Ecstasy / MDMA

"I remember the first time I ate Ecstasy at a party. It was the best time of my life." It Happened To Me (Click for the complete story.)

* Ecstasy is a synthetic drug produced in laboratories. It is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, which is abbreviated as MDMA. Chemically it is similar to the stimulant methamphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. Ecstasy produces stimulant and mild hallucinogenic effects.

* PMA (4-methoxyamphetamine) is similar to Ecstasy but has more severe toxic effects.

* Ecstasy is available in tablet form that can be swallowed. It can also be produced in a powder form that can be snorted, smoked or injected. Ecstasy can be administered as a suppository.

* Ecstasy is produced in an aspirin-size tablet form imprinted with colorful designs and name-brand logos (butterflies, smiley faces, peace symbols, McDonalds or Calvin Klein).


* The pills are made to look like candy that can be concealed.

* The tablets often contain other drugs such as the stimulant, ephedrine, and the cough suppressant, dextromethorphan; these can increase the dangers of the Ecstasy.

* Ecstasy is known as MDMA, "XTC," "clarity," "essence," and "Adam."

"I remember saying to myself, 'I want to do this every day, all day, for the rest of my life.' It was so lovable and people would rub my back and they were so nice to me!" It Happened To Me (Click for the complete story.)

* Ecstasy is known as the "hug drug" or "feel good" drug because it produces increased energy, heightened sensuality, closeness, a need for stimulation and a desire to be touched while eliminating anxiety.

* The drug has euphoric effects.

* If taken orally, it is 30-45 minutes before taking effect, 60-90 minutes to peak and 4-6 hours to end. Injecting the drug produces quicker onset, more intense but shorter lasting experience than oral. Snorting produces quicker onset but is shorter lasting. Suppository has slower onset but more intense and prolonged experience.

* Ecstasy raises the heart rate and blood pressure, dilates pupils and bronchi, stimulates the brain, tightens the jaw muscles, causes grinding of the teeth and produces overheating, sweating and dehydration.

"I'm not going to cut down the party scene at all, because I will always be a 'partee kidd,' but I realize now that there are more reasons to go to parties than to get high." It Happened To Me (Click for the complete story.)

* Party paraphernalia

  • Pacifiers, Blo-Pop suckers and Popsicle sticks are used to counteract the teeth grinding.

  • Candy necklaces, Altoids tins, M&M's, Skittles, Tootsie Rolls are used to conceal Ecstasy tablets.

  • Glo-Sticks are used for stimulation.

  • Vick's Vapo Rub is smeared on the inside of a surgical mask and then worn to enhance the dilated bronchi.

  • Vick's Vapo Inhalers is used to blow into a partners face and eyes to enhance the effects.

  • Bottles of water are a common sight at parties, used to treat overheating, sweating and dehydration.

* Ecstasy is used at all-night dance parties or Rave parties with techno music and laser lights, concerts and in small groups.

* Users of Ecstasy have suppressed appetites, thirst and the need to sleep.

"I didn't have a care in the world...until I started coming down. Then it was time to eat more pills. No matter how many of them I ate in a night. I could never get the same feeling I had after that first one." It Happened To Me (Click for the complete story.)

* The immediate effects diminish with repeated doses.

* Ecstasy is even more dangerous if combined with alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.

"I was cranky, tired, 'cracked out' and had unexplainable feelings of sadness. But those feelings would all go away whenever I ate another pill. That is why they become so addicting" It Happened To Me (Click for the complete story.)

* People may become addicted to Ecstasy. A person may be drug dependent if three of the following criteria are meant (American Psychiatric Association 1987):

  • Taking the substance more often or in larger amounts than intended

  • Unsuccessful efforts to terminate or reduce use

  • Large amounts of time spent acquiring or using the drug or recovering from its effects

  • Frequent intoxication or withdrawal symptoms

  • Abandonment of social or occupational activities because of drug use

  • Continued use despite adverse psychological or physical effects

  • Marked tolerance

  • Frequent use of the drug to relieve withdrawal symptoms

  • Characteristic withdrawal symptoms

"After a couple of months of partying all the time with Ecstasy, I couldn't even 'roll off' one pill. So, that led up to me eating 6 or 7 every weekend." It Happened To Me (Click for the complete story.)

* Taking three or more tablets at one time is called "stacking" and taking a series of tablets over a short period of time is called "piggy-backing."

* The cost of producing an Ecstasy pill is less than $1 but is sold for as much as $30.

"The feeling you have the day after you roll are probably some of the worst I have ever felt."
"It took a horrible toll on my body and mind. I haven't eaten Ecstasy in a long time, but I continue to feel the effects of it every day. I get depressed very easily, and my memory is completely shot." It Happened To Me (Click for the complete story.)

* The after-effects become more intensive with successive doses.

* GHB, another club drug, is taken to counteract the over-stimulation of Ecstasy.

* The symptoms of Ecstasy use include muscle aches, headaches and stomach cramps.

"After she died we learned that she had started using Ecstasy only 5-6 weeks before her death... She wasn't a user for very long, but we did notice that she was much more depressed and irritable. She was always tired, too." It Happened To My Child (Click for the complete story.)

* Ecstasy can cause depression that lasts for days after use; it is commonly referred to as "Black Tuesday" or "Suicide Tuesday."

* The drug can cause general fatigue and drowsiness.

* Irritability, anxiety and paranoia are some of the negative effects of Ecstasy.

"The sad thing is that I don't even really remember being a little girl." It Happened To Me (Click for the complete story.)

* Ecstasy users risk significant brain damage; damage that is evident through brain scans showing actual holes in the brain. The brain of a young person having used Ecstasy is similar to that of a 60 to 70-year old who has had a number of strokes.

* Ecstasy users may develop permanent brain damage. Complex tasks of attention, learning and memory tasks and tasks associated with general intelligence are impaired. It is not known whether the damage is reversible.

* The visual and verbal memory are particularly impaired.

* Ecstasy damages and destroys nerve cells, neurons, in the brain that produce/release serotonin. This causes a severe depletion of serotonin in the brain.

* Serotonin is a brain chemical that regulates mood, behavior, sexual activity, sleep and pain sensitivity.

* Ecstasy induces apoptosis, programmed cell death.

* Higher doses are associated with more profound and longer lasting effects.

Marketing Ecstasy

* Parties are marketed with flyers distributed in shopping malls, clothing, music and specialty stores and the Internet. The parties are advertised as being "alcohol-free." No one under the age of 24 is permitted.

* The parties are billed as "Techno Music" or Electro-Rock.

* A backwards "E" and an upside down "e" (made to look like a "G") are subtle markings used to indicate Ecstasy.

* "Donut User" is code for using Ecstasy. "Donut User" can be found on T-shirts.

"..., but even after she had taken Ecstasy on her own he had crushed up 4 more pills and put them in her water in an attempted date rape." It Happened To My Child (Click for the complete story.)

* Ecstasy increases sexual arousal.

"A nurse told me that her temperature was 108 degrees." It Happened To My Child (Click for the complete story.)

* Ecstasy use can cause body temperatures to exceed 106 degrees resulting in dehydration, exhaustion, nausea, hallucinations, tremors, heart attack and death.

* The dangerously high fevers can cause convulsions.

"Her liver and kidneys were shutting down. Her heart was giving out, too. She didn't have long to live." It Happened To My Child (Click for the complete story.)

* Light users of Ecstasy risk overdose and premature death.

* Ecstasy use can produce liver and kidney damage.

* The drug increases blood pressure and heart rate and can cause cardiovascular collapse.

"We need to understand that this drug is dangerous. It can happen to your child. These children and young adults are not bad kids. They can have good grades, be active in school activities and sports, and come from wonderful families that support and care for them." It Happened To My Child (Click for the complete story.)

* Signs of Ecstasy Use

  • Confusion

  • Panic attacks

  • Depression

  • Loss of memory

  • Headaches

  • Hallucinations

  • Sore jaw from involuntary jaw clenching

  • Grinding teeth

  • Paranoia

  • Anxiety

  • Acne and skin rash

  • General fatigue

"They need to know that if you don't die from Ecstasy, your life may be changed forever because of the effects it can have on the body." It Happened To My Child (Click for the complete story.)

* Ecstasy use can result in effects similar to Alzheimer's.

* Research suggests Ecstasy use increase the risk of developing Parkinsonism, a disease similar to Parkinson, later in life. In these cases Ecstasy is shown to destroy dopamine neurons, the chemical messenger that is involved in controlling movement, emotional and cognitive responses and the ability to feel pleasure.

* Ecstasy users risk significant brain damage; damage that is evident through brain scans showing actual holes in the brain. The brain of a young person having used Ecstasy is similar to that of a 60 to 70-year old who has had a number of strokes.


"Party Drug Ecstasy May Cause More
Widespread Brain Damage Than
Previously Thought,"
Scientific American, September 27, 2002.

NIDA Notes, Volume 14, Number 4, Page 10.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institutes of Health

NIDA Notes, Volume 16, Number 5, Page 1.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institutes of Health

"Pharmacology of 'Club Drugs': Ecstasy, GHB, and Ketamine"
David V. Gauvin, Ph.D.
Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section
Drug Enforcement Administration
Washington, D.C.

"Ecstasy and Predatory Drugs," February 2003
U.S. Department of Justice
Drug Enforcement Administration
Washington, D.C.

Frank J. Vocci, Jerome H. Jaffe, Ram B. Jain,
"Drug Dependence (Addiction) and Its Treatment,"
Statistical Issues in Clinical Trials for Treatment,
ed. Ram B. Jain, PH.D.,
National Institute of Drug Abuse Monograph 128, 1992.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institutes of Health

Latest News

Sessions reverses Obama-era policy on marijuana, unleashes prosecutor

Fox News, Adam Shaw and Jake Gibson, January 4, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back an Obama-era policy that allowed legal marijuana to thrive without federal intervention.

The move effectively unleashes federal prosecutors to consider bringing marijuana cases, while stopping short of ordering them to do so. “U.S. attorneys need to make decisions in these cases as they do in other drug cases,” a senior DOJ official told Fox News.

“I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful,” he told law enforcement officials in march. “Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”

In a letter to congressional leaders in May, he asked them to ditch language that prevents the DOJ from spending money preventing states from implementing their own laws on medical marijuana.

Read more ...

Proof cannabis DOES lead teenagers to harder drugs: Study finds users are 26 times more likely to turn to other substances by the age of 21

 Daily Mail, Steve Doughty and Ben Spencer, June 8, 2017

The study of the lives of more than 5,000 teenagers produced the first resounding evidence that cannabis is a gateway to cocaine, amphetamines, hallucinogens and heroin.

Teenagers who regularly smoke cannabis are 26 times more likely to turn to other drugs by the age of 21.

It also discovered that teenage cannabis smokers are 37 times more likely to be hooked on nicotine and three times more likely to be problem drinkers than non-users of the drug.

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Teens rescue girl from horrific crash that killed her pregnant mother

 WGN 9, Dana Rebik, July 6, 2017

A man, arrested for driving under the influence and possession of marijuana, hit a car killing a mother who was six months pregnant and leaving a 1-year-old daughter hanging out the front of the car with one arm hanging out and the other hand reaching back grabbing the baby seat.

The driver, Jacob Kaminski 23 from Marseilles, went on to hit a Toyota Camry carrying three people. They were not hurt.

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2 Kids Die In Hot Car After Mom Locked Them In As Punishment: Cops

 Inside Edition, June 25, 2017

A Texas mother of two was jailed after she left her kids in a hot car where they died while she went inside to smoke marijuana. Cynthia Randolph locked 1-year-old Cavanaugh Ramirez and 2-year-old Juliet Ramirez in a vehicle at as temperatures soared to the mid-nineties. Juliet was unable to escape the car with her brother.

According to police Randolph acknowledged that she left her children in the car intentionally. She found the kids playing in the car and, when the 2-year-old refused to get out, she shut the door to teach her a lesson in the belief that her daughter could get herself and her brother out of vehicle when ready.

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Weed pizza? Massachusetts dispensary offering THC - infused pies

 Fox News, June 9, 2017

Ermont Inc., a dispensary in Quincy, Mass., has created a new pizza sauce infused with 125 milligrams of THC and they’re using that sauce to top their homemade personal pizzas. The THC-content of the pizza is far too high for a single serving. The suggested dosage is 10 milligrams of THC every two hours, not 125 milligrams in the time it normally takes to consume a 6-inch personal pizza.

The pizzas are baked and frozen on-site in Ermont Inc.’s kitchen.

But, for dispensary visitors, these weed pizzas might be too good to be true. There are some downsides to the THC-infused snack, the biggest of which may be the high cost. The personal weed pizzas will cost $40, they cannot be delivered and in order to purchase one of these pizzas, a valid Department of Public Health-issued patient or caregiver card is necessary.

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Horror in New York’s Times Square as car rams into pedestrians killing one and injuring 22

 Mirror, Anthony Bondpatrick Lion, May 18, 2017

Driver ran into pedestrians in Times Square high on marijuana

A car rammed into pedestrians in New York City’s busy Times Square, with one person dead and 22 injured.

Richard Rojas, 26, of the Bronx, was named as the man who drove a maroon sedan at pedestrians, knocking them over near the intersection of 45th street and Broadway.

Rojas, who had two prior arrests for drunk driving, was reportedly high on marijuana after telling officers he had smoked the drug earlier today.

Witnesses said the vehicle drove against traffic and on to the sidewalk about noon after entering the district around 42nd street and driving north.

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Workplace drug testing finds cocaine, marijuana use at 12-year high

Quest Diagnostics, May 17, 2017

Employees increasingly are testing positive for marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines at work, driving the rates of positive drug tests in the United States to the highest level in 12 years.
Illinois' positive drug test rate matched the national average, though employees' drugs of choice vary widely in different parts of the state.

Cocaine is big in Chicago's south suburbs while opiates dominate at the southern end of Illinois, according to a local breakdown based on the first three digits of the ZIP codes. Heroin is concentrated around Rockford.

Marijuana, the most common drug for which workers test positive, has a steady presence throughout much of northern and central Illinois but leads to a particularly high positive rate in Sangamon County, home of the state capital.

Illinois has nearly double the national rate of positive heroin tests — 0.055 percent versus 0.028 percent — and the rate is even higher south of Chicago around Will and Kankakee counties. The rate of positive heroin tests is highest around Rockford, where it exceeds 0.12 percent.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions issues charging and sentencing policies for drug crimes.

 Note: A bill in the Illinois legislature would raise the amounts of all drugs constituting an offense while decreasing penalties for all drug offenses (HB3235).

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks at Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City Award Presentation
Department of Justice, Friday May 12, 2017

In 2015, more than 52,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. According to a report by the New England Journal of Medicine, the price of heroin is down, the availability is up and the purity is up. We intend to reverse that trend. So we are returning to the enforcement of the law as passed by Congress – plain and simple. If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way. We will not be willfully blind to your conduct. We are talking about a kilogram of heroin – that is 10,000 doses, five kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. These are not low-level offenders. These are drug dealers. And you're going to prison.

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Scientists Expose Colorado’s Marijuana Problems

Letter to Governor John Hickenlooper, March, 2017

We are a group of scientists from Harvard University and other institutions acutely concerned about the impact of marijuana on youth, and among drivers, employees, parents, and other members of society.

The only representative sample of teens ever conducted in Colorado, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), shows that Colorado now leads the nation among 12 to 17-year-olds in (A) last-year marijuana use, (B) last-month marijuana use, and (C) the percentage of people who try marijuana for the first time during that period (“first use”).
Youth use has risen since statewide since the legalization of marijuana.

Read more ...

Mysterious illness tied to marijuana use on the rise in states with legal weed

Jonathan Lapook, CBS News, December 28, 2016

There is a disturbing new illness resulting from heavy, long-term marijuana use that causes nausea and vomiting. Hot showers and baths are the only thing that seems to relieve the symptoms. It is cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS.

For more than two years, Lance Crowder was having severe abdominal pain and vomiting, and no local doctor could figure out why. Finally, an emergency room physician in Indianapolis had an idea.

“The first question he asked was if I was taking hot showers to find relief. When he asked me that question, I basically fell into tears because I knew he had an answer,” Crowder said.

Dr. Kennon Heard, an emergency room physician at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado co-authored a study showing that since 2009, when medical marijuana became widely available, emergency room visits diagnoses for CHS in two Colorado hospitals nearly doubled. In 2012, the state legalized recreational marijuana.

“It is certainly something that, before legalization, we almost never saw,” Heard said. “Now we are seeing it quite frequently.”

Read more ...

Elephant tranquilizer carfentanil causes first death in Chicago area, Dina Bair, December 9, 2016

There is a new opioid, a fentanyl synthetic called carfentanil that is 10,000 times more potent than morphine. A 35-year- old Lake Zurich man became one of its first victims.

Drug dealers are manufacturing their own version of a painkiller used by veterinarians to immobilize elephants. In people, it leads to instant death.

“It’s really like a ticking time bomb because it’s so potent. If someone thinks they are getting something else, like just straight street heroin for example, its being so much more potent, they’re likely to stop breathing and die,” Dr. Steven Aks, Stronger Hospital, Emergency Medicine and Toxicology.

In an effort to save lives naloxone has been made available by prescription. If administered immediately after an overdose of heroin, for example, it can completely reverse an overdose. But carfentanil may be too strong for naloxone.

“The problem with carfentanil is because it is so potent, we are not sure how effective it is going to be,” Aks said.

Read more ...

Gummy bears that sickened Naperville students contained marijuana, doctor says

WGN TV, December 8, 2016, Associated Press

On Tuesday December 6th, fourteen Naperville high school students were taken to the hospital after eating gummy bears believed to have contained marijuana. Dr. Jennifer McNulty of Edward Hospital said after talking to the students and observing their behavior she is certain that the gummy bears contained marijuana or marijuana oil.

On Tuesday, police said they had taken a 17-year-old into custody for his alleged involvement in the incident but on Wednesday police did not provide any updates on the investigation.


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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.

Read more ...

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. 

Read more ...

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. 

Read more ...

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. 

Read more ...

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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