Pubdate: Sun, 08 May 2016
Source: News-Herald, The (Southgate, MI)
Copyright: 2016 Heritage Newspapers
Author: Ashley Sword


With the legalization of marijuana possibly being added to the state's
November election ballot, police are speaking out about the dangers of
recreational use.

Flat Rock Police Chief John Leacher has been meeting with Downriver
groups to ensure there is an "educated election this coming fall."

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and
expecting a different result," Leacher said, commenting on the
legalization of marijuana in Colorado in 2012.

Colorado Amendment 64, which amended the state's constitution,
outlined a drug policy for marijuana that passed with 55 percent of
the vote.

Since that approval, there has been a reported increase in traffic
deaths, emergency visits and overdoses.

According to the Colorado Hospital Association, traffic deaths with a
driver under the influence of marijuana increased 92 percent between

The association reported 8,197 emergency related visits the year
before it was legalized, with a spike to 18,255 in 2014. The incidents
often were related to reported overdose situations.

An overdose usually presents itself with lethargy, decreased motor
coordination and slurred speech.

Police said the cause of overdoses is increased levels of THC - or
Tetrahydrocannabinol - the principal psychoactive component of cannabis.

According to police, the content of THC in the 1980s was 1.5 percent.
Now, it is upward of 25 to 30 percent. The increased levels result in
a "more intense high" and, at times, an overdose when there is a
higher intake.

Marijuana edibles can have a level of up to 90 percent THC. The market
for marijuana edibles has expanded, authorities said, particularly in
states that have legalized cannabis for medical and/or recreational

Edibles often are sold as candy and baked goods.

An example given by Leacher is that with an edible marijuana cookie
that has a high THC level, it is recommended that a consumer eat only
one-eighth of the cookie since the whole cookie would mean ingesting
the full THC content at one time.

When it is ingested rather than being inhaled, it can take longer to
obtain the "high" people are seeking. That can lead to people eating
more because they think it isn't working properly. As a result, they
ingest the high THC content in the edible, which can result in an
overdose and death -- three of which have been reported in Colorado.

Leacher said it is important for people to understand there are
significant differences between inhaling and ingesting marijuana.

Ingesting typically produces much stronger and longer-lasting effects
due to the way the body processes the drug.

When consuming a marijuana edible, it is recommended first reading the
product's packaging. State laws require that it indicate how many
servings and total milligrams of THC are in the product. Many
companies produce high-dosage products with the expectation that
consumers will only eat a portion.

It can reportedly take up to two hours to begin experiencing the
effects of marijuana-infused products.

The CBD - or Cannabidiol - levels believed to have potential as
medical benefits reportedly stays the same while the THC levels
continue to rise.

"It makes you wonder why someone isn't working to try to cultivate it
for the CBD to be more potent for its reported benefits," Kyle Vernon
of Woodhaven said.

Vernon said he has several friends and relatives, some with cancer,
who have obtained their medical marijuana cards to help reduce nausea
and vomiting from cancer treatments.

Vernon said he has seen firsthand how it has helped the people around
him, but doesn't believe it is necessary to open up for recreational
use in the state.

"I believe marijuana is a gateway to not only other drugs like heroin,
which is becoming an epidemic in our area, but also to crime," he said.

According to the National Incident-Based Reporting System, there was a
10 percent increase in crime between 2013 and 2014.

Ultimately, Leacher's mission, along with other Downriver police
departments, is to continue to educate people on the impact legalizing
marijuana will have.
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