Shisha, recreational marijuana risks, poisoned vegetables, and “crack babies”: The Weekly Web Review in Toxicology
May 25, 2013, 4:51 pm
The Guardian (U.K.) has a feature describing that use of the drug shisha is increasing in Greece at a rate that parallels the unravelling of that country’s economy and increasing desperation, especially among the poorest segments of the population.
Sisha seems to be a derivative of methamphetamine, easy to make and available at low prices (1-2 € per hit). It is often contaminated with precursor ingredients such as battery acid, and is quite dangerous. One user is quoted in the article:”It is a killer but it also makes you want to kill. You can kill without understanding that you have done it … And it is spreading faster than death. A lot of users have died.”
Recreational Marijuana: is it dangerous?
Scientific American has posted an article cautioning that we still don’t really know the acute or chronic risks of legalizing recreational marijuana and making it more readily available. There is evidence that a blood marijuana level of 5 nm/ml can cause driving impairment similar to that associated with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 gm/mL, but that enforcing this will be difficult. In addition, marijuana may have detrimental effects on lung function and concentration.
Datura poisoning from frozen vegetables
Nine people in Finland have developed anticholinergic poisoning after eating a frozen vegetable product contaminated with seeds from the Datura plant. Presenting signs and symptoms included tachycardia, dry mouth, and decreased vision. One patient was hospitalized for a week with hallucinations and amnesia. To read a report of this incident, click here.
“Crack babies”: another example of media-fueled hysteria
The New York Times “Retro Report” series posted a video examining the furor over “crack babies” — a somewhat misleading term that generally referred to infant born of mother who had been exposed to cocaine. Despite predictions of vast numbers of severely impaired children — suffering from a wide range of problems including seizures, cerebral palsy, addiction, and low birth rate, as well as significant social and emotional deficits — the envisioned nightmare scenario did not occur. The report makes the point that fetal exposure to alcohol is a much more serious problem. The view the video, click here.