Tag Archives: testimony

Marijuana through the eyes of a doctor in Emergency Medicine

 Warnings from a Doctor

by Brad Roberts, MD:  I recently finished my residency in emergency medicine and began to practice in Pueblo, Colorado. I grew up there, and I was excited to return home. However, when I returned home, the Pueblo I once knew had drastically changed.  (Above photo is of people lining up at the opening of a pot dispensary in 2014.)

Where there were once hardware stores, animal feed shops, and homes along dotted farms, I now find marijuana shops—and lots of them. As of January 2016, there were 424 retail marijuana stores in Colorado compared with 202 McDonald’s restaurants.These stores are not selling the marijuana I had seen in high school.

Multiple different types of patients are coming into the emergency department with a variety of unexpected problems such as marijuana-induced psychosis, dependence, burn injuries, increased abuse of other drugs, increased homelessness and its associated problems, and self-medication with marijuana to treat their medical problems instead of seeking appropriate medical care.

I had expected to see more patients with cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (and I have), but they were the least of my concern. Our local homeless shelter reported seeing 5,486 (unique) people between January and July 2016, while for the entire year of 2013 (before recreational marijuana) that number had been 2,444 people.2

Most disturbing, we weren’t seeing just homeless adults but entire families. It is a relatively common occurrence to have patients who just moved here for the marijuana show up to the emergency department with multiple medical problems, without any of their medications, often with poor or nonexistent housing, and with no plan for medical care other than to use marijuana.

They have often left established medical care and support to move here for marijuana and show up to the emergency department, often with suitcase in hand.

Increasingly Potent & Dangerous Drug

This new commercialized marijuana is near 20 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis), while the marijuana of the 1980s was less than 2 percent THC.

This tenfold increase in potency doesn’t include other formulations such as oils, “shatter” (highly concentrated solidified THC), or “dabbing” (heated shatter that is inhaled to get an even more potent form) that have up to 80 or 90 percent THC.3

The greatest concern that I have is the confusion between medical and recreational marijuana. Patients are being diagnosed and treated from the marijuana shops by those without any medical training. I have had patients bring in bottles with a recommended strain of cannabis and frequency of use for a stated medical problem given at the recommendation of a marijuana shop employee.

My colleagues report similar encounters, with one reporting seeing two separate patients with significantly altered sensorium and with bottles labeled 60 percent THC. They were taking this with opioids and benzodiazepines.

In some cases, places outside of medical clinics, like local marijuana shops, are being used to give screening examinations for medical marijuana cards.4 Reportedly, no records are available from these visits when requested by other medical providers. A large number of things treated with marijuana, often with no cited research at all or with severe misinterpretation of research, are advertised online.

These include statements that marijuana treats cancer (numerous types), cystic fibrosis, both diarrhea and constipation, hypoglycemia, nightmares, writer’s cramp, and numerous other conditions.5–7

Although there are likely some very effective ways to use the cannabinoid receptor (probably better termed the anandamide receptor), putting shops on every street corner and having nonmedical personnel giving medical advice is a very poor way to use this as a medicine.

Furthermore, to suggest that combustion (smoking) be the preferred route of medication delivery is harmful.3,8–10 I am also concerned that this is being widely distributed and utilized as a medicine prior to safety and efficacy studies having been completed; widely varying dosing regimens, concentrations, and formulations are being developed, sold, and utilized.

Patients are not being informed of the adverse effects associated with marijuana use, but instead, they are being told, “There are no adverse effects.” I am in favor of using the anandamide receptor for treatment purposes. However, we should do this safely and appropriately. What is occurring now is neither safe nor appropriate.

There are numerous adverse effects of marijuana that are significant. Marijuana use may lead to irreversible changes in the brain.3,9,11,12 Marijuana use correlates with adverse social outcomes.3

It is strongly associated with the development of schizophrenia.13–16 Dependence can lead to problem use.17,18 There are adverse effects on cardiovascular function, and smoking leads to poor respiratory outcomes.3,19,20 Traffic fatalities associated with marijuana have increased in Colorado.1

Pregnant women are using marijuana, which may lead to adverse effects on the fetus, and pediatric exposures are a much more common occurrence.21,22

This photo represents a few of the 270 Pueblo physicians who signed a petition last fall to opt out of marijuana for the city and county.

Different Approach Is Needed

We should approach mass marijuana production and distribution as we would any other large-scale public health problem. We should do what we can to limit exposure, and we should provide clear, unbiased education.

In the case of prevention efforts being unsuccessful, we need to provide immediate treatment and assistance in stopping use. If we are going to use this as a medication, then we should use it as we use other medications. It should have to undergo the same scrutiny, Food and Drug Administration approval, and regulation that any other medication does. Why are we allowing a pass on a medication that very likely would carry with it a black-box warning?

As emergency physicians, we are on the front lines. We treat affected patients; we need to be at the forefront of public policy recommendations at both state and national levels.

Originally published by ACEPNow,  a journal of Emergency Medicine.    We also published the testimony of another emergency doctor in Pueblo, Dr. Karen Randall.

Eddie-Martinez

Podcast: The Eddie Martinez Story

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A Young Eddie Martinez.
Eddie-Martinez
Eddie Today.

 

One of Parents Opposed to Pot’s biggest fans in Facebook is an ex-convict who now shares his story. Eddie Martinez was a marijuana smoker at a very young age, which led to his joining a gang, dealing drugs and being in and out of prison for many years.

marijuana-testimony
Use of marijuana opens you up to taking just about any drug, in Eddie’s experience. “It all started with the pot,” he said.

Eddie tells his story today, in hopes of changing the minds of young people who think marijuana is cool. He also wants to encourage parents as they work to set a good example and teach their children the pitfalls of getting swept up in today’s pro-drug culture. His marijuana testimony is powerful and persuasive against going down the drug road.  Fortunately, he turned his life around.

For those who are casting a vote this year on the marijuana issue, we urge you to consider the impact on the poor, and communities of color. This immigrant’s story is an example of how drugs derail the American dream, leading to unthinkable outcomes after the drugs are introduced into his life.

This YouTube video podcast contains a slide show of Eddie’s personal photos.

If you have a testimony to share about how drugs have hurt you or your child, we encourage you to contact media@poppot.org. We are happy to  publish your story anonymously. In this case, Eddie was willing to use his full name.

Eddie-Martinez-Ex-Con
This is a meme Eddie helped us make when we first started PopPot.

My 28-Year Journey to Sobriety – A Personal Testimony, Part 2

Life After Quitting the Weed Addiction

The sky's the limit after getting sober
The sky’s the limit after getting sober

Part 2, by Anonymous   There was way, waaaay too much abuse for me to chronicle it in an article – it would have been 20 pages — so much abuse that it is a miracle I am alive.

I am now 59 years old and in relatively good health. I met a wonderful man when I was 2 years sober and he was 7 years sober and we fell in love and got married. Later he adopted my little girl, whose biological father continued on as an addict. We own a business that has been thriving for over 25 years and has supported our family. I have wonderful friends with whom I have real and lasting friendships. I’ve never Continue reading

marijuana-and-domestic-violence

Marijuana and Domestic Violence – A Personal Testimony

Breaking the Cycle of Marijuana and Domestic Violence, a 28-year Journey

I started smoking pot when I was 17. My father died suddenly when I was 13, and my home was no longer happy.  I couldn’t see that I was anesthetizing my pain.  I loved the way marijuana made me feel and I took every opportunity to smoke it. At first I was afraid to try it, but once I put my fears aside and smoked it, I decided my parents had been wrong when they warned me against using all drugs.

Instead of going to college, as my mother wished, I dropped out because my marijuana habit got in the way of studying. I had a bad early marriage and a daughter. I constantly thought about the decisions I had to make in life and felt that I had tried hard Continue reading