Many young people are being mistakenly led to believe that commercial marijuana is a solution for routine anxiety. The rebound effect from using this drug often leaves anxiety and depression worse. Many adults are being deceived, by those who would profit from cannabis commercialization, that increasing access to marijuana will stem the opioid crisis.
In their April 12, 2018 op-ed, “Easing access to marijuana is not a way to solve the opioid epidemic,” published on “STAT”, Nicholas Chadi (a pediatrician who specializes in adolescent medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital) and Sharon Levy (director of the Adolescent Substance Use and Addiction Program at Boston Children’s Hospital) make a compelling cautionary case for increasing and easing access to marijuana at a population level through commercialization.
“…There is ample evidence that individuals — especially adolescents — who use marijuana have much higher rates of mood, anxiety, and psychotic disorders than their peers. The loss of motivation that we see in so many of our patients who use marijuana, its negative impact on functioning at school or at work, and its likely connection with cognitive decline are other serious and common harms.
Adolescents who use marijuana are also more likely to misuse prescription opioid medications. In our experience, nearly all of our patients with opioid addiction first used marijuana heavily.”
Those of us involved in monitoring the rise of corporate marijuana should understand the value of our disquiet. It is an early warning sign.
The Parable of the Boiled Frog
Over twenty years ago M.I.T. systems thinker, Peter Senge, wrote about the “parable of the boiled frog.” In short: if you place a frog in a shallow pan of boiling water it will immediately try and jump out. But if you place the frog in warm water, and don’t startle him, he will remain there, unbothered. If the temperature of the water rises gradually, the frog will stay put in the pan, until it’s too late and he’s unable to climb out. As ghastly as the image of the boiled frog is, the lesson is clear. We are not unlike the frog. Our ability for sensing threats to survival is geared to immediate and sudden changes, not to slow, creeping, gradual changes.
(The Fifth Discipline: the Art & Practice of the Learning Organization, Peter M. Senge, Doubleday. August 1990)
As more marijuana becomes available in the U.S. over the past decade, marijuana use has doubled. And rates of cannabis dependence syndrome (addiction) are climbing as well. This biobehavioral disorder affects three out of every ten Americans who have used marijuana in the past year.
As we permit legalization and commercialization of marijuana in any form, we move into the business of manufacturing new addicts. Marijuana addiction now afflicts 6.8 million Americans. While addiction affects all socioeconomic and racial groups, notable increases in the disorder has occurred markedly among groups who are ages 45 to 64 and individuals who are black or Hispanic, with the lowest incomes, or living in the South.
Current brain science is suggesting strong plausibility that the opiate and heroin epidemic will continue to worsen with commercializing and industrializing production and sales of marijuana at levels the likes of tobacco, alcohol and prescription drugs.
With more 21st century marijuana in our communities, opiate and heroin use rises. The brain science is beginning to explain why this is. We are, with marijuana research, where we were in the 1920s and 30s with tobacco research linking smoking to cancer.
Studies are revealing that the cannabinoid-opioid systems of the brain are intimately connected.
Here’s the straight dope from young science writers at Wake Forest University. In an up-to-the-minute graphic novel format, no less. Each graphically supported factoid raises as many health and policy consequence questions as it answers. But it gets the science out there is an accessible way.
Using the same lies and tactics the marijuana industry will precede the next major American public health crisis. Commercialization drives use.
We were once fooled by a major industry living off addiction for profit. Let’s not let it happen again:
…because pot is an unregulateable habit-forming and addictive substance which quickly slips out of control.
Already a black market is under-selling “taxed and regulated” pot in Colordao. There is still no reliable way of knowing exactly what is in the pot being sold. Reliable testing would be so expensive it would send many more users to cheaper unregulated sellers. The notion of seed to sale tracking is a pipe dream. You can’t put a gps chip in every seed, bud or leaf. It’s easy to dump excess inventory onto the black market. And it’s easy for criminals to grow and sell the drug — but difficult for anyone to determine the source of the product.
Predictable consequences: open marketing of increasingly potent marijuana drives up rates of harm and addiction
As reported in the New York Times “This is your brain on drugs” this month: High-THC marijuana is associated with paranoia and psychosis, according to a June article in The New England Journal of Medicine. “We have seen very, very significant increases in emergency room admissions associated with marijuana use that can’t be accounted for solely on basis of changes in prevalence rates,” said Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and a co-author of the THC study. “It can only be explained by the fact that current marijuana has higher potency associated with much greater risk for adverse effects.” Emergency room visits related to marijuana have nearly doubled, from 66,000 in 2004 to 129,000 in 2011, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Those who say a 21-year-old age limit on marijuana sales solves the problem of youth exposures are dreaming . . . society is porous . . . where there is more pot, more pot falls into the hands of young people.
Adolescent development is a stage where the brain does not process long term consequences, and it is a time of egocentrism and a strong need to figure out peer relationships and find a place to belong.
The euphoria of a cannabis high, when it falsely appears “all the kids are doing it” can trump what well intentioned adults have told their kids about the rules.
We are seeing the highest levels of youth marijuana use in 30 years. And it is a much more potent drug this time around as profiteers seek to deliver the most impactful high to eager consumers looking for just that.
….This article in the New Yorker, Sept 8, 2014, paints a poignant picture of the opiate crisis in one geography — Statan Island. It tells the pharmaceutical history of the chemical sources of the epidemic — and how Pharma companies engage in “tobacco-like” litigation to protect their sales. And how parents and churches take the lead in caring for addicts and work to prevent more addiction.
One topic missing this in this article is marijuana. Radio silence, again. Youth alcohol use is mentioned, pills, opiates, heroin.