Novus Medical Detox Center Questions Legislative Decision to End Federal Medical Marijuana Ban

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Following the recent lifting of the federal medical marijuana ban, Novus Medical Detox Center cautions that the move may drive recreational use, contribute to health and safety risks, and lead to further illicit substance abuse and dependence.

Novus Medical Detox Center warns that recreational use of marijuana can lead to further illicit substance abuse and dependence.

Numerous sources attest that there are known risks and negative consequences associated with regular marijuana use, particularly among youths and adolescents.

When Congress passed a massive spending bill on December 13, 2014, it effectively voted to end the federal ban on medical marijuana by agreeing not to interfere with decisions at the state level. (1) In response to this policy change, Novus Medical Detox Center warns that legalizing medical marijuana may lead to expanded recreational use and other unintended consequences. The Florida drug detox facility, which provides medically supervised treatment for alcohol and substance abuse, emphasizes the related health risks and the potential for marijuana to lead to abuse of other illicit drugs.

A provision in the recently passed spending bill prohibits federal agents from prosecuting patients or dispensaries that are operating in accordance with state law. (1, 2) According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, medical marijuana is legally available in 23 states, the District of Columbia and Guam; in addition, 11 other states permit limited access to marijuana-derived products with low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. (3) Following the recent Congressional vote, Drug Policy Alliance lobbyist Bill Piper asserted, “The war on medical marijuana is over. Now the fight moves on to the legalization of all marijuana.” (2)

While the measure effectively ended the federal government’s ban on medical marijuana, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance. By definition, Schedule I substances are “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”; they are also described as “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.” (4)

A National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) publication highlights evidence on the detrimental effects of marijuana use. The NIDA report cites studies that showed marijuana use negatively impacts brain development in adolescents: one study discovered impaired neural connectivity in brain areas responsible for learning and memory, while another found that teens who smoked marijuana heavily lost an average of 8 IQ points over 25 years. Other research covered in the NIDA report confirms that marijuana poses serious health and safety risks—resulting in nearly a 5-fold increase in the risk of heart attack within the first hour after smoking, more than doubling a driver’s risk of being in an auto accident, contributing to poorer mental and physical health, and potentially leading to problems in the neurological development of babies when marijuana is used during pregnancy. (5)

Kent Runyon, Executive Director of Novus Medical Detox Center, references these adverse effects when explaining his organization’s concerns over the new legislation. “We certainly aren’t opposed to appropriate and responsible use of medical marijuana,” he stated. “However, numerous sources attest that there are known risks and negative consequences associated with regular marijuana use, particularly among youths and adolescents.”

Government findings show that marijuana is already the most widely used illicit drug among U.S. youths and adults. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 7.5% of Americans aged 12 and older—a total of 19.8 million people—admitted to past-month marijuana use as of 2013, with 3.9 million people using marijuana in addition to other drugs. The NSDUH report also cited a Youth Risk Behavior Survey that revealed 23.4% of students in grades 9 through 12 used marijuana in the past month. (6)

Runyon cautions that decriminalization of medical marijuana is likely to increase the supply and availability of recreational marijuana. He also questions the need for comprehensive public medical marijuana programs at the state level, noting that there are proven alternatives to smoking marijuana that effectively deliver therapeutic ingredients without the risk of the drug being diverted for recreational use.

“Many of our patients at Novus have told us that marijuana was a precursor to their dependency on opiates, cocaine, heroin or other drugs. And alarmingly, this pattern of substance abuse usually started in their teen years,” said Runyon. “Given the health and safety risks posed by marijuana and its potential as a ‘gateway’ to other illicit substances, we strongly urge the government to establish strict guidelines for medical use to help limit children’s exposure to marijuana.”

For individuals who have already progressed from marijuana to hard drugs, Novus offers a wide range of substance abuse treatment programs to help them overcome addiction and dependency. The Florida-based drug detox facility features a home-like residential setting with personalized, medically supervised care. By minimizing the discomfort of withdrawal from prescription medications, heroin, opiates, alcohol and other drugs, Novus prepares patients for a successful recovery and a drug-free future.

For more information on Novus Medical Detox Center and its substance abuse treatment programs, visit http://www.novusdetox.com.

About Novus Medical Detox Center:

Novus Medical Detox Center is a Joint Commission Accredited inpatient medical detox facility that offers safe, effective alcohol and drug treatment programs in a home-like residential setting. Located on 3.25 tree-lined acres in New Port Richey, Fla., Novus is also licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families and is known for minimizing the discomfort of withdrawal from prescription medication, drugs or alcohol by creating a customized detox program for each patient. By incorporating medication, natural supplements and fluid replenishment, Novus tailors the detox process for each patient, putting the dignity and humanity back into drug detoxification. Patients have 24/7 medical supervision, including round-the-clock nursing care and access to a withdrawal specialist, and enjoy comfortable private or shared rooms with a telephone, cable television and high-speed Internet access. Novus’ expansion is tied to their contribution to their industry and their local community, ranking number 48 on the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 2014 Fast 50 Awards list of the fastest-growing companies in Tampa Bay, and number 2,936 on the 2014 Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America. For more information, visit http://www.novusdetox.com.

1. Chokshi, Niraj. “Why 2014 Was the Year of Pot”; Washington Post; December 23, 2014. washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/12/23/why-2014-was-the-year-of-pot/

2. Halper, Evan. “Congress Quietly Ends Federal Government’s Ban on Medical Marijuana”; Los Angeles Times; December 16, 2014. latimes.com/nation/la-na-medical-pot-20141216-story.html

3. National Conference of State Legislatures. State Medical Marijuana Laws; January 29, 2015. ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx

4. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Schedules; no date; accessed February 11, 2015. dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml

5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Research Report Series: Marijuana; revised December 2014. drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/mjrrs_3.pdf

6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results From the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings; September 2014. samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHresultsPDFWHTML2013/Web/NSDUHresults2013.pdf

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