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MJ News for 06/05/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegw...ing-marijuana-really-riskier-than-smoking-it/




Is Eating Marijuana Really Riskier Than Smoking It?


As more states are on the road to legalizing medical marijuana, a different pot conversation has heated up: The potential health risks of consuming marijuana-infused edibles. The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd even documented her own experience with edible pot in the form of a candy bar, which left her “curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours.” There have certainly been reports of ER doctors in Colorado seeing more patients with intoxication from pot-infused edibles, as well as some startling incidents of psychotic behavior and deaths from the products. But is edible pot really any worse than the inhaled version? Or have people just discovered a new plaything that they just don’t know how to work?

The answer is a little bit of both.

One of the issues lies in how the two forms of the drug are absorbed and metabolized, and how quickly the high comes on. “The major difference is in the absorption of the [edible] product into the blood stream,” says Kari Franson, PharmD, PhD, Clinical Pharmacologist and Associate Dean for Professional Education, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, at University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy. “Once it is in the blood, it quickly goes to and has an effect on the brain. With smoking, the peak blood levels happen within 3-10 minutes, and with eating, it’s 1-3 hours. Note that both are about a three-fold difference, but most users are willing to wait 10 minutes, not 3 hours before re-using.

In other words, it’s easier to self-monitor when smoking a joint, since one feels the effects so quickly. But with edible pot, because there can be an hours-long lag before experiencing the high, you might inadvertently consume an overdose amount while waiting.

And what you already have in your system matters more with edible marijuana – whether you’ve eaten recently or not, or have other meds in your body can also affect how the active ingredient, THC, is metabolized. These variables can change “the amount in the blood five-fold,” says Franson. “The THC will compete for metabolism in the liver with other drugs. Things that are inhaled can go directly to the brain and not have these interactions. So even confident users can get surprised with an edible.”

Another, trickier issue is that it’s very difficult to know what you’re getting when you eat a pot-infused candy bar or other edible. Though there have been recent attempts to regulate it, Franson says she’s still skeptical about the standardization of the product. Laboratory tests have shown that the actual amount of THC can vary widely in either direction, with some products containing more and some less than the amount indicated on the packaging’s “nutritional information.” A new law requires more rigorous testing of edible products in an effort to standardize the amount of THC, and remove from the shelves that ones that exceed the maximum 100 mg of the active ingredient. But time will tell how, if at all, this will reduce the risk.

The symptoms of an overdose from edible marijuana are similar to that from inhaled version, but apparently have the potential to be more severe, for some of the reasons mentioned above. Like smoked pot, the symptoms can be both physical and psychological in nature.

“The most common presenting symptom to the ER are anxiety and panic attacks, and acute psychotic episodes – confusion, disorientation, delusions, hallucinations, depersonalization [feeling as if you’re observing yourself from the outside],” says Franson. “Physically, people have tachycardia, impaired motor ability, ataxia. The time of onset can be 30 minutes to 3 hours and last from 3 to 10 hours.”

In her editorial, Dowd writes that her symptoms lasted for eight hours. “I barely made it from the desk to the bed,” she writes, “where I lay curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours. I was thirsty but couldn’t move to get water. Or even turn off the lights. I was panting and paranoid, sure that when the room-service waiter knocked and I didn’t answer, he’d call the police and have me arrested for being unable to handle my candy.

So how will the edible pot problem play out? Tighter regulations on edibles may help somewhat, but it’s partly a matter of raising awareness of the risks – and waiting for the learning curve to level out, says Sam Kamin, PhD, JD, professor of law and director of the Constitutional Rights & Remedies Program at the University of Denver. “I think edibles pose a real challenge,” he says. “They allow a person to get very high, sometimes without meaning to. Labeling and dosing will help with this, but there will still be a learning curve.”

Unfortunately, many more overdoses will probably occur while the country is still finding its way in this new territory. But there are still riskier substances out there, says Kamin, and comparatively speaking, the risk of pot-infused edibles is still fairly low. “One doesn’t need to be an apologist for the industry, though, to note that incidents related to misuse or overuse of marijuana still pale compared to similar incidents related to alcohol.”

People will continue experimenting, of course, and pot-infused edibles won’t be the last new product to raise concern: Pot-infused coffee may soon be introduced in Washington. This and other new products will, no doubt, pose a set of issues and debates of their own.
 

7greeneyes

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http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/06/05/marijuana-use-may-affect-size-and-shape-men-sperm/




Marijuana use may affect the size and shape of men's sperm


Smoking marijuana may affect the shape and quality of young men’s sperm, ultimately putting their fertility at risk, new research shows.

In a study published in the medical journal Human Reproduction, researchers analyzed many different lifestyle factors that could possibly have an impact on male infertility. The study was the largest of its kind, examining how habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol affected men’s sperm size and shape – also known as sperm morphology.

According to the researchers, marijuana use was the only habit they studied to be strongly associated with abnormal sperm morphology.

“We weren’t really interested in [the cannabis angle] at all,” Dr. Alan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield in England, told FoxNews.com. “We were interested in trying to best define the risks of sperm quality. We recruited [a couple thousand] guys, who gave us a sperm sample and allowed us to investigate aspects of their lives…It was just one of the things we asked if they did; it was no more detailed than that.”

For their study, Pacey and his team recruited more than 2,000 men from 14 fertility clinics in England, giving them detailed questionnaires about their medical history and lifestyle habits.

For reference on proper sperm morphology, the researchers used guidelines published by the World Health Organization, which detail what normal sperm should look like and the exact dimensions normal sperm should be. Sperm with abnormal morphology are thought to swim less well than normal sperm, making it harder to reach a woman’s egg and fertilize it.

Reliable sperm morphology data was only available for 1,970 of the men recruited, and of this group, 1,652 men produced “normal” samples of sperm – meaning over 4 percent of their sperm was the right shape size. The other 318 men had abnormal samples, meaning less than 4 percent of their sperm morphology was correct.

When cross analyzing the sperm samples with the men’s lifestyle habits and other factors, the researchers found only two strong correlations. The men with abnormal sperm samples were nearly twice as likely to have ejaculated during the summer months (from June to August), and they were much more likely to have abnormal sperm if they had smoked cannabis in the three months prior to ejaculating.

Although their study didn’t examine why marijuana may impact sperm shape, some preliminary studies have revealed that the drug could alter the sperm production process.

“I do know there is some work in laboratory animals that suggests [marijuana] can affect the way the DNA in the sperm is packaged together, and that’s significant,” Pacey said. “When sperm are made, the DNA they maintain has to be packaged in the head very tightly, and when that process doesn’t work properly, you get an abnormal sperm. So the cannabis is maybe interrupting that DNA folding.”

But Pacey said the study has other implications besides the possible link between marijuana and infertility. The researchers didn’t find any associations between other common lifestyle factors, such as cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption – two habits that have long been associated male infertility.

“This suggests your body mass index, your age, your ethnicity, your previous medical history, and your alcohol consumption didn’t have any effect,” Pacey said. “What happens when people are trying for a baby, they tend to become really healthy, they often go on crazy episodes of putting out things that are part of their everyday life, and the evidence to support that is actually pretty weak.”

Pacey noted for couples who are trying to have a baby, men may want to abstain from cannabis use for some time, as it usually takes up to three months to make a sperm. Otherwise, the number one predictor of normal sperm morphology and male fertility is ultimately genetics.

“There are fewer risks than people think, and that makes sense to me,” Pacey said. “The single thing that affects fertility is how big your testicles are. If you’re blessed with big testicles, you’ll produce more sperm.”
 

7greeneyes

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http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/06/is_marijuana_less_addictive_th_1.html




Is marijuana less addictive than both alcohol and tobacco?


Marijuana use, both recreationally and medicinally, is a glowing dot on the nation's political radar screen. Two states, Washington and Colorado, voted to legalize recreational use of the drug last year, and other states are contemplating following.

The same is true in Oregon, where as many as three marijuana-related initiatives may be heading toward the November ballot.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, on his official website, makes clear where he stands. The Oregon Democrat supports legislation that would allow states to enact marijuana laws without federal interference, remove the ban on industrial hemp and "allow the marijuana industry to operate in a normal business environment."

Among the claims tucked under the heading "The Facts about Marijuana" is this: "Marijuana is less addictive than both alcohol and tobacco."

Plenty has been written about all three substances, but with Oregon possibly facing one or more pot measures on the ballot this November, we decided to see if Blumenauer is right about marijuana's addictive qualities.

Find out how we ruled in "Is marijuana less addictive than both alcohol and tobacco?"

Read the ruling and return to OregonLive to tell us what you think in this story's comment section.
 

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http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_2...eneral-backs-firing-medical-marijuana-patient




Colorado attorney general backs firing of medical-marijuana patient


The state attorney general's office says Coloradans do not have a right to use marijuana off the job, siding with a satellite television company in its firing of a medical-marijuana patient.

In a brief filed with the state Supreme Court last month, the Colorado attorney general's office argues that giving workers a right to use marijuana off duty "would have a profound and detrimental impact on employers in the state."

"Contrary to popular perception, Colorado has not simply legalized marijuana for medical and recreational purposes," state attorneys write in the brief. "Instead, its citizens have adopted narrowly drawn constitutional amendments that decriminalize small amounts of marijuana."

The Colorado Court of Appeals — the state's second-highest court — last year upheld Dish Network's firing of a quadriplegic medical-marijuana patient for a positive drug test. Although there is no allegation that Brandon Coats was stoned at work, the company said it has a zero-tolerance policy on marijuana.

Coats say his off-the-job marijuana use should be protected by Colorado's Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute, which prevents companies from firing employees for doing things outside of work — like smoking cigarettes — that are legal. Dish Network argues that marijuana use can't be considered lawful while cannabis remains illegal federally.

In its brief supporting Dish Network, the state attorney general's office says zero-tolerance policies ensure that employees are able to perform their jobs competently. Requiring employers to prove that workers are stoned on the job before they can be fired would require companies to conduct "intrusive investigations into the personal life of an employee."

"Simply put, zero tolerance policies provide businesses with an efficient means of avoiding difficult employment decisions and even litigation," the attorney general's brief states.

Coats' case is the first time Colorado's highest court has taken up questions about the scope of marijuana legalization in the state, and it has drawn at least six outside groups filing briefs in support of Coats or Dish.

The Colorado Mining Association, the Colorado Defense Lawyers Association and the Colorado Civil Justice League — which claims an allegiance with several businesses and groups including the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce — have filed briefs on behalf of Dish. The Colorado Plaintiff Employment Lawyers Association and the Patient and Caregivers Rights Litigation Project have filed briefs supporting Coats.

The Supreme Court has not announced when it will hear the case.
 

7greeneyes

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http://www.salon.com/2014/06/05/cannabis_tour_guide_to_maureen_dowd_you_were_warned/




Cannabis tour guide to Maureen Dowd: You were warned!


After her column detailing her nightmare experience with a chocolate bar made from the devil weed gave the entire internet a good 24 hours of chuckles, the Colorado cannabis tour guide who advised Maureen Dowd now says that the New York Times columnist has really only one person to blame for her bad experience: herself.

“She got the warning,” says Matt Brown, co-founder of My 420 Tours. Claiming he spent a good three-to-four hours giving Dowd the lowdown on how to be a responsible marijuana user in Colorado, where the drug is now legal for recreational consumption.

“She did what all the reporters did. She listened. She bought some samples — I don’t remember what exactly,” Brown continued. “Me and the owner of the dispensary we were at and the assistant manager and the budtender talked with her for 45 minutes at the shop.”

“We talked about edibles and how they affect everyone differently,” Brown recalled. “In the context of covering all the bases with a customer, we really went into depth to tell this reporter, who would then tell the world, about marijuana in Colorado.”

Brown also says that, at one point, Dowd asked him to roll a joint for her. She didn’t know how and was in a rush to see “Mitt.”

While Brown holds no ill will against Dowd for writing about her unpleasant experience, the pot tour guide says he wishes she had treated her ingestion of the substance a bit more responsibly — like she would if she were drinking alcohol.

“All of the problems that happened in her hotel room as she’s breaking off pieces of the infused candy bar,” Brown said, “there’s something missing. When she was learning how to drink alcohol she could have seen other adults using moderation and other adults in bars puking and making an *** out of themselves — because it’s enjoyed communally and legally in bars.”

Still, he’s not too worried that Dowd’s piece has irrevocably harmed the movement to keep pot legal in Colorado. “[T]he column wasn’t viewed as all that serious,” Brown says.

“I don’t see too many people making a serious point in the statehouse next session citing Maureen Dowd’s column. It’ll be a bubble. It’ll go away, and in the future we won’t look to Maureen Dowd for in-depth journalism on the Colorado marijuana industry.”
 

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