By Will Hall, Message executive editor
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – Legislators are considering a slate of bills that in one way, or another, moves closer to legalizing recreational pot smoking. But the reality is that whether pot smoking is approved for “medicinal” or recreational use, it poses a peril.
Part of the reason is that every grower breeds different pot strains that have greater or lesser concentrations of certain elements. Generally, however, there are over 400 chemical entities in a cannabis plant, including a known 113 cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBN) — many with opposing effects on the mind and body.
Indeed, a study, reported by CNN.com, Jan. 11, found that burning marijuana produced dangerous chemicals known to cause permanent damage to the body:
— Naphthalene (used in mothballs and is associated with liver and neurological damage);
— acrylamide (used to make paper, plastics and dyes and is associated with cancer); and
— acrylonitrile (used in manufacturing plastics and fibers and is also associated with cancer).
None of these chemicals are added to pot. Instead, they are byproducts of burning and the natural reaction of some of the organic elements in the plant after exposure to heat.
On top of that, the pot grown today is much more potent than the pot of the 1960s and 1970s. Pot was 1-3 percent THC then. Now pot is up to 30 percent THC. As a result, studies show that chronic pot smoking (recreational or medicinal) causes:
— greater violence among PTSD patients [Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, September 2015 (2,276 PTSD veterans): “In this observational study, initiating marijuana use after treatment was associated with worse PTSD symptoms, more violent behavior, and alcohol use.”];
— increased psychosis, paranoia, and schizophrenia [Lancet, March 1, 2015 (King’s College, London – six-year study), as reported by medicalxpress.com, Feb. 16, 2015: “Compared with those who had never tried cannabis, users of high potency skunk-like cannabis had a threefold increase in risk of psychosis… those who use every day… a fivefold increase … .”]; and
— results in permanent brain damage [Psychological Medicine, Nov. 27, 2015 (King’s College, London), as reported by medicalxpress.com, Nov. 26, 2015: “We found that frequent use of high potency cannabis significantly affects the structure of white matter fibres in the brain, whether you have psychosis or not. This reflects a sliding scale where the more cannabis you smoke and the higher the potency, the worse the damage will be.”].
Finally, the pot lobby has circulated false hope that pot smoking would revolutionize pain management and reduce opioid use:
— Steven P. Cohen, MD, director of pain research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., treats chronic pain in patients with major war injuries. In 2010, for an Aug. 30 article on medpagetoday.org, he observed that any pain relief from smoking marijuana was substantially less than what was experienced even from the few effective drugs that were available then: “When considered in the context of the higher incidence of minor and serious side effects with medical marijuana, cannabinoids should remain a third, or fourth line, drug for neuropathic pain.” Meanwhile, Timothy A. Collins, MD, of Duke University’s Pain and Palliative Care Clinic, added his concerns with smoking pot as the delivery system: “As a physician, I don’t think I would ever encourage a patient to smoke anything.”
— A study about traumatic injuries reported, June 2018, in the journal, Patient Safety in Surgery, found that “marijuana users who did not use other drugs consumed significantly more opioids and reported higher pain scores than non-marijuana users.”
In fact, a review of the research (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, February 2020) about pot and violence observed that participants in one study who consumed marijuana “under the illusion that it would help them cope with their conditions” actually “worsened their conditions.
“What individuals are unaware of when it comes to self-medicating,” the researchers said, “is that the marijuana they consume does not have compounds that alleviate their pain or conditions; the marijuana they consume has many compounds that negatively alter their perceptions, which leads to worse conditions.”
The pot lobby uses strawman arguments that have been unchallenged, claiming that “smoking pot is safer than _____.” The reality is that science shows smoking pot is dangerous, period.