Marijuana and the Conservative ~ Where Should We Stand?

Let me add something here. I am for the legalization of personal use Marijuana when the authorities can tell if someone is under the influence of it while driving (like they can with drinking and driving… similar to a breathalyzer).

For those interested, I have read books that are pro-Marijuana such as The Emperor Wears No Clothes: The Authoritative Historical Record of Cannabis and the Conspiracy Against Marijuana, and, Marijuana Myths Marijuana Facts: A Review Of The Scientific Evidence. Granted, these books may be a bit dated, but I guarantee you I have read more on the topic than any pastor I know. Which leads me to mention, I doubt any reading this — that are fighting/arguing for its legalization — have read books like, No Need for Weed: Understanding and Breaking Cannabis Dependency, or, The Truth About Pot: Ten Recovering Marijuana Users Share Their Personal Stories. Reasoned balance in thinking on topics is the idea here.

So what are some positions to discourage use of marijuana by individuals? Here are just a few reasons and links to a quick synopsis or studies regarding the topic.

Dependency

Marijuana Withdrawal in Humans: Effects of Oral THC or Divalproex (summary)

Abstinence following daily marijuana use can produce a withdrawal syndrome characterized by negative mood (eg irritability, anxiety, misery), muscle pain, chills, and decreased food intake. Two placebo-controlled, within-subject studies investigated the effects of a cannabinoid agonist, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC: Study 1), and a mood stabilizer, divalproex (Study 2), on symptoms of marijuana withdrawal. Participants (n¼7/study), who were not seeking treatment for their marijuana use, reported smoking 6–10 marijuana cigarettes/day, 6–7 days/week. Study 1 was a 15-day in-patient, 5-day outpatient, 15-day in-patient design. During the in-patient phases, participants took oral THC capsules (0, 10 mg) five times/day, 1 h prior to smoking marijuana (0.00, 3.04% THC). Active and placebo marijuana were smoked on in-patient days 1–8, while only placebo marijuana was smoked on days 9–14, that is, marijuana 4 abstinence. Placebo THC was administered each day, except during one of the abstinence phases (days 9–14), when active THC was given. Mood, psychomotor task performance, food intake, and sleep were measured. Oral THC administered during marijuana abstinence decreased ratings of ‘anxious’, ‘miserable’, ‘trouble sleeping’, ‘chills’, and marijuana craving, and reversed large decreases in food intake as compared to placebo, while producing no intoxication. Study 2 was a 58-day, outpatient/in-patient design. Participants were maintained on each divalproex dose (0, 1500 mg/day) for 29 days each. Each maintenance condition began with a 14-day outpatient phase for medication induction or clearance and continued with a 15-day in-patient phase. Divalproex decreased marijuana craving during abstinence, yet increased ratings of ‘anxious’, ‘irritable’, ‘bad effect’, and ‘tired.’ Divalproex worsened performance on psychomotor tasks, and increased food intake regardless of marijuana condition. Thus, oral THC decreased marijuana craving and withdrawal symptoms at a dose that was subjectively indistinguishable from placebo. Divalproex worsened mood and cognitive performance during marijuana abstinence. These data suggest that oral THC, but not divalproex, may be useful in the treatment of marijuana dependence. Neuropsychopharmacology (2004) 29, 158–170, advance online publication, 15 October 2003; doi:10.1038/sj.npp.1300310

IQ

Current and former marijuana use: preliminary findings of a longitudinal study of effects on IQ in young adults

Results: Current marijuana use was significantly correlated (p < 0.05) in a dose- related fashion with a decline in IQ over the ages studied. The comparison of the IQ difference scores showed an average decrease of 4.1 points in current heavy users (p < 0.05) compared to gains in IQ points for light current users (5.8), former users (3.5) and non-users (2.6).

Interpretation: Current marijuana use had a negative effect on global IQ score only in subjects who smoked 5 or more joints per week. A negative effect was not observed among subjects who had previously been heavy users but were no longer using the substance. We conclude that marijuana does not have a long-term negative impact on global intelligence. Whether the absence of a residual marijuana effect would also be evident in more specific cognitive domains such as memory and attention remains to be ascertained.

Health and Perception

The Health Effects of Marijuana: Negative Health Effects Are Numerous

The short-term effects of marijuana include:

Effects on the Brain

The active ingredient in marijuana, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, acts on cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells and influences the activity of those cells. Some brain areas have many cannabinoid receptors, but other areas of the brain have few or none at all. Many cannabinoid receptors are found in the parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.

When high doses of marijuana are used, usually when eaten in food rather than smoked, users can experience the following symptoms:

Effects on the Heart

Within a few minutes after smoking marijuana, the heart begins beating more rapidly and the blood pressure drops. Marijuana can cause the heart beat to increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute, and can increase even more if other drugs are used at the same time.

Because of the lower blood pressure and higher heart rate, researchers found that users’ risk for a heart attack is four times higher within the first hour after smoking marijuana, compared to their general risk of heart attack when not smoking.

Effects on the Lungs

Smoking marijuana, even infrequently, can cause burning and stinging of the mouth and throat, and cause heavy coughing. Scientists have found that regular marijuana smokers can experience the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers do, including:

Most marijuana smokers consume a lot less cannabis than cigarette smokers consume tobacco, however the harmful effects of smoking marijuana should not be ignored. Marijuana contains more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke and because marijuana smokers typically inhale deeper and hold the smoke in their lungs longer than tobacco smokers, their lungs are exposed to those carcinogenic properties longer, when smoking.

What About Cancer?

Although one study found that marijuana smokers were three times more likely to develop cancer of the head or neck than non-smokers, that study could not be confirmed by further analysis.

Because marijuana smoke contains three times the amount of tar found in tobacco smoke and 50 percent more carcinogens, it would seem logical to deduce that there is an increased risk of lung cancer for marijuana smokers. However, researchers have not been able to definitively prove such a link because their studies have not been able to adjust for tobacco smoking and other factors that might also increase the risk.

Studies linking marijuana smoking to lung cancer have also been limited by selection bias and small sample size. For example, the participants in those studies may have been too young to have developed lung cancer yet. Even though researchers have yet to “prove” a link between smoking pot and lung cancer, regular smokers may want to consider the risk.

 Other Health Effects

Research indicates that THC impairs the body’s immune system from fighting disease, which can cause a wide variety of health problems. One study found that marijuana actually inhibited the disease-preventing actions of key immune cells. Another study found that THC increased the risk of developing bacterial infections and tumors.

[….]

See Also: NIDA InfoFacts: Marijuana

Immune System

EFFECTS OF HABITUAL MARIJUANA USE ON THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

The most potent argument against the use of marijuana to treat medical disorders is that marijuana may cause the acceleration or aggravation of the very disorders it is being used to treat.

Smoking marijuana regularly (a joint a day) can damage the cells in the bronchial passages which protect the body against inhaled microorganisms and decrease the ability of the immune cells in the lungs to fight off fungi, bacteria, and tumor cells. For patients with already weakened immune systems, this means an increase in the possibility of dangerous pulmonary infections, including pneumonia, which often proves fatal in AIDS patients.

Studies further suggest that marijuana is a general “immunosuppressant” whose degenerative influence extends beyond the respiratory system. Regular smoking has been shown to materially affect the overall ability of the smoker’s body to defend itself against infection by weakening various natural immune mechanisms, including macrophages (a.k.a. “killer cells”) and the all-important T-cells. Obviously, this suggests the conclusion, which is well-supported by scientific studies, that the use of marijuana as a medical therapy can and does have a very serious negative effect on patients with pre-existing immune deficits resulting from AIDS, organ transplantation, or cancer chemotherapy, the very conditions for which marijuana has most often been touted and suggested as a treatment. It has also been shown that marijuana use can accelerate the progression of HIV to full-blown AIDS and increase the occurrence of infections and Kaposi’s sarcoma. In addition, patients with weak immune systems will be even less able to defend themselves against the various respiratory cancers and conditions to which consistent marijuana use has been linked, and which are discussed briefly under “Respiratory Illnesses.”

In conclusion, it seems that the potential dangers presented by the medical use of marijuana may actually contribute to the dangers of the diseases which it would be used to combat. Therefore, I suggest that marijuana should not be permitted as a therapy, at least until a good deal more conclusive research has been completed concerning its debilitating effect on the immune system.

For more on this topic, please see Donald P. Tashkin, M.D., “Effects of Marijuana on the Lung and Its Immune Defenses,” Secretary’s Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Intiative: Resource Papers, March 1997, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. Pages 33-51 of this address can be found at the website of the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University, located at http://www.drugs.indiana.edu/druginfo/tashkin- marijuana.html.

Early Onset of Schizophrenia

Marijuana / Cannabis and Schizophrenia

Overview: Use of street drugs (including LSD,methamphetamine,marijuana/hash/cannabis) and alcohol have been linked with significantly increased probability of developing psychosis and schizophrenia. This link has been documented in over 30 different scientific studies (studies done mostly in the UK, Australia and Sweden) over the past 20 years. In one example, a study interviewed 50,000 members of the Swedish Army about their drug consumption and followed up with them later in life. Those who were heavy consumers of cannabis at age 18 were over 600% more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia over the next 15 years than those did not take it. (see diagram below). Experts estimate that between 8% and 13% of all schizophrenia cases are linked to marijuna / cannabis use during teen years.

Many of these research studies indicate that the risk is higher when the drugs are used by people under the age of 21, a time when the human brain is developing rapidly and is particularly vulnerable.

People with any biological predisposition towards schizophrenia are at the highest risk — unfortunately its impossible to accurately identify this predisposition beforehand ( a family history of mental illness is just one indicator of such a predisposition). [see causes and prevention of schizophrenia for more information on all risk factors linked to a person developing schizophrenia]

Researchers in New Zealand found that those who used cannabis by the age of 15 were more than three times (300%) more likely to develop illnesses such as schizophrenia. Other research has backed this up, showing that cannabis use increases the risk of psychosis by up to 700% for heavy users, and that the risk increases in proportion to the amount of cannabis used (smoked or consumed). Additionally, the younger a person smokes/uses cannabis, the higher the risk for schizophrenia, and the worse the schizophrenia is when the person does develop it. Research by psychiatrists in inner-city areas speak of cannabis being a factor in up to 80 percent of schizophrenia cases.

Professor Robin Murray (London Institute of Psychiatry) has recently (2005) completed a 15-year study of more than 750 adolescents in conjunction with colleagues at King’s College London and the University of Otago in New Zealand.

Overall people were 4.5 times more likely to be schizophrenic at 26 if they were regular cannabis smokers at 15, compared to 1.65 times for those who did not report regular use until age 18.

Impaired Driving

Facts for Teens

Smoking Marijuana Can Make Driving Dangerous

The cerebellum is the section of our brain that controls balance and coordination. When THC affects the cerebellum’s function, it makes scoring a goal in soccer or hitting a home run pretty tough. THC also affects the basal ganglia, another part of the brain that’s involved in movement control.

These THC effects can cause disaster on the road. Research shows that drivers on marijuana have slower reaction times, impaired judgment, and problems responding to signals and sounds. Studies conducted in a number of localities have found that approximately 4 to 14 percent of drivers who sustained injury or death in traffic accidents tested positive for THC.

 

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