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Why are our leaders pushing to deregulate pot and other drugs research shows are dangerous?

As the medical and scientific study of cannabis and psychedelics intensifies in the search for therapeutic uses, the inherent dangers are also becoming more and more apparent.

So why are many of our officials leading the charge for laxity in our federal regulations and increased access to dangerous drugs for all of us, including our teens?

Vice President Kamala Harris even hosted a White House roundtable Friday on removing marijuana restrictions.

I am one physician who believes the science points in the opposite direction, toward more caution rather than increased recreational usage.

Let’s start with marijuana.

A study of more than 400,000 Americans just published in the Journal of the American Heart Association revealed a 42% increase in stroke and a 25% increase in heart attacks associated with regular marijuana use over a four-year period. 

This is no surprise considering previous studies have shown the tar in marijuana is toxic to both the lungs and the heart, and THC itself (the psychoactive chemical in pot) can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

The problem is marijuana is not what it was even a decade ago — the THC content is now soaring well over 30% in all cannabis products from weed to vapes to edible “gummies.”

This leads to more anxiety, more cognitive problems, more cannabis-induced psychosis (especially in those who have underlying mental-health problems) and more developmental delay in young children who are exposed to it in the womb when pregnant women foolishly use it to combat morning sickness.

There are more emergency-room visits from vomiting disorders, overdoses and car accidents, especially when cannabis products are laced with fentanyl or amphetamines or combined with alcohol.

Some politicians say legalization for recreational use in 24 states with more to follow will lead to less illicit use.

In fact the opposite has been true, as shadow gray- and black-market industries spring up, hiding behind the legal dispensaries.

In the 38 states where so-called medical marijuana use is legal, the category is too often an excuse for easy access for an unproven use like countering insomnia.

And a loophole in the 2018 farm bill allows hemp-derived delta-8 THC, which can be half as powerful as what’s found in marijuana and is becoming more popular with teens.

The problem is not just with marijuana.

It extends to psychedelic substances, from magic mushrooms (psilocybin) to ketamine to the plant-brew ayahuasca and even to the African iboga plant, despite the fact ibogaine leads to a prolonged nightmarish experience that increases your risk of heart arrhythmias.

Ibogaine is being touted for use for post-traumatic stress disorder and opioid withdrawal — notwithstanding its cardiac risks and the fact it’s illegal across the United States and remains a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it doesn’t have any medical use and is a highly addictive substance.

This category is a wise precaution without the science to prove otherwise.

Many prominent psychiatric researchers are searching for substances that may have similar effects as the psychedelics but without the dangerous hallucinatory results.

This is a smart pursuit, but we certainly aren’t there yet.

In the meantime, the idea of “microdosing” therapeutics, which has become so popular among celebrities and their followers, has not been medically studied or found to have any therapeutic benefit. 

That’s a major problem with so-called medical uses of or self-treatment with psychoactive substances.

Physicians and scientists who are carefully studying a powerful substance but have not come to any verifiable conclusions should not be used as an excuse for reckless recreational use of a drug. 

Once again politicians attempting to garner votes or back a growing industry may hijack and misrepresent science by obscuring the risks and dangers of hallucinatory chemicals.

Marc Siegel, MD, is a clinical professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Health and a Fox News medical analyst.



This story originally appeared on NYPost

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