Cannabis Smoking in Teenagers

Cannabis smoking disrupts the hormonal balance in both men/boys and women/girls. We do not know exactly how this affects teenagers, but the suspicion is that it can reduce fertility. There have been reports of disturbance in growth and of delayed sexual maturity. Cannabis as a gateway to harder drugs: It has long been understood that cannabis use is one of several factors that increase the likelihood of starting to use other illegal drugs. One of the reasons for assuming there to be a causal connection has been that the intensity and duration of a person’s cannabis smoking increase the risk that he or she will move on to harder drugs. Notwithstanding this, it is only recent and methodologically well-conducted studies (including prospective ones of long duration covering a large number of people) that have been able to show that, even after controlling for the effects of other known and suspected factors, there remains a strong association between cannabis smoking and moving on to harder drugs. It would appear that we are close to proving the controversial gateway hypothesis – the hypothesis that, in many cases, cannabis use constitutes a gateway to harder drugs. The development of identity, according to accepted Read more […]

Cannabis Abuse and the Teenager’s Psychosocial Maturation

Cannabis Abuse and Cognitive Development during the Teenage Years In post “Harmful Effects of Cannabis Smoking on Reasoning Ability, Memory and Sense of Coherence (Cognitive Functions)”, there is a discussion of the effects caused by long-term cannabis abuse on cognitive functions. From that discussion, it is clear that cannabis smoking has negative effects on a number of aspects, not least aspects which are of importance for more com plicated thought operations, planning, and the integration of impressions and previous memories, etc. It is worth repeating here that short-term memory is also called working memory, and that it is not just a “memory function” but a central location for the coordination of a number of mental functions which play an important role in enabling individuals to orient themselves relative to the surrounding world, such as planning, reorientation and reacting to new and unexpected circumstances. The scientific studies and clinical observations previously referred to concerned mainly adults; here we will look at what these kinds of cognitive disturbance can entail for teenagers, who are in a dynamic developmental phase. In order to emphasise that teenagers are at least as sensitive Read more […]

Cannabis and Pregnancy

THC is a substance which passes from the mother’s blood to that of the foetus. This means that THC can cause direct damage to the foetus during pregnancy. (THC is also passed on to the infant via breast-milk.) Animal experiments have shown a number of very serious effects on the gestation of, and on the young born to, females which have been given cannabis or THC during gestation. These findings have naturally given rise to questions concerning the risks to which the human foetus is exposed if the mother smokes hashish or marijuana during pregnancy (). Researchers are here confronted with the usual problems of finding a reliable design for their studies, including comparable control groups. Further, research of this type is faced with particular difficulties as regards finding means of excluding other factors that might explain damage that has been observed, such as other drugs (including alcohol and tobacco), inadequate nutrition and infections during pregnancy. Moreover, it is also difficult to find suitable methods of measurement with sufficient sensitivity to detect even damage of a subtle nature. The conceivable – and suspected – harmful effects of cannabis can be divided into the following categories: Effects Read more […]

Consequences of Multiple Drug Use: Specifying the Causes

In order to illustrate these points, three specific consequences of drug use will be discussed in some detail below. These three consequences are traffic accidents, involvement in delinquent/criminal acts by youth and young adults, and emergency room visits related to drug abuse. Traffic Accidents The Monitoring-the-Future surveys contain several questions concerning traffic accidents. The seniors are first asked how many accidents (i.e., a collision involving property damage or personal injury — not bumps or scratches in parking lots) they had while they were driving in the past 12 months. If the answer is one or more, the senior is asked how many occurred after he/she was drinking alcoholic beverages and then how many occurred after he/she was smoking marijuana or hashish. By piecing together the information from these separate questions, it is possible to estimate the proportion that would be due to alcohol, to marijuana, and to alcohol and marijuana. The data in Table “Motor Vehicle Accidents and Their Connection to Use of Alcohol, Use of Marijuana, and Use of Both Alcohol and Marijuana” are for seniors in the class of 1980 classified according to the extent of alcohol and marijuana use reported during the Read more […]

The Epidemiology of Multiple Drug Use

How much multiple drug use is there? What proportion of the population at any one point in time is using/abusing multiple substances? Has use of multiple substances become more normative in the recent past as opposed to exclusive use of a favorite drug? What are the principal consequences of multiple drug use? Do these consequences differ according to pharmacological parameters for interactive potential or are there other parameters of almost equal predictive value? To what extent are the consequences attributed to single drugs (traffic accidents labeled as alcohol related) really the result of impaired judgment and performance from ingestion of multiple substances? These are just a few of the questions that need to be addressed within the scientific and public policy communities. In the following section some epidemiological data pertinent to understanding the “extent” of multiple drug use are presented. Monitoring-the-Future Studies Each year since 1975, researchers at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan have administered questionnaires to about 17,000 high school seniors attending schools randomly chosen to be representative of all high schools in the continental United States. These Read more […]

Measuring the Developmental Nature of Multiple Drug Use

There have been a number of studies in which attempts have been made to measure or assess multiple drug use. Some of these are from general populations while others are focused on specific subpopulations of users. The studies are grouped more on the basis of the approach taken to assessing multiple drug use than on the patterns uncovered. There are at least four different groupings of studies and some studies fit into more than one grouping. Developmental Patterns of Onset of Use One of the most influential attempts to describe patterns of multiple drug use is the “stages of drug use” model developed by Kandel. Kandel posited that persons proceed from licit to illicit drugs and from use of less to more serious drugs. The stages of drug use involvement that she identified were: (1) no use of any drugs; (2) use of beer or wine; (3) use of cigarettes and/or hard liquor; (4) use of marijuana; and (5) use of illicit drugs other than marijuana. Although it is not made explicit by Kandel, there is an implication that the drugs from the earlier stages of development are “carried forward” into the later stages of drug involvement. Thus, a marijuana user is likely to continue his or her use of cigarettes/hard liquor and beer Read more […]

Isomerization

Principles The final step in tetrahydrocannabinol biosynthesis in the living plant is the dehydration of cannabidiol to THC. This is catalyzed by a specific enzyme coded for by a single gene. In principle, it should be a simple matter to extract the cannabinoids using a wide variety or organic solvents and to perform dehydration on the mixture, converting any cannabidiol present into THC. In practice, this is, in fact, extremely easy to do since merely refluxing (heating with an apparatus for returning the cooled vapor to the reaction mixture) the organic extract with a small amount of an acid such as HCl or sulfuric acid is sufficient to isomerize the cannabidiol to cetrahydrocannabinol in a few minutes. The acid provides hydrogen ions (protons) which catalyze (speed up) the dehydration of cannabidiol to THC. Look at figure 1 where it is clear that a hydrogen atom has been transferred from an oxygen atom (CBD) to a carbon atom (THC). Procedure The general procedure and apparatus are identical to those already described for the extraction. The isomerization of cannabidiol to cetrahydrocannabinol is accomplished by refluxing with a small quantity of organic or inorganic acid, if alcohol is being used, add about 2 Read more […]

The International Challenge of Drug Abuse: The Mexican Experience

The extreme complexity of drug addiction and the implacable organization of drug traffic are today, more than ever, a challenge that demands solidary action from all the nations of the Earth. Few other issues are so revealing of the close interrelationship between countries and of the extent to which anything one of them achieves or fails to achieve has a bearing on the others. This paper undertakes the task of briefly weighing past actions, analyzing the present situation, and predicting future trends in the Mexican struggle against drug addiction and drug traffic, in terms both of internal measures and international collaboration actions. International Cooperation Participation in international meetings Long before the problem reached large proportions internally, Mexico chose the path of active participation in those international forums which have stated the need for energetic action against the traffic in drugs of abuse, Mexico first took part in the 1912 The Hague Convention which established cooperation on narcotic control as a matter of International Law. Our country thereafter participated in the 1925, 1931 and 1936 Conferences held in Geneva. On February 16, 1946, the United Nations Economic and Social Read more […]

A Review of Drug Abuse Data Bases

This chapter will identify and describe briefly data sources which may be used to project nonmedical drug use among young adults in future years. A wide variety of sources have potential utility in this regard. They range from individual studies conducted by local school districts or States to major national surveys involving thousands of respondents. Because of the proliferation of research on drug use in recent years, it was necessary to place some limitations on the data to be presented here. First, it was decided that since a complete review was conducted in 1974 (), it was unnecessary to duplicate those efforts. () The studies reviewed here are more recent and, with the exception of the earliest National Surveys, were not covered in the 1974 review. Second, this review is limited to those data bases which are national in scope. State and local surveys have severe limitations for purposes of making national projections of nonmedical drug use. For example: 1. The definitions used for nonmedical use often vary from one local or State survey to another. 2. Various local and State surveys are conducted in different time periods, so that it is often difficult to piece together a national profile. 3. The Read more […]

A Review of Drug Abuse Data Bases: the National Survey

The data base which appears to provide the most consistent source of drug use data on youth and young adults is the National Survey co2nducted between 1971 and 1977. There are five studies in this series. The first two surveys were conducted for the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse. The most recent three were conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The five studies are entitled: 1) 1971 study: Public Attitudes Toward Marihuana. 2) 1972 study: Drug Experience, Attitudes and Related Behavior Among Adolescents and Adults. 3) 1974 study: Public Experience with Psychoactive Substances. 4) 1976 study: Nonmedical Use of Psychoactive Substances. () 5) 1977 study: National Survey on Drug Abuse. () These surveys share several critical characteristics which contribute to their utility for estimating drug use: Data collection on the “at risk” 18-25 year age bracket; Adequate and consistent sampling methodology; Comparability of drugs investigated; Comparability of question formats; and Accessibility of detailed tabular data. Each of the five studies is discussed below to demonstrate its adequacy as a data base for projecting the number of drug users in the United States Read more […]