Doctors Say Increase in Marijuana Use Could Cause Health Risks
Monday, October 26, 2015
Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, told GoLocal that while there are serious health risks that arise when the cannabis plant is smoked, there are also medicinal benefits to using marijuana in other forms.
“There are risks any time you are smoking something. There are definitely risks associated with smoking marijuana, things like lung disease and certainly cancer,” Brawley said. “However, there are certainly some medicinal, beneficial uses for the plant that should be explored.”
“Definitely A Health Risk”
According to the American Lung Association, many of the same health risks caused by tobacco smoke can also be found in marijuana smoke.
“Smoke is harmful to lung health. Whether from burning wood, tobacco or marijuana, toxins and carcinogens are released from the combustion of materials,” a spokesman from the American Lung Association said. “Smoke from marijuana combustion has been shown to contain many of the same toxins, irritants and carcinogens as tobacco smoke.”
Marijuana smoke can be especially harmful, according to the American Lung Association, because of the differences between how marijuana and tobacco are typically consumed. Marijuana smokers typically inhale the smoke deeper into their lungs and hold smoke in their lungs and airways for longer than tobacco users, causing a higher exposure to toxins and carcinogens.
Jennifer Dilley, a senior research scientist with the Multnomah County Health Department and the Oregon Health Authority, said that while there is still much to be learned about marijuana use, it is “definitely a health risk.”
Dilley noted that there were particularly high risks for expectant mothers and mothers who are breastfeeding.
“During pregnancy and breastfeeding it's one of those areas where studies have been mixed,” Dilley said, noting that the county health department felt the need to recommend this measure in order to protect a potential risk to a vulnerable population. “What we do think is that THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, is passed to the baby via breast milk or other factors. We don’t know what effect that has yet.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana use during pregnancy has been shown to cause gaps in problem-solving skills, memory, and the ability to remain attentive.
Medical Research Needed
Brawley, chief medical officer with the American Cancer Association, said that despite all of those health risks, marijuana may have nearly as many health benefits to offer. However, exactly what medicinal effects the cannabis plant may hold are still unknown, as few large-scale studies have been done on the subject.
“There have certainly been some signs that marijuana has plenty of medicinal qualities,” Brawley said. “Even though it's become medically legal and even recreationally legal in many states, marijuana is still highly illegal under federal law, which means it is difficult to conduct tests on.”
Brawley said that forms of cannabis consumption that do not require combustions—such as edibles, beverages, topical ointments and even pill capsules—could offer new treatment options to sick patients.
“This needs very rigorous scientific testing,” Brawley said. “We need to figure out what doses cause what effect. Right now there is not enough reliable research data to really say what medicinal effects this plant has to offer.”
Related Slideshow: 20 Things You Need to Know About Buying Pot in Oregon
Employers Still Can—And Will—Drug Test
Many of the state’s largest employers, including Fred Meyer, Intel, Bi-Mart and Dairy Queen, will still test for marijuana, despite its new legal status. Companies that employ heavy equipment operators are required to buy insurance, and typically require drug testing.
Often, even companies that employ workers who operate machinery while simultaneously employing workers who do not will test, as the company will receive a lower monthly deductible if they test all of their employees across the board.
Driving Under the Influence
Unlike the Washington law, which included attached regulations concerning driving impairment, Oregon’s law has more room for interpretation.
Driving under the influence of marijuana is classified as a Class B Traffic Violation, which carries a presumptive fine of $260 and is not to exceed maximum fine of $2,000. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has been tasked with researching the subject of drugged driving and presenting its finding to the Oregon Legislative Assembly no later than January 2017.
After reviewing the OLCC report, the state legislative assembly will decide whether passing more extensive driving regulations will be necessary.
Where will the New Tax Money Go?
Where will the tax money go?
Measure 91, the ballot measure passed last year that legalized marijuana in Oregon, stipulates that the tax revenue collected from recreational sales will be divided up in the following ways:
40 percent- Common School Fund
20 percent- Mental Health Alcoholism and Drug Services
15 percent- Oregon State Police
10 percent- Counties for enforcement of the measure
10 percent- Cities for enforcement of the measure
5 percent- Oregon Health Authority for drug abuse prevention
While marijuana is now legal for recreational use in the state of Oregon, some individual communities have passed laws banning recreational marijuana facilities from opening. Consumption will still be legal in these areas, but sales will not.
For a full list of cities that have passed these bans, click here.
Photo: Downtown Baker City; via Wikimedia Commons
Budtenders-Bartenders for Weed
Have questions as you make your purchase? No problem, just ask your friendly budtender. The cannabis industry’s answer to bartenders, budtenders are knowledgeable about the different strains and types of marijuana and their effects and are ready and eager to help novice smokers.
Don’t Cross State Lines
It will still be illegal to transport marijuana across state lines. That restriction even includes those crossing the Columbia River into Washington, where marijuana is also legal. Marijuana is classified as a Scheduled I controlled substance, meaning that anyone transporting it across line is prosecutable by Federal agencies
- Rep. Earl Blumenauer Calls For End To Federal Marijuana Prohibition
- Recreational Marijuana Regulation Policy Likely to Be Stricter Than Medical
- Rick Steves Launches Tour Against Marijuana Prohibition
- Sexy Shirtless Ad Sells Marijuana Legalization
- The Need for a Marijuana Breathalyzer
- Should Portland Create a Marijuana Retail Zone?
- Price Fluctuations Threaten to Drive Marijuana Growers Out of Business
- Portland Native Lands International Attention for Marijuana, Instagram Fame
- Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference to Convene in Eugene
- Oregon Liquor Control Commission Releases Marijuana Policy Recommendations
- Oregon Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Say Recreational Sales Fee is Unfair
- Oregon Searches for Path Around Federally Illegal Marijuana Research
- Portland City Council Discusses Marijuana Tax
- Oregon’s New Marijuana Law: Everything You Need to Know
- Two Months After Marijuana Legalization, More Changes on Way
- Washington Sheriff Endorses Marijuana Regulation Measure
- Why Non-Intoxicating Hemp Could Damage Oregon Marijuana Crops
- Why Most OR Employers Will Keep Zero Tolerance Marijuana Policies
- Will Marijuana Grow Sites Affect Neighboring Property Values?
- Will Marijuana Use Cost the Ducks the National Championship?
- Would A Republican President Doom Oregon’s Recreational Marijuana?
- Will Pot Legalization Fix Racial Disparity in Marijuana Arrests?
- Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense for Oregon
- Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Oregon Politics: TriMet, Mayor Hales, Marijuana
- What Did We Learn from The First Weekend of Recreational Marijuana Sales?
- Washington’s 7 Marijuana Legalization Mistakes Oregon Can Avoid
- What Landlords Should Know Before Renting to a Marijuana Business
- Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Oregon Politics: Medical Marijuana Users, Tobias Read, Sara Ryan
- Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Oregon Politics: Multnomah County Elections, Marijuana, Shell Oil
- Oregon Legislature Furthers Urban Rural Divide with Marijuana and Self-Serve Gas Laws
- Oregon Approves Home Delivery of Marijuana
- Drug Trafficking Could Increase Due to Oregon’s Legalized Marijuana
- Governor’s Fiancée Tied to Marijuana Farm in Washington
- High Times for the Pizza Lobby: Why Legalizing Marijuana is a Bad Idea
- Kevin Sali: Marijuana and Prosecutorial Discretion
- How Will the Recreational Marijuana Industry in Oregon Expand?
- Corvallis Teen Shoots Man with Pellet Gun in Marijuana Robbery
- Colorado’s Marijuana Revenue & Oregon’s First Week Bonanza May Spark More States
- Ask A Bartender: How Will Marijuana Affect My Cocktail
- 72 Year Old Fugitive Known for Marijuana-Infused Rum Caught In Oregon
- Blumenauer Co-Authors Federal Bill to Allow Medical Marijuana Research
- Carla Axtman: Anti-Marijuana Event Organization ‘Reeks of Impropriety’
- City of Gresham Asks for Public Input at Medical Marijuana Forum
- City Council Proposes New Zoning for Commercial Growing of Marijuana
- Liquor Control Commission Releases Draft of Marijuana Rules
- Lower Freakuencies: Gothique Blend Gives Away Marijuana on Mondays
- Multnomah County Issues Report to Fight Underage Use of Legal Marijuana
- Medical Marijuana Could Reduce Opiate Abuse in Oregon, Study Says
- New Marijuana Rules Released By Liquor Control Commission
- New York Times Endorses Oregon’s Marijuana Legalization Efforts
- OLCC Requests Budget for Recreational Marijuana Program
- NEW: Oregon Asks For Public Input On Recreational Marijuana
- Measure 91: Oregon Becomes Third U.S. State to Legalize Marijuana
- Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measure Gets City Club Backing
- Marijuana in Oregon Likely to be Much Cheaper than in Washington
- Marijuana Retailers Say Bank Rules Threaten Safety, Hurt Businesses
- Marijuana Vote Will Be Close, Oregonian/KGW Poll Says
- MBank First in Oregon to Open Its Doors to Marijuana Industry
- 10 Things We Learned from The First Weekend of Recreational Marijuana Sales