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Ed

Rise in use of marijuana to treat anxiety and depression. For better or worse?

Marijuana consumption is on the rise, and that includes increased use of medicinal cannabis. The most common use of cannabis is to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia. Yet the science on cannabis as a treatment for mental-health problems is still evolving and somewhat insufficient – in fact some evidence suggests that marijuana can actually make these problems much worse.

In 2019, the American Psychiatric Association issued this statement:

There is no current scientific evidence that cannabis is in any way beneficial for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder. In contrast, current evidence supports, at minimum, a strong association of cannabis use with the onset of psychiatric disordersAdolescents are particularly vulnerable to harm, given the effects of cannabis on neurological development. 

Smita Das, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H. is a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural health sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine and a member of APA’s Council on Addiction Psychiatry. She references studies “that point to an association between high-potency cannabis and symptoms of psychosis in young people who may later develop a psychotic disorder. She added that cannabis use is associated with the emergence of mood disorders, particularly bipolar disorder, among people who have a family history of mood disorders, and that cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of suicidal ideation and attempts in people who have major depressive disorder.”

Das says “there is danger of developing cannabis use disorder, an addiction that can afflict more than 20% of regular cannabis users.”

We think families should seek expert help before turning to medical marijuana in order to treat mental health problems. 

Read the full position statement by the American Psychiatric Association:

Position-Cannabis-as-Medicine

US Study – Vaping marijuana by teens doubles in last seven years; potentially permanent effects

The evidence continues to mount – more teens are vaping high-potency cannabis that can permanently damage the teenage brain. A new study, published in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association), analysed 17 studies conducted throughout Canada and the United States that involved nearly 200,000 adolescents.

Here is a summary of some of the findings:

  • Marijuana vaping by school-aged youth doubled between 2013 and 2020 (with reported use within the last 30 days rising seven-fold during the same time period)
  • Adolescents reported a preference for vaping cannabis extracts over dried herbs to get the buzz they desired from THC
  • Modern ultra-potent strains of weed can contain over 15% THC, compared to the 4% or so available in the 1990s
  • The use of cannabis products with high THC is easily achievable through vaping
  • Increased risk of drug dependence, other substance use and many other health, social, and behavioural problems later in life
  • Cannabis use during teenage years “can have permanent effects” such as poor coordination and damage to learning, memory, problem solving skills, and the ability to pay attention
  • Use of weed by teens is linked to poor school performance and an increased likelihood of dropping out
  • Teen use of marijuana has been linked to a range of mental health problems in teens such as depression or anxiety, even psychosis
  • People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults
  • Vaping weed is associated with a dangerous, newly identified lung disease called EVALI, short for e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury

Parents need to be on the lookout for signs, symptoms and behaviours that could indicate their teens are using drugs. Some of the warning signs could be fatigue, irritability, moodiness, forgetfulness, sleeping much longer (or conversely, insomnia).

Further reading …

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2785376

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/vaping-cannabis-trends-among-young-adults-19-22

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/03/03/health/vaping-marijuana-lung-injury-study-wellness/index.html

Couple making high-potency cannabis oil blow up their Kāinga Ora house

‘Amateurish’ Invercargill couple making high-potency cannabis oil blew up part of their Kāinga Ora house resulting in $46k of damage. Door frames and several windows were blown out, and a fire started. There was even damage to a neighbour’s roof.

The judge did not impose a reparation order because of an inability to pay.

Dabs or dabbing are names for the use of concentrated butane hash oil (or BHO). BHO can have a THC concentration of up to 90%, making it the most potent form of marijuana concentrate. This concentrated form is produced through a chemical process using butane gas. Butane is used to extract the oils from the cannabis by a technique commonly known as ‘open blasting’. The result is a product far more potent than traditional cannabis.

This home-made method, using everyday (and flammable) gas cylinders is very dangerous. The butane is blasted through cannabis-packed containers (in this case soft-drink bottles) to extract the high-potency oil. 

This is an important example of what happens when ‘home-grows’ are allowed (as would have happened if we had legalised dope). The risk and harms of making high-THC dabs would have been even more common in New Zealand.

Read full new article here.

Greens are concerned about drug driving – but only when there’s a referendum

From McBlog – Bob McCoskrie’s Blog

Here’s how drug debate works….
 
The pro-drug side (Greens, Drug Foundation et al) were all over this issue last year before the referendum because they wanted to persuade people that they could ‘control’ cannabis.
 
 
(PS: they can’t – and the majority of NZers fortunately figured that out.)
 
As soon as they lost the referendum, they ‘parked’ the issue – because they really weren’t interested in it.
 
[Check out this car-crash of an interview with a Green MP.]

UK Study – Marijuana use linked to serious mental illness

A new study finds “highly significant associations between cannabis use and increased risks of developing common and severe mental illnesses.” In fact the results were alarming. Despite there being a “gross under-recording of cannabis use in GP records”  this extensive study found that marijuana use was associated with almost seven-fold risk of developing a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other psychoses.

Researchers in the UK analysed a database compiled by clinicians containing 10,489,571 records of patients from 787 general practices. All were eligible to participate in their study. Of those, 28,218 had a recorded exposure to marijuana use. These patients were matched to 56,208 patients who had no recorded exposure to the drug. The database provides data not only about marijuana use and diagnosed mental disorders, but also information about prescription medications used to treat such disorders.

The researchers say to their knowledge their study is the first attempt to examine the relationship between marijuana use and the development of mental illnesses or future use of medication to treat such illnesses. During a three-year follow-up period, they found that marijuana use was associated with:

  • a four-fold risk of developing any mental disorder,
  • a two-to-three-fold risk of developing anxiety or depression, and
  • an almost seven-fold risk of developing a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other psychoses.

This is deeply troubling and points to serious mental health illness later in life.

“In order to prevent mental ill health in later life and decelerate the increasing trend in disease burden, primary care clinicians need to actively enquire about, monitor, and discourage the use of cannabis in young people who may be particularly vulnerable,” they conclude.

Read full text of this Psychological Medicine study here.

USA – Uncontrollable vomiting due to marijuana use is on the rise

Uncontrollable vomiting due to marijuana use on the rise, especially in the US states that have legalised recreational cannabis. A 2020 study found nearly one in five people hospitalised for cyclical vomiting in the US reported concurrent cannabis use. The illness is even more likely for those consuming high-potency weed, which is the norm in 2021. This is yet another study which suggests New Zealand dodged a bullet when voting NO to dope at last year’s Cannabis Referendum.

Currently there are 17 US states and the District of Columbia that have legalised recreational marijuana, while medicinal cannabis is legal in most states. A 2020 study found an unusual illness is on the rise in these states, where habitual users of cannabis, including teenagers, are showing up in emergency rooms complaining of severe intestinal distress and uncontrollable vomiting.

“They are writhing, holding their stomach, complaining of really bad abdominal pain and nausea,” said Dr. Sam Wang, a paediatric emergency medicine specialist and toxicologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, who treats adolescents with the condition.

Understandably there are growing concerns from medical experts about the severe effects of Marijuana on the health of youth. 

“In adolescents and young adults, that’s where there’s growing concern about habitual use and its effect on physical and mental health,” says Dr Wang.

Wang points to the ever increasing potency of THC in today’s marijuana products. 

“It’s been well documented that the amount of THC that now comes in cannabis is increasing substantially,” Wang said. “In the ’90s the average was like 4% or 5%. Now in Colorado, it’s anywhere from 15% to 20%.”

Read full article here.

More reading …

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/high-potency-weed-linked-psychotic-episodes-mysterious-vomiting-illness-young-n1273463 https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/world/2021/07/mysterious-vomiting-illness-from-cannabis-use-emerges-in-us-hospitals.html

Legalising dope increases teen use, and here’s the proof

A study has just come out (Lee et al, 2021) looking at two US states, Alaska and Hawaii, and compared their rates of youth marijuana use between 2009 and 2019.

It found that current marijuana use in youth was in decline both in Alaska and Hawaii. But then Alaska legalised marijuana in 2015. What happened? Did youth use decrease as was suggested would happen by Chloe Swarbrick, the Drug Foundation and all other dreamers supporting the Yes campaign last year in New Zealand?

Alaska’s legalisation of the drug in 2015 suddenly caused an increase in use that has sustained while such use in Hawaii has continued to decline.

Dialing down even further, the 2020 release of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health — the gold standard of youth use data — found double-digit increases in past-year marijuana use amongst 12-17 year-olds in several legal states in California, Nevada, and Oregon since 2017.

These findings are even more staggering when they are juxtaposed with the fact that this same data set finds youth substance use of all other substances is continuing to decline.

Before we move on from the NSDUH data, one further point worth considering is the findings of Cerda et al (2019).

Looking at NSDUH data from 2008 to 2016, this study found that the prevalence of past-year Cannabis Use Disorder among those 12-17 saw a 25% greater increase in states where marijuana was “legalised” versus states where it remained illegal.

Remember this data the next time drug proponents in New Zealand try and misrepresent the true harms and social health costs of legalising a harmful drug.

(Hat-Tip: Kevin Sabet, Smart Approaches to Marijuana)

Canadian Study: Cannabis use doubles heart attack risk

Not only is cannabis well-known for causing lung disease, recent studies also link cannabis to increased risk of heart attacks – possibly doubling the risk of heart attacks for adults under 45 years old. Research also found that no method of cannabis consumption is safer than others, with the associated risks being consistent whether consumption is by smoking, vaporisation, or edibles.

The study, which was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, looked at US CDC results from more than 33,000 adults aged between 18 and 44 years-old. It found that adults in this age range could be doubling their risk of suffering a heart attack if they use cannabis.

These findings build on previous studies that link cannabis use to increased heart attack risk. The new report finds 18 and 44 year-old adults who used marijuana within the last 30 days doubled their chances of myocardial infarction. The risk is even greater for heavy users.

”With recent legalization and decriminalization, cannabis use is increasing in young adults in North America, and we do not fully know its effects on cardiovascular health… We found an association between recent cannabis use and myocardial infarction, which persisted across an array of robust sensitivity analyses. Additionally, this association was consistent across different forms of cannabis consumption, including smoking, vaporization, and other methods such as edibles. This suggests that no method of consumption is safer than another in this regard.”

Dr. Karim Ladha, Clinician Scientist at Unity Health Toronto

The full research findings can be found here.

US Study – Marijuana use among college-age at highest level since 1980s

Another major report. Same conclusion. Legalisation of recreational cannabis is a disaster for public health. Not only does legalisation result in significantly increased usage (despite what pro-drug advocates said wouldn’t happen), it’s youth who take up smoking dope at a much greater rate. Knowing the increased harm of drugs to developing brains, this is the perfect storm for creating longterm problems. Let’s keep saying NO to dope.

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