It’s not just pot anymore

September 23, 2016

not-pot

OPINION by JODY BELSHER

Today’s marijuana is not what it used to be. Adolescents, teenagers and young adults are vulnerable to brain changes due to the increased potency of the THC in today’s weed.

We are failing to educate on the negative effects of this popular drug leaving our youth at risk. In the 60’s and 70’s marijuana’s THC content was roughly 1 to 3 percent. Today the THC tests at around 15 to 25 percent on average, and in concentrated forms, up to 98 percent. This classifies today’s cannabis as an hallucinogenic drug that has grave outcomes for developing brains.

We are now seeing dramatic increases in psychotic episodes, triggering schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, as well as major depression and anxiety disorders. Since this new strain of marijuana–which took effect in the past decade–we have yet to realize the impacts that long term use will have on society.

The projection is much like the tobacco industry, where we thought it was harmless but over time realized the physical side effects of lung and other cancers. In fact, it’s the tobacco industry that is most interested in addicting our children to marijuana. They target youth with ads for edibles that include gummy bears, pop tarts and sodas. The DSM-5 statistical manual on mental disorders recently listed Cannabis as an addictive substance, which means there is a withdrawal syndrome that inhibits sobriety.

Another serious consideration as Californians go to the polls this November, is the effects of drugged driving. Fatal auto accidents with marijuana in the system in legalized states has skyrocketed. We do not have an accurate measuring system to determine levels of cannabis use. A recent study showed that young people don’t hesitate to drive while under the influence of marijuana, where as they might refrain if using alcohol.

Jody Belsher

Jody Belsher

Other concerns are neighborhood grows which causes profound stench and excessive water usage for grows. Prop 64, the initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in the State of California, sets the legal age to use at 21. This is problematic, since it is a known fact that brain development continues through ages 25 through 30. Giving the green light to 21 year olds that using marijuana recreationally is ok, is doing a huge disservice to their development and to society as a whole.

Additionally, those legal states are not seeing the taxes they were promised. The money is going to the wealthy investors and not to society as projected.

A conference will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at the Courtyard Marriott (1650 Calle Joaquin Rd.) in SLO from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to address all these issues and much more concerning today’s marijuana. It’s NOT Just Pot Anymore Conference will feature National keynote speaker and presidential drug advisor Dr. Kevin Sabet, as well as Dr. Stuart Gitlow—Executive Director of the Annenberg Physician Training Program in Addictive Disease, Chelsea Clarke—Strategic Intelligence Analyst with HIDTA Colorado and Jody Belsher—Producer/Director of the award-winning documentary “The Other Side of Cannabis.”

In the evening there will be a parent/student forum held the same day at 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.–students are free. Dr. Kenneth Starr (Founder and Medical Director of Ken Starr MD Wellness Group) will moderate a panel to address prevention, addiction, treatment and recovery, along with Carlos Guerrero (President and Co-Founder of Central Coast Alumni for Recovery), and Jody Belsher (Producer/Director of “The Other Side of Cannabis” documentary.

Tickets are available online—seating is limited. Parents are encouraged to come with or without children.

The daytime conference is geared to addiction professionals, media, educators, law enforcement, clergy, politicians, legal advisors, social workers, counselors, pharmacists and health professionals. Topics will include: effects on youth: brain changes, mental illness, psychosis, addiction prevention, treatment, recognition, recovery, medical marijuana: medicinal versus recreational, drugged driving, neighborhood grows, vaping, taxes, prison, crime, what legalization means for you and what’s happening in Colorado.

This is a rare opportunity to learn from America’s leading educators on the subject of today’s marijuana and its impacts. Dr. Sabet is an author, consultant and advisor to three U.S. presidential administrations and assistant professor. With Hon. Patrick J. Kennedy, he is the co-founder of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijua­na). He will present on the pending vote to legalize recreational marijuana in the State of California, as well as brain and cognitive issues pertaining to youth marijuana use. Dr. Gitlow in addition to being the Executive Director of the Annenberg Physician Training Program in Addictive Disease, he is the Immediate Past President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Dr. Gitlow, board certified in both general and addiction psychiatry, is the Past Chair of the American Medical Association’s Council on Science & Public Health. He will address how today’s marijuana is addictive, what is recommend­ed for prevention and treatment.

Chelsea Clarke is a Strategic Intelligence Analyst with the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA). She is a primary contributor to the annual RMHIDTA regional Threat Assessment and The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact reports. Chelsea will explain the findings of Colorado’s legalization effects.

Event organizer and Documentary Producer/Director Jody Belsher will present a clip of her film. Jody is a Master’s candidate in Addiction Studies, a Certified Recovery Support Specialist and Certified Lifestyle Coach. She recently interned at SLO County Drug and Alcohol’s Drug Court. The event seating is limited. You can register online.


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11 Comments

  1. Josey Wales says:

    Folks,

    I plan to vote Yes on Proposition 62.

    I do not know even one person who thinks the War on Cannabis is successful, and it is time to end this silly prohibition. Please understand that I do not consume intoxicants of any kind, and I am not supporting Prop 62 out of any personal agenda.

    Use money from taxing cannabis to educate, treat and prevent substance abuse, including alcohol.

    Just saying,

    Josey

    (32) 92 Total Votes - 62 up - 30 down
  2. miles archer says:

    I have a few points:

    1) As a current resident of Washington state, I can tell you that you are misinformed when you state: “those legal states are not seeing the taxes they were promised. The money is going to the wealthy investors and not to society as projected.” Unsubstantiated hyperbole!

    2) If you’d like to see a real documentary series about cannabis, view the CNN-produced 3-part series by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

    3) Will you next attempt to scare people off alcoholic beverages that are of a higher alcohol content? Just like liquor, there is marijuana of varying strengths…and yet, we haven’t seen ONE documented overdose fatality related to cannabis…BUT, 6 people a DAY die from alcohol poisoning!
    http://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/2015/dpk-vs-alcohol-poisoning.html

    4) And finally, I’m curious who is funding your fearmongering. What a waste of your time and resources Ms Belsher. This is the age of the informed citizen…the populace is too smart to buy what you’re peddling.

    (57) 89 Total Votes - 73 up - 16 down
  3. L.A.RamsFan says:

    Damn! You mean if I would been even smarter, faster, able to leep taller buildings with less than a single bound, stronger and be better looking (if that’s even possible) if I’d only stopped burnin’ ’em when I was 12? Well Hell Then! The damage is already done! Someone pass me the pipe with that good OG Cush so the my 60 years WILL be so stunted…

    (27) 55 Total Votes - 41 up - 14 down
  4. Vagabond says:

    WOW this article is so full of manufactured BS !
    “We are failing to educate on the negative effects of this popular drug leaving our youth at risk. In the 60’s and 70’s marijuana’s THC content was roughly 1 to 3 percent. Today the THC tests at around 15 to 25 percent on average, and in concentrated forms, up to 98 percent. This classifies today’s cannabis as an hallucinogenic drug that has grave outcomes for developing brains.”
    Fact: It is illegal to give or supply cannabis to minors in any state, this is a false canard!
    “We are now seeing dramatic increases in psychotic episodes, triggering schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, as well as major depression and anxiety disorders. Since this new strain of marijuana–which took effect in the past decade–we have yet to realize the impacts that long term use will have on society”
    Fact: Legal cannibis has only been available for sale for less than 5 years and legal weed has the amount of THC and CBD clearly labeled on the package NO STUDY HAS BEEN CONDUCTED on the effects of legal weed THIS IS AN OUTRIGHT LIE.
    “Additionally, those legal states are not seeing the taxes they were promised. The money is going to the wealthy investors and not to society as projected.”
    Another outright lie, Oregon is benefiting from over 24 million dollars in taxes that would have otherwise gone into black market pockets
    This article is so full of BS that I can’t believe it. If you doubt me, come up to Oregon and see for yourself! These same BS arguments were spread all over up here before legalization AND NOT ONE SINGLE ONE of them came true!

    (38) 60 Total Votes - 49 up - 11 down
    • L.A.RamsFan says:

      And the absolute bliss one feels when sitting on your porch burnin’ a fat one with no fear of “police intervention”? Liberating isn’t definitive enough… I still find myself trying to hide it when a Klamath County Sheriff cruises by and I caused a laugh riot to break out when I staged the a-typical tight-ass Californian scared shitless dance routine trying to get rid of my pipe at Topsey Park when a State Trooper pulled in, I swear I saw the Trooper laugh too!

      I grow my own by-the-way! That’s the way I fight “The War on Drugs”! The cartels hate states like Oregon and really dislike folks like me. That’s okay, California and those other states still stuck on “Just Say No” will keep them in the black with plenty of liquid assets to purchase more guns and ammo with….

      (34) 48 Total Votes - 41 up - 7 down
  5. rukidding says:

    All of the government entities are looking the other way regarding what will really happen when MJ is legalized which I think it will. All that they are looking at is the money that they can make on the licensing fees, taxes etc. that they may collect to add to their salaries and benefit packages.
    The real problem is like the article states is the strength of today’s MJ. drug. Related crimes will skyrocket putting a heavier burden on our police departments and the judicial system. Prop. 57 will release even more “non-violent” drug dealers back onto the street. This is Governor Brown’s way of possibly releasing up to 25,000 felons back onto the streets and into our neighborhoods to reduce the cost of prisons. What a great formula, legalize MJ and put more dealers back onto the streets.
    The really sad part will be the auto fatalities that will rise due to this. Also the crime spree will increase as there will be more robberies and burglaries to support the needs of the druggies-most of which do not work from 8-5 to support their habits. In 5-10 years we will be asking what have they done?

    (-21) 67 Total Votes - 23 up - 44 down
    • RonHolt says:

      Many (most?) of Ms. Belcher’s “facts” are either distortions, half-truths or completely false. It makes me wonder what her real agenda is that she is willing to go so far to deceive people. I also question how objective and honest the seminar she is promoting will be. I am usually willing to listen to both sides — but not when one is dishonest.

      The long-standing scare tactics used by opponents of legalization have been widely rejected by a large section of the population that has tried marijuana. The credibility of those who keep making these arguments in the face of both facts and widespread personal experience is NIL.

      You refer to the increased potency of pot today. That is true. It is very much like the difference between hard liquor and beer. What happens is that people using it adjust the volume they consume to get the desired effect. If they don’t need a lot to get high (or free of pain), they won’t use a lot. There is an economic incentive for this as well — just as there is for not downing a $30 bottle of liquor all at once if you get a good buzz on a couple of shots.

      There is no credible evidence that either crime or accidents increase with increased pot usage. I believe it could be possible that the accident rate might go up but so far it has not in CO & WA. The crime rate should actually go down as the incentive for criminals to be in the business of selling drugs disappears.

      This is not to say that marijuana use is generally a good thing. In some medical cases it is better than than the alternatives. For non-medical use it is no worse than alcohol and legalization is certainly better than growing the criminal class by outlawing it. Use by youth should remain illegal because not enough is known about the effects on brain development yet but the focus should be on education and treatment — not punishment. (My personal experience from 40+ years ago is that it does diminish drive and ambition.)

      (41) 53 Total Votes - 47 up - 6 down
    • miles archer says:

      The Evergreen State calls bull$#!t on so many levels.

      Here in Washington there has NOT been an increase in, as you put it, ‘related crimes’. The REAL issue here, and I KNOW it’s a problem in SLO county, is meth.

      Now our LEO has MORE resources to put into the fight against meth instead of wasting resources on pot.

      You mention “dealers”…you know what, the dealers are out of business here. The criminal element is into meth, not weed. NO ONE is buying cannabis from “dealers”, and therefore do not support the black market.

      “Crime spree”? Hahahahaha….you’re joking right? Again, tweekers…yes. Stoners…no.

      Might I recommend something for your enlightenment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRBAZJ4lF0U

      (34) 42 Total Votes - 38 up - 4 down
  6. the situation says:

    Although I disagree with Ms. Belsher 100%, I am thankful that we have a news source in town that will publish editorials written from any point of view, not just from people who support their political agenda. Karen Velie once said that she would publish an editorial from Adam Hill if he ever submitted a piece to CCN. Seeing this article, the recent piece written by Allan Cooper, and many others throughout the years, I would say that Karen has proven herself to be a woman of her word. Perhaps our local newspaper will follow suit?

    (44) 62 Total Votes - 53 up - 9 down
  7. Snoid says:

    So you’re sayin the $10 lid of mexican dog weed I bought back in 78 was garbage? Pffffftttttt…

    (52) 68 Total Votes - 60 up - 8 down

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