Healthy Drug Free Colorado - Marijuana Legalization: A Bad Idea

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The Marijuana Threat

Marijuana Today is Stronger & More Addictive

Marijuana can be up to five times more potent than the cannabis of the 1970s, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  This new more-potent pot and the growing support for legalization has led to an often angry debate over marijuana addiction. Many public health officials worry that this stronger marijuana has increased addiction rates and is potentially more dangerous to teenagers, whose brains are still developing. Officials say the movement to legalize marijuana - now available by prescription in 16 states + Washington D.C. - down plays the dangers of habitual use.

Source: New York Times


Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug.

Marijuana use is widespread among adolescents and young adults. 100 million Americans have tried pot at least once and marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (formerly called the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse).

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse

It's About Making Money & Legalization - It's Not About Health

Marijuana has several negative physical and mental effects.  

  • Marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory.
  • Studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and schizophrenia.
  • Other research has shown marijuana smoke to contain carcinogens and to be an irritant to the lungs.  In fact, marijuana smoke contains 4 times more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke.
  • Marijuana use is associated with dependence, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and impaired cognitive and immune system functioning among other negative effects.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Marijuana is harmful to our community & our children

  • Heavy marijuana use impairs a persons ability to form memories, recall events, and shift attention from one task to another. (NIDA, 2005 pdf
  • Recent studies show marijuana use may be associated with mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. (Street Drugs 2010)
  • Marijuana withdrawal exists, and 9% of users will become physically dependent on the drug. (CA Society of Addiction Medicine, 2010)
  • Marijuana has a significant impact on driver impairment causing up to 300% increase in accidents.
  • In a study of seriously injured drivers, 26.9% tested positive for marijuana while 11.6% tested positive for cocaine, and 5.6% tested positive for either amphetamines.
  • 97.5 million people in the US, age 12 and older, have tried marijuana at least once.  ONDCP
  • Records show that 76% of all drug-users currently use marijuana.  NIDA
  • Cannabis easily accessible to secondary school pupils and 9 out of 10 obtained the drug from a classmate or friend without paying for it. PubMed.gov
  • Reaction time for motor skills, such as driving, is reduced by 41% after smoking 1 joint and is reduced 63% after smoking 2 joints. NIDA
  • Evidence shows that exposure to substance abuse at an early age, by community, family & friends is one of the strongest factors that will influence the use of tobacco,  alcohol, marijuana and other drug use in the future. NIH

Crime, Violence, and Drug Use Go Hand-In-Hand

In recent decades, marijuana growers have been genetically altering their plants to increase the percentage of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active ingredient in marijuana. The average potency of marijuana has more than doubled since 1998. The use of marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral effects. It can impair short-term memory and judgment and distort perception. Because marijuana affects brain systems that are still maturing through young adulthood, its use by teens may have a negative effect on their development. Additionally, studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and schizophrenia.

Source: whitehousedrugpolicy.gov

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (a division of the National Institutes of Health) has released studies showing that use of marijuana has wide-ranging negative health effects.

  • Long-term marijuana consumption "impairs the ability of T-cells in the lungs' immune system to fight off some infections."
  • Marijuana consumption impairs short-term memory, making it difficult to learn and retain information or perform complex tasks;
  • Slows reaction time and impairs motor coordination;
  • Increases heart rate by 20 percent to 100 percent, thus elevating the risk of heart attack; and alters moods, resulting in artificial euphoria, calmness, or (in high doses) anxiety or paranoia.
  • Marijuana has toxic properties that can result in birth defects, pain, respiratory system damage, brain damage, and stroke.
  • Marijuana affects the ability to learn and process information, thus influencing attention, concentration, and short-term memory.
  • Research has shown that marijuana consumption may also cause "psychotic symptoms."
  • Smoking three or four marijuana joints is as bad for your lungs as smoking twenty tobacco cigarettes.
  • Marijuana smoke contains significantly higher levels of numerous toxic compounds, like ammonia and hydrogen cyanide, than regular tobacco smoke.
  • Marijuana, like tobacco, is addictive. One study found that more than 30 percent of adults who used marijuana in the course of a year were dependent on the drug. These individuals often show signs of withdrawal and compulsive behavior.
  • Marijuana dependence is also responsible for a large proportion of calls to drug abuse help lines and treatment centers.

To equate marijuana use with alcohol consumption is, at best, uninformed and, at worst, actively misleading. Only in the most superficial ways are the two substances alike, and they differ in every way that counts: addictiveness, toxicity, health effects, and risk of intoxication.

Scientific research is clear that marijuana is addictive and that its use significantly impairs bodily and mental functions. Even where decriminalized, marijuana trafficking remains a source of violence, crime, and social disintegration. 

Source: Heritage.org

Marijuana use is associated with memory loss, cancer, immune system deficiencies, heart disease, and birth defects, among other conditions.

Unsafe In Any Amount: How Marijuana Is Not Like Alcohol

Marijuana advocates have had some success peddling the notion that marijuana is a "soft" drug, similar to alcohol, and fundamentally different from "hard" drugs like cocaine or heroin. It is true that marijuana is not the most dangerous of the commonly abused drugs, but that is not to say that it is safe. Indeed, marijuana shares more in common with the "hard" drugs than it does with alcohol.

Alcohol differs from marijuana in several crucial respects:

  1. Marijuana is far more likely to cause addiction.
  2. It is usually consumed to the point of intoxication.
  3. I has no known general healthful properties, though it may have some palliative effects.
  4. It is toxic and deleterious to health. Thus, while it is true that both alcohol and marijuana are less intoxicating than other mood-altering drugs, that is not to say that marijuana is especially similar to alcohol or that its use is healthy or even safe.
  • Unlike alcohol, marijuana has been shown to have a residual effect on cognitive ability that persists beyond the period of intoxication.
  • Alcohol is broken down relatively quickly in the human body, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main active chemical in marijuana) is stored in organs and fatty tissues, allowing it to remain in a user's body for days or even weeks after consumption.
  • To equate marijuana use with alcohol consumption is, at best, uninformed and, at worst, actively misleading.  Source: Heritage.org

The Fact is the Every Major Health Organization rejects smoked marijuana. Source:truecompassion.org

From 1997 to 2007, the number of admissions to treatment in which marijuana was the primary drug of abuse increased from 197,840 in 1997 to 287,933 in 2007. The marijuana admissions represented 12.3% of the total drug/alcohol admissions to treatment during 1997 and 15.8% of the treatment admissions in 2007. The average age of those admitted to treatment for marijuana during 2007 was 24 years.

Contrary to popular belief, marijuana can be addictive. Marijuana addiction is also linked to a withdrawal syndrome similar to that of nicotine withdrawal, which can make it hard to quit. People trying to quit report irritability, sleeping difficulties, craving, and anxiety. They also show increased aggression on psychological tests.

Source: ONDCP

Marijuana - A Gateway Drug - Leading Users to More Dangerous Drugs

Citizens also should not overlook what may be the greatest harms of marijuana legalizatio. Increased addiction to and use of harder drugs. In addition to marijuana's harmful effects on the body and relationship to criminal conduct, it is a gateway drug that can lead users to more dangerous drugs. Prosecutors, judges, police officers, detectives, parole or probation officers, and even defense attorneys know that the vast majority of defendants arrested for violent crimes test positive for illegal drugs, including marijuana. They also know that marijuana is the starter drug of choice for most criminals. Whereas millions of Americans consume moderate amounts of alcohol without ever "moving on" to dangerous drugs, marijuana use and cocaine use are strongly correlated. Source: Heritage.org

In recent decades, marijuana growers have been genetically altering their plants to increase the percentage of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active ingredient in marijuana. The average potency of marijuana has more than doubled since 1998. The use of marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral effects. It can impair short-term memory and judgment and distort perception. Because marijuana affects brain systems that are still maturing through young adulthood, its use by teens may have a negative effect on their development. Additionally, studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and schizophrenia.

Source: whitehousedrugpolicy.gov

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (a division of the National Institutes of Health) has released studies showing that use of marijuana has wide-ranging negative health effects.

  • Long-term marijuana consumption "impairs the ability of T-cells in the lungs' immune system to fight off some infections."
  • Marijuana consumption impairs short-term memory, making it difficult to learn and retain information or perform complex tasks;
  • Slows reaction time and impairs motor coordination;
  • Increases heart rate by 20 percent to 100 percent, thus elevating the risk of heart attack; and alters moods, resulting in artificial euphoria, calmness, or (in high doses) anxiety or paranoia.
  • Marijuana has toxic properties that can result in birth defects, pain, respiratory system damage, brain damage, and stroke.
  • Marijuana affects the ability to learn and process information, thus influencing attention, concentration, and short-term memory.
  • Research has shown that marijuana consumption may also cause "psychotic symptoms."
  • Ssmoking three or four marijuana joints is as bad for your lungs as smoking twenty tobacco cigarettes.
  • Marijuana smoke contains significantly higher levels of numerous toxic compounds, like ammonia and hydrogen cyanide, than regular tobacco smoke.
  • Marijuana, like tobacco, is addictive. One study found that more than 30 percent of adults who used marijuana in the course of a year were dependent on the drug. These individuals often show signs of withdrawal and compulsive behavior.
  • Marijuana dependence is also responsible for a large proportion of calls to drug abuse help lines and treatment centers.

Source: NIDA


Marijuana Use Puts The Public At Risk

Marijuana use is associated with cognitive difficulties and influences attention, concentration, and short-term memory. This damage affects drug users' ability to work and can put others at risk.   Increased use would also send health care costs skyrocketing-costs borne not just by individual users, but also by the entire society.

Source: Heritage.org

Marijuana legalization would put additional strain on an already faltering economy.

In 2008, marijuana alone was involved in 375,000 emergency room visits. Drug overdoses already outnumber gunshot deaths in America and are approaching motor vehicle crashes as the nation's leading cause of accidental death. It is true that taxing marijuana sales would generate some tax revenue, but the cost of handling the influx of problems resulting from increased use would far outweigh any gain made by marijuana's taxation. Legalizing marijuana would serve only to compound the problems already associated with drug use.

Source: Heritage.org

If Marijuana was legalized more children would consume it.

There is no doubt that if marijuana was legalized, more people, including juveniles, would consume it. Consider cigarettes: While their purchase by people under 18 is illegal, 20 percent of high school students admit to having smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days. Marijuana's illegal status "keeps potential drug users from using" marijuana in a way that no legalization scheme can replicate "by virtue of the fear of arrest and the embarrassment of being caught." With increased use comes increased abuse, as the fear of arrest and embarrassment will decrease.

Keeping marijuana illegal will undoubtedly keep many young people from using it.  Eliminate that criminal sanction (and moral disapprobation), and more youth will use the drug, harming their potential and ratcheting up treatment costs.

Source: Heritage.org

Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States.

It is a dry, shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The main active chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short.

Marijuana is usually smoked as a cigarette (joint) or in a pipe. It is also smoked in blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with a mixture of marijuana and tobacco. This mode of delivery combines marijuana's active ingredients with nicotine and other harmful chemicals. Marijuana can also be mixed in food or brewed as a tea. As a more concentrated, resinous form, it is called hashish; and as a sticky black liquid, hash oil.* Marijuana smoke has a pungent and distinctive, usually sweet-and-sour odor.

Source National Drug Institute on Drug Abuse

How marijuana effect the brain:

Scientists have learned a great deal about how THC acts in the brain to produce its many effects. When someone smokes marijuana, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body.

THC acts upon specific sites in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors, kicking off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the "high" that users experience when they smoke marijuana. Some brain areas have many cannabinoid receptors; others have few or none. The highest density of cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentrating, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.

Not surprisingly, marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problemsolving, and problems with learning and memory. Research has shown that, in chronic users, marijuana's adverse impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off.  As a result, someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time.

Research into the effects of long-term cannabis use on the structure of the brain has yielded inconsistent results. It may be that the effects are too subtle for reliable detection by current techniques. A similar challenge arises in studies of the effects of chronic marijuana use on brain function. Brain imaging studies in chronic users tend to show some consistent alterations, but their connection to impaired cognitive functioning is far from clear. This uncertainty may stem from confounding factors such as other drug use, residual drug effects, or withdrawal symptoms in long-term chronic users.

Source: NIDA

Addictive Potential:

Long-term marijuana abuse can lead to addiction; that is, compulsive drug seeking and abuse despite the known harmful effects upon functioning in the context of family, school, work, and recreational activities. Estimates from research suggest that about 9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent) and among daily users (25-50 percent).

Long-term marijuana abusers trying to quit report withdrawal symptoms including: irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, all of which can make it difficult to remain abstinent. These symptoms begin within about 1 day following abstinence, peak at 2-3 days, and subside within 1 or 2 weeks following drug cessation.

Marijuana and Mental Health:

A number of studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. Some of these studies have shown age at first use to be an important risk factor, where early use is a marker of increased vulnerability to later problems. However, at this time, it is not clear whether marijuana use causes mental problems, exacerbates them, or reflects an attempt to self-medicate symptoms already in existence.

Chronic marijuana use, especially in a very young person, may also be a marker of risk for mental illnesses - including addiction - stemming from genetic or environmental vulnerabilities, such as early exposure to stress or violence. Currently, the strongest evidence links marijuana use and schizophrenia and/or related disorders.  High doses of marijuana can produce an acute psychotic reaction; in addition, use of the drug may trigger the onset or relapse of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals.

Source: NIDA

What Other Adverse Effect Does Marijuana Have on Health?

Effects on the Heart
Marijuana increases heart rate by 20-100 percent shortly after smoking; this effect can last up to 3 hours. In one study, it was estimated that marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug. This may be due to increased heart rate as well as the effects of marijuana on heart rhythms, causing palpitations and arrhythmias. This risk may be greater in aging populations or in those with cardiac vulnerabilities.

Effects on the Lungs
Numerous studies have shown marijuana smoke to contain carcinogens and to be an irritant to the lungs. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which further increase the lungs' exposure to carcinogenic smoke. Marijuana smokers show dysregulated growth of epithelial cells in their lung tissue, which could lead to cancer; however, a recent case-controlled study found no positive associations between marijuana use and lung, upper respiratory, or upper digestive tract cancers. Thus, the link between marijuana smoking and these cancers remains unsubstantiated at this time.

Nonetheless, marijuana smokers can have many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, and a heightened risk of lung infections. A study of 450 individuals found that people who smoke marijuana frequently but do not smoke tobacco have more health problems and miss more days of work than nonsmokers. Many of the extra sick days among the marijuana smokers in the study were for respiratory illnesses.

Effects on Daily Life
Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person's existing problems worse. In one study, heavy marijuana abusers reported that the drug impaired several important measures of life achievement, including physical and mental health, cognitive abilities, social life, and career status. Several studies associate workers' marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers' compensation claims, and job turnover.

Source: NIDA

 

 

 

 

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