Tag Archives: Colorado

Marijuana Can’t Treat the Opiate, Heroin Epidemic

Any marijuana use leads to less intelligence potential, less empathy for life, less motivation and poorer decision making.  A war on drugs is a protection and defense of our brains.   Governor Susana Martinez probably recognizes how Colorado’s marijuana problem leads to the drug epidemic and filters into New Mexico’s substance abuse issues.   Read about her veto in Part 1.

One young man who gave us a testimony explained how his marijuana use led directly to heroin addiction.

In Colorado, Dr. Libby Stuyt, addictions psychiatrist, traces a direct line from marijuana legalization to the heroin epidemic.    Colorado’s recent report on heroin has shown that the number of deaths from heroin overdose have doubled between 2011 and 2015.

In fact, Pueblo County, has suffered from heroin use and addiction more than any other Colorado county.  Pueblo, Denver and Boulder have the highest rates of youth marijuana use.   Southern Colorado is suffering the most from the heroin epidemic. Counties that have banned marijuana dispensaries have been affected the least by the heroin.

Misunderstanding of the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic

Since the government has clamped down on opiate prescriptions, more users have replaced the pain drugs with heroin.  Since the legalization of marijuana, Mexican cartels have replaced much of their marijuana with heroin.  Heroin is now cheaper and addicts find it easier to get heroin than prescription pills.

Politically there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the opioid epidemic. If it was initially caused by over prescribing of medications, that’s no longer primarily the case.   Seth Leibsohn wrote an insightful article on the subject last week. The abuse of opioid prescriptions acquired legitimately constitutes a small portion of the overdose problem, he said. *

A simple crackdown on prescriptions will not solve the problem, according to Maia Szalavitz.  Although Szalavitz misunderstands the  inherent danger in using marijuana,* she explains the underlying causes of substance abuse quite well.  Impulsive children are at high risk of becoming drug users, but so are some highly cautious and anxious young people.   Two thirds of people with opioid addictions have had severely traumatic childhoods, and the more exposure to trauma, the higher the risk.  We need to help abused, neglected, fragile and otherwise traumatized children before they turn to self-medication as teens.  On the other hand, we should also provide tools and teach coping skills to children who are impulsive, ADHD or anxious.   (Overmedicating children doesn’t allow them to develop the skills needed to transition into adulthood.)

Let’s Help People Get off ALL Drugs

Effective treatment for addictions is getting off all drugs, not going to other harmful, brain-altering substances.   “The goal in helping a loved one with a substance use problem is not to reduce their use. It is to stop drug use,” according to Sven-Olov Carlsson of Drug Policy Futures.  He gave the opening address at the World Federation of Drugs Conference in Vienna last year.  As Carlsson said, the current heroin epidemic proves that “harm reduction” is not saving lives.

No one sets out to become an addict.   Fortunately, more people and states are realizing the foolishness of allowing “medical” marijuana for intractable pain.  It opens up a Pandora’s Box of problems, as in California and elsewhere.

Addiction specialists estimate that one in five American adults is addicted to drugs or alcohol.  With such large numbers, there should be no “stigma” attached to addiction or treatment.  A new or revised health care act should maintain the provision to treat addiction.

Those who are addicted have a strong need to protect a secret.  Their brains have been hijacked and there isn’t a straight path back to previous functioning.

Optimum treatment requires a period of time when the person is not using any substance of addiction in order for the brain to heal.  During that time, the person needs to be able to learn new things. The lack of treatment resources which allows this to happen is a big barrier to recovery.   Marijuana cannot be used to treat this current drug epidemic.

___________________________________________________________________________*  Another recent article explains how doctors began to take pain seriously, treating it as a fifth vital sign.  Szalavitz based her 10% addiction rate for marijuana on the weaker pot of the ’70s and ’80s, not the pot of today.  She also disregarded teen users of pot.

 

Governor Martinez Denies Marijuana to Treat Opioid Addiction

On April 7, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez vetoed a bill which would have made opioid addiction a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.  Governor Martinez has consistency shown leadership in working to prevent drug addiction.  Earlier this year, legislators in New Mexico wisely rejected a bill to legalize pot,.

Maryland legislators recently proposed using marijuana to treat heroin addiction.   They removed the provision from the  bill after researchers explained there’s no evidence that cannabis is effective in treating addiction.

The mass insanity surrounding cures from “medical” marijuana sometimes comes from the Press.  As the number of newsprint subscribers dwindles, newspapers are looking to marijuana for new sources of advertising money.  (The New York Times, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times and Denver Post are pro-marijuana newspapers.)  Another problem is that the marijuana industry’s paid lobbyists are pumping unscientific information to state legislators.   Many of these lobbyists have advanced degrees in Social Policy, Law or Political Science, but not the biological sciences.

Marijuana , Opioid Addiction and Heroin

Tyler Martel, finally free of opioid addiction, was getting his life back on track when the state of Washington legalized marijuana.  On December 5, 2012, marijuana became 100% legal for those ages 21 and over.  A few days later, Martel refused to drink with his parents, but smoked marijuana before driving.  His car crossed the center lane, and both he and his fiancé, also 27, died.  Another man was badly injured in that crash.  Martel died a victim of the “safer than alcohol” phrase that the marijuana lobby used to gain acceptance for legalization.

His death also demonstrates the public’s ignorance of marijuana as a dangerous drug.  Brain science reveals a connection between marijuana and the opiate/heroin epidemic.

Dr. Mark Willenbring, an addictions psychiatrist,  believes that alternative treatments are needed for pain, but not another drug of abuse.  He doesn’t believe you can solve the problem of addiction with another drug of abuse.  “The concept on its face is absurd,” he said.  “It doesn’t work,” he said. “Like trying to cure alcoholism with Valium.”

Pam Garozzo and Carlos, who lost his life Dec. 23, after 10 months of being off drugs. She told Gov. Christie’s panel at the White House that marijuana had been a gateway for her son.

Stop Denying the Potential Gateway Effect

Generally speaking, marijuana is already in the mix of drugs used by those who abuse opiates.   Those who use heroin invariably are using other drugs, including marijuana.   In fact, a group of parents in Massachusetts recently made a video tribute to 79 of their children who died from drugs.   In all cases, the deceased sons and daughters had started their drug use with cannabis.

When Governor Chris Christie convened a panel on the drug epidemic at the White House last week, a mother, spoke.  Pam Garozzo, whose son Carlos died from drugs in December, said her son had started smoking marijuana at age 15-1/2.  For him it was a gateway drug, and he’d be the first to tell you.   He died of heroin that had been laced with fentanyl–after being clean for 10 months.

Read Part 2 to learn how marijuana leads to opiates and heroin.

The Qualities Needed for Our New ONDCP Director

The New Director of White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) must deal with urgent problems. There’s a drug overdose epidemic from heroin, opioids and onslaught of synthetic drugs entering our country.  Furthermore, 25-34-year-olds are dying from drugs at a rate 5 times what it was in 1999.   (In 2000, NORML attacked ONDCP Director Barry McCaffrey’s campaign against drug use in the television ads.  McCaffrey, ONDCP Director from 1996-2001, is pictured above.)

For the next ONDCP Director, we need someone who acknowledges that marijuana causes psychosis, mental illness and addiction.   We need someone who recognizes that allowing states to legalize marijuana contributed to the growth of heroin addiction and deaths. This person must be familiar with addiction to all classes of drugs, as multi-substance abuse is the trend today.

Independents, Democrats and Republicans support Parents Opposed to Pot, as well as a large number of parents in Mexico and Canada.  What we do in the USA, helps other countries, or in the case of marijuana, harms them.  We’re bi-partisan, like the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, which created the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Parents Opposed to Pot has more advocates in Colorado than any other state.  Colorado parents were blindsided with legalization and forced to address an aggressive marijuana industry.  The next ONDCP leader will need to speak out about how decriminalization is different from legalization.  Minorities are hurt by legalization more than others, because commercial marijuana preys on communities of color or impoverished places.

The next director will know that marijuana legalization did not replace cartels, but expanded the cartels’ US heroin sales. The heroin epidemic has many causes, but legalization of marijuana provided an opening and the cartels took advantage.   As one former prosecutor said, “Legalization doesn’t discourage the drug dealers and cartels; it emboldens them.”

The next ONDCP director will know that marijuana use is directly connected to heroin abuse.  (A video on the bottom of this article explains  this concept well.)  Currently, six percent of high school seniors are daily marijuana users.  These heavy, early pot users are conditioning their brains for other addictive substances, too.  Moreover, the studies of Yasmin Hurd find evidence that marijuana primes the brains of offspring for heroin addiction.  (Professor Hurd is Director of the Center for Addictive Disorders, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.)

BillBennett
William Bennett, author of the Book of Virtues, as ONDCP director in 1989-1990, was a forceful spokesperson against drug usage. He had served as Education Secretary and head of the National Endowment of the Humanities, and had a commitment to children.

The United States leads the world in drug use, with about 56% of the world’s drug users.  Demand reduction and prevention education should be a priority of the new ONDCP director.   Although there are useful aspects of “harm reduction,” it is far less effective in saving lives than “demand reduction.”  The evidence is in the US death rate from drugs.  We need renewed education efforts in elementary schools.

We’ve Screwed up Our Country, Now Let’s Get it Back

Since legalization means promotion, the ONDCP director will need to counter the fact that legalization equals commercialization.  The marijuana industry is looking for more and future users and the youth of America fits the bill.

Colorado has gained the most notoriety of the legalization states.  Much of the American public doesn’t understand the difference between decriminalization and legalization.  Diane Carlson, co-founder of Smart Colorado explained: “Many people thought they were voting to decriminalize marijuana.   Colorado already had decriminalized marijuana.  To the surprise of many, legalization led to full-blown marijuana commercialization practically overnight.

It’s not a “state’s rights” issue because commercial pot from legal states gets into the other states.  Interstate drug commerce is still illegal.  The problem is so widespread that other states have sued Colorado.

The next director will need to understand why marijuana does not replace pain medications. Promoting non-medical ways to address pain, such as MBSR and EMDR, should become a priority with Americans.  For those with addiction, substituting one addictive substance with another addictive substance only compounds their problems.  The ONDCP Director should be someone who can be outspoken on this issue.

Bringing Back Cabinet Level Status to the Drug Czar Will Save LivesONDCP Seal

Parents Opposed to Pot believes this position needs to be elevated to the cabinet level position it once was.  If it is reinstated as the “Drug Czar” position, it will have some moral standing working against  the scourge of drug deaths.

Attorney General Eric Holder made the bad decision to allow marijuana commercialization in Colorado and Washington in 2012.  Holder acted as if it was state’s rights issue, a big mistake. His Justice Department issued eight guidelines that states had to follow to avoid federal prosecution if they legalized pot.  Then the Justice Department did not follow its own guidelines.

President Obama’s first ONDCP Director, Gil Kerlikowske, had been the Police Chief of Seattle.  Marijuana activists thought he would be sympathetic to their cause, but he recognized the relationship between marijuana and crime.  Michael Botticelli followed Kerlikowske as ONCDP Director.  He recognized the dangers of marijuana and did not support it.

President Obama’s downgraded the role of ONDCP Director which is no longer a cabinet level position.  This re-assignment went along with a massive escalation of drug use and drug-induced deaths.   President Obama may have responded to pressure by the drug lobbyists.  Ironically, former Vice-President Joe Biden had coined the term “Drug Czar” in 1982.

Let’s put strength back into America’s resolve to end addiction and death by drugs!

Jon Daily, a rehabilitation therapist in California explains the connection between heroin and marijuana: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dcsp4dzLP1w&feature=youtu.be

Pew Research Poll Reflects Views on Pot Decriminalization

Pew Research released a new poll from late August and early September that shows 57% of American voters favor marijuana legalization.  Based on the question and the article, the poll probably means that 57% of the voters favor marijuana decriminalization.   Next time the poll should be more specific in its meaning.  The same day this poll was released, a headline from the Cape Cod News in Massachusetts read: Support Scarce for Legal Pot.   There could not be a bigger difference in meaning  between these headlines.  Why the difference?

Despite this poll, all 5 states with ballots for marijuana legalization this November poll at less than 57% in favor of legalization.  There is a disparity between the survey question and legalization in practice. Legalization creates a new industry expected to make a lot of money for investors.   It is the reason that Weed Maps, ArcView group  and Soros-funded groups contribute to the ballots.  There’s a big difference between legalization and decriminalization.  Did those conducting the survey explain what legalization means?

prop-64s-money-trail
Since the Sacramento Bee made this chart, at least $10 million more has been raised by  California’s Yes on 64 campaign. With the business Weed Maps, MJ Freeway and George Soros funding so much, it’s obviously a good business venture.  George Soros gave at least $4 million.

 

Legalization creates commercial marijuana stores regulated by the state .   Administering and implementing it is very difficult to do.   Pot sales are taxed at various levels and earn some money.  But as Colorado marijuana director, Andrew Freedman said, it’s not worth legalizing for the benefit of tax revenues.

When presented with facts, voters are skeptical of commercialization and don’t want more impaired drivers.  The cost of regulation is  high.   On October 1 in Colorado, new rules began.  and the packaging must make it more difficult for children to access. Gummy candies in the shape of animals are now forbidden. The number of hospitalizations and overdose deaths from marijuana edibles which make up nearly 50% of the market necessitated these changes.

Opting out of commercial pot is very tough, too.  Dealing with inconsiderate neighbors who grow a lot of pot plants is difficult.  In Colorado, city governments are often greedy for tax money while residents say no to pot.  When voters want to ban dispensaries, other forces such as the marijuana industry fight them.    It’s one of the reasons Colorado now has buyer’s remorse. map-of-colorado

Why Marijuana Decriminalization ?

Decriminalization means that marijuana is not treated as a crime but as a mistake; offenders are charged with a small fine, like a speeding ticket.   In legal terms, it’s the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony.  The marijuana lobbyists have successfully convinced Americans that large numbers of people go to jail for marijuana possession only.

The only people who go to jail for marijuana possession charges have committed other crimes and have plea bargained to get convicted of lesser charges.   Other crimes include drug dealing, transportation of drugs or possession of a large amount of drugs that indicates intent to sell.  Selling drugs is not a victimless crime.

Marijuana lobbyists omit information about drug courts which allows users an alternative and provides addiction treatment.

The reason that marijuana possession is a felony crime in some states is so that it can be used as evidence to convict when there are more serious crimes.  Drugs and drug paraphernalia become supporting evidence when other crimes may be harder to prove.

How are Minorities Really Affected by Drug Laws?

JudgeBurnett,Kathy,Ambrose2
Judge Arthur Burnett with other anti-marijuana activists who spoke out against legalization in Washington, DC,  in September, 2014

Minorities have the most to lose by using marijuana.  Daily or near daily use of marijuana by teens nearly doubles the risk of dropping out of high school.   Dropping out of high school makes future education and job prospects dim.  Furthermore, a study of long-term marijuana users in New Zealand over a 25-year period found an average 7-point drop in IQ by age 38.   People who complain that this study did not adjust for IQ differences as reflected by socio-economic class should realize that IQ differences resulting from socio-economic factors are in play seen before age 13, when participants first entered the study.

A recent study from UC Davis showed how chronic marijuana users faced more downward mobility than chronic alcohol users.  In the US, the disproportionate arrest of minorities may reflect concern about dropping out of school and what that means for the future. The higher conviction rate for minorities is probably a reflection of income disparity and poverty.  A disproportionate number of black and Hispanic drug dealers go to jail.   Minorities are less likely to be able to afford the legal fees that allow wealthy white drug dealers to get less time in jail or wiggle their way out of going to jail.  Justice reform should not be centered on legalizing drugs, but on giving minorities better legal representation.

Retired Judge Arthur Burnett, National Executive Director of the National African-American Drug Policy Coalition, says that  African-American communities already suffer from a liquor store on every corner. Black voters know commercial marijuana would prey on their communities at a much higher rate.  “Do we really want to substitute mass incapacitation for mass incarceration?” he asked.

There’s a strong misconception that people go to jail just for having a joint.   (The threat of jail is not the reason to tell kids not to use pot, but defense of your brain is!)   There’s also a misconception that inequities in the justice system would be solved by legalization.

Maybe next time Pew Research present the polls with a bunch of different options between decriminalization, allowing home grows only or commercialization.   Or Pew Research should a better job at explaining what they mean by legalization.