"Synthetic Marijuana:" What Is It, Why Is It Dangerous, and How Can We Prevent Youth from Using It?

  • Wednesday, November 28, 2018
  • 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  • Webinar

"Synthetic Marijuana:" What Is It, Why Is It Dangerous, and How Can We Prevent Youth from Using It?

Synthetic cannabinoids, misleadingly called “synthetic marijuana” are human-made mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices. (1)

Also known as “K2,” “spice,” “crazy monkey,” and “Scooby snacks” this designer drug is often marketed as a safe, legal alternative to marijuana. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), these drugs are not safe and may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana; their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, more dangerous or even life-threatening. (1)

In 2012, 11% of American high school seniors reported using “synthetic marijuana” in the past year, making it the second most popular illegal drug among teenagers. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), 11,406 emergency department visits in 2010 were associated with “synthetic marijuana;” 75% were among adolescents and young adults ages 12-29; 22.5% of these visits involved females, and 77.5% involved males. (2)

In this webinar, Krista Osterthaler of the American Association of Poison Control Centers will provide an overview of synthetic cannabinoids and the scope of the problem among youth. She will also familiarize participants with the system of poison control centers, the data they collect and their prevention-related resources. Ms. Osterthaler will present data on calls that poison control centers nationwide are receiving about synthetic cannabinoids, and the challenges the toxicologists face when deciding on an appropriate treatment protocol and advice.

Dr. Seth Ammerman of Stanford University will share his experience in working with patients who use “synthetic marijuana” and discuss his approach as part of general screening for substance use. He will also review the recent literature on “synthetic marijuana” use in adolescents and discuss available prevention efforts.

This webinar will be moderated by Shelli Stephens-Stidham, the Director of Community Health Impact at Parkland Health & Hospital System, Dallas, and a member of the Children’s Safety Now Alliance (CSN-A).

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Seth Ammerman, M.D., is a clinical professor in pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Stanford University. Dr. Ammerman is the founder and medical director of the Teen Health Van, a mobile clinic program providing comprehensive primary health care services to homeless, uninsured, and underinsured youth. Dr. Ammerman’s research interests include substance use in adolescents; underserved/at-risk youth; eating disorders; and use of mobile technology for improving adolescent health.

Dr. Ammerman is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), chair of the northern California chapter of the AAP Substance Abuse Committee, and a former member of the national AAP Committee on Substance Use and Prevention. He is a member of the medical honors society Alpha Omega Alpha, and is a fellow of the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine. In 2012 Dr. Ammerman received a Silicon Valley Business Journal Health Care Heroes award. He also received the national AAP Founders Award in 2012 for his work in community adolescent health. In 2014 Dr. Ammerman received a Bay Area Jefferson Award for Public Service, and in 2015 received a further honor of a Jefferson Award Silver Medal. In October 2015 Dr. Ammerman became board certified in addiction medicine.

Krista Osterthaler, MPH, is the vice president for National Data Services at the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), where she oversees the National Poison Data System (NPDS). NPDS is the data warehouse for the nation’s 55 poison control centers, which provide free, private, expert information and treatment advice, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, through the national Poison Help line. Krista began her career as a high school science and math teacher before earning her master's degree in public health, and later an additional graduate certificate in epidemiology from the George Washington University in Washington, DC. Krista joined poison control as a poison prevention educator with the National Capital Poison Center in 2011 before taking over the Outreach, Public Education, and Communications Department at AAPCC, transitioning to data services in 2017. During her time at AAPCC, Ms. Osterthaler has served as Chair of the National Poisoning Prevention Council, developed multiple poison prevention education programs, and served on several relevant task forces such as CDC PROTECT and the National Coordinated Child Safety Initiative.

Shelli Stephens-Stidham, M.P.A., is the Director of Community Health Impact at Parkland Health & Hospital System, where she is responsible for the Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas (IPC), as well as overseeing population health prevention activities. She is responsible for leading the implementation and evaluation of community-based primary prevention strategies to decrease injuries, violence, and chronic health issues.

Ms. Stephens-Stidham is an active member of the Children’s Safety Now Alliance (CSN-A), as well as past president of the Safe States Alliance and past chair of the Injury Control and Emergency Health Services Section of the American Public Health Association. She chairs the Texas Governor’s EMS & Trauma Advisory Council (GETAC) Injury Prevention and Public Education Committee and is a co-founder of the Texas Injury Prevention Leadership Collaborative.

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(1) National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cannabinoids-k2spice

(2) Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2012. https://www.datafiles.samhsa.gov/study-series/drug-abuse-warning-network-dawn-nid13516

Space is limited, so please register now!

This webinar will be archived.

Please note that we are unable to provide CEUs or certificates for our webinars.

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