Sunday, March 27, 2011

Notes from APPLAUDD on What's new with Marijuana, 3/23/11

March 23, 2011 – Notes from APPLAUDD: A Prevention Program Learning About Underage Drinking & Drugs, Session #3, in addition to the powerpoint slide notes provided.
Our Mission: What is new with marijuana? How can we prevent abuse of this drug? How do we recognize signs of drug bause: eye clues, physical symptoms, behavioral changes? How do we talk to our children about marijuana?

The current marijuana possession laws in MA took effect in January of 2009. MGL c.94C, s.32L allows for anyone in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana shall only be a civil offense, subjecting an offender who is eighteen years of age or older to a civil penalty of one hundred dollars and forfeiture of the marihuana, but not to any other form of criminal or civil punishment or disqualification. An offender under the age of eighteen shall be subject to the same forfeiture and civil penalty provisions, provided he or she completes a drug awareness program which meets the criteria set forth in Section 32M of this Chapter. The parents or legal guardian of any offender under the age of eighteen shall be notified in accordance with Section 32N of this Chapter of the offense and the availability of a drug awareness program and community service option. If an offender under the age of eighteen fails within one year of the offense to complete both a drug awareness program and the required community service, the civil penalty may be increased pursuant to Section 32N of this Chapter to one thousand dollars and the offender and his or her parents shall be jointly and severally liable to pay that amount. MGL c.94C derives from the Controlled substances act, and includes penalties for other drugs, trafficking or possession of more than one ounce of marijuana.

One of the big myths that kids have is that they think marijuana is legal, or has been legalized in other countries. Marijuana is illegal to consume, use, possess, cultivate, transfer or trade in most countries. While there are countries which have decriminalized marijuana, making it so that one can only be issued a citation of possession of an ounce or less, or legalized medicinal use of marijuana under a doctor’s prescription, there are NO countries in the world or states in which the use of marijuana is legal.

One ounce is actually a lot, and carries a street value of $600. It generally makes between 25 and 60 joints. So when you find a person with an ounce on them, they are most likely either a very heavy user or a dealer.

Both lifetime and current use of marijuana among youth are up from 2007 to 2009.

Communities can take action to make changes. State laws prohibit sales of drug paraphernalia, but stores or “head shops” get around that by calling it something else. Towns can pass by laws to ban the sale of specific products, such as flavored rolling papers, which are supposedly used to create cigars. Towns can also require people caught smoking pot in public to show their identification and not to smoke pot in public. A sample community bylaw restricting public consumption of marijuana can be found at

Smoking cigarettes is highly associated with binge and heavy drinking, and use of illegal drugs. A regular smoker is likely to have a more positive first experience with marijuana, their lungs and bodies being already accustomed to the smoking process. Smoking activates neurological addiction pathways, which various drugs share. So smoking makes both a drug and alcohol addiction more likely in the individual. Also, smokers are more likely to be approached by marijuana dealers.

Pot is stronger now, today’s product would have been called “superweed” years ago. The THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content used to vary between 2 and 7%; now it is between 9 & 295. THC is a hallucinogen, with analgesic/pain-relieving properties. PET scans show that THC depresses brain activity, producing a dreamy state in which ideas seem disconnected and uncontrollable.

Tell kids that smoking marijuana damages the part of your brain associated with hand/eye coordination, keeping your eye on the ball and movement reflexes, so it has detrimental effects particularly for athletes.

Impairment can last for days. Pot is fat soluble, so it stays in the body for a long time. Many other drugs are water soluble, so you expel them quickly in urine. But not pot.

We know that pot causes depression, which in turn can lead to suicide. Weekly use of marijuana more than doubles a teen’s risk of depression, which is already high compared to the general population. Also seen in regular teen users are increased levels of apathy, decreased attention, not setting or accomplishing goals, difficulty starting new tasks, and introversion.

The Drug & Alcohol Warning Network (DAWN) report clearly correlates rising THC levels with rising emergency room admissions. Marijuana causes more car accidents & fatalities than any other drug besides alcohol.

Tell kids, any time you are impaired with anything, you cannot drive. The new marijuana law in MA does not repeal or modify existing laws concerning the operation of motor vehicles. Adding pot with alcohol is especially dangerous. Pot makes the user lose depth, color, time and sound perception. With slower reflexes and muscle coordination, any use of pot greatly increases the likelihood of car accidents.

“Medical marijuana” is not approved by the FDA or the AMA. Where it is legal, it comes only in a pill form or a patch. It generally is used to treat nausea and loss of appetite, for which there are other medications available.

Remind kids that legal does not equal safe. Just because something is legal does not mean that it is a smart choice for them.

K2, or synthetic cannabis, which can be bought in certain shops, has only been around about a year. The DEA has called an emergency scheduling of it, as poison control centers and emergency rooms are starting to see cases of its abuse.

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