Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, April 20, 2015

4/20 Marijuana Rallies -- and Reality

"I think we should be very concerned. Canada's ... young people have the highest rate of cannabis use compared to other developed countries. There is a need to take a pause and consider that this is the future of our country. We certainly want to prepare our youth so that they can be productive members of society in terms of employment so there certainly is reason that Canada needs to be concerned about cannabis use among young people."
"It is not the cannabis of the '60s and '70s."
"We know there are harms associated with cannabis. We need to increase awareness among the public and among young people that the marijuana of today is different than that of previous generations. It has impacts on brain functioning, there are implications for kids in school and implications for driving."
Amy Porath-Waller, lead cannabis-youth researcher, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

"It is very clear that cannabis does impair driving ability in a number of areas, similar to alcohol, but slightly different."
"[Cannabis use impairs the ability to] plan a series of events necessary to accomplish a goal. After cannabis you tend to make mistakes doing that."
Doug Beirness, lead researcher, drug-impaired driving, CCSA
Hundreds filled Yonge-Dundas Square despite the rain on Monday, lined with booths selling various pot-themed products.
Daniel Otis / Toronto Star   Hundreds filled Yonge-Dundas Square despite the rain on Monday, lined with booths selling various pot-themed products.

The tradition of North American street parties to rally support for the full and open decriminalization of marijuana as a popular recreational social tool certainly has its enthusiastic supporters. This is most definitely not about, nor dedicated to medical use of marijuana, which has been acknowledged by some within the medical community and by governments at various levels, to be a useful health-affirming tool in some circumstances and for some people, suffering from chronic medical conditions.

Coinciding with April 20 celebration of a counterculture fixation on the release of marijuana freedom from legal interference, partial findings of research that comprise a larger study due to be unveiled in June called The Effects of Cannabis Use During Adolescence, has seen a few of its authors make public statements as a heads-up on the content and conclusions of the research findings. That advance is meant to balance the effect of the celebratory aspect of the street rallies in support of free access to marijuana by a more sober note.

That teens who begin smoking marijuana early in life and use it frequently are at risk of altering their brains; evidence that early and frequent use of cannabis in the young can have the effect of changing the developing brain structure. Rallies such as the one which for years has seen thousands of teens and young adults converge on Parliament Hill on April 20 to smoke marijuana, take place around the world. But it is among Canadian teens and young adults that this most commonly used illegal drug is most prevalent.

Young Canadians use marijuana three times more often than adults, and it is not adults who are vulnerable to potential interference with cerebral functioning, but youth. The top users of cannabis in the developed world, according to a 2013 UNICEF report, are Canadian teens and youth. Not only are Canadian teens the top users of marijuana in the developed world, but their use of alcohol is also more frequent than their foreign counterparts, as is their penchant for binge drinking.
  • Cannabis use negatively affects cognitive and motor functions and is a safety hazard for drivers;
  • Early and frequent cannabis use is linked to lower IQ scores, reduced school performance and the risk of dropping out;
  • 'There is consistent evidence' of a link between psychosis and cannabis use;
  • About one of six people who begin using cannabis during their adolescent years will develop a dependency at a rate higher than among adults;
  • Adolescents are at particular risk for cannabis-related harms since their brains undergo rapid and extensive development.
These research findings require further analysis, but the preliminary results have been presented to alert people to the realities behind the use of marijuana by the young beyond controlled medical-health issues. The impact of cannabis, which has quadrupled in potency in the past 24 years, drives much of the controversy over its potential for harm in the young; Canabis-impaired driving has become another side-show of the increased potency of cannabis.

Adolescents appear to have little recognition of their state of competence while under the effects of cannabis. A series of focus groups had researchers confronted with adolescents claiming that the use of marijuana had a positive effect on their driving skills. Conversely, coroners are increasingly testing for drugs as well as alcohol, in the wake of fatal crashes. Cannabis presents as the second-most-common substance behind alcohol found in fatal-injury crashes.

Researchers travelled to Colorado for a study of the effects of marijuana liberalization pioneered in that state and came away with the conclusion that cannabis is not the benign substance its users consider it to represent.

Thousand toke up in front of Vancouver Art Gallery during the 420 marijuana smoke-in in April.
Thousand toke up in front of Vancouver Art Gallery during the 420 marijuana smoke-in in April.  Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet