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Let Science, Not Lobbyists, Lead on Medical Marijuana in Georgia
By Jeffrey Zinsmeister and Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D.
A few members of the Georgia House of Representatives have once again rented a white lab coat, hung a stethoscope around their collective neck, and decided to play doctor based on anecdotes. Although their intentions are sincere, the plural of anecdote is not evidence. The Legislature should slow down and listen to science before making decisions.
A new bill introduced this session would legalize marijuana oil (which can contain up to five percent THC, the ingredient that gets you high) for eight additional conditions. This would raise the total number of conditions to 16. For most of them, per a recently released National Academy of Sciences report, not a shred of evidence exists supporting use of marijuana as a treatment. Read More >>
Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
Bertha Madras, PhD, Professor of Psychobiology, Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, presented at CADCA's National Leadership Plenary. Dr. Madras discussed the importance of using science to inform the public about marijuana's harm. "This is not a war on drugs. It's a defense of our brains," she said during her popular keynote.
Click Here to learn more about the Let's Be Clear Georgia collaborative efforts by downloading our Let's Be Clear Georgia Collaborative Brochure.
Marijuana In The News
Little-known illness tied to smoking weed on the rise
Journal Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
Link: Cyclic Vomiting Presentations Following Marijuana Liberalization in Colorado
AAA Report shows fatal marijuana-related car crashes have doubled in the state of Washington following legalization
Source: AAA - American Automobile Association
Link: http://newsroom.aaa.com/2016/05/fatal-road-crashes-involving-marijuana-double-state-legalizes-drug/Click to replace anchor text
2013-2014 DATA NOW IN: Colorado has highest marijuana use among teens, adults
Source: U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Common Myths About Marijuana
- MENTAL Health
- Marijuana VS Cannabis
MYTH: MARIJUANA DOES NOT HAVE A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON THE BRAIN
Any drug that enters the brain has the potential to affect normal brain development. Marijuana is no exception. When marijuana is used, its active ingredient, THC – the strength of which has grown exponentially in the past few decades – alters perceptions and mood, impairs coordination, creates difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupts learning and memory.
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/drugfactsmarijuana2014.pdf, January 2014
Image Source: The Journal of Neuroscience http://jn.sfn.org/press/April-16-2014-Issue/zns01614005529.pdf, April 16, 2014
MYTH: MARIJUANA WILL NOT EFFECT MY WORK PERFORMANCE
Much like with alcohol, use of marijuana can have negative impacts on productivity and safety, with negative consequences for employers and other employees. Workers who smoke THC are more likely than their coworkers to have problems on the job, including increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers compensation claims, and turnover.
Source: Susan Blank, M.D. Atlanta Healing Center LLC, Georgia School of Addiction Studies, August 26, 2014. Zwerling, C.; Ryan, J.; and Orav, E.J., The efficacy of pre-employment drug screening for marijuana and cocaine in predicting employment. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1990 Nov 28;264(20):2639-43.
MYTH: MARIJUANA WILL NOT EFFECT YOUR ABILITY TO DRIVE
Marijuana doubles your risk of a car crash because it significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time.
Source: Hartman R.L., Huestis MA. Cannabis effects on driving skills. Clinical Chemistry. 2013;59:478-492. http://www.clinchem.org/content/early/2012/12/06/clinchem.2012.194381.full.pdf
MYTH: MARIJUANA IS MEDICINE
Components of marijuana may have medicinal value, but smoked marijuana has never met the requirements to be labeled a medicine. Just like we don’t smoke opium to get the effects of morphine, we do not need to smoke marijuana to derive its possible medical benefits.
Source: Institute of Medicine, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, 1999, National Academy Press.
MYTH: MARIJUANA WILL NOT EFFECT MY HEALTH OR CAUSE A DISEASE
Epidemiological studies have shown that as the frequency of marijuana abuse increases, so does the risk for a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.
MYTH: MARIJUANA IS A STREET DRUG AND CANNABIS IS A MEDICAL PRODUCT
The Marijuana that is being sold on the street and the Cannabis being discussed for legalization in the news is in fact the same exact plant. Marijuana/Cannabis is classified by the DEA as a Schedule I drug which is a substance, or chemical which has been defined as a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.
Some examples of Schedule I Drugs are: Heroin, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Marijuana (Cannabis), 3,4-MethyleneDioxyMethamphetamine (Ecstasy), Methaqualone, and Peyote
Source: United States Drug Enforcement Administration, Drug Scheduling - http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml
Source-Verified Educational Tracks/Talking Points
- #1 - Marijuana and Addiction
- #2 - MARIJUANA AND THE TEEN BRAIN
- #3 - SMOKED MARIJUANA IS NOT MEDICINE
- #4 - Marijuana, CBD, Hemp and Other Terms
- #5 - The business of marijuana
- #6 - Marijuana and In-State Cultivation
- #7 - Marijuana and Chronic Pain
- #8 - Marijuana ANd the workplace
- #9 - Marijuana and driving
- #10 - Marijuana and Perception of Harm
Drug addiction is a disease of the brain that compels a person to become singularly obsessed with obtaining and abusing drugs despite their many adverse health and life consequences.
Marijuana and the Teen Brain
Human brains begin functioning long before they are fully developed. We begin experiencing the world and develop our sense of identity with very immature brains unable to understand abstract reasoning or the realistic consequences of our actions. At puberty the brain undergoes a stunning growth of new connections and the brain continues to grow and undergo important development until the age of 25.
Smoked Marijuana Is Not Medicine
Marijuana may have medical components, but no medicine is smoked. Similar to the way opium is used medicinally (through medicines like Morphine), non-smoked marijuana may also be found to have medicinal properties. But smoked marijuana has never passed the scientific tests necessary to label it as a medicine. There are certain drugs already approved in the US (e.g. Marinol) and abroad (e.g. Sativex) that contain medicinal ingredients found in marijuana, however...
Marijuana, CBD, Hemp and Other Terms
“Cannabis sativa” is the Latin name used in biology for the marijuana plant. It has been cultivated as a source of fiber, oil and food, and for its medicinal and intoxicating properties. Selective breeding has produced cannabis plants for specific uses, including high-potency marijuana strains and hemp for fiber and seed production.
The Business of Marijuana
There is no reason to think laws limiting marijuana to adults will be any more successful than comparable laws for cigarettes or alcohol. Legalization will likely increase the already substantial proportion of teens that use marijuana regularly and thus put themselves at a competitive disadvantage in school and life.
Marijuana and In-State Cultivation
Federal law makes it illegal to grow marijuana. The penalties for growing marijuana depend on whether you are charged under Federal or State law, which largely depends on the amount of marijuana you are growing and if other crimes are involved.
Marijuana and Chronic Pain
Everyone feels pain differently and nobody can know what somebody else's pain is like. This can make it difficult to define and prescribe proper pain medications. The word chronic, however, refers to the persistence of pain lasting for more than three months and generally remaining after an injury has healed.
Marijuana and the Workplace
Workers who smoke THC are more likely than their co-workers to have problems on the job, including increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers compensation claims, and turnover. Workers who had positive pre-employment drug screens had 55% more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries, and 75% increase in absenteeism.
Marijuana and Driving
“The effects of specific drugs of abuse differ depending on how they act in the brain, but all impair faculties necessary for the safe operation of a vehicle. These faculties include motor skills, balance and coordination, perception, attention, reaction time, and judgment. Even small amounts of some drugs can have a measurable effect on driving ability.”
Marijuana and Perception of Harm
"Youth who perceive marijuana use to be risky are less likely to use drugs than youth who perceive marijuana as non-risky."
According to Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “The number of teens that perceive the use of marijuana as dangerous, whether it is occasional or regular, is going down. We have seen a pretty significant change over the past 5 years that less and less kids are viewing the use of marijuana as harmful.”
As perceived harm of marijuana drops, use goes up.
- #11 - How and Why the Marijuana Industry Targets Youth
- #12 - Marijuana and Potency
- #13 - MARIJUANA AND EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES
- #14 - Marijuana and Pregnancy
- #15 - MARIJUANA AND MENTAL HEALTH
- #16 - MARIJUANA AND MOTIVATION
- #17 - Marijuana and life outcomes
- #18 - Marijuana and the criminal justice system
- #19 - Marijuana and Treatment
- #20 - Marijuana Effects on the Heart and Lungs
How and Why the Marijuana Industry Targets Youth
It’s important to know as much as possible about “Big Tobacco” and teenage smoking patterns and attitudes to in order to understand why the marijuana industry, like the tobacco industry, also targets youth.
According to Phillip Morris, “Today's teenager is tomorrow's potential regular customer, and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while in their teens . . . it is during the teenage years that the initial brand choice is made.
Marijuana and Potency
The average potency of THC in marijuana has significantly increased since 1983.1 Today’s marijuana is 300%-800% more potent than the marijuana of years ago. This is not the same “Woodstock weed” that baby boomers and Generation Xers used.
Testing by labs is finding that Marijuana is far more potent than the 4% it used to be in the 1980s. Current potency values have been documented up to 36% THC.
Marijuana and Educational Outcomes
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, studies show that marijuana use interferes with attention, motivation, memory and learning. Students who use marijuana regularly tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school than those who don’t use.
Marijuana and Pregnancy
Heavy use of marijuana – that is, marijuana with high amounts of THC – has been linked to decreased fertility in both men and women. In females, there is evidence that marijuana use may disrupt the menstrual cycle. In males, marijuana is thought to decrease sperm quality and testosterone levels. It is also thought to decrease the ability of sperm to move quickly and has been linked to sperm abnormalities. These factors can make it difficult for a woman to become pregnant.
Marijuana and Mental Health
There have been a number of studies that have explored the link between marijuana use and mental health symptoms. Findings in these studies have connected chronic marijuana use and mental illness. In sufficient doses, marijuana can cause psychosis, a state of mind characterized by the inability to distinguish between what is real and what is not.
Marijuana and Motivation
Young people who smoke marijuana may be at risk of “major” changes to the area of the brain that regulates motivation, a new 2014 study by Harvard University and Northwestern Medicine claims. In the study, brains of 40 young adults were scanned (half were non-users and half reported smoking for 1-6 years and showed no signs of dependence).
Marijuana and Life Outcomes
Heavy use of marijuana can have long-term consequences on life. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that heavy marijuana smokers suffered damage to social life, education, employment and careers as well as physical damages to their brains and bodies.
Marijuana and the Criminal Justice System
In 1980, the Georgia General Assembly passed a medical marijuana law, but it was never implemented. Since 1996, 20 states and Washington, DC have passed laws allowing smoked marijuana to be used for a variety of medical conditions. Some of those states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. It is important to recognize these state marijuana laws do not change the fact that using marijuana continues to be an offense under Federal law.
Marijuana and Treatment
Marijuana remains the most widely used illicit substance in the United States. Long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction; that is, people have difficulty controlling their drug use and cannot stop even though it interferes with many aspects of their lives.
About 9% of adult users become addicted to marijuana and that number increases among those who start young and among people who use marijuana daily.
One in six adolescents who try marijuana get addicted.
Marijuana Effects on the Heart and the Lungs
Marijuana affects the heart. The heart rate is raised 20-100% shortly after smoking, an effect which can last up to three hours and put users at an increased risk of heart attack. In one study, it was estimated that marijuana users have a 4.8 - fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug.
This risk may be greater in older individuals or in those with cardiac vulnerabilities.
Marijuana smoke is an irritant to the lungs, and frequent marijuana smokers can have many of the same respiratory problems experienced by people who smoke tobacco.
Toolkit For States Facing
“Medical” Marijuana & Marijuana Legalization Initiatives
CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) Guide
This guide will give you the tools you need to push back against “medical” marijuana and marijuana legalization initiatives (see Appendix 1 for a list of states currently facing these initiatives, and links that you can click on to see the full text of these initiatives). It provides strategies to ensure that you can effectively communicate research-based messages against these initiatives.
Know the Facts and Keep Them Simple
In order to successfully combat “medical” marijuana and marijuana legalization initiatives, our field must play offense, not defense. We need to educate both grasstops influentials (e.g. legislators, the media, scientists) and voters using messages that will resonate with them based on facts and statistics.
Executive Summary of The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact Vol. 4/Sept 2016 from Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA)
Please Click Here to download the Executive Summary of The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact Vol. 4/September 2016 from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
Please note the following edits to the full report.:
- “In school year 2015/2016, 63 percent of all drug related suspensions were for marijuana violations.”
- “In school year 2015/2016, 58 percent of all drug related expulsions were for marijuana violations.”
- “In school year 2015/2016, 73 percent of all drug related referrals to law enforcement were for marijuana violations.”
Although the graph on page 42 correctly represents this information, we inadvertently left off the words “drug related” in the above mentioned bullet points.
Second, on page 134 the graph showing Colorado crime has also been changed. The total number of crimes has not changed, but it was pointed out that one category we added into Property Crimes actually belonged in Violent Crimes, so the appropriate changes have been made. Click Here to download the full report.
Why the High THC in Georgia’s “Low” THC Oil?
Study Finds One in Six Children Hospitalized for Lung Inflammation Test Positive for Marijuana Exposure in Colorado
A new study found that one in six infants and toddlers admitted to a Colorado hospital with coughing, wheezing and other symptoms of bronchiolitis tested positive for marijuana exposure. Click Here to learn more.
National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws
The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL) has updated its report on State medical marijuana legislation. The report summarizes ongoing and future efforts to regulate medical marijuana at the State level. The updated medical marijuana report follows last week’s updates on follow-up, decriminalization, and personal non-medical use marijuana legislation.
American Epilepsy Society Position on Medical Marijuana
Click here to read a letter from Dr. Amy Brooks-Kayal, President of the American Epilepsy Society and a Colorado pediatric neurologist, to the Health Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The letter describes a scientific study of the negative effects of artisanal CBD oils, similar as Georgia’s “low” THC oil (containing as much as 5% THC) on 20% of children with epilepsy that were studied.
The American Epilepsy Society, is the leading organization of clinical and research professionals working to advance and improve the treatment of epilepsy through the promotion of research and education for healthcare professionals. Society membership includes epileptologists and other medical professionals, allied healthcare professionals, and scientists concerned with the care of people who have seizure disorders
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Committee on Obstetric Practice - Committee Opinion
Cannabis sativa (marijuana) is the illicit drug most commonly used during pregnancy. The self- reported prevalence of marijuana use during pregnancy ranges from 2% to 5% in most studies. A growing number of states are legalizing marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, and its use by pregnant women could increase even further as a result. Because of concerns regarding impaired neurodevelopment, as well as maternal and fetal exposure to the adverse effects of smoking, women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue marijuana use. Obstetrician–gynecologists should be discouraged from pre-scribing or suggesting the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes during preconception, pregnancy, and lactation. Click here to download a free copy.
Preliminary Findings Demonstrating Latent Effects of Early Adolescent Marijuana Use
Among early-onset users, continued years of Marijuana use and current Marijuana consumption were associated with thicker cortex, increased (GWR) Gray–white matter ratio and decreased (LGI) local gyrification index. Late-onset users exhibited the opposite pattern. This divergence was observed in all three morphological measures in the anterior dorsolateral frontal cortex. Conclusions: Divergent patterns between current MariJuana use and elements of cortical architecture were associated with early Marijuana use onset. Considering brain development in early adolescence, findings are consistent with disruptions in pruning. However, divergence with continued use for many years thereafter suggests altered trajectories of brain maturation during late adolescence and beyond. Click here to download a free copy of the Early Adolescent Marijuana Use study.
The State of Marijuana Use in Georgia:
A Secondary Needs Assessment
The State of Marijuana Use in Georgia: A Secondary Needs Assessment -Issued by the School of Public Health, Georgia State University, June, 2015.
Click Here to download a free copy.
Dr. Madeline Meier Responds to Latest IQ and Marijuana Studies
Dr. Madeline Meier, Professor at Arizona State University, commented on two studies regarding IQ and marijuana use. Dr. Meier stands firm by her previous research showing an up to 8-point reduction in IQ among heavy marijuana users.
Click Here to download a free copy.
Georgia Recreational Marijuana Educational Study
This is a Georgia study regarding voter opinion as to whether recreational marijuana should be legalized in Georgia – issued by Bason Research.
Click here to download a free copy.
The Marijuana Project
Issued by Aegis Sciences in 2015, The Marijuana Project is a clinical rebuttal of the deceptive and often contradictory marketing narrative of the marijuana special-interest groups. It is a succinct resource in booklet format of peer-reviewed literature with an appropriate combination of scientific and medical documentation.
Click here to download a free copy.
Is It Safe To Smoke Marijuana While Pregnant?
Rumors abound that marijuana has no effect on the unborn child, and that it is safe to smoke while pregnant. But research has shown that marijuana use by a mom can cause numerous adverse effects on newborns and growing children. Some effects can linger into adulthood.
Click here to learn more.
Marijuana Policy Strategy
Kenneth Stroup, founder of NORML
"We [NORML*] are trying to get marijuana reclassified medically. If we do that (we'll do it in at least 20 states this year for chemotherapy patients) [we] will be using the issue as a red herring to give marijuana a good name. That's our way of getting to them . . ."
Source: Quote from Kenneth Stroup, founder of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) from an interview with him which appeared in the Emory Wheel student newspaper on Feb. 6, 1979 (pp. 18-19). Georgia passed its first marijuana law in 1980.
Learn more about the Let's Be Clear Georgia collaborative efforts by downloading our Collaborative Brochure and Marijuana Mantra Brochure
Marijuana News Archive
Let’s Be Clear Georgia was mentioned in a recent NBC News article
Source: NBC News
Medical Marijuana Panel Rejects Georgia Grow
Source: The Telegraph - Politics & Government
Why Ohio voted against legal marijuana — and what it means for the future of the pot debate.
Source: The Washington Post
The case against Colorado's pot law - Supreme Court case Nebraska and Oklahoma vs. Colorado
Source: Los Angeles Times
Drug Facts Nationwide Trends
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse
HB 1 - Haleigh's Hope Act; Signed by Governor on 04/16/15
Source: Georgia General Assembly
Legislative Summary: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20152016/HB/1
PDF Link: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20152016/152355.pdf
This is what pot does to the teenage brain
Have a general question about marijuana? Ask an expert anonymously:
Learn More About Nationwide Prevention Efforts
Let's Be Clear Georgia is 1 of more Than 1,000+ Groups nationwide who are Working to Prevent Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, and Other Drug Use by Youth. To learn more about other groups around the United States click here. If you are in the state of Georgia and would like to contribute your talents or make a donation learn more below.
Prevention Is A Community Effort In Georgia
The gulf has never been greater between the scientific understanding of marijuana’s harms and the public’s misunderstanding of those harms. But prevention can change that!
Georgia citizens, educators and business owners need to be heard loud and clear when it comes to protecting our children, families, employees and drivers across the great state of Georgia from the dangers of Marijuana.
Join us today to make sure that a unified voice is heard or make a donation to support the cause!