Grand Forks Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition. The Problem With Pot. March By Jackie Bischof

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1 March 2015 Grand Forks Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition The Problem With Pot By Jackie Bischof There are a growing number of medical marijuana dispensaries across the United States and a majority of Americans who support legalization. But two critics of the drug said the science points to serious problems with pot. Speaking at a Heritage Foundation event Monday, former drug czar William J. Bennett and federal prosecutor Robert A. White outlined the evidence in their new book, Going to Pot: Why the Rush to Legalize Marijuana Is Harming America. Inside this issue: Inside Story 2 Inside Story 2 Inside Story 2 Inside Story 3 Inside Story 4 Inside Story 5 Inside Story 6 Almost all evidence is on our side, the side of science and fact, said Bennett, former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush. The legalization advocates are winning the debate, added White, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey. They are organized and well-funded. And they are winning because the public is not informed of the harms of marijuana. White said misinformation was part of the problem. He pointed to the fact marijuana is stronger today than in the 1970s. Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive drug in marijuana, has risen from 5 percent to an average of 13 percent as a part of marijuana. In some medical dispensaries in Colorado, it now makes upwards of 30 percent of the drug, White said. Bennett interjected, This isn t your grandfather s pot. White went on to list some of the negative effects of marijuana on users, noting that it suppresses the dopamine receptors in your brain, won t wear off like beer or alcohol, and causes a drop in your IQ if used for an extended period of time. In addition to a lowered IQ, those with a family history of mental disorders are two to five times more likely to develop mental disorders, he added. White said marijuana also increases the chance of a heart attack by the user.

2 Grand Forks Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Page 2 The impact on children caused both authors concern. White said states that have legalized the drug experience a much higher rate of usage: 9.4 percent of children have used marijuana in states that have legalized medical marijuana, whereas the average in nonmedical marijuana states is at 6.7 percent. Citing findings from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration s 2013 National Survey of Drug Use and Health, White said the numbers are even more stark in Colorado. There, 10.2 percent of year-olds have used the drug. In the range, which are critical years for brain development, nationally, percent of the age group have used in the past month, while in Colorado it stands at percent, White added. When asked by an audience member if marijuana is worse than alcohol, Bennett and White admitted that America still has a problem with underage drinking and use of prescription pills. It s not worse than alcohol, said Bennett. We know we have a problem, and we have not managed to keep those things from kids. Colorado was supposed to eliminate the marijuana black market, but it did not. White concluded, Why add a third problem? Grand Forks Police make 18 drinking-related arrests Valentine s Day Grand Forks police officers made 18 arrests related to underage drinking Valentine s Day night in a federally funded effort to curb underage drinking, according to Grand Forks Police Department. Police officers visited local bars and restaurants between 10 p.m. Saturday and 3 a.m. Sunday and identified individuals who looked like they were under 21 years of age, according to a press release from the Police Department. Officers made contact with more than 200 people, the release said. Seven minors were arrested for drinking or having alcohol; seven were arrested for being on premises where alcohol was being sold; three were arrested for having a fake ID and one was arrested for disorderly conduct, according to the release. Grand Forks Police Department receives funds to enforce underage drinking laws from a grant provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health, according to the release. The goal of this enforcement grant is to reduce consumption of alcohol by minors, as well as to reduce over-consumption, or binge-drinking by adults, the release said. Source: Grand Forks Herald

3 Grand Forks Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Page 3

4 Grand Forks Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Page 4 Many at Risk for Alcohol-Medication Interactions About 71% of U.S. adults drink alcohol. Many commonly prescribed medications can interact with alcohol, including drugs to treat depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The combination of alcohol and medications can cause many adverse health effects. These include nausea and vomiting, headaches, drowsiness, fainting, and loss of coordination. More severe effects include internal bleeding, heart problems, and difficulty breathing. Alcohol can also make some medications less effective or even useless. Older adults are at particular risk for interactions between alcohol and prescription medications. They re more likely to be taking medications in the first place. And certain medications that are affected by alcohol use, such as diazepam (Valium), last longer in aging bodies. This creates a longer window of opportunity for interactions. To better understand the relationship between alcohol consumption and prescription medicine use in the U.S. population, a team led by Dr. Rosalind Breslow at NIH s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES ). More than 26,000 adults were asked about alcohol use in the past year and over their lifetime and prescription drug use in the past month. The study appeared in the February 2015 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Almost 600 (45%) of the prescription medications listed in the NHANES survey database were classified as interacting with alcohol. The main types were blood pressure medications, sleeping pills, pain medications, muscle relaxers, diabetes and cholesterol medications, antidepressants, and antipsychotics. The analysis found that about 42% of adults who drink also use medications known to interact with alcohol. Nearly 78% of older adults (over 65 years of age) who drink use such medications. Among the most frequent drinkers (5 to 7 drinks per week), about 38% use prescription medications that can interact with alcohol. The researchers note that they couldn t confirm whether drinking and medication use overlapped based on the available data. These are potential, rather than actual, rates. However, they highlight the potential scale of this problem. Our findings show that a substantial percentage of people who drink regularly, particularly older adults, could be at risk of harmful alcohol and medication interactions, Breslow says. We suggest that people talk to their doctor or pharmacist about whether they should avoid alcohol while taking their prescribed medications. Combining alcohol with medications often carries the potential for serious health risks, says NIAAA director Dr. George Koob. Based on this study, many individuals may be mixing alcohol with interactive medications and they should be aware of the possible harms.

5 Grand Forks Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Page 5 Supersized Flavored Alcoholic Drinks Greatly Increase Teens Risk of Injury Teens who drink supersized flavored alcoholic drinks known as alcopops are at greatly increased risk of injury, according to a new study. The study included data from an online survey of more than 1,000 teens and young adults ages 13 to 20 who said they had consumed at least one alcoholic drink in the previous month. HealthDay reports those who said they drank supersized alcopops were more than six times as likely to say they had suffered alcohol-related injuries, compared with those who did not drink the beverages. There are three types of alcopops: malt-based flavored beverages (such as Mike s Hard Lemonade or Smirnoff Ice); spirits-based premixed, ready-to-drink cocktails (such as Jack Daniel s cocktails); and supersized alcopops (including Four Loko or Joose). Supersized alcohol beverages can contain the equivalent of between four and five alcoholic drinks, the researchers note in a press release. The study found consuming any combination of two or more flavored alcoholic beverages was strongly associated with reporting of heavy episodic drinking, fighting and alcoholrelated injuries. It is impossible to discuss harmful alcohol consumption among youth and not include supersized alcopops, said study co-author David Jernigan, PhD, Director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. These low-priced and sweet-tasting beverages are associated with reports of dangerous consequences among youth. Alcopops remain largely unregulated, the researchers said. They continue to present an emergency public health problem of harmful alcohol consumption among youth, they wrote in the American Journal of Public Health. Source: Join Together

6 Grand Forks Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Page 6 Be a role model to the children in your life. Talk to them about making positive choices. For information on how to start the conversation and to read about age-specific scenarios for children of all ages, visit The Grand Forks Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (SAPC) welcomes community members who would like to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Our next meeting will be from 12-1 pm Tuesday, March 10th at Red River High School in the Music Library If you would like to join our coalition, please contact: Bill Vasicek The Grand Forks Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is a community-wide group of individuals and organizations in the Grand Forks area invested in reducing the harmful effects of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs through education and changing of social norms.

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