USA- Recreational Marijuana Legalization and Workplace Injuries Among Younger Workers

A study by the department of economics from the universities of Wisconsin, San Diego state and Bentley, examines the relationship between the legalisation of recreational Cannabis and workplace injuries for workers aged 20-34. Since 2012, many US states have legalised recreational Cannabis, leading to increased adult use. The study’s findings suggest a concerning trend: states where recreational Cannabis sales are legal show a 10% increase in workplace injuries within this younger age group. This highlights the need for further research on the health and safety implications of Cannabis legalisation.

Cannabis Stock Market Failure (South Africa)

Labat Africa, the largest cannabis-focused company in South Africa, has been suspended from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). The suspension, announced on October 24, 2023, was due to Labat’s failure to comply with JSE Listings Requirements by not publishing its financial statements. Labat’s shares were trading at 0.07 cents before the suspension. After its stock prices tanked by 70% last year, Labat has faced numerous challenges, including complicated financials, late financial statements, and warnings from the JSE.


Balancing risks and benefits of cannabis use: umbrella review of meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials and observational studies (Canada)

A groundbreaking Canadian umbrella review spanning 2008 to 2022 examined 101 meta-analysis of cannabis studies, revealing associations with poor mental health, impaired cognition, increased motor vehicle accident risk, and potential harm to offspring during pregnancy. The umbrella review emphasises the avoidance of cannabis, particularly in neurodevelopmentally critical phases like adolescence. Given the onset of mental health disorders and the paramount role of cognition in academic performance during this period, caution is urged. Additionally, medical cannabis warrants scrutiny due to adverse effects, urging a careful risk-to-benefit evaluation before considering its incorporation.


The American College of Surgeons issues a warning on the adverse effects of cannabis on surgery (USA)

Their comprehensive statement delves into the following impact of cannabis:

Respiration: Cannabis affects the airways making it harder to place a breathing tube for anaesthesia.

Cardiac effects: Cannabis affects heart rate and blood pressure and has the potential to increase risks of a heart attack and/or stroke.

Pain management: Cannabis interferes with pain control and the amount of pain medication needed to provide relief following an operation, necessitating higher post-operative pain medication doses.

It is important for patients to be honest with their surgical team about using cannabis products. For more in-depth information, you can explore the full statement on the American College of Surgeons’ website


Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill: Public Hearings (Press Release)

Cannabis Committee

Doctors for Life International (DFL) submitted their stance to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, expressing their opposition to the inclusion of hemp commercialisation in the contentious cannabis bill. Despite receiving resistance from some stakeholders who dismissed DFL’s right to be heard, Dr WL Sieling delivered an outstanding presentation, grounded in medical science.

During the discussion, Dr Sieling warned that the passage of the United States Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 legalised hemp cultivation for commercial purposes. However, this legalisation inadvertently created a legal loophole that certain American businesses exploited to market and sell Delta-8 THC. Delta-8 THC is an isomer of Delta-9 THC with comparable adverse effects.

In addition to newly discovered THC isomers like delta-8 THC, there is an increasing concern surrounding hemp derived CBD. Consumer products containing CBD are being falsely marketed, making claims about their supposed health benefits and overall wellness effects. A recent article authored by researchers from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides insight into the potential risks of CBD, including developmental and reproductive toxicity, hepatotoxicity, and interference with essential metabolic pathways and liver enzyme functions. The toxicological profile of CBD raises concerns regarding its safety, particularly when consumed by the general population over an extended period.

The South African Government’s optimism about hemp as a source of job creation and revenue may also be misguided. The United States Department of Agriculture’s latest National Hemp Report indicates significant declines in the value and cultivation of hemp crops across various metrics. The report states that the value of hemp production in the United States decreased by 71 percent compared to 2021. This decline reflects a market correction, as the exaggerated publicity surrounding hemp as a miraculous cure-all substance begins to fade away.

The video to DFL’s submission before the committee can be viewed here:

Legalising cannabis fails to address health risks: UN drugs control board (Press Release)

United Nations International Narcotics Control Board

The United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) warns in its most recent annual report, that cannabis legalisation causes “negative health effects and psychotic disorders” among some recreational users. It also warned legalisation contravenes the UN 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

“In all jurisdictions where cannabis has been legalised, data show that cannabis-related health problems have increased,” the INCB said. It pointed out that between 2000 and 2018, “global medical admissions related to cannabis dependence and withdrawal increased 800%. Admissions for cannabis-related psychotic disorders have increased 400% worldwide.” Statistical evidence from Colorado (United States) shows that fatal traffic accidents with drivers under the influence of cannabis nearly doubled from 2013 to 2020.

Regarding the recreational use of cannabis, the UN panel expressed concern that the “growing” industry was fuelling the shift to even greater use of the drug, by advertising their products “particularly to young people, in ways that lower the perception of risk”.

In the United States, it has been shown that adolescents and young adults consume significantly more cannabis in federal states where cannabis has been legalised compared to other states where recreational use remains illegal.

New cannabis-based products, including “edibles”, or vaping products marketed in eye-catching packaging have increased the trend, the report’s authors continued, warning that these tactics have contributed to a “trivialisation” of the impacts of cannabis use in the public eye, especially among a younger demographic. “This is a major cause for concern, because the harms associated with using high-potency cannabis products are being played down,” said INCB President Jagjit Pavadia.

The main objective stated by Governments for legalising cannabis has been to reduce criminal activities and increase public health and safety. In its report, the INCB highlights that this objective has not been achieved.

Generating tax income has been listed as another important goal by Governments which promoted legalizing cannabis. The INCB finds that, although tax income from cannabis sales has increased year over year in Canada and the United States, tax revenue has been lower than expected, making up only 1 per cent of the budget in legalising states.

Doctors for Life International notes that these tax benefits are further nullified when considering the added burden and expenses on the heath sector e.g., mental health care, traffic accidents.

The President of the INCB, Jagjit Pavadia said: “Evidence suggests that cannabis legalization has not been successful in dissuading young people from using cannabis, and illicit markets persist.” Data show that illegal cannabis supply continues at high levels in all legalising jurisdictions, reaching 40 per cent in Canada, nearly 50 per cent in Uruguay and even 75 per cent in California.

Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) in individuals using cannabis for medical purposes (Media Release)

Cannabis disorder

The most common conditions for which individuals obtain medical cannabis are pain, insomnia, anxiety, and depressed mood, but evidence for the efficacy of cannabis to treat these symptoms has been mixed.

A follow-up study of a 12-week randomised clinical trial of medical cannabis users, found an association between frequent cannabis use and increased Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) risk, with no significant improvement in pain, anxiety, insomnia, or depression symptom severity. These findings call into question the use of cannabis as an effective tool in relieving clinical symptoms.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers from Harvard University, one of the world’s most respected medical research institutes. Harvard Medical School consistently ranks as the number one medical school around the globe.

Cannabis use disorder (CUD), also known as cannabis addiction, is defined in the fifth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and ICD-10 as the continued use of cannabis despite clinically significant impairment. Those who used cannabis 3 or more days per week were 269% more likely to develop CUD.

The study found an association between greater cannabis use and greater pain, indicating that cannabis is not adequately treating pain symptoms. This viewpoint is supported by a recent position paper from the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) that found, after a comprehensive review of research on the use of cannabinoids to treat pain, there was a lack of sufficient evidence to endorse the general use of cannabinoids for the treatment of pain.

The lack of improvement in symptoms of anxiety after 12 months of cannabis use adds to a growing body of literature that does not endorse cannabis as a treatment for these conditions. The lack of benefit from cannabis indicates that individuals with chronic conditions should consider evidence-based treatments.

United States marijuana legalisation and opioid mortality epidemic during 2010–2020 and pandemic implications

According to the Journal of the National Medical Association opioid mortality trends in the United States, a world leader in both opioid mortality and cannabis use disorder, do not support the hypothesis that marijuana availability reduces opioid mortality. During the past decade, the country’s opioid mortality trends in marijuana legalising and non-legalising jurisdictions suggest the opposite. The United States opioid mortality rate was compared in states and District of Columbia that had implemented marijuana legalisation with states that had not. Instead of supporting the marijuana protection hypothesis, ecologic associations at the national level suggest that marijuana legalisation has contributed to the U.S.’s opioid epidemic.


Potential public health consequences of liberalising cannabis legislation (South Africa)

Laws that increase access to cannabis will have public health consequences including respiratory health, traffic-related injuries, and the mental health of vulnerable populations.Evidence highlights safety concerns that cannabis causes damage to the developing brain. Cannabis use can damage the brain to such an extent, that even after years of abstinence the damage is still present and it is not yet clear whether these effects are reversible. In particular, cannabis use during pregnancy increases the risk of adverse outcomes for women and their neonates.

Scientific research may not have kept pace with the speed at which cannabis laws are being liberalised. Consideration needs to be given to these public health concerns as South Africa moves towards ratifying the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill.


Cannabis use amongst substance use disorder patients with ADHD (South Africa)

According to a recent study published in the South African Journal of Psychiatry, Attendion Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is more common amongst patients who use cannabis than amongst patients seeking other substance abuse treatments. ADHD is a common childhood neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by early onset of impairing levels of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsiveness. The study provides evidence of significant cannabis use, especially in females with ADHD, in treatment-seeking facilities in South Africa. It is widely reported that several mental health disorders are overrepresented amongst substance abuse populations. According to the study, South Africa needs to strengthen prevention and intervention activities against alcohol and cannabis use, especially in identified risk groups, like ADHD.