March 21st 2020

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Murray River full; reservoirs low; farms for sale ...

ILLICIT DRUGS Cannabis marketed to children in Colorado

CANBERRA OBSERVED Budget surplus a goner but low interest rates a treasurer's dream

NATIONAL AFFAIRS 'Black Summer' bushfire inquiries: What must be done

GENDER POLITICS Young people deserve better than being rushed into transitioning

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Myth-busting China's 'soft power'

CLIMATE CHANGE Where's the evidence for man-made global warming?

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cardinal Pell's appeal heard in the High Court

ON CAMPUS Young Liberals politics heats up after death of Wilson Gavin

OBITUARY Farewell to the indomitable John Barich

POLITICS AND SOCIETY Beyond the Great Divide

ASIA China's waterways bring prosperity ... and sorrow

LIFE ISSUES Age does not dim the memory of such loss

HUMOUR Men and women and others of Australia ...

MUSIC Evaluations of good, better, best can collapse into musical chairs

CINEMA Motherless Brooklyn: Gazing into the heart of the city

BOOK REVIEW How language is being degraded for political purposes

BOOK REVIEW Not very fresh options for a capitalism in which capital is worthless



NEW ZEALAND: Victorian Road Map smooths way of NZ anti-life clique to abortion 'reform'

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Cannabis marketed to children in Colorado

by Chris McCormack

News Weekly, March 21, 2020

The Cannabis Conundrum Tour was recently in Australia, exposing the myths around cannabis. Two experts from the U.S. state of Colorado, Dr Karen Randall, chairwoman of the board and vice-president of case management at the Southern Colorado Emergency Medicine Associates, and Lynn Riemer from A.C.T. on Drugs and a former Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) chemist, spoke on the Colorado experience since cannabis was legalised.

Drug packaging imitates that of popular chocolate bars and biscuits.

Opening the Melbourne event on February 17, Dalgarno Institute executive director Shane Varcoe posed a question: “What do these deadly poisons have in common: arsenic, radium, mercury, thallium, cyanide?”

The answer: At one time, all these were considered by physicians and the public as useful medications and/or healthy supplements and were prescribed freely by physicians until thousands of deaths and decades later when the pernicious effects of these substances were recognised.

Varcoe cited Dr John C. Hagan III, who asked: “Why so much time, disease and death to recognise a toxic substance?” To which he answered: “Addiction and profit.”

Despite citing 40,000 studies on the impact of marijuana on the human being, the evidence presented by experts attending the Victorian Law Reform Commission Consultation on “medicinal” cannabis was ignored; while emotional anecdotes from cannabis proponents were treated as “evidence”, Varcoe added.

Dr Randall said that, although some compounds in cannabis might provide a medicinal benefit in the future, she believed there weren’t medically “any true indications” from what was available in Colorado now.

Ms Riemer said one of the concerning aspects of legalising cannabis was the explosion of edibles laced with cannabis that were targeted at children with names that mimicked popular snacks: for example, Pot Tarts instead of Pop Tarts. Marijuana was the biggest problem in Colorado schools, with group intoxications in which edibles were shared being commonplace.

A joint in the Woodstock era contained 1-3 milligrams of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. Joints nowadays, via genetically modified marijuana plants, contain 20mg of THC. Colorado law allows 10mg of THC per serve of food (for example, one square of chocolate) thus some blocks of chocolate on sale contain 500mg of THC.

Unlike smoking a joint, edibles have a delayed effect as they have to go through the digestive tract. This means it can take up to three hours of consuming before any psychological effect is registered; by which time the person can vomit repeatedly, lapse into unconsciousness or die.

Ms Riemer said there had been incidents of kids shooting themselves in the head and shooting other people after becoming psychotic.

She recounted two episodes. A curious teenager from Wyoming consumed a cookie and became so psychotic that he jumped off the fourth storey of a hotel and died. Another teenager died after stabbing himself 21 times and then slitting his carotid artery after consuming edibles at a party.

Research shows that THC is the substance most associated with completed suicides in the 10-19 age group in Colorado.

THC is also being added to toothpicks, toothpaste, mouthwash, lip balms, patches, condoms, suppositories and tampons. One tampon was found to contain 160mg of THC, 16 times the “recommended” limit. Research by Dr D’Souza in 2004 shows that as little as 5mg of THC induces psychotic behaviour.

Dr Randall said there was much hype about how vaping was the safe alternative to smoking, which was leading to primary school children vaping. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data on vaping-related illness showed that the average age for EVALI (e-cigarette/vaping associated lung injury) in Wisconsin and Illinois was 21, with 30 per cent requiring intubation and mechanical ventilation and life support; 87 per cent showed THC in their system.

One shocking case she highlighted was that of a 17-year-old boy who had vaped THC products for six or seven months before urgently requiring a double lung transplant; now he is on lifelong immuno-suppressant drugs.

Other evidence presented shows that THC use exacerbates rather than alleviates glaucoma and other often-cited medical conditions supposedly benefitting from cannabis; more children in Colorado are being born THC positive and an increasing number of children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder; and THC alters the chromosomes of users and genetic abnormalities have been observed in users’ children.

Cannabis-related problems cost Colorado $US1 billion in 2017, while the marijuana industry sold over $US1.1 billion of pot but only paid around $US250,000 in tax.

Lawmakers in Australia should heed the warnings of Colorado medical experts on the adverse outcomes of legalising cannabis products.

View video excerpts of the Melbourne event here.

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