The Marijuana Debate – Part 10 : The Latest Research on Marijuana

by Don Rittner


As of January 2017, twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for the
treatment of medical conditions. Eight of these states and the District of Columbia have
also legalized it for recreational use. The increase use in products containing cannabis
included edibles, oils and inhaled substances has gained acceptance and the health effects of
cannabis use is a major concern.

A study was conducted and published by the National Academy of Sciences in 2017 with the
goals to conduct a comprehensive review of the current evidence regarding the health effects
of using cannabis and derived products.

Over the last 20 years landmark changes have occurred on the use of cannabis. In 2017
when the study was completed 22.2 million Americans, 12 years and older, reported using
cannabis in the past 30 days and between 2002 and 2015 that percentage has steadily

Conclusive evidence regarding the short and long term effects of cannabis still remain
elusive due to the lack of scientific research on the health implications of its use on
vulnerable populations like pregnant woman and adolescents. Sixteen experts on addiction,
oncology, cardiology, neurodevelopment, respiratory disease, pediatric and adolescent heath,
immunology, toxicology, preclinical research, epidemiology, systematic review and public
health formed a Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana. However in the last few
yeas a substantial body of research has been developed and the committee looked at more
than 24,000 abstracts and fined tuned the study to over 10,000 abstracts of research in the
field. They published their findings in a 486 page report titled: The Health Effects of Cannabis
and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. ISBN 978-0-309-
45304-2. The complete book can be downloaded for free at:


The committee made several recommendations that are reproduced here.

Address Research Gaps

Recommendation 1: To develop a comprehensive evidence base
on the short- and long-term health effects of cannabis use (both
beneficial and harmful effects), public agencies,4 philanthropic
and professional organizations, private companies, and clinical
and public health research groups should provide funding and
support for a national cannabis research agenda that addresses
key gaps in the evidence base. Prioritized research streams and
objectives should include, but need not be limited to:

Clinical and Observational Research

• Examine the health effects of cannabis use in at-risk or under researched
populations, such as children and youth (often
described as less than 18 years of age) and older populations
(generally over 50 years of age), pregnant and breastfeeding
women, and heavy cannabis users.

• Investigate the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics properties
of cannabis, modes of delivery, different concentrations, in
various populations, including the dose–response relationships
of cannabis and THC or other cannabinoids.

• Determine the harms and benefits associated with understudied
cannabis products, such as edibles, concentrates, and topicals.

• Conduct well-controlled trials on the potential beneficial and
harmful health effects of using different forms of cannabis, such as inhaled (smoked or
vaporized) whole cannabis plant and oral

• Characterize the health effects of cannabis on unstudied and
understudied health endpoints, such as epilepsy in pediatric populations;
symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder; childhood
and adult cancers; cannabis-related overdoses and poisonings;
and other high-priority health endpoints.
Health Policy and Health Economics Research

• Identify models, including existing state cannabis policy models,
for sustainable funding of national, state, and local public health
surveillance systems.

• Investigate the economic impact of recreational and medical cannabis
use on national and state public health and health care
systems, health insurance providers, and patients.

Public Health and Public Safety Research

• Identify gaps in the cannabis-related knowledge and skills of
health care and public health professionals, and assess the need
for, and performance of, continuing education programs that
address these gaps.

• Characterize public safety concerns related to recreational cannabis
use and evaluate existing quality assurance, safety, and
packaging standards for recreational cannabis products.

Improve Research Quality

Recommendation 2: To promote the development of conclusive
evidence on the short- and long-term health effects of cannabis
use (both beneficial and harmful effects), agencies of the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the
National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, should jointly fund a workshop to develop
a set of research standards and benchmarks to guide and ensure
the production of high-quality cannabis research. Workshop
objectives should include, but need not be limited to:

• The development of a minimum dataset for observational and
clinical studies, standards for research methods and design, and
guidelines for data collection methods.

• Adaptation of existing research-reporting standards to the needs
of cannabis research.

• The development of uniform terminology for clinical and epidemiological
cannabis research.

• The development of standardized and evidence-based question
banks for clinical research and public health surveillance tools.

Improve Surveillance Capacity

Recommendation 3: To ensure that sufficient data are available
to inform research on the short- and long-term health effects
of cannabis use (both beneficial and harmful effects), the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse
and Mental Health Services Administration, the Association
of State and Territorial Health Officials, National Association
of County and City Health Officials, the Association of Public
Health Laboratories, and state and local public health departments
should fund and support improvements to federal public
health surveillance systems and state-based public health
surveillance efforts. Potential efforts should include, but need
not be limited to:

• The development of question banks on the beneficial and harmful
health effects of therapeutic and recreational cannabis use and
their incorporation into major public health surveys, including
the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, National
Health Interview Survey, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance
System, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Youth Risk
Behavior Surveillance System, National Vital Statistics System,
Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, and the National Survey of
Family Growth.

• Determining the capacity to collect and reliably interpret data
from diagnostic classification codes in administrative data (e.g.,
International Classification of Diseases-10).

• The establishment and utilization of state-based testing facilities
to analyze the chemical composition of cannabis and products
containing cannabis, cannabinoids, or THC.

• The development of novel diagnostic technologies that allow for
rapid, accurate, and noninvasive assessment of cannabis exposure
and impairment.

• Strategies for surveillance of harmful effects of cannabis for therapeutic

Address Research Barriers

Recommendation 4: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
National Institutes of Health, U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, industry groups, and nongovernmental organizations
should fund the convening of a committee of experts
tasked to produce an objective and evidence-based report that
fully characterizes the impacts of regulatory barriers to cannabis
research and that proposes strategies for supporting development
of the resources and infrastructure necessary to conduct
a comprehensive cannabis research agenda. Committee objectives
should include, but need not be limited to:
(Numbers in parentheses correspond to chapter conclusion numbers.)

• Proposing strategies for expanding access to research-grade marijuana,
through the creation and approval of new facilities for
growing and storing cannabis.

• Identifying nontraditional funding sources and mechanisms to
support a comprehensive national cannabis research agenda.

• Investigating strategies for improving the quality, diversity, and
external validity of research-grade cannabis products.
The committee’s conclusions were as follows:

Report Conclusions

Chapter 4

Conclusions—Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids
There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or
cannabinoids are effective:

• For the treatment of chronic pain in adults (cannabis) (4-1)

• As antiemetics in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced
nausea and vomiting (oral cannabinoids) (4-3)

• For improving patient-reported multiple sclerosis spasticity
symptoms (oral cannabinoids) (4-7a)

There is moderate evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are
effective for:

• Improving short-term sleep outcomes in individuals with
sleep disturbance associated with obstructive sleep apnea
syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis
(cannabinoids, primarily nabiximols) (4-19)

There is limited evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are
effective for:

• Increasing appetite and decreasing weight loss associated
with HIV/AIDS (cannabis and oral cannabinoids) (4-4a)

• Improving clinician-measured multiple sclerosis spasticity
symptoms (oral cannabinoids) (4-7a)

• Improving symptoms of Tourette syndrome (THC capsules)

• Improving anxiety symptoms, as assessed by a public
speaking test, in individuals with social anxiety disorders
(cannabidiol) (4-17)

• Improving symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (nabilone;
a single, small fair-quality trial) (4-20)

There is limited evidence of a statistical association between
cannabinoids and:

• Better outcomes (i.e., mortality, disability) after a traumatic
brain injury or intracranial hemorrhage (4-15)

There is limited evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are
ineffective for:

• Improving symptoms associated with dementia (cannabinoids)

• Improving intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma
(cannabinoids) (4-14)

• Reducing depressive symptoms in individuals with chronic
pain or multiple sclerosis (nabiximols, dronabinol, and nabilone)

There is no or insufficient evidence to support or refute the
conclusion that cannabis or cannabinoids are an effective treatment

• Cancers, including glioma (cannabinoids) (4-2)

• Cancer-associated anorexia cachexia syndrome and anorexia
nervosa (cannabinoids) (4-4b)

• Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (dronabinol) (4-5)

• Epilepsy (cannabinoids) (4-6)

• Spasticity in patients with paralysis due to spinal cord injury
(cannabinoids) (4-7b)

• Symptoms associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
(cannabinoids) (4-9)

• Chorea and certain neuropsychiatric symptoms associated
with Huntington’s disease (oral cannabinoids) (4-10)

• Motor system symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease
or the levodopa-induced dyskinesia (cannabinoids)

• Dystonia (nabilone and dronabinol) (4-12)

• Achieving abstinence in the use of addictive substances
(cannabinoids) (4-16)

• Mental health outcomes in individuals with schizophrenia
or schizophreniform psychosis (cannabidiol) (4-21)

Chapter 7

Conclusions—Respiratory Disease

There is substantial evidence of a statistical association between
cannabis smoking and:

• Worse respiratory symptoms and more frequent chronic bronchitis episodes (long-term cannabis smoking) (7-3a)
There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between
cannabis smoking and:

• Improved airway dynamics with acute use, but not with
chronic use (7-1a)

• Higher forced vital capacity (FVC) (7-1b)

There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between
the cessation of cannabis smoking and:

• Improvements in respiratory symptoms (7-3b)
There is limited evidence of a statistical association between
cannabis smoking and:

• An increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD) when controlled for tobacco use
(occasional cannabis smoking) (7-2a)

There is no or insufficient evidence to support or refute a statistical
association between cannabis smoking and:

• Hospital admissions for COPD (7-2b)

• Asthma development or asthma exacerbation (7-4)

Chapter 8


There is limited evidence of a statistical association between
cannabis smoking and:

• A decrease in the production of several inflammatory cytokines
in healthy individuals (8-1a)

There is limited evidence of no statistical association between
cannabis use and:

• The progression of liver fibrosis or hepatic disease in individuals
with viral hepatitis C (HCV) (daily cannabis use)

There is no or insufficient evidence to support or refute a statistical
association between cannabis use and:

• Other adverse immune cell responses in healthy individuals
112(cannabis smoking) (8-1b)

• Adverse effects on immune status in individuals with HIV
(cannabis or dronabinol use) (8-2)

• Increased incidence of oral human papilloma virus (HPV)
(regular cannabis use) (8-4)

Chapter 9

Conclusions—Injury and Death

There is substantial evidence of a statistical association between
cannabis use and:

• Increased risk of motor vehicle crashes (9-3)

There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between
cannabis use and:

• Increased risk of overdose injuries, including respiratory
distress, among pediatric populations in U.S. states where
cannabis is legal (9-4b)

There is no or insufficient evidence to support or refute a statistical
association between cannabis use and:

• All-cause mortality (self-reported cannabis use) (9-1)

• Occupational accidents or injuries (general, nonmedical cannabis
use) (9-2)

• Death due to cannabis overdose (9-4a)

Chapter 10

Conclusions—Prenatal, Perinatal, and Neonatal Exposure

There is substantial evidence of a statistical association between
maternal cannabis smoking and:

• Lower birth weight of the offspring (10-2)

There is limited evidence of a statistical association between
maternal cannabis smoking and:

• Pregnancy complications for the mother (10-1)

• Admission of the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit
(NICU) (10-3)

There is insufficient evidence to support or refute a statistical
association between maternal cannabis smoking and:

• Later outcomes in the offspring (e.g., sudden infant death
syndrome, cognition/academic achievement, and later substance
use) (10-4)

Chapter 11


There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between
cannabis use and:

• The impairment in the cognitive domains of learning, memory,
and attention (acute cannabis use) (11-1a)

There is limited evidence of a statistical association between
cannabis use and:

• Impaired academic achievement and education outcomes

• Increased rates of unemployment and/or low income (11-3)

• Impaired social functioning or engagement in developmentally
appropriate social roles (11-4)

There is limited evidence of a statistical association between
sustained abstinence from cannabis use and:

• Impairments in the cognitive domains of learning, memory,
and attention (11-1b)

Chapter 12

Conclusions—Mental Health

There is substantial evidence of a statistical association between
cannabis use and:

• The development of schizophrenia or other psychoses, with
the highest risk among the most frequent users (12-1)

There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between
cannabis use and:

• Better cognitive performance among individuals with psychotic
disorders and a history of cannabis use (12-2a)

• Increased symptoms of mania and hypomania in individuals
diagnosed with bipolar disorders (regular cannabis use)

• A small increased risk for the development of depressive
disorders (12-5)

• Increased incidence of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts
with a higher incidence among heavier users (12-7a)

• Increased incidence of suicide completion (12-7b)

• Increased incidence of social anxiety disorder (regular cannabis
use) (12-8b)

There is moderate evidence of no statistical association between
cannabis use and:

• Worsening of negative symptoms of schizophrenia (e.g.,
blunted affect) among individuals with psychotic disorders

There is limited evidence of a statistical association between
cannabis use and:

• An increase in positive symptoms of schizophrenia (e.g.,
hallucinations) among individuals with psychotic disorders

• The likelihood of developing bipolar disorder, particularly
among regular or daily users (12-3)

• The development of any type of anxiety disorder, except
social anxiety disorder (12-8a)

• Increased symptoms of anxiety (near daily cannabis use)

• Increased severity of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms
among individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder

There is no evidence to support or refute a statistical association
between cannabis use and:

• Changes in the course or symptoms of depressive disorders

• The development of posttraumatic stress disorder (12-10)

Chapter 13

Conclusions—Problem Cannabis Use

There is substantial evidence that:

• Stimulant treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD) during adolescence is not a risk factor for the
development of problem cannabis use (13-2e)

• Being male and smoking cigarettes are risk factors for the
progression of cannabis use to problem cannabis use (13-2i)

• Initiating cannabis use at an earlier age is a risk factor for
the development of problem cannabis use (13-2j)

There is substantial evidence of a statistical association between:

• Increases in cannabis use frequency and the progression to
developing problem cannabis use (13-1)

• Being male and the severity of problem cannabis use, but the
recurrence of problem cannabis use does not differ between
males and females (13-3b)

There is moderate evidence that:

• Anxiety, personality disorders, and bipolar disorders are not
risk factors for the development of problem cannabis use

• Major depressive disorder is a risk factor for the development
of problem cannabis use (13-2c)

• Adolescent ADHD is not a risk factor for the development
of problem cannabis use (13-2d)

• Being male is a risk factor for the development of problem
cannabis use (13-2f)

• Exposure to the combined use of abused drugs is a risk factor
for the development of problem cannabis use (13-2g)

• Neither alcohol nor nicotine dependence alone are risk factors
for the progression from cannabis use to problem cannabis
use (13-2h)

• During adolescence the frequency of cannabis use, oppositional
behaviors, a younger age of first alcohol use, nicotine
use, parental substance use, poor school performance, antisocial
behaviors, and childhood sexual abuse are risk factors
116for the development of problem cannabis use (13-2k)

There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between:

• A persistence of problem cannabis use and a history of psychiatric
treatment (13-3a)

• Problem cannabis use and increased severity of posttraumatic
stress disorder symptoms (13-3c)

There is limited evidence that:

• Childhood anxiety and childhood depression are risk factors
for the development of problem cannabis use (13-2a)

Chapter 14

Conclusions—Cannaabis Use and the Abuse of Other Substances

There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between
cannabis use and:

• The development of substance dependence and/or a substance
abuse disorder for substances, including alcohol,
tobacco, and other illicit drugs (14-3)

There is limited evidence of a statistical association between
cannabis use and:

• The initiation of tobacco use (14-1)

• Changes in the rates and use patterns of other licit and illicit
substances (14-2)

Chapter 15

Conclusions—Challenges and Barriers in Conducting Cannabis

There are several challenges and barriers in conducting cannabis
and cannabinoid research, including

• There are specific regulatory barriers, including the classification
of cannabis as a Schedule I substance, that impede the
advancement of cannabis and cannabinoid research (15-1)

• It is often difficult for researchers to gain access to the
quantity, quality, and type of cannabis product necessary to
address specific research questions on the health effects of
cannabis use (15-2)

• A diverse network of funders is needed to support cannabis
and cannabinoid research that explores the beneficial and
harmful health effects of cannabis use (15-3)

• To develop conclusive evidence for the effects of cannabis
use on short- and long-term health outcomes, improvements
and standardization in research methodology (including
those used in controlled trials and observational studies)
are needed (15-4)

You can download the complete study here:








The Marijuana Debate – Part 9 : Table of International Laws Regarding Marijuana as of 2017

by Don Rittner

The Marijuana Debate – Part 9 : Table of International Laws Regarding Marijuana as of 2017The Marijuana Debate – Part 9 : Table of International Laws Regarding Marijuana as of 2017


NEXT: The Marijuana Debate – Part 10 : The Latest Research on Marijuana



The Marijuana Debate – Part 8: International Laws Regarding Marijuana

by Don Rittner

The international laws vary regarding the use of weed although in most countries it is illegal. Some countries separate recreational use from medical marijuana, while there are many others who take all kinds of uses as the same. Some countries carry strict policies, while many others have learned to de-regulate the use of drugs, such as weed. Here, we take a look at the international laws about weed, in important parts of the world2. (1) At the end of this article is a listing of all countries and the United States along with their current policies.

Laws in Canada

Cannabis was banned in Canada in 1923. There are many social groups, which are trying to end the ban on this common drug. Currently, cannabis is only legal in the country for medical uses. However, it is legal to grow the marijuana plant, but only for those who have received a license from Health Canada. The current government of Justin Trudeau has vowed to eliminate the criminal penalties for using weed, and simplifying the regulations that are currently in place in the country2. On April 20, 2016, Health Minister Jane Philpott announced that new legislation would be introduced in spring 2017 to legalize and regulate cannabis in Canada. (2)

There is a government backed committee working in Canada to iron out the finer details of a new law, which will de-criminalize the use of marijuana in the country. As more businesses are licensed by Health Canada, it is all but natural to assume that cannabis has turned into a commodity and should be regulated just like other important commodities that are present in Canada. (3)

Laws in South America

There has been great support in Latin America about the legalization of drug use. Countries, such as Uruguay and Argentina strongly support allowing the people to personally use recreational drugs, such as cannabis. (4) Brazil has partially decriminalized the use of weed, but the current law is complete and cannot properly discuss the different between dealers and common users. (5)

Columbia’s Supreme Court has decreed in 2009 that it is not illegal to keep drugs in a minor quantity for personal use. The war on drugs already costs a great deal and does not produce the required benefits. (6) Mexico has also allowed the use of recreational marijuana in small amounts that are under 5gm. (7) The overall direction in the continent is changing and getting support for allowing marijuana for personal use.

According to Wikipedia, in August 2009, the “Argentine supreme court declared in a  landmark ruling that it was unconstitutional to prosecute citizens for having drugs for their  personal use – “adults should be free to make lifestyle decisions without the intervention of  the state.” The decision affected the second paragraph of Article 14 of the country’s drug  control legislation (Law Number 23,737) that punishes the possession of drugs for personal  consumption with prison sentences ranging from one month to two years (although  education or treatment measures can substitute penalties). The unconstitutionality of the  article concerns cases of drug possession for personal consumption that does not affect  others.

In 2002 and 2006, Brazil went through legislative changes, resulting in a partial decriminalization of possession for personal use. Prison sentences no longer applied and were replaced by educational measures and community services.(4) However, the 2006 law does not provide objective means to distinguish between users or traffickers. A disparity exists between the decriminalization of drug use and the increased penalization of selling drugs, punishable with a maximum prison sentences of 5 years for the sale of very minor quantities of drugs. Most of those incarcerated for drug trafficking are offenders caught selling small quantities of drugs, among them drug users who sell drugs to finance their drug habits.

In 2009, Colombia’s Supreme Court ruled that possession of illegal drugs for personal use is not a criminal offense, citing a 1994 decision by the country’s Constitutional Court. In 2012 Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos proposed the legalization of drugs in an effort to counter the failure of the War on Drugs, which was said to have yielded poor results at a huge cost.

According to the 2008 Constitution of Ecuador, in its Article 364 the Ecuadorian state does not see drug consumption as a crime but only as a health concern. (8) Since June 2013 the State drugs regulatory office CONSEP has published a table which establishes maximum doses carried by persons so as to be considered in legal possession

In 2012, newly elected Guatemalan president Otto Pérez Molina argued that all drugs should be legalized while attending the United Nations.

On February 22, 2008, Honduras President Manuel Zelaya called on the United States to legalize drugs, in order, he said, to prevent the majority of violent murders occurring in Honduras. Honduras is used by cocaine smugglers as a transiting point between Colombia and the US. Honduras, with a population of 7 million suffers an average of 8–10 murders a day, with an estimated 70% being as a result of this international drug trade. The same problem is occurring in Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Mexico, according to Zelaya.

In April 2009, the Mexican Congress approved changes in the General Health Law that decriminalized the possession of illegal drugs for immediate consumption and personal use, allowing a person to possess up to 5 g of marijuana or 500 mg of cocaine. The only restriction is that people in possession of drugs should not be within a 300-meter radius of schools, police departments, or correctional facilities. Opium, heroin, LSD, and other
synthetic drugs were also decriminalized, it will not be considered as a crime as long as the dose does not exceed the limit established in the General Health Law. The law establishes very low amount thresholds and strictly defines personal dosage. For those arrested with more than the threshold allowed by the law this can result in heavy prison sentences, as they will be assumed to be small traffickers even if there are no other indications that the amount was meant for selling.

Uruguay is one of few countries that never criminalized the possession of drugs for personal use. Since 1974, the law establishes no quantity limits, leaving it to the judge’s discretion to determine whether the intent was personal use In June 2012, the Uruguayan government announced plans to legalize state-controlled sales of marijuana in order to fight drug-related crimes. The government also stated that they will ask global leaders to do the same. (9)

On July 31, 2013, the Uruguayan House of Representatives approved a bill to legalize the production, distribution, sale, and consumption of marijuana by a vote of 50 to 46. Relating this vote to the 2012 legalization of marijuana by the U.S. states Colorado and Washington, John Walsh, drug policy expert of the Washington Office on Latin America, stated that “Uruguay’s timing is right. Because of last year’s Colorado and Washington State votes to legalize, the U.S. government is in no position to browbeat Uruguay or others who may follow.

December 10, 2013: A government-sponsored bill approved by a 16-13 vote in the Senate provides for regulation of the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana and is aimed at wresting the business from criminals in the small South American nation. Backers outside the court house paraded signs declaring, “Cultivating freedom, Uruguay grows.” In April 2014, Uruguay will be the first country to have legal recreational cannabis. Consumers will be able to buy a maximum of 40 grams (1.4 ounces) each month from licensed pharmacies as long as they are Uruguayan residents over the age of 18. Buyers will be registered on a government database that will monitor their monthly purchases. Uruguayans will be able to grow six marijuana plants in their homes per year and form clubs of 15 to 45 members that can grow up to 99 plants per year.”

Laws in Europe

Europe is a region, where it is really difficult to assess a uniform policy structure for drugs, such as cannabis that are used both for recreation and for medical use. The EU member states usually have placed it as a controlled narcotic substance, and therefore one, which cannot be transported freely. The member states have also formulated their own laws, in the light of the consideration of the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. They have all adopted regulations, but cannabis products are not criminalized all across Europe. (8) According to a recent Forbes report in January 2017, “None of the European Union members has completely legalized marijuana. Spain, Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands, among others, have twisted their laws to tolerate and frame the use and sale of small amounts through special dispensaries, recreational stores (coffee shops) and clubs. It has also been “sort of” decriminalized or “semi legalized” in the Czech Republic, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Croatia, and Slovenia, where the fines are lighter, possession of personal amounts are accepted and legislation carves the difference between “light” and “hard” drugs. The 2003 law in Belgium states that only police issued fines can suffice for cannabis related infringements, especially if they do not affect other members of the society. Small quantities of less than 15gm of marijuana consist of a minor crime in the Czech Republic and also penalized through a police issued fine. Denmark also imposes only monitory fines for small possession of cannabis related drugs. The Czech Republic, for example, passed a law in 2010 decriminalizing possession of narcotic drugs in small quantities. The rest is still illegal.

Germany has a “special” regime of tolerance that makes the country one of the most lax, despite the fact that possession is still forbidden. It is expected that this year the country will approve licenses to sell cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

In 2001, Portugal became the first E.U. member to decriminalize personal use of marijuana, although cultivation is still criminal even if the crop is intended for personal use. Sale, too, remains illegal.

In Italy, which some predict will become the next European country and the second in the world after Uruguay to legalize cannabis, possession is prohibited but not for personal use and in small quantities.

In Spain, cultivating cannabis on private property for personal consumption by adults in a private space is legal. “Cannabis social clubs” that organize those activities number in the hundreds – more than 300 in Barcelona alone.

France and the rest of the E.U. consider the use of drugs, including cannabis, a criminal offense and its possession is always a crime, even if it doesn’t always lead to prison. Cyprus, meanwhile, is the strictest: Possession can be punished by up to eight years in jail.”

Greece penalizes for large quantities of weed, but quantities smaller than 20gm are not treated in a harsh manner. Spain punishes people, who are found in possession of over 40gm of hashish at one time, and also prohibits its use in public places. In France, most drug abusers are penalized to take a drug awareness course, which may cost up to 450 Euros. Imprisonment is usually reserved for more serious crimes, such as carrying of drugs as a business.

Italy and Lithuania impose administrative sanctions on people who are caught with weed, while it is considered a Class B substance in Cyprus. The Netherlands has clear legal distinction, where all personal use of marijuana and related products is completely legalized. However, possession of over 30gm is punishable, which clearly comes in the category of carrying for business purpose, rather than self use. People can buy cannabis products, from authorized coffee shops in the country, usually for amounts of 5gm.

Many countries still consider the possession and use of marijuana as a criminal offence, such as Poland, Austria, Portugal, Finland and Sweden. (9 )The same is considered as a misdemeanor in Slovenia, Germany, Luxembourg, and Croatia.

Cannabis is widely used in the United Kingdom, although it is an illegal drug. Research on cannabis in recent times; means that a number of advocacy groups are pushing for less stringent policies regarding the use of weed and weed-based medical solutions. (10) It remains a Class B substance in the country, and can only be held by organizations, which have special licenses for handing such substances, for legal uses. (11)

Although recreational use remains illegal in France, a new French Law allows the use of cannabis-based chemicals for use in preparing new medicines. This goes hand in hand, with similar legal position in countries, such as Italy, Finland and the Netherlands. (12) Germany has now allowed for regulated use of medical marijuana, although recreational use still remains illegal. (13) Netherlands is the only country in Europe, which allows the use of cannabis in specialized coffee shops throughout the country. (14)

Laws in Asia

Asia in general is known to have the toughest laws against recreational drugs, including weed and other related products. Hash is completely illegal in Afghanistan, which one of the most well known countries for weed production. (15) Marijuana is also illegal throughout the Arab countries. Although marijuana is available illegally in China, the country boasts some of the most extreme punishments for cannabis use. (16)

Cannabis-based products are also illegal in Indonesia. (17) Malaysia promotes capital punishment for people, who are caught with over 200gm of marijuana. There are strict policies even for people caught with minor quantities. (18)

Cannabis is illegal for recreational use in Israel, but allowed for medicinal needs. (19) Possessing marijuana is also illegal in Lebanon, although it is common to see weed cultivated throughout the country, with officials taking a soft look towards the use of cannabis. (20) Although illegal in Nepal, it is commonly available and used throughout the country. (21) Cannabis is illegal in India, according to federal laws, just like the United States, but most states allow for the use of cannabis in personal capacity. In fact, a bill has also been proposed in the Parliament to create new regulations for substances that are non-toxic in nature, such as marijuana, which is more commonly known as “bhang” and “ganja.” (22)

Laws in Africa
Africa has a diverse character spread throughout the continent, from the Islamic north to a Diverse south. South Africa has already passed a bill, which legalizes the use of medicalmarijuana in the country. It took a number of years to reach this situation. (23) The recreational use of the drug remains illegal in the country. Cannabis is also illegal in Egypt, although it is hard to find criminal penalties given to personal use. (24)

Cannabis is also illegal in Nigeria, although it is a regional hub for the production and transportation of marijuana. (25) Interestingly, cannabis is banned in Morocco, although a  significant portion of the national economy is supported through the industry of weed. There have been legal proposals, which discuss the legalization of weed for medicinal purposes. (26)


1. Health Canada, 2016. Frequently Asked Questions. Available at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hcps/substancontrol/hemp-chanvre/about-apropos/faq/index-eng.php

2. The Canadian Press, 2016. ‘We are moving from a prohibitory regime’: McLellan outlines marijuana  task force plan. BNN News. Available at http://www.bnn.ca/ottawa-to-release-task-force-report-onmarijuana-legalization-1.630354

3. Miller, Jacquie, 2016. Number of Canadians buying legal medical marijuana triples in just one year.  Ottawa Citizen. Available at http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/number-of-canadiansbuying-legal-medical-marijuana-triples-in-just-one-year

4. Jenkins, Simon, 2009. “The war on drugs is immoral idiocy. We need the courage of Argentina – While Latin American countries decriminalise narcotics, Britain persists in prohibition that causes  vast human suffering”. The Guardian. London.

5. Tni, 2009. Too many in jail for drugs offenses in Brazil. Available at  https://www.tni.org/en/newsroom/latest-news/item/574-too-many-in-jail-for-drugs-offenses-inbrazil

6. Colombia’s High Court Says Drug Consumption Not a Crime, 2009. Herald Tribune. Available at  http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=343393&CategoryId=12393

7. Manuel Vélez, 2009. Ley de Narcomenudeo. El Pensador (Spanish). Available at  http://archive.is/MwCkG#selection-93.5-93.17

8. EMCDDA, 2012. Legal topic overviews: possession of cannabis for personal use. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Available at http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/legaltopic-overviews/cannabis-possession-for-personal-use

9. Twenty two European Countries and Their Cannabis Laws. Medical Marijuana EU, 2016. Available at http://www.medicalmarijuana.eu/22-european-countries-cannabis-laws/

10. Patrick Miller and Martin Plant, 2002. “Heavy cannabis use among UK teenagers: an exploration.”. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 65(3), pp. 235-242.

11. Home Office, 2017. Drugs penalties. Government of UK. Available at  https://www.gov.uk/penalties-drug-possession-dealing

12. Ann Törnkvist, 2013. French law on pot-based medicine takes effect. The Local Fr. Available at  https://www.thelocal.fr/20130610/legalized-cannabis-tea-could-be-on-drug-menu-for-frenchpatients-in-pharmacies

13. Grotenhermen, F., 2002. “The Medical use of Cannabis in Germany”. Journal of Drug Issues. 32 (2): 607.

14. Michael Tonry (22 September 2015). Crime and Justice, Volume 44: A Review of Research. University of Chicago Press. pp. 261.

15. Martin Booth, 2011. Cannabis: A History. Transworld. pp. 325.

16. Chen, J., Li, Y., & Otto, J.M. (2002). Implementation of Law in the People’s Republic of China. The London Leiden Series on Law. Springer Netherlands. p. 202.

17. Thomas H. Slone, 2003. Prokem. Masalai Press.

18. US Department of State, 2015. Malaysia. Available at https://travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/country/malaysia.html

19. Erowid, 2017. Cannabis: Legal Status. The Vaults of Erowid. Available at https://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_law.shtml#israel

20. Nicholas Blanford, 2007. In Lebanon, a comeback for cannabis. The Christian Science Monitor.  Available at http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1016/p06s02-wome.html

21. We Be High, 2017. Kathmandu, Nepal. Available at http://webehigh.org/kathmandu-nepal/

22 Correspondent, 2016. Bill for legalised supply of opium, marijuana cleared for Parliament.
Hindustan Times. Available at http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/aap-mp-gandhi-s-billseeking-opium-legalisation-cleared-for-tabling-in-parliament/story-itanKX3vRrhuXJPdgnJD6N.html

23. Medical Marijuana, 2016. Government Just Approved Medical Marijuana In South Africa. South  African Cannabis News & Supplies. Available at https://btl.co.za/government-just-approvedmedical-marijuana-in-south-africa/

24. Lama Hasan, 2010. Egypt’s Pot Problem? A Marijuana Shortage. Abc News. Available at http://blogs.abcnews.com/theworldnewser/2010/05/egypts-pot-problem-a-marijuanashortage.html

25. Seshata, 2013. Cannabis in Nigeria. Sensi Seeds. Available at https://www.sensiseeds.com/nl/blog/cannabis-in-nigeria/

26. Brian Preston, 2002. Pot Planet: Adventures in Global Marijuana Culture. Grove Press: New York.

NEXT: The Marijuana Debate – Part : Table of International Laws Regarding Marijuana



The Marijuana Debate – Part 7: Advocacy Groups

by Don Rittner

Advocacy Groups

There are many social, professional, and ethical groups who are fighting with the strong political and business forces to advocate the legal use of cannabis. Some organizations are working on a national level, while others are targeting the international scene. Many are organized as non-profit organization that accepts donations and some are grass roots organizations.

All of these advocacy groups are trying to make an impact in the world. They all understand that marijuana is important, and it is essential to support both medical and recreational weed products. Here, we share the details of the top groups who are very active, and working hard to produce an impact in the current war on drugs. The following are some of the most well known organizations in the U.S. and abroad.

Americans for Safe Access (ASA)

The Americans for Safe Access is an advocacy group that supports medical cannabis users and businesses. ASA supports adults who want to use recreational marijuana, but it specifically calls for the availability of marijuana for people who need it for medical needs. It advocates easy medical access of marijuana in all areas of the countries and wants to empower the patients looking to employ weed for pain relief. ASA also celebrates a lobby day in California and Washington, and also holds a conference in Washington, D.C. each year to affect the current federal policy for medical marijuana. The main objective of ASA is to provide easy access to medical marijuana and ensure that people can gain its therapeutic benefits, and research more about its amazing advantages.

Features of the Web site are areas for medical patients and professionals, legal issues, policy and those that produce and distribute. ASA has published the Medical Cannabis Briefing Book for the 115th Congress. This 64-page book is full of statistics and is a definitive source for policy makers and regulators on medical cannabis issues. It is free to download on their Web site or you can purchase a hard copy. Simply by using the numbers in the book it shows that there are zero deaths caused by Cannabis in contrast to the 128,000 deaths caused by prescription drugs each year. There are now 44 States with Medical Cannabis laws. There are 50 plus qualifying medical conditions in medical cannabis programs, two million plus medical cannabis patients in the U.S., 9,000 clinical trail data using cannabis for pain in patient years, 30,000 studies published on the Endcannabinoid system, $165 million federal prescription drug cost savings in medical cannabis states in 2013, 89% of Americans support medical cannabis, and 100 million American suffer today fro chronic pain. ASA is a membership-based organization.

Common Sense for Drug Policy (CSDP)

The Common Sense for Drug Policy supports the cause of fighting against the Drug War. This excellent organization looks at the greater picture, which describes that the drug war has not brought any profits. Harm is caused by poor health practices and the situation can only improve when the actual reasons that are created due to the prohibition of marijuana. The CSDP advocates that weed should be best regulated in the manner similar to alcohol. According to its Web Site: Common Sense for Drug Policy is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to reforming drug policy and expanding harm reduction. CSDP disseminates factual information and comments on existing laws, policies and practices. CSDP provides advice and assistance to individuals and organizations and facilitates coalition building. CSDP supports syringe exchanges, the expansion of Methadone and Buprenorphine availability and other public health measures to reduce harm to users and restrict the spread of HIV / AIDS and Hepatitis C. CSDP advocates the regulation and control of marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol and subject to local option. CSDP favors decriminalizing the use of hard drugs and providing them only through prescription. CSDP also advocates clear federal guidelines for the practice of pain management so that physicians need not fear unwarranted law enforcement scrutiny of medical practices.

Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has been an important part of the drive for supporting the legalization of cannabis. This advocacy group is working in various states and is supporting a change in the current penalties in the criminal justice system.

Bill Piper, the director of DPA wrote a blog on the Huffington Post (1), where he discussed that the advocacy group still has a long way to go, before it can even consider that it is winning the battle for supporting cannabis and other, similar substances. This group can definitely be considered as one, which is looking for the promotion of drug policies, which are based in compassion and the best that the current scientific knowledge has to offer. DPA has many supporters, and these people believe that the war against the drugs is only damaging the cause of protecting people from drug use. The better solutions can be achieved by creating solutions that allow for the safe use of recreational drugs, such as cannabis and its derivatives. DPA promotes that the current policies harm people and provide them false information. It also believes that people of color are at a disadvantage in the war of drugs. Young people are also poorly affected and find that they are not given the freedom to make their own choices. The DPA has an extensive online library of that contains over 15,000 documents and videos which is freely searchable and offers several books on the subject and links for purchase.


This award-winning group was formed in 1995 to inform citizens and encourage involvement in drug policy reform., and it usually operates more in the online world. It engages in dialog to find support for eliminating drug prohibition. A famous campaign of this group is the Media Awareness Project, which is a network dedicated to supporting a balanced media coverage of drug related problems.

It has developed a number of projects and services that have become a foundation for drug policy reform. The Media Awareness Project (MAP) Drug News Archive (http://drugnews.org/) encourages unbiased media coverage, online media activism and a drug policy research tool. Drug Policy Central’s Web-based services (http://www.drugpolicycentral.com/) provides subsidized technical services for drug policy
organizations organization to empower their members to organize and share information and resources

European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD)

Encod was created in 1993 and is a European organization that brings European citizens together who believe that drug prohibition is an immoral and insane policy. They’re a panEuropean network of currently 140 NGO’s and individual experts involved in the drug issue on a daily base. ENCOD calls for legal regulation as the only sensible and effective way to deal with drug-related problems. One of the main goals of ENCOD is to obtain more transparency and democracy in the drug policy-making process. (2)

Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU Drugreporter)

This is a leading NGO and leading human rights watchdog that supports drug reforms around the world and in building and strengthening civil society and rule of law in Hungary and the Central Eastern European region.. This group was created in 1994. HCLU uses the best online practices and advocates the use of methods, such as using social media posts and YouTube videos to promote the drug reforms.

HCLU members travel around the world and support their position, which is to eliminate prohibition on drugs, such as marijuana. The group presents itself as one, which runs campaigns on all kinds of criminal issues regarding the use of drugs.

Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)

In 2002, five police officers founded Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit composed of police and other criminal justice professionals dedicated to educating the public about the harms of drug prohibition. In January 2017, LEAP became the Law Enforcement Action Partnership in order to advocate for solutions across a broader range of drug policy and criminal justice issues.

According to its Web page it has a mission and vision:


The Law Enforcement Action Partnership’s mission is to unite and mobilize the voice of law enforcement in support of drug policy and criminal justice reforms that will make communities safer by focusing law enforcement resources on the greatest threats to public safety, promoting alternatives to arrest and incarceration, addressing the root causes of crime, and working toward healing police-community relations.


The Law Enforcement Action Partnership envisions a world in which criminal justice and drug policies keep our communities safer. Ending the War on Drugs and looking beyond the criminal justice system for a range of solutions to address society’s ills will better protect human rights, reduce violence and addiction, and build public respect for and trust in law enforcement.

LEAP is an international group that supports the point of view that the current war on drugs needs to end immediately. The LEAP represents the point of view that the current criminal penalties make it difficult for improving the situation, and these should be replaced with a strict system of regulations.

The main objective of LEAP is to educate policy makers as well as the general audience, about the failure of the current anti-marijuana policies and the lack of respect that has developed for the law enforcement agencies, due to criminal penalties regarding recreational drugs.

LEAP members believe that regulation and not prohibition is the solution to this problem. LEAP is based in the United States and has been serving the cause of weed for over a decade now. It now has many international chapters, and it is quickly finding more support around the world for promoting the policy of eliminating the prohibition of marijuana.

Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is a non-profit organization that has been active since 1995. It has lobbied extensively for legislative changes and is at the forefront of the fight against prohibition of marijuana. MPP also works to establish its presence in the media and lobbies directly to the U.S. Congressmen.

The MPP advocates that criminal penalties attached with the use of marijuana are the greatest issue and supports the point of view, that the negation of criminal penalties can certainly improve the situation a great deal. Someone is arrested for a marihuana offense every 45 seconds and 88% of these arrests are for possession not for sale or manufacture. In the U.S., there are more arrests for marijuana possession each year than for all violet crimes combined. (3)  MPP gives the example of alcohol, and stresses that the situation only improved when the controlled use of alcohol was de-regularized.

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

MAPS does not solely focuses on making amazing strides in terms of the policies that govern cannabis. The social group works to perform studies, which allow people to regain their control over the mind and body. Currently, it is performing an important trial for PTSD patients by treating them with cannabis. Its mission as a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization is to develop “medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.”

It is also looking for other solutions for substances, such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, a psychedelic drug). This group is looking at different chemicals that can allow researchers to look into the psychedelic realm. According to the records, MAPS is a non-profit organization and aims to develop medical and legal contexts in order to help people in benefiting from marijuana.

Their representative informed that the advocacy group is attempting to support the legal and safe use of chemicals, such as marijuana. This group performs research that is supported through a careful evaluation of the benefits and risks of such chemicals. (4)

National Cannabis Industry Association

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) represents the overall cannabis industry in the United States. It specially stresses on the economic importance of the weed industry and was founded in 2010. It has now gained the ability to influence federal policy changes regarding marijuana, by taking part directly in the legislative decision-making. The NCIA offers many benefits for joining. It holds amazing industry events and its members are able to get excellent discounts and receive important whitepapers regarding weed. The group also produces and distributes digital content, which educates about the benefits of the marijuana industry.

The NCIA also supports the creation of many jobs and its members pay millions of dollars in tax revenue. It is relevant because it has created a well-coordinated marijuana supporting campaign that stresses the promotion of the weed industry in a fair manner, under the federal laws. You can sign up for a free newsletter and it’s a membership-based organization for businesses that you can join.

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

NORML is a Washington D.C. based organization that has been fighting for the rights of marijuana lovers for around four decades now. The organization has been voicing its concerns against the anti-marijuana regime. NORML is an organization that is present in almost all parts of the country through chapters and it wants to eliminate the persecution of marijuana users.

This advocacy group has become more international in stature, as it has established its presence in Norway, Spain, Canada and South Africa. The main objective of this group is to affect the public opinion into understanding that cannabis should be a personal choice, and should not carry a criminal penalty. It has a free newsletter that you can subscribe to on its Web site. It constantly posts legislative actions and a call to react to them.

November Coalition

The November Coalition is a grass roots organization working to end drug war injustice and was founded in 1997. It represents citizens from all walks of life that find themselves questioning the motivation and ever increasing militarization and imprisonment behind the United States war on drugs. They began with the advocacy for Tyrone Brown’s release, an African American teenager from Texas, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 1990 for smoking marijuana. On March 9, 2007, Governor Rick Perry signed a conditional pardon that released Brown under supervision.

Patients Out Of Time

Patients Out of Time is a Virginia non-profit 501c3 corporation that provides education to all disciplines of health care professionals; their specialty and professional organizations; the legal profession; and the public at large, about medical cannabis (marijuana).

The organization works to re-institute cannabis as a legitimate medicine for use within the United States. Cannabis, under modern research protocols, has been found to be effective in reducing intraocular pressure in glaucoma, reducing nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, stimulating the appetite for persons living with AIDS and suffering from wasting syndrome, controlling spasticity associated with spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis, treating Dravet Syndrome, reducing the intensity of chronic pain, assisting with treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, and controlling seizures associated with seizure disorders.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)

SSDP is an international advocacy group that has students on board from around the world. It was formed in 1998, and started to support the cause of ending the global war on drugs, especially ones that are safe to use in a recreational manner, such as cannabis. Most members are high school students, but several others are also MBA or undergraduate students. It has thousands of members at hundreds of colleges around the world.

The group also has a separate alumni association, which is currently in its pilot phase, and connects some of the most influential people around the world. The SSDP runs a network of students, who are especially concerned about drug abuse, but understand that the current campaign against them is going to fail miserably.

The SSDP has the objective of especially motivating and mobilizing young people around the world to participate politically and support the cause of eliminating the criminal policies regarding the use of cannabis and similar drugs around the world.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy Inc., I a 501 (c)4 organization which is not tax deductible for donations. It’s other companion organization SSDP Foundation is a 501(c)3 non profit organization and donations are tax deductible.

Stop the Drug War

This advocacy group was formed in 1993, and it has been working since to eliminate drug prohibition. It advocates the establishing of a sensible policy, where the use of drugs can be properly regulated. The Stop the Drug War intends to raise the awareness of influential people in the country by publishing content on the various available media instruments, such as newspapers and informative websites. They also run their own online chronicle, where they cover the stories, regarding drug issues in the country.

Their mission as stated is: “StoptheDrugWar.org works for an end to drug prohibition worldwide, and an end to the “drug war” in its current form. We believe that much of the harm commonly attributed to “drugs” is really the result of placing drugs in a criminal environment. We believe the global drug war has fueled violence, civil instability, and public health crises; and that the currently prevalent arrest- and punishment-based policies toward drugs are unjust.”

The American Alliance for Medical Cannabis

This organization is dedicated to bringing patients, caregivers and volunteers information they need to make informed decisions about whether Cannabis is the right medicine for them, the laws surrounding Medicinal Marijuana in your area, political activism and even handy recipes and guides to growing your own nontoxic medicine.

Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access

Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access or VMCA, advocates for veterans’ rights to access medical cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The organization also encourages all legislative bodies to endorse veterans’ rights to use medical cannabis therapeutically and responsibly, and works to end all prohibitions associated with such use. VMCA is working to preserve and protect the long established doctor-patient relationship including the ability to safely discuss medical cannabis use within the V.A. healthcare system without fear of punishment or retribution.

We Are The Marijuana Majority

This is an online poll founded by Jon Stewart when he was with The Daily Show. It lists many celebrities who believe that marijuana should be legal and anyone can take part in the poll. It currently shows that 88% support medical marijuana, 84% support no jail time for marijuana and 60% support legalizing the herb.


1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-piper/marijuana-reformbill_b_7858604.html

2. https://www.dinafem.org/en/blog/cannabis-marijuana-legalization-groups/

3. Compartido, 2012. 10 Most Influential Legalization Groups. Dinafem. Available at  https://www.dinafem.org/en/blog/cannabis-marijuana-legalization-groups/


NEXT: The Marijuana Debate – Part 8: International Laws Regarding Marijuana




The Marijuana Debate – Part 6: Vaping, e-cigs and Marijuana

by Don Rittner

While the traditional ways of smoking Marijuana have been successful new techniques have emerged using current technology.

One of the rising new methods of smoking is the use of vaping. Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the water vapors produced by an electronic based vaporizer. These vaporizers are commonly referred to e-cigarettes (e-cigs), and are perfect for use in a number of settings. In 2015 the CDC reported that more than 9 million adults vape regularly. That is 3.7 percent of American adults.

Key findings include: (1)

• About 3.7 percent of adults used e-cigarettes every day or some days;

• Almost one-half of current cigarette smokers (47.6%) and more than one-half of recent former cigarette smokers (55.4%) had ever tried an e-cigarette;

• About one in six current cigarette smokers (15.9%) and nearly one in four recent former cigarette smokers (22.0%) currently used e-cigarettes;

• Fewer than 4 percent of adults who had never smoked conventional cigarettes have ever tried an ecigarette.

Statistics show that the vaping industry had grown to 3.5 billion dollars in 2015, and currently may have a trading size of over 5 billion dollars. The issue with vaping is that many people are still not clear about what it is and how to carry it out in a safe manner, or on how to use vaping techniques and ensure that they can enjoy inhaling, without having to worry about other smoking hazards.

Understanding Vaping

Vaping requires the use of a liquid that can be vaporized to provide the inhaling experience. This liquid is often termed as an e-liquid. Vapers then exhale the fumes, which are created with the use of an electronic atomizer. This vapor is different in that the liquids are available in a number of flavors, such as mint, candy and different fruits.

E-liquids usually consist of propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerin (VG). These chemicals work as solvents and are enhanced by adding natural or synthetic flavors. The additions are trade secrets, and can often create exotic mixes, which get popularized in the vaping community. (2)

Another advantage of using vaping is that it is completely tobacco free. It is also available in a number of nicotine concentrations. If one prefers to stay away from becoming nicotine abuser, then the use of e-cigarettes that have nicotine-free liquids is a benefit.

A common way of describing vaping is to describe it as a smoking activity, but without the ill effects of tobacco, and sometimes nicotine, although it is up to a particular vaper. The act of vaping significantly reduces the health dangers, which are associated with smoking regular cigarettes. (3)

Vapers do not have to contend with the strong smell and the smoke, which often infuses in their cloths. Vaping allows people to replace their pack of cigarettes, with a single electronic device, which can be easily refilled and recharged to provide continuous functionality.

The History of Vaping

Vaping can be better understood by exploring its rich history. Many people mistakenly believe that vaping is a modern phenomenon of the 21st Century. This is exactly contrary to the actual facts. The method of vaping has been present in human civilization for thousands of years. Historical records show that Herodotus, the famous Greek Historian, wrote about an ancient vaping practice of Scythians, a famous Eurasian race of people, in around 500 BC.

Scythians used to throw marijuana on hot stones, and bathed in the immediate vapors produced by instant vaporization. The next significant historical record can be observed during the times of the Mughals in India. The physician of the famous Emperor, Akbar I is known to have invented the “Hookah” in the 16th Century, which is pretty much a vaporizer.

The modern vaporizes are also not quite young, as the first working example was produced in 1960, by Herbert A. Gilbert who was a Korean War veteran. All vaporizers used today still employ the basic principle of the Gilbert’s design. As the end of the Century neared, Bill Amato of the Netherlands created a large marijuana vaporizer that received a lot of fame and won many awards as well. His invention was known as the shake and vape device.

Modern vaping devices, such as e-cogs quickly came up with the turn of the century, when many manufacturers brought out portable devices, which could be easily carried and employed in restricted spaces. In fact, you can find a vaporizer as small as a memory stick these days, and these inventions allow you to enjoy vaping in a variety of environments.

What are e-cigs?

An electronic cigarette (e-cig) is a portable device, which has the ability to vaporize a flavored liquid in order to deliver a vaping experience. The use of these e-cigs is often termed as vaping, although it can be performed using other, more traditional methods, as explained above. The common composition of e-liquids includes glycerin, PG, nicotine and particular flavors. Nicotine-free products are now readily available as well. (4)

The modern e-cig were invented by Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik, and in fact, most e-cigs are manufactured in China to this day. It is a common practice in the developed countries to use these products. They are used for a variety of purposes. People employ them to reduce health risks, enjoy recreational experience, or simply save money spent on traditional cigarettes.

Although there is a shortage of scientific studies regarding the use of e-cigs it remains clear that they are much safer to use when compared to traditional cigarettes that contain tobacco. The e-cigs are often used by people in order to quit smoking. The e-cigs allow chain smokers to gradually reduce their nicotine intake, which is much easier than leaving the use of tobacco altogether.

E-cigs can be dangerous for non-smokers as they can cause people to develop nicotine addiction and move on to regular smoking. However, e-cigs are relatively safe if used in a proper way. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) now regulates e-cigs as it included them in their regulatory framework in August of 20165. Currently, the global sales of e-cigs have crossed the 7 billion dollars mark. (6)

Dissecting an e-cig

E-cigs usually contain three different components. These components can either be separate or installed together in a single casing.

The first component is the liquid container termed as the cartridge. It contains the liquid mixture of chemicals, usually held together by glycerin.

The second component is the vaporizer. This is usually a small heating element, which has the ability to turn the liquid around it into gaseous vapor, which the user inhales.

The third component is the power source, usually in the form of an independent battery. It is a rechargeable battery just like the ones employed in your mobile phones.

Most e-cigs start working when a vapor user puffs using the device. This activates the installed vaporizer in the cartridge and creates an aerosol spray. This vapor is then inhaled by the user, which is termed commonly as vaping. (7)

The Cultural Use of Vaping

Vaping is the new pop culture. You can see people vaping in bars, gas stations, on the street, and any other imaginable place. Many vape manufacturers are selling products that are personalized. Vape bars are opening around the world, and already blogs and online communities of vapers have developed around the globe.

Vaping has created a new culture these days and in fact, it has carved out its own niche. Many people now compete to create the largest and the most sophisticated vapor plumes. People are able to show their individuality through vaping. Vaping can also be used for taking in various recreational drugs, as long as it falls within the legal confines of a particular area.

Vaping and Marijuana

As tobacco users around the world have switched to vaping, marijuana users have also found that vaping can be an answer to easily using marijuana. Vaping is extremely easy to use and it allows you to even take on medical marijuana. One such user explains that the use of a vape pen is much easier, and provides the same relief from stress, pain, and psychological discomfort.

All kinds of vapers are available for pot users. There are cheap plastic models that contain hash oil, but there are also expensive varieties available in the market. These high quality products are often attached with online apps that allow users to document their cannabis use, as well as follow the latest trends.

Many pot lovers are turning to Crowdfunding in order to find the funds that are required for producing new vapes for marijuana. This means that improved devices are coming up every few months. In fact, many marijuana vapers compare their new devices with their expensive smart phones. As we all love to get a new smart phone to enjoy newer features, pot users are also enjoying the benefits of buying a cooler device to use the hash. (8)

Many people in the country have found vaping as a safe method to use cannabis. You do not need to carry a lighter and it delivers great overall experience. It is healthy and more economical. Many people who are not smokers are also using the marijuana vaping experience as one that allows them to use pot, without increasing cancer risk.

Experts argue that the main risk from smoking marijuana is the actual smoke as it contains the same chemicals that are found in a tobacco cigarette. The dangers of inhaling carcinogens are significantly reduced when you start to use e-cigs and other vaping devices. People who use vapers definitely show decreased effects on their respiratory systems when compared with traditional pot users. Vaping marijuana is definitely safer than smoking it using any traditional method.

Vaping Bud or Hash!

You can employ a number of ways to vape marijuana. The common way of taking marijuana is to either take it in the bud form or the hash oil form. Regular bud vapers heat them to a temperature that the psychoactive chemicals of marijuana are vaporized, including CBD and THC. As air is not present these compounds do not burn in a vaporizer.

Hash oil on the other hand is prepared by mixing the cannabis products in base oil. This solution may contain other unnecessary chemicals, including lighter fluid and pesticide compounds. This can interfere with your respiratory system and expose you to serious chemical hazards.

Experts therefore inform that it is much safer to use the bud for vaping rather than the hash containing oil. However, both methods are much safer when compared with smoking marijuana in the traditional manner.

Scientists conducted a study in 2011 and produced a code for using safe practices when using recreational and medical purpose drugs. An important recommendation give by this group was to employ vaping when looking to enjoy the effects of marijuana in a number of forms. (9)

The Right Way of Using a Marijuana Vaporizer

Many people who buy vapes are not aware about how to properly employ these products. Although quite easy to use these products still need to be learned as to the proper application of the vape pen, in order to enjoy the best benefits on offer. Here, we share a number of tips that will help you enjoy marijuana properly through the use of vaping.

Charging before First Use

Many first time vape users get too excited and start to use the product, before properly charging the supplied batteries. An important tip is to charge the battery to the maximum, according to the recommendations of the manufacturer. This can be a disappointing experience, waiting to use the product, but it allows the vapers to have a long life.

It should also be a habit to charge the batteries according to a pattern. Although it can be beneficial for battery life, if they are charged less, this will mean that it will take longer to charge. It can reduce downtime by buying a product with replaceable batteries. This will allow a power source to be ready when you need to vape.

Using the Instruction Manual

Although it may seem a nerdy idea, it is always important to completely read the instruction manual, or at least the important sections in it. This allows you to prepare before vaping with your new product. Reading up the manual allows you to understand the right way of using the product, which ensures that you will not damage your product in any way, and enjoy the best vaping experience.

You will be able to learn about the best liquid products to use with your vaper, as well as ensure if it works well with hemp oil or is more suited to vape the cannabis buds. It can also be a product that is designed to administer MMJ. It all depends on the way a product is designed and you can only learn it by reading the manual.

Running it Dry

Although most vape pens are safe to use it, it is always better to perform a dry run for the first time. This ensures that any residual product left in the pen during manufacturing is burned off and does not enter your lungs. The risk of inhaling an industrial residue is completely eliminated if you simply turn the device to maximum power and let it heat up from around one to two minutes10.

You can then use the device in the designated manner without having to worry about inhaling any waste produce. You must remember that it is a precautionary measure and good quality products are already free from any pollutants or potential hazards.

Installing Cartridges

It is easy to install the cartridges in most vape pens and vaporizers. What you need to ensure that the cartridge contains a mix that is designed for use with your particular product. Prefilled cartridges can be directly installed within the product, but some devices require that the pot wax should be placed around the wick of the atomizer. Grounded flowers are usually installed in a metal chamber that is heated by an element powered by the battery.

Proper Inhaling

There are two types of vaping products. The first type is only turned on with the push of a button. The second type automatically activates the atomizer when the user inhales using the puffing mechanism of the product.

You need to inhale from the mouthpiece of the vaper and this will enable you to get the vapors of the cannabis-based oil. You should always take in some clean air at the end of each puff. This practice ensures that the cannabis fumes are pushed into your lungs in order to provide you the required benefits of marijuana vaping. You should never hold your breath for more than a few seconds, because prolonged holding may create sudden stoning effects for you as well as for people who are sitting near you.

Monitor Your Use

Vaping produces either use cannabis oil or flower buds. The buds are usually more concentrated and quickly produce the desired high effect with just a few puffs. This means that you should go easy when using a vaper and take a gap between the subsequent puffs. This allows your body to adjust to marijuana and keep its bearings.

The use of regulated puffs ensures that you are properly monitoring your body and are never entering the red zone of the body, where you can get fully stoned. You should explore your body through gentle vaping and understand how it responds as you keep inhaling in a successive manner.

The Dangers of Vaping

Vaping is not risk free. A study by a toxicologist at the University of Rochester in New York found that some young vapers were complaining of bleeding mouths and throats from vaping. The scientists found that vaping inflame mouth cells in a way that could potentially promote gum disease that in turn could cause tooth loss. The research also showed that e-cig vapors make it hard for lung cells to repair damage. Since students as young as 12 are more likely to vape rather than smoke the impression that e-cigs are nor risk free are wrong. Studies have also shown that vapors mess with the body’s immunity system and “Smoker’s Cough” and bloody sores have been seen in teenage vapers. In other studies benzene has showed up in e-cig vapors. This chemical is a well-known cancer causer. (11)


1.  https://www.atr.org/new-cdc-data-more-9-million-adults-vape-regularly-united-states

2. Quit Smoking Community, 2017. What is Vaping? Available at https://quitsmokingcommunity.org/what-is-vaping/

3. Cheng, T. (2014). “Chemical evaluation of electronic cigarettes”. Tobacco Control. 23 (Supplement 2): ii11–ii17. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-051482

4.  Sullum, Jacob (27 Aug 2015), “Wacky British Idea: Why Not Tell The Truth About E-Cigarettes?”  Forbes

5. US FDA, 2016. FDA’s New Regulations for E-Cigarettes, Cigars, and All Other Tobacco Products.  Available at https://www.fda.gov/tobaccoproducts/labeling/rulesregulationsguidance/ucm394909.htm

6. WHO, 2014. Backgrounder on WHO report on regulation of e-cigarettes and similar products. Available at http://www.who.int/nmh/events/2014/backgrounder-e-cigarettes/en/

7. Caponnetto, Pasquale; Campagna, Davide; Papale, Gabriella; Russo, Cristina; Polosa, Riccardo (2012). “The emerging phenomenon of electronic cigarettes”. Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine. 6 (1): 63–74

8. Vaper Soul, 2017. What is Vaping? Your Complete Guide. Available at http://www.vapersoul.com/what-is-vaping/

9. Cat Ferguson, 2015. Vaping The trai: A Guide For The Health-Conscious Pothead. Buzzfeed.  Available at https://www.buzzfeed.com/catferguson/vapingweed?utm_term=.ymoM4jJpo#.ci3mO9qjY

10. Ben Livingston, 2016. How to use a vape pen: Tips on getting the most out of a marijuana vaporizer. The Cannabist. Available at http://www.thecannabist.co/2016/02/15/how-to-use-avape-pen-tips-vaporizer/48204/

11. https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/concerns-explode-over-new-health-risksvaping

NEXT: The Marijuana Debate – Part 7: Advocacy Groups


The Marijuana Debate – Part 5: What Millennials Think about Marijuana

by Don Rittner

Currently Millennials are the most dominant social group. It refers to the generation that experienced the turn of the century during their formative years. They simply form the group of young adults that are range from 20 to 35 years old. Research shows that Millennials are twice as likely to support marijuana legalization as other demographic groups. In fact, even Republican Millennials are more likely to support the legalization of marijuana according to the survey performed in the research. (1)

The times have changed considerably since the millennial generation has reached a commanding position in the social dynamics around the world. A few decades ago, it was hard to find support for the legalization of marijuana due to the extensive disinformation campaigns. In recent times, young people understand the risks of marijuana and believe that they should be allowed to take them, especially as cannabis is much safer to use than the more common alcohol. (2)

On average, millennials use marijuana less than the other generations, such as the Generation X. Still, they are able to understand why people should be allowed to use marijuana for recreational purposes while the older generations are caught in maintaining hypocritical standards. Smoking marijuana is treated as normal by the millennial generation, which in turn means that it is not used by people who want to present a rebellious face to the society.

A recent study also shows that heavy pot smoking has, in fact, decreased with the increasing knowledge about the actual impact of marijuana as compared to other potent recreational drugs. What supports this phenomenon is that the number of deaths in younger adults has gone down in states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. (3) This means that awareness plays a large part in the actual threat of any recreational drug.

Another study shows that millennials are comfortable with the use of marijuana for both recreational and medical purposes. Currently around 20% of the young American adults are using marijuana, although only a few states are offering recreational use, such as California. This means that millennials will use it more commonly if a federal law allows for recreational use of marijuana. The same also goes for medical use.

The millennials have given the verdict that they are ready for the marijuana, and they will support it actively through sensible use, once it is legalized across the board in all American states. Medical marijuana is especially receiving the support of the young adults, and states, which have it available, are certainly having much lower prescription rates for other more complex pain relieving drugs. (4)



1. Abigail Geiger, 2016. Support for marijuana legalization continues to rise. Available at  http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/12/support-for-marijuana-legalization-continuesto-rise/

2. Seth Motel, 2015. 6 facts about marijuana. Available at http://www.pewresearch.org/facttank/2015/04/14/6-facts-about-marijuana/

3.  Madison Margolin, September 15, 2016. “Millennials’ Marijuana Usage Has Risen but Pales to Baby Boomers’ Hazy Days”. LA Weekly. Available at http://www.laweekly.com/news/millennialsmarijuana-usage-has-risen-but-pales-to-baby-boomers-hazy-days-7386719

4.  Oaktree, 2016. “20% Of Millennials Smoke Weed Regularly, Wait, What?” Cannabbis.net. Available at https://cannabis.net/blog/news/20-of-millennials-smoke-weed-regularly-wait-what


NEXT: The Marijuana Debate – Part 6: Vaping, e-cigs and Marijuana



The Marijuana Debate – Part 4: Getting High on Marijuana Vs. Getting High on Alcohol

by Don Rittner


Comparing Marijuana to Alcohol is equivalent to comparing apples to oranges. Both produce different effects. The following outlines these effects when too much Marijuana is smoked vs. too much alcohol consumed.

High on Alcohol

The effects of using alcohol can be divided according to a period of activation. Here, we only focus on the effects that are immediately produced after getting high on alcohol. An immediate effect is produced when even 2 ounces of concentrated spirits are consumed. These effects can also be affected further by having an empty stomach.

One immediate effect of alcohol is the loss of inhibition. This can lead to inappropriate behavior and can lose focus completely regarding actual behaviors and talking patterns.

These effects progressively turn unpleasant as people high on alcohol start to have lowered reflex and response times. The motor activity coordination quickly dissipates, and people completely lose their ability to carry out functions that need close coordination of different parts of the body.

People high on alcohol also start to lose their speaking ability, often slurring words, and their sleep is significantly affected. The body temperature lowers and they can easily be victimized in a number of ways as they have lost their ability to properly respond to life situations. (1) People who regularly get high on alcohol also develop intense dependence. They simply cannot live without it and start to lose their mental abilities if they are not able to receive the drinks on a regular basis. Withdrawal is extremely difficult, and for most addicts, out of the question, due to emotional trauma.

Another serious problem is that the body loses its immunization ability when it consumes too much. This leaves one vulnerable to even the most basic infections that can really affect the body. Sometimes these effects may last up to several days and leave the drinker in a vegetative state. (2)

Another issue that appears when people get high on alcohol is that they start to have irregular heart beat. This can be a serious issue, especially for people who have a history of cardiac problems. Alcohol also produces short-term memory loss as it is common to find that intoxicated people have no memory of the previous day when they got high with alcohol. (3)

Another serious issue is that people are susceptible to commit crime or being targeted as a victim when they are high. Alcohol intoxication is one of the top reasons for getting involved in serious issues, such as rape, violence and other anti-social behaviors. Getting high on alcohol is such a serious issue that the Mental Health Foundation reports that around 65% suicides occur due to people drinking excessively. Getting high on alcohol will certainly destroy sleeping habits and put one in a precarious position regarding decision making abilities. (4)

High on Marijuana

Most people have much greater tolerance for cannabis when compared with alcohol. The normal physical and psychological effects produced on a marijuana user mean that getting high can only be defined as the third level of effect, which is often termed as getting stoned, which is quite rare.

The first level of getting high simply produces a positive effect on your mind which wears off after some time. This level is not addictive at all and anyone can get a simple high with two or three pot shots.

The second level is produced with four to eight doses of high quality Marijuana. The most serious effect is uncontrolled laughter at any stimulus. Some people may also have bloody eyes when they are in the second level of use. This condition allows you to have heightened senses, and you can enjoy activities such as intimate moments or food in a greater manner. (5)

The highest level is achieved when people continue to use cannabis until they reach their personal plateau. This is the condition in which they feel uninhibited. At worst, they can do some stupid things such as having eyes closed when getting a photograph taken. Many people may also feel sleepy at this point. This high level does not cause any immediate damage though and the human body returns to the normal state in just a few hours.

Smoking marijuana also increases your heart rate. This happens because the brain starts to work faster, which means that the heart needs to pump more blood in order to ensure that adequate oxygen supply is maintained in the body. Another effect of getting high on marijuana is having “cotton mouth.” This is a condition where your oral cavity gets dry due to excessive use. This happens because the saliva glands stop producing as they do not receive the required signals from the parasympathetic nervous system. (6)

High use of marijuana may also make it difficult for some to get an erection. This is a temporary condition and is similar to the problem faced by people who are high on alcoholic drinks. People who are supposedly high on marijuana can also feel quite hungry and eat much more than they actually do. This also happens due to an active psychological state. The chemical THC is responsible for inducing our brain and making it think that the body needs food immediately.

For most people who try to get high on marijuana they find that marijuana works more as an activity enhancer rather than producing absurd effects, which are common with alcohol use.

Comparing Marijuana and Alcohol High

Comparing the high created by cannabis and alcohol has been shown that marijuana can often produce the same conditions as produced by smoking too many cigarettes. On the other, alcohol produces characteristic effects that show that a normal person only has a limited capacity for drinking alcohol. If a person keeps on drinking alcohol it can break the blood-brain barrier and can kill a person due to the loss of autonomous nervous controls related to respiration and blood circulation.

This means that an alcohol high can kill you within minutes, while the effects of marijuana are much slower allowing you to stop at a much safer point during use. It is nearly impossible to perform an overdose with marijuana, as it is quickly metabolized and does not build up in the body in the same way as alcohol. (7)

According to one report, a marijuana user will need to consume thousands of joints to develop life-threatening levels of chemicals, such as THC. On the other hand, a dangerous high can easily be achieved by taking a few pints of strong liquor. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggested that alcohol high was the cause of over three million deaths in 2012. Another relevant study found that alcohol use is over 100 times more dangerous than marijuana use. (8)

However, the psychological issues remain the same with both uses. It is not safe to drive when you are high on any substance, including alcohol and marijuana. You lose fine motor control during a high situation, and therefore it is essential to ensure that you are not driving or getting engaged in intimate activities.

Another important point is that the actual high levels of various drugs are loosely based on a number of health factors. Marijuana or alcohol will not produce the same high effects in two separate individuals. There are people who are genetically prone to the effects of particular chemicals, while there is also others whose bodies cannot tolerate even insignificant levels of marijuana or alcohol.

A more dangerous proposition is about people who want to mix the highs created by both alcohol and cannabis. It is a dangerous position because marijuana primarily relaxes your nervous system while alcohol impairs your motor skills. This combination will mean that you enter a vegetative state where you will not be able to use the advantages offered by the particular high. The use of alcohol also increases the intoxication levels created by the marijuana use, as it increases the absorption of THC in the body. (9)


Marijuana certainly produces less toxic effects on the body during a high condition. It is ultimately baffling to compare it with alcohol, to find that you are allowed to get a high on booze, which is dangerous on all levels, but even the slightest use of marijuana remains illegal, according to the federal regulations.


1. Eric Patterson, 2017. The Effect of Drug Use. Available at http://drugabuse.com/library/the-effectsof-alcohol-use/

2. NIH, 2017. Alcohol’s Effects on the Body. Available at https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcoholhealth/alcohols-effects-body

3. Addiction Blog, 2014. Does alcohol get you high? Available at  http://alcohol.addictionblog.org/does-alcohol-get-you-high/

4. Know Your Limits. Know… the effects of alcohol. Available at  http://www.knowyourlimits.info/know%E2%80%A6-effects-alcohol

5. Weeds that Please, 2017. The Three Levels of Marijuana High: Buzzed, High, Stoned on Weed.  Available at http://www.weedsthatplease.com/3levelsofhigh.htm

6. Elizabeth Enochs, 2015. 8 Side Effects of Getting High, Explained. Available at https://www.bustle.com/articles/115782-8-side-effects-of-getting-high-explained

7. Joe Brownstein, 2014. Marijuana vs. Alcohol: Which Is Really Worse for Your Health? Available at http://www.livescience.com/42738-marijuana-vs-alcohol-health-effects.html

8. Stephanie Castillo, 2015. Marijuana vs. Alcohol: The Effects Psychoactive Drugs Have On Physical  And Mental Health. Available at http://www.medicaldaily.com/marijuana-vs-alcohol-effectspsychoactive-drugs-have-physical-and-mental-health-332094

9. Gabe Bergado, 2014. What Happens To Your Body When You Get Drunk And Stoned At The Same  Time? Available at http://www.popsci.com/article/science/what-happens-your-body-when-youget-drunk-and-stoned-same-time-0


NEXT: The Marijuana Debate – Part 5: What Millennials Think about Marijuana