LIFEalerts – Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

USA – South Dakota voters said yes to legalizing marijuana. But a judge ruled it’s unconstitutional.

In November last year, 54% of South Dakota voters took to the polls in favour of legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Judge Christina Klinger however, ruled against it and rejected the change arguing that violates the state Constitution on two grounds: It violates the single subject rule, meaning it encompassed more than one topic, and it conflicts with language in the Constitution that provides for its modification. Revisions to the constitution require a convention of state delegates before being placed on the ballot and cannot be done through the petition process, like initiated measures and amendments. “The failure to submit Amendment A through the proper constitutional process voids the amendment and it has no effect,” Klinger said.

Besides South Dakota, three other states — Arizona, New Jersey and Montana — voted in November to legalize recreational marijuana, while Mississippi legalized medical uses of the drug. In December, the House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, though it is unclear how the bill might fare in a split Senate. Oregon went a step further and decriminalized possession of hard drugs. More, Oregon.

LIFEalerts – Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

USA – New Study: legalized marijuana states show youth usage increases significantly

The most authoritative study on drug use conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) found significant increases in youth marijuana use in several recently legalized marijuana states. At the same time, mental illness indicators worsened across the country while alcohol, cocaine, and tobacco use dropped, especially among young people. The moment states legalized marijuana, consumption climbed even higher compared to when it was illegal. In non-legal states marijuana use dropped. This proves that we have not lost the war on drugs as marijuana/cannabis proponents suggest, and it also tells us that the proponents did not base their arguments/reasons for legalising on sound science. Legalized marijuana is devastating the youth in these states while marijuana proponents profit. More

South Africa – plans to reduce crime and violence with stricter rules on alcohol and substance abuse

President Cyril Ramaphosa plans to combat high rates of crime and violence by reviewing regulations to reduce alcohol and substance abuse which he said are major contributions to the perpetration of violence. The president said that the temporary restrictions placed on the availability of alcohol under the state of disaster regulations have demonstrated the extent to which abuse of alcohol fuels violence, trauma and reckless behaviour and places a burden on our health system and emergency services. This was named as the ANC government’s key priority in 2021 and will achieve this by increasing the drinking age to 21 years, introducing 100-metre radius limitation of trade around educational institutions, banning any alcohol sales and advertising on social and small media; and introducing new liability clause for alcohol-sellers. Government plans to totally prohibit use and consumption of alcohol by all motor vehicle operators on South African public roads. The National Road Traffic Act currently enables those who have consumed alcohol to get behind the wheel provided they are under the blood alcohol limit; the new plan is to remove any trace of alcohol in the blood or on the breath. More

South Africa – SA teens are succumbing to cannabis addiction

Has the government’s decision to legalize cannabis encouraged it’s use? One mother writes to Parent24 with a broken heart over her 15 year-old who smokes cannabis. She says that her son is an intelligent boy but now his school work is going down. The South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use says this is unfortunately not uncommon, and that 36% of patients admitted to rehab centres for substance abuse were aged 10 and 19. A recent most authoritative study on drug use conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration found significant increases in youth marijuana use in several states that have recently legalized marijuana/cannabis. The moment states legalized marijuana, consumption climbed even higher when compared to when it was illegal. This could indicate what SA can expect since it legalized marijuana/cannabis. ‘He has gone back to smoking dagga again’: How to handle teen drug addiction, NEW HHS DATA SHOWS SIGNIFICANT YOUTH DRUG USE INCREASES IN LEGALIZED STATES.

South Africa – Study: great proportion of violent patients have history of substance abuse

Research conducted by three psychiatry experts from Weskoppies and the University of Pretoria found that a great proportion of violent state patients admitted to Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital, Gauteng, have a history of substance abuse. These crimes included murder, attempted murder and rape. These offenders were sent to the facility because courts declared them unfit to stand trial. The psychiatry experts studied the clinical files of 140 patients admitted to the hospital’s forensic unit from 2005 to 2014. It found that 55% of the 140 patients had a history of substance use. “The consistent finding of high rates of individuals with a history of previous psychiatric treatment and substance use highlights this as an important area of future research, where the focus could be on possible interventions to minimise violent behaviour in this population,” the study read. The findings were published by the South African Journal of Psychiatry in its last issue for 2020. More (link to study will follow soon)

LIFEalerts – Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

South Africa – Cannabis bill angers cannabis consumers who intend on doing things illegally

South Africa’s draft Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill has made some Rastafarian cannabis consumers quite upset. If the bill is passed there will be a maximum jail term of 15 years for dealing in cannabis, smoking in public earns two years of jail time, and smoking around children would be punishable by four years in jail. At home you may grow up to four flowering plants if you live alone, and eight plants if there are two or more adults. You may possess 600g of dried cannabis if you live alone or 1.2kg if there are two or more adults in your home. The Rasta Business Foundation members marched to Durban City Hall in protest complaining that the government gives police too much leeway to enter people’s properties, and also criticised the amount legal to possess. The motive of groups that advocate for cannabis becomes clear that it’s not really about health and well-being but that dealing was also their intention and police who would ensure legal activities is a problem for them. Why else complain unless you plan to do illegal trade. More

USA – Benadryl challenge sends many teens worldwide to the emergency room

The ‘Benadryl’ challenge, which encourages users to overdose on the drug to achieve a hallucinatory state, first did the rounds on Tiktok back in May, when three teenagers were hospitalized in Texas. One of the three a 15-year old in Oklahama City died. In small quantities the drug heals fever and cold symptoms, larger doses can cause hallucination, heart trouble, seizures, coma and death. After this, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning of the dangers with high doses and that parents should lock up medicine beyond the reach of children. Other cases of teens overdosing on Benadryl and heading for the emergency room are popping up nationwide in the United States, Europe, Australia and certain Asian countries. Article, Article 2, Video

USA – Another TikTok Trend endangers teens: Nutmeg challenge

A toxicologist explains what happened to a 19-year-old’s brain who made TikTok videos of himself after he drank an entire bottle of nutmeg spice in a protein shake. GG’s immense thirst made him drink 14 litres of water over a few hours which did not quench his thirst nor could he urinate. Like everything that’s herbal and natural, nutmeg has hundreds of chemicals in it. Natural things are all made of chemicals. GG had nutmeg poisoning and hyponatremia (Low sodium presence in blood) and caused his organs, heart and brain to swell with water. Fortunately, no herniation occurred in his brain and the 3% sodium infusion was enough to solve the hyponatremia and draw the water out of his brain. Upon regaining consciousness, he realized that no amount of views on TikTok made that terrible experience worth it. More

LIFEalerts – Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

USA – Medical Reports contradicts popular view on safety of smoking marijuana

Regular consumers of recreational marijuana or those about to become one, would be wise if they first considered medical evidence which contradicts the view that smoking marijuana is safe. Especially people with underlying cardiovascular conditions. Compared with tobacco, marijuana smoking causes a fivefold greater impairment of the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity. In a review of medical evidence, published in January in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers described a broad range of risks to the heart and blood vessels associated with the use of marijuana. Edible forms of marijuana have also been implicated as a possible cause of a heart attack, especially when high doses of the active ingredient THC are consumed.

Dr. Muthiah Vaduganathan, cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, was especially concerned about the increasing number of heart attacks among marijuana users younger than 50. In a registry of cases created by his colleagues, in young patients suffering a first heart attack, “marijuana smoking was identified as one factor that was more common among them.” A research team of the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans, wrote in the journal Missouri Medicine, citing case reports of inflammation and clots in the arteries of young adults who smoke marijuana. Another damaging effect that has been linked to marijuana is disruption of the heart’s electrical system, causing abnormal heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation that can result in a stroke. In one survey of marijuana smokers, the risk of stroke was increased more than threefold. These various findings suggest that a person need not have underlying coronary artery disease to experience cardiovascular dysfunction resulting from the use of marijuana. The researchers found that in an analysis of 36 studies among people who suffered heart attacks, the top three triggers were use of cocaine, eating a heavy meal and smoking marijuana. Read more

USA – Did legalizing cannabis prove to be a slippery slope to legalizing harder drugs?

Oregon state which has some of America’s highest rates of substance use and mental health problems has now has become the first US state to decriminalise possession of hard drugs, following a public referendum. People with small quantities of drugs including cocaine or heroin will escape prosecution, and may not even be fined. A statement signed by over two-thirds of Oregon’s District Attorneys said: “Decriminalization will lead to an increase in acceptability of dangerous drugs, normalizing hazardous experimentation for our youth and increasing accessibility, surging supply and lowering costs of dangerous street drugs.” The Oregon District Attorney’s Association warned that “this measure will tie the hands of law enforcement and prosecutors everywhere and lead to disastrous results for our communities”. more

Germany – Rejects recreational marijuana

A day after New Zealand voters rejected legalization of recreational marijuana, Germany’s Parliament does too. The German federal parliament soundly rejected a bill to legalize a “strictly controlled” adult-use cannabis market. The rejection came despite the fact that a majority of the members of the Bundestang belong to a political party that favors some type of reform. Read more here, and here

LIFEalerts – Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

UK – Government urged to sell cocaine and ecstasy in pharmacies

A UK drugs liberalisation campaign group called Transform has recommended that Cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines should be “nationalised” and sold legally in government-run pharmacies to undermine global drug-related crime. In a book the group sets out practical ways to sell the drugs in pharmacies: no over 18’s, health and risk warning labels on the packaging, and specially trained chemists. Sounds like the same failed recommendations proposed by marijuana activists, because none of what they said would happen actually undermined global drug-related crime – it only made the problem worse and marijuana usage among teens increased in states that legalised it compared to states that did not. Fortunately, Home Office spokesperson said that the government remained opposed to legalising cannabis “because it is detrimental to health and mental health”. Read more

South Africa – Marijuana use before surgery can worsen pain during recovery

According to a small recent study, smoking or ingesting it in the hope of managing your pain after surgery might end up doing quite the opposite. Early research suggests that Cannabis is not effective for “, acute pain such as for surgery of a broken leg,” said lead author Dr Ian Holmen, an anaesthesiology resident at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, in a statement published by the American Society of Anaesthesiologists (ASA). Apart from an increase in acute pain, people who used marijuana before surgery also ended up requiring more anaesthesia during surgery, and used more painkillers during recovery. 

For their study, the research team studied the charts of 118 patients who had undergone surgery at the University of Colorado Hospital to repair a fractured tibia. They found that 30 (25.4%) patients had reported using cannabis prior to surgery. Comparing the two groups they found cannabis users used 58% more painkillers per day while in the hospital compared to non-users. Users also required an additional 12.4 millilitres of anaesthesia during surgery than those who did not use marijuana. The type and method of cannabis use, as well as how frequently it was used, were not known. Read more

LIFEalerts – Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

UK – Government urged to sell cocaine and ecstasy in pharmacies

A UK drugs liberalisation campaign group called Transform has recommended that Cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines should be “nationalised” and sold legally in government-run pharmacies to undermine global drug-related crime. In a book the group sets out practical ways to sell the drugs in pharmacies: no over 18’s, health and risk warning labels on the packaging, and specially trained chemists. Sounds like the same failed recommendations proposed by marijuana activists, because none of what they said would happen actually undermined global drug-related crime – it only made the problem worse and marijuana usage among teens increased in states that legalised it compared to states that did not. Fortunately, Home Office spokesperson said that the government remained opposed to legalising cannabis “because it is detrimental to health and mental health”. Read more

South Africa – Marijuana use before surgery can worsen pain during recovery

According to a small recent study, smoking or ingesting it in the hope of managing your pain after surgery might end up doing quite the opposite. Early research suggests that Cannabis is not effective for “, acute pain such as for surgery of a broken leg,” said lead author Dr Ian Holmen, an anaesthesiology resident at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, in a statement published by the American Society of Anaesthesiologists (ASA). Apart from an increase in acute pain, people who used marijuana before surgery also ended up requiring more anaesthesia during surgery, and used more painkillers during recovery. 

For their study, the research team studied the charts of 118 patients who had undergone surgery at the University of Colorado Hospital to repair a fractured tibia. They found that 30 (25.4%) patients had reported using cannabis prior to surgery. Comparing the two groups they found cannabis users used 58% more painkillers per day while in the hospital compared to non-users. Users also required an additional 12.4 millilitres of anaesthesia during surgery than those who did not use marijuana. The type and method of cannabis use, as well as how frequently it was used, were not known. Read more

LifeAlerts – Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

USA – States that legalized marijuana experience skyrocketing workforce positive rates

According to national data released by Quest Diagnostics, rates of marijuana positive testing in the workforce have sharply risen both over the last year (2018-2019), and since legalization was implemented. “Marijuana continues to be an enduring presence in the U.S. workforce. Changing attitudes toward its use could pose heightened risks especially in safety-sensitive positions and those states exploring legalization,” said Barry Sample, PhD, senior director, science and technology for Quest Diagnostics in a press release. Marijuana continues to top the list of the most commonly detected illicit substances across all workforce categories. Read more

USA – Association between Marijuana and Heart Disease risks

More than 2 million people with heart disease currently use marijuana or have used it in the past, either recreationally or “medical” reasons, according to estimates published in a research review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. That’s alarming for researchers, who may have found an association between using cannabis and cardiovascular risks. “Our review suggests that smoking marijuana carries many of the same cardiovascular health hazards as smoking tobacco” lead author Muthiah Vaduganathan, M.D., a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart and Vascular Center in Boston said. “While the level of evidence is modest, there is enough data for us to advise caution in using marijuana for our highest-risk patients, including those who present with a heart attack or new arrhythmia, or who have been hospitalized with heart failure. The review also cautions that marijuana can interfere with certain medications for cardiovascular problems. For example, if you’re taking lipid-lowering statins and using marijuana your statin levels can climb—that’s because both drugs are metabolized by the same liver enzymes in the body. And if you use marijuana while taking blood thinners, like warfarin, it’s a similar result: The levels of the blood thinners in your blood can increase. Read more

USA – Cannabis impairs driving skills long after the high is gone

A recent study published widely confirms what Doctors For Life International (DFL) has been cautioning for years: that cannabis influences your driving skills long after you have smoked or used the drug. The study revealed that whether it is running red lights, driving at high speeds, crossing center lines into the opposite lanes, getting into accidents or even hitting pedestrians, these were some of the dangerous driving behaviors of regular, heavy users of recreational cannabis who began using before the age of 16. But more concerning is that users drove this badly even when they were no longer high. The study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, asked chronic, heavy marijuana users to drive in a customized driving simulator. “Heavy use was defined by daily or near daily use, a minimum of four or five times a week, with a lifetime exposure of 1,500 times,” said lead author Staci Gruber, director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program at McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. 

Despite having little THC in their system, heavy users consistently performed worse on driving tasks than non-users, making critical, dangerous mistakes. Although both Gruber and Dahlgren claim it’s too early to tell how significant these ‘results’ may be, data in states where cannabis has been legalised reveal the shocking reality. Both Colorado and Washington for example, experienced a significant increase in fatal motor vehicle accidents since cannabis has been legalised recreationally. Gruber does however admit that is worrisome that weed appears to be replacing cigarettes in recent USA national surveys. “Daily cigarette use among 12th graders was 2.4% and marijuana use was 6.4%,” she said. Read more

France – Man hallucinates and kills woman while high on marijuana

A French appeals court ruled that a suspect will not stand trial for killing a female doctor while being high on marijuana. Kobili Traore, a Malian immigrant to France, allegedly beat the doctor for an hour while calling her a “demon” and shouting about “Allah.” This is nothing new, the impact of high potency marijuana and frequent use are well documented. A 6-year study done in 2015 by British Psychiatrists found that daily users of high potency marijuana are five times more likely to suffer psychosis than those who never touch it. The finding suggests that about 60,000 people in Britain are currently living with conditions involving hallucinations and paranoid episodes brought on by the abuse of high-potency cannabis. Read more at National Review, The Telegraph

New Study: Use of High Potency Marijuana Increases Risk of Anxiety Disorders

Editor’s note: This is posted with permission from SAM

Today’s highly potent marijuana drastically increases the risk of mental health issues according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The study, conducted with 1,087 twenty-four-year olds who reported recent marijuana use, found that users of high potency marijuana were four times more likely to abuse the substance and twice as likely to develop anxiety disorders.  

“Studies such as this continue to prove what we have been saying for some time: today’s pot is light years away from the weed of Woodstock,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “As we have routinely pointed out, the science behind today’s pot is sorely lacking. As it catches up, we are certain to see more studies such as this.” 

In addition to increases in anxiety, the study also found that users of high potency marijuana were more likely to use the drug once a week, twice as likely to have used other substances in the past year, and more than three times as likely to be tobacco users.  

Marijuana commonly used in the 60’s, 70’s, and even 90’s barely registered above 4% THC content. Today, following the commercialization of the drug, average THC content has exploded some 500%. Average marijuana “buds” can feature up to 30% THC while marijuana concentrates can contain upwards of 99% THC.  

As the science struggles to catch up with the rising potency of today’s marijuana, we are only seeing the first signs that marijuana use has become much more harmful to the human brain. Last year, a groundbreaking study confirmed a link between the use of high potency marijuana and greater rates of psychosis at the population level. Daily users of high potency pot were more than 4x more likely to develop psychosis.  

“When it comes to tobacco, we didn’t see truly drastic harms until big corporations saw the potential for massive revenues and started altering tobacco to make it more addictive,” continued Dr. Sabet. “We are beginning to see the same take place with marijuana. A massive industry, ironically featuring billions in investment from Big Tobacco, is working to expand marijuana commercialization while also driving up THC content. Meanwhile, warnings from public health researchers and experts are ignored. We cannot allow this to continue.”

Association of High-Potency Cannabis Use With Mental Health and Substance Use in Adolescence

SORRY: POT SHOPS NOT ‘ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES’ — AND SMOKING BOOSTS CORONAVIRUS RISKS

Editors Note: This article first appeared in the New York Post

To contain the coronavirus, governments have scaled down society to its bare bones, allowing only essential services to operate. Hospitals. Grocery stores. Takeout restaurants and pharmacies. Things that literally mean life or death.

Does getting high count? Of course, it doesn’t.

Yet several governors have bowed to pressure from Big Weed and added pot shops to the short list. In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis initially restricted marijuana businesses to curbside or takeout-style service only. It took less than a week, however, before he caved to pot-industry lobbyists and reversed course, allowing full indoor sales to carry on.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker wasn’t so easy to bend, so last week, Big Weed filed a lawsuit against him, demanding he deem recreational-marijuana businesses “essential” and allow them to operate.

While the industry lawyers are fighting for pot rights, legal pot peddlers are celebrating massive increases in sales. One executive has even gone so far as to claim that marijuana is “recession-proof.” ­According to CNBC, one California-based chain is enjoying a 20 to 25 percent increase in sales.

Given this rise in sales, it’s worth pointing out that a host of public-health organizations have raised the alarm about the dangers of smoking marijuana, or anything for that matter, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we face down a disease that targets lungs and the immune system, promoting pot is dangerous.

Today’s marijuana isn’t Woodstock weed. Pot packaged and sold in shops can be up to 99 percent THC, the active ingredient. And those shops don’t primarily serve the sick and dying. Regardless, there are Food and Drug ­Administration-approved, marijuana-based medications still at pharmacies for those people who truly rely on these products to deal with end-of-life care or ­severe illness.

But giving pot shops a free pass at a time like this is the wrong thing to do.

First, smoking or vaping marijuana may make COVID-19 symptoms worse. According to the National Institutes of Health (corona czar Dr. Anthony Fauci’s mother organization), the World Health Organization and the American Lung Association, there are certain groups of people more susceptible to developing a severe case of COVID-19, and among them are those who use marijuana or tobacco.

In a recent blog post, Dr. Nora Volkow, director of one NIH institute, stated that “because it attacks the lungs . . . COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke ­tobacco or marijuana or who vape.” Marijuana smoke is ­extremely harmful to the lungs and has even been found to contain many of the same harmful components as tobacco smoke.

There is even evidence that it leads to the development of chronic bronchitis. Plus, research suggests that marijuana use ­increases the risk of infections such as pneumonia, a condition commonly seen in the most severe COVID-19 cases.

And you aren’t out of the woods if you take edibles, either. THC has been shown in studies to hurt the immune system and jeopardize overall health. In fact, THC can be an immunosuppressant, according to studies.

When a foreign viral body, such as the novel coronavirus, enters the body, your immune system shoots into overdrive and creates proteins that work to destroy the foreign invader. THC works against the body’s ability to create these proteins, giving the viral ­infection the upper hand. The ­result: more severe symptoms or a longer road to full recovery.

The marijuana lobby, concerned only with profits, has now even demanded government-bailout money.

What are they smoking?

Instead of bowing to the ­demands of Big Weed and their well-funded lobbyists, we should be doing everything in our power to mitigate the harms associated with this outbreak. In the interest of the health and safety of Americans, marijuana stores shouldn’t be deemed “essential” — they should be closed. And not a dime of taxpayer money should go to them while they’re reaping record profits.

Finally, we need to discourage dangerous pot use while people are shut in. Prior generations sacrificed far more in times of crisis. We can give up a little pot.

Dr. Kevin Sabet, a former drug-policy adviser to President Barack Obama, is president of Smart ­Approaches to Marijuana.

Legalized marijuana threatens public health and safety impact report reveals

Reviewed by researchers from: University of Colorado at Denver, Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital, University of Connecticut, Yale University University of Kansas, and more.

EXECUTIVE HIGHLIGHTS

Today’s highly potent marijuana represents a growing and significant threat to public health and safety, a threat that is amplified by a new marijuana industry intent on profiting from heavy use. State laws allowing marijuana sales and consumption have permitted the marijuana industry to flourish, and in turn, the marijuana industry has influenced both policies and policy-makers. While the consequences of these policies will not be known for decades, early indicators are troubling. This report, reviewed by prominent scientists and researchers, serves as an evidence-based guide to what we currently observe in various states. We attempted to highlight studies from all the “legal” marijuana states (i.e., states that have legalized the non-medical use of marijuana). Unfortunately, data does not exist for several “legal” states, and so this document synthesizes the latest research on marijuana impacts in states where information is available.

Full Impact Report link HERE