It is impossible miss how marijuana is impacting our lives and towns. It is becoming increasingly legal; 33 states have legalized medical use and 10 states have legalized its recreational use so far. As it becomes more acceptable, research is trying to keep up with the consequences of this drug. Here are some highlights.
The number of heavy cannabis users is up. By 2017, there were about 8 million Americans who reported using it at least 300 times in a year, which is considered to be daily use. It is true that the cannabis grown today is far more potent than that of the ‘70’s, with more THC. THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical that produces the “high” or psychoactive results. Today’s marijuana is 20-25% THC, compared to less than 2% in that of the 1970’s. This is due to complex cloning and farming techniques. As far as the CBD content, which is what some desire for the medicinal effects, this concentration is declining. What does this mean? It means that you’re going to get a stronger effect on the brain or high, resulting in a higher chance of THC toxicity. If you’re using it for the CBD effects, you will get less of its medicinal properties. There has also been an increase seen in the contaminants found in the plants. All of this points to inadequate regulation because there isn’t any content labeling. The grower can tell you anything. The United States does not have a system to track mental illnesses like they do other diseases, so there isn’t any hard evidence to say psychotic events are increasing, but studies show marijuana use is a significant risk factor for psychotic episodes and violence. In addition to large studies of people on this, there are also statistics from the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana. These states showed combined significant increases in murders (38%) and aggravated assaults (25%) after legalization, compared to the national average (20% for murder and 11.5% for aggravated assault). Our society has stereotyped pot-users to be oblivious couch potatoes, but the hard data connecting marijuana to violent behavior goes back 150 years to asylums in India.
Knowledge is crucial if you are using marijuana or are considering it. At this point, there is not regulation to give consumers the information to know exactly what is in what you purchase. The risks can be significant and long-lasting. Think about how it took decades before cigarettes and alcohol were studied and education about the dangers began with labeling and regulation. A similar approach is necessary for marijuana, even for medicinal use. Actual medicines have research to list the benefits, risks, and appropriate dosages. Marijuana does not meet any of these standards, hardly making it trustworthy medicine. It impairs judgement, damages the respiratory tract, and increases the risk of psychosis. Just because modern medicine cannot treat everything satisfactorily, it does not mean marijuana is the answer. Don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s safe.
At Paragon we strongly suggest that you eliminate smoking marijuana before and after surgery at a minimum.
The following articles were referenced for this newsletter:
Happy Valentine’s Day from Paragon Orthopedics!