Parent Alert December 2022

Parent Alert | December 2022

Fun Family Winter Activities

Holiday Break is upon us!!! This time of year offers many opportunities for the whole family to spend time together.  Going sledding, drinking hot cocoa while enjoying a movie, and checking out what event the city is putting on are just a few of the many great things can be done together as a family.  Here are some ideas for how to spend time with your family during these winter months.

Activities if you are staying home

  • Check out these recipes and create some delicious winter treats together
  • Have a board game night.  Check out this list of games if you want some ideas
  • Get creative with these crafts
  • Have a movie marathon

Activities if you want to get out of the house

  • Go outside and build a snowman or have a snowball fight
  • Go sledding or take a wintery walk on a nature trail
  • Visit a local museum or library
  • Volunteer as a family.  Many organizations need help especially during this busy time of the year
Separating Fact from Fiction
Viewing Marijuana Through an Evidence-Based Lens
Marijuana is arguably the most controversial substance in our society today.  On one side of the debate is the argument that it is a harmless drug that should be legalized for both recreational and medicinal purposes while opponents argue that marijuana is a dangerous drug with no place in our society at all.  As is the case with most hotly debated topics, facts and opinions get mixed together to form biased statements that each side uses to try and sway people to share their beliefs.  This article is going to focus on three statements made by marijuana proponents, and will look at what evidence-based research has found in response to those statements.

Let's begin this discussion with a statement that is brought to almost every debate: marijuana is not addictive.  A study cited by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that 3 in 10 marijuana users have marijuana use disorder while another study estimated that cannabis users have a 10% likelihood of becoming addicted.  Marijuana or Cannabis Use Disorder is defined by the CDC as a disorder in which people "are unable to stop using marijuana even though it's causing health or social problems in their lives."  Studies have also found that the risk of developing marijuana use disorder is increased in those who started using marijuana in youth or adolescence as well as those who use marijuana more frequently.

The next argument we are going to look at is: marijuana users are clogging our prisons.  This is one of the main arguments made when states consider legalizing marijuana.  About two million people are currently incarcerated in the U.S. according to The Sentencing Project.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics released findings from a survey showing that 0.7% of all state inmates were sentenced for marijuana possession only, and that 0.1 percent of all state prisoners were marijuana-possession offenders with no prior sentences.  The number of people incarcerated is staggering, but to claim that prisons are full mostly due to marijuana being illegal is hyperbolic.

The final argument we are going to look at is: marijuana is medicine.  This might be the most controversial statement in the current discussion on marijuana.  Marijuana does contain some medicinal components, but more research still needs to be done to see the full extent of what marijuana can do.  A bill was passed in November of 2022 that will make this research easier to do.  There are currently four FDA-approved medications that are derived from marijuana, and none of these medications are smoked or vaporized.  This is important to remember because some people argue that the only way to get the medical benefits of marijuana is to smoke or vaporize the drug.  This is not true, and there are no medications or medical treatments that are smoked or vaped.  The marijuana as medicine debate is in the spotlight right now, and only evidence-based research will be able to provide the answers that everyone is seeking.

This is just three of the many arguments that are made in support of legalizing marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes.  Evidence-based research has responses to nearly every argument that can be made, and the research does a great job of separating fact from fiction.  The importance of the new marijuana research bill should not be understated.  Researchers will be looking at how marijuana can impact modern medicine, and will also be able to do more in-depth research on the physical and mental health consequences of misusing marijuana.  The marijuana debate keeps getting more heated, and now you have some evidence-based answers for discussions you may have in the future.

To see more evidence-based responses to pro-marijuana arguments check out this link.  Please visit the sources listed below for more information and research.

New Marijuana Research Bill
The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act passed Congress on November 16, 2022, and was signed by President Biden on December 2, 2022.  This is the first marijuana reform bill to pass Congress.  The bill streamlines the application process for marijuana research without changing the status of marijuana as a Schedule I drug.  Marijuana will remain illegal federally, but researchers will now be able to fully look into the harms and benefits of marijuana without running into the barriers that have impacted research for decades.

The importance of this bill cannot be understated.  More research will lead to better information to bring into account when new marijuana laws are being considered.  Information about the health impact marijuana has will be able to be used to push back against legalization efforts, and will allow the FDA to have more control over the marijuana products that are currently being sold in states where marijuana is legalized both medically and recreationally.  Finally, this bill will also require the Department of Health and Human Services to report on the potential harms and benefits of marijuana use to Congress as research is completed.

This bill was drafted with support from a national organization called SAM.  SAM stands for Smart Approaches to Marijuana, and they are an alliance of organizations and individuals dedicated to a health-first approach to marijuana policy.  SAM's mission is to educate citizens on the science of marijuana and to promote health-first, smart policies and attitudes that decrease marijuana use and its consequences.  SAM's website has plenty of resources and information that are helpful in understanding marijuana and how it is currently impacting our society.  Please visit their website linked below to learn more about their mission and this new research bill.

Thank you for being a vital part of our community!