GLOBAL: Vaping – Harmful Harm Reduction


My name is Tiffany Barnard Davidson. I moved to Washington DC six weeks ago. Prior to that, I was a resident of the state of Connecticut for 19 years. I sit before you today to speak about the impact that vaping high-nicotine content JUUL pods and high-potency THC oil has had on my family. I would like to begin by expressing my condolences to those families who have been much less fortunate than mine as a result of this escalating vaping crisis. True to what I have learned this past year, stories endlessly more tragic than mine often go untold because families are often too traumatized.

On December 9, 2018, my eyes were forever opened to marijuana addiction and its deleterious consequences. That evening, my then-17-year-old son lay in my arms sobbing uncontrollably. I would soon learn that he was struggling with marijuana addiction.

My bright, enthusiastic, confident, and curious son became a shell of his former self in just six short months of vaping 97% THC oil. What started as recreational use with friends increased exponentially into daily use, multiple times a day, in his room, by himself, with plans to move on to harder drugs. That was my son until the evening of December 9, when he had the remarkable self-awareness to see that his behavior was no different than that of a junkie shooting heroin in a back alley.

My son’s essay

I would like to read an excerpt from an essay he wrote in which he describes in detail the moment he realized he was addicted to vaping nicotine and THC:

I retrieved four nearly empty weed carts, my JUUL, its charger, a mint JUUL pod, a lighter, and an old phone charger. With my dab pen dead and its charger broken, I needed to cut the phone charger in order to strip the wires so that I had another power source for my carts. The carts were so empty that I had to use a lighter to lower the viscosity of any oil stuck around the edges. I sat on the floor and began the process:

Plug the stripped charger into the USB port of the computer. Insert the black wire in the opening of the cart and wrap the red wire around the coils (remember to have your fingers on the open wires themselves, or else you will burn your fingers as the cart heats up). With your free hand, use the end of the lighter’s flame to burn any remaining oil by waving it along the side of the cart. Drop the lighter and wait until the smoke starts to rise. Once the smoke rises, start the balancing act. Extend your leg and place the wire on your thigh at the perfect angle so that it continues to heat the cart. Use one hand to hold the mouthpiece, and the other to hold your nose. This is important. Since the chemicals and butane at the bottom of the cart are now the only real substances burning, the taste will make you throw up if you don’t hold your nose. Inhale until your lungs can’t hold any more so that you maximize the amount of smoke intake, all the while ignoring the burning sensation in your throat. Drop the cart, quickly grab your JUUL, and while still holding your nose take at least five hits in order to replace the wretched chemical taste with mint. Unplug your nose, and repeat until there is no more smoke. Then move on to the next cart.


I repeated this process more times than I can count that night. Yet to my dismay, there was so little THC oil left and I had developed such a high tolerance in such a short period of time that I was barely stoned. When I was done, it hit me: ‘this is junkie behavior. I’m a junkie.’  Until that moment, I had thought of junkies as people who overdosed in back alleys from shooting heroin. I had trouble coming to grips with the reality that I was no more than a junkie because I had never heard that term associated with marijuana use. I had always heard that marijuana was not addictive. Yet, there I sat acutely aware that my desperate and addict behavior couldn’t be normal for anyone, of any age, using any drug.

My son had this remarkable insight at the age of seventeen DESPITE the shameless snow job that the marijuana industry has propagated in this country and that he had internalized as TRUTH:

THAT marijuana is NOT addictive.

THAT marijuana is merely a harmless pleasure.

THAT marijuana is medicine.

We took swift action, and today I feel extremely fortunate to report that my son has ten months of clean time. With the number of cases of vaping-related illness and death increasing weekly, we feel he dodged a bullet.

I had no idea that high-potency THC oil existed until that day in December. Two days later, I met with the medical director of the Intensive Outpatient Program at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, CT, and despondently asked him what the hell kind of marijuana my son had been vaping. His unequivocal reply: the “crack cocaine of marijuana.” I also had no knowledge of shatter, wax or dab pens; I had no idea that THC oil cartridges can be readily vaped in e-cigarette devices, or that marijuana could be smokeless and nearly odorless. Nor had I any idea about the YouTube tutorials demonstrating how to use a lighter to lower the viscosity of oil that is stuck around the edges of empty marijuana cartridges – or “carts” as they are called. I was equally oblivious to the steady stream of social media advertisements glamorizing nicotine and THC vapes that target our kids.

I soon learned that my son had fainted a few times after vaping THC and that his 14-pound weight loss was due to severe gastrointestinal disturbances caused by his THC use. I also learned that other potential side effects of high-potency THC use include cyclical vomiting and a permanent loss of 6-8 IQ points. Until I began reading the scientific research, I had no idea that chronic marijuana use could lead to suicide or trigger schizophrenia in certain people or that occasional use of high-potency THC products could cause psychotic breaks and hallucinations.

Sharing our story with many friends, I discovered that none of them knew about today’s marijuana either. Like me, they assumed it was the same flower of our youth with 2-5% THC.

I have been astonished by what I have learned this past year. My number one goal as a mom is to support my son and to provide him with all of the tools possible to see him get well and stay well. I have been brought to my knees by this addiction and by the many families I have met whose lives have been upended by addiction.

The silver lining in this crisis is that my son and I have a unique opportunity to look within ourselves to find the strength and courage that will ultimately result in success, even if the path isn’t always clear. As a family, my son, my husband and I have all agreed to forgo anonymity in the hopes that putting a face on this issue might encourage others to seek help if necessary. We believe there should be no stigma attached to addiction. Stigma breeds pain and isolation at a time when people need maximum love and support.

Others respond, too

In response, I founded Moms Against Marijuana Addiction (MAMA). MAMA is an ever-growing cohort of parents, prevention professionals and concerned citizens. Our mission is to educate parents and legislators about the potential risks associated with marijuana use: addiction, drugged driving, psychosis, damage to the developing brain. It is our belief that legalizing recreational marijuana is normalizing a psychoactive drug in the eyes of our children. Make no mistake about it: in order to commercialize marijuana, the cannabis industry needs to hook children at a young age to maintain a steady revenue stream.

For the first 6 months of this year, until the CT legislative session ended on June 5, I successfully galvanized a group of very concerned moms to fight against the legalization of recreational marijuana in CT. And guess what? The vote never made it to the floor in Hartford. They didn’t have the number of votes necessary to pass the bill.

Never underestimate moms who grow sick and tired of industries that undermine the countless minutes, hours, days and years that have been poured into raising mentally and physically healthy children. Of course, it’s not only moms who can take credit for the success in CT. Much of the credit belongs to the Black and Latino clergy, who are outraged by the toll that drugs continue to take on their communities. Legalizing recreational marijuana should not be a partisan issue. It is not a progressive issue. It is not a social justice issue. Preventing easier access to marijuana in all forms for recreational use by our children is about protecting the future of our states, our communities and our families. We can address social justice directly, without legalization.

In 2015, Ari Atkins, Juul’s R&D designer, told the Verge, “We don’t think a lot about addiction here because we’re not trying to design a cessation product at all.” He added that “anything about health is not on our mind.”

2015 was the year my son first JUUL’d. Across the country, the public school health curriculum had done such an outstanding job teaching kids about the dangers of cigarette smoking that, here was a kid who, much like the majority of his peers, would not be caught dead with a cigarette. Then along came JUUL. His favorite flavors were mint, mango and cucumber. By the time he stopped JUULing, he was vaping a pod a day. According to the manufacturer, a single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes. Initially he liked the buzz it gave him. Then he liked how it enhanced the high he got from the 97% THC oil he started vaping. In his JUUL device.

In the last few weeks, both the FDA and the CDC have advised Americans to refrain from the use of vaping products, particularly those containing THC, including items bought from seemingly trustworthy companies. That’s 4 years after my son first vaped a JUUL pod. What took so long?

As Ruby Johnson, whose 18-year-old-daughter nearly died after vaping nicotine and THC, told a House panel last month, “If this was romaine lettuce, the shelves would be empty.”

Here is the message I’d ask each of you to take back to your Senator:

I am not going anywhere. I will continue to speak to every mom I meet everywhere I go to spread the word one mom at a time about the risks of vaping THC. I currently have MAMA members stretching from Hawaii to New York. In addition to MAMA, MomsStrong and Parents Opposed to Pot are two mom-led organizations actively fighting against the legalization and normalization of recreational marijuana.

Each member of Congress who votes to legalize – and thus normalize – recreational marijuana has blood on his and her hands.

Each is responsible for encouraging marijuana use and for the steady increase in use and addiction.

Each will be held accountable for every family brought to its knees by this drug and by the drugs that follow once the high from marijuana is no longer high enough.

Each will be responsible for every injury and fatality due to driving under the influence of marijuana.

Each will be responsible for telling their children and grandchildren and their constituents and their children that they didn’t perform their due diligence, that they didn’t listen to scientists like Dr. Christine Miller, or mental health professionals, or police chiefs, or emergency room workers or the parents of dead kids.

Or the parents of kids in recovery.

Or the kids in recovery.

That they didn’t bother to take the time because they were so blinded by the shiny pennies that the lobbyists poured into their campaign coffers.

Each will be no better than those who allowed Big Tobacco and Purdue Pharma to lie to the American people which has resulted in the loss of countless numbers of loved ones.

It may sound silly, but it’s worth noting that you are unlikely to hear pro-vaping testimony today – or any day – from parents whose children vape nicotine or THC regularly. Of that I can assure you. Rather, you will hear from lobbyists who are making a killing camouflaging a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

My sincere hope for them and for all of you is that addiction never knocks on your door – ever.

For complete story

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USA: Stoner Stealth Stopped – Pot Pushers Health Assault Stayed Again!

November 18, 2019
No ‘Lame Duck’ Marijuana Legalization in New Jersey
(Trenton, New Jersey) – According to reporting from Politico, an attempt to pass a bill legalizing marijuana during the ‘lame duck’ session has failed to garner enough support. Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action (SAM Action) and its New Jersey affiliate, New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy (NJ-RAMP) released the following statement in response:
“Public health and safety advocates can once again take a sigh of relief today. It is par for the course for the marijuana industry’s promoters in the legislature to try and legalize the drug through back door means, but thankfully lawmakers stood strong in opposition.
“Our coalition of concerned New Jerseyans have fought against Governor Phil Murphy’s legalization push from day one. Despite being outspent 86 to 1, we were able to halt the push in the State House. Now, with the effort moving to the ballot box, we will work to counter the industry’s well-tuned misinformation campaign, educate voters to the harms marijuana legalization has brought to the handful of states that have adopted it, and defeat the industry in the Garden State once and for all.”
Colton Grace
About NJ-RAMP:
NJ-RAMP, an affiliate of SAM Action, is a coalition of individuals and associations who believe that the health, safety and economic consequences of recreational marijuana legalization far outweigh the perceived social benefits. The grassroots organization consists of medical doctors, community groups, treatment providers, drug prevention professionals, business owners, law enforcement officers, parents, religious leaders, and many others. For more information, visit
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GLOBAL: Legalize Weed and Addiction Will Come!

Teenagers suffer higher rates of addiction when recreational cannabis is legalised – study

14/11/2019  Vita Molyneux

New research about legal cannabis has revealed a sobering statistic. In states where recreational marijuana has been legalised, teenagers are suffering higher rates of addiction.

The study of 505,796 respondents was carried out by researchers from New York University’s School of Medicine.

It compared use of the drug before and after legalisation in the US.

The proportion of people aged 12 to 17 who reported cannabis use disorder grew from 2.18 percent to 2.72 percent.

Chris Wilkins, a senior drug researcher at Massey University says the research is a “red flag”.

“It’s an indicator, it’s definitely a red flag given the negative trajectories when people use cannabis at that young age,” he told The AM Show on Thursday.

He said although the data regarding young people and cannabis use was interesting, there are other aspects of the study people should pay attention to as well.

“One of the more solid findings is the actual increase in use and frequent use was in the 26-year-olds and older,” he said.

“It seems to be its more the adult people who would usually transition out of cannabis are now coming back in to the market now that it’s legal.”

The other side of the research mentions social justice objectives. Legalisation of cannabis has potential to provide important social benefits such as equity around criminal justice.

” There’s different objectives in legalisation for example reducing the black market, the gangs, becoming wealthy on cannabis, reducing arrest particularly for Maori,” said Wilkins.


The Study: Association Between Recreational Marijuana Legalization in the United States and Changes in Marijuana Use and Cannabis Use Disorder From 2008 to 2016

JAMA Psychiatry. Published online November 13, 2019. doi:

Audio Interview (16:13)

Recreational Marijuana Legalization and Changes in Marijuana Use and Cannabis Use Disorder, 2008-2016

Key Points

Question  How did marijuana use and cannabis use disorder change during 2008 to 2016 after the legalization of recreational marijuana in the United States?

Findings:  In this multilevel, difference-in-difference survey study with 505 796 respondents comparing marijuana use before and after the legalization of recreational marijuana in the United States, the proportion of respondents aged 12 to 17 years reporting cannabis use disorder increased from 2.18% to 2.72%, while the proportion of respondents 26 years or older reporting frequent marijuana use increased from 2.13% to 2.62% and those with cannabis use disorder, from 0.90% to 1.23%.

Meaning:  This study’s findings suggest that possible increases in the risk for cannabis use disorder among adolescent users and increases in frequent use and cannabis use disorder among adults after legalization of recreational marijuana use may raise public health concerns and warrant ongoing study.

Conclusions and Relevance:  This study’s findings suggest that although marijuana legalization advanced social justice goals, the small post-RML increase in risk for CUD among respondents aged 12 to 17 years and increased frequent use and CUD among adults 26 years or older in this study are a potential public health concern. To undertake prevention efforts, further studies are warranted to assess how these increases occur and to identify subpopulations that may be especially vulnerable.

For complete study to to JAMA-NETWORK


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GLOBAL: E-Cigarettes Not Helpful!

E-cigarettes take serious toll on heart health, not safer than traditional cigarettes

Medical Xpress November 11, 2019 9:07 PM

E-cigarette use takes a serious toll on heart health—a big concern given the high prevalence of e-cigarettes and perception of e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, according to new research that will be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019—November 16-18 in Philadelphia.

Researchers who conducted two separate studies report they found e-cigarette smoking negatively impacts heart disease risk factors—namely, cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels, and decreases blood flow in the heart—similar to results among people who smoked traditional cigarettes.

According to Rose Marie Robertson, M.D., FAHA, the American Heart Association’s deputy chief science and medical officer, “There is no long-term safety data on e-cigarettes. However, there are decades of data for the safety of other nicotine replacement therapies.”

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends people quit smoking using smoking cessation aids that are FDA-approved and proven safe and effective. If people choose to use e-cigarettes as they work to stop smoking other tobacco products, they should also plan to subsequently stop using e-cigarettes, because of the lack of information on long-term safety and a growing body of data describing physiologic effects of the components of these devices and the chemical combinations used in them, Robertson said.

E-Cigarette Use is Associated with Altered Lipid Profiles in the CITU Study (Oral Presentation Mo3106)

In one study, researchers compared cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels in healthy adult nonsmokers, e-cigarette (e-cig) smokers, traditional cigarette (t-cig) smokers and dual smokers who use both traditional and e-cigarettes.

Researchers evaluated healthy adults (ages 21-45) without existing cardiovascular disease and taking no daily medications in the Cardiovascular Injury due to Tobacco Use (CITU) Study. The study’s 476 participants included 94 non-smokers; 45 e-cig smokers; 52 e-cig and t-cig smokers; and 285 t-cig smokers. Analysis was adjusted for age, race, sex, and non-smokers, sole e-cig or t-cig use, or combination e-cig and t-cig use.

Among the study’s findings:

  • Total cholesterol was lower and the bad cholesterol, LDL, was higher in sole e-cigarette users compared to nonsmokers.
  • Good cholesterol, HDL, was lower in dual smokers.

“Although primary care providers and patients may think that the use of e-cigarettes by cigarette smokers makes heart health sense, our study shows e-cigarette use is also related to differences in cholesterol levels. The best option is to use FDA-approved methods to aid in smoking cessation, along with behavioral counseling,” said study author Sana Majid, M.D., a postdoctoral fellow in vascular biology at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Chronic E-Cigarette Users Demonstrate More Consistent Coronary Endothelial Dysfunction than Chronic Combustible Cigarettes (Oral Presentation Sa3199)

Smoking e-cigarettes is associated with coronary vascular dysfunction, and the effect might be worse than from smoking traditional cigarettes, according to another study.

For more go to MedXpress 

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Australia: Drug Supply Reduction = Crime Reduction!!

Psychiatrist claims drug-crime-mental health link

An Adelaide psychiatrist says he has established a link between drug use, mental illness and crime.

Dr Craig Raeside has assessed about 2,000 South Australians charged with offences ranging from shoplifting to homicide, over the past four years.

He says of those using heroin, nearly 95 per cent have a mental illness, along with more than 70 per cent of the offenders using amphetamines.

Mr Raeside say drug abuse is one of the main causes of pressure on state mental health services.He believes reducing drug abuse will lead to less crime and mental illness.(25/10/2005,

This now ‘archived’ research was given little airtime on release, but consistent findings and current evidence from police will confirm this is completely accurate.  I have contacts in senior positions in police agencies and it is fascinating to hear their experiences of drugs and crime. Of course, most agree that you ‘can’t arrest your way out of the drug problem’, but it’s not the punishment of ‘crime of possession’ solely, that will lead to a deterrent of use that we are referring to here – no, it is the crime committed because of and/or during drug use that is changed when drug supply and judicial educators are put into play.

One very recent report from a key regional police commander (State deliberately omitted) revealed that, quite literally, when the local ‘Biker run’ Meth/Drug lab and distribution network was busted and all immediate supply removed, the crime rate plummeted and all activity virtually and I’m quoting now, ‘stopped – there was nothing happening at all!’

Yes that’s right, who knew,  when people are not taking drugs, they are not affected by the psychotropic toxins. Even ‘withdrawal’ has not the drivers for crime… no point stealing to get resources to try and purchase a drug that is not available!

We saw this with the heroin ‘drought’ in the early 1990’s. After hearing cataclysmic warnings of the skyrocketing of ‘deaths in our streets’ from Dr Penington, if we didn’t open an injecting room, the government decided to move on supply, and this saw an absolute plummeting of Heroin related deaths and the crime that accompanying the ‘easy use’ that is now so thoroughly promoted by the misuse of Harm Reduction drug policy vehicles.

It is time to focus on Demand Reduction and drug use exiting Recovery.

This is better for health and well-being of the hapless drug user – Better for families and communities – Better for economy and welfare system.  However, the perpetual push for ongoing empowering, endorsing, equipping and enabling drug use, is what is continuing to dig the ever increasing hole of chronic dysfunction and harm to all those involved in the poisoning of our generation.

Dalgarno Institute


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USA: WEED DUI & Cyclists DON’T Mix


On October 23, a 21-year-old woman drove through a California neighborhood and rear ended a cyclist riding in front of her.  The cyclist died at the scene, but the driver survived.  Police detected the strong smell of marijuana in her car.

Police charged the driver, Korina Machuca, with DUI and vehicular homicide.    Detectives in Fresno County say they’ve seen a rise in drug-related crashes.  Last year they had 54 drug-related crashes, but this year 141 crashes involved drugs.

Tracing bicycle deaths of 3 children and 5 adults killed by marijuana-impaired drivers shows how justice for victims is reduced after marijuana decriminalization and legalization.

Drugs outpace alcohol as a primary factor in DUI fatalities.  In 2016, 44 percent of fatally-injured drivers tested positive for drugs—up from 28 percent in 2006. Alcohol DUI fatalities dropped from 41 percent to 38 percent. Of all the drug impaired fatalities, marijuana was present in half of these.

According to a law firm specializing in bicycling accidents, almost 25 percent of all DUI accidents are caused by marijuana impairment.    This problem is worse in states that have legalized marijuana.

In legalization states, the justice system excuses drivers under the influence of marijuana much more readily than they excuse drunk driving. Marijuana lobbyists take advantage of the fact that it’s far more difficult to test and deter stoned drivers.

Children no longer safe on their bikes

Marijuana impairs drivers because it affects vision and leads to inaccurate perception of depth.  With more states planning to legalize marijuana, children face greater risks when riding their bikes.  Reviewing the cases of some children killed by stoned drivers proves the point

Scene of crash that killed 8-year-old Peyton Knowlton in Longmont, Colorado, May 20, 2016. She was riding home from school with her stepfather.

Peyton Knowlton, 8, of Longmont, Colorado,  was riding her bike home from school in May 2016.  A 20-year-old driver who used  pot struck her, and she died.  Although the driver was impaired and he had used pot, he only had to serve 150 days in jail.

But Peyton’s stepfather, who was riding with her at the time, spoke to John Ferruggia for the PBS show, The State of High (watch the video here).  The 5-nanogram limit Colorado uses for judging impairment is not an accurate measure, as the program explains. The driver’s measure had gone down, because of the time delay to get a blood test.

Last summer in Michigan, five-year-old Blake Huffman rode his bike out of the driveway. A 33-year-old delivery driver, a daily marijuana user, crashed into him and killed him. She pled no contest to attempted operating under the influence causing death. Despite the family’s loss, the judge sentenced her to only 11 months in jail.

In 2012, a stoned driver killed Carter Vo, an 9-year-old boy riding his bike on the sidewalk in Skokie, Illinois.  In 2013, a judge sentenced the 23-year-old driver to five years in prison. She said that Carter’s death could not be called an “accident,” because the driver had smoked marijuana before Carter died and her choice was deliberate. At that time, before decriminalization, driving under the influence of pot was treated comparably to alcohol DWI. It’s no longer the case.

Other notable bicyclists who died

Janice and Mark Wendling of Morris, Illinois, died when a teen who drove under the influence crashed into them. The 16-year-old driver threw his bag of marijuana out of the car. With Illinois’

Mark and Janice Wendling of Morris, IL. The 16-year-old driver who threw out his bag of marijuana, struck and killed his middle school teacher and her husband.

decriminalization law, legislators raised the DWI threshold for marijuana impairment from 0 to 5 nanograms of THC. The driver had 2.8 ng at time of testing, but police only charged him with failure to reduce speed. The crash occurred on June 21, 2016. The new law would take effect on July 1, 2016. The 16-year-old, who had a past record for unsafe driving, got away with two murders.

In Vermont, a 17-year-old stoned driver hit and killed Richard Tom, an experienced cyclist, back in April, 2015. Both Tom and the teen driver, who had 36 nanograms of THC in his blood, died instantly. Richard Tom worked for VBT Vermont Biking and Walking Vacation.

Kallie James, 19, who was driving under the influence of marijuana on November 24, 2014, in Puyallap, Washington. She critically injured Pastor Eric Renz who was on his bike, riding between the two homeless shelters where he worked. Two weeks later, he died.
She used both marijuana and Paxil, an antidepressant. Marijuana doesn’t treat depression, and her situation reminds us that having age limits in legal pot states doesn’t reduce teen usage. Pastor Renz was a well-respected community leader.

Teen study in states that allow pot

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Students Against Destructive Decisions conducted a study of 2800 teens in states that have legalized marijuana.

One third of those surveyed thought that driving under the influence of marijuana is legal in states where it’s recreational. More than 20% of teens reported it’s common among their friends. The study also found that parents’ perceptions were not much different. Of the 1,000 who took the survey, 27% said it’s legal and 14% said it’s common among their friends.

Among all those who took the survey, 88% thought drunk driving was dangerous. But only 68% thought stoned driving was also dangerous.

We have blogged on this subject previously, bicycling can’t be safe with stoned drivers on the road.

“Because marijuana impaired driving fatalities peak during the peak travel hours and shortly thereafter, both pedestrians and bicyclists are more likely to be killed by stoned drivers than drunk drivers,” according to Phillip Drum, PharmD.  “Peak time for fatalities from only alcohol impaired drivers is late at night (when the bars close) and not many pedestrian and bicyclists are on the roadways.”

There were at least two other bicycle crashes in California in the last two weeks. Read hit-and-run driver strikes kills woman on bicycle in Hollywood, Oct. 25, and bicyclist dies after being struck by 2 cars in North Hills, Oct. 19.   Bicycling on roads is dangerous regardless of drug use, but it gets worse with more drivers impaired by THC.

For complete story

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USA: Smart Approaches to Marijuana – NEWS ROUNDUP November 2019


News Roundup
November 2019
Here is a brief rundown of marijuana news as well as an update on what we have been up to over the last month.  


Marijuana Vaping Outbreak Update
As you are well aware, the marijuana vaping epidemic that first hit the headlines in the summer continues to rage. As it stands, more than 1,800 cases of the debilitating lung illness have been reported and at least 33 people have lost their lives.
According to the CDC, 86% of cases of the illness and deaths are tied to the use of marijuana vaping products. Moreover, at least three deaths and cases of illness in Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, and Tennessee have been linked to products purchased in “legal” stores.
Some things to remember:
  • At a time when we are investigating the causes of this rash of deaths and illnesses connected to marijuana oils and vapes, all marijuana legalization efforts and THC vaping oil sales should pause.
  • This is not a black-market issue, it is the result of allowing Big Marijuana – an addiction- for-profit drug industry backed by Big Tobacco and companies like Juul – to mass produce these oils and vapes, along with candies, gummies, and other dangerously potent forms of the drug.
  • Big Tobacco, E-Cigarette and vaping companies and the marijuana industry share many of the same investors. The industries are connected by billions in investments.

Be sure to download the latest fact-sheet and one-pager we have on this issue by clicking the button below:

Chicago City Council Black Caucus Raises the Alarm on Social Justice Concerns
SAM Science Advisory Board Pens Letter to Congress on Vaping Crisis
In an unsurprising turn of events, members of the Chicago City Council’s Black Caucus are threatening to slow walk the implementation of marijuana sales in the city due to the fact that no businesses slated to sell the substance once it is legal in January are owned by people of color.
“We hate to say, ‘I told you so’, but once again we see legalization as being about one thing: profits. It is not about social justice,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet. “Upon passage of the bill, promoters of legalization declared Illinois would set the industry standard for social equity in the marijuana industry. Those remarks are only sad, empty promises now.
“In state after state that has chosen to expand upon this reckless experiment, grand promises of social justice and equity were made. And in state after state, we have seen these promises fail to materialize. In the end, the wealthy, white men such as Governor JB Pritzker and his family who are heavily invested in marijuana, will profit, while disadvantage communities foot the bill. Marijuana legalization is not social justice-it is social injustice.”

SAM’s award-winning Science Advisory Board , comprised of researchers from institutions such as Johns Hopkins , Harvard , and Yale , sent a comprehensive letter to Congressional leadership outlining the fact that cases of severe respiratory illness and subsequent deaths from vaping are decisively tied to marijuana products and linked to purchases made in state “legal” stores. Additionally, the letter outlines several recommended courses of action to address the crisis.

“We have a marijuana vape epidemic in the US, and we urge Congress and the Administration to act now. Across the country, this outbreak is proving fatal and health officials are struggling to identify the single element or contaminant responsible for these illnesses and deaths,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet. “Two deaths in Oregon and a number of cases tied to products purchased from marijuana dispensaries tell us this is more than just a nicotine or underground market issue.”

SAM Expands Presence on Capitol Hill to Oppose Passage of Marijuana Banking Legislation During Vaping Epidemic
In its largest expansion of federal policy efforts yet, SAM announced a partnership with Tripp and Jenn Baird of Off Hill Strategies and Luke Albee, former Chief of Staff to Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
Luke Albee has many years experience serving as top staff to Democratic senators and will assist SAM in outreach to Democratic members of the Senate.  Tripp and Jennifer Baird of Off Hill Strategies have over twenty years of experience both on and off the Hill with

extensive ties to conservatives and will work to assist SAM with outreach to Republican members.

“Historically, efforts to reduce drug use have always bridged the gap in partisan politics; our lobbying efforts continue this tradition,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of SAM and former drug policy advisor to the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations. “We believe these experienced government relations professionals, in conjunction with former Congressman Patrick Kennedy and former Clinton Drug Czar Barry McCaffery, will round out our federal outreach and further the goals of SAM.”

New Study: Marijuana Industry Social Media Presence Encourages Youth Use of The Drug
USDA Guidance on Hemp is a Good Start; More is Still Needed
study set to be published in the November issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that roughly one in three youth (aged 15-19) engaged with marijuana advertisements on social media. Those who engaged with said promotions were five times more likely to have reported past-year marijuana use.
The study, authored by researchers including Dr. Pamela Trangenstein – a presenter at the 2019 Smart Approaches to Marijuana Summit – examined how marijuana brands’ social media presence and advertising affected youth use of the drug in states that have “legalized” the substance.
“Studies such as this indicate the commercialization of marijuana, and its subsequent normalization, are indeed contributing to more use of the drug among our youth,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet. “Given the preponderance of data we have on the health hazards of marijuana use on young brains, and the ongoing marijuana vaping crisis, this is extremely disturbing.”
“Each day it becomes clearer that Big Marijuana is hurting public health and safety,” continued Dr. Sabet. “Any attempt to expand this industry and continue to grant it legitimacy is severely misguided and setting us up for decades of harmful consequences. It’s time for federal agencies to step up and address this problem before it is too late.”
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released draft guidelines on the cultivation and production of hemp. While SAM believes the guidelines to be a good start, there are a few areas of concern.
“We are thankful USDA is trying to take a careful approach in issuing guidance to farmers interested in growing hemp after it was fully legalized (de-scheduled) in the 2018 Farm Bill. However, we are concerned that the rule is missing some key areas:
  • It does not provide guidance to federal and state law enforcement as to how they can tell the difference between legally grown hemp and illicit marijuana,
  • It does not address the byproducts of extraction, processing, or products that are made from hemp that may contain appreciable amounts of THC,
  • USDA should work with the FDA to place a moratorium on ‘smokable hemp’ until the health effects can be fully understood,
  •  USDA or the FDA should immediately make clear that cannabinoids are not approved for use in animal feed because they may accumulate and be passed on to humans who consume those animal products.

60 Minutes: How Black Market Weed Deflates California’s “Legal” Marijuana Industry
Dr. Kevin Sabet Discusses New York Vaping Death on Fox & Friends
CBS’s “60 Minutes” recently presented a segment on how the marijuana black market in California is “burning up profits” of the state’s “legal” marijuana industry.
As you know, the promoters of legalization routinely claim that creating a “legal” marijuana market will completely eliminate the black market trade and be a windfall for tax revenues. This segment completely obliterates that talking point.
A seventeen-year old became the first individual in New York to pass away from the marijuana vaping epidemic earlier this month.
Fox & Friends brought on SAM President Dr. Kevin Sabet to discuss the unfortunate development and to talk about the vaping crisis overall.

SAM Op-Ed Corner
“The rush to profit from legal marijuana is leaving black neighborhoods in the dust. Chicago’s Black Caucus and others should keep pushing…”
“Public health, not profit, should dictate Pennsylvania decision on legal marijuana…”
New Jersey State Sen. Ron Rice: “Legalizing pot won’t stop social injustice in the black and brown community…” 

Billboards and Other Large Advertisements
Interested in really making a splash on the marijuana issue ?  Use our artwork on a billboard, bus ad, building-sized poster, or other installation that is sure to draw public attention, and maybe even media coverage! We have successfully used billboards such as the one above to drive media and policymakers’ attention to the harms of marijuana legalization and you can, too!
Contact us at  [email protected]  to jump-start your marijuana awareness work.

Registration is now open for the  The 2020 SAM Summit  taking place in Nashville, TN alongside the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit.  This is the perfect option for interested and concerned parties to learn more about what the current research says about the negative effects of marijuana normalization on public health and safety.


Big Marijuana is borrowing the playbook of Big Tobacco in search of the same deep profits at the expense of addicted users. It is time to combat their game with the facts! To help you do so, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) has partnered with Communities for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth (CADY) to offer a comprehensive media campaign prevention toolkit.

As always, thank you for being a SAM supporter. If you can, please chip-in with a small donation by clicking here.
If you can’t chip-in, then at the very least,  and help grow the SAM community.
All the best,
Colton Grace
Communications Associate
Smart Approaches to Marijuana
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GLOBAL: Time for Cannabis Vaping Ban!


A CDC report issued October 28, 2019, tells of staggering numbers of lung illnesses (1604) and  deaths (36) caused by vaping.  It also reveals that the majority of victims (63%) were vaping THC with cannabis vaporizers .  Vaping is widely perceived as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco. However, teens and adults are increasingly using it as a means of delivering the THC high. By November 1, there were 1,888 confirmed and probable cases of the respiratory illness and 39 deaths.

Now that deaths are being reported, we must take a pause while trying to discover the exact cause of the danger.

Consuming THC and CBD via a vape pen is aggressively promoted by the marijuana industry.  Dispensaries push it as a discreet, clean and easy way to use these drugs. The vaporizer pen and other vaping devices are relatively new.  Young people, who adapt easily to new technologies, eagerly embraced this craze. Because vaped marijuana has no detectable odor, it’s easy to camouflage use in school, at home or in the workplace.

USA Today reporter Jayne O’Donnell is following this crisis closely. Her article, How Patchwork Regulation on E-Cigarettes Led to the Vaping Crisis, clarifies the issues. O’Donnell explains that the CDC and FDA are warning consumers against vape products, while they investigate causes of the illnesses.  In a subsequent article, Vaping Devices Under Scrutiny, she details components of the vape pen. She shows how the technology itself may be contaminating the vapor with heavy metals and other toxins. The lung health risks may be posed by the heat, atomized oils, chemical additives, liquids, metals, and THC according to the experts she interviewed.

PopPot Seeks Ban on Cannabis Vaporizers

State and federal governments are making an effort to curb the vaping trend, by implementing bans on flavored vaping oils. These flavors may hold a special appeal to young smokers. But, since the majority of these deaths occurred while vaping THC, Parents Opposed to Pot would like to see a total ban on THC and even CBD vape products, both of which are federally illegal drugs.

A recent case in Florida is a cautionary tale about vaping flavored CBD. A woman vaped mango-flavored CBD  bought while on vacation and ended up with multi-organ damage. She was so sick and, because of blood clots in her legs, the doctors had to amputate both legs to save her life.

Even without taking into account the additives and reactive metals in these vaping devices, it is evident that cannabis oils are a hazard to the lungs. We also know that this toxic drug causes a cyclical vomiting illness, Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome. It is well established that marijuana is a hazard to mental health.

Parents Opposed to Pot recently published a video which asked citizens to raise their voices against the pro-marijuana industry bill, The Safe Banking Act. This bill deserves to be defeated because of how it would increase the vaping crisis.


For those of you who want to see a lengthy presentation about vaping, this is an excellent academic lecture on Vaping by Dr. Aaron Weiner who looks at this emerging trend among college students. for more go to Time to Reduce Demand

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CANADA: Cannabis Chaos Continues – Drug Driving & Black Market UP! (As Predicted)

Quebec pot arrests behind the wheel up 54% since legalization

Police forces in the province collected 795 blood samples from motorists suspected of driving while under the influence.

MONTREAL GAZETTE   October 17, 2019

One year after the legalization of recreational use of cannabis in Canada, the black market for the drug — as well as its use behind the wheel — continues to keep Quebec police forces busy.

In 2018, police collected 795 blood samples from motorists suspected of driving while under the influence, and sent them to Quebec’s medical legal centre for processing. That’s 254 more than in the previous year.

The presence of cannabis was detected in 46 per cent of those cases.

The Sûreté du Québec says cannabis is the most commonly detected drug in its traffic stops.

The provincial force said that since legalization, cannabis was detected in the systems of 113 persons pulled over for impaired driving, compared with 73 cases a year earlier — an increase of 54 per cent.

More than 670 officers trained in drug use evaluation have been deployed across the province.

In a statement issued Thursday detailing its operations over the past year, the SQ said it had opened 1,409 investigations into the illegal production, supply and distribution of cannabis, which led to 1,458 warrants being executed and charges filed against 1,403 individuals.

Meanwhile, raids on illegal outdoor cannabis fields were carried out in August and September, and saw 37,000 plants seized.

Over the past year, the SQ seized 71,500 cannabis plants, 161 kilograms of cannabis, 15.8 kilograms of cannabis oil and resin, 23,460 units of edible cannabis and $180,000 in cash.

For complete article

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Portugal: Policy Framework Always Limited – Now Failing

Troubled Portugal Bad Example For Drug Advocates in NZ

Friday, 18 October 2019,
Press Release: Family First  (for immediate release)

Portugal has been painted by pro-cannabis legalisation groups as a model to follow. Yet just last month, the mayor of Porto contradicted his previous pro-harm reduction position and endorsed reintroducing criminal penalties for drug use in public spaces.

The mayor said he was “a little tired of hearing just about the dignity” of people who use drugs, adding that the policy of decriminalisation “simply does not protect the overwhelming majority of the population,” giving as an example the people who, in the most troubled areas of Porto, “cannot go to the window because they are threatened“. He is advocating for the installation of over 100 new video surveillance cameras to monitor public streets in an attempt to clamp down on drug use. “It is necessary to criminalise, nobody is arrested for an offense,” he said.

In addition, some political parties in Portugal are now pushing for the legalisation of marijuana in their country. The Left Bloc (BE) and People-Animals-Nature (PAN) are proposing legalisation of cannabis for recreational use, with two bills tabled to the Portuguese parliament. They say that the effect of decriminalisation has been to increase trafficking and consumption every year and the use of psychoactive substances.

“For years, and especially recently, we have heard that Portugal’s decriminalisation is the perfect model of marijuana legislation. Ironically, the referendum in 2020 is about legalisation, not decriminalisation,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

But Portugal shows troubling results. The most recent statistics show that between 2012 and 2017 Lifetime Prevalence statistics for alcohol, tobacco and drugs for the general population have risen by 23%. There has been an increase from 8.3% in 2012, to 10.2% in 2016/17, in the prevalence of illegal psychoactive substance use. The National Survey on the Use of Psychoactive Substances in the General Population in Portugal 2016/17, reports, “We have seen a rise in the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco consumption and of every illicit psychoactive substance (affected by the weight of cannabis use in those aged 15-74) between 2012 – 2016/17.”

“It is also significant to note that Portugal recently voted down a bill proposing to legalise medicinal – including grow-your-own – cannabis, and opted for a more confined law allowing use of some medicinal cannabis,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“If Portugal has been such a success since 2001, why are countries not rushing to replicate their approach – and why are politicians within the country even now saying it has failed. It is clear that the claims of success in Portugal well exceed the reality.”

For complete article

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