Category Archives: Marijuana

Is Medical Marijuana Going To Create An Epidemic?

The debate about marijuana in general has been raging on for years. When it comes to medical marijuana, it goes even deeper. Frankly speaking, I’m all for legalizing marijuana across the board, but when it comes to medical uses, many of the applications they name have no proof. They have one case somebody observed where they think this person had good results, and that’s about it. This said, for other things, such as reducing nausea, it can be pretty darn effective. Throw that in with chemo, and amazing. It depends on what use you’re talking about.

A new study from the Public Health Institute found that 92% of Californians using medical marijuana believe that it helps with whatever their suffering happens to be. New York mayor Michael Blooomberg on the other hand calls it one of the great hoaxes of all time, and frankly the studies are questionable in many cases at best. Anybody ever heard of the placebo effect?

I say just legalize it. Why does everything have to be medical?

There are of course some snags that are bound to come up. The Colorado Supreme Court is deciding right now if employees can be fired for medical marijuana use, even though it is considered legal.

As far as the big picture of marijuana though, one myth has traveled around. Many of the medical claims are unfounded. However, there are also those who claim that medical marijuana legalization would lead to widespread use, and that is also a myth.

Our study contradicts commonly held beliefs that medical marijuana is being overused by healthy individuals. The results lend support to the idea that medical marijuana is used equally by many groups of people and is not exclusively used by any one specific group.

The study has found that about 5% of adults in California are medical marijuana users. White adults, especially between 18 and 24, are the most common users. But every age and racial group had at least a 2% usage rate. Chronic pain was the most common reason for medical marijuana use at 31%. Arthritis and cancer were at 11%, and migraines were at 8%.

Among doctors, a New England Journal of Medicine survey showed that 76% of doctors approve of medical marijuana. The study gathered information from doctors from around the world.

The Many Medical Benefits of Marijuana….Or Are There?

I don’t have a problem with legalizing marijuana. Actually, I would like to see marijuana legalized. My problem is with replacing science with conjecture and imagination. Yes, there are plenty of proposed benefits of marijuana, including benefits for kids with serious seizure issues. A special blend has been recently introduced, and Utah legislators are considering legalizing it just for kids who have said disorder to fight that problem. So what’s wrong with that?

Everything. The fact is that these kids are dying anyway. So in many cases, the burden of proof is essentially not there. Desperate parents are willing to try ANYTHING that they think might provide their kids a little relief. There is not a single study that shows that the extract they’ve created has any benefits, only a few story from parents who say oh this worked for my kid.

In addition, there are some who believe that marijuana actually shrinks cancer cells and tumors. Tread with caution here friends. Yes, there are plenty of people who have used marijuana to fight the nausea and other problems associated with chemo. However, again, the studies on the tumor shrinking benefits of marijuana just aren’t there.

There are some who say that at the very least, marijuana is not nearly as harmful as alcohol. However, this could potentially be because guess what, there are more people who use alcohol! There are currently studies that show that early marijuana use may stunt brain development, and in addition, marijuana may contribute to heart and lung issues. Then again, there are people who say that marijuana actually helps your lungs (there are no studies to prove this).

At most, there is generally a study here, a study there. There has been plenty of opportunity to conduct studies across the world. However, whether because of funding issues or because they simply failed to produce results, there are health conditions that just don’t have the backing. There is one issue that keeps coming up, in part because marijuana supporters keep saying there’s a study that proves this works. People claim that marijuana makes the symptoms of Crohn’s disease just disappear. However, there was one study, total. It has yet to be repeated, and it included a grand total of 20 men. Yes, you heard me right, 20. Half used marijuana while half did not. 9 out of 10 of the test group saw positive results, while 5 out of 10 of those in the placebo group saw the SAME results. Yes, it’s exciting to see people not suffering from Crohn’s disease, but at the same point, those results aren’t actually that exciting.

There is plenty to cover on marijuana, and frankly I support its recreational use. For adults, at most, I would see it being about as harmful as alcohol or possibly cigarettes. Those have both been legal for years. Medicinally, it may very well have benefits, but we don’t have the proof. We don’t have substantial science to back it up as of yet.

Will The Legalization of Marijuana Increase Obesity?

The Super Bowl will be a super pot event. That has been going around in various forms after finding out the two football teams involved are from cities that recently legalized marijuana. It’s exciting for a lot of people, and not just for medical purposes. These cities legalized pot for recreational use. The question for many is will marijuana use lead to weight gain? If you’ve ever been involved or heard about it, it tends to lead to the munchies for many people, and it makes sense.

Marijuana is made up in part by appetite stimulants known as cannabinoids. We have natural cannabinoids, which are called endocannabinoids, and they create feelings of both bliss and hunger, leading to those infamous munchies. When you get a higher concentration of these in the hypothalamus, especially all at once, what do you really think happens? Traditionally, the hypothalamus regulates appetite, hunger, and satiety. Marijauna just turns that around.

Of course, we all have our moments and days when we eat more. Frankly, there are those who have used marijuana regularly for various reasons (sometimes medical) and have not gained weight. So what happens here?

When inhaled (as happens when you smoke marijuana), the cannabinoids are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, quickly traveling up to the hypothalamus. The levels of THC rise after a few mere minutes, and they bind to the brain receptors, triggering that hunger and the munchies for fatty foods such as onion rings, fries, chips, and candy.

Of course, it’s not the same for everyone just as the high many experience is highly variable. However, the general rule is that there is an increase in the intake of fatty foods. Consumption of fatty foods means that you have to work harder to burn those calories off, and you could conceivably gain weight, especially being that marijuana does not naturally increase your metabolism.

Ironically, surveys of those who smoke marijuana on a regular basis shows that many are actually quite skinny, not fat as you might expect. The munchies associated with marijuana aren’t necessarily translating into that weight gain we would just expect. Why?

Because especially in states leaning toward legalization, it comes down to the fact that some people have medical problems. Some have Crohn’s disease, others have cancer, both of which would lead to problems digesting, holding down food, etc. Yes, you stabilize or gain weight when you can actually absorb food properly, but it would depend partly on how long that had been going on.

This isn’t to suggest that you would actually lose weight by smoking marijuana, just that some of the reasons why people smoke are not as predictable as you might think. Therefore, the results aren’t as automatic or predictable when it comes to obesity as you may think. Frankly, for some of these people, an increased appetite may actually be extremely healthy and even lifesaving.

Public health officials are of course watching states that have approved marijuana, and it will be interesting to see how things change. Will people gain weight? Will the rate of obesity rise? If you have no experience with pot, and you are afraid of gaining weight, chances are you may want to stay on the safe side, even if you live in a state that has now legalized it. The jury is still out in saying for sure though.

Marijuana Use During Pregnancy

It’s not all that surprising that part of the controversy surrounding marijuana has come back to marijuana use during pregnancy. Obviously, we know that you shouldn’t smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol while pregnant due to birth defects. I’ve heard about cases before where they say that your child is more likely to be dumb essentially if you smoke pot while pregnant, but is this really applicable?

Realistically, regardless of what is true or not true, the response has been strong. Studies have shown that regular marijuana use may reduce the executive functioning in children and teens, and this may well apply to fetuses as well.

This said, a brand new study has appeared, being sponsored by the NIH and published in Obstetrics and Gynecology. This study shows that marijuana use during pregnancy can increase the risk of stillbirth, which would be a fetus born dead at or after 20 weeks. This study included 59 hospitals nationwide, and all women involved had a blood test for cotinine (a product of nicotine). The umbilical cords were also tested for a number of different types of drugs.

The women were also asked a number of questions about their drug use during pregnancy. Women in this study who smoked marijuana during pregnancy were 2.3 times more likely to have their pregnancy end in stillbirth as compared to those who did not smoke marijuana during this time.Being that the United States has one of the highest stillbirth rates (6 per 1000 births) in the developed world, which includes 26,000 newborns every year, this is pretty significant.

At this point, I’m highly in favor of the legalization of marijuana, both for medical and recreational use. Like cigarettes, once you reach adulthood, realistically you should have the right to make certain decisions for yourself. Realistically, they already use cocaine for medicinal purposes, and at least from what I’m aware of, cocaine is considered a lot more dangerous. However, just like cigarettes and alcohol, chances are states should take the time to also educate women about the risks during pregnancy.

Can Marijuana Cause Permanent Brain Damage?

There are plenty of things to say about marijuana. Quite a few people enjoy it, and many are happy it is on its way to being legalized in many states. On the other hand, there are plenty of states that don’t want it, and fake marijuana (artificial) can be very damaging to your liver among other things. This said, there are horror stories of situations where it is likely they weren’t just getting marijuana. Cravings for fatty foods are common, but many also find that it can be medicinal.

When it comes to risks like lung cancer, it’s probably fair to say that it’s no more risky than cigarettes, maybe even less risky. However, determining the risk of marijuana when it comes to its effects on the brain and brain function has been quite controversial in many cases. The most recent research put out suggests that at the very least, marijuana isn’t good for adolescent brains.

Researchers at the University of Maryland looked at mice to see how they were impacted during adolescence when exposed to marijuana. Personally, I don’t see the point. As you may have noticed, mice aren’t humans, and many of the study results don’t carry over in general when they repeat studies in humans. This is why many cosmetic companies now brag about not testing on animals (whose skin again doesn’t react the same way as humans’ skin.

In this study, the adolescent mice were exposed to low doses of marijuana for 20 days. They were then returned to grow up alongside mice who had not been exposed to marijuana. When the mice reached adulthood, the researchers looked at cortical oscillations (neuron activity patterns in the brain). They found that mice exposed to marijuana had significantly altered cortical oscillations and impaired cognitive abilities. In other words, they weren’t as smart. When the adult mice were exposed to the same marijuana for the same time, the adult mice did not show any changes in their ability to perform basic cognitive behavioral tasks.

The obvious question comes up of why marijuana affected teens so much more than adults among mice. The researchers looked into this using brain examinations to try to find out the answer to just that question. Based on this research, it looks like the frontal cortex of the brain is still developing during your teen years/adolescence. Drugs including marijuana are more likely to affect the frontal cortex, and accordingly, it can do more damage during that time.

Frankly, I know a fair number of people who smoked marijuana when they were in their teens, and of course you can’t say what they would’ve been like had they not. Personality wise, I think the same things that drove them to smoke marijuana when younger made them automatically into the people they are now.

Marijuana For Your Health

Marijuana users have long complained about how safe marijuana is. In other words, marijuana isn’t nearly as dangerous as things that are legal, including many prescriptions, and yet it’s illegal. Why? They have long been bringing up the possible health benefits and medical uses of marijuana, and these days, it is no longer the drug of hippies, teen deadbeats, and musicians. It has gone quite mainstream, and there are many fights for its legalization. Some are winning the fight, even for recreational marijuana.

It’s going much further than most would expect though. A recent Pew study showed that the majority of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana. It may vary between regions, but seriously. The question many are bringing up more now than ever before is, is it safe? So what does it come down to?

Medical Benefits of Marijuana

Compared to many addictive prescriptions like Oxycotin for example, medical marijuana is considered by many to be less addictive and safer with more benefits. While only a couple states allow marijuana for recreational purposes, 18 states so far allow medical marijuana use for certain medical conditions, and many expect that the number will only grow. It has been used for cancer (to reduce nausea and increase appetite), rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS (appetite), depression, anxiety, insomnia, and Crohn’s disease to name a few. People who want marijuana legalized pretty much see it as a wonder drug.

Who is using it?

Like we said before, the demographic has been changing. Marijuana has become more mainstream. Sociologists at the University of California, Santa Cruz found that the average medical marijuana user was a white male seeking treatment for back pain, neck pain, anxiety, or insomnia. In other words, it’s the white male who wants to get high. Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project in Denver has predictably come out to dispel the idea that this is the norm for the country as a whole. It’s just something to talk about.

Pain

Used for more than 3000 years for pain, marijuana has been used most commonly for pain of all kinds. Think about it. Depression, anxiety, back pain, neck pain, Crohn’s disease, it runs the gamut of pain. Up until about 100 years ago, doctors have been known to prescribe medical marijuana for chronic pain. Studies have found that marijuana can significantly reduce pain, and when it is combined with opiates, it can even address chronic pain.

Businesses

As marijuana is legalized, businesses move in. Some still require prescriptions of course, but there are many shops opening up to take advantage. There are plenty of people running marijuana farms (especially in California). Sativex, derived from marijuana, has been used in 20 countries to treat multiple sclerosis symptoms. This could be a big business for a lot of people.

Will this result in less drunk driving?

The Institute of Labor conducted a study 2 years ago in states with medical marijuana laws. In those states, traffic fatalities decreased by nearly 10%, and many suggest that marijuana could be used to replace alcohol. So is this really a good thing? As it turns out, apparently yes. Again, the rate of car accidents decreased, meaning that chances are drunk driving went down replaced by marijuana users who may not have been driving in the first place. Another New Zealand study found that marijuana users were more likely to get into car crashes. Overall, especially with such conflicting information, it’s hard to say how or if it really impacts driving.

No Recent Studies

The last study conducted by the Institute of Medicine on marijuana was nearly 15 years ago. Even with medical marijuana becoming more prevalent, government research funding has dropped by nearly 1/3 since 2007, meaning no real research since then (definitely no big research) for medical marijuana research. We know the dangers of a lot of other substances, especially things like alcohol and tobacco, but we don’t really know as much about pot.

IQ and Effects on the Brain

A study last fall in New Zealand claimed to show definite proof that marijuana use during the teen years lowers IQ. They said that it alters how information is processed in the hippocampus. This led a researcher in Norway to challenge the idea, saying that the lower IQ levels could be based on socioeconomic factors, not marijuana use.

Lungs

Of course, this is one of the things that came into my head. You’re smoking pot just as you would smoke tobacco in many cases. There are some who would say that the chemicals in cigarettes are what really damage your lungs, but is it true? According to one expert, We know smoking anything is bad for your health, so of course regular use leads to the same problems as tobacco. According to this same expert, marijuana may have 3-4 times the tar and 50% more carcinogens than tobacco, something marijuana proponents would obviously contest. As you can imagine though, people don’t generally smoke 5 packs a day of rolled marijuana.

Overall

Do you really want to smoke marijuana? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on the person of course. There are many things to consider when it comes to marijuana, and there are plenty of arguments being made. However, with the limited research and limited funding, it will take more time and more money to really figure out what the real risks and effects are.

Marijuana Not a Priority for Obama

obama-potI could’ve told him this years ago. Who cares about medical marijuana users and growers who are doing it legally in states that allow limited amounts? Who cares about those who are providing for the cancer patients who are using pot to take the edge off? I don’t. Obama technically never said he was going to go easy on pot users, but now he is saying, We’ve got bigger fish to fry. If they’re not breaking the laws, exporting it to other states, etc, duh.

Maybe he’s trying to make nice with state rights. That would make some sense, and hopefully he’s serious when he says, It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal. Yes President Obama, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of dealers and addicts using other, more dangerous drugs that are not legal anywhere. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of violent dealers and addicts, etc. elsewhere.

He isn’t changing too many things. According to federal law, marijuana is still classified under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I narcotic. It is not technically a narcotic, but it’s still grouped with heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy, which may sound familiar as they have been known to be highly addictive and lead to death.

President Obama does not support widespread legalization, but he’s not going to ask the Supreme Court to overrule state law in the given states.He has however asked Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department to look over the legal questions with state and federal drug laws.

Obama has focused on the impact on our young people, and honestly, a lot of people would question his harsh stance considering he once smoked pot, and he seems to be just fine. This is a history he has done his best to downplay as a youthful indiscretion.

If you’re a recreational user or a grower in states where it is legal, you should know that the government has not stopped prosecuting people like you. The Justice Department is still conducting raids on marijuana growers and providers. There is no “carte blanche” policy. At this point, the best thing to do is follow all state laws and hope for the best if you’re going to be in the business.

Realistically, were marijuana to be legalized nationwide, it would mean lower and controlled pricing. It would mean purer forms guaranteed as opposed to the questionable street forms we often see, and many would require a prescription to get it. Experts say it would eliminate cartels and reduce violence associated with that particular drug, which would by proxy improve neighborhoods and communities.

I agree that we need to go after cartels and others who are violent who are ruining our neighborhoods, especially lower income neighborhoods. We need to protect our communities, but wouldn’t legalizing marijuana do the job more effectively? Marijuana on its own isn’t exactly associated with violent outbursts. In fact, many would say it’s just the opposite. It seems to have a somewhat calming effect.

With all of the health related studies coming in, the truth is medical marijuana has many possibilities. Unlike legal prescription amphetamines for example, it does not have the same side effects or serious medical dangers. It’s a social stigma that stops us. Americans remain divided, but the fact that marijuana use ends in fewer deaths per year even than legal alcohol is affecting popular thought.

18 states are currently allowing medical marijuana when specifically prescribed by a doctor. It can be used for anything from cancer (reducing nausea, etc) to fighting arthritis and Crohn’s disease. Many studies are still in their preliminary stages, but with all of this promise, why not at the very least conduct more studies and consider the options of legalizing it. It should also be noted that 55% of Americans (an obvious majority) do support the legalization of marijuana nationwide.