Letter to the Editor
I was very interested in Dr. Leon Gussow's article, “Epidemic of Toddlers on THC Just Beginning.” (EMN 2013;35:1; http://bit.ly/17HPRKy.) I was a little surprised, although I shouldn't have been, that the legalization of marijuana was so promptly followed by a rise in toxic overdoses. This phenomenon reaffirms my belief that the pharmaceutical industry, indeed the health care industry as a whole, seems capable of adding toxicity to any product of which it becomes the primary source.
THC became “legal” for medical indications and recreational use largely on the assertion that it was “safe.” Indeed, in my ED practice in Massachusetts, there is little or no concern given to positive cannabinoids on our drug screen. In fact, the most common observation to the absence of cannabinoids is, “He doesn't even do weed!” Women are also given this accolade although it appears to me to be less frequently applied.
But it has taken a remarkably short time, as Dr. Gussow pointed out, for the manufacturers of THC to turn the safe old weed into a dangerous drug. It is all in the product marketing. What has happened with THC is very similar to what happened with oxycodone, as Dr. Gussow also pointed out previously; that was a campaign to minimize the toxicity of the product, followed by aggressive packaging and marketing.
The “candification” of marijuana, physically and psychologically, is complete. Packaging THC as candy immediately trivializes the toxicity and at the same time makes it appealing to children. What we have is the conversion of what many felt was a “safe” drug, like alcohol, into a dangerous drug. That marijuana was perceived as “safe” is the main reason it was legalized, and I'm afraid that the main reason it is now dangerous is that it was legalized, its distribution turned over to the drug, or pseudo-drug, industry.
We do not have to go south to find a drug cartel that will sell lethal substances to us: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” My sincere apologies to Pogo, who first made this observation.
Paul Janson, MD