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Recovery Plus Cannabis smoke contains more carcinogens than tobacco. The smoke is inhaled deeper, held in the lungs for longer, and smoked down to the butt. About 3-4 times as much tar is deposited in the airways of the lungs. One joint in cancer terms equals 4-5 cigarettes. Rare head and neck cancers occur in young people, previously seen only in much older tobacco users. Collapsed lungs, lungs riddled by holes and even young people needing transplants are documented. Bronchitis and emphysema can result. The DNA in any new cells being formed in a body will be damaged by THC. THC speeds up the programmed cell death (apoptosis) of white blood cells, our defence cells. Fewer are made, some are abnormal – and protection against infection weakens. People are more vulnerable to disease, their illness worse and longer. THC shortens the life span of sperm cells, too. Young men suffer infertility, even impotence. The birth weight of babies born to cannabisusing mothers is lower and they can have problems with behaviour, brain function (particularly problem-solving, learning, memory and planning) as they grow. They are more likely to develop one of the commonest childhood cancers, neuroblastoma, or one form of leukaemia, and to use cannabis at adolescence. Babies often have mild withdrawal symptoms. There is a rise in blood pressure and heart rate. Heart attacks and strokes have been recorded, with paralysis. Boys who smoke cannabis before puberty can stunt their growth by over 4 inches. Exposure to second-hand cannabis smoke causes mild intoxication, minor problems with memory and coordination and, in some cases, positive tests for the drug in urinalysis. Some participants did not pass the equivalent of a workplace drug test. Note the implications for driving. Apart from driving, the combination of cannabis and alcohol is all too dangerous and common. If a person drinks too much, they can overdose and die. But often they are sick and get rid of some. If they use cannabis as well, the vomiting reflex is inhibited. Tobacco, alcohol and cannabis can all lead to the taking of other drugs. If a person starts to smoke cigarettes, the technique of smoking is learned. A MORI poll found that 50% of smokers had tried an illegal drug but only 2% of non-smokers. A Christchurch study from birth concluded that the greatest single factor in progressing to other drugs is the use of cannabis. And research on almost 30,000 French adolescents found occasional users 21 times more likely to proceed to other drugs, daily users 124 times! Because cannabis stays in the body for weeks, tests will be positive even if a joint was taken a month ago. More employers test future employees and their workers. Visas for countries like the US will not be issued to anyone with a cannabis conviction. I’ve surveyed the international evidence base for the efficacy of drug education. To learn what truly works – and it’s not harm ‘minimisation’ – click here for more information. your library’s essential reference Feb 2016 55 The online issue of Recovery Plus will also link you to the author’s presentation at Recovery Plus 2015 – just click the logo shown below when you access us online: Click for presentation Click


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