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  • Heroin, Energy Drink Ban, Fingertip Drug Testing, AA vs Addiction Docs

    Heroin is at epidemic levels in Vermont and a major concern, says its governor ... Vermont and other small states have a greater per capita heroin problem than big cities, and overdose deaths have increased dramatically. Also, calls for banning of Monster Energy Drink, following a 19 year old's death, and increased emergency room caffeine poisonings cases. Using the sweat from fingertips is the latest innovation in drug testing. And a discussion on the ongoing conflict between subscribers to the AA model of recovery vs. addiction doctors and their adherents. Also "amnesty boxes in Denver airport for MJ, and more on e-cigarettes, which have been banned in some places.
  • MJ and Boomers, Driving and as a Teen Brain Stunter

    Recent marijuana stories look at the increase in use (or return to use) of pot by the boomer generation. New laws regarding marijuana use and driving are considered. And a recent study shows that using marijuana as a teen can permanently damage the brain structure and lead to mental illness. PODCAST.
  • FDA eyes menthol in cigarettes and the additive effect of smoking with alcohol

    The FDA is considering regulating menthol in cigarettes, saying it makes it easier to start and harder to quit, and makes smoking more attractive to young people. We also consider a new study showing how smoking increases the likelihood of drinking more, and the way the dopamine reacts in the brain. PODCAST.
  • New marijuana laws start 79 years after Prohibition ends

    ...the day that marijuana became legal in Washington is the anniversary of repeal of The Volstead Act, which prohibited the production, sale, and transport, but not private ownership or consumption of "intoxicating liquors". The law, the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution ... was significant in the creation of powerful gangs such as those led by Al Capone in Chicago, along with rampant political corruption resulting from the various issues of making, moving and selling liquor. Marijuana was made illegal about 5 years after the repeal,
  • Marijuana use legalized in Washington and Colorado

    In a landmark election the states of Colorado and Washington have voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults. The laws also set up structures to regulate and tax the sale of pot. The next question is the response of the federal government, which has said it would not actively target the medical marijuana community, yet there have been many busts of licensed growers in the last year. We discuss the various implications.

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    Transcript (edited):

    HOWARD:    Welcome to the CNS Podcast featuring Dr. Darryl Inaba, research director for CNS Productions, I'm Howard LaMere.  It’s been nearly a century since the first state bans on marijuana were enacted, and just 75 years since Congress enacted marijuana prohibition on the federal level.  Since then millions of Americans have been arrested for marijuana, most were in possession of small amounts.  Billions of dollars have been spent trying to stop people from growing, selling, and smoking pot.  It hasn’t worked and on November 6th we’ve seen a historic election in which 2 states have actually legalized the possession of marijuana for personal use.  Yes, we’re going to talk about marijuana one more time because it’s an important topic and as I just said, what happened this last week with the passage of those laws in Colorado and Washington was historic.

    DARRYL:    Oh absolutely, Howard.  It’s actually a first… since the marijuana was prohibited.  Prohibition of marijuana, as you know, occurred in 1937, in 1938 federal laws were passed prohibiting it.  All the states followed suit and although 17 states and the District of Columbia, made medical marijuana legal, this is the first time that any state has acted on the recreational use of marijuana, allowing for recreational use of marijuana.

    HOWARD:    In other words, anyone over the age of 21.

    DARRYL:    Right.  You have to be an adult…anyone over the age of 21 can possess small amounts, I think less than an ounce.  So, in Colorado, I understand, and less so in Washington, there was a big celebration where a bunch of people just went out on the street and lit up, which clearly indicated that they were already in possession. So, I’m not sure what will change now that it is legal except it will be more out in the open and more obvious… but....it is historic in that ….it’s a total change in attitude by a couple of states which can be a snowball in the making for other states as was medical marijuana.

    HOWARD:    Well, it is…indicative of the populous in general -  changing attitudes.

    DARRYL:    Right and it is also indicative that the population in general uses it.  I think the last national surveys showed that over 50% of the adults in this nation have at least tried marijuana.  That means there’s a lot more of it being used than people imagine.

    HOWARD:    And of course, people always under report too.

    DARRYL:    Right.  And their attitudes are moving towards pro legalization.  There were arguments just before the election posted on a website called, “The Fix”, which I found interesting.  Kevin Saber from the office of National Drug Control Policy in the drug czar’s office argued against legalization of marijuana and the other side was presented by a Phillip Smith.  Now Phillip Smith is a writer and he’s also an editor.  Actually, I found these 2 articles extremely interesting.  I found Kevin Saber’s argument against legalization for recreational use to be well thought out and well written, addressing some major things that I think people aren’t considering or didn’t think about.  Oregon defeated its recreational use of marijuana measure, although it maintains its medical use laws on marijuana.  The gist of Mr. Saber's argument included the fact that more young adults…more young children, adolescents and more adults are coming in for treatment of marijuana addiction.  And from my experience, most of the people who have come in to out treatment facility are self referred.  They weren’t sent there by the courts. And at last count, I think about 380,000 of the 1.8 million people or so treated in the United States for drug addictions listed marijuana as their primary drug of choice. So, the move toward legalization ignores the fact that this is an addiction that is creating a lot more obsession and compulsion and has more consequences than it did during the 60’s and 70’s when marijuana first got its foot hold in modern society.

    HOWARD:    Let me ask you about that. Marijuana has become increasingly more potent ever since that point, making exponential leaps over a short period of time.  So..to what extent do you think that is a factor?

    DARRYL:    Well, I think that is a huge factor, Howard.  I mean the marijuana that was confiscated and analyzed before the 1970’s was only 1 to 2% THC concentration and the last report by the University of Mississippi where the marijuana potency is monitored showed it to be around 8 to 10% and that was in 2008.  They haven’t reported since then, but it showed a steady  increase in the potency of THC in marijuana.  I’m amazed at the reports we’re getting from many psychiatrists and many physicians and medical people saying that they believe that it actually can cause…. especially high potency marijuana and some of the herbal incense like spice…can actually cause schizophrenia.  It can actually bring about thought disorders in young children and adults who weren’t predisposed to having any kind of major schizophrenia or thought disorders.  So, that’s a serious issue.

    We talked recently about how there are more reports of marijuana cannabinoid hyper emesis syndrome - a condition where people cannot stop vomiting.  Those things didn’t happen before in my experience so we’ve got to look at why this is happening and increased potency has got to be a big factor.  One of the reasons I was against it becoming legal for recreational use in Oregon  -  and I had arguments with friends about it, was what Mr. Saber presents in his article  -  you look at big tobacco companies and you look at the liquor industry and they’re in favor of legalizing marijuana because they have already patented names and bought the domains so they can be ready to sell.

    HOWARD:    Fancy that!

    DARRYL:    And, they’re looking at a potential of ... I think the projection in his report was …they think they can make 10 billion dollars annually on legalization of marijuana because it’s an addictive drug.  Of course, originally nicotine wasn’t acknowledged as addictive nor was alcohol, but now we know they are and 20% of the consumers who use these products purchase 80% of the inventory. Marijuana will be just like that. There might be an effort to control use - like “smoke responsibly”, but they’re going to be heavily targeting to attract the 20% who have very little control over their use of it and that will create huge profits.  It’s recreational use is illegal here in Oregon, but people are still using it…people are still trafficking it.  If they keep their operation very small, they’re usually left alone.  It’s the big traffickers, people who are just flagrant  about it who get busted.  I would rather local people make money on it than big tobacco and big liquor.  Another argument that Saber presents addressed the cartels.  Proponents believe legalization will decrease the black market, decrease the smuggling, get the criminal element out of marijuana, but Saber argues that’s not going to happen.

    HOWARD:    Although I did read a story today about the incoming Mexican president’s task force making some serious statements about the difficulties of enforcing their policy of reducing marijuana trafficking when a couple of our states have made it legal?

    DARRYL:    That’s exactly what I’m saying here.  This has created… confusion.  The point that many proponents of the legalized marijuana law was that it would eliminate the underground and the trafficking and the black market.  But the big reason the states were willing to put that on the ballot and look at it, is because of the taxation issues.  Many states are suffering and look at this issue with expectations that it will deliver - as has the tobacco industry and liquor industry…revenue... it will be a cash cow.  Colorado is looking to rescue their educational system and the tax will go towards educational purposes.  In the state of Washington, they’re looking at health issues and are going to put money towards rescuing health care. But, look at the situation with tobacco  - we tax it and when we tax it heavier than other countries, or other countries tax it heavier than our country, you get just as much smuggling because suppliers can undercut the government and escape the tax by selling it on the black market.  So …I don’t think it’s going to change the underground marketing of marijuana and it may create new opportunities because if it’s legal and you’ve got a broader market you can undercut what the government is charging and I think it could create a boon. Now, the other thing is…I’m sorry, Howard, I just can’t trust what our state and federal government does with our taxes.

    HOWARD:    They do have this certain history that is not so trustworthy.

    DARRYL:    It’s horrible.  In Oregon, we legalized gambling with the understanding that a lot of that revenue was going to go into treatment of gambling and launching a rigorous campaign to educate and treat pathological gamblers.  But as soon as a fiscal crisis occurs, the money reverts to general fund to make up for whatever else our needs are.  It’s sort of like, Social Security. Those funds are to be reserved for the people who earned it for retirement, but when we start fighting wars -  it reverts to the general fund. Taxation is supposed to provide our society with some benefits.  I think one of the misunderstandings about legalization has to do with marijuana and the justice system. There are articles stating that 800,000 people a year are busted in this country and are made criminals because of marijuana. They are put in jail at a high cost to the criminal justice system.  One article came out…I saw recently....saying that there’s a marijuana bust every 46 seconds or something….42 seconds…every 42 seconds in the United States, there’s a marijuana arrest and what a huge, huge cost that is to our criminal justice system.  What people should be looking at is the total picture. There are 2.6 million people arrested every year for alcohol problems and alcohol abuse  and that is a legal drug.  Now, how is legalization of marijuana going to mitigate or lower the number of busts?  I mean, everybody uses the example of the poor person who had one joint and got busted for possessing a small amounts - sure that has happened, but I don’t think that’s where most of the busts are happening.  The busts are happening to dealers and traffickers and people in the underground doing bad things and I think that’s going to continue and we might actually see an increase in actual legal costs and the number of legal prosecutions of major traffickers. There are also the tie-ins to  domestic violence and other social problems.  I like Kevin Saber’s article and the drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske's  article, because …although it is not backed by funding - they give verbal emphasis on putting money into education, prevention, and treatment.

    HOWARD:    They do keep saying that, but they don’t spend much money on it.

    DARRYL:    They don’t spend money on it and I wish they would because that’s what I think we need to do with marijuana.  As my friend, John Newmeyer , who is in favor of the legalization of marijuana and other drugs… says: legalize it, tax it for the revenue, and discourage it.  Use that tax money in ways we know are effective.  Ad campaigns that discourage use, and fund treatment programs.

    The governor of Colorado, who was against the measure said …we’ve got a problem because it is federally illegal but state legal. We’ve seen that situation here in Oregon in that we have a state that has legalized it for medical use, but that doesn’t prevent the local municipalities or the  federal government from calling in the DEA to bust people. So, it’s quite a quagmire, but nonetheless, historic as you say.

    HOWARD:    Well the ball is in the federal court now.  So, we will see how it plays out and you know the story ain’t over, the fat lady ain’t done singing yet....but that’s about all the time we have for today.

    DARRYL:    I did want to mention one thing quickly.

    HOWARD:    Sure.

    DARRYL:    There were a couple of articles that reported attitudes held by people in the treatment community and the information does signify a change in even the small numbers that were part of the survey.  The change has to with attitudes on  abstinence.  In the past, 20 years ago abstinence was directed.  If you were an addict, you had to abstain from all addictive substances for the rest of your life in order to be functional.  But there seems to be a shift where now many substance abuse counselors don't always push for total abstinence.  They’re allowing clients to occasionally use legal substances but to use responsibly.  This was totally unheard of in this field a few years ago….and there seems to be some evidence that is what’s going on.  I certainly see the results and I understand what they’re saying, but I’m hoping…hoping beyond hope maybe, but I’m hoping that no counselor advocates for this.  I mean, your clients are going to do what they’re going to do.  You try and point out the healthiest interventions, the healthiest lifestyles, the things that are going to allow them to achieve the best accomplishments in life, but they’re going to do what they want to do.  And if they do drink, maybe the attitude is not to come down so heavy on them…don’t look at this as a total failure and maybe that is healthy.  If they’re a heroin addict and they start drinking, just make sure that you counsel them about the addictive process.  I certainly hope no counselor ever tells their client, alright… you did good....you stayed clean for a year.  You didn’t drink, so yeah…celebrate…go out there.  It’s okay now to have a drink or two.  I think that would be irresponsible direction from a counselor and I think for the most part it would be suicide for a client.  I hope that aspect is examined as a part of these studies.

    HOWARD:    That is an interesting note and we’re bound to hear more about that too.  That wraps our pod for today.  Thanks for for listening.  Your comments, questions and suggestions are always welcome.  Stop by the website, cnsproductions.com, drop us a note.  Thanks, Darryl.

    DARRYL:    Thank you Howard.

    HOWARD:    Please check back soon for the next in the series and visit our website, www.cnsproductions.com

     

  • Should We Just Allow Doping in Sports?

    An editorial page blog in the NY Times asked the question ... with constant scandals ... should be just stop trying to fight the use of drugs in sport? and the corollary of the Portugal Experiment - decriminalizing drugs, and doing assessment and treatment, instead of punishment for drug users.

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