Marijuana Prohibition Proponents Now Have A Super-Pac

Proponents of cannabis legalization in the US will now face a new obstacle to their end goal as a result of a new political action committee (or PAC) formed with the goal of undermining their progress.

While PACs have existed in the American political system for decades,  Super-PACs are a more recent phenomenon. Established after the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court Decision, Super PACs allow individuals, labour unions, corporations and other politically motivated entities to donate limitless sums of cash to the entity for the purpose of forwarding the shared goal of the Super PAC and its funders. Note that Super PACs never donate directly to candidates, only engage in various political activities (such as, but not limited to, advertising) on behalf of the funders.

https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/filing-pac-reports/registering-super-pac/

Though I can think of many private and corporate entities that would benefit from the current status quo, one benefit of Super Pacs is that their donors are not hidden from view. So you will know if Big Alcohol or Big Pharma are chipping into this PACs coffers. However, the same can not be said for 501c entities.

Basically, Super PACs can accept any amount of cash from any entity, but all donors are transparent publicly. As for 501c’s, they can also accept an unlimited amount of cash from any entity, but they are not obligated to transparency in terms of their donors. They also can not exist primarily for the purpose of pursuing political interests. This is why I assume they are often paired with Super PACs (PACs do the political heavy lifting, 501Cs facilitate it by collecting the cash quietly).

But that is both off-topic and not even necessarily related. However, it’s a handy guidebook as to why many things are the way they are in the US political system. Ever wonder why seemingly every right-leaning no one in the American political sphere has a radio show or podcast?

Wonder no more.

Anyway, speaking of looking backwards, let’s get to the article ( written by Kyle Jaeger and published by Marijuana Moment). 

 

New Marijuana Prohibition Super PAC Targets Pro-Legalization GOP Congresswoman, Among Other Races

A top executive of the national prohibitionist group Smart Approaches To Marijuana (SAM) is launching a new political action committee (PAC), targeting pro-legalization candidates and supporting those who oppose the policy in key races. And one of the super PAC’s first targets is a freshman GOP congresswoman who is sponsoring her own bill to federally legalize and regulate cannabis.

Luke Niforatos, executive vice president of SAM and CEO of the newly established Protect Our Kids PAC, told Marijuana Moment that he decided to branch out to create the committee in order to “give more political power to families and children, who want elected representatives in office who will put their health and safety first over industries looking to profit from drug legalization.”

New Marijuana Prohibition Super PAC Targets Pro-Legalization GOP Congresswoman, Among Other Races


Of course, a Super PAC aimed at enabling underground drug dealers and suppliers by keeping their market share uncontested for even longer would be marketed with the message that is “Will someone PLEASE think of the children!”. The natural way to ensure that minors don’t get their hands on cannabis is OBVIOUSLY to ensure that the suppliers that don’t care about age keep on serving the market.

Because, duh.

Also, Smart Approaches to Marijuana reminds me of an organization I came across in the past. Headed by Kevin Sebat, the man on a crusade against cannabis legalization now despite seemingly overlooking the American opioid crisis when he was in an appointed white house position to make a difference to the situation. Could it be?

Leadership

The following individuals hold leadership positions with Smart Approaches to Marijuana:[16]

  • Kevin A. Sabet, President and CEO
  • Luke Niforatos, Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor
  • Abu Edwards, Director of State Affairs
  • Dana Stevens, Director of Local Affairs
  • Garth Van Meter, “Vice President of Government Affairs
  • Brendan Fairfield, “Director of Business Development

https://ballotpedia.org/Smart_Approaches_to_Marijuana

 

I knew I recognized the distinctly familiar stench of this particular brand of stupid. And also from the same source, check out this unexpectedly relevant piece of information.

 

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization describes its mission as “promot[ing] health-first, smart policies and attitudes that decrease marijuana use and its consequences.” The group opposes non-medical marijuana legalization efforts, including state-level ballot initiatives that would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana at the state level.[1]


Remember what we learned about Super PACs VS 501c’s?  Looks like the SAM leadership was sick of the drawbacks of sick of drawbacks of the 501c(3) as well.

 

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) is among the PAC’s first targets. It plans to put tens of thousands of dollars behind a campaign to specifically unseat the congresswoman, who made headlines after introducing a GOP-led bill to end cannabis prohibition late last year.

Asked why the PAC is starting by zeroing in on Mace, rather than other more longstanding pro-legalization lawmakers up for reelection, Niforatos said that the congresswoman “has become the face of marijuana legalization for the Republican party,” and accused her of being “a lackey for Altria Phillip Morris, the largest tobacco company in America which is bankrolling marijuana legalization.”

“Her constituents do not support commercializing marijuana, yet an inordinate amount of her time is spent stumping for the policy,” he claimed. “Legalization of marijuana has hurt kids, families, and caused large health harms in states that have passed such policies. It’s time to hold her accountable.”


The first question that occurs to me is where on earth is SAM (or rather, Protect Our Kids) getting tens of thousands of dollars in order to fling all of this mud at a congresswoman?

It’s possible that individual donors could be responsible. But I seriously question that given the public support for legal cannabis. However, this is just an assumption.

We can, however, look into the claim of this congresswoman being a quote lackey for Altria Philip Morris. Did she accept donations from the company?

According to the following link,  not that I can see. Though it’s possible that it was hidden through a 501c/Super PAC combination, I can’t see any cannabis-related donors.

https://www.opensecrets.org/races/contributors?cycle=2020&id=SC01&spec=N

Since this is the case, I think it’s time for Luke Niforatos of SAM to put up or shut up. Where is your evidence?

Evidence that SAM isn’t also bought off by corporate financiers would also be nice, but I won’t play that game. That would make me no better than SAM.

 

Mace countered the attack, telling Marijuana Moment that polling she has conducted of her constituents shows that “two out of every three Republican Primary voters in our district agree that states should have the right to decide their own cannabis laws, and that’s exactly what the States Reform Act (SRA) does.”

“It protects the rights of states to decide for themselves,” the congresswoman said. “It’s the basic premise of federalism, also a conservative principle.”


While I don’t think that cannabis law should be a states rights issue given all that is at stake (the livelihood and reputation of literally millions of people), that is not the topic at hand. The prohibitionists at SAM claim that her constituents are not interested, she counters with the reality of the situation. So the natural next step is . . . Super PAC funded political propaganda.

Social media ads attacking Mace over the cannabis issue are already rolling out. Like this one, leaning into concerns about marijuana products that some worry would appeal to children:

And this one playing into fears about increased traffic fatalities following legalization, even though data is mixed on the association.

Kevin Sabet is like Cole from The Sixth Sense. He sees dead people everywhere!

Well, except for all of these that overdosed on opioids on his watch as that crisis unfolded unabated throughout the 90s and into the 2000s. 

 

In February, Mace’s Republican primary challenger Katie Arrington criticized the incumbent’s focus on marijuana legalization in a campaign ad, saying, “Is Nancy Mace high?”

Separately, Mace and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) filed a resolution this month imploring President Joe Biden to wield his influence to get the United Nations to end the international ban on marijuana by removing the plant from the list of controlled substances in a global drug treaty.

In any case, Mace won’t be the new PAC’s only target. With what Niforatos said is six-figures of funding that the committee will soon be reporting to the FEC, they will be tackling “6-12 races this cycle, focusing on House races as well as state-level races.”

 

Lovely. I can’t wait to see the other dog shit these assholes produce.

 

That includes launching ads in “some key races in the next few weeks” and supporting Colorado House candidate Yardira Caraveo’s primary race because she sponsored legislation to “overhaul” the state’s cannabis program last year. It will also back “one other Colorado Republican in a close race,” he said.

“The slate we are endorsing (which will grow) is comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans, and this bi-partisan nature will continue. We will support and attack the same numbers of both parties,” Niforatos said. “We believe good drug policy that protects families and kids is bipartisan, and it should stay that way.”


I can’t fault them for holding everyone accountable. After all, keeping street-level gangs and dealers in the business of furnishing teens and children with cannabis products is a bi-partisan issue.

 

Another candidate that the PAC will be backing is Washington State Rep. Lauren Davis (D), which might seem like an unusual pick for an anti-legalization committee since the lawmaker last year sponsored a bill to decriminalize low-level possession of all drugs.

Niforatos said that Davis is “a friend of ours, and she is a courageous lawmaker who has worked in the recovery field and has bravely taken on the marijuana industry in Washington State by advocating for sensible regulations such as potency caps.”


And here we go with the regulations from the no-nothings. To be frank, if you believe in potency caps in the area of cannabis and don’t see a need for other substances such as alcohol or caffeine (the caffeine content of energy drinks has only been rising in the past few years) to have similar conversations, then you are an idiot and are not worth listening too.

 

“She is also someone who recognizes drug addiction is something to be treated with the goal of recovery, not normalizing use or allowing commercialization of drugs,” he said, adding that he disputes the characterization of her legislation as “broad decriminalization” even though it seeks to remove criminal penalties for small possession all drugs, in addition to bolstering substance misuse treatment.

“That doesn’t mean we will agree on everything—we likely won’t ever agree on every single policy issue or nuance with any of our candidates we support,” he said. “But Rep. Davis is putting the health and safety of families first and these are values we feel are desperately needed for policymakers in America.”


Recovery.

There is another booming industry in this broken world that I have not even touched on in this article (but I did HERE). Then there are the problems with AA as the status quo recovery program (as infamously chronicled by James Frey in the 2000s). But not the focus of this piece.

 

Also on the PAC’s roster is a former federal prosecutor from the state of West Virginia who is currently running for state Senate. Mike Stuart has regularly expressed hostility to cannabis reform, including at summit events and a symposium on the issue that he organized in 2018 during his time as a U.S. attorney.

The committee will further be supporting Kentucky Rep. Kimberly Moser (R) in her reelection bid. The lawmaker opposed medical cannabis legalization efforts in her state, but she did sponsor cannabis research legislation that cleared the House this month.

Some might be left wondering: if the objective of the new PAC is to defeat pro-legalization candidates and support those who are against enacting such policy change, why not just continue to do that and raise funds for SAM, or its 501(c)(4) SAM Action? After all, the goals seem to closely align.

Niforatos said that “SAM has always been focused on educating the public, lawmakers, and not engaging in partisanship in any way. That mission has been successful and will continue.”

“But SAM is an educational 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It cannot support or oppose individual candidates,” he said.


Well, at least the organization is honest with its intentions. However stupid they may be.

 

Pressed on the fact that SAM Action could theoretically accomplish what the Protect Our Kids PAC is gearing up to do, Niforatos said that the group’s 501(c)(4) “is only used for lobbying and advocacy related activities.”

“We really want to stay away from electioneering and partisanship with SAM/SAM Action,” he said. “I wanted to start a super PAC of my own, separate from those organizations, that would allow me to do more electioneering work with the vision of protecting families and kids from drugs.”


I’m certainly curious where the funding for the Super PAC and the 501c(3) is going to come from at this point. Though I can’t know for sure, this sure looks to me like opening up for business.

 

As momentum grows for drug policy reform, this is the latest example of how PACs are continuing to come into the picture.

The former lobbyist for NORML launched his own Better Organizing to Win Legalization (BOWL) PAC last month, for example. And Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the sponsor of a federal cannabis legalization bill up for a floor vote this week, sent out a joint email blast to supporters to raise funds last week.

Also last month, New York Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D) started an equity-focused political action committee that will place a strong focus on electing candidates that support marijuana reform.

 

While I understand the existence of PACs, I can’t help but wonder if the difference between a PAC and a Super PAC makes a difference here. While a PAC seems like it is limited in scope to members of its head organization, a Super PAC has no such limitations (being able to accept cash from anyone). Something to consider when paired with a 501c(3) which can be (and often, IS) blindly financed.

 

“Marijuana Legalization Is Not Harmless” – Does Legalization Impact Opioid Mortality?

Today, we’re going to talk about the harms of cannabis. Again. 

Time to get on with it.



https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/editorials/marijuana-legalization-is-not-harmless

A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research contains some inconvenient news for the rosy worldview of those who claim that marijuana is a completely harmless drug.

The paper reviews data on opioid and marijuana use and makes two key findings — first, that “medical marijuana, particularly when available through retail dispensaries, is associated with higher opioid mortality.” The second finding is that data “for recreational marijuana, while less reliable, also suggest that retail sales through dispensaries are associated with greater death rates relative to the counterfactual of no legal cannabis.”

The increase in opioid deaths associated with marijuana use is greater for men, nonwhites, and young people.

 

I’m curious about the source material (the study) since a link was not provided within this editorial. Let’s go hunting.

Our analyses show that RMLs increase adult marijuana use and reduce drug-related arrests over an average post-legalization window of three to four years. There is little evidence to suggest that RML-induced increases in marijuana consumption encourage the use of harder substances or violent criminal activity, and some evidence that RMLs may aid in reducing opioid-related mortality.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29038

*Raises eyebrow*

It’s a bit hard to determine what paper the source article is referencing (here is the PDF of the full paper sourced above), but hardly a skim indicates a totally different set of results than those reported in the article. At least if this is the source, which it may not be. 

I also came across THIS paper, which also seems to indicate results contrary to the narrative that the examiner is aiming for. As goes for THIS one.

Altering my query a bit (and using scholar mode), I finally seem to be getting closer.

 

Recent studies have concluded that state laws legalizing medical marijuana can reduce deaths from opioid overdoses. Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a survey uniquely suited to assessing drug misuse, we examine the relationship between recreational marijuana laws (RMLs) and the use of opioids. Standard difference-in-differences (DD) regression estimates indicate that RMLs do not affect the likelihood of misusing prescription pain relievers such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin. Although DD regression estimates provide evidence that state laws legalizing recreational marijuana can reduce the frequency of misusing prescription pain relievers, event-study estimates are noisy and suggest that any effect on the frequency of misuse is likely transitory.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29087

This one?

 

For other public health outcomes such as mortality involving prescription opioids, the effect of legalizing medical marijuana has proven more difficult to gauge and, as a consequence, we are less comfortable drawing firm conclusions.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w28647

 

Nope. Next!

 

. . . in most cases, the inclusion of more comprehensive controls, longer analysis periods and more correctly defined dependent variables results in less favorable estimates, often including predicted increases in opioid deaths.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29802

Bingo.

Though it might not be apparent, I committed some Washington Examiner-level journalistic manipulation in the last quote.

Well, it is pretty obvious. Nonetheless, here is what I (and they) failed to tell you. Keep in mind that the following is from the abstract (I have not even touched the actual PDF!):

 

Over the last two decades there has been considerable movement at the state-level to legalize marijuana, initially for medical purposes and more recently for recreational consumption. Despite prior research, it is unclear how, if at all, these policies are related to rates of opioid-involved overdose deaths, which have trended rapidly upwards over time and represent a major public health problem. We provide two types of new information on this question. First, we replicate and extend upon previous investigations and show that the empirical results of those studies are frequently fragile and that, in most cases, the inclusion of more comprehensive controls, longer analysis periods and more correctly defined dependent variables results in less favorable estimates, often including predicted increases in opioid deaths. Second, we present new estimates from generalized differences-in-differences and event study models that incorporate more recent data and improvements developed in our replication and extension of early research. These results indicate that legal medical marijuana, particularly when available through retail dispensaries, is associated with higher opioid mortality. The results for recreational marijuana, while less reliable, also suggest that retail sales through dispensaries are associated with greater death rates relative to the counterfactual of no legal cannabis.

 

My first thought upon reading that is “What does this even mean?!”.

For the Washington Examiner editorial team, it’s a handy reference that no one (aside from some Canadian running a blog no one reads) will realize is falsely cited. But for me, it strikes me as citing a question of correlation vs causation.

Since cannabis dispensaries and the majority of drug users are likely to be clumped in higher population areas (such as cities), could the correlation be related to nothing more than geographical dynamics?

This is highly doubtful. Let’s cite the paper itself to see if we can gain some insights.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29802

From the paper:

More than 930,000 Americans died of drug overdoses from 1999-2020 (Hedegaard et
al. 2021). A large majority of these involved opioids, and both all drug mortality and deaths
implicating opioids accelerated markedly during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.


In response to these alarming trends, there have been multiple federal, state and local efforts
to reduce opioid deaths and related problems including: better tracking of prescribing
through drug monitoring programs; improved access to non-opioid pain care, naloxone, and
medications treating opioid use disorder; assistance to high-risk persons following release
from incarceration; physician and prescriber education programs; improved data
surveillance; Good Samaritan laws that reduce barriers to calling for help during opioid
emergencies; and multiple federal grant programs that provide states and local governments
with assistance in funding these and other endeavors (Purington 2019; Harris and
Mukkamala 2020; Katcher and Ruhm 2021).

I can already start to see an answer to my question in this paragraph. The pandemic drove everyone down to new levels of misery, which would account for drug-seeking behaviour in regards to all substances. While not mentioned, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that alcohol misuse also shot up.

It’s a coping mechanism, after all.

Nonetheless, I’m not going to put the answer I want to hear into the paper. After all, if I did that, I would be no better than the Washington Examiner editorial team.

At the same time, policies not directly related to opioid use or deaths may affect
these outcomes. An important potential example are state laws that legalize the
consumption and retail sale of medical or recreational marijuana. 1 Prior to 1999, the first
year analyzed below, three states (California, Oregon, and Washington) had legalized
medical marijuana, but none permitted retail sales through dispensaries. By the end of 2019,
the last year studied, 33 states had legalized medical cannabis, 29 with medical dispensaries
in place, 11 states permitted recreational marijuana, and eight of these states had operating
retail dispensaries.


A rapidly growing body of scholarship examines the relationship between marijuana
legalization and various aspects of public health. 

                                                                                             * * *

There has been more limited study of its effects on opioid-related outcomes such as prescribing behavior
(Bradford and Bradford 2016; Bradford et al. 2018; Wen and Hockenberry 2018; McMichael,
Van Horn, and Viscusi 2020) and admissions to substance abuse treatment programs,
emergency departments, or hospitals (Chu 2015; Powell, Pacula, and Jacobson 2018;
Conyers and Ayres 2020; Jayawardhana and Fernandez 2021).

Finally, researchers have examined how marijuana legalization is related to opioid
deaths. These studies, some of which are summarized in the next section, while not
voluminous, have been influential. Particularly prominent is Bachhuber et al.’s (2014)
conclusion that “medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level
opioid overdose mortality rates” (p. 1668). This study has been widely cited (over 760
Google Scholar citations as of February 2022) and has played an important role in
arguments that led some states to approve medical marijuana as a treatment for opioid use
disorder (Shover et al. 2020).  However, as discussed below, these findings turn out not to
be robust to changes in the analysis period, with subsequent research yielding ambiguous
findings.

 

And there it is.

I didn’t answer the question that I was looking to answer earlier, but I found the purpose of the study. The goal of which seems less about questioning the harmlessness of cannabis legalization, and more about cautioning that more study is required in terms of utilizing medicinal cannabis therapy for the treatment of opioid use disorder. Or maybe, utilizing cannabis as a method of treating opioid misuse disorder?

I’m not a doctor, so take this for what you will.

Since we’re this deep in the paper, we may as well explore some of their findings in this area.

 

The current study provides more definitive information on the relationship between
marijuana legalization and opioid deaths. We first show that prior empirical results are frequently fragile and that, in most cases, the inclusion of more comprehensive controls,
longer analysis periods and more correctly defined treatment variables results in less
favorable estimates or deleterious predicted effects of legal cannabis. We then present new
estimates, from generalized differences-in-differences (DiD) and event study (ES) models,
that incorporate more recent data and the improvements developed in our replication and
extension of previous research.


These results indicate that legal medical marijuana, particularly when available
through retail dispensaries, is associated with higher opioid death rates. The estimates for
recreational marijuana while less reliable – probably because most such policies have been
only recently enacted and in a lower number of states than for medical marijuana – also
suggest that retail sales through dispensaries are associated with greater opioid mortality,
relative to the counterfactual of no legal cannabis.

There is also suggestive evidence of
heterogeneity across demographic groups, with stronger deleterious recreational marijuana
effects for males, nonwhites, and relatively young adults than for their counterparts. Retail
cannabis sales also likely increase deaths involving non-opioid drugs such as stimulants and
sedatives. Finally, we indicate that more favorable findings previously observed when
analyzing deaths from 1999-2010 may reflect idiosyncratic and unreliable findings when
considering short time periods rather than, as suggested by some researchers, changes over
time in the stringency of the regulatory approaches.

 

Given this observation, we now know for sure that this is the paper that the Examiner editorial team was referencing. And the observation makes me think of a whole new hypothesis/guess for the correlation. People that are inclined to utilize or necessitate the consumption of medicinal or recreational marijuana are also likely to be open to seeking other substances. Though no line is drawn to chronic pain, mental health or any other variable, these variables tend to be a common throughline to drug-seeking behaviour, no matter what the substance.

I recall the Washington Examiner article I opened with bringing up the cannabis as a gateway drug argument when considering all of this data. What they fail to note is that many people who got slash get addicted to opioids didn’t even start out as typical drug users. Some may not have even touched cannabis once in their lives (or if they did, not for a VERY long time).

Many people in the past decade or so suffered some sort of injury and were prescribed some form of an opioid to help with pain relief. Unknown to these patients (who put their trust in the doctors and pharmaceutical companies within the US medical system), profitability was often pushed at all costs when it came to selling opioid medications. While far from an exhaustive list, Insys Therapeutics and Perdue Pharma are 2 very egregious examples of this malpractice in action.

While not mentioned by the Washington Examiner article or in the paper they cited (at least not in the pages I referenced), all of this plays into the outcomes we are looking at.

Though simple minds like easy-to-digest conclusions, humans are very messy as far as all things medical, physical and mental are concerned. One could say that it is one of the biggest drawbacks of being human. We’re all complex, but our understandings are often extremely simplistic. Not a good recipe for a complex society that is evolving on a daily (if not hourly!) basis.

But THAT is a whole other topic.

Bachhuber et al. (2014), mentioned above, used public-use National Vital Statistics
System (NVSS) data from 1999-2010 to examine the relationship between medical marijuana
legalization (MML) and opioid deaths.  Their estimates suggest that MML reduced age-

adjusted opioid analgesic mortality by almost 25% and a broader measure of opioid deaths
by 23%, in models with state and year fixed effects, although with some attenuation when
state time trends were also controlled for. However, this result is sensitive to the analysis
period. Shover et al. (2019) replicated Bachhuber’s analysis and obtain a similar 21%
reduction over the 1999-2010 timespan, but they also demonstrate that the relationship
reverses when extending the investigation through 2017, with medical cannabis legalization
predicting a 23% increase in prescription opioid deaths over this longer period.

Powell, Pacula, and Jacobson’s (2018) innovation is to distinguish between the
legalization of medical marijuana and the availability of retail sales to qualified patients
through authorized medical marijuana dispensaries (MMD). Using non-public NVSS data,
they confirm Bachhuber’s (2014) negative relationship between legalization of medical
marijuana and opioid deaths from 1999-2010 but, consistent with Shover et al. (2019), show
that the effects weaken and become statistically insignificant when extending the period
through 2013. However, their key finding is that the availability of medical marijuana sales
through retail dispensaries is associated with a 28% reduction in deaths involving
prescription opioids or heroin, relative to states without legal cannabis.

 

The analysis of the data from 1999 thru 2010 and 2013 makes sense given that the opioid epidemic really started to take off in the early 2010s. As does the noted drop in opioid fatalities in localities with a dispensary since people with the option are more likely to try alternatives (such as CBD, or normal THC) in their pursuit of pain relief. Law-abiding people outside of areas with dispensaries are more likely to follow the law and thus take a prescription from their medical doctor. A prescription which is likely to involve an opioid medication.

Keep in mind that not all prescriptions for opioids are unnecessary and that not all doctors prescribing them are malicious. Just as the public was, many doctors were lied to in terms of the potential harms of the medications they were prescribing, often learning the hard way that their attempt to help patients only lead to their ultimate detriment. The opioid crisis has many victims, and the good ethical people of the medical establishment are one of them.

Using similar methods and data for 1999-2017, Chan, Burkhardt and Flyer (2020),
add controls for the legalization of recreational marijuana (RML), as well as corresponding
dispensaries (RMD). In their preferred specification, which limits analysis to 28 states, the
coefficient on recreational marijuana dispensaries is -0.23 and significant at the 10 percent
level, which they interpret to imply a 21% decrease in opioid death rates. 5 However, this
conclusion depends critically on the counterfactual comparison. Specifically, the
corresponding RML coefficient is 0.19, implying that while RMD reduces predicted opioid

mortality rates by 21% compared to an otherwise equivalent state that legalized recreational
marijuana but without retail sales, the decrease is just 4% relative to one not allowing any
type of recreational cannabis.
In recent work, Sabia et al. (2021) uses data from 2000-2019 to examine how the
legalization of recreational marijuana relates to a variety of outcomes, including mortality
rates. They provide suggestive evidence of beneficial effects, but the estimates attenuate
and frequently become statistically insignificant or detrimental with the inclusion of more
comprehensive controls or if recreational marijuana sales, rather than legalization, is used
as the treatment variable. They also do not control for the legalization of medical marijuana
in any of their models, so that the counterfactual combines states without legal marijuana
and those allowing medical cannabis.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29802

 

I’m going to end my analysis of the paper here, finding little need to go further. Though I ended up going down many tangential rabbit holes, I feel like I’ve made it clear that the goal of the paper is very different from the goal of the Washington Examiners’ interpretation of it. It’s no wonder they didn’t link directly to the document.

Speaking of the OP article . . .

 

That may be somewhat disturbing, but the details appear even more devilish. The study importantly addresses earlier results, based on data from 1999 to 2010, that had seemed to suggest a more beneficial effect. It turns out, though, that the results abruptly changed. If you include data from 2010 to 2017, the period when medical and/or recreational marijuana legalization began in earnest in the states, the results swing from a 21% reduction in opioid deaths to a 23% increase.

The results are complex, but the study undercuts a key claim of marijuana legalization proponents who argue that marijuana is a harmless substance that causes a cheap, temporary high and nothing more.

Here, the relationship between cannabis and opioid deaths is interesting in that it reinforces a much-mocked description of marijuana as a “gateway drug.” Different drug habits might well be related in ways we do not yet understand.

 

1.) Notice that nothing is mentioned of the massive increase in opioid prescriptions in the 1999-2017 timeframe. One would seem that would be an important factor to consider.

Unless you don’t care about context.

2.) Only idiotic marijuana proponents claim it to merely be a harmless, cheap high. The associations between mental health complications and lung health are well known.

3.) As explored earlier, the gateway drug argument, in this case, is stupid. The opioid epidemic didn’t become the massive epidemic it is now just because of stoners moving up the pharmacological spectrum to better shit.

Again, context matters. Well, unless you are a right-wing rag with an agenda.

 

And of course, this is not the only pitfall associated with marijuana use that marijuana campaigners work hard to minimize. For example, habitual marijuana use as late as one’s mid-20s can cause permanent brain damage. That’s because it prevents proper development of the frontal cortex, which the American Psychological Association describes as one of the last regions of the brain to develop fully. This brain structure is “critical to planning, judgment, decision-making, and personality.”

 

For once, we have a link. And it seems to bare out what is being communicated.

Indeed, a number of studies have found evidence of brain changes in teens and young adults who smoke marijuana. In 2013, Rocío Martín-Santos, MD, PhD, at the University of Barcelona, and colleagues reviewed 43 studies of chronic cannabis use and the brain. They found consistent evidence of both structural brain abnormalities and altered neural activity in marijuana users. Only eight of those studies focused on adolescents, but the findings from those studies suggested that both structural and functional brain changes emerge soon after adolescents start using the drug. Those changes may still be evident after a month of abstaining from the drug, the researchers reported (PLOS ONE, 2013).

Some of those brain abnormalities have been linked to cognitive differences. Gruber found that regular, heavy marijuana users — those who reported smoking five of the last seven days, and more than 2,500 times in their lives — had damage to their brains’ white matter, which helps enable communication among neurons. Those white matter changes were correlated with higher impulsivity, she found, particularly in people who began smoking before age 16 (Psychopharmacology, 2013).

Much of Gruber’s work compares heavy, regular marijuana users who began before and after age 16. Her results suggest there’s greater risk in starting young. Compared with users who began after 16, early-onset smokers made twice as many mistakes on tests of executive function, which included planning, flexibility, abstract thinking and inhibition of inappropriate responses. As adults, those who started using before 16 reported smoking nearly 25 times per week, while those who started later smoked half as often, about 12 times per week. The early-onset smokers also reported smoking an average of nearly 15 grams each week, versus about 6 grams for their late-onset counterparts (Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 2012).

Gruber’s participants had reported using marijuana at least five times in the past week. But other labs have found structural differences in the brains of less frequent users. Jodi Gilman, PhD, at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Center for Addiction Medicine, and colleagues used MRI to look for brain changes in 18- to 25-year-olds who smoked marijuana at least once per week, but were not dependent on the drug.

Compared with nonusers, the smokers had changes in the shape, volume and gray matter density of two brain regions associated with addiction: the nucleus accumbens (which plays a role in motivation, pleasure and reward processing) and the amygdala (a region involved in memory, emotion and decision-making). Participants who smoked more often had more significant differences (Journal of Neuroscience, 2014).

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/11/marijuana-brain

 

However . . .

 

But the case against marijuana isn’t closed. Other studies have failed to turn up evidence that marijuana use results in brain abnormalities. In one recent example, Barbara Weiland, PhD, at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and colleagues attempted to replicate Gilman’s study in adolescents and adults who smoked marijuana daily. But Weiland’s team argued that previous studies, including Gilman’s, failed to adequately control for alcohol use by the participants. After carefully matching for alcohol intake in the control and experimental subjects, the researchers failed to find physical differences in the nucleus acumbens or the amygdala of daily marijuana smokers (Journal of Neuroscience, 2015).

On the other hand, says Lisdahl, Weiland’s subjects were primarily male — and some research suggests females might be more sensitive to marijuana’s effects during adolescence.

In other cases, too, the evidence against marijuana is frustratingly mixed. While some studies have found increased risk for mood disorders and psychotic symptoms among marijuana users, for instance, a new study by Jordan Bechtold, PhD, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and colleagues found that chronic use among teenage boys did not raise the risk of later depression, lung cancer, asthma or psychotic symptoms (Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 2015).

 

Context. It matters. But on the bright side, the researchers are doing what they do best and attempting to close the information gap.

In hopes of painting a clearer picture of marijuana’s potential risks to youth, NIDA plans to launch the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study later this year. The prospective longitudinal study will follow 10,000 individuals across the United States over a decade, starting when they’re 9 or 10. “The idea is to look at what these kids are like before they start using substances, and then follow over time what happens to their brains,” Weiss says.

 

With that out of the way, let’s see what else the Examiner editorial has for us to sus out.

 

This means that use among teenagers, which is a lot more common than people would like to admit, and even use among young adults has deleterious and permanent health effects.

 

The only people that don’t want to admit that teenagers use (or are prone to use, at very least) cannabis are those with their heads up their ass. I suspect that this group overlaps with the Washington Examiners’ audience base, but of course, this is just a hypothesis.

One legislative action that tends to decrease teen cannabis use, however, is legalization. Selling cannabis through age-restricted dispensaries.

Whoda thought. Forcing sales through underground sources that don’t require an ID for the purchase of cannabis results in many more teenagers accessing the drug.

 

This is something to remember when these campaigners come to your state and try to sell you on the idea of cannabis as something completely harmless. One need not exaggerate the dangers of marijuana to acknowledge that they at least exist.

 

And YET, here we are.

 

“Marijuana Users Face Increased Risk Of Deadly Stroke” / “Potent “Skunk” Causes Schizophrenia” – Bringing Context To Mainstream Media Cannabis Reporting

Today, we are going to look at 2 articles that crossed my path recently on the subject of cannabis. One examines the results of a new cannabis study, the other YET AGAIN rehashes the same old prohibition talking points that brought us to where we are in the first place. But this one has a slightly different flavour since it is out of the UK.

We will start with the cannabis study, which has been widely reported using a similar baity headline to mine. The following was published on a platform called Medical Xpress and written by someone at the American Heart Association. 

 

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-01-marijuana-users-deadly-complication-rare.html

Marijuana users’ risk of deadly complication doubles after rare type of bleeding stroke

Among people with an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) stroke, a type of bleeding stroke, recent marijuana users were more than twice as likely to develop a dangerous complication that can result in death or greater disability, according to new research published today in Stroke, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.

The study is the largest to examine the impact of THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component (change of a person’s mental state) of marijuana on complications after an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (a rare but severe form of stroke).

In an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, a weakened and bulging part of a blood vessel bursts on the surface of the brain (called a ruptured aneurysm), resulting in bleeding in the space between the brain and the tissue that covers it. This type of stroke can be devastating, resulting in neurological disability in about 66% of people and death (during the follow up period) in about 40%. The immediate treatment of an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage focuses on stopping and preventing further bleeding. However, despite treatment, in the 14 days following an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, many patients may develop worsening symptoms (such as speech problems or difficulty moving). This is caused by blood from the initial stroke irritating blood vessels, causing them to constrict enough to cut off the blood supply to a portion of the brain (called a vasospasm), resulting in more brain damage. This complication, called delayed cerebral ischemia, is a leading cause of death and disability after an aSAH stroke.

“We’re all vulnerable to a bleeding stroke or a ruptured aneurysm, however, if you’re a routine marijuana user, you may be predisposed to a worse outcome from a stroke after the rupture of that aneurysm,” said Michael T. Lawton, M.D., senior author of the study and president and CEO of Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

There is no doubt about it, that is a scary finding on its face. But many conclusions can be scary without proper context.

Researchers analyzed data on more than 1,000 patients who had been treated for aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage at Barrow Neurological Institute between January 1, 2007 to July 31, 2019. All patients had been treated to stop the bleeding either via 1) open surgery to clip off the base of the aneurysm, or, 2) noninvasively, by threading a slim tube through a blood vessel to the base of the aneurysm and releasing coils that fold to fill in the space and provide a barrier to further bleeding.

Urine toxicology screening was performed on all patients admitted with ruptured aneurysms. The study compared the occurrence of delayed cerebral ischemia in 46 people (average age of 47 years; 41% female) who tested positive for THC (the component of cannabis, also known as marijuana, that induces a high) and 968 people (average age 56 years, 71% female) who tested negative for THC. A positive urine screen for THC reflects cannabis exposure within three days for a single use to within approximately 30 days for frequent heavy use.

The recent cannabis users did not have significantly larger aneurysms or worse stroke symptoms when admitted to the hospital, and they were not more likely to have high blood pressure or other cardiovascular risk factors than patients who screened negative for THC. However, recent cannabis users were significantly more likely to have also tested positive for other substances, including cocaine, methamphetamines and tobacco, compared to the patients who screened negative for THC.

Among all participants, 36% developed delayed cerebral ischemia; 50% were left with moderate to severe disability; and 13.5% died.

After adjusting for several patient characteristics as well as recent exposure to other illicit substances, patients who tested positive for THC at last follow up were found to be:

  • 2.7 times more likely to develop delayed cerebral ischemia;
  • 2.8 times more likely to have long-term moderate to severe physical disability; and
  • 2.2 times more likely to die.

 

And, there is our context. Along with the information that makes the headline of this article incredibly misleading. It would seem that this isn’t just a story about marijuana and THC, this is also a story about many illicit drugs. But I’m guessing that “Study Shows Risk Of Deadly Bleeding Stroke Complication Doubled In Illicit Drug Users” doesn’t have the same bite as using a term that is highly algorithmically favourable. As the new saying goes, if it clicks, it sticks.

 

“When people come in with ruptured aneurysms, and they have a history of cannabis use or are positive on a toxicology screen, it should raise a red flag to the treating team that they are at higher risk of vasospasm and ischemic complication,” Lawton said. “Of all the substances detected in the toxicology screen, only cannabis raised the risk of delayed cerebral ischemia. Cocaine and meth are hypertensive drugs, so they are likely related to the actual rupture but not expected to have an impact on vasospasm.”

The study does not specifically address how cannabis raises the risk of vasospasm and delayed cerebral ischemia. Lawton noted, “Cannabis may impair oxygen metabolization and energy production within cells. When stressed by a ruptured aneurysm, the cells are much more vulnerable to changes that affect the delivery of oxygen and the flow of blood to the brain.”

The study’s limitations include being conducted retrospectively at a single institution and not being a head-to-head analysis of people who use marijuana and those who don’t.

The researchers are currently conducting follow-up in the laboratory to better understand THC-related risks that may impact aneurysm formation and rupture. They also urge further research to study the impact of various doses of THC on stroke complications

 

Here, we finally learn the vector in which cannabis plays in this medical condition, at least allegedly. We also finally learn the limitations of the study, and the steps being taken in attempting to replicate the results in a scientific manner. Though I question how many people made it this far into the article before clicking off and potentially sharing it to everyone in their reach.

As is often the case, the author of the study urge caution when it comes to showcasing the results of their work. But care is futile in the face of creating attention-grabbing headlines.

“The current study is not at the level of science of a randomized controlled trial, but it is a rigorous statistical analysis involving more than 1,000 patients, so the results are important and add to what we already know about possible adverse effects of marijuana use,” said Robert L. Page II, Pharm.D., M.S.P.H., FAHA, chair of the writing group for the American Heart Association’s 2020 cannabis statement and professor in the department of clinical pharmacy and the department of physical medicine/rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Aurora, Colorado.

 

In conclusion, as with many things, more research has to be conducted to properly confirm this finding. When that happens, hopefully, the media will be just as eager to report that result as they were to run with this headline.

I won’t hold my breath.

 

                                                                                                                                                                    * * *

Our next article is out of the UK, published by the Daily Mail and written by Laurence Dollimore. I don’t need to explain what we are getting into since the headline itself makes it perfectly clear.

In 2 words . . . oh boy.

 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10381531/Liberal-parents-let-kids-smoke-cannabis-warned-induce-schizophrenia-like-psychosis.html

Liberal parents who let their children smoke cannabis are warned that the drug is causing up to a THIRD of psychosis cases in London and strong ‘skunk’ can cause schizophrenia-like symptoms

  • Sir Robin Murray has sounded the alarm over the use of highly-potent ‘skunk’ 
  • Expert said drug is behind 30 per cent of his psychosis patients in south London
  • King’s College London professor runs clinic dedicated to psychosis caused by cannabis

Highly-potent cannabis is not being taken seriously enough by some liberal-minded parents, who would rather see their teens smoke pot than drink alcohol, a top psychologist has warned.

Sir Robin Murray, 77, a professor of Psychiatric Research at the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP), King’s College London, said around a third of the psychosis patents he sees at his practice in south London are caused by use of high-strength skunk.

The expert said the cases mostly involve young people, who often suffer from debilitating paranoia and hallucinations.

 

Gotta love a population that is seemingly fine with a publication publicly shaming parents for making a parenting choice. And of course, this is aimed specifically at liberal parents.
Makes me wonder what would happen if a psychologist similarly came out and publicly shamed conservative parents for indoctrinating religious dogmas into children before they are at an age to question things for themselves. If it got covered at all, something tells me that the tone would be VERY different than this.

Political biases aside, however, the medical issue is indeed important. Though the solution as proposed is really, REALLY stupid. But, more on that later.

 

It comes as London is set to relax drug laws by no longer prosecuting young people caught in possession of cannabis – offering them educational courses on the drug’s dangers instead.

But results from European neighbours offer an insight into the potential pitfalls of such a policy – with Portugal seeing a huge surge in cannabis-induced psychosis after it decriminalised the drug in 2001.

According to research in the International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, the number of hospital admissions in the country with a primary diagnosis of psychotic disorders and schizophrenia stemming from cannabis use soared by nearly 30-fold, from 20 a year in 2010 to nearly 590 in 2015 – and almost 90 per cent of these patients were men, whose average age was 30.

 

It is in fact true that the number of cannabis-induced psychiatric conditions did in fact take an exponential uptick following decriminalization. That is certainly a statistic not to be taken lightly. However, Portugal is now not the only cannabis-neutral nation-state for which we can draw data. Canada has been legalized since 2018, which should make it another source of good data. 

This brings me to the very big difference between Canadian drug policy and Pourtagise drug policy. Legalization vs decriminalization.

In Canada, though the bureaucratic hoops that one has to jump through are rigid to the point of being ridiculous, the sale of regulated marijuana to 19-year-olds and older is completely legal. Since it is regulated, the THC and CBD content is closely monitored so the issue of newcomers using exclusively extremely potent drugs has become less of an issue. Childhood cannabis poisonings are indeed up from that they used to be, but frankly . . . obviously. There is far more cannabis (in particular, cannabis edibles) around then there has ever been previously. And not all parents or caregivers are going to know to keep their stash safe. Though that is indeed extremely irresponsible, how many people got into their parent’s liquor cabinets without them knowing?  

Though care is certainly urged in regards to pharmaceuticals and cannabis, alcohol deserves the same treatment (if this is the approach we are to take). If telling alhocol consumers to Drink Responsibly is considered a reasonable policy, why not consume cannabis responsibly?

This is all in contrast to decriminalization, which leaves the cultivation of cannabis in the hands of the same underground producers, but eliminates the legal risk to the actual drug users themselves. Or to put it another way, it leaves highly potent cannabis (the type that a market made up of primarily high tolerance regular users) as pretty much the only cannabis option available. Meaning that even novice users end up essentially jumping off the deep end without experience should they ever do what is human and get curious about this plant that everyone is talking about.
Also worth remembering is access to this cannabis is governed strictly by the moral compass of the dealer selling it. If they have no issue with selling to a minor, then scoring weed can be just as easy as buying a candy bar. While it is far from impossible for minors to access regulated substances like alcohol or tobacco, there are still more barriers to clear than just handing a criminal some cash and walking away with a stash.

Earlier, I had mentioned that Canada may be a good source when it comes to tracking cannabis-induced psychiatric episodes being we were the trailblazer when it came to opening up the industry on a federal level. Back in the days before legalization, I even recall an episode of marketplace exploring just this topic. Given that 3 years have passed, it feels like a good time to check and see if the fears were justified.

The following article (published on January 2ed, 2019) certainly is attempting to sound the alarm.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/mental-health-expert-warns-of-significant-increase-in-cannabis-induced-psychosis-1.4233512

Right off the bat, there was a rise in cannabis-related behavioural and mental health-related hospitalizations between 2006 and 2015.

Highlights

  • Between 2006 and 2015, the rate of hospitalizations for cannabis-related mental or behavioural disorders in Canada rose from 2.11 to 5.18 per 100 000.

  • Males consistently accounted for over two-thirds of all hospitalizations for cannabis-related mental or behavioural disorders.

  • Young people aged 15 to 24 years represented the greatest proportion of hospitalizations (between 49% and 58%) of any age group.

  • Over the entire study period, psychotic disorder was the most common clinical condition among hospitalizations for cannabis-related mental or behavioural disorders, and accounted for 48.0% of cannabis-related hospitalizations in 2015.

  • Between 2006 and 2015, the rate of hospitalizations due to cannabis-related psychotic disorder tripled, from 0.80 to 2.49 per 100,000

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2021004/article/00001-eng.htm

 

These findings make perfect sense since this was the timeframe in which cannabis (more, cannabis legalization) was slowly entering the public psyche and changing long-held attitudes towards the drug. At the same time, the debut of shows like Weeds and Breaking Bad helped bring the often gritty underworld of drug prohibition into the forefront of popular culture. Moreso Breaking Bad of course (while I still enjoy Weeds, it was primarily a comedy at heart).

As for the data I seek, sources at the moment seem rather scarce. This isn’t really surprising since it has only been around 3 years (notice that the last dataset was taken from a period spanning a decade). Though I also can’t help but wonder if part of the reason I’ve not come across more hair on fire articles is the ready availability of less potent strains in the pot shops. Though all cannabis was largely the same to me when I was viewing it as an outsider, the differences became more apparent once I started actually participating in the legal market. In fact, some people I know have even commented that they avoid much of the legal market since it demonstrates the opposite problem that the illicit market does . . . it’s aimed primarily at the novice and lite recreational user. Most of the offerings are far too weak for their raised tolerance levels.

While a big part of this stems from the profit motive (appealing to new and lite recreational users), regulations also play a role in this. While I am not sure offhand what the limits are for flower, I know the THC maximum for edibles and drinkables is 10mg. A level that is perfectly fine to send someone like me on a journey (as I found out last year), but a level that may well not work for others. Though you can of course increase the dose by buying more (up to 30 grams per transaction), this can get costly VERY quickly.

While I was and still am of the opinion that the legal market will eventually drive out the illicit market (I’m sure hooch peddlers didn’t go away overnight after the lifting of prohibition), work still needs to be done to get the paranoid and uninformed regulators out of the way. Though I understand that the heavy-handed approach is owing to the lack of research available on cannabis (and people’s overall lack of knowledge of the substance), these roadblocks will continue to prop up the illicit market so long as they exist.

Considering that this is a hindrance that isn’t shared by other substances (such as alcohol or tobacco), what of it federal regulators?

 

Sir Robin suggested the high number of cases in his practice are now impacting the facility’s ability to care for patients.

He told the Times: ‘I think we’re now 100 per cent sure that cannabis is one of the causes of a schizophrenia-like psychosis.

‘If we could abolish the consumption of skunk we would have 30 per cent less patients [in south London] and we might make a better job of looking after the patients we have.’

 

We have tried that. According to your very own findings, it didn’t work. How many more patients do you have to get inundated with before this flaw in your logic becomes apparent?

You are not helping the cause by this way of thinking. YOU ARE MAKING IT WORSE!

 

Sir Robin works at the first NHS clinic in England to specifically treat cannabis smokers suffering from psychosis.

Running from Maudsley Hospital in Camberwell, south London, patients are typically seen for a minimum of 15 weeks, with treatment including one-on-one sessions with specialist therapists.

The aim of the clinic is to first help cannabis users wean themselves off the drug before helping them to manage without it – helped by weekly group therapy sessions with fellow patients and experts.

Sir Robin has praised the clinic, reporting it to be a success, even when services moved online due to the Covid pandemic.

It comes after he was part of the first team of researchers who proved a link between cannabis and mental illness among teenagers in the early 2000s – with many papers backing up his findings ever since.

Only two years ago, a study found that south London had the highest incidence of psychosis in Europe – and cannabis was said to be the largest contributing factor.

The investigation, overseen by Sir Robin and published in The Lancet Psychiatry, found that those who smoked high-potency skunk were five times more likely to develop psychosis than those who did not smoke it.

According to the findings, rates of psychosis in London could be slashed by 30 per cent if skunk was taken off the streets.

 

You can tell someone’s seriousness in tackling a given issue by the seriousness in the solutions they propose. If skunk were abolished from the streets, hurray . . . PROBLEM SOLVED!

Get serious. Clearly, that has not worked because THERE IS NO ABOLISHING SKUNK. It is already abolished. And yet the problem still persists. Hence, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and consider what has worked. Since the decriminalization model has problems (according to your own argument), how about the legalization model?

Though the dataset is indeed young for this model, it is still there.

While it has been noted that higher instances of cannabis use associated with legalization will likely result in more instances of cannabis-induced mental or behavioural disorders,  this isn’t as much of an “AAAAHHHHH!” observation as it is a “DUH!” observation.

The more people who get licences and own vehicles, the more instances of drunk driving and speeding there will be. The more people that purchase alcohol, the more instances of alcohol poisoning there will be. While I am not discounting the need for research to close the gaps in knowledge that persist in cannabis research, bad outcomes are still far from the norm when it comes to the average cannabis experience. Therefore if we are not prohibiting alcohol and vehicles based on the small but very visible percentage that catches the headlines, the same should apply for cannabis.

Particularly when it is entirely possible to adjust some of the variables that are totally uncontrollable in both illegal and decriminalized frameworks. For example, age restrictions of legalized cannabis will help to keep skunk out of the hands of most children and teens. And regulation of potency and (most importantly) education in terms of the effects of this potency will go a long way towards keeping the very powerful stuff out of the hands of those unprepared for it.

THERE is your solution. As opposed to more standing aside and pissing into the wind and wondering why our knickers keep getting wet.

 

Despite its potentially harmful effects, Sir Robin welcomed London’s plans to end prosecution of young people found in possession of cannabis.

The policy, set to be adopted by the Metropolitan Police, would see carriers of the drug offered educational courses on its dangers.

But Sir Robin wants more clarification over the scheme.

He said: ‘My questions will be: where will they get the counsellors who know anything about risks of cannabis?

‘What will happen if they don’t accept the counselling or go back to cannabis use? 

‘And will it be accompanied by any education regarding the risks of cannabis — this is by far the most important thing.’

He added: ‘Because Lewisham is one of the proposed boroughs [where the scheme could first be introduced] we will be able to track the effects on psychiatric problems secondary to cannabis use — addiction, suicide attempts and psychosis.

‘But we need also to track road traffic accidents, street violence and visits to A&E departments for cannabis problems.’

Sir Robin said policy changes in other countries provided potential warnings for Britain.

In the state of Colorado in the US, there are now cannabis products available which contain more than 70 per cent THC – or tetrahydrocannabinol – the compound which gives users a high.

For comparison, traditional weed from the 1960s contained around 3 per cent or less THC, while the average in Europe and North America today is 10 to 15 per cent, according to an article by Sir Robin in JAMA Psychiatry.

 

It is amazing how attached these boomers are to out-of-date and overly destructive ideas of the past that just don’t work. While the support of decriminalization is a step in the right direction, education of the dangers of cannabis IS NOT!
Assuming that the Canadian education system is not all that different from the British system, we were made well aware of the dangers of drugs all through the process. So much so that the reality of the situation (at least when it came to cannabis) ended up casting doubt on almost everything I learned through the years from the curriculum. A big danger when it comes to people moving on to far more risky drugs than cannabis.

While it is good to make young people aware of the risks posed by drugs (including cannabis), fear-mongering doesn’t work. Scaring young people is not a solution, it is an old tactic that has proven futile. If you truly want to tackle this problem, start supporting cannabis legalization schemes and get some of the market variables back under regulated control.

 

Meanwhile, a study in Denmark found that alongside a rise in THC potency, cannabis-associated schizophrenia has increased by up to 400 per cent over the past two decades, reported the Times.

Sir Robin’s study in 2019 warned that 94 per cent of all cannabis available on the streets of London was in the form of skunk. 

Researchers from King’s College London studied 2,100 people in 11 cities in Europe and South America in the biggest study of its kind.

They found that the link with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and paranoid delusion was strongest in London and Amsterdam – the two cities where high-potency cannabis is most commonly available.

Sir Robin said at the time: ‘If you are going to legalise, unless you want to pay for a lot more psychiatric beds and a lot more psychiatrists then you need to devise a system in a way that will not increase the consumption and will not increase the potency. Because that is what has happened in the US states where there has been legalisation for recreational use.

 

1.) Prohibition is the reason why all of these problems are happening. Since these boomer types insist on playing hands-off as to their part in all of this, let’s make it crystal clear.

2.) While I am unsure of whether or not Colorado had a spike in cannabis-related psychiatric episodes post-legalization (and certainly post super-strong edibles availability), there is no way to not have the amount of cannabis use not rise post-legalization. It’s an incredibly stupid requirement to begin with since the key to arresting the problem is education and potency controls. While it is true that I don’t believe that potency limits are helpful, education of consumers IS helpful.

 

‘The critical question is whether medicinal use remains medicinal. The problem in California and Canada was that medicinal use became a synonym for recreational use.

‘You could go on the internet and tell a doctor, “I have headaches, I have back pain, I feel better if I have cannabis”. The main reason they legalised it was to try to control the amount of so-called medicinal use there, hoping that there would be a decrease in the use.’  

The research, published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal, found that skunk – with a THC level of more than 10 per cent – increased the odds of psychosis 4.8-fold in a person who smoked every day compared with someone who never used the drug. 

Using it more than once a week was less dangerous, but still increased the risk 1.6-fold.

 

Actually, the real goal of the Canadian government’s cannabis legalization was limiting youth access and reducing criminal involvement in the trade, according to this article. A goal that makes perfect sense since eliminating fake medicinal use by way of legalization is just stupid. How is easing access to cannabis going to drive usage rates down?

That is just stupid. Coming from a so-called doctor . . . Jesus Christ, stick to psychiatry.

Though my bias and education in this area tends to make fossil attitudes on the subject like these quite caustic to my well-being, not all cannabis critiques are this devoid of critical thought. The following post covers an analysis that I rather liked in both its informativeness and its honesty. Fear was never used, only information.

 

“Can Marijuana Cause Psychosis?” – (Psychology Today)

The sooner everyone begins to approach cannabis legislation and research with more emphasis on honesty and reality, the sooner it will become less of a vector for creating unwitting casualties. Until then, the chaos left in its unregulated wake is just as much on the heads of the academic proponents of the status quo (such as Sir Robin Murray!) as it is on the growers and dealers themselves.

Consider yourselves warned and informed.

Edible Marijuana Imitating Major Snack Brand Packaging – Really?!

As a longtime advocate for the personal freedom of intoxication for every adult, the idiotic actions of those within this culture sometimes forces me to shake my head. What the HELL are you thinking?!

But, before we get that far, let’s explore the origins of how I first learned of this phenomenon. Covered in the October 27th (2021) edition of the very informative Marijuana Moment email newsletter, the story covered a warning put out by the Auturnys Generals in several states. Parents were advised to watch for highly deceptive (and highly potent) cannabis edibles disguised as typical snack brands. Disguised may not be the right word here, but some of the products would certainly be very easy to mistake.

I’ll start by quoting the warning as published on the webpage of Arkansas AG Leslie Rutledge.

 

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is warning the public about the dangers of cannabis edibles and hemp derivatives in packaging designed to look like well-known snack foods and candy. These products are unregulated, illegal, and may be extremely dangerous. As Halloween approaches, parents should be aware that these look-alike products are being offered for sale online. 

“The unregulated look-alike products are dangerous and marketed to kids and young adults and when consumed by a child can have 120 times the potency of the maximum legal adult serving,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If anyone sells these products to Arkansans I will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law. If you see these look-alike products for sale, report them to my office immediately.”

These products may contain high concentrations of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, and if eaten by children, can lead to an accidental overdose. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the most common overdose incidents among children involve ingestion of edible cannabis foods, and such overdoses are on the rise. In the first nine months of 2020, 80 percent of calls related to marijuana edibles to the Poison Control Center were for pediatric exposure. In the first half of 2021 alone, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reports poison control hotline calls have received an estimated 2,622 calls for services related to young children ingesting cannabis products.

If a child were to eat the entire bag, he or she would be consuming 120 times the maximum legal adult serving.  Individuals and companies responsible for putting these edibles within the reach of children should carefully reconsider whether they choose to continue to profit from illegal look-alike cannabis edibles sales. Sellers may be subject to legal action and substantial civil penalties under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Like any other drug, adults should take strong precautions to ensure that children do not have access to any products containing cannabis. Products advertising cannabis should not be purchased online through direct shipment platforms. Parents are encouraged to speak with their children, including young adults, and provide age-appropriate guidance about the dangers look-alike products pose. Symptoms of THC overdose include respiratory distress, loss of coordination, lethargy, and loss of consciousness.  If you suspect your child has eaten food containing high amounts of THC and become sick, call the Arkansas Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. Consumers who encounter look-alike cannabis edible products are encouraged to file a consumer complaint with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (501) 682-2007 or OAG@Arkansasag.gov.

 

Assuming that this is accurate and not overhyped, I can certainly see why people would be worried.

I recently embraced Canadas legal Cannabis scene by trying out a small 10mg THC/CBD edible in its entirety. Though I thought the two 5mg THC experiences I had before (involving 2 low-dose cannabis beverages) had prepared me, I was certainly surprised at just how big of a difference there was in the experiences. It took 40 minutes to kick in, but god damn . . . respect the power of the edible!

Knowing that I was expecting and fully anticipating getting stoned and still got taken by surprise, I can’t even imagine what 600mg’s of no doubt pure THC distillate would do to someone unsuspecting. Let alone a child.

But like I said earlier, this is assuming this is not being overhyped as an issue. Is edible cannabis the new razer blade in the treats for panic-prone parents?

One of the first sources we run into is good ole Snopes.

 

We didn’t find a single case of a person purposefully giving children marijuana edibles on Halloween in an attempt to harm them.

                                                                                                                                             * * *

This warning — that parents should check their children’s Halloween candy because strangers may intentionally be trying to harm them with marijuana edibles disguised as Sour Patch Kids, Cheetos, and SweeTarts — has been repeated by parents and police stations across the country since at least 2010.

But is there any truth to these rumors, or is this just another Halloween urban legend? In this article, we’ll take a look at how these rumors started, and try to determine if children are really in danger of eating tainted candy on Halloween.

Decades of Rumors

The claim that kids are in danger of receiving marijuana-tainted candy on Halloween has been around as long as marijuana-infused candy has been around. 

Throughout their history, marijuana edibles have largely been homemade concoctions, starting around 2000 B.C., when cannabis, deemed one of five sacred plants in The Veda, was mixed together with nuts and spices to make a drink called Bhang. Edibles first gained popularity in the United States in the 1960s, thanks in part to a “Haschich Fudge” recipe that was published in “The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book.”


Interestingly enough, the brand of chocolate that I tried was called Bhang. If you notice the packaging, there is almost no way to mistake this for a non-THC candy bar. Though not visible in the image, the resealable packaging is also fairly difficult to open once the seal is torn open. All of the legal products in Canada are well marked for what they are and the THC/CBD content contained therein.

 

 

Chowhound described Toklas’ recipe as a “raw granola bar made with black peppercorns, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, de-stoned dates, dried figs, shelled almonds, peanuts, and sativa cannabis, which is pulverized and combined with a cup of sugar dissolved in a large serving of butter.”

Edibles have come a long way since that raw granola bar, but when California became the first to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, the edible was still largely relegated to baked goods and tinctures that could be added to tea. In other words, products that couldn’t be mistaken for Halloween candy.

But by 2010, medical edibles (dubbed medibles) were being advertised in newspapers.

And as these first marijuana candies appeared, so did warnings that unscrupulous candy givers would be handing them out on Halloween in an attempt to harm children. In October 2010, after the Los Angeles Police Department confiscated various THC-infused candies and snacks from local dispensaries, and a few days before the city voted on legalizing marijuana (which did not pass at the time), the police issued a warning that these marijuana edibles could get mixed up in unsuspecting children’s Halloween candy. 

We searched for cases of children accidentally eating marijuana edibles that were slipped into the Halloween candy for every year since 2010, and while we found multiple warnings during this timeframe, we didn’t find a single case of a person purposefully giving children marijuana edibles in an attempt to harm them.

Joel Best, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware, said:

“Children are not at risk for contaminated treats … For one thing, edible marijuana products are very expensive and this would be a very expensive prank.”


“My research stretches back to 1958 … I have been unable to find any evidence that any child has been killed or seriously injured by a contaminated treat picked up in the course of trick-or-treating.”

 

The quote from professor Joel was my very first thought, to be honest. At least in Canada, the average price for A 10g chocolate serving (about the size of the average Halloween candy bar) is $4.99 EACH, with packages of 10 gummies and other candies averaging at about $7.99 each. For every 1 criminally offensive THC candy, you can get a package of 50 to 100 genuine Halloween candies.

And not look like a fucking idiot. 

I guess we are dealing strictly in the realm of hyperbole once again.

 

Halloween candy has been the subject of dozens of rumors over the years. This rumor, in many ways, is simply a rehashed version of an urban legend that stretches back decades when parents feared that unsavory characters might slip poison into their holiday treats. 

This urban legend reappears in a new form from time to time. In 2000, police worried that drug-laced suckers were being given to children, in 2015, rumors circulated that people were placing ecstasy-laced candy in Halloween bags, and in 2019, people feared heroin that was disguised as SweeTarts

These urban legends can generally be traced back to a case in the 1970s when a father was convicted of murder after they added cyanide to Pixie Stix and then placing them with his son’s Halloween candy.

You can read more about some of the stories and hoaxes in our previous article, Poisoned Halloween Candy

A Morsel of Truth?

During our research, we found only two cases that somewhat resembled this rumor, although neither case involved an ill-intentioned neighbor intentionally drugging a child. 

In 2019, police in Nova Scotia reported that a parent had found a cannabis edible in their children’s candy. The police report does not provide any information about how the edible got into the candy or even whether or not the edible contained TCH (no testing on the product was done). The report also states that that this child was trick-or-treating in a group but no other child in this group received such a product. Lastly, the child never ate the candy. 

In other words, there’s no evidence that this marijuana edible was intentionally placed in a child’s Halloween candy in an attempt to harm them. We reached out to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police but have not heard back. As far as we can tell, nobody was ever arrested over this incident. 

In 2018, five children in Arizona were sickened after a 12-year-old accidentally brought marijuana gummies to school. While these drugs reportedly came from a family’s bowl of Halloween candy, this incident took place in February (four months after the holiday) and it’s not clear how the drugs got in the bowl. 

An Increase in Accidental Poisonings

While we were unable to find a single instance of a stranger intentionally attempting to drug a child by handing out marijuana edibles on Halloween, there have been instances of children accidentally consuming marijuana edibles.

Julie Weber, the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ Board President and Managing Director of the Missouri Poison Center, told us that the “accessibility of these edible products” has lead to an increase in incidents of children mistakenly eating a marijuana edible. These incidents, however, are not isolated to Halloween. 

Weber said:

“Incidents of children mistakenly ingesting marijuana edibles are increasing. Often, edible forms of marijuana can look like treats: baked goods, beverages, or candies. Young children may not know the difference between a candy gummy bear and a marijuana edible. It is the accessibility of these edible products in the home leading to the increase in exposure noted by the US poison centers. This increase in cases has been identified as more states legalize the use of both recreational and medical marijuana. The increased exposure cases are not isolated to Halloween.

 

Given the panic-prone nature of the American public (and how real incidents tend to inspire tall tales in the cultural zeitgeist in the ensuing months, years and decades), none of this is really surprising. Nor would the fact the an uptick of THC poisonings no doubt caused by idiots not being careful with their potent edibles play right into the fear that is often prominent in American culture.

I can’t even rightfully say American Culture since I remember my parents checking our candies for things like razor blades and tampered packaging. I even remember things like fruits and baked goods being automatically trashed since they couldn’t be trusted.

An amusing assumption to think of now since it’s a lot harder to hide tamper attempts on an orange, Apple or Banana than it is to glue or rubber cement a candy bar wrapper shut.

But, such is the strength of this stuff. It spread far and wide even before social media connected every corner of the world.

 

Labeling Laws

One misconception that stems from this rumor is that marijuana edibles are indistinguishable from regular candy. But that’s not the case.

While states set their own laws in regards to how to sell and package marijuana products, generally speaking, legally purchased marijuana products are required to have labeling that identifies their THC content and also must be packaged in child resistant packaging. 

Leafly, a marijuana news website, writes: “Proper cannabis labeling and packaging is a crucial component to staying in compliance with state guidelines. Cannabis companies must ensure that their packages are tamper-proof, child-proof, and within accordance of their local laws.” 

 

Which is perfectly logical.

 

Are Strangers Giving Marijuana Edibles to Kids on Halloween?

We have not been able to find a single incident of a child eating a marijuana edible that they were given by a nefarious stranger on Halloween. While marijuana edibles can truly resemble candy, and while there have been cases of children mistakenly eating marijuana edibles, these cases typically involve parents or other family members who left their stashes within the reach of children, and not random strangers who are out to do their children harm. 

Or, in Halloween parlance, the danger is coming from inside the house. 

 

So, we can move this one to the unlikely category and call it a day. If this is of enough concern to inspire fear inside of you, make sure that the potent contents of both your medicine cabinet and your liquor cabinet are getting as much attention as this largely non-existent threat.

Despite coming to this conclusion, I do still wonder about the faux-snack treats that we were warned of by various AG’s in the US. Is this also hyperbole?
Since this topic also came up on The Daily Show with Trever Noah recently (I saw the clip on Snapchat yesterday), it makes me very curious, since the show didn’t look all that in-depth into the phenomenon. It was an absurdity of our day-to-day reality, and the show used it as such.

Which makes me wonder:

1.) Who is manufacturing these faux-branded THC treats?

2.) Why the hell are they not being sued into the ground by Kraft, Mondelez, Pepsi-co and every other multi-national corporation of which they are blatantly infringing patents in the worst way possible?

The answer surprises me. Knowing what I do about counterfeit overseas manufacturing and 3ed shifts, I figured this was yet another case of overseas manufactured goods sneaking in via the online retail market. Not unlike the endless game of whack-a-mole that government regulators worldwide must engage in to keep up with the constant flux of synthetic cannabinoids and other compounds.

While the packaging does indeed seem to originate from overseas manufacturing sources, the factories appear to be only making the packages. They instead appear to be sold online to dealers within places like the US, of whom pack their own presumably homemade edibles inside. Another possibility is the addition of THC compounds to real (otherwise THC-free products) like candies and chips. Why else would many of these packages mimic real products if not for this purpose?

If you’ve bought or been offered black market edibles over the past year, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Medicated Nerds Rope or Stoney Patch Kids. If you haven’t heard of them, check the local news stations and federal health warnings. From California to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Minnesota, and everywhere in between, law enforcement has seized thousands upon thousands of identically labeled Nerds Rope and Stoney Patch edibles. So how are dealers in every corner of the U.S. getting the same product, and how do they look so much like real Nerds Ropes and Sour Patch Kids?

The answer goes back to those same bootleg packaging sellers who make thousands of fake BackPackBoyz mylar bags. Instead of popular weed brands, though, these bags are marked with fake Nerds Rope or Sour Patch Kids candy graphics and labeled with arbitrarily high THC quantities—as high as 400 milligrams. With those ready-to-seal bags easily available online, all dealers need to do is unwrap bulk quantities of real Nerds Rope or Sour Patch candies, spray them with cheap THC distillate, and repackage them in the pre-labeled edible bags. In most cases, the THC distillate is the same illicit pot product that is used in the counterfeit vape cartridges that sparked a health crisis last year.

 

1.) While I did know about all the commotion surrounding vapes, I didn’t realize that many of them were counterfeit. Though the problem appears to have intensified last year, the issue of counterfeit vapes appears to have been prevalent long before. The only way of avoiding such counterfeits appears to be purchasing from only reputable sources.

Be careful out there.

2.) So it is just real food products getting tampered with.

 

Since eating edibles doesn’t affect the lungs, it is unlikely tainted distillate edibles will result in another health crisis, but the facade of professional packaging hides product of uncertain and widely varying potency and potentially unsafe manufacturing and handling techniques. The knockoff edible market is so big that Nerds Rope parent company Ferrara Candy Company has made public statements distancing itself from and rebuking the popular black market product. At the end of the day, there is nothing stopping dealers from repackaging plain candy in edible-labeled bags without any THC added at all.

 

The article that I opened this post with (along with the many local news stories covering it)  used the word unregulated many times in describing this industry. And this is certainly the case. But it strikes me that the answer to this problem (or at least a good part of it) is starring all of these people right in the face.

Though I am not sure how prevalent (if at all) this sort of thing is in Canada, it strikes me that it would be less so just on account of the legal status of Cannabis on a national level. There are no provinces and territories in which cannabis remains illegal. As such, few (if any) places exist wherein it makes any sense to risk purchasing this questionable stuff over easily available legal varieties. After all, you can pay for legal cannabis by credit card and have it delivered to your house!

In the US, I can’t help thinking that this is going to be a problem until cannabis is fully legalized at the federal level. Though there will no doubt still be individual States that turn their back on such a ruling by disallowing dispensaries by way of  local and regional plebiscites, this won’t stop mail order or otherwise out of state purchased cannabis. After all, federal law is the law of the land. 
This should happen anyway so that the US cannabis industry can meaningfully access the national and international banking system. It’s ridiculous that legitimate businesses still don’t have the same banking access afforded to a newly opened liquor store or pharmacy.

This is not to say that bringing the cannabis industry above board once and for all will totally eliminate the black market. After all, even in a nation that has arguably become the worldwide gold standard for legalization (Canada), the implementation still has its problems.
One of them is that the legislation has all the hallmarks of a law passed by people that don’t understand cannabis. That is to say, THC is still treated very differently than pretty much any other drug available to lawfully purchase.

In Canada, the limits are thus:

The possession limits in the Cannabis Act are based on dried cannabis. Equivalents were developed for other cannabis products to identify what their possession limit would be.

One (1) gram of dried cannabis is equal to:

  • 5 grams of fresh cannabis
  • 15 grams of edible product
  • 70 grams of liquid product
  • 0.25 grams of concentrates (solid or liquid)
  • 1 cannabis plant seed

This means, for example, that an adult 18 years of age or older, can legally possess 150 grams of fresh cannabis.

https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/cannabis/

 

While a quick read of this by most people (including me in the past) would not reveal any problems, I found myself running into this limit recently. Not in terms of fresh cannabis or edibles, instead in terms of liquid products. I recently purchased 5 cans of low-dose liquid products and 10g’s of chocolate. Though I wanted to purchase 7 cans of liquid product, I was limited to the 5 in that order. The issue I faced was in how the liquids are measured.

While a daily purchase limit of 30 grams per day may not strike most people as problematic (and I found it pretty funny to be hitting the limit as a beginner experimenting in low dosages), the absurdity comes in the context in relation to other easily available drugs. 

We will start with caffeine. Anyone (even a minor) can walk into almost any convenience store or supermarket and purchase a 4 or 6 pack of highly caffeinated canned energy drinks without issue.
Moving on to alcohol, 6, 12 and 24 packs are the standard packaging sizes for beer (with no limit on the number one can purchase) at one time. Spirits can range in size from 300ml and under to 1.5L and higher (again, without any purchase limits). To use a personal anecdote from my life, I was able to purchase a 24 pack of Rockstar Vodka along with 24 cans of beer in preparation for a birthday party when I was 18. The only thing asked of me was my ID and my debit card.

Whether or not one ever should find themselves running into the 30-gram daily cannabis purchase limit is arguably beside the point of why said limit exists in the first place. Since cannabis legalization is new ground for everyone involved, however, we can hope that this is just the beginning. The product of a justice system and society still hesitant to a substance that was demonized for the better part of all of our lives.

But, it’s time to bring this to a close.

Canada – Lifting (or at least, raising) the arbitrary cannabis purchase limits can only help to eliminate their bottleneck factor in terms of bringing long-time black market users over to the legal side. Another way to help achieve this would be to relax the arbitrary caps on potency.

United States – Start by legalizing cannabis (thus rendering the creation of faux-edibles and the purchase of synthetic cannabis as largely obsolete). After that,  join Canada in sorting out the rest of the specifics.

Rare Marijuana Side Effects

Though I have found myself writing a lot of these lately, I have here yet another one. A reaction to someone else’s article on the subject of marijuana. Though I let the vast majority of these articles slide (few venture into territory that I have not already covered), this one is alarmist enough to justify some analysis. And it also highlights a new problem that I had not yet come across.

So, let’s begin. Written by Julia Naftulin for Insider, the article (titled Rare marijuana side effects, from uncontrollable vomiting to lung damage) was published on June 12th, 2021.

 

https://www.insider.com/rare-marijuana-side-effects-vomiting-lung-damage-psychosis-2021-6

When it comes to smoking cannabis, experiences like blood-shot eyes, getting the munchies, and an impaired sense of time are near-universal.

But for a small subset of the population, using cannabis creates unwanted side effects, either from the weed itself or the method used to consume it.

These effects are still being studied and little conclusive research exists due to cannabis’ federal illegal status.

 

So far, so good. Though, I admit that it be nice if some of these journalists would be less matter-of-fact when reporting on the illegality of marijuana hampering research. I get it, it is just a part of how things are. But that does not mean that it isn’t idiotic. Particularly with what is to follow this sentence.

But, that is just my critique.

 

A mysterious syndrome causes regular weed users to endure unrelenting nausea

Cannabis researchers are currently studying cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, a rare disorder that affects some frequent cannabis users, Insider previously reported.

Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS, usually sets in when a person is in their thirties and is characterized by vomiting and nausea.

People who have been diagnosed with CHS previously told Insider it felt like a flip was switched on them: One day they were fine with the normal cannabis consumption, and the next they were violently vomiting hours after smoking.

The only known way to treat CHS is to quit cannabis altogether.

 

This was the main reason I decided to analyze this article as I have never heard of CHS before now. And I still don’t know anything about it, as what you see is the depth in which this article bothers to cover the illness. We’re barely skin deep!

So let’s dig.

 

Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is a condition that leads to repeated and severe bouts of vomiting. It is rare and only occurs in daily long-term users of marijuana.

Marijuana has several active substances. These include THC and related chemicals. These substances bind to molecules found in the brain. That causes the drug “high” and other effects that users feel.

Your digestive tract also has a number of molecules that bind to THC and related substances. So marijuana also affects the digestive tract. For example, the drug can change the time it takes the stomach to empty. It also affects the esophageal sphincter. That’s the tight band of muscle that opens and closes to let food from the esophagus into the stomach. Long-term marijuana use can change the way the affected molecules respond and lead to the symptoms of CHS.

https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/c/cannabinoid-hyperemesis-syndrome.html

 

I would assume that by molecules, the source article is referring to receptors of the endocannabinoid system in layman’s terms. An understandable approach to take in terms of education on this topic.

While I looked at a few sources for information, all seem to share the sentiment of this one. That is to say that this disorder is considered to be rare, and only affects chronic users of marijuana. And the solution is indeed permanent abstinence from marijuana.

 

To fully get better, you need to stop using marijuana all together. Some people may get help from drug rehab programs to help them quit. Cognitive behavioral therapy or family therapy can also help. If you stop using marijuana, your symptoms should not come back.

What are possible complications of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome?

Very severe, prolonged vomiting may lead to dehydration. It may also lead to electrolyte problems in your blood. If untreated, these can cause rare complications such as:

  • Muscle spasms or weakness
  • Seizures
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities
  • Shock
  • In very rare cases, brain swelling (cerebral edema)

Your healthcare team will quickly work to fix any dehydration or electrolyte problems. Doing so can help prevent these problems.

What can I do to prevent cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome?

You can prevent CHS by not using marijuana in any form. You may not want to believe that marijuana may be the underlying cause of your symptoms. That may be because you have used it for many years without having any problems. The syndrome may take several years to develop. The drug may help prevent nausea in new users who don’t use it often. But people with CHS need to completely stop using it. If they don’t, their symptoms will likely come back.

 

https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/c/cannabinoid-hyperemesis-syndrome.html

 

While the complications of ignoring the condition are indeed dire and should be heeded, the condition itself, fortunately, seems to be quite rare. Something that isn’t exactly clear in the original article that I quoted from. A tact that seems far more concerned with scaring than informing. 

I really wish the media would quit doing this. It may work on ageing adult parents, but teens and kids can see this nonsense from a mile away. And unlike me, they likely won’t bother doing research to confirm (or debunk) these arguments. They will just assume they are being lied to, and likely have to learn the hard way.

Just say no . . . to drug propaganda.

 

https://www.vox.com/2015/12/22/10621810/internet-marijuana-legalization-drugs

Having gotten that off my chest once more, I will now go into some speculation. Though this is not well understood (much like the endocannabinoid system itself), I have to wonder if this is yet another effect of increasing THC potency in modern strains. A case of the body being able to handle it until . . . it just can’t anymore.

But that is just layman speculation. For all we know, it could also be one of the hundreds of other cannabinoids aside from THC and CBD that we don’t yet know anything about. Something we don’t know, may I again reminds you, because of panicked and biased drug prohibition laws.

However, I’m done with my soap box speech. On to the rest of the Insider article.

 

Some weed users have reported psychosis

For people with a personal or family history of psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, consuming cannabis could lead to a psychotic break, current research suggests.

A March 2019 study suggests using high-potency cannabis with more than 10% THC could also cause psychosis.

The researchers were unable to prove cannabis directly caused psychosis, since they didn’t follow users from the first time they ever used cannabis.

But they observed that cannabis users in European cities where high-potency weed is more available were more likely to report a first-ever psychotic episode.

 

The first paragraph of the studies summary reads thus:

 

Cannabis use is associated with increased risk of later psychotic disorder but whether it affects incidence of the disorder remains unclear. We aimed to identify patterns of cannabis use with the strongest effect on odds of psychotic disorder across Europe and explore whether differences in such patterns contribute to variations in the incidence rates of psychotic disorder.

https://www.thelancet.com/article/S2215-0366(19)30048-3/fulltext

The underlining slash bolding was on my part, to emphasize that the study authors had much broader intentions than repeating what is already established. It was less about proving than it is about looking for patterns in usage corresponding to instances of psychiatric episodes.

And aside from that, this topic has been well explored already by Gary Wenk Ph. D in this Psychology Today article. His write-up is such a breath of fresh air on the subject matter that it has become my go if this comes up (after exploring it HERE).

We can now move on to the last paragraph of the insider article (which concerns vaping).

 

Vaping cannabis has led to permanent lung damage in some users

Another rare side effect of cannabis involves a particular method of ingesting it, vaping, rather than the substance itself.

In 2019, a spate of vaping-related illnesses popped up around the United States, with hundreds of people being hospitalized due to vaping-related lung injuries, Insider previously reported.

The trend led health officials to investigate ingredients in both THC and nicotine-containing devices. They found certain additives in vape “juice,” like vitamin E acetate and glycerin, could damage a person’s lungs and cause symptoms like chronic coughing, shortness of breath, and nausea.

Now, the illness is referred to as EVALI, or e-cigarette and vape-associated lung injury.

 

And, thus concludes the article.

The way that most governments have reactively responded to the unethical actions that drove the growth of the vaping industry has annoyed me for some time now. Though they were viewed and sold as largely harmless smoking cessation tools by most people for many years, the industry finally seems to be having its social media-esk reckoning. Though not before hooking a whole new generation on nicotine. Not to mention being the cause of a still growing number of illnesses and injuries relating to the almost entirely unregulated nature of the vaping marketplace. A tainted market that has now at times become entangled with the newly budding legal marijuana market as companies (and users) look to alternatives to smoking.

While my own personal advice would be not to vape THC, CBD or anything else period, that is just me. For those that do vape, I suppose the best you can do is try to ensure that you know what you are paying for. Both in terms of the other ingredients in the juice, and in terms of the THC content of the product. Being the unregulated nature if the industry, this could involve some research into the products you are using. Some investigative news organization or research entity is bound to have checked the legitimacy of the label claims at some point.

For those that doubt the prospect of a company violating the trust of its customers that much, consider what the supplement industry has been getting away with for decades.

On the whole, we believe them. Supplements are a $30 billion industry in the US. Recent surveys suggest that 52 percent of Americans take at least one supplement—and 10 percent take four or more. But should we? Are we healthier, smarter, stronger, or in any way better off because of these daily doses?

The answer is likely no. Most supplements have little to no data to suggest that they’re effective, let alone safe. They’re often backed by tenuous studies in rodents and petri dishes or tiny batches of people. And the industry is rife with hype and wishful thinking—even the evidence for multivitamins isn’t solid. There are also outright deadly scams. What’s more, the industry operates with virtually no oversight.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/02/supplements-are-a-30-billion-racket-heres-what-experts-actually-recommend/

 

My personal viewpoint on vaping is quite regimented in comparison to my views on everything else. I know . . . “Okay boomer!”. More like “Okay Milliniel!”, but nonetheless. 

In terms of vaping as a form of relaxation (in the same way that others smoke, or drink alcohol), I won’t ever attempt to stand in your way. It’s not great, but such is the tax of many things that make life bearable.

And the same goes for those that vape THC. Having said that, however, given the many other options increasingly available on the legal edibles and drinkables market, the choice certainly perplexes me. One of my local dispensaries alone has infused cola, vanilla rooibos (red) tea, gummies and many other options that are much preferable to either smoking or vaping (just watch the dose!). However, to each their own.

In closing, the insider article is yet another example of why it is often pertinent to fact-check the media when it comes to controversial and fairly complex topics such as marijuana. Though the issue is not always willfully perpetuated mistruths, perpetuated misunderstandings can be just as damaging.

Surprising Side Effects of Marijuana?

Today, I am going to be reviewing an article from Eat This, Not That! , a platform devoted to healthy living. The author of the article is Leah Groth, a freelance journalist and contributor to several well-respected wellness publications (including Prevention and Men’s Health, among many others).

Though I normally cover/review articles based on their hyperbole or malicious nature, this is not the case with this one. This work is meant to inform at its heart. I am just concerned by at least one of the points of concern that the author has raised.

Let us begin.

 

Marijuana, also referred to as weed, pot, dope, or cannabis, is the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. “It contains mind-altering (e.g., psychoactive) compounds like tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, as well as other active compounds like cannabidiol, or CBD, that are not mind-altering,” explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Marijuana is used for many reasons, some recreational and others medicinal. However, no matter what you are using it for, there can be side effects, explains Niket Sonpal, MD, NYC Internist and Gastroenterologist, Faculty Member Touro College of Medicine. Read on to learn about the surprising side effects of marijuana.

Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these 19 Ways You’re Ruining Your Body, Say Health Experts.

https://www.eatthis.com/surprising-side-effects-of-marijuana-say-experts/

 

1.)There May Be a Lowered Reaction Time

One potential short-term negative effect of marijuana is a lowered reaction time. “Slower reaction times may occur due to the THC, the main psychoactive in marijuana. It’s believed that the thalamo-cortico-striatal circuit network in the brain (portion related to the perception of time) contains many receptors that bind with THC,” explains Dr. Sonpal. “When this binding happens, your internal clock speeds us, thus leading you to feel as if everything has slowed down around you.” 

 

While I have never heard the medical explanation of this phenomenon before, this isn’t really anything new. It serves as a good reason why driving under the influence of cannabis isn’t a great idea, though.

 

2.) It May Promote Severe Anxiety

While marijuana has a calming effect on some people, others experience severe anxiety. “Someone may experience increased feelings of anxiety because high THC levels cause the brain to receive more cannabinoids than usual. This over-stimulates the amygdala, which causes some people to feel anxious,” says Dr. Sonpal.

 

While this also isn’t new information, I have to wonder how much of this is based on the combination of increased/increasing THC content and decreasing (or the complete lacking of) of CBD content in many modern strains of marijuana (sold both legally and illegally). 
I mention this partially because CBD has become a well-known (albeit, not well researched) aid in controlling anxiety, but also because the 2 compounds are thought to work in unison when it comes to delivering a fairly stable THC high.

Again, science has yet to catch up to the claims. Nonetheless, however, when THC and CBD are both present in cannabis or cannabis derivatives consumed, the CBD is thought to work as a sort of buffer to the at times chaotic sharper edges of THC intoxication.

This site puts it best:

 

Taken alone, both CBD and THC may have unique and isolated effects, but when taken together, research shows that the negative side-effects of THC is reduced greatly.

Clinic studies and research shows that the combined effects of taking CBD and THC together reduces pain and cancer related symptoms.

The overall understanding of medicinal cannabis, CBD and THC and their effects on the human body is in its infancy.

https://www.cannabisplace.com.au/learn/cbd-and-thc/

 

The format of the list format of the OP article may not be conducive to the intricate details of nuance such as those above. However, given the purpose of the article, the omission of these details seems somewhat deceptive (even if unintentional).

I am lenient when it comes to journalists quoting experts, however. It would not be the first time that I’ve come across quoted experts who are taken seriously solely on account of their resume containing the letters MD. Just as it would not be the first time I’ve come across a quoted expert who is quick to parrot negative effects of cannabis (such as anxiety), yet not understand anything beyond this symptom. BECAUSE this is not their area of expertise.

You can find one of my favourite examples of this HERE.

Journalists want sources with well-respected credentials. And there are many people out there that fit the bill, even if they may have just as much understanding of what they are claiming expertise to as the very journalist in which they are speaking. It’s annoying, but so long as people don’t know any better, it is what it is.

Is that what is happening here?

I don’t know. Like many media quirks and biases, it is not always possible to know the answer to this question for sure. However, it is something to keep in mind when reading articles (in this case, on the subject of marijuana) going forward.

 

3.) It May Negatively Impact Your Heart

Using marijuana not only makes the heart beat faster, but could also lead to increased risk of stroke and heart disease, says the CDC. However, they do point out that most of the scientific studies linking marijuana to heart attacks and strokes are based on reports from people who smoked it. “Smoked marijuana delivers THC and other cannabinoids to the body, but it also delivers harmful substances to users and those close by, including many of the same substances found in tobacco smoke, which are harmful to the lungs and cardiovascular system.

 

Again, this is not really news. Though the bad for the heart aspect has been getting a fair amount of online media coverage recently, I am glad the author has made clear the limitations of that research.

Overall, i’de say that this falls into the realm of common sense. Smoking anything isn’t healthy. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options.

 

4.)It Might Result in Long-Term Brain Damage

Per the CDC, marijuana affects brain development. “When marijuana users begin using as teenagers, the drug may reduce attention, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions,” they explain. “Marijuana’s effects on these abilities may last a long time or even be permanent. This means that someone who uses marijuana may not do as well in school and may have trouble remembering things.”

 

This was the main point I wanted to touch on in this article. Something that I have come to see as borderline scaremongering after writing THIS a month ago.

The part of the linked article that is most pertinent is this:

How old are you? Why age matters

Still in the womb? The prenatal brain is very vulnerable to the presence of cannabis.

You’re an adolescent? The available evidence indicates that the adolescent brain is still vulnerable to exogenous cannabinoids. Essentially, cannabis alters the normal trajectory of brain maturation, although the consequences are less severe than those seen following prenatal exposure. The combined evidence from numerous human and animal studies suggests that exposure to cannabis during adolescence has the potential to produce subtle, but lasting, alterations in brain function and behavior. The severity differs according to the duration of use, age at first use, and underlying genetic vulnerabilities that are more likely to appear during adolescence, such as various psychopathologies.

If you’re beyond middle age, the use of whole plant medical cannabis does not have a negative impact on cognition in older patients. Why are the effects of cannabis age-dependent? The answer to this question remains unknown but there is one fascinating potential mechanism that involves what is happening to the stem cells in your brain. Stem cells undergo neurogenesis and give birth to new neurons every day. Neurogenesis is obviously critical for the developing brain from prenatal to adolescence. Neurogenesis begins to decline around middle age and is nearly absent by the time you are ready to retire.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-brain-food/202104/can-marijuana-cause-psychosis

 

And to quote myself (as sourced from the link in the previous paragraph):

First of all, the term psychopathologies seems to be psychologist speak for various mental illness traits. It sounds kind of like psychopathy, but it’s not. If memory serves, psychopathy generally starts showing up long before adolescence.

And just so I am clear to my readers:

Note: If you are under the age of majority where you live, leave the intoxicating experiences until you are legal age!

 

While I again do not advise that minors consume marijuana or any other drugs, I have to point out what most of these hyperbolic scare-mongering articles seem to miss. Contrary to the squeaky clean world that adults wish we and our children live in, there will be teens that use cannabis. Rather than pushing the hyperbolic talking points which essentially say Marijuana is bad, PERIOD! (which will only lead to problems when teenagers inevitably call your bluff and ignore this prudish nonsense), be realistic.

No, people under the age of 18 (or whatever the legal age is where you live) should not be using marijuana. But since that is as much wishful thinking as promoting an abstinence-only education curriculum, teach them some facts about what they are getting into, starting with reviewing the article I quoted above.

 

5.) It May Help You Sleep Better

A potential short-term positive effect? Marijuana may help you sleep better. “Marijuana acts as a sleep aid because the THC’s sedative effects lengthen the time spent in deep sleep and shorten the amount of time it takes to fall asleep,” explains Dr. Sonpal.

 

Knowing people that use cannabis partly for this benefit, I have to concur that this isn’t new. Though, like all sleep aids (including over-the-counter melatonin), one may want to be wary of continuous dosage for this purpose. There may be reliance or addiction factors to consider.

Another odd omission on the part of our quoted MD.

 

6.) Risk of Prescription Opioid Use

A potential long- term negative effect is increased risk of prescription opioid abuse, states Dr. Sonpal. “Research has suggested that individuals who use marijuana may be more likely to misuse opioids than nonusers,” he explains. 

 

This was another point that grabbed my attention since it struck me as being opposite to what one would expect. The fact that neither MD nor author has bothered to cite any source to back this claim is also bothersome.

But I may understand what the concern is. And for that, I have to again consult my entry from a month ago.

 

This is certainly new to me. I have in the past, come across research indicating that substances like alcohol and nicotine act (or CAN act) as sort of magnifiers of the effects of other drugs (one of them being THC). A better word to use may be primer (as opposed to magnifier).

In my previous (linked) post, it was indicated that THC may be linked to alcohol use disorder due to a  priming effect on the brain. It makes me wonder if the connection between marijuana, nicotine and schizophrenia may have similar origins.

“Can Marijuana Cause Psychosis?” – (Psychology Today)

Though that article was more focused on a possible association between marijuana use, tobacco use and the development of schizophrenia, the phenomenon we are concerned with is the so-called priming of the brain. This may be the factor that increases the risk of marijuana users abusing opioid medications.

 

Brain endocannabinoid and opioid signaling systemshave overlapping behavioral functions, playing keyroles in pain, memory, and reward ‘‘liking’’. In accordancewith this hypothesis, drugs likeD9-tetrahydrocannabinol(THC) and heroin that target these endogenous systemssuppress pain, interferewith memory, and have eu-phoric effects. Cannabinoid and opioid signalingalso enhance hedonic ‘‘liking’’ of food rewards, and fa-cilitate incentive motivational ‘‘wanting’’ that, whenexcessive, can lead to development of compulsive drugseeking in addiction. Given rising use and addiction toopioid and cannabinoid drugs, a better understandingof how these endogenous signaling systems interact inthe brain is of significant interest.The overlapping affective functions of opioids andcannabinoids in nucleus accumbens (NAc) may not beseparate, but instead involve synaptic interactions be-tween these signaling systems. For example, cannabinoidreceptor type 1 (CBR1) andlopioid receptors are fre-quently found in the same cells and afferent axons inNAc shell. Their co-use of Gi/o signaling pathways,as well as their ability to form heterodimers3alsopoint to these signaling systems interacting to modulatebehavior. Indeed, there is evidence that cannabinoidand opioid receptor systems interact functionally.For example, cannabinoidantagonists block opioidstimulation of accumbens dopamine release, heroinself-administration, reinstatement of heroin seeking, andfood intake.

Conversely, opioid antagonists block cannabinoid drug self-administration, the reinforcing ef-fects of THC, and THC-elicited food intake. In ad-dition, cannabinoid and opioid drugs demonstratecross-sensitization and tolerance, and THC can prime heroin seeking in a self-administration model.

Click to access Mitchell-et-al-CannCannRes-2018.pdf

 

Well, that is handy-dandy. But the paper itself is a nightmare. However, the relevant information can be found near the end of the quoted text.

I am assuming this was the relationship eluded to by the OP author (or more accurately, her quoted MD). A citation would certainly have been great.

 

7.) It May Help Treat Chronic Pain

Dr. Sonpal also reveals that s potential long-term positive effect of marijuana is that it can treat chronic pain. “THC in marijuana reduces pain perception and pain signaling by interacting with the body’s cannabinoid receptors, thus relieving pain,” he says. And to get through life at your healthiest, Don’t Take This Supplement, Which Can Raise Your Cancer Risk.

 

And again, there is nothing really new being added here. Though this reply is surprisingly well explained (compared to the last one).

Thus ends this article, and exploration. Though I had a few critiques, it is good for a piece tailored for everyday people who are ignorant of the ins and outs of marijuana. While it contains a couple tropes common in media reporting on the subject, such tropes tend to be more common than not, and (most importantly) are generally not the fault of the journalist. They are just writing what they are being told.

 

 

 

 

Cannabis Legalization Debate Turns to Questions of Pot Potency – (The Insurance Journal)

Although I try to space out my various commentaries on any 1 subject to keep my flow of posts from getting too homogeneous, sometimes opportunities just present themselves. In this case, an article exploring a conversation that I believe NEEDS to be had. Written by Jennifer Peltz for what I assume is an industry publication, we have what looks to be a good angle.

Let us begin.

 

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2021/04/22/611177.htm

 

As marijuana legalization spreads across U.S. states, so does a debate over whether to set pot policy by potency.

Under a law signed last month, New York will tax recreational marijuana based on its amount of THC, the main intoxicating chemical in cannabis. Illinois imposed a potency-related tax when recreational pot sales began last year. Vermont is limiting THC content when its legal market opens as soon as next year, and limits or taxes have been broached in some other states and the U.S. Senate’s drug-control caucus.

Supporters say such measures will protect public health by roping off, or at least discouraging, what they view as dangerously concentrated cannabis.

“This is not your Woodstock weed,” says Kevin Sabet, the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an anti-legalization group that has been pressing for potency caps. “We need to put some limitations on the products being sold.”

 

And ALREADY, I find myself mildly annoyed.

I understand why journalists interview and/or reference people like Kevin Sabet. It is because he is considered to be knowledgeable on account of his idiotic lobby group and his previous experience in the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Obama. However, as I stated HERE, I deem his opinion a joke considering what his position was during arguably the worst part of the opioid crisis.

People literally died by the thousands all over the United States at the hand of heavy-handed pill pushers at all levels ON HIS WATCH, and now the prick is lecturing adults on today’s weed not being Woodstock weed?!

Well, today’s opioids are a far cry from the opium found in London’s dens of darkness. Seems like a good reason to keep an eye on that situation, lest things get out of control.

Right?

Nah. Let’s blindly and completely without context, keep focusing on yet another unintended consequence of the drug war effectively deregulating the production and distribution of marijuana (super potent weed). Let’s start a lobbying effort ensuring the limited potency of a drug that has never killed anyone through its toxicity. Legalized over the counter opioid pills and solutions . . . no need to cap those dosages or prescriptions!

But Willy Nelson needs some strong skunk because he’s been toking longer than I’ve been alive . . . TO BAD!

Piss off, Kevin Sabet. And as for those that reference him . . . please don’t.

With that purely rational reaction out of my system, we can move on.

Don’t get me wrong, I do agree that the potency of marijuana needs to be taken into consideration. However, I don’t agree that taxing, limiting or otherwise mandating maximum potency is necessarily the correct approach. However, I do believe that the correct dosage needs to be easily visible on promotional materials, product packaging and on request. I also believe that educational materials should be made available to ensure that consumers understand exactly what these numbers mean.

Any dispensary that is truly passionate about what they do will already be doing that. After all, a novice customer buying a bad trip is a customer they will likely never see again. Nonetheless, the industry as a whole could benefit from some standardized educational materials. While this role could be played by governments, I would much rather see materials from people that actually understand the dynamics of the substances in which they deal with. Unlike governing entities of which typically come in hard and with ignorant bias, or WAY too late.

*cough*

VAPING!!

 

Opponents argue that THC limits could drive people to buy illegally, and amount to beginning to ban pot again over a concern that critics see as overblown.

“It’s prohibitionism 2.0,” said Cristina Buccola, a cannabis business lawyer in New York. “Once they start putting caps on that, what don’t they put caps on?”

THC levels have been increasing in recent decades — from 4% in 1995 to 12% in 2014 in marijuana seized by federal agents, for example. Cannabis concentrates sold in Colorado’s legal market average about 69% THC, and some top 90%, according to state reports.

 

I agree that THC limits could drive people to the illicit market because I can cite an anecdotal example from within my circle of friends. I don’t know what his tolerance is, but he must be approaching Kurt Cobain or Donny Chong levels because apparently, the legal stuff has trouble keeping up.

Of course, he resides in British Columbia, a region that had a billion-dollar cannabis market long before Justin Trudeau Made Canada Great Again. And anecdotes are just the viewpoint of one person. However, one does not have data without multitudes of anecdotes. And there is no reason to exclude these consumers from the legal market just because they may occupy a growing niche compared to the rest of the growing segment.

And when it comes to THC levels as listed, I am curious about the contexts behind the numbers. Though the levels in seized plants is fairly straightforward (they are the product of decades of genetic engineering), I am more curious of the levels within legally available supplies. Even though the average of the available strains currently sits at about 69%, what is the lower end? And how easily available are these more newbie-friendly strains?

 

A sweeping 2017 examination of cannabis and health by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine listed increasing potency among factors that “create the potential for an increased risk of adverse health effects.”

Some studies have linked high-THC pot, especially when used daily, with the likelihood of psychosis and certain other mental health problems. But there is debate over whether one causes the other.

 

That is a terrifying sentence without any context attached to it. Good thing I brought some to it not that long ago. In short, this explores a bit of the debate along with some clear advice from a level-headed Ph. D (not me lol). A lot of it involves your genes, and if that is uncertain, you may be best to avoid at least very potent strains (if not abstain entirely).

“Can Marijuana Cause Psychosis?” – (Psychology Today)

There . . . useful advice instead of “Smoke weed AND YOU GO IIINNNSANE!!!!!!”. Why is that such a difficult concept for the press?

I am of course speaking generally (and not just implicating the journalist I am quoting). We are only as accurate as the experts we rely on, after all. And in this space . . . well, you saw my Kevin Sabet rant lol. And worry not America, Canadian quoted experts can be just as bad.

 

Opposes Cap

Dr. Rachel Knox, an Oregon physician who counsels patients on using cannabis for various conditions, says she doesn’t see an increased risk of psychosis for people using such products under medical oversight. She opposes capping potency but suggests that products containing over 70% THC should be reserved for medical users while research continues.

“I think we should treat it with both freedom and with kid gloves,” says Knox, a former chair of the Oregon Cannabis Commission and a board member of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, a trade group.

 

That is an acceptable compromise. It would have been nice to have had the research DECADES ago . . . but that is a rant of many past posts. Limit until understood is a perfectly rational position.

 

But Colorado pediatrician and state Rep. Dr. Yadira Caraveo says she has seen the dangers of high-THC cannabis.

One of her adolescent patients who used high-potency pot daily was repeatedly hospitalized with severe vomiting linked to heavy marijuana use, and another needed psychiatric hospitalization after the drug exacerbated his mental health problems, said Caraveo. She’s thinking about proposing a potency cap.

“I’m not interested in going back to criminalization,” the Democrat says, but “the reason that I ran, and what I continue to do with the Legislature every day, is to protect public health.”

Various states have regulated how many milligrams of THC can be in a single serving, package or retail sale, at least for some products. Vermont took a different approach, limiting the percentage of the chemical in any amount of recreational pot — 30% for flower-form marijuana and 60% for concentrates.

 

While I am normally annoyed with experts using anecdotes of their own to back their agenda, I will cut Dr. Caraveo some slack as she is not being unreasonable. Unlike many, she is not against legalization FULL STOP, she just sees the need for adjustments within the current climate. Perfectly acceptable.

Having said that, though, even discounting the seemingly tiny number of examples listed (2), I would question how exactly these patients were getting access to marijuana. It is an important question since it determines how well her proposed solution would actually tackle the problem.

For example, if the marijuana they were using was coming from legal sources, then there is obviously either a problem with compliance with age verification at dispensaries or some adult or other in their life is acting irresponsibly. If the marijuana is coming from illicit sources, then the question one has to ask becomes why are people still resorting to these sources? Why are people not taking advantage of the much less sketchy legal marketplace?

Is it because the illicit marketplace has a high potency product that they can not obtain in the legal market?

Then you have to take it into consideration. The demand is not going to go away with a potency cap. However, more varied offerings should offer more control in keeping this stuff out of the hands of minors.

 

Virginia Law

Virginia’s new legalization law gives its future Cannabis Control Authority the power to set THC limits, and a proposal to cap THC in medical marijuana has gotten some attention in Florida’s Legislature. Nationally, the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan Caucus on International Narcotics Control suggested last month that federal health agencies study whether pot potency should be limited.

Legalization supporters say caps will backfire.

“Consumer demand for these products is not going to go away, and re-criminalizing them will only push this consumer base to seek out similar products in the unregulated illicit market,” Paul Armentano, the deputy director of NORML, wrote in a recent op-ed in the Denver newspaper Westword.

 

YES!

Not that this is much of a surprise. It’s hard to find an article containing the words marijuana, schizophrenia or psychosis that isn’t at least mildly alarmist. But I suppose this will continue being a bane so long as the research is ongoing.

*sigh*

 

Rather than forbidding high-potency pot, some states are just making it more expensive.

Marijuana is taxed on sales price or weight in most states where it’s legal. But recreational pot taxes depend partly on THC content in Illinois and New York.

 

That is also a bad idea. Short of taxing the various levels of other commonly available drugs (consider things like caffeine, alcohol and all types of medications!), this seems wildly unfair and potentially even discriminatory. Not to mention the question of wherein one decides to set the limit over which will trigger the taxes. 

Even though 2 states have already adopted this method, let it stay at 2. Don’t do this.

 

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office recommended a potency tax in 2019, saying the approach “could reduce harmful use more effectively.” But the same year, Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board said it wasn’t feasible, citing uncertainty about how switching from the state’s sales tax would affect consumption, public health and revenues.

Potency taxes have an upside for states: more stable revenue than sales taxes, says Carl Davis of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a progressive think tank. That’s because sales tax totals can fall with prices in a maturing market.

 

I have my doubts that potency taxes will have much effect on consumption. If anything, it is nothing more than a rebranded Sin tax. An excuse to profiteer off of the misery of individuals potentially caught in the clutches of addiction. That this came from a supposedly progressive think tank is bothersome. There is nothing progressive about it!

At least Washington State didn’t fall for this idiotic premise.

 

There’s a downside for small cannabis companies, says Amber Littlejohn, the Minority Cannabis Business Association’s executive director. She worries they’ll lose out if THC taxes drive customers to underground dealers or to big, multistate firms that may be able to trim prices.

Instead, Littlejohn says potency policy should focus on research and stringent labeling and marketing requirements, and the industry needs to be responsive.

“It is absolutely an emerging issue,” she said, “and it is something that needs to be addressed.”

 

There isn’t much that I can add to that.

I have myself grappled with the knowledge that established corporate entities (eventually multi-nationals) would come to dominate the marijuana market. But as I came to see it, such is just how things are. It is where the money is.

I have similar sentiments about established energy companies spearheading the transition away from fossil fuels with the cash they earned wreaking havoc with the atmosphere. But then again, we were in more or less the same situation with the CFC crisis of the late ’80s to early ’90s, directly leading to the HFC crisis of the ’90s to early 2000s, then the HFO crisis of the 2010s (goddammit, humanity). By that, I mean the companies responsible for doing the damage initially for the most part took on the task of promoting and adopting the alternatives. And just maybe they will find one that isn’t eventually found to kill us all!

That certainly took a dark turn.

Either way, even if corporate domination is inevitably going to be a part of the future of the marijuana marketplace, one must still be careful not to have regulations of the industry further hindering the small companies in the space. Chances are, this is where you will find the most diverse products.

Even though we have a ways to go, it’s nice to see the conversation starting to move away from regression and instead into plotting the future of the market. This means a whole new set of challenges, and a whole new cohort of people to educate. But it is nonetheless, progress.

Hooray for that.

“President Biden Supports States’ Right To Legalize Cannabis” – (Forbes)

Today, I will be commenting on a Forbes article (written by Will Yakowics) on President Biden’s views of cannabis.

Let’s begin.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/willyakowicz/2021/04/20/president-biden-supports-states-right-to-legalize-cannabis/?sh=9e9734616604

On Tuesday, April 20, also known as 420, the cannabis high holiday, President Joe Biden’s White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said he supports a state’s right to legalize recreational marijuana.

“The president supports leaving decisions regarding legalization for recreational use up to the states, rescheduling cannabis as a Schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts and, at the federal level, he supports decriminalizing marijuana use and automatically expunging any prior criminal records,” Psaki said during a press briefing at the White House.

She added: “He also supports legalizing medicinal marijuana, so that’s his point of view on the issue.”

 

1.) While I have been pleasantly surprised at many of the actions of Biden so far (low bar considered), enough with the marijuana bias already.

I will grant that this may well be his way of trying to be bipartisan. And some people may move around the country in search of favourable marijuana legislation. But not everyone can. And frankly, people should not have to.

Not to mention that the next republican President may well reverse the hands-off policy on Cannabis just to spite democratic voters they are increasingly marginalizing VIA redistricting. And it is this very concern that has also kept the traditional banking sector out of the marijuana industry. In order for marijuana businesses to become more than just glorified drug dealers, financial institutions need assurances that their doing business won’t end in criminal conspiracy and money laundering charges later.

2.) While I applaud the fact that he is on board with decriminalization and the expunging of marijuana-related criminal records, that will only tackle part of the problem.

This still leaves cultivation and distribution in the hands of the underground. This means that issues like unregulated production and organized crime involvement still remain part of the process. While the legalization of medical marijuana is certainly a step in the right direction . . . not quite far enough.

 

The White House’s comments came hours after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made a pro-cannabis legalization speech on the floor of the Senate during what he referred to as “a very unofficial American holiday—420.”

“The War on Drugs has too often been a war on people, particularly people of color,” Schumer said. “It makes no sense—it’s time for changed. I believe the time has come to end the federal prohibition on marijuana in this country, and I’m working with Senators Booker and Wyden to do just that.”

Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said his thinking has evolved, especially after seeing his home state legalize adult-use cannabis with a robust social justice program. The experiments of state-based legalization have been successful, he said.

“The doom and gloom predictions when states like Colorado and Oregon went forward and decriminalized and legalized never occurred,” he said. “In state after state, through ballot initiatives and constitutional amendments, the American people are sending a clear message that they want this policy changed.”

Schumer went on to say that he and Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden will bring their bill to the Senate in “the near future.”

“We hope to have a draft of a comprehensive reform effort, not to end the federal prohibition on marijuana, but to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations,” he said.

 

It’s nice to see these things being so openly discussed now. It’s time to right this decades-long wrong.

 

Back at the White House briefing room, a reporter asked Psaki if President Biden would sign Schumer’s bill to legalize cannabis on the federal level if it passed the Senate and landed on his desk.

“I have just outlined what his position is, which isn’t the same as the House and Senate have proposed,” Psaki said, evading a direct answer. “But they have not yet passed a bill.”

Another reporter pressed on, asking why President Biden still opposes the legalization of adult-use even though 70% of registered voters in America support it.

“Of course, we understand the movement that’s happening toward it, I’m speaking for what his position is and what’s long, consistently been his position,” she said. “He wants to decriminalize but again he’ll look at the research of the positive and negative impacts.”

Yet, what President Biden thinks about cannabis is likely irrelevant at this point. If Congress can get a bill on his desk, he’ll sign, Jaret Seiberg, an analyst at Cowen, wrote in a note published Monday.

“We believe there is too much focus on President Biden. It does not matter how he views legalization,” Seiberg wrote. “He will sign into law whatever cannabis bill that the Democratic Congress sends him. Legalization may not be Biden’s priority, but he will not be an obstacle to it becoming law.”

 

Despite what I said previously, this is certainly the good part (if accurate, and I can’t see why it wouldn’t be). Such legislation would certainly bode well for his poll numbers.

 

But, getting the 10 Republican votes needed to defeat a filibuster will be difficult, Seiberg wrote. “It is why the industry’s lobby efforts are critical. Legalization is unstoppable once there are 10 Senate GOP votes.”

 

But therein lies the flip side. The fucking fillibuster.

 

Despite the challenges ahead, Cowen is betting that this Congress will legalize cannabis.

Schumer is equally as positive that cannabis will be legalized federally under his leadership: “Hopefully, the next time this unofficial holiday 420 rolls around, our country will have made progress in addressing the massive over-criminalization of marijuana in a meaningful and comprehensive way,” Schumer said.

 

Are they right in this assessment?

Given that the US has so far been one-upped by Portugal, Canada and Mexico, hopefully, Americans can finally expect some rational drug reform in the near to mid-term future. Speaking of midterms, this legislation may well help with that election too!

For what it’s worth, the author of the previous article seems to think that this 420 (yesterday) will be the last wherein marijuana is illegal. I admire the optimism, but at the same time . . . sure. I’ll take being surprised in a GOOD way for a change.

Either way, it occurs to me that marijuana and its edible and drinkable derivatives have been legal in Canada since 2018, yet I have not once partaken in this now legal activity. Even with the nonsense of 2019 and the utter shit show that was 2020, all I medicated with was a lot of caffeine and a bit of alcohol here and there. 

What am I waiting for?

 

 

Marijuana Abuse, Mood Disorders & Suicide – Is There A Link? / Other Explorations

Though the study (and the article I linked to) both were published a month ago, this project has been on the back burner for some time. Due to a combination of other distractions and projects,  and a need to get my message on point (since I wade into the realm of the controversial with this writing), this ended up taking much longer than I expected.

Nonetheless, let us now jump right into it. As usual, feel free to leave any commentary you have in the comments section.

 

Marijuana abuse by youth with mood disorders linked to suicide attempts, self-harm and death, study finds

https://www.phillytrib.com/news/health/marijuana-abuse-by-youth-with-mood-disorders-linked-to-suicide-attempts-self-harm-and-death/article_03e9d70a-0211-54ca-b8fa-624d4221f3e3.html

Heavy use of marijuana by teens and young adults with mood disorders — such as depression and bipolar disorder — is linked to an increased risk of self-harm, suicide attempts and death, a new study has found.

Unintentional overdoses, suicide and homicide were the three most frequent causes of death, according to the study published Tuesday in JAMA Pediatrics.

“The perception is that marijuana is safe to use, but we need to educate parents and kids that there are risks involved, particularly with heavy and high potency cannabis use,” said study author Cynthia Fontanella, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral health at the Ohio State University’s College of Medicine.

“And clinicians need to intervene to identify and treat cannabis use disorder as well as kids with mood disorders,” Fontanella said.

 

First of all, we need to dig into Unintentional overdoses, because this context seems to be broadcasting an incorrect message. And frankly, the link they provided is no better.

 

Cannabis use disorder was significantly associated with nonfatal self-harm (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR], 3.28; 95% CI, 2.55-4.22) and all-cause mortality (AHR, 1.59; 95% CI, 1.13-2.24), including death by unintentional overdose (AHR, 2.40; 95% CI, 1.39-4.16) and homicide (AHR, 3.23; 95% CI, 1.22-8.59). Although CUD was associated with suicide in the unadjusted model, it was not significantly associated in adjusted models.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2775255

That entire paragraph is problematic in itself, but again, the contact would seem to broadcast a false message. Unintended overdoses . . . on what?

While no one seemed to bother going into detail with what substances actually killed these people, the outcome of the 2010-2017 Ohio study ended up coming to this seemingly agenda-driven conclusion:

 

Conclusions and relevance: Cannabis use disorder is a common comorbidity and risk marker for self-harm, all-cause mortality, and death by unintentional overdose and homicide among youths with mood disorders. These findings should be considered as states contemplate legalizing medical and recreational marijuana, both of which are associated with increased CUD.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33464286/

 

The message of this would seem to tie a whole lot of the listed factors TO CUD, or Cannabis Use Disorder. As such, the recommendation to other states (most of which didn’t take this advice, thank goodness) is to think twice before you legalize. All of this brings to mind many questions about the data used in the study, and the lives of the various people that are behind the faceless statistics.

1.) There are many motives for murder. Even when illegal drugs are taken to consideration, the picture still isn’t clear (obvious scenarios ranging from domestic violence, gang-related violence relating to turf).

2.) While it was not deemed important to fill in the blanks in terms of what types of drugs killed that segment of the statistical pool, this oversight leaves an entirely different problem seemingly unsolved. Where are THESE substances coming from?

3.) The most important factor being left on the table by this study is in the background of all the people themselves. It is acknowledged that they all have mental some sort of mental illness. However, what are/could be the origins of this illness?

More on this to come.

Getting back to the initial article:

 

Marijuana use disorder

Cannabis use disorder, also known as marijuana use disorder, is associated with dependence on the use of weed. A person is considered dependent on weed when they feel food cravings or a lack of appetite, irritability, restlessness and mood and sleep difficulties after quitting, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

 

Though I didn’t specifically mention food cravings in my last visit with this definition, I find this part interesting since it reminded me of quitting smoking. Honestly, I don’t know that the food cravings ever really went away even after my last smoke (which was well over 5 years ago, now). Instead of craving a smoke or a cigar during long spells of late-night boredom, I often find myself reaching for a snack instead. 

That may say more about me than it does about medical science. But it also reminds me of the concept of replacing addictions with other (lesser) addictions, a concept first made clear to me by the infamous James Fry. In the case of James Fry (and his journey to sobriety as detailed in his books, nonsense aside), the alternative was religion. Or should I say, God (whatever that means to you, AA does not care).

However, that is getting somewhat off-topic (and I’ve already delved into this previously). None the less, however, you can’t have proper treatment of addictions (be it in kids or adults) without adequate programs.

But that is but one part of where our systems fall short of what is truly needed.

 

“People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults,” NIDA advises. About 4 million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for a marijuana use disorder in 2015, the NIDA estimates.

Experts say that number will have grown due to a rise in potency in today’s varieties of weed, along with the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults in 15 states and medical use in 36 states.

Studies in adults show a strong association between overuse of weed and suicide attempts and death. A study of adult same-sex twins found those who were dependent on marijuana were nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide than their twin who was not dependent on weed.

Another study of 1,463 suicides and 7,392 natural deaths in the United States found a link between any use of marijuana by adults and suicide risk after adjusting for alcohol use, depression and use of mental health services. And there was an increased risk of suicide for both men and women who were dependent on marijuana, according to a four-year study of 6,445 Danish adults.

 

1.) Same-sex twins (or ANY pair of twins!) will not necessarily share the same environmental characteristics as the other, so it hardly seems worth noting the association. Well, unless the goal is looking at how genetics may factor into the picture. Even then, who is to say that the twin’s endocannabinoid systems are necessarily equal?

At this point, that research is still ongoing.

Indeed, that is a bit of a cop-out straw man(“Who said anything about the endocannabinoid system?!”). Nonetheless, the important thing is that it’s not just genetics.

2.) In line with that last statement, I can’t help but wonder how much consideration the lives of the deceased have been given. That is to say, marijuana and other substance abuse issues aside, what kind of life did they live before their seemingly untimely demise of either suicide or preventable causes?

In the final paragraph above, it looks like some consideration was given in this realm, with alcohol use, depression and use of mental health services seemingly accounted for. Yet, given the abysmal state of mental health services all over North America (and likely throughout the world), I am left with a question mark.
What were these people’s lives like? Was it a case of mental illness predating the unfortunate circumstances of life in today’s hyper-capitalist era? Or is it a case of the trials of life bringing on unenviable mental anguish? Or is the answer somewhere in between?

Most individuals that are contented in life do not struggle with substance abuse issues. I know, it’s risky to use flat-out generalizations like that with the individualistic cats that humans are, hence the word most. However, these people don’t generally need to escape from their troubles, hence the often social use of substances. Drugs are a highlight in life and reality, rather than a crutch.

While the definition of what a hard life is will change depending on who you ask (and is often influenced by where they are in the economic hierarchy of society), for our purposes, a difficult existence is in the eye of the beholder. No matter what the problems plaguing people are, there is generally something worth looking into.

Where I am going with this, is into the flaws of most suicide prevention programs as they exist today.

Locally and around the world, these programs exist to try and change people’s minds before they take what is viewed as a permanently regrettable action. Such organizations have their heart in the right place, oftentimes homing in on addictions, past traumas and other problems that push people towards suicide.
Where I stand opposed to such organizations is when they attempt to eliminate the choice of suicide without tackling an of the many environmental factors that push people into such mindsets. Which in many cases are the result of systemic injustices and equalities that are not likely to ever change (and in fact, tend to worsen as time goes on).

For example, the equipping of extremely high bridge spans with netting to prevent jumping, or proposing AI-based systems that could potentially detect suicidal behaviour in a person (based on their past health records) months or years before the action. Say what you want, but NOT looking into the underlying issues seems very akin to the anti-suicide nets employed by Foxconn.

I come at this not only from a humans rights perspective but also from a point of empathy. While idiots often speak of the selfishness of suicide, I have to consider the other side of the coin. I personally know of a person who suffers the daily consequences of a past sexual assault trauma that was not dealt with in their teens, and of which may well never be dealt with. Though they do the best they can to mask the problem with (mainly) marijuana, suicide has been mentioned before. And I have never countered because . . . that isn’t my place.

What do you expect me to do . . . calm the person down with the tired argument that is “Come on, it can only get better from here!”. They have been dealing with this for close to 20 years, and STILL, the mental health resources that could make a difference are either unavailable or financially out of reach. Why would this person take me seriously when life experience itself flies right in the face of my empty hopeful request?

The system screwed them over back then when they were most vulnerable. And the system is doing the exact same thing now, 20 years later. Post-traumatic stress disorder or not, mental health care is a joke in this country, and almost everywhere else really. So who am I to say “NO! There is another way!”.

Consider another anecdote drawn from my life. I grew up viewing the consequences of what happens when a worker becomes too injured to continue working (and thus, obsolete to the system). That is to say, I grew up on social assistance watching my parent inhumanly fight for every nickel.

Workman Compensation Board’s don’t pay out long-term injury claims as an unofficial rule, leaving the onus on the taxpayers and the welfare system. I know this because when my parent received an approval notice from WCB saying that their long-term shoulder injury claim had been approved, the case manager showed up at our door to pick it up to be photocopied. I remember the nice man and his nice briefcase, sitting right at our kitchen table.
Whether the notice was sent out in error (and he was dispatched on a 600km 2-way journey to clean up the mess) is unknown to us. We just know that my parent’s claim has been continuously denied ever since, and there is no way to appeal this process without a bank filled with lawyers fees. 

These people invariably end up in the welfare system. This system further shames these people by requiring lists of jobs actively applied for, which must be signed by employers (full sheets turned in monthly). Many of these employers refuse to help enable these welfare bums.
And as if the disdain from complete strangers was not bad enough, you even start to hear this bullshit from some family and friends. Because people are unable to empathize with the difference between “I slept wrong and now my shoulder is sore as hell!” and permanent repetitive action-based injury.

This almost completely hidden lack of options for the long term injured working class leads to its own mental health crisis. From substance abuse to suicide (if not outright acts of violence), long term workplace injury has become it’s own category within the spectrum of mental health. 

It really affected my psychological frame of mind to have my doctors say one thing (that my stress injury was work related) and WorkSafeBC say the opposite (that it wasn’t work related). Being forced to work in an inappropriate vocation by the agency charged with the protection of workers was too much for me. I got to the point where I was not only suicidal, I believed WorkSafeBC was trying to kill me. That they refuse to correct their errors I find unbelievable.

When my back injury got to the point where I needed medication for the pain, my doctor’ locum wanted me committed; she thought I was delusional, because I said that WorkSafeBC forced me, with my history of back injuries, to work in this vocation they had chosen for me. No, they would never do that!

Now I’m dealing with the BC Ombudsman. On and on it goes . . .

https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/visions/when-one-responding-traumas-faces-his-own

I empathize with the story in its entirety because I have heard it all before. It all played out before my eyes between 2000 and the present day. The notable difference (aside from my residence in Manitoba, and this guy in BC) being that my parent was never able to pursue it legally, or otherwise. Even the part about the bullshit pain-inducing modified duties is in my parent’s story!
In their case, it was scrubbing an overhead hood vent of grease with cold water and dish soap. These were modified duties for a SHOULDER INJURY!

Though it has now been around 21 years since this stuff began, the case has never been settled and has almost certainly passed any point of appeal. And my parent as a person has never been the same since. Though part of that is self-induced problems on their part, one can’t underestimate the mountain of bullshit they indeed lived through. All because they DARED to do their job to an even higher standard than was expected of them, and as a result, paid the price.

The life lesson  I took from this is that your value is as a vessel of productivity. Nothing more.


After the system had successfully trained my family member (along with millions of others) into quiet unquestioned obedience, they were eventually cast aside like an outdated and worn-out piece of equipment. Its usefulness has been extracted, so off to the trash heap with what remains.

Though my family member never tried to pursue his claims any further, I once wrote a lengthy letter to my local Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament detailing the struggle of my parent and asking about what he (as an MP) had to say about the matter. And by wrote, I mean just that. I put pen to paper and went through about 7 or 8 different drafts before settling on the one that was just right.

And the response was . . . NIL. Nada. A whole lotta FUCK ALL. Not even a cookie-cutter form letter.

Having written to my local Conservative MP’s several times in the past few years now, this lack of response is not something I am surprised by anymore. Whilst it pissed me off the first time (I put a lot of time into that letter!), it’s just how it is now. Even the NEW conservative MP does not respond to his mail!

Despite sending out newsletters with a cut-out that says “Tell me how I am doing?“!

At this point, I still respond to the newsletters with my politely phrased left-leaning critiques of the conservative’s typically oil sands energy-heavy plans for Canada’s future. I suspect that they only respond to the ageing populace of voters (the majority in my area) of whom this pipe dream all makes sense. After all, they all grew up with strong Canadian energy outputs. It MUST be a great investment in a greening and renewables-embracing world!

If the Progressive Conservatives are fine with milking the hell out of a population with MAYBE a 20-year lifespan, so be it. And the same goes for many oil sands-dominated businesses and investors in Canada’s Western Provinces. Of they want to bet their entire future on nostalgia and a population that could be wiped out by COVID 19, who am I to say no!

Nearsighted idiots be damned, however, I am now WAY off-topic.

Getting back to it, I don’t know if the list of employers applied to is still required for social assistance, but it was a crock of shit.

To my family, friends and every person sharing this crazy existence with me, I first implore you to consider every option that is available before doing anything rash. No matter what decision that anyone comes to, however, I will never judge them nor attempt to stand in their way. You have been let down.

If that statement enrages you, then frankly, you have your priorities misaligned. Where you should be focusing is on the pathetic state of mental health care worldwide. And aside from that, your focus should be on figuring out how to build a world that is WORTH living in. Since it would be very easy to fix this crisis by simply putting a bandage on it and pumping everyone full of medication.

In order to support better outcomes, we need to look at the systemic causes. Also worth considering is what it means to be human. What it means to have a purpose in life.

And yet again, I find myself connecting another external issue to this, the future of work.

Though the current status quo is broken in the most obvious of ways, it’s profitable. The constant discontent and destruction of humans is (and always has been) good for business, an essential tenant of economic growth and domination. Given this backdrop, many of the realities that have become commonplace in everyday life (particularly in the US) became extraordinarily easy to explain. While many acknowledge that the key to a healthy society is healthy citizens, it’s hardly an outcome desirable for many who are heavily invested in today’s status quo. Though the majority of the population of the US (and the world, generally) tend to be overworked, overstressed, and underpaid, it’s great for the businesses that thrive in this environment. Everything from frozen and fast food industries, to pharmaceutical conglomerates and recreational drug retailers. In a world of broken promises, there is much money to be made in tailoring to the dysfunction.

Speaking of tailoring to dysfunction . . . few industries showcase this systemic industrial cynicism better than the recovery industry. For those willing to pay (or who have wealthy backers), there are many options available to help achieve sobriety. If you are an everyday drug addict who has a loved one willing to nominate you for a coveted place on a show like Intervention, you may well also get access to these options of the wealthy.
For the vast majority, however, you are stuck with whatever is available in your local area. Which tends to be some flavour of the horrifyingly ineffective Alcoholics Anonymous program. 

It’s tempting for me to take a grand ole leap and blame 99% of the ailments of modern society on some mixture of neoliberalism and capitalism. Though the obvious item (in the context of the United States) that comes to mind for me at the moment is mass gun violence, it’s not hard to map the path of almost any other issue you can think of right back to this single root. Though this issue coming straight to mind was likely on account of me just finishing reading Columbine by David Cullen (I highly recommend), we can still make the connections.

  • With gun control, it is obvious. Restrictions mean just that, restrictions. There is profit lost when any ole person can’t waltz into a gun shop or a big box store and pick up 10 of any weapon they desire. 
  • While mental health is not as easy to follow, you still wind up in the same place (albeit in the opposite direction). Even researching the diverse mental maladies that exist in all of the varying cohorts of humanity costs big money, let alone dealing with the problem with what we do know. Maintaining the mental health of a complex society of hormone-driven beings by way of therapy is expensive. Though it is certainly a lucrative market if you own a patent for anti-depressant medication.

Mental health is simultaneously too costly a problem to properly tackle AND a source of revenue for a segment of the pharmaceutical industry. Though I have to be careful not to dismiss solutions just because they are manufactured by pharmaceutical behemoths, it’s hard not to see the pragmatism of it all. If it’s too expensive for localities to handle many (if not all) of their mental health requirements, may as well let corporate America pocket the proceeds of filling in the gap.

Though I would argue that one of the biggest keys to solving the various manifestations of the mental health crisis of the western world lies in many systemic changes, this is also precisely why nothing has ever been done. There are benefits to driving people to work 2, 3 (if not 4!) jobs JUST to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. There is benefits to keeping a majority of workers on constant vigilance for any signs that their jobs will be outsourced or (increasingly) automated away. There is benefits to exploiting you both when you are valuable and when you are down.

Not to us! But definitely for the people that you should be angry with.

Suicide is a symptom. To tackle the problem of skyrocketing suicide rates by way of simply focusing on preventing the end result by any means necessary strikes me as akin to treating a lung cancer-induced hack with strong cough medicine. You may think you have a visible improvement, but the problem is still there, slowly growing worse and worse.

While the specifics are hard to nail down, I’m certain that a big part of the solution to this problem lies in figuring out how to break the modern-day status quo. The modern-day status quo ignores our humanity in favour of viewing us all as cogs of a giant machine.

Plentiful. Replaceable. Disposable.

While I don’t know how to fundamentally remake pretty much the entirety of what it means to be a human, I do know that not doing so soon is going to make the Covid 19 mental health crisis look like a picnic. Like everyone else, I am also far too entrenched in this status quo to even imagine what one that isn’t dominated by fiat currency would look like. I can not imagine what a truly socialist (or even communist) world would be like.

I don’t know if the solution to our future lies in capitalism, socialism, communism, or some future hybrid of multiple (if not a new path entirely). All I DO know is that something has to change. The systemic status quo has been inhumane for decades (if not always). And given the path of automation, I suspect that it is on the brink of being unsustainable.

Well, it always has been unsustainable in terms of resources and the environment. In that context, I’m more thinking in terms of the economy. When huge numbers of consumers are forced out of the job market, they mostly stop spending money. When huge cohorts of consumers quit spending money, large swaths of the economy start shrinking and going out of business. And when the phenomenon becomes pronounced enough, entire national economies (if not the entire global economy) all start to sputter.

 

Gathering some thoughts

 

Though the article I choose to quote for this piece involved primarily marijuana and suicide, as observed, my brain struggles in such tight environments. As it does when I have to hold on to 2 seemingly contradictory ideas at the same time.

One of those being my stance on marijuana, and drugs in general.

I am all for the legalization of every banned substance across the board. I back this stance with the notion that focus should be placed on addiction recovery, as opposed to fighting the unwinnable battle that is taking down all points of supply. Since many areas are dealing with the unfortunate reality that is super strong opioid variants that kill, decriminalization has garnered some significant weight from a variety of police and civilian organizations in Canada and the US. While I would love to take it a step further, it’s music to my ears nonetheless.

It’s unfortunate that the road to competent policy has to be paved in blood. But if it gets us there, at least the loss of those affected was not for nothing.

Where I am more focused, however, is in the role that drugs play in the modern status quo. That is to say, they often make things more bearable. First, it’s an escape. Then a crutch. And before you know it, it’s one’s whole life.
Given that I can see this, it may seem contradictory to be entirely pro-legalization but empathetic to addiction sufferers. And that is certainly one way to interpret it. The wrong way, however.

I don’t doubt that drugs (in particular, the nastier and more addictive of the substances, both legal and illegal) definitely play a part in keeping the cattle distracted and in line. Marijuana may already have found a place in that paradigm judging by this article. Hell, pharmaceutical companies manufacture and sell drugs like Adderall And Concerta explicitly for this purpose. There is a reason why a Donut shop can unironically adopt the slogan America runs on Duncan.

While I do acknowledge that drugs are (in a sense) part of the problem, I have to view it from the context in which we live. Drugs, as they are consumed now, are merely a product of the paradigm in which they (we!) exist. Though drugs exaggerate the problems of modernity by providing a seemingly easy escape, this could change in a less toxic paradigm.

More than that, I consider the right to experiment with substances to be a human right (so long as no one else is harmed in the process). Some may scoff at this notion being that it could be said that I am personally green lighting people’s right to snort, smoke, or inject literally anything. I can’t really deny this. I don’t know why someone would want to do many things, but who am I to stand in their way. People engage in many activities knowing full well what the risks are. How is this any different?

What I will say, however, is that if governments and societies as a whole get the coming transition right (whatever that means), I doubt that people would need an artificial escape from their world. While I can see a future for psychedelics (weed, shrooms, Acid) as well as party drugs like E (or Molly as it’s known now), I don’t see room for the destructive drugs. Be it nicotine or heroin, contented people generally don’t need such crutches.

With that, I’ll return to the initial article.

 

First study in children

The new study used Ohio Medicare data to identify both cannabis use disorder and self-harm attempts and outcomes in youth between the ages of 10 and 24 years old. The study could only show an association between cannabis dependence and negative outcomes, not a direct cause and effect.

 

I’m glad that they note this, albeit late in the article.

 

Prior studies show children with mood disorders are highly likely to use and abuse marijuana, Fontanella said, partly because they don’t like the side effects of many prescribed medications.

“Mood stabilizers and psychotic medications can cause weight gain, say up to 30 or 40 pounds … stiffness of their neck or eyes … and it can cause sedation,” Fontanella said. “So, they may not use their medication and may self-medicate with cannabis to treat the mood disorders.”

It could also be that using weed might contribute to the development of mood disorders, however.

“Research shows cannabis use is associated with early onset of mood disorder, psychosis and anxiety disorders, so it can lead to the onset of severe mental illness,” Fontanella said.

At this point, however, science is not sure which comes first, partly because few if any studies have been done in teens and young adults.

 

Though I have never heard of the first study, there is certainly an interesting lesson to be learned. If young children are choosing to self-medicate over the options that the expert adults are making available to them, then it might be a good idea to go back and take another look. No, I am not saying that self-medication (in this instance, or in any other instance) is wise (be it with marijuana, or any other substance). What I am saying, however, is that those are some pretty prominent side effects.

As for the 2ed point (marijuana can bring on mood disorders), I also agree with the author.

As I have mentioned in other posts at different times, the way that the US (and the world) has governed marijuana for the past 50 years or so has helped contribute to this problem. That is, the problem that is this era’s street-level produced and distributed marijuana is not the stuff that our parents and grandparents once smoked. It is way more potent, with raising THC levels and little (if any) CBD levels.

Though the science of CBD still isn’t clear (thanks, again, to the war on drugs!), it’s starting to be understood that it (CBD) acts as a sort of Yin to THC’s Yang. Or to put it in a less stoner-esk way, CBD actively blocks THC from overstimulating a given pathway in the brain’s hippocampus (thus preventing some of THC’s well-publicized negative effects).

Based on these results, the research team proposes that CBD blocks the ability of THC to overstimulate the ERK pathway in the hippocampus and thus prevent its negative side-effects.

“Our findings have important implications for prescribing cannabis and long-term cannabis use. For example, for individuals more prone to cannabis-related side-effects, it is critical to limit use to strains with high CBD and low THC content,” said Laviolette. “More importantly, this discovery opens up a new molecular frontier for developing more effective and safer THC formulations.”

How CBD Blocks THC Euphoria Explained

There was also this:

 

Amazingly, the researchers also found that CBD alone had no effect on the ERK pathway. “CBD by itself had no effect,” noted lead study author Roger Hudson, a PhD candidate at the University of Western Ontario. “However, by co-administering CBD and THC, we completely reversed the direction of the change on a molecular level. CBD was also able to reverse the anxiety-like behavior and addictive-like behavior caused by the THC.”

Laviolette says they will be following up these studies by continuing to identify the specific features of this molecular mechanism. The research team will examine ways to formulate THC with fewer side effects and to improve the efficacy of CBD-derived therapies.

 

This finding alone is interesting (no effect without the THC), since it makes me wonder if the CBD as a wonder drug of the gray market is a placebo. That is to say, does CBD truly give a calming effect outside of its partnership with the euphoric high of THC?

I guess only time (and research) will tell.

Either way, as for how this all ties into my marijuana prohibition rant, it boils down to how the marketplace guided itself in a way that benefits the sellers, but not the buyers. There is much money to be made in rapidly increasing the potency of your offerings to keep up with your core customer base’s tolerances (your repeat customers make up the bulk of your income, after all). As for how these rapidly rising THC doses will affect new users (particularly teenagers) and recreational users . . . who cares?

A dollar earned is a dollar earned.

When Dick Nixen (😂) kicked off the drug war in order to rein in minorities and get them pesky hippies back in line, his intentions (however racist) were not to promote the creation of superweed. And all the operatives that have kept the industry going throughout the years likely never intended to accidentally conduct one of the biggest psychological experiments in history by way of upping the potency of their product. But as it happens, society turning its collective back on the marijuana industry resulted in the guiding hand of economics taking over, with all other considerations going by the wayside. And now that the experiment has been exposed as the dangerous failure that it is, many of the so-called authorities of society (Doctors, cops, politicians)  want to use the symptoms caused by their failure to take proper action as grounds to stick with the status quo! 

Had Prick Nixen not decided to take the US down the path of racially tinged prohibition, what would the world look like today? 

Had the US government (along with others in the world) not so stringently denied funding and resources towards research into cannabis, would scientists still be puzzled at the relationship between marijuana and mental health today? 

 

“Research suggests that marijuana exposure impacts the brain’s ability to process emotion. Could this interact in a deleterious way with the developing brain?” said Dr. Lucien Gonzalez, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on substance use and prevention. Gonzalez was not involved in the study.

“It doesn’t prove that using cannabis causes depression or self-harm, but also doesn’t definitively refute it,” said Gonzalez, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

“Complicated associations appear to be found, and we just don’t fully understand them yet,” Gonzalez said.

While science sorts out the answers, “family-based models and individual approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy” have been effective in treating youth with marijuana use disorder, Fontanella and her team said. They also called for the rollout ofa national study to further examine the mortality risks for youths and young adults who struggle with overuse of weed.

 

It does not prove it, nor does it refute it.

As elaborated before, I don’t like how this study seems to gloss over the reasons that people would turn to marijuana (or any other substance) to begin with. While I agree that studies into the risk of people using weed (or anything) in excess are justified, we should also be asking Why. In fact, that is arguably the most important inquiry since answering it can at least theoretically put us on the path to limiting new cases of addiction (while also promoting recovery and healthy environments in the service of healing existing addicts).

Time to close this piece.

While I don’t have all of the answers to how to fix our broken and failing societies, I can give at least one piece of advice. Stop looking for a single pill, as though it all can be fixed by way of a single solution. To borrow an annoying and overused trope, it’s not about the blue pill or the red pill.

It’s about the purple pill.

Just kidding.

It’s about understanding the complexities of human life and by extension the complexity of human societies. And since these societies are as complex as the humans that make them up, so too are many of the problems within.

If I were to name one of the biggest flaws of most humans, I would say that it’s our inability to see the big picture. While our inability to predict what seems like the obvious in hindsight is one thing, our overall reaction of attempting to solve complex problems by simplifying them could well be our downfall. This is not to say that big issues shouldn’t be reduced down to their component parts for the sake of comprehension. It’s more, our habit of attacking a problem by focusing on a small part of it is inherently destructive.

I mentioned that I had read a book called Columbine earlier . . . let’s take school violence. It’s not a mental health problem, it’s not a gun problem, its . . . all of the above. It’s all of the above, and more. Though it can be debated how much of each is pertinent in the formula.

While focusing on the relationship between marijuana and self-destructive (if not fatalistic) behaviour is a worthwhile study, it should not be undertaken without consideration of other factors.

 

 

Marijuana In The News – Part 1 (?)

It has been a rough couple of weeks for anyone that has been even casually following world news events. For our future visitors, I (and I suspect many other people) learned a new word this week.

Insurrection. If you are lucky enough to be reading this without the burning pain of having this event stuck in your long-term memory, searching the term Insurrection 2021 should tell you all you need to know.
Please note that the event of which I am speaking is the occurrence of January 6, 2021, in Washington DC. Anything that you discover that may follow, has not happened yet.

Note: In the time that this has been sitting in my drafts queue, President Trump has been officially impeached for his role in the violent insurrection (January 13, 2021). This makes him the first POTUS in history to be impeached twice. What an era to be alive . . .

And I thought that Millenials and zoomers would never witness any interesting history. Well, aside from the seemingly slow but insanly paced technocal innovations in many sectors of the past 30 years alone. And of course, the extremly dark winter that awaits us all a few decades from now on account to the many choices of todays mature Trump-voting adults. But enough with the bleakness. . .   

With that out of the way, time to move on to some snippets from around the net that I found interesting. Marijuana research is slowly coming to fruition, for better or for worse.

Let’s start with a usage survey of sorts that tracks the use of marijuana (and other recreational drugs) throughout the year.

 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210111084233.htm

“We found that marijuana use is consistently higher among those surveyed later in the year, peaking during late fall or early winter before dropping at the beginning of the following year. We think this may be due, in part, to a ‘Dry January’ in which some people stop drinking alcohol or even stop using marijuana as part of a New Year’s resolution,” said Joseph Palamar, PhD, MPH, an associate professor of population health at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, an affiliated researcher with the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research (CDUHR) at NYU School of Global Public Health, and the study’s lead author. “We’re now in the time of year when people are the least likely to use marijuana.”

Prior research shows that alcohol and drug use vary by time of year, with drug use often increasing during summer months, possibly due, in part, to social events. These seasonal variations can inform interventions — for instance, studies show that programs to reduce heavy drinking among college students should begin during the summer.

To better understand seasonal trends in marijuana use, Palamar and his colleagues analyzed data from 282,768 adolescents and adults who responded to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2015 to 2019. The survey asked participants about their past-month use of marijuana and other substances, and the researchers estimated their use within each calendar quarter: January through March, April through June, July through September, and October through December.

Each year, as the calendar year progressed, marijuana use grew, increasing in summer and fall months before dropping as each new year began. While 8.9 percent reported using marijuana in January through March, 10.1 percent reported using in October through December, a 13-percent relative increase.

These seasonal trends occurred independently of annual growth in marijuana use and were seen across nearly all groups surveyed, regardless of sex, race/ethnicity, and education level. Teens were one exception; their marijuana use grew in the summer but declined in the fall months back to winter and spring levels.

 

It’s an interesting set of observations of which I suspect will be flipped on its head for the previous year. But such is going to be the legacy of 2020. The great outlier.

The data (as collected and presented) does make a lot of sense. However, I have some disagreement that the dropoff during the early part of the year is necessarily driven by goals for a new year.

Let’s start our year in the spring and summer. As the researchers note, the improving weather and the rejuvenating landscape of the warm months bring people outdoors and spurs more social gatherings. In this year of 2021, I expect this to definitely be a noticeable trend (once vaccine distribution has ramped up, anyhow).
Drug use continues to remain steady and climb going into the fall and early winter months, which makes sense. With Fall comes Thanksgiving, Halloween and the lead up to Christmas (which is made up of many parties and celebrations). Speaking of Christmas, preparations for the upcoming holiday itself is a big source of stress and financial burden for many people, which in itself likely drives some drug use. 

Christmas and New Years’ are all about chemical consumption.

Thus bringing us into January. A month when many of us are broke, and facing the lasting financial hangover that occurs when the credit card bill arrives.

As for the data regarding teen use, again, this makes perfect sense. Kids that are living with parents are prone to use drugs more often during periods of more free time. Summer break. 

 

Recreational use may be driving the growth throughout the year, as similar small increases occurred among those living in states with and without legal medical marijuana, and among those without a prescription for medical marijuana. Seasonal marijuana use also increased among those who reported using other substances, including alcohol, nicotine, and especially LSD.

The researchers note that the consistent dip in marijuana use during winter months could be a result of a variety of factors: a lower supply this time of year from cannabis harvests, colder weather keeping people inside who usually smoke outdoors, or people quitting marijuana as a New Year’s resolution.

 

This more or less follows the pattern I hypothesized. I certainly smoked fewer cigarettes during the winter back when I was a smoker.

That is it for that piece. Let’s move on to our next pick.

 

https://www.greenentrepreneur.com/article/363110

No, Science Has Not Proven Marijuana Lowers Your IQ

As with so many things between 2016 and 2020, the idea that marijuana damages IQ became popular in some circles because soon-to-be-former President Donald Trump said it.

In audio secretly recorded in 2018 and leaked in early 2020, President Trump told a group gathered at a White House dinner party that marijuana “does cause an IQ problem. It lowers your IQ.” 

 

Uh. So much for avoiding the news of the day. 

 

Interestingly, his son, Donald Trump Jr., disagreed with him, saying: “I will say this, between that and alcohol, as far as I’m concerned, alcohol does much more damage. You don’t see people beating their wives on marijuana. It’s just different.”

Research shows that the belief marijuana lowers IQ is mostly a myth. But the IQ thing stuck. In December, North Carolina Rep. David Rouzer Tweeted that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “states that regular marijuana use can reduce IQ by 8 points.” 

That sounds very authoritative. But it’s not true, according to the NIH itself.

NIH did release a report in July 2020 about marijuana, and it touched on the subject of IQ. However, it did not state that cannabis lowers IQ.

Here’s what it states: “Some studies have also linked marijuana use to declines in IQ, especially when use starts in adolescence and leads to persistent cannabis use disorder into adulthood. However, not all of the studies on the link between marijuana and IQ have reached the same conclusion, and it is difficult to prove that marijuana causes a decline in IQ when multiple factors can influence the results of such studies.”

Those factors, according to the NIH, include:

  • Genetics
  • Family environment
  • Age of first use
  • Frequency of use
  • Having a cannabis use disorder
  • Duration of use
  • Duration of the study

That’s a far cry from stating that cannabis “does cause an IQ problem” or that it can “reduce IQ by 8 points.”

 

If you were prone to believing that talking point, now you know. Let it forever be relegated to the hopefully ignorant and the hopelessly disingenuous.

On to the next.

 

https://www.kdrv.com/content/news/573569482.html

 

Smoking weed may expose you to the same type of toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke, a new study finds.

People who only smoked marijuana had higher blood and urine levels of several smoke-related toxins such as naphthalene, acrylamide and acrylonitrile than nonsmokers, according to the study published Monday in the journal EClinicalMedicine.

Naphthalene is associated with anemia, liver and neurological damage, while acrylamide and acrylonitrile have been associated with cancer and other health issues.

“Marijuana use is on the rise in the United States with a growing number of states legalizing it for medical and nonmedical purposes – including five additional states in the 2020 election,” said senior author Dr. Dana Gabuzda, a principal investigator in cancer immunology and virology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, in a statement.

“The increase has renewed concerns about the potential health effects of marijuana smoke, which is known to contain some of the same toxic combustion products found in tobacco smoke,” Gabuzda said.

 

First off, note the source, a potentially Sinclair Media affiliated local news platform. These types of platforms are notorious for latching onto any marijuana negative that is found in the press, then running with it. Having said that, however, it is important to note that smoking anything is not necessarily good for the lungs. Though the wise marijuana advocate knows to use the word harmless in the context of other substances, others not being so careful drive the sharing of articles like this in the echo chambers of the ignorant. 

I will also note (for anyone interested), my look into the chemical acrylamide as explored several years ago now.

Tobacco smokers

The new research presented data from three studies of 245 HIV-positive and HIV-negative participants. Researchers said they chose to study people with HIV infection because of the high prevalence of tobacco and marijuana smoking typically found in this population.

 

I can understand the utility of such a choice. However, it still seems a bit of a slap in the face to that cohort. As manageable as HIV has become in recent years (compared to its status even when I was a child!), we’re still dealing with what was for all intents and purposes, a fatal medical condition.

But then again, what better person does one have to study the effects of chemotherapy than a consenting cancer patient. Maybe I am being unreasonable, after all. Feel free to make your views known in the comments.

 

Medical records were compared to blood and urine samples of various chemicals produced by the breakdown of nicotine or the combustion of tobacco or marijuana.

Tobacco and tobacco-marijuana smokers had higher levels of naphthalene, acrylamide and acrylonitrile than marijuana-only smokers. Tobacco smokers also had increased levels of a chemical called acrolein in their blood and urine. Acrolein is a known contributor to cardiovascular disease in tobacco smokers.

Marijuana smokers, however, did not have higher levels of acrolein in their bodies.

“This is the first study to compare exposure to acrolein and other harmful smoke-related chemicals over time in exclusive marijuana smokers and tobacco smokers, and to see if those exposures are related to cardiovascular disease,” Gabuzda said.

Acrolein is a chemical with a burnt, sweet, pungent odor created by the burning of fuels such as gasoline or oil and organic matter such as tobacco. The chemical is not added to cigarettes; acrolein is produced by the burning of sugars present in tobacco when smoked.

Short-term exposure to acrolein can cause upper respiratory tract irritation and congestion. At extreme levels, it can be toxic to humans following inhalation, oral or dermal exposures, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

 

This explains a lot of the pain of sitting in a closed-in space with a heavy smoker, or a number of smokers. And of course, the horror that was the bingo hall that my dad once worked in during the mid to late 90’s. Though you always got used to the literally tons of smoke that was contained in that room (or any space with a smoker), you never notice the stench until your home.

That is one part of smoking anything that I don’t miss.

 

Weed smokers

While weed smokers had higher amounts of naphthalene, acrylamide and acrylonitrile in blood and urine than nonsmokers, even higher levels were found in people who smoked tobacco or a combination of marijuana and tobacco.

Acrylamide is a chemical used to make paper, plastics and dyes, but is also produced when vegetables such as potatoes are heated to high temperatures. It is also a component of tobacco smoke.

“People are exposed to substantially more acrylamide from tobacco smoke than from food. People who smoke have three to five times higher levels of acrylamide exposure markers in their blood than do non-smokers,” stated the National Cancer Institute.

According to the American Cancer Society, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies acrylamide as a “probable human carcinogen,” while the US National Toxicology Program says it’s “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” based on animal studies.

Acrylonitrile is typically used in the manufacturer of plastics and fibers. “Cigarette smoking can be a significant source of acrylonitrile indoor air pollution,” according to the World Health Organization.

Symptoms of acrylonitrile poisoning include “limb weakness, labored and irregular breathing, dizziness and impaired judgment, cyanosis, nausea, collapse, and convulsions,” the US Environmental Protection Agency said. And a “statistically significant increase in the incidence of lung cancer has been reported in several studies of chronically exposed workers.”

The EPA classifies acrylonitrile as a “probable human carcinogen.”

Naphthalene, which is used in mothballs, can cause “headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, malaise, confusion, anemia, jaundice, convulsions, and coma,” according to the EPA.

The highest concentrations of naphthalene in indoor air occurs in the homes of cigarette smokers, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

 

To add another personal touch to this, this makes me recall a time whilst riding in the car of a family friend (who was a smoker), and finding myself feeling a headache and increasingly nauseous on account of the smoke. It was odd to me at the time having been a smoker, and been in a number of smokey environments with various people before (and since). The variable seemed to be the brand of cigarettes.

New to the Canadian market, Viceroy. I don’t know what was in these suckers, but they sure didn’t agree with me.

Either way, the message in this article seems fairly clear-cut. Smoking cigarettes isn’t doing anyone any favours (in terms of their health), and smoking marijuana is likely not any better. Good thing that we have edibles, then!

Though before going down that path, make sure you consult someone with a knowledge of dosages so your first brush with edibles won’t result in a bad trip. This is VERY important.

I thank KDRV TV (Medford, Oregan) for that surprisingly unbiased and to point article. Granted, the audience likely has a lot to do with that. Oregan has already decided on this issue.

On to the next.

 

Women who use cannabis could have more difficulty conceiving: U.S. study

https://lfpress.com/cannabis-news/women-who-use-cannabis-could-have-more-difficulty-conceiving-u-s-study

Women who consumed cannabis while trying to conceive were less likely than non-users to conceive or to become pregnant over the study period, notes new research from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

NIH researchers considered women who were trying to conceive and had used cannabis or hash in the weeks before pregnancy or had THC-positive urine tests.

Published this week in Human Reproduction, the study found that cannabis users were 41 per cent less likely to conceive per monthly cycle than non-users. “Similarly, a smaller proportion of cannabis users than non-users became pregnant during the study — 42 per cent versus 66 per cent,” notes a statement from the NIH.

There was a lower chance of conceiving “despite an increased frequency of intercourse,” the study abstract states.

If pregnancy was achieved, however, study authors found no differences in miscarriage rates between cannabis users and non-users.

Participants were part of a larger group of 1,228 women between the ages of 18 and 40 who had had one or two prior miscarriages. From 2006 to 2012, women participated for as many as six monthly cycles while trying to get pregnant and throughout pregnancy, if conception occurred, the NIH reports.

Women self-reported preconception cannabis use as many as four times over the course of the study: at baseline, after six months of follow-up or at the beginning of the conception cycle, and weeks four and eight of pregnancy.

Researchers make clear that any conclusions about cannabis use and fertility should be tempered because the study included just a small number of cannabis users, amounting to five per cent. Only 1.3 per cent of participants used cannabis during the first eight weeks of gestation, the abstract notes.

 

The bold and italics were added by me to make clear the bias of the article, as reported by the publication itself.

 

Additionally, the NIH points out, researchers did not take into account cannabis use among the women’s partners, which could have influenced conception rates.

Researchers further point out that compared to non-users, cannabis users “had higher levels of luteinizing hormone and a higher proportion of luteinizing hormone to follicle stimulating hormone,” differences that “could potentially have influenced their likelihood of conception.”

All that said, “the authors say their results suggest that women trying to conceive should exercise caution with cannabis use until more definitive evidence is available,” according to the NIH. “Cannabis use continues to rise despite limited evidence of safety during critical windows of pregnancy establishment,” adds the study abstract.

 

The final paragraph is left unaltered since it equates to common sense. If trying to conceive and/or pregnant, one should be careful of any drugs they are taking, including substances like caffeine. That is to say, substances that most people view as benign in nature (mainly on account of how laws and statutes regulate them).

 

Findings from research on cannabis use and pregnancy have been mixed. Some recent studies have linked marijuana use during pregnancy to conditions or behaviours in offspring, including psychotic-like behaviours and autism.

A study review published last year, however, concluded that “current evidence does not suggest that prenatal cannabis exposure alone is associated with clinically significant cognitive functioning impairments.”

Only a handful of studies have explored the impact of cannabis use on female fertility, notes a post from the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Women’s Mental Health. “We will continue to recommend that women (and their male partners) who are pregnant or attempting to conceive should not use cannabis,” the post states.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, too, has remained steadfast in its advice to refrain from using CBD, THC and cannabis “in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.”

 

I decided to include this paragraph on account of Autism being a common card among the arsenal of attention-grabbing traits utilized by health-oriented snake oil peddlers of either fake cures or scientific non-sense. From vaccinations to gluten-free bread, you never know where it’s going to turn up next. I thank the article’s author for making this clear.

As for the rest of the paragraph (and the article), we again come back to the lack of research in the area of cannabis. Though the pace is picking up even since 2018/2019 (when I started engaging in the topic a lot more), we still have a long way to go. Until these gaps are slowly filled in overtime, we must use common sense as our guide.

Since I hate the term common sense (because people are stupid), I prefer the notion of best practices. Some that come to mind:

1.) Smoking anything isn’t necessarily good for the health. Unfortunately for people like me, this also includes things like meats. If in doubt, pass on the smoke . . . be it a blunt or a steak. It is better for the environment to eat less meat anyway, so get creative!

2.) Moderation is the key to keeping many bad outcomes in life at bay. Consumption of any substance is best done in moderation. Be it smoked or edible cannabis, smoked meats, or other substances.

3.) If looking to conceive or carrying a child, it’s likely best to avoid anything that could be troublesome. Starting with most drugs is a good rule of thumb. Maybe even smoked meats as well. If the chemicals could be messing with DNA and otherwise doing damage to our own bodies, what might they be doing to that of a fetus?

On an interesting note, this study recommends fathers quit smoking (or risk congenital defects in their offspring). As for barbecued meat, this study seems to make the case for avoidance during pregnancy.

Since I am much akin to Dr. Phil (I have no medical degree!), I expect no one to take me at my word. Talk to a real doctor, and use your best judgement.

I thank the London Free Press (London, Ontario) for that article. And now, on to the next. Some awesome news coming out of Mexico (courtesy of Mexico News Daily).

 

After 3-year delay, medical marijuana will be legal as of Wednesday

After 3-year delay, medical marijuana will be legal as of Wednesday

More than three years after Congress approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, it will finally become legal on Wednesday.

President López Obrador on Tuesday published regulations for the production, research and use of medicinal marijuana.

The Congress-approved reform to legalize medicinal marijuana was originally published in June 2017 but not promulgated, although then president Enrique Peña Nieto was supposed to sign off on the law within 180 days.

It wasn’t until July 2020 that a regulatory framework developed by the federal Health Ministry was put out for public consultation, paving the way for its implementation.

Published in the federal government’s official gazette, the new regulations authorize the government to oversee the production of marijuana for research and medicinal purposes. Companies growing medicinal marijuana and/or using the plant to manufacture medications must be authorized by the health regulator Cofepris.

The regulations allow pharmacies to supply cannabis-based medicines to authorized patients in possession of prescriptions. Drugstores will be required to maintain a registry of people with approval to purchase them.

In addition, the regulatory framework permits the importation to Mexico of seeds, cannabis derivatives to be used in medicinal products and processed marijuana-based medications.

 

This is excellent news for the citizens of Mexico. Not only will residents benefit from having a legal (presumably non-cartel) source for their cannabis crops, citizens will also benefit from the cannabis products of other nations. This will be good for trade with Canada, the US and others embracing this new era of legalization. Whilst medicinal marijuana is a small step, it’s proved a universal stepping stone for many regions that are now fully embracing legal cannabis markets. Once the US finally changes its policies, I suspect that Mexico will not be far behind.

To put it another way . . . about BLOODY time. After all, prohibition has not just been costly in terms of resources, it’s been extremely costly in terms of lives.

 

That is it for this exploration of marijuana in the news.