Supreme Court rules mothers’ drug use in pregnancy isn’t child abuse
Pennsylvania’s highest court ruled Friday that mothers who use illegal drugs while pregnant cannot be considered perpetrators of abuse against their newly born children under the state’s child protection law.
The decision is the latest addition to the debate over how to address the prevalence of substance use, and particularly opioid use, during pregnancy. One camp, including some prosecutors and some child protective services, views drug use as irreparable harm to the fetus and seeks to address it punitively. The other camp, including some medical providers and civil liberties advocates, views pregnancy and maternity as an opportunity to treat addiction.
The Supreme Court’s ruling adds to a run of successes for the second camp. The court majority said the law’s definition of a child does not include fetuses or unborn children, and victims of perpetrators must be children under the Child Protective Services Law.
The decision comes on the heels of an August Superior Court ruling that upheld a Butler County judge’s decision that a woman could not be charged with assault against her fetus for overdosing on heroin while pregnant. The 1997 statute that makes it a crime to hurt or kill an unborn child specifically exempts pregnant women, alongside abortion providers and medical personnel, from being charged for hurting their own fetuses.
Butler County Common Pleas Judge William Shaffer called that woman’s alleged act “senseless, selfish and heinous” but said he was constrained by the law. Butler County prosecutors appealed his ruling, but did not appeal the Superior Court ruling.
The rulings set precedents that could be increasingly relevant.
According to a report released this month by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, opioid use during pregnancy is more than five times more common then it was at the beginning of this century, and now makes up almost half of all maternal substance use. Opioid use was present in almost two percent of Pennsylvania maternal stays from 2016 to 2017.
An even bigger fraction of Southwestern Pennsylvania pregnancies involve opioid use. In Allegheny County, the rate was over 2.5 percent in that period.
In Allegheny County, the non-punitive approach has held sway. County Department of Human Services spokeswoman Elaine Plunkett said that the Supreme Court’s ruling matches existing practices by county Children Youth and Families.
It is also consistent with the approach medical systems are taking.
In 2014, Magee-Women’s Hospital of UPMC introduced concurrent treatment for opioid dependency to prenatal care at its Pregnancy Recovery Center, which it expanded to five outpatient treatment centers in 2017. Last summer, it added a Parent Partnership Unit, which offers extended postnatal stays to new moms whose babies are born in withdrawal from opioids.
Patty Genday, executive director of women’s services at Magee-Womens, told the Post-Gazette at the time that pregnancy and new motherhood is an opportunity to get women with opioid dependency into appropriate care.
“Every woman wants to have a healthy baby,” Ms. Genday said. UPMC did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
Two justices dissented from the Supreme Court child abuse decision. They wrote that the child protection law should apply to injuries to the child that become evident after birth, even when the actions that caused the injuries occurred during the pregnancy.
“The facts in this matter more closely resemble neglect cases where the injury manifests at some point in time after the neglect as in cases of malnourishment from lack of food, or suffering from a severe diaper rash from failure to routinely change diapers,” wrote Justice Sallie Mundy, joined by Justice Debra Todd.
The case involves a newborn girl who spent 19 days last year in Williamsport Hospital, where she was treated for drug dependence that caused severe withdrawal symptoms. Her mother had relapsed into drug use after getting out of jail, and two weeks before the girl was born in January 2017 the mother tested positive for opiates, marijuana and benzodiazepines, Justice Christine Donohue wrote.
That’s not an unusual hospital stay for a child exposed to opioids in the womb. The average newborn with neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS, stays in the hospital over 17 days, versus 3.5 for all other newborns, according to the council. NAS babies are more likely to be born premature, at low weights, and to have difficulty feeding and breathing.
While the baby in the Supreme Court case was hospitalized, Justice Donohue wrote in the majority’s decision, the mother did not check in on her or stay with her. Clinton County Children and Youth Services was granted protective custody. In May 2017, the county judge determined the law did not provide for a finding of abuse for what occurred before the girl was born.
The Clinton County child welfare agency argued that a finding of child abuse would help protect other children if the mother were to become pregnant again.
The mother’s lawyer, David S. Cohen, called the Supreme Court’s decision a victory for public health and the rights of women and children.
“There are many states that have decided by statute to label this type of behavior child abuse, but the majority do not,” Mr. Cohen said Friday. “We think that’s the right way to approach this, because this is a health issue and the worst thing you can do with a health issue is punish people. It drives people from treatment and it results in worse outcomes for everyone.”
The decision overturns a Superior Court ruling that a Clinton County judge erred in deciding the mother’s drug use did not qualify as child abuse.
Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Moulton wrote a year ago that a mother’s substance abuse while pregnant “may constitute child abuse” if authorities can prove she “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused, or created a reasonable likelihood of, bodily injury to a child after birth.” Judge Moulton wrote the word “after” in boldface.
While the case was in family court and not criminal court, if the woman had been deemed a perpetrator, that would have put her on a lifetime registry and would have affected her employment and ability to volunteer around children, Mr. Cohen said.
Mr. Cohen said his client does not have custody of her daughter.
Sara Rose, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, told the Post-Gazette in July that women should not face criminal charges for using drugs while pregnant.
“It deters women from seeking prenatal care,” Ms. Rose said.
The ACLU of PA did not respond to a request for comment from the Post-Gazette regarding the latest Supreme Court Decision.
Christopher Huffaker: 412-263-1724, email@example.com, or on Twitter @huffakingit. The Associated Press contributed.
‘Ketwig cannabis culture is destroying our children’ says former top Liverpool drug dealer
Liverpool Echo December 30, 2018
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A former top Liverpool drug dealer who was one of Britain’s most wanted criminals has said that he is concerned about the number of young people smoking strong cannabis.
Paul Walmsley once featured in a Crimestoppers most wanted campaign, and his mugshot was circulated across the UK and Europe.
The Norris Green man spent time on the run in Holland and Spain, but eventually returned to the UK and handed himsellf in to the police.
Paul was jailed for ten years after admitting drug offences, but then began turning his life around in prison.
Today Paul works with young people across Merseyside, listening to their concerns and talking to them about gangs, drugs and crime.
He said: “Young people smoking cannabis is a massive issue in Liverpool right now.
“There is a growing sub-culture of young people who live their lives around cannabis. They call it Cali and Cheddar and some of these new strains are particularly strong and harmful.
“Some of these kids are as young as 12, and there is a concern about the affects on their brain development.
“I have been around these kids and they get into a certain lifestyle, which is all about the weed.”
Former Liverpool drug dealer Paul Walmsley photographed in the Baltic Quarter (Image: Liverpool Echo)
Paul said he recently carried out a survey amongst a group of around 100 teenagers in Liverpool, and was shocked by the results.
He said: “I spend a lot of time working with kids who hang around in parks at night.
“We asked a group of them if there was something that could be provided for them in the parks, and they asked for a safe zone where they could smoke weed.
” I think that response summed up the problem in Liverpool right now in that it’s all about smoking weed.”
Paul said that he is concerned that young people smoking cannabis were having problems in school.
He said: “In my experience around 90% of the young people who are excluded from school have issues with cannabis.
“I know that the kids smoking weed sign up for certain culture. They wear certain clothes, have the Ketwig big hair look and become very lazy.
“And they live their lives through social media on their mobiles. These kids are on a certain path.”
Paul Walmsley at Burbo Bank,Blundelsands,a former Crimestoppers Most Wanted,who spent five years on the run. (Image: Liverpool Echo)
Paul said that he was able to use his own experiences of drugs to help young people.
He said: “Smoking cannabis nearly killed me. I kept passing out and ended up in seriously ill in hospital. I had to stop if I wanted to live.
“I know it’s fashionable at the moment to argue for legalisation but I am not so sure. I could see it working for certain age groups but obviously not for kids.
“The one thing I do like about legalisation is that it takes away the kudos of criminality. If cannabis is legal it makes it less cool. But legalisation is a complex area and I do not have all the facts.”
Paul lost direction as a teenager after his dad died. He later began associating with criminals and became a drug dealer.
He moved to a big house in Blundellsands and spent his weekends partying with footballers and rockstars.
But when the police began to close in on the gang Paul fled to Holland, and went on the run.
After his mugshot appeared on Sky News, Paul realised it was time to hand himself in to the police back in the UK.
He now now uses his own life story to warn young people about gang life.
He said: “Obviously I am not a criminal anymore so I am removed from that world.
“But in terms of the young people on the edge of that life, the main theme I hear is one of total anarchy. Anything can happen to them at any time.”
Paul Walmsley at Burbo Bank, Blundelsands,a former Crimestoppers Most Wanted, who spent five years on the run. (Image: Liverpool Echo)
Paul said it was possible for people who had served jail terms to turn their back on crime.
He said: ” I don’t buy the whole thing where people are locked into cyle of re-offending and you can’t stop being a criminal.
“You can. I know that the drugs game brings quiick financial gains. You can have a new Golf and ten grand cash without even trying.
“But then the police can come through your door and take the lot off you. One minute you are watching telly and they you are in the back of a sweat box.
“The drugs game is about risk. And crime is all about danger. I tell the kids that.”
Paul recently spoke to the Sunday Times when he said that cuts to funding was reducing the police’s ability to fight serious crime in Liverpool.
He said: “They need resources to deal with serious crime. But it’s not just the police. There have been cuts across the board to a whole range of services across the city which has made life a lot harder for a lot of people.”
Paul, who grew up in Norris Green, said that although the city centre had attracted massive investment over the last decade, many communities across Merseyside had been neglected.
He said: “The city centre has boomed over recent years and you now have these trendy areas like the Baltic Quarter where everyone is really cool and that is great.
Colorado Springs mayor, military brass stand strong against pot
The Gazette editorial board Dec 13, 2018
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Despite a masterful and well-funded public relations campaign, reminiscent of Big Tobacco’s old lies, marijuana is not harmless. Military leaders and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers deserve credit for standing their ground against acceptance of this drug.
When hearing the mantra that marijuana may as well be coffee or tea, consider the case of Richard Kirk. The father of three with no prior criminal history insists a marijuana hallucination caused him to kill his wife with a gun four years ago. He will spend the next three decades prison.
Consider 19-year-old African exchange student Levy Thamba Pongi. He jumped to his death from a Denver Holiday Inn balcony after eating a pot-laced cookie. Pongi traveled to Denver from Wyoming to try pot. The autopsy report lists marijuana intoxication as a “significant contributing factor” in his death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied Pongi’s case and explained how “studies have suggested an association between cannabis and psychological disturbances.”
Media, the Colorado Department of Transportation and law enforcement all report sharp increases in traffic fatalities involving marijuana intoxication since legalization took effect in 2013.
Stupid People are Banned from Reading This Article
Every so often I step above the parapet, in my trusty slime-proof suit, to endure streams of stupid abuse, defamation and wilful misunderstanding.
I could give this up. It is not even as much fun as it looks. It brings me into direct contact with some of the most stupid people in Britain, who denounce me madly as an apologist for Islamist terror, or some such. These, as I know, are impervious to facts or reason. It will only make them unhappy if they read it, and it will cause needless wear and tear to my slime-proof suit (these are expensive, and have to be imported from Russia) .
So, stupid people are barred from reading this article. If you are stupid, please stop now, return to the beginning, turn left past the tins of striped paint and the pile of long weights, and leave by the exit marked ‘Stupid People’ in big red letters. The men in blue baseball caps, stationed there, will help you to the car park, just past the garden centre. While there, why not buy one of the charming dwarf Upas Trees, on special offer this week?
But I carry on doing it because I have earned that any sort of dissenting view will be treated in this way; and because I believe that without dissent there can be no thought. And without thought, we can learn nothing, and will continue, for instance, to treat illness with ineffectual or damaging medicines, respond to crimes with inefficient or useless methods, send children to schools where they cannot hope to learn anything useful, bring children up in such a way that their future lives will be blighted, kill innocent persons, destroy stability and peace, throw hard-earned money away, etc.
My contention is that the media and politicians have both gravely misunderstood the growing number of unhinged rampage killings, using guns, motor vehicles and knives.
There are at least two parallel misunderstandings, which exist independently of each other in two very similar parts of the world – Western Europe and North America. To keep the point as straightforward as possible I shall leave aside various mass killings in Japan and China, though they do not contradict my theory.
Fascinatingly, the surprisingly strong media divide between the two zones means that these greatly similar events are not treated as being of the same sort, even though they plainly are.
There are for instance, school shootings in Europe (e.g Scotland, Finland, Germany). There are vehicle rampages in the USA (one took place a some years ago in Times Square, New York City). There are killings by Muslims in North America, notably the murders of two Canadian soldiers, and massacres in San Bernardino and Orlando, whose culprits were Muslims. There are mass shootings by non-Muslims in Europe, such as Anders Breivik.
But European countries in general think they have tackled the issue of gun control, and do not therefore blame lax gun control for gun massacres in European states. Instead, their politicians, quite unable to do anything to limit the growth of Islam in Europe, like to look tough by making bold statements about the Islamist threat, and proclaiming endless states of alert and emergency in response. These often involve the public acceptance of assaults on habeas corpus, the creation of embryonic secret police forces, the licensing of intrusive surveillance, deployment of armed troops on the streets of countries where such things have been unknown for centuries.
The exception to this is the school shooting at Dunblane, but this took place before the belief in a vast Islamist conspiracy against the West, as the default explanation for all mass violence, took root in this country, and it would be very hard to maintain that the perpetrator was in any way connected with the Muslim religion, or that he shouted ‘Allahu Akhbar!’ as he committed his terrible outrage. People have also now forgotten the once-noted incident in which the brave and self-sacrificial Lisa Potts (Now Lisa Webb GM, a very well-deserved award) defended children in her care against an unhinged person with a machete, in a Wolverhampton primary school in July 1996. The attacker was described as having suffered from ‘paranoid schizophrenia’. And was not imprisoned but detained indefinitely in a secure mental hospital. I would be interested to know if he had a history of marijuana use, and unsurprised to find that he had. But at the time I did not know to ask, and did not pursue the matter.
In the USA, where the Muslim population is far lower than in Europe, the belief in an Islamist threat tends to focus on the sort of attack carried out in Manhattan on 11th September. The great majority of massacres in the USA have no Islamist element. So they are addressed instead, almost always, as arguments for ‘gun control’.
This is in my view at least partly mistaken, as gun control in the USA is in fact considerably greater than it was 50 years ago, yet the instance of such attacks has greatly increased (indeed, only really came into existence) during the last 50 years, and so rationally requires a different explanation. Gun control has also not prevented such events on this side of the Atlantic. There may be a case for gun control (though I regard it as impracticable in the USA). But this is not it.
I have written many times here of the fact that almost wherever the question has been investigated, these killings on both sides of the Atlantic have one thing in common. The perpetrator was using mind-altering drugs, generally of three types – ‘antidepressants’, e.g, at least one of the Columbine killers, the German Wings pilot who murdered his passengers by flying them into a mountain, the killer of Jo Cox MP; steroids , e.g., Anders Breivik in Norway, Omar Mateen in Orlando, plus the Westminster and London Bridge killers in London ; and marijuana, Lee Rigby’s killers, the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan killers, the Brussels killers, the Nice killer (though it is hard to find a drug he had *not* taken) , the Sousse killer, The Rouen killers, the attempted killer on the Thalys train, the murderer of a soldier in Ottawa, the murderer of a soldier in Quebec, and the perpetrator of the Tucson massacre of January 2011, the Oklahoma City mass-killer Timothy McVeigh. A number of these on both sides of the Atlantic used vehicles as weapons, either to kill or to make their initial attack.
But several powerful lobbies have, to put it mildly, no interest in pursuing this.
The first is the Securocrat lobby, which has for years been using the supposed terrorist threat as a pretext for abolishing the liberty of the individual, expunging tedious Bills of Rights unwisely (in their view) conceded by the executive in the 17th and 18th centuries, whittling away the provisions in Western legal codes which limit government power, and of course building vast unaccountable empires of secure employment for its members.
The second is the Billionaire Big Dope lobby, on the very brink of achieving victory in its 50 year campaign to fool the political class into licensing this dangerous drug for open sale.
The third is the pharmaceutical industry, very wary of any suggestions that its vastly lucrative investment in ‘antidepressants’ may actually be medically and scientifically dubious. Even though it obviously is.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann has admitted that she has “taken MDMA in my 20s and occasionally through my 30s and 40s” in what she says is a bid to bring “honesty” to the debate around recreational drug use in NSW.
So now, ‘good leadership’ in our nation not only engages in illegal, risking, self-harming drug taking, but advocates for the enabling, equipping, endorsing and empowering of ongoing drug use!
Now, it is the drug user who is driving drug policy interpretation at the determinant of the entire three pillar Harm Minimisation Platform…. This ‘honesty’ is only adding to the nefarious strategy of ‘normalization’ of drug use that the pro-drug lobby have been working on for decades. Best practice of the National Drug Strategy of the denying/delaying uptake and exiting of drug use is utterly discarded when recalcitrant and unaccountable conduct drives sentiment. Again, this is what is passing for ‘progressive leadership; and the emerging generation will pay the price for it! Loosing one’s life takes many forms, and disease, dysfunction and early death are all results of drug use/misuse…Maybe not once, but every psychotropic toxin ingesting episode, now potentially endorsed by government, will do harm.
In an opinion piece written for the Herald on Monday, Ms Faehrmann told of a family history with legal and illegal drugs including a mother who suffered a debilitating addiction to prescription drugs, saying that people from all walks of life including “journalists, tradies, lawyers, public servants, doctors, police and yes, politicians” use drugs.
Cate Faehrmann says she wants to bring honesty to the debate around pill testing
But Ms Faehrmann, 48, refused to answer when asked if she used MDMA or other recreational drugs while employed as a NSW MP.
“I have been prepared to admit I took drugs in my 20s and that continued into my adult life. I’m not willing to go down a line of inquiry into who, what, when, where, how for obvious reasons. I’m not going to go there,” she said.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones from The Royal Australasian College of Physicians says there is now enough evidence to warrant carefully designed trials.
“Throughout my 30s and 40s, I’ve known journalists, doctors, lawyers, police and some politicians who have taken illegal drugs. Not just cannabis, MDMA as well.”
Taking drugs is not commonplace in political circles, she said.
“When I’m suggesting I know people who use, it’s once a year, once every six months, on holidays. This is the thing with MDMA – generally, most people will use it a few times a year. It’s not a type of drug a lot of people use on a regular basis that they get addicted to, it’s a very different type of drug,” she said.
Ms Faehrmann’s comments come as the debate about pill testing at music festivals continues to rage.
On Friday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that experts had provided her with conflicting advice on the merits of pill testing.
“For every expert who advises us to look at pill testing there’s another few who say ‘don’t', and we rely on the advice of a number of people across the network,” she said.
Ms Berejiklian’s office on Sunday did not respond to the Herald‘s questions about who those experts are.
Opposition Leader Michael Daley has flagged that he would consider it if elected in March, saying “just say no is not the answer”.
On Saturday, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Sydney to demand the Premier soften her hardline stance on drugs and pill testing, to which her government is opposed.
“If there was a way in which we could ensure that lives were saved through pill testing we would consider it – but there is no evidence provided to the government on that,” Ms Berejiklian said earlier this month.
For complete story go to WHO IS RUNNING DRUG POLICY IN THIS COUNTRY?
What ARE they on? As one police force says it will let off heroin users, former top detective PHILIP FLOWER reveals the violence and misery that drugs can cause
By PHILIP FLOWER FOR THE DAILY MAIL PUBLISHED 18 December 2018
The gangsters and dealers flooding Britain’s streets with hard drugs will be delighted by news that Thames Valley Police plans to introduce the most lenient policy on illegal substances ever seen in this country.
Users found in possession of Class A drugs including heroin, cocaine and ecstasy will be sent on their way without so much as an official caution. Incredibly, the new policy is simply to let people off for drugs offences.
Their stash will be confiscated, and officers will politely recommend that the user visits an addiction advice service. That’s it. Police will not even follow up the incident, to find out how many users seek help as suggested.
I was a senior police officer for many years. The people I arrested in possession of drugs were often in a dreadful state, suffering with mental health problems that in many cases were caused by drugs.
It’s hopelessly naive to imagine that, left to their own devices, addicts will voluntarily seek out the help they need.
But the stupidity of this insidious policy goes much deeper than mere naivety. It actively erodes the police’s ability to exercise control on the streets.
From long experience, I know that in almost every case where officers follow up a petty drugs seizure, more crime will be uncovered. When police search a user’s address, they will frequently find more drugs, other users and stolen goods. Drug arrests, even for very small amounts, usually enable police to clear up other crimes and catch other criminals.
This can include the discovery of major organised crime rings. When I was in charge of the West End Central district of the Met in London, overseeing Soho, we pursued a robust drugs policy.
That was a direct response to theatres and businesses who told us customers were being driven away by the fear of crime associated with drug abuse.
What we discovered, thanks to a major covert operation, was that many people who claimed to be small-time users were frequently suppliers as well. They concealed their true activities by carrying only very small amounts of drugs, never enough to raise suspicion that they were the real dealers.
By studying CCTV of their activities, we exposed a sophisticated supply network. High-level dealers were bringing vulnerable people to the UK to sell drugs on the street.
They never carried enough for more than one or two customers at a time — never so much that it could raise suspicions that they were dealing. In fact, they always had a much bigger stash hidden nearby.
This was a clever approach because, when taken to court, the seller would claim they had it only for personal use.
Then they’d tell a sob story about their numerous social and personal problems, in the sure hope that the court would be lenient in its sentencing.
The gang bosses knew how to exploit this. The penalties they meted out to dealers who ‘grassed’ and co-operated with police were far more Draconian than anything the courts could threaten to impose.
Vulnerable youngsters were warned that their friends and family, often back home in another country, would be the ones to suffer if anyone stepped out of line.
This is the rule of fear that enables ruthless drug lords to operate networks stretching all over the country today, the so-called ‘county lines’ system.
Dear Doctors, who are mandated to do ‘No Harm’!
My name is Karen Randall. I am an emergency physician (also residency trained in pediatrics and family medicine). I spent numerous years as an academic teaching physician at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. I moved to Colorado to be back home. I moved here in 2013. I moved just in time to see this town I live in, Pueblo, go from a blue collar working town to a drug infested town that is not safe. I appreciate your article about brain sizes, https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/legal-pot/even-little-marijuana-may-change-teen-brain-study-finds-n95853, but I need you to stand with me and let kids know that this high dose highly concentrated THC is NOT alright for them. Our kids here are, without a doubt, using younger and using a lot more concentrated THC. We, medically, almost nothing about what high dose, high concentration THC products (without CBD – ? maybe some protection) will do to a person. I can tell you first hand what I am seeing and experiencing and we, as physicians need to get the facts out.
1) I have seen way more youth using than ever before. You must know that these middle schoolers and high schoolers are getting vape pens to vape marijuana, right? There is open concern about the vaping – which in itself will lead to lung damage, but, at least here, they are vaping pot.
2) Many are using earlier – emulating what the adults in their lives are doing and are dropping out of school. Our school district has a 38% chronic absenteeism rate. Imagine that for your school district and imagine, if you have children, how that might effect them.
3) I have seen numerous acutely and frankly psychotic young people who have only done cannabis. The youngest acutely psychotic person I have seen so far – 13 yo. I am not talking about seeing a child or youth on occasion who is psychotic, it has become routine. That is the saddest aspect of all of this. The industry has pummeled our community with retail and “medicine” stores. Pueblo has about 160,000 people, we have nearly 50 retail stores. Our community is predominantly a community of color. I would hazard a guess that there are not 50 retail stores in Aspen, Vail or Breckenridge. These kids use younger and then drop out of school, they have no skills, no education, and due to chronic cannabis use, they have no motivation to change their lives. Those who have supportive families, who want to change, find that there are minimal resources for kids who become addicted to cannabis. These families (69% of our community is on medicaid) most of the time, have no resources or finances to send them to a long term rehab facility. These kids end up on the streets. Sadly, their drug usage doesn’t stop at cannabis. I recently saw a high school kid (18) who had been using cannabis with his friends. He told me his parents were “ok” with that because it was just cannabis. He and his senior in high school friends, moved on to LDS and cocaine. These are kids. The child in question was living with his grandmother who has no resources other than what medicaid will cover to get him treatment. Those children who use, whose parents are sober and want their children help, often tap every financial resource they have – including retirement, home equities, savings, etc. This leaves parents – at a time when they should be saving for retirement, destitute, needing to live on a hopeful social security.
4) There is no question that maternal use of cannabis while pregnant leads to fetal harms – the full picture of those harms won’t be apparent for another 5-10 years, until these babies being born now start school. A recent University of Colorado study found that a huge percentage of medical dispensaries in Colorado were recommending cannabis for pregnant women. https://www.denverhealth.org/-/media/denver-health-marijuana–pregnancy-study.pdf?la=en&hash=7CF1182B6937B9E4267378A1E5F04D8ED221DC6C
5) The cannabis industry has commercialized and weaponized all aspects of THC and CBD. Did you know that you can purchase a THC infused tampon? Did you know that many irresponsible cannabis companies promise that cannabis will cure their cancer? Did you know that, based on that alone, patients in our community are being placed straight from the ED to hospice when their cancer is too extensive to provide anything but comfort care? I recently saw a 39 y/o male who elected the “cannabis cure” for his brain cancer. It did not work. Who do we hold at harm for that? The patient, who was clearly misled by the industry? The doctors, who can’t save him when he presents with end stage/terminal cancer? The industry? I will enclose a few ads to support this claim at the end.
Finally, please, as a physician – do no harm. Do not promote a product that is so damaging and has so many consequences. Know that what the industry is selling now, in no way, shape or form, resembles the pot of Woodstock. This is supercharged high potency THC – a hallucinogen. You do not have to take my word. You are a physician. Come work a day in my ED with me. We are the 3rd busiest ED in Colorado. I have a longitudinal study and data base at my hospital. Not only did cannabis use go up, but in the last 5 years, all drug usage has gone up and in the last 8 months, methamphetamine use has tripled. Help inform the public that there are significant harms.
Feel free to contact me. You have my email. I am asking you as a physician, to speak up for our youth. Do not promote a product that does and will have devastating consequences.
Dr. Karen Randall, FAAEM
VP Case Management SCEMA
Chairman of the Board, SCEMA
Big tobacco and big business are getting into bed with cannabis … big time Exclusive Dec 17, 2018
A move by one of the largest tobacco companies in the United States to buy half of cannabis company Cronos for $US1.8 billion ($2.5 billion) this week signals the gold rush into the marijuana industry is booming.
Altria, which owns Philip Morris – maker of Marlboro, Benson & Hedges, Alpine and a host of other cigarette brands – is desperately trying to replace sliding sales as smoking, and smokers, literally die out.
US government agency, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, says the percentage of people who smoke in the US has plunged off a cliff in recent years – down from 20.6 per cent in 2008 to just 14.1 per cent in 2017.
As the long downtrend snowballs, Big Tobacco is eyeing a budding cannabis market that has a much healthier, long-term outlook.
Proponents of legal marijuana have spent decades fighting a slow battle for mainstream acceptance. Now, with recreational use legal in Canada as well as many US states, the vultures have begun to circle.
Canada became the first Group of Seven country to legalise adult recreational use of pot in October. Nine US states and Washington DC also allow recreational marijuana use, while 31 states and Washington DC allow medical marijuana.
The cannabis ban continued to unwind when the Farm Bill was passed by the US Senate in June. It included provisions for the legalisation of industrial hemp, a source of the ingredient cannabidiol, or CBD – one of the primary cannabinoids that occur naturally in cannabis.
Big Tobacco’s first strike on cannabis came in June when British giant Imperial Brands – the world’s largest producer of cigars and fine-cut tobacco that produces more than 320 billion cigarettes a year – bought a share of Oxford Cannabinoid, which is developing medical therapies from cannabis.
It’s easy to see why Big Tobacco sees a link between cigarettes and marijuana: both can be smoked and vaped, both have mood-altering components and both are easy to mass produce.
Big Tobacco also has the money and the clout to engage in serious research, and investment in cannabis companies can help overcome some serious image problems.
With cannabis associated with sickness, addiction and death for decades, experts say a move into beneficial medical, and more healthy, products could be a major boost for their brands.
Tobacco companies also have some of the world’s most powerful marketing and political lobbying machines – tools that could be leveraged to ensure regulated, safe products and workable, consumer-driven legislation.
Marijuana companies have to deal with a maze of regulations. Tobacco companies are already experts at handling regulations.
“There’s always been the expectation that big business was going to come in,” Bethany Gomez, director of research at Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research group, told The New York Times.
“Now we’re past the point of no return.”
Consumers are expected to spend $US57 billion ($79 billion) a year worldwide on legal cannabis by 2027, according to Arcview Market Research, a cannabis-focused investment firm. In the US, spending is tipped to grow from $US8 billion ($11.1 billion) last year to $US47.3 billion ($65.8 billion) in 2027.