"Harmless pot" propaganda gone to pot

By Reid Southwick, National Post, 10/17/2016
 Longtime marijuana user Cody Morin was shocked to learn the bouts of severe illness he suffered were due to pot use, not ulcers doctors thuoght he had.
Cold sweats, dizziness, nausea — and those are just the ill effects suffered by some adult pot users.

When he arrived at a southern Ontario hospital emergency room, Cody Morin was badly dehydrated and vomiting blood. He was rushed into quarantine as doctors worried he was infected with the Ebola virus. His father wasn’t allowed at his bedside without wearing a haz-mat suit.

Hours before, Morin was at his fiancée’s Whitby, Ont., home after work, where he smoked a bowl of pot, a daily routine for the drywaller, accustomed to smoking at least four joints a day. Not long afterward, he was overwhelmed by cold sweats, dizziness and nausea. He vomited uncontrollably for about two hours before his fiancée drove him to hospital in nearby Oshawa.

The agony was familiar. Morin had been in and out of hospital for several years with similar bouts, which lasted for six hours at times.  ....click "Read More" below to continue....
“You instantly feel light- headed, like you’re going to pass out, and your stomach starts spinning like crazy,” Morin said. “I was so dehydrated (from vomiting) when I went to the hospital they couldn’t stick an IV in my arm because my veins kept collapsing.”

Mercifully, as Morin lay in isolation during the horrific episode in late 2014, doctors brought in a stomach specialist who gave him the diagnosis that would ultimately relieve his misery — he had cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.

Scientists don’t know what causes the condition, but they believe avoiding marijuana is the only cure, said Dr. Andrew Monte, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado’s school of medicine who has studied the syndrome.

Morin initially balked at the diagnosis, having smoked for well over a decade, but he watched his symptoms disappear after he stayed off marijuana. Now, he has discovered other pot smokers who endured similar torment.

Emergency rooms at two Colorado hospitals have seen a doubling in the rate of patients with cyclical vomiting syndromes such as cannabinoid hyperemesis, said Monte, who believes the spike is largely due to the legalization of marijuana. Hospitals across Colorado see several new cases every week.

The growing prevalence of the debilitating condition was among several unexpected health effects of legalizing pot for medicinal and, later, recreational use, he said.

Monte said the most concerning unexpected health effects have involved children who consume marijuana, mostly in edible products, by accident. Pot is often sold in chocolates, candies and other goodies. In the five years before medicinal pot was legalized, the Children’s Hospital Colorado had not treated any youngsters for mistakenly ingesting marijuana. In the second year of medical legalization, there were 14 cases.

Across the state, the rate of children younger than nine being hospitalized for possible marijuana exposure has increased dramatically, according to a public health committee that has been measuring the impact of legalization in Colorado. There was roughly one case for every 100,000 hospitalizations in Colorado from 2001 to 2009, the initial period of medical legalization. The rate spiked to 13 cases per 100,000 in 2014 through to June 2015, the first year and a half of retail legalization.

Children who eat marijuana candy bars or cookies can develop pneumonia from a depressed central nervous system. Their heart rate can double normal levels to 200 beats per minute. They can become comatose.

“A hundred milligrams in an adult may cause some hallucinations, may cause their heart rate to go very fast, which may be a risk, but it’s a risk in a subset of patients,” Monte said. “Every single pediatric patient shouldn’t have 100 milligrams, and that’s really only one cookie.”

Monte said edible products should not be sold in retail pot shops, given the health risks. According to his research, edibles are behind most health care visits due to marijuana intoxication, for patients of all ages. Concentrations of THC in these products can vary wildly, while the effects can take hours to fully kick in.

Marijuana has medicinal properties and is often prescribed for a long list of ailments, such as chronic pain, nausea linked to cancer chemotherapy, insomnia and depressed mood associated with chronic diseases, and pain due to multiple sclerosis.

Overconsumption, however, can lead to increased anxiety, rapid heart rates, high blood pressure and vomiting, among other symptoms that land users in emergency departments.

A review of scientific literature on the health effects of marijuana use found substantial evidence that pot smoke contains many of the carcinogens that are in tobacco smoke, and that heavy pot smoking is linked to bronchitis, including chronic cough and wheezing.

The literature review, conducted by Colorado’s public health committee, found adolescent and young adult users are at higher risk of developing psychotic symptoms or disorders in adulthood.

In Canada, public health officials have a better chance of reducing these and other harms by legalizing and regulating marijuana than by keeping it in the illicit market, said Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, medical health officer at Vancouver Coastal Health.

“We’ll know what’s in it and how it’s grown, what the strength is, and the product will be labelled. We’ ll know who made it, who sold it,” Lysyshyn said, adding regulations should also include childproof packaging and other steps to keep pot away from children.

“If there are problematic products out there, then we’ll have them withdrawn off the market. People used to go blind from drinking moonshine; that doesn’t happen anymore. We have to get safe products out there that people can use safely.”

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