Measures legalizing marijuana in Michigan and Missouri garnered more votes during Tuesday’s midterms than Senate candidates elected in either state. Michigan voted to legalize recreational marijuana by casting over 2.34 million ballots Tuesday in favor of a measure, Proposal 1, that will allow adults to possess, buy and grow limited amounts of the plant for personal use, as well as pave the way for the state to implement a system for regulating and taxing retail sales. The measure, which makes Michigan the tenth state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana, received more votes than the Democratic winners of the state’s Senate race, incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow, and the state’s attorney general race, Dana Nessel, as first reported Thursday by Marijuana Moment, a cannabis news site. Ms. Stabenow and Ms. Nessel received roughly 2.2 million and 2 million votes, respectively. A measure legalizing medical marijuana in Missouri, meanwhile, Amendment 2, was passed by a margin of 65.5 to 34.5 upon approved by over 1.5 million votes. Similarly the measure outperformed both the winner of the state’s Senate race, Republican candidate Josh Hawley, and Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill. They received over 1.2 million and 1.1 million votes, respectively. Utah voted to legalize medical marijuana as well Tuesday, but the measure, Proposition 2, received roughly 70,000 votes less than the winner of the state’s Senate race, Republican candidate Mitt Romney, Marijuana Moment noted. A fourth state to consider marijuana legalization Tuesday, North Dakota, ultimately rejected the effort by a margin of roughly 60-40. Marijuana is illegal under federal law, though 33 states and D.C. have passed legislation permitting the plant for either medicinal or recreational purposes as of Tuesday’s elections. In the nation’s capital, meanwhile, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Wednesday that the District will mount efforts to legalize recreational marijuana sales starting early next year. Both medical and recreational marijuana have been legal in D.C. for years, but previous efforts to establish a system for licensed and regulated sales have been halted by the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. Democrats are poised to take control of the House as a result of Tuesday’s races, however, giving D.C. its best odds ever of joining the seven states that have previously passed laws permitting retail sales: Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state.
A growing number of American parents are using marijuana when they still have children living at home, according to a new study that suggests cannabis may be complicating efforts to limit kids’ exposure to second-hand smoke. Researchers examined data collected from 169,259 U.S. adults from 2002 to 2015. During that time, the proportion of parents with children at home who said they used cannabis at least once in the past month rose from 4.9 percent to 6.8 percent. Over that same period, the proportion of parents with kids at home who smoked cigarettes declined from 27.6 percent to 20.2 percent, the study also found. “While cigarette smoking continues to decline among parents with children living at home, use of cannabis is increasing among parents and this may as a result lead to an increase in children’s exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke,” said lead study author Renee Goodwin of the Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy at the City University of New York. The increase in cannabis use appeared to be “disproportionately common among cigarette smoking parents,” Goodwin said by email. “Therefore we may be seeing an increase in exposure to multiple types of smoke/increased amount of smoke in a growing percentage of households with this increase in cannabis use.” With some forms of marijuana now legal in about 30 U.S. states, concern is mounting in the medical community that many people may falsely assume the drug is harmless and fail to recognize the potential harms to children who breathe second-hand smoke. “Exposure to secondhand smoke is associated with an increased risk of asthma and many other health risks for children,” Goodwin said. “There have been tremendous public health campaigns aimed at decreasing cigarette use overall and at reducing children’s exposure to secondhand smoke from cigarettes, but no clinical or public health effort has been made to educate or inform the public about risks of secondhand cannabis smoke.” Cannabis use was almost four times more common among parents who also smoked cigarettes than among non-smokers, the current study found. Among smokers, the proportion of parents who reported using cannabis in the past month increased from 11 percent to 17.4 percent during the study period, researchers report in Pediatrics. For non-smokers, the proportion of parents who used cannabis in the past month also rose, from 2.4 percent to 4 percent. Daily cannabis use also climbed during the study period, and was more common among cigarette smokers. At the same time, the proportion of parents who said they avoided both cigarettes and cannabis also increased. The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how cigarette smoking might influence cannabis use. Another drawback is that researchers relied on parents to accurately recall and report any tobacco or cannabis use. Even so, the findings underscore how legalization of cannabis in many U.S. states may reflect and reinforce more permissive attitudes about marijuana use, said Ashley Brooks-Russell, author of an accompanying editorial and a researcher at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “Cannabis legalization has increased the accessibility of cannabis for adults and removed many penalties for use,” Brooks-Russell said by email. “It is possible these laws also convey a sense the product is safe, or at least safer than it once was perceived.” When parents with young kids at home do choose to use cannabis, they should take precautions to do it when children aren’t around, Brooks-Russell advised. “If parents use cannabis, not only are they potentially modeling that behavior but they are likely making cannabis products more accessible in the home which could lead to either unintentional ingestion (e.g., poisonings) among younger children, or intentional experimentation and use among older children,” Brooks-Russell said.
Emergency rooms in Illinois are noticing a spike in synthetic pot users suffering from “severe bleeding,” and state health officials are warning the public to remain vigilant. The Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) issued a statement on last week announcing that at least six people in northeastern Illinois had been hospitalized after using the man-made substance — also known as “fake weed,” “K2” or “spice.” On Monday, the number of cases climbed to 56, including two deaths, the health department reported. “All cases have required hospitalization for symptoms such as coughing up blood, blood in the urine, severe bloody nose, and/or bleeding gums,” the IDPH said. “Nine of these cases have tested positive for brodifacoum, a lethal anticoagulant often used as a rodenticide, or rat poison.” There are now cases in at least nine Chicago-area communities including Cook County, Dupage County, Kane County, Kankakee County, McLean County, Peoria County, Tazewell County and Will County. But officials believe that number will grow, as it’s possible contaminated products have been sold across the state. “Despite the perception that synthetic cannabinoids are safe and a legal alternative to marijuana, many are illegal and can cause severe illness,” IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah said in a statement last week. “The recent cases of severe bleeding are evidence of the harm synthetic cannabinoids can cause.” Synthetic pot is made up of hundreds of different chemicals — and their effect on the human body is unpredictable. “These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they act on the same brain cell receptors as the main active ingredient in marijuana,” IDPH explained, warning that the drug’s impact can be life-threatening. “Synthetic cannabinoid products are unsafe. It is difficult to know what’s in them or what your reaction to them will be.” Users have reported a wide range of symptoms, from bleeding gums and bloody noses to blood in the urine. Women who are menstruating have also experienced a higher than average flow. Bleeding from the eyes and ears is also possible after use, IDPH said. The bleeding that doctors have seen in recent days has been severe. “This bleeding is not expected, at least in such a significant population so quickly,” Dr. Melissa Millewich, an emergency room physician at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, told the Chicago Tribune. Health officials urge those who have purchased synthetic cannabinoid products within the past month — whether it was from a convenience store or a dealer — to not use the product. IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold told the Chicago newspaper that the product is banned for sale across the state, but some manufacturers alter the “molecular makeup of the products” to “get around” the law. Anyone who starts experiencing symptoms, including severe bleeding or bruising, should be taken to the hospital immediately, the IDPH said.
Or.. How about just not trying/using this so-called “fake weed” to begin with? Just sayin’…
The inspiration arrived in a haze at a Paul McCartney concert a few years ago in San Francisco. “People in front of me started lighting up and then other people started lighting up,” said Matthew Springer, a biologist and professor in the division of cardiology at the University of California-San Francisco. “And for a few naive split seconds I was thinking to myself, ‘Hey, they can’t smoke in AT&T Park! I’m sure that’s not allowed.’ And then I realized that it was all marijuana.” Recreational pot was not legal yet in the state, but that stopped no one. “Paul McCartney actually stopped between numbers and sniffed the air and said, ‘There’s something in the air — must be San Francisco!’” Springer recalled. As the visible cloud of pot smoke took shape, so did Springer’s idea to study the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke. He started thinking: San Franciscans would never tolerate those levels of cigarette smoke in a public place anymore. So why were they OK with pot smoke? Did people just assume that cannabis smoke isn’t harmful the way tobacco smoke is? Springer was already researching the health effects of secondhand tobacco smoke on rats at his lab at UCSF. He decided to run the same tests using joints. “By the time I left the concert, I was resolved to at least try to make this happen,” he said. He knew it would be difficult. Marijuana is still an illegal drug under federal law, and Springer’s research uses federal funds; so he has to purchase specially approved government cannabis for study. He also can’t test it on humans; hence, the rats. In the lab, Springer puts a cigarette or a joint in a plexiglass box, lights it and lets the chamber fill with smoke. Then he vents out most of the smoke to the point that it is hardly visible, to simulate being around a smoker. Then an anesthetized rat is exposed to the smoke for one minute. So far, Springer and his colleagues have published research demonstrating that just this one minute of exposure to secondhand smoke makes it harder for the rats’ arteries to expand and allow a healthy flow of blood. With tobacco products, this effect lasts about 30 minutes, and then the arteries recover their normal function. But if it happens over and over, the arterial walls can become permanently damaged, and that damage can cause blood clots, heart attack or stroke. Springer demonstrated that, at least in rats, the same physiological effect occurs after inhaling secondhand smoke from marijuana. And, the arteries take 90 minutes to recover compared with the 30 minutes with cigarette smoke. Springer’s discovery about the effect on blood vessels describes just one harmful impact for nonsmokers who are exposed to marijuana. Statewide sampling surveys of cannabis products sold in marijuana dispensaries have shown that the items may contain dangerous bacteria or mold, or residue from pesticides and solvents. California law requires testing for these contaminants, and those regulations are being initiated in three phases over the course of 2018. Because much of the marijuana being sold now was harvested in 2017, consumers will have to wait until early 2019 before they can purchase products that have been fully tested according to state standards. “People think cannabis is fine because it’s ‘natural,’” Springer said. “I hear this a lot. I don’t know what it means.” He concedes that tightly regulated marijuana, which has been fully tested, would not have as many chemical additives as cigarettes. But even if the cannabis tests clean, Springer said, smoke itself is bad for the lungs, heart and blood vessels. Other researchers are exploring the possible relationship between marijuana smoke and long-term cancer risk. Certainly, living with a smoker is worse for your health than just going to a smoky concert hall. But, Springer said, the less you inhale any kind of smoke, the better. “People should think of this not as an anti-THC conclusion,” he said, referencing the active ingredient in marijuana, “but an anti-smoke conclusion.”
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions ended an Obama-era policy Thursday that discouraged federal prosecutions of marijuana use and sales in states where it has been legalized. Sessions is instead leaving it up to U.S. attorneys to decide to what extent they will enforce federal anti-marijuana laws. As a physician, I am caught between wanting marijuana users and addicts to be treated as patients – and not criminals – while at the same time being very aware that regular marijuana use carries significant health risks. I believe we should treat habitual users and warn them of the associated risks – not punish them. My job is to let you know that there is no free lunch medically with marijuana or any drug. Even if a state or a society decides that it is wise economically and politically to make marijuana legal, at the same time we must be prepared for the health consequences even more than the legal ones. For reasons I elaborate on below, it’s clear to me that there is enough scientific evidence out there for me to discourage regular marijuana use for most people. The new action by Sessions comes on the heels of California becoming the seventh and largest state (plus the District of Columbia) on Monday to legalize recreational marijuana. About 90 businesses received state licenses to begin legal marijuana sales in California at the start of 2018 and sales are booming. In addition, 29 states allow the sale and use of medical marijuana. I am concerned that California will follow the precedent established by Colorado, which has seen an increase in both usage and overlooked side effects since marijuana legalization in 2014. Legal marijuana (both medical and recreational) is turning into a multibillion-dollar industry. Sales were expected to hit $10 billion nationwide in 2017 and grow with the legalization of marijuana in California at the start of this year. In a report issued before Sessions’ announcement of a change in federal policy – the effect of which is not yet determined – BDS Analytics forecast that marijuana sales in California alone could total $3.7 billion this year and $5.1 billion next year. In addition, states stand to collect billions of dollars in tax revenue from legalized marijuana sales, and much governmental money will be saved by not prosecuting sales and use of the drug. Colorado has already collected over $500 million from taxing legal marijuana. But what about the associated medical risks from increasing usage? This is a critical question we must not ignore. My first concern is traffic accidents, since marijuana is known to impair judgement. Statistics from Colorado since recreational marijuana was legalized show a doubling of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the substance in marijuana that gets users high – in the blood of those involved in fatal car accidents. This is concerning. And though alcohol impairs a driver much more, THC stays in the bloodstream longer. If the two are combined, as they sometimes are, the risk is magnified. A recent study from the Columbia University School of Public Health found that while alcohol increased the risk of causing a fatal car crash five times, testing positive for pot increased it by 62 percent. Those drivers who had both pot and alcohol in their blood at the time of a fatal crash were six times more likely to have caused the accident. Another area of concern is pregnancy. Many pregnant women suffer from morning sickness. But the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends against using marijuana while pregnant – no matter what. And the Centers for Disease Control warns that “marijuana use during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby’s health.” Why? The CDC points to research showing low birth weight in infants, along with developmental and attention problems in children born to mothers who smoke pot regularly during pregnancy. Unfortunately, pot smoking among pregnant women is on the rise and it is bound to rise even more. A study just released from Kaiser Permanente in California and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that 7 percent of pregnant women surveyed smoked pot, including almost 20 percent of those below the age of 24. The number of pregnant women using marijuana will only increase now that recreational marijuana is legal in California. When it comes to adolescents and adults, long-term marijuana use has been associated with decreased school and job performance, memory loss, and psychiatric disorders including anxiety and depression. With the increase in edible marijuana comes a dramatic increase in Emergency Room visits from overuse, especially among adolescents, who may be getting more THC than they realize. Symptoms include acute anxiety, rapid heart rate and paranoia. When it comes to the heart, studies show that patients with known heart disease are more likely to have chest pain and that heart attacks are more likely to occur in the hour following smoking pot. Pot smoke is also known to cause wheezing and airway inflammation, though more studies on the long-term effects of regular marijuana smoking on both the heart and lungs need to be done. Don’t get me wrong. I must emphasize that I am not intending to weigh in here on the politics and economics of legalization. In fact, I have never favored punishing users of any chemical substance and advocate instead for rehab programs and peer-to-peer assistance for substance abuse of all kinds. But it’s important to note that there is evidence that marijuana is a gateway drug to other drugs, both licit and illicit, including nicotine. This evidence must concern us even as we try to gain control over the opioid epidemic. Here’s the bottom line: Marijuana is a useful drug medically when it comes to treating chronic pain, as well as the debilitating pain of cancer and the nausea of cancer treatments. But it should not be used to treat morning sickness, and recreational use of any kind should include consideration of potential side effects.
Dr. Marc Siegel, M.D. is a professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Medical Center. Dr. Siegel’s medical opinion/analysis here is very compelling. The real “bottom line here is that long term use of pot is foolish, and comes with all sorts of medical risks, along with their affiliated costs that someone has to pay for. THAT is the real discussion that nobody is wanting to have. Personally, I couldn’t care less if someone wants to smoke a joint now and then. Most people probably agree with that. But, it’s not that simple, unfortunately, despite what many in the media, pot activists, and politicians may tell you. How about driving while high? How does a police officer determine that? What tools does he/she have to enforce that? What happens when there is an accident? What kind of determinations are made? How do insurance companies address that? And, if someone has some medical complication due to marijuana use, who pays for that? The real answer, of course, is you and me. And, that’s where people like me get pissed off. Anyway, THOSE are the questions that aren’t being asked, much less answered, by the pot activists and politicians pushing for legalization…or by the lazy dominantly liberal mainstream media, who are all for it.
Marijuana activists may argue that the plant is a natural remedy with many uses, but a new report is claiming that farming the drug has another harmful side-effect: it’s destroying the environment. Researchers from Ithaca College say that the growing number of small pot farms being planted in remote forest areas are having a major impact on the local environment. The New York team points to forest fragmentation, soil erosion, and landslides as the main side-effects of inserting pot farms into the forest. The college has previously outlined how commercial marijuana farming was poisoning forest animals with pesticides and dewatering streams by improper irrigation in states like California. “Policymakers and planners need to enact specific environmental and land-use regulations to control cannabis crop expansion,” environmental studies professor Jake Brenner said in the college’s press release. The study’s co-author added that while the lumber industry still has a larger impact on the size of forests, the impact over a smaller area by marijuana crops was even more destructive. “Cannabis causes far greater changes in key metrics on a per-unit-area basis,” researcher Van Butsic said. The report found that planting cannabis farms resulted in 1.5 times more forest loss and 2.5 times more fragmentation of the landscape and wildlife habitats than harvesting trees for timber did over the same amount of space.
Sixty-four percent of Americans including 51 percent of Republicans favor legalizing marijuana, according to the results of a Gallup poll released Wednesday — the highest level of public support from either demographic ever recorded. A round of polling conducted earlier this month among 1,028 randomly selected Americans suggest support for legalization is up nearly across the board, Gallup said. Gallup pollsters have been surveying Americans about marijuana legalization since 1969, periodically asking respondents: “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?” While only 12 percent of respondents answered affirmatively during the first year of polling, that statistics increased over the decades to 25 percent in 1970, 34 percent in 2001 and 60 percent in 2016 — a record shattered by the 64 percent of respondents who replied “yes” to the latest round of questioning, Gallup said Wednesday. The newest results also mark the first time that a majority of both Democrats and Republicans acknowledged supporting legalization, according to pollsters. Democrats have historically supported legalizing marijuana and became the first partisan group to see majority support for the matter in 2009, Gallup said. For the first time ever, however, a majority of Republicans — 51 percent — told pollsters they approve legalization, Gallup said. Seventy-two percent of Democrats told pollsters this month they support legalizing marijuana, up from 67 percent in 2016, according to the results published Wednesday. Sixty-seven percent of Independents, meanwhile, said they support legalizing marijuana, down from 70 percent last year, Gallup said.
A sign of the times..