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Can US overdose deaths be stopped?

Guest post by Thinking Clearly

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse overdose deaths are on the rise:

We have done it to ourselves with our country’s drug policies.


How the US Stopped a Possible Solution to the Heroin Epidemic https://t.co/k9PSxAIv8T

“Before America’s War on Drugs, the “British System” was successful in keeping addiction rates low and drug-associated crime nonexistent.”

… “The practice of prescribing heroin to manage addiction was originally invented in the UK—and was so entrenched here that it was formally known in international policy circles as the “British System”. Throughout the early 20th century, as America began forcing its War on Drugs on the rest of the world, it was Britain that represented the most promising alternative model. The story of the British System, and of how it was dismantled under American pressure, has been all but forgotten. It shouldn’t be. This story illuminates not only fascinating truths about drug policy, but about entire liberal traditions in British political history.” …

“The other crucial difference between life under the British System and American-style prohibition is that there was absolutely no link between addiction and other forms of criminality. When you get your prescription from a doctor, there is simply no need to steal to fund your habit.”

“When the American journalist Edgar May came over to report on the British System he wrote, “No one in England—from the toughest London detective to the most liberal-prescribing clinic physician—suggested to me that narcotics addiction increases criminal behavior… in England there is no cause-and-effect relationship.” The creation of a criminal addict underclass seems to only emerge under a system of drugs prohibition.”

“By 1959, the number of known heroin addicts in Britain had dropped to 59, before rising to 342 by 1964. By today’s standards these numbers are almost comically low. On all evidence, the British System seemed effective in preventing the spread of addiction and associated criminality. So what happened? How did it all fall apart?”

“Ultimately, the answer is that, in 1961, Britain was pressured into signing the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs—a US-led policy formally committing every member state to prohibition. The American architects of the War on Drugs despised the British System, and constantly briefed against it in policy documents and propaganda. It was thus inevitable that the British System would come under sustained diplomatic attack.”

… “Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened. Instead of fixing the problem of rogue doctors over-prescribing, the government pressured doctors doing valuable work. Addicts could no longer get prescriptions, so illegal heroin began trickling into the country to satisfy demand. Unlike America, this did not come from Italian mafia organizations, but from Chinese Triads working out of Hong Kong. Little red packets of south-east Asian heroin, stamped with an elephant design, began littering the gutters of Gerrard Street in London’s Chinatown.” …

The drug war pushed by America has been the source of a rich and lucrative black market.

The Dea and the controlled substances act has given the US a rising statistic of death that began again recently as doctors prescribing habits of opiates were curtailed by the DEA.

The death and destruction of human life in America can be stopped by ending the drug war and ridding ourselves of the controlled substances act.

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32 comments to Can US overdose deaths be stopped?

  • darkcycle

    Excellent piece, TC.
    One only need to look at the numbers that they DON’T mention to get a clear idea of what’s really going on. Overdose deaths are at an all time high…and they leave it at that while blaming doctors prescribing habits and Purdue’s marketing. But the rest of the story is here:
    Deaths are up, but actual prescriptions for pain are DOWN….they’ve been falling for about ten years
    https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/opioids/index.html
    And deaths attributable to pain pills is down.
    https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/4/1/15115380/prescription-painkiller-heroin-deaths
    Yet the number of overdose deaths continue their rise. To find what’s driving this one need only look at a map of where the deaths are occurring, and compare that with a map of the places where Fentanyl and it’s analogs have appeared in the illegal opioid supply. They are too identical to ignore.
    It is, as always, prohibition that is killing people. The numbers tell the story….but you need all the numbers, not just the ones they show you.

  • Servetus

    The US may solve its opioid problem, but there’s no evidence the federal government will be of much help.

    A populist approach can provide viable options for opioid remediation. An example of a populist solution would be one that replaces opioids with cannabis where appropriate. Other solutions exist, but the ideas face the same type of steep opposition from the feds.

    Opioid addictions and ODs are the new canary in the gold mine. They are correlated with spiking numbers of suicides, another type of warning ignored by the feds. The bulk of the ODs are happening in economically distressed or socially deprived parts of the United States, largely in the rural hinterlands.

    Financial stress in remote rural areas is often a consequence of being overtaken by Big Ag. When it happens, profits from farming shift from growing food to showering wealth on companies that process food and make it available in supermarkets. The federal government approves of such shifts in economy, as it has since the country was founded. Its history can be found in Max Weber’s classic book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905).

    The approach taken by feds regarding opiates and the poor feeds on the spirit of capitalism and the Protestant work ethic. Federal treatment of the economically stressed, or the drug addict, is largely Malthusian, a political theory that assumes one’s moral character is somehow wrapped around one’s economic or health status. Here is Thomas Malthus (1766—1834) dictating the spirit of capitalism:

    A man who is born into a world already possessed, if he cannot get subsistence from his parents on whom he has a just demand, and if the society do not want his labour, has no claim of right to the smallest portion of food, and, in fact, has no business to be where he is. […]

    Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country, we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations. But above all, we should reprobate specific remedies for ravaging diseases; and those benevolent, but much mistaken men, who have thought they were doing a service to mankind by projecting schemes for the total extirpation of particular disorders. If by these and similar means the annual mortality were increased … we might probably every one of us marry at the age of puberty, and yet few be absolutely starved. […]

    In Flint, Michigan, lead plumbing works as well as opiates on the poor.

    Thomas Malthus believed saving the poor would only increase their numbers. He might have had the same attitude toward poor people with opioid problems had he lived to witness it. For Malthus, the poor and the infirm deserved their ill fate. The Poor Law Amendment in the UK was Malthus’ sine qua non:

    Some of Malthus’s ideas were adopted in the harsh Poor Law Amendment of 1834 [abolished in 1929]. The law abolished all relief for able-bodied people outside workhouses. A man applying for relief had to pawn all his possessions and then enter a workhouse before assistance was granted; his wife and children either entered a workhouse or were sent to work in the cotton mills. In either case the family was broken up and treated harshly in order to discourage it from becoming a public charge. The work house was invested with a social stigma, and entering it imposed high psychological costs. The law aimed at making public assistance so unbearable that most people would rather starve quietly than submit to its indignities. […]

    Malthus’ belief, that it was the fault of one’s own moral character that one was poor, is roughly the same attitude the federal government has toward people with drug addictions. Another example of Malthusian morality occurred during the time Presidents Reagan and Bush I were in office and refused to acknowledge the AIDS epidemic.

    As long as it’s the poor succumbing to opioid deaths or some other plague, US citizens can feel assured their federal government, along with Big Pharma, will be happy to see the poor suffer and die.

    As for addiction remedies, it is incumbent upon American citizens to save themselves from the feds as well as certain state governments; or to alter or abolish their government.

    • “As for addiction remedies, it is incumbent upon American citizens to save themselves from the feds as well as certain state governments; or to alter or abolish their government.”

      Same conclusion I came to.

      I can describe Malthusian philosophy in one word = evil.

    • kaptinemo

      Keep in mind that many of the drug prohibitionists – who labeled themselves as ‘Progressives’ – of the early 20th century were Social Darwinists, as well. Contrary to popular belief, the ‘Progressive’ views of the era were not driven by compassion, but eugenics.

      And even though drug prohibitionists of today would scream bloody murder at the thought that eugenics remains the source of (ahem) ‘drug control policies’, the population sub-groups (‘cocaine n****rs’, mad Mexicans and the ‘yellow peril’) targeted by those ‘Progressives’ via drug prohibition back then remain targets today.

      Truly, the toxic fruit did not fall far from the poison tree. And drug law reformers cannot help but notice that the vast majority of the prohib cohort, then as now, do not reside in any those targeted groups. One could be forgiven for suspecting that perhaps the prohibs covertly share their philosophical predecessor’s racial and cultural prejudices, the same ones used to ‘justify’ the laws.

      Internet journalist James Corbett has an excellent video on the subject of how eugenics wound up in American national policy, IMHO well worth your time: Why Big Oil Conquered The World

      The subject of drug prohibition is hardly mentioned, but Corbett makes it clear that a lot of national policy from early last century (to include drug prohibition, of course) that remains in effect today was derived from the attempt to implement eugenics courtesy of legislation.

      Like I keep saying, these prohibs would normally be deserving of pity for being so delusional if they weren’t so rabidly, murderously dangerous.

      • NorCalNative

        Kap, it took me a couple of days but I viewed both of James Corbett videos. You were right, they’re worth watching. I was aware of some of this history but I learned a lot.

        I had never before made the connection between Eugenics and how Rockefeller and Carnegie shaped U.S. health care.

        I think the American soul was ripped out when Big Pharma captured medicine at the expense of non evidence-based herbs. Control the research and you control the population.

        OT

        I had a new-doctor appointment yesterday. On a form, they asked: “What must be discussed with the physician today?” Here’s what I wrote down.

        Schedule I prohibition of cannabis and allopathic medicine.

        I’m likely playing a dangerous game, e.g, refusing x-rays, colonoscopy, blood tests. I’m telling them because they’re supposed to be the evidence-based people (but are not,) that I’m not interested in patient compliance . I’ve adopted the role of “lil’ farma” weed sales rep rather than patient.

        Did Rick Simpson’s video “Run From the Cure” turn me into an idiot? Perhaps, but weed is my friend and most certainly worth fighting for.

        • kaptinemo

          NCN and fellow Couchmates, Corbett has a great many videos of like content and intent. I would also recommend TruthStream Media YouTube Channel as well as Black Pigeon Speaks for equally ‘edgy’ content. That is, at least go there and have a look before they are ‘de-platformed’.

          As to the racially eugenic intent of our drug laws, in my early days of drug law origin scholarship, I had, as we all do, come across the blatherings of one Harry Anslinger, whose obvious racism was echoed in his public writings. But even then his racism, which was admittedly more than endemic in society, was being challenged.

          What had struck me the most was his almost monomaniacal focus on ‘degeneracy’ and ‘degenerates’; the impression conveyed was that there was a tacit, a priori assumption that there was something in the make-up of members of minorities that somehow caused them to be ‘inferior’ due to an inherent flaw, which, perforce, led them into criminality. Illicit drug use was seen as a symptom of genetically inherent moral turpitude on the part of minorities.

          The underlying belief was that this ‘degeneracy’ was viral in nature, and could infect the dominant White population who associated with the minorities; the drug laws were meant to socially and politically control minorities but also to protect the racial ‘purity’ of the dominant portion of society and its assumed moral supremacy as well.

          The further back I dug chronologically, the more pronounced this theme became. It was only when I learned of the associations of many of the early supporters of drug prohibition, their openly racist inclinations and their very open support of eugenics (which as Corbett pointed out, was very popular back in the day) that I had a better view of this largely hidden-in-plain-sight aspect of drug prohibition.

          Drug prohibition is 19th and 20th century eugenics attired in 21st century fashions. Contemporary drug prohibitionists use the shibboleths of (pseudo)science to justify their actions, just as eugenicists did. And, as I pointed out, very few of those prohibitionists are among the groups so blatantly targeted by their ideological predecessors; this is not accidental.

  • R U Serious

    I’m looking at CNN and they’re talking about how the World has 11 years to avoid global catastrophe.

    Note to self: Need to find some heroin, preferably not white powder.

    • The Algebra of Need

      If you think a few thousand addicts fighting over the remaining heroin supplies is bad, try a few billion fighting over food. Face it, we’re all fucked.

    • Servetus

      WARNING: Watching CNN or Fox News has been linked to addiction, psychosis, and lowered IQs in adolescents….

      Here’s the piece at CNN. I found a better article at VOX that gives us one additional year for a grand total of 12.

      Overall, I prefer BBC.

      This is how post-glacial Stone-Agers survived their climate change crisis. If they could do it, maybe we can as well.

    • kaptinemo

      “We want to help these people get back on their feet, not make sure that they die.”

      – Ottawa 2018 Mayoral candidate Clive Doucet

      contrasted with this:

      But Dr. Bertha Madras, deputy director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy, opposes the use of Narcan in overdose-rescue programs.

      “First of all, I don’t agree with giving an opioid antidote to non-medical professionals. That’s No. 1,” she says. “I just don’t think that’s good public health policy.”

      Madras says drug users aren’t likely to be competent to deal with an overdose emergency. More importantly, she says, Narcan kits may actually encourage drug abusers to keep using heroin because they know overdosing isn’t as likely.

      Madras says the rescue programs might take away the drug user’s motivation to get into detoxification and drug treatment.

      “Sometimes having an overdose, being in an emergency room, having that contact with a health care professional is enough to make a person snap into the reality of the situation and snap into having someone give them services,” Madras says.

      from Overdose Rescue Kits Save Lives , NPR program January 02, 2008

      In other words, the exact opposite as Doucet: “…make sure that they die.”

      And now, Madras is advising Trump on the (latest) ‘opioid crisis’.

      I am reminded of the scene in Idiocracy where the average IQ President is being counseled by his moronic ‘advisors’

      Now, reduce the fictional President’s IQ. That is today’s reality regarding the ‘opioid crisis’ in particular and ‘drug control policy’ in general. The same malevolent circus, the same evil clowns, the same not-so-comedic routines, over and over, again and again, for decades. All done for the sake of a long-forgotten eugenics experiment designed to breed a better human being…by killing off those deemed unfit.

  • The federal government wants your input on whether marijuana should be reclassified under global drug treaties to which the U.S. is a party.

    https://t.co/j0neKG31qN

    Declassification of all cannabis and its removal from the controlled substances act is what is needed.

    “The time has come for marijuana to be removed from the federal drug schedules. There is no longer any doubt that it has significant medical value, and the science is clear that it is less harmful than many legal medical products,” he said. “While marijuana is not harmless — few, if any, products are — it poses less harm than alcohol to consumers and to society. The U.S. led the world into the quagmire of cannabis prohibition, so it should lead the world out of it by descheduling cannabis and implementing a more evidence-based policy.” – Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project

    • NCN

      Last 4/20 I submitted my comments on CBD rescheduling to the U.N.. Like the FDA, the U.N. recommended that CBD be un-scheduled and removed from drug scheduling.

      If the DEA is going to say fuck you to the FDA and the U.N. on CBD (which they did) why should we expect science to win over politics with rescheduling marijuana?

      An exercise in futility or the potential for new and enlightened drug policy? Since the orange-haired clown spoke at the U.N. recently demanding international fealty to 1961s Single Convention Narcotics treaty, I suspectI already know the U.S. response to comments.

  • Chris

    Been following this site since 2009. Sad to see it’s dead.

  • Servetus

    The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) appears to have received too many blows to the head while tackling sports health issues on the playing field:

    October 11, 2018—Canada’s anti-doping watchdogs are warning athletes that while cannabis use will become legal for the average Canadian as of next weekend, a toke remains taboo for them.

    CBD is the short form for “cannabidiol,” a cannabis extract. But the [CCES] would rather athletes remember it as “Can Be Dangerous.” […]

    The CCES has lobbied for the removal of cannabis from WADA’s banned list. Other countries argue vehemently against removal.

    “There are countries like the U.S. and Japan, to name two, who feel very strongly about marijuana being an illicit drug and a gateway drug to other drugs, and part of the war on drugs in the U.S., and they don’t want to send a message in any way, shape or form that it’s OK to use marijuana,” Melia said.

    WADA has raised the reporting threshold of cannabis in an attempt to rule out recreational use. Labs used to report the presence of marijuana when it’s found to be above 50 nanograms per millilitre. That’s been raised to 150 ng/ml.

    https://www.thestar.com/news/cannabis/2018/10/11/cannabis-remains-prohibited-for-canadian-athletes-despite-legalization.html

    If CBD “can be dangerous”, where does that leave tobacco? CBD tinctures are currently being sold in California health food stores despite its continued listing as a Schedule 1 substance by the DEA. In the US, marijuana is seen as a sports medicine by many athletes.

    On the plus side, the US border ban on Canadian cannabis workers was lifted, but “Canadians with pre-legalization cannabis convictions will still be inadmissible to the US…”:
    https://www.thestar.com/news/cannabis/2018/10/11/us-border-bans-on-canadian-cannabis-workers-lifted.html

    • primus

      I tried the link, went to CTV and a big black screen with a list of videos under it. Nothing happened. What should I have done differently?

    • Servetus

      A bit of harm reduction technology in these instances goes a long way. Fentanyl test strips can save lives:

      18-Oct-2018 — Among more than 72,000 deaths in the U.S. last year, fentanyl — a highly potent prescription opioid often used to lace other heroin or cocaine, but hard for drug users to detect — factored into many of cases.

      In the search for solutions, a team of researchers led by Brandon Marshall, an associate professor of epidemiology at Brown University’s School of Public Health, provided rapid-acting fentanyl test strips to young adults at risk of overdose in the state. New research by the team found that most of those young adults used the strips — and many who detected fentanyl reported changing their behavior to reduce overdose risk.

      “We found that fentanyl test strips are an effective harm-reduction tool to prevent overdose,” Marshall said. “Harm reduction is important because everyone deserves to be able to take care of themselves and make informed decisions about their health, whether they use drugs or not. These tests strips could be a life-saving intervention for many young adults who use drugs.”

      The findings were published on Thursday, Oct. 18, in the International Journal of Drug Policy. […]

      AAAS Public Release: Fentanyl test strips prove useful in preventing overdoses — A Brown University study found that many young adults who tried fentanyl test strips reduced overdose risk by using less, going slower or using with someone else present

  • WalStMonky

    .
    Here’s a genuine black swan event:

    Dana Rohrabacher: Trump to Reform Marijuana Policy After Midterms

    Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), long a champion of legalizing marijuana, told the Fox Business Network on Thursday that President Donald Trump intends to reform federal policies on marijuana after the midterm elections in November.

    Trump’s new policy is expected to approve the medical use of marijuana, while leaving the question of recreational marijuana to the states. That would fulfill a campaign promise from 2016, when Trump said he backed medical marijuana “100 percent.”

    Rohrabacher told Fox Business that the president had made a “solid commitment” to reform: ““I have been talking to people inside the White House who know and inside the president’s entourage… I have talked to them at length. I have been reassured that the president intends on keeping his campaign promise.”
    /snip/

    • He’s going show that he’s a real player that thinks he found the political solution of the century. I can wait two more years to make America great again – by not getting blackmailed into being his entry tool to get back into the WH.

      I’d get eaten by lions in an arena before I would consider voting for him to return in 2022.

  • Servetus

    Ketamine is found to be as effective as intravenous morphine in reducing acute pain in hospital emergency departments (EDs):

    15-OCT-2018 — …That is the finding of a study to be published in the October 2018 issue of Academic Emergency Medicine (AEM), a journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM). The results indicate that ketamine can be considered as an alternative to opioids for ED short-term pain control. […]

    “Karlow and colleagues provide persuasive evidence that emergency physicians can reasonably expect sub-dissociative ketamine to be as effective as morphine for patients with acute abdominal or musculoskeletal pain. Minor ketamine adverse effects will likely prevent this therapy from becoming routinely first line, but low dose ketamine represents a good alternative choice for selected patients,” commented Steven M. Green, MD, professor of emergency medicine and residency director at Loma Linda University, California.

    Dr. Green’s principal research interest has been on procedural sedation and analgesia, with numerous studies of ketamine dating back to 1990 and more recent works relating to sedation’s optimal practice, politics, and future. He is a deputy editor at Annals of Emergency Medicine journal.

    AAAS Public Release: Ketamine is a safe, effective alternative to opioids in treating acute pain in the ED

  • Servetus

    Dr. Diane Kelsall, a chemophobe and an interim editor-in-chief of a Canadian medical journal, draws an imaginary line in the sand over legalized recreational marijuana in Canada while threatening Canadians who step over it with retaliation by bureaucrats:

    15-OCT-2018 — If cannabis use increases after legalization of recreational cannabis on October 17, the Government of Canada should commit to changing the act to prevent negative health effects, argues an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

    “Given the known and unknown health hazards of cannabis, any increase in use of recreational cannabis after legalization, whether by adults or youth, should be viewed as a failure of this legislation,” writes Dr. Diane Kelsall, Editor-in-Chief (Interim), CMAJ.

    Health Canada reports that cannabis, a drug that is currently illegal for recreational purposes, will create issues in about one in three adult users and addiction in almost one in 10, with youth being more susceptible to negative effects.

    “The decision by the federal government to legalize cannabis sends a clear message to Canadians that its use is acceptable,” Dr. Kelsall writes. […]

    AAAS Public Release: If cannabis use increases after legalization, government must alter the act

    Yes, that’s what it means to be legal; it means marijuana is deemed acceptable.

    As for increases in usage, a precise number will be difficult to determine since consumption is moving from a once surreptitious activity to one that’s fully open. New initiates to cannabis will not necessarily be noticeable in the huge public rush to acquire a legal and acceptable product.

  • DdC

    Cannabinoids Usage In The Fight Against Oncological Diseases
    https://t.co/mlrxqWPIxr

    NHL stays with status quo as Canada pot legalization looms
    https://t.co/yS5y35Q4VO

    Oncology Clinicians and the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program: A Survey on Medical Cannabis Practice Patterns, Barriers to Enrollment, and Educational Needs | Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research
    https://t.co/d0SKZOeFev

    The head of the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board said Canada’s legalization of marijuana contravenes international law.
    https://t.co/JkEpPe9ugn

    Marijuana Research Is Exploding In The Age Of Legalization, New Study Finds –
    https://t.co/DYNZKg07yB

  • Servetus

    Implicit bias of the type found in the hysterical attitudes some people display toward marijuana consumers has been localized in the human brain by researchers. The location is in the anterior temporal lobe.

    Lead author Maddalena Marini of Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, and Mahzarin R. Banaji of the Department of Psychology, Harvard University have the details:

    15-Oct-2018 — …In their review, Pascual-Leone and colleagues consider publications by investigators who administered the well-validated implicit bias test, in which participants quickly sort words related to social characteristics (“obese” or “thin,” for example) with words that convey a value judgment (such as “lazy” or “good”) while undergoing non-invasive brain stimulation. One such study demonstrated that stimulation to the brain’s anterior temporal lobe reduced participants’ stereotypical association between “Arab” and “terrorist.” Another experiment reduced the implicit cognitive associations between “male” and “science” and “female” and “humanities.”

    “Social beliefs reflect associations that are strongly ingrained in our brains, and changing them will likely entail the reconfiguration of their underlying biological processes,” said the paper’s lead author, Maddalena Marini, formerly a post doctorate fellow in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, who approached Pascuale-Leone with the multidisciplinary research proposal. “No behavioral interventions designed to shift social beliefs so far – such as empathy training – have produced robust and long-lasting effects. Non-invasive brain stimulation techniques can provide insights that may help meet the urgent need in our society to better understand our intergroup social behavior.”

    AAAS Public Release: Us vs. them: Understanding the neurobiology of stereotypes — Brain stimulation sheds light on the neurobiology underlying implicit biases

    This work was supported by 2016-2017 Postdoctoral Fellow Award of Harvard Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative (MBB) to Maddalena Marini.

    The implications of Dr. Marini’s brain research foretell wonderful possibilities. Someday it may be possible to strap prohibitionists to a gurney and noninvasively zap their anterior temporal lobes to make them tolerant of cannabis and its devotees.

  • Servetus

    Basing conclusions on animal studies, Dr. Yasmin Hurd, Director of The Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, says adolescent THC consumption changes the branching of neurons in a way that resembles the “networks observed to be impaired in the prefrontal cortex of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia”:

    17-Oct-2018 — …The study emphasizes that cannabis, particularly THC-prominent strains, has the capacity for long-term effects into adulthood, even after the drug is no longer in the body. These findings have important implications for the changing sociopolitical discussions regarding the recreational use of marijuana. The ability of THC to change the actual shape of developing neurons that are well-known to be essential for normal cortical communication is alarming. This emphasizes that even a drug that is not considered to be very harmful can alter the sensitivity of critical brain regions during adolescent development and, in particular, change the sensitivity of gene networks relevant to psychosis risk. More education is needed to inform teens about this and about other drugs that can impact the trajectory of the developing adolescent brain. […]

    Paper Title: Adolescent exposure to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol alters the transcriptional trajectory and dendritic architecture of prefrontal pyramidal neurons.

    AAAS Public Release: Adolescent THC exposure alters neurons/gene networks associated with psychosis risk

    The NIDA funded study fails to ask an important question: if so many adolescents alter their brain circuitry with THC in a way that resembles schizophrenia, why don’t all adolescents who smoke marijuana develop schizophrenia?

    The answer may be that what appears to be a brain structure change due to schizophrenia is not a cause of schizophrenia. For the disease to occur, a pre-existing genetic component must be implicit in the diagnosis. Depending on which of eight types of schizophrenia occurs, each type has its own genetic component, and each affects its own unique section of the human brain.

    If THC creates a similar neuron change in adolescent marijuana consumers and not just rats, it would likely require a lot of THC compared to the little that’s ingested over a period of time by most human consumers. Rat research can involve mega-doses of THC that rarely compare with rates of recreational use, as rats and other small animals tend to metabolize drugs faster than humans.

    Dr. Hurd’s observations call for more research on humans, but do little to attain the Holy Grail of the NIDA—to conclusively connect adolescent marijuana use to psychosis.

    • Canada Rocks

      Rat research can involve mega-doses of THC that rarely compare with rates of recreational use, as rats and other small animals tend to metabolize drugs faster than humans.

      Dosage is everything.

      • NorCalNative

        From Project CBD on cannabinoid drug interactions.

        Some people can hardly tolerate any THC. The wide range of reactions to THC-rich cannabis may be influenced by genetic factors. A common polymorphism (or variant) of a gene that encodes a particular cytochrome P450 enzyme alters how one metabolizes THC so it breaks down more slowly and stays active longer, resulting in hypersensitivity to THC’s psychoactive effects.

        That may one of the reasons some people find THC-rich cannabis to be unpleasant, while hundreds of millions smoke to relax. This genetic variant exists among 20% of European and Middle Eastern populations, meaning one in five Caucasians are THC-averse. Less than 10% of Africans have this genetic variant and among Asians it’s less than 5%.

        Can we draw any prohibition-related or political conclusions from this info? If you find weed unpleasant you’re probably not likely to be leading the fight to end Schedule I status of cannabis.

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