Dear Doctors, who are mandated to do ‘No Harm’!
My name is Karen Randall. I am an emergency physician (also residency trained in pediatrics and family medicine). I spent numerous years as an academic teaching physician at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. I moved to Colorado to be back home. I moved here in 2013. I moved just in time to see this town I live in, Pueblo, go from a blue collar working town to a drug infested town that is not safe. I appreciate your article about brain sizes, https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/legal-pot/even-little-marijuana-may-change-teen-brain-study-finds-n95853, but I need you to stand with me and let kids know that this high dose highly concentrated THC is NOT alright for them. Our kids here are, without a doubt, using younger and using a lot more concentrated THC. We, medically, almost nothing about what high dose, high concentration THC products (without CBD – ? maybe some protection) will do to a person. I can tell you first hand what I am seeing and experiencing and we, as physicians need to get the facts out.
1) I have seen way more youth using than ever before. You must know that these middle schoolers and high schoolers are getting vape pens to vape marijuana, right? There is open concern about the vaping – which in itself will lead to lung damage, but, at least here, they are vaping pot.
2) Many are using earlier – emulating what the adults in their lives are doing and are dropping out of school. Our school district has a 38% chronic absenteeism rate. Imagine that for your school district and imagine, if you have children, how that might effect them.
3) I have seen numerous acutely and frankly psychotic young people who have only done cannabis. The youngest acutely psychotic person I have seen so far – 13 yo. I am not talking about seeing a child or youth on occasion who is psychotic, it has become routine. That is the saddest aspect of all of this. The industry has pummeled our community with retail and “medicine” stores. Pueblo has about 160,000 people, we have nearly 50 retail stores. Our community is predominantly a community of color. I would hazard a guess that there are not 50 retail stores in Aspen, Vail or Breckenridge. These kids use younger and then drop out of school, they have no skills, no education, and due to chronic cannabis use, they have no motivation to change their lives. Those who have supportive families, who want to change, find that there are minimal resources for kids who become addicted to cannabis. These families (69% of our community is on medicaid) most of the time, have no resources or finances to send them to a long term rehab facility. These kids end up on the streets. Sadly, their drug usage doesn’t stop at cannabis. I recently saw a high school kid (18) who had been using cannabis with his friends. He told me his parents were “ok” with that because it was just cannabis. He and his senior in high school friends, moved on to LDS and cocaine. These are kids. The child in question was living with his grandmother who has no resources other than what medicaid will cover to get him treatment. Those children who use, whose parents are sober and want their children help, often tap every financial resource they have – including retirement, home equities, savings, etc. This leaves parents – at a time when they should be saving for retirement, destitute, needing to live on a hopeful social security.
4) There is no question that maternal use of cannabis while pregnant leads to fetal harms – the full picture of those harms won’t be apparent for another 5-10 years, until these babies being born now start school. A recent University of Colorado study found that a huge percentage of medical dispensaries in Colorado were recommending cannabis for pregnant women. https://www.denverhealth.org/-/media/denver-health-marijuana–pregnancy-study.pdf?la=en&hash=7CF1182B6937B9E4267378A1E5F04D8ED221DC6C
5) The cannabis industry has commercialized and weaponized all aspects of THC and CBD. Did you know that you can purchase a THC infused tampon? Did you know that many irresponsible cannabis companies promise that cannabis will cure their cancer? Did you know that, based on that alone, patients in our community are being placed straight from the ED to hospice when their cancer is too extensive to provide anything but comfort care? I recently saw a 39 y/o male who elected the “cannabis cure” for his brain cancer. It did not work. Who do we hold at harm for that? The patient, who was clearly misled by the industry? The doctors, who can’t save him when he presents with end stage/terminal cancer? The industry? I will enclose a few ads to support this claim at the end.
Finally, please, as a physician – do no harm. Do not promote a product that is so damaging and has so many consequences. Know that what the industry is selling now, in no way, shape or form, resembles the pot of Woodstock. This is supercharged high potency THC – a hallucinogen. You do not have to take my word. You are a physician. Come work a day in my ED with me. We are the 3rd busiest ED in Colorado. I have a longitudinal study and data base at my hospital. Not only did cannabis use go up, but in the last 5 years, all drug usage has gone up and in the last 8 months, methamphetamine use has tripled. Help inform the public that there are significant harms.
Feel free to contact me. You have my email. I am asking you as a physician, to speak up for our youth. Do not promote a product that does and will have devastating consequences.
Dr. Karen Randall, FAAEM
VP Case Management SCEMA
Chairman of the Board, SCEMA