Florida Slides toward Legal Pot and Psychiatric Commitments

by | May 12, 2014

marijuanaFlorida medical marijuana just got a boost last week when the Florida House and Senate passed its own medical marijuana bill ahead of the November 2014 ballot initiative vote in which the citizens of Florida will decide if they want medical marijuana to be legal in the state.
Gov. Scott is expected to sign the bill into law.
The bill legalizes a form of marijuana low in THC, the psychoactive component, and high in CBD, the antioxidant that seems to offer relief from pain, muscle spasms, seizures and muscle-wasting.
The Dept. of Health will be required to build and preside over a system of five dispensaries statewide, test and verify the chemical composition of the plants, and set up a “compassionate-use registry” for patients. Doctors will have to go through eight hours of training in order to prescribe the drug.
The bill probably involves some political favors as it specifically allows only those 35 growers who have been operating nurseries in Florida for at least 30 years to compete for the state contracts to grow and develop this type of medical marijuana.
It sounds innocent enough as this type of medical marijuana reportedly eases the number and severity of seizures in certain patients with specific medical conditions and they would be the only ones allowed to get this state sanctioned pot.
However, some medical doctors don’t see it this way such as Matthew Poling, MD, who is an assistant professor at Texas A&M Health Science Center in College Station and who is also a family practice physician.
He writes in the “Houston Chronicle” that marijuana side effects pose big risks. He was forced by a news report to explain to his 13 year old daughter why President Obama was wrong telling Americans that marijuana use is “no more dangerous” than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer” and “not very different from cigarettes.”
The President apparently told his daughters that smoking pot would just be”a waste of time.”
Dr. Poling cites playing Angry Birds or listening to Justin Bieber songs as examples of “a waste of time” but considers marijuana side effects to be far more serious than time lost.
He writes, “Multiple peer-reviewed studies in the U.S. and the United Kingdom demonstrate increased rates of severe chronic mental illness like schizophrenia with the relative risk increase in the 200 percent to 300 percent range, and this increased risk applies to casual users or “experimenters,” as well”
He goes on to point out that today’s doctors, journalists and even presidents and their friends who smoked some milder forms of pot back in the 1960’s and ‘70’s and survived to productive careers are assuming, based on this unscientific sample of people,  that marijuana isn’t so bad.
Dr. Poling also stress how the medical marijuana movement is just the opening act for full legalization and that in his medical experience it is not a necessary drug for a physician to have in his tool kit.
He states, “Drug legalization is first promoted by utilizing the Trojan horse of “medical marijuana.” Such a strategy coupled with heart-rending anecdotes of human suffering can garner support from the left, right and center. I might be more sympathetic to this agenda, too, if I had ever encountered a situation where smoking pot would clearly do more good than harm. Such clinical scenarios may exist, but after more than 70,000 encounters with patients in all walks of life carrying diagnoses that span the spectrum of disease, I have yet to see it. What I have seen is myriad mental health problems triggered or worsened by pot use.”
Florida now has this Trojan horse at its gates, ready to roll right in with this bill and the November ballot.
What are the effects of marijuana we might witness statewide if the voters say yes to marijuana for medical use and ultimately for recreational use as the citizens of Colorado and Washington state have done?
Psychosis is a medical word used to describe mental health problems that stop the person from thinking clearly, telling the difference between reality and their imagination, and acting in a normal way.
The two main symptoms of psychosis are:

  • hallucinations – where a person hears, sees (and in some cases smells) things that are not really there; a common hallucination is when people hear voices in their head
  • delusions – where a person believes things that, when examined rationally, are obviously untrue; such as believing that your next door neighbor is secretly planning to kill you

Hallucinations and delusional thinking often occur together giving a severe disruption to is an event that funnels a pot smoker from the emergency room or police arrest straight into a psychiatric ward and onto psychiatric drugs.
The cause of psychosis according to psychiatrists can be one of three things. Either the person already has “a mental disorder” or he has a medical condition that causes psychosis or the psychosis is caused by alcohol or drug use.
Cannabis is on the short list of drugs known to trigger psychotic episodes.
What does psychiatry say it can do about drug induced psychosis and marijuana addiction?
Nothing – other than to experiment on the victim.
They call it Cannabis Use Disorder with the following observed effects:

  • Impaired cognitive functioning (apathy, memory loss, learning impairment)

Irrationality (delusions, hallucinations) triggers schizophrenia in 4%-7% of users

  • Detachment (suspiciousness, social withdrawal)

Marital/child neglect in heavy users; legal problems

  • Denial of addiction; respiratory illness; lung cancer
  • A strong desire to take the drug, difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes a physical withdrawal state.
  • About 9% of cannabis (pot) users become addicted to it.
  • Poorer educational outcomes, lower income, greater welfare dependence and unemployment and lower relationship and life satisfaction
  • Proven to nearly quadruple the risk of developing schizophrenia. In 1969-70, Swedish military conscripts (about 97% of the country’s male population aged 18-20) were followed for 35 years. At the start of this study, none of the conscripts had schizophrenia. Over 35 years, those who had used cannabis more than 50 times at the beginning of the study had 3.7 times the normal rate of developing schizophrenia
  • Legalizing cannabis could almost double the national unemployment rate.
  • Cognitive impairments – most consistently in attention, working memory, verbal learning, and memory functions.
  • Increased risks of: motor vehicle crashes,
  • Impaired emotional development
  • Increased risk of becoming more dissatisfied with life;
  • Increased depression and anxiety in adolescent marijuana users.

They admit to having no cure available for marijuana psychosis yet psychiatrists are still quite willing to try every antidepressant and antipsychotic drug under the sun, moon and stars on the people unlucky enough to show up at an emergency hospital with a marijuana psychosis experience in full display.
The following  stories told by people who’ve experienced the worst of marijuana followed by all that psychiatry had to offer them as “help”  will hopefully cause Florida voters to consider their November vote more carefully.
Jim –UK “I used to work with my father and my brother in the butchery business but after I started taking cannabis I started showing signs of psychosis.
I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had to spend some time in hospital.
I’m now 55-years-old and those few drags I took when I was younger definitely changed my life and made it go rapidly downhill. I directly attribute my illness to the cannabis.
I started hearing voices and became delusional.
My mum went to the doctor who asked me if I wanted to go into hospital. I’ve now been on medication for most of my life and would advise people not to dabble in cannabis.”
Dominic –UK I smoked cannabis for approximately 25 years and towards the end I felt like I was hanging onto sanity by my fingernails. Some of the worse symptoms included voices in the night, a constant dread of death, suicidal thoughts and intense mood swings.”
David – USA “I spent many years playing in bands in an environment where cannabis use is pretty much the norm. All it ever did for me was send me to sleep. My observation, for what it’s worth: if you’re not paranoid when you start smoking dope, you sure will be after you’ve been at it for a couple of years.”
Rupert – Romania “I spent my student years smoking pot and thinking it was not only harmless but it made me more creative (if anything it made me more lazy). But then I gave up as I realized you can’t lead a successful life and smoke cannabis. But for years I believed that it was non-addictive and should be legalized. Now I work for a rehab clinic and have been doing some research into drugs. I still believe it’s not addictive but I was told by people working in rehab that about 10% of dope smokers end up with psychosis, and one expert I spoke to in London said that “cannabis is the drug that creates the most problems for psychiatrists”.
Janine – Australia “I blame my son’s suicide at the age 19 on cannabis use, he used it from the age of 14. I believe that cannabis use affected him badly, causing erratic behavior and subsequent mental illness.”
Another Young Man –UK “When you’re doing drugs on a regular basis, you are in a different state of mind than other people, even when you’re not on drugs. To you that’s your reality at that time.
So you’re not, like, shocked that you’re crazy or something.
I look back now and I’m shocked but at the time it’s just normal. And you do, you seclude yourself, you know. You distance yourself from people to a point you don’t need anyone, just your drugs.
I would have been smoking weed all day, every day.
I actually went on this mad trip to Nottingham and a few days later I was brought back by the police, covered in blood and all this kind of stuff. I think I’d actually been hurting myself because I was just too far gone.
There’s quite a lot of the psychosis I don’t remember a lot of at all. Your mind just blanks it out. It’s too scary.
My mum came and saved me, really. She took me to the hospital and she was trying to get them to give me a sedative and they were trying to section me and I wouldn’t take the sedative. She managed to convince them, “Let me take him down south so he can be sectioned near to where I am.”
I was on anti-psychotics and all this sort of stuff. It took about six months, really, to get back to normal. The doctors said it was a miracle recovery.
They were very much aware that I wasn’t crazy and it was just this psychosis that’s to do with the weed. They’d seen it a hundred times before.
Luckily for me I’ve found my career and photography. So it was OK. That’s really what saved my life. That’s what people need to find – a positive outlet or a positive way to find a buzz.
…Don’t let the world influence you in thinking that drugs are cool.
I would tell people, “Don’t do the drugs because you will lose years of your life on those drugs.”
Politicians and citizens should listen to these voices. It’s easy to be swayed by the thought of new tax revenues on legalized pot or the emotional pleas of those in pain from a medical condition. Drugs that do not have the side effects of marijuana already exist to help these people. Florida needs to resist America’s trend toward a hazy, drugged future.


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