News: Synthetic Marijuana Claims 100 Victims In New Haven
Back in April, we warned of a growing synthetic marijuana outbreak. Now, another strain has struck in Connecticut and caused 100 overdoses.
While marijuana has been consumed medicinally and recreationally for thousands of years, recent decades have seen the invention and growing popularity of new, and potentially more dangerous and addictive methods of consumption, including vape pens, edibles, and dabs.
The first recorded evidence of humans using marijuana dates back to 2737 BC, but it wasn’t being used for the reasons you may think. The fuzzy green plant was originally used for medicinal purposes in Ancient China. It was only after it spread to India that its psychoactive elements were first used recreationally. Marijuana spread across the Ancient World, primarily as a medicine. Egyptians used it to treat cataracts and sore eyes, and even for depression. Many years later, it was used by the Greeks for their own medical purposes such as inflammation.
Throughout the world, relieving pain with marijuana was a legal and common practice until recently. Marijuana was first introduced to America by the settlers at Jamestown in 1611, at the same time as tobacco. It quickly became a major cash crop, though initially it was primarily used for fiber. Eventually, a number of American medications contained the drug, though it was never nearly as popular as alternatives such as cocaine. Americans came to smoke the plant recreationally, which became more popular as a result of association with jazz musicians. As the drug became more popular, it became associated with “negative” elements of society and was seen to encourage experimentation with other drugs. Marijuana soon became a social threat. along with an excuse to rebel.
Reputation of the drug was dwindling, turning from a legal pain-relieving drug to being associated with heroin and LSD. Due to the increasingly negative connotations, it was slapped with a classification of a Schedule 1 drug and became a banned substance in 1937.
Despite being illegal in all 50 states until recently, popularity of recreational use of marijuana has risen for the last decades. Glamorization in movies further promotes its use to younger demographics, along with the new products that have intensified the way we can feel the effects of Marijuana.
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Blueprints for the first electronic cigarette were created by Herbert A. Gilbert, on the premise that he did not like the thought of burning something and smoking it. Although the structured idea for an E-cigarette was there, and it was indeed patented, it did not actually go to market. Smokers in China had the first chance to buy a pen on the market when Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik created the first sellable pen in 2004. His invention paved the way for new versions of electronic cigarettes only a few short years later. As electronic cigarettes grew in stature, a new invention came out for marijuana smokers- the cannabis oil vape pen. These vape pens are only for cannabis use, not tobacco.
Coming in different shapes, sizes, and colors, these vape pens were created for Marijuana smokers to smoke dry herb, wax, or oil in a more convenient, inconspicuous, and on-the-go type of way at the press of a button. Small and discrete, many users take these devices in public to get high under the noses of a society who more than likely believe they’re only smoking nicotine. Because of the ease of hiding these pens and their increasing appearance in public, they are contributing to the rapidly increasing rates of marijuana abuse and addiction. Vape pens are also contributing to the belief that marijuana is harmless, which is not the case.
Baking “pot brownies” (brownies with THC butter in them) has been a popular activity since the 1950s when Alice B. Toklas wrote a cookbook on how to make “hashish brownies.” THC is a fat soluble, meaning it needs to be dissolved in fat such as butter to be absorbed correctly within the body to produce the desired high. Preparing THC butter and then cooking that into something else produces much more powerful effects than just eating a piece of the plant alone, which won’t do much to your body. Pot brownies quickly became popular due to the intense high they produce, much higher than smoking marijuana.
Pot brownies are still very well-known and commonly consumed; however, foods are now prepared with THC in them as well, including cookies, cakes, and candies. Until marijuana was legalized in some states, most cooking was done illegally at home, which was often easy to detect due to the strong smell. Nowadays, many manufacturers are banking on their own versions of THC treats. Sour Patch Kids, Jolly Ranchers, gummy bears, and even salted caramels have crept into the market. Unfortunately, children may mistakenly consume this THC-infused candy, leading to their involuntary intoxication. There is substantial criticism that many of these THC-infused foods are actually marketed towards children, which is a major problem as rates of underage marijuana use are growing.
The tools and processes it takes to smoke a dab may seem a little confusing and dangerous considering it involves a blowtorch to carry out the task. Producing oil is a complicated process, yet it is readily available in many areas. Smoking dabs are nothing like smoking a bud of the Marijuana plant in the sense that the equipment and effects are very different, yet the active substance comes from the same plant. Nicknamed dab because of the act of taking a dab of hashish, or oil of the cannabis plant, you put the hashish in the glass device, heat it up with the blowtorch, and smoke out of the top.
Dabs were first invented around 1970. They then disappeared for several decades before recently becoming popular again. The production of dabs is incredibly dangerous and currently only legal in Colorado and Washington.
Smoking even a small amount produces an intense, long-lasting high. However, the effects can severely impair the individual, putting them at risk of injury and bodily harm for several hours. Some users experience hallucinations which can last for several days. Many who use dabs end up going to the hospital because of unusual behavior or feelings, especially paranoia and psychotic episodes. Because dabs release an incredibly large amount of THC in the body, they cause the body to build up a greater tolerance much faster than other methods of consuming marijuana. They are also more likely to cause dependence and addiction.
Essentially, all three of these new marijuana variants are contain marijuana, meaning if marijuana is illegal in your state, these drugs are too. All three leave you intoxicated, putting you in a different bodily state that can cause lack of judgement, especially when operating a vehicle. There is a lack of research on these new types of drugs, and you never actually know what you are putting into your body. Drugs, including marijuana, always have the possibility to damage your body and eventually cause an addiction without intent, or even awareness.
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