Reporting The Obvious

I have often stated that I am so old that there weren’t drugs in high school when I was there. Unfortunately the absence of drugs is no longer the norm although our law enforcement is doing a very good job of trying to eliminate the epidemic of drug use that has plagued our schools since the 1970’s. The argument for marijuana since the 1970’s has been that it is less damaging than alcohol and is not addictive. Well, the evidence does not support that idea.

PJ Media posted an article on November 29 with the title, “New Study Provides Further Evidence that Marijuana Is a Gateway Drug.”

The article reports:

A new study looking at alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use among adolescents gives some interesting and helpful conclusions. Well, helpful conclusions if people will be willing to remove their cultural blinders concerning marijuana. Since the politically and culturally popular thing to do is to extol the virtues of the recreational use of marijuana, the study’s sharp gateway-drug implications will most likely be a warning that is derided and unheeded.

…A negative effect that comes from ingesting marijuana that many users (and non-users) scoff at is the drug’s potential to be a gateway drug. However, the study linked to above concludes, “The implications of the more prominent role of marijuana in the early stages of drug use sequences are important to continue tracking.”

The twenty-year study concluded that while cigarette and alcohol use among adolescents has decreased, marijuana use among adolescents has remained basically the same. What’s interesting is that “the traditional gateway sequence is changing, with marijuana increasingly accounting for the first substance used among adolescents.”

The article concludes:

The bad news for those adolescents who begin with marijuana as well as for those who are in a high-risk group for marijuana use due to their cigarette or alcohol use is that:

Marijuana initiation may also affect subsequent drug use through similar biological mechanisms that have been proposed for other substances; emerging evidence from animal models suggests that THC exposure early in adolescence influences reward sensitivity to other drugs including nicotine ( Dinieri and Hurd, 2012; Panlilio et al., 2013; Pistis et al., 2004), and that adult marijuana use who initiated in adolescence have impairments in memory and prefrontal as well hippocampal volume ( Batalla et al., 2013; Filbey and Yezhuvath, 2013). Existing epidemiological data suggest that marijuana use increases the risk of subsequent cigarette initiation, supporting the hypothesis that marijuana could be causally associated with subsequent polysubstance use ( Nguyen et al., 2018).

Marijuana being a gateway drug has yet to be proven conclusively, but the research points solidly in that direction. Pro-weed advocates need to stop pretending that marijuana is harmless.

I don’t understand why there is a push to legalize marijuana at the same time there are campaigns to end smoking or use of tobacco products. Are we trading one bad health habit for another? If marijuana has legitimate medical uses, it should be used for that purpose, but I see no value at all in legalizing marijuana as a recreational drug. I am simply not convinced that anyone needs to use a recreational drug–particularly one that has a negative impact on the brain and a possible impact on genes.

A Story That Needs To Be Told

On October 6, Neal Pollack posted an opinion piece in The New York Times. The title of the opinion piece is, “I’m Just a Middle-Aged House Dad Addicted to Pot.”

The opinion piece details the author’s journey from using marijuana regularly in his 20’s to the realization that he was hooked on the drug.

Some observations from the author:

I started smoking regularly in the ’90s, when I was in my mid-20s. Pot made everything better — food, music, sex, cleaning — and it made nothing worse. I got depressed less often. I laughed all the time.

But I also lost my temper for no reason. Did I yell at strangers in public? Probably. I barely remember, because I was stoned. But I do remember that once, high as a promotional blimp, I got into a bar fight with a former friend and broke his tooth with a beer bottle.

Back when my writing career was booming, I got invited a couple of times to do readings in Amsterdam, a bad gig for a pot addict. Once, after ingesting a couple of THC pills, I dumped a pitcher of water over my head and insulted the Iraqi representative to National Poetry Day Amsterdam. Another time, I pulled down my pants and flashed a crowd of several hundred. If I had any boundaries, weed erased them thoroughly. The boom ended fast.

…In early November (2017), I had the chance to fulfill my lifelong dream of attending a Dodgers World Series game. I spent way too much money on a ticket that turned out to be fake. So high that I couldn’t remember where I’d parked, I started screaming outside the stadium. If I’d been sober, I would have just called the vendor and gotten a refund. That’s what I ended up doing, eventually. But not before security guards surrounded me.

I looked into a car mirror and saw an old man, sobbing over a baseball game. That was the moment I accepted that I had a problem. Three weeks later, I quit.

Mr. Pollack has a few thoughts on how to handle the legalization of marijuana:

There’s a reason that Alcoholics Anonymous started in 1935, two years after the end of Prohibition. Alcohol abuse became rampant, and the country almost drank itself off the rails. Will the same thing happen with marijuana?

Marijuana isn’t alcohol or an opioid. You can’t die from an overdose. It doesn’t really evince physical cravings. So is it better to call my problem marijuana “dependence”? Does it matter?

Cannabis should be legal, just as alcohol should be legal. But marijuana addiction exists, and it almost wrecked my life. If you have a problem, you are not alone.

I personally think marijuana should be limited to medicinal purposes and be a controlled substance. In places where it is legal, children have gotten into mom and dad’s stash and had severe medical issues. There is also an increase in auto accidents due to driving while under the influence of marijuana. I understand that the concept of medical marijuana has been abused in the past, and I have no solution for that. I just think most people function better when they are not under the influence of drugs (or alcohol).

More Research Needed

On Thursday the U.K. Daily Mail posted an article about some recent studies involving treating pain with marijuana.

The article reports:

A small study found people who use cannabis require higher doses of painkillers than non users after major traumatic event like a car crash.    

The drug, which is legal for medical use in the majority of US states, is mainly prescribed to ease pain. 

But this new research conducted in Colorado – which was the first state to legalize – suggests that short-term pain relief could weaken the body’s resilience to pain over time. 

The researchers, from the Swedish Medical Center, Colorado, analyzed around 260 people who were involved in minor vehicle accidents and admitted to trauma centers. 

Of these, 54 tested positive for recent marijuana use while 16 claimed they used the drug more or less every day.

Around nine percent of the participants tested positive for other prescription or illegal drugs, such as cocaine and opiates.

On average, the marijuana users required 7.6mg of opioid painkillers a day in hospital, compared to 5.6mg for non-drug users.

This is probably not a surprise to people in the medical profession. I have been told by nurses who work in the operating room that people who are heavy users of alcohol require larger doses of anesthesia to put them to sleep. The body builds up a tolerance for drugs, whether the drug is alcohol, opioids, or marijuana. Those who blame big pharma for the fact that marijuana has not been legalized need to remember that just as big pharma has a huge lobby with lots of money, big marijuana also has a big lobby with lots of money. Legalizing marijuana in Colorado has brought the drug cartels into the state to mass produce their product for the local market. I don’t think that is what we want.

The medical values of marijuana are not proven and the unintended consequences of legalization are still unfolding. I think we need more research.

No, It’s Not Harmless

Yesterday the U.K. Daily Mail posted a story about the impact of marijuana use on teenagers.

The article reports:

Cannabis is responsible for 91 per cent of cases where teenagers end up being treated for drug addiction, shocking new figures reveal.

Supporters of the drug claim it is harmless, but an official report now warns the ‘increased dominance of high-potency herbal cannabis’ – known as skunk – is causing more young people to seek treatment.

The revelation comes amid growing concerns that universities – and even some public schools – are awash with high-strength cannabis and other drugs.

The findings also back up academic research, revealed in The Mail on Sunday over the past three years, that skunk is having a serious detrimental impact on the mental health of the young. At least two studies have shown repeated use triples the risk of psychosis, with sufferers repeatedly experiencing delusional thoughts. Some victims end up taking their own lives.

Obviously the article deals with the situation in Britain, but I suspect some of the results of this research are also reflected in America. The problem in Britain is related to the potency of the marijuana used by teenagers. I am unfamiliar with whether or not American marijuana has the same potency. I do know that I have heard numerous people familiar with marijuana in America say that the marijuana available in America today is much more potent than the marijuana that was available during the 1960’s. I don’t have a problem with the use of marijuana in certain medical procedures, but I wonder if it can be administered in pill form and tightly controlled in order to avoid abuse by teenagers who think it is cool. Keeping marijuana away from teenagers after making it legal will probably be about as successful as keeping alcohol away from underage teenagers in the past.

The article further states:

The large rise in the number of youngsters treated for cannabis abuse comes despite the fact that total usage is falling slightly.

The report concludes: ‘While fewer people are using cannabis, those who are using it are experiencing greater harm.’

Almost all cannabis on Britain’s streets is skunk, which is four times more powerful than types that dominated the market until the early 2000s. It can even trigger hallucinations.

We need to rethink the legalization of marijuana. It would be horrible to waste the minds of the generation that will lead this country in the future.

Misplaced Hysteria (As Usual)

Fox News is reporting today that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed federal policy on enforcing marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal. Well, sort of. The ‘federal policy’ that is being changed is a 2013 memo from then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole that it would not obstruct states that legalized marijuana if the drug was regulated not to hinder key federal enforcement priorities–preventing distribution to minors, preventing it being moved to other states, and preventing it used as a cover for other drug trafficking. Note–this was a memo not a law.

So exactly what did Attorney General Sessions do–he rescinded the memo.

The article reports:

The move effectively unleashes federal prosecutors to consider bringing marijuana cases, while stopping short of ordering them to do so. 

“U.S. attorneys need to make decisions in these cases as they do in other drugs cases,” a senior DOJ official told Fox News.

Attorney General Sessions brought back prosecutorial discretion in dealing with marijuana cases. Again, he did not make a law–he undid a non-law.

Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado is now threatening to block every Justice Department nominee until Attorney General Sessions undoes his actions. Wait a minute, doesn’t Senator Gardner have the ability to propose a law that would clarify federal policy and solve this problem?

There are a few things that need to be mentioned here. To those of you who believe that marijuana is a miracle drug that ‘big pharma’ is keeping from the American people, remember that ‘big marijuana‘ also has a strong lobby pushing for legalization. Also keep in mind that if recreational marijuana becomes legal in all fifty states, there is no question that children and teenagers will get a hold of it. How many children and teenagers manage to get into their parents alcoholic drinks? There is sufficient evidence that marijuana, although not addictive, can negatively effect a teenage brain. There is also the impact of the drug on basic maturity in teenagers–if a teenager learns to simply get high rather than solve his basic problems, how will he deal with problems in later life? Unfortunately, this last comment is based on personal observation. Many years ago, there was a neighborhood teenager who routinely came home from school stoned. He was a really nice teen and a very bright and gifted child. As an adult, he has some physical symptoms possibly related to the drug use, but more than that, I believe the drug totally interfered with his ambition and ability to reach his potential. The good news is that he no longer smokes pot and has become a contributing member of society, but I believe that because of his drug use, he has never come close to his full potential.

Legalizing marijuana is a mistake. It will not improve the quality of life for those who use it or for America.

An Interesting Question

CNS News posted a very interesting article today. The article asks the question, “Why No Warning Label on Marijuana?” That is a fascinating question. The government puts warning labels on everything–my hairdryer reminds me not to use it in the shower, my iron reminds me that it can get hot, the coffee I buy at Dunkin’ Donuts (I did live in Massachusetts for a very long time) tells me on the cup that the contents may be hot. So why is marijuana exempt from big daddy government?

The article reports:

The best known warning label, of course, is the one that the United States Surgeon General has required on cigarette packs since 1966. Also well-known is the warning label on alcoholic beverage containers, which states that drinking alcohol during pregnancy may cause birth defects, that people should not drink and drive, and that alcohol may cause other health problems.

That marijuana is a drug there is no doubt. The FDA states that “marijuana and marijuana-derived products” are “drugs.”

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, marijuana is “the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.” According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), “marijuana is a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug.”

The Surgeon General’s 1996 report entitled “Facing Addiction in America” describes marijuana as one of the “addictive drugs.”

Likewise, marijuana is not safe.

Despite all the recent changes in many state laws over the last five years and the massive public advocacy and lobbying of the emerging multi-billion-dollar marijuana industry, the FDA has not changed its position on marijuana but continues to hold that it “has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication.” Now, within the last nine months, two new reports on the dangers of marijuana have been issued.

So why are reports of the dangers not resulting in warning labels?

The article contains on example of the warning that would be appropriate for marijuana:

WARNING. Using cannabis can lead to the development of schizophrenia, other psychoses and other mental-health problems. Cannabis can cause hallucinations, delusions, and panic attacks. Cannabis can cause an increase in suicide ideation and suicide attempts. Smoking cannabis can worsen respiratory infections and bronchitis episodes. Using cannabis can lead to an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes. Maternal cannabis smoking is associated with the lower birth weight of babies.

The crusade against cigarettes included both warning labels and an extensive public-education campaign. Today, public education about marijuana consists in emphasizing that legalized marijuana will supply both “jobs and taxes.”

The usual answer to the type of question the article asks is ‘follow the money.’ In this case, it seems that many states are more interested in the tax money they will receive from the legalization of marijuana than the damage it will cause to the people using it. I don’t object to the legitimate use of marijuana for medical purposes, but if you look at the ads in the back of the newspaper in states where medical marijuana is legal, you quickly realize that an unethical doctor can write a prescription for marijuana to cure an ingrown toenail. There are so many areas where the government interferes to ‘protect’ Americans, it is interesting that the government chooses to remain silent about a danger that is rapidly becoming socially acceptable.

An Interesting Turn Of Events

This seems trivial, but maybe it’s not. MyWay News is reporting today that Paul McCartney is giving up smoking pot.

The article reports:

The former Beatle told the Daily Mirror he doesn’t want to set a bad example for his children and grandchildren by using marijuana. He said Saturday his decision is “a parent thing.”

He says “the last time I smoked was a long time ago.”

It is interesting to me that someone who smoked pot for a long time does not want his children and grandchildren smoking it. It’s a very interesting statement for him to make. Paul McCartney’s actions are in stark contrast to the move in America to legalize marijuana. I wonder if this is the real answer to America’s drug problem–just convince the grown-ups to act like grown-ups.

 

The ‘Unknown Motive’ In Ferguson

In an attempt to explain recent events in Ferguson, some of the major media sources (CNN and some of the networks) have referred to an ‘unknown motive’ on the part of Michael Brown. Yesterday World Net Daily posted an article that might provide the answer to what the ‘unknown motive’ was.

The article reports:

Reporting from the scene, Lemon (CNN’s Don Lemon) said, “Maybe a minute, two minutes ago we heard a gunshot and watched people scattering. And we’re watching people on the roofs of cars, on the tops of cars and … Obviously there’s a smell of marijuana here as well.”

“Lemon’s comments sparked fierce backlash on social media,” reported Toyin Owoseje of the International Business Times. She said “many members of the online community” accused him of “adding fire to the flames and promoting his own agenda.”

I am not saying that marijuana is to blame for the rioting–I am saying that marijuana impairs judgment and that people under the influence of the drug might do things that they might not do otherwise.

The article also points out something that I have not heard elsewhere:

Rathbone points out that Kevin Torres, a reporter for KUSA in Colorado, where marijuana is legalized, has done a balanced story on the issue, noting that researchers from Harvard and Northwestern University recently found “younger marijuana users are more likely to have learning and mental health problems.” He cited an article from the New England Journal of Medicine showing high THC use being linked to paranoia and psychosis.

Michael Brown was not only high on THC but was apparently preparing to smoke more dope when Officer Wilson caught him walking down the center of a street and asked him to move to the sidewalk. The swisher sweet cigars Brown had stolen from the convenience store are notorious for being used to make marijuana “blunts.”  (emphasis mine)

The media has attempted to paint Michael Brown as an angelic gentle giant. Clearly, that is not the case. Michael Brown was obviously as flawed an individual as the rest of us. His death was unfortunate, but was also the result of choices that he made. If you take the marijuana out of the equation, you have no theft and probably no reason to attack a policeman. Marijuana may be harmless at times, but obviously this time it was fatal.

It Really Isn’t Safe

I wonder why the political class seems to be intent on the legalization of marijuana. I realize that I am an old person, but I really can’t see one thing that allowing everyone over 18 (which of course means many people under 18) to smoke marijuana adds to our social fabric. In fact, it may actually destroy our social fabric.

Yesterday the U.K. Mail posted a story about a twenty-year study into the effects of marijuana. It wasn’t good news.

The highlights of the study:

  • One in six teenagers who regularly smoke the drug become dependent on it,
  • Cannabis doubles the risk of developing psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia,
  • Cannabis users do worse at school. Heavy use in adolescence appears to impair intellectual development
  • One in ten adults who regularly smoke the drug become dependent on it and those who use it are more likely to go on to use harder drugs,
  • Driving after smoking cannabis doubles the risk of a car crash, a risk which increases substantially if the driver has also had a drink,
  • Smoking it while pregnant reduces the baby’s birth weight.

This does not sound like the impact of a ‘harmless’ substance.

The article further reports:

But his (Professor Hall, a professor of addiction policy at King’s College London) main finding is that regular use, especially among teenagers, leads to long-term mental health problems and addiction.

‘The important point I am trying to make is that people can get into difficulties with cannabis use, particularly if they get into daily use over a longer period,’ he said. ‘There is no doubt that heavy users experience a withdrawal syndrome as with alcohol and heroin.

‘Rates of recovery from cannabis dependence among those seeking treatment are similar to those for alcohol.’

Mark Winstanley, of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: ‘Too often cannabis is wrongly seen as a safe drug, but as this review shows, there is a clear link with psychosis and schizophrenia, especially for teenagers.

I don’t know what the motive of the politicians who are pushing for the legalization of marijuana is, but it is time for someone to be a grown-up and say no. I don’t think we need to send marijuana users to jail, but I think we need to set a goal of helping them withdraw from the drug. The use of marijuana, particularly in young adults will have permanent negative effects on our society.

It May Be Legal, But That Doesn’t Mean It’s Good

On Friday, Bloomberg News reported a new venture by Cubic Designs, Inc., a division of Warren Buffett‘s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. I don’t have a problem with people making a profit, but even when something is legal, I think you need to look at the consequences of your actions. Cubic Designs, Inc. makes platforms for maximizing usable floor space in warehouses. The company sent fliers to about 1,000 marijuana growers, offering to help the pot growers expand the number of plants they grow.

I would love to see people growing food indoors using this technology, not growing something that may be detrimental to our society. I understand that marijuana is a ‘money’ crop, but so was tobacco. I think that as Americans begin to see the impact of legal marijuana in the states where it has been legalized, we may have second thoughts about the wisdom of making marijuana legal. Meanwhile, we need businessmen who have a moral compass guiding their actions.