Informing parents that children can die after using the non-pharmaceutical CBD is not suggesting that the CBD kills; it is merely suggesting that to call it “life-saving” is misleading. Parents who have watched their children suffer much and are desperate for a cure should not be promised more than can be given. What sounds too good to be true can be too good to be true.
A family in Arizona who was part of a lawsuit to get the extracts for their son saw a dramatic difference in the boy, an improvement in all levels of functioning. Nonetheless, the poor boy died. The family still advocates for marijuana extracts. They saw their son have a better life for a period of time before his death.
One child who moved to Colorado for the CBD medication got help, but still died. The mother returned home alone. The medical marijuana industry doesn’t tell you that sometimes these “miracle cures” don’t work.
Why are People, Legislators Shielded from the Whole Truth?
Medical marijuana campaigns don’t always supply the whole truth, especially when there’s much drama surrounding the presentation. When Dr. Sanjay Gupta went on television with his special segments about marijuana, he publicly advocated for “medical” marijuana using the example of Charlotte’s Web, an artisanal CBD product from Colorado. The televised documentaries were called Weed 1, Weed 2 and Weed 3.
At the end of Weed 3, it was mentioned that Vivian, the little girl whose family moved to Colorado for an extract of marijuana not available in New Jersey, was no longer being longer being helped as much as she had been previously. Were people listening?
Why Support Artisanal CBD?
National Families in Action (NFIA) published the American Epilepsy Society’s statements against artisanal CBD. NFIA has written about the advantages of having pharmacy-grade, FDA-approved medicine over artisanal products, which haven’t been tested for mold or pesticides and may not have the same exactitude in dosage.
Like the “Right to Know” campaign on GMOs, shouldn’t there be a Right to Know about CBD oil advocacy, or a “Right to Know about “medical” marijuana?
Parents who are considering alternative treatments for devastating diseases or conditions have a right to know that some of the experimental medicines that are aggressively promoted do not always save a child’s life. These preparations should never be called “life-saving,” because no one can prove that phrase to be true.
“Medical” marijuana has succeeded in shielding itself from lawsuits in ways that pharmaceutical companies would never be able to do.
1) Replace incarceration for low level drug offenders with assessment, treatment for those who are addicted, and education and social services for those who are not. Children and teens who are caught using are best served by get help, not punishment.
2) Any medical marijuana program should be based on public health models.
3) Recreational marijuana is not a good idea. If marijuana is legalized the best way to do it and prevent youth usage is to follow the precedent set by Dr. Kessler to regulate tobacco.
National Families in Action (NFIA) was founded in Atlanta in 1977, to protect children from drugs. It led a national effort to help parents prevent the marketing of drugs and drug use to children and helped them form parent groups to protect children’s health.
Today NFIA publishes the weekly Marijuana Report, an update on major news affecting marijuana across the US. NFIA has worked continuously for many years. Tobacco and alcohol cause enough problems in the US and it’s unwise to add a third addictive drug.
Since National Families in Action has been studying Colorado, what has been found? The more medical marijuana dispensaries, the more adolescent marijuana use.
“Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2000 but only legalized cultivation and dispensaries in 2009, giving rise to an explosion of dispensaries in some areas of the state. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, but legal pot shops did not open until January 1, 2014.
“In 2013, Colorado initiated the Colorado Healthy Kids Survey of some 40,000 middle-school and high-school students. It divided the state into 21 regions, releasing statewide data in September 2014 but regional data quite a bit later.
“Nationwide press coverage proclaimed that one year after full legalization, Colorado high school students’ marijauna use (36.9%) was lower than the national average (40.7%). But that wasn’t the whole story, illustrated (by the graphic linked above). Use is considerably higher than the national average in some regions, considerably lower in others. Why?
What will the 2015 Colorado Healthy Kids Survey show?” Thankfully, a few non-profits have been formed in order to educate and prevent marijuana from getting into the hands of children. Smart Colorado and Parents for a Healthy Colorado have stepped up the plate and are trying to fill a gap in substance abuse education. Project SAM is very active in Colorado, also.
In Oregon, Clear Alliance has formed and is working to educate in anticipation of a of that state’s legalization that begins July 1.
National Families in Action co-founded the Addiction Studies Program for Journalists with Wake Forest University School of Medicine in 1999. With demonstration grants from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention in the 1990s, the organization worked with families in inner-city Atlanta public housing communities to help parents protect their children from the crack epidemic and to help parents and teachers conduct an after-school program, Club HERO, for sixth-grade students at a large, inner- city middle school.
By Robert L. DuPont, MD,President, Institute of Behavior and Health, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to reduce illegal drug use through the power of good ideas.
Often overlooked in discussions of drug policy today is the nature of the drug problem. The global drug problem can be traced to the innate nature of the human brain. The mammalian brain is extremely vulnerable to chemicals that stimulate brain reward. These chemicals are drugs of abuse. They produce far more intense brain reward than any natural reward, even sex and food. The repeated use of drugs of abuse leads to addiction. In its definition of addiction, the American Society of Addiction Medicine notes that it is “characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response.”
Addiction is a chronic, often fatal, illness that typically begins in adolescence. The earlier an individual uses drugs of abuse, including alcohol and marijuana, the more likely it is that the person will develop a substance use disorder later in life. The best way to prevent addiction is to prevent the use of these substances. As a 13-year-old said to me years ago, “I don’t want to try cigarettes because I might like them.”
Modern Drug Use Epidemic
While the biology of addiction has not changed for millions of years, over the past half century drug use has changed dramatically. In the modern drug abuse epidemic, whole populations are exposed to a mind-bending array of drugs of abuse by powerful routes of administration. This has never happened before in human history.
Marijuana, the most widely used illegal drug, has been transformed in the time since the peak of its use in the United States in 1978. The potency of marijuana, as measured by the level of THC (the primary active cannabinoid in marijuana), has tripled over this time. New modes of marijuana consumption have increased the potency of marijuana delivery. For example, butane hash oil contains dramatically higher levels of THC, with concentrations up to 90 percent.
The addiction landscape also has changed as a result of the non-medical use of legal prescription drugs. Eighty percent of the global opioid supply is consumed by Americans who constitute less than five percent of the world’s population. With widespread medical use of opioid analgesics has come an epidemic of opiate dependence. The number of drug overdose deaths in the US has surpassed highway fatalities. The widespread use of prescription drugs has led to changes in the demographics of heroin use and subsequent heroin overdoses. Forty years ago heroin addiction was mostly confined to young inner-city men who often were involved in criminal activities. The new demography of heroin is the result of the demography of those that use pain medications non-medically. An estimated half of young heroin users previously abused prescription opioids prior to their heroin use. Heroin addiction has reached all parts of the country, especially small towns and rural areas, and is no longer limited to minority, male or lower income populations.
The drug epidemic continues to evolve in complex ways even as the public attitudes toward the use of drugs are shifting. Attitudes today are far more permissive toward the “recreational” use of drugs, especially marijuana. National polls indicate that a growing majority of Americans now favor legalization of marijuana for “recreational” use by adults.
Well-Funded Lobby Pushes for Marijuana Normalization
The well-funded lobby promoting the normalization of the use of marijuana (and other drugs) is based on the erroneous premise that marijuana is not only safe but also beneficial. (Ed. note: Three billionaires have spent an estimated $200,000,000 to legalize marijuana.) In contrast to this view, the science is clear that marijuana use is a serious threat to health, safety and productivity. As the negative impact of legal marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington – and in the states that permit “medical” marijuana – is more widely understood, attitudes toward permissive drug use will shift once again.
The US, and the entire world, is at a crossroads in drug policy today with two oppositional perspectives on the future of drug policy. On the one hand is the vision on which current global drug policy was established in the first decades of the 20th century with the US in the lead which separates medical use from non-medical use of drugs with abuse potential. Under this framework, the goal of drug policy is to limit the use of drugs of abuse to medical uses only. Drugs of abuse are provided only through the process of physicians’ prescriptions and dispensed at pharmacies in a closed system and only for the treatment of diseases. The use of drugs of abuse outside of this very limited medical practice and their sale is illegal, punishable by the criminal law.
This well-established formulation of drug policy now is threatened by an alternative vision that treats drugs of abuse the way alcohol and tobacco are treated: through regulated production and sale to adults for legal use for any purpose. The campaign for this alternative drug policy begins with the legalization of marijuana but the stakes are far greater because it applies to all drugs of abuse and because there are enormous potential profits to be earned in this new marketplace. This move erases the sharp line between legal and illegal drugs. Erasing this line frustrates prevention and it opens the floodgates to widespread drug use.
Addiction Goes Up When Percent Usage Increases
When considering the potential public health impact of the legalization of drugs of abuse, including marijuana, it is helpful to consider the rates of use of the two legal drugs. Among Americans age 12 and older, 52 percent used alcohol and 27 percent used tobacco in the past month whereas 9 percent used any illegal drug. Only 7 percent of Americans used marijuana. Treating marijuana – to say nothing of other drugs of abuse – the way alcohol and tobacco are treated most certainly will increase availability and with it dramatically increase the level of marijuana use to a level that is similar to the use of the two currently legal drugs.
Is increased marijuana use and subsequent proportional increases in marijuana addiction in the interest of the nation’s public health? I don’t think so. The use of alcohol and tobacco are the two leading causes of preventable illness and death in the United States. Adding a third legal drug will add to the devastation that these legal drugs already generate.
What is the better answer for the future of drug policy, if it is not the legalization and regulation of drugs of abuse? The future of an effective drug policy lies in finding ways to reduce the use of drugs of abuse that are compatible with modern values and laws. This search for better ways to reduce illegal drug use is the focus and the agenda of the Institute for Behavior and Heath, Inc. (www.ibhinc.org). There are many good new ideas for drug policy, all based on the recognition of the vulnerability of the brain to the excessive, unnatural stimulation of brain reward mechanism by drugs of abuse which leads to addiction for millions of people and the resulting devastation suffered by these individuals, their families and their communities.
Rather than embrace drug legalization, we must develop innovative policies and programs that reduce the use of drugs of abuse and we must provide assistance, including quality treatment that achieves long-term recovery, to those with substance use disorders.
Robert L. DuPont, M.D.
President, Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc.
Former Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (1973-1978)
Former White House Drug Chief (1973-1977)
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Established in 1978, the Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc. (IBH) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to reduce illegal drug use through the power of good ideas. IBH websites include: www.ibhinc.org, www.StopDruggedDriving.org, www.PreventTeenDrugUse.org, and www.PreventionNotPunishment.org.