A brain-rotting addiction

A reluctant pothead’s 10-year habit and her thoughts as Canada moves to legalize marijuana
By Elianna Lev, Daily Brew, Dec. 22, 2015
I am a reluctant pothead.

Despite getting stoned on most days for the last 10 years, it is not a habit I approach with Marc Emery levels of defiance. I’ve come to begrudgingly accept that I have no willpower when it comes to weed — if I know there’s a stash in the vicinity, it will be on my mind until it gets into my lungs. Edibles don’t hold the same appeal and neither does vaping. For me, it’s the rolling and the smoke that’s a huge part of the allure and satisfaction.

It started in July 2005 when I was struggling to emotionally move on from an unresolved breakup with my common-law boyfriend. My hostile thoughts were on a constant loop and crying on a daily basis had become routine. So when a roommate gifted me with a joint, I smoked it without hesitation. For the first time in months, things immediately felt better. The bad thoughts I had about my ex dissipated as quickly as the smoke I exhaled.

From there on in, marijuana became my crutch. I’d leave parties early so I could go home and get stoned alone. At my 30th birthday bash, I couldn’t fully relax and enjoy myself until I’d taken a bong hit. When I took an evening poetry class, I intended to attend sober, but didn’t. As a freelance writer, I’m constantly in my head. When I’m done my work, I rely on pot to shift things so I feel differently than I have all day.

I’ve certainly worked up a tolerance with it, too. While it used to inspire a flood of ideas and good feelings, now, it’s mostly just a customary shift in consciousness. My thoughts will go deeper, but rarely do they lead to anything inspiring. Within an hour or so, I will turn into a burnt out and blurry version of myself..... click "Read More" below to continue.....


Worse than cigarettes

(A published letter in the National Post, 10/20/2015)...

High cost of pot  
Re: Misleading The Public On The Benefits Of Legalization, Ed Gogek, Oct. 15.
Those who support the legalization of marijuana frequently ignore the serious and harmful consequences to users. The cannabis plant contains more than 421 chemicals, of which 61 are cannabinoids. More than 2,000 compounds are produced by pyrolysis during smoking of cannabis, including carcinogens.

The potency of marijuana is steadily increasing and the user is consuming an ill-defined mixture of substances. In 2009, marijuana was involved in 376,467 emergency-room visits in the U.S -- about 1,000 a day. Marijuana is found in the blood or urine of 33 per cent of drivers involved in fatal car crashes. It also leads to nine per cent addiction by users and in young users, alters brain development, lowers IQs, results in poorer educational outcomes and diminished lifetime achievements.

Marijuana exacts heavy costs on the user particularly and society generally.

Morris Givner, Halifax.

Another letter:
Pot advocates refuse to see how drug will harm society


The rotting of Colorado by pot

Think pot is benign? It’s not what Colorado has learned
By Gordon Clark, The Province, 29 Jun 2015
The nonsense and outright lies that the cannabis quacks profess in using the red herring of “medical” marijuana as a wedge issue toward their ultimate goal of fully legal weed can be divided into two groups of assertions.

In one are their various claims that marijuana is an all-natural wonder drug that can treat and cure a long list of ailments. Scientists and doctors tell us that’s crap. With very few exceptions, studies show that marijuana is useless to treat disease and in most cases where it works, there are other better treatments.

The second group of arguments the pot lobby used to justify giving them freer access to marijuana is to claim that liberal cannabis laws do not harm society — in fact, they claim, it makes the world a better place.

Don’t try telling that to Thomas Gorman, director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a U.S. federal drug-enforcement program that co-ordinates local, state and federal police in enforcing drug laws.

In a presentation to a recent conference on drug and alcohol abuse in Idaho attended by Doug Rogers, a substance-abuse prevention counsellor with the Vernon School District, Gorman listed a long list of social woes that have exploded in Colorado since that state first allowed medical marijuana in 2000, saw its use grow exponentially in 2009 after a court ruling and then legalized recreational marijuana in 2012.

As a result, Gorman said, Colorado now has 866 medical-marijuana centres and recreational pot shops compared with 405 Starbucks outlets. Denver alone has 198 medicalmarijuana centres compared with 117 real pharmacies.

Here are some other fun facts from Colorado for the next time someone tells you that massively expanding access to marijuana has no negative consequences on society:

The percentage of fatal motorvehicle accidents in Colorado where the driver tested positive for marijuana rose to 16.5 per cent in 2012 from 6.9 per cent in 2006, according to the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Homeless shelters experienced a 25- to 500-per-cent increase in clients after pot was legalized, Gorman said. As well, the number of crimes in Denver climbed by 12.3 per cent from 2012 to 2014 after pot became legal.

Despite rules that limit pot sales to those 21 and older, kids in Colorado have also been adversely affected. In Colorado, 11.2 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds reported having used pot in the past month in 2013, compared with 8.3 per cent in 2006-08 and also compared with the 2013 national average of 7.2 per cent.

And don’t think that easier access to pot in Colorado didn’t hurt kids.

Gorman noted that, according to the Colorado Department of Education, the state experienced a 34-per-cent increase in drug-related suspensions and expulsions from school from the years before pot laws were liberalized compared with after. The percentage of drug-related school suspensions, which was a constant three per cent of all suspensions after pot commercialization was allowed in 2009, has grown every year since, hitting 6.4 per cent in the 2013-14 school year.

The same was true for school expulsions involving drugs. Before 2009, the percentage of expulsions involving drugs was about 25 per cent, but it climbed immediately after pot laws were relaxed and hit 42 per cent of all school expulsions in 2013-14.

So much for the claim that we can keep pot out of the hands of teenagers by making it legal.

Gorman’s agency listed other consequences in another report in August about mile-high Colorado:

From 2011 through 2013, there was a 57-per-cent increase in potrelated emergency-room visits.

Marijuana-related exposures for children five years old and less on average increased 268 per cent from 2006-09 to 2010-13.

The number of pets poisoned from ingesting marijuana increased fourfold from 2008 to 2014.

As I’ve said many times, I don’t care if adults want to smoke dope and I don’t want people going to jail for simple possession. But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking pot is benign or the fabulous lifestyle choice some people claim.

It’s telling that having experienced the most liberal state pot laws in the U.S., that the majority of counties and cities in Colorado have banned recreational marijuana businesses. They may know something it will take us a couple of years to learn.
Gordon Clark is the editorial pages editor and a columnist.


Pot endangers children

Vancouver's top doctor defends edible pot ban
By Laura Kane, The Canadian Press, June 25, 2015
VANCOUVER – Vancouver’s top doctor is defending the city’s decision to ban edible pot products such as brownies and cookies, pointing to data that shows child poisonings have skyrocketed by 600 per cent in U.S. states where marijuana is legal.

Lawmakers south of the border have grappled with how to regulate the products. In Washington, nearly half of marijuana poisoning calls last year involved children, while Colorado only recently introduced stricter requirements for packaging, potency and contents.

Dr. Patricia Daly, Vancouver Coastal Health chief medical officer, said the city looked closely at the experiences of U.S. states before banning edible marijuana from stores.

“The concern is the marketing and retail sale of products that look exactly like candies and baked goods, and the poisonings that we know might occur in children,” she said. “This is a really early warning signal in the United States. We don’t want to see that happen here.”

Vancouver city council voted on Wednesday to impose regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries, institute a licence fee and enforce strict location requirements. Edible pot products will now be banned from stores, sparking criticism from advocates who say the move violates a recent Supreme Court decision.

Daly pointed to a recent study in Clinical Pediatrics, which found that the rate of marijuana poisonings among children five years of age and younger has increased by 610 per cent between 2006 and 2013 in states that legalized medical marijuana before 2000.

She said childproof containers and labelling has not prevented such poisonings, which can cause kids to stop breathing, suffer seizures and even become comatose.

In Washington, labels on pot products can’t use cartoon characters or bright colours, and each standardized 10-milligram serving of THC must be marked on the package. Edibles are limited to products that have a long shelf life, such as brownies, cookies and candies.

Still, Dr. Alexander Garrard of the Washington Poison Centre said calls about marijuana poisonings caused by edibles have tripled in the last decade. There were 245 calls last year, of which 108 were children, he said.

“I think what Vancouver has done is very forward. Some people would say it’s maybe a little bit radical. But that’s what we’re seeing — the majority of our cases are on edibles.”

In Colorado, two suicides and a murder committed by people who consumed edible pot products have grabbed headlines in the past two years. New regulations introduced in February require more explicit warnings and THC contents on labels, and provide incentives for companies to produce lower-potency products.


In some teens, pot will ‘kill your dreams,’ counsellor says

(The following letter was published in The Province on 6/26/2015)... 

"Gordon Clark wrote an excellent column in Monday’s paper. The pro-marijuana-side argument is full of partial truths and, in some cases, untruths.

I work in five secondary schools and have seen first-hand the trouble regular marijuana use causes our youth. Pot may not kill you, but it will kill your dreams.

Last month, I attended a conference on drug and alcohol abuse in Boise, Idaho. Leaders from both the state and school system in Colorado, which legalized marijuana in 2012, presented, and the impact from legal, recreational marijuana has been significant on kids, especially kids in school.

Thanks for publishing the column; I’m sure the pushback has been significant."
-- Doug Rogers, School District 22, Vernon
(see Gordon Clark's column below)

Science versus pot religion

Medical pot proponents are blowing smoke
By Gordon Clark, The Province, June 24, 2015 • Section: Opinion
With the exception of “moderate-quality” evidence that pot controls pain and spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis, the meta-analysis of 79 studies involving more than 6,000 patients published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that there is little evidence that marijuana is effective for a host of ailments pot proponents often claim it can treat....

Those included “nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, weight gain in HIV infection, sleep disorders and Tourette syndrome.” You may as well take a sugar tablet.

The report also found that using marijuana caused a host of adverse events, including “dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, somnolence, euphoria, vomiting, disorientation, drowsiness, confusion, loss of balance and hallucination.”.....click "Read More" below to continue.....


Scientific proofs not required for "Medical Marijuana" claims

(The following letter was published in The Province, June 24, 2015)...
Vancouver failing to consider harms of using marijuana
There was such a public outcry over yoga on a bridge that the premier was “compelled” to cancel it and yet Vancouver city manager Penny Ballem’s plan to license illegal pot shops goes unchallenged by our provincial leaders.

The travesty taking place at Vancouver City Hall should have every parent, educator, business owner, non-pot user, physician, law-enforcement officer and addictions councillor up in arms, as well as the premier and the education minister.

Why the lack of response? There has been a consorted effort to lull the public with rhetoric of “regulate” and “patients’ interests” and a sorry lack of discussion over the impact of commercialization of a substance that has been proven not safe for human consumption. What is missing is the evidence of science.

The gross omission of the risks of harms associated with the use of marijuana for anyone at any age is the offence that should cost Ballem her job, along with her admission that proximity guidelines for daycares were not included in her licensing plan to ease the burden on the marijuana sector in adhering to the rules. The facts:

In September 2009, marijuana smoke was added to the list of compounds known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity by the California Environmental Protection Agency and Environmental Health Hazard Office.

There are over 300 studies about the cell damage done by marijuana. Second-hand marijuana smoke contains many of the same toxins and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke. Second-hand smoke kills 600,000 worldwide annually.

Enough said. Write MayorandCouncil@Vancouver.ca today.

Pamela McColl, Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada, Vancouver


Pot businesses magnet to crimes

Ram raiders hit two Vancouver pot dispensaries in weekend looting spree
By Nick Eagland, The Province May 30, 2015
A wave of thefts has hit Vancouver pot businesses over the past two weeks, including two apparent ram-raiding attempts on medical marijuana dispensaries early Saturday.....click "Read More" below to continue.....


Out-of-control medical pot claims

Pot adverts contravene Criminal Code, foes say
LETTER TO OTTAWA: Group says false advertising threat to safety
GORDON McINTYRE , The Province, 14 May 2015

Pamela McColl thinks she’s found a way to nail the scores of marijuana dispensaries that have opened in Vancouver, if only she could find an agency to go along.

The issue is a hot potato, with regulatory bodies, federal departments, police forces and city halls only too happy to pass it along.

Health Canada made it clear to The Province earlier this week that such dispensaries are illegal under the Food and Drugs Act, as is their advertising on radio and in print.

But Health Canada said it can only enforce advertising rules, not shut down the dispensaries.

“(But) I was told by Health Canada they do not look after illegal operations, only the licensees,” McColl said.

In frustration, McColl, a director with Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada, has turned to federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay, whose department oversees the Competition Bureau.

“It is our organization’s view that recent advertising of illegal marijuana retail operations have been running in Vancouver newspapers and radio stations contravening Canada’s Criminal Code, under which advertising regulations are governed,” she wrote MacKay.

By law, only licensed industrial growers — there are six in B.C. — can sell medicinal marijuana, and promotion of their products is strictly limited to name, strength and price.

Yet mosey into many street-front dispensaries and you’d be informed cannabis can apparently heal more ills than snake oil and echinacea combined.

“Claims are being made in regards to marijuana as a medicine that cannot be substantiated and which amount to false, misleading and deceptive advertising,” McColl said. “Such advertising and claims pose a serious threat to public safety.”

With marijuana retail stores popping up like Starbucks coffee houses, McColl said there are now 91 dispensaries in Vancouver.

There are many concerns, not the least being the lack of child-proofing pot packages and marketing pot to teens, as some tobacco companies have done, she said.

“And our concern is, if selling marijuana becomes normal and commercial, Big Pot would get control, just like Big Tobacco. If the big guys get in, we’ll never get rid of them.”


Galore of harms of pot

‘Medicinal’ pot shops multiply in Vancouver despite health concerns
MARK HUME, The Globe and Mail, May. 03 2015
The effectiveness of marijuana in suppressing chronic pain, reducing nausea in chemotherapy patients and controlling muscle spasms, among other things, has allowed proponents to label the narcotic as a medicine.

That branding is now paying dividends for drug retailers in Vancouver, where a growing number of pot shops are opening, billing themselves as “medical marijuana dispensaries.”

But marijuana is not a medicine, it is not approved by Health Canada and the way research is trending, it will never get that coveted designation.

Across Canada, doctors may prescribe it for cancer patients and others with pain when conventional therapeutic options fail. But medical professional organizations such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. are struggling with how to regulate it, because doctors know that marijuana use comes with health risks.

While medical professionals are carefully reflecting on the health implications of more liberal marijuana laws, however, dope retail stores are opening up in Vancouver like saloons in a gold-rush town. A few months ago there were 20; now there are more than 80.

The City of Vancouver is about to hold public hearings into the regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries, but Mayor Gregor Robertson makes it sound as though the big concern is just coming up with a new class of business licence to control where the outlets are located.

“As a city, we just can’t let these shops be everywhere all over town,” he said recently. “And certainly we don’t want them close to schools.”

No, we certainly don’t, and here’s why: Medical research is increasingly indicating marijuana use can be damaging to your health, especially if you are young.

A study published April 16 in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that even moderate use of marijuana can lead to changes in the brain. The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to compare the brains of 18- to 25-year-olds.

“The nucleus accumbens – a brain region known to be involved in reward processing – was larger and altered in its shape and structure in the marijuana users compared [with] non-users,” EurekAlert!, an online science news service, reported in describing the study.

In 2013, Northwestern Medicine published a study in Schizophrenia Bulletin stating that teens who were heavy marijuana users (smoking daily for three years) showed brain abnormalities in which structures related to memory shrank and collapsed.

A 2009 study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that being a marijuana smoker was associated with a 70-per-cent increased risk of testicular cancer and “the elevated risk … was associated with marijuana use prior to age 18.” It was suspected that boys who smoked during puberty were especially at risk.

In April, a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association reported that marijuana use was associated with “cardiovascular complications” among young and middle-aged adults in France. We’re talking here about 34-year-olds having heart attacks.

“The general public thinks marijuana is harmless, but information revealing the potential health dangers of marijuana use needs to be disseminated to the public, policymakers and health-care providers,” Dr. Emilie Jouanjus, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

In 2009, the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology published a study that said marijuana smoke caused more damage to cells and DNA than tobacco smoke. And last November, preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions stated that breathing second-hand marijuana smoke can be just as damaging to your heart and blood vessels as second-hand cigarette smoke.

Marijuana has beneficial uses, as patients who use it to treat chronic pain can attest, but there are big health risks, too, and that fact shouldn’t be obscured by a storefront sign that claims a drug shop is a medical dispensary.


Pot smokers more prone to false memories: Study

MRI scans showed weed smokers had lower levels of activation in portions of the brain linked to memory and recall.
By Brooks Hays | April 21, 2015, UPI.com
BARCELONA, Spain, April 21 (UPI) -- Stoners don't make for good eye witnesses. According to new research, their accounts are more likely to be plagued by false memories.

Previous research has shown that long-term cannabis use can impair a person's short- and long-term memory. But the latest study -- published in the Journal of Molecular Biology -- proves pot smokers are more likely to supplement their faulty memory with false ones. Researchers proved as much using word games to test smokers' memory skills.

Study participants were first shown lists of words and asked to memorize them. After a few minutes, the participants were shown the original words, as well as new words (some semantically related, others not), and asked to identify which belonged to the original list.

Chronic cannabis users were more likely than their pot-free peers to falsely identify semantically related new words as belonging to the original list.

Researchers also coupled their semantic word quiz with real-time brain scans. The imaging showed weed smokers had lower levels of activation in portions of the brain linked to memory and recall.

"These findings indicate that cannabis users have an increased susceptibility to memory distortions even when abstinent and drug-free, suggesting a long-lasting compromise of memory and cognitive control mechanisms involved in reality monitoring," researchers wrote in their newly published paper.

A study published earlier this year by researchers at Northwestern Medicine showed adults who had smoked weed regularly in their teens were more likely to have abnormal hippocampus and exhibit memory problems.

"The memory processes that appear to be affected by cannabis are ones that we use every day to solve common problems and to sustain our relationships with friends and family," said Dr. John Csernansky, a behavioral scientist at Northwestern.


Teens who smoke pot early and often risk lowering their IQs, Substance Abuse Centre says

Elizabeth Payne, Postmedia News | April 20, 2015
Teens who start smoking marijuana early and do so frequently risk lowering their IQ scores, according to research from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, which found evidence that early and frequent cannabis use can alter the structure of the developing brain.

The research, part of a larger study due out in June, was released Monday — on April 20 — a day that has become a counterculture holiday to celebrate marijuana, as part of a bid to raise awareness about the negative effects of marijuana use among adolescents.

In past years, thousands of people, the majority teenagers and young adults, have flocked to Parliament Hill on April 20 to smoke marijuana. Similar rallies take place around the world.

While use of marijuana among Canadian teens and adults has decreased in recent years, it remains the most commonly used illegal drug among Canadian youth — at about three times the rate of adults. And Canadian youth are the top users of cannabis in the developed world, according to a 2013 UNICEF report......click "Read More" below to continue.....


Medical marijuana dispensaries lull teens, parents into thinking it’s harmless, say expert

By Erin Ellis, Vancouver Sun,  April 13, 2015
Medical marijuana shops popping up all over Metro Vancouver are giving parents and their children the wrong impression about weed, says an addictions specialist.

“Using the term ‘medical’ is giving a false impression to people — parents and kids,” says Dr. Siavash Jafari, who works out of several Vancouver Coastal Health clinics in Vancouver and also the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction.

Photo by: Mark van Manen
“To say ‘medical’ means it is supported by the medical community. It is not. That’s a misconception among the public.” he says.

“Parents feel that it’s not dangerous so they don’t talk to their kids about it.”

The scientific evidence is simply not there for most health claims made by dispensaries, he says, with the exception of its use for patients in palliative care.

Jafari says he routinely talks to patients with health problems who don’t even think to mention how much marijuana they smoke — or how often — because they have been convinced that it’s a natural, harmless herb.

“They don’t even consider the health issues. It affects them from brain to toe.”

Far less addictive than heroin or tobacco, notes Jafari, studies show 10 per cent of people who use it regularly will become dependent on it. Problems increase with the amount consumed over time, he added, with little risk to someone who smokes weed once or twice a year, for instance.

Confusion over what’s safe and what’s not is the topic of a public forum being held Tuesday for parents and teenagers. It is sponsored by the Vancouver school board, Vancouver Coastal Health and SACY, the school board’s substance use prevention initiative.

The forum was prompted by the lack of information for parents and because one of the largest celebrations of cannabis culture in North America takes place outside the Vancouver Art Gallery every April 20: the 4/20 “smoke out.”

Panelist Joy Johnson, vice-president of research at Simon Fraser University, says teenagers want to hear factual information about marijuana but often have a hard time finding it. First off, it’s still illegal — a fact that gets lost as dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries have opened across the city in the last year.

“I’ll be frank, we’ve lost our credibility because young people go home and see their parents smoking it,” says Johnson.

The ‘just-say-no’ approach doesn’t work, she says, and should be replaced with a rational conversation about the effect cannabis can have on the human brain, which continues to develop into the early 20s.

“We’ve had pretty good public health messaging in terms of alcohol consumption. We tell kids not to drink and drive, to not binge drink, to watch the amount they’re drinking. I don’t think we’ve had very good messaging about marijuana, in part because we don’t have a lot of great evidence. But one of the things we do know is that you should delay use because of brain development.”

A study by researchers from Harvard Medical School published this month concluded that participants who started smoking marijuana regularly before the age of 16 had lower scores on a test used to determine brain damage than subjects who started later and people who had never smoked.

Teens and Cannabis, a free public forum, will be held Tuesday from 7-9 p.m. in the auditorium of Vancouver Technical Secondary School at 2600 East Broadway.
Related topic...

The over-selling of ‘medical’ marijuana

School's principal office fears to offend potheads

Surrey student says anti-pot T-shirt got him and two others hauled into vice-principal’s office
By Cassidy Olivier, The Province, April 14, 2015
High school student Connor Fesenmaier says he’s unsure why school administrators at Surrey’s Princess Margaret secondary asked him to consider removing the anti-pot T-shirt he wore to classes on Monday, given the anti-drug message the school preaches.

The 18-year-old, his twin brother Duncan and a friend wore shirts featuring a crossed-out marijuana leaf to promote their opposition to the legalization and overall use of pot. The teens are involved in Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada, a non-profit group focused on the science of marijuana use, he explained.

Fesenmaier said they were individually pulled into the vice-principal’s office as soon as they entered the school Monday morning.

Each was told to consider removing or covering up the shirts because the message could be confusing to the younger students, said Fesenmaier.

“I completely disagree with that,” Fesenmaier told the Province.

“I have not had a single person misinterpret it yet. Either someone is giving me a hate stare, because they are against me supporting (the anti-legalization movement) or they pat me on the back. I’ve never seen anyone not know that the anti-symbol is.”

Fesenmaier said all three declined the request, at which point they were allowed to leave and return to classes unpunished.

Doug Strachan, spokesman for the Surrey School District, described the conversation with the students as “mature.”

“The fundamental principle is that there was no ban,” Strachan said.

“It certainly appears with the amount of media calls and some distribution of statement that the shirts were banned, that there certainly was a desire to get media attention for something.”

Fesenmaier has been involved with the anti-pot movement for several years. He said he’s particularly troubled by the “whole medical marijuana aspect” of the debate, as it creates the “illusion” that pot is a medicine, not an illegal drug.

He plans on protesting next week’s so-called annual 4/20 “smoke out” at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

“It’s only damaged the whole outlook on how kids look at marijuana,” he said. “They tend to use it and say ‘Hey man, it’s only medicine, what’s the worst it can do?’

“And that is a terrible thing for a kid to be confused with.”

The teen said he remains confused by the school’s request.

“I see kids walking around the school with marijuana paraphernalia,” he said

“Shirts with marijuana leaves on them, backpacks with marijuana leaves on them, cellphone cases with marijuana leaves on them.

“And I’ve never seen those kids have their items confiscated or asked to remove or replace them with something else.”

Wild claims from "medical marijuana" dispensaries

The over-selling of ‘medical’ marijuana

(One of the more creative signs raises high expectations outside a "medicinal dispensary" at Broadway near Alma, which calls itself the Cannabis Cellar. Just don't mention studies pointing to addiction and lower IQs.)
Even though researchers have found benefits to marijuana use for some ailments, Metro Vancouver’s 60 new marijuana outlets are making exaggerated, to put it politely, claims about the medicinal value of their pot, which a strong story in The Vancouver Sun shows is often obtained illegally.

The Metro Vancouver medical marijuana scene is becoming surreal — with dispensary signs suggesting pot can cure, heal or otherwise be the salvation of people struggling with everything from cancer to psoriasis, anxiety to multiple sclerosis, chronic pain to depression. ....click "Read More" below to continue....


Decline of America: legalizing drug addiction and mental harms for revenues

Hash explosions prompt proposed changes in legal pot states
DENVER (AP) — Alarmed by a rash of explosions and injuries caused when amateurs make hash, lawmakers in Colorado and Washington are considering spelling out what's allowed when it comes to making the concentrated marijuana at home.

The proposals came after an increase in home fires and blasts linked to homemade hash, concentrated marijuana that can be inhaled or eaten.

In Colorado, at least 30 people were injured last year in 32 butane explosions involving hash oil — nearly three times the number reported throughout 2013, according to officials with the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a state-federal enforcement program......click "Read More" below to continue.....


Pot joins alcohol on the roads

More B.C. drivers using pot
1 Apr 2015, 24 Hours Vancouver
Research finds more drivers are under the influence of cannabis on B.C. roads
More B.C. drivers are behind the wheel while under the influence of cannabis. Anarticle in the April issue of the BC Medical Journal points to a recently-released 2012 study that found cannabis in 5.4% of drivers, compared to 4.6% in 2008.

Even in 2008, an article in the journal stated, “The rate of cannabis use in B.C. drivers is particularly high.”

Research of injured drivers from the BC Trauma Centre found “12.6% of (injured) drivers tested positive for cannabis metabolites, and 7.3% were positive for THC, indicating recent use.” They also found, “Cannabis was more common in males and in drivers younger than 30 years of age.” A limousine driver was at Vancouver City Hall Tuesday morning, appealing a decision to have his permit revoked after a police officer found cannabis in the limo and determined hewas too impaired to operate the vehicle. The driver, Mohammed Samrat Showkat, was pulled over after officers alleged the vehicle was swerving, speeding and changing lanes without signaling. The officer called as a witness testified that she saw and smelled cannabis in the limo and the drivers eyes had an “overall pink hue ... distinctive to marijuana.”

She said she then performed several tests to determine his level of intoxication. These included having him walk in a straight line while counting his steps.

“While he was counting, he became very confused,” she said, adding that he walked with his arms raised, “that appeared to be for balance.” She also tested his ability to track an object with his eyes and how long he could stand on one foot —“he put his foot down after count one,” she said.

The driver’s appeal was denied Tuesday afternoon.

Vancouver Police Chief Const. Jim Chu spoke out Tuesday about a November arrest, also involving an allegedly impaired driver, whichwas caught on video.

“Marijuana smoke billowing from the car made the cause of that impairment obvious,” he said. “In order to make the arrest, force became necessary when the person refused to exit the vehicle, which is understandable since he allegedly knew what would be found in his car if he did.”

The video, available on YouTube, has prompted criticism of the officer smashing the car window. Chu said the officer was “criticized for doing his job.”

Chuck Varabioff, director of the BC Pain Society — an illegal dispensary that sells marijuana for medical use — said there are some types of marijuana that are safe to use while driving.

“The only marijuana that would be completely safe to use while driving would be a CBD (Cannabidiol) strain without THC,” he said.

Since people metabolize drugs at more diverse rates than alcohol, there are no specified generic amounts for how much marijuana is safe to use before getting behind the wheel. According to the BC Medical Journal, “Cannabis slows reaction times, causes weaving, creates difficulty maintaining a constant speed, and predisposes to distraction,” and “Evidence suggests that acute cannabis use approximately doubles the risk of crashing.”

Doctors are recommending governments work together to establish better screening tools and improve legislation around drug-impaired drivers.
Related topic:
Pot-smoking drivers prompt warning from Vancouver ER doctor


Stinking grow-ops are disruptive and troublesome to neighbors

Court ruling could send private marijuana grow-ops up in smoke
Dakshana Bascaramurty, The Globe and Mail, Mar. 17, 2015
There were days when David Kralik would arrive at his landscaping and snow-removal business in Mississauga and stay just a few minutes – the heady odour of marijuana from the grow-op next door was too powerful.

“You open the door to come in, go into my office, and I just sit down, fire up the computer and – ” He lets out an expletive. “And you just leave. It’s that bad.”

Mr. Kralik couldn’t call the police to complain about the grow-op, or another in the same building, because they’re both legal and under federal jurisdiction.

Across the country, the operators of private but legal medical marijuana grow-ops have drawn the ire of their neighbours. Mr. Kralik says he may have to move out if things don’t improve; others have complained that living or working next to a grow-op has negatively affected their business and property values.....click "Read More" below to continue...


Teen pot smokers have poor long-term memory later on: Study

24 Hours Vancouver, 3 Mar 2015 -- QMI AGENCY
People who smoke lots of pot in their teens have poor long-term memory as adults, a new study suggests. Researchers from Northwestern University Chicago linked the poorin memory performance of who smoked marithose juana daily for about three years during their teens to an oddly shaped hippocampus, part of the brain responthe sible for memory.

 The study found the longer a person smoked pot as a teen, the more abnormal that part of the brain was when they were an adult. “The memory processes that appear to be affected by cannabis are ones that we every day to solve comuse problems and to susmon tain our relationships with friends and family,” senior author Dr. John Csernansky said in a press release. The researchers found former marijuana smokers 18% worse on longscored term memory tests than those who never used the drug during their teens.

The study featured 97 participants, including a group who began smoking pot between 16 and 17 years old and did so for at least three years, as well people who never used marijuana, and schizophrenia sufferers who had smoked pot as teens and others who hadn’t.

At the time of the study, the former teen pot smokers hadn’t used it for about two years and were in their early 20s.

The participants took a memory test that involved listening to a series of stories for one minute. They were asked to remember as much as possible 20 to 30 minutes later. The study found young adults with schizophrenia who abused cannabis as teens performed about 26% worse on memory tests than adults with schizoyoung phrenia who never abused it.

The researchers said a longitudinal study is required definitively show if marito juana is responsible for the differences in the brain and memory.

"It is possible that the abnormal brain structures reveal a pre-existing vulnerreveal ability to marijuana abuse,” lead study author Matthew Smith said. “But evidence the longer the particithat were abusing marijuana, the greater the differences in hippocampus shape suggests marijuana may be the cause.”

The study was published Thursday in the journal Hippocampus .
Source: http://eedition.vancouver.24hrs.ca/epaper/viewer.aspx

 Related topic:
Marijuana Re-Shapes Brains of Users, Study Claims


Pot still harmful as ever

[Although the following article is several years old, it's as relevant and truthful as ever, in light of Aaron Fernandez; Robert Durst; Eddie Routh (killer of "American Sniper"); Columbine killers; Florida cannibal; Rob Ford; Amanda Bynes; etc.]

What we know about marijuana
By The Ottawa Citizen, Margret Kopala, May 31, 2008

(First two paragraphs are non-essential and are skipped)

At least we know something about cannabis. In fact we know a lot. And now a paper published in Nature places the medicinal, the harmful and the recreational aspects of cannabis in a perspective that has implications for how we treat all addictive substances.

According to The Independent, research in the United Kingdom of an estimated 500,000 cannabis addicts shows some 26,000 sought treatment in 2006. Findings from Europe's largest psychiatric research facility, London University's Institute of Psychiatry, establish a clear connection between cannabis use and psychosis. Though no user is immune, vulnerable adolescents are at particular risk for developing schizophrenia, a progressively disabling form of psychosis producing hallucinations, delusions and bizarre behaviour, in young adulthood.

Research from the institute using MRI scans has demonstrated how two active ingredients in cannabis affect the brain. The first, called cannabidiol (CBD), relaxes it while the other creates temporary hallucinations and feelings of paranoia. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), we now know, switches off a regulator in the inferior frontal cortex by disrupting neuronal signalling.

"Cannabis, the mind and society: the hash realities" synthesizes these and other findings. Lead author and the Institute's authority on marijuana and psychosis, Robin M. Murray, confirmed to me by e-mail that it remains the most current on the subject.

It is also the most important. Not only does it provide much-needed perspective, it also demonstrates how, irrespective of the number of individual peer reviewed studies, each with inherent limitations, no full understanding of a subject is possible without the contextualization that meta-analyses and overviews provide. Health Canada's advisory committee on Insite, for instance, showed how such limitations produced a lukewarm endorsement.

If brain function is affected by CBD and THC, "Hash Realities" considers how causality is further suggested by the fact psychotic symptoms worsen with continued use and how while family history is a factor, so are the associated genes, and a quarter of the population has them. And while cannabis is addictive and its use commonly precedes the use of hard drugs, the "gateway" theory, formerly discredited, is now being scientifically verified.

The paper also references the past and exposes the confusions of the present. "The classical Greek term pharmakon indicates that a substance can be a remedy as well as a poison," it says. Cannabis based medicines have a future but, in a "rational world," these would not be influenced by attitudes toward recreational use where real problems do exist. Most problematic? Four per cent of the global population uses cannabis; world production has doubled since the early 1990s and THC concentrations have escalated. The number of children using the drug is rising. By 2010, one study predicts, "a substantial increase in the incidence of schizophrenia should be apparent." Legalized cannabis presented few problems in the Netherlands where it is being reconsidered, but highly restrictive Sweden presented fewer problems still.

In Canada, this picture is complicated by the fact marijuana use is the highest in the industrial world. The trade, worth $6 billion in British Columbia alone, finances the import of guns and hard drugs, whose victims land in Canada's urban centres where health communities then seek desperate solutions.

"Hash Realities" concludes that public education is more effective than legislation but given the evidence, the British government recently made cannabis possession punishable by up to five years in prison.

Now where are the comparable perspectives on heroine and cocaine use?
© (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.

Related topic by Margret Kopala:


Old "Reefer Madness" film was basically truthful

She thought it was a chocolate candy bar. What she experienced was unexpected
By Gale Curcio January 12
Considering that chocolate is part of my daily diet, it was no surprise that I took a bite out of a random piece that I found sitting on my kitchen counter that day. It tasted terrible — kind of minty — so I spit out most of it.

It was a busy day: Not only was I preparing for a large Labor Day party at my home, but I also planned to spend a few hours helping my church get ready for a huge Labor Day yard sale. When I started feeling a little dizzy and lightheaded, I ignored it and kept on working. I had felt similar to this a few weeks earlier because of dehydration, so I figured it would pass. I continued setting up for the party.

The feeling persisted and increased a little in intensity. I thought back to my morning regimen and checked to make sure I hadn’t taken the wrong pills, but everything seemed okay there.

As the dizziness and lightheadedness increased, I remembered the candy bar. I also recalled that I had thrown away a wrapper before I came across that piece of candy. I remembered seeing the words “Liquid Gold.” .....click "Read More" below to continue.....