Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

New study: smoking marijuana raises risk of having a stroke

Fox News reports:

Excerpt:

Recent research from Duke University in Durham, N.C., found teenagers who smoked marijuana habitually during their adolescence showed a decrease in their general intellectual ability as they progressed into adulthood.

But now, there is an even more chilling possible side effect of cannabis use – an increased risk of stroke.

According to a new study from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, marijuana may double the risk of ischemic stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) in young adults – even those who had no risk factors that often contribute to an attack.

The study’s lead author, Dr. P. Alan Barber, a professor of clinical neurology at the University of Auckland, said he was interested in studying the link between stroke and marijuana after a curious incident of stroke occurred in one of his younger patients.

“I look after people with strokes,” Barber told FoxNews.com, “and we had a patient come in with stroke; they were young, but they didn’t have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and they were reasonably fit and well.  They were clean from a risk factor point of view, but they had a stroke while smoking marijuana.  So we looked at the literature and saw sporadic stroke reports among marijuana users.”

Conducting the first case-controlled study of its kind, Barber and his colleagues studied 160 ischemic stroke/TIA patients between the ages of 18 to 55 (an average age of 45), who had their urine samples screened when they entered the hospital.  As a comparison, the researchers examined urine samples of 160 control subjects who had been admitted to the hospital for other medical reasons.

Of the 160 stroke patients, 16 percent tested positive for marijuana use within the past couple of days, compared to only 8.1 percent of the control patients.  According to Barber, the stroke patients were very well matched to the controls, with no differences in age, mechanisms for stroke or other vascular risk factors.

This is in addition to the study from last year that found that smoking marijuana can permanently damage intelligence.

From the UK Telegraph.

Excerpt:

Teenagers who regularly smoke cannabis are putting themselves at risk of permanently damaging their intelligence, according to a landmark study.

Researchers found persistent users of the drug, who started smoking it at school, had lower IQ scores as adults.

They were also significantly more likely to have attention and memory problems in later life, than their peers who abstained.

Furthermore, those who started as teenagers and used it heavily, but quit as adults, did not regain their full mental powers, found academics at King’s College London and Duke University in the US.

They looked at data from over 1,000 people from Dunedin in New Zealand, who have been followed through their lives since being born in 1972 or 1973.

[...]Professor Terrie Moffitt, of KCL’s Institute of Psychiatry, who contributed to the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said “persistent users” who started as teenagers suffered a drop of eight IQ points at the age of 38, compared to when they were 13.

In addition to looking at studies, it’s important to look at countries that have legalized marijuana, so that we can see the results.

Other countries have tried permissive drug policies have been tried and they have failed.

Excerpt:

Amsterdam authorities say they are to halve the number of brothels and marijuana shops in the city’s “red light” district and surrounding area

The city announced plans to clean up the area a year ago and since then 109 sex “windows”, from which prostitutes attract customers, have been closed. The new measures aim to reduce the number of windows to 243 from 482 last year, a city spokesman said.

Amsterdam also wants to close half of the 76 cannabis shops in the city centre.

“Money laundering, extortion and human trafficking are things you do not see on the surface but they are hurting people and the city. We want to fight this,” deputy mayor of Amsterdam Lodewijk Asscher told Reuters.

The Family Research Council explains how permissive drug policies don’t actually work.

Excerpt:

History provides evidence that legalization of drugs in foreign nations has not been successful. For example, opium was legalized in China earlier this century. That decision resulted in 90 million addicts and it took a half-century to repair the damage.[59]

Egypt allowed unrestricted trade of cocaine and heroin in the 1920s. An epidemic of addiction resulted. Even in Iran and Thailand, countries where drugs are readily available, the prevalence of addiction continues to soar.[60]

Modern-day Netherlands is often cited as a country which has successfully legalized drugs. Marijuana is sold over the counter and police seldom arrest cocaine and heroin users. But official tolerance has led to significant increases in addiction. Amsterdam’s officials blame the significant rise in crime on the liberal drug policy. The city’s 7,000 addicts are blamed for 80 percent of all property crime and Amsterdam’s rate of burglary is now twice that of Newark, New Jersey.[61] Drug problems have forced the city to increase the size of the police force and the city fathers are now rethinking the drug policy.[62]

Dr. K. F. Gunning, president of the Dutch National Committee on Drug Prevention, cites some revealing statistics about drug abuse and crime. Cannabis use among students increased 250 percent from 1984 to 1992. During the same period, shootings rose 40 percent, car thefts increased 62 percent, and hold-ups rose 69 percent.[63]

Sweden legalized doctor prescriptions of amphetamines in 1965. During the first year of legalization, the number of intravenous”speed” addicts rose 88.5 percent. A study of men arrested during the legalization period showed a high correlation between intravenous use and a variety of crimes.[64]

Dr. Nils Bejorot, director of the Swedish Carnegie Institute and professor of social medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, believes the solution to the growing drug problem is consistent social and legal harassment of both users and dealers.[65]

Great Britain experimented with controlled distribution of heroin between 1959 and 1968. According to the British Medical Journal, the number of heroin addicts doubled every sixteen months and the increase in addicts was accompanied by an increase in criminal activity as well.[66] And British authorities found that heroin addicts have a very good chance of dying prematurely. On the crime front, Scotland Yard had to increase its narcotics squad 100 percent to combat the crime caused by the “legal” addicts.[67]

The Swiss opened a “legalized drug” area in Zurich seven years ago and local addicts were given drugs, clean needles, and emergency medical care. Unfortunately, the liberal policy backfired and the number of addicts surged to 3,500; violence surged, too. “Needle Park,” as it came to be known, was a place of open warfare among rival gangs, and even police faced gunfire. Their cars were attacked and overturned. In February 1995, officials ended the experiment, conceding that it had evolved into a grotesque spectacle.[68]

Why does legalizing drugs increase crime? Because drugs are addictive and they cost money to obtain, even if they are legal. Addiction reduces the ability to hold down a job, which is a legal way of getting money. Therefore, addicts will resort to crime in order to get the money to buy their drugs.

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2 Responses

  1. Will S. says:

    The human trafficking mentioned in the article about Amsterdam pertains to the prostitution trade, and no doubt much of the money laundering, too (since it’d be easier to launder money through the prostitution operations, given that such business will command higher prices than the sale of cannabis there; easier to launder larger amounts of money by faking ‘sales’ of prostitution than pot).

    The FRC article doesn’t clearly distinguish between the effects of legalizing marijuana versus lax enforcement of harder drugs like cocaine and heroin in the Netherlands; it isn’t clear how much of the increased crime is due to the one versus the other; and almost all their other situations cited elsewhere are about opium, heroin, and meth; it’s disingenious to try to apply such stats as a reason for marijuana prohibition, as such issues, regarding problems with harder drugs being legalized, have no direct bearing on the situation regarding legalizing JUST marijuana; to avoid bias, it would be better to find examples, if any exist, of situations where ONLY marijuana was legalized while strict enforcement of laws against other drugs was maintained. Then one could make a relevant case; the situation with the other drugs being legalized / decriminalized doesn’t have any direct bearing on the case of whether or not legalizing marijuana alone (and not legalized prostitution either, for that matter), would make a difference. And if the Dutch had made marijuana available everywhere, then one could separate out the crime due to the prostitution legal in the Red Light District from the presence of legal marijuana in the same area; as it is, one can’t get a clear picture because of the two being interrelated geographically.

    Better to focus on the negative health effects as the Fox and Telegraph articles show, to discourage would-be users from starting. But that has nothing to do with the question of whether or not decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana would make sense as public policy. We know many lives are ruined by tobacco and alcohol, but their being legal hasn’t resulted in huge amounts of crime associated with the many users of those substances, to obtain money to buy tobacco or alcohol, because those are cheap and widely available; no reason why, if cheap and widely available from legal sources, marijuana ought to be any different.

  2. [...] New study: smoking marijuana raises risk of having a stroke [...]

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