Tag Archives: CDC

COVID-19 + Pot: Lung Issues, Suppression of Immune System, ER Problems

By David G. Evans, Esq

Hundreds of businesses in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.  However, “medical” marijuana stores remain open as officials revise public health orders to include cannabis as an essential medicine.

Who is Vulnerable to Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Is keeping marijuana stores open a good policy? The science shows that it is not.

The Centers for Disease Control states that the people at high risk of getting very sick or dying from COVID-19 include:

1. Older adults

2. People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:

Heart disease

Diabetes

Lung disease

Asthma – People with asthma may be at higher risk of getting very sick. COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), cause an asthma attack, and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease.

What does the science say about marijuana use and impaired immune function or lung and respiratory problems?

A comprehensive study of the dangers of marijuana smoke by the Hazard Assessment Branch of the California Environmental Protection Agency concluded in part that: Marijuana smoke is genotoxic, immunosuppressive, and can alter endocrine function. Studies of 9-THC and other cannabinoids provide evidence for alterations of multiple cell signaling pathways, in endocrine function, and suppression of the innate and adaptive immune response. Prolonged exposures to marijuana smoke in animals and humans cause proliferative and inflammatory lesions in the lung.

Immune function impairment

One of the most serious findings in marijuana research was the effect of marijuana on various immune functions. Cellular immunity is impaired, pulmonary immunity is impaired, and impaired ability to fight infection is now documented in humans. This impairment leaves the patient unable to fight certain infections and fatal diseases. The potential for these complications exists in all forms of administration of marijuana. Habitual smoking of marijuana has a number of effects on the respiratory and immune systems, including alterations in lung function, increased prevalence of acute and chronic bronchitis and airway injury.

A study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine states: “We conclude that smoking marijuana, regardless of tetrahydrocannabinol content, results in a substantially greater respiratory burden of carbon monoxide and tar than smoking a similar quantity of tobacco.”

Guy Cabral, author of the book, Marihuana and Medicine, pp. 317-325 concludes in the chapter on marihuana and the immune system:  “Marihuana has been shown to decrease host resistance to bacterial, protozoan, and viral infections in experimental animal models and in vitro systems. Recent immuno epidemiological studies suggest that marihuana may also influence the outcome of viral infections in humans. The main substance in marihuana that exerts these immuno depressive effects is its major psychoactive constituent Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).”

Marijuana Contamination Poses Serious Risks to Health

Contaminants of marijuana smoke include bacteria, molds and fungi. Those at particular risk for the development of infection due to inhaling marijuana smoke are people with impaired immunity. For example, Aspergillus is a group of molds that can cause allergy-type illnesses to life-threatening generalized infections. Aspergillus is found in marijuana and can cause illness in marijuana users. This is thought to be due to the direct inhalation of fungal spores that are present on the surface of the plant. The heating of cannabis buds may not be sufficient for sterilization and so users (particularly those with compromised immune systems) are potentially exposed to life threatening pulmonary infection.

A study done at the University of California, Davis, discovered that medical marijuana from 20 dispensaries contained multiple fungal and bacterial contaminants that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections among marijuana users. Smoking, vaping or inhaling aerosolized marijuana is a serious health risk, especially for people with chronic conditions or other conditions requiring immunosuppressing therapies. The study revealed a multitude of microorganisms, many of which are known causes of serious lung infections, including Cryptococcus, Mucor, and Aspergillus fungi.

The authors of the study concluded:  “Our results suggest that handling marijuana in any form might expose the patient to a number of both bacterial and fungal pathogens well known to cause serious infections in the immunocompromised population. Smoking or vaporization provides a direct portal of entry into the terminal bronchioles and alveoli. Moreover, the recovery of these organisms in a symptomatic patient would be unlikely to initiate a search for unusual exposures. Aspergillus and other molds may therefore be attributed to breakthrough infection, and recovery of Gram-negative bacilli would be attributed to healthcare-associated pneumonia and/or a failure of prophylaxis.”

Vaping

Use of vaping devices such as those used for vaping marijuana cause a serious, potentially fatal lung disease called Vaping Associated Lung Injury (EVALI).  Most of the sick EVALI patients used THC extract products in their vaping devices.  THC is the addictive psychoactive mind-altering compound of marijuana that produces the “high.” Having vaping lung injury will hurt your chances of survival if you get CONVID-19.

From: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html; https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/balanced/202001/vaping-and-evali (Posted Jan 31, 2020); https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/products-ingredients-components/vaporizers-e-cigarettes-and-other-electronic-nicotine-delivery-systems-ends

This may be especially true with young people who vape marijuana.

Can marijuana use open your body up to a virus?

A study from Harvard Medical School showed that marijuana use opens the door for the virus that causes Kaposi’s Sarcoma. This is a serious life-threatening problem for people with HIV infection. The major active component of marijuana could aid the Kaposi’s sarcoma virus in infecting cells and multiplying, according researchers. They report that low doses of THC, equivalent to that in the bloodstream of an average marijuana smoker, could be enough to facilitate infection of skin cells and could even foster malignancy. “These findings raise some serious questions about using marijuana, in any form, if you have a weakened immune system,” said lead study author Jerome E. Groopman, M.D., professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “

Damage to Our Emergency Health Care System

In addition to the damage to marijuana users that results from marijuana use, marijuana user causes problems for our health care system, especially the emergency medicine system. We do not need more overloading of our health care system.

Emergency rooms in states that have legalized marijuana have to deal with Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. CHS is a condition with recurrent bouts of severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration. It can lead users to make frequent trips to the emergency room, but can be resolved when a person stops using marijuana. CHS which can result in kidney failure. 

Marijuana users flood the Emergency medicine system when users become paranoid and psychotic. 

Marijuana related emergency room visits by Colorado teens is substantially on the rise. They see more kids with psychotic symptoms and other mental health problems and chronic vomiting due to marijuana use.

Marijuana Exposures Increase

The rate of marijuana exposures among children under the age of six increased by 610% in the “medical” marijuana states according to a study published in Clinical Pediatrics. The data comes from the National Poison Data System. 75% percent of the children ingested edible marijuana products such as marijuana-infused candy. Clinical effects include drowsiness or lethargy, ataxia [failure of muscle coordination], agitation or irritability, confusion and coma, respiratory depression, and single or multiple seizures.

In Colorado one in six infants and toddlers hospitalized for lung inflammation are testing positive for marijuana exposure. This has been a 100% increase since legalization. Non-white kids are more likely to be exposed than white kids.

Conclusion

In these times of peril from infection by the COVID-19 virus, it’s  unwise to use marijuana.  Anyone at risk of getting COVID-19 should not use it as a medicine. Marijuana use hurts the users and contributes to overloading our health care system.

See also: www.civel.org, submissions to the FDA,” The Failures of the States to Regulate Marijuana, Studies Show That Marijuana Products Have High Levels of Contaminants Including Pesticides, Fungus and Heavy Metals and Solvents”

From our website, there’s much more medical documentation on the dangers of marijuana.

For more information, go to the website, www.aalm.info  

Contact  Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana

POB 158 Carmichael, CA 95609 Phones 916-708-4111, 619-990-7480

Talent Riddled with Tragedy: Suicide, Mental Health and Drugs

Anthony Bourdain. Kate Spade. You know their names and you know the unfortunate circumstances surrounding their untimely passing. Bourdain, 61, and Spade, 55, took their lives in suicides by hanging. Their deaths marked an immediate response from mental health advocates while pushing mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety to the forefront of the news cycle.

Prior to their deaths the CDC’s (Center for Disease Control), Vital Signs report found that suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state. In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age ten or older died by suicide. Even more alarming, suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death and is one of three leading causes that are on the rise. But what does this mean for states where drug use runs rampant? Colorado saw a 34.1 percent increase in suicides while Washington and Oregon saw increases by 18.8 percent and 28.2 percent. Take into consideration that these states have legalized marijuana for recreational and/or medicinal use and it’s clear that mind-altering drugs can aggravate those with and without mental health conditions.

suicide

Bourdain was a long time pot smoker and made countless marijuana jokes, often alluding to smoking weed in the restaurants he visited. The “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” Twitter account once tweeted an elaborate illustration detailing “how to roll a joint.”

Did copious amounts of THC play a part in Bourdain’s death? At this point we don’t know for sure, but we do know that his weed addiction began in his younger years right before the publication of his best-selling book, “Kitchen Confidential,” in 2000. “Weed was a major expense. Before I reached the point where weed made me paranoid and agoraphobic, it was costing me a few hundred dollars a week,” the chef recalled. Fast forward to becoming a successful star, and Bourdain was using cocaine to offset the effects of weed. It’s important to note that cannabis is playing a role in many suicides by causing mental health disorders, including depression and psychosis. One has to wonder if a cocktail of drugs played a part in his untimely death.

Kate Spade suffered from mental illnesses for several years. She was seeking help during the last five years, “seeing a doctor on a regular basis and taking medication for both depression and anxiety,” widower Andy Spade said in a statement. It’s worth nothing that we don’t know if any drug use triggered her problems. The CDC’s Vital Signs report found many factors contributing to the various suicide cases across the country. It’s eye-opening that more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death.

What a shame it is that thousands of Americans are advocating to legalize a drug with the potential to severely damage the brain? There’s absolutely no sense in burdening our country with a mental health crisis.

Cannabis is know to cause mood disorders, and mood disorders are a leading cause of suicide.

MomsStrong.org is  a website started by two parents who lost their sons to marijuana-related suicide. Read Shane’s story, and Andy’s story. PopPot.org is also sounding the alarm about the cannabis-suicide risk. See our many articles on suicide related to cannabis use.

To learn more about the CDC report and the rising suicide rate across the United States click here: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0607-suicide-prevention.html

 

Opioids kill One Way; Cannabis Kills in Another Way

By John Dossett, MD, South Londonderry Township, Pennsylvania, originally published in Penn-Live on July 16, 2017, as one of the top five editorials of the week.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting that between 30,000 and 40,000 Americans are dying each year from opioid overdoses. Most of these are not suicides but, are the consequences of people using “stuff” which is profoundly more potent than they imagined.  From our local communities, to the state, and federal government levels, we are alarmed and we should be.

Parallel to the “opioid epidemic” is the “cannabis epidemic” which is going unnoticed and unreported. We see weekly hype about so called “medical marijuana,” but, little about the tragic consequences of cannabis overdoses.

Why? One reason is that opioid overdoses kill and cannabis takes the lives of its victims in a less dramatic way.  Cannabis-induced psychosis robs the victims of their meaningful life.

The proverb says, “There are many ways to lose one’s life and dying is just one of them.”

The parallel to opioids is that the “weed” of today has been hybridized (genetically engineered) to be 5 – 6 times more potent than the weed of 20 years ago (4% THC compared to 19% THC).  In addition, the contemporary delivery systems (example- vaping) increase the amount of THC getting to the brain. These unexpectedly high “doses” of today may include manic psychosis and schizophrenia like symptoms. The victim didn’t understand what she/he was getting. What was expected to be a few hours of pleasure has become a life-changing psychosis.

I predict that our fascination with “medical marijuana” will only accelerate this tragic epidemic of THC-induced psychosis.

If there is to be a place for “medical marijuana,” give it to the FDA where it can be studied by legitimate scientists who are not funded by the producers, distributors and charlatan practitioners. Clearly, the profits are huge and the costs to human lives are huge.

There may be a few serious conditions in which a small amount of cannabis helps to relieve suffering. Example: End stage cancer. Responsible physicians will use it wisely and compassionately just as they do with opioids.

The tragic hidden problem is aided by a very small number of “charlatan physicians” who will sell their souls to the callous industry. For a fee and without being seen, cannabis users can receive a “certificate of need.” This document allows the user to go into a retail cannabis dispensary and purchase whatever he/she wants from a large inventory of cannabis products.
Said again, opioids kill by suppressing respiration. Cannabinoids ruin lives by inducing psychosis.  Both are tragic.

Dr. Dossett is a pediatrician in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Can Marijuana Help with the Opioid Overdose Problem?

Smart Approaches to Marijuana has the Answer for Senator Warren

Last year Sen. Elizabeth Warren asked the CDC if marijuana can be used to fight the opioid epidemic.  There’s an answer in Smart Approaches to Marijuana’s recent publication, its educational toolkit for 2017.  The publication refers to academic studies which suggest that marijuana primes the brain for other types of drug usage, alcohol and heroin.  Here’s the summary on that subject from page 4, Marijuana and Other Drugs: A Link We Can’t Ignore :

MORE THAN FOUR in 10 people who ever use marijuana will go on to use other illicit drugs, per a large, nationally representative sample of U.S. adults.(1) The CDC also says that marijuana users are three times more likely to become addicted to heroin.(2)

Although 92% of heroin users first used marijuana before going to heroin, less than half used painkillers before going to heroin.

And according to the seminal 2017 National Academy of Sciences report, “There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and the development of substance dependence and/or a substance abuse disorder for substances including alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs.”(3)

RECENT STUDIES WITH animals also indicate that marijuana use is connected to use and abuse of other drugs. A 2007 Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology study found that rats given THC later self administered heroin as adults, and increased their heroin usage, while those rats that had not been treated with THC maintained a steady level of heroin intake.(4) Another 2014 study found that adolescent THC exposure in rats seemed to change the rodents’ brains, as they subsequently displayed “heroin-seeking” behavior. Youth marijuana use could thus lead to “increased vulnerability to drug relapse in adulthood.”(5)

The National Institutes of Health says that research in this area is “consistent with animal experiments showing THC’s ability to ‘prime’ the brain for enhanced responses to other drugs. For example, rats previously administered THC show heightened behavioral response not only when further exposed to THC, but also when exposed to other drugs such as morphine—a phenomenon called cross-sensitization.”(6)

Suggestions that one addictive substance replaces another ignores the problem of polysubstance abuse, the common addiction of today.

ADDITIONALLY, THE MAJORITY of studies find that marijuana users are often polysubstance users, despite a few studies finding limited evidence that some people substitute marijuana for opiate medication. That is, people generally do not substitute marijuana for other drugs. Indeed, the National Academy of Sciences report found that “with regard to opioids, cannabis use predicted continued opioid prescriptions 1 year after injury.  Finally, cannabis use was associated with reduced odds of achieving abstinence from alcohol, cocaine, or polysubstance use after inpatient hospitalization and treatment for substance use disorders” [emphasis added].(7)

Moreover, a three-year 2016 study of adults also found that marijuana compounds problems with alcohol. Those who reported marijuana use during the first wave of the survey were more likely than adults who did not use marijuana to develop an alcohol use disorder within three years.(8) Similarly, alcohol consumption in Colorado has increased slightly since legalization. (9)

Here’s the complete Data on Marijuana Policy for 2017 in pdf form.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is a strong advocate for consumer rights

Here’s the Answer for Senator Warren

Senator Warren, Parents Opposed to Pot, which doesn’t support any political party, hopes you’re satisfied with the answer.  We miss your previous, more sensible approach to marijuana before NORML criticized you a few years back. These industry promoters are placing their stories in national publications because they honor their profits over public health.  They want users who will become addicted and so suggest the substitution of marijuana for pain pills.  We believe the future of pain medicine is in utilizing alternative, mind-based stressed reduction strategies and meditation to deal with chronic pain.   Remember, “medical” marijuana was planned as a hoax.

Senator Warren, you’re deeply respected by youth.  You could be a powerful spokesperson by advocating for them not to use drugs.  The problem is that — for some young people — that critical first choice to use a drug turns into a game of Russian Roulette.

Parents who lost children to drugs overwhelmingly insist their children initiated drug use with marijuana and alcohol.  Marijuana advocates insist marijuana is “not a gateway” drug, but studies show otherwise.  Marijuana is a gateway to other drugs for 40+ percent of those who start using pot.  It is never wise to substitute one drug of addiction for another drug of addiction.   Please consider that not everyone who becomes addicted to opiates started because of pain.  Many started for fun.  According to a Jon Daily of Recovery Happens, most begin pain pill abuse because their relationship with intoxication began as a relationship with marijuana and/or alcohol.

There are many other ways to treat the opiate epidemic:  better prevention programs, mandating education in the schools and  clamping down on internet sellers of these drugs.  Studies claiming fewer overdose deaths occur in marijuana states need to consider the availability of suboxone, other drugs to counter the overdose.

Senator Warren, please check out Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which advocates an alternative to legalization which does not include incarceration.    In our next article, Senator Warren, we will discuss the marijuana-mental illness links………… once again.

FOOTNOTES:

  1. Secades-Villa R, Garcia-Rodríguez O, Jin CJ, Wang S, Blanco C Probability and predictors of the cannabis gateway effect: a national study. Int J Drug Policy. 2015;26(2):135-142

2. Centers for Disease Control. Today’s heroin epidemic Infographics more people at risk, multiple drugs abused. CDC, 7 July 2015.

3. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health andPublic Health Practice; Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda (“2017 NAS Report”).

4. Ellgren, Maria et al. “Adolescent Cannabis Exposure Alters Opiate Intake and Opioid Limbic Neuronal Populations in Adult Rats.”Neuropsychopharmacology 32.3 (2006): 607–615.

5. Stropponi, Serena et al. Chronic THC during adolescence increases the vulnerability to stress-induced relapse to heroin seeking in adult rats. European Neuropsychopharmacology Volume 24 , Issue 7 (2014), 1037 – 1045.

6. “Is marijuana a gateway drug?” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Jan. 2017. See also Panlilio LV, Zanettini C, Barnes C, Solinas M, Goldberg SR. Prior exposure to THC increases the addictive effects of nicotine in rats. Neuropsychopharmacol Off Publ Am Coll Neuropsychopharmacol. 2013;38(7):1198-1208; Cadoni C, Pisanu A, Solinas M, Acquas E, Di Chiara G. Behavioural sensitization after repeated exposure to Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cross-sensitization with morphine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001;158(3):259-266.

7.  2017 NAS report.

8.  Weinberger AH, Platt J, Goodwin RD. Is cannabis use associated with an increased risk of onset and persistence of alcohol use disorders? A three-year prospective study among adults in the United States. Drug Alcohol Depend. February 2016.

9. Rocky Mountain HIDTA Investigative Support Center Strategic Intelligence Unit. The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volum