The Marijuana Policy Initiative

Prevent Don't Promote Drug Use–Do You Want More Marijuana in Your Community or Less?

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.

What Scientific & Medical Journals & Experts Say About Marijuana

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

This selection of 30 references is a thorough compilation of current research findings on the health impacts of marijuana and the public health impacts of marijuana legalization and commercialization.

Any policymaker or journalist seeking to be better informed than by the spin of industry promoters would do well to inform their decision making, advocacy and reporting by studying and referencing this work. Continue reading

Marijuana Legalization Narrative Evolving

A 2012 crash in West Hempstead, N.Y., in which the teen driver had smoked marijuana. (Photo: Frank Eltman, AP)

A 2012 crash in West Hempstead, N.Y., in which the teen driver had smoked marijuana.
(Photo: Frank Eltman, AP)

The car crash graphic was an interesting choice for USA Today.

The comments are getting smarter:

  • harmful
  • incarceration not a real issue
  • big problems in Colorado
  • we already have medical mj [should be cannabis based medicines only, however]

But the pro-legalizers are still very much in the rhetoric. “most people think its ok”; “people shouldn’t go to jail”

We have to resist being part of the dialogue on how much pot is good for you or OK for you. The answer is, with everything science is telling us about the harms, generalized pot exposures should be eliminated as much as possible.

Simple public health message:

  • if it means more pot, pot promotion and more pot use, its a bad policy for Americans.
  • Commercialization is a bad answer and harms more people.
  • More pot means more harms.
  • It’s a lousy choice.
  • It’s not OK to collude with pot profiteers.
  • It’s not about one person. It’s about increasing harmful exposures across 315 million people.

Epidemiology should be easy for people to understand these days. Pot use can be contagious. And the harms follow for too many.

This new “freedom” message is bunk. Should marijuana users/sellers be free to hold the rest of us hostage to their promoting pot use to the most vulnerable for profit?

There is no freedom to inflict harm on innocents.

But the tide does seem to be turning. Evitable.

___________________________

Check out the referenced article from USA TODAY:

Marijuana legalization lights up midterms: Opinionline

Can the USA Afford the Risk of Further Increases in Marijuana Use?

Marijuana's Effects on Brain, Body and Behavior

“Can the USA Afford the Risk of Further Increases in Cannabis Use? “Not if we want people  engaged in society” — Dr. Nora Volkow, NIDA

It’s been an interesting week across the country on the marijuana issue.

See link on the homeless migrating to Colorado in search of jobs in the marijuana industry, and the news of current federal executive agencies making marijuana banking easier, while science is getting clearer and clearer on the developmental damage done by this drug.

Dr. Nora Volkow of NIDA spoke to sold out drug education events on Monday, 9/22, at the Butler Hospital in Providence and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston on “Marijuana’s Effects on Brain, Body and Behavior”. Among the most recent scientific and research findings:

  • Past month marijuana use among 12th grade students now surpasses cigarette use.
  • Addiction is a developmental disease that starts in adolescence and childhood when the brain is most easily primed for the disease of addiction through early exposures to addictive substances.
  • Long-term effects: About 9% of marijuana users become drug dependent. One in six who begin marijuana exposures to the brain in adolescence (17%) become dependent on the drug. 25%-50% of daily users of marijuana are drug dependent .
  • Cannabis use and later life outcomes are dose dependent. When looking at the number of cannabis exposures during ages 14-21 in a population sample, those with 400 or more cannabis exposures represented 50-60% of the population sample who at age 21-25 were currently welfare dependent or unemployed. These high rates of marijuana exposure appeared in less than 2% of that same population sample that had gained a university degree by age 25. Inversely, those who had used marijuana zero times represented the largest percentage of the population with a college degree by age 25 at over 35%, while “never used marijuana” represented the smallest portion of the unemployed at ages 21-25 at below 25% of that group. Over 50% of that unemployed group had used marijuana 400 times or more during age 14-21, and nearly 60% of welfare dependent had used marijuana 400+ times during ages 14-21.
  • Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife.
  • Amotivational syndrome is linked to persistent marijuana use. Drive and ambition are negatively impacted.
  • Brain abnormalities are associated with long-term heavy cannabis use.
  • High potency cannabis use significantly increases risk of psychosis.
  • Regular cannabis use increases risk of schizophrenia in the genetically vulnerable.
  • As THC potency has increased significantly in recent years with marijuana commercialization, emergency room visits for adverse marijuana reactions have risen significantly as well.
  • the percentage of marijuana-positive fatal car crashes in Colorado nearly doubled during post-marijuana commercialization in 2009 going forward.
  • Perceived risk for marijuana use among 12th graders for regular marijuana use has been declining since the early 90’s. During this same time, daily use of pot by 12th graders has been rising and is at a 30 year high.
  • Marijuana use has been linked to higher drop out rates and stop out rates in both high school and college.

Dr. Volkow’s parting rhetorical question was, “Do we really want half of America stoned?”  And her concerned reply? “Not if we want them fully engaged.”
Continue reading

First, Do No Harm — Gupta, Weed, Ethics, & Science

Guptas say vape. Are this his "patients"

Are these the “patients” Sanjay Gupta will help with his “non-science, non-evidence-based suggestion that vaping may be the way to consume weed? Source: Reuters/Kimberly White

Since CNN sensationalized his “Weed” reports, Sanjay Guptas has continued to erode his own credibility, for example, in his statements about vaporizing marijuana.

The biggest concern about Dr. Gupta is his relationship with science-based medicine. Being a medical correspondent is a tough job to have and still stay true to science and evidence-based medicine. The temptation to “sex up a story” or to do credulous puff pieces about the latest “alternative” medicine in order to drive ratings is strong, and it takes a strong commitment to be able to resist them.

It seems that Gupta’s weaknesses as a science-based or evidence-based professional were known even as he was being considered for surgeon general in 2009 (see article below). He didn’t make the cut then.

His carelessness in promoting marijuana to his broad TV public with no regard for the impact on public health and increasing abuse of marijuana bares out that skepticism about his professional judgement. Continue reading

Junk Science, Real Harm: the Marijuana Reality

Marijuana's junk science

Like Big Tobacco, the Marijuana Industry is using questionable “science” to justify benefits of its products.

We can already see the damage done by rising levels of increasingly potent marijuana use.

But quality science is catching up and is now methodically providing a body of evidence detailing the damage done by the drug.

From a policy perspective, pot legalization has produced the following results in CO:

What’s up?

  • black market sales and illegal drug diversion are up.
  • child drug exposures/poisonings are up
  • pot-related problems in schools are up
  • ER visits for adverse reactions to pot are up
  • marijuana-positive traffic deaths are up
  • workplace positives on drug tests are up
  • mj addiction treatment is up
  • butane hash oil explosions and fires are up
  • marijuana-related deaths are up
  • potency and concentration of THC are way up, hence new levels of damage being done by the drug
  • exposures during pregnancy, and hence infancy, are up

This list could be a lot longer, but that’s what we know so far. Continue reading