Marijuana sent 11,000 to Emergency

Synthetic Marijuana Sent 11,000 People to Emergency Rooms in 2010

More than 11,000 people ended up in emergency rooms after using synthetic marijuana in 2010, according to a new government report. Most were teenagers and young adults, USA Today reports.

Synthetic marijuana, commonly known as K2 or Spice, is a mixture of herbs, spices or shredded plant material that is typically sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. K2 is typically sold in small, silvery plastic bags of dried leaves and marketed as incense that can be smoked. It is said to resemble potpourri.

Short term effects include loss of control, lack of pain response, increased agitation, pale skin, seizures, vomiting, profuse sweating, uncontrolled spastic body movements, elevated blood pressure, heart rate and palpitations. In addition to physical signs of use, users may experience severe paranoia, delusions, hallucinations and increased agitation.

The new report, from the federal government’s Drug Abuse Warning Network, is the first to analyze the impact of synthetic marijuana, the newspaper notes. The report found 12-to-17-year-olds accounted for one-third of the emergency room visits, while young adults ages 18 to 24 accounted for an additional 35 percent.

Among patients ages 12 to 29, the report found 59 percent of those who paid visits to the emergency room for synthetic marijuana use had no evidence of other substances.

In 2010, ordinary marijuana sent 461,028 people to the emergency room.

In July, President Obama signed legislation that bans synthetic drugs. The law bans harmful chemicals in synthetic drugs such as those used to make synthetic marijuana and bath salts.

From Join Together online

Synthetic Drugs Outlawed

Obama Signs Legislation Banning Synthetic Drugs

President Obama on Monday signed legislation that bans synthetic drugs. The law also expedites the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of new drugs and medical devices.

The law bans harmful chemicals in synthetic drugs such as those used to make synthetic marijuana and “bath salts,” according to the Star Tribune. While more than 30 states have banned various compounds in synthetic drugs, new ones are continually being created, the newspaper notes.

“In Minnesota and across the country, we are seeing more and more tragedies where synthetic drugs are taking lives and tearing apart families,” Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said in a statement. “Today’s action means that this critical legislation to give law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on synthetic drugs is finally the law of the land.” Senator Klobuchar co-sponsored bills banning synthetic drugs, which were included in an amendment to the FDA’s Safety and Innovation Act.

Synthetic drugs are readily available online. The law outlaws sales of synthetic drugs by both retail stores and online retailers.

In December, the National Institute on Drug Abuse released new information indicating that one in nine high school seniors had used “Spice” or “K2” over the past year, making synthetic marijuana the second most frequently used illicit drug, after marijuana, among high school seniors. Poison control centers operating across the nation have also reported sharp increases in the number of calls relating to synthetic drugs.

By Join Together Staff

Teens Use Diverted Medical Marijuana

74 Percent of Teens in CO Substance Abuse Treatment Programs Used Diverted Medical Marijuana

Three-quarters of teenage patients in substance abuse treatment programs in Denver, Colorado said they used someone else’s medical marijuana, according to a new study.

The study revealed that 121 of 164 teenage patients (73.8 percent) have ever used medical marijuana prescribed to someone else.  Patients reported using diverted medical marijuana from one to 1,000 times, with a median of 50 times, suggesting that most adolescent patients have used medical marijuana on multiple occasions, according to Stacy Salomonsen-Sautel, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Division of Substance Dependence. She reported the findings at the recent College on Problems of Drug Dependence, and the study appears online in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The study found that after adjusting for gender and race/ethnicity, teenage patients who used medical marijuana had an earlier age of regular marijuana use, more marijuana abuse and dependence symptoms, and more conduct disorder symptoms, compared with those who did not use medical marijuana.

As of the end of April 2012, Colorado has 48 registered medical marijuana users under the age of 18. Four of the 164 teenage patients in the study reported being evaluated for a medical marijuana card; however, only one teenage patient received a medical marijuana card. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 96,709 people in the state were registered as medical marijuana users as of April 30, 2012. This means 2.5 percent of the adults in Colorado are registered medical marijuana users, according to Salomonsen-Sautel.

“We don’t know what proportion of the marijuana they are using is medical marijuana,” Salomonsen-Sautel notes. She said the findings imply that there is substantial diversion from registered medical marijuana users. She and her colleagues say the results support the need for policy changes that protect against diversion of medical marijuana, and reduce teenager access to it.

From; The Partnership at Drugfree.org and Join Together

Deadly Habits; Drugs, Tobacco and Alcohol

200 Million People Worldwide Use Illegal Drugs, Study Says

An estimated 200 million people worldwide use illegal drugs, according to a new study. The health consequences of this use are wide-ranging, researchers report this week in The Lancet.

They include

  • overdose,
  • dependence,
  • violence or injury due to intoxication, as well as
  • heart disease,
  • mental disorders and
  • cirrhosis.

The Los Angeles Times reports that

  • 125 to 203 million people use marijuana,
  • 14 million to 56 million use amphetamines,
  • 12 million to 21 million use opioids, and
  • 14 million to 21 million use cocaine.

In addition, 11 million to 21 million inject drugs. An estimated 15 million to 39 million are considered problem drug users, the article notes.

Illegal drug use is highest in developed countries, the researchers found. They point out that many people who use illegal drugs take more than one drug.

The major adverse health effects of marijuana are dependence, and probably psychotic disorders and other mental disorders, the researchers conclude. They say that marijuana is unlikely to be deadly.

Drugs caused 2.1 million years of life lost in 2004, followed by alcohol, which caused a loss of 1.5 million years, according to the World Health Organization. Drug-related deaths tend to strike younger people, accounting for the higher number of years of life lost compared with other causes of death.

Overall,

  • illegal drugs led to 250,000 deaths in that year, compared with
  • 5.1 million deaths due to tobacco, and
  • 2.25 million due to alcohol.

From Join Together

Medical Marijuana

American Society of Addiction Medicine

Public Policy Statement on Medical Marijuana

Background

In the last twenty years, both the scientific community and the public have become interested in the therapeutic potential of cannabis and cannabinoids. Scientific interest has been based in large part on the discovery and elucidation of the endocannabinoid receptor system. Popular interest has focused on state initiatives and other legislation decriminalizing the use of smoked cannabis for personal medical use.  Because of this legislation, herbal cannabis in various forms is now being distributed by dispensaries to large numbers of individuals with a wide variety of medical conditions. This cannabis is not, in most cases, standardized or quality-controlled; the dosage forms (smoked, vaporized, baked goods, teas, elixirs, etc.) do not provide a known and reproducible dose; and data on efficacy and adverse events are not being collected in a reliable manner. 

Cannabinoids are insoluble in water and subject to degradation by temperature and light; thus, optimal delivery systems or dosage forms are difficult to design. As a result, research into their medical applications is technologically challenging and has lagged behind that of the opioids and other modern medications. With improvements in technology and the development of research tools, such as high affinity agonists and antagonists, preclinical research has flourished.  At present, however, only a few properly controlled clinical studies, of adequate size and duration, have investigated the use of cannabis or cannabinoid products in specific therapeutic contexts.

The pace of such clinical research is increasing.  As corporate sponsors successfully resolve the regulatory and technological challenges, new products will enter the market. These products will be accompanied by extensive quality, pharmacological, toxicity, safety/tolerability, and efficacy data that will allow physicians knowledgeably to prescribe them, thereby making them available to appropriate patients. Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) will reduce the likelihood of abuse and diversion by both patients and non-patients, including adolescents.

The FDA approval process ensures that a robust body of data accompanies a product when it becomes available to patients. The FDA has invited industry to develop botanically based products and has set forth the regulatory path that must be followed to ensure that such products meet the standards of modern medicine.   It is feasible for cannabis-derived products to proceed down that path. Doing so will enable them to be recognized by the medical community as legitimate treatment options.

Under the current state distribution systems, physicians serve as the gatekeepers of patients’ access to cannabis, yet they lack both information on the quality/composition of the cannabis materials and data on their efficacy/safety. When specific cannabis-derived or cannabinoid medications have passed through conventional regulatory approval processes, and their risk/benefit profile in a particular medical condition is known, physicians can be confident that they are meeting the standard of care when advising patients about potential treatment choices.

“Cognitive dissonance” is a term that aptly describes the current approach to “medical marijuana.”  Scientists recognize the public health harms of tobacco smoking and urge our young people to refrain from the practice, yet most cannabis consumers use smoking as their preferred delivery mechanism. The practice of medicine is increasingly evidence-based, yet some physicians are willing to consider “recommending” cannabis to their patients, despite the fact that they lack even the most rudimentary information about the material (composition, quality, and dose, and no controlled studies provide information on its benefit and safety of its use in chronic medical conditions). Pharmaceutical companies are responsible for the harms caused by contaminated or otherwise dangerous products and tobacco companies can be held accountable for harms caused by cigarettes, yet, dispensaries distribute cannabis products about which very little are known, including their source. Efforts are being made to stem the epidemic of prescription drug abuse, including FDA-mandated risk management plans required for prescription medications, yet cannabis distribution sites proliferate in many states, virtually without regulation. 

In order to think clearly about “medical marijuana,” one must distinguish first between 1) the therapeutic potentials of specific chemicals found in marijuana that are delivered in controlled doses by nontoxic delivery systems, and 2) smoked marijuana.

Second, one must consider the drug approval process in the context of public health, not just for medical marijuana but also for all medicines and especially for controlled substances. Controlled substances are drugs that have recognized abuse potential.  Marijuana is high on that list because it is widely abused and a major cause of drug dependence in the United States and around the world.  When physicians recommend use of scheduled substances, they must exercise great care.  The current pattern of “medical marijuana” use in the United States is far from that standard. 

If any components of marijuana are ever shown to be beneficial to treat any illness then those components can and should be delivered by nontoxic routes of administration in controlled doses just all other medicines are in the U.S. 

In order for physicians to fulfill their professional obligations to patients, and in order for patients to be offered the high standard of medical care that we have come to expect in the United States, cannabis-based products must meet the same exacting standards that we apply to other prescription medicines.  Members of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) are physicians first and experts in addiction medicine with knowledge specific to the risks associated with the use of substances with high abuse potential.  ASAM must stand strongly behind the standard that any clinical use of a controlled substance must meet high standards to protect the patient and the public; the approval of “medical marijuana” does not meet this standard.

Recommendations

1. ASAM asserts that cannabis, cannabis-based products, and cannabis delivery devices should be subject to the same standards that are applicable to other prescription medications and medical devices and that these products should not be distributed or otherwise provided to patients unless and until such products or devices have received marketing approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

2. ASAM rejects smoking as a means of drug delivery since it is not safe.

3. ASAM recognizes the supremacy of federal regulatory standards for drug approval and distribution.  ASAM recognizes that states can enact limitations that are more restrictive but rejects the concept that states could enact more permissive regulatory standards.  ASAM discourages state interference in the federal medication approval process. 

4. ASAM rejects a process whereby State and local ballot initiatives approve medicines because these initiatives are being decided by individuals not qualified to make such decisions (based upon a careful science-based review of safety and efficacy, standardization and formulation for dosing, or provide a means for a regulated, closed system of distribution for marijuana which is a CNS drug with abuse potential). 

5. ASAM recommends its members and other physician organizations and their members reject responsibility for providing access to cannabis and cannabis-based products until such time that these materials receive marketing approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

6. ASAM asserts that physician organizations operating in states where physicians are placed in the gate-keeping role have an obligation to help licensing authorities assure that physicians who choose to discuss the medical use of cannabis and cannabis-based products with patients:
• Adhere to the established professional tenets of proper patient care, including
o History and good faith examination of the patient;
o Development of a treatment plan with objectives;
o Provision of informed consent, including discussion of side effects;
o Periodic review of the treatment’s efficacy;
o Consultation, as necessary; and
o Proper record keeping that supports the decision to recommend the use of cannabis
• Have a bona fide physician-patient relationship with the patient, i.e., should have a pre-existing and ongoing relationship with the patient as a treating physician;

• Ensure that the issuance of “recommendations” is not a disproportionately large (or even exclusive) aspect of their practice;

• Not issue a recommendation unless the physician has adequate information regarding the composition and dose of the cannabis product;

• Have adequate training in identifying substance abuse and addiction .

 

 

Portugal’s drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons – FoxNews.com

Portugal’s drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons – FoxNews.com.

These days, Casal Ventoso is an ordinary blue-collar community — mothers push baby strollers, men smoke outside cafes, buses chug up and down the cobbled main street.

Ten years ago, the Lisbon neighborhood was a hellhole, a “drug supermarket” where some 5,000 users lined up every day to buy heroin and sneak into a hillside honeycomb of derelict housing to shoot up. In dark, stinking corners, addicts — some with maggots squirming under track marks — staggered between the occasional corpse, scavenging used, bloody needles.

At that time, Portugal, like the junkies of Casal Ventoso, had hit rock bottom: An estimated 100,000 people — an astonishing 1 percent of its population — were addicted to illegal drugs. So, like anyone with little to lose, the Portuguese took a risky leap: They decriminalized the use of all drugs in a groundbreaking law in 2000.

 

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/12/26/portugals-drug-policy-pays-eyes-lessons/#ixzz19Gb1xbEf

Teen Drug Use and Extracurricular Activities

Adolescents Who Participate in Extracurricular Activities Less Likely to Use Alcohol, Cigarettes, and Illicit Drugs

Extracurricular activities, such as sports, band, clubs, and dance lessons, are an important part of growing up for millions of American teens. These activities promote physical fitness, intellectual growth, and social interaction, and have been associated with higher self-esteem, better academic performance, and improved interpersonal skills.1 The latest findings from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicate that 22.4 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 (89.3 percent) participate in extracurricular activities and that those who participate in these activities are less likely to have used alcohol, cigarettes, and illicit drugs in the past month. In particular, adolescents who participated in these activities were half as likely as nonparticipants to have smoked cigarettes.

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Source: The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) is an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The survey collects data by administering questionnaires to a representative sample of the population through face-to-face interviews at their places of residence. http://oas.samhsa.gov