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Colorado: New report analyzes cannabis health effects and trends



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New Cannabis Health Trends and Effects Report, made by the local government to track the effects of legalization, gives signs that policy and education appear to be working. Conclusions on the health effects of cannabis are in line with the in-depth and detailed study carried out by the National Associations of Science, Engineering and Medicine.

Monitoring potential public health outcomes was a priority for state health officials after Colorado implemented the recreational cannabis law in 2014.

Three years after the regulated sale of recreational cannabis, the Marijuana Trade Public Health Advisory Committee says that calls to the anti-venom brigade and visits to emergency rooms related to cannabis are down, although overall consumption remains stable – signs that policy and education efforts may be working.

"I think this is due to a learning effect," said Mike Van Dyke, head of Colorado's division of Environmental Epidemiology, Occupational Health and Toxicology, referring to the decline in emergency room visits and poison center calls. “The audience is really learning the message, if not from us, from their own experience.”

Van Dyke is chairman of the 14-member committee, which on the last Tuesday of January released its second batch of data on the effects of cannabis on the public health market in Colombia. The first report, released in January 2015 by a panel of doctors, scientists and public health officials, contained what state officials described as “baseline data”.

“We are doing our best to study this closely and monitor what is happening,” said Van Dyke, “While it may not be apparent from this report, we are taking this evidence base that we are refining, and we are using it to develop prevention campaigns, education campaigns. We are doing our best to implement an evidence-based policy.”

The comprehensive report delves into state and federal data covering topics such as rates of use among different populations, hospital visits, substance abuse driving and health effects.

These results, further said Van Dyke are encouraging, are findings that cannabis use among high school students has not seen statistical increases. About 21 percent of Colorado High School students had used cannabis in 2015, compared to 20 percent in 2013 and about 17 percent nationally.

The data also provides guidance as to areas to be closely monitored. In addition to usage rates, health officials' concerns include cannabis use during pregnancy and the negative consequences of cannabis in households with children.

A quick overview of these results reveals:

  • Cannabis use among adults in Colorado last month did not change from 2014 to 2015. However, the percentage of Colorado residents who said they use cannabis — 13 percent and 17 percent according to two separate federal surveys — is higher. than the national average of 8 percent.
  • The vast majority of cannabis users in the last month – 79% – preferred to smoke their cannabis. The percentage of subjects who consumed and consumed edible foods was 30% and 33%, respectively. (Respondents could also choose more than one method.)
  • Last month cannabis use in 2015 was highest among Colorado males at 26%. Between 18 and 25 years old, at 17%, and those who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or other sexual orientation, 37 percent. Cannabis use was also higher among teens who were gay, lesbian or bisexual as opposed to those who identified as straight.
  • Cannabis use among adolescents in the last month was relatively unchanged and in line with the national average.
  • Cannabis is not a drug of choice for Colorado adults: About 6% of respondents said they used marijuana daily or nearly daily. This compares to 16% for daily or near-daily use of tobacco and 22% for daily or near-daily use of alcohol.
  • Poison center calls about cannabis exposure have been on the decline since 2015, and cannabis-related emergency visits dropped between 2014 and 2015, according to the report. Hospital data for 2016 were not yet available.
  • 6% of women in Colorado used cannabis during pregnancy – 2 percentage points above the national average.
  • 7,9 percent of adults with children ages 1 to 14 kept cannabis in or around the home, according to the report. In 18% of these homes – around 14 homes – cannabis was potentially stored unsafely.
  • From 2014 to 2015, children ages 1 to 14 in about 16.000 homes were passively exposed to cannabis smoke.

Similar conclusions to those of the exhaustive study conducted by the National Associations of Science, Engineering and Medicine

The panel also reviewed the existing scientific literature on the potential health effects of cannabis. The committee reached several conclusions similar to those made by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, which earlier this month released its most comprehensive study of cannabis in decades.

Among the RMPHAC findings:

  • Substantial and moderate evidence that adolescents and young adults who use cannabis are more likely to have problems with memory and cognitive function and are at increased risk of developing psychotic symptoms and cannabis dependence as adults.
  • Strong evidence that cannabis smoke contains many of the same carcinogenic chemicals found in tobacco smoke. Research is conflicting as to whether the heaviest cannabis smokers can develop lung cancer.
  • Moderate level of scientific evidence that cannabis use increases the risk of some forms of stroke in individuals under 55 years of age.
  • Credible evidence of clinically important drug interactions between cannabis and medications such as some anticonvulsant drugs and a common blood thinner.
  • Risk of a road accident increases among drivers with recent cannabis use. The higher the level of THC in the blood, the greater the risk of a vehicle accident.
  • Strong evidence shows that daily or near-daily cannabis users are likely to have impaired memory for a week or more after stopping.




[Disclaimer: Please note that this text was originally written in Portuguese and is translated into English and other languages ​​using an automatic translator. Some words may differ from the original and typos or errors may occur in other languages.]


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