Tag Archives: American Society of Addiction Medicine

Coalition of Health Organizations Urges DNC to Reject Marijuana

Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a broad coalition of organizations working to prevent and treat substance abuse sent a letter today to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ahead of their decision on their party platform, including marijuana policy.  Former Representative Patrick Kennedy , Honorary Chair of SAM, who once chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, signed the letter.

Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR), the National Alliance of Alcohol and Drug Counselors (NAADAC), Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities (TASC), Phoenix House, CeDAR and The Hills Treatment Center represented the recovery community in urging politicians not to legalize drugs.

“The DNC should resist any calls to legalize drugs,” said Kevin Sabet, a former advisor to the Obama Administration and current President of SAM, a bipartisan organization dedicated to implementing science-based marijuana-policies. “The legalization of marijuana is about one thing: the creation of the next Big Tobacco.

The letter details how legalization has resulted in huge spikes in arrests of Colorado youth from communities of color-up 29 percent among Hispanics from 2012 (pre-legalization) to 2014 (post-legalization), and up 58 percent among Black youth in the same timeframe-while arrests of White children fell.  Additionally, there has been a doubling of the percentage of marijuana-related traffic fatalities in Washington in just one year after legalization (2013 to 2014). Emergency poison control calls related to marijuana from 2013 to 2014 in both Colorado and Washington rose, by 72 percent and 56 percent, respectively, and there has been a 15 percent average annual increase in drug and narcotics crime in Denver since 2014.

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Kevin Sabet was interviewed by Arizona radio host Seth Leibsohn on June 21, when he compared the health effects of marijuana to the worst of alcohol and tobacco combined. Arizona is another state targeted for legalization by the marijuana industry in 2016.

 

“The pot lobby has successfully fought off Colorado’s attempts to regulate advertising targeting children, rules restricting the use of pesticides, and rules to limit marijuana potency. This same lobby is now exporting these tactics to other states in November,” said Jeffrey Zinsmeister, Executive Vice President of SAM. “This assault on health and safety regulations is no less than a repeat of Big Tobacco’s tactics from t he 1960s and 1970s.  Parents Opposed to Pot is concerned that the Democratic Party’s platform (as worded) will protect marijuana businesses and their profits at the expense of children and teens.  Legalization policies in Colorado and Washington reveal that businesses can be quite unscrupulous in the way they advertise and locate.  For example, a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado is currently operating next door to an “alternative” high school for students with special needs.

 

A draft of the platform could be interpreted by some as an endorsement of marijuana legalization and/or expansion.  The specific wording, as shown in the letter to the DNC Chair and platform committee, is vague.  (Although decriminalization and legalization are not the same thing, many people use these terms interchangeably.)

Parents Opposed to Pot wonders why marijuana, a major drug of abuse, would be promoted during the time of a drug epidemic.  Another section of the platform addressed the opioid drug abuse, but refused to deal with the gateway effects of marijuana and alcohol and to educate accordingly. US government statistics show that at least 66% who overdose began their illicit drug use with marijuana.

Kevin Sabet explains the marijuana industry, “Marketers cleverly package pot candies to make them attractive to kids, and pot shops do nothing to improve neighborhoods and communities. Moreover, there are other, more effective ways to address questions of racial justice and incarceration. So does the DNC want to be known for fostering the next tobacco industry, or will it stand with the scientific community, parents, and public health?”

 

Major anti-drug organizations stand in unity with SAM and against all drug abuse and addiction. Executive officers of the Drug Free America Foundation (DFAF), National Families in Action (NFIA), Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA, Community Alliances for Drug-Free Youth (CADFY), the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), National Association of Addiction Professionals co-signed the letter, as did Dr. Robert DuPont, Founding Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and President of the Institute of Behavior and Health

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Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduce MEDS Act

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Sen. Brian Schatz from his website. Photo above is of Senator Hatch in front of the Capital

This week four Senators introduced the the MEDS Act to streamline the process of approving any medicine derived from the cannabis plant.  Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah (shown above), Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina introduced the Marijuana Effective Drug Studies Act (MEDS) of 2016.

The MEDS Act offers comprehensive, responsible solutions instead of “medicine by ballot initiative,” or the poorly-designed CARERS Act.

Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii explains: “The MEDS Act will remove excessive barriers that make it difficult for researchers to study the effectiveness and safety of marijuana, and hopefully, give patients more treatment options.”

Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina said: “The MEDS Act is a commonsense, bipartisan effort to remove unnecessary barriers that will give scientists the ability to study the biochemical processes, impact, dosing, risks and possible benefits of cannabidiol and other components of the marijuana plant.”

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Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Photo: Political Insider

As Smart Approaches to Marijuana which supports the bill explains, the bill:

*Enables more research on marijuana by creating a faster, more streamlined process for obtaining approval from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to conduct research, including the ability to amend and supplement research proposals without reapplying. Currently, researchers who want to conduct research on marijuana must interface with several federal agencies and engage in a complex application process that can take a year or longer must start from scratch if they make any changes to their research proposal;

*Eliminates the burdensome requirement of some DEA field offices that marijuana be kept in bolted safes – a requirement not possible in many research and clinical settings – and codifies current DEA regulations that allow marijuana to be stored in securely locked, substantially constructed cabinets; and

*Requires the licensing of marijuana manufacturers for the purpose of valid scientific and clinical research and drug development and establishes manufacturing licenses for the commercial production of FDA-approved medical marijuana products.

Dr. Kevin Sabet, President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said. “Despite state laws, raw marijuana (smoked or ingested) is not medicine, and has never passed through the rigorous FDA approval process to ensure the health and safety of patients.  The plant’s components should be studied so those in need can access any therapeutic benefits while knowing dosage, side effects, and contraindications. And more broadly speaking, the MEDS Act upholds the important, basic principle that all medications-including marijuana-based drugs-should go through the scientific process and accessed through legitimate doctors.”

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Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware. Photo: Getty Images

The American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Preventive Medical Association, American Pain Society, American Society of Anesthesiologists, and the American Academy of Pain Medicine in support of the MEDS Act.

We salute the bipartisan nature of this bill.   In the House of Representatives, Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Rep. Sam Farr of California, Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia and Rep Andy Harris of Maryland are expected to introduce a similar bill.

The MEDS Act represents a great improvement over the CARERS Act.  Three Senators presented the CARERS Act to garner media attention last year.  It was a dramatic gesture.  We live in a time when too many people believe that anything derived from nature, such is poison ivy or snake oil, must be safe because it is “from nature” or “a gift from God.”  Sometimes these purveyors of natural medicine make promises that cannot be kept.

Many states do not keep track of doctors and others who prescribe “medical” marijuana for nebulous reasons.  Other states, such as New Jersey and Illinois, have highly controlled program.

Psychiatric problems that have ballooned in states that give out medical marijuana without reasonable medical purpose, but that can be addressed at a later date.   For this reason a doctor in Florida, is urging residents in his states not to pass Amendment 2.  “The easy access to marijuana has led to exacerbations of chronic health conditions, particularly mental health disease. It is difficult to fully quantify the worsening of psychosis, anxiety, depression and other mental health diseases, but easy access to marijuana and other narcotics makes a bad condition worse.”  warned Dr. Allen Weiss, head of the Naples Health Care System.

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Youth Marijuana Use Remains High, Other Drug Use Down

The nation’s annual school survey of drug use, Monitoring the Future (MTF), shows marijuana use among adolescents,
including heavy marijuana use, remaining stubbornly high and significantly higher than in 2008 — despite reductions across the board among the other three substances kids use most.

Daily Pot Use 3x the rate of Daily Alcohol Use Among High School students

In fact, 6 percent of 12th graders are daily marijuana users and 3 percent of 10th graders use pot every day.   For comparison, daily alcohol use among  10th graders is 1/2 of 1%.  Among 12th graders, it is 1.9%, 1/3 the rate of daily pot use. Continue reading Youth Marijuana Use Remains High, Other Drug Use Down

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Is it a Mental Breakdown – Will I Ever Come Back?

by Kevin   I’ve been a marijuana addict for about 12 years and I’m 28 years old. It seems like my drug use has changed my brain chemistry inducing stress, delusions, anger, foggy thoughts, terrible memory, paranoia  and social angst. I have no interest in things I used to enjoy. It feels like it’s getting worse and it’s making my drug use worse as well. I find myself struggling to think clearly, even after a few days without it.

When I was around 20, I had a grand-mal seizure and was told I developed epilepsy. The neurologist was told of my frequent marijuana use. I was told it has to do to with Continue reading Is it a Mental Breakdown – Will I Ever Come Back?

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