Monday, August 10, 2015

Marijuana Dependence Hospitalizations Increasing

People who live in areas of California with a higher density of marijuana dispensaries experience a greater number of hospitalizations involving marijuana abuse and dependence, a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health analysis discovered.

The National Institutes of Health-funded research, published online and scheduled for the Sept. 1 issue of the scientific journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, could be informative as more states consider legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use. It is the first analysis of the statewide impact of marijuana dispensaries on abuse and dependence, as well as the first look at population characteristics associated with marijuana-related hospitalization rates.

“As marijuana is approved for medical or recreational use, we need to carefully consider where we allow dispensaries to be placed,” said lead author Christina Mair, Ph.D., assistant professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. “Our study indicates that there are real problems associated with a higher density of marijuana dispensaries in neighborhoods. More study and monitoring, coupled with thoughtful legislation and community discussion, will be prudent to ensure that marijuana laws have the fewest negative consequences for vulnerable populations.”

In 1996, California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, allowing physicians to prescribe the drug for medical purposes. Since then, 22 states and Washington, D.C., have enacted similar laws, and four of those states also have legalized recreational use. Pennsylvania doesn’t allow either, though it is considering permitting medical marijuana.

Dr. Mair and her team looked at data on California hospital discharges that had either a primary or secondary medical code for marijuana dependence or abuse with at least one overnight hospital stay. The research covered 2001 through 2012, the most recent years for which consistent data were available.

Hospitalizations with marijuana abuse or dependence codes increased from 17,469 in 2001 to 68,408 in 2012. More than 85 percent of marijuana-related hospitalizations were coded as abuse, rather than dependence, and 99.2 percent were secondary codes, meaning the person was primarily hospitalized for something other than marijuana.

When the research team mapped the location of marijuana dispensaries and cross-referenced it with the ZIP code of each patient’s home, they found that each additional dispensary per square mile in a ZIP code was associated with a 6.8 percent increase in the number of hospitalizations linked to marijuana abuse and dependence.

In addition, Dr. Mair and her team found that marijuana dispensaries and hospitalizations were more likely to be located in areas with lower household incomes and lower educational attainment.

“It’s unclear if the marijuana dispensaries are simply locating in neighborhoods that tend to be more disadvantaged and already have underlying problems with marijuana abuse, or if the presence of the dispensaries is causing an increase in abuse and hospitalizations,” said Dr. Mair. “It could be a combination of both factors.”

Dr. Mair noted that research on the location of marijuana dispensaries has a parallel precedent in the location of liquor stores. This gives policymakers and public health practitioners the opportunity to learn from previous studies on the health effects of density and location of liquor stores in order to design studies that can provide similar data on marijuana dispensaries.

“Once dispensaries open, it is much harder to go back and create regulations to guide their location and density,” said Dr. Mair. “Passage of laws permitting marijuana use and sale is likely to continue, so it is critical that we continue to research the impact of dispensaries on the health of local communities to provide guidance on regulations and public health outreach to prevent abuse.”

Additional researchers on this project include senior author Bridget Freisthler, Ph.D., of UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. Co-authors are Andrew Gaidus, M.E.M., and William R. Ponicki, M.A., of the Prevention Research Center in Oakland, California.

This research was funded by the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse grant R01-DA-032715.


  1. Anonymous1:04 PM

    The CDC has a phone number. Phone them up and ask them about an antidote for too much marijuana. There isn't one. Marijuana is a non-toxic plant. Ask them how many people have been harmed by the plant alone. Zero, just checked 5 minutes ago. It's a free call, just wait past the automated portion so that you can speak to someone. Ask your own doctor, what the treatment is for eating too much of the marijuana plant. Again, you can't harm your body by consuming a non toxic plant. The marijuana plant is similar to spinach in make up.

    Still curious about the truth? Do a Google search for US Patent Cannabis 2003, by the Department of Health for the United States Government. The patents requires the scientific evidence proving medical benefit. This story is propaganda meant to scare people.

    Prohibition of the marijuana plant has cost America a trillion dollars. We have not paid off that debt. We are only making interest payments. On the other hand there are 2 million Americans in jails right now for nothing more than a harmless plant. That cost Florida money every single day. The corporations who own prisons are backing this propaganda like Goebbels in Berlin. They get paid to keep prisons full. Who pays for it? You do. I do. Who wants to pay more taxes for Nazis like the people who wrote this article? I refuse. Never Forget.

  2. Brian Kelly1:21 PM

    Utter prohibitionist nonsense and scare-tactics.

    Give it a rest desperate prohibitionist media! You frighten, fool, nor convince nobody!

    There is absolutely no doubt now that the majority of Americans want to completely legalize marijuana nationwide. Our numbers grow on a daily basis.

    The prohibitionist view on marijuana is the viewpoint of a minority of Americans.. It is based upon decades of lies and propaganda put forth largely by The National Institute On Drug Abuse, commonly referred to as NIDA .

    "While U.S. officials defend their monopoly, critics say the government is hogging all the pot and giving it mainly to researchers who want to find harms linked to the drug.

    U.S. officials say the federal government must be the sole supplier of legal marijuana in order to comply with a 1961 international drug-control treaty. But they admit they’ve done relatively little to fund pot research projects looking for marijuana’s benefits, following their mandate to focus on abuse and addiction.

    “We’ve been studying marijuana since our inception. Of course, the large majority of that research has been on the deleterious effects, the harmful effects, on cognition, behavior and so forth,” said Steven Gust, special assistant to the director at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which was created in 1974."

    Each and every tired old lie NIDA has propagated has been thoroughly proven false by both science and society.

    Their tired old rhetoric no longer holds any validity. The majority of Americans have seen through the sham of marijuana prohibition in this day and age. The number of prohibitionists left shrinks on a daily basis.

    With their credibility shattered, and their not so hidden agendas visible to a much wiser public, what's left for The National Institute On Drug Abuse to do?

    Maybe, just come to terms with the fact that Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that's approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think, and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide!...and Support All Marijuana Legalization Efforts!

    1. Brian Kelly1:21 PM

      Fear of Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is unfounded. Not based on any science or fact whatsoever. So please prohibitionists, we beg you to give your scare tactics, "Conspiracy Theories" and "Doomsday Scenarios" over the inevitable Legalization of Marijuana Nationwide a rest. Nobody is buying them anymore these days. Okay?

      Furthermore, if all prohibitionists get when they look into that nice, big and shiny, crystal ball of theirs, while wondering about the future of marijuana legalization, is horror, doom, and despair, well then I suggest they return that thing as quickly as possible and reclaim the money they shelled out for it, since it's obviously defective.

      The prohibition of marijuana has not decreased the supply nor the demand for marijuana at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol.

      If prohibitionists are going to take it upon themselves to worry about "saving us all" from ourselves, then they need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!

      Why do prohibitionists feel the continued need to vilify and demonize marijuana when they could more wisely focus their efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?

      Prohibitionists really should get their priorities straight and/or practice a little live and let live. They'll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if they refrain from being bent on trying to control others through Draconian Marijuana Laws.

    2. Brian Kelly1:22 PM

      "Smoking marijuana is 114 times safer than drinking alcohol"

      "Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say"

      "Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say New study: We should stop fighting marijuana legalization and focus on alcohol and tobacco instead By Christopher Ingraham February 23

      Compared with other recreational drugs — including alcohol — marijuana may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.

      Those are the top-line findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine."

      "The report discovered that marijuana is 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Researchers were able to determine this by comparing the lethal doses with the amount of typical use. Through this approach, marijuana had the lowest mortality risk to users out of all the drugs they studied. In fact—because the numbers were crossed with typical daily use—marijuana is the only drug that tested as "low risk."

  3. What we need is a new amendment that reads some thing such as. Effective on January 1, 2017 all Florida Laws and Encumberments as to the adult importation, possession cultivation and all uses of Cannabis will be null and void. It will be moved to a unarmed regulatory agency of Agriculture Department, where Medical Cannabis shall be tax exempt and a non punitive tax of no more than 7% for both wholesale and retail sales in addition to State Sales Tax

  4. How do we un entrance the prohibition industry which cost society more than $50 Billion a year and is History's most golden cash cow. That's a lot of high paying jobs that would vanish overnight with no replacements job other than what will come with canna prosperity. The demographics have changed and the internet has exposed the truth about cannabis prohibition. There is no where in the constitution that makes prohibition legal or is there any scientific justification for its prohibition. Maintaining prohibition is Constitutional treason