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Marijuana Breathalyzer Tested On California Drivers

Marijuana Breathalyzer Tested On California Drivers

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva 

As more and more states legalize marijuana, there has been a concern on how to monitor impaired driving. Now, police are testing a marijuana breathalyzer on drivers for the first time. The device is manufactured by Hounds Labs and CEO Mike Lynn who is an emergency room doctor in Oakland, California, and a reserve officer with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

Lynn began pulling over drivers suspected of impaired driving during the initial field tests. However, the use of the breathalyzer was optional.

“Basically everyone agreed because they were curious,” Lynn told US News & World Report. “The objective was not to put people in jail but to educate them and use the device if they volunteered so we could get the data.”

All the drivers tested were not arrested, but they were required to find another ride home. The Hounds Labs breathalyzer can detect marijuana (smoked or ingested) as well as alcohol. Lynn says his breathalyzer can even measure the concentration of the drug.  In the past, other technology could only detect THC.

“It’s not as if every breathalyzer will be replaced overnight [but] it will completely change the ability to recognize stoned drivers,” said Lynn last year, “[and] our technology also will prevent the wrongful arrest of people who have some THC in their system but are not impaired.”

Last year, Alameda County Sherriff Greg Ahern told US News that he is eager to use the new breathalyzer.

“Current methods for testing THC are not practical for the roadside,” Ahern said. “On top of that, results can take weeks and will only tell us if marijuana is in a person’s system. By measuring THC in breath, Hound Labs, Inc. will help us get impaired drivers off the road and also make sure that unimpaired individuals who happen to have some THC in their system aren’t wrongfully arrested.”

Lynn hopes to have the breathalyzers distributed within the next six months. Hounds Labs is not the only one working on this new technology, though, however, it is the closest to market. Another company, Cannabix Technologies said in a July press release that they are working on a reduced size version of their product.

Other devices like Intelligent Fingerprinting detect traces of sweat from one’s fingertips. Their device is likely to come out next year, according to US News.

“We do have a significant stable of cities and counties that are interested in piloting and thus validating our product for roadside [driving under the influence of drugs] stops,” said Duffy Nabors, vice president of sales and marketing at Smartox, the company that distributes the fingerprint technology.

How does marijuana affect driving?

With all this new technology to test drivers, the next question is how much does marijuana impair drivers?  The exact impact of marijuana on driving ability remains a controversial subject. However, while drunk driving is on the decline, driving after consuming marijuana has become more prevalent.

The next question is if there can be a threshold established for marijuana in the same way that alcohol’s threshold is .08. Several studies have been conducted to find out the level of THC that is needed to impair driving ability; however a threshold has yet to be established.

As for driving, marijuana can impair a person’s judgment, motor coordination, the ability to concentrate, and slows down a person’s reaction time. Therefore, using marijuana while driving does pose a significant risk and increases the chance of an accident occurring.

Overall, while more and more states are in the voting stages of marijuana reform, impaired driving remains a serious problem. Driving under the influence of any substance is a major no-no. Do not take this risk. If you are struggling with addiction, do not wait. Call today.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

High School Marijuana Use Has Decreased

High School Marijuana Use Has Decreased

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

There has been a plethora of questions surrounding marijuana in the past few years. Should marijuana be legal? If it is legal, should it be recreational use or medicinal? These are the questions being debated across the country. With several states legalizing the drug, marijuana is increasing in availability.

With all the focus on marijuana lately, one would assume that marijuana use would have skyrocketed in high school settings. Surprisingly, this is not the case.

Contrary what you might think, marijuana use in American high schools have actually gotten lower over the years.  Considering the movies that depict high school as still being full of pot smoking partying teenagers, this is not expected.

Despite the legalization of marijuana in several states, a new study reveals that high school marijuana use is significantly lower than it was 15 years ago. These numbers were surprising considering a move toward decriminalization of the drug and even recreational use in a handful of states like Colorado.

Maybe it’s one of those “If everyone starts doing it, it’s not as cool anymore” phenomenons.

Either way, Marijuana is still the most common used drug in high school. According to research done by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, researchers say marijuana is more popular then the use of other illegal drugs.  Here are the results from the study:

  • Numbers: Research shows that 40 percent of teens in 2013 answered yes to if they have ever smoked marijuana. That number decreased from 47 percent in 1999.
  • The Gender Gap: In the past, boys tended to smoke marijuana more than girls. Findings show now that boys and girls are now using marijuana at a similar rate.
  • Race: In the past, whites and blacks used to use marijuana at similar rates. Findings show now that blacks report using the drug more often.

Compared to twenty years ago, marijuana policies have undergone significant changes.

Since 1996:

  • 34 states have passed laws removing criminal sanctions for medical use of marijuana.
  • Eleven states have passed laws decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana adding to the nine passed in the late 70s.
  • Four states now allow for the recreational use of marijuana for people over 21.

All this would lead anyone to assume the use of marijuana, especially in high schools, would keep going up and up.  Study leader Renee, M. Johnson, PhD, explains more:

“People have been very quick to say that marijuana use is going up and up and up in this country, particularly now that marijuana has become more normalized. What we are seeing is that since 1999 — three years after medical marijuana was first approved — the rates of marijuana use have actually fallen. But we will be watching those states where recreational marijuana use has been legalized to see if that leads to increased use among teens.”

Time will tell is the general consensus. The 80s and 90s were the era of “just say no” and federal crackdown on illicit drugs. Yet, those were the times where drugs were high in popularity. Use of other illegal drugs has also decreased such as hallucinogens and cocaine. Alcohol and cigarette use continues to decrease alongside them.

The study recommend programs get implemented that educate students about the specific harm of marijuana use—something that is rarely ever done. The focus for too long has been on tobacco and cigarette use, Johnson stated.

“We’ve done a really good job in public health of alcohol and tobacco use prevention,” she says. “We haven’t done the same with marijuana. We would do well to follow the lessons learned from those programs, which have been pretty successful.”

Over 115,000 high school students were surveyed for the results. We’ll have to see in a couple more years how marijuana reform affects rates of marijuana use.

Like any drug, marijuana has the potential to be abused. If you feel like you may be leading into an addictive path, find someone who can get you on the path to recovery.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Marijuana Use May Lead to Prediabetes

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Author: Shernide Delva

All across the country, marijuana reform continues to stir up controversy and make headlines. A few states have even legalized marijuana for recreational use. Other states remain focused on the medical benefits of the drug. Marijuana has gained significant attention for its medicinal benefits. Various studies show that marijuana can be beneficial for certain health conditions.

However, a new study reveals marijuana could increase the risk of developing prediabetes.  When a person develops prediabetes, their sugar levels become abnormally high yet not high enough to warrant a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

In the study, researchers discovered that people who used a large amount of marijuana in their young adulthood were 40 percent more likely to develop prediabetes as middle-aged adults compared to those who never tried the drugs.

These findings contradict past studies that showed marijuana reducing the risk of diabetes. Previous studies looking at marijuana use had found that users have lower rates of diabetes compared with nonusers. However, those studies only examined marijuana use during the time of the study.  Furthermore, it was unclear if the participants researched were using marijuana before they had diabetes, or afterward.

This is the first study to actually examine marijuana use over a period of years. Michael Bancks, lead author of the study, explained the reason for this new research.

“We felt we could address the potential limitations of previous research and add new information to our understanding of the relationship between marijuana use and subsequent metabolic health,” said Bancks.

It’s important to note that the study does not state that marijuana causes diabetes; it only says that it increases the risk of developing prediabetes. Marijuana was not linked to an increase risk of having type 2 diabetes.

The new study contradicts the recent evidence that marijuana may reduce the risk of diabetes. It’s unclear how marijuana can increase the risk of prediabetes, yet not diabetes, the study explains.

The study offered two possibilities for this observation.

  • For one, it’s likely that people who were more prone to developing diabetes were not included in the study because participants had to be free of diabetes at the time of the study.
  • Secondly, marijuana may have a larger impact on blood sugar levels in the prediabetic range than in the diabetes range.

More research is needed to study the possible link and future studies will look at different groups of people, how marijuana is consumed and the amount consumed.

Still, Bancks encourages doctors to discuss the potential risks of using marijuana with their patients. People who use marijuana should be aware that is could increase their risk of developing prediabetes. Doctors should monitor sugar levels with patients with “an extensive history of marijuana use,” Bancks stated.

As marijuana use becomes more prevalent, researchers are taking a hard look at the health effects of the drug. In 2014, researchers highlighted other health risks of marijuana use like increased risk of cognitive impairment and psychoses.

“There are many questions about the health effects of marijuana use where the answers are unknown,” Bancks said. “The increased legalization and use of marijuana will draw more attention from researchers and users, and we will learn more as research on the health effects of marijuana use increases.”

The study was conducted over 30 years and took into consideration factors such as age, sex, race, tobacco and alcohol use, education level, medication use, psycho-social well-being, and lifestyle factors like diet, exercise frequency, and other drug use. Although many were dropped out of the study over the course of 30 years, the remaining participants made up more than 2500 people.

More than half of the participants developed prediabetes and were 65 percent more likely to have prediabetes than those who did not smoke, the study conclude. Even among those who stopped smoking, their risk was 23 percent more likely than nonsmokers.

So although marijuana reform is a hot topic, marijuana is still a drug that could be detrimental to our health. Abusing any drug is not healthy.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Marijuana Farms Dangerous to California’s Environment

Marijuana Farms Dangerous to California's Environment

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva 

Lately, the conversation regarding marijuana has shifted from “Is it safe” to “Is it safe for the environment?” The dramatic rise in pot farms in California is proving to be detrimental to the states ecosystem.

The state’s most lucrative agricultural product, marijuana, is causing water diversions and serious environmental damage. And because marijuana is not regulated like other agricultural crops, the destruction continues to get worse.

Recently, the Los Angeles Times reported that the dramatic rise in pot farms in Northern California is taking a toll on the environment. Agricultural practices like water-siphoning, pesticide spraying and littering have had a huge effect on the fragile ecosystem.

California’s marijuana farms are rapidly increasing. In one 37-square mile patch of forest, state scientist found close to 281 pot farms and 286 greenhouses containing an estimated 20,000 plants. These plants are being fed by water from creeks or the nearby Eel River.

Scientist estimates that the farms are swallowing close to 18 million gallons of water every year — water at a time when salmon need it most.  The damage is threatening the state’s coast wide fishing industry.

Fish and Wildlife officers have recently joined local narcotic teams to raid pot farms said to be draining half a million gallons of water a day from the Eel River.  Because of the murky legal status of marijuana usage, the growing industry has been overlooked since medical use was legalized in 1996.

California’s governor Jerry Brown approved a $3 million budget to monitor water use and environmental impacts from marijuana cultivation. The compliance program signals a shift in the right direction. The goal is to identify and inspect water-thirst pot gardens in sensitive natural settings.

So far, officials from the State Resources Control Board and Department of Fish and Wildlife have visited 150 sites and filed 50 environmental violations.

California’s four-year drought alerted authorities to broaden their approach to monitoring marijuana growth throughout the state. In addition to the compliance program, the state has begun to issue marijuana water permits and plans to ramp up targeting offenders through civil lawsuits.

Marijuana Environmental Crisis

  • Just one marijuana plant requires six gallons of water per day to grow—so for an industrial sized growing operation, between 12,000 and 30,000 gallons of water minimum is required.
  • Fish and Wildlife Officials reported nearly 100 environmental violations that range from damming creeks, dumping soil, or growers tapping springs.
  • Some commercial operations were found with thousands and thousands of plants that were draining 500,000 gallons of water a day from tributaries to the Eel River.
  • Narcotics officers cut down 1,426 marijuana plants due to violation. Environmental violations included draining excessive water from a mountain stream that provides cold water flows to sustain Coho salmon in Willow Creek.
  • Many farmers cultivate bigger crops to make more profit. They cut huge clearings for industrial size green houses. These operations dump tons of slit into streams during the rainy season.

Furthermore, the impact on the environment by insecticide and pollutants is significant. The insecticide Carbofuran is used to kill off bears and other animals that raid their camps. The farmers mix the insecticide with tuna or sardines; the bears eat it and die. The insecticide requires a special permit because it is lethal in small doses to humans.

Now, authorities are finding the insecticide in some of California’s more sensitive ecosystems. Seeping into the ecosystem are fertilizers, soil amendments, rodenticides, fungicides, plant hormones, diesel fuel and human waste.

Scientists are concerned that the runoff from excess potting soil combined with lower-than-normal river flow has caused toxic blue algae to appear in North Coast Rivers over the last decade. The bacteria pose a risk to swimmers and kills aquatic invertebrates that salmon and trout eat. Officials have had to warn residents and their pets to stay away from the rivers. So far, 11 dogs have died from the bacteria since 2001.

Good or bad, the cannabis boom shows no signs of slowing down. With Colorado legalizing recreational use and states like Ohio debating on the matter, it seems like an increase in pot farms is on the horizon. The growth intensifies the challenge of environmental protection. But until marijuana is legalized on the federal level, it’s hard to grasp how states are going to control the situation.

Marijuana farms are not regulated which is costly to California’s water and wildlife. Their complex legal status makes it an even harder issue to tackle.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Free and Legal Marijuana Making it to the Streets

Free and Legal Marijuana Making it to the Streets

Author: Justin Mckibben

The state of Oregon last night was ignited, and it was a little more than enthusiasm in the air at midnight as crowds gathered and counted down minutes before lighting up joints in the streets to celebrate today, July 1st, as the first official day marijuana is legal in the state.

This is all part of a growing movement that has sprouted and spread across the west coast of the United States and even popped up in the Midwest and various other areas of the nation.

At midnight hundreds of citizens in Portland, Oregon gathered on the Burnside Bridge in the downtown area and smoked up in honor of the voter approved law passed back in November.

Recreational Cannabis in Oregon

The language presented in the legislation allows for recreational use and for individuals to grow their own plants, although so far shops will not be permitted to sell marijuana. This is expected to change though by next year, despite some lawmakers saying they still seek to block retail distributors.

Regulators will start accepting business license applications in January, with stores slated for next fall. So what many growers have actually done is passed out free samples throughout the area, promoting both the reform and their product, while doing what is necessary to respect the law of the land.

According to the state Liquor Control Commission, residents are permitted to:

  • Smoke privately at aged 21 and older
  • Grow up to 4 plants
  • Possess up to 8 ounces (227 grams) at home
  • Possess 1 ounce outside home

Driving under the influence of marijuana is still illegal, and public smoking is also illegal. Strangely there have been no immediate reports of any arrests last night at the Burnside Bridge, despite the very public celebration.

Still, it appears some lawmakers are trying to hold onto what little conservative restrictions they can by combating the approval or cannabis outlet stores.

Regardless it seems like the change has been welcomed with open arms by a lot of the public. Time will tell what kind of impact this revolution has on the community.

Mercy for Marijuana in Miami

Another change came on the other coast, with Florida’s largest county now deeming it unnecessary to jail small time marijuana offenders.

People now caught in Miami-Dade County in possession of small amounts of marijuana will no longer be prosecuted with jail time, but instead will receive civil citations.

A proposal was approved just Tuesday, June 30th allowing police to issue $100 civil citations for someone found to be in possession of anything less than 20 grams of marijuana. Sally Heyman, the County Commissioner insists that her measure is aimed at sparing residents caught with these minor quantities of cannabis from receiving a criminal record, and at the same time reducing the economic burden put on the criminal justice system by imprisoning these low-level drug offenders.

Now this isn’t a guaranteed get-out-of-jail-for-pot-free card. The choice to make an arrest of a citation is still at the individual officers discretion, and police officials are still in the process of developing policies to better outline the circumstances that warrant an arrest.

Laws similar to this have apparently been enacted already in 14 other states, and Florida may soon be on the list for adjusting their drug law. While the state may not be up for such radical reforms as Oregon and others just yet, it appears lawmakers are at least willing to consider the positive impact decriminalization could have on their justice system and their communities.

That being said, what about the vast recovery community in South Florida? Is it possible that legalized marijuana in any of these areas will have an impact on those trying to recover from drug or alcohol addiction? Surely every action creates a reaction, but most recovering addicts and alcoholics will tell you a program of action keeps them from temptation, whether the substance is legal or illicit.

Despite the fact that marijuana is becoming legal in many states, it doesn’t take away from the dangers of any level or drug use, especially for an alcoholic or drug addict. Understanding that no matter what way you ingest it, the effect it has on someone with addiction doesn’t change. But you don’t have to be a victim, there is help for those who still suffer. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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