A recent editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal announced that the government will legalize marijuana for recreational use. The journal claims that it should not be used by young people (AGE? Probably 18). It is toxic to their brain and there are both functional and structural changes in the brain in youth who use Cannabis regularly. Current estimates state that at least 50% of young people over 14, have used or are using the substance. The developing brain is ESPECIALLY sensitive! Research has shown that in youth, Cannabis and other substance use disorders are linked. It stimulates the initiation and maintenance of tobacco smoking and cocaine. Cannabis increases the incidence of mental illness including depression, anxiety, and psychosis ask any emergency room physician.
It has also been demonstrated that there is impaired neurological development and diminished school performance and lifetime achievement. The lifetime risk of dependence on Cannabis is 17%, especially in those who started using it as teenagers. These effects on youth will be exacerbated as the concentration of THC rises. Some extracts now contain 20% THC which is just oneactive chemical in Cannabis. It is estimated that there are over 400 different chemicals in the drug!
An interesting positive note is that there have been some very dramatic improvements in cases of rare types of epilepsy in children. This has had a great deal of media coverage and has led to the establishment of The Realm of Caring in Colorado.
Over 200 families have emigrated to Colorado so that they can obtain this drug. It is a standard treatment in Israel in epileptic children who have not responded to standard antiepileptic medication. This drug obviously affects the brain.
However, a recent discussion with a Pediatric Neurologist in Colorado revealed that some of these children, while being relieved of multiple seizures, have developed other neurologic disorders. It is unknown whether these disorders were due to the natural progression of their neurological problem or due to the side effects of the drug.
It is also known that the use of Cannabis by adolescents regularly doubles the risk of leaving school early, cognitive impairment, and psychosis. Regular Cannabis use in adolescents is also associated with the early use of other illicit drugs. Not only that but studies have shown that there is a definite potential for addiction—defined as “uncontrollable drug craving and increased use”. In a small study from Britain, 9% of the younger population developed addiction. It is amazing to me the health Czars , appear to be ignoring this information!
This is our reality moving forward into the 21st century.
There is no strategy to stop this serious crisis except preventative medicine. What I am doing on this site is a form of preventative medicine. When we have been faced with other epidemics the medical establishment is motivated to fund the call’s of the epidemic, the epidemic ecology, and hopefully a treatment. In my opinion, the biggest advance in the past 20 years was a discovery virus which causes AIDS, treatment has been discovered, now it is a chronic disease. Interestingly with all the information we have about AIDS there are still many new cases per year.
FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED!
Although this site is directed at young people, parents, and grandparents of teenagers, we should include drug use and abuse in daily conversation. Preventative medicine is the only solution for this condition.
The war on drugs is an absolute failure, extremely expensive, and has increased the incidence of use since the declaration of that “war”!
Our strategy is to educate young people about all of the effects of drugs especially the bad and ugly effects. There is some evidence by psychologists that young people who are taking these dangerous medications and dying from them, are sometimes self-treating their emotional problems.
Long-term studies of alcoholics reveal that the usual trigger for abusing that substance is some life changing event. In many cases the trigger is some emotional event such as a divorce, the death of a spouse, a dismissal from a job for no apparent reason, and in younger people the problem is usually some form of family dysfunction. Another common starter for these children is that they break into their parents liquor cabinet or drug cabinet and begin their careers with their parent’s chemicals.
When I talk to people who are addicted to medication, it amazes me that that they tell me that nobody ever asked them why they turned to these drugs for relief. Perhaps we should identify this group of people who have turned to drugs for relief of whatever problem with which they are coping. This group should be viewed as having a disorder, a dysfunction, and possibly early mental illness.
It is a an affliction of our society—a disease but NOT a crime.