Questions November 12th 2001

What are the effects of using cannabis and breastfeeding? How does this affect the child?

The main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, THC (tetrahydro-cannabinol), is fat-soluble and does enter breast milk and the baby - often due to the size of the infant, and in higher blood concentrations than the mother. However, there is no firm evidence that cannabis or THC can stunt, impair or damage a baby or their growth. One report (which is cited in several web pages on this subject) has stated that THC might delay infant motor development but we have been unable to track down and read the original study. Information on this subject is often tainted by the general assumption that 'illegal drugs are bad for you' when in fact alcohol and Prozac (fluoxetine) have more worrying question marks over their effects during breastfeeding. (1)

Nevertheless, it is still best to avoid cannabis and other legal and illegal drugs while breastfeeding.

Here is a list of drugs and their suspected effects on breastmilk / breastfeeding

What is amphetamine 'base'? I heard it was the same stuff they use to line and clean waste disposal pipes with.

Amphetamine base is a purer form of powdered street amphetamine and is not used to line and clean waste pipes. You can find out more here.

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What is an eight-ball of cocaine?

An 8-ball is one eight of an ounce of cocaine, approximately 3.5 grams. This is a lot of cocaine for one person, enough to overdose on. So be careful.

Four years ago, I was a cocaine user for 5 or 6 years - first in a light way than to every weekend and almost every day. I started having very serious nasal allergy problems beside some breathing problems. Sometimes I feel like having cocaine again. Is the drug responsible for my allergy? Can I have more breathing problems is I use it again? Does cocaine affect the lungs?

Chronic nasal cocaine use (daily or heavy weekly) may cause nasal problems - sinusitis, irritation and bleeding of the nasal membranes or worst - a perforated nasal septum (the membrane which divides the two nostrils). However, only smoking crack cocaine and inhaling its harsh smoke is implicated in lung problems.

It could be that you have sustained some nasal damage. It would be best to talk to your doctor or find a doctor you feel you can talk to, who can also examine your nose to see if there is any damage.

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How bad is smoking marijuana compared to smoking tobacco?

Smoking any drug is unhealthy, and cannabis is no exception. The smoke actually contains higher concentrations of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) than tobacco smoke. Marijuana smokers generally inhale more smoke for longer, depositing more than 4 times as much tar on their lungs as cigarette smokers. To balance this, however, they smoke less joints and smoke less often.

However, it is generally accepted that smoking cannabis is not as bad as smoking processed tobacco cigarettes, especially as you smoke less material, less often.

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I take both Prozac and wellbutrin daily - what will happen if I do cocaine while on these medications?

We are not sure. Prozac has no reported history of negative interactions with cocaine. Wellbutrin suppresses dopamine release in the brain, the main neurotransmitter at the root of the cocaine effect. It is actually given to cocaine addicts to help ease cocaine craving so it may in fact suppress cocaine's effects.

One thing you should be concerned about: The cocaine high is always followed by a cocaine crash, which gets progressively worse the more you use cocaine. If you are already being treated for depression or similar condition, you may find this crash very uncomfortable and unpleasant.

I used to smoke pot quite a bit. However, I find lately that when I get high - I just get paranoid and edgy? Is it me?

We have had several emails about this subject. It seems that some people do experience a 'turning point' in their marijuana use when it ceases to become enjoyable and instead provokes paranoia, fear or other 'bad trip' type symptoms.

In a recent study, between 10%-15% of people who smoked marijuana reported "paranoid" or "confused" feelings as a disadvantage of smoking cannabis. And around 30% gave "negative experiences" as their reason for permanently quitting cannabis. (2)

It's not clear why this happens but we can assure you your experience is not unique. We are continuing to look into this and hope to find out more information.

salvia divinorum - if it's legal - where can you buy it or pick it? What effects would it have?

Salvia Divinorum is available from many online stores. We are preparing a guide for Salvia. Be careful though. This is an extremely powerful and strange mind-altering plant, quite unlike any other drug you have ever experienced. Never smoke this plant alone.

I only smoke a few draws of cannabis, maybe a whole joint but that 's it. Will this still be detectable on a drug test?

Yes. Blood and Urine tests involve detecting microscopic amounts of THC (the main psychoactive compound in cannabis) and THC breakdown products so even a few draws or just a whole joint of cannabis would still be detectable. See here for more details.

1. Shinya, Ito 'Drug Therapy For Breast-Feeding Women', New England Journal Of Medicine & 'Behavorial Outcomes in Preschool and School-Age Children Exposed Prenatally to Marijuana'
2. Cohen DA, Kaal, Hendrien L, "Irrelevance Of Drug Policy: Patterns and careers of experienced cannabis use in populations of Amsterdam, San Francisco, and Bremen" pg 75-84