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Marijuana Use by Youth Can Have Long-Term Consequences
The public, including youth, increasingly regard marijuana as a safe drug; however, while many uncertainties remain about its overall health effects and its long-term impact on memory and mood, current evidence suggests that marijuana has a significant impact on brain development and various associated behavioral outcomes when it is used heavily during adolescence.

Contrary to popular belief that marijuana is not an addictive substance, marijuana does cause changes to the brain that, in some users, compromise their ability to stop taking the drug, despite problems it may be causing in their lives. With any drug, the risk of addiction increases significantly the earlier the use is initiated, making the teen years a window of increased vulnerability. One in six teens who use marijuana is expected to become addicted to marijuana, with the figure rising to as many as one in two among daily users, and last year, nearly 6 percent of high school seniors reported daily marijuana use.1

Mounting research suggests that such users risk long-term impairment of cognitive functioning. A large longitudinal study in New Zealand tracked more than 1,000 individuals’ drug use and various behavioral outcomes, including testing their IQ at age 13, and found that frequent and persistent marijuana use (four or more times per week) starting in the teen years was associated with a loss of up to eight IQ points when measured again at age 38. Significantly, those who used marijuana heavily as adolescents but later quit using the drug fared no better, but those who only began using marijuana heavily in adulthood did not lose IQ points.2 This finding provided the most robust support yet for a conclusion to which many smaller studies have also pointed: heavy marijuana use has a significant and potentially permanent adverse cognitive impact specifically on young frequent users.

The teen years are a period of active learning and exploration, when the brain is growing new connections, pruning unused connections, and enhancing the speed of important neural circuits by sheathing them with fat (myelin). The last area to finish developing (around age 25) is the prefrontal cortex—the seat of higher executive functions like self-control, decision making, and the ability to weigh risks against rewards. Because those frontal circuits are still a work in progress, adolescents are impulsive, prone to follow their peers to gain their approval, and likely to take risks such as experimenting with drugs. Crucially, the fact that these circuits are still developing makes them vulnerable to perturbation from drug exposure; like clay hardening as it dries, these changes could become relatively hard to undo once the individual is older.

Another area of increasing concern is marijuana’s potential role in mental illness, specifically in hastening the onset of schizophrenia in individuals who have a pre-existing genetic risk for the disease. One study found that individuals with a high-risk variant of a gene implicated in schizophrenia (called AKT1) were seven times more likely to develop psychosis if they used marijuana daily than if they used it less than once a week or never used it.3

Studying the effects marijuana has on behavior and the brain is challenging. For one thing, it is difficult to separate the effects of marijuana use from that of other substances (especially alcohol and tobacco), pre-existing genetic vulnerabilities, or socioeconomic risk factors like poverty—all of which can impact some of the same brain circuits and behaviors that marijuana affects. Another challenge is the ever-changing landscape of marijuana use. The average potency (THC content) of street marijuana has more than doubled over the past two decades.4 While some evidence suggests that users may consume less in order to moderate their dose, it is not yet clear what impact these higher potency strains of marijuana are having on health outcomes.

Increasingly, popular marijuana edibles and highly concentrated extracts (“wax,” “budder,” etc.) are also raising concerns and questions. There is evidence they are contributing to increases in visits to emergency departments associated with marijuana exposure, especially in states that have legalized it for adult recreational use.5 The 2014 Monitoring the Future survey of adolescent drug use and attitudes found that 40 percent of 12th graders who had used marijuana in the past year in states with medical marijuana laws reported having consumed it in an edible form, versus 26 percent in non-medical marijuana states.6

The marijuana landscape is certainly not done changing, but research is poised to tackle many of the outstanding questions. Over the next decade, the National Institutes of Health will fund a major longitudinal study tracking approximately 10,000 adolescents from around age 10 (before first use of drugs) to early adulthood, using neuroimaging and other advanced methods to further clarify how marijuana, alone and in combination with alcohol and other substances, affects brain development and other outcomes.


Action Items

  • Partner with local behavioral health authorities to tailor solutions for your communities that address marijuana abuse and addiction as a public health issue.
  • Educate colleagues that addiction is a disease that requires treatment.
  • Train colleagues, in partnership with community behavioral health organizations, on ways of diverting individuals with marijuana addictions and other substance use disorders into appropriate treatment programs.
  • Help carry this message about marijuana’s harmful effects on adolescent brains to policy makers.?


Notes:
1Lloyd D. Johnston et al., Monitoring the Future: Key Findings on Adolescent Drug Use, 2014 Overview (Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, 2014), http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/mtf-overview2014.pdf (accessed July 6, 2014).
2Madeline H. Meier et al., “Persistent Cannabis Users Show Neuropsychological Decline from Childhood to Midlife,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109, no. 40 (October 2012): E2657–2664, http://www.pnas.org/content/109/40/E2657.full (accessed July 6, 2015).
3Marta Di Forti et al., “Confirmation that the AKT1 (rs2494732) Genotype Influences the Risk of Psychosis in Cannabis Users,” Biological Psychiatry 72, no. 10 (November 2012): 811–816.
4Mahmoud A. ElSohly, Potency Monitoring Program: Quarterly Report Number 124; Reporting Period: 12/16/2013–03/15/2014 (Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014).
5Andrew A. Monte, Richard D. Zane, and Kennon J. Heard, “The Implications of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado,” Journal of the American Medical Association 313, no. 3 (2015): 241–242.
6Johnston et al., Monitoring the Future.

Originally Published on Monday, August 24, 2015

Dispatch gets Chiefs Associaton Accreditation Originally Published on Monday, June 29, 2015

Motorcycle Safety (Hurt Report)
"The Hurt Report"
(AKA "Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures")

    Summary of Findings

    Throughout the accident and exposure data there are special observations which relate to accident and injury causation and characteristics of the motorcycle accidents studied. These findings are summarized as follows:

    1. Approximately three-fourths of these motorcycle accidents involved collision with another vehicle, which was most often a passenger automobile.

    2. Approximately one-fourth of these motorcycle accidents were single vehicle accidents involving the motorcycle colliding with the roadway or some fixed object in the environment.

    3. Vehicle failure accounted for less than 3% of these motorcycle accidents, and most of those were single vehicle accidents where control was lost due to a puncture flat.

    4. In single vehicle accidents, motorcycle rider error was present as the accident precipitating factor in about two-thirds of the cases, with the typical error being a slideout and fall due to overbraking or running wide on a curve due to excess speed or under-cornering.

    5. Roadway defects (pavement ridges, potholes, etc.) were the accident cause in 2% of the accidents; animal involvement was 1% of the accidents.

    6. In multiple vehicle accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the accident in two-thirds of those accidents.

    7. The failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents. The driver of the other vehicle involved in collision with the motorcycle did not see the motorcycle before the collision, or did not see the motorcycle until too late to avoid the collision.

    8. Deliberate hostile action by a motorist against a motorcycle rider is a rare accident cause. The most frequent accident configuration is the motorcycle proceeding straight then the automobile makes a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle.

    10. Intersections are the most likely place for the motorcycle accident, with the other vehicle violating the motorcycle right-of-way, and often violating traffic controls.

    11. Weather is not a factor in 98% of motorcycle accidents.

    12. Most motorcycle accidents involve a short trip associated with shopping, errands, friends, entertainment or recreation, and the accident is likely to happen in a very short time close to the trip origin.

    13. The view of the motorcycle or the other vehicle involved in the accident is limited by glare or obstructed by other vehicles in almost half of the multiple vehicle accidents.

    14. Conspicuity of the motorcycle is a critical factor in the multiple vehicle accidents, and accident involvement is significantly reduced by the use of motorcycle headlamps (on in daylight) and the wearing of high visibility yellow, orange or bright red jackets.

    15. Fuel system leaks and spills were present in 62% of the motorcycle accidents in the post-crash phase. This represents an undue hazard for fire.

    16. The median pre-crash speed was 29.8 mph, and the median crash speed was 21.5 mph, and the one-in-a-thousand crash speed is approximately 86 mph.

    17. The typical motorcycle pre-crash lines-of-sight to the traffic hazard portray no contribution of the limits of peripheral vision; more than three-fourths of all accident hazards are within 45deg of either side of straight ahead.

    18. Conspicuity of the motorcycle is most critical for the frontal surfaces of the motorcycle and rider.

    19. Vehicle defects related to accident causation are rare and likely to be due to deficient or defective maintenance.

    20. Motorcycle riders between the ages of 16 and 24 are significantly overrepresented in accidents; motorcycle riders between the ages of 30 and 50 are significantly underrepresented. Although the majority of the accident-involved motorcycle riders are male (96%), the female motorcycles riders are significantly overrepresented in the accident data.

    22. Craftsmen, laborers, and students comprise most of the accident-involved motorcycle riders. Professionals, sales workers, and craftsmen are underrepresented and laborers, students and unemployed are overrepresented in the accidents.

    23. Motorcycle riders with previous recent traffic citations and accidents are overrepresented in the accident data.

    24. The motorcycle riders involved in accidents are essentially without training; 92% were self-taught or learned from family or friends. Motorcycle rider training experience reduces accident involvement and is related to reduced injuries in the event of accidents.

    25. More than half of the accident-involved motorcycle riders had less than 5 months experience on the accident motorcycle, although the total street riding experience was almost 3 years. Motorcycle riders with dirt bike experience are significantly underrepresented in the accident data.

    26. Lack of attention to the driving task is a common factor for the motorcyclist in an accident.

    27. Almost half of the fatal accidents show alcohol involvement.

    28. Motorcycle riders in these accidents showed significant collision avoidance problems. Most riders would overbrake and skid the rear wheel, and underbrake the front wheel greatly reducing collision avoidance deceleration. The ability to countersteer and swerve was essentially absent.

    29. The typical motorcycle accident allows the motorcyclist just less than 2 seconds to complete all collision avoidance action.

    30. Passenger-carrying motorcycles are not overrepresented in the accident area.

    31. The driver of the other vehicles involved in collision with the motorcycle are not distinguished from other accident populations except that the ages of 20 to 29, and beyond 65 are overrepresented. Also, these drivers are generally unfamiliar with motorcycles.

    32. Large displacement motorcycles are underrepresented in accidents but they are associated with higher injury severity when involved in accidents.

    33. Any effect of motorcycle color on accident involvement is not determinable from these data, but is expected to be insignificant because the frontal surfaces are most often presented to the other vehicle involved in the collision.

    34. Motorcycles equipped with fairings and windshields are underrepresented in accidents, most likely because of the contribution to conspicuity and the association with more experienced and trained riders.

    35. Motorcycle riders in these accidents were significantly without motorcycle license, without any license, or with license revoked.

    36. Motorcycle modifications such as those associated with the semi-chopper or cafe racer are definitely overrepresented in accidents.

    37. The likelihood of injury is extremely high in these motorcycle accidents-98% of the multiple vehicle collisions and 96% of the single vehicle accidents resulted in some kind of injury to the motorcycle rider; 45% resulted in more than a minor injury.

    38. Half of the injuries to the somatic regions were to the ankle-foot, lower leg, knee, and thigh-upper leg.

    39. Crash bars are not an effective injury countermeasure; the reduction of injury to the ankle-foot is balanced by increase of injury to the thigh-upper leg, knee, and lower leg.

    40. The use of heavy boots, jacket, gloves, etc., is effective in preventing or reducing abrasions and lacerations, which are frequent but rarely severe injuries.

    41. Groin injuries were sustained by the motorcyclist in at least 13% of the accidents, which typified by multiple vehicle collision in frontal impact at higher than average speed.

    42. Injury severity increases with speed, alcohol involvement and motorcycle size.

    43. Seventy-three percent of the accident-involved motorcycle riders used no eye protection, and it is likely that the wind on the unprotected eyes contributed in impairment of vision which delayed hazard detection.

    44. Approximately 50% of the motorcycle riders in traffic were using safety helmets but only 40% of the accident-involved motorcycle riders were wearing helmets at the time of the accident.

    45. Voluntary safety helmet use by those accident-involved motorcycle riders was lowest for untrained, uneducated, young motorcycle riders on hot days and short trips.

    46. The most deadly injuries to the accident victims were injuries to the chest and head.

    47. The use of the safety helmet is the single critical factor in the prevention of reduction of head injury; the safety helmet which complies with FMVSS 218 is a significantly effective injury countermeasure.

    48. Safety helmet use caused no attenuation of critical traffic sounds, no limitation of precrash visual field, and no fatigue or loss of attention; no element of accident causation was related to helmet use.

    49. FMVSS 218 provides a high level of protection in traffic accidents, and needs modification only to increase coverage at the back of the head and demonstrate impact protection of the front of full facial coverage helmets, and insure all adult sizes for traffic use are covered by the standard.

    50. Helmeted riders and passengers showed significantly lower head and neck injury for all types of injury, at all levels of injury severity.

    51. The increased coverage of the full facial coverage helmet increases protection, and significantly reduces face injuries.

    52. There is no liability for neck injury by wearing a safety helmet; helmeted riders had less neck injuries than unhelmeted riders. Only four minor injuries were attributable to helmet use, and in each case the helmet prevented possible critical or fatal head injury.

    53. Sixty percent of the motorcyclists were not wearing safety helmets at the time of the accident. Of this group, 26% said they did not wear helmets because they were uncomfortable and inconvenient, and 53% simply had no expectation of accident involvement.

    54. Valid motorcycle exposure data can be obtained only from collection at the traffic site. Motor vehicle or driver license data presents information which is completely unrelated to actual use.

    55. Less than 10% of the motorcycle riders involved in these accidents had insurance of any kind to provide medical care or replace property.
Originally Published on Thursday, April 09, 2015

Community Survey

Purpose for Conducting the Elizabethtown Community Survey

 

The Elizabethtown Police Department wished to establish a baseline from which to measure its successes relating to fulfilling the community’s needs.  In order to do so, it was decided to implement a community-wide survey to determine the following:

·    Quality of life issues

 

·    Attitudes toward police

 

·    Recent experiences with crime in their neighborhood

 

The Police Department will use this information to develop strategies to address each of those above listed categories in such a way as to: build police/community trust, engage in deeper levels of problem identification and problem-solving, and to complement and assist in developing our five-year strategic planning document.

 

We ask that you to take a close look at the data and consider how it represents your perceptions of the three aforementioned categories. Furthermore, we invite you to send us your thoughts as they relates to the findings, and do so in such a way that we might use them to further enhance our service to the community.

 

Thank you for continued support in our efforts to provide quality service to each person who resides works or visits our community.

 

 Sincerely,

Tracy A. Schiller

Chief of Police

Elizabethtown Police Department

 

 Click HERE for survey results.


Originally Published on Wednesday, August 27, 2014