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Palm Partners’ innovative and consistently successful treatment includes: a focus on holistic health, a multi-disciplinary approach, a 12-step recovery program and customized aftercare. Depend on us for help with:

Marijuana Is Addictive: Even If We Know It Isn’t Evil

Marijuana Is Addictive: Even If We Know It Isn't Evil

Any time you bring up marijuana and addiction in the same sentence, a lot of people get really defensive. Whether it is people claiming that cannabis has enough medical benefits to negate any side-effects, or people deflecting to other “hard” drugs like opioids to minimize the impact of marijuana, it is difficult to even broach the subject.

Before anyone reading this goes on the attack with “how dare you speak poorly of cannabis” we suggest reading this article until the end.

It is hard to have a conversation about addiction in general without the debate over marijuana abuse being brought up. Both sides of the argument have some fair points of perspective, but at the end of the day to insist marijuana addiction is utterly impossible is just intellectually dishonest. It may not be as devastating or deadly as heroin or crack-cocaine, but marijuana is addictive. And just because not everyone suffers, doesn’t mean we should neglect the people who do.

Some Basics of Cannabis

If we are going to say marijuana is addictive, we have to cover the basics.

The active ingredient in marijuana is Tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC. This cannabinoid is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. It binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain (CB1 and CB2). Since THC is a partial agonist, it only activates these receptors to a fraction of their capacity. Cannabinoid receptors modulate a number of things, including:

  • Mood
  • Sleep
  • Appetite

Short-term side-effects of cannabis use may include:

  • Decrease in short-term memory
  • Dry mouth
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Red eyes
  • Feelings of paranoia or anxiety

While there are numerous side-effects, there are no reports of fatal overdose in humans caused by cannabis.

The earliest records of cannabis use date as far back as the 3rd millennium BC. Throughout history, it has been used for recreational, medicinal and spiritual purposes across several different cultures and continents. Even though there have been restrictions put on cannabis since the early 20th century, more recently America has experienced a change of perspective, and more and more people are embracing marijuana reform.

We aren’t saying that is the end of the world. This change in drug policy could do a lot of good in many ways. But that does not mean that people should forget that marijuana is addictive.

Better Understanding Addiction

Part of the problem people have with saying marijuana is addictive is the fact that so many people refuse to accept what addiction really is. According to the vast majority of the scientific and medical community, addiction is a complex brain disease (or disorder, if you prefer) that manifests by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences. Addiction can also be used in association with behaviors like gambling addiction or sex addiction. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM):

“Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.”

Many refer to it as severe substance use disorder. Different substances cause changes in the how the brain functions. Changes in the brain’s wiring cause people to experience intense cravings for the drug. This is part of why it becomes too hard to stop using the drug. Brain imaging studies show changes in the areas of the brain that relate to:

  • Judgment
  • Decision making
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Behavior control

One big element of addiction is how despite the negative impact of using the drug on an individual’s life, they continue to engage in the behavior. It causes damage to their professional and personal life, and yet they have an inability to stop using. Over time, people suffering from substance use disorder will build up a tolerance to the substance. This means they require larger amounts of the substance to feel the same effects.

Perhaps one of the biggest issues with people accepting that marijuana is addictive is the stigma that comes with the word addiction. Far too many people still believe that addiction is a choice or a weakness of character. Therefore, it puts cannabis in a bad light if you acknowledge marijuana addiction. If you believe that addiction is only for those who have weak willpower and choose to destroy their lives with dangerous drugs then, of course, you won’t want to believe that marijuana is addictive.

So, for just a moment let us pretend that everyone acknowledges what addiction actually is- a chronic brain disorder.

A Drug by Any Other Name

When we talk about the dangers of drug dependence and addiction, people tend to envision an alcoholic falling off a bar stool, or an addict with a needle in their arm. For decades, movies and television have helped paint this picture of addiction as an extreme. In the midst of an ongoing opioid crisis in America, we see plenty of heroin and fentanyl overdoses on the news to reinforce that stereotype.

But that is not what every addiction looks like.

Still, if you focus mainly on making comparisons to try and debunk that marijuana is addictive, we can prove some points there as well. For instance, look at one of the most dangerous drugs in the world- alcohol.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are approximately 3.3 million deaths worldwide due to harmful use of alcohol every year. Yet, this drug is legal pretty much everywhere and readily available all over the United States. In truth, alcohol is responsible for far more death and destruction than cannabis.

And you will notice that not everyone who drinks alcohol becomes addicted to it.

The same can even be said for opioids, since millions of Americans use prescription opioids for pain management, but do not end up addicts. Cannabis is not the only substance with medical potential that people can abuse. It may not be as dangerous as morphine, but that doesn’t mean it is exempt from what defines an addiction.

Why? Because that is not how addiction works.

Be it narcotic medication, illicit street drugs or recreational alcohol use, substance use disorder can develop depending on many variables, including genetic predisposition. When addressing addiction and the stigma, we have to remember that the substance itself is not the only factor.

How Marijuana is Addictive Compared to Heroin

Let us get this out of the way- I am NOT saying marijuana is as addictive as heroin.

An interesting fact about marijuana that most people do not realize is that there is a significant amount of interaction between the cannabinoid receptor system and the opioid receptor system in the brain!

Yes… marijuana activates the same receptor system in the brain as heroin, morphine and oxycontin.

Research shows that without the activation of the µ opioid receptor, THC does not activate the reward system as it normally would. When marijuana activates that opioid receptor it sets off a chain reaction. The opioid system activates the dopamine reward pathway, which gives people those feelings of euphoria. These are the mechanisms believed to underlie the rewarding, and many of the addictive properties, of essentially all drugs of abuse.

Go ahead… let that sink in.

On top of all that, without the activation of the CB1 receptors, research shows that opiates, alcohol, nicotine and perhaps even stimulants would lose some of their reward properties as well. That would mean that the reward effects of more notorious drugs depend on cannabinoid receptors more than previously expected. In short, the data indicates there is a close connection between the cannabinoid receptors that THC targets and the addictive elements of most other drugs.

How does that suggest that marijuana is addictive?

Well, if we agree that addiction includes how a substance changes the way a brain functions, we can see how the impact of THC on cannabinoid and opioid receptors could play a role in the development of marijuana addiction. We learn to rely on substances and outside resources for dopamine, which in turn influences behaviors.

What about Withdrawals?

Some people assume that if marijuana is addictive, it has to be the cause of intense and debilitating withdrawals. Marijuana withdrawals are way more subtle than those associated with heroin or cocaine, but they are every bit as real. The main mental symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Low appetite or loss of weight

Of course, the level of physical dependence concerning even the most chronic marijuana use is low compared to any other drug. Still, people do report physical withdrawal symptoms due to marijuana. These physical symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Sweatiness
  • Shakiness

Even if someone does not experience painful and dangerous withdrawals, it does not mean the substance is not addictive. Again, a lot of how marijuana addiction develops has to do with the impact on the brain and how drug use impacts an individual’s life. Addiction isn’t just physical, it is also mental.

Marijuana Addiction on the Rise

Marijuana addiction is not as common or life-threatening as opioid addiction. However, reports indicate that marijuana addiction rates are on the rise in many areas. Approximately 9% of cannabis users because addicted, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In 2015, about 4.0 million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for marijuana use disorder. Recent NIDA data indicates that at least 30% of those who use marijuana have some degree of marijuana use disorder.

That does not mean that all those people have an addiction or a severe substance use disorder. It does mean, however, that they are showing signs of dependence.

Many believe that the rising rates of marijuana addiction are due to the increase in potency. Currently, cannabis products are more potent than ever before. New trends like dabbing THC concentrates are also being considered as contributing to the rise in marijuana addiction.

Even the National Cannabis Industry Association does not disagree with the reports about marijuana addiction rates. The organization’s chief spokesman Morgan Fox said he is not surprised that the government cannot convince people that marijuana addiction is a real thing.

“It’s their own fault,” he said of the government. “When people find out they’ve been lied to by the federal government about the relative harms of marijuana for decades, they are much less likely to believe anything they have to say going forward, even if that information is accurate.”

Even leaders in cannabis advocacy can admit that it is possible to become addicted to marijuana. Others may be skeptical of the severity, but it doesn’t make it any less real.

Agree to Advocacy and Awareness

At the end of the day, some people are more than happy to refute any evidence that marijuana is addictive. Some people become aggressively hostile to any suggestion it could be. Some people treat it like it is all or nothing, but reality isn’t that simple.

But here is the thing- you can be an advocate for the benefits of cannabis and acknowledge it is addictive. You’re allowed to do both.

You can advocate for a substances medical potential and the many uses for its compounds that make people’s lives better and raise awareness about the risks some people face. If you want to promote the positive aspect of things like CBD oils, or medical marijuana for treating Veterans with PTSD, those are noble causes to consider. But that does not mean you have to ignore those who struggle with substance use disorder.

Every day, millions of Americans struggle with chronic pain and the medications that help with pain management are an important resource. That doesn’t mean we should ignore the fact that people do become addicted to Oxycontin.

Marijuana is addictive. It may be less common or life-threatening than other drugs like fentanyl or alcohol, but a growing number of people across the nation are still struggling. Addiction treatment facilities are reporting higher demands for marijuana addiction treatment, and more comprehensive recovery programs are helping address drug abuse in all its forms. For those who do suffer from addiction, there should be support and opportunities for compassionate care.

Instead of trying to invalidate the people who are hurting, we should try and appreciate the opportunity to better understand their addiction.

Holistic addiction treatment is about addressing every part of an individual. It is a personalized path that is designed to treat the mind, restore the body and heal the spirit. For over 20 years, Palm Partners Recovery Center has been helping people transform their lives, no matter what drug they struggle with. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll free now. We want to help.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Why Dabbing THC Has Been Called the Crack of Cannabis

Why Dabbing THC Has Been Called the Crack of Cannabis

I will admit, at first glance that headline can be a little jarring, especially to cannabis advocates in a world of growing popularity for legalization. In a country that has been devastated over the past few years by an ongoing opioid crisis, heroin and fentanyl are far greater threats than cannabis plant or hash oil.

So no… We are NOT saying cannabis is equivalent to crack.

Today more and more states move to decriminalize and reform their marijuana policies. And we as a society are more open to the potential of medical marijuana. So of course, you can’t compare cannabis to the damage of the crack-cocaine epidemic of the 80s without sounding a little like the counter-productive propaganda of reefer madness. However, that hasn’t stopped the practice of dabbing THC from being controversial.

Some believe that it is because of the negative stigma that comes with the appearance of dabbing THC. Others believe it is due to how the substance is processed. Either way, people have used the analogy that dabbing is to cannabis what crack-cocaine is to cocaine. So what is dabbing, and why is it such a touchy topic?

What does Dabbing THC mean?

To better understand a lot of the controversy, we should first start with what dabbing THC actually means. To clarify, THC is Tetrahydrocannabinol, the cannabinoid compound in marijuana that causes the feelings of euphoria.

The term “dabbing” or “taking a dab” refers to the practice of inhaling the vapor of a cannabis concentrate of melted butane hash oil, also known as BHO. This method usually involves the use of what is called a “dab rig”. According to an article written on Estrohaze, a dab rig is essentially a domed water pipe with a surface that can be heated, called a nail. This part of the “dab rig” is usually made of:

  • Glass
  • Titanium
  • Quartz

A user will heat the nail, typically using a blowtorch. They then dab the concentrate onto the surface of the hot nail, and inhale the vapors of the melting wax. Users also have the option of using e-cigarettes or “vape pens” to consume hash oils, which make for a less scandalous look.

You may be wondering why go to all this trouble when marijuana has been smoked out of pipes and paper for decades? This is because a THC concentrate is extremely potent, and dabbing THC has an instant, yet long-lasting effect. Because of these factors, dabbing is now a popular method among consumers with higher tolerance to cannabis.

Dabbing THC only uses a small amount of the concentrate to achieve an intense high. To put it into perspective, one writer on the subject points out:

  • 1 joint filled with dry marijuana yields about 15% of THC
  • Concentrates reach THC levels of anywhere between 60 – 90%

So not only is it stronger, it is also considered more economical. See where we are going with this?

Why the Crack Comparison?

The real comparison most are drawing comes in when you look at what dabs are made of. Firstly, there are different extraction methods used for making cannabis concentrates. Some of these methods do not require the use of butane. However, the most common form of concentrated weed oil is typically produced when butane is poured over the marijuana plant. The solution separates the THC from the cannabis plant itself and extracts it into the butane. The resulting solution then has to be pressed through a filter. After all that, the final product is a thick, gummy substance that is high in THC. There are plenty of names for this concentrate, including:

  • Wax
  • Budder
  • Crumble
  • Resin
  • Shatter
  • Sap

After extracting the THC, the concentrate should be ‘purified’ of any trace solvents. Because of the added processing of dabbing THC, this is where the comparison to crack comes in. Look at it this way, both crack and dabbing THC:

  • Can be processed using hazardous chemicals
  • Considered more cost effective for the high by users
  • Having more intense and instantaneous effects

There are those who have reported side effects from using hash oil wax. Dabbing THC can also have a list of adverse side effects that are similar to crack-cocaine use, including:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Blackouts
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Again, we acknowledge that cannabis wax so far has not proven to be nearly as harmful as crack-cocaine. However, some evidence does suggest that dabbing THC is more likely to cause dependence or addiction. One study from the Estrohaze article indicates that users consider dabbing as more dangerous because of the tolerance people develop through the larger doses.

Dab Lab Dangers and Other Health Risks

Part of the process of manufacturing dabbing THC is what concerns people. That includes reports of a rise in explosions in careless labs trying to produce hash oil products. Others have voiced concerns about the potential health risks of these cannabis waxes. For example, there is some risk in the possibility of inhaling “dirty” butane, caused by:

  • Poor or faulty ventilation
  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Other fungi

Before you think these are all bias opinions, the concerns aren’t only coming from people outside the marijuana industry. Even advocates in the cannabis community have spoken about the divide dabs have created in the pro-pot population. One such person is High Times senior editor Bobby Black. According to Black, the techniques to make BHO-

“- bear an eerie resemblance to those used for harder drugs like meth and crack.”

Another is Dale Gieringer, PhD of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in California. Gieringer attributes the recent rise in hospitalizations for cannabis overdose to use of BHO. He has stated:

“Things like this never happened until the popularization of hash oil in recent years,”

“The dangers are dire enough to merit a special warning.”

Still, many in the cannabis community believe that there is potential in BHO. Some think its potential for medicinal use outweighs some of the risks, and others see it as a means of harm reduction.

Dependence and Addiction

When it comes to issues of substance abuse, we should remember the difference between dependence and addiction. For those unfamiliar, dependence primarily deals with the tolerance people develop due to prolonged use of a substance. This is when a person’s body or mind adapts to the presence of a drug, and in order to maintain balance the body as conditioned itself to rely on that substance. In short, dependence is something that manifests physically.

However, with addiction, there is far more than the physical dependence. An addiction is a much deeper relationship between the substance, the habitual behavior, and mental and emotional health of the individual. Addiction, also known as severe substance use disorder, is a complex brain disorder. This intense obsession takes different forms and affects people in different ways, but most people with addictions will continue using despite the negative impact on their lives.

So, when it comes to the debate over whether or not cannabis causes addiction, we should consider the difference between dependence and addiction.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana use can lead to marijuana use disorder. This takes the form of addiction in severe cases. Marijuana use disorder is most commonly associated with dependence when someone experiences some physical withdrawal symptoms. However, the NIDA states that it becomes an addiction when the individual is unable to stop using, even though it is detrimental to their everyday life.

With dabbing THC, the same rules would apply. With people building higher tolerance much quicker, dependence is much easier to develop. When that dependence begins to cause real problems in life, it is possible that the issue has developed into an addiction.

Choosing Sides

This debate seems to have split the cannabis community, with one side saying BHO and dabbing THC is not worth the trouble and stigma it brings. The other side believes that potential benefits are more important than any backlash. Many are taking a more moderate stance, acknowledging the rewards but not minimizing the risks. So what is the right way to look at dabbing THC?

Even cannabis advocates worry that the issues people associate with dabbing will set back the progress made in the legalization movement. Does dabbing really deserve the reputation?

While this article is not meant to choose a side. But we can emphasize the fact that regardless of what the substance is, dependence and addiction can be detrimental to overall health and well-being. As times change and society embraces more uses for cannabis, one thing does not change- substance abuse and addiction should never be ignored.  You are allowed to be optimistic about the benefits of cannabis and still raise awareness about the risk of abuse and adverse effects. And in looking at the whole picture, we are all put in a better position to help those who need help the best we can.

When it comes to addressing issues of addiction, having an effective and innovative recovery plan can be a game changer. Palm Partners Recovery Center believes in holistic addiction treatment that provides unique opportunities for healing mind, body, and spirit as part of a comprehensive recovery program. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Does Cannabis Use Really Cause Opioid Use Disorder?

 Does Cannabis Use Really Cause Opioid Use Disorder?

This may seem like a big leap, but some people still manage to make it. So we thought maybe we should take a look at both sides of this argument to understand the issue.

The Attorney General for the Trump Administration, Jeff Sessions, consistently comes into conflict with advocates for cannabis in America. His stance has been about the same for as far back as his career in politics, and recent actions by Jeff Sessions have caused a stir with those in support of legalization, whether medical or recreational.

Now, it seems Sessions believes that cannabis use is actually why we have an opioid crisis.

Looking at Opioid Stats

Recently, Jeff Sessions was speaking at the Heritage Foundation to the Reagan Alumni Association this week. As part of the conversation, Sessions did put a lot of focus on cutting prescriptions for opioid painkillers as a critical element to fighting the crisis. So many people who use illicit opioids like heroin or fentanyl start with prescription drug abuse. This much has been shown in several studies, such as one from 2017 published in Addictive Behaviors which found:

  • 9% of people getting opioid use disorder treatment in 2015 started with prescription drugs
  • This is an improvement from 84.7% in 2005

Some would argue that better regulations put into practice over the last several years have helped to curb that trend.

However, Sessions went on to say,

“The DEA said that a huge percentage of the heroin addiction starts with prescriptions. That may be an exaggerated number; they had it as high as 80 percent. We think a lot of this is starting with marijuana and other drugs too.”

It was that last comment that caught a lot of attention. It wasn’t all that shocking, considering Sessions never been a supporter of cannabis use. Still, some people found this commitment to the gateway drug mentality to be a little out of touch.

So, we should look into the argument from both sides.

Can You Connect Cannabis and Opioids?

A recent paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows Mark Olfson and a research team delves into data concerning the gateway drug concept.

The team uses data from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) to examine the association between:

  • Cannabis use reported in the 2001-2002 survey
  • Non-medical use of prescription opioids 3 years later

In relation to the survey the term ‘non-medical use of a prescription opioid’ is defined as using the drug “without a prescription, in greater amounts, more often, or longer than prescribed, or for a reason other than a doctor said you should use them” during the previous 12 months.

Olfson and his group claim that according to the data:

  1. Cannabis users more often ended up using opioids

People who used cannabis in the 12-month period prior to the initial interview were at increased risk of non-medical use of prescription opiates 3 years later.

They even checked the variables, and found this was true even when the data were adjusted to control for:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Family history variables
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Mood or anxiety disorders

Those studied who used marijuana were still at higher risk of opioid use.

  1. Increased cannabis use correlated with increased opioid use disorder

According to the researchers, the percentage of people with Incident Prescription Opioid Use Disorder at the second interview increased as the level of cannabis use reported at the first interview increased.

To clarify, Incident Prescription Opioid Use Disorder was defined as use that occurred after the first interview that qualified to be considered opioid use disorder, restricted to people who had no prior lifetime history of opioid use disorder.

So essentially, the people who reported to using more cannabis at the beginning of the study were more likely to show signs of opioid use disorder 3 years later.

But Does Connection Equal Causality?

One thing the authors do acknowledge outright is that the majority of adults who use cannabis do NOT start using or increase use of prescription opioids.

Another thing the researchers acknowledge is that their study isn’t proof that cannabis use causes opioid use. The association of marijuana use with non-medical prescription opioids after 3 years in no way means that marijuana use is proven to actually cause opioid use.

The researchers do have a few ideas though.

  1. Brain Changes

Some animal studies seem to have shown that it is possible for cannabis to lead to changes in the brain that make individuals more susceptible to opioid misuse.

  1. Environment

Another argument is that there are several non-biological factors that can elevate the risk of opioid use. Those who regularly use marijuana may be more likely to interact with people who have access to opioids.

Correlating Drug Use

Many researchers have actually cautioned that there’s no solid evidence that marijuana use causes harder drug use.

In fact, a lot of experts and advocates argue that while marijuana use can easily correlate with harder drug use, so can alcohol and tobacco.

The first drugs many people ever use are alcohol or tobacco, which are both legal for adults and fairly easy to get. Yet, no one automatically assumes drinking or smoking cigarettes will lead to heroin use. However, if the same data and logic used by Olfson and his group were applied to alcohol and tobacco, we would probably see a huge correlation. So many advocates argue why should cannabis use be treated any different?

A 2002 report by RAND’s Drug Policy Research Center (DPRC) suggests that it is not marijuana use, but individuals’ opportunities and unique propensities to use drugs that determine their risk of initiating hard drugs. The Institute of Medicine came to a similar conclusion to the ‘gateway drug’ concept back in 1999.

So, no evidence thus far has been conclusive, only correlational.

The Anti-Gateway Affect?

There are also those out there that believe marijuana legalization would actually have the anti-gateway affect, meaning studies have suggested there is evidence that access to marijuana actually reduces some opioid use.

This growing body of investigation indicates that medical marijuana legalization, in particular, can lower the number of people misusing opioids. Some insist it is because cannabis can help to treat chronic pain instead of opioids. Others even think access to marijuana would cause people to substitute their alcohol use. However, research in this area is still finite. Now it’s far too early to tell if this would actually be an effective strategy.

There is even a new study from David Powell and Rosalie Pacula of the RAND Corporation and Mireille Jacobson of the University of California Irvine that examines how medical marijuana legalization- particularly in states with the most access- impacts opioid-related deaths. These researchers concluded,

“These findings suggest that broader access to medical marijuana facilitates substitution of marijuana for powerful and addictive opioids.”

So while there are those who would put the data behind marijuana being a big part of the problem, there are those who avidly believe it is actually a huge part of a different strategy to overcome the opioid crisis.

What Can We Do?

Whichever side of this argument you’re on, there needs to be more time and energy put into exploring both perspectives. If the correlation between cannabis and opioids were ever proven to be more than meets the eye, then more needs to be done to make sure that legalization or decriminalization efforts co-exist with addiction treatment and support options.

If medical cannabis is found to be useful to help treat some who otherwise would be at elevated risk of chronic pain issues, opioid use disorder or even opioid-related death, then more should be done to make sure this method of treatment is safely studied and developed.

Either way, we must continue to work toward helping every individual suffering from substance use disorder of any kind. Whether it is marijuana use disorder or opioid use disorder, there should be safe and effective treatment options available.

There should always be resources available to help people who suffer from abuse. Supporting addiction recovery means breaking the stigma and offering holistic and effective solutions. Palm Healthcare Company is here to help. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Bill to End War on Drugs Full of Potential Pro-Pot Policies

Bill to End War on Drugs Full of Potential Pro-Pot Policies

For most, there is little doubt that the War on Drugs is an indisputable failure. It has taken an excessive amount of money, manpower, and lives with little to show for it besides one of the worst drug epidemics in the history of the country. Time has proven these policies to be ineffective and costly, so where do we go from here?

Perspective in our nation changes and the stigma attached to addiction is now being to be confronted. Along with it all comes waves of new proposals on how America’s drug policies can evolve. Which is the right way is still unclear.

Right now, while many are confused if Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration will be actively cracking down on marijuana in states with legalization laws, there are others on the federal level that are actively pushing in the opposite direction. Part of a new bill currently in the House is trying to do even more to end the War on Drugs, by directly pushing pro-pot politics.

The Marijuana Justice Act

Last August, Democratic Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey introduced the “Marijuana Justice Act of 2017”. He was joined by Democratic Representative Barbara Lee from California in bringing the reform legislation to both chambers of Congress. Historically, this was the first time a companion legislation was introduced in both chambers to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). According to early reports, as a companion to Booker’s S. 1689 is the companion bill HR 4815. These efforts are to:

  1. Remove marijuana from CSA
  2. Incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests
  3. Expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession
  4. Allow individuals currently in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition for resentencing
  5. Create community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the War on Drugs

Currently, marijuana is in the same federal category as drugs like:

Even those who do not advocate for marijuana legalization at least see the fault in its scheduling. Trey Growdy, the Republican Representative from South Carolina has repeatedly questioned why marijuana is considered a schedule 1 drug. This schedule actually puts it above Cocaine and methamphetamines.

One of the big pieces of the bill is also that bit about expunging convictions. Justin Strekal, political director for NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) notes that this is “the first piece of legislation that addresses expungement issues,” to clean up former criminal records for cannabis use.

Now, a new version of the bill has been introduced to the House just last week. The goal is described as a campaign against the current federal drug policy and the failed War on Drugs.

Speaking with Sponsors of Bill

Last year, after introducing his version of the bill, Senator Cory Booker stated,

“Our country’s drug laws are badly broken and need to be fixed.”

“They don’t make our communities any safer—instead they divert critical resources from fighting violent crimes, tear families apart, unfairly impact low-income communities and communities of color, and waste billions in taxpayer dollars each year.”

Booker also believes getting rid of old pot-policies of the War on Drugs would help to bolster the economy. He states,

“It’s estimated that legal cannabis in the U.S. would create $40 billion in revenue and nearly a million jobs.”

“But it’s about more than that $40 billion —it’s about equality, and getting rid of the legal past that is stifling individuals’ opportunity and their future.”

One co-sponsor for the bill is Representative Ro Khanna. He says that revenue from taxes on marijuana would then be allocated to funding the programs to reinvest in communities that were harmed by the anti-pot policies of the War on Drugs.

Representative Barbara Lee says,

“This legislation will end this destructive War on Drugs.”

This new bill to attack the War on Drugs also has the support of the Drug Policy Alliance. Kassandra Frederique, the New York States Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, states,

“This bill makes clear to state and local elected officials that they cannot move forward beyond prohibition without taking a serious look at the historical and ongoing impacts of drug war policies.”

Supporters of the bill continue to emphasize that this isn’t just about ending pot prohibition. They say it is also about putting forth resources to help communities recover.

Why are We Talking About This?

As a provider of innovative holistic treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, we pay attention to the way drug policy changes because we know how it impacts communities around the country. In order to provide help to those who need it, we have to be talking about these changes. If drug policies shift, we must talk about how they can affect those who struggle with substance use disorder.

It does not matter if a drug is an illicit black-market substance, or a popular legalized product, substance abuse and addiction are still possible. If marijuana reform is going to continue to grow, it is also our responsibility to bring attention to the possible risks and side effects for some who use marijuana.

If pro-pot politics are going to put marijuana in the mainstream, there should also be an effort to promote substance abuse treatment options. Looking back, if the War on Drugs taught us anything, it is that there should be a strong focus on providing treatment, not punishment. If we want to make things better, we have to offer every opportunity to help those who need it most.

Marijuana abuse can have a noticeable impact on some people’s lives, and often times it is accompanied by another form of substance abuse. Acknowledging the influence of drugs in your life and knowing when to get help can make the recovery process a life-changing journey. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

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Should Marijuana Get Same State-to-State Treatment as Guns?

Should Marijuana Get Same State-to-State Treatment as Guns?

You may remember last week we talked about how some states are pushing to take gun rights away from people prescribed medical marijuana. Of course, this topic has sparked a lot of conversation on how medical marijuana should be addressed. But a lot of the discussion has been on how 2nd amendment rights should be protected. The debate ranges from push-back for individual states, to argue that federal law still considers marijuana a schedule 1 drug, meaning people who use the drug are not allowed to own or possess firearms.

Well, since we have already jumped into the discussion comparing gun rights and medical marijuana, we might as well talk about another interesting story brought about by a Democratic congressman from California.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity

The whole conversation starts with the introduction of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which is currently being pushed by Republican lawmakers this week. This new piece of legislation would mandate that if someone is able to receive a concealed carry permit for a firearm in one state, that all other states would be required to honor that concealed carry permit. This means even if your state has much more strict requirements for concealing a gun, someone from a state with much more relaxed requirements is still allowed to travel into your state with a concealed weapon.

Now to be clear, there are many states that already honor concealed carry reciprocity. For example, if I were to get my concealed carry permit in my home state of Ohio, the vast majority of states would allow me to carry a concealed weapon.

Also, in the Buckeye State, they actually recognized the concealed carry permits of every other state already.

But Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna argues that it goes against the very idea of state’s rights and federalism. He argues that the Republican Party, which is often the champion for state’s rights, is forgetting that each state should be able to determine what laws are best for their own citizens and that this legislation will essentially federalize concealed carry permits.

The reason we wanted to talk about this is due to the argument used by Congressman Ro Khanna using marijuana to try and make his point.

Marijuana Reciprocity

Congressman Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley area, made a video that argues that if the GOP wants to move forward with making concealed carry permits a national movement, then the same protections should be required by all states to honor marijuana laws.

In the clip posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Khanna states:

“If one state allows the legalization of marijuana, does that mean every state needs to allow the legalization of marijuana?”

Going off of Khanna’s comparison, applying the logic of the H.R. 38 Concealed Carry Reciprocity policy to marijuana would mean someone in California who received a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana for anxiety should be able to legally use marijuana in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania has more strict restrictions on their medical marijuana laws, with anxiety not being included as a qualifying medical condition.

While Khanna’s comparison is more tongue-in-cheek as part of his opposition to the H.R. 38 bill, it does present an interesting question; should medical marijuana be recognized with reciprocity? One should remember that gun ownership is an actual constitutional right, versus cannabis decriminalization being a recent movement.

Then again, does it make sense to argue “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” in a context like this? This brings us back to the argument of whether or not the federal government should be putting more effort into federal law against marijuana, or if the states have more a right to decide if they will allow cannabis for medical or recreational purposes.

It is still an interesting argument to make. Should states compare these two concepts in the debate on policy?

Marijuana Abuse

Marijuana reform remains a controversial topic. However, the legal status of any medication does not take away from the dangers of substance abuse. Plenty of prescription medications have a high risk of abuse and addiction, and marijuana abuse can be harmful to an individual’s life.

People often mistake marijuana for having no addictive properties. This misconception is because most people consider cannabis a ‘soft drug’ when compared to other ‘hard drugs’ such as crack-cocaine or heroin. While the chemical hooks may not be as drastic or apparent, the truth is that habitual use of any chemical can result in developing tolerance, which can also lead to withdrawal. Symptoms most commonly associated with marijuana withdrawal include:

  • Insomnia, nightmares, vivid dreams, using dreams
  • Drug craving
  • Mood swings
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of concentration
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss and weight gain
  • Digestion problems
  • Nausea
  • Night sweats
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Shakiness and dizziness

If you are struggling with cannabis abuse, do not hesitate to get help today. Often time’s people who use one substance develop a habit of abuse with many others.

Be careful not to underestimate the substances you are using. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

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