Tag Archives: National Institute of Drug Abuse

NIDA Report Shows Use of Marijuana High, Feeding Future Drug Addiction

National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported today that drug abuse among teens is trending downward, except for marijuana.   The University of Michigan’s annual Monitoring the Future Survey was completed for 2016.  It showed that six percent of high school seniors across the country are daily marijuana users.

Many of these young, habitual tokers, are potential addicts–if not yet addicted.  They may stick to marijuana which is extremely potent today–5x more potent than it was in 70s.  Or they may go onto other drugs, or slide into alcoholism as they turn the legal age to buy booze.  The six percent of seniors who are daily pot users is triple the rate of daily drinkers in 12th grade.  That figure is very troubling, and it is the same high rate from the previous year.

Teen abuse of other substances, including opioids and heroin, is down. However, adult substance abuse continues to rise astronomically.   The Centers for Disease Control released new statistics last week:  52,404 drug-related deaths in 2015, an 11% rise.  By comparison, 37,757 died in car crashes, an increase of 12%. Gun deaths, including homicides and suicides, totaled 36,252, a jump of 7%.     In 2014, there were 47,055 drug overdose deaths.  The rate of increase has risen rapidly in the last decade.

There’s the concern that these daily marijuana users will go onto other drugs, drugs that lead to overdose and are potentially lethal.    States with high rates of teen marijuana use in 2011 and 2012 ended up having the highest rates of opioid pill abuse two years later.  Here’s five reasons marijuana is a gateway drug.

Pain Pills, Cough Syrup and Other Drugs

The use of synthetic cannabinoids and ecstasy is lower, but still too high.  High school students are  using much fewer opioid pain pills.  Among 12th graders there’s been a 45 percent drop over the past five years. Only 2.9 percent of high school seniors reported past year misuse of the pain reliever Vicodin in 2016, compared to nearly 10 percent a decade ago.  The Drug Free American Foundation, CADCA and the pharmacies regularly sponsor “Take Back Your Drugs” days.  At these times, pain relievers from other family members are tossed out, with the hopes of preventing illicit use.

Fewer eighth graders are using marijuana, which is encouraging.   Parents Opposed to Pot believes it’s because new parent and community drug education efforts – since legalization — are discouraging early pot use.

One troubling note is that eighth graders had an increase in misuse of over-the-counter cough medicine.  This year, 2.6 percent of them have abused it, up from 1.6 percent in 2015.

Tobacco use and drinking are trending downward, but use of e-cigarettes has gone up.   Here’s the statistics.

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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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Marijuana Puts Education, Kids Futures at Risk

Heather Mizeur naively campaigned for the governorship of Maryland by supporting universal pre-Kindergarten and paying for it by legalizing marijuana.  Her support came from NORML and the marijuana industry.

What good does earlier education do for child welfare when you introduce a whole set of new problems?

Look at what is going on in Colorado and Washington, and the unusual types of child endangerment that have gone on with legalization.   Many very young children have gotten into marijuana edibles which look like cookies and candy.

“Encouraging marijuana commercialism and consumption to fund and support education are two inconsistent goals,” explained Diane Carlson, a co-founder of Bravetracks, a non-profit devoted to encouraging youth activity, employment and engagement in Colorado.  “Even before Coloradans voted in 2012 to legalize marijuana, Denver, where marijuana was first commercialized, had some of the highest youth use rates in the nation,” she said.

“The THC content of marijuana is extremely potent with levels reaching 20% and above in Colorado, due to competition in the industry.  Highly potent pot has become incredibly commercialized here and yet our kids have been told it’s benign. Increased access and use is a huge issue for Colorado teens who have no idea how such highly potent products can impact their health and their futures,” according to Carlson.

Since legalization, the pot problem only seems to be getting worse. “Disturbingly, Colorado kids will suck on lollipops, chew on gummy bears, or munch on granola bars without anyone knowing highly potent marijuana is being consumed. They have ‘vaped’ on pens, asthma inhalers or highlighters loaded with a concentrated form of THC that can go undetected in class.”

One high-school teacher in Denver, who wishes to remain anonymous, exclaimed, “Our job is so difficult and there are so many challenges to educating kids well in the best circumstances.  She added, “So why did the state add this other layer of challenge to our jobs and make it harder for our students to achieve success?”

Marijuana Money

“Where Commerce Meets Revolution” is how the Marijuana Policy Project (MMP) describes the Cannabis Business Summit held yesterday and today in Denver.  This title leaves no doubt that the MMP and other pot advocacy groups are about the money.

Amendment 64 passed in Colorado despite warnings of the teachers’ union and a persuasive letter from teacher Christina Blair to the Huffington Post.  It is probably because big money paid for the win in Colorado, with most of that money coming from the industry’s out-of-state lobbying groups.

One year later, by December 2013,  school administrators and law enforcement noticed the changes that came into the schools.  Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has warned the governors of other states not to follow Colorado’s example.

Revolutionary ideas grab attention, but Heather Mizeur didn’t win her primary.  She only promoted an idea which was heard all over the nation’s capital region.

Most likely the children who heard Mizeur’s TV commercials about marijuana will end up believing marijuana is completely harmless and could indeed be tied to education.

The pot industry regularly promotes it as a way to fund education.   It is an ironic that they would suggest a solution that only makes a problem worse.

Beware that many local candidates and representatives in Congress are taking money from the marijuana industry.   We need to watch out for the fallout from this “green rush.”  It could be worse than the mess left by the mortgage industry.

Marijuana and Teens

With the push to legalize and expansion of medical marijuana, children and teens have gained an erroneous perception that pot is harmless, studies show.  Surveys of teens indicate use would definitely go up, if marijuana is legalized.

According to David G. Evans, executive director of the Drug Free Schools Coalition,  “Studies indicate that usage will increase to levels near between those of tobacco and alcohol users.”   The annual survey show that all teen marijuana use, and daily marijuana use, have consistently gone up over the last five years.  As a nation and for our individual children, we need to be concerned.

There is a connection to regular marijuana usage, gaps in college education and dropping out of high school, which often hinders future success.  “Chronic/heavy marijuana users are twice as likely to experience gaps in college enrollment as minimal users, ” according to  Dr. Robert DuPont, Director of the Institute for Behavior and Health,  in Rockville, MD.

Marijuana use in the young often creates a-motivational syndrome and apathy, in addition to and apart from the affects of addiction.  It is not a way of saying “yes to life, yes to love, yes to opportunity and yes to education,” as recommended by the Pope Francis in a recent address at the International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome.

Dr. DuPont and Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University, wrote an article to suggest that changing policy necessitates a large, multi-year study using technology that has developed over the past 2 decades.  The study would aim to understand more about the effects of marijuana on the adolescent brain.  Researchers at Northwestern University recently published their studies indicating the changes on specific parts of the brain, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has written about some of those findings.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry gives  a warning about  marijuana and young minds:  “Marijuana’s deleterious effects on adolescent brain development, cognition, and social functioning may have immediate and long-term implications, including increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, sexual victimization, academic failure, lasting decline in intelligence measures, psychopathology, addiction, and psychosocial and occupational impairment.”

 

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