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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news August 28, 2014


1/21/2014 6:03:00 AM
Yavapai highest in medical pot use
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Joanna Dodder Nellans
The Daily Courier

Yavapai County had the highest per-capita rate of medical marijuana use in the state in 2013.

The Arizona Department of Health Services' new report on 2013 medical marijuana statistics says 14 out of every 1,000 Yavapai County residents are medical marijuana card holders.

"I find it very concerning," said Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, who has been a statewide leader in the fight against any kind of legalized marijuana. She's co-chair of the MatForce coalition that seeks to reduce drug abuse in the county.

The only other counties with double-digit rates were 12.6 per 1,000 in Gila, 11.7 in Coconino and 10.6 in Mohave. Yuma was the lowest at 2.8. The state average for all 15 counties was 6.57.

The state report doesn't offer reasons for Yavapai's high rate, and ADHS spokespeople were unavailable Monday.

The report notes that 70 percent of the state's medical marijuana cardholders are male, and the largest male age group is 18-30 years old (27 percent). It didn't break down those stats by county.

Polk surmises that the large proportion of college students attending four colleges in Yavapai County could help boost use rates.

Prescott psychiatrist Ed Gogek, another vocal opponent of medical marijuana, also surmised that an above-average proportion of college students in this county could increase the medical marijuana use rate.

The large proportion of substance abuse recovery facilities in the Prescott area also might have something to do with the high Yavapai number, Polk said, noting that many of the recovery patients drop out and continue to live in the area.

In a separate study, 1 in 4 high school seniors in Yavapai County admitted to smoking pot in the last 30 days, Polk said, while the statewide stats were 1 in 5.

The operators of the medical marijuana facilities in Prescott Valley and Cottonwood suspect the relatively high proportion of Yavapai County seniors account for the county's high use rate.

The latest U.S. Census figures show that 26.3 percent of Yavapai County residents are 65 and older, compared to the statewide average of only 14.8 percent.

"The majority of our patients are older patients," said Sheraz Warraich, manager of the Yavapai Herbal Services dispensaries in PV and Cottonwood.

The state has a total of 71 dispensaries that sold 2.7 tons of marijuana last year to 40,878 cardholders in a total of 422,495 transactions, the ADHS report states. That does not include the unknown amount that cardholders and registered caregivers are growing on their own. Yavapai had the fourth-highest rate of qualifying patients authorized to grow their own, although they won't be able to get new grow cards after dispensaries open within a 25-mile radius.

This is the first time that statewide medical marijuana use statistics have been available. Individuals have been able to get medical marijuana cards since April 2011 under Proposition 203 that Arizona voters approved in 2010. But dispensaries didn't start opening until last spring.

"Severe and chronic pain" was the medical condition cited most by people applying for medical marijuana cards in Arizona.

Patients at the Yavapai Herbal Services dispensaries usually cite more than just pain, said Sarah Jones, director of those dispensaries and Warraich's wife.

For example, their customers often are cancer patients getting radiation or chemotherapy treatments that make them nauseous and unable to eat, Jones said. The patients report that marijuana helps alleviate this symptom.

Gogek said the huge percentage of young male cardholders shows that many of the cardholders are just smoking pot to get high.

"It's much younger than you would expect for people who are the most likely to have chronic illness," he said. Pot abusers tend to be male, he added.

One in six young marijuana smokers will get addicted, Polk said, and it also reduces the IQ of teens. Yet teens tell her they think it's harmless because it's now labeled as medicine.

She asks people to visit MatForce's web campaign called "Marijuana Harmless? Think Again" to learn more about the dangers of the drug.

Click here to download full report (1.1 MB)









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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: mystic soul

@justsay know..... yeah I agree! even TYLENOL is more dangerous than weed! Tylenol overdose shuts the liver down and has a high fatality rate.... kids chewable vitamins..... toxic, iron poisoning from vitamins is the leading cause of poisoning in children.... but weed, try to overdose and shut your organs down on it... you'll pass out before you can even remember what you were trying to do.... and wake up safe, and clear headed!!

Posted: Saturday, January 25, 2014
Article comment by: Wouldn't It be fun....

To make MJ legal or decriminalize and make alcohol illegal, the far more dangerous drug. Then you'd see who'd be going to jail.... The politicians, the cops, the judges and all the snooty uppity types who have their five o'clock cocktail hour. That would be fun, close down whiskey row where people actually go to get high. Reduce vehicle fatalities and accidents. Maybe even Ms. Polk would have a problem. What medical ailment does alcohol help?? This is bass ackwards, really!!!!

Posted: Saturday, January 25, 2014
Article comment by: Scare some Folks

Im 48 years old & smoke all day every day! Guess what I drive while high! I hope you are concerned, I've been doing it for 32 years & will probably do it for another 32. Never had an accident. I have avoided a few that others would have caused. 2 speeding tickets under my belt. I had a 126 IQ in college & I have one of the largest construction companies in the area, so if my IQ has gone down its because of my diet. By the way I smoked before every college basketball game I played in & averaged 20 points a game. So tell me agin how Mary Jane is bad?

Posted: Saturday, January 25, 2014
Article comment by: @@ S. Polk

21? No I personally know a 5 year old girl with a card. She is off 8 of her 11 big pharm pills & went from 12 or more violent seizures a day to 2 or less mild seizures. Although I do not wish anyone Ill it would be nice for some of the nay sayers to be able to experience the help this can give to a small child & others!

Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014
Article comment by: JustSay Know

I tried to see the conservatives point of view, but I couldn't get my head that far up my ---.

Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014
Article comment by: JustSay Know

You would think they would have learned from Alcohol's Prohibition (black-markets, gangs, corruption, taxpayer funded resources wasted) and try not to repeat that. Even with a substance that toxic we've concluded it's better to regulate, than not.

Heck they even prescribe meth/Ritalin to kids under the current "Drug Free America/Schools" policy. People are worried about a non-toxic drug/medicine such as cannabis? Makes no sense.

http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Causes_of_Death#sthash.8xHFoDGE.dpbs

Alcohol abuse kills more young people than all HARD drugs combined. Cannabis, 0 deaths.

Cannabis should be as legal as Tylenol. Hard drugs decriminalized and regulated with the use and oversight of doctors and drug stores.

Their social experiment of "Drug Prohibition" has failed, just as "Alcohol Prohibition" only made matters worse. Substance abuse is not a criminal issue, it's a health issue. As for the majority that are responsible, use is not abuse.

http://archive.saferchoice.org/

Click that to learn more about the drug.


Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: All these Arizona officials bought by CCA

Every single politician in this state is bought by our huge private- for profit- prison industrial system.

Corrections Corporation of America is our only growth industry for a while, all of them sucking on government money. They even want a guaranteed occupancy rate for AZ jails! People in Europe, & even Israelis are horrified by for profit prisons- ripe for all sort of corruption.

This is why they all want to keep on lying about Marijuana. We like science, Justice Department, and will continue to tell the truth about this harmless and useful plant. .

And we like the LAW. Medical Marijuana is the law now, and this has been a horriiffic human rights issue since Hearst wanted his forests to remain valuable for paper making without competition from the hemp industry.


Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: George Walsh

The main reason most of the smaller counties have only one candidate for the County Attorneys office is that the smaller counties do not have the pool of bar Attorneys living in them to provide the taxpayers and voters of those counties a fair and even playing field. I have suggested that the Arizona State legislature change the law for the smaller counties to allow a different way to either hire or appoint a County Attorney from outside of the county they would be serving. Many of the states current laws are based on population of the county and this law could be such a law based on population. We in the smaller counties are being cheated with the current system of electing a county Attorney from the county where there may only be a few Attorneys. Common Sense Solutions to long ongoing problems in the smaller counties.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: @ Benny Noakes

Soon as some one else is on the ballot she will be gone. No I am not a MMJ card holder but do support freedom of choice thanks

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Benny Noakes

I have some advice for the commenters who are not happy with Ms. Polk as our County Attorney: She was elected to that job unopposed -- no opponent in either the primary or general election. If enough voters are not happy with her conduct in office, then some other candidate should have a chance at being elected to replace her in the next election.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Sean McDaniel

This is almost as much of a joke as yavapai county as a whole. When you look at how much yavapai county effects laws around the nation. Guess what this place is about 10-20 years behind many states when it comes to policy on multiple issues.

So sure continue to disregard your voters the people you are supposed to represent. See how far that gets you.


Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: If the Shoe Fits . . .

Living in Yavapai County with all these high-strung Republicans gives me a Pain in the Arse. Does that qualify me for a medical marijuana card? I hope so. It hurts really bad, all the time . . .

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Halfway There!

Now I know why so many drug addicts are here living in rehab homes. They're more access to pot!

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Tom G

"Why is it.." I guess I'm one of those people who don't have to walk around and exist in a chemically-induced stupor. I think drunks are disgusting and can't stand the stench rolling off a pothead. Oh, here's an an analogue of your post:

"Normal people don't HATE guns or the 2nd Amendment, and they don't go on crusades. Even those who don't want a gun don't join organizations and publish letters raging against it unless they have a bee in their own bonnet."

How true, how true.


Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: arp schnitger

I am tired of Sheila Polk in the Courier.

Let her buy space if she wants publicity.


Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Why Is It...

...that those people most vehemently opposed to marijuana are alcoholics? That's the dead giveaway. Normal people don't HATE marijuana or druggies, and they don't go on crusades. Even those who don't want pot legalized don't join organizations and publish letters raging against it unless they have a bee in their own bonnet.

So heads up out there. When you run across a pot hater, be compassionate if you can. Their vice is booze and they are hiding it behind their personal crusade.


Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Tom G

White House docs say pot causes brain damage and lower IQ in teens, alcohol does not

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jan/21/obamas-white-house-drug-experts-contradict-his-mar/#ixzz2r9ZArrBN

Obama's very own doc and Patrick Kennedy says it IS damaging and WHO would know better?!?!?


Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Tom G

So if it's "harmless", what's THIS all about?:

Dogs' pot poisoning soars as pets dig through trash, stash

San Francisco Chronicle-Dec 31, 2013

Since Chase's experience, cases of marijuana poisoning in dogs have ... 27 dogs for pot poisoning in the past year, up from four in 2010.

How about small kids? Will they be as "poisoned" as dogs?


Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Equality 7-2521

Right on! Mr. Emitt West

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Liars and Cheats

"It hurts really bad all the time, and it won't go away no matter what!".... "here's your card."

I would have voted for outright legalization of MJ with age and other restrictions just like alcohol. But I voted against "medical" MJ because all it does is encourage more lying and cheating in society. Just a bad joke, really.


Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Doctor Bob

Prescott,Arizona really is "Everybody's Hometown" and the availability of medical marijuana will help to keep folks here.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Faux News Whinery

We get it. Medical marijuana use is up in Yavapai. So what?

It is one of the most studied drugs in history. Researchers have found no reason to ban the drug, and now are finding beneficial effects. Folks like Sheila Polk can't live with the results. Too bad, Sheila.

It seems very understandable in our little upside-down corner of the world. Sane people have made far worse choices for a little escapism, especially when the alternative is dealing with the Republican asylum at our doorstep (Getting drunk comes to mind). In any case, weed is now permitted under the law.

On deck is complete legalization. Deal with it, conservatives. Some of your talk radio idols have managed by swallowing their pride and continuing to gulp down prescription pain killers. I would suggest getting a MM card instead.

Fire up that bowl, Sherlock. I'm sick. And tired.


Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: To The Ex Spuirts

Intake of any substance or chemical, whether pharmacologically" addictive" or not, is in fact "addictive" to a person with an addictive personality. And, of course, one with those traits will at one time or another be in denial.

There are so many studies, medical and psychological, done on this that it would seem to be common knowledge.

One who drinks 5 beers a day and cannot quit (not just saying they can) is an addict.
One who is grossly overweight may be addicted to pastry and sweets, or just the pure volume and satisfaction of consuming food.
One with addictive tendencies may be more likely to end up with marijuana use as a gateway substance to other substances.
Ad infinitum.

So, to say that marijuana is not addicting is a very narrow statement.


Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: Oh Dear

You mean people in Yavapai County are acting like grownups and exercising their inalienable right to sovereignty over their own bodies AND their hard-won LEGAL right to self-medicate with the safest drug the world has ever known. Sounds like what we need is some elected officials to squander even more of our money to try to overturn the will of the voters. Sounds like a case for MATFarce.

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: tom Bruns

Sheila Polk says, " teens tell her they think it's harmless because it's now labeled as medicine."

She is making that up.



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