A tag identifies the type of marijuana plant on the medical marijuana farm near Laytonville, Calif. (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)
By Christopher Ingraham
A state-run survey of 37,000 middle and high school students in Washington state finds that marijuana legalization there has had no effect on youngsters' propensity to use the drug.
The Washington State Healthy Youth Survey found that the 2016 rate of marijuana use was basically unchanged since 2012, when the state voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. In the survey, researchers used the measure of “monthly use,” asking students across all grade levels whether they'd used the drug within the past month.
The survey's numbers show that neither the vote for legalization nor the opening of pot shops in 2014 have had any measurable effect on the rate of marijuana use among teenagers in the state.
Concerns about adolescent pot use have been one of the chief drivers of opposition to legalization campaigns in Washington, Colorado and elsewhere. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently articulated the view when he told reporters that “I don’t think America is going to be a better place when people of all ages, and particularly young people, are smoking pot.”
The concern is that people who start using the drug at a young age are more likely to become addicted to it later. And like any other drug, marijuana use during adolescence — particularly heavy use — can have negative effects on children's mental health and school performance.
But the data coming out of Washington and Colorado strongly suggest that those states' legalization experiments, which began in earnest in 2014, are not causing any spike in use among teenagers. Teen marijuana use in Colorado decreased during 2014 and 2015, the most recent time period included in federal surveys. A separate survey run by the state showed rates of use among teenagers flat from 2013 to 2015, and down since 2011.
The picture in Washington has been a little more mixed. The federal survey showed no significant change in teenage marijuana use in the most recent period. But a separate study released last year did find evidence of a small uptick in marijuana use among eighth- and 10th-graders in the state.
But the Washington state findings in that study were derived from a national data set that wasn't intended to produce representative samples at the state level, said Julia Dilley, the principal investigator on a separate federally funded study investigating the effects of marijuana legalization in Washington and Oregon.
That doesn't make those earlier numbers incorrect, necessarily, but it does limit how accurate they can be for an individual state such as Washington. The state's own survey, administered to tens of thousands of students and designed to be representative of the entire state, is “more likely to be accurate for reporting state estimates, in my opinion,” Dilley said.
All in all, these findings are good news for policymakers in California, Massachusetts and other states looking to start recreational programs. They suggest that legal weed has not had much of an effect on teenage drug use.
Even federal authorities, longtime skeptics of the merits of marijuana legalization, are starting to come around to the findings.
“We had predicted based on the changes in legalization, culture in the U.S. as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful [and] that [accessibility and use] would go up,” Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told U.S. News and World Report late last year. “But it hasn’t gone up.”
Article link here.
Why The Trump Administration’s Threat To Launch A War On Legalized Weed Might Be A Big Nothingburger
There’s also something else at work here: Amid these vocal assaults on the state of legal weed, the Trump administration said it wasn’t interested in pursuing medical marijuana, and privately, Jeff Sessions reportedly informed Republican senators that there will be no substantial policy change on the matter. Why all the bark without the bite? Because reinstating marijuana’s full illegality is, effectively, impossible.
The Limits Of Power
As Attorney General, Jeff Sessions could certainly enforce federal laws more strictly, but it would be a vast undertaking. Currently, only five states completely outlaw marijuana: Idaho, South Dakota, Kansas, Indiana and West Virginia. In eight states, and the District of Columbia — much to the frustration of conservatives — weed has been legalized completely. And in thirteen states, it has been both decriminalized and allowed for medical use. The rest of the states in the union tend to fall into various categories; some, like Texas, have only legalized marijuana with non-psychoactive properties, while others have only legalized it for medical use.
Most importantly, many of these states did so by popular vote, even in Republican strongholds. Arkansas, which went to Trump in the 2016 election, also voted to legalize medical marijuana with 53% of the vote. In fact, marijuana legalization had a banner 2016 for supporters of the cause.
All of this creates a problem if the Trump administration really wants to enforce federal marijuana laws, because that’ll mean it has to devote significant resources to enforcing a federal law that states don’t care about.
In fact, states that legalized pot are seeing a windfall that others are eager to emulate. Colorado, which heavily taxes marijuana, collected nearly $200 million in taxes from recreational pot use. Oregon expected a modest $10 million in tax revenue: Instead, it collected $60 million. Will the governors from these states — who rely on that tax revenue to fund their budgets — quietly shrug if that fight is brought to them?
Adding to the problem is that the Trump administration’s justification for cracking down on marijuana simply isn’t good policy, statistically or scientifically.
There Is No “There” There
Any link, positive or negative, between legalized marijuana and violent crime is questionable at best. Correlation is not causation, so while, say, Washington state saw violent crime drop from 2011 to 2014, that can’t be automatically chalked up to legalization. Still, the anti-legalization crowd has been caught cherry-picking evidence more than once. One common claim is legalized marijuana drove up Pueblo, CO’s murder rate, but the authorities in Pueblo point out that it’s opioids and black tar heroin causing the problem.
And the idea that marijuana is a “gateway drug” (which Spicer has advanced) similarly fails to hold up when you look at the available data. While a little less than half of all Americans have tried marijuana, only 15% try cocaine and 2% use heroin. Besides, it’s worth asking why marijuana is the only “gateway drug” that we hear about, especially when you consider that alcoholism is a well-known disease that costs the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars. The beer, wine, and liquor industry spent approximately $27 million on lobbying in 2016, and there are allegations that they are, at least partially, behind anti-legalization initiatives, so perhaps the weed industry just needs better lobbyists.
The idea that marijuana could be causing the opioid crisis is questionable at best, especially as doctors themselves think opioids are simply a poorly considered bandage slapped over a much larger, festering problem. A University of Michigan overview of chronic pain treatment is critical of both opioids and marijuana, but notes the problem with opioids is how they’re prescribed:
Unfortunately, it is far faster and easier to give a patient an opioid than to work through the complex issues often present in chronic pain patients. As physicians begin to realize the problems with prescribing opioids for individuals with chronic pain, an increasingly common route to opioid addiction and death is the initial prescription of opioids for acute pain after a surgical or dental procedure or ER visit.
While it’s not clear how feasible marijuana itself is as a treatment for chronic pain, drugs derived from it have had enough success that further medical research is needed. But being open to that possibility and eliminating the stigma that seems inexorably linked to marijuana needs to happen in conjunction with any advance, or else what’s the point?
Old Views And A New Round Of Rhetoric
As a rule of thumb, the older a voter is, the more likely they are to vote Republican, and the gap between them and even the Baby Boomers is enormous on marijuana. While support has risen drastically in the last few years, still only one-third of our oldest voters are for marijuana legalization, according to Pew’s research. Oddly, white men, the most reliable Trump voter base, tended towards legalizing marijuana according to that same study; marijuana had the least support in the Hispanic community in the poll.
There is also the uncomfortable reality that marijuana laws are used as a weapon on non-white communities. The ACLU has found non-whites are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession and decriminalization has done nothing to change these numbers. That brings up a whole host of concerns, but specifically, Trump’s deportation campaign depends heavily on deporting anybody arrested on even the smallest crime, so the administration may want to keep these laws on the books to maintain that legal veneer.
With all that said, and despite Spicer and Sessions’ public remarks, in the end, this is unlikely to be much of a priority for the Trump administration. While it may appeal to a subset of voters, long-term, laws tend to snowball on a state by state basis, and marijuana legalization is too big and carroes too much momentum for any President to stop.
BY: DAN SEITZ
Almost all of the maternal side of my family is from Idaho. I have traveled there many times to visit family (mostly in the Middleton area, go Vikings!) and ever since I became a cannabis consumer, I have been frightened to my core while staying there. It’s to the point that I just don’t consume cannabis while I’m there, which isn’t too hard considering that the cannabis in Idaho leaves a lot to be desired. It has always blown my mind, and not in a good way, that just one state over from Oregon prohibition reigns supreme.
Going to Idaho is a lot like going back in time when it comes to cannabis policy. The mindset of most of my relatives there is either ‘prohibition rules, 100%!’ or for my relatives that consume, they basically only do so in the cloak of darkness inside their house, with the door locked and the Febreeze spray readily available at all times. Even then, they are scared. All of this over a plant that is now legal in 8 states (and Washington D.C.) for adult use, and nearing 30 states for medical use.
Idaho is about as unfriendly of a place for cannabis as you will find in America. That’s not to say that there aren’t hardworking activists there, because there absolutely is. Some of the hardest working, most dedicated activists that I know are either in Idaho now or came from there. But it’s a tough state to get on the right side of history, with politicians that seem to be full blown addicted to cannabis prohibition. Idaho’s Senate once passed a resolution which banned marijuana reform. Idaho politicians somehow found a way to make marijuana even more illegal. Wrap your head around that lameness.
Leading the cannabis prohibition parade in Idaho is Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter. As far as I know, Governor Otter is the only Governor to veto a CBD-specific cannabis reform bill. The bill would have allowed kids with severe forms of epilepsy to treat the disease with CBD oil. How someone could be against that, given all of the evidence that CBD oil works very well for people suffering from severe forms of epilepsy, is beyond me. Governor Otter recently wrote a letter to President Trump discussing federal cooperation and with the new administration. The letter specifically touched on marijuana reform in surrounding states. Per the Point Register:
"And he sought more flexibility from a host of programs, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Veterans Affairs. But he specifically urged Trump to use the full power of the federal government against neighboring states that have legalized marijuana."
“Among the most pressing concerns facing Idaho, both from the criminal and public health standpoints, is the utter lack of consistency displayed by the Obama administration in enforcement of federal marijuana laws,” Otter wrote. “In that respect, Idaho is a virtual island of compliance, and we are paying the price.”
The price Idahoans are paying, according to Otter, is that people are bringing marijuana into the state. The illegal marijuana affects Idaho youths, taxpayers, law enforcement officers, jails and health care systems, said Elisha Figueroa, administrator of the Idaho Office of Drug Policy.
Idaho is bordered by Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. Three of those states now allow cannabis for adult use, and Montana allows cannabis for medical use. Reform efforts are picking up in Utah and Wyoming, and I think sooner than later Idaho will be surrounded by reformed states. Idaho does not have a marijuana problem. Idaho has a marijuana prohibition problem. People are going to keep consuming marijuana in Idaho regardless of if its legal or not. Patients are going to be suffering in Idaho and looking for relief from cannabis. Shouldn’t Idaho politicians want them to be accessing cannabis via a regulated market instead of in the shadows, with profits often benefiting cartels or gangs?
If Governor Otter cared about Idaho’s youth, he would want to see a regulated industry, taxes from which going to education programs that provide science based information to Idaho’s youth, rather than easy-to-debunk marijuana propaganda. If Governor Otter really cared about taxpayers, law enforcement officers, and jails, he wouldn’t want to keep wasting resources locking up people that are caught with a plant that has been found to be 114 times safer than alcohol. A recent poll found that 68% of law enforcement officers wanted to’relax marijuana laws.’ It’s not hard to understand why – officers signed up to fight real crime, and not busting people for having a cannabis pipe in their backpack like my cousin, who served months in jail for the offense. That jail bed should have been reserved for a violent criminal and/or sex offender. But not on Governor Otter’s watch. Instead he is doubling down on prohibition, and asking President Trump for backup.
- Johnny Green
Vaporizers may be more expensive than your traditional pipe or bong, but there are still a number of reasons why every marijuana user should consider these high-tech devices.
When it comes to consuming marijuana, the options are vast. Besides rolling a joint, there are a range of pipes and marijuana bongs available on the market. Of course, cannabis can also be used to make various foods and drinks. Topicals and tinctures are popular among medical users as well.
Yet many doctors stand by vaporizers as the ideal method of consuming marijuana. In fact, in Israel, where medical marijuana is legal, vaporizers can be found in hospitals and senior homes. The popular Volcano Medic Vaporizer is also an approved medical device in Canada and the EU.
Here are some major reasons why vaporizers have become so popular among doctors and patients.
The effect of vaporizing on the lungs is perhaps the strongest argument for using a vaporizer.
Doctors have long been wary about the use of marijuana as a medicine because of the potential risks of smoking anything. While it’s true that smoking marijuana has not been proven to cause lung cancer, the combustion of marijuana still produces several known carcinogens and tar, which can irritate the lungs and lead to chronic bronchitis.
Vaporizers were mainly designed to overcome this issue. By heating marijuana at a lower temperature than combustion, the devices produce an inhalable vapor that still contains the active medical ingredients in marijuana (cannabinoids), but without the harmful by-products.
Vaporizing cannabis is said to remove approximately 95% of the smoke that is inhaled. What’s more, vaporizing has been suggested to increase the yield of anti-inflammatory terpenoids that protect the lungs from irritation.
Research also suggests that switching to a vaporizer can reverse respiratory symptoms caused by traditional methods of cannabis intake.
Another advantage of vaporizers is the efficiency of converting plant matter into active cannabinoids.
A collaborative study conducted by California NORML and MAPS found that vaporizers could convert 46% of available THC into vapor, whereas the average marijuana joint converted less than 25% of THC.
Likewise, patients ranked vaporizers as the most efficient method of marijuana intake – requiring a lower dose than smoking, edibles and tea – in a recent study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.
So while vaporizers may be seen as a luxury to some, even the most thrifty marijuana users have realized that the higher efficiency of these devices can eventually offset their initial cost.
In the same patient study, vaporizers ranked highest in side effect satisfaction, meaning that patients felt most functional after vaporizing cannabis.
While the study did not investigate specific side effects, some say that vaporizers produce a more clear-headed ‘high’ due to the lack of smoke inhaled. Cannabis vapor can also be inhaled in short and shallow puffs, whereas other smoking devices may require taking deeper and larger breaths, which can be uncomfortable for novice marijuana users.
Of course, how one reacts to marijuana differs widely from person to person, so vaporizers may not be ideal for everyone. Ultimately, consulting with a healthcare professional and careful experimentation is the best way to figure out what method of marijuana intake is best for you.
Any cannabis consumer can tell you that if there’s one feeling no one enjoys, it’s the moment when you realize, “I’m too high.” Maybe the edible kicked in three hours late. Perhaps you tried to impress a group of friends by breathing in a little bit too deeply. You might have just tried concentrates for the first time and were caught off-guard by their potency. Or maybe you are just a low tolerance consumer. There are a thousand ways it can happen, but once it does, the resulting experience can be uncomfortable and enough to turn off even the most seasoned cannabis lover.
Fear not! Most of us have experienced the unpleasantness that can come with overwhelming cannabis effects. Thankfully, there are ways to help come back down when you feel too high, overwhelmed, or uncomfortable from excessive cannabis consumption.
Tips on How to Stop Being So High
1. Don’t Panic
Let us start with the infinite wisdom of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
DON’T PANIC. YOU ARE FINE AND EVERYTHING IS OKAY.
Most symptoms of “greening out” (imbibing too much cannabis) will dissipate within minutes to hours, with no lasting effects beyond a little grogginess. Give it some time and these feelings will eventually past, trust us.
Also, contrary to what you may have heard, there have been zero reported cannabis overdose deaths in the history of ever, so despite how freaked out you may feel or how sweaty you get, you won’t expire from excess consumption. (Don’t take that on as a challenge, just keep in mind that if you accidentally overdo it, you’ll be okay in a while.)
2. Know Your Limits Before Consuming
If you can, try to prepare for your cannabis session according to your tolerance level. Consume with friends you know and are comfortable with, and don’t feel pressured to consume more than you can handle. It’s all well and good to make new friends, but being surrounded by strangers when you can’t feel your face is unpleasant at best and anxiety-ridden at worst.
Take it slow, especially when consuming edibles. We recommend trying a standard dose of 10 mg (or even 5 mg if you really want to ease into the experience) and waiting at least an hour, if not two, before increasing your edibles dosage. The same goes for inhalation methods – if you’re used to occasionally taking one hit off your personal vaporizer, we don’t advise sitting in a smoking circle puffing and passing for an hour.
Water, water, water — don’t forget to hydrate! Whether you prefer water or juice, make sure you have a nice, cold beverage on hand (preferably non-caffeinated). This will help you combat dry mouth and allow you to focus on a simple and familiar act – sipping and swallowing.
Keep in mind that by “hydrate,” we don’t mean “knock back a few alcoholic beverages.” If you’re feeling the effects of your strain a little too aggressively, stay away from alcohol as it can significantly increase THC blood concentrations.
4. Keep Some Black Pepper on Hand
f you find yourself combating paranoia and anxiety, a simple household ingredient found in kitchens and restaurants everywhere can come to your rescue: black pepper. Many swear by the black pepper trick, even Neil Young! Just sniff or chew on a few black peppercorns and it should provide almost instantaneous relief.
5. Keep Calm and Rest
Find a calm, quiet place where you can rest and breathe deeply. Remember, the intense discomfort you’re feeling will pass. Take deep full breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on the sound of your breath and just rest a while.
Sometimes sleeping it off can be the best alternative to stopping a strong high, but it’s not always easy to turn your brain off. Once you’ve found a quiet area, lay down and let yourself relax. If drowsiness and sleep are quick to onset, take a little nap to rejuvenate yourself. Should you be unable to fall asleep, just get comfortable until you feel strong enough to spring back up.
6. Try Going for a Walk
If you can’t turn your brain off, sometimes a change of scenery and some fresh air to get your blood pumping will help invigorate you. Just remember to stay close to your immediate surroundings — we don’t want you wandering off and getting lost while you’re feeling anxious and paranoid! And refrain from taking a walk if you’re feeling too woozy or light-headed to stand; instead, we recommend going back to Option #5 and laying down for a while.
7. Take a Shower or Bath
While it’s not always feasible if you’re out and about or at a friend’s house, if you’re at home, try taking a nice shower or bath as a really pleasant option to help you relax.
8. Distract Yourself!
All of the activities that seem so entertaining and fun while high are also a great way to distract yourself while you try to come back down to Earth. Some suggestions include:
Watch a funny cartoon
Listen to your favorite album
Play a fun video game
Talk to your friends (who are hopefully right by your side, reassuring you)
Snuggle with your significant other
Try coloring as a calming activity (seriously, adult coloring books are becoming all the rage lately)
Eat something delicious
Whatever distractions you prefer, make sure it’s a familiar activity that gives you warm fuzzy emotions. Your brain will hopefully zone in on the positive feelings and give you a gentle reminder that you are safe and just fine.
Bonus Tip: Try Some CBD
CBD is an excellent anxiety-fighting compound, and for many people it can be used to counteract too much THC. Check out our article about how CBD’s anti-anxiety mechanisms work by modulating the receptor signaling associated with THC.
Lynch made the statement during a town hall meeting in Richmond, Ky., where she discussed the dangers of opioid abuse with a group of high-school teens. In the course of that discussion, talk soon turned to the question of cannabis. Tyler Crafton, a student at Madison Central High School, asked Lynch whether she thought that recreational use of cannabis among high school kids would lead to opioid abuse.
“It’s not as though we are seeing that marijuana is a specific gateway,” Lynch said.
“There a lot of discussion about marijuana these days,” Lynch responded. “Some states are making it legal, people are looking into medical uses for it, and I understand that it still is as common as almost anything. When we talk about heroin addiction, we usually, as we have mentioned, are talking about individuals that started out with a prescription drug problem, and then because they need more and more, they turn to heroin. It isn’t so much that marijuana is the step right before using prescription drugs or opioids.”
“If you tend to experiment with a lot of things in life,” Lynch added, “you may be more inclined to experiment with drugs.”
If that additional statement strikes you as backtracking—well, it sounds like that to me, too. But then Lynch followed up with what could be one of the most important quotes about cannabis this election season.
“It’s not as though we are seeing that marijuana is a specific gateway,” she said.
That comment is consistent with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which notes that the majority of people who use cannabis do not go on to use other, harder substances. When Lynch talked about opiates with the high school students, she said that opioid painkillers could actually be the gateway drug.
Another Study Shows Cannabis Legalization Does Not Increase Underage Access
The mythical “gateway theory” was originally fabricated by federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner Harry Anslinger. In the 1930s, Anslinger specifically rejected the notion that cannabis lured consumers on to stronger drugs. “The marijuana addict does not go in that direction,” he told Congress. A decade later, Anslinger reversed himself and established the gateway theory as a way to prop up the marijuana threat. Most young heroin addicts, he testified, “took to the needle when the thrill of marihuana was gone.” (If you want to know more, check out Martin A. Lee’s definitive history, Smoke Signals.)
The gateway theory has been debunked by countless government studies. Take your pick: the 1944 LaGuardia Commission report; the 1972 Shafer Commission report; the 1999 Institute of Medicine report. As researchers with the federal Institute of Medicine reported: “There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”
Lynch’s statement itself wasn’t shocking. We’ve known since the 1940s that the gateway theory is a fairy tale. What’s surprising is that it took this long for a sitting U.S. attorney general to acknowledge that very basic and proven fact.
-Gage Peake is a staff writer who specializes in breaking news coverage, politics, and sports.
Overview of Post-Concussion Syndrome
Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a variety of symptoms, including headaches and dizziness, that continue for weeks and sometimes months following a concussion. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that typically occurs after a direct blow to the head. Not all concussions lead to post-concussion syndrome, which doesn’t seem to be correlated to the severity of the initial blow.
What causes post-concussion symptoms to develop following certain concussions is yet to be identified. According to Mayo Clinic, some experts believe the symptoms come from structural damage to the brain or the disruption of neurotransmitter systems. Others believe that psychological factors may contribute.
In addition to headaches and dizziness, post-concussion syndrome commonly causes fatigue, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, loss of concentration and memory, and noise and light sensitivity.
Typically, symptoms associated with PCS develop within the first seven to 10 days after a concussion and eventually alleviate within a three-month period. In some cases, however, the symptoms can persist for a year or longer.
Treatment for post-concussion syndrome depends on individual symptoms. Headaches are commonly treated with medications. Time, however, is often the best therapy for treating memory and thinking problems.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Post-Concussion Syndrome
While research on cannabis’ direct effect on post-concussion syndrome is lacking, preclinical findings have shown that cannabis offers therapeutic benefits following brain injuries. Studies have shown that the cannabinoids found in cannabis, most specifically cannabidiol (CBD), activate the body’s cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), though evidence also suggests that the neuroprotective effects from CBD come from the cannabinoid’s activation of the 5-hydroxytriptamine1A (5-HT1A) receptor (Mishima, et al., 2005). When these receptors are activated, they provide protection against neural damage following acute and chronic brain damage (Lopez-Rodriguez, et al., 2013). For example, in one study, the administration of cannabinoids following a traumatic brain injury decreased brain swelling and inflammation and was shown to improve recovery (Shohami, et al., 2011). Another showed that CBD alone provided neuroprotection and limited brain cell death in newborn mice following a hypoxic-ischemic event (Castillo, et al., 2010). Others have showed that cannabinoids, through the activation of the endocannabinoid system, prevent glutamate excitotoxicity, intracellular calcium accumulation, activation of cell death pathways, microglia activation, neurovascular reactivity and circulating leukocytes following a brain injury. Researchers concluded that modulating the endocannabinoid system is an effective way to provide neuroprotection and prevent and reduce brain injury (Fernandez-Lopez, Lizasoain, Moro & Orgado, 2013).
Addition research has shown that cannabis’ cannabinoids provide brain and neuroprotection caused by disorders. One found that CBD reduces the oxidative stress and Alzheimer’s hallmark protein (β-amyloid), thus limiting nerve damage caused by the disorder and improving cell viability (Harvey, et al., 2012). An animal study showed that CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) treatments were effective at delaying and limiting neural damage caused by Huntington’s disease (Sagredo, et al., 2011). Another found that CBD, in addition to providing neuroprotective effects and reducing long-term brain injury, also helped restore neurobehavioral function following a hypoxia-ischemia event (Pazos, et al., 2012).
Studies have also shown that cannabis can help post-concussion syndrome patients manage the symptoms associated with the disorder. CBD can lower stress, help combat depression, improve sleep and reduce pain (Abush & Akirav, 2013) (Campos, et al., 2012) (Chagas, et al., 2013) (Russo, Guy & Robson, 2007) (Baron, 2015).
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Post-Concussion Syndrome
Currently, only the state of Illinois has approved medical marijuana for the treatment of post-concussion syndrome. However, in Washington D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment. In addition, a number of other states will consider allowing medical marijuana to be used for the treatment of post-concussion syndrome with the recommendation from a physician. These states include: California (any debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been recommended by a physician), Connecticut (other medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer Protection), Massachusetts (other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other conditions subject to approval), Rhode Island (other conditions subject to approval), and Washington (any “terminal or debilitating condition”).
Also, fourteen states have approved medical marijuana specifically to treat “chronic pain,” which can develop from post-concussion syndrome. These states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. The states of Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Vermont allow medical marijuana to treat “severe pain.” The states of Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington have approved cannabis for the treatment of “intractable pain.”
Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Post-Concussion Syndrome
CBD shown to reduce neural damage and improve recovery following a brain injury. Cannabidiol administration after hypoxia–ischemia to newborn rats reduces long-term brain injury and restores neurobehavioral function.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22659086)
THC and CBD treatments found to improve pain and sleep. Cannabis, pain, and sleep: lessons from therapeutic clinical trials of Sativex, a cannabis-based medicine. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17712817)
Abush, H., & Akirav, I. (2013). Cannabinoids Ameliorate Impairments Induced by Chronic Stress to Synaptic Plasticity and Short-Term Memory. Neuropsychopharmacology, 38(8), 1521–1534.
Baron, E.P. (2015, June). Comprehensive Review of Medicinal Marijuana, Cannabinoids, and Therapeutic Implications in Medicine and Headache: What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been… Headache, 55(6), 885-916.
Campos, A. C., Moreira, F. A., Gomes, F. V., Del Bel, E. A., & Guimarães, F. S. (2012). Multiple mechanisms involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 367(1607), 3364–3378.
Castillo, A., Tolon, M.R., Fernandez-Ruiz, J., Romero, J., and Martinez-Orgado, J. (2010). The neuroprotective effect of cannabidiol in an in vitro model of newborn hypoxic-ischemic brain damage in mice is mediated by CB2 and adenosine receptors. Neurobiology of Disease, 37, 434-440.
Chagas, M.H., Crippa, J.A., Zuardi, A.W., Hallak, J.E., Machado-de-Sousa, J.P., Hirotsu, C., Maia, L., Tufik, S., and Anderson, M.L. (2013, March). Effects of acute systemic administration of cannabidiol on sleep-wake cycle in rats. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 27(3), 312-6.
Fernández-López, D., Lizasoain, I., Moro, M. Á., & Martínez-Orgado, J. (2013). Cannabinoids: Well-Suited Candidates for the Treatment of Perinatal Brain Injury. Brain Sciences, 3(3), 1043–1059.
Harvey, B.S., Ohlsson, K.S., Mååg, J.L.V., Musgrave, I.F., and Smid, S.D. (2012, January). Contrasting protective effects of cannabinoids against oxidative stress and amyloid-β evoked neurotoxicity in vitro. NeuroToxicology, 33(1), 138-146.
Mishima, K., Hayakawa, K., Abe, K., Ikeda, T., Egashira, N., Iwasaki, K., and Fujiwara, M. (2005). Cannabidiol Prevents Cerebral Infarction Via a Serotonergic 5-Hydroxytryptamine1A Receptor–Dependent Mechanism. Stroke, 36, 1071-1076.
Lopez-Rodriguez, A.B., Siopi, E., Finn, D.P., Marchand-Leroux, C., Garcia-Segura, L.M., Jafarian-Tehrani, M.H., and Viveros, M.P. (2013). CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptor antagonists prevent minocycline-induced neuroprotection following traumatic brain injury in mice. Cerebral Cortex. Retrieved from http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/08/19/cercor.bht202.abstract.
Pazos, M.R., Cinquina, V., Gomez, A., Layunta, R., Santos, M., Fernandez-Ruiz, J., and Martinez-Orgado, J. (2012, October). Cannabidiol administration after hypoxia–ischemia to newborn rats reduces long-term brain injury and restores neurobehavioral function. Neuropharmacology, 63(5), 776-783.
Post-concussion syndrome. (2014, August 19). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-concussion-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20032705.
Russo, E.B., Guy, G.W., and Robson, P.J. (2007, August). Cannabis, pain, and sleep: lessons from therapeutic clinical trials of Sativex, a cannabis-based medicine. Chemistry & Biodiversity, 4(8), 1729-43.
Sagredo, O., Pazos, M.R., Satta, V., Ramos, J.A., Pertwee, R.G., and Fernandez-Ruiz, J. (2011, September). Neuroprotective effects of phytocannabinoid-based medicines in experimental models of Huntington’s disease. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 89(9), 1509-18.
Shohami, E., Cohen-Yeshurun, A., Magid, L., Algali, M., & Mechoulam, R. (2011). Endocannabinoids and traumatic brain injury. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), 1402–1410.
Nathaniel P. Morris is a resident physician at Stanford Hospital specializing in mental health. He recently penned a strongly worded op-ed for ScientificAmerican.com on the differences between how some in the medical community view marijuana and how the federal government regulates it.
"The federal government's scheduling of marijuana bears little relationship to actual patient care," he wrote in the essay published last week. "The notion that marijuana is more dangerous or prone to abuse than alcohol (not scheduled), cocaine (Schedule II), methamphetamine (Schedule II), or prescription opioids (Schedules II, III, and IV) doesn't reflect what we see in clinical medicine."
Here's Morris' money quote:
For most health care providers, marijuana is an afterthought.
We don't see cannabis overdoses. We don't order scans for cannabis-related brain abscesses. We don't treat cannabis-induced heart attacks. In medicine, marijuana use is often seen on par with tobacco or caffeine consumption — something we counsel patients about stopping or limiting, but nothing urgent to treat or immediately life-threatening.
He contrasts that with the terrible effects of alcohol he sees in the emergency room every day, like car crash victims and drunk patients choking on their own vomit. Morris points out that excessive drinking causes 88,000 deaths per year, according to the CDC.
[Every minute, someone gets arrested for marijuana possession in the U.S.]
The medical and research communities have known for some time that marijuana is one of the more benign substances you can put in your body relative to other illicit drugs. A recent longitudinal study found that chronic, long-term marijuana use is about as bad for your physical health as not flossing. Compared to alcohol, it's virtually impossible to overdose on marijuana alone. On a per-user basis, marijuana sends fewer people to the emergency room than alcohol or other drugs.
The scientific consensus was best captured in a 2010 study in the Lancet, which polled several dozen researchers working in addiction and drug policy. The researchers rated commonly used recreational drugs according to the harm they pose to individuals who use them, as well as the harm they pose to society as a whole. Here's what their results looked like:
The experts rated marijuana as less harmful to both users and to society than either tobacco or alcohol, or indeed than many other recreational drugs, such as heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine. Alcohol was, by far, the most socially harmful drug the committee rated, as well as one of the most harmful drugs to individual users.
Research like this is one reason surveys have shown a substantial majority of doctors support the use of medical marijuana. And although big medical groups, such as the American Medical Association, haven't shifted gears on marijuana, other groups, such as the California Medical Association, are now openly calling for marijuana legalization.
This year has also seen the formation of the nation's first doctor's group devoted to legalizing marijuana, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation. The group views marijuana legalization primarily as a public health issue.
None of this is to say, of course, that marijuana is completely "safe" or "harm-free." As with any drug, using too much weed can lead to dependency on it. And as with any other drug, marijuana can have particularly harmful effects on young, developing minds.
But the federal approach to marijuana has stood at odds with the science on the drug for decades. As far back as the 1970s, an expert report commissioned by Richard Nixon recommended that the federal government decriminalize marijuana use, given the drug's mild effects.
Nixon, of course, ignored the report's findings. In the years since, there have been hundreds of thousands of arrests for marijuana possession each year, people have lost their homes and their property over suspicion of marijuana use, and decades of racially biased policing tactics have decimated many minority communities.
-The Washington Post
Will Drabold @WillDrabold Aug. 16, 2016
The federal government cannot pay to prosecute state-sanctioned marijuana use, the federal court said The Department of Justice cannot spend money to prosecute people who violate federal drug laws but are in compliance with state medical marijuana laws, a federal court ruled on Tuesday. The ruling prevents federal law enforcement from funding prosecution of anyone who obeys a state’s medical marijuana laws.
The ruling comes after a 2014 Congressional law that prohibited the DOJ from interfering in state implementation of marijuana laws. That law led people being prosecuted by the federal government to seek the dismissal of their charges, arguing they were in compliance with state law. On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, sending their cases back to lower courts to determine if they were in compliance with state laws. Some of the defendants ran Los Angeles based marijuana stores and faced charges for distributing 100 marijuana plants.
Reuters reports the ruling comes as nine more states will decide whether to allow recreational marijuana use in November. Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska currently allow recreational marijuana use. Twenty-five states allow marijuana for medical use.
Tuesday’s decision by a three-judge panel was unanimous. But in its opinion, the court warned Congress could change its mind and again allow federal funding for prosecution of state-sanctioned marijuana use. “DOJ is currently prohibited from spending funds from specific appropriations acts for prosecutions of those who complied with state law,” the Court wrote. “But Congress could appropriate funds for such prosecutions tomorrow.”