Marijuana is the most common illicit substance used by teens (and yes, even in states where use is legal, it is still illegal for minors). We spend a good chunk of my clinic counseling teens about marijuana use. Here are some direct quotes that patients bring up in clinic on a regular basis:
A scary news alert from April 20th (or 420, wink, wink): Synthetic marijuana (“K2”, “Spice”) laced with rat poison has sickened at least two people in Milwaukee (now it’s actually up to 4 confirmed cases in Wisconsin). From when the index case was identified on 3/8/18 in Illinois through 4/29/18, at least 4 people have died and at least 160 people presented to healthcare facilities in Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin with serious unexplained bleeding. Lab testing found the warfarin-like blood thinner (a rat poison!!) in at least 60 patients and in at least 7 synthetic cannabinoids specimens. Just goes to show you that you can’t always trust the drug dealers – your health may not be their top priority (this is seriously a sentence I say to a patient in clinic at least once a day).
Terrifying (health) headline of the week: 52 overdose emergency calls in 32 hours in Louisville (and a whopping 151 overdoses in 4 days). What on earth is going on in Kentucky? Well, it’s not just the Bluegrass State that’s having issues. Use of heroin and other opioids (prescription painkillers, including hydrocodone, oxycodone, etc) has increased pretty much everywhere in the United States. Nationally, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show the number of heroin-specific deaths rose 23% in 2015, and opioid deaths rose 16%.
It’s been a wild week. In some states, voting for leaders was not the only thing on the ballot last week. Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and California passed measures legalizing recreational marijuana. Arizona’s initiative to legalize recreational marijuana narrowly failed. Montana, North Dakota, Arkansas and Florida all voted to legalize medical marijuana. Dr. Allen wrote an excellent blog about medical marijuana last year, so now we’ll focus on recreational marijuana use.
Last week, there was an epidemic of overdosing on a designer drug. Thirty-three people in New York went to the hospital with complications of synthetic cannabinoid (called “K2” or “spice”) use all within several hours (that number actually rose to 130 overdoses over the course of the week). This is the most press designer drugs have received since Miley Cyrus was caught with Salvia.