community Harms of this drug, every single day of the year for 10 years, you will still not have read half the current data on the dangers/risks of Cannabis.” D.I
Submission to the Canadian Senate Standing Committee on Health – for their consideration and review of Bill C.45.2017

The following is but a snapshot of those harms:

  • Both cannabis intoxication and withdrawal have been linked with violence and homicide including mass shootings.
  • Effect on developing brains 1-15
  • Effect on driving 16-26
  • Effect on developmental trajectory and failure to attain normal adult goals (stable relationship, work, education) 17,31-43
  • Effect on IQ and IQ regression 13,44-48
  • Effect to increase numerous psychiatric and psychological disorders 49-62
  • Effect on respiratory system 63-85
  • Effect on reproductive system 7,86-91
  • Effect in relation to immunity and immunosuppression 92-108
  • Effect of now very concentrated forms of cannabis, THC and CBD which are widely available 109,110
  • Outdated epidemiological studies which apply only to the era before cannabis became so potent and so concentrated 110.
  • At the cellular level cannabis and cannabinoids have been linked with decreased energy production from mitochondria 13-18,
  • Increased production of inflammation and reduced anti-oxidant defence 16,18,19;
  • Reduced enzymes involved in DNA repair 16; and increased errors of mitosis which occur due to disruption of the tubulin “rails” of the mitotic spindle 16,19-21 in such a way that chromosomes become left behind and eventually shatter under cellular stress 21,22;
  • Cannabis also stimulates the carcinogenic oncoproteins tumour protein isoform 2 and tumour protein D54 23,24;
  • Stimulation of lipoxygenase and thromboxane synthase can lead to clotting and coagulation 18.

Effect as a Gateway drug to other drug use including the opioid epidemic 27-30

The Colorado Chaos!

  • The legalisation of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact 2017
    • Colorado Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area released its latest report 2017
    • The 176-page report details the worsening impact of marijuana on Colorado, including:
    • A 66% increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths
    • A 12% increase in youth marijuana use in the past month
    • A 71% increase in adult marijuana use in the past month
    • A 72% increase in marijuana-related hospitalizations
    • A 139% increase in marijuana-related exposures
    • An 844% increase in parcels of marijuana seized in U.S. mail
    • An 11% increase in crime state-wide
    • Colorado now has more marijuana retail outlets (491) than McDonald’s (208) or Starbucks (392)
  • Colorado Governor: Cannabis legalisation was ‘reckless’ (Business Insider, 2014)
  • Crime rates have gone up, not down in Colorado – arrests of minorities in particular, are increasing.*
  • Black-market is flourishing – (people don’t want to pay tax under the ‘regulated’ system, so they chose the non-taxed black market product over the government endorsed product – now giving us at least two markets for supply.)*
  • Cartels now use shop fronts to peddle their product and their presence is growing.*
  • Youth use is increasing – even though poor data collection in attempting to hide such. * https://youtu.be/5mFglI7KEpI 
  • Colorado District Attorney: ‘Marijuana is gateway drug to homicide’:         

A Colorado district attorney drew attention this week after he pronounced marijuana to be a “gateway drug to homicide.” District Attorney Dan May came at a news conference Tuesday about a large black-market marijuana bust in the state. Thirteen people have been indicted

  • Marijuana X – The Documentary the ‘Industry’ doesn’t want you to see!
  • Cannabis Conundrum 100’s of articles on the inherent harms of Cannabis.

“It is estimated that there are at least 200,000 people dependent on cannabis in Australia, with one in ten people who try the drug at least once in their lifetime having problems ceasing use!  (2012) https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/news/world-first-study-cannabis-withdrawal-management-drug      

  • This number has only increased, and this is all while the drug is still in its prohibition category. Permission models only increase access and use.

Call for greater accountability from proponents of Cannabis Legalisation – Time to put up or shut up!
How easy has it been in the past for legislators to present such incredibly irresponsible policy measures to unleash (via government approval) the use of Cannabis as a ‘recreational’ substance. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is.
We propose that those sponsoring/voting for such a change to our laws need to be held fiscally accountable for the costs of the harms done by their policies. As architects of a dangerous harm creating social experiment, who believe it to be in best interest of the entire community to, legalize, decriminalise, regulate or otherwise promote access/ entitlement to this drug, will then be fiscally accountable for the significant and broad ranging harms that will be incurred by our society as a result.

Any legislation passing that enables further entitlement to cannabis/marijuana should include the names and political parties who sponsor these drug use liberalisation groups. The legislation must include that all costs of harms for said legislation must pay for the negative outcomes – all health, social and welfare costs incurred.  The monitoring and measuring of all aforementioned harms due to the liberalization of cannabis will be tallied and annual invoices to levied to Political Parties and individuals promoting such measures, for their remittance. If such accountabilities were in place, proponents would definitely think twice before being so outrageous in their claim.
It’s time to get serious about the drug issue as we did with the Tobacco scourge. The War on Tobacco was long, but effective. It’s time we had a serious campaign (for the first time in 30 years) on illicit drugs.

We need, as with the QUIT Tobacco Campaign, One Focus – Once Message – One Voice in every key sector in the culture; Government – Education – Media – Policing – Community!
So, who is driving drug policy now – Drug users, or law abiding, best health practice and responsible citizens?
It’s time our legislators and policy makers cared more for the clear majority of families, children and the community who do not use, or want drug use in their community. Legislators risk looking as though they have succumbed to the highly manipulative, drug-affected minority to further harm the community. These manipulators attempt to assail the law, assault families and damage public health all with the cleverly crafted, weaponised activities of the local ‘pot-head’ or desperado, currently being given too much ‘oxygen’ in the public domain.

Communications Liaison

                        E: admin@drugfree.org.au E: drug-advice@daca.org.au 
P: 1300 975 002 M:0403 334 002
https://learnaboutsam.org/

Source: Email from The Dalgarno Institute <operations@dalgarnoinstitute.org.au> 

April 2018

(Alexandria, VA) – Marijuana legalization has led to massive increases in youth exposure to the substance, according the 2017 Annual Toxic Trend Report compiled by the Washington Poison Center.

In 2017, there were 378 total marijuana exposures reported to the Washington State Poison Center. This number is an all-time high for reported marijuana exposures and is an increase of 87 incidents from the previous year.

Almost a third of the reported instances of marijuana exposure in the last year occur within the age group of children up to 5 years old. The rate of exposure among this age group has seen an explosive increase of almost 58% compared to the previous year.

Of the reported 378 instances of marijuana exposure in 2017, nearly half occurred as a result of eating marijuana edibles. Following legalization and commercialization, the marijuana industry has flooded the market with high-potency THC infused cookies, gummies, sodas, and other edibles that are highly appealing children.


Of note: the reporting of exposures to the Poison Center is completely voluntary and is most likely an underrepresentation to the true amounts of marijuana exposure occurring in the state of Washington.

“This report is extremely troubling,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president and founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). “As Big Marijuana continues to churn out kid-friendly edibles, more and more young children are ending up in emergency rooms. The preponderance of data show that marijuana has a damaging effect on developing brains but reports such as this get swept under the rug as lawmakers rush to liberalize drug laws.”

###

About SAM Action 

SAM Action is a non-profit, 501(c)(4) social welfare organization dedicated to promoting healthy marijuana policies that do not involve legalizing drugs. Learn more about SAM Action and its work visit www.samaction.net.

Source: Email from SAM Action <reply@learnaboutsam.org>, July 2018

RUCKERSVILLE, Va.,Oct. 24, 2018 /PRNewswire/ –Crashes are up by as much as 6 percent in Colorado,Nevada, Oregon and Washington, compared with neighboring states that haven’t legalized marijuana for recreational use, new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) shows. The findings come as campaigns to decriminalize marijuana gain traction with voters and legislators in the U.S., and Canada begins allowing recreational use of marijuana this month.

A cannabis dispensary in Colorado.

Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 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. Nevada voters approved recreational marijuana in November 2016, and retail sales began in July 2017.

HLDI analysts estimate that the frequency of collision claims per insured vehicle year rose a combined 6 percent following the start of retail sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, compared with the control states of Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. The combined-state analysis is based on collision loss data from January 2012 through October 2017.

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. Claim frequencies are expressed as the number of claims per 100 insured vehicle years. An insured vehicle year is one vehicle insured for one year or two vehicles insured for six months each.

A separate IIHS study examined 2012–16 police-reported crashes before and after retail sales began in Colorado, Oregon and Washington. IIHS estimates that the three states combined saw a 5.2 percent increase in the rate of crashes per million vehicle registrations, compared with neighboring states that didn’t legalize marijuana sales.

IIHS researchers compared the change in crash rate in Colorado,Oregon and Washington with the change in crash rates in the neighboring states that didn’t enact recreational marijuana laws. Researchers compared Colorado with Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah, and they compared Oregonand Washington with Idaho and Montana. The study controlled for differences in demographics, unemployment and weather in each state.

The size of the effect varied by state. Although the study controlled for several differences among the states, the models can’t capture every single difference. For example, marijuana laws in Colorado, Oregon and Washington differ in terms of daily purchase limits, sales taxes and available options for home growers. These differences can influence how often consumers buy marijuana, where they buy it and where they consume it.

The 5.2 percent increase in police-reported crash rates following legalization of recreational marijuana use is consistent with the 6 percent increase in insurance claim rates estimated by HLDI.

“The new IIHS-HLDI research on marijuana and crashes indicates that legalizing marijuana for all uses is having a negative impact on the safety of our roads,” says IIHS-HLDI President David Harkey. “States exploring legalizing marijuana should consider this effect on highway safety.”

Marijuana is still an illegal controlled substance under federal law.

In addition to the study states, Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and the District of Columbia also allow recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older and medical use of marijuana. Another 22 states allow medical marijuana, while 15 more states permit the use of specific cannabis products for designated medical conditions.

Legalization of recreational use is pending in New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. In November, Michigan and North Dakota will hold referendums on marijuana, and Missouri and Utah voters will decide whether to expand medical marijuana laws in their states.

Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal in all 50 states and D.C., but determining impairment is challenging. Unlike alcohol, the amount of marijuana present in a person’s body doesn’t consistently relate to impairment. THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis. A positive test for THC and its active metabolite doesn’t mean the driver was impaired at the time of the crash. Habitual users of marijuana may have positive blood tests for THC days or weeks after using the drug.

Marijuana’s role in crashes isn’t as clear as the link between alcohol and crashes. Many states don’t include consistent information on driver drug use in crash reports, and policies and procedures for drug testing are inconsistent. More drivers in crashes are tested for alcohol than for drugs. When drivers are tested, other drugs are often found in combination with alcohol, which makes it difficult to isolate their separate effects.

“Despite the difficulty of isolating the specific effects of marijuana impairment on crash risk, the evidence is growing that legalizing its use increases crashes,” Harkey says.

SOURCE Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Related Links

http://www.iihs.org

Source: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/crashes-rise-in-first-states-to-begin-legalized-retail-sales-of-recreational-marijuana-300736512.html

Sydney Parliament House, 09.07.2018

Cannabis has been greatly oversold by a left leaning press controlled by globalist and centralist forces while its real and known dangers have not been given appropriate weight in the popular press. In particular its genotoxic and teratogenic potential on an unborn generation for the next hundred years has not been aired or properly weighed in popular forums.

These weighty considerations clearly take cannabis out of the realm of personal choice or individual freedoms and place it squarely in the realm of the public good and a matter with which the whole community is rightly concerned and properly involved.

Cannabinoids are a group of 400 substances which occur only in the leaves of the Cannabis sativa plant where they are used by the plants as toxins and poisons in natural defence against other plants and against herbivores.

Major leading world experts such as Dr Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse at NIH 1, Professor Wayne Hall, Previous Director of the Sydney Based National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW 2, and Health Canada 3 – amongst many others – are agreed that cannabis is linked with the following impressive lists of toxicities:

1) Cannabis is addictive, particularly when used by teenagers

2) Cannabis affects brain development

3) Cannabis is a gateway to other harder drug use

4) Cannabis is linked with many mental health disorders including anxiety, depression,

psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

5) Cannabis alters and greatly impairs the normal developmental trajectory – getting a

job, finishing a course and forming a long term stable relationship 4-11

6) Cannabis impairs driving ability 12

7) Cannabis damages the lungs

8) Cannabis is immunosuppressive

9) Cannabis is linked with heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease

10) Cannabis is commonly more potent in recent years, with forms up to 30% being widely available in many parts of USA, and oils up to 100% THC also widely available.

Serious questions have also been raised about its involvement in 12 different cancers, increased Emergency Room presentations and exposures of developing babies during pregnancy. It is with this latter group that the present address is mainly concerned.

Basic Physiology and Embryology Cells make energy in dedicated organelles called mitochondria. Mitochondrial energy, in the form of ATP, is known to be involved in both DNA protection and control of the immune system. This means that when the cell’s ATP is high DNA maintenance is good and the genome is intact. When cellular ATP drops DNA maintenance is impaired, DNA breaks remain unsealed, and cancers can form. Also immunity is triggered by low ATP.

As organisms age ATP falls by half each 20 years after the age of 20. Mitochondria signal and shuttle to the cell nucleus via several pathways. Not only do cells carry cannabinoid receptors on their surface, but they also exist, along with their signalling machinery, at high density on mitochondria themselves 13-19. Cannabis, and indeed all addictive drugs, are known to impair this cellular energy generation and thus promote the biochemical aging process 14-16,19,20. Most addictions are associated with increased cancers, increased infections and increased clinical signs of ageing 21-34.

The foetal heart forms very early inside the mother with a heartbeat present from day 21 of human gestation. The heart forms by complicated pathways, and arises from more than six groups of cells inside the embryo 35,36. First two arteries come together, they fold, then flex and twist to give the final shape of the adult heart. Structures in the centre of the heart mass called endocardial cushions grow out to form the heart valves between the atria and ventricles and parts of the septum which grows between the two atria and ventricles. These cardiac cushions, and their associated conoventricular ridges which grow into and divide the cardiac outflow tract into left and right halves, all carry high density cannabinoid type 1 receptors (CB1R’s) and cannabis is known to be able to interfere with their growth and development.CB1R’s appear on foetal arteries from week nine of human gestation 37.

The developing brain grows out in a complex way in the head section 35,36. Newborn brain cells are born centrally in the area adjacent to the central ventricles of the brain and then migrate along pathways into the remainder of the brain, and grow to populate the cortex, parietal lobes, olfactory lobes, limbic system, hypothalamus and hippocampus which is an important area deep in the centre of the temporal lobes where memories first form.

Developing bipolar neuroblasts migrate along pathways and then climb out along 200 million guide cells, called radial glia cells, to the cortex of the brain where they sprout dendrites and a major central axon which are then wired in to the electrical network in a “use it or lose it”, “cells that fire together wire together” manner.

The brain continues to grow and mature into the 20’s as new neurons are born and surplus dendrites are pruned by the immune system. Cannabinoids interfere with cellular migration, cellular division, the generation of newborn neurons and all the classes of glia, axonal pathfinding, dendrite sprouting, myelin formation around axons and axon tracts and the firing of both inhibitory and stimulatory synapses 14-16,19,20,38-40. Cannabinoids interfere with gene expression directly, via numerous epigenetic means, and via immune perturbation.

Cannabinoids also disrupt the mechanics of cell division by disrupting the mitotic spindle on which chromosomal separation occurs, causing severe genetic damage and frank chromosomal mis-segregation, disruption, rupture and pulverization 41-43.

Cannabis was found to be a human carcinogen by the California Environmental Protection agency in 2009 44. This makes it a likely human teratogen (deforms babies). Importantly, while discussion continues over some cancers, it bears repeating that a positive association between cannabis and testicular cancer was found in all four studies which investigated this question 45-49.

Cannabis Teratogenesis

The best animal models for human malformations are hamsters and rabbits. In rabbits cannabis exhibits a severe spectrum of foetal abnormalities when applied at high dose including shortened limbs, bowels hanging out, spina bifida and exencephaly (brain hanging out). There is also impaired foetal growth and increased foetal loss and resorption 50,51.

Many of these features have been noted in human studies 52. In 2014 Centres for Disease Control Atlanta Georgia reported increased rates of anencephaly (no brain, usually rapid death) gastroschisis (bowels hanging out), diaphragmatic hernia, and oesophageal narrowing 53,54. The American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics reported in 2007 an increased rate of ventricular septal defect and an abnormality of the tricuspid valve (Ebstein’s anomaly) 55. Strikingly, a number of studies have shown that cannabis exposure of the father is worse than that of the mother 56. In Colorado atrial septal defect is noted to have risen by over 260% from 2000-2013 (see Figure 1; note close correlation (correlation coefficient R = 0.95, P value = 0.000066) between teenage cannabis use and rising rate of major congenital anomalies in Colorado to 12.7%, or 1 in 8 live births, a rate four times higher than the USA national average !) 57.

And three longitudinal studies following children exposed to cannabis in utero have consistently noted abnormalities of brain growth with smaller brains and heads – persisting into adult life – and deficits of cortical and executive functioning persistent throughout primary, middle and high schools and into young adult life in the early 20’s 58-63. An Australian MRI neuroimaging study noted 88% disconnection of cortical wiring from the splenium to precuneus which are key integrating and computing centres in the cerebral cortex 38,39,64. Chromosomal defects were also found to be elevated in Colorado (rose 30%) 57, in Hawaii 52 in our recent analysis of cannabis use and congenital anomalies across USA, and in infants presenting from Northern New South Wales to Queensland hospitals 65. And gastroschisis shows a uniform pattern of elevation in all recent studies which have examined it (our univariate meta-analysis) 52,54,66-71.

Interestingly the gastroschisis rate doubled in North Carolina in just three years 1997-2001 72, but rose 24 times in Mexico 73 which for a long time formed a principal supply source for Southern USA 74. Within North Carolina gastroschisis and congenital heart defects closely followed cannabis distribution routes 74-76. In Canada a remarkable geographical analysis by the Canadian Government has shown repeatedly that the highest incidence of all anomalies – including chromosomal anomalies – occurs in those northern parts where most cannabis is smoked 77,78.

Congenital anomalies forms the largest cause of death of babies in the first year of life. The biggest group of them is cardiovascular defects. Since cannabis affects several major classes
of congenital defects it is obviously a major human teratogen. Its heavy epigenetic footprint,
by which it controls gene expression by controlling DNA methylation and histone modifications 79-81, imply that its effects will be felt for the next three to four generations – that is the next 100 years 82,83. Equally obviously it is presently being marketed globally as a major commodity apparently for commercial – or ideological – reasons. Since cannabis is clearly contraindicated in several groups of people including:

1) Babies

2) Children

3) Adolescents

4) Car drivers

5) Commercial Drivers – Taxis, Buses, Trains,

6) Pilots of Aeroplanes

7) Workers – Manual Tools, Construction, Concentration Jobs

8) Children

9) Adolescents

10) Males of Reproductive age

11) Females of Reproductive age

12) Pregnancy

13) Lactation

14) Workers

15) Older People – Mental Illness

16) Immunosuppressed

17) Asthmatics – 80% Population after severe chest infection

18) People with Personal History of Cancer

19) People with Family History of Cancer

20) People with Personal History of Mental Illness

21) People with Family History of Mental Illness

22) Anyone or any population concerned about ageing effects 34

… cannabis legalization is not likely to be in the best interests of public health.

Concluding Remarks

In 1854 Dr John Snow achieved lasting public health fame by taking the handle off the Broad Street pump and saving east London from its cholera epidemic, based upon the maps he drew of where the cholera cases were occurring – in the local vicinity of the Broad Street pump.

Looking across the broad spectrum of the above evidence one notices a trulyremarkable concordance of the evidence between:

1) Preclinical studies in

i) Rabbits and

ii) Hamsters

2) Cellular and biological mechanisms, particularly relating to:

i) Brain development

ii) Heart development

iii) Blood vessel development

iv) Genetic development

v) Abnormalities of chromosomal segregation

i. Downs syndrome

ii. Turners syndrome

iii. Trisomy 18

iv. Trisomy 13

vi) Cell division / mitotic poison / micronucleus formation

vii) Epigenetic change

viii) Growth inhibition

3) 84Cross-sectional Epidemiological studies, especially from:

i) Canada 77,85

ii) USA 86,87

iii) Northern New South Wales 65,88 4) Longitudinal studies from 58:

i) Ottawa 59-63

ii) Pittsburgh

iii) Netherlands

Our studies of congenital defects in USA have also shown a close concordance of congenital anomaly rates for 23 defects with the cannabis use rate indexed for the rising cannabis concentration in USA, and mostly in the three major classes of brain defects, cardiovascular defects and chromosomal defects, just as found by previous investigators in Hawaii 52.

Of no other toxin to our knowledge can it be said that it interferes with brain growth and development to the point where the brain is permanently shrunken in size or does not form at all. The demonstration by CDC twice that the incidence of anencephaly (no brain) is doubled by cannabis 53,54 implies that anencephaly is the most severe end of the neurobehavioural teratogenicity of cannabis and forms one end of a continuum with all the other impairments which are implied by the above commentary.

(Actually when blighted ova, foetal resorptions and spontaneous abortion are included in the teratological profile anencephaly is not the most severe end of the teratological spectrum – that is foetal death). It is our view that with the recent advent of high dose potent forms of cannabis reaching the foetus through both maternal and paternal lines major and clinically significant neurobehavioural teratological presentations will become commonplace, and might well become all but universal in infants experiencing significant gestational exposure.

One can only wonder if the community has been prepared for such a holocaust and tsunami amongst its children?

It is the view of myself and my collaborators that these matters are significant and salient and should be achieving greater airplay in the public discussion proceeding around the world at this time on this subject.

Whilst cannabis legalization may line the pockets of the few it will clearly not be in the public interest in any sense; and indeed the public will be picking up the bill for this unpremeditated move for generations to come. Oddly – financial gain seems to be one of the primary drivers of the present transnational push. When the above described public health message gets out amongst ambitious legal fraternities, financial gain and the threat of major medico-legal settlements for congenital defects – will quickly become be the worst reason for cannabis legalization.

Indeed it can be argued that the legalization lobby is well aware of all of the above concerns – and their controlled media pretend debate does not allow such issues to air in the public forum. The awareness of these concerns is then the likely direct reason that cannabis requires its own legislation. As noted in the patient information leaflet for the recently approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol oil for paediatric fits) the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is well aware of the genotoxicity of cannabinoids.

The only possible conclusion therefore is that the public is deliberately being duped. To which our only defence will be to publicize the truth.

Source: Summary of Address to Sydney Parliament House, 09.07.2018 by Professor Dr. Stuart Reece, Clinical Associate Professor, UWA Medical School. University of Western Australia

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71 Draper, E. S. et al. Recreational drug use: a major risk factor for gastroschisis? Am J Epidemiol 167, 485-491, doi:10.1093/aje/kwm335 (2008).

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76 Root, E. D., Meyer, R. E. & Emch, M. E. Evidence of localized clustering of gastroschisis births in North Carolina, 1999-2004. Social science & medicine (1982) 68, 1361-1367, doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.01.034 (2009).

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Group formally submits Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to obtain sources that contributed to the creation of the New York State report released by the Department of Health endorsing legalization

(New York, New York) – Today, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), in coordination with its award-winning science advisory board and its New York State Affiliate, SAM-NY, released a comprehensive rebuttal to the report released by the New York Department of Health recommending the legalization of marijuana for recreational sales. SAM’s analysis – reviewed by top scientists from Harvard to Johns Hopkins – found several major flaws in the NYS-issued report and calls into question its bases and conclusions. 

Click here to read the comprehensive, peer-reviewed rebuttal

“Why weren’t addiction medicine doctors or the state’s medical association consulted with on this so-called scientific report?” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, founder and president of SAM, and a former Obama administration advisor. “The NYS report reads more like a marijuana industry lobbyist’s manifesto than a research-based document. This manifesto is so one-sided that SAM today formally submitted a FOIL request asking the state to disclose all its sources and any ties to the Big Marijuana industry.”

The report claims that marijuana reduces pain and opioid dependence. In reality, multiple studies have found that marijuana is not an effective treatment for chronic pain. Actually, use of the drug has in some cases made the pain worse.

Additionally, the report claims that marijuana legalization is not increasing crime around marijuana facilities. To the contrary, studies have shown that increased gang violence and other indicators of crime are on the rise in communities near dispensaries.

The report also glosses over major public health and safety data showing increased use among some teens in Colorado, increased risk of DUI in legalized states, increased minority arrests for marijuana in Colorado, and other key data.

Earlier this year, SAM’s advisory board released a comprehensive report analyzing early data from Colorado and several other legalized states.

Source: Email from SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) <reply@learnaboutsam.org>   August 2018

As the legalization of marijuana continues to spread among various states within the U.S., researchers, and physicians are trying to fully grasp the potential health hazards of the recreational use of the drug. Since marijuana can be consumed through a variety of methods—e.g., eating, smoking, or vaporizing—it is important to understand if and how drug delivery methods affect users. With that in mind, a recent study from investigators at Portland State University found benzene and other potentially cancer-causing chemicals in the vapor produced by butane hash oil, a cannabis extract.

Findings from the new study—published recently in ACS Omega in an article entitled “Toxicant Formation in Dabbing: The Terpene Story”—raises health concerns about dabbing, or vaporizing hash oil—a practice that is growing in popularity, especially in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana. Dabbing is already controversial. The practice consists of placing a small amount of cannabis extract (a dab) on a heated surface and inhaling the resulting vapor. The practice has raised concerns because it produces extremely elevated levels of cannabinoids—the active ingredients in marijuana.

“Given the widespread legalization of marijuana in the U.S., it is imperative to study the full toxicology of its consumption to guide future policy,” noted senior study author Robert Strongin, Ph.D., professor of organic chemistry at Portland State University. “The results of these studies clearly indicate that dabbing, while considered a form of vaporization, may, in fact, deliver significant amounts of toxins.”

Dr. Strongin and his colleagues analyzed the chemical profile of terpenes—the fragrant oils in marijuana and other plants—by vaporizing them in much the same way as a user would vaporize hash oil.

“The practice of ‘dabbing’ with butane hash oil has emerged with great popularity in states that have legalized cannabis,” the authors wrote. “Despite their growing popularity, the degradation product profiles of these new products have not been extensively investigated.”

The authors continued, stating that the current study focused on the “chemistry of myrcene and other common terpenes found in cannabis extracts. Methacrolein, benzene, and several other products of concern to human health were formed under the conditions that simulated real-world dabbing. The terpene degradation products observed are consistent with those reported in the atmospheric chemistry literature.”

Many of the terpenes that the researchers discovered in the vaporized hash oil are also used in e-cigarette liquids. Moreover, previous experiments by Dr. Strongin and his colleagues found similar toxic chemicals in e-cigarette vapor when the devices were used at high-temperature settings. The dabbing experiments in the current study produced benzene—a known carcinogen—at levels many times higher than the ambient air, the researchers noted. It also produced high levels of methacrolein, a chemical similar to acrolein, another carcinogen.

“The results of these studies clearly indicate that dabbing, although considered a form of vaporization, may, in fact, deliver significant amounts of toxic degradation products,” the authors concluded. “The difficulty users find in controlling the nail temperature put[s] users at risk of exposing themselves to not only methacrolein but also benzene. Additionally, the heavy focus on terpenes as additives seen as of late in the cannabis industry is of great concern due to the oxidative liability of these compounds when heated. This research also has significant implications for flavored e-cigarette products due to the extensive use of terpenes as flavorings.”

Source: https://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/cancer-causing-compounds-found-in-cannabis-oil/81254980  September 2017

Cannabis’ effects on diabetes unclear – by Dr. Elizabeth Ko & Dr. Eve Glazier – Ask the Doctors  column, August 4, 2018 –  Ask the Doctors, c/0 Media Relations, UCLA Health, 924 Westwood Blvd. Suite 350, Los Angeles, CA  90095

Question:  I have Type 1 diabetes and have used marijuana for years to control my blood sugar.  I’ve seen my blood sugar drop 100 points in five minutes with marijuana, faster than my Humalog insulin can manage.  Why is that?  Will medical marijuana ever go mainstream?

Answer:  Marijuana, or cannabis, contains more than 100 active chemical compounds.  Known as cannabinoids, each behaves differently in the body.  As the number of states that allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes continues to grow, so does the body of evidence that many of the compounds found within the plant have therapeutic potential.

     The challenge to investigate medical claims regarding cannabis is that it remains illegal at the federal level.  Research is subject to numerous restrictions.  Even so, various studies and clinical trials are moving forward.

     We found that you’re not alone in noticing its effect on blood sugar.  However, much of what we found is anecdotal evidence, which lacks scientific rigor.  The study of cannabis and its potential effects on diabetes is in the early stages, which much of the work done in mice and on donated tissue samples.

     Until researchers are able to work extensively with human populations, the how and why of the effects of cannabis on the complex physiologic processes encompassed by diabetes will remain educated guesses.

     Preliminary research suggests that certain cannabinoids may help with glucose control.  Some studies have found that cannabis can have a positive effect on insulin resistance.  A study published in 2016 in a journal of the American Diabetes Association found that THCV, one of the cannabinoids that are not psychoactive, improved glycemic control in some individuals with Type 2 diabetes.  Another study that same year drew a link between cannabidiol, a compound in cannabis, and a decrease in inflammation of the pancreas.  In an observational study using data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found the incidence of diabetes among regular cannabis users to be measurably lower than that of the population at large.

     The results of several other recent studies contradict a number of these pro-cannabis findings.  So, basically, the jury is still out.

     Although cannabis shows promise in the area of diabetes, science has yet to catch up with the claims being made.  In the research that has been done, the reason for the effects of cannabis is not yet fully understood.  Interest in the subject is strong, though, and continues to grow.

From “Ask the Doctors” – typed-copied from printed Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.), August 4, 2018 (www.GoErie.com

In 2000, Colorado voters decriminalized marijuana for medical use; however, because marijuana use remained illegal under federal law, the number of users was low. In 2009, President Obama instructed federal officials not to enforce marijuana laws that were in conflict with state laws, and the number of registered medical marijuana users in Colorado increased to 60,000 in 2008 compared with 2,000 in the prior 8 years. In 2012, Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use. As the number of people using marijuana has increased, there has been a parallel increase in marijuana-related emergency department (ED) visits and poison center calls. We expect that as other states liberalize marijuana laws, they will also experience an increase in marijuana-related ED visits. This article reviews several common marijuana-related ED cases that we have encountered in our practice.

 

Total (blue line) and pediatric (red line) marijuana exposure calls received by the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center from 2011 through 2015

Source: http://www.ajhp.org/content/early/2017/09/22/ajhp160715  October 2017

More Than Three Quarters of African-American and Latino Respondents Did Not Support Marijuana Legalization

Today, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and its New York Affiliate, SAM-NY, released the results of a new Emerson College poll finding that the majority of New Yorkers do not support the legalization of marijuana. A plurality support either decriminalization or the current policy. 

The poll, conducted by Emerson College — the same college that recently conducted a poll for pro-marijuana groups Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) — found that 56% of respondents favored either keeping the current policy in New York, repealing decriminalization, were unsure, or were in favor or reinstating full criminalization. 

A previous New York poll commissioned by pro-marijuana legalization groups pushed the false dichotomy of there only being two options in marijuana policy — full legalization or full prohibition. When respondents are informed of current marijuana laws (legal for medical use and decriminalized) support for legalization drops 27% from those polls. 

The poll also found that 76% of New Yorkers did not support marijuana advertising, 73% did not support public use of marijuana, 58% did not support marijuana stores in their neighborhoods, and half of New Yorkers were against marijuana candies, gummies, cookies, and other edibles.  

Finally, the poll found that minority communities overwhelmingly opposed the full legalization of marijuana. Only 22% and 24% of Latinos and African Americans, respectively, supported legalization. 

“New Yorkers do not support pot legalization. This poll shows us that elected officials need to slow down,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, founder and president of SAM Action. “This poll shows similar results to our poll of New York voters in December–legalization is far from a slam dunk. One of the crucial takeaways from this is that minority communities are firmly opposed to legalization. And they should be — pot arrests for African American and Latino youth have gone up since legalization in Colorado. Pot Shops are always predominately in lower income neighborhoods.” 

###

About SAM New York 

SAM-NY, a project of SAM Action, is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens of New York dedicated to responsible marijuana policy that does not include the legalization of addictive substances. Learn more and join us at www.sam-ny.org.

Source: Email from SAM Action <reply@learnaboutsam.org>, June 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: nfia@nationalfamilies.org

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

May 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: info@learnaboutsam.org   20th August 2018

www.learnaboutsam.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Source:

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional costs include:

* Additional workplace injuries among part-time employees

* Increases in alcohol use and abuse

* Increases in tobacco use

* More opioid abuse

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

* Greater marijuana use among underage students

* Property and other economic damage from marijuana extraction lab explosions

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

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

– money for drugged driving awareness campaigns;

– drug prevention programs; and

– pesticide control and other agricultural oversight mechanisms

* Long-term health impacts of marijuana use

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

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

April 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read this report here.

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

Report by National Families in Action Rips the Veil Off the Medical Marijuana Industry
Research Traces the Money Trail and Reveals the Motivation Behind Marijuana as Medicine

Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and Why It Matters documents state-by-state financial data, exposing the groups and the amount of money used either to fund or oppose ballot initiatives legalizing medical or recreational marijuana in 16 U.S. states.

• NFIA report reveals three billionaires — George Soros, Peter Lewis and John Sperling — who contributed 80 percent of the money to medicalize marijuana through state ballot initiatives during a 13-year period, with the strategy to use medical marijuana as a runway to legalized recreational pot.
• Report shows how billionaires and marijuana legalizers manipulated the ballot initiative process, outspent the people who opposed marijuana and convinced voters that marijuana is medicine, even while most of the scientific and medical communities say marijuana is not medicine and should not be legal.

• Children in Colorado treated with unregulated cannabis oil have had severe dystonic reactions, other movement disorders, developmental regression, intractable vomiting and worsening seizures.

• A medical marijuana industry has emerged to join the billionaires in financing initiatives to legalize recreational pot.

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

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

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

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

Unravelling the Legalization Strategy: Behind the Curtain

In 1992, financier George Soros contributed an estimated $15 million to several groups he advised to stop advocating for outright legalization and start working toward what he called more winnable issues such as medical marijuana. At a press conference in 1993, Richard Cowen, then-director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said, “The key to it [full legalization] is medical access. Because, once you have hundreds of thousands of people using marijuana medically, under medical supervision, the whole scam is going to be blown. The consensus here is that medical marijuana is our strongest suit. It is our point of leverage which will move us toward the legalization of marijuana for personal use.”

Between 1996 and 2009, Soros, Lewis and Sperling contributed 80 percent of the money to medicalize marijuana through state ballot initiatives. Their financial contributions, exceeding $15.7 million (of the $19.5 million total funding), enabled their groups to lie to voters in advertising campaigns, cover up marijuana’s harmful effects, and portray pot as medicine — leading people to believe that the drug is safe and should be legal for any use.
Today, polls show how successful the billionaires and their money have been. In 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, voters and, later, legislators have shown they believe marijuana is medicine, even though most of the scientific and medical communities say marijuana is not medicine and should not be legal. While the most recent report, issued by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS), finds that marijuana may alleviate certain kinds of pain, it also finds there is no rigorous, medically acceptable documentation that marijuana is effective in treating any other illness. At the same time, science offers irrefutable evidence that marijuana is addictive, harmful and can hinder brain development in adolescents. At the distribution level, there are no controls on the people who sell to consumers. Budtenders (marijuana bartenders) have no medical or pharmaceutical training or qualifications.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Americans learned the hard way about the tragic effects of tobacco and the deceptive practices of the tobacco industry. Making another addictive drug legal unleashes a commercial business that is unable to resist the opportunity to make billions of dollars on the back of human suffering, unattained life goals, disease, and death,” said Ms. Rusche. “If people genuinely understood that marijuana can cause cognitive, safety and mental health problems, is addictive, and that addiction rates may be three times higher than reported, neither voters nor legislators would legalize pot.”
The paper and the supporting data are available at www.nationalfamilies.org.
About National Families in Action

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

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

Submitted by Livia Edegger 

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

Links:

Source:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source:

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

July 2017 Revised January 2018

Injury Prevention Centre: Who we are

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

Injury in Alberta

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

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

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

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

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

* Preventing Cannabis-Impaired Driving

* Preventing Poisoning of Children by Cannabis

* Preventing Burns due to Combustible Solvent Hash Oil Extraction

* Preventing Other Injuries due to Cannabis Impairment

* Developing Surveillance to Identify Trends in Cannabis-Related injury

* Implementing a Comprehensive Public Education Plan

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

Preventing Cannabis-Impaired Driving

Impose administrative sanctions at a lower limit than Criminal Code impairment

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

Increase sanctions for co-use of alcohol and cannabis

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

Support Research to Improve Enforcement Tools

Apply sufficient resources to training and enforcement

Conduct public education regarding cannabis-impaired driving .

Preventing Poisoning of Children by Cannabis

Uphold federal legislation regarding packaging

Support public education on cannabis poisoning’

Preventing Burns due to Combustible Solvent Hash Oil Extraction

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

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

Preventing Other Injuries due to Cannabis-Impairment

Inform the public about the risks of other activities when impaired

Develop Surveillance to Identify Trends in Cannabis-Related injury

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legal marijuana?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psychiatrists have also linked cannabis use to schizophrenia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source:

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

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

So who are these anti-marijuana legalization crusaders?

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

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

Here is a list of the most significant:

  1. Calvina Fay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Kevin Sabet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Bill Bennett

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

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

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

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

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

“Medical science now proves it,” he added.

  1. Patrick Kennedy

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

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

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

  1. Joseph Califano

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Stuart Gitlow

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

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

About ASAM’s attitudes toward marijuana, he said:

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

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

Why did he get involved in this?

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

  1. David Murray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. John Walters

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

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

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