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Letter: NCYSAP Reminds Residents of Dangers of Youth Marijuana Use

This letter was submitted by a Needham town employee.

The Needham Coalition for Youth Substance Abuse Prevention, or NCYSAP, a community coalition dedicated to reducing youth substance use and supporting youth in healthy decision making, is continuing our work to provide educational, science based information to the residents of Needham regarding the impact of  youth marijuana use.

It is well known that marijuana is the most widely abused illegal drug among teens, and that more teens now smoke marijuana than tobacco. Marijuana has many adverse health and safety risks—more than people are aware. Here are the facts:

• Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug.

• Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims. Just like drinking and driving, drugged driving is a very serious issue that can have tragic outcomes. In Colorado during after legalizing medical marijuana traffic fatalities with marijuana as the intoxicant doubled.

• Marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogens than tobacco smoke, contributing to the risk of cancer of the lungs, mouth and tongue.

• In the past 15 years, the potency of marijuana (THC content) has more than tripled from 3 percent to more than 11 percent.

• Approximately 9 percent (1 in 11) marijuana users become dependent. The earlier young people start using marijuana the more likely they are to be dependent: 1 out of 6 who use marijuana before the age of 18.

• Nationwide, 6.6 percent of high school seniors smoke marijuana every day, rendering them unemployable in companies that use routine employee drug screening.

• Rates of teen marijuana use in Massachusetts are 30 percent higher than the average for the nation.

• Teens that smoke marijuana regularly demonstrate up to an 8-point IQ drop in early adulthood, compared to teens that do not smoke.

In Massachusetts, more kids are admitted to treatment for marijuana use than all other illegal drugs combined.

A study published this August by the University of Colorado, a state with legalized medical marijuana, demonstrates that nearly three-quarters of teens in the treatment programs studied, said they have obtained medical marijuana from a card holder or grower an average of 50 times, meaning “medical” marijuana is indeed being diverted to youth.

Help prevent teen drug use, talk to your teens about these facts. Discourage marijuana use. Parents are the strongest protective factor in reducing youth substance use. Please take a moment to learn more: www.needhamma.gov/substanceabuse.

Carol Read, M.Ed., CAGS

Carol Read is the Program Director of the  Needham Coalition for Youth Substance Abuse Prevention ~ NCYSAP, a Drug Free Communities program funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in partnership with the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Malcolm Kyle November 03, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Here are the real facts: 1) Tobacco is cancer causing largely because it delivers specific carcinogens such as NNK and NNAL that are not present in cannabis. Not all "tar" is created equal, and tobacco has some of the most carcinogenic types of tar known to science, whereas cannabis does not. http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/91/14/1194 2) Cannabis (marijuana) use is associated with a DECREASE in several types of cancer... potentially even providing a protective effect against tobacco and alcohol related cancer development. Researchers at the Kaiser-Permanente HMO, funded by NIDA, followed 65,000 patients for nearly a decade, comparing cancer rates among non-smokers, tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers. Tobacco smokers had massively higher rates of lung cancer and other cancers. Marijuana smokers who didn't also use tobacco had no increase in risk of tobacco-related cancers or of cancer risk overall. In fact their rates of lung and most other cancers were slightly lower than non-smokers. Sidney, S. et al. Marijuana Use and Cancer Incidence (California, United States). Cancer Causes and Control. Vol. 8. Sept. 1997, p. 722-728.
Malcolm Kyle November 03, 2012 at 08:45 PM
The often cited statistic that 6-8% of drivers in motor accidents test positive for marijuana is a case-book example of mistaken causality. A positive test merely indicates that the driver has used marijuana sometime in the past 90 days. Since roughly 7% of the population uses marijuana on a monthly basis, the 6-8% statistic, far from proving anything about the effects of marijuana, simply affirms what should be expected. Here is a graph which indicates that the presence of certain amounts of cannabis in your body actually appears to REDUCE the risk of being involved in an accident: http://img269.imageshack.us/img269/2739/picture9iqg.png Reference: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17916224 * Fact: When combined 2002 to 2005 data are compared with combined 2006 to 2009 data, the United States as a whole experienced a statistically significant reduction in the rate of past year drugged driving (from 4.8 to 4.3 percent), as did seven States: Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Four of these seven States have legalized medicinal marijuana, Alaska, Hawaii, Michigan and California. http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/205/DruggedDriving.htm * Fact: California led the US to a nationwide, statistically significant reduction in the incidence of "drugged" driving during a time period when the number of patients claiming the protection of the California Compassionate Use Act and SB-420 increased by at least a factor of 10.
Malcolm Kyle November 03, 2012 at 08:47 PM
* Cannabis tends to make you calm and cautious while alcohol makes you reckless and aggressive. A RECENT STUDY: On 29-Nov-2011, a study was published by University of Colorado Denver Professor Daniel Rees and Montana State University Assistant Professor D. Mark Anderson showing states that have legalized medical marijuana experience fewer fatal car crashes compared to states that have not. The researchers suggest that there may be fewer fatal drunk driving accidents in those jurisdictions because more people may be choosing to smoke marijuana instead of making the more dangerous choice of consuming alcohol - both traffic fatalities and alcohol consumption declined. The rate of fatal crashes in which a driver had consumed any alcohol dropped 12% after medical marijuana was legalized, and crashes involving high levels of alcohol consumption fell 14%. The study thoroughly accounted for other contributing factors regarding this decrease, such as changes in the number of miles traveled each year and new traffic laws. "Our research suggests that the legalization of medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities through reducing alcohol consumption by young adults," - Daniel Rees, professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver who co-authored the study with D. Mark Anderson, assistant professor of economics at Montana State University. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-11/uocd-ssm112911.php
Malcolm Kyle November 03, 2012 at 08:48 PM
* Alcohol-related accidents are so prevalent, an estimated 40 percent of all persons in the United States will be involved in a traffic mishap blamed on alcohol at some point in their lives. http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/drive/a/aa070297.htm *** It is important to note that once marijuana is 'Legalized and Regulated' it will still be an offense to drive while impaired —DUI laws already apply to marijuana just like they do alcohol. The fact that being under the influence of a substance makes you a worse driver should have no bearing on its legality in general, otherwise we would be forced to hand the market in alcohol back to machine-gun tooting bootleggers. A MORE RECENT STUDY: A provider of free online auto insurance quotes says it has conducted a study that concludes marijuana uses are safer drivers. “What law enforcement agencies and insurers do not understand is that driving while high is actually a safe activity,” —James Shaffer, chief executive officer of the national auto-quote provider, in a statement. According to the study, marijuana users may get into fewer accidents than other drivers. The study looked at data on accidents, traffic violations and insurance prices. The only significant effect of smoking marijuana may be slower driving. http://www.4autoinsurancequote.org/uncategorized/reasons-why-marijuana-users-are-safe-drivers/
Malcolm Kyle November 03, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Amy M. Schreiner of the Department of Psychology at the University of Central Florida recently led a study that looked at 33 existing meta-analyses of cognitive impairment experienced by heavy cannabis users. The goal of the study was to determine whether the negative effects of cannabis use, such as memory impairment, attention, and executive functioning issues persist after use has stopped. However, when Schreiner examined all of the variables and reviewed all the studies, she was unable to prove that the residual effects of cannabis caused cognitive impairment. When Schreiner looked at studies that included heavy cannabis users evaluated during states of extreme intoxication, she found some statistical impairments in memory, learning, and attention. But she was unable to provide evidence of long-lasting impairment. Specifically, the participants demonstrated no significant cognitive deficiencies once the intoxication period ended. Additionally, Schreiner found no symptoms of impairment in the individuals who had abstained for 25 days. In conclusion she said, "These results fail to support the idea that heavy cannabis use may result in long-term, persistent effects on neuropsychological functioning." Reference:
Schreiner, A. M., Dunn, M. E. (2012). residual effects of cannabis use on neurocognitive performance after prolonged abstinence: A meta-analysis. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029117
Joe Schmoe November 03, 2012 at 08:51 PM
More teens smoke marijuana than smoke tobacco? A teen can always try to get an adult to get them either tobacco or marijuana, legal or illegal. But illegal marijuana can be bought on street corners with greater ease than tobacco. We should legalize and regulate marijuana to close off one avenue for teen use. There is no perfect solution, but I would feel better if dangerous and addictive marijuana was sold in stores with required ID like dangerous and addictive tobacco and alcohol.
Malcolm Kyle November 03, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Scientific fact: Marijuana is less addictive than a cup of tea. http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/basicfax5.htm Dr. Jack E. Henningfield of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Dr. Neal L. Benowitz of the University of California at San Francisco ranked six psychoactive substances on five criteria. The tables listed below show the rankings given for each of the drugs. Overall, their evaluations for the drugs are very consistent. It is notable that marijuana ranks below caffeine in most addictive criteria, while alcohol and tobacco are near the top of the scale in many areas. The rating scale is from 1 to 6 --- 1 denotes the drug with the strongest addictive tendencies, while 6 denotes the drug with the least addictive tendencies. HENNINGFIELD RATINGS Substance Withdrawal Reinforcement Tolerance Dependence Intoxication Nicotine 3 4 2 1 5 Heroin 2 2 1 2 2 Cocaine 4 1 4 3 3 Alcohol 1 3 3 4 1 Caffeine 5 6 5 5 6 Marijuana 6 5 6 6 4 BENOWITZ RATINGS Substance Withdrawal Reinforcement Tolerance Dependence Intoxication Nicotine 3 4 4 1 6 Heroin 2 2 2 2 2 Cocaine 3 1 1 3 3 Alcohol 1 3 4 4 1 Caffeine 4 5 3 5 5 Marijuana 5 6 5 6 4
Mitzi Weinman November 05, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Carol, thank you for sharing your insights and information. As a parent of a middle school boy, I know that I can't keep him in a protective bubble from the risks and dangers that he will face. However, if there are ways for me to actually have a "say" in keeping him safer, than I will take advantage of the opportunity through my vote. I teach my son right from wrong and help him with strategies to learn how to say "no" when asked, by his peers, to do things that he doesn't want to do. Making the access to marijuana or alcohol more difficult, may not eliminate the problem we have with our teens but it can help.

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