Tag Archives: marijuana

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Dr. Esther Oh on the Hazards of Marijuana


Recently, a 15-year-old male patient told me about his occasional habit of smoking marijuana with his friends. “Everyone uses it at my school. It’s not a big deal,” he said, shrugging. As a psychiatrist who treats children and adolescents, I’ve noticed that my patient is among an increasing number of youth using marijuana recreationally without thinking twice about its potentially harmful effects.

Marijuana is the most common drug used by teens in the U.S.: In 2014, 11.7 percent of eighth-graders, 27.3 percent of 10th graders and 35.1 percent of high school seniors reported using marijuana (Source: Monitoring the Future
2014). And as the culture around the drug shifts, spurred in part by its legalization for recreational use in Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Alaska as well as the District of Columbia, fewer youths believe weed, like any other drug, poses dangers.

Yet, recreational marijuana use can be especially harmful for adolescents, whose brains are not as fully developed as adults’. Smoking weed has been associated with various physical and mental health problems, such as stress, anxiety, depression and psychosis, while research shows it can serve as a “gateway drug” for other illicit drugs (Source: The Impact of Cannabis Use During Adolescence. California Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, August 2012).

Here are some basic facts about marijuana and its long-term effects:

How does marijuana affect youths differently than adults?

Research shows that our brains continue to form into our mid-20s. Marijuana use during this critical period of brain development can disrupt and physically change brain structure, leading to difficulty retaining information. It can negatively impact attention and memory, slow down processing speeds and increase impulsivity particularly dangerous when behind the wheel of a vehicle or test-taking.

Can habitual marijuana use as a teen affect me as an adult?

Yes. Studies show that earlier and more frequent marijuana use while the brain is still developing can lead to higher rates of marijuana abuse and dependence as an adult—or even psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression and psychosis. Frequent pot smokers can also develop chronic respiratory infection and inflammation and be at greater risk for lung cancer down the road.

Can marijuana cause emotional and behavioral problems?

Marijuana can make people hallucinate or render them temporarily paranoid, so that they hear or see things that aren’t real. Frequent use has been associated with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and can expedite the onset of psychosis in people genetically predisposed to the condition. (Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse). A 16-year-old star athlete and student I once treated had been using weed for several months when she became paranoid people were trying to hurt her. She had panic attacks and was hyper-vigilant wherever she went. I recommended she undergo treatment at a drug rehabilitation facility. She’s since quit smoking and no longer exhibits those symptoms.

Aren’t there benefits to using marijuana for medicinal purposes?

Yes. There is some evidence that cannabis helps mitigate pain for such conditions as nausea during chemotherapy, glaucoma and chronic pain. As of present day, there have been no conclusive studies proving marijuana is a viable, long-term form of medical therapy.

What are the side effects if I abruptly kick my marijuana habit?

As with any other substance, marijuana can be addictive. Withdrawal symptoms (especially with longer and more frequent use) can include disruption of sleep, anxiety/nervousness, excessive sweating, restlessness, irritability, body aches, nausea and cravings for the drug. I’ve known patients to head to the ER thinking they had a medical condition, when they were just experiencing marijuana withdrawal.

Can the casual joint here and there really do me much harm?

It depends. Marijuana is as habit-forming as any drug and has a stronger effect on some people more than others. Despite its widespread use, there is much that is still not known about its long-term effects on our bodies and minds. Although the short-term benefits of medical marijuana are promising for specific physical conditions in adults, there can be short- and long-term psychiatric consequences of recreational use we should all keep in mind.

For more information on marijuana and its effects, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse website marijuana.

Dr. Esther Oh, a psychiatrist at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, writes a regular mental health column for KoreAm. If you have questions, please email her atdr.oh@iamkoream.com. All correspondence will be strictly confidential and only accessed by Dr. Oh. Opinions expressed here represent those solely of the author.


This article was published in the August/September 2015 issue of KoreAmSubscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the August/September issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days.)

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Details Still Sketchy Following Fatal Shooting of Student Outside Anaheim Clinic


A 20-year-old Korean American man was shot and killed by a security guard outside an Anaheim medical marijuana facility on March 15 following a suspected burglary, according to Anaheim police.

Family and friends gathered for the funeral of Jee Sun Yoo of Fullerton last Thursday at the Han Kook Mortuary, according to a posting on Facebook. Yoo, known as Jason among friends, would have turned 21 on March 23.

According to Anaheim authorities, the security guard heard commotion outside the facility—located in the 200 block of North Wilshire Ave.—around 6 a.m. and spotted Yoo trying to climb a fence. The guard confronted Yoo and a struggle ensued, resulting in the fatal shooting. Yoo was armed with a weapon, police spokesman Lt. Eric Trapp told KoreAm, but did not specify further details, since the case is still under investigation by homicide detectives.

According to Trapp, the guard fully cooperated with police and was released after questioning. No charges have been filed against the guard, whose name or age has not been released.

The on-duty security guard was not assigned to patrol the facility that evening and only happened to be in close proximity, Trapp told KoreAm. While the guard was employed by a company contracted to provide security to the Anaheim marijuana dispensary, he was assigned to be patrolling other areas that night.

Marijuana dispensaries, otherwise known as medical marijuana clinics, were banned by the city of Anaheim in 2013, yet a handful of dispensaries are still operating, while subject to civil and criminal charges for staying in business. City spokeswoman Ruth Ruiz told the OC Register that officials are still in the process of shutting down the businesses.

Efforts to eliminate the city’s marijuana clinics seem to have produced some confusion, however. A woman who picked up the phone at Anaheim Patient Care told KoreAm she was unsure about the legality of her business and was under the impression that the city was going to leave a few dispensaries open. Robert Havens, manager of Anaheim Holistic Care, another such medical marijuana clinic, said in a phone interview he disagrees with the city’s plans.

“The state allows us to operate under Proposition 215,” Havens said, referring to the 1996 California ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana. “Patients need safe access to medications and we provide that. It’s not fair that cities want to take that away. We are in battle with the city right now.”

Havens, whose business competes with the facility outside that which Yoo was fatally shot, said he also hires contracted security guards to patrol his business.

“They are licensed guards,” Havens said. “I’m confident that if any type of incident happened, the security guard would use the necessary force within his right to defend what he needs to defend. We would never expect anybody to go outside their bounds of abilities.”

Anaheim police declined to release further details regarding the incident until the investigation is complete.


Featured image via OC Register


‘Harold and Kumar’ To Become An Animated Series!


Those of you who’ve enjoyed the antics of stoner-duo Harold and Kumar over the years can sit back, light one up, and look forward the Harold and Kumar animated series, set to air on Adult Swim.

Last week, actor Kal Penn (aka Kumar) tweeted about the casts’ first table read for the series, ‘Had a wildly inappropriate morning,’ with John Cho (Harold), Dave Krumholtz, Paula Garces, and Eddie Kaye Thomas.

The franchise chronicles the misadventures of cannabis loving best friends Harold and Kumar as they journey to White Castle in the first film and escape from Guantanamo Bay in the second. In the final installment, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas 3D, they deal with growing pains of becoming adults and putting their wild past behind them.

Additional confirmation comes from writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg who helmed the screenplay for all three films. Hurwitz tweeted, “‘Harold & Kumar’ table read was insane, surreal, & hilarious. Cannot wait for fans to see this!”

Not only was the franchise a beloved cult comedy classic, it has also been favorably reviewed by critics. Robert Koehler of Variety says, “…gleefully upends expectations and delivers an energetic comedy”. A.O Scott of the New York Times writes it’s “delightfully stupid” and that it’s also “one of the few recent comedies that persuasively, and intelligently, engage the social realities of contemporary multicultural America.” The exact airdate of the animated series is vague. However, actress Paula Garces (Maria) assured fans on Twitter, “Coming sooner than u think!”

Puff. Puff. Exhale.

Image via The Daily Caller


Investigators: At Least 4 Officials Saw Or Heard Daniel Chong While He was Locked In A Cell For 5 Days


At least four authorities saw or heard San Diego student Daniel Chong screaming for help while locked in a cell for five days with no food or water, but still left him unoccupied as they believed someone else was responsible, according to a recent investigation.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency had neither policy nor training for its employees on monitoring the holding cells, and there was no requirement to check the cells at the end of each day. The DEA declined to comment and said those who failed to assure the safety of Chong are subject to “ongoing internal disciplinary matter,” according to a three-page summary of the investigation.

The inspector general at the Justice Department found that the DEA’s San Diego office didn’t have a system to track detainee movements as no cameras were installed inside the cells.

“The DEA is confident that these measures will help to prevent similar incidents in the future,” the agency said in a statement.

Police arrested Chong, now a 26-year-old student at University of California, San Diego, in April 2012 at his friends house and seized 18,000 ecstasy pills, other drugs and weapons. Nine people, including Chong, were arrested.

Although employees put him in the cell and told him that they would return shortly, Chong was left unattended for five days. He ingested methamphetamine and drank his own urine out of desperation to survive before trying to cut himself with broken glasses to kill himself. The DEA later reached a settlement of $4.1 million with Chong.

Photo via MSN

Friday's Link Attack: Robot Prison Guards, MMA Fighter Ben Henderson, Chang-Rae Lee

Robot Prison Guards Roll Out
Wall Street Journal

As it seeks to become a leader in robotic technology, South Korea is about to put a new type of droid through its paces: a robot prison guard.

Under a project sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, trials of the robots will be held for a month at a jail in the city of Pohang, southeast of Seoul, from March. The robots are designed to patrol the corridors of corrective institutions, monitoring conditions inside the cells. If they detect sudden or unusual activity such as violent behavior they alert human guards.

Did the Novel ‘Native Speaker’ Foreshadow The Liu Fundraiser Scandal?
Wall Street Journal

A councilman from Queens, an Asian immigrant who’s traveled the striver’s path to success, rises to New York’s political heights with the support of a multicultural coalition of voters. His reformist zeal and unique ability to unite fragmented factions — blacks, Latinos, Asians and labor — make him a media darling and a serious contender for what some call the second-most powerful office in America: mayor of New York. But when an Asian American agent is sent undercover to probe the roots of his success, allegations of an illicit immigrant money ring surface, threatening to derail this rising star’s ambitions.

You might recognize this as the story of city comptroller John Liu, who’s gone from Flushing, Queens councilman to putative frontrunner in the race to replace Mayor Bloomberg in 2013 — only to have that status rocked last week by the high-profile arrest of one of his major fundraisers, Oliver Pan, over alleged financial improprieties. Liu, New York City’s chief financial officer and the first Asian-American to hold citywide office, said in a statement that he was “saddened” by the allegations: “If it is true, then the conduct was clearly wrong and my campaign was not told the truth.”

Uncannily, however, the controversy also happens to mirror the basic plot of a novel written in 1995: Chang-Rae Lee’s acclaimed PEN/Hemingway award-winning debut, “Native Speaker.” Reached in Princeton, where he’s a professor of creative writing at the university’s Lewis Center for the Arts, Lee admits to being a bit spooked by the seeming coincidence.

Martin Scorsese Gives a Thumbs Up to UCI Professor Kyung Hyun Kim’s Cinema Book
O.C. Weekly

​It’s not often that an academic tome–even one related to film–snags a forward written by legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese, whose latest movie Hugo coincidentally opens nationwide today.

But Kyung Hyun Kim, UC Irvine’s associate professor of East Asian languages & literatures and film & media studies, won those bragging rights, and like else everything in Hollywood it all started with the right connections.


U.S. ambassador to Seoul confident of enduring ties with Korea
Korea Herald

U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Sung Kim expressed confidence in the resilience of the ties between his country and South Korea, saying he believes the friendship between the U.S. and the country of his birth will survive any challenge.

In his second blog post since taking office earlier this month, the Korean-American ambassador said two of his main missions here are to “strengthen and deepen” both the bilateral alliance and people-to-people ties. He is the first Korean-American to serve as Washington’s top envoy to Seoul since the sides established diplomatic relations 129 years ago.

Tales from Asia: Benson Henderson’s tour through Korea and Japan
Yahoo Sports

Last week, I was honored to be asked by the UFC to represent them in Korea and Japan. This is my first time overseas, which these days seems to put me in a minority. But I am looking forward to the great events and festivities that are lined up.

The main purpose of this trip is to visit with many of our American troops here in Korea. These men and women do so much for our country, and have to spend so much time away from their loved ones to accomplish that. We sometimes take that for granted.

I also wanted to take this trip for a very personal reason. I am a second-generation Korean-American, and I am visiting my mother’s home country. My Oma (mom) is accompanying me on this trip. Over the weekend, she will get to see many of her family members for the first time in years, and I will be meeting them for the first time EVER! Being able to share this trip with my Oma makes it so much more special.

I never really thought I’d come visit Korea until I was much older and retired, but the UFC has made it a reality. As I am writing this, we are driving through a very beautiful and slightly overwhelming downtown Seoul.

Half-Korean mixed martial artist proud of heritage
Yonhap News

Ben Henderson, a U.S. mixed martial artist born to a Korean-American mother and an African-American father, speaks only little Korean.

But that hasn’t stopped him from tattooing Korean characters onto his lithe, yet chiseled frame: his own name, as well as the words for “power,” “glory” and “warrior.”

In an interview with Yonhap News Agency Thursday, Henderson, a Colorado native, said he takes great pride in his heritage.

“I am very proud to be part-Korean, to have Korean in my blood,” Henderson said in a phone conversation Thursday. He was visiting the demilitarized zone (DMZ) as part of an ongoing tour in South Korea, and he’s also scheduled to visit U.S. troops and spend some time with his mother’s family. This is his first trip to his mother’s homeland.

“I think Koreans… have a lot of pride,” he said. “I think that’s where I get it from, from my Korean side.”

UC Berkeley student briefly sets up tent on Chancellor’s lawn, moves to Sproul
The Daily Californian

While most UC Berkeley students chose to head home for the Thanksgiving break, senior Alex Kim decided to do something decidedly different early Thursday morning.

Kim cancelled his plane ticket home and instead lugged camping equipment and his pet cat Obi to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s front lawn around 5 a.m. There he pitched a tent in solidarity with the Occupy Cal movement that has shaken the campus over the last three weeks.


Interview with Two Brothers Making Products They Love

Terrence and Kevin Kim are two Korean American brothers from New Jersey who had a dream. Instead of going down the usual post-college-graduate path that most 22-year-olds follow after their education is complete, the brothers decided to pack up a suitcase each and head for Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.

Fast forward to the end of 2011, and the brothers have traveled all around China and Korea to experience the cultures of both countries by visiting factories, fabric markets, and sight seeing. Influenced by the traditional art, architecture, fabrics, dyeing, monks, etc., they decided to make their dream a reality.

Student kills mother, keeps body at home for 8 months
Korea Times

A high school student is suspected of having killed his mother and keeping the body hidden for eight months at their home after being pressured by her to get higher exam scores.

Gwangjin Police in eastern Seoul said Thursday they have requested an arrest warrant for the 18-year-old high school senior, identified as Ji, on suspicions of murdering his mother, 51-year-old Park. Ji is suspected of having stabbed his mother to death at their home in eastern Seoul at around 11 a.m. on March 13. The body was kept in her room for eight months.

According to police, Park kept telling her son that he must enter a top-class university and should rank first in nationwide exams. When he obtained lower scores than her expectations, she didn’t give him food or forced him to stay awake at night to study. Being afraid of her scolding, Ji had fabricated grade reports since middle school. His fear grew as his test scores fell after entering high school.


New research reveals the reasons we shop on Black Friday
Washington Post

Sang-Eun Byun, an assistant professor of consumer affairs at Auburn University in Alabama, surveyed hundreds of shoppers at Zara and H&M and found that the limited availability of goods in those stores excited the customers. Even though it wasn’t Black Friday, she said her findings hold true for any shopping situation in which high-value goods are scarce.

Ordinarily, Byun said, shoppers are turned off by crowds. But when crowds create a sense of competition — such as when hundreds of shoppers are rushing to collect marked-down goods — they generate a different feeling entirely. Competition creates what’s called hedonic shopping value, or a sense of enjoyment from the mere process of buying goods.

“At certain levels, consumers enjoy arousal and challenges during the shopping process,” Byun said. “They enjoy something that’s harder to get, and it makes them feel playful and excited.”

North Korea Warns South on Maritime Drills
New York Times

North Korea warned on Thursday that any military clash on a disputed maritime border could escalate into an attack on the presidential office in Seoul, threatening to engulf the South Korean leadership “in a sea of fire.”

The threat came one day after South Korea conducted military drills near Yeonpyeong, a front-line island west of Seoul. The display of firepower was timed to mark the first anniversary of the North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyeong, which killed two marines and two civilians.

Hines Ward’s status unlikely to change
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Hines Ward’s reduced status does not look as though it will change any time soon, which begs this question: Are we watching the final games of the brilliant career of the Steelers most prolific and decorated receiver?

Golfer Kevin Na Thanks Fans with Charity Tournament
Chosun Ilbo

Korean American golfer Kevin Na, who won his first U.S. PGA title on his 211th attempt and his eighth year on the Tour early last month, will hold a charity tournament under his name near Los Angeles on Dec. 8.

Marijuana plants worth $3 million found in Rosemead home
Pasadena Star News (Calif.)

Looks like a mullet is required to be a member of the Asian Boyz.

Deputies looking for Asian Boyz gang members wanted in a machete attack also discovered 1,400 marijuana plants worth about $3 million growing in a house on Wednesday.
In addition, authorities seized Ectasy pills and methamphetamine at a house next to the pot grow. They arrested a man and two teens for the assault plus two other people for the drug possession.

Sgt. Steve Kim of the Sheriff’s Asian Gang Team said 30 deputies served search and arrest warrants at five Rosemead locations at 6:30 a.m.

Being a TNA Knockout means everything to Gail Kim
SLAM Wrestling

It’s been a strange couple of months for current TNA Knockouts Champion Gail Kim. Back in August the Canadian-born grappler controversially went against instructions and eliminated herself from the Divas Battle Royal match on the August 1st episode of Monday Night Raw. A few days later Kim announced on Twitter that she had quit WWE, however, she was not permitted to leave.

What followed was a stunning standoff between WWE and their former Women’s Champion, which saw her forced to sit out the remainder of her contract. Kim’s decision to eliminate herself caused quite a bit of controversy, with some figures in the wrestling world who called her actions unprofessional, although Kim stands by the decision she made.