Latest News

Drug Positivity in U.S. Workplace Rises to Nearly Highest Level in a Decade, Quest Diagnostics Analysis Finds

 Quest Diagnostics, Sept. 15, 2016

In the general U.S. workforce, between 2011 and 2015, marijuana positivity increased 26 percent and heroin positivity increased 147 percent.

Following years of declines, the percentage of employees in the combined U.S. workforce testing positive for drugs has steadily increased over the last three years to a 10-year high, according to an analysis of nearly 11 million workforce drug test results released today by Quest Diagnostics, the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services.

Another notable trend is the rising positivity rate for post-accident urine drug testing in both the general U.S. and federal-mandated, safety-sensitive workplaces. Post-accident positivity increased 6.2 percent in 2015 when compared to 2914 (6.9% versus 6.5%) and increased 30 percent since 2011 (5.3%). In addition, post-accident positivity for safety-sensitive workforce has risen 22 percent during a five-year time period (2.8% in 2015 versus 2.3% in 2011).

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Child Abuse, Exploitation in California’s Marijuana Country

 Parents Opposed to Pot, September 12, 2016

The Emerald Triangle can’t hide behind its secrets after a report of widespread abuse, sexual exploitation and worker exploitation was published last week by Reveal News. There’s both worker and sexual exploitation.

In summer and fall, temporary workers come in town to work the marijuana harvests. These “trimmigrants” sometimes end up homeless and without jobs. In one article, it’s reported that 100 European “trimmigrants” were stiffed for pay, broke, and without a place to go and ended up in homeless shelters. Mexican and other immigrants also face abuse.

After exploitation, teens and other workers many end up in homeless shelters.

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How Marijuana Begat Heroin

Notable & Quotable, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2016

Okay, I’m going to say it. The heroin epidemic was caused by the legalization of marijuana.

We wanted legal weed, and for the most part, we got it. Four states have legalized it outright, others have decriminalized it, and in many jurisdictions police refuse to enforce the laws that are on the books, creating a de facto street legalization. The American marijuana was superior and the cost of doing business significantly less.

Colorado’s recreational marijuana law threatened to annihilate the Sinaloa Cartel’s weed operation. In a single year, the cartel suffered a 40 percent drop in marijuana sales, representing billions of dollars.

Looking at the American drug market as it existed, Guzmán and his partners saw an opportunity. An increasing number of Americans were addicted to prescription opioids such as Oxycontin. And their addiction was expensive. One capsule of Oxy might sell on the street for thirty dollars, and an addict might need ten hits a day.

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Mass Illnesses Due To Marijuana Edibles, Brownies, Candy

California, Child Endangerment, Colorado, Washington

Parents Opposed to Pot, August 8, 2016

Edible marijuana poses a ‘unique problem,’ because ‘no other drug is infused into a palatable and appetizing form’ – such as cookies, brownies and candy. Many household items cause poisonings, but marijuana edibles are different because they’re made to look appealing and they appeal to children.

Last year there were more than 4,000 treatments at hospitals and poison center treatments in the US related to marijuana toxicity in children and teens.

Parents Opposed to Pot summarized the recent cases of toxicity from edibles.

• A JAMA Pediatrics article explains the dramatic rise in children’s hospitalizations related to marijuana in Colorado since legalization. In 10 cases, the product was not in a child-resistant container; in 40 scenarios (34%) there was poor child supervision or product storage. Edible products were responsible for 51 (52%) of exposures. The report claimed that child-resistant packaging has not been as effective in reducing kids’ unintended exposure to pot as hoped.

• The state of Washington has a similar problem with edibles, as reported on the King County Health Department’s website. From 2013 to May 2015, there were 46 cases
of children’s intoxications related to marijuana edibles reported in Washington. However, reporting is voluntary and the state estimates that number could be much higher. 

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Secondhand marijuana smoke damages blood vessels more than tobacco smoke

American Heart Association News, July 27, 2016

In a new study, arteries in rats that inhaled secondhand marijuana smoke for one minute carried blood less efficiently for at least 90 minutes. Similar exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke caused blood vessel impairment for 30 minutes.

 “While the effect is temporary for both cigarette and marijuana smoke, these temporary problems can turn into long-term problems if exposures occur often enough and may increase the chances of developing hardened and clogged arteries,” said Matthew Springer, Ph.D.

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Marijuana exposure in kids rose after recreational use legalized in Colorado

The JAMA Network Journals, July 25, 2016

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado was associated with both increased hospital visits and cases at a regional poison center because of unintentional exposure to the drug by children, suggesting effective preventive measures are needed as more states consider legalizing the drug, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics

The authors identified 81 children – 62 included in the analysis – evaluated at the hospital and 163 marijuana exposure calls to a Colorado RPC. The median age of children who visited the hospital was 2.4 years and for children in RPC cases. 

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Colorado Youth Marijuana Use: Up – Down – Flat? Examine the Data and You Decide!

Press Release, Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA), July 6, 2016

In June, 2016, the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS) was released with the media claiming that past month marijuana use by Colorado teens had not increased since pot had been legalized and use was within line with the national average.

However, Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area asks, “Is the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey ‘Good News’ and is Colorado teen marijuana use ‘flat?’ The reader can examine the facts and data to make an informed decision. What is clear is that there is no overall pattern in the HKCS data: thus it is best to refrain from jumping to conclusions on such an important issue. The HKCS results are highly variable between class years and regions from major increases to major decreases.

Examples of variables include:

• There was a 57.5 percent increase in use among one region’s freshmen while a 53.4 percent decrease in another.
• In one region there was a 72.0 percent increase in high school sophomore use but, in another, a 38.9 percent decrease.
• One region for juniors shows a 49.8 percent increase and another, 33.1 percent decrease.
• In one region, high school seniors had a 90.0 percent increase and in another a 34.3 percent decrease. 

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Opioid overdose deaths by state

Emily Rappleye, Becker’s Hospital Review, June 27, 2016

Opioid abuse — which has spurred a 20-year high in heroin use in the U.S. — has become a significant cause of death nationwide.

In 2014, there were 28,647 deaths due to opioid overdoses. The overdoses were due to natural, semisynthetic and synthetic opioids, methadone and heroin.

The five top states were Ohio – 2,106, California – 2,024, New York – 1,739, Florida - 1,399, and Illinois – 1,205. The data was published by the Kaiser Family Foundation.  

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One in six children hospitalized for lung inflammation positive for marijuana exposure

 Science Daily, American Academy of Pediatrics, April 30, 2016

A new study, Marijuana Exposure in Children Hospitalized for Bronchiolitis, found that one in six infants and toddlers admitted to a Colorado hospital with coughing, wheezing and other symptoms of bronchiolitis tested positive for marijuana exposure. There were comparisons made between before the legalization and after the legalization of marijuana.

A questionnaire given to parents asked whether anyone in the home smoked marijuana.
Of the children who were identified as having been exposed to marijuana smokers, urine samples showed traces of a metabolite of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana, in 16 percent of them.

These findings indicate that secondhand marijuana smoke, containing carcinogenic and psychoactive chemicals, may be a concern for children’s health. 

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Effort to limit pot’s THC count raises questions

Those behind the THC limiting proposals say they’re smart, cautious moves; Opponents say they’ll hurt the pot industry

Ricardo Baca, The Denver Post – Denver and the West, March 30, 2016

Colorado is concerned about extremely high levels of THC in their marijuana and marijuana products. Their average potencies are 17 percent for marijuana and 62 percent for marijuana concentrate products.

Josh Hindi, whose dispensary, Dabble Extracts, a concentrates company, “estimates his extracts test between 70 percent and 80 percent THC and cater(s) to patients who prefer the more potent product.”

For Josh, lowering THC limits “would remove concentrates in total from any kind of retail operation.”

There is no research available on these alarmingly high THC levels and its impact on brain development of adolescents. As a result, the Colorado state House has a proposed bill limiting THC potency of marijuana to 15 percent and 16 percent in marijuana products. Additionally, “It would require everything to be sold in a child-resistant, opaque, resealable package and would require edibles to be packaged and sold only in single-serving amounts.”

There is also a THC-capping ballot initiative limiting retail marijuana products to 16 percent but not medical marijuana.

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New Study Shows Increased Heroin Availability at Root of Heroin Crisis, not Prescription Painkillers

Brian Blake, Hudson Institute, January 21, 2016

There is no consistent evidence of an association between the implementation of policies related to prescription opioids and increases in the rates of heroin use or deaths. Instead the heroin market forces, including increased accessibility, reduced price, and high purity of heroin appear to be major drivers of the recent increases in rates of heroin use.

This finding contradicts the White House claim that the huge increase in heroin overdose deaths---440 percent in the past seven years---is directly related to prescription pain killers and changes in prescribing policies aimed at making them harder to obtain and abuse.

The article appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine is a product of leading researchers at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They surveyed dozens of recent, peer-reviewed studies on heroin use. Initiation patterns, overdose deaths and the effects of policy changes in prescribing opioids.

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Study: 20 percent increase in youth marijuana use --- Kids 12 to 17 used the drug 20% more in the two years since legalization

Kody Fisher, 22NEWS WWLP, January 17, 2016

Marijuana use by Colorado teens ages 12 to 17 has increased 20% more in the two years since legalization. The data came from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

With the increase the state moved from number 4 to number 1 in teen pot use.

“With the legalization of marijuana it has just kinda made people more comfortable with being open about. It’s more socially acceptable, so I think people are more open about the fact that they use it,” said Studio A64 Owner Ambur Racek.

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Prevalence of Marijuana Use Among U.S. Adults Doubles Over Past Decade

National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, NIH News, NIAAA News Release, October 21, 2015

Marijuana use by adults in the United States has soared, more doubling, over the past decade, 2001-2002 to 2012-2013. Surveys show 9.5 percent of Americans use marijuana; 30 percent of users meet criteria for a disorder.

Past year marijuana use rose from 4.1 percent to 9.5 percent of the U.S. adult population, while the prevalence of marijuana use disorder rose from 1.5 percent to 2.9 percent, according to national surveys conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health.
“Based on the results of our surveys, marijuana use in the United States has risen rapidly over the past decade, with about 3 in 10 people who use marijuana meeting the criteria for addiction. Given these increases, it is important that the scientific community convey information to the public about the potential harms,” said George Koob, Ph.D., director of NIAAA.

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Colorado Educators Concerned about Pot in Public Schools

Elizabeth Hernandez, The Denver Post, October 14, 2015

The Colorado School Safety Resource Center in Thornton, CO, held a Safe Schools Summit. Over 350 educators, first responders and school mental health professionals crowded into a conference room to learn about the impact marijuana legalization is having on the schools.

“It’s the No. 1 problem in schools right now,” said Lynn Riemer, president of ACT on Drugs, a nonprofit drug awareness and education organization.

Jeff Whitmore, from Bayfield School District, said, “At first, I thought it was similar to alcohol and that the kids would do it anyway and all that. But it’s like they’re disguising alcohol as Kool-Aid and marketing it to kids. These edibles are cookies and gummy bears, and they’re filled with high amounts of THC.”

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The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact

Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Volume 3, September 2015

Colorado’s annual report shows an increase in impaired driving, youth marijuana use, adult marijuana use, emergency room marijuana and hospital marijuana related admissions, and treatment admissions.

By the end of 2012, Colorado had over 108,000 medical marijuana cardholders. People often choose medical marijuana over recreational marijuana because taxes on medical marijuana are significantly lower.

Recreational marijuana use began in 2013; by 2014, in one year:

  • They found a 45 percent increase in marijuana positive toxicology reports for those primarily driving under the influence.
  • They found a 32 percent increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths.
  • They found a 29 percent increase in the number of marijuana-related emergency room visits.
  • They found a 38 percent increase in the number of marijuana-related hospitalizations.

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Illinois doctor fights charges he misled patient about marijuana

Carla K. Johnson, Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, September 8, 2015

Without examining a patient’s eyes, Dr. Joseph Starkman allegedly recommended medical marijuana for a 79-year-old patient who, at one time, had been diagnosed with glaucoma. The recommendation cost the patient $250.

Dr. Starkman, 36, could have his medical license suspended or revoked. Illinois’ medical marijuana law requires doctors to certify that a patient has an approved diagnosis and will likely benefit from marijuana.

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Poisoned By the Weed: Marijuana and Pretty Little Killers, Part 1

Parents Opposed to Pot, July 3, 2015

Writers from www.poppot.org have reviewed the book, Pretty Little Killers, the story of 16-year-olds, Sheila Eddy and Rachel Shoaf, who killed Skylar Neese in a marijuana woven web, and they offer plausible explanations for the girl’s actions through current marijuana research.

The authors, Daleen Berry and Geoffrey C. Fuller were given access to Skylar’s journals and writings.

A rupture in the friendship had developed 11 months earlier when Skylar saw Sheila and Rachel having sex at a sleepover. The book gives vague hints that Rachel and Shelia had wanted to get rid of Skylar for about 9 months before the murder happened, for fear she’d reveal the lesbian tryst. Although Skylar had at least two violent fights with Shelia Eddy before her friends killed her, she stayed away from them during most of the previous 6 months. But on that fatal night, the lure of sneaking out of her apartment to smoke weed broke her resolve.

The well-researched book explains that the three girls began smoking weed about 21 months before the murder, during fall of their freshman year. About 15 months earlier, the girls had been caught violating curfew, going out with older guys who had pot.

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Colorado rejects PTSD as ailment eligible for medical pot

Associated Press, July 15, 2015

Colorado’s Board of Health voted against adding PTSD to the existing list of 8 debilitating conditions that qualify for medical marijuana use. “We can’t have physicians counseling people in favor of it because we don’t have data to show it’s correct,” said Jill Hunsaker-Ryan, one of the board members who voted no.

Colorado allows adults over 21 to buy recreational pot, with no doctor’s recommendation needed. But medical pot is taxed at 2.9 percent, compared to at least 19 percent for recreational pot.

In addition, medical patients are allowed to possess twice as much marijuana – 2 ounces instead of 1 ounce.

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Effects of marijuana – with and without alcohol – on driving performance

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, Science Spotlight, June 23, 2015

New research released on June 23, 2015 by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), proves smoking low levels of marijuana, 2.9% vs 6.7% THC, causes impaired driving similar to those with 0.08 breath alcohol.

The research was done at the University of Iowa on a sophisticated driving simulator that measured weaving between the lanes.

Additionally, drivers drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana exacerbated their impairment. Those using both substances weaved within lanes even if their blood THC and alcohol concentrations were below the impairment thresholds for each substance alone.

It was found that low amounts of alcohol significantly increased peak THC concentrations.

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Pot used to be pretty harmless, but it’s plenty dangerous today

Dr. Grace M. McGorrian, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 24, 2015

Old-fashioned natural marijuana had low or moderate amounts of THC, along with cannabidiol, a chemical that shields the brain against THC’s effects. Modern marijuana has been genetically modified to be more potent – six to 10 times higher THC. And it has very little cannabidiol, which means there is little protection against intense psychoactivity, including psychotic experiences.

High levels of THC can:
• Distort reality and consciousness.
• Cause poor balance.
• Compromise memory.
• Make it difficult to hold a job.
• If used regularly for any period, increase the odds of developing schizophrenia for those under 18.

Statistically, heavy marijuana smokers struggle more with staying sober than users of any other drug. Peers and family members simply don’t believe that weed can create such dependency, so they often provide little support.

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Colorado Campaigns Warn Residents About Dangers of Legalized Pot

Gabrielle Cintorino, CNSNews.com, May 21, 2015

The state is finding the residents of Colorado to be ignorant of the dangers of smoking pot and are having to develop public health campaigns to educate them.

The Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) has a campaign that warns of the serious consequences of driving under the influence.

“CDOT’s website lists a significant increase in drug-related accidents since 2008. In 2008, 10.1 percent of drivers involved in accidents were found to be drug-impaired. By 2013, that figure had risen to 14.2 percent.”

A Good To Know Campaign forewarns of the health risks marijuana poses to young people.

“An animated video featured on the ‘Good to Know Colorado’ website uses quips such as ‘For those underage, it’s just not okay. Their brains are still growing, so keep it away’ to relay the warning message that marijuana poses health risks to youngsters, particularly teenagers.”

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Marijuana Intoxication Blamed In More Deaths, Injuries

Brian Maass, CBS Denver, May 18, 2015

Daniel Juarez, an 18-year-old from Brighton, died September 26, 2012 after stabbing himself 20 times. In an autopsy report that had never been made public before, but was obtained by CBS4, his THC level – the active ingredient in marijuana- was measured at 38.2 namograms. In Colorado, anything over 5 nanograms is considered impaired for driving.

Juarez was nearly eight times the legal limit.

Police and witnesses then say Juarez literally ran wild, stripping off most of his clothing and running into his nearby apartment. There, he got a knife and stabbed himself 20 times, one of the stab wound piercing his heart. Juarez’s autopsy report lists his manner of death as suicide with ‘marijuana intoxication’ as a ‘significant condition.’

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Ohio woman accused of beheading 3-month-old was reportedly ‘speaking with demons’

Jason Law and Pat LaFleur, abcactionnews.com, March 17, 2015

Police charge College Hill woman with murder for beheading her 3-month-old infant. The woman was said to be high on marijuana and “speaking in tongues,” according to a police report.

The woman had said that she had started “speaking with demons…”

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4 Spruce Creek High School students hospitalized after eating hash oil brownies, deputies say

Gail Paschall-Brown, Wesh.com, March 16, 2015

At least four Spruce Creek High School students were hospitalized after eating hash oil laced brownies. Deputies arrested a 17-year old boy and charged him with four counts of sale and delivery of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and seven counts of culpable negligence.

At least 10 students ate the laced brownies, which were sold to them by another student, investigators said.

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Strong cannabis causes one in four cases of psychosis: Users three times more likely to have an episode than those who have never tried it

Daily Mail Reporter, Daily Mail, February 15, 2015

Those using “super strength” marijuana every day are three times more likely to have a psychotic episode than others who had never tried “super strength” marijuana. The THC can be four-times stronger than what older generations smoked.

Psychosis is defined as a form of mental illness where people experience delusions, hallucinations, or both at the same time. Associated with conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar, some victims are so badly affected that they end up committing suicide or seriously harming others because they believe they are being ordered to do so by voices in their heads.

As many as a quarter of new cases of psychotic mental illness can be blamed on super-strength strains of cannabis, scientists will warn …

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