The Marijuana Policy Initiative

Don't Commercialize Marijuana.

A volunteer non-partisan coalition of people from across the US and Canada who have come to understand the negative local-to-global public health and safety implications of an organized, legal, freely-traded, commercialized and industrialized marijuana market.

Marijuana, Addiction, Legalization and the Parable of the Boiled Frog

The slow boil of marijuana legalization is underway. When will we panic? And, will it be too late?

The slow boil of marijuana legalization is underway. When will we panic? And, will it be too late?

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)

What are the top factors which will awaken the rest of America to the bigger picture? Can we make clear the threats and opportunities we sense around us, or is the lull of the warm water just too tempting for a country brimming with distraction? Can we pay attention? Continue reading

Marijuana and the Opiate/Heroin Epidemic: Brain Science Reveals a Connection

This is a 3D model of what happiness looks like in our brain. What you see is a myosin protein dragging an endorphin along a filament to the inner part of the brain's parietal cortex which creates Happiness. What happens to this little guy when in his early years - during the time his brain's host is between 12 to 25 years old, he's exposed to 21st century THC? Research is beginning to reveal, not such good things.

This is a 3D model of what happiness looks like in our brain. What you see is a myosin protein dragging an endorphin along a filament to the inner part of the brain’s parietal cortex which creates Happiness. What happens to this little guy when in his early years – during the time his brain’s host is between 12 to 25 years old, he’s exposed to 21st century THC? Research is beginning to reveal, not such good things.

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.

In the areas of the brain where cannabinoids bind, opioids bind as well, and if you modify one system, you automatically change the other. Continue reading

Manufacturing Addicts: Marijuana Use Doubles Among US Adults

Manufacturing marijuana addicts through commercialization and legalization.

As we permit legalization and commercialization of marijuana in any form, we move into the business of manufacturing new addicts.

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.

In addition to more addiction, there have been notable increases in problems such cannabis-related emergency room visits and fatal vehicle crashes. Continue reading

Does Pot Cause Your Brain to Rot? – Scientific American

Does Pot Cause Your Brain to Rot?

[click image to enlarge] Does Pot Cause Your Brain to Rot? http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-pot-cause-your-brain-to-rot/

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.

The scientific question not addressed here: Does commercialization and marketing/messaging drive higher rates of use and addiction? Why or why not? (Nora Volkow has hypothesized/stated that commercialization and advertising do indeed drive higher rates of use and addiction.)

See it at the source at Scientific American.

Why “Colorado regulators can’t answer basic pot questions”…

Colorado can't answer marijuana questions.

Why Can’t Colorado Officials Answer Basic Pot Questions?

…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.

Where there is more pot, there is more pot use — including among young people with developing brains, one in six of whom will develop addiction.

Continue reading

Marketing of increasingly potent marijuana drives up rates of harm and addiction

Consider all the brightly colored attractive marijuana ads we see in Colorado newspapers. You will actually experience increases in dopamine when you see a stimuli that predicts that you will get a reward

Consider all the brightly colored attractive marijuana ads we see in Colorado newspapers.
You will actually experience increases in dopamine when you see a stimuli that predicts that you will get a reward. If we legalize drugs, we are not only going to be making that drug more available, but we are going to be surrounding ourselves with all of these stimuli and we are going to get conditioned [to seek that drug induced dopamine reward]. It’s an automatic process.

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.

Higher potency may also accelerate addiction. “You don’t have to work so hard to get high,” said Alan J. Budney, a researcher and professor at Dartmouth’s medical school. “As you make it easier to get high, it makes a person more vulnerable to addiction.” Among adults, the rate is one of 11; for teenagers, one of six. Continue reading

Life and Learning Impaired: Marijuana and School Don’t Mix

Even a little pot increases college dropout risk.

Some say a 21-year-old age limit solves the problem of adolescent exposures to this drug. A ridiculous assertion. Society is a pourous. Where this is more pot, and more pot promotion, more of this drug falls into the hands of young people.d

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.

Continue reading

How Staten Island Is Fighting a Raging Drug Epidemic — Where does marijuana figure?

Marijuana-pathway-to-opiates….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.

Yet, in Massachusetts, each time we’ve spoken with groups of Learn to Cope parents of addicts in support groups, on average 28 of 30 say teen marijuana use preceded opiate addiction in their loved one. Continue reading

Is Marijuana Addictive? Bet Your Heroin on it.

"Cannabis Use Disorder" or marijuana addiction is real and number one reason teens seek substance use treatment.

“Cannabis Use Disorder” or marijuana addiction is real and the number one reason teens seek substance use treatment.

Dr. Adi Jaffe is just the latest to expose the underlying lie in the pro-pot playbook of Big Marijuana.  Yes, marijuana is addictive. And Big Marijuana is counting on it.

Just like Big Tobacco before them today’s Pied Piper’s of Pot are selling a carefully crafted lie on which their industry is based.  The reality is that they need to hook our youth in order to reap their profits. Continue reading