Our colleague, Dr. Mourad Gabriel, is the subject of a recent feature article by bioGraphic, a part of the California Academy of Sciences. Dr. Gabriel is the executive director of the non-profit Integral Ecology Research Center (IERC), and is affiliated with the Wildlife Health Center at the University of California, Davis. He has been a leading voice in sounding the alarm over the environmental impacts of marijuana cultivation, and he actively assists law enforcement in studying and remediating illegal marijuana grow sites. This article provides a very good overview of the environmental harms of marijuana, and of Dr. Gabriel’s work.
One of the most recent trends in the world of marijuana is the use of THC concentrates, usually via a method called dabbing. This entails heating a small amount of concentrate, often on the tip of a nail, and inhaling the resulting vapor. Proponents favor this method because the concentrates can be up to 90% THC, producing very strong highs very quickly and using relatively little product.
But the flip side of that, particularly for inexperienced users, is the potential for very harmful side effects. THC, the chief psychoactive component in marijuana, can have detrimental effects on the brain, particularly the immature brains of adolescents. And in high enough doses it is possible to overdose on THC.
A recent news story discusses the suicide of Marc Bullard, whose depression is believed to be related to his use of THC concentrates. View the full story here, including an interview with marijuana researcher Dr. Kari Franson.
Andrew Zorn was a young man who experienced a downward progression in his mental health largely due to heavy marijuana use. His mother, Sally Schindel, now runs an organization of women whose children have been negatively affected by marijuana use. Their goal is to “make the public aware of marijuana harms by sharing the stories of how our youth are experiencing devastating mental (and physical) health effects from using marijuana.”
Project SAM has published a new report providing an overview of the major impacts of increased marijuana use that Colorado and the state of Washington have seen four years after legalizing its recreational use. Topics discussed in the report include increased youth use, rises in homeless populations, increased crime rates, and impacts on businesses and the workforce. Read the full report at the Project SAM website.
The DEA recently made several significant announcements regarding marijuana. Most importantly, the agency’s acting administrator has denied two separate petitions to reschedule marijuana. Under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana has a schedule 1 classification; this means that it has high potential for abuse, and no currently accepted medicinal use.
The agency also announced that it will allow more research facilities to cultivate marijuana, greatly expanding access to the drug for researchers. Until now, only the University of Mississippi has been allowed to cultivate and supply marijuana to researchers, so this change will help remove that bottleneck and hopefully expand our understanding of marijuana and its effects.
In June of 2016, the NMI’s Ed Shemelya was invited to appear on the morning talk show “Great Day Houston.” He was asked to stay for the entire hour and discussed several topics, including the medicalization of marijuana, increased hospital admissions due to marijuana, and the implications of rising THC concentrations.