Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Children Are Being Poisoned by Marijuana and E-Liquid*

smoking-and-vaping-by-teenagers

*Though Not as Many as the Number of Children Poisoned by Cosmetics, Household Cleaning Products and Painkillers.

In the past couple years we’ve seen a growth of e-cig and cannabis edible usage and a corresponding increase in corporate media scare stories warning us of the dangerous epidemics sweeping the country: children accidentally ingesting cannabis edibles and nicotine liquid. Though such incidents are a real concern that the public needs to be aware of and take steps to prevent, actual statistics show that the problem is not as alarming as it’s often made out to be when examined in relation to other products that harm children when ingested.

With the advent of legal recreational cannabis in Colorado, data from the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center (RMPDC) is often cited by news media for stories about the dangers of marijuana edibles. In 2014 the RMPDC received 151 calls about marijuana exposure…

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August 5, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures and Medical Prescriptions

Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures and Medical Prescriptions
·http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/pickyourpoison/
Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 5.56.03 AM

 


It’s not hard to see why our readers loved this thought-provoking expose of America’s long history with mind-altering substances. In fact, the ad for Cocaine Toothache Drops (contemporarily priced at 15 cents) alone is worth a trip to this colorful and well curated site. Lesson plans and online activities help educators illustrate how the United States has handled the thin and shifting line between useful medical prescriptions and harmful, illicit substances.

Over a century ago, it was not uncommon to find cocaine in treatments for asthma, cannabis offered up as a cure for colds, and other contentious substances offered as medical prescriptions. This engaging collection from the U.S. National Library of Medicine brings together sections on tobacco, alcohol, opium, and marijuana. Visitors can learn about how these substances were marketed and also view a selection of digitized items culled from its voluminous holdings, including advertisements, doctor’s prescriptions, and early government documents. In the Education section, educators can look over lesson plans, check out online activities, and explore online resources from the National Institutes of Health, such as, “A Guide to Safe Use of Pain Medicine” and “College Drinking: Changing the Culture.”

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[New item] Secondhand marijuana smoke may damage blood vessels as much as tobacco smoke — ScienceDaily

From Secondhand marijuana smoke may damage blood vessels as much as tobacco smoke — ScienceDaily.

English: one high-quality "bud " nug...

English: one high-quality “bud ” nugget of marijuana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Date:November 16, 2014

Source:American Heart Association

 Summary:Secondhand marijuana smoke may have similar cardiovascular effects as tobacco smoke. Lab rats exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke had a 70 percent drop in blood vessel function.

“If you’re hanging out in a room where people are smoking a lot of marijuana, you may be harming your blood vessels,” he said. “There’s no reason to think marijuana smoke is better than tobacco smoke. Avoid them both.”

Secondhand tobacco smoke causes about 34,000 premature deaths from heart disease each year in the United States among nonsmokers according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2014 report on the consequences of smoking.

More research is needed to determine if secondhand marijuana smoke has other similar effects to secondhand cigarette smoke in humans.

 

 

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Marijuana’s long-term effects on the brain demonstrated — ScienceDaily

Marijuana’s long-term effects on the brain demonstrated — ScienceDaily.

Excerpts

Date:November 10, 2014
Source:Center for BrainHealth
Summary:
The effects of chronic marijuana use on the brain may depend on age of first use and duration of use, according to new research. Researchers for the first time comprehensively describe existing abnormalities in brain function and structure of long-term marijuana users with multiple magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques.

November 14, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychiatry | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Youth regularly receive pro-marijuana tweets

 

Researchers say pro-pot messages set stage for drug use

 AUDIO: Twitter has become one of the most popular social media sites among young people, and researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have been looking at Twitter….

Click here for more information. 

Hundreds of thousands of American youth are following marijuana-related Twitter accounts and getting pro-pot messages several times each day, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found.

The tweets are cause for concern, they said, because young people are thought to be especially responsive to social media influences. In addition, patterns of drug use tend to be established in a person’s late teens and early 20s.

In a study published online June 27 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the Washington University team analyzed messages tweeted from May 1 through Dec. 31, 2013, by a Twitter account called Weed Tweets@stillblazintho. Among pro-marijuana accounts, this one was selected because it has the most Twitter followers — about 1 million. During the eight-month study period, the account posted an average of 11 tweets per day.

“As people are becoming more accepting of marijuana use and two states have legalized the drug for recreational use, it is important to remember that it remains a dangerous drug of abuse,” said principal investigator Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, PhD. “I’ve been studying what is influencing attitudes to change dramatically and where people may be getting messages about marijuana that are leading them to believe the drug is not hazardous.”

Although 19 states now allow marijuana use for medical purposes, much of the evidence for its effectiveness remains anecdotal. Even as Americans are relaxing their attitudes about marijuana, in 2011 marijuana contributed to more than 455,000 emergency room visits in the United States, federal research shows. Some 13 percent of those patients were ages 12 to 17.

A majority of Americans favor legalizing recreational use of the drug, and 60 percent of high school seniors report they don’t believe regular marijuana use is harmful. A recent report from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said that more Americans are using cannabis as their perception of the health risk declines. The report stated that for youth and young adults, “more permissive cannabis regulations correlate with decreases in the perceived risk of use.”

 IMAGE: This is another recent marijuana-related message from the Weed Tweets Twitter account.

Click here for more information. 

Cavazos-Rehg said Twitter also is influencing young people’s attitudes about the drug. Studying Weed Tweets, the team counted 2,285 tweets during the eight-month study. Of those, 82 percent were positive about the drug, 18 percent were either neutral or did not focus on marijuana, and 0.3 percent expressed negative attitudes about it.

Many of the tweets were meant to be humorous. Others implied that marijuana helps a person feel good or relax, and some mentioned different ways to get high.

With the help of a data analysis firm, the investigators found that of those receiving the tweets, 73 percent were under 19. Fifty-four percent were 17 to 19 years old, and almost 20 percent were 16 or younger. About 22 percent were 20 to 24 years of age. Only 5 percent of the followers were 25 or older.

“These are risky ages when young people often begin experimentation with drugs,” explained Cavazos-Rehg, an assistant professor of psychiatry. “It’s an age when people are impressionable and when substance-use behaviors can transition into addiction. In other words, it’s a very risky time of life for people to be receiving messages like these.”

Cavazos-Rehg said it isn’t possible from this study to “connect the dots” between positive marijuana tweets and actual drug use, but she cites previous research linking substance use to messages from television and billboards. She suggested this also may apply to social media.

“Studies looking at media messages on traditional outlets like television, radio, billboards and magazines have shown that media messages can influence substance use and attitudes about substance use,” she said. “It’s likely a young person’s attitudes and behaviors may be influenced when he or she is receiving daily, ongoing messages of this sort.”

The researchers also learned that the Twitter account they tracked reached a high number of African-Americans and Hispanics compared with Caucasians. Almost 43 percent were African-American, and nearly 12 percent were Hispanic. In fact, among Hispanics, Weed Tweets ranked in the top 30 percent of all Twitter accounts followed.

“It was surprising to see that members of these minority groups were so much more likely than Caucasians to be receiving these messages,” Cavazos-Rehg said, adding that there is particular concern about African-Americans because their rates of marijuana abuse and dependence are about twice as high as the rate in Caucasians and Hispanics.

The findings point to the need for a discussion about the pro-drug messages young people receive, Cavazos-Rehg said.

 AUDIO: Twitter has become one of the most popular social media sites among young people, and researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have been looking at Twitter….

Click here for more information. 

“There are celebrities who tweet to hundreds of thousands of followers, and it turns out a Twitter handle that promotes substance use can be equally popular,” she said. “Because there’s not much regulation of social media platforms, that could lead to potentially harmful messages being distributed. Regulating this sort of thing is going to be challenging, but the more we can provide evidence that harmful messages are being received by vulnerable kids, the more likely it is we can have a discussion about the types of regulation that might be appropriate.”

 

July 11, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Marijuana’s Clinical Risks, Benefits, and Uncertainties

Marijuana’s Clinical Risks, Benefits, and Uncertainties.

From the Director’s comments

Jerome Groopman, M.D., Harvard University Medical School, notes there is recent clinical evidence regarding marijuana’s health risks, benefits, tradeoffs, as well as uncertainties. Dr. Groopman, who often writes about biology, health, and medicine for lay audiences, adds the supporting evidence on all sides is important in view of current efforts to make marijuana legal for medicinal and/or recreational use across the U.S.

Currently, marijuana is available for medicinal use in 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Colorado now permits the sale of marijuana for recreational use (in small quantities). The state of Washington also will permit the sale of marijuana (or cannabis) for recreational use (also in small quantities) for the first time this spring.

Dr. Groopman, an internist, reports two systematic reviews (involving about 6,100 patients with a variety of medical conditions) suggest marijuana is useful to treat a number of diseases and conditions including: anorexia, nausea and vomiting, glaucoma, and irritable bowel disease. Marijuana also is clinically useful to treat: muscle spasticity, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Tourette’s syndrome, and symptoms of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

However, Dr. Groopman emphasizes there is a tradeoff of health risks versus benefits from marijuana use — similar to other medical drugs and procedures. For example, he notes current evidence suggests marijuana’s clinical risks include: decreased reaction time, reduced attention and concentration, a decline in short term memory, and an ability to assess external risks.

Dr. Groopman, who is a member of the Institute of Medicine, adds one study found marijuana impaired the performance of pilots on a flight simulator for as much as 24 hours. Similarly, Dr. Groopman notes studies on drivers suggest a strong association between cannabis and collisions. He adds research suggests drivers who use marijuana are two to seven times more likely to be responsible for accidents compared to motorists who do not use drugs or alcohol.

In addition, Dr. Groopman reports some evidence suggests a statistical association between marijuana use and the development of schizophrenia and other psychosis later in life. Dr. Groopman reports these findings are based on meta-analyses (from studies of the health records of young persons in Sweden, New Zealand, and Holland, who did and did not smoke marijuana).

Dr. Groopman explains the latter research does not suggest there is a causal link between marijuana use and psychosis’ development. Dr. Groopman, who has published five books about health and medicine, argues the state of current evidence suggests a need for more definitive research (via double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled approaches) to better assess the possible relationship between marijuana and psychosis’ development.

Moreover, Dr. Groopman notes there is some evidence that marijuana is associated with possible addiction and compulsive cravings that foster user dependence. Nevertheless, he reports other street drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, seem to retain comparatively higher risks of user addiction and dependence than marijuana.

Dr. Groopman continues the current evidence is somewhat equivocal about marijuana’s impact on pain reduction. He writes (and we quote): “While chronic pain seems amenable to amelioration by marijuana, its impact on reducing acute pain, such as after surgery, is minimal’ (end of quote).

Overall, Dr. Groopman explains if the arguments of marijuana’s critics and supporters are assessed through a clinical research perspective, some positions may not be supported by a robust evidence-base, some positions may be one-dimensional, and others might or might not be sustained. He concludes (and we quote): ‘.. as more studies are conducted on marijuana for medical or recreational uses, opponents and enthusiasts may both discover that they were neither entirely right nor entirely wrong’ (end of quote).

The essay, which includes a review of recent books about marijuana’s health risks and benefits, can be found at: nybooks.com.

Meanwhile, a website (from the National Institute on Drug Abuse) devoted to the topic whether marijuana is or is not medicine is available in the ‘related issues’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s marijuana health topic page. Some tips for parents about teen and adult marijuana use (also from the National Institute on Drug Abuse) are found in the ‘overviews’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s marijuana health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov’s marijuana health topic page also provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the ‘journal articles’ section. Links to relevant clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the ‘clinical trials’ section. You can sign up to receive updates about marijuana and health as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.

To find MedlinePlus.gov’s marijuana topic page type ‘marijuana’ in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov’s home page. Then, click on ‘marijuana (National Library of Medicine).’ MedlinePlus.gov also has health topic pages on drug abuse and substance abuse problems.

Marijuana Small Amount

Marijuana Small Amount (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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May 10, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Regulating legal marijuana could be guided by lessons from alcohol and tobacco, study says

From the 24 April 2014 EurkAlert

 

 

As U.S. policymakers consider ways to ease prohibitions on marijuana, the public health approaches used to regulate alcohol and tobacco over the past century may provide valuable lessons, according to new RAND Corporation research.

Recent ballot initiatives that legalized marijuana in Colorado and Washington for recreational uses are unprecedented. The move raises important questions about how to best allow the production, sales and the use of marijuana while also working to reduce any related social ills.

A new study published online by the American Journal of Public Health outlines how regulations on alcohol and tobacco may provide guidance to policymakers concerned about the public health consequences of legalizing marijuana.

Among the issues outlined in the study are how to reduce youth access to marijuana, how to minimize drugged driving, how to curb dependence and addiction, how to restrict contaminants in marijuana products, and how to discourage the dual use of marijuana and alcohol, particularly in public settings.

“The lessons from the many decades of regulating alcohol and tobacco should offer some guidance to policymakers who are contemplating alternatives to marijuana prohibition and are interested in taking a public health approach,” said Beau Kilmer, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research center and a co-author of the paper. “Our goal here is to help policymakers understand the decisions they face, rather than debate whether legalization is good or bad.”

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The analysis details some of the questions policymakers must confront when consideringless-restrictive marijuana laws. Those questions include: Should vertical integration be allowed, or should there be separate licenses for growing, processing and selling marijuana? What rules are needed to make sure a marijuana product is safe? Should marijuana be sold in convenience stories or only in specialized venues? Should taxes be assessed per unit of weight, as a percent of the price or on some other basis, such as the amount of psychoactive ingredients in marijuana?

“Based on the national experience with alcohol and tobacco, it seems prudent from a public health perspective to open up the marijuana market slowly, with tight controls to test the waters and prevent commercialization too soon while still making it available to responsible adults,” said Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center and a co-author of the paper. “Of course, perspectives other than public health objectives might motivate policymakers to adopt different or fewer regulations. These are simply lessons learned from a public health perspective.”

The article discusses a variety of strategies used to control alcohol and tobacco that also may be appropriate for regulation of marijuana. Those include keeping prices artificially high to curb use, adopting a state-run monopoly on sales and distribution, limiting the types of products sold, restricting marketing efforts, and restricting consumption in public spaces.

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Support for the study was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Law Research Program and RAND. Other authors of the report are Alexander C. Wagenaar of the University of Florida College of Medicine, Frank J. Chaloupka of the University of Illinois, Chicago, and Jonathan P. Caulkins of the Heinz School of Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Since 1989, the RAND Drug Policy Research Center has conducted research to help policymakers in the United States and throughout the world address issues involving alcohol and other drugs. In doing so, the center brings an objective and data-driven perspective to an often emotional and fractious policy arena.

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May 3, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Cannabis chemistry: How scientists test pot for potency and safety (video)

From the 22 April 2014 EurkAlert

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2014 — Marijuana is in the headlines as more and more states legalize it for medicinal use or decriminalize it entirely. In the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’) newest Reactions video, we explain the chemistry behind marijuana’s high, and investigate what scientists are doing to ensure that legalized weed won’t send users on a bad trip. The video is available at http://youtu.be/4ukdUDCE56c

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May 3, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Marijuana use may increase heart complications in young, middle-aged adults — ScienceDaily

 

English: Close up shot of some high quality ma...

English: Close up shot of some high quality marijuana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marijuana use may increase heart complications in young, middle-aged adults — ScienceDaily.ews

From the April report

Marijuana use may result in heart-related complications in young and middle-aged adults. Nearly 2 percent of the health complications from marijuana use reported were cardiovascular related. A quarter of these complications resulted in death, according to a study. Surveillance of marijuana-related reports of cardiovascular disorders should continue and more research needs to look at how marijuana use might trigger cardiovascular events, researchers say.

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May 2, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Cannabis during pregnancy endangers fetal brain development

Cannabis during pregnancy endangers fetal brain development.

From the 27 January 2014 Karolinski Institute press release

      IMAGE:   Professor Tibor Harkany has shown that the use of Cannabis during pregnancy endangers fetal brain development. The findings are presented online in the EMBO Journal in January 2014….

Click here for more information.An increasing number of children suffer from the consequences of maternal drug exposure during pregnancy, and Cannabis is one of the most frequently used substances. This motivated the study, published in the EMBO Journal, cunducted in mice and human brain tissue, to decipher the molecular basis of how the major psychoactive component from Cannabis called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC affects brain development of the unborn foetus.

The study highlights that consuming Cannabis during pregnancy clearly results in defective development of nerve cells of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that orchestrates higher cognitive functions and drives memory formation. In particular, THC negatively impacts if and how the structural platform and conduit for communication between nerve cells, the synapses and axons, will develop and function. Researchers also identified Stathmin-2 as a key protein target for THC action, and its loss is characterized as a reason for erroneous nerve growth. It is stressed that Cannabis exposure in experimental models precisely coincided with the fetal period when nerve cells form connections amongst each other.

According to study leader Professor Tibor Harkany, who shares his time between Karolinska Institutet and the Medical University Vienna in Austria, these developmental deficits may evoke life-long modifications to the brain function of those affected. Even though not all children who have been exposed to Cannabis will suffer immediate and obvious deficits, Professor Harkany warns that relatively subtle damage can significantly increase the risk of delayed neuropsychiatric diseases.

“Even if THC only would cause small changes its effect may well be sufficient to sensitize the brain to later stressors or diseases to provoke neuropsychiatric illnesses in those affected in the future”, says Professor Harkany. “This concerns also the medical use of Cannabis, which should be avoided during pregnancy.”

January 30, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] School drug tests don’t work, but ‘positive climate’ might

School drug tests don’t work, but ‘positive climate’ might.

From the 14th January Science Daily article

School drug testing does not deter teenagers from smoking marijuana, but creating a “positive school climate” just might, according to research reported in the January issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

An estimated 20 percent of U.S. high schools have drug testing; some target students suspected of abusing drugs, but often schools randomly test students who are going out for sports or clubs. The policies are controversial, partly because there is little evidence they work. And in the new study, researchers found no effects on high schoolers’ drug experimentation.

Of 361 students interviewed, one third said their school had a drug testing policy. Over the next year, those kids were no less likely than other students to try marijuana, cigarettes or alcohol.

“Even though drug testing sounds good, based on the science, it’s not working,” said Daniel Romer, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center in Philadelphia.

At best, Romer said, the policies might convince kids to lay off the drug their school is testing for — which is most commonly marijuana. But even if that’s true, Romer added, students in school sports and clubs are actually not the ones at greatest risk of developing drug problems. “So as a prevention effort,” Romer said, “school drug testing is kind of wrong-headed.”

So what does work? In this study, there was evidence that a positive school climate might help.

 

Read entire article here

January 22, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Substance use by adolescents on an average day is alarming

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I am all for decriminalizing illegal drug use. However, I am very concerned about substance abuse, especially among folks whose brains are still developing (and this goes on until age 25 or so).

From the abstract of the report at Full Text Reports

On an average day, 881,684 teenagers aged 12 to 17 smoked cigarettes, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).   The report also says that on average day 646,707 adolescents smoked marijuana and 457,672 drank alcohol.
To provide some perspective, the number of adolescents using marijuana on an average day could almost fill the Indianapolis Speedway (seating capacity 250,000 seats) two and a half times.
“This data about adolescents sheds new light on how deeply substance use pervades the lives of many young people and their families,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “While other studies indicate that significant progress has been made in lowering the levels of some forms of substance use among adolescents in the past decade, this report shows that far too many young people are still at risk.”
The report, which highlights the substance abuse behavior and addiction treatment activities that occur among adolescents on an average day, draws on a variety of SAMHSA data sets.
The report also sheds light on how many adolescents aged 12 to 17 used illegal substances for the first time.  On an average day:
  • 7,639 drank alcohol for the first time;
  • 4,594 used an illicit drug for the first time;
  • 4,000 adolescents used marijuana for the first time;
  • 3,701 smoked cigarettes for the first time; and
  • 2,151 misused prescription pain relievers for the first time.

Using data from SAMHSA Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), the report also analyzes how many adolescents aged 12 to 17 were receiving treatment for a substance abuse problem during an average day.  These numbers included:

  • Over 71,000 in outpatient treatment,
  • More than 9,302 in non-hospital residential treatment, and
  • Over 1,258 in hospital inpatient treatment.

In terms of hospital emergency department visits involving adolescents aged 12 to 17, on an average day marijuana is involved in 165 visits, alcohol is involved in 187 visits and misuse of prescription or nonprescription pain relievers is implicated in 74 visits.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service that people – including adolescents and their family members — can contact when facing substance abuse and mental health issues. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information in print on substance abuse and mental health issues. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit the online treatment locators at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

The complete report contains many other facts about the scope and nature of adolescent substance abuse, treatment and treatment admissions patterns and is available at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2K13/CBHSQ128/sr128-typical-day-adolescents-2013.pdf. It was drawn from analyses of SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Treatment Episode Data Set, and National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, and Drug Abuse Warning Network.

 

August 29, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Statistics, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marijuana Use in Adolescence May Cause Permanent Brain Abnormalities, Mouse Study Suggests

English: Close up shot of some high quality ma...

English: Close up shot of some high quality marijuana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

While I believe the so called War on Drugs has largely been a failure, I am concerned about young folks indulging in substances that can have permanent health effects.

 

 

 

From the 24 July 2013 article at Science News Daily

 

Regular marijuana use in adolescence, but not adulthood, may permanently impair brain function and cognition, and may increase the risk of developing serious psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, according to a recent study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Researchers hope that the study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology — a publication of the journal Nature — will help to shed light on the potential long-term effects of marijuana use, particularly as lawmakers in Maryland and elsewhere contemplate legalizing the drug.

“Over the past 20 years, there has been a major controversy about the long-term effects of marijuana, with some evidence that use in adolescence could be damaging,” says the study’s senior author Asaf Keller, Ph.D., Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Previous research has shown that children who started using marijuana before the age of 16 are at greater risk of permanent cognitive deficits, and have a significantly higher incidence of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. There likely is a genetic susceptibility, and then you add marijuana during adolescence and it becomes the trigger.”

“Adolescence is the critical period during which marijuana use can be damaging,” says the study’s lead author, Sylvina Mullins Raver, a Ph.D. candidate in the Program in Neuroscience in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We wanted to identify the biological underpinnings and determine whether there is a real, permanent health risk to marijuana use.”

……

 

 

July 25, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychiatry | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smoking Marijuana Associated With Higher Stroke Risk in Young Adults

Cannabis and pipe

Cannabis and pipe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 6 February 2013 article at Science Daily

 

Marijuana, the most widely used illicit drug, may double stroke risk in young adults, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2013.

In a New Zealand study, ischemic stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) patients were 2.3 times more likely to have cannabis, also known as marijuana, detected in urine tests as other age and sex matched patients, researchers said.

“This is the first case-controlled study to show a possible link to the increased risk of stroke from cannabis,” said P. Alan Barber, Ph.D., M.D., study lead investigator and professor of clinical neurology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “Cannabis has been thought by the public to be a relatively safe, although illegal substance. This study shows this might not be the case; it may lead to stroke.”

In previous case reports, ischemic stroke and TIAs developed hours after cannabis use, Barber said. “These patients usually had no other vascular risk factors apart from tobacco, alcohol and other drug usage.”

It’s challenging to perform prospective studies involving illegal substances such as cannabis because “questioning stroke and control patients about cannabis use is likely to obtain unreliable responses,” Barber said.

In the study, the regional ethics committee allowed researchers to use urine samples from other hospitalized patients. But researchers knew only the age, sex and ethnicity for matching due to a lack of consent.

The study provides the strongest evidence to date of an association between cannabis and stroke, Barber said. But the association is confounded because all but one of the stroke patients who were cannabis users also used tobacco regularly.

“We believe it is the cannabis and not tobacco,” said Barber, who hopes to conduct another study to determine whether there’s an association between cannabis and stroke independent of tobacco use. “This may prove difficult given the risks of bias and ethical strictures of studying the use of an illegal substance,” he said. “However, the high prevalence of cannabis use in this cohort of younger stroke patients makes this research imperative.”

Physicians should test young people who come in with stroke for cannabis use, Barber said.

“People need to think twice about using cannabis,” because it can affect brain development and result in emphysema, heart attack and now stroke, he said….

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

February 8, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | 1 Comment

Cannabis Does Not Reduce Pain, It Makes It More Bearable

English: Tetrahydrocannabinol; THC; Marinol-ak...

English: Tetrahydrocannabinol; THC; Marinol-aka mary jane. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 24 December 2012 article at Medical News Today

 

Using cannabis for pain relief does help, however, it makes pain more bearable rather than getting rid of it, researchers from Oxford University’s Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB) reported in the journal Pain.

The authors added that people in pain act differently to cannabis, according to their brain imaging study.

The principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis is called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The researchers found that when volunteers took oral tablets of THC, they tended to find the experience of pain more tolerable. There was no evidence that THC reduced pain intensity.

Several studies have found that cannabis is associated with some kind of improvement in pain symptoms. Researchers from McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and McGill University reported in CMAJ in 2010 that patients with chronic neuropathic pain experienced pain relief, improved mood and better quality sleep after smoking cannabis.

Scientists from Imperial College London found that Cannador, another cannabis plant extract, effectively relives pain after major surgery. They reported their findings in the journalAnerthesiology.
….

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

December 27, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Marijuana use associated with cyclic vomiting syndrome in young males

Marijuana use associated with cyclic vomiting syndrome in young males

From the 9th January 2011 Eureka news alert

Researchers have found clear associations between marijuana use in young males and cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS), where patients experience episodes of vomiting separated by symptom free intervals.

The study, published in the January issue of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, looked at 226 patients seen at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, New York, USA, over a 13-year period.

These were broken into three groups. Eighty-two patients with CVS were randomly matched with 82 patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) based on age, gender and geographic referral region. Researchers also examined the records of 62 patients with functional vomiting (FV), recurrent vomiting that cannot be attributed to a specific physical or psychiatric cause.

“Our study showed that CVS and FV had very similar clinical features, apart from marijuana use” says Dr G Richard Locke III from the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Clinic.

Key findings of the study included:

  • Members of the CVS group were younger than members of the FV group (30 versus 36 years) and more likely to be male (53% versus 46%).
  • No statistically significant association was detected between membership of the CVS and FV groups and marital status, education level, body mass index, employment status, alcohol use or smoking history.
  • 37% of the CVS group had used marijuana (81% male), together with 13% of the FV group (equally split between male and female) and 11% of the IBS group (73% male).

Click here to read the rest of the article

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Drug Abuse Treatment Rates on the Rise: U.S. Report

Drug Abuse Treatment Rates on the Rise: U.S. Report
A 15% drop for alcohol abuse while cases of marijuana, prescription painkiller abuse rise

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

From a December 29, 2010 Health Day news item by Randy Dotinga

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) — Admissions for alcohol abuse treatment have remained the same in parts of the Midwest and South while dropping elsewhere in the United States, while treatment rates for illegal drugs are increasing across the country, especially for marijuana abuse, according to a new report.

The report, issued by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), includes these findings:

  • The overall rate of substance abuse admissions in the United States remained stable from 1998 to 2008, at about 770 admissions per 100,000 people.
  • Admissions for alcohol use dropped by about 15 percent nationally, but stayed stable in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.
  • Admission rates for marijuana use rose by 30 percent nationwide, and were highest in the eight states listed above and in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
  • An earlier SAMHSA report revealed that admission rates for abuse of opiates other than heroin — including some prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin — rose by 345 percent from 1998-2008. The new report says admission rates for painkiller abuse rose in every part of the country and were highest in the New England states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) and in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.
  • The admission rate for treatment of methamphetamine abuse was 53 percent higher in 2008 than in 1998, although it’s down from its peak in 2005.
  • Admissions for cocaine abuse fell by 23 percent nationally.

“This study provides insight into the regional nature of substance abuse by highlighting the shifting trends in the reasons for admission to substance abuse treatment,” SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in an agency news release.

SOURCE: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, news release, Dec. 23, 2010

The full report is available at: http://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/teds08/teds2k8sweb.pdf. It provides detailed charts and tables showing the admission rates for a wide variety of substances for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico for each year over the course of this 11 year period. It also provides data by Census divisions — groups of states delineated by the Census Bureau. These materials allow easy analyses of changing admission trends for any state or region of the country.

The SAMHSA Web site includes numerous links with information about its products and services, as

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March 30, 2011

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published its strategic initiatives paper – an overview of SAMHSA’s goals, priorities and action steps for accomplishing its mission of reducing the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. Carefully developed from months of public discussion and input from a wide variety of SAMHSA’s stakeholders, the strategic initiatives paper lays out how SAMHSA will focus its resources in meeting the new opportunities and challenges it faces in the near future…

December 31, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teen marijuana use increases, especially among eighth-graders

Flahiff’s note: The item below states “Mixed messages about drug legalization, particularly marijuana, may be to blame [for the increase in teen marijuana use].
A  December 14 2010 Newshour segment included this concern. Interviewee Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy made several related comments. He stressed marijuana is not medicine, and drugs are not only criminal justice concerns but also education and public safety concerns.

Here is  the full text of the December 14 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) press release

Teen marijuana use increases, especially among eighth-graders
NIDA’s Monitoring the Future Survey shows increases in Ecstasy use and continued high levels of prescription drug abuse
WASHINGTON — Fueled by increases in marijuana use, the rate of eighth-graders saying they have used an illicit drug in the past year jumped to 16 percent, up from last year’s 14.5 percent, with daily marijuana use up in all grades surveyed, according to the 2010 Monitoring the Future Survey (MTF).

For 12th-graders, declines in cigarette use accompanied by recent increases in marijuana use have put marijuana ahead of cigarette smoking by some measures. In 2010, 21.4 percent of high school seniors used marijuana in the past 30 days, while 19.2 percent smoked cigarettes.

The survey, released today at a news conference at the National Press Club, also shows significant increases in use of Ecstasy. In addition, nonmedical use of prescription drugs remains high. MTF is an annual series of classroom surveys of eighth, 10th, and 12th-graders conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Most measures of marijuana use increased among eighth-graders, and daily marijuana use increased significantly among all three grades. The 2010 use rates were 6.1 percent of high school seniors, 3.3 percent of 10th -graders, and 1.2 percent of eighth-graders compared to 2009 rates of 5.2 percent, 2.8 percent, and 1.0 percent, respectively.

“These high rates of marijuana use during the teen and pre-teen years, when the brain continues to develop, places our young people at particular risk,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “Not only does marijuana affect learning, judgment, and motor skills, but research tells us that about 1 in 6 people who start using it as adolescents become addicted.”

“The increases in youth drug use reflected in the Monitoring the Future Study are disappointing,” said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Mixed messages about drug legalization, particularly marijuana, may be to blame. Such messages certainly don’t help parents who are trying to prevent kids from using drugs. The Obama administration is aggressively addressing the threat of drug use and its consequences through a balanced and comprehensive drug control strategy, but we need parents and other adults who influence children as full partners in teaching young people about the risks and harms associated with drug use, including marijuana.”

The MTF survey also showed a significant increase in the reported use of MDMA, or Ecstasy, with 2.4 percent of eighth-graders citing past-year use, compared to 1.3 percent in 2009. Similarly, past-year MDMA use among 10th-graders increased from 3.7 percent to 4.7 percent in 2010.

Also of concern is that the downward trend in cigarette smoking has stalled in all three grades after several years of marked improvement on most measures. Greater marketing of other forms of tobacco prompted the 2010 survey to add measures for 12th-graders’ use of small cigars (23.1 percent) and of tobacco with a smoking pipe known as a hookah (17.1 percent).

Prescription drug abuse remains a major problem. Although Vicodin abuse decreased in 12th graders this year to 8 percent, down from around 9.7 percent the past four years, other indicators confirm that nonmedical use of prescription drugs remains high. For example, the use of OxyContin, another prescription opiate, stayed about the same for 12th-graders at 5.1 percent in 2010. And six of the top 10 illicit drugs abused by 12th-graders in the year prior to the survey were prescribed or purchased over the counter. The survey again found that teens generally get these prescription drugs from friends and family, whether given, bought, or stolen.

However, the survey says binge drinking continued its downward trend. Among high school seniors, 23.2 percent report having five or more drinks in a row during the past two weeks, down from 25.2 percent in 2009 and from the peak of 31.5 percent in 1998. In addition, 2010 findings showed a drop in high school seniors’ past-year consumption of flavored alcoholic beverages, to 47.9 percent in 2010 from 53.4 percent in 2009. Past-year use of flavored alcohol by eighth- graders was at 21.9 percent, down from 27.9 percent in 2005.

The MTF survey also measures teen attitudes about drugs, including perceived harmfulness, perceived availability, and disapproval, all of which can predict future abuse. Related to its increased use, the perception that regular marijuana smoking is harmful decreased for 10th-graders (down from 59.5 percent in 2009 to 57.2 percent in 2010) and 12th-graders (from 52.4 percent in 2009 to 46.8 percent in 2010). Moreover, disapproval of smoking marijuana decreased significantly among eighth-graders.

“We should examine the extent to which the debate over medical marijuana and marijuana legalization for adults is affecting teens’ perceptions of risk,” said Dr. Volkow. “We must also find better ways to communicate to teens that marijuana use can harm their short-term performance as well as their long-term potential.”

Overall, 46,482 students from 396 public and private schools participated in this year’s survey. Since 1975, the MTF survey has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes in 12th-graders nationwide. Eighth and 10th-graders were added to the survey in 1991. Survey participants generally report their drug use behaviors across three time periods: lifetime, past year, and past month. The survey has been conducted since its inception by a team of investigators at the University of Michigan, led by NIDA grantee Dr. Lloyd Johnston. Additional information on the MTF Survey, as well as comments from Dr. Volkow can be found at http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/MTF.html.

MTF is one of three major surveys sponsored by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that provide data on substance use among youth. The others are the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The MTF Web site is: http://monitoringthefuture.org. Follow Monitoring the Future 2010 news on Twitter at @NIDANews, or join the conversation by using: #MTF2010. Additional information on MTF can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/news; or http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is the primary source of statistical information on substance use in the U.S. population 12 years of age and older. More information is available at http://www.drugabusestatistics.samhsa.gov.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey, part of HHS’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, is a school-based survey that collects data from students in grades 9-12. The survey includes questions on a wide variety of health-related risk behaviors, including substance abuse. More information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/yrbs/index.htm.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy and improve practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA home page at http://www.drugabuse.gov. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s new DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or fax or email requests to 240-645-0227 ordrugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at http://drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s new media guide can be found at http://drugabuse.gov/mediaguide.The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation’s Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visitwww.nih.gov.

Related resources

December 16, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Fake Marijuana’ Users Showing Up in Emergency Rooms

HealthDay news image

Called ‘K2’ or ‘Spice,’ the drug is legal in many states

From a November 11, 2010 Health Day news item

THURSDAY, Nov. 11 –(HealthDay News) — A form of synthetic marijuana known as “K2” is sending young people to the hospital with racing heart beats, extreme anxiety and hallucinations, toxicologists warn.

In recent months, physicians and toxicologists say more young people have been showing up in emergency rooms after smoking synthetic marijuana. Despite the side effects, K2 is legal in many states, although many state legislators are rushing to pass legislation banning it.

Since the start of 2010, the American Association of Poison Control Centers has received nearly 2,000 reports of people who became ill after smoking K2, compared to about a dozen in 2009. Poison control officials described some of the symptoms as “life-threatening.”

K2 is often marketed as incense and sold in packets of herbs laced with synthetic marijuana at “head shops,” gas stations, convenience stores and online for about $30 to $40 per three-gram bag. The drug also goes by other names, including Spice, Spice Gold, Spice Diamond, Yucatan Fire, Solar Flare, K2 Summit, Genie, PEP Spice, and Fire n Ice, according to the U.S. Drug Intelligence Center.

While people who smoke K2 think they’re going to experience deep relaxation and euphoria, those who end up in the hospital report unpleasant experiences, said Dr. Anthony Scalzo, medical director of the Missouri Poison Center and chief of toxicology at St. Louis University.

“The classic symptoms are agitation, anxiety, racing heart beat, elevated blood pressure,” Scalzo said. “And some kids are having very negative psychotropic experiences. One said, ‘I felt like I went down to hell’.”

In some cases, the drug also causes vomiting, tremors and seizures, according to federal drug abuse agencies….

…The chemical makeup of the drug, which he called JWH-018 and JWH-073, was similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, only considerably more potent.

While THC is a cannabinoid, it’s one of many, Huffman said. There are many other substances that interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and other organs, Huffman said….

…SOURCES: Anthony Scalzo, M.D., chief of toxicology, St. Louis University, St. Louis, Mo.; John Huffman, Ph.D., research professor, organic chemistry, Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.

 

 


November 14, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

Legalizing Marijuana in California Will Not Dramatically Reduce Mexican Drug Trafficking Revenues

[Editor Flahiff’s note: This item was included partly  because the attending violence with drug trafficking is a public health issue.
While the conclusions in this document may be controversial, it has been added  because it seriously addresses many often cited facts and claims]

From the Rand Corporation summary [Oct 12, 2010]

Legalizing marijuana in California will not dramatically reduce the drug revenues collected by Mexican drug trafficking organizations from sales to the United States, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

The only scenario where legalization in California could substantially reduce the revenue of the drug trafficking organizations is if high-potency, California-produced marijuana is smuggled to other U.S. states at prices that are lower than those of current Mexican supplies, according to the study from the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. RAND is a nonprofit research organization.

The study calculates that Mexican drug trafficking organizations generate only $1 billion to $2 billion annually from exporting marijuana to the United States and selling it to wholesalers, far below existing estimates by the government and other groups.

The RAND study also finds that the often-cited claim that marijuana accounts for 60 percent of gross drug export revenues of Mexican drug trafficking organizations is not credible. RAND’s exploratory analysis on this point suggests that 15 percent to 26 percent is a more credible range. Given that California accounts for about 14 percent of the nation’s marijuana use, this suggests that if marijuana legalization in California only influences the California market, it would have a small effect on drug trafficking organizations — cutting total drug export revenues by perhaps 2 to 4 percent.

However, the impact of legalization on Mexican drug trafficking organizations’ bottom line could be magnified if marijuana cultivated in California is smuggled into other states, according to the study. After legalization, if low-cost, high-quality marijuana produced in California dominates the U.S. marijuana market, then the Mexican drug trafficking organizations’ revenue from exporting marijuana could decline by more than 65 percent and probably closer to 85 percent. In this scenario, results from the RAND study suggest the drug trafficking organizations would lose roughly 20 percent of their total drug export revenues……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 2, 2010 Posted by | Public Health | , | Leave a comment

   

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