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Five ways Cannabis can be Deadly – PART THREE – Driving stoned and others

Body bag and car lying on road
Driving stoned? Every puff could be your last
This is the third section of a report by Nick Rosen into the known dangers of Cannabis. In part four we will get a response from a scientist.


Driving a car puts you in charge of a deadly projectile, and University of Michigan researchers found that 56 percent of medical marijuana patients have driven within two hours of using the drug.

In the United States the number of fatalities involving drugs alone is double those involving alcohol alone, according to MADD(Mothers Against Drunk Driving). Cannabis, the most commonly found drug, is present in almost half of drug-positive fatal crashes, the group says. It is thought the same applies in Europe and Asia.

There are over 2.1 million legal medical marijuana patients registered in the US, as of May 2018 and forms that include the psychoactive ingredient, THC, do come with a ‘side effect’: the high, which can slow reaction times and decision-making for drivers.
There are plans to develop a breathalyzer for THC but none exists as yet, so a blood sample has to be taken.

As far back as 1845, Dr. Jacques-Joseph Moreau de Tours described psychotic phenomena with hashish use as:
[A]cute psychotic reactions, generally lasting but a few hours, but occasionally as long as a week; the reaction seemed dose-related and its main features included paranoid ideation, illusions, hallucinations, delusions, depersonalization, confusion, restlessness and excitement. There can be delirium, disorientation and marked clouding of consciousness.

Association between cannabis exposure and the development of schizophrenia
The Swedish Conscript study, a large historical, longitudinal cohort study of all Swedes conscripted in 1969-1970 (Andreasson et al., 1987). Since Sweden mandates military service, 97% of males aged 18 to 20 years were included.
Individuals who at age 18 reported having used cannabis more than 50 times in their lives, were six times more likely than nonusers to have been diagnosed with schizophrenia in the ensuing 15 years.
A reanalysis and extension of the same Swedish conscript cohort reconfirmed that those who were heavy cannabis users by the age of 18 were 6.7 times more likely than nonusers to be hospitalized for schizophrenia 27 years later (Zammit et al., 2002).
There is experimental evidence that cannabis use quickly leads to psychosis – ie psychotic events take place shortly after use of cannabis.


One joint a day could expose users to the same risk of lung cancer as ine packet of cogarettes a day, as cannabis contains 50% more cancer causing chemicals than tobacco

A study, published in the International Journal of Cancer in 2014, suggested that heavy cannabis smoking for 20 or more years may increase the risk of lung cancer. The risk in heavy users was greatest for a specific type of lung cancer, namely adenocarcinoma of the lung.

A 40-year follow-up study of Swedish military recruits, also published 2014 found a two-fold increase in the risk of lung cancer from heavy cannabis use.

A 2008 study in New Zealand established that cannabis users in younger age groups sharply increased their risk of lung cancer by smoking at least one joint a day.

Dr Sarah Aldington, of the Medical Research Institute in Wellington, said the evidence on cannabis and the risk of lung cancer was limited and conflicting.
Her study found the risk rose more than five-fold among the third of users smoking the most cannabis.
“There is a relationship between cannabis smoking and lung cancer in this study,” she said. “Approximately 5 per cent of lung cancer cases in those aged 55 and under may be attributable to cannabis…”
The researchers calculated that the risk of developing lung cancer increased by about 8 per cent a year for people whose cumulative exposure equated to smoking one joint a day. This was about the same as the increase for someone with a one-pack- a-day tobacco habit.
The younger someone started smoking cannabis, the higher their risk of lung cancer.
“Long-term cannabis use increases the risk of lung cancer in young adults, particularly in those who start smoking cannabis at a young age,” the researchers conclude.
Dr Aldington said cannabis contained 50 per cent more cancer-causing chemicals than tobacco.

It has also been linked to cancer  of the upper airways, tongue, lungs, head, neck, mouth, larynx, upper jaw and respiratory tract. The British Lung Foundation confirmed the cancer-causing effects of cannabis, and also believes that cannabis cigarettes contained 50 per cent more cancer-causing agents than tobacco cigarettes.

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