While scanning the latest news, it’s easy to feel as if we’ve traveled back in time to the 1980s. “Just say no?” “The war on drugs?” After nearly three decades, there’s still little evidence to suggest these outdated addiction prevention and treatment strategies work, and some evidence even shows that they are counterproductive. Yet, they continue to influence how we both talk about and treat addiction. And just last month, dialogue about the “gateway drug theory” resurfaced in the New York Times, raising the question: is this highly publicized hypothesis, which also originated in the final quarter of the 20th century, grounded in fact or fiction?
The holiday season is meant to be a time of celebration, but, for many, it can take a tragic turn. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that every year between Christmas and New Year’s, over 300 people are killed because of drunk driving. However, alcohol isn’t the only substance partygoers may choose to consume while feeling festive. That being said, all those who think they are being safer by swapping a martini for marijuana before hitting the road are sorely mistaken.
Dr. Copeland, founding director of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre at University of New South Wales Australia, spoke during our Addiction Speaker Series about the rise and fall of Australia’s cannabis policy responses. We interviewed Dr. Copeland to get some deeper insights into her research and experience regarding cannabis (or marijuana) use and the prevention and treatment of cannabis use disorder.
Dr. Sabet, Director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida and Co-Founder, President and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, spoke during our Addiction Speaker Series about the impact of marijuana legalization in our country. Research shows that the vast majority (91 percent) of calls to poison control centers for unintentional exposure to marijuana edibles among young children come from states like Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, which have legalized and marketed marijuana. National data also indicate that Colorado ranks highest in rates of adolescent marijuana use – higher than the national average. States like Colorado, Washington, and Oregon also rank lowest in measures of adolescent perceptions of risk from smoking marijuana.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Sabet about his work.
As more states push for the legalization of marijuana, there is increasing fear that the stores that sell marijuana, commonly known as dispensaries, will have a negative impact on their surrounding communities. Both recreational and medical marijuana are legal in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Maine. However, because of the negative ripple effects of legalizing marijuana, state support doesn’t necessarily translate into local backing.
2016 was a year of change for addiction policy in the U.S., and this was especially true for marijuana regulations. In this “tipping point” year, medical marijuana became legal in over half of the states. And, there are now a total of eight states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.
In the past few years, marijuana has become more widely available and its use more accepted. Twenty-five states and Washington D.C. have now legalized it in some form. Still, concerns remain about marijuana’s effects. One growing but not well-recognized health problem is that marijuana can induce psychosis – particularly when the marijuana ingested is highly potent or when the individual is susceptible to developing psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.
As part of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse Speaker Series, in which leading experts present their research and insights, Herbert D. Kleber, MD, Founder and Director Emeritus of the Division on Substance Abuse at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, gave an in-depth presentation on marijuana and the effects of legalization. We spoke with Dr. Kleber to hear a little bit more about his take on marijuana legalization, edibles and how marijuana impacts the brain.
The public view of marijuana is changing rapidly. It seems like every day there are news stories about states moving toward legalization, newfound uses for medical marijuana, how health risks of marijuana may be less than for other drugs and debates regarding whether marijuana is actually addictive. With all this saturation of media coverage and the shifting perspectives on marijuana, there’s an important group we have a tendency to forget: people who use marijuana and are trying to quit.
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