Saturday, September 20, 2014

Caribbean: CARPHA Warns About Correlation of Decriminalization of Marijuana, Mental Health

According to The Latin American Tribunethe executive director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) urged regional countries to proceed with caution as they contemplate the decriminalization of marijuana.

In a presentation on marijuana tourism, part of the agenda of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s State of the Industry Conference, James Hospedales spoke about the association between marijuana use and the subsequent development of mental health problems.

“Proceed with an abundance of caution, given the significant adverse effects of cannabis smoking on health and social and occupational functioning, and especially so among youth,” he said.

The latest data on drug use among secondary school students in twelve Caribbean countries offers a comprehensive, regional analysis of drug use in this group, he said.

“While alcohol and marijuana are the main drugs of use, patterns still vary widely from country to country. 

Compared to other regions, however, the prevalence of marijuana use in the school population in the Caribbean is high, and in some countries, higher than that of tobacco use,” he said.

Hospedales pointed to CARPHA’s recently published review of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.“The use of cannabis or its constituents as a medicine is a keenly debated issue. 

COMMENT: I applaud James Hospedales' cautionary alarm as we are quickly discovering in the US that state governments see dollar-signs in their eyes from a tax standpoint, whereas chemical morbidity remains in its infancy with the long-term mental health effects very uncertain.

Dealing with alcoholism addiction is enough of a law enforcement problem. The reality is that with police measurement of impairment where marijuana consumption, both inhaled and smoked, the "jury is still very much out" in terms of accurate measurements.

It would be wise and prudent for both the US and the Amerícas to proceed more slowly until such time as marijuana-based impairment can be accurately measured both for inhaled and consumed products.

Based on numerous anecdotal reports and findings from clinical trials, those in favor assert its pain killing, anti-nausea, and antispasmodic and appetite stimulant properties,” he said.

CARPHA’s “extensive review” of the literature found that clinical effectiveness was positively established for synthetic cannabinoids, he said.

“I stress synthetic cannabinoids and not smoked marijuana, which actually delivers more tar to your lungs than tobacco,” he said.

“We found knowledge gaps on several fronts, where there needs to be more research,” Hospedales said, adding that “no evidence of the clinical effectiveness of smoked marijuana for treating any disease condition emerged from this review.”

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