Dr. Marc Siegel: Pot and your health – Here’s what a physician wants you to know about marijuana

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Jul 7, 2004
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#1
Dr. Marc Siegel: Pot and your health – Here’s what a physician wants you to know about marijuana

By Dr. Marc Siegel | Fox News

Dr. Siegel on the health risks of more people smoking pot
Fox News Medical A-Team member breaks down the stats after California legalizes recreational marijuana.
Alex Berenson’s new book, "Tell Your Children; the truth about Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence," is coming out at the right time, as more and more states are legalizing marijuana. Currently marijuana recreational use is legal in ten states (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, Michigan, Vermont, Mass, Maine, and Wash D.C.) Medical marijuana is now legal here and in an additional 23 states.
There is more public support for marijuana law reform than ever before. The latest polls show that more than 50 percent of people favor marijuana legalization while at the same time the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) believes marijuana should be decriminalized and regulated like alcohol and tobacco.

Video

Berenson himself is not in favor of recreational use, in part because of links to mental illness and violence that he explores in the book, though he is in favor of decriminalization.

As a physician, I want marijuana users and addicts to be treated as patients – and not criminals – while at the same time I am very aware that regular marijuana use carries significant health risks. I believe we should treat habitual users aggressively and warn them of the associated risks.
Video

My job is to let you know that there is no free lunch medically with marijuana or any drug. Even if a state or a society decides that it is wise economically and politically to make marijuana legal, at the same time we must be prepared for the health consequences even more than the legal ones.

It’s clear to me that there is enough scientific evidence out there for me to discourage regular marijuana use for most people.
Legal marijuana (both medical and recreational) is turning into a multibillion-dollar industry. Sales were expected to hit $10 billion nationwide in 2017 and grow with the legalization of marijuana in California at the start of this year.
In a report issued before Sessions’ announcement of a change in federal policy – the effect of which is not yet determined – BDS Analytics forecast that marijuana sales in California alone could total $3.7 billion in 2018 and $5.1 billion in 2019.
In addition, states stand to collect billions of dollars in tax revenue from legalized marijuana sales, and much governmental money will be saved by not prosecuting sales and use of the drug. Colorado has already collected over $500 million from taxing legal marijuana.
But what about the associated medical risks from increasing usage? This is a critical question we must not ignore.
My first concern is traffic accidents, since marijuana is known to impair judgement. Statistics from Colorado since recreational marijuana was legalized show a doubling of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the substance in marijuana that gets users high – in the blood of those involved in fatal car accidents.
This is concerning. And though alcohol impairs a driver much more, THC stays in the bloodstream longer. If the two are combined, as they sometimes are, the risk is magnified.
A recent study from the Columbia University School of Public Health found that while alcohol increased the risk of causing a fatal car crash five times, testing positive for pot increased it by 62 percent. Those drivers who had both pot and alcohol in their blood at the time of a fatal crash were six times more likely to have caused the accident.
Another area of concern is pregnancy. Many pregnant women suffer from morning sickness. But the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends against using marijuana while pregnant – no matter what.
And the Centers for Disease Control warns that “marijuana use during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby’s health.” Why? The CDC points to research showing low birth weight in infants, along with developmental and attention problems in children born to mothers who smoke pot regularly during pregnancy.
Unfortunately, pot smoking among pregnant women is on the rise and it is bound to rise even more. A study released from Kaiser Permanente in California in 2018 and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that 7 percent of pregnant women surveyed smoked pot, including almost 20 percent of those below the age of 24. The number of pregnant women using marijuana will only increase now that recreational marijuana is legal in California.
Berenson focuses on mental health in his book and in fact, when it comes to adolescents and adults, long-term marijuana use has been associated with decreased school and job performance, memory loss, and psychiatric disorders including anxiety and depression.
With the increase in edible marijuana comes a dramatic increase in Emergency Room visits from overuse, especially among adolescents, who may be getting more THC than they realize. Symptoms include acute anxiety, rapid heart rate and paranoia.
When it comes to the heart, studies show that patients with known heart disease are more likely to have chest pain and that heart attacks are more likely to occur in the hour following smoking pot. Pot smoke is also known to cause wheezing and airway inflammation, though more studies on the long-term effects of regular marijuana smoking on both the heart and lungs need to be done.
Don’t get me wrong. I must emphasize that I am not intending to weigh in here on the politics and economics of legalization. In fact, I have never favored punishing users of any chemical substance and advocate instead for rehab programs and peer-to-peer assistance for substance abuse of all kinds.
But it’s important to note that there is evidence that marijuana is a gateway drug to other drugs, both licit and illicit, including nicotine. This evidence must concern us even as we try to gain control over the opioid epidemic.
Here’s the bottom line: Marijuana is a useful drug medically when it comes to treating chronic pain, epilepsy, as well as the debilitating pain of cancer and the nausea of cancer treatments. But it should not be used to treat morning sickness, and recreational use of any kind should include consideration of potential side effects especially effects on mental health
 

steross

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Mar 31, 2004
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#3
But it’s important to note that there is evidence that marijuana is a gateway drug to other drugs, both licit and illicit, including nicotine. This evidence must concern us even as we try to gain control over the opioid epidemic.

BS. Prescription opioids are the gateway drug, not marijuana.

Marijuana access is decreases opioid addiction, overdoses, and death rates

He is rehashing the talking points of my 7th grade "Just say no" lessons from the 1980s when the current evidence shows him to be clueless.

 
Nov 6, 2010
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#4
BS. Prescription opioids are the gateway drug, not marijuana.

Marijuana access is decreases opioid addiction, overdoses, and death rates

He is rehashing the talking points of my 7th grade "Just say no" lessons from the 1980s when the current evidence shows him to be clueless.

No kidding, had no idea there was still a "Reefer Madness" ethos out there. I wonder if a little digging would find he's funded by a pharma lobby.
 

llcoolw

Territorial Marshal
Feb 7, 2005
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#5
BS. Prescription opioids are the gateway drug, not marijuana.

Marijuana access is decreases opioid addiction, overdoses, and death rates

He is rehashing the talking points of my 7th grade "Just say no" lessons from the 1980s when the current evidence shows him to be clueless.

Personally it was sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol then THC.
 
Jul 20, 2018
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#6
I'm sure there are some correct points in the article. Marijuana, like most drugs has good attributes and bad. But my stance has always been that the benefits of legalizing marijuana far outweigh the manner in which we deal with it now, including but not limited to, the cost of incarceration and enforcement for minor possession, the potential "sin" tax revenue that could be made by the government and a proven relief for pain and other ailments. It should never be allowed for anyone under the appropriate age (whatever the states decide based on medical knowledge about the effects of using marijuana on developing brains), people should be fined and/or jailed for driving under it's influence and it should be properly regulated and taxed.

Nobody will EVER convince me that marijuana is more destructive than alcohol to society or an individual in the terms of an impact on public safety or the individuals health. It's hypocritical to allow one but not the other.

And finally, the Libertarian in me says I should absolutely have the right to sit in my backyard on a summer night and ingest marijuana in whatever form I choose.
 
Last edited:

llcoolw

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#7
I'm sure there are some correct points in the article. Marijuana, like most drugs has good attributes and bad. But my stance has always been that the benefits of legalizing marijuana far outweigh the manner in which we deal with it now, including but not limited to, the cost of incarceration and enforcement for minor possession, the potential "sin" tax revenue that could be made by the government and a proven relief for pain and other ailments. It should never be allowed for anyone under the appropriate age (whatever the states decide based on medical knowledge about the effects of using marijuana on developing brains), people should be fined and/or jailed for driving under it's influence and it should be properly regulated and taxed.

Nobody will EVER convince me that marijuana is more destructive than alcohol to society or an individual in the terms of an impact on public safety or the individuals health. It's hypocritical to allow one but not the other.

And finally, the Libertarian in me says I should absolutely have the right to sit in my backyard on a summer night and ingest marijuana in whatever form I choose.
Here's where it gets tricky. Being a libertarian I believe you have the right to do what you want with yourself in your home. So long as it doesn't interfere with someone else's rights. What about meth? Bath salts? Gasoline? Cyanide? In the end, I came down on the side of the individual. I just can't back legislation that tells someone what they can or can't do to themselves while on their own property. Even though my hate for meth is profound, it's up to the individual to use their own mind.
 
Jul 20, 2018
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#8
Here's where it gets tricky. Being a libertarian I believe you have the right to do what you want with yourself in your home. So long as it doesn't interfere with someone else's rights. What about meth? Bath salts? Gasoline? Cyanide? In the end, I came down on the side of the individual. I just can't back legislation that tells someone what they can or can't do to themselves while on their own property. Even though my hate for meth is profound, it's up to the individual to use their own mind.
I would agree if small children weren't living in those homes.
 
Feb 11, 2007
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#10
Here's where it gets tricky. Being a libertarian I believe you have the right to do what you want with yourself in your home. So long as it doesn't interfere with someone else's rights. What about meth? Bath salts? Gasoline? Cyanide? In the end, I came down on the side of the individual. I just can't back legislation that tells someone what they can or can't do to themselves while on their own property. Even though my hate for meth is profound, it's up to the individual to use their own mind.
But do you think that the rest of society has the duty to pick up the pieces of the destroyed family?
 
Jul 20, 2018
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#11
Here's where it gets tricky. Being a libertarian I believe you have the right to do what you want with yourself in your home. So long as it doesn't interfere with someone else's rights. What about meth? Bath salts? Gasoline? Cyanide? In the end, I came down on the side of the individual. I just can't back legislation that tells someone what they can or can't do to themselves while on their own property. Even though my hate for meth is profound, it's up to the individual to use their own mind.
Meth is much more addictive and poisoning to your health and sanity, Marijuana is nowhere in the same league. So yes, I advocate broad personal freedoms, but am reluctant to include Meth in the same discussion about freedom of choice along side Marijuana.

To address another's comment, I agree neither should be done with children around. And to yet another comment I'd add, society has the same responsibility toward meth as it does toward alcohol, nicotine, opiod, marijuana or even a gambling addiction toll on families...... that level of responsibility being decided by the will of the people though legislative action and of course private funding and donations through private organizations.
 

llcoolw

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Feb 7, 2005
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#12
I would agree if small children weren't living in those homes.
But do you think that the rest of society has the duty to pick up the pieces of the destroyed family?
That was my caveat. As long as it doesn't infringe on another's right. Family members, small children and even animals have rights. Just as today, if you're an alcoholic or smoker, you have no business forcing others around you to have to put up with your choices.
 

llcoolw

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Feb 7, 2005
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#13
Meth is much more addictive and poisoning to your health and sanity, Marijuana is nowhere in the same league. So yes, I advocate broad personal freedoms, but am reluctant to include Meth in the same discussion about freedom of choice along side Marijuana.

To address another's comment, I agree neither should be done with children around. And to yet another comment I'd add, society has the same responsibility toward meth as it does toward alcohol, nicotine, opiod, marijuana or even a gambling addiction toll on families...... that level of responsibility being decided by the will of the people though legislative action and of course private funding and donations through private organizations.
And you see the struggle I have when claiming I'm for personal freedoms but where does the line exist? Who am I to say yes to tobacco, booze, pot and mushrooms but no to Coke, meth or bath salts? Why is it legal to ingest cyanide but not bath salts? Why is it legal to dance with rattle snakes but not to eat a mushroom?
In the end, I came down on the side of libertarianism. We have the right to pursue happiness as long as it doesn't infringe upon someone else's pursuit.
 
Jul 20, 2018
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#14
And you see the struggle I have when claiming I'm for personal freedoms but where does the line exist? Who am I to say yes to tobacco, booze, pot and mushrooms but no to Coke, meth or bath salts? Why is it legal to ingest cyanide but not bath salts? Why is it legal to dance with rattle snakes but not to eat a mushroom?
In the end, I came down on the side of libertarianism. We have the right to pursue happiness as long as it doesn't infringe upon someone else's pursuit.
I can't answer all those questions without evaluating each case independently (tough call on some, even then) and I understand your position and would like to say I agree. But I balance my libertarian streak with a touch of pragmatism so I admit I do have variances that don't follow pure libertarian ideology.
 

okstate987

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Oct 17, 2009
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#15
Dr. Marc Siegel: Pot and your health – Here’s what a physician wants you to know about marijuana

By Dr. Marc Siegel| Fox News

Dr. Siegel on the health risks of more people smoking pot
Fox News Medical A-Team member breaks down the stats after California legalizes recreational marijuana.
Alex Berenson’s new book, "Tell Your Children; the truth about Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence," is coming out at the right time, as more and more states are legalizing marijuana. Currently marijuana recreational use is legal in ten states (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, Michigan, Vermont, Mass, Maine, and Wash D.C.) Medical marijuana is now legal here and in an additional 23 states.
There is more public support for marijuana law reform than ever before. The latest polls show that more than 50 percent of people favor marijuana legalization while at the same time the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) believes marijuana should be decriminalized and regulated like alcohol and tobacco.

Video

Berenson himself is not in favor of recreational use, in part because of links to mental illness and violence that he explores in the book, though he is in favor of decriminalization.

As a physician, I want marijuana users and addicts to be treated as patients – and not criminals – while at the same time I am very aware that regular marijuana use carries significant health risks. I believe we should treat habitual users aggressively and warn them of the associated risks.
Video

My job is to let you know that there is no free lunch medically with marijuana or any drug. Even if a state or a society decides that it is wise economically and politically to make marijuana legal, at the same time we must be prepared for the health consequences even more than the legal ones.

It’s clear to me that there is enough scientific evidence out there for me to discourage regular marijuana use for most people.
Legal marijuana (both medical and recreational) is turning into a multibillion-dollar industry. Sales were expected to hit $10 billion nationwide in 2017 and grow with the legalization of marijuana in California at the start of this year.
In a report issued before Sessions’ announcement of a change in federal policy – the effect of which is not yet determined – BDS Analytics forecast that marijuana sales in California alone could total $3.7 billion in 2018 and $5.1 billion in 2019.
In addition, states stand to collect billions of dollars in tax revenue from legalized marijuana sales, and much governmental money will be saved by not prosecuting sales and use of the drug. Colorado has already collected over $500 million from taxing legal marijuana.
But what about the associated medical risks from increasing usage? This is a critical question we must not ignore.
My first concern is traffic accidents, since marijuana is known to impair judgement. Statistics from Colorado since recreational marijuana was legalized show a doubling of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the substance in marijuana that gets users high – in the blood of those involved in fatal car accidents.
This is concerning. And though alcohol impairs a driver much more, THC stays in the bloodstream longer. If the two are combined, as they sometimes are, the risk is magnified.
A recent study from the Columbia University School of Public Health found that while alcohol increased the risk of causing a fatal car crash five times, testing positive for pot increased it by 62 percent. Those drivers who had both pot and alcohol in their blood at the time of a fatal crash were six times more likely to have caused the accident.
Another area of concern is pregnancy. Many pregnant women suffer from morning sickness. But the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends against using marijuana while pregnant – no matter what.
And the Centers for Disease Control warns that “marijuana use during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby’s health.” Why? The CDC points to research showing low birth weight in infants, along with developmental and attention problems in children born to mothers who smoke pot regularly during pregnancy.
Unfortunately, pot smoking among pregnant women is on the rise and it is bound to rise even more. A study released from Kaiser Permanente in California in 2018 and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that 7 percent of pregnant women surveyed smoked pot, including almost 20 percent of those below the age of 24. The number of pregnant women using marijuana will only increase now that recreational marijuana is legal in California.
Berenson focuses on mental health in his book and in fact, when it comes to adolescents and adults, long-term marijuana use has been associated with decreased school and job performance, memory loss, and psychiatric disorders including anxiety and depression.
With the increase in edible marijuana comes a dramatic increase in Emergency Room visits from overuse, especially among adolescents, who may be getting more THC than they realize. Symptoms include acute anxiety, rapid heart rate and paranoia.
When it comes to the heart, studies show that patients with known heart disease are more likely to have chest pain and that heart attacks are more likely to occur in the hour following smoking pot. Pot smoke is also known to cause wheezing and airway inflammation, though more studies on the long-term effects of regular marijuana smoking on both the heart and lungs need to be done.
Don’t get me wrong. I must emphasize that I am not intending to weigh in here on the politics and economics of legalization. In fact, I have never favored punishing users of any chemical substance and advocate instead for rehab programs and peer-to-peer assistance for substance abuse of all kinds.
But it’s important to note that there is evidence that marijuana is a gateway drug to other drugs, both licit and illicit, including nicotine. This evidence must concern us even as we try to gain control over the opioid epidemic.
Here’s the bottom line: Marijuana is a useful drug medically when it comes to treating chronic pain, epilepsy, as well as the debilitating pain of cancer and the nausea of cancer treatments. But it should not be used to treat morning sickness, and recreational use of any kind should include consideration of potential side effects especially effects on mental health
 

llcoolw

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Feb 7, 2005
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#16
I can't answer all those questions without evaluating each case independently (tough call on some, even then) and I understand your position and would like to say I agree. But I balance my libertarian streak with a touch of pragmatism so I admit I do have variances that don't follow pure libertarian ideology.
Yea it's all fun and games until a loved one becomes involved. Then all the principals go out the window.
 
Jul 20, 2018
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Oklahoma City
#17
Yea it's all fun and games until a loved one becomes involved. Then all the principals go out the window.
Well, let's hope not all..... But I certainly see your point. It's easier to keep your principles intact when you don't have to make decisions for other people. I don't have children, but if I did there could certainly be a situation that applies where principals get compromised.