Cured by Cannabis!

The potential benefits and risks of cannabis

The information in this post first appeared in the March 2019 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.

Nice article summarizing the medical evidence for cannabis health benefits.

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Opiods + Marijuana = Bad

Cannabis Plus Opioids in Chronic Pain: Not a Great Combo

Previous research by Humphreys and colleagues showed that people who used medical cannabis also had higher rates of opioid use and misuse. “This is one of many examples where claims about the benefits of medical cannabis are not supported by evidence,” Humphreys told MedPage Today.  The current study had several limitations: it relied on cross-sectional, self-reported data and was subject to possible selection bias and confounding. It also did not assess the frequency or quantity of cannabis or opioid use, or the type of chronic pain.

Does Marijuana Have Any Bad Side Effects?

Read a quick history lesson here.

Read about psychosis risk here.

Pass the doobie please.

Regardless of the century, physicians throughout the ages have known that real medicines carry risks. Any truly medicinal substance is able to give a little whack to one or more bodily processes. The goal is to whack the body back into normal functioning. That’s basically what medicine is all about – strategically whacking our physiology. But anything capable of whacking (which is to say any real medicine) is capable of harming at least a few of the many patients who would take it. This fact is so non-negotiable that we have a name for doctors who claim to have discovered effective medicines that don’t have any risks: we call them quacks.

Does Legal Marijuana Increase the Number of Car Accidents?

Crashes are up by as much as 6 percent in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, compared with neighboring states that haven’t legalized marijuana for recreational use, new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) shows.

Source article.

Insurance Agent:

“Why do you need a marijuana questionnaire?”

Underwriter:

“Confidential medical information.  Besides, I’ve seen her driving record and you haven’t.”

Insurance agent:

Silence.

Is Marijuana Safe?

A new study confirms that cannabis use is related to impaired and lasting effects on adolescent cognitive development.

To understand the relationship between alcohol, cannabis use and cognitive development among adolescents at all levels of consumption (abstinent, occasional consumer or high consumer), the research team followed a sample of 3,826 Canadian adolescents over a period of four years. Using a developmentally sensitive design, the authors investigated relationships between year-to-year changes in substance use and cognitive development across a number of cognitive domains, such as recall memory, perceptual reasoning, inhibition and working memory. Multi-level regression models were used to simultaneously test vulnerability and concurrent and lasting effects on each cognitive domain. The study found that vulnerability to cannabis and alcohol use in adolescence was associated with generally lower performance on all cognitive domains.

Yikes.  Read the full story here.

America’s Invisible Pot Addicts

Public-health experts worry about the increasingly potent options available, and the striking number of constant users. “Cannabis is potentially a real public-health problem,” said Mark A. R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University. “It wasn’t obvious to me 25 years ago, when 9 percent of self-reported cannabis users over the last month reported daily or near-daily use. I always was prepared to say, ‘No, it’s not a very abusable drug. Nine percent of anybody will do something stupid.’ But that number is now [something like] 40 percent.” They argue that state and local governments are setting up legal regimes without sufficient public-health protection, with some even warning that the country is replacing one form of reefer madness with another, careening from treating cannabis as if it were as dangerous as heroin to treating it as if it were as benign as kombucha.

But cannabis is not benign, even if it is relatively benign, compared with alcohol, opiates, and cigarettes, among other substances. Thousands of Americans are finding their own use problematic in a climate where pot products are getting more potent, more socially acceptable to use, and yet easier to come by, not that it was particularly hard before.

Read the entire Atlantic article here.

A new study in the journal Addiction finds that, after legalization, the use of marijuana among students at an Oregon college increased relative to that of students in states where the drug is still illegal. But, in a twist, the rise was mainly seen among those students who had also reported drinking heavily recently. The Oregon students who binge drank were 73 percent more likely to also report using marijuana, compared to binge-drinking students in states that didn’t legalize marijuana.

Interestingly, though, this study does suggest that legal marijuana, at least among college kids, does not seem to have much of a substitution effect. Contrary to the predictions of some legalization enthusiasts, teens don’t seem to be foregoing binge drinking—arguably a more physically harmful practice—in order to smoke weed. Instead, they’re doing both.

Read another Atlantic article on the topic here.

Binge drinking AND smoking pot.  A fine combination.

Aspen marijuana shops sold $11.3 million in 2017, topping liquor stores for first time

Legal-pot purveyors hauled in $11.3 million in revenue last year compared with $10.5 million for liquor stores, marking the first time marijuana sales outpaced booze for the year in Aspen. The figures were provided Wednesday by the city’s Finance Department in its year-end sales tax report for 2017, which showed Aspen’s retailers combined to generate $730.4 million in revenue, 2 percent better than 2016.

Read the Aspen Times article here.