According to the article Marijuana Use in U.S. Adults Doubles in Decade, reported in Yahoo News Health, government surveys show that there are more than 22 million mostly recreational users, which accounts for 10% of the population. Recreational use is legalized in four states: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Reduced penalties for marijuana possession have been adopted in many states. Medical marijuana has been introduced in 23 states while 21 states have proposed laws supporting recreational use. Even with the reported decline to one in three users being dependent or abusers, we are going into some very important discussions about what the ramifications of all of this means, not only to those who may be using the marijuana while driving or operating dangerous equipment, but the problems that arise for employers who may have to allow someone who is prescribed medical marijuana to use it on the job, even if it is not safe given the distorted perceptions and loss of coordination, difficulty thinking and distorted time perception one experiences on the drug.
A 2013 survey done by the United States government has found that current Marijuana use in 8th through 12th graders between 2007 and 2013 has increased from 5.8% in 8th graders to 7%, from 13.8% to 18% in 10th graders and from 19.4% to 22.7% in 12th graders. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows a 33% increase in teens who smoked marijuana in the past month in medical marijuana states, but only 6% in the rest of the country.
This is a perplexing problem because medical marijuana has been proved useful in many medical areas such as for the treatment of lack of appetite and pain control in and vomiting in cancer patients, healing, motor coordination, increase memory and learning, while decreasing anxiety and inflammation. This is when the whole plant is used according to some doctors who juice the plant.
When teens use the marijuana it can create many problems because their prefrontal cortex is not fully developed. Because of this, they are not able to make appropriate judgements regarding the use of the marijuana. There is also the fact that the drug today is very different then the recreational drug that was used years ago in many ways.
First, we don’t really know what is in the marijuana of today, given that many of those providing it on the streets are adding other chemicals to it. I had a couple of brothers who came to see me because they were having what felt like panic attacks after using marijuana recreationally.
Andy LaFrate, founder of Charas Scientific, one of eight Colorado labs certified to test cannabis, tested 600 strains of marijuana from dozens producers. The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the psychoactive compound that produces the “high” that people experience has increased from 18 to 30 percent from the 1980’s to 2015. This is because the growers are cross breeding plants to create more powerful strains.
Some manufacturers use butane to strip the plant of all the components but the THC, thus concentrating the THC which will increase the heavy metals, pesticides and other substances that end up in the product. These can create many negative effects on the person using the marijuana.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warns is about marijuana concentrations which are also known as THC Extractions. The THC levels could range between 40 to 80%, four times the strength of THC in high grade marijuana which normally comes in about 20%. The street names for this type of marijuana changes often, but currently it is known as 720 (the word oil, spelled backwards) wax, ear wax, honey oil, budder, butane, hash oil, shatter, dabs, black lass and errl. These concentrated forms are put into various foods and drinks, though smoking by water or oil pipes remains the most common form of ingestion.
E-cigarettes or vaporizers are the most disconcerting, being smokeless, it is easy to conceal what is being smoked. The use of these products leads to an instant “high” for the user. Many kids in middle school and high school use them in the back of the classroom and the teachers are unaware of it.
According to the DEA, regular smoking marijuana interferes with memory and learning leading a decrease in IQ and tests scores, which decreases grades, resulting in dropping out of school.
Researchers have also found that for those teens that have a predisposition to early onset schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, and depression will experience an increased risk of both illnesses.
Then there is the whole problem of synthesized marijuana as reported by ABC News, on October 15, 2015 where it was reported that federal drug agents having arrested more than 100 people across the country. The problem is that the synthesized compounds found in these substances bind much more strongly to the THC receptors than natural marijuana leading to dangerous and unpredictable effects. Anxiety and paranoia have been noted as well as the overdoses that have lead to four times the overdoses then last year as reported on the CBS Evening News on April 15, 2015. This is one reason that some people believe it is better to allow for the legalization of real marijuana, since people will find a way to get into an altered state if they are determined to do so.
However, there are problems with the consistent use of marijuana including heart disease, as well as a trigger to stroke, the third after tobacco smoking and cocaine use according to the European risk analysis, the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation System.
So, depending on what research one reads, one will get different viewpoints of how marijuana will effect one. My own opinion is that we have enough problems with drunk driving and all the people on pharmaceutical medications which both sedate and excite in this country. I find it amazing how it is that we Americans can find so many ways to harm ourselves which shows in the increase of children having so many psychological and physical ailments before their time.
Though I do understand that medical marijuana given to those who are truly in need of it, which in my opinion are those who will die if they can’t take in the nutrition their body needs to fight disease processes, I believe we are going way too far to the other side in treating marijuana as a safe and even a health preserving agent.
I am worried about the ever younger children who are using this drug, and the damage that it can do to their brain’s development as well as the cardiopulmonary problems that can develop. I worry about those who ingest it in food and drink having horrific effects from it, and the issue of psychotic events being triggered in those who are susceptible to them .
If we adults want our children to be healthy, we need to model healthy behavior, and stop making excuses as to why it is okay for us to have behaviors we don’t want our children to emulate. This is the only way to turn the tide and have our children become healthy adults.
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