This page is designed to provide information and links to articles that speak to current moral issues facing our society. Please reference the original article (if available) when using quotes from these resources.
ALCAP does not necessarily agree with opinions or "conclusions" that are reached in the following articles, but offers these articles as resource material for research purposes.
CLEARING THE HAZE
The Colorado Springs, Colorado newspaper The Gazette kicks off a four-day perspective series, "Clearing the Haze," that examines health, social, regulatory and financial issues associated with the world's boldest experiment with legal marijuana.
Click here to start with Day 1: Regulation
"... The ugly truth is that Colorado was suckered. It was promised regulation and has been met by an industry that fights tooth and nail any restrictions that limit its profitability. ”
- Ben Cort, Director of Professional Relations for the Center for Addiction Recovery and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Hospital
A DANGEROUS MIX
AAA research suggests legalizing marijuana for recreational use poses risks to traffic safety
This election year, voters in five states will decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana use. Among them are California with Proposition 64 and Maine with Question 1. Any states that do will join the four others where the drug is already legal for recreational use. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed cannabis use by drivers in one of those states, Washington, and found that the proportion of drivers involved in fatal crashes who had recently used marijuana more than doubled after Washington legalized the drug for recreational use. In addition, there’s currently no easy way to test whether a driver is impaired by marijuana: Unlike alcohol, it can’t be determined by breath or blood tests.
The Dark Side of Medical Marijuana's Miracle Elixir
by Amanda Chicago Lewis
CERTAIN COMPOUNDS IN CANNABIS HAVE SERIOUS MEDICAL POTENTIAL FOR EVERYONE FROM CANCER PATIENTS TO CHILDREN SUFFERING FROM SEIZURES. BUT PATIENTS AND PARENTS HAVE NO WAY TO DISTINGUISH THE SNAKE OIL SALESMEN FROM THE TRUSTWORTHY COMPANIES.
Now that 38 states have legalized some form of cannabis, many people assume the plant’s therapeutic uses are being carefully regulated, dosed, and studied. This is not the case. Marijuana is still illegal everywhere under federal law, which prevents the agencies that would traditionally provide oversight from getting involved. Consumers have no way to know for sure what they are actually buying.
Click here to read the article.
The Hidden Costs of Marijuana Use in Colorado: One Emergency Department’s Experience
Kenneth Finn, MD, President Springs Rehab, PC
Rochelle Salmore, MSN, RN, NE-B, Nurse Scientist, Penrose St. Francis Health Services (retired)
Purpose: This study aims to assess potential health care costs and adverse health effects related to cannabis use in an acute care community hospital in Colorado, comparing study findings to those medical diagnoses noted in the literature. Little information is available about specific hospital health care costs, thus this study will add to the knowledge gap and describe charges and collections from visits of these patients in one hospital’s Emergency Department (ED).
Objective: Review diagnoses of cannabis users visiting a local ED and outline the potential financial and health effects of these patients on the health care system.
Design: An Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved retrospective observational study of patients seen in the ED from 2009 to 2014 with cannabis diagnoses and positive urine drug analyses (UDA) matched with hospital billing records. Randomized patient records were reviewed to determine completeness of documentation and coding related to cannabis use.
Setting: An acute care hospital in one city in Colorado. The city has nearly 100 medical marijuana dispensaries, but has not legalized recreational cannabis use. The city decided to not allow recreational stores in city limits as they were allowed to make that determination as a result of Amendment 64, which allowed municipalities to determine if they wanted recreational marijuana in their town. As of this publication, more than 70% of Colorado’s municipalities have opted out of recreation marijuana sales.
Participants: Subjects seen through the ED who had both a diagnosis code listing cannabis and a positive UDA for cannabis. Exclusions were subjects with UDA for cannabis but also tested positive for other substances, subjects who had cannabis diagnosis but no UDA result or those who had no UDA but did have a cannabis diagnosis.
Conclusion: Subjects seen in the ED had similar diagnoses as those reviewed in the literature, confirming the serious side effects of marijuana use. During the study period, the study hospital incurred a true loss of twenty million dollars in uncollected charges after allowing for contractual obligations. While adverse health effects have been described in the literature, there is little data on the financial impact of marijuana use on the health care system. This study demonstrated an increasing number of patients who are seen in the ED also have used cannabis. These patients are not always able to pay their bills, resulting in a financial loss to the hospital. The authors encourage the collection of hospital financial data for analysis in the states where medicinal (MMJ) and/or recreational marijuana is legal.
Click here for a copy of the article on The Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice website.
Can we please stop pretending marijuana is harmless?
The truth is it can indeed mean trouble, especially for young people.
By Dr. Sushrut Jangi
The Boston Globe OCTOBER 08, 2015
These days, it’s become fairly square to criticize marijuana and its rush toward legalization. Twenty-three states have condoned the drug in some form, with four permitting recreational use, and Massachusetts is set to vote on permitting it next year. The proposed federal CARERS Act of 2015 would let states legalize medical marijuana without federal interference and demote pot from a Schedule I drug — one with high abuse potential — to Schedule II. The path toward nationwide decriminalization is looking unobstructed.
But underscoring the incredible momentum to legalize marijuana is the misconception that the drug can’t hurt anybody. It can, especially young people.
The myth that marijuana is not habit-forming is constantly challenged by physicians. “There’s no question at all that marijuana is addictive,” Dr. Sharon Levy tells me. She is the director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, one of a few programs designed to preemptively identify substance use problems in teens. At least 1 in 11 young adults who begin smoking will develop an addiction to marijuana, even more among those who use the more potent products that are entering the market.
Click here to read the article:
REPORT: MARIJUANA COMMERCIALIZATION FAILING IN COLORADO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2015
Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) report shows significant increases in traffic fatalities, child poison control exposures, hospitalizations, youth use, amongst other alarming data, detailing how Colorado’s experiment with retail marijuana regulation is a public health and safety failure.
DENVER, CO – The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) has released its updated report, “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado The Impact, Volume 3,” which outlines the most alarming data to date, demonstrating how Colorado marijuana legalization policies have harmed public safety and health. Click here for a pdf copy of this report.
Highlights from the report show serious changes since 2014, when retail marijuana businesses began operating in Colorado, including:
- Traffic deaths: A 32 percent increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths in just one year from 2013
- Driving under the influence: Toxicology reports with positive marijuana results of active THC for primarily driving under the influence have increased 45 percent
- Marijuana use by children: Colorado youth usage (ages 12 to 17) ranks 56 percent higher than the national average
- ER visits:A 29 percent increase in the number of marijuana-related emergency room visits
- Hospitalizations: A 38 percent increase in the number of marijuana-related hospitalizations
- Poison control:Marijuana-only related exposures increased 72 percent in only one year
- More marijuana trafficking:The yearly average interdiction seizures of Colorado marijuana increased another 34 percent
“This report serves as a wake-up call for all Coloradans,” said Bob Doyle, chair of Colorado SAM. “It is time to stop yielding to Big Marijuana special interests and put health and safety ahead of marijuana commercialization.”
“For too long, the marijuana industry has been telling Americans that ‘everything’s fine’ in Colorado. This data-driven report tells a very different story,” said Kevin Sabet, President of SAM and an assistant professor at the University of Florida.
Jo McGuire, co-chair of Colorado SAM added, “We are prepared to engage Colorado community members in conversations that will send strong messages to our state leaders that these outcomes are unacceptable and legalization clearly does not work.”
In August 2015, poll results showed that popularity for marijuana legalization amongst Coloradans is losing support over concerns of traffic problems, youth usage, child exposures and the proliferation of edible products.
About SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)
SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of “incarceration versus legalization” when discussing marijuana use and instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug. SAM supports a treatment, health-first marijuana policy.
Colorado Adult Marijuana Use Now Almost Double the National Average
Denver is home to the most number of marijuana stores - and leads the state with 18.5% of adults as current users
(DENVER, CO) - A new statewide study funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found that 13.6% of Colorado adults are regular users of marijuana - almost double the rate (7.4%) of the entire country, according to recent Health and Human Services studies. 1 in 5 marijuana users in the state also reported driving after using marijuana.
Details of the survey included:
- 1 in 3 users are daily users
- Black adults in Colorado are using at almost 50% higher than the state average for adults; Hispanics have the lowest use rates
- Low income Colorado adults are using at higher rates than the state average
- Almost a third of 18-24 year olds are using marijuana
- Almost a third of gay and lesbian adults are using marijuana - more than twice the state average for adults
- Almost 1 in five reported driving after using marijuana
Smart Approaches to Marijuana Alabama
PUBLIC RELEASE: 8-JUN-2015
National study finds rising rate of marijuana exposure among children 5 years old, younger
Researchers urge states to put child safety requirements in place when considering marijuana legalization
NATIONWIDE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL
Debates about legalizing marijuana have focused on crime rates, economic benefits, and health effects among adults. But a study published today from researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital shows that the risk to young children of swallowing, breathing in or otherwise being exposed to marijuana also needs to be considered.
The study, published online today in Clinical Pediatrics, found that the rate of marijuana exposure among children 5 years of age and younger rose 147.5 percent from 2006 through 2013 across the United States. The rate increased almost 610 percent during the same period in states that legalized marijuana for medical use before 2000.
In states that legalized marijuana from 2000 through 2013, the rate increased almost 16 percent per year after legalization, with a particular jump in the year that marijuana was legalized. Even states that had not legalized marijuana by 2013 saw a rise of 63 percent in the rate of marijuana exposures among young children from 2000 through 2013.
More than 75 percent of the children who were exposed were younger than 3 years of age, and most children were exposed when they swallowed marijuana.
"The high percentage of ingestions may be related to the popularity of marijuana brownies, cookies and other foods," said Henry Spiller, D.ABAT, a co-author of the study, toxicologist, and director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's. "Very young children explore their environments by putting items in their mouths, and foods such as brownies and cookies are attractive."
The study findings showed that most exposures resulted in only minor clinical effects, but some children experienced coma, decreased breathing, or seizures. The main psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, THC, can be especially high in marijuana food products, and that may have contributed to some of the observed severe effects. More than 18 percent of children who were exposed were hospitalized. These hospital admissions were likely due not only to the clinical effects, but also the need to investigate the circumstances that lead to the exposure in the home.
Overall, there were 1,969 young children reported to Poison Control Centers in the United States because of marijuana exposure from 2000 through 2013. While that is a relatively small number of total cases, the steep rate of increase in states that have legalized marijuana is reason for concern, said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's.
"Any state considering marijuana legalization needs to include child protections in its laws from the very beginning," Dr. Smith said. "Child safety must be part of the discussion when a state is considering legalization of marijuana."
Researchers recommend the same measures for commercially-available marijuana products that are now used to protect children from medicines and dangerous household chemicals, including requirements for child-resistant packaging and packaging that is not see-through. These same precautions need to be used for homemade marijuana products. If any marijuana products are in a household, they need to be kept up, away and out of sight of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
Data for this study came from the National Poison Database System, the most comprehensive and accurate database available for investigation of poisonings in the United States. The study was conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, both at Nationwide Children's.
The Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital works globally to reduce injury-related pediatric death and disabilities. With innovative research at its core, CIRP works to continually improve the scientific understanding of the epidemiology, biomechanics, prevention, acute treatment and rehabilitation of injuries. CIRP serves as a pioneer by translating cutting edge injury research into education, policy, and advances in clinical care. To learn more about CIRP, visit http://www.injurycenter.org.
The Central Ohio Poison Center provides state-of-the-art poison prevention, assessment and treatment to residents in 64 of Ohio's 88 counties. The center services are available to the public, medical professionals, industry, and human service agencies. The Poison Center handles more than 42,000 poison exposure calls annually, and confidential, free emergency poisoning treatment advice is available 24/7. To learn more about the Poison Center, visit http://www.bepoisonsmart.org.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.
The terrible truth about cannabis: Expert's devastating 20-year study finally demolishes claims that smoking pot is harmless
By BEN SPENCER, SCIENCE REPORTER FOR THE DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 18:02 EST, 6 October 2014
- One in six teenagers who regularly smoke the drug become dependent
- It doubles risk of developing psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia
- Heavy use in adolescence appears to impair intellectual development
- Driving after smoking cannabis doubles risk of having a car crash
- Study's author said: 'If cannabis is not addictive then neither is heroin'
A definitive 20-year study into the effects of long-term cannabis use has demolished the argument that the drug is safe.
Cannabis is highly addictive, causes mental health problems and opens the door to hard drugs, the study found.
The paper by Professor Wayne Hall, a drugs advisor to the World Health Organisation, builds a compelling case against those who deny the devastation cannabis wreaks on the brain. Professor Hall found:
- One in six teenagers who regularly smoke the drug become dependent on it and cannabis users do worse at school. Heavy use in adolescence appears to impair intellectual development.
- 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.
Last night Professor Hall, a professor of addiction policy at King’s College London, dismissed the views of those who say that cannabis is harmless.
‘If cannabis is not addictive then neither is heroin or alcohol,’ he said.
‘It is often harder to get people who are dependent on cannabis through withdrawal than for heroin – we just don’t know how to do it.’
Those who try to stop taking cannabis often suffer anxiety, insomnia, appetite disturbance and depression, he found. Even after treatment, less than half can stay off the drug for six months.
The paper states that teenagers and young adults are now as likely to take cannabis as they are to smoke cigarettes.
COALITION OPPOSING MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION LAUNCHES NATIONAL CAMPAIGN TODAY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
By samadmin 08/02/2014
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), co-founded by fmr. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, organizes broad coalition and responds to recent legalization editorial
WASHINGTON– Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens, chaired by former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy and directed by former White House adviser Kevin A. Sabet, was joined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine and dozens of other groups in launching a new, full-page ad in the New York Times today in response to the recent pro-marijuana editorial.
The ad – “Perception/Reality” – depicts a young laid-back man’s face (“perception”) juxtaposed over the body of high-powered business executive’s body (“reality”) implying that if America is not careful, we will soon have a very large, powerful marijuana industry on our hands. Below the image, the copy reads:
“The legalization of marijuana means ushering in an entirely new group of corporations whose primary source of revenue is a highly habit-forming product. Sounds a lot like another industry we just put in its place. Many facts are being ignored by this and other news organizations. Go to GrassIsNotGreener.com to see why so many major medical associations oppose marijuana legalization.”
The ad will also be used by local community groups, including SAM’s 27 state affiliates, in order to educate the public on the reality of the marijuana industry. The ad links to a new online resource of information – www.GrassIsNotGreener.org — which lists medical and other organizational opposition to legalization. The website also contains scientific papers and facts about marijuana, and will remain a resource for information on the emerging marijuana industry.
Click here for a copy of the ad.
Why Marijuana Should Remain Illegal
by David Brumbelow
(David is a pastor and author of “Ancient Wine and the Bible.” gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com.)
Washington State has become the second state to legalize marijuana. Christians need to be prepared to speak to this issue.
REASONS TO OPPOSE MARIJUANA ARE HERE GIVEN IN THE FORM OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
- Marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol, and alcohol is legal. Alcohol is America’s number one drug problem. Why should we now unleash another harmful drug on America? When marijuana has been legalized, it has led to an increase in crime and societal problems. Alcohol and marijuana have been classified as “gateway drugs,” drugs that often lead to harder drugs. Isn’t one legal gateway drug enough?
- We have not won the war against drugs, including marijuana. So why not legalize it? We haven’t won the war against murder either. Should we therefore legalize murder? Should we just tax murder? Of course not. Passing a law against a harmful practice does not eliminate the practice. But it does limit it, stigmatize it, and punish the abusers.
- Medical marijuana should be legalized. The argument for medical marijuana usually is just a way of opening the door to the recreational use of marijuana. When a state legalizes smoking marijuana for pain, you can expect the next push to be for legalizing recreational marijuana. Christian abstainers, however, do accept the use of drugs for medicinal necessity, rather than recreational purposes. For some the pain-relieving aspects of marijuana loses appeal when you take away the idea of smoking a joint and getting high. Marijuana is already available in drug form that does not get you high, yet can be used for pain or other medical conditions. Barrett Duke of the ERLC explains, “Marijuana’s pain-relieving ingredient has been available by prescription for years. A person can purchase Marinol – right now – with a doctor’s prescription. The plain fact of the matter is that there are better and safer drugs [for pain]” (bpnews.net; 8-6-2012).
- People have a right to smoke marijuana if they choose. Our rights must sometimes end when a practice or substance becomes too harmful to ourselves and others. I know there is a fine line that sometimes has to be drawn, but dangerous drugs that harm the user and innocent others should be severely limited. Isn’t it strange that just as society is turning against smoking tobacco, it is now moving toward sanctioning smoking marijuana?
- We can get taxes from the legal sales of marijuana. We could also get taxes from legalizing other harmful practices. Invariably, when we allow and tax a practice that is harmful to society, we end up paying more to control it and deal with its consequences, than we receive in taxes. Government would do better to get their taxes up front and honestly, not by legalizing destructive behavior.
- You can’t legislate morality. Yes you can. Our laws against murder and theft legislate morality. The question is where you draw the line. Some things need to be criminalized, limited, and stigmatized.
- Penalties for marijuana should change. Perhaps this is true. Barrett Duke has suggested, “A system of increasing fines, penalties and requirements, like substance-abuse counseling, can be developed. Penalties even could include the loss of one’s driver’s license. Jail could be a last resort for habitual offenders” (-BP).
- Marijuana is not that bad. Rather, when marijuana has been legalized, it has magnified an existing problem. Marijuana has multiple toxic chemicals and gives a higher risk for cancer, psychosis, strokes, respiratory damage and heart attack. It causes impaired memory, difficulty concentrating, impairs driving and reaction time. It lowers the I.Q. of teenage smokers. Acceptance of another mind-altering recreational drug always changes things for the worse.
BIBLICAL REASONS TO OPPOSE MARIJUANA.
Every biblical injunction against alcohol is also a condemnation of marijuana and other recreational drugs.
- Scripture describes in detail the dangerous effects of alcoholic wine and says not to even look at it (Proverbs 23:29-35). It’s not much of a leap to take the same low view of other dangerous drugs.
- Scripture directly says wine is a mocker (Proverbs 20:1).
- Scripture commands us to be sober (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8; 1 Peter 5:8; etc.).
- Kings are commanded not to drink wine lest they pervert justice (Proverbs 31:4-5). Believers are called kings and priests (Revelation 1:6; 5:10) and neither should we take drugs that would cause us to do things we’d never do in our right minds.
- A Christian is to honor God with his mind and body (Matthew 22:37; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Both are adversely affected by alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs.
- Drinking hurts your Christian influence and leads others astray (1 Corinthians 8:9; 10:23).
One very big problem Christian social drinkers have is if they are justified in taking one mind-altering recreational drug (alcohol), then they have no legitimate argument against another legal mind-altering recreational drug (marijuana). The wise thing for Christians is to have nothing to do with either drug.
It should also be remembered that legal and moral are not synonymous. Whether alcohol, marijuana, or other harmful drugs are legal, a Christian answers to a higher standard.
Let’s not legalize another destructive drug.
More People Using E-Cigarettes to Smoke Marijuana
By Join Together Staff | October 11, 2013
A growing number of people are smoking marijuana out of e-cigarettes, NBC New York reports. Marijuana in liquid and wax forms used in e-cigarettes and vapor pens does not create an odor. Because the devices don’t produce a flame, a person smoking marijuana in an e-cigarette can take a puff and then quickly put it in a pocket.
Local law enforcement officials and drug counselors are concerned about the trend, particularly in minors. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a survey that showed use of e-cigarettes among middle and high schools students doubled from 2011 to 2012. The CDC found 10 percent of high school students had tried an e-cigarette last year, compared with 5 percent the previous year. According to the survey, 1.8 million middle and high school students said they tried e-cigarettes last year.
Detective Lt. Kevin Smith, who heads the Narcotics Unit for the Nassau County Police Department in New York, said an officer arresting someone on a drug charge who has an e-cigarette is now directed to test the device for illegal drugs.
New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal introduced a bill last year which made it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors. New York Governor Cuomo signed the bill in September 2012. “Once you try electronic cigarettes, you can become hooked to them, move on to cigarettes and then move on to other drugs,” Rosenthal said.
Legalized Pot Would Mean More Addiction
By Kevin A. Sabet, Special to CNN
updated 12:58 PM EDT, Wed October 2, 2013
(CNN)-- "The war on drugs has failed" is a mantra often heard in policy and media circles these days. But not only is the phrase outdated (the 1980s called -- they want their slogan back), it is far too simplistic to describe both current drug policy and its outcomes.
The latest incarnation of this ill-advised saying can be found in a report arguing that since cannabis and heroin prices have fallen while their purity has increased, efforts to curb drug use and its supply are doomed to failure. This leads some to highlight the possibility of alternatives in the form of "regulation" (e.g., legalization) of drugs.
But a closer look at the data -- and the implications for a policy change to legalization -- should give us pause if we care about the dire consequences drug addiction has on society.
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