Cannabis

October 2018 By Maria Kohut  Fact checked by Jasmin Collier

Authorities are legalizing cannabis, particularly for medicinal use, in an increasing number of states. Many people stand by its alleged benefits, but new research warns that frequent use may lead to the "disabling" symptoms of cannabis withdrawal syndrome.

The researchers also note that cannabis withdrawal symptoms appeared to be linked with mental disability and a family history of depression.

Also, these symptoms were associated with a number of psychiatric disorders, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders (social phobia, agoraphobia, and panic disorder), personality disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder

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Often featuring in the lower rungs of priority when it comes to determining the safety of a drug, the impact of a pharmaceutical on the freshwater environment can be significant on the health of lakes, rivers and those who reside nearby.

The gamut is wide and worrying – from limpets in the UK no longer able to cling on to rocks for survival as they “bathe in a soup” of antidepressants to Canadian male fish growing eggs in their testes after being exposed to the synthetic estrogen found in birth control pills.

These examples should serve as a reminder that when deeming a drug fit for market, we should research and factor in its impact on the environment and water systems.

As the tide of marijuana legalization seems to be steadily sweeping North America, it also highlights how the USA and Canada, with our shared watersheds and borderless water movement, need to put our heads together on this issue... There is also guidance to prevent these compounds from leeching into nearby water bodies and reaching its flora and fauna.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of fresh water to North America’s economy and peoples.

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Executive Summary

Cannabis can be both addictive and harmful. 

Our understanding of the precise extent and nature of the health implications of recreational cannabis use is developing but, at this stage, there is a great deal of uncertainty. On the eve of the first legal retail sales of recreational cannabis in Canada, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published an editorial which referred to legalisation as: a national, uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians.1 

The World Health Organisation recognises addiction rates of 1 in every 9 adults that uses cannabis. This rate of addiction is significantly higher in teenagers, the very age group most susceptible to its harmful effects. Currently, there is scientific uncertainty regarding the causality between cannabis use and the onset of conditions such as psychosis or diminished cognitive function. Nevertheless, there is a compelling body of correlational evidence, spanning 20 years and multiple jurisdictions, that heavily suggests that there is a such relationship. This is particularly pronounced in frequent and younger users. The existing law does mitigate the risk that cannabis poses. Although there has been a slight up-lift in recent years, cannabis consumption has been falling for nearly 20 years in the UK. A great many people do take the law seriously and, to many, the law continues to deter them from using a harmful substance.

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An evaluation of risk applied to marijuana products for recreational or medical purposes concludes that advanced mitigation strategies and new protective delivery protocols are necessary to adequately protect the public from harm. In Canada a controlled distribution program is in place called the RevAid®.1,2    This program assures consumers are monitored to prevent or minimize major side effects and or reactions. Under this program only prescribers and pharmacists who are registered or patients who are enrolled and who have agreed to meet all the conditions of the program are given access to these drugs.

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