LIFEalerts – Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

USA – Medical Reports contradicts popular view on safety of smoking marijuana

Regular consumers of recreational marijuana or those about to become one, would be wise if they first considered medical evidence which contradicts the view that smoking marijuana is safe. Especially people with underlying cardiovascular conditions. Compared with tobacco, marijuana smoking causes a fivefold greater impairment of the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity. In a review of medical evidence, published in January in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers described a broad range of risks to the heart and blood vessels associated with the use of marijuana. Edible forms of marijuana have also been implicated as a possible cause of a heart attack, especially when high doses of the active ingredient THC are consumed.

Dr. Muthiah Vaduganathan, cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, was especially concerned about the increasing number of heart attacks among marijuana users younger than 50. In a registry of cases created by his colleagues, in young patients suffering a first heart attack, “marijuana smoking was identified as one factor that was more common among them.” A research team of the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans, wrote in the journal Missouri Medicine, citing case reports of inflammation and clots in the arteries of young adults who smoke marijuana. Another damaging effect that has been linked to marijuana is disruption of the heart’s electrical system, causing abnormal heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation that can result in a stroke. In one survey of marijuana smokers, the risk of stroke was increased more than threefold. These various findings suggest that a person need not have underlying coronary artery disease to experience cardiovascular dysfunction resulting from the use of marijuana. The researchers found that in an analysis of 36 studies among people who suffered heart attacks, the top three triggers were use of cocaine, eating a heavy meal and smoking marijuana. Read more

USA – Did legalizing cannabis prove to be a slippery slope to legalizing harder drugs?

Oregon state which has some of America’s highest rates of substance use and mental health problems has now has become the first US state to decriminalise possession of hard drugs, following a public referendum. People with small quantities of drugs including cocaine or heroin will escape prosecution, and may not even be fined. A statement signed by over two-thirds of Oregon’s District Attorneys said: “Decriminalization will lead to an increase in acceptability of dangerous drugs, normalizing hazardous experimentation for our youth and increasing accessibility, surging supply and lowering costs of dangerous street drugs.” The Oregon District Attorney’s Association warned that “this measure will tie the hands of law enforcement and prosecutors everywhere and lead to disastrous results for our communities”. more

Germany – Rejects recreational marijuana

A day after New Zealand voters rejected legalization of recreational marijuana, Germany’s Parliament does too. The German federal parliament soundly rejected a bill to legalize a “strictly controlled” adult-use cannabis market. The rejection came despite the fact that a majority of the members of the Bundestang belong to a political party that favors some type of reform. Read more here, and here