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I heard the news that Canada became the second country in the world to legalise the recreational use of cannabis and, in all honesty, it shocked me. Mums are smoking weed while pregnant to get rid of morning sickness The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, believes that legalising the drug will help keep marijuana away from underage users and reduce related crime, but in our experience of treating some 140 patients per month for various addictions, addiction to ‘harder’ drugs in our patients stems from them trying cannabis at a young age. At our seven treatment centres, almost all of the patients that we treated for either heroin or cocaine addiction in 2017 started their experience of taking drugs in their childhood by using cannabis. 

This is why I ultimately believe that Canada’s decision is ludicrous, dangerous and in all honesty a bit short-sighted. It worries me that they’re perhaps prioritising cutting down crime in the short term because taking away the illegal element to growing and selling the drug will put a stop to funding criminals preying on those most vulnerable. But this decision opens up the door to the current and future younger generations being more accepting of a drug that can be addictive. Cannabis use can cause dependency in the same way as other drugs do such as cocaine or alcohol, both on a chemical and behavioural level. When a person uses cannabis, the active ingredient of the drug – THC – travels through the bloodstream and heads straight for the brain. Once in the brain, it mimics the endogenous cannabinoids, disrupting brain function and the brain ultimately enjoys pleasure which will make the person believe it wants more. 

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The acute and long-term effects of THC on the brain and behavior are mediated via the vast endocannabinoid system (ECS), which was not discovered until the early 1990s and remains poorly understood. However, addiction is addiction and the psychopathology associated with marijuana, especially the high potency products, amid the drumbeat for full legalization in the absence of any serious scientific scrutiny is tantamount to political malpractice.

Use can be associated with psychosis, depression, suicidality and premature death…There is not a speck of scientific evidence to suggest that marijuana is a viable “Medically-Assisted Treatment” modality for opioid addiction…like all addictive substances, marijuana degrades neuronal signaling germane to reward incentive and processing, resulting in marked emotional dysregulation. Chronic use is associated with anhedonia, cognitive deficits and psychiatric disease. Marijuana Use Disorder comports with our known model of addiction at every level. The challenge is to educate a public that has been sold a bill of goods and manipulated by claims of efficacy, safety for everything from cancer to pain, without any FDA scrutiny for safety or efficacy

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All Young Cannabis Users Face Psychosis Risk  (Medscape and JAMA Psychiatry)  June 15, 2018

Cannabis use directly increases the risk for psychosis in teens, new research shows. A large prospective study of teens shows that "in adolescents, cannabis use is harmful" with respect to psychosis risk, study author Patricia J. Conrod, PhD, professor of psychiatry, University of Montreal, Canada, told Medscape Medical News.

The study included 3720 adolescents from the Co-Venture cohort, which represents 76% of all grade 7 students attending 31 secondary schools in the greater Montreal area.

Cannabis use, in any given year, predicted an increase in psychosis symptoms a year later, said Conrod. This type of analysis is more reliable than biological measures, such as blood tests, said Conrod. "Biological measures aren't sensitive enough to the infrequent and low level of use that we tend to see in young adolescents," she said.

The effect was observed for the entire cohort. This finding, said Conrod, means that all young cannabis users face psychosis risk, not just those with a family history of schizophrenia or a biological factor that increases their susceptibility to the effects of cannabis.

"The whole population is prone to have this risk," she said.

In light of these results, Conrod called for increased access by high school students to evidence-based cannabis prevention programs.

The study was published online June 6 in JAMA Psychiatry.

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BY THE PARTNERSHIP

First things first — how is marijuana vaped?

Vaping refers to the inhalation of an aerosol produced by heating a liquid/oil or substance in a compact electronic portable vaporizer. While many young “vapers” say they inhale flavored liquids like Gummy Bear, German Chocolate Cake and Cotton Candy, youth can vaporize marijuana – either the ground plant itself, waxes often referred to as dabs, or THC and CBD oils.

Selling equipment to vape marijuana in its leaf, dab or oil form is a booming business with many new entrants. Pax Labs, formerly Ploom, was founded over a decade ago and is a relatively well-known brand for vaping dry leaf marijuana. The company has introduced the Pax 3, which they describe as the “Apple I-Phone” of vaporizers as it allows you to vape both dry leaf and wax concentrates. It includes a free Android or iOS app to control temperature, play, free games, manage firmware and lock the device.

In California, a company called EAZE sells disposable all-in-one marijuana vape pens and cartridges. Flavors include Blueberry Kush, Lemon OG and Mango Passion Fruit. They market these as wellness products with advertising that reads, “Hello Marijuana, Goodbye Insomnia” or “Hello Marijuana, Goodbye Hangover.”

Although not a vape per se, another company, Aeroinhaler, has developed a product that looks exactly like an inhaler one would use to treat asthma. It’s marketed as a healthy alternative to vaping or smoking combustible marijuana, delivering a metered dose with each puff. The company says that their product uses concentrates of 80 percent THC potency.

Juul can also be used to vape marijuana; however, it should be noted that as of now, Juul does not offer marijuana products. The device has to be hacked in order to use it with THC oils and, as with most things, there are YouTube videos demonstrating how. There are also companies making pods that fit a Juul, so a THC oil pod may be in the future.

Marijuana is used recreationally and medicinally, so what’s the big deal for adolescents and young adults?

It turns out that the brain of an adolescent or young adult is still growing, and therefore on a mission to increase efficiency and to develop critical skills related to problem-solving, impulse control, anticipating consequences and more. Marijuana can get in the way of this development, causing brain circuits to wire in a less optimal way.

One way to think about this is comparing the developing brain and its neural connections to your home electrical wiring grid. You want the best possible wiring for your house, so that when you need to use your appliances, everything works as it should with no shorts or blown fuses. The house can still function if everything isn’t up to code, but it won’t be ideal. Marijuana use can impact the wiring of the brain in a similar way, with the impact being subtle in some cases and more severe in others.

According to the CDC, marijuana use may have long-lasting or permanent effects on the developing adolescent brain. Negative effects include:

  • Difficulty with critical thinking skills like attention, problem solving and memory
  • Impaired reaction time and coordination, especially as it relates to driving
  • Decline in school performance
  • Increased risk of mental health issues including depression or anxiety and in some cases, psychosis where there is a family history of it
  • Research also shows that about one in six teens who repeatedly use marijuana can become addicted, as compared to one in nine adults

It’s really important for parents and caregivers to note that these impacts of marijuana differ from the impacts on a fully mature adult brain. Delaying substance use of any kind, including marijuana, gives your child the best opportunity to have optimal brain functioning.

How can I recognize use, especially if there is no smoke and telltale smell?

Vaping can be difficult to detect as there is no smoke, minimal odor (although you may catch a whiff) and the vapor produced dissipates rapidly. However, just like smoking, vaping marijuana can result in bloodshot eyes, dry mouth and thirst, increased appetite and shifts in behavior and mood. Sometimes, there is a noticeable change in friends and a decrease in activities that were once enjoyed.

You may also find vaping paraphernalia such as devices that look like flash drives, gel jars that contain dabs, and pods or cartridges that contain THC oil. There’s a lot of high-tech-looking equipment that can accompany vaping, so if you’re not sure, it might be time to talk to your child about what you found.

What can I do if I suspect my child is at risk for vaping or is already vaping marijuana?

Given the growth of marijuana use and vaping among American youth, it’s a good idea to explore your son’s or daughter’s views on vaping and perceptions of the risks.

1. Have conversations often. Before any talk, it helps to be able to share
facts, but don’t assume that an information download to your child will translate into healthy behaviors.

2. Look for good opportunities to have a discussion. You can do this when passing a vape shop, smelling marijuana on the street, seeing someone vaping on TV or in person or seeing one of the ads for vapes.

3. Try to listen, rather than give a lecture. Open-ended questions can be a great way to get your child’s perspective, i.e. “I understand that some kids are vaping marijuana. What are your thoughts about it?” If you know they are already vaping marijuana, you might ask “What does vaping marijuana or THC oil do for you?” Perhaps it’s a way to fit in, handle social anxiety or address boredom. Get to the root of “why.”

4. Set clear expectations. Express your understanding of the risks, but also why a person may want to vape. Share why you don’t want him/her vaping, and remember, it’s important to avoid scare tactics. Be honest.

5. Teach refusal skills. It’s likely that your teen or young adult will be introduced to vaping marijuana by a friend or older sibling. It helps to rehearse what he/she will say if that happens.

6. Have your loved one talk to other trusted adults who can reinforce your message. Sometimes, messages coming from your pediatrician, school counselor, favorite aunt or uncle, etc. can be more impactful.

7. Model healthy behaviours. If you come home from work and discuss what a tough day it’s been while popping open a beer, pouring a glass of wine or smoking a joint, you are conveying this is how you handle stress. It’s healthier for your child — and you — if you take a walk with the dog or a bath or go for a run rather than turn to substances as stress busters.

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CHRISTOPHER RUGABER, Associated Press  May 2, 2018 

WASHINGTON (AP) — FPI Management, a property company in California, wants to hire dozens of people. Factories from New Hampshire to Michigan need workers. Hotels in Las Vegas are desperate to fill jobs.

Those employers and many others are quietly taking what once would have been a radical step: They're dropping marijuana from the drug tests they require of prospective employees. Marijuana testing — a fixture at large American employers for at least 30 years — excludes too many potential workers, experts say, at a time when filling jobs is more challenging than it's been in nearly two decades.

"It has come out of nowhere," said Michael Clarkson, head of the drug testing practice at Ogletree Deakins, a law firm. "I have heard from lots of clients things like, 'I can't staff the third shift and test for marijuana.'"

Though still in its early stages, the shift away from marijuana testing appears likely to accelerate. More states are legalizing cannabis for recreational use; Michigan could become the 10th state to do so in November. Missouri appears on track to become the 30th state to allow medical pot use.

And medical marijuana users in Massachusetts , Connecticut and Rhode Island have won lawsuits in the past year against companies that rescinded job offers or fired workers because of positive tests for cannabis. Before last year, courts had always ruled in favour of employers.

The Trump administration also may be softening its resistance to legal marijuana. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta suggested at a congressional hearing last month that employers should take a "step back" on drug testing.

"We have all these Americans that are looking to work," Acosta said. "Are we aligning our ... drug testing policies with what's right for the workforce?"

There is no definitive data on how many companies conduct drug tests, though the Society for Human Resource Management found in a survey that 57 percent do so. Nor is there any recent data on how many have dropped marijuana from mandatory drug testing.

But interviews with hiring executives, employment lawyers and agencies that help employers fill jobs indicate that dropping marijuana testing is among the steps more companies are taking to expand their pool of applicants to fill a near-record level of openings.

Businesses are hiring more people without high school diplomas, for example, to the point where the unemployment rate for non-high school graduates has sunk more than a full percentage point in the past year to 5.5 percent. That's the steepest such drop for any educational group over that time. On Friday, the government is expected to report another robust jobs report for April.

Excluding marijuana from testing marks the first major shift in workplace drug policies since employers began regularly screening applicants in the late 1980s. They did so after a federal law required that government contractors maintain drug-free workplaces. Many private businesses adopted their own mandatory drug testing of applicants.

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