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Editor's Note: Due to technical circumstances beyond our control, we were unable to send The Marijuana Report yesterday. We apologize.
Why Medical Marijuana Isn’t
(See back of downloadable Infographic, below)
 
At your annual check-up, your doctor recommends that you see a specialist because of a worrisome sign she sees. After a series of tests, the specialist breaks the news gently: you have a rare disease, one for which there is no cure. However, he tells you a company is testing an experimental drug that may cure your disease. He helps you get into one of the company’s clinical trials.
 
The company’s drug was first tested in animals to make sure it is pure and safe enough to test in humans. Then the company applied to FDA for permission to test the drug in humans, which it received. The drug was tested in healthy human volunteers first to detect any possible side effects. Some appeared but were tolerable. However, a serious side effect occurred in some patients.
 
A member of the medical team conducting your trial explains what each of these side effects is so that you know what might happen to you if you participate in the trial. She gives you a document indicating you have been informed of all known harmful effects of the experimental drug. The document has a place for your signature consenting to take part in the trial. After talking with your family about the potential risks, you sign the document and enter the trial.
 
Once all the data from animal and human testing is collected, the company applies to FDA for approval of its drug. It cannot sell its drug without FDA approval. An FDA team reviews the company’s research and its proposed labeling content. It inspects the facilities where the drug will be manufactured. The company agrees to report any additional side-effects that might show up when a much larger number of patients start taking the drug.
 
FDA approves the drug. And, as this new Pfizer commercial says, “Someone who couldn’t be cured, could be.” You.
 
Marijuana that 25 states have legalized for medical use has gone through none of these tests.
  • Patients have no guarantee that the “medicines” they are buying are pure.
  • None have been tested in animals for safety.
  • None have been tested in healthy human volunteers to detect possible side effects.
  • None have been tested in patients with the disease that sellers claim marijuana will cure or relieve. Saying so isn’t enough; without clinical trials no proof exists to back sellers’ claims.
  • No trustworthy information on labels about dosages or interactions with other drugs is available because these factors have not been tested in clinical trials.
  • None of the patients in these states have been told the known harms of the “medicines” they are buying.
  • FDA has not approved a single marijuana “medicine” that states have legalized.
Without these protections, there is no way to know what side effects might be occurring (and could have been prevented) until they happen. The next story shows that they are.

Few Americans understand that medical marijuana is exactly the same thing as recreational marijuana. The only difference in the products is how they are taxed and where they are sold—dispensaries or pot shops.
 
Click here to download a PDF of this Infographic. Click here to download a version that is easier to print.

Marijuana-Related ER Visits,
Hospitalizations Escalate in Colorado
 
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment released this data earlier this year, adding information from the first half of 2015. It’s major findings include: 
  • Rates of HD (hospital admissions) with possible marijuana exposures, diagnoses, or billing codes significantly increased by each time period from 2000 to 2014 through June 2015 with the highest increase of 81.4% from 2010-2013 to 2014 through June 2015. 
  • Rates of ED (emergency department) visits significantly increased by 29.4% from 2011-2013 to 2014 through June 2015 from 739 per 100,000 to 956 per 100,000. 
  • The highest rates for both HD and ED visits with possible marijuana exposures, diagnoses, or billing codes were in 2014 through June 2015 of 2,612 and 956 per 100,000 HD and ED visits respectively. 
See full report here. Select Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) Data (Updated February 2016)

Corrections--A mathematical error occurred in last week's issue. The correct statement is 8 percent of Americans used marijuana in the past month; 92 percent did not.
The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). Subscribe to The Marijuana Report and visit our website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

About National Families in Action (NFIA)
NFIA consists of families, scientists, business leaders, physicians, addiction specialists, policymakers, and others committed to protecting children from addictive drugs. Our vision is:
  • Healthy, drug-free kids
  • Nurturing, addiction-free families
  • Scientifically accurate information and education
  • A nation free of Big Marijuana
  • Smart, safe, FDA-approved medicines developed from the cannabis plant (and other plants) 
  • Expanded access to medicines in FDA clinical trials for children with epilepsy

About SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) 

SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of "incarceration versus legalization" when discussing marijuana use and instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug. SAM supports a treatment, health-first marijuana policy. 

SAM has four main goals: 
  • To inform public policy with the science of today's marijuana.
  • To reduce the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to arrest.
  • To prevent the establishment of "Big Marijuana" - and a 21st-Century tobacco industry that would market marijuana to children.
  • To promote research of marijuana's medical properties and produce, non-smoked, non-psychoactive pharmacy-attainable medications.
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