Posts Tagged ‘ marijuana ’

More Than Half of Teens Think Smoking Pot Is OK

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Sixty percent of U.S. high school seniors believe that smoking marijuana poses no health risks, according to newly released survey data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  CNN.com has more:

More than a third of the seniors surveyed reported smoking marijuana in the past 12 months.

Each year, the Monitoring the Future survey asks eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders about their drug and alcohol use and their attitudes toward illegal substances. For 2013, more than 41,000 students from 389 U.S. public and private schools participated.

Only 2.4% of high school seniors reported using marijuana daily in 1993; this year that percentage nearly tripled to 6.5 %. And it’s not just the older students more than 12% of the eighth-graders surveyed said they had used marijuana.

“It is important to remember that over the past two decades, levels of THC the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana have gone up a great deal,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in a statement. “Daily use today can have stronger effects on a developing teen brain than it did 10 or 20 years ago. … The children whose experimentation leads to regular use are setting themselves up for declines in IQ and diminished ability for success in life.”

Teens also continue to abuse prescription medications such as Adderall, which is commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Vicodin. But while alcohol use is still high close to 40% of seniors reported drinking in the past month it’s been on a steady decline since its peak in 1997.

Image: Marijuana, via Shutterstock

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‘Zero Tolerance’ Policies Under Scrutiny in Schools

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Schools across the country are taking a fresh look at “zero tolerance” policies that enforce suspensions and expulsions if students are guilty of infractions–sometimes minor ones, others that have resulted in an arrest.  Critics of the policies say they most affect minority students who are already at greater risk of performing poorly in school or dropping out altogether.  More from The New York Times:

Perhaps nowhere has the shift been more pronounced than in Broward County’s public schools. Two years ago, the school district achieved an ignominious Florida record: More students were arrested on school campuses here than in any other state district, the vast majority for misdemeanors like possessing marijuana or spraying graffiti.

The Florida district, the sixth largest in the nation, was far from an outlier. In the past two decades, schools around the country have seen suspensions, expulsions and arrests for minor nonviolent offenses climb together with the number of police officers stationed at schools. The policy, called zero tolerance, first grew out of the war on drugs in the 1990s and became more aggressive in the wake of school shootings like the one at Columbine High School in Colorado.

But in November, Broward veered in a different direction, joining other large school districts, including Los Angeles, Baltimore, Chicago and Denver, in backing away from the get-tough approach.

Rather than push children out of school, districts like Broward are now doing the opposite: choosing to keep lawbreaking students in school, away from trouble on the streets, and offering them counseling and other assistance aimed at changing behavior.

These alternative efforts are increasingly supported, sometimes even led, by state juvenile justice directors, judges and police officers.

Image: School lockers, via Shutterstock

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Medical Marijuana for Kids Prompts Debate

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

The use of medical marijuana in children is becoming a hotly debated topic, with some parents expressing horror that the drug would be used on children, and others praising the possibilities that marijuana could help kids cope with disorders ranging from epilepsy to cancer and autism.  More on the issue from NBC News:

Eighteen states, plus Washington, D.C., allow use of medical marijuana. A number of them provide prescriptions to children, with parental supervision, to treat a host of ills, ranging from autism to cancer to seizures.

Critics, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, argue that the remedy hasn’t been clinically tested in kids and might have some long-term ramifications.

[10-year-old] Zaki [Jackson's] parents were surprised at first and a bit taken aback. “We are Christians,” Jackson said. “We are conservative. And we’re using medical marijuana. That’s a kind of big hump for people to get over. Despite the stigma associated with cannabis, we owed it to Zaki to give it a try.”

Jackson said the results were immediate and stunning. “I probably stared at him for a good three hours after his first dose and then I fell asleep. I didn’t feel any seizures after his first dose,” his mother said.

In fact, it’s been eight months since Zaki’s last seizure and he’s finally starting to do normal kid activities, like ride a swing.

Zaki’s pot is provided specifically for him by a team of brothers who legally grow medical marijuana. It has been bred to have low levels of TCH, but higher levels of another cannabinoid called cannabidiol, or CBD.

While both cannabinoids impact pain, nausea and seizures, CBD isn’t psychoactive, said Dr. Margaret Gedde of the Clinicians’ Institute for Cannabis Medicine. That means that kids using this type of marijuana won’t get high.

Cannabinoids work by hijacking normal brain circuitry.

In other words, the cannabinoids in pot are very similar to substances our own brains naturally make, called endocannabinoids. These substances serve to quiet excessive activity, whether it’s in the immune system, in the gut or in the nervous system, Gedde explained to NBCNews.com.

When cells become overactive, a switch is thrown and endocannabinoids are released. Once they lock on to receptors in the brain, “a message is sent to tell the cells to calm down,” she said. “It’s a balancing system and it’s what keeps seizures from happening in healthy brains. In these kids the system is overwhelmed. It needs a little extra help.”

That’s where the pot comes in. For Zaki, it’s delivered in a syrup that he takes each day, which contains an extract of purified cannabis oil that is high in CBD, Gedde said.

While the drug seems to be working miracles for Zaki, some doctors believe its safety in children needs to be tested in clinical trials.

“I worry that we just don’t know enough about it,” said Dr. Sharon Levy, of the Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. “I think they’re putting their child at risk of long-term consequences of marijuana use that we don’t fully understand.”

 

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Protect Kids from Parents’ Medical Marijuana, Study Advises

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Medical marijuana, which is legal in 18 states, can bring relief to the patient taking it, but it can also be a risk if it inadvertently falls into the hands of children.  The rise in medical marijuana prescriptions over the past few years has also increased the number of emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers when young children ingest marijuana-laced products, such as brownies, cookies, and candies.  The Boston Globe reports on the study, which was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics:

Marijuana-infused products have become popular for patients who are unable, or do not want, to smoke the drug.

“In our study, most exposures were due to ingestion of medical marijuana in a food product,” wrote the study authors.

Dr. George Sam Wan of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center and his colleagues compared the proportion of marijuana ingestions by young children who were brought to the emergency room before and after October 2009, when drug enforcement laws regarding medical marijuana use were relaxed.

The researchers found no record of children brought to the ER in a large Colorado children’s hospital for marijuana-related poisonings between January 2005 and September 30, 2009 — a span of 57 months.

By comparison, they found 14 cases involving marijuana ingestion between October 1, 2009, and December 31, 2011, a span of just 27 months.

Eight of the 14 cases involved medical marijuana, and all but one of those came from food products, the authors said. In all, eight of the patients had to be admitted to the hospital, with two of them ending up in intensive care. None died.

The ages of children studied ranged from 8 months to 12 years old. During those years, Colorado had no laws requiring medical marijuana to be sold in child-proof packaging.

Image: Child reaching for cookie, via Shutterstock

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Parents Hire Drug-Sniffing Dogs for Teens’ Rooms

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

A growing number of parents, worried that their children are doing drugs, are investing several hundred dollars in hiring drug-sniffing dogs to come to their homes. The Today Show reports:

“I was very worried that my daughter was hanging around with kids that were doing drugs,” one Houston mother said in a report that aired on TODAY on Monday. Ava, who didn’t want her last name used, hired a private company to bring Roxie, a white German shepherd who used to work for the military, into her Houston home to check for illegal drugs.

Ava was worried about what Roxie might find. “Oh, I was very nervous that she was going to find drugs in the garage,” she said.

The dog with the super-sensitive nose did indeed find marijuana in the garage, a discovery that was difficult for Ava and her daughter.

“She was upset that I invaded her privacy,” Ava said.

But it led to a conversation that Ava believes helped turn her daughter’s life around. The girl found a new group of friends and improved her grades.

“The reason why I did it is to keep her safe and off drugs,” Ava said.

Ava seemingly got the outcome she wanted. But using a drug-sniffing dog can make matters worse, said child psychologist Jeffrey Gardere, a TODAY contributor.

“Looking for the drugs with a dog, I think, is an overkill,” Gardere said on TODAY. “What it comes down to is having a relationship, and I don’t know if you can do that if you’re bringing in drug-sniffing dogs.”

Image: Drug-sniffing dog, via Shutterstock

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