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Confusion lingers over health-related pros and cons of marijuana

9/20/17--In 29 states and in Washington, D.C., marijuana is now commonly prescribed for post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain. But the drug’s pros and cons remain hazy. Regular pot use has been linked to psychotic disorders and to alcohol and drug addiction, and two recent research reviews conclude that very little high-quality data exist on whether marijuana effectively treats PTSD or pain. Several large-scale trials are under way to assess how well cannabis treats these conditions. Read

Cannabis, ‘spice’ – better think twice

9/21/17--A research group discovered that seizures can be induced by natural Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC, main constituent of marijuana) or the synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018 (main component of synthetic blend "Spice"). These results are considered important because people see marijuana as a soft drug, without dangerous health effects, and they are unaware of the particularly severe effect of those cannabinoids. Considering the recent irreversible spread of synthetic cannabinoids and their impact on human health, this data should serve as a public alert. Read

Marijuana may produce psychotic-like effects in high-risk individuals

9/13/17--Marijuana may bring on temporary paranoia and other psychosis-related effects in individuals at high risk of developing a psychotic disorder, finds a preliminary study from researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). In this double-blinded, placebo-controlled laboratory study, the researchers looked at the effects of marijuana in six high-risk young adults and six controls, all experienced and current marijuana smokers who were physically healthy. Read

Marijuana with ‘CBD’ may pose less risk to long-term users

9/8/17--According to a new study authored by Dr. Ken Mackie, a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University, marijuana with relatively high levels of cannabidiol may be less risky to smoke over the long term, because this ingredient may counteract some of the drug's harmful effects. Read

Smoking a couple of joints a week? Research warns it may make sperm ‘more mellow’ and swim in circles

8/31/17--Recent research indicates that smoking too much marijuana can cause sperm to become “more mellow and swimming in circles,” resulting in lower sperm counts by almost a third. According to Dr. Victor Chow, a clinical associate professor at the University of British Columbia Medical School’s department of urological sciences, the effect on male fertility is strong because “sperm is a very rapidly turning over cell." Heavy marijuana use can have an immediate effect on sperm production because the male body makes new sperm about every three months. Read

Marijuana laced with Fentanyl hits Tennessee

8/24/17--Tennessee District Attorney Matthew Stowe said that the state is seeing an influx of a deadly mixture: marijuana and fentanyl. Officials in the state are preparing to respond to this new trend as marijuana laced with fentanyl hits Tennessee. Fentanyl is an especially potent—and dangerous—opioid pain medication. It is used in a variety of prescription painkillers and can be highly addictive. Beyond that, it can easily lead to fatal overdoses. Read

Medical expert reports on marijuana problems in Colorado

8/14/17--Libby Stuyt, MD, an addictions psychiatrist, medical director at the Colorado State Hospital in Pueblo, and president of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has a unique and expert view on the effect of increased marijuana availability and use. Stuyt’s data is from information collected by the state of Colorado and from her experience as a clinician and researcher. Read

UMass Med School specialist helps doctors learn about marijuana’s risks, benefits

8/17/17--Dr. Ehrlich, clinical associate professor of family medicine and community health at University of Massachusetts Medical School, was one of the reviewers of a new Comprehensive Cannabis Curriculum, developed by the Massachusetts Medical Society together with Harvard Medical School-affiliated Dr. Stephen B. Corn and Dr. Meredith Fisher-Corn. The curriculum is intended to equip doctors and health care providers with robust training on the medical, legal, and social issues regarding marijuana use. According to Dr. Ehrlich, physicians need to have access to better information to discuss both the therapeutic uses as well as the adverse effects of marijuana with their patients.

The Effects of Cannabis Among Adults With Chronic Pain and an Overview of General Harms

9/5/17--A systematic review examines the benefits of plant-based cannabis preparations for treating chronic pain in adults, and the harms of cannabis use in chronic pain and general adult populations. Limited evidence suggests that cannabis may alleviate neuropathic pain in some patients, but insufficient evidence exists for other types of chronic pain. Among general populations, limited evidence suggests that cannabis is associated with an increased risk for adverse mental health effects. Read

Marijuana may help ease nerve pain, review finds

8/15/17--Marijuana may be slightly effective at reducing chronic nerve pain known as neuropathy. But there's little evidence on whether or not pot helps treat other types of pain or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a pair of new studies suggests. Read

Marijuana use holds three-fold blood pressure death risk: study

8/9/17--According to scientists, people who smoke marijuana have a three times greater risk of dying from hypertension, or high blood pressure, than those who have never used the drug. The risk grows with every year of use, they said. The findings, from a study of some 1,200 people, could have implications in the United States among other countries. Read

Marijuana associated with three-fold risk of death from hypertension

8/9/17--Marijuana use is associated with a three-fold risk of death from hypertension, according to new research. Compared to non-users, marijuana users had a 3.42-times higher risk of death from hypertension, and a 1.04 greater risk for each year of use. There was no association between marijuana use and death from heart disease or cerebrovascular disease. Read

Marijuana ‘may be worse than cigarettes for cardiovascular health’

8/9/17--People who use marijuana may be three times more likely to die from high blood pressure than non-users of the drug, a new study finds. The researchers say that their findings indicate that marijuana use is a greater risk factor for poor cardiovascular health than cigarette smoking. Read

Unusual marijuana-related illness grabbing attention of Boston doctors

7/27/17--Dr. Michael Donnino of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is launching what would become one of the nation's first case studies into Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome or CHS - a syndrome caused by excessive marijuana use. Dr. Donnino says a lack of research and knowledge stumped doctors who didn't realize they were looking at cases of CHS for many years. Read

Pattern of marijuana use during adolescence may impact psychosocial outcomes in adulthood

7/25/17--A pattern of escalating marijuana use in adolescents is linked to higher rates of depression and lower educational accomplishments in adulthood. Those findings come from a new study led by researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Pitt Department of Psychology published in the journal Addiction. Read

These college students lost access to legal pot — and started getting better grades

7/25/17--The most rigorous study yet of the effects of marijuana legalization has found that college students with access to recreational cannabis on average earn worse grades and fail classes at a higher rate. The research on more than 4,000 students, published in the Review of Economic Studies, found that those who lost access to legal marijuana showed substantial improvement in their grades. Specifically, those banned from cannabis cafes had a more than 5 percent increase in their odds of passing their courses. Read

Marijuana and the opioid epidemic: separating fact from fiction

6/27/17--Despite national headlines claiming that states with legal marijuana have lower opioid overdose rates, NIDA reports that there is insufficient evidence to confirm that legalizing marijuana will reduce opioid use and overdose deaths. NIDA is funding additional studies to determine the link between medical marijuana use and the use or misuse of opioids for pain. Read

Machine measures smoking impact

7/6/17--Leslie Sutherland, a research scientist with the Health Sciences North Research Institute, is using a large contraption referred to as Borg, the smoking machine, to examine the dangers of smoking – tobacco and marijuana. Sutherland says she believes she is the first researcher to look into the effects of cannabis smoke from this perspective. Her study centres on the earliest changes that occur at the cellular level, once the cells have been exposed to smoke. Read

Marijuana and vulnerability to psychosis

7/5/17--Going from an occasional user of marijuana to a weekly or daily user increases an adolescent's risk of having recurrent psychotic-like experiences by 159%, according to a new Canadian study published in theJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. The study also reports effects of marijuana use on cognitive development and shows that the link between marijuana use and psychotic-like experiences is best explained by emerging symptoms of depression. Read

School Of Public Health study finds use of marijuana increases risk of metabolic syndrome

6/29/17--According to a recent study by researchers in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University, the duration of marijuana use seems to be a significant factor associated with metabolic syndrome -- a cluster of symptoms that increase a person’s risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The study found that “every year increase in marijuana use is associated with at least a 5 percent increase in odds of having metabolic syndrome.” Read

Losing train of thought or it’s hard to multi-task? You may be having one drink too many

6/20/17--Impairments using information that help with decision-making and planning simple tasks are linked with one's frequency of alcohol or drug use. A new study shows that cognitive impairments constitute a broader problem among substance users in the US general population. This is the first study to find associations between deficits in attention with frequency of binge drinking and use of marijuana, cocaine, opioids, tranquilizers, and stimulants in the general population ages 18 and older. Read

Stoner barf: Yes, it’s a thing, and it’s way more common than you think

6/19/17--Health experts say marijuana may be making people sick. Emergency medicine physicians at UC Davis Medical Center said they’ve seen young, often college-age patients, come in once or twice a day vomiting multiple times an hour and screaming uncontrollably. The condition is known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS, and doctors believe it’s caused when cannabinoids in marijuana bombard neurotransmitters, causing an imbalance in the body’s regulatory system. Read

One in 5 adolescents at risk of tobacco dependency, harmful alcohol consumption, and illicit drug use

6/10/17--Researchers from the University of Bristol have found regular and occasional cannabis use as a teen is associated with a greater risk of other illicit drug taking in early adulthood. The study by Bristol's Population Health Science Institute, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, also found cannabis use was associated with harmful drinking and smoking. Read

Marijuana use during pregnancy associated with many risks, studies reveal

6/7/17--Many mothers turn to marijuana for relief of symptoms such as nausea and anxiety, yet scientific research is emerging that identifies associated risks. Using marijuana can affect a person's ability to safely care for a baby or other children. Marijuana use also decreases a person's ability to concentrate, impairs judgment, and slows response time. Read

Quebec psychiatrists urge strict guidelines for marijuana bill

6/5/17--The Quebec Association of Psychiatric Physicians argues that based on their clinical experience, the bill to legalize marijuana is not acceptable in its current form, and will expose young people to major mental health risks. According to the doctors’ opinions, authorizing the purchase of marijuana at 21 instead of 18 years old would allow a better balance to be struck between reducing the harms caused by the illicit market and protecting future generations. Read

Low-dose THC can relieve stress; more does just the opposite

6/2/17--Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago report that low levels tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, does reduce stress, but in a highly dose-dependent manner: very low doses lessened the jitters of a public-speaking task, while slightly higher doses actually increased anxiety. Read

Cannabis use increases risk of gum disease

5/25/17--Researchers have linked the use of cannabis to an increase in the risk of gum disease. A new study from Columbia University shows that the frequent use of marijuana, hashish, and hash oil has significant long-term impacts on dental health. Read

DEA chief: ‘Marijuana is not medicine’

5/25/17--Drug Enforcement Administration acting Chief Chuck Rosenberg remains strong on his stance that "marijuana is not medicine." Despite repeated attempts by advocates requesting that marijuana be moved to Schedule II, the DEA has pointed to the FDA's guidance that says it does not have medical value. Rosenberg noted that the DEA takes recommendations about how to classify the drug from the FDA. Read

Science Says: What’s known and not known about marijuana

5/29/17--A new marijuana study joins a limited record of scientific knowledge about the harms and benefits of pot. In January, a U.S. advisory committee concluded that the lack of scientific information about marijuana and its chemical cousins, called cannabinoids, poses a risk to public health. The experts called for a national effort to learn more. In a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, they also rounded up what is known, and outline some of its conclusions with strong evidence about marijuana and cannabinoids. Read

Trying new marijuana products and edibles is associated with unexpected highs

5/15/17--A new study by RTI International suggests that unexpected highs are a consequence of using new marijuana products and edibles -- products that have flooded the marijuana market since legalization of recreational marijuana use. Read

Marijuana use tied to poorer school performance

5/11/17--According to a new study from the University of Waterloo, when high school students started smoking marijuana regularly they were less likely to get good grades and want to pursue college. The study, published in the Journal of School Health, found that when students started using marijuana at least once a month they were about four times more likely to skip class, two-to-four times less likely to complete their homework and value getting good grades, and about half as likely to achieve high grades, than when they had never used the drug. Read

36 million Americans are allergic to marijuana – causing asthma, inflammation and rashes

5/12/17--More than 36 million Americans could be allergic to marijuana, figures show. According to a report on the nation's allergies, 73 percent of the 50 million people who react to pollen also have issues with cannabis - and the figure is rising. Scientists found in some cases exposure to marijuana pollen or cannabis smoke provoked symptoms of allergic rhinitis, caused by inflammation of the nasal passages, causing sneezing, congestion, itching, and a runny nose. They also found symptoms of conjunctivitis and asthma. Read

Marijuana use during pregnancy may affect child’s vision

5/7/17--A recent study finds that exposure to marijuana in the womb may affect the development of the offspring’s eye. These changes were found to persist as mice in this particular experiment aged. The scientists exposed pregnant mice to either marijuana or filtered air throughout their gestation. When their eyes were inspected, the mice whose mothers had been exposed to marijuana had significantly thinner retinas than those exposed to filtered air. Little is known about cannabis and its impact on retinal development, so this study is likely to pave the way for more in-depth research. Read

Gestational exposure to marijuana smoke may have lasting effects on the retina

5/8/17--Scientists have shown for the first time that gestational exposure to marijuana smoke in animals affects the development of the eye and these alterations seem to progress with age. Read

ER visits related to marijuana use at a Colorado hospital quadruple after legalization

5/4/17--Visits by teens to a Colorado children's hospital emergency department and its satellite urgent care centers increased rapidly after legalization of marijuana for commercialized medical and recreational use, according to new research being presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco. Read

Edible marijuana harbors greater dangers

5/2/17--Sheriff Eric J. Levett of Rockdale, Georgia, reports on the increasing popularity and dangers of marijuana edibles. In his reporting, he states that the everlasting side effects have been linked to multiple negative outcomes, including paranoia, anxiety attacks, hallucinations, and even death. Levett strongly encourages parents to familiarize themselves with what marijuana edibles actually look like and the packaging trends that coincide with these products. Read

Your brain on drugs: Neuroscientists narc on legal marijuana

4/21/17--Laviolette, a professor at the University of Western Ontario's medical school, led a study to better understand the correlation between THC exposure and schizophrenia. He's found that "exposure to high levels of THC during the adolescent period of brain development increased the likelihood of developing schizophrenia-related symptoms into adulthood." Read

Teen pot smokers run high risk of schizophrenia, Israeli researchers find

4/26/17--Teenagers who are susceptible to schizophrenia may trigger that disorder by using marijuana, according to findings of Tel Aviv University researchers that were recently published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics. The research results are cause for concern, given the widespread and growing use of medical cannabis by tens of thousands of patients who suffering from pain and other medical problems. Read

Marijuana is becoming more potent, but also more popular, UMD study says

4/27/17--While the number of people who view marijuana as posing "no risk" increases, highly potent forms of the drug are becoming more common, which may cause greater negative effects, according to a 2017 report by the University of Maryland's public health school. The study claims using higher-potency marijuana carries a higher risk of negative outcomes, such as "cognitive problems, underachievement in school, and risk for dependence, especially for youth," compared to traditional forms of marijuana. Read

Marijuana and erectile dysfunction: What is the connection?

4/25/17--There is a lot of debate about marijuana and its effect on sexual health. For some men, it does seem to be linked to erectile dysfunction (ED). At present, not enough is known about the relationship between marijuana and ED. Some men find that marijuana negatively affects their sexual ability, while others say that marijuana actually increases their sexual arousal. Read

Kicking pot to the curb

4/9/17--Renowned Alzheimer’s researcher Dr. Vincent Fortanasce says marijuana use may lead to the disease. For several years, Fortanasce has studied Alzheimer’s disease, its underlying causes, and treatments. Through his research, he believes there may be a link between chronic use of marijuana — especially when started at a young age — and Alzheimer’s. He is trying to convince the American Academy of Neurology to conduct a major survey to see if people diagnosed with dementia have also smoked marijuana. Read

Some of the parts: Is marijuana’s “entourage effect” scientifically valid?

4/20/17--The so-called “entourage effect” refers to compounds supposedly working in concert to create what chemist Chris Emerson describes as “the sum of all the parts that leads to the magic or power of cannabis.” The conventional science on this topic is scant, but cannabis breeders have long been crossing plants to develop distinctive strains that purportedly do different things, and breeders are using genetics to make that process more precise and efficient. Read

Teens tend to think marijuana use is no big deal, but they’re wrong.

4/20/17--According to the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teenagers are engaging in fewer risky behaviors than their Gen X parents did. However, despite this news, 60 percent of high school seniors say they think marijuana is safe, yet research suggests that marijuana use can damage the developing teen brain. Marijuana is more potent now than what people were smoking 30 years ago. Read

Meta-analysis fails to find evidence that medical marijuana influences quality of life

4/10/17--Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of eleven scientific studies on cannabis or cannabinoids and quality of life. Findings indicate that marijuana has no impact on quality of life when used for many medical conditions. Read

Study shows marijuana use interrupts adolescent brain development

4/11/17--Regular marijuana use by teens can stop the brain from maturing, according to a new study by scientists at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago, IL. The study is the first to establish a causal link between repeated cannabinoid exposure during adolescence and an interruption of the normal maturation processes in the prefrontal cortex, a region in the brain's frontal lobe, which regulates decision ­making and working memory and undergoes critical development during adolescence. Read

Cannabis use patterns and motives

3/9/17--A study was conducted to examine medical cannabis use patterns and motives among adults across the lifespan. Findings suggest that there is an age-related risk for problematic cannabis use among medical cannabis users, such that younger users should be monitored for cannabis use patterns that may lead to deleterious consequences. Read

Legalized marijuana could help curb the opioid epidemic, study finds

3/27/17--According to a new study, hospitalization rates for opioid painkiller dependence and abuse dropped on average 23 percent in states after marijuana was permitted for medicinal purposes. Hospitalization rates for opioid overdoses dropped 13 percent on average. Yet, at the same time, fears that legalization of medical marijuana would lead to an uptick in cannabis-related hospitalizations proved unfounded, according to the report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Read

Pot is bad news — no ifs, ands or butts

3/17/17--A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry looked at the rising rates of marijuana use in the general population, the increasing number of states allowing recreational marijuana use, and the authorization of medical marijuana programs. The three-year study of nearly 35,000 participants found that within the general population, cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of several substance use disorders, including alcohol and drug use disorders as well as nicotine dependence. Read

Alabama’s crackdown on pregnant marijuana users

3/15/17--Although Alabama isn't the only state with laws against drug use during pregnancy, its prosecutors have been the most zealous by bringing charges against hundreds of women. Alabama's crack down on pregnant marijuana users occurred alongside an increase in use across the nation and among pregnant women. Almost 4 percent of pregnant women surveyed as part of a federal study in 2014 reported using pot during the past month, compared to 2.3 percent in 2002. Read

Marijuana use may raise stroke, heart failure risk

3/10/17--New research warns of the harms of marijuana use after finding that the drug may have negative implications for cardiovascular health. From an analysis of more than 20 million health records across the U.S., researchers have uncovered a link between marijuana use and an increased risk of stroke and heart failure. Read

Depression, alcohol, and marijuana linked to later use of synthetic marijuana

3/13/17--In the first prospective study of synthetic cannabinoids or SCs -- the group of chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana -- researchers have found that symptoms of depression, drinking alcohol, or using marijuana was linked to an increased risk of SC use one year later. Read

Component of marijuana may help treat anxiety and substance abuse disorders

3/9/17--Cannabidiol, a major component of cannabis or marijuana, appears to have effects on emotion and emotional memory, which could be helpful for treating anxiety-related and substance abuse disorders. A recent review highlights the results of studies that have investigated cannabidiol's effects on various fear and drug memory processes. Read

Weed smokers have consistently low grades through school, study finds

3/8/17--A new study has confirmed the stereotype to indeed be true that students who smoke high amounts of cannabis have lower grades and perform worse at school, scientists claim. Researchers say their findings suggest efforts to limit substance use during the crucial first few months of college may help more students succeed. Read

‘Synthetic pot’ tied to risky sex, violence, and drug abuse in teens

3/13/17--Teens who use synthetic pot are at a heightened risk for violent behavior, risky sex, and abuse of other drugs, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study revealed. Synthetic pot -- sometimes called fake weed -- covers a variety of drugs sold under hundreds of brand names. These drugs are often marketed as natural and safe. But, they have unpredictable, and in some cases, life-threatening effects, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Read

Marijuana and adolescents: Caution

3/5/17--According to a published editorial by Carol Falkowski, CEO of Drug Abuse Dialogues, marijuana smoke is blanketing the country. She strongly believes we must pause to seriously consider the known, detrimental effects of repeated marijuana use on the developing adolescent brain, while also acting accordingly and responsibly in ways that promote the public health and safety, help delay initiation of use, and reduce, not increase, the accessibility of marijuana to this particularly vulnerable population. Read

Avoid marijuana while pregnant, urges new health advice

3/3/17--New advice warns women against smoking marijuana while pregnant, as the drug could affect the brain of the developing fetus. During pregnancy, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active chemical in marijuana can cross the placenta and affect the fetus by affecting the birth weight as well brain function, in addition to decreasing the IQ of the child and making it harder for them to pay attention. Read

Pediatricians warn against pot use: not your dad’s marijuana

2/27/17--An influential doctors group is beefing up warnings about marijuana's potential harms for teens amid increasingly lax laws and attitudes on pot use. The group opposes medical and recreational marijuana use for kids. It says emphasizing that message is important because most states have legalized medical use for adults, and many have decriminalized or legalized adults' recreational use. Read

Review of the science and implications for developmental behavioral pediatric practice

1/30/17--This review examines the epidemiology of cannabis use among children and adolescents, including those with developmental and behavioral diagnoses. Throughout, the review outlines gaps in current knowledge and highlights directions for future research. Read

Cannabis use disorder and suicide attempts in Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans.

1/5/2017--The objective of the present research was to examine the association between lifetime cannabis use disorder (CUD), current suicidal ideation, and lifetime history of suicide attempts in a large and diverse sample of Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans using a battery of well-validated instruments. Read

Yale prof raises concerns about potential health hazards of recreational marijuana

1/14/17--Recreational marijuana use has been approved in Massachusetts starting in 2018, and there is an effort for it to be legalized in Connecticut, but Yale School of Public Health professor Vasilis Vasiliou is warning of cannabis’ potential hazards. He’s especially concerned about the combined influence of alcohol and marijuana, cannabis’ effect on the developing brain, and its potential harm to pregnant women and fetuses. Read