AlterNet.org: Paul Armentano http://www.alternet.org/authors/paul-armentano en When Will Our Govt Stop Ignoring That Marijuana Is a Major Regulation Success Story? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/when-will-our-govt-stop-ignoring-marijuana-major-regulation-success-story <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Polls find greater levels of support among voters today for legalization than ever before.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_dispensary_sonya_yruel_dpa.jpg?itok=ct2kG0ik" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">Speaking recently at the Heritage Foundation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that the Justice Department is "<a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomangell/2017/09/14/justice-department-no-2-weighs-in-on-marijuana-legalization/#572801062cfb">reviewing</a>" an Obama administration <a href="https://www.justice.gov/iso/opa/resources/3052013829132756857467.pdf">memorandum</a> that calls for the agency to take a largely "hands-off’ approach to states that are regulating adult marijuana use.</p><p dir="ltr">“We are reviewing that policy. We haven't changed it, but we are reviewing it,” Rosenstein <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomangell/2017/09/14/justice-department-no-2-weighs-in-on-marijuana-legalization/#572801062cfb">said</a>. “We're looking at the states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, trying to evaluate what the impact is. And I think there is some pretty significant evidence that marijuana turns out to be more harmful than a lot of people anticipated, and it's more difficult to regulate than I think was contemplated ideally by some of those states.”</p><p dir="ltr">But a review of the available health and safety data clearly says otherwise.</p><p dir="ltr">Contrary to the fears of some, reforms to states’ marijuana laws are not adversely associated with changes in teen use rates, traffic safety, workplace performance, or overall crime.</p><p>State-specific data from <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0tmPQ67k3NVVmtmLUpQdFBiRHM/view">Colorado</a>, <a href="http://www.oregon.gov/oha/ph/PreventionWellness/marijuana/Documents/oha-8509-marijuana-report.pdf">Oregon</a> and <a href="http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/ReportFile/1670/Wsipp_I-502-Evaluation-and-Benefit-Cost-Analysis-Second-Required-Report_Report.pdf">Washington</a> finds that adolescents’ use of marijuana has generally declined in the years following legalization. These statewide trends mimic national trends. According to the <a href="https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2016/NSDUH-FFR1-2016.htm#summary">2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health</a>, the percentage of teens currently using cannabis has fallen 21 percent since 2002. Perceived marijuana <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/ss/ss6511a1.htm?s_cid=ss6511a1_e">access</a> among teens, as well as the <a href="http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567%2816%2930101-0/abstract">percentage of adolescents seeking treatment</a> for cannabis abuse, has also fallen dramatically in recent years.</p><p dir="ltr">Recent studies also find no ill effects on traffic safety. According to a 2016 <a href="http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303577?journalCode=ajph">study</a>, medical cannabis legalization is associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities, particularly among those between the ages of 25 and 44. A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Public Health similarly <a href="http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2017.303848">reported</a> “no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle fatality rates in the first three years after recreational marijuana legalization.… “[W]e also found no association between recreational marijuana legalization and total crash rates when analyzing available state-reported nonfatal crash statistics.”</p><p dir="ltr">In the workplace, studies report <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hec.3390/full">reduced absenteeism</a> and <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w22688">greater workforce participation</a> following changes in states’ marijuana laws. A <a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0092816">review</a> of FBI crime data also concluded that changes to cannabis’ legal status “precedes a reduction” in violent criminal activity. A 2017 <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094119017300281">study</a> reports that licensed cannabis retailers provide “over $30,000 per year in social benefit in terms of larcenies prevented.”</p><p dir="ltr">Regulated cannabis access is also associated with lower rates of opioid-related <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28259087">hospitalizations</a> and <a href="http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1898878">mortality</a>. Further, tax revenue from regulated production and sales is well beyond initial expectations. In Colorado, for instance, revenues from legal adult use cannabis sales have <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/colorado-marijuana-pot-tax-revenue_us_596f7911e4b01696c6a1fb06?cmpid=sfc_em_greenstate">surpassed</a> half a billion dollars since 2014. Tax revenue from legal cannabis sales in Oregon and Washington have also greatly <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Marijuana_Legalization_Status_Report_101316.pdf">exceeded</a> regulators’ expectations. Economic data compiled by Leafly.com identifies some <a href="https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/cannabis-jobs-count-legal-marijuana-supports-149304-americans">150,000 fulltime jobs</a> specific to the legal cannabis industry</p><p dir="ltr">As a result, polls find greater levels of support among voters today for legalization than ever before. In Washington, which initially regulated the adult use of marijuana in 2012, <a href="http://www.drugandalcoholdependence.com/article/S0376-8716(17)30171-0/fulltext">78 percent</a> of adults are now in favor of the law—a far greater percentage than when it was passed. Nationwide, a record 61 percent of voters "think that the use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States," according to the latest Quinnipiac University <a href="https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2477">poll</a>, while 75 percent "oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana." This latter percentage includes majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.</p><p dir="ltr">There exists neither a rational basis nor a political upside for the Justice Department to undermine the will of the voters in this arena. Rather than decrying the effects of state-sponsored marijuana regulation, federal politicians and bureaucrats ought to embrace the fact that a growing number of states are experimenting with alternatives to America’s longstanding, failed policy of prohibition. In particular, GOP leadership ought to take seriously the tenets of federalism and heed the words of former Supreme Court Justice Brandeis to famously opine, “[A] state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”</p><p dir="ltr">Public sentiment and common sense are driving necessary and long overdue changes in state-level marijuana policies—changes that are rapidly proving to be preferable to criminalization. America’s longstanding federalist principles demand that Trump administration allows these policies to continue to evolve and flourish free from federal interference.</p> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 08:03:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1082697 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs drugs marijuana legalization It Took Just One Distorted Study for the Media to Freak Out Over Health Risks and Marijuana http://www.alternet.org/drugs/it-took-just-one-distorted-study-media-freak-out-over-health-risks-and-marijuana <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1080873'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1080873" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Fear spreads far too easily when it comes to cannabis.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_592173896.jpg?itok=_lrnmWVV" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">A new, widely reported study <a href="http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318854.php">claims</a> that marijuana poses significantly greater risks to cardiovascular health, particularly with regard to hypertension, than does cigarette smoking.</p><p dir="ltr">Don’t believe the hype. A careful review of the study’s methods gives reason to pause.</p><p dir="ltr">Authors of the <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170809073246.htm">study</a> used a “retrospective study” design. Rather than identifying current marijuana consumers and comparing their health to non-users, researchers instead identified subjects who previously acknowledged having “ever used” cannabis in a 2005-2006 nutritional survey (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey). Those participants who fessed up to having engaged in past pot use were then automatically classified by the study’s researchers as current users of the drug, despite the fact that no evidence exists to corroborate this claim.</p><p dir="ltr">Even more problematically, to calculate the estimated duration of each subject’s marijuana use, researchers simply subtracted the age participants first reported trying pot from their current age. (For example, if one acknowledged having tried cannabis at age 20 and is now 40 years old, the study’s investigators classified this person as a 20-year-long “marijuana user.”)</p><p dir="ltr">Making the presumption that someone who has "ever used" marijuana will continue to use pot for the rest of his life is simply absurd. As noted by <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2017/07/21/marijuana-is-norml-45-of-americans-have-tried-cannabis/">Gallup</a> and others, while an estimated one-half of all adults acknowledge having tried cannabis—typically during young adulthood—most of these individuals do not continue to consume it long-term, particularly <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2128711/">after age 30</a>. (Gallup reports that only about one in eight Americans define themselves as current users of marijuana.)</p><p>While the authors acknowledged this serious limitation in their press release (“[T]here were limitations to the way marijuana use was estimated,” they wrote. “For example, it cannot be certain that participants used marijuana continuously since they first tried it”), they opined that such unconventional methodology was necessary because there exists an “absence” of longitudinal data assessing the long-term use of cannabis and cardiovascular health.</p><p>This assertion, however, is false. Notably, a pair of longitudinal trials have been published in recent months explicitly addressing marijuana use and heart health. <a href="http://norml.org/news/2016/06/08/study-long-term-cannabis-use-is-not-associated-with-health-problems-in-mid-life">Data</a> published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported on the relationship between marijuana use over a 20-year duration and overall health in a cohort of 1,037 individuals. “We found no association between cannabis and cardiovascular risks [e.g., high blood pressure, higher cholesterol],” the authors wrote. "In general, our findings showed that cannabis use over 20 years was unrelated to health problems early in mid-life.”</p><p dir="ltr">More recently, an international team of researchers writing in the American Journal of Public Health assessed cumulative cannabis use and cardiovascular risk in a cohort of over 5,000 subjects over a period of more than two decades. Authors <a href="http://norml.org/news/2017/02/23/study-cannabis-use-history-not-associated-with-increased-risk-of-cardiovascular-disease">reported</a>, "Compared with no marijuana use, cumulative lifetime and recent marijuana use showed no association with incident CVD (cardiovascular disease), stroke or transient ischemic attacks, coronary heart disease, or CVD mortality." Their findings are similar to those of several other well-controlled studies (<a href="http://norml.org/news/2013/01/31/study-marijuana-smoking-not-associated-with-greater-mortality-risk-among-heart-attack-survivors">here</a>, <a href="http://norml.org/news/2006/08/10/heavy-cannabis-use-not-independently-associated-with-cardiovascular-risks">here</a> and <a href="http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/05/21/STROKEAHA.113.001562">here</a>) finding that cannabis exposure does not appear to be independently linked with significant cardiovascular risk in otherwise healthy subjects.</p><p dir="ltr">By contrast, cigarette smoke exposure is a well-established contributor to adverse cardiovascular outcomes. For instance, smoking tobacco cigarettes has been estimated to increase stroke risk by as much as <a href="https://www.stroke.org.uk/sites/default/files/smoking_and_the_risk_of_stroke.pdf">600 percent</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">That said, the authors’ findings that cannabis may influence vascular function is hardly a novel one. It is well established that cannabinoids, both exogenous and endogenous, can <a href="http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/294/1/27.full">influence</a> blood pressure. Both hypotension and hypertension have been reported following cannabinoid administration, though <a href="http://norml.org/library/item/hypertension">tolerance</a> to these physiological effects appears to develop rather quickly. Nonetheless, such effects can lead to various potentially problematic outcomes such as tachycardia, particularly in more naïve subjects, and possibly on occasion may stimulate even more severe effects in those susceptible to adverse cardiovascular events. Therefore, it is reasonable to advise that potential high-risk populations ought to refrain from cannabis inhalation because of these concerns. But sensational claims that cannabis poses a greater risk to heart health than cigarettes are simply not evidence based and should not be taken seriously at this time.  </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1080873'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1080873" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 07:59:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1080873 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana cigarettes heart health personal health drugs Blowing Up the Big Marijuana IQ Myth—The Science Points to Zero Effect on Your Smarts http://www.alternet.org/drugs/blowing-big-marijuana-iq-myth-science-points-zero-effect-your-smarts <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1080637'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1080637" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Debunking one of the oldest theories about cannabis. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/untitled_design_50.jpg?itok=-e3ylB1o" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>“Marijuana makes people retarded, especially when they’re young.” So <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/ann-coulter-marijuana-legal-america-645040">claimed</a> conservative commentator Ann Coulter while speaking at Politicon last week. </p><p>But while such inflammatory claims by culture warriors like Coulter are to be expected – and may readily be dismissed – the notion that smoking pot will have lasting negative impacts on intelligence is a longstanding one, and a claim that is all too often made by those on <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ruth-marcus-the-perils-of-legalized-pot/2014/01/02/068cee6e-73e9-11e3-8b3f-b1666705ca3b_story.html?utm_term=.a1bb574bd157">both sides</a> of the political spectrum. Yet the latest science finds little to no factual basis for this contention.</p><p>Longitudinal data just recently published online in the journal Addiction reports that pot smoking is not independently associated with adverse effects on the developing brain. A team of investigators from the United States and the United Kingdom evaluated whether marijuana use is directly associated with changes over time in neuropsychological performance in a nationally representative cohort of adolescent twins. Authors reported that “family background factors,” but not the use of cannabis negatively impacted adolescents’ cognitive performance.</p><p>They wrote: “[W]e found that youth who used cannabis … had lower IQ at age 18, but there was little evidence that cannabis use was associated with IQ decline from age 12 to 18. Moreover, although cannabis use was associated with lower IQ and poorer executive functions at age 18, these associations were generally not apparent within pairs of twins from the same family, suggesting that family background factors explain why adolescents who use cannabis perform worse on IQ and executive function tests.”</p><p>Investigators <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28734078">concluded</a>, “Short-term cannabis use in adolescence does not appear to cause IQ decline or impair executive functions, even when cannabis use reaches the level of dependence.”</p><p>They’re not alone in their conclusions. In 2016, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Minnesota performed a similar longitudinal analysis regarding marijuana’s potential impact on intelligence quotient in a separate cohort of adolescent twins. They reported no dose-response relationship between pot exposure and IQ decline at age 20, and observed no significant differences in performance among those who used marijuana and their non-using twins. </p><p>Investigators <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/113/5/E500.abstract">concluded</a>: “In the largest longitudinal examination of marijuana use and IQ change, … we find little evidence to suggest that adolescent marijuana use has a direct effect on intellectual decline. … [T]he lack of a dose–response relationship, and an absence of meaningful differences between discordant siblings lead us to conclude that the deficits observed in marijuana users are attributable to confounding factors that influence both substance initiation and IQ rather than a neurotoxic effect of marijuana.”</p><p>The UCLA findings mimicked those of separate longitudinal data published earlier that year in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. Investigators in that study assessed IQ and educational performance in a cohort of 2,235 adolescent twins. They too r<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26739345">eported</a> that after adjusting for potential confounds (such as the use of tobacco and alcohol), teens who used cannabis “did not differ from never-users on either IQ or educational performance.”</p><p>Florida State researchers similarly examined the issue earlier this year. Writing in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, they reported on the impact of marijuana exposure on intelligence scores in subjects over a 14-year period (ages 12 to 26). They <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28609722">concluded</a>, “[O]ur findings did not reveal a significant association between cumulative marijuana use and changes in intelligence scores.”</p><p>Nonetheless, political opponents of cannabis policy reform continue to <a href="https://learnaboutsam.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/SevenMyths-final-OH12.pdf">opine</a> that pot smoking “reduces IQ by 6-8 points.” This claim is derived from a widely publicized 2012 New Zealand study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It reported that the persistent use of cannabis from early adolescence to adulthood was associated with slightly lower IQ by age 38. </p><p>However, a followup review of the data published later in the same journal <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/110/11/4251">suggested</a> that the observed changes were the result of investigators’ failure to properly control for confounding variables, primarily the socioeconomic differences between users and non-users, and were not unduly influenced by subjects’ cannabis use history.</p><p>A later paper by the lead investigator of the New Zealand study similarly reported that the presence of confounders makes it difficult to impossible to attribute changes in teens’ academic performance on pot use alone, <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871615016580">finding</a> that the effects of persistent adolescent cannabis use on academic performance are “non-significant after controlling for persistent alcohol and tobacco use.”</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1080637'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1080637" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 06 Aug 2017 12:47:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1080637 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health marijuana cannabis marijuana research young marijuana smokers 80 Years Ago Today: President Signs First Federal Anti-Marijuana Law http://www.alternet.org/drugs/80-years-ago-today-president-signs-first-federal-anti-marijuana-law <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1080496'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1080496" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">It&#039;s time to end 80 years of failure. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_592173896.jpg?itok=_lrnmWVV" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Eighty years ago today, on August 2, 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt signed House Bill 6385: the Marihuana Tax Act into law. The Act for the first time imposed federal criminal penalties on activities specific to the possession, production, and sale of cannabis.</p><p>Congress’ decision followed the actions of 29 states, beginning with Massachusetts in 1914, that had previously passed laws criminalizing the plant over the prior decades. It also followed years of ‘Reefer Madness,’ during which time politicians, bureaucrats (led primarily by Federal Bureau of Narcotics Director <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_J._Anslinger">Harry Anslinger</a>), reporters, and science editors continually proclaimed that marijuana use irreparably damaged the brain. A 1933 <a href="http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2365&amp;context=jclc">editorial</a> in the <em>Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology</em> largely summarized the sentiment of the time, “If continued, the inevitable result is insanity, which those familiar with it describe as absolutely incurable, and, without exception ending in death.”</p><p>On April 14, 1937, Rep. Robert L. Doughton of North Carolina introduced HR 6385, which sought to stamp out the recreational use of marijuana by imposing a prohibitive federal tax on all cannabis-related activities. Members of Congress held only two hearings to debate the merits of the bill, which largely relied on the sensational testimony of Anslinger — who opined, ”This drug is entirely the monster Hyde, the harmful effect of which cannot be measured.” Over objections from the American Medical Association, whose representatives opposed the proposed federal ban, members of the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure by voice votes.</p><p>President Franklin Roosevelt promptly signed the legislation into law and on October 1, 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act officially took effect — thus setting in motion the federal prohibition that continues to this day.</p><p><em><strong>Tell Congress to end 80 years of failure. <a href="https://actionnetwork.org/letters/federal-the-marijuana-justice-act-of-2017-introduced">Click here</a> to urge federal leadership to support The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 in the US Senate and <a href="http://norml.org/action-center/item/federal-bill-introduced-to-end-federal-marijuana-prohibition">click here</a> to support The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 in the US House of Representatives.</strong></em></p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1080496'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1080496" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 02 Aug 2017 09:32:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1080496 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs FRD drugs marijuana legalization Blowing the Lid off of the 'Marijuana Treatment' Racket http://www.alternet.org/drugs/blowing-lid-marijuana-treatment-racket <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1079720'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079720" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Fewer teens are using pot, and even fewer are using it problematically. But that hasn’t stopped drug treatment admissions from soaring.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/untitled_design_36.jpg?itok=_boxmq3B" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><a name="_GoBack" id="_GoBack"></a>According to a comprehensive <a href="http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/sourcefiles/IOM_Report.pdf">review</a> by the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, “few marijuana users become dependent” upon pot. By contrast, those who drink alcohol are nearly twice as likely to do so problematically. Nonetheless, over half of all young people admitted to drug treatment programs are there for their involvement with marijuana, and this percentage is steadily rising. So what’s going on?</p><p>A just-published <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28704115">analysis</a> of federal drug treatment admissions data – knows as TEDS-A (Treatment Episode Data Set – Admissions) – by researchers at Binghamton University and the University of Iowa sheds some light on this issue, and it’s disturbing.</p><p>According to the study, which analyzed youth (ages 12 to 20) marijuana treatment admissions during the years 1995 to 2012, both the total number of drug treatment admissions and the number of admissions exclusively for marijuana increased over this 18-year period. Specifically, the number of youth admitted for weed rose from 52,894 in 1995 to 87,528 in 2012 – an increase of 65 percent. (Overall, just under 1.5 million teens were admitted to treatment for alleged cannabis dependence this period.)</p><p>Yet, well publicized <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/ss/ss6511a1.htm?s_cid=ss6511a1_e">data</a> from the US Centers for Disease Control, <a href="http://monitoringthefuture.org//pressreleases/16drugpr_complete.pdf">Monitoring the Future</a>, and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26361714">others</a> reports that daily, monthly, and yearly marijuana use by young people declined sharply during much of this same period. Perhaps even more importantly, studies further report that rates of problematic marijuana – so-called “cannabis use disorder” (CUD) – also fell significantly. For example, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28686820">data</a> published last week by investigators at the US National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) finds that the prevalence of past year CUD in young people fell 25 percent in the years between 2002 and 2014. Their findings mimicked those of a 2016 NIDA-funded study which similarly reported a <a href="http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567%2816%2930101-0/abstract">24 percent decline</a> in problematic pot use by young people.</p><p>So, if fewer young people are using pot – and even fewer are doing so problematically – why are more teens than ever before winding up in substance abuse treatment programs? The answer lies with the criminal justice system.</p><p>Between 1995 and 2012, the percentage of young people referred to drug treatment as a result of a criminal arrest rose 70 percent, researchers <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com.ololo.sci-hub.bz/doi/full/10.1080/10826084.2017.1311349">reported</a>. As a result, as of 2012, 53 percent of all youth drug treatment admissions came directly from criminal justice referrals. (Among adults, this percentage has historically been even <a href="http://norml.org/news/2010/05/27/criminal-justice-referrals-driving-marijuana-treatment-admissions-federal-report-finds">higher</a>.)</p><p>Predictably, as the percentage of criminal justice referrals has increased, so too has the percentage of minority youth being coerced into drug treatment programs. (Studies consistently find that African Americans and Hispanics are <a href="https://www.aclu.org/blog/new-report-billions-dollars-wasted-racially-biased-marijuana-arrests?redirect=blog/racial-justice-criminal-law-reform/new-report-billions-dollars-wasted-racially-biased-marijuana">arrested</a> for drug law violations, and marijuana possession specifically, at rates far greater than whites – even though their drug use rates are little different.) Since 1995, Black youth admitted to drug treatment for marijuana increased 86 percent. The percentage of Latino admissions grew by 256 percent. By contrast, white youth admissions increased only 11 percent during this same time period.</p><p>Perhaps most importantly, the authors of this new study acknowledge that many of the teens now being mandated to attend drug treatment don’t appear to belong there because they exhibit little evidence of having suffered from any deleterious mental or physical health problems specific to their cannabis use. In fact, since 2008, 30 percent of all young people in treatment for alleged marijuana dependence had no record of having even used pot in the 30 days prior to their admittance – much less exhibiting signs of being dependent upon the herb. Another 20 percent of the teens admitted had used pot fewer than three times in the past month. “Our findings indicate that the severity of drug use involved in those admissions has decreased,” authors concluded. “This study highlights the importance of identifying youth in actual need of treatment services.”</p><p>Indeed. At a time when our nation is in the grip of rising opioid abuse, America’s limited drug treatment services are primarily being used to warehouse those who occasionally use – or, more likely – have been arrested for pot.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1079720'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079720" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 14 Jul 2017 14:21:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1079720 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health teens on drugs drug treatment .marijuana cannabis use disorder treatment Three New Marijuana Myth-Busting Studies That the Mainstream Media Isn't Picking up On http://www.alternet.org/drugs/three-new-marijuana-myth-busting-studies-mainstream-media-isnt-picking <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1079396'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079396" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">While ‘reefer madness’ makes headlines, scientific refutations of these claims often go unreported.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_84464908_0.jpg?itok=rCq7dSHg" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">Allegations surrounding the supposed dangers of pot are frequently reported and repeated without criticism. But these new studies cast serious doubts on three of the more prominent marijuana myths.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Cannabis dispensaries aren’t crime magnets</strong></p><p>Claims that marijuana retailers attract crime are unsupported by the available evidence. In fact, studies show just the opposite result.</p><p dir="ltr">Most recently, <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094119017300281&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1499543381319000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEwGYOlYepov3T-YNpj8fYoJh1BLA" href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094119017300281" target="_blank">data</a> published in The Journal of Urban Economics reports that dispensary operators deter neighborhood crime. Researchers at the University of Southern California assessed the impact of dispensary closures on crime rates in the city of Los Angeles. Investigators identified an immediate increase in criminal activity – particularly property crime, larceny, and auto break ins – in the areas where dispensary operations were forced to close as compared to crime rates in those neighborhoods where marijuana retailers remained open for business.</p><p dir="ltr">“Open dispensaries provide over $30,000 per year in social benefit in terms of larcenies prevented,” researchers concluded.</p><p dir="ltr">Federally funded research published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs reported a similar trend in Sacramento, <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.jsad.com/doi/10.15288/jsad.2012.73.523&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1499543381319000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFGENHHt2ihOP0ARiOL0UgkBGEojg" href="http://www.jsad.com/doi/10.15288/jsad.2012.73.523" target="_blank">concluding</a>: “There were no observed cross-sectional associations between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries and either violent or property crime rates in this study. These results suggest that the density of medical marijuana dispensaries may not be associated with crime rates or that other factors, such as measures dispensaries take to reduce crime (i.e., doormen, video cameras), may increase guardianship such that it deters possible motivated offenders.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Legal pot is not associated with increased traffic fatalities</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Federal traffic safety data refutes allegations that changes in marijuana’s legal status has led to increased carnage on the roads.</p><p dir="ltr">Investigators from the University of Texas-Austin recently evaluated crash fatality rates in Colorado and Washington pre- and post-legalization. They compared these rates to those of eight control states that had not enacted any significant changes in their marijuana laws. Their <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2017.303848&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1499543381319000&amp;usg=AFQjCNE7-iiInKIwcvpNtcX1-Li0VJkBOw" href="http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2017.303848" target="_blank">findings</a> appeared last month in The American Journal of Public Health.</p><p dir="ltr">“We found no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle fatality rates in the first three years after recreational marijuana legalization,” they concluded.</p><p dir="ltr">Authors also reported no association between adult use marijuana legalization laws and the total number of non-fatal crashes.</p><p dir="ltr">To those familiar with the available evidence, the findings were not surprising. In fact, a prior study published in the same journal in 2016 <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303577?journalCode%3Dajph&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1499543381319000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFQZHDrtDEwdho3azDFmX_WRGzZfQ" href="http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303577?journalCode=ajph" target="_blank">reported</a> that the enactment of medical marijuana legalization laws was associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities compared to other states, particularly among drivers ages 25 to 44 years old.</p><p dir="ltr">Overall, traffic fatalities have fallen significantly over the past two decades – during the same time that a majority of US states have legalized marijuana for either medical or social use. In 1996, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were an estimated 37,500 fatal car crashes on US roadways. This total <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1499543381319000&amp;usg=AFQjCNH4m3EAlC27I49TINYFW0Jk6TE3IA" href="https://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx" target="_blank">fell</a> to under 30,000 by 2014.</p><p><strong>There’s been no rise in problematic pot use post-legalization</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Claims that the passage of marijuana regulatory laws has been associated with an increase in rates of marijuana abuse – sometimes described as ‘cannabis abuse disorder’ – remain largely unsubstantiated. In fact, the majority of studies addressing the issue find no significant changes in the number of young people or adults using cannabis in a problematic manner.</p><p dir="ltr">Specifically, Columbia University researchers writing last month in the journal Addiction <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.13904/abstract&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1499543381319000&amp;usg=AFQjCNF6dkEp1k3XRDDSkj8ykN4_NT76sg" href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.13904/abstract" target="_blank">reported</a> “no associated increase in the prevalence of cannabis use disorder” among either adolescents or adults in the years following the enactment of medical cannabis laws. They also reported "no significant change in the prevalence of past-month marijuana use among adolescents or young adults (those ages 18 to 25)" following legalization – a finding that is <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://blog.norml.org/2013/06/18/study-medical-cannabis-laws-have-no-measurable-impact-on-teen-use-rates/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1499543381320000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGBE7zy8987tp7pLk4wHwzFsYUaxQ" href="http://blog.norml.org/2013/06/18/study-medical-cannabis-laws-have-no-measurable-impact-on-teen-use-rates/" target="_blank">consistent</a> with numerous prior studies.</p><p dir="ltr">In fact, <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://norml.org/news/2015/07/16/study-changes-in-state-marijuana-laws-are-not-associated-with-greater-use-or-acceptance-by-young-people&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1499543381320000&amp;usg=AFQjCNF6Q0Kms3oWO6q-tpz1p8R4DaqQRw" href="http://norml.org/news/2015/07/16/study-changes-in-state-marijuana-laws-are-not-associated-with-greater-use-or-acceptance-by-young-people" target="_blank">separate studies</a> have reported that fewer young people overall are using marijuana today than were a decade ago. Perhaps even more notably, there has been a <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567%252816%252930101-0/abstract&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1499543381320000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFq5VXEECzzK5sQrfquoRFABqA-KA" href="http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567%2816%2930101-0/abstract" target="_blank">significant drop</a> in recent years in the percentage of adolescents nationwide who say they consume pot habitually. According to <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567%252816%252930101-0/abstract&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1499543381320000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFq5VXEECzzK5sQrfquoRFABqA-KA" href="http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567%2816%2930101-0/abstract" target="_blank">data</a> published last year in The Journal of the American Academy of Child &amp; Adolescent Psychiatry, “Past-year prevalence of marijuana use disorders among US adolescents declined by an estimated 24 percent over the 2002 to 2013 period.”</p><p dir="ltr">Separate data published in March 2016 in JAMA Psychiatry similarly <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2491353&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1499543381320000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGV3yZqyIihqSUWm32832_yq7JZSA" href="http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2491353" target="_blank">reported</a> a “net decrease” in the prevalence of marijuana-related disorders since 2002. Commenting on the study’s findings, the lead author <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-02-marijuana-high-previously.html&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1499543381320000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEbYgsXvR-Dcw2p8tRbm98ZLjdbnQ" href="https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-02-marijuana-high-previously.html" target="_blank">concluded</a>: "[O]ur survey didn't notice any increase in <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://medicalxpress.com/tags/marijuana/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1499543381320000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGLZRrZm-R_XxrJrwvB5cp8Wb8FFQ" href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/marijuana/" target="_blank">marijuana</a>-related problems. Certainly, some people are having problems so we should remain vigilant, but the sky is not falling."</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1079396'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1079396" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 07 Jul 2017 14:36:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1079396 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Activism Drugs drug policy legalization of marijuana marijuana myths Is Big Alcohol Taking a Hit From Legal Weed? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/big-alcohol-versus-legal-weed <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1078542'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078542" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">According to one survey, 20 percent of Gen Xers and eight percent of boomers are making the switch from alcohol to pot. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_592173896.jpg?itok=_lrnmWVV" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The legal weed market appears to be impacting booze’s bottom line.</p><p>Consumer trend <a href="http://outco.com/wp-content/uploads/New_State_of_Cannabis_OutCo.pdf">data</a> compiled by OutCo and Monocle Research finds that many California twenty-somethings, post-legalization, are switching from beer to pot. Marketers surveyed 2,000 cannabis consumers in seven major California cities. One-third of millennial respondents <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/millennials-dropping-alcohol-marijuana-article-1.3247329">said</a> that they are choosing cannabis over beer. One out of five acknowledged substituting weed for wine, and 14 percent admitted consuming herb rather than hard alcohol.</p><p>Older respondents, including baby boomers, also reported making the switch from booze to pot. According to the survey, 20 percent of Gen Xers and eight percent of boomers similarly acknowledged substituting pot in place of alcohol.</p><p>The findings provide further credence to a December 2016 <a href="http://time.com/money/4592317/legal-marijuana-beer-sales/">report</a> from the Cowan &amp; Company research firm which determined that beer sales by major distributors – including Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors – have “collectively underperformed” over the past two years in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. In Denver, arguably the epicenter for the marijuana retail sales market, beer sales have fallen nearly seven percent, analysists concluded.</p><p>A March 2017 research <a href="http://cannabizconsumergroup.com/cannabis-legalization-beer-sales/#.WUIToRPysdX">report</a> by the Cannabiz Consumer Group similarly indicates that cannabis is cutting in on beer’s popularity. Researchers reported that 27 percent drinkers surveyed said that they had either substituted cannabis for beer, or that they would do so in the future if retail weed sales become legal. The company estimated that beer sales could decline by as much as $2 billion if cannabis was legal nationwide.</p><p>Questions concerning whether cannabis typically acts as a substitute or as a complement to alcohol remain ongoing. But a 2014 literature <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3992908/">review</a> published in the journal <em>Alcohol and Alcoholism</em> indicates that the weight of the available evidence supports the former theory – particularly among young adults. Authors concluded: “While more research and improved study designs are needed to better identify the extent and impact of cannabis substitution on those affected by AUD (alcohol use disorder), cannabis does appear to be a potential substitute for alcohol. Perhaps more importantly, cannabis is both safer and potentially less addictive than benzodiazepines and other pharmaceuticals that have been evaluated as substitutes for alcohol.”</p><p>Survey data from states where medical cannabis has long been legally available frequently report declines in alcohol consumption. For instance, a 2011 patient survey from California <a href="http://norml.org/news/2011/08/04/medi-pot-most-often-consumed-for-pain-muscle-spasms-study-says">reported</a> that those qualified to access medicinal cannabis used alcohol at rates that were “significantly lower” than those of the general public. More recently, a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28372506">study</a> published this year in the <em>Journal of Psychopharmacology</em> reported that over 40 percent of state-registered medical marijuana patients acknowledged reducing their alcohol intake after initiating cannabis therapy.</p><p>Polling <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2014/03/12/poll-americans-view-pot-as-less-harmful-to-health-than-tobacco-alcohol-or-sugar/">data</a> finds that most Americans, and <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2014/09/19/poll-younger-voters-say-marijuana-is-less-harmful-than-alcohol/">those</a> between the ages 18 to 40 in particular, now believe that cannabis is far less harmful to health than alcohol. Their belief is supported by the <a href="http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/26096-booze-or-pot-no-question-which-substance-is-more-harmful-to-health">relevant science</a>. For example, alcohol possesses a dependence liability that is nearly twice that of cannabis, is a far greater contributor to traffic accidents, and is capable of causing organ failure and even death by overdose. According to a 2011 <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2011/11/01/study-alcohol-is-%E2%80%9Cmore-than-twice-as-harmful-as-cannabis%E2%80%9D-so-explain-to-me-again-why-pot-is-illegal/">study</a> comparing the physical, psychological, and social impact of the two substances: “A direct comparison of alcohol and cannabis showed that alcohol was considered to be more than twice as harmful as cannabis to [individual] users, and five times more harmful as cannabis to others (society). … As there are few areas of harm that each drug can produce where cannabis scores more [dangerous to health] than alcohol, we suggest that even if there were no legal impediment to cannabis use, it would be unlikely to be more harmful than alcohol.”</p><p>The fact that the legal marijuana market may pose potential challenges for the alcohol beverage industry is hardly going unnoticed. The topic was front and center at the 2016 Beer Industry Summit, according to <a href="https://qz.com/604265/how-does-the-beer-industry-feel-about-marijuana-paranoid/">reports</a> from attendees. And last year, industry players contributed funds against voter-initiated legalization measures in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/oct/22/recreational-marijuana-legalization-big-business">Arizona</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/oct/22/recreational-marijuana-legalization-big-business">Massachusetts</a>. (The Massachusetts initiative passed while the Arizona measure was defeated.)</p><p>Yet, given the ubiquitous role alcohol plays in American culture, it is hard to imagine a scenario where the emerging legal marijuana market presents a serious threat to Big Booze any time soon. After all, while federal lawmakers have <a href="https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/sres473">endorsed</a> Congressional resolutions “commending” US beer sales, they simultaneously refuse to amend federal law to even permit marijuana businesses to have relationships with banks or take standard payroll deductions. In short, as long as booze remains king on Capitol Hill, the cannabis industry will continue be engaged in an uphill battle for both respectability and market share.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1078542'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1078542" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 21 Jun 2017 01:47:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1078542 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs legal marijuana alcohol companies california drugs culture Three New Scientific Studies That Debunk Conventional Marijuana Myths http://www.alternet.org/drugs/fact-versus-fiction-three-new-scientific-studies-debunk-marijuana-myths <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1077346'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077346" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">These peer-reviewed studies lay waste to years of pot propaganda.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_strains.jpg?itok=vwBP-SP0" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Fear-mongering headlines claiming that marijuana use causes birth defects, heart-attacks, and psychosis are common in the mainstream media. But newly published scientific evidence makes it clear that what is often portrayed as ‘conventional wisdom’ is really nothing more than ‘reefer madness.’</p><p><strong>Pot Not Likely to Make You Psychotic</strong></p><p>There exists “minimal evidence” to support an association between cannabis use alone and the onset of psychotic symptoms in young people, according to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28318911">data</a> published online in March in the Journal of Adolescent Health.</p><p>Investigators from the University of Pennsylvania, Department of Psychiatry assessed the relationship between drug use and the onset of psychotic symptoms in a cohort of 4,171 young people ages 14 to 21. Authors reported that “neither frequent nor early cannabis use predicted increased odds of psychosis spectrum classification” after researchers adjusted for potential confounders (e.g., concurrent use of other substances, comorbid psychopathology, and trauma exposure).</p><p>They concluded, “Overall, we found minimal evidence for associations between cannabis use by itself and psychosis spectrum symptoms.”</p><p>They’re not alone. In fact, the only other US-based longitudinal <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.yahoo.com/news/chronic-marijuana-teens-not-linked-later-health-issues-111412953.html&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1495610140741000&amp;usg=AFQjCNF0ncQq7sLs_Ib5wQX5FCRFIyDXjQ" href="https://www.yahoo.com/news/chronic-marijuana-teens-not-linked-later-health-issues-111412953.html" target="_blank">study</a> to assess early onset cannabis use and mental health similarly reported that exposure <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://norml.org/news/2015/08/13/study-adolescent-marijuana-use-not-associated-with-health-problems-in-early-adulthood&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1495610140741000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEG53EiftowR2aYlY9Loang-GsJoQ" href="http://norml.org/news/2015/08/13/study-adolescent-marijuana-use-not-associated-with-health-problems-in-early-adulthood" target="_blank">is not positively associated</a> with a greater risk of psychosis or other psychiatric health disorders later in life. </p><p>Do some individuals with psychiatric disorders smoke pot? Of course. But according to a 2016 <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26781550/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1495610140741000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFufFJ1D_FOD6k8qAwwsy-1g1TifA" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26781550/" target="_blank">literature review</a>, this association exists because many individuals predisposed to psychosis are simply more likely to experiment with weed at an early age as compared to those who are not. “Evidence reviewed here suggests that cannabis does not in itself cause a psychosis disorder,” researchers concluded. “Rather, the evidence leads us to conclude that both early use and heavy use of cannabis are more likely in individuals with a vulnerability to psychosis.”</p><p><strong>Maternal Marijuana Use Isn’t Independently Associated With Adverse Neurodevelopment</strong></p><p>Federal statistics indicate that between four and five percent of pregnant women report using pot during pregnancy, sometimes <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://safeaccess.ca/research/cannabis_nausea2006.pdf&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1495610140741000&amp;usg=AFQjCNG8renQNYvtrmcZA9Gn9DEKR7o31A" href="http://safeaccess.ca/research/cannabis_nausea2006.pdf" target="_blank">as a remedy for morning sickness</a>. However, even in states where cannabis use is legal, such behavior may result in involvement with child welfare services and other punitive legal actions — a stance that is predicated on the belief that maternal cannabis use inherently poses significant health risks to the child. But a just published scientific <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743517301755&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1495610140741000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHionaN2L7UsIeleaEXrW-bt5CSaw" href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743517301755" target="_blank">review</a> in the journal Preventive Medicine challenges this long held contention.</p><p>A pair of researchers from the University of Maryland, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and the Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Psychiatry reviewed four prospective cohort studies evaluating the long-term health outcomes of in utero cannabis exposure.  They concluded, “The evidence base for maternal-infant health outcomes of cannabis use in pregnancy is more robust than for many other substances. …  Although there is a theoretical potential for cannabis to interfere with neurodevelopment, human data drawn from [these] four prospective cohorts have not identified any long-term or long lasting meaningful differences between children exposed in utero to cannabis and those not.”</p><p>Other recent studies similarly allay fears regarding marijuana exposure during pregnancy. For example, a 2016 literature <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://norml.org/news/2016/09/22/study-maternal-marijuana-use-not-independently-associated-with-adverse-effects-in-newborns&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1495610140741000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHrh3_tQxZpwgIipM7Kq6_xqfsQYw" href="http://norml.org/news/2016/09/22/study-maternal-marijuana-use-not-independently-associated-with-adverse-effects-in-newborns" target="_blank">review</a> published in the journal Obstetrics &amp; Gynecology reported that the moderate use of cannabis during pregnancy is not an independent risk factor for adverse neonatal outcomes such as low birth weight, and a 2017 <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://jech.bmj.com/content/70/Suppl_1/A8.1&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1495610140742000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFC70zGqNzWqoXc4PhJppd3m0e8Vw" href="http://jech.bmj.com/content/70/Suppl_1/A8.1" target="_blank">study</a> reports that neither maternal nor paternal pot use is independently associated with adverse effects on children’s educational attainment. By contrast, researchers determined that maternal alcohol use was associated with detrimental educational outcomes.</p><p><strong>Smoking Pot Likely Isn’t Going to Trigger a Heart Attack</strong></p><p>Consuming marijuana increases one’s risk of heart problems “and may even prove fatal for young and middle-aged users.” So <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2611377/Cannabis-increases-heart-problems-prove-fatal.html&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1495610140742000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGcpjKEsGYPYKaPGpUZQE40_qDF8g" href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2611377/Cannabis-increases-heart-problems-prove-fatal.html" target="_blank">declared</a> the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail in 2014 in typically hysterical fashion. But the results of recently published 25-year longitudinal study conclude that young adults who smoke pot are at no greater risk of myocardial infarction or other adverse cardiovascular problems as compared to non-users. </p><p>Writing in April in the American Journal of Public Health, an international team of researchers from the United States and Switzerland assessed cumulative cannabis use and cardiovascular risk in a cohort of over 5,000 subjects over a period of more than two decades. Authors <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28207342&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1495610140742000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGVTyq_XmbrbIRdiXU5QMW7f7lSOQ" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28207342" target="_blank">reported</a>, "Compared with no marijuana use, cumulative lifetime and recent marijuana use showed no association with incident CVD (cardiovascular disease), stroke or transient ischemic attacks, coronary heart disease, or CVD mortality."</p><p>They concluded, "In this community-based cohort of young adults followed for more than 25 years, we found no evidence to suggest that cumulative lifetime or recent marijuana use, at levels typical of most recreational, occasional users of marijuana in the United States, affects risk of future CVD events through middle age.” By contrast, separate studies have reported that consuming non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.medpagetoday.com/PainManagement/PainManagement/39457&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1495610140742000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHguH2Oq3vKApOa4ET5DVpna_edZQ" href="http://www.medpagetoday.com/PainManagement/PainManagement/39457" target="_blank">may double</a> one’s risk of heart failure.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1077346'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1077346" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 23 May 2017 12:38:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1077346 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health marijuana cannabis psychosis pregnancy heart attack cardiovascular disease alternet_originals Debunking the Latest Viral Pot Paranoid Theory http://www.alternet.org/drugs/debunking-latest-viral-pot-paranoid-theory <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1076971'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076971" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Legal marijuana is not sending teens to the ER, contrary to scaremongering headlines.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_592173896.jpg?itok=_lrnmWVV" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>"Legalized pot sends more teens to the ER in Colorado, <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/pot-legalized-colorado-teens-hospital-er/">study finds</a>." So claimed CBS News and numerous other mainstream media outlets this month in response to a May 4 American Academy of Pediatrics <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170504083114.htm">press release</a>. But in actuality, no published study exists. And the data highlighted in the AAP presser provides little evidence to substantiate these alarmist headlines.</p><p>In fact, what headline writers across the country inaccurately referred to as a "study" was no more than preliminary data presented during the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco. These data sets, which assessed year-over-year trends in the prevalence of marijuana use among patients ages 13 to 21 who were admitted to the emergency room of a Colorado children’s hospital, have yet to be peer-reviewed or accepted for publication in a scientific journal. Yet one would have to skip to the final sentence of mainstream media coverage like <a href="https://consumer.healthday.com/public-health-information-30/marijuana-news-759/pot-a-factor-in-more-er-admissions-for-colorado-teens-after-legalization-722379.html">this</a> in order to be aware of these facts.</p><p>Furthermore, despite the misleading headlines, the data never addressed the question of whether marijuana played a causal role in patients’ ER admissions. Rather, researchers simply reported an increase in the number of ER patients who acknowledged either having used pot in the past or who tested positive for it on a hospital authorized urine screen. But this result is likely because Colorado hospital staff is placing a greater emphasis on marijuana detection today than they did a decade ago. Furthermore, it is likely that patients are more willing to acknowledge their use of cannabis to hospital employees now, post-legalization, than they were when pot was illegal.</p><p>Nevertheless, researchers opined that their data provides new evidence to support the claim that the legalization and regulating of marijuana for adults is having a “significant public health impact on adolescent populations.”</p><p>But more well established research casts serious doubt on this claim. For example, state survey data compiled by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment <a href="http://norml.org/news/2017/03/02/study-marijuana-use-stable-in-colorado-post-legalization">dismisses</a> the notion that teens’ use of marijuana has increased in the years following legalization. In fact, youth marijuana use rates in Colorado are <a href="https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/PF_Youth_MJ-Infographic-Digital.pdf">lower</a> today than they were in 2009 — several years prior to the establishment of adult use regulations. National survey data similarly refutes allegations that more young people are engaging in the problematic use of cannabis. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the <em>American Academy of Child &amp; Adolescent Psychiatry</em>, the number of adolescents reporting marijuana-related problems <a href="http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567%252816%252930101-0/abstract">declined by 24 percent</a> from 2002 to 2013.</p><p>In addition, legal cannabis products sold by Colorado retailers are seldom making their way to the underage market. According to a 2016 <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27797687">study</a> published in the <em>Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs</em>, licensed retailers strictly adhere to statewide regulations forbidding sales to minors. It determined, "Compliance with laws restricting marijuana sales to individuals age 21 years or older with a valid ID was extremely high and possibly higher than compliance with restrictions on alcohol sales.” Authors concluded, "The retail market at present may not be a direct source of marijuana for underage individuals.” Studies from other jurisdictions also report <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743516301918?np=y">no link</a> between the proliferation of marijuana dispensaries and increased pot use by teens.</p><p>Moreover, studies have largely failed to identify a significant causal link between marijuana use and ER visits. Specifically, researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed patterns and correlates of drug-related ER visits in a nationally representative survey of 43,093 residents age 18 or older. They <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20627209">reported</a>, "[M]arijuana was by far the most commonly used (illicit) drug, but individuals who used marijuana had a low prevalence of drug-related ED [emergency department] visits.” A Canadian study published this month in the journal <em>Drug and Alcohol Dependence</em> <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28324814">determined</a> that marijuana use did not increase subjects’ likelihood of hospitalization in the hours immediately following its use. Other studies assessing drug use patterns in smaller cohorts have even reported that cannabis use is <a href="https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-9-40">inversely associated</a> with injury risk.</p><p>This is not to say that cannabis use is without potential risk, particularly in instances where it is consumed by younger or more naive subjects. Marijuana can elevate blood pressure and in some users trigger tachycardia (rapid heart beat). Higher potency cannabis may also cause paranoia and other feelings of dysphoria. In patients with certain pre-existing psychiatric disorders, there also lies the potential for pot to exacerbate a psychotic episode. Any of these side effects may result in an ER visit. However, these sort of severe adverse reactions to cannabis are atypical. Further, none of these conditions are life-threatening and the symptoms almost always subside after a few hours.</p><p>Nevertheless, retailers and regulators in legal cannabis states ought to take steps to try and mitigate consumers’ risk of experiencing such unpleasant reactions, many of which are the result of overconsumption. These steps include better product labeling, potential limits on THC potency per serving in edible products, and greater efforts to encourage consumers to moderate their cannabis intake — particularly if they are consuming pot-infused edibles or concentrates. Such efforts are not only in the best interest of public safety, but they will also result in greater consumer satisfaction and awareness.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1076971'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076971" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 17 May 2017 13:17:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1076971 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs legalization marijuana legal pot colorado drugs The Evidence Is Overwhelming: Cannabis Is an Exit Drug for Major Addictions, Not a Gateway to New Ones http://www.alternet.org/drugs/evidence-overwhelming-cannabis-exit-drug-major-addictions-not-gateway-new-ones <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1076879'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076879" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">People dependent on cocaine, opioids and other prescription drugs could ease out of their addictions with cannabis.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_635912192_1.jpg?itok=Tmnl0fDl" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>It is time for politicians to put to rest the myth that cannabis is a gateway to the use of other controlled substances — a theory that is neither supported by modern science or empirical data. </p><p>Over 60 percent of American adults acknowledge having tried cannabis, but the overwhelming majority of these individuals never go on to try another illicit substance. Further, nothing in marijuana’s chemical composition alters the brain in a manner that makes users more susceptible to experimenting with other drugs. That’s why both the esteemed <a href="http://www.factcheck.org/2015/04/is-marijuana-really-a-gateway-drug/">Institute of Medicine</a> and the Rand Corporation’s Drug Policy Research Center <a href="http://www.rand.org/pubs/external_publications/ep20021208.html">conclude</a> that "[M]arijuana has no causal influence over hard drug initiation."</p><p>In contrast, a growing body of evidence now exists to support the counter notion that for many people, pot serves as a path away from the use of more dangerous substances, including opioids, alcohol, prescription drugs, cocaine, and tobacco.</p><p>For example, in jurisdictions where marijuana use is legally regulated, researchers have reported year-over-year declines in opioid-related <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w21345">abuse</a> and <a href="http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1898878">mortality</a>. According to data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, deaths attributable to both prescription opiates and heroin fell by 20 percent shortly after marijuana legalization and by 33 percent within six years. Overall, the study’s investigators <a href="http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1898878">concluded</a>, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.” Data published this past April in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence also reports a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28259087">dramatic decline</a> in opioid pain reliever related hospitalizations following legalization.</p><p>Patients’ use of other prescription drugs has also been shown to fall in states where marijuana is legally accessible. Newly published data from both the United States and Canada finds that patients curb their use of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28189912">anti-depressants</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28189912">anti-anxiety drugs</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28372506">sleep aids</a> after initiating cannabis use—a reality that is quantified in their spending habits. According to researchers at the University of Georgia’s Department of Public Policy, Medicare recipients residing in medical marijuana states <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/35/7/1230.abstract&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1494800699574000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGAIx7-HIpFsPPCBGy4wYerNs6Rjg" href="http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/35/7/1230.abstract" target="_blank">spent millions less</a> on prescription drugs as compared to patients with similar ailments in non-legal states. Patients’ spending on Medicaid related services is also <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/early/2017/04/13/hlthaff.2016.1135&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1494800699574000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFOWbp_uQ-oaa5YFjwWILr5NW3foA" href="http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/early/2017/04/13/hlthaff.2016.1135" target="_blank">significantly lower</a> in cannabis-friendly states. </p><p>Emerging data also indicates that pot use is associated with reduced cravings for cocaine. Writing last month in the journal Addictive Behaviors, investigators at the University of Montreal and the University of British Columbia <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28399488">reported that subjects dependent on crack cocaine</a> subsequently reduce their drug use following the intentional use of cannabis. They concluded: “In this longitudinal study, we observed that a period of self-reported intentional use of cannabis … was associated with subsequent periods of reduced use of crack [cocaine]. … Given the substantial global burden of morbidity and mortality attributable to crack cocaine use disorders alongside a lack of effective pharmacotherapies, we echo calla for rigorous experimental research on cannabinoids as a potential treatment for crack cocaine use disorders.”</p><p>The findings replicate those of a prior Brazilian <a href="https://www.tni.org/files/publication-downloads/therapeutic_cannabis_crack_brazil.pdf">study</a> which also determined that the therapeutic use of cannabis mitigates crack cocaine cravings and consumption. </p><p>Empirical data also reinforces this contention. Specifically, Americans’ use of cocaine <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.12738/abstract">has fallen</a> dramatically in recent years, during which time the percentage of adults acknowledging using cannabis has risen.</p><p>Scientific data also suggests that cannabis may reduce some people’s cravings for alcohol and tobacco. For example, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23685330">clinical trial data</a> from the United Kingdom finds that subjects administered <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/cannabidiol">cannabidiol</a>, an organic cannabinoid, reduces their cigarette smoking by 40 percent compared to participants provided a placebo. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28189912">Data</a> published earlier this year in the International Journal of Drug Policy reported that over ten percent of Canadian medical cannabis patients acknowledge using pot in lieu of tobacco. </p><p>Survey data from the United States reports even larger declines in cannabis users’ consumption of alcohol. According to a May 2017 <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28372506">study</a> in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, over 40 percent of medical cannabis dispensary members acknowledge reducing their alcohol intake. A 2014 literature review published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism <a href="http://norml.org/news/2014/02/20/cannabis-may-be-a-substitute-for-alcohol-study-says">adds</a>, “While more research and improved study designs are needed to better identify the extent and impact of cannabis substitution on those affected by AUD (alcohol use disorders), cannabis does appear to be a potential substitute for alcohol.”</p><p>Finally, for those seeking treatment for drug dependency, cannabis may also play a positive role. In fact, studies report that pot use is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc2943839/">predictive</a> of greater adherence to abstinence among heroin dependent subjects, and those who consume it occasionally are more likely to complete their <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26187456">treatment regimen</a> as compared to those who not.</p><p>In light of this scientific evidence, combined with a growing number of Americans’ first-hand experience with cannabis, it is hardly surprising that public confidence in the ‘gateway theory’ is waning. According to <a href="https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/06ju5vrcri/tabs_op_marijuana_20160718.pdf">survey data</a> compiled in 2016 by YouGov.com, fewer than one in three US citizens agree with the statement, “[T]he use of marijuana leads to the use of hard drugs.” Among those respondents under the age of 65, fewer than one in four agree. Public opinion <a href="http://maristpoll.marist.edu/wp-content/misc/yahoo%252520news/20170417_banners%252520of%252520americans_yahoo%252520news-marist%252520poll_weed%252520and%252520the%252520american%252520family.pdf">data</a> provided earlier this week by Yahoo News finds even less support, with only 14 percent of adults expressing “significant concern” that cannabis “leads to the use of other drugs.”</p><p>In short, both scientific and public opinion reject the contention that marijuana use promotes the use of other drugs. It’s past time for public officials to renounce this rhetoric as well.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1076879'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1076879" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 12 May 2017 14:30:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1076879 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health medical marijuana cannabis advocate for marijuana medicine cocaine opiod addiction prescription drug abuse Addiction and Recovery drug addiction AlterNet Originals Nevada Retail Marijuana Sales Will Begin in July http://www.alternet.org/drugs/nevada-retail-marijuana-sales-will-begin-july <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Unlike some other recent legalization states, Nevada is moving to expedite--not obstruct--the move toward legal marijuana. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/lasvegas.jpg?itok=DQzJ5ny0" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Nevada regulators have <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nevada-recreational-marijuana-sales_us_5910f910e4b0d5d9049f45ac">approved rules</a> to allow for the expedited sales of cannabis to adults.</p><p>Members of the Nevada Tax Commission voted 6 to 1 on Monday to license select medical dispensaries to engage in retail sales of non-medical cannabis. Dispensaries in good standing with the state will be able to apply for “early start” licenses on May 15. Those facilities who are approved by state regulators will be able to engage in adult use marijuana sales on July 1.</p><p>A majority of voters <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2016/11/09/nevada-legalizes-recreational-marijuana/">decided</a> last November in favor of <a href="https://www.regulatemarijuanainnevada.org/full-initiative-text/">The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act</a>, a voter-initiated measure regulating the commercial marijuana market. Provisions in the law eliminating criminal penalties regarding the personal possession of personal use quantities of cannabis <a href="http://norml.org/news/2017/01/05/nevada-becomes-the-seventh-state-to-eliminate-marijuana-possession-penalties">took effect</a> on January 1, 2017. Separate provisions in the measure regulating the commercial production and sales of cannabis were initially slated to take effect on January 1, 2018.</p><p>Regulators decision to expedite marijuana sales is in sharp contrast to the actions of lawmakers in several other states, including <a href="http://norml.org/act/item/maine-lawmakers-approve-emergency-measure-delaying-retail-marijuana-sales">Maine</a> and <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2016/12/28/massachusetts-lawmakers-amend-voter-initiated-marijuana-legalization-measure/">Massachusetts</a> — both of which have taken steps to delay adult use marijuana sales by several months.</p><p> </p> Wed, 10 May 2017 12:01:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, NORML 1076725 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics marijuana retail sales nevada marijuana legalization The 5 Biggest Lies About Pot—And How to Rebut Them http://www.alternet.org/drugs/top-five-marijuana-myths <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1074168'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1074168" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">No, smoking marijuana doesn&#039;t lower your intelligence.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_359713784.jpg?itok=0k_PD1TT" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Consuming marijuana lowers intelligence.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">“The best evidence is that you lose, if you use marijuana as a teenager regularly, eight IQ points. I don’t know about the rest of the table, but I don’t have eight (IQ points) to lose.” —Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/watch/nightly-news/the-case-for-legalized-marijuana-312819779641">July 27, 2014</a></p><p>The source of this oft-repeated claim is a 2012 longitudinal <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/109/40/E2657.abstract">study</a> by Madeline Meier and colleagues that associated the persistent use of cannabis prior to age 18 with lower IQ at mid-life. However, a <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/110/11/4251.abstract">separate review</a> of Meier’s data, published in the same journal, disputed any direct link between cannabis use and declined IQ. That review argued that Meier’s team had failed to properly control for potential confounding factors, such as subjects’ socio-economic status. After accounting for these variables, the author theorized that the “true effect (on early onset cannabis use and IQ) could be zero.”</p><p>More recent longitudinal studies further dismiss the notion that cannabis exposure negatively impacts IQ. A 2016 British study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology assessed IQ and educational performance among a cohort of 2,235 marijuana-using teens and never users. Authors <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0269881115622241">concluded</a>, “[T]he notion that cannabis use itself is causally related to lower IQ and poorer educational performance was not supported in this large teenage sample.”</p><p>Most recently, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Minnesota evaluated whether marijuana use was associated with changes in intellectual performance in two longitudinal cohorts of adolescent twins. Participants were assessed for intelligence at ages 9 to 12, before marijuana involvement, and again at ages 17 to 20. Investigators found no dose-response relationship between cannabis use and IQ decline. They also found no significant differences in performance among marijuana using subjects when compared to their non-using twins, <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/113/5/E500.abstract">concluding</a>: "In the largest longitudinal examination of marijuana use and IQ change, ... we find little evidence to suggest that adolescent marijuana use has a direct effect on intellectual decline. ... [T]he lack of a dose-response relationship, and an absence of meaningful differences between discordant siblings lead us to conclude that the deficits observed in marijuana users are attributable to confounding factors that influence both substance initiation and IQ rather than a neurotoxic effect of marijuana."</p><p><strong>2. Legalizing marijuana spawned the opioid epidemic.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">“I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people (by regulating the adult use of marijuana).” —White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, <a href="http://www.thecannifornian.com/cannabis-news/law/white-house-signals-possible-crackdown-recreational-marijuana/">Feb. 23, 2017</a></p><p>Recent claims by the new administration that the use of marijuana may be linked to the rising use and abuse of opioids is unsupported by the available evidence. In reality, numerous studies find just the opposite result.</p><p>Specifically, researchers have linked legal marijuana access to lower rates of opioid use, hospitalization, and mortality. For instance, a 2016 study by investigators at the University of Michigan reported that chronic pain patients reduced their opioid use by <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27001005">64 percent</a> when cannabis became available. Israeli researchers documented similar results in a cohort of patients with treatment-resistant pain, reporting a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26889611">44 percent reduction</a> in participants’ opioid consumption following the introduction of medical cannabis. Such a substitution effect can result in saved lives. Writing last month in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, authors <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28259087">reported</a> that medical marijuana legalization laws are associated with significant reductions in hospitalizations due to opioid-related abuse or overdoses. Similarly, a 2014 <a href="http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1898878">study</a> published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine determined that legalizing medical cannabis is associated with as much as a 33 percent reduction in deaths attributable to the use of prescription opiates and heroin.</p><p><strong>3. Cannabis smoke exposure is more damaging to the lungs than tobacco smoke.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">“Smoking marijuana clearly damages the human lung.” —website of the American Lung Association, <a href="http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/smoking-facts/marijuana-and-lung-health.html?referrer=http://www.bing.com/search?q=marijuana%20smoking%20as%20bad%20as%20tobacco%20lungs&amp;pc=cosp&amp;ptag=N0020G1486D010415A316A5D3C6E&amp;form=CONBDF&amp;conlogo=CT3210127">Marijuana and Lung Health</a></p><p>While <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1490047/">some studies</a> have linked chronic marijuana smoke exposure to higher instances of cough, phlegm, and bronchitis, science has <a href="http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1513/AnnalsATS.201302-034ED#.VMm6OCjnCB8">refuted claims</a> that cannabis inhalation causes the sort of serious adverse respiratory events commonly associated with smoking tobacco.</p><p>Specifically, the <a href="http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&amp;pmid=17035389">largest case-controlled study</a> ever to investigate the respiratory effects of marijuana smoking reported that cannabis use was not associated with lung-related cancers, even among subjects who reported smoking more than 22,000 joints over their lifetime. "We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use," the study's lead researcher <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/25/AR2006052501729.html">explained</a> to the Washington Post. “What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect" among marijuana smokers who had lower incidences of cancer compared to non-users.” Reviews of similar studies from around the world have reached similar conclusions, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4262725/">finding</a> “little or no association between the intensity, duration, cumulative consumption or age of start of cannabis smoke and the risk of lung cancer in all subjects or never smokers.”</p><p>Furthermore, unlike tobacco smoke, marijuana inhalation is not adversely associated with measurements of pulmonary function, such as <a href="http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1513/AnnalsATS.201407-333OC?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&amp;rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&amp;rfr_dat=cr_pub%3dpubmed">forced expiratory volume</a> and <a href="http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/1104848">forced vital capacity</a> even among long-term consumers.</p><p>Finally, cannabis consumers can mitigate their exposure to combustive gasses by utilizing a vaporizer, which heats marijuana flowers to a point where cannabinoid vapors form, but below the point of combustion. Clinical studies assessing vaporization as a mode of cannabis delivery <a href="http://www.cmcr.ucsd.edu/images/PDFs/Abrams_vap_abs_1.pdf">report</a> that these devices all but eliminate subjects’ potential exposure to gaseous toxins and are “an effective and apparently safe vehicle for THC delivery.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>4. States that have regulated the marijuana market have experienced a surge in violence.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">"We're seeing real violence around that (marijuana legalization). Experts are telling me there's more violence around marijuana than one would think and there's big money involved." —U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2017/02/jeff-sessions-marijuana-235461">Feb. 27, 2017</a></p><p>Contrary to the Attorney General’s claims, states that license the production and distribution of marijuana have not seen an uptick in violent crime. In fact, many jurisdictions have experienced a drop in violent crime post-legalization.</p><p>For example, a 2014 <a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0092816">study</a> published by researchers at the University of Texas reported that the enactment of “medical marijuana laws precedes a reduction in homicide and assault. ... In sum, these findings run counter to arguments suggesting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes.”</p><p>A federally funded <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22630790">study</a> published by UCLA researchers also reported that the proliferation of medical cannabis retailers in urban areas “was not associated with violent crime or property crime rates,” and further speculated that the facilities may potentially reduce neighborhood crime since many retailers hire their own door security, utilize security cameras, and take other steps to deter would-be criminals.</p><p>Specific data from states that regulate recreational marijuana sales yield similar results. In Washington, where voters legalized adult use in 2012, violent crime <a href="https://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Drug_Policy_Alliance_Status_Report_Marijuana_Legalization_in_Washington_July2015.pdf">fell ten percent</a> statewide. In Colorado, rates of violent crime and property crime <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Colorado_Marijuana_Legalization_One_Year_Status_Report.pdf">fell</a> in the city of Denver following legalization. Crime rates have similarly declined in Portland, Oregon according to a recent CATO think-tank <a href="https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa799.pdf">policy report</a>. Overall, CATO’s researchers concluded that concerns regarding the potential adverse effects of legalization laws on crime have largely been blown out of proportion. “The absence of significant adverse consequences is especially striking given the sometimes dire predictions made by legalization opponents,” they reported.</p><p><strong>5. Marijuana legalization is linked with a rise in traffic fatalities.</strong></p><p dir="ltr">“Research proves ‘the terrible carnage out there on the roads caused by marijuana.’” —Robert Dupont, <a href="https://www.yahoo.com/news/wrinkle-pot-debate-stoned-driving-183641529.html">March 18, 2012</a></p><p>While some studies find a <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.13347/abstract">slightly elevated</a> risk of motor vehicle accident in THC-positive drivers compared to drug free drivers, <a href="http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/nation/2015/02/06/us-evidence-marijuana-leads-higher-crash-risk/23004549/">others</a> do not. However, this elevated risk is well below the risk of accident associated with many other non-criminal behaviors, such as <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000145750700036X">driving with two or more passengers</a>. Further, this risk is significantly lower than the risk of accident associated with driving after consuming alcohol within legal limits, which may increase crash risk as much as 400 percent. According to just published case-control <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28286930">data</a> in the journal Injury Epidemiology, drivers testing positive for alcohol possessed an elevate risk of accident that was more than ten times higher (OR=16.33) than those of drivers who tested positive for THC (OR=1.54).</p><p>Most importantly, data from states that have liberalized marijuana’s legal status show no uptick in motor vehicle crashes. Writing in December in the American Journal of Public Health, investigators at Columbia University <a href="http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303577?journalCode=ajph">reported</a>, "[O]n average, medical marijuana law states had lower traffic fatality rates than non-MML states. .... Medical marijuana laws are associated with reductions in traffic fatalities, particularly pronounced among those aged 25 to 44 years. ... It is possible that this is related to lower alcohol-impaired driving behavior in MML-states.” An assessment of traffic fatality data from Colorado yielded a similar conclusion, <a href="http://ftp.iza.org/dp6112.pdf">reporting</a>, “[L]egalization is associated with a nearly 9 percent decrease in traffic fatalities, most likely to due to its impact on alcohol consumption.”</p><p>A recent Congressional Research Service <a href="https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44782.pdf">report</a> concluded, “[T]here was no trend identified in the percentage of drivers testing positive for marijuana (either marijuana only or marijuana in combination with other drugs/alcohol) for those involved in traffic fatalities and who were tested for drugs or alcohol” in Washington state post-legalization. A similar <a href="http://www.opb.org/news/article/marijuana-cannabis-oregon-traffic-death-injury-increase-study/">review</a> of motor vehicle crash data in Oregon similarly reported regulating the adult marijuana market has not led to an increase in fatal accidents.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2017 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1074168'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1074168" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 20 Mar 2017 13:24:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1074168 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs drugs marijuana drug myths personal health alternet_original Why Trump Should Rethink Starting a War Over Marijuana http://www.alternet.org/drugs/new-poll-pot-policy-give-trump-pause <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">If the Trump administration wants to go to war with weed, it&#039;s going to find itself politically isolated.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_purple_credit_unknown.jpg?itok=hWVGlm_I" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Record numbers of voters support regulating the marijuana market and oppose federal efforts to interfere or undermine state laws permitting the plant’s use or sale, according to nationwide polling <a href="https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2432">data</a> released last Friday by Quinnipiac University.</p><p>Ninety-three percent of voters — including 96 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of Republicans — support “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes,” the highest total ever reported in a national poll. Among those respondents older than 65 years of age, 92 percent endorsed legalizing medical marijuana.</p><p>Fifty-nine percent of voters similarly support making the adult use of marijuana legal in the United States. That total is in line with recent polling data compiled by Gallup in 2016 which reported that <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/196550/support-legal-marijuana.aspx?g_source=POLITICS&amp;g_medium=topic&amp;g_campaign=tiles">60 percent</a> of US adults support legalization — a historic high. Respondents who identified as Democrats (72 percent) were most likely to support legalization. Fifty-eight percent of Independents also expressed support, but only 35 percent of Republicans did so. Among the various age groups polled, only those over the age of 65 failed to express majority support for legalization.</p><p>Finally, 71 percent of respondents say that they “oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.” This percentage is the highest level of support ever reported with regard to limiting the federal government from interfering in states’ marijuana policies.</p><p>The rising support may provide a boost for pending federal legislation, HR 975: The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, which prevents the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana. You can urge your members of Congress to support this act by clicking <a href="http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19997">here</a>.</p><p>The Quinnipiac University poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points.</p><p> </p> Mon, 27 Feb 2017 11:31:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, NORML 1072976 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics Quinnipiac poll marijuana legalization medical marijuana states' rights donald trump Maine Becomes Eighth State to Legalize Marijuana http://www.alternet.org/drugs/maine-becomes-eighth-state-legalize-marijuana-0 <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">You can now legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to six plants in the state. But you&#039;ll have to wait awhile for pot shops to open.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_28.jpg?itok=1lA2xb5X" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Maine has become the eighth state to eliminate criminal penalties specific to the adult possession and personal use of cannabis.</p><p>Language in <a href="http://www.regulatemaine.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/initiative-text.pdf">Question 1</a>: the Marijuana Legalization Act, specific to the private possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults took effect today. It permits adults who are not participating in the state’s existing <a href="http://norml.org/legal/item/maine-medical-marijuana">medical cannabis program</a> to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and/or the harvest of up to six mature plants.</p><p>Public use of marijuana is a civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine.</p><p>Maine voters narrowly passed Question 1 on Election Day.</p><p>In response to Question 1, Maine lawmakers passed separate legislation, <a href="http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/display_ps.asp?paper=HP0066&amp;PID=undefined&amp;snum=128">LD 88</a>, permitting adults to possess up to five grams of marijuana concentrates. However, other provisions in the measure delay the implementation of retail marijuana sales until at least February 1, 2018. It also prohibits the possession of “edible retail marijuana products” until this date.</p><p>Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have previously adopted voter-initiated laws legalizing the private consumption and/or sale of cannabis by adults. The District of Columbia also permits adults to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of marijuana in private residences.</p><p> </p> Tue, 31 Jan 2017 10:52:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, NORML 1071472 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs maine marijuana marijuana legalization Question ! medical marijuana 10 Scientific Studies From 2016 Showing Marijuana Is Safe and Effective http://www.alternet.org/drugs/10-scientific-studies-2016-marijuana-safe-effective <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1069687'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069687" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The year has seen another mountain of marijuana research, and there&#039;s a lot of good news. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_1.jpg?itok=LJv0aYAX" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">While no psychoactive substance is completely harmless, modern science continues to prove that cannabis is one of the safer and more effective therapeutic agents available. Here’s a look back at some of the most significant marijuana-centric studies published over the past year. </p><p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Pot Use Doesn’t Adversely Impact IQ</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The cumulative use of cannabis by adolescents has no ill effect on intelligence, according to longitudinal <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/01/13/1516648113.abstract">data</a> published in January in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Investigators evaluated intellectual performance in two longitudinal cohorts of adolescent twins. Participants were assessed for intelligence at ages 9 to 12, prior to any marijuana exposure, and again at ages 17 to 20. They concluded: "In the largest longitudinal examination of marijuana use and IQ change, ... we find little evidence to suggest that adolescent marijuana use has a direct effect on intellectual decline.”</p><p><strong>2. Cannabis Consumption Is Correlated With Lower BMI</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Those who use marijuana, on average, possess a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who abstain from the herb. So <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27572145">reported</a> researchers at the University of Miami this past July in The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics. Investigators assessed the relationships between marijuana use and body mass index over time in a nationally representative sampling of American adolescents. They concluded: "[D]aily female marijuana users have a BMI that is approximately 3.1 percent lower than that of non-users, whereas daily male users have a BMI that is approximately 2.7 percent lower than that of non-users." Lower BMI is associated with less risk of heart disease and other potential adverse health issues. </p><p><strong>3. Fewer Traffic Fatalities Occur In Medical Cannabis States</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The passage of medical marijuana legalization is associated with reduced traffic fatalities among younger drivers, according to <a href="http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303577?journalCode=ajph">data</a> published this month in the American Journal of Public Health. Investigators from Columbia University assessed the relationship between medical cannabis access and motor vehicle accidents over a nearly three-decade period (1985 to 2014). They reported: “[O]n average, MMLs (medical marijuana laws) states had lower traffic fatality rates than non-MML states. .... MMLs are associated with reductions in traffic fatalities, particularly pronounced among those aged 25 to 44 years. ... It is possible that this is related to lower alcohol-impaired driving behavior in MML-states.”</p><p><strong>4. Pot Patients Spend Less On Prescription Drugs</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Patients who reside states where medical cannabis is legal spend less money overall on conventional medications. So determined University of Georgia scientists in July. Researchers assessed the relationship between medical marijuana legalization laws and physicians' prescribing patterns in 17 states over a three-year period (2010 to 2013). Specifically, researchers assessed patients' consumption of and spending on prescription drugs approved under Medicare Part D in nine domains: anxiety, depression, glaucoma, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders, and spasticity. Authors <a href="http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/35/7/1230.abstract">reported</a> that prescription drug use fell significantly in seven of the nine domains assessed, and they estimated that nationwide legalization would result in a savings of more than $468 million in annual drug spending. </p><p><strong>5. Pot Users No More Likely Than Abstainers to Access Health Care Services</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Cannabis consumers are not a drain on the health care system. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin assessed the relationship between marijuana use and health care utilization in a nationally representative sample of US adults aged 18 to 59 years old. Their<a href="http://www.ejinme.com/article/S0953-6205(16)30231-X/abstract">findings</a> appeared in October in the European Journal of Internal Medicine. They determined that pot users, including habitual consumers, were no more likely than non-users to be admitted to the hospital or to access outpatient health care services. Researchers concluded, "[C]ontrary to popular belief, ... marijuana use is not associated with increased healthcare utilization, [and] there [is] also no association between health care utilization and frequency of marijuana use."</p><p><strong>6. Marijuana Use History Associated With Better In-Hospital Survival Rates</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Patients who test positive for cannabis are less likely to die while hospitalized, according to <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cam4.968/full">data</a> published online in November in the journal Cancer Medicine. A team of researchers from the University of Northern Colorado, Colorado State University, and the University of Alabama assessed the relationship between marijuana use and health outcomes among a nationwide sample of 3.9 million hospitalized patients. Researchers reported a correlation between a patient’s history of cannabis use and survival rates, particularly among those admitted for cancer treatment. They concluded, "Odds of in-hospital mortality were significantly reduced among marijuana users compared with non-users in all hospitalized patients as well as cancer patients."</p><p><strong>7. More Seniors Are Turning to Cannabis</strong></p><p dir="ltr">More seniors are becoming stoners. According to population data published in November in the journal Addiction, marijuana use by those age 50 and older has spiked significantly since 2006. Specifically, authors <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.13670/abstract">reported</a> that the prevalence of past-year cannabis has risen approximately 60 percent for those age 50 to 64, and increased 250 percent for those over 65 years of age. It’s understandable why. Older Americans are well aware of the <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/id/43141690/ns/health-health_care/t/average-drug-label-lists-whopping-side-effects#.WGWHFiMrKt8">multitude of the severe side effects</a> often associated with conventional medication whereas cannabis is recognized as to possess no risk of fatal overdose and is associated with <a href="http://www.cmaj.ca/content/178/13/1669.full">far fewer significant adverse events</a>.</p><p><strong>8. Maternal Marijuana Use Risks Likely Have Been Overstated</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The moderate use of cannabis during pregnancy is not an independent risk factor for adverse neonatal outcomes such as low birth weight, according to a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27607879">literature review </a>published in October in the journal Obstetrics &amp; Gynecology. Investigators at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reviewed outcomes from more than two-dozen relevant case-control studies published between 1982 and 2015. They reported that the maternal use of tobacco, not marijuana, is likely responsible for adverse events such as pre-term births or children born at a weight below normal for their gestational age. Researchers concluded: "[T]he results of this systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that the increased risk for adverse neonatal outcomes reported in women using marijuana in pregnancy is likely the result of coexisting use of tobacco and other cofounding factors and not attributable to marijuana use itself. Although these data do not imply that marijuana use during pregnancy should be encouraged or condoned, the lack of a significant association with adverse neonatal outcomes suggests that attention should be focused on aiding pregnant women with cessation of substances known to have adverse effects on the pregnancy such as tobacco."</p><p><strong>9. Unlike Drinking Booze, Smoking Pot Decreases Aggression</strong></p><p dir="ltr">It’s long been presumed that consuming alcohol increases user’s feelings of aggression while cannabis exposure does just the opposite. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27422568">Data</a> published in July in journal Psychopharmacology confirms it. Investigators from Maastricht University in the Netherlands and Frankfurt University in Germany evaluated subjects' response to aggressive stimuli following exposure to alcohol, cannabis, or placebo. Predictably, researchers reported that alcohol and cannabis intoxication resulted in disparate responses among participants. They concluded, "The results in the present study support the hypothesis that acute alcohol intoxication increases feelings of aggression and that acute cannabis intoxication reduces feelings of aggression following aggression exposure."</p><p><strong>10. Fewer Teens Are Abusing Pot In the Era of Legalization</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Fewer adolescents are consuming cannabis; among those who do, fewer are engaging in problematic use of the plant, according to <a href="http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567%2816%2930101-0/abstract">data</a> published in July in the Journal of the American Academy of Child &amp; Adolescent Psychiatry. Investigators at Washington University's School of Medicine in St. Louis evaluated government survey data regarding adolescents' drug use habits during the years 2002 to 2013. Researchers reported that the percentage of respondents who said that they had used cannabis over the past year fell by ten percent during the study period. The number of adolescents reporting marijuana-related problems, such as engaging in habitual use of the plant, declined by 24 percent from 2002 to 2013. The study's findings are consistent with previous evaluations reporting <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/06/18/federal-study-passage-of-medical-marijuana-laws-not-responsible-for-increased-marijuana-use">decreased</a> marijuana use and <a href="http://norml.org/news/2016/02/25/study-no-increase-in-problematic-cannabis-use">abuse</a> by young people over the past decade and a half – a period of time during which numerous states have liberalized their cannabis policies.</p> <p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1069687'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069687" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 29 Dec 2016 23:47:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1069687 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health marijuana prescription drugs seniors teens driving pregnancy traffic fatalities bmi Here Are Some of the Obvious Ways Marijuana Benefits Society http://www.alternet.org/drugs/medical-marijuana-good-society <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Less obesity and greater workforce participation are just two of the many benefits. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/med_mj_denver_co_wikim_0.jpg?itok=mku6Dz5J" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">Access to medicinal cannabis is improving Americans’ quality of life in ways few advocates could have initially predicted. As the number of people utilizing marijuana grows, so too does our understanding of its societal benefits. Here are some of the latest scientific findings:</p>• More Pot, Fewer Opioids: Medical cannabis legalization is associated with lower rates of opioid abuse and mortality. According to <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w21345">data</a> compiled by the RAND Corporation in 2015, patients are far less likely to become addicted to opiate pain relievers in jurisdictions that permit medical marijuana. Fewer opioid addicts mean fewer deaths, says the Journal of the American Medical Association. Their 2014 <a href="http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1898878">study</a> determined that opioid-related overdose deaths fall 20% in the first year after the implementation of legalization and decline by as much as 33% by the sixth year. • Reduced Prescription Drug Spending: It’s not just patients’ use of opiates that’s declining. According to a University of Georgia <a href="http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/35/7/1230.abstract">study</a>, patients’ use of all varieties of prescription drugs drops when medical cannabis is an option. Researchers assessed the relationship between medical marijuana legalization laws and physicians’ prescribing patterns in 17 states from 2010–2013. Specifically, they assessed patients’ consumption of and spending on prescription drugs approved under Medicare Part D in nine domains: anxiety, depression, glaucoma, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders, and spasticity. They reported that pharmaceutical drug use fell significantly in seven of those domains, resulting in an annual savings of $165.2 million in prescription drug spending. • Less Obesity: Those with access to cannabis tend to be more active and are less likely to drink alcohol. So argue the authors of a 2015 study published in Health Economics. Investigators at San Diego State University reviewed 12 years of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to examine the effects of medical marijuana laws on body weight, wellness and exercise.<p dir="ltr">“The enforcement of MMLs (medical marijuana laws) is associated with a 2% to 6% decline in the probability of obesity,” they <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hec.3267/abstract">reported</a>. “Our estimates suggest that MMLs induce a $58 to $115 per-person annual reduction in obesity-related medical costs.” For those age 35 or older, authors determined that the passage of medical pot laws is "associated with an increase in physical wellness and frequent exercise.” For younger adults, researchers theorized that obesity declines were likely due to a decrease in alcohol consumption.</p><p dir="ltr">• Greater Workforce Participation: Increased medical cannabis access is also having a positive impact in the workplace. According to another <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.1002/hec.3390">study</a> published in Health Economics in 2016, full-time employees between the ages of 50 and 59 were 13% less likely to report absences due to illness following medical marijuana legalization. Those ages 40 to 49 were 11% less likely to do so, and those ages 30 to 39 were 16% less likely to report a medical-related absence.</p><p dir="ltr">“Although there is not a direct identification of those who use marijuana for medical purposes in the data, overall sickness absence is reduced for those in age and gender groups most likely to be cardholders,” the study concluded. “The results of this paper therefore suggest that medical marijuana legalization would decrease costs for employers as it has reduced self-reported absence from work due to illness/medical issues."</p><p dir="ltr">A separate <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w22688">study</a>, published in October by the National Bureau of Economic Research, reported that the enactment of statewide medicinal cannabis programs is associated with greater participation in the workforce by those aged 50 and older. “Health improvements experienced by both groups (older men and women) permit increased participation in the labor market,” the authors wrote. Specifically, investigators determined that the enactment of medical pot laws was associated with a “9.4% increase in the probability of employment and a 4.6%–4.9% percent increase in hours worked per week” among those over the age of 50.</p><p dir="ltr">“Medical marijuana law implementation leads to increases in labor supply among older adult men and women,” they concluded. “These effects should be considered as policymakers determine how best to regulate access to medical marijuana.”</p><p dir="ltr"><em>A version of this story also appears in the November edition of <a href="http://www.freedomleaf.com/">Freedom Leaf</a> Magazine.</em></p> <p> </p> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 13:58:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, Freedom Leaf 1068115 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Documentaries Drugs marijuana medical marijuana drugs economy health Prohibitionists Are Trying to Strike Back Against the Marijuana Landslide of 2016 http://www.alternet.org/drugs/prohibitionists-are-trying-strike-back-against-marijuana-landslide-2016 <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Elected officials try to undo the one bright spot of November 8th.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/dea_pot_raid_dea_0.jpg?itok=WV3Su8u0" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Political leaders in several states are threatening to thwart the implementation of voter-approved initiatives specific to the regulation of marijuana.</p><p>In Massachusetts, where voters <a href="http://norml.org/election-2016">decided</a> 54 percent to 46 percent on election day to legalize the cultivation, use, and retail sale of cannabis by adults, politicians have suggested <a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/11/09/after-pot-legalization-public-officials-scramble/ZObbGJyw6KsMWfTWrU1SFK/story.html?p1=Article_Recommended_ReadMore_Pos3">amending</a> the law and <a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/11/24/pot-shops-may-not-open-till-mid-some-lawmakers-have-their-way/Hb1DRhvdLCnacwDU7rrK5O/story.html">delaying</a> its implementation. Specifically, lawmakers have called for <a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/11/24/pot-shops-may-not-open-till-mid-some-lawmakers-have-their-way/Hb1DRhvdLCnacwDU7rrK5O/story.html">pushing back</a> the date when adults may legally begin growing cannabis from December 15, 2016 to an unspecified point in time. Legislators have also called for delaying retail sales of cannabis until late 2018, and have proposed increasing marijuana-specific sales taxes. “I believe that when voters vote on most ballot questions, they are voting in principle. They are not voting on the fine detail that is contained within the proposal,” Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg <a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/11/09/after-pot-legalization-public-officials-scramble/ZObbGJyw6KsMWfTWrU1SFK/story.html?p1=Article_Recommended_ReadMore_Pos3">said</a> in regard to the proposed changes.</p><p>In Maine, where voters <a href="http://norml.org/news/2016/11/17/maine-legalization-opponents-request-recount">narrowly approved</a> a similar ballot measure, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has said that he will seek federal guidance before moving forward with the law’s implementation. Governor LePage, who <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg9wHovN5FI">adamantly opposed</a> the measure, <a href="http://www.sunjournal.com/news/maine/2016/11/11/gov-paul-lepage-eyes-delay-marijuana-laws/2028126">said</a> that he “will be talking to Donald Trump” about how the incoming administration intends to address the issue, and pronounced that he “will not put this (law) into play” unless the federal government signs off on it.</p><p>Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson made similar statements following voters’ decision to <a href="http://norml.org/election-2016">legalize</a> the medical use of cannabis. “I don’t like the idea of implementing laws in Arkansas that violate federal law,” the Republican Governor and former head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration <a href="http://m.nwaonline.com/news/2016/nov/10/governor-pot-issue-needs-u-s-resolution/">said</a>. “This does not call for a state-by-state solution, it calls for … a national solution.”</p><p>During the Presidential campaign, Donald Trump voiced support for the authority of individual states to impose regulatory policies specific to the use and dispensing of medical cannabis, but was <a href="http://www.marijuana.com/blog/news/2015/04/where-do-presidential-candidates-stand-on-marijuana/">less clear</a> with regard to whether he believed that state lawmakers ought to be able to regulate the adult use of cannabis absent federal interference. His nominee for US Attorney General, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, strongly opposes any liberalization in cannabis policy, <a href="http://www.marijuana.com/blog/news/2016/11/trump-picks-marijuana-opponent-for-attorney-general/">stating</a> in April, “[M]arijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.”</p><p>In 2013, the Obama administration <a href="http://norml.org/news/2013/08/29/justice-department-says-it-won-t-challenge-state-laws-permitting-marijuana-legalization-and-sales">issued a memorandum</a> directing US prosecutors not to interfere with statewide marijuana legalization efforts, provided those efforts did not undermine specific federal priorities – such as the diversion of cannabis to non-legal states. According to Gallup <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2012/12/11/gallup-most-americans-want-the-federal-government-to-butt-out-of-state-marijuana-laws/">pollsters</a>, nearly two-thirds of Americans support allowing states to decide their own cannabis policies.</p><p>Voters in <a href="http://norml.org/election-2016">eight states</a> – Arkansas, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota – approved statewide ballot measures this November regulating marijuana for either medicinal or social use.</p><p> </p> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 09:35:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, NORML 1068022 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Election 2016 marijuana laws ballot initiatives legalization paul lepage drugs election 2016 Did the DEA Just Kick Open the Door for the Pharmaceuticalization of Pot? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/did-dea-kick-open-door-phamaceuticalization-pot <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1061832'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1061832" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The news coverage emphasized DEA&#039;s refusal to reschedule marijuana, but there&#039;s something else going on, too. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/medical_cannabis_drying.jpg?itok=hAR0u9Op" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">While much ink has been spilled over the last few days regarding DEA’s <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/11/dea-doesn_t-budge-on-schedule-1-marijuana--but-bends-a-bit-on-re.html">refusa</a>l to recognize marijuana as a medicine and its unwillingness to reclassify it under federal law, far less attention has been paid to a separate decision by the agency to create, for the first time, a “clear legal pathway” for pharmaceutical companies to engage in cannabis-specific “drug product development.”</p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr">The DEA’s intent is articulated in the August 11 edition of the US Federal Register, available online <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2016-17955.pdf">here</a>, in a notice entitled ‘Applications to Become Registered Under the Controlled Substances Act to Manufacture Marijuana to Supply Researchers in the United States.’ A summary of the document provided by the agency states, “To facilitate research involving marijuana and its chemical constituents, DEA is adopting a new policy that is designed to increase the number of entities registered under the Controlled Substances Act to grow (manufacture) marijuana to supply legitimate researchers in the United States.” </p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr">At first glance, this change would appear to be a welcome one. After all, since 1968 federal bureaucrats have permitted only a single agency – the <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/12/28/medical-marijuana-lab-in-mississippi/1796475/">University of Mississippi</a> via an exclusive contract with the US National Institute of Drug Abuse – to legally produce cannabis for FDA-approved research trials, an arbitrary prohibition that <a href="http://www.alternet.org/drugs/nida-directors-tells-congress-its-easier-study-heroin-or-cocaine-marijuana">does not exist for other controlled substances</a> and that has led to <a href="https://www.drugabuse.gov/researchers/research-resources/nida-drug-supply-program-dsp/marijuana-plant-material-available-nida-drug-supply-program">limited drug supplies</a> and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/19/health/policy/19marijuana.html?_r=0">accusations</a> that federally-backed research is skewed largely toward identifying pot’s potential harms rather than it benefits. </p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr">But upon closer inspection, the DEA makes it clear that its new policy is motivated by more than simply a willingness to increase the nation’s federal supply of legal pot. Rather, the agency’s ultimate goal looks to be the domestic production of pharmaceutically produced medical cannabis products.</p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr">States the agency: “The historical system, under which NIDA relied on one grower to supply marijuana on a contract basis, was designed primarily to supply marijuana for use in federally funded research – not for commercial product development. Thus, under the historical system, there was no clear legal pathway for commercial enterprises to produce marijuana for product development. In contrast, under the new approach explained in this policy statement, persons may become registered with DEA to grow marijuana not only to supply federally funded or other academic researchers, but also for strictly commercial endeavors funded by the private sector and aimed at drug product development (emphasis mine). … In other words, in lieu of requiring the growers to operate under a contract with NIDA, a registered grower will be permitted to operate independently, provided the grower agrees (through a written memorandum of agreement with DEA) that it will only distribute marijuana with prior, written approval from DEA. … [U]nder the new approach, should the state of scientific knowledge advance in the future such that a marijuana-derived drug is shown to be safe and effective for medical use, pharmaceutical firms will have a legal means of producing such drugs in the United States – independent of the NIDA contract process (emphasis mine).”</p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr">In short, the DEA is providing a roadmap for Big Pharma to enter the marijuana drug development market.</p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr">Of course, pharmaceutical companies have long been aware of marijuana’s market potential and have sought to capitalize from it. A 2006 NIH report, entitled ‘<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2241751/">The endocannabinoid system as an emerging target of pharmacotherapy</a>” states, “The growing interest in the underlying science (surrounding the therapeutic effects of cannabis) has been matched by a growth in the number of cannabinoid drugs in pharmaceutical development from two in 1995 to 27 in 2004.” </p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr">Yet, historically, this interest in commercial drug development has largely been limited to the creation of synthetic agonists that mimic natural components of the plant – such as the FDA-approved drugs Marinol, Cesamet, and Syndros. (A synthetic version of the anti-convulsant cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) is also <a href="http://www.pharmabiz.com/NewsDetails.aspx?aid=83767&amp;sid=2">in development</a>.) But with the DEA’s newly adopted policy, US pharmaceutical firms can for the first time contemplate becoming involved with developing and/or patenting medicines derived from the actual plant itself – either in the form of standardized cannabis strains or extracts. (A British biotech licensed by the UK government to grow pot has already utilized this strategy to develop two specific cannabis plant-based extract drugs, Sativex and Epidiolex.)</p><p dir="ltr">Thursday’s notice from the DEA isn’t the first time that the anti-drug agency has courted Big Pharma. As <a href="http://www.alternet.org/story/150009/if_the_feds_get_their_way,_big_pharma_could_sell_pot_--_but_your_dime_bag_would_still_send_you_to_jail">reported</a> in Alternet in 2011, the DEA previously acknowledged its intent to expand the federal government's schedule III listing to include pharmaceutical products containing plant-derived THC while simultaneously maintaining existing criminal prohibitions on the plant itself. </p><p>In the five years since then, it appears that attitudes at the nation’s largest anti-drug agency haven’t changed. Clinical investigations of the cannabis plant, a substance the DEA still sees as illegitimate, are largely to be discouraged, while the development of new marijuana-derived pharmaceuticals are to be encouraged. Consequently, it is apparent that the DEA’s longstanding refusal to recognize herbal cannabis as a legitimate therapeutic treatment is here to stay. Therefore it is incumbent that members of Congress act swiftly to amend cannabis’ criminal status so that federal law finally comports with <a href="http://norml.org/library/national-legalization-polls">public opinion</a>, <a href="http://norml.org/library/recent-research-on-medical-marijuana">scientific consensus</a>, and the plant’s rapidly changing legal status under state laws.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1061832'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1061832" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 12 Aug 2016 13:50:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1061832 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics Personal Health dea big pharma pharmacueticalization marijuana cannabis CBD thc Want to Reduce Opiate Abuse? Legalize Pot http://www.alternet.org/drugs/want-reduce-opiate-abuse-legalize-pot <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">In states where medical marijuana is legal, prescription drug abuse is less rampant. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/4769506826_52099fa3d6_z.jpg?itok=sG-QljSq" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Rates of prescription opioid abuse are significantly lower in jurisdictions that permit medical marijuana access, according to <a href="http://www.castlighthealth.com/typ/the-opioid-crisis/">data</a> reported by <a href="http://www.castlighthealth.com/">Castlight Health</a>, an employee health benefits platform provider.</p><p>Investigators assessed anonymous prescription reporting data from over one million employees between the years 2011 and 2015.</p><p>In states that did not permit medical marijuana access, 5.4 percent of individuals with an opioid prescription qualified as abusers of the drug. (The study’s authors defined “abuse” as opioid use by an individual who was not receiving palliative care, who received greater than a 90-day cumulative supply of opioids, and received an opioid prescription from four or more providers.) By contrast, only 2.8 percent of individuals with an opioid prescription living in medical marijuana states met the criteria.</p><p>The findings are similar to those reported by the RAND Corporation in 2015, which <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/07/16/study-medical-cannabis-access-associated-with-reduced-opioid-abuse">determined</a>, “[S]tates permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.”</p><p>Data published in 2014 in the <em>Journal of the American Medical Association</em> (JAMA) <em>Internal Medicine</em> also reported that the enactment of statewide medicinal marijuana laws is associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates, <a href="http://norml.org/news/2014/08/28/study-state-medical-marijuana-laws-associated-with-lower-rates-of-opiate-induced-fatalities">finding</a>, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”</p><p><em>Full text of the new study, “The opioid crisis in America’s workforce,” appears online <a href="http://www.castlighthealth.com/typ/the-opioid-crisis/">here</a>.</em></p> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 07:09:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, NORML 1055377 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health medical marijuana opiods opiod use drugs This Is the Big Demand on Marijuana We Should Make of the Federal Govt. http://www.alternet.org/drugs/deschedule-not-reschedule-cannabis <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Rescheduling cannabis would be helpful in some respects, but does not go nearly far enough toward ending federal pot prohibition. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/marijuana_purple_shant_shantis_favorites_2_flickr.jpg?itok=_NXG74Jm" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>A recent <a href="http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/dearesponse.pdf">memorandum </a>from the US Drug Enforcement Administration to several United States Senators indicates that the agency is <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/04/06/the-dea-will-decide-whether-to-change-course-on-marijuana-by-july/">prepared to respond</a> in the coming months to a <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/govs-chafee-gregoire-lobby-for-reclassification-of-marijuana/">five-year-old petition</a> seeking to amend the plant’s status as a schedule I prohibited substance.</p><p>Under the US Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the cannabis plant and its organic cannabinoids are classified as <a href="http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml">schedule I prohibited</a> <a href="http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml">substances</a> — the most restrictive category available under the law. As <a href="http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml">summarized</a> by the DEA, “Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”</p><p>Explicitly, substances in this category must meet three specific inclusion criteria: The substance must possess “a high potential for abuse”; it must have “no currently accepted medical use” in the United States; and the substance must lack “accepted safety for use … under medical supervision.” Substances that do not meet these criteria must, by law, be categorized in less restrictive federal schedules (schedule II through schedule V) and are legally regulated accordingly. (For example, schedule II substances like morphine or methadone are available by prescription.) Alcohol and tobacco, two substances that possess far greater dangers to health than does cannabis, are not subject to federal classification under the CSA.</p><p>Federal law grants power to the US Attorney General to reclassify a controlled substance if the available scientific evidence no longer supports that drug’s classification. In practice, however, this power has been delegated to the DEA, with input from both FDA and the US Department of Health and Human Services. Federal law also allows third parties to petition these agencies to consider reclassifying controlled substances.</p><p>The petition now before the DEA was filed in 2011 by then-governors Christine Gregoire of Washington and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. Other recent rescheduling petitions, such as a <a href="http://www.drugscience.org/petition_intro.html">2002 petition</a> filed by a coalition of marijuana law reform and health advocacy organizations, have been rejected outright by the agency. In 1990, the DEA set aside <a href="http://www.druglibrary.org/olsen/MEDICAL/YOUNG/young.html">the decision</a> of its own administrative law judge, who had <a href="http://norml.org/news/2013/09/05/25-years-ago-dea-s-own-administrative-law-judge-ruled-cannabis-should-be-reclassified-under-federal-law">responded in 1988</a> to a petition effort initiated by NORML, after he called for reclassifying the plant.</p><p>While it remains unknown at present time if the DEA will respond favorably to this current rescheduling effort, it has become apparent in recent years that reclassifying cannabis from schedule I to schedule II – the same category as cocaine – falls well short of the sort of federal reform necessary to reflect America’s emerging reefer reality. Specifically, reclassifying the pot plant from I to II (or even to schedule III) continues to misrepresent the plant’s safety relative to other controlled substances such as methamphetamine (schedule II), anabolic steroids (schedule III), or alcohol (unscheduled), and fails to provide states with the ability to fully regulate it free from federal interference.</p><p>Further, the federal policies in place that make clinical trial work with cannabis more onerous than it is for other controlled substances — such as the requirement that <a href="https://www.drugabuse.gov/researchers/research-resources/nida-drug-supply-program-dsp/marijuana-plant-material-available-nida-drug-supply-program">all source material</a> be purchased from NIDA’s University of Mississippi marijuana cultivation program — are <a href="http://www.alternet.org/drugs/nida-directors-tells-congress-its-easier-study-heroin-or-cocaine-marijuana">regulatory requirements</a> that are specific to cannabis, not to Schedule I drugs in general. Simply rescheduling cannabis from I to II does not necessarily change these regulations, at least in the short-term.</p><p>In addition, the sort of gold-standard, large-scale, long-term Phase III safety and efficacy trials that are typically necessary prior to bringing therapeutic drugs to market are prohibitively expensive. As a result, trials of this kind are typically are funded by private pharmaceutical companies aspiring to bring a new product to market. In some cases, the federal government may assist in sharing these costs, such as was the case with the research and development of the synthetic THC pill Marinol (dronabinol). However, political reality dictates that neither entity is likely to pony up the tens of millions of dollars necessary to conduct such trials assessing the efficacy of herbal cannabis any time soon, if ever, regardless of the plant’s federal scheduling.</p><p>This is not to say that rescheduling cannabis would not have any positive tangible effects. At a minimum, it would bring an end to the federal government’s longstanding intellectual dishonesty that marijuana ‘lacks accepted medical use.’ It would also likely <a href="http://www.marijuana.com/blog/news/2016/04/dea-will-act-on-marijuana-rescheduling-before-obama-leaves-office-what-could-it-mean/">permit banks</a> and other financial institutions to work with state-compliant marijuana-related businesses, and permit employers in the cannabis industry to take tax deductions similar to those enjoyed by other businesses. Rescheduling would also likely bring some level of relief to federal employees subject to random workplace drug testing for off-the-job cannabis consumption.</p><p>But ultimately, such a change would do little to significantly loosen federal prohibition or to make herbal cannabis readily accessible for clinical study. These goals can arguably only be accomplished by federally decsheduling cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco, such as is proposed by US <a href="http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17703">Senate Bill 2237</a>, The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. Doing so will finally provide states the power to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal intrusion.</p> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 09:30:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, NORML 1054429 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana rescheduling deschedule controlled substances act dea cannabis Latest Science Debunks Old Myths About Marijuana's Effect on Health, Driving and Depression http://www.alternet.org/drugs/latest-scince-debunk-marijuana-myths <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1051863'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1051863" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">At some point, enough conclusive evidence will shatter the old myths.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_science.jpg?itok=64xcuj5U" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">Contentions that scientists have failed to conduct sufficient research on the health and societal effects of cannabis are unfounded. A keyword search on the National Library of Medicine database reveals <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gquery/?term=marijuana">over 23,000 peer-reviewed papers</a> specific to the marijuana plant, and new scientific discoveries are published almost daily debunking the federal government’s claims that the herb is a highly dangerous substance lacking therapeutic efficacy. Here are five new cannabis-centric studies that challenge longstanding marijuana myths.</p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr">Marijuana abuse is on the decline</p><p>Contrary to what you <a href="http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/853145">may have heard</a>, the percentage of Americans reporting having experienced pot-related problems is declining. That’s according to the results of a newly published study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.</p><p dir="ltr">Investigators at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis assessed trends in marijuana use and in the prevalence of marijuana use disorders during the years 2002 to 2013. Researchers found that the self-reported use of cannabis by adults increased an estimated 19 percent, but that reports of cannabis-related problems actually declined during this period.<br class="kix-line-break" /> </p><p dir="ltr">"We're certainly seeing some increases in marijuana use," the lead researcher of the study<a href="http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-02-marijuana-high-previously.htm"> said</a> . "But our survey didn't notice any increase in marijuana-related problems. Certainly, some people are having problems so we should remain vigilant, but the sky is not falling."<br class="kix-line-break" /> </p><p dir="ltr">Separate evaluations of self-reported marijuana use by young people have determined that rates of cannabis use by high-school students are <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/10/08/studies-fewer-teens-using-marijuana-younger-adolescents-more-likely-to-voice-disapproval">significantly lower today</a> than they were 15 years ago.<br class="kix-line-break" /> </p><p dir="ltr">The study's findings contradict those of <a href="http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-10-marijuana-disorders.html">a widely publicized 2015 paper</a> which alleged that the use of marijuana had doubled over the past decade and that an estimated one-third of those who consumed cannabis did so problematically. Predictably, while the 2015 study received widespread coverage, only a handful of media outlets have published follow up stories highlighting the revised data. </p><p><br />Pot is associated with compensatory driving behavior; booze is not</p><p>Stoned drivers are slower drivers. That is the finding of a just published <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jat.3295/abstract">federal study</a> in the Journal of Applied Toxicology. Its conclusions mimic those reported in a series of <a href="http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/25000/25800/25867/DOT-HS-808-078.pdf">on-road driving studies</a> performed by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the 1990s.</p><p>Investigators affiliated with the US National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Iowa assessed the effects of vaporized cannabis on simulated driving performance. Researchers report that cannabis-positive subjects decreased their speed and increased the distance between their vehicle and the car in front of them, while alcohol-positive participants did the opposite. </p><p>“The compensatory behavior exhibited by cannabis-influenced drivers distinctly contrasts with an alcohol-induced higher risk behavior,” authors concluded. </p><p>While some studies have reported that THC-positive drivers possess <a href="http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e536">a nearly two-fold risk</a> of motor vehicle accident compared to drug-free drivers, other reviews have reported <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.13347/abstract?campaign=wolacceptedarticle">comparatively less risk</a> and, in some cases, <a href="http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/nation/2015/02/06/us-evidence-marijuana-leads-higher-crash-risk/23004549/">no elevated risk</a> after adjusting for confounding variables such as age and gender. By contrast, driving with legal amounts of booze in one’s system is associated with <a href="http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nti/pdf/812117-Drug_and_Alcohol_Crash_Risk.pdf">a four-fold increased crash risk</a>, while operating a motor vehicle with two or more passengers <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000145750700036X">more than doubles one’s risk</a> of a motor vehicle crash.</p><p>Smoking pot won’t make you depressed, but some depressed people smoke pot</p><p><a href="http://adai.uw.edu/marijuana/factsheets/mentalhealth.htm">Longstanding claims</a> that smoking pot leads to depression have been rejected in <a href="http://www.jad-journal.com/article/S0165-0327(15)31030-2/abstract">a new longitudinal study</a> published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. </p><p>A team of Swedish investigators conducted a three-year prospective study in a cohort of 8,600 men between the ages of 20 and 64 to assess whether cannabis use was associated with increased incidences of depression later in life. After scientists adjusted for potentially confounding variables, such as other illicit drug use and family tension, they reported no link between pot use and symptoms of clinical depression or anxiety. </p><p>Investigators did find that subjects who reported suffering from depression during their baseline interviews were more likely to be pot smokers at follow up. However, these respondents were also more likely to consume other illicit drugs as well.</p><p>Pot mitigates chronic pain, reduces patients’ need for opioids</p><p>When New York lawmakers signed off on legislation in 2014 authorizing the use of medical marijuana, they refused to permit chronic pain patients the opportunity to utilize cannabis therapy. Their decision, which is now codified in New York state law, flies in the face of compassion and science. That’s because the daily use of cannabis provides pain relief and reduces opioid use in patients with treatment-resistant chronic pain conditions, according to <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26889611">clinical trial data</a> reported online ahead of print in The Clinical Journal of Pain.</p><p dir="ltr">Investigators with Hebrew University in Israel evaluated the use of cannabis on pain in a cohort of 176 patients, each of whom had been previously unresponsive to all conventional pain medications. Subjects inhaled THC-dominant cannabis daily (up to 20 grams per month) for a period of at least six months.</p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr">A majority of the study’s participants (66 percent) experienced improvement in their pain symptom scores after cannabis therapy, and most reported "robust" improvements in their quality of life. Subjects' overall consumption of opioid drugs declined 44 percent by the end of the trial, and a significant percentage of participants discontinued opioid therapy altogether over the course of the study.<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />The Israeli results are similar to those reported in <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/10/01/study-daily-cannabis-use-is-safe-effective-for-chronic-pain">a 2015 Canadian trial</a> which concluded that chronic pain patients who use herbal cannabis daily for one-year experienced reduced discomfort and increased quality of life compared to controls, and did not possess an increased risk of serious side effects.<br class="kix-line-break" /> </p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://norml.org/news/2014/08/28/study-state-medical-marijuana-laws-associated-with-lower-rates-of-opiate-induced-fatalities">Separate data</a> published in 2014 in The Journal of the American Medical Association determined that states with medical marijuana laws experience far fewer opiate-related deaths than do states that prohibit the plant. Investigators from the RAND Corporation reported <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/07/16/study-medical-cannabis-access-associated-with-reduced-opioid-abuse">similar findings</a> in 2015, concluding, "States permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.”</p><p>One more time, with conviction: passing medical pot laws doesn’t increase marijuana use by teens</p><p><a href="http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865649041/My-view-Marijuana-is-not-a-medicine.html?pg=all">Repeated claims</a> that the enactment of medical cannabis laws is associated with spikes in youth marijuana use are categorically false. Want proof? According to <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26895950">a new review</a> of US federal drug use data from the years 2002 to 2011, “[T]here is no evidence of a differential increase in past-month marijuana use in youth that can be attributed to state MML (medical marijuana laws).”</p><p>While the study’s authors acknowledged that many medical marijuana states have higher rates of cannabis use compared to non-medical states, they affirmed that these jurisdictions already possessed elevated use rates prior to any change in law and that the enactments of laws did not causally contribute to this change. They are hardly alone in their assessment. </p><p>In 2015, investigators at Columbia University in New York and the University of Michigan assessed the relationship between state medical marijuana laws and rates of self-reported adolescent marijuana use over a 24-year period in a sampling of over one million adolescents in 48 states. Researchers reported no increase in teens’ overall pot use that could be attributable to changes in law, and acknowledged a “robust” decrease in use among 8th graders. <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(15)00217-5/fulltext">They concluded</a>: “[T]he results of this study showed no evidence for an increase in adolescent marijuana use after the passage of state laws permitting use of marijuana for medical purposes. … [C]oncerns that increased marijuana use is an unintended effect of state marijuana laws seem unfounded.” </p><p>And they weren’t alone either. In fact, their conclusions were consistent with the findings of nearly a dozen similar studies -- such as those available <a href="//www.nber.org/papers/w20332">here</a>, <a href="http://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X%2814%2900107-4/abstract">here</a>, <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4007871/">here</a>, <a href="//www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22285867">here</a>, and <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17689362">here</a>.</p> <p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1051863'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1051863" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 05 Mar 2016 11:32:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1051863 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana medical marijuana opioids driving depression marijuana use science Poll: 60% of Likely California Voters Support Initiative Effort To Legalize Marijuana http://www.alternet.org/drugs/60-percent-california-voters-support-legalize-marijuana-initiative <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1051641'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1051641" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Signatures are still being gathered, but the nation&#039;s most populous state appears poised to free the weed in November. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/california_marijuana_template.jpg?itok=ne__MAsL" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>A majority of likely California voters say that they intend to vote ‘yes’ this November for an initiative to regulate the retail production and sale of marijuana by adults, according to the results of a Probolsky Research <a href="http://www.probolskyresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/California-Statewide-Voter-Survey-Recreational-Marijuana-Report-on-Results.pdf">poll</a> released late last week.</p><p>Sixty percent of respondents say that they will vote in favor of an initiative this November “that would legalize marijuana for recreational use under California law and allow government to tax” its retail sales. Thirty-seven percent said that they would vote ‘no.’</p><p>Support was strongest among those between the ages of 18 to 34 (80 percent) and self-identified Democrats (69 percent). Republicans (38 percent) and those over the age of 65 (46 percent) were least likely to express support.</p><p>The <a href="http://chrisconrad.com/category/adult-use-act-2016/">Adult Use of Marijuana Act</a> (AUMA), which is expected to appear on the November ballot, permits adults to legally grow (up to six plants) and possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce of flower and/or up to eight grams of concentrate) while also licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales. The measure prohibits localities from taking actions to infringe upon adults’ ability to possession and cultivate cannabis for non-commercial purposes. Both the <a href="http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/marijuana/article57799473.html">California Medical Association</a> and the <a href="https://www.regulatecalifornia.com/california-naacp-gets-behind-marijuana-legalization-initiative/">state chapter of the NAACP</a> have endorsed the measure.</p><p>On February 20, a majority of the NORML Board of Directors <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2016/02/22/national-norml-board-endorses-auma-marijuana-legalization-initiative-in-ca/">endorsed</a> the AUMA, along with separate initiatives that are anticipated to appear on the November 2016 ballot in Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Arizona, as well as medical use initiatives expected to appear on the ballot in Missouri and Florida.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1051641'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1051641" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 29 Feb 2016 11:26:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1051641 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Election 2016 california marijuana legalization initiatives auma adult use of marijuana act polling Why Hillary Clinton's Plan for Marijuana Simply Doesn't Go Far Enough http://www.alternet.org/drugs/why-hillary-clintons-plan-marijuana-simply-doesnt-go-far-enough <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Moving from Schedule I to Schedule II doesn&#039;t go far enough towards legalization. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_126159383.jpg?itok=zMlaGreU" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Speaking late last year at a campaign stop in South Carolina, Democrat Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton <a href="http://&lt;http://whotv.com/2015/11/08/hillary-clinton-proposes-loosening-restrictions-on-marijuana/&gt;">pledged</a> if elected President to reclassify marijuana under federal law from a <a href="http://&lt;http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml&gt;">Schedule I</a><a href="http://&lt;http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml&gt;"> substance</a>– the most restrictive category – to a Schedule II substance. <br /> <br />Said Clinton: "The problem with medical marijuana is there is a lot of anecdotal evidence about how well it works for certain conditions. But we haven't done any research. Why? Because it is considered that is called a schedule one drug and you can't even do research in it."<br /><br />She added, "I would like to move it from what is called Schedule I to Schedule II so that researchers at universities, national institutes of health can start researching what is the best way to use it, how much of a dose does somebody need, how does it interact with other medications."<br /><br />Although Clinton’s call for rescheduling represents an improved willingness on her part to advocate for marijuana law reform, her newfound stance is hardly progressive. Various advocacy organizations, including <a href="http://&lt;http://www.norml.org&gt;">NORML</a>, <a href="http://&lt;http://www.hightimes.com&gt;">High Times</a>, and <a href="http://&lt;http://www.safeaccessnow.org&gt;">Americans for Safe Access</a>, have filed administrative petitions over the past decades seeking to amend cannabis’ Schedule I status. Even among her peers, Clinton’s position isn’t unique. This past spring, former Republican Presidential candidate Rand Paul (KY) co-sponsored Congressional legislation, The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and <a href="http://&lt;http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15905&gt;">Respect States (CARERS) Act</a>, to move marijuana from Schedule I to II and to permit VA doctors to recommend cannabis therapy to veterans. One-time Democrat Presidential hopeful Martin O'Malley also <a href="http://&lt;http://www.marijuana.com/blog/news/2015/09/2016-contender-martin-omalley-courts-marijuana-activists/&gt;">campaigned</a> on the pledge that he would use his executive powers to move cannabis to Schedule II. Most notably, Clinton’s leading Democrat Presidential rival Bernie Sander (I-VT) introduced Senate legislation, S. 2237, the <a href="http://&lt;http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17703&gt;">Ending Federal Marihuana Prohibition Act</a>, to strike both marijuana and ‘tetrahydrocannabinols’ (aka THC) from the federal criminal code, thus leaving the decision of whether or not to legalize and regulate cannabis solely up to the individual states.<br /> <br />While Sanders’ proposal would significantly transform America’s marijuana policies, Clinton’s rescheduling plan would actually do little to change the existing legal landscape. Moreover, Clinton’s premise that scientists have yet to do any research on cannabis is woefully incorrect.<br /> <br />Unlike conventional pharmaceuticals, the marijuana plant possesses an extensive history of human use dating back thousands of years, thus providing society with ample empirical evidence as to its relative safety and efficacy. Moreover, despite cannabis’ modern day politicization, the plant and its compounds have nonetheless been subject to extensive scientific scrutiny. A <a href="http://&lt;http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gquery/?term=marijuana&gt;">search using the term “marijuana”</a>on the website of the National Library of Medicine, the repository for all peer-reviewed scientific papers, yields more than 23,000 scientific papers referencing the plant and/or its constituents. Among this extensive body of literature are over 100 randomized controlled studies, involving thousands of subjects, evaluating the safety and efficacy of cannabis or individual cannabinoids. A <a href="http://&lt;https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3358713/&gt;">2012 review</a> of several FDA-approved gold-standard cannabis clinical trials concluded, “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification (for cannabis) is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.” <br /> <br />In short, Clinton’s presumption that it is the absence of scientific research that necessitates the need to remove cannabis from Schedule I is both ill informed and unpersuasive. In truth, marijuana does not belong in Schedule I because ample scientific evidence already exists disproving the government’s claim that it is among the most dangerous substances known to man and that it lacks therapeutic utility. Moreover, reclassifying cannabis from I to II – the same category as cocaine – continues to misrepresent the plant’s safety relative to other controlled substances, and fails to provide states with the ability to regulate it free from federal interference.<br /> <br />Further, the federal policies in place that make clinical trial work with cannabis more onerous than it is for other controlled substances — such as the requirement that all <a href="http://&lt;https://www.drugabuse.gov/researchers/research-resources/nida-drug-supply-program-dsp/marijuana-plant-material-available-nida-drug-supply-program&gt;">source material</a> be purchased from NIDA’s University of Mississippi pot program — are <a href="http://&lt;http://www.alternet.org/drugs/nida-directors-tells-congress-its-easier-study-heroin-or-cocaine-marijuana&gt;">regulatory requirements</a> that are specific to cannabis, not to Schedule I drugs in general. Simply rescheduling cannabis from I to II does not necessarily change these regulations. <br /> <br />In addition, the sort of gold-standard, large-scale, long-term Phase III safety and efficacy trials Ms. Clinton ostensibly advocates for are prohibitively expensive. As a result, trials of this kind are typically are funded by private pharmaceutical companies aspiring to bring a new product to market. In some cases, the federal government may assist in sharing these costs. However, political reality dictates that neither entity is likely to pony up the tens of millions of dollars necessary to conduct such trials any time soon, if ever. <br /> <br />This is not to say that rescheduling cannabis would not have any positive tangible effects. At a minimum, it would bring an end to the federal government’s longstanding intellectual dishonesty that marijuana ‘lacks accepted medical use.’ It would also likely permit banks and other financial institutions to work with state-compliant marijuana-related businesses, and permit employers in the cannabis industry to take tax deductions similar to those enjoyed by other businesses. But ultimately, such a change would do little to significantly loosen federal prohibition or to make herbal cannabis readily accessible for clinical study. These goals can only be accomplished by federally decsheduling cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco, thus providing states the power to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal intrusion.<br /> </p><p> </p> Thu, 25 Feb 2016 00:00:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, High Times 1051308 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics hillary clinton election 2016 marijuana 5 Major Developments That Change How We Should Think About Marijuana http://www.alternet.org/drugs/marijuana-health-five-new-scientific-developments <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1049336'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049336" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Here&#039;s the latest research on pot and drinking, pot and opiate dependency, pot and IQ, pot and migraines, and pot and obesity.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/pot_user_1.jpg?itok=QJlhW7hM" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Scientific discoveries are published almost daily <a href="http://www.alternet.org/drugs/latest-cannabis-science-you-need-know">rebuking</a>  the federal government’s contention that cannabis is a highly dangerous substance lacking therapeutic efficacy. But most of these findings are relegated to obscure, peer-reviewed journals and, therefore, often go unnoticed by the major media and the general public. Here are five new cannabis-centric studies that warrant mainstream attention.</p><p><strong>Consumers Seldom Combine Marijuana With Alcohol</strong></p><p>Marijuana consumers don’t typically mix pot and booze together, regardless of whether they are consuming cannabis for medicinal or social purposes, according to <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26687431">data</a> published online in December in the journal <em>Addiction</em>.</p><p>Investigators at the RAND Drug Policy Research Center and the University of California, Irvine surveyed the habits of marijuana consumers residing Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. Authors reported, "Individuals who use cannabis do not commonly use it with alcohol, irrespective of whether they are consuming cannabis recreationally or medically."<br /><br />They concluded, "Fewer than one in five recreational users report simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis most or all of the time and less than three percent of medicinal users report frequent simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis."<br /><br /><a href="http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6448a1.htm?s_cid=mm6448a1_e">Separate data</a> provided last month by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention further reports that young people avoid mixing the two substances if they intend to drive. The agency reports that between the years 2002 through 2014, the prevalence of marijuana and alcohol use prior to driving fell from 2.3 percent to 1.4 percent among those age 16 to 20 and from 3.1 percent to 1.9 percent among those age 21 to 25.</p><p><strong>Consuming Cannabis Helps Kick Opioid Dependence</strong></p><p>Smoking pot is associated with <a href="http://reset.me/study/study-kicking-the-opiate-habit-with-cannabis/">improved outcomes</a> in opioid-dependent subjects undergoing outpatient treatment, according to <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26187456">data</a>  published online this past September in the journal <em>Drug and Alcohol Dependence</em>.</p><p>Researchers at Columbia University studied marijuana’s effects on opioid-dependent subjects undergoing in-patient detoxification and outpatient treatment with naltrexone, an opiate receptor antagonist. "One of the interesting study findings was the observed beneficial effect of marijuana smoking on treatment retention," authors concluded. "Participants who smoked marijuana had less difficulty with sleep and anxiety and were more likely to remain in treatment as compared to those who were not using marijuana."</p><p>The findings replicate those of two prior studies, <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1081/ada-100104511#.VlT0-WSrSt8">one from 2001</a> and <a href="http://norml.org/news/2009/05/21/cannabis-use-associated-with-greater-adherence-to-heroin-treatment-study-says">one from 2009</a>, reporting greater treatment adherence among subjects who consumed cannabis intermittently during outpatient therapy.</p><p>Population data from states where medicinal cannabis is permitted report lower rates of opioid-related <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/07/16/study-medical-cannabis-access-associated-with-reduced-opioid-abuse">abuse</a> and <a href="http://norml.org/news/2014/08/28/study-state-medical-marijuana-laws-associated-with-lower-rates-of-opiate-induced-fatalities">mortality</a> as compared to those states where weed remains prohibited. </p><p> </p><p><strong>Marijuana Mitigates Migraine Frequency</strong></p><p>Can marijuana provide migraine relief? Newly published data indicates that the answer could be ‘yes.’</p><p>Investigators at the University of Colorado, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences retrospectively assessed cannabis' effects on monthly migraine headache frequency in a group of 121 adults. Study participants had a primary diagnosis of migraine headache, had been recommended cannabis by a physician for migraine treatment, and had participated in at least one follow up medical visit.</p><p><a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26749285">Authors reported</a> that 85 percent of subjects reported a decrease in migraine frequency and 12 percent indicated that the use of cannabis prior to migraine onset would abort headaches.</p><p>"Migraine headache frequency decreased from 10.4 to 4.6 headaches per month with the use of medical marijuana," researchers concluded. "Further research should be performed to determine if there is a preferred delivery method, dose, and strain of medical marijuana for migraine headache therapy as well as potential long-term effects of medical marijuana."</p><p><strong>Cumulative Cannabis Use Isn’t Associated With Lower IQ</strong></p><p>The cumulative use of cannabis by adolescents has no direct, short-term effect on intelligence decline, according to <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/01/13/1516648113.abstract">longitudinal data</a> published this week in the <em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</em>.</p><p>Investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Minnesota evaluated whether pot use was associated with changes in intellectual performance in two longitudinal cohorts of adolescent twins. Participants were assessed for intelligence at ages 9 to 12, before marijuana involvement, and again at ages 17 to 20.</p><p>Researchers reported no dose-response relationship between cannabis use and IQ decline. They also found no significant differences in performance among marijuana using subjects when compared to their non-using twins.</p><p>Investigators concluded: “In the largest longitudinal examination of marijuana use and IQ change, … we find little evidence to suggest that adolescent marijuana use has a direct effect on intellectual decline. … [T]he lack of a dose–response relationship, and an absence of meaningful differences between discordant siblings lead us to conclude that the deficits observed in marijuana users are attributable to confounding factors that influence both substance initiation and IQ rather than a neurotoxic effect of marijuana.”</p><p>The findings come just days after the publication of <a href="http://intl-jop.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/01/06/0269881115622241.full">a separate longitudinal study</a> in the <em>Journal of Pharmacology</em> which concluded that cumulative adolescent marijuana use is not associated with lower IQ or poorer educational performance once adjustments are made for potential confounders, specifically cigarette smoking. The studies contrast with the findings of a widely publicized <a href="http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2014/jul/27/ruth-marcus/marcus-if-tee-use-marijuana-regularly-the-drop-8-i/">2012 study</a> that alleged that youthful pot use was associated with declines in IQ later in life.</p><p><strong>THC Inhibits Weight Gain</strong></p><p>THC administration prevents weight gain in mice fed a high fat diet. So reported a team of Canadian researchers this past December in the journal <em>PLOS ONE</em>.</p><p>Investigators at the University of Calgary <a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0144270">assessed the impact</a> of small, daily doses of THC in diet-induced obese mice. They reported that THC intake was associated with the inhibition of increased fat. They concluded, “Chronic THC treatment … prevented high fat diet-induced increases in body weight.”</p><p>While the findings may run counter to certain stoner stereotypes, they are consistent with the conclusions of several recent population-based observational studies. Specifically, a <a href="http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/174/8/929.long">2011 review</a> of over 50,000 US citizens age 18 or older concluded, “[T]he prevalence of obesity is lower in cannabis users than in nonusers.” Similarly, Canadian researchers assessing the health of over 750 Inuit adults <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.20973/abstract">reported</a> that subjects who possessed a history of cannabis use had a lower body mass index than those who abstained from pot.</p><p>Most recently, investigators at the University of Miami analyzed the association between cannabis use and metabolic syndrome in a cohort of nearly 8,500 subjects. They <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26548604">found</a> that those who consume cannabis are 50 percent less likely to be overweight and to suffer from high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels as compared to those subjects with no history of marijuana use.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1049336'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049336" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 21 Jan 2016 11:08:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1049336 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health marijuana cannabis opiods migraines iq obesity alcohol Marijuana Reduces Alzheimers Symptoms, Scientists Say http://www.alternet.org/drugs/marijuana-reduces-alzheimers-symptoms-scientists-say <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1049215'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049215" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A study has found that cannabis oil ingestion corresponded with decreased levels of aggression, irritability, apathy and delusions.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_328567031.jpg?itok=3mJsAHGD" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The administration of liquid cannabis extracts containing THC is associated with the mitigation of various symptoms of Alzheimer’s-related agitation and dementia, according to <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26757043">observational trial data</a> published online ahead of print in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.</p><p>Israeli investigators assessed the use of cannabis oil as an adjunct pharmacotherapy treatment in ten Alzheimer’s disease patients over a period of several weeks. Researchers reported that drug administration was associated with a significant reduction in patients’ symptom severity scores. Specifically, cannabis oil ingestion corresponded with decreased levels of aggression, irritability, apathy, and delusions.</p><p>Investigators concluded, “Adding medical cannabis oil to Alzheimer’s disease patients pharmacotherapy is safe and a promising treatment option.”</p><p>The administration of dronabinol (oral synthetic THC in pill form) has previously been reported to <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16521031?dopt=Abstract">reduce Alzheimer’s-induced agitation</a> and <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9309469">improve weight gain</a>, while preclinical studies have <a href="http://norml.org/library/item/alzheimer-s-disease">theorized</a> that cannabinoids may be neuroprotective against the onset of the disease.</p><p><em>An abstract of the study, “Safety and efficacy of medical cannabis oil for behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia: An open label, add-on, pilot study,” appears online <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26757043">here</a>.</em></p><em>This <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2016/01/19/study-cannabis-oil-mitigates-symptoms-of-alzheimers-induced-dementia/">article</a> first appeared on NORML.</em> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1049215'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049215" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 20 Jan 2016 12:00:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1049215 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health dementia cannabis oil Alzheimer’s Disease Twin Study: Marijuana Use Has No Direct Effect on IQ http://www.alternet.org/drugs/twin-study-marijuana-use-has-no-direct-effect-iq <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1049214'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049214" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Researchers reported no dose-response relationship between cannabis use and IQ decline.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_209693806.jpg?itok=3RHXv2BF" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The cumulative use of cannabis by adolescents has no direct effect on <a href="http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/marijuana-does-not-cause-decline-intelligence-among-teenage-users-1538607">intelligence decline</a>, according to <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/01/13/1516648113.abstract">longitudinal data</a> published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.</p><p>Investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Minnesota <a href="http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/iq-dip-not-caused-by-marijuana-study-findsds-to-lower-iq-study-says-707098.html">evaluated</a> whether marijuana use was associated with changes in intellectual performance in two longitudinal cohorts of adolescent twins. Participants were assessed for intelligence at ages 9 to 12, before marijuana involvement, and again at ages 17 to 20.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/18/scientists-have-found-that-smoking-weed-does-not-make-you-stupid-after-all/">reported</a> no dose-response relationship between cannabis use and IQ decline. They also found no significant differences in performance among marijuana using subjects when compared to their non-using twins.</p><p>Investigators concluded: “In the largest longitudinal examination of marijuana use and IQ change, … we find little evidence to suggest that adolescent marijuana use has a direct effect on intellectual decline. … [T]he lack of a dose–response relationship, and an absence of meaningful differences between discordant siblings lead us to conclude that the deficits observed in marijuana users are attributable to confounding factors that influence both substance initiation and IQ rather than a neurotoxic effect of marijuana.”</p><p>The findings follow the publication of a <a href="http://norml.org/news/2016/01/14/study-cannabis-use-not-predictive-of-lower-iq">separate longitudinal study</a> in the Journal of Pharmacology which concluded that cumulative adolescent marijuana use is not associated with lower IQ or poorer educational performance once adjustments are made for potential confounders, specifically cigarette smoking.</p><p>An abstract of the study, “Impact of adolescent marijuana use on intelligence: Results from two longitudinal twin studies,” is available <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/01/13/1516648113.abstract">online</a>.</p><em>This <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2016/01/18/twin-study-marijuana-use-has-no-direct-effect-on-iq/">article</a> first appeared on NORML.</em> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1049214'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049214" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 19 Jan 2016 12:44:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1049214 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana intelligence iq cannabis Debunking The Myth That Pot Fries Your Brain http://www.alternet.org/drugs/debunking-myth-pot-fries-brain <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1048919'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1048919" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Misleading and scientifically illiterate claims notwithstanding, there&#039;s little definitive evidence marijuana makes you dumb, dense, or crazy.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_4.jpg?itok=nqn2tA9c" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Scare-mongering headlines touting the alleged adverse effects of marijuana’s impact on brain appear in the mainstream media almost daily. But a careful investigation of the relevant science reveals many of these fears to be overblown at best and illegitimate at worst.</p><p><strong>Pot Permanently Damages the Brain</strong></p><p>“Even occasional marijuana can change your brain.” So claimed the <a href="http://news.health.com/2014/04/16/study-links-casual-marijuana-use-to-changes-in-brain/">headlines</a> surrounding a highly publicized 2014 study by researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Addiction Medicine. Authors took images of the brains of college-aged cannabis users and non-users and acknowledged differences in the brain morphology of the two groups.</p><p>However, because the study was based on a single set of images, researchers had no way to determine whether the differences predated subjects cannabis use or whether they would remain if they ceased using pot. Further, investigators failed to assess either groups’ cognitive or academic performance to ascertain whether these changes were associated with any adverse real-world outcomes. (All of the participants in the study were enrolled in higher education and none of the participants met criteria for drug dependence.) Nonetheless, investigators pronounced that the observed differences were “abnormal” and indicated that such ‘brain alterations’ would likely lead to more serious drug abusing behaviors down the road.</p><p>Or not. In fact, when a separate team of scientists tried to replicate these results in a larger, better-controlled cohort of subjects, <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/02/19/study-marijuana-use-not-associated-with-previously-reported-changes-in-brain-morphology">they couldn’t</a>. </p><p>“We acquired high-resolution MRI scans, and investigated group differences in gray matter using voxel-based morphometry, surface-based morphometry, and shape analysis in structures suggested to be associated with marijuana use, as follows: the nucleus accumbens, amygdala, hippocampus, and cerebellum,” <a href="http://www.jneurosci.org/content/35/4/1505.short">researchers summarized</a> last year in the <em>The Journal of Neuroscience</em>. “No statistically significant differences were found between daily users and nonusers on volume or shape in the regions of interest. Effect sizes suggest that the failure to find differences was not due to a lack of statistical power, but rather was due to the lack of even a modest effect.”</p><p>Further, authors theorized that the observed differences reported in 2014 were likely due to the participants’ consumption of alcohol, not pot. They concluded: “[T]he results indicate that, when carefully controlling for alcohol use, gender, age, and other variables, there is no association between marijuana use and standard volumetric or shape measurements of subcortical structures. … [I]t seems unlikely that marijuana use has the same level of long-term deleterious effects on brain morphology as other drugs like alcohol.”</p><p><strong>Marijuana Lowers IQ</strong></p><p>Smoking cannabis leads to an eight-point drop in intelligence quotient. So says the US National Institute on Drug Abuse on their webpage ‘<a href="https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana">Marijuana: Get the Facts</a>.’ But the facts in this instance are far from definitive.</p><p>NIDA’s claim, which has since been repeated by <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ruth-marcus-the-perils-of-legalized-pot/2014/01/02/068cee6e-73e9-11e3-8b3f-b1666705ca3b_story.html%3e">numerous pundits</a> and <a href="https://learnaboutsam.org/marijuana-use-linked-with-significant-iq-loss">anti-drug reform groups</a> is taken from a <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/109/40/E2657.abstract">Duke University study</a> published in 2012 in <em>The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</em>. The study’s authors reported that the persistent use of cannabis by those in their early teens, but not others, was associated with as high as an eight-point drop in IQ by age 38. However, a separate, far less publicized <a href="///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/%3c%20http:/www.pnas.org/content/110/11/4251">review of the data</a> that appeared later in the same journal suggested that the results were likely because of socioeconomic differences, not subjects’ use of cannabis. It determined: “The association [between heavy adolescent marijuana use and lower IQ by middle age] is given a causal interpretation by the authors, but existing research suggests an alternative confounding model based on time-varying effects of socioeconomic status on IQ. A simulation of the confounding model reproduces the reported associations from the Dunedin cohort, suggesting that the causal effects estimated in Meier et al. are likely to be overestimates, and that the true effect could be zero.”</p><p>More recent analyses further support the notion that cannabis use alone does not have an adverse causal effect on either IQ or academic performance. A <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871615016580">2015 study</a> by Meier and colleagues published in the journal <em>Drug and Alcohol Dependence</em> reports that the effects of persistent adolescent cannabis use on academic performance is “non-significant after controlling for persistent alcohol and tobacco use.” Similarly, a <a href="http://intl-jop.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/01/06/0269881115622241.full">study published this month</a> in the <em>Journal of Psychopharmacology</em>concludes that cumulative teen pot use is not associated with lower IQ scores or with poorer educational performance once adjustments are made for confounding variables, specifically cigarette smoking. “[T]hose who had used cannabis [greater than or equal to] 50 times did not differ from never-users on either IQ or educational performance,” investigators determined.</p><p><strong>Cannabis Adversely Effects Cognition</strong></p><p>Indeed, some stupid people may smoke pot. But the relevant science suggests that they were stupid long before ever coming in contact with the herb.</p><p>Specifically, Boston University researchers performed a battery of cognitive tests on a cohort of marijuana-using twins and their non-using co-twins. <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15697050">They reported</a> “an absence of marked long-term residual effects of marijuana use on cognitive abilities.”</p><p>Similarly, a study published in the journal <em>Archives of General Psychiatry</em> found that long-term cannabis smokers (identified as consumers who had smoked cannabis at least 5000 times during their lives) who abstained from pot for several weeks showed virtually no significant differences from control subjects (those who had smoked marijuana less than 50 times in their lives) on ten distinct neuropsychological tests. “]T]here were virtually no significant differences among the groups on any of the test results, and no significant associations between cumulative lifetime cannabis use and test scores,” <a href="http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=481834">investigators reported</a>.</p><p>Likewise, a <a href="///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/%3c%20http:/www.cmcr.ucsd.edu/images/pdfs/Grant_2003.pdf">2012 literature review</a> of 11 peer-reviewed studies evaluating pot’s potential long-term impact on cognitive function, involving over 1,000 subjects, concluded, “The results of our meta-analytic study failed to reveal a substantial, systematic effect of long-term, regular cannabis consumption on the neurocognitive functioning of users who were not acutely intoxicated.”</p><p>Finally, a <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22731735">separate meta-analysis</a> published in the journal <em>Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacolog</em><em>y</em> concludes that cannabis is not associated with "enduring negative effects" on the cognitive skills in moderate to heavy marijuana consumers. Researchers from the University of Central Florida reviewed various, peer-reviewed studies assessing whether pot use is associated with lasting adverse residual effects on cognition. They reported that chronic cannabis consumption was associated with "small but significant" effects on neurocognitive skills for limited periods of time, but that these effects discontinued following abstinence. Authors reported "no evidence of lasting effects on cognitive performance due to cannabis use" in subjects whose abstention period was at least 25 days. They concluded, “These results fail to support the idea that heavy cannabis use may result in long-term, persistent effects on neuropsychological functioning."</p><p><strong>Marijuana Causes Mental Illness</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.vancouversun.com/health/marijuana+could+produce+schizophrenia+like+conditions/11646612/story.html">Claims persist</a> that cannabis use can trigger mental illness, specifically schizophrenia, in otherwise healthy individuals. But data to substantiate these claims is lacking.</p><p>Specifically, a 2009 paper in the journal <em>Schizophrenia Research </em>compared trends in marijuana use and incidences of schizophrenia in the United Kingdom from 1996 to 2005. <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19560900%3e">Authors reported</a> that "incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia and psychoses were either stable or declining" during this period, even though pot use among the general population was rising. They concluded: "This study does not therefore support the specific causal link between cannabis use and incidence of psychotic disorders. ... This concurs with other reports indicating that increases in population cannabis use have not been followed by increases in psychotic incidence."</p><p>Similarly, a <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02846.x/abstract">review paper</a> published by a pair of British scientists in the journal <em>Addiction</em> reported that there exists little clinical evidence indicating that marijuana use is casually linked to incidences of schizophrenia or other psychological illnesses. Authors wrote: "We continue to take the view that the evidence that cannabis use causes schizophrenia is neither very new, nor by normal criteria, particularly compelling. ... For example, our recent modeling suggests that we would need to prevent between 3000 and 5000 cases of heavy cannabis use among young men and women to prevent one case of schizophrenia, and that four or five times more young people would need to avoid light cannabis use to prevent a single schizophrenia case. ... We conclude that the strongest evidence of a possible causal relation between cannabis use and schizophrenia emerged more than 20 years ago and that the strength of more recent evidence may have been overstated."</p><p>More recently, researchers at Harvard University published a <a href="http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/12/10/harvard-marijuana-doesnt-cause-schizophrenia/63148.html">study</a>  further rebutting the ‘pot equals schizophrenia’ allegation. Writing in 2013 in <em>Schizophrenia Research</em>, investigators compared the family histories of 108 schizophrenia patients and 171 individuals without schizophrenia to assess whether youth cannabis consumption was an independent factor in developing the disorder. Researchers reported that a family history of schizophrenia increased the risk of developing the disease, regardless of whether or not subjects consumed marijuana as adolescents. <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24309013">They concluded</a>: “The results of the current study, both when analyzed using morbid risk and family frequency calculations, suggest that having an increased familial risk for schizophrenia is the underlying basis for schizophrenia in these samples and not the cannabis use.  While cannabis may have an effect on the age of onset of schizophrenia it is unlikely to be the cause of illness.”</p><p>Most recently, a <a href="http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v41/n2/full/npp2015251a.html">pair of just published commentaries</a> in the journal <em>Nature Neuropsychopharmacology</em> suggests that while THC may be associated with increase psychiatric risks in already vulnerable populations, “there are sufficient reasons to question the causality of this relationship,” such as the possibility of self-medication or shared genetic and environmental risk factors. “To conclude, public perception and popular media often interpret associations shown in longitudinal studies as demonstrating causation, so the scientific community has to consistently emphasize the distinction between association and causation. Given the low odds ratio and evidence that schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder, the most scientifically conservative stance is that the association between cannabis and psychotic disorders is not causal.”</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1048919'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1048919" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 13 Jan 2016 23:51:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1048919 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health marijuana intelligence psychosis brain damage Marijuana Is Not a Gateway Drug, So Why Do Leading Republicans and Democrats Say Otherwise? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/marijuana-not-gateway-drug-so-why-do-leading-republicans-and-democrats-say-otherwise <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1048907'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1048907" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Politicians such as Chris Christie and Debbie Wasserman Schultz have long been against marijuana law reform.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/images/AFP/photo_1342458829815-11-0.jpg?itok=WY7pP9Co" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie and Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz may be on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but they share a mutual antipathy for marijuana law reform.</p><p>As New Jersey governor, Christie has spent years undermining the state’s beleaguered medical cannabis program. As a presidential candidate, Christie has upped the ante, promising to roll back voter-approved legalization laws in states like Colorado and Oregon. “I will crack down [on states where marijuana sales are legal] and not permit it,” Christie has <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/14/chris-christie-marijuana_n_7066636.html">said</a>, adding on numerous occasions that his opposition to pot stems from his <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/watch/christie-i-believe-marijuana-is-a-gateway-drug-548908611837">belief</a> that it is a “destructive…gateway drug…that causes our children…to use other drugs.”</p><p>Likewise, as a member of Congress, Schultz has a long <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3nYdQ4GYoA">history</a> of voting in favor of continued cannabis criminalization and repression. She is one of a handful of Democrats who <a href="http://www.vice.com/read/why-wont-the-us-government-let-veterans-smoke-weed">voted</a> in opposition to an amendment that sought to permit VA doctors to recommend cannabis therapy to veterans in states that already permit the plant’s medical use. Increasing legal access to a “mind altering substance” like marijuana will lead more people to “travel down the path toward using more drugs,” Wasserman-Schultz <a href="http://extract.suntimes.com/news/10/153/11412/debbie-wasserman-schultz-opposes-marijuana-legalization-links-to-hard-drugs">argues</a>.</p><p>Both politicians' positions are not only out of touch with <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/186260/back-legal-marijuana.aspx">public opinion</a>, they are equally out of touch with the available science, which has long <a href="http://www.factcheck.org/2015/04/is-marijuana-really-a-gateway-drug/">dismissed</a> the notion that cannabis in any way primes the brain toward experimentation with other illicit substances.</p><p>“There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other drugs,” authors of the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine <a href="http://www.nap.edu/catalog/6376/marijuana-and-medicine-assessing-the-science-base">concluded</a> nearly two decades ago. Shortly thereafter, a report issued by the RAND Corporation, titled "Reassessing the Marijuana Gateway Effect,” <a href="http://www.rand.org/pubs/external_publications/EP20021208.html">affirmed</a>, “[M]arijuana has no causal influence over hard drug initiation.” Authors <a href="http://norml.org/news/2002/12/03/marijuana-not-a-gateway-to-hard-drug-use-rand-study-saysconclusions-raise-serious-doubts-regarding-the-legitimacy-of-us-drug-policy">concluded</a>: "While the gateway theory has enjoyed popular acceptance, scientists have always had their doubts. Our study shows that these doubts are justified."</p><p>Despite the recent rise in adult use of marijuana in past years, nationwide use of most other illicit substances, particularly <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.12738/abstract">cocaine</a>, has fallen dramatically. Moreover, surveys of legal cannabis consumers now consistently report that they substitute pot in place of other psychoactive substances, specifically <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/10/08/study-patients-substitute-cannabis-for-booze-prescription-drugs">alcohol</a> and prescription pharmaceuticals like <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/03/12/study-majority-of-medical-marijuana-patients-substitute-cannabis-for-prescription-drugs">opioids</a> – behavior that indicates the herb is more often than not consumed as an exit drug rather than a gateway to substance abuse. Recent <a href="http://reset.me/study/study-kicking-the-opiate-habit-with-cannabis/">studies</a> show that cannabis is associated with more favorable outcomes among opioid-dependent people seeking outpatient treatment. Additionally, states that permit patient use and access to medicinal marijuana report lower rates of <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w21345">opiate abuse</a> and <a href="http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1898878">mortality</a> as compared to states that continue to prohibit the plant.</p><p>As for the longstanding belief that cannabis use sequentially precedes the use of other illicit substances, newly published research refutes this claim as well. Writing this month in the <em>Journal of School Health</em>, investigators at Texas A&amp;M University and the University of Florida, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/06/the-real-gateway-drug-thats-everywhere-and-legal/">reported</a> that the use of alcohol and tobacco typically precedes cannabis exposure in polydrug consuming subjects. The <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26645418">study</a> concludes, “[A]lcohol was the most widely used substance among respondents, initiated earliest, and also the first substance most commonly used in the progression of substance use.”</p><p>But don’t expect these latest findings to sway the rhetoric spewed by pot-hating pols like Christie and Schultz. As governor, Christie signed legislation to <a href="http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2013/08/new_jersey_distilled_gov_chris_christie_signs_craft_distillery_bill_into_law.html">stimulate</a> increased hard liquor production in the Garden State, which is also <a href="http://www.state.nj.us/njbusiness/industry/pharmaceutical/">home</a> to 14 of the world’s 20 largest pharmaceutical companies. Similarly, the DNC chair is no stranger to coddling up to Big Booze. Presently, representatives of the beer and wine industry rank as the <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?cid=N00026106">fifth</a> largest donor to Wasserman-Schultz’s re-election campaign. Until leading politicians wean themselves off booze, expect them to keep maligning pot.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1048907'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1048907" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 13 Jan 2016 14:45:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1048907 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics marijuana gateway drug chris christie debbie wasserman schultz Study: Cannabis Use Not Predictive Of Lower IQ, Poorer Educational Performance http://www.alternet.org/drugs/study-cannabis-use-not-predictive-lower-iq-poorer-educational-performance <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1048827'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1048827" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">By contrast, teen cigarette smoking was associated with poorer educational outcomes.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_162873131-edited.jpg?itok=ZpeVkf4Q" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Marijuana use by adolescents is not associated with lower IQ or poorer educational performance once adjustments are made for potential confounders, specifically cigarette smoking, according to longitudinal <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26739345">data</a> published online ahead of print in the <em>Journal of Psychopharmacology</em>.</p><p>British investigators assessed the relationship between cumulative cannabis use and IQ at the age of 15 and educational performance at the age of 16 in a cohort of 2,235 adolescents.</p><p>After researchers adjusted for potentially confounding variables, such as childhood depression and cigarette use, they reported, “[T]hose who had used cannabis [greater than or equal to] 50 times did not differ from never-users on either IQ or educational performance.”</p><p>By contrast, teen cigarette smoking was associated with poorer educational outcomes even after researchers adjusted for other confounding variables.</p><p>Researchers concluded, “In summary, the notion that cannabis use itself is causally related to lower IQ and poorer educational performance was not supported in this large teenage sample.”</p><p>A <a href="http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2014/jul/27/ruth-marcus/marcus-if-tee-use-marijuana-regularly-the-drop-8-i/">widely publicized</a> New Zealand <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/109/40/E2657.abstract">study</a> published in 2012 in <em>The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</em> reported that frequent use of cannabis by those under the age of 18 was associated with lower IQ by age 38. However, a <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/110/11/4251">separate review of the data</a> published later in the same journal suggested that the changes were likely the result of socioeconomic differences, not cannabis use.</p><p>More recently, the results of a <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871615016580">2015 study</a> in the journal <em>Drug and Alcohol Dependence</em> reported that the effects of persistent adolescent cannabis use on academic performance “became non-significant after controlling for persistent alcohol and tobacco use.”</p><p><em>Full text of the study, “Are IQ and educational outcomes in teenagers related to their cannabis use? A prospective cohort study,” appears online <a href="http://intl-jop.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/01/06/0269881115622241.full">here</a>.</em></p><p><em>This article originally appeared in <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2016/01/12/study-cannabis-use-not-predictive-of-lower-iq-poorer-educational-performance/">NORML</a> blog.</em></p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1048827'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1048827" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 11:36:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1048827 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Education cannabis education iq intelligence marijuana What Are the Risks of Marijuana Smoke, Compared to Tobacco? http://www.alternet.org/drugs/what-are-risks-marijuana-smoke-compared-tobacco <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">All smoke is not created equal. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/903450bdaeaca6e45f4c6391a8308e71b2a10e22.jpg?itok=hkS46nGV" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Long-term exposure to tobacco smoke is demonstrably harmful to health. According to the United States Center for Disease Control, tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and chronic exposure to tobacco smoke is linked to increased incidences of cancer as well as vascular disease. Inhaling tobacco smoke is also associated with a variety of adverse pulmonary effects, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). </p><p>Does smoking cannabis pose similar dangers to lung health? According to a number of recent scientific findings, marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke vary considerably in their health effects. So then why are lawmakers in various states, such a Minnesota and New York, imposing new restrictions explicitly prohibiting the inhalation of herbal preparations of cannabis? </p><p><strong>Marijuana Smoke vs. Tobacco Smoke</strong></p><p>Writing in the Harm Reduction Journal in 2005, noted cannabis researcher Robert Melamede <a href="http://www.harmreductionjournal.com/content/2/1/21">explained</a>that although tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke have some similar chemical properties, the two substances possess different pharmacological activities and are not equally carcinogenic. Specifically, he affirmed that marijuana smoke contains multiple cannabinoids – many of which possess <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14570037">anti-cancer activity</a> – and therefore likely exerts “a protective effect against pro-carcinogens that require activation.” Melamede concluded, “Components of cannabis smoke minimize some carcinogenic pathways whereas tobacco smoke enhances some.”<br /><br /><strong>Marijuana Smoke and Cancer</strong></p><p>Consequently, studies have so far failed to identify an association between cannabis smoke exposure and elevated risks of smoking-related cancers, such as cancers of the lung and neck. In fact, the largest case-controlled <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17035389">study</a> ever to investigate the respiratory effects of marijuana smoking reported that cannabis use was not associated with lung-related cancers, even among subjects who reported smoking more than 22,000 joints over their lifetime. Summarizing the study’s findings in The Washington Post, pulmonologist Dr. Donald Tashkin, Professor Emeritus at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/25/AR2006052501729.html">concluded</a>: “We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use. What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect.”</p><p>A <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24947688">meta-analysis</a> of additional case-control studies, published in the International Journal of Cancer in 2014, similarly reported, “Results from our pooled analyses provide little evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer among habitual or long-term cannabis smokers,” while a 2009 Brown University <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812803/">study</a>determined that those who had a history of marijuana smoking possessed a significantly decreased risk of head and neck cancers as compared to those subjects who did not. </p><p><strong>Marijuana Smoke and Pulmonary Function</strong></p><p>According to a 2015 <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25521349">study</a> conducted at Emory University in Atlanta, the inhalation of cannabis smoke, even over extended periods of time, is not associated with detrimental effects on pulmonary function, such as forced expiratory volume (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FCV). Assessing marijuana smoke exposure and lung health in a large representative sample of U.S. adults, age 18 to 59, they maintained, “The pattern of marijuana’s effects seems to be distinctly different when compared to that of tobacco use.” Subjects had inhaled the equivalent of one marijuana cigarette per day for 20 years, yet did not experience FEV1 decline or deleterious change in spirometric values of small airways disease. </p><p><strong>Marijuana Smoke and COPD</strong></p><p>While tobacco smoking is recognized as a major risk factor for the development of COPD – a chronic inflammation of the airways that may ultimately result in premature death – marijuana smoke exposure (absent concurrent tobacco smoke exposure) appears to present little COPD risk. In 2013, McGill University professor and physician Mark Ware <a href="http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1513/AnnalsATS.201302-034ED#.VMm6OCjnCB8">wrote</a> in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society: “Cannabis smoking does not seem to increase risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or airway cancers… Efforts to develop cleaner cannabinoid delivery systems can and should continue, but at least for now, (those) who smoke small amounts of cannabis for medical or recreational purposes can breathe a little bit easier.”</p><p><strong>Mitigating Marijuana Smoke Exposure</strong></p><p>The use of a water-pipe filtration system primarily cools cannabis smoke, which may reduce throat irritation and cough. However, this technology is not particularly efficient at eliminating the potentially toxic byproducts of combustion or other potential lung irritants.</p><p>By contrast, vaporization heats herbal cannabis to a point where cannabinoid vapors form, but below the point of combustion – thereby reducing the intake of combustive smoke or other pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and tar. Observational studies show that vaporization allows consumers to experience the rapid onset of effect while <a href="http://www.harmreductionjournal.com/content/4/1/11/abstract">avoiding</a> many of the associated respiratory hazards associated with smoking – such as <a href="http://norml.org/news/2007/02/15/minor-respiratory-complications-no-decrease-in-pulmonary-function-associated-with-long-term-marijuana-smoking-study-says">coughing, wheezing, or chronic bronchitis</a>. Clinical trials also report that vaporization results in the delivery of <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17429350">higher plasma concentrations</a> of THC (and likely other cannabinoids) compared to smoked cannabis. As a result, the authors affiliated with the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research and elsewhere now acknowledge that vaporizers provide a <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17429350">“safe and effective”</a> way to for consumers to inhale herbal cannabis. </p><p><strong>The Bottom Line</strong></p><p>Based on this scientific record, it makes little sense for lawmakers to impose legislative bans on herbal cannabis products, such as those that presently exist for patients in <a href="http://norml.org/legal/item/minnesota-medical-marijuana-law?category_id=835">Minnesota</a> and <a href="http://norml.org/legal/item/new-york-medical-marijuana-law?category_id=835">New York</a> and which are now being proposed in several other states (e.g., <a href="http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=18058">Georgia</a> and <a href="http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15933">Pennsylvania</a>). Oral cannabis preparations, such as capsules and edibles, possess <a href="http://norml.org/aboutmarijuana/marijuana-a-primer">delayed onset</a> compared to inhaled herbal cannabis, making these options less suitable for patients desiring rapid symptomatic relief. Further, oral administration of cannabis-infused products is associated with significantly greater bioavailability than is inhalation – resulting in more pronounced variation in drug effect from dose to dose (even in cases where the dose is standardized). These restrictions unnecessarily limit patients’ choices and deny them the ability to obtain rapid relief from whole-plant cannabis in a manner that has long proven to be relatively safe and effective.</p> Fri, 08 Jan 2016 07:06:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, NORML 1048612 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs drugs pot weed tobacco health People Don't Mix Alcohol & Marijuana as Often as You Might Think http://www.alternet.org/drugs/people-dont-mix-alcohol-marijuana-often-you-might-think <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">New data upends a common assumption.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_126159383.jpg?itok=zMlaGreU" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Marijuana consumers do not typically use cannabis and alcohol in combination with one another, regardless of whether they are consuming cannabis for medicinal or social purposes, according to <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26687431">data</a> published online ahead of print in the journal Addiction.</p><p>Investigators with the RAND Drug Policy Research Center and the University of California, Irvine surveyed marijuana use patterns among participants between the ages of 18 and 91 in four states: Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. (The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is legal in New Mexico, while laws in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington permit adults to possess and purchase cannabis for both medicinal and/or recreational purposes.)</p><p>Authors reported, ”Individuals who use cannabis do not commonly use it with alcohol, irrespective of whether they are consuming cannabis recreationally or medically.” They concluded, “Fewer than one in five recreational users report simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis most or all of the time and less than three of medicinal users report frequent simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis.”</p><p>Although <a href="http://norml.org/news/2014/02/20/cannabis-may-be-a-substitute-for-alcohol-study-says">some studies</a> indicate that cannabis can be a potential substitute for the use of alcohol, <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acer.12942/abstract">others</a> have implied that the two substances may be complementary.</p><p>An abstract of the study, “A baseline view of cannabis use among legalizing states and their neighbors,” appears online <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26687431">here</a>.</p><p>- See more at: <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2016/01/04/study-consumers-infrequently-combine-marijuana-and-alcohol/#sthash.HeMX4U6J.dpuf">http://blog.norml.org/2016/01/04/study-consumers-infrequently-combine-ma...</a></p> Mon, 04 Jan 2016 11:24:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, NORML Stash Blog 1048386 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs pot weed alcohol. Report: Criminal Justice Referrals Still Driving Marijuana ‘Treatment’ Admissions http://www.alternet.org/drugs/report-criminal-justice-referrals-driving-marijuana-treatment-admissions <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Drug treatment beds are a scarce resource. Why are judges filling them with pot smokers?</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_law.jpg?itok=YtPTcRQp" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Over <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/12/14/courts-are-forcing-marijuana-users-to-get-drug-treatment-they-probably-dont-need/">half</a> of all people admitted to drug treatment programs for marijuana-related issues over the past decade were referred there by a criminal justice source, according to a <a href="http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/2003_2013_TEDS_National/2003_2013_Treatment_Episode_Data_Set_National.pdf">report</a> published this month by the US Department of Health and Human Services.</p><p>In the years 2003 through 2013, 52 percent of people in drug treatment for marijuana as their ‘primary substance of abuse’ were referred by the criminal justice system. Of those, almost half (44 percent) entered treatment as a component of their probation or parole.</p><p>Only 18 percent of marijuana treatment admissions were based upon self-referrals. Primary marijuana admissions were less likely than all other drug-related admissions combined to have been self- or individually referred to treatment.</p><p>The data mirrors those of <a href="http://norml.org/news/2010/05/27/criminal-justice-referrals-driving-marijuana-treatment-admissions-federal-report-finds">previous federal reports</a> finding that only a small percentage of those entering treatment for marijuana perceive that they are abusing cannabis or have even used the substance recently.</p><p>- See more at: <a href="http://blog.norml.org/#sthash.6jA0sJiF.dpuf">http://blog.norml.org/#sthash.6jA0sJiF.dpuf</a></p><p> </p> Thu, 17 Dec 2015 11:04:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, NORML 1047533 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health addiction treatment drug treatment marijuana criminal justice parole probation Is There a Link Between Consuming Marijuana and Decreased Obesity Rates? New Study Shows a Connection http://www.alternet.org/drugs/there-link-between-consuming-marijuana-and-decreased-obesity-rates-new-study-shows-connection <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Investigators reviewed twelve years of data from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_126159383.jpg?itok=zMlaGreU" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The enactment of statewide laws permitting the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes is associated with an annual reduction in obesity-related medical costs, according to <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hec.3267/abstract">data</a> published online ahead of print in the journal <em>Health Economics</em>.</p><p>Investigators at Cornell University in New York and San Diego State University in California reviewed twelve years of data from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to examine the effects of medical marijuana laws on body weight, physical wellness, and exercise.</p><p>Researchers reported, “[T]he enforcement of MMLs (medical marijuana laws) is associated with a 2% to 6% decline in the probability of obesity. … Our estimates suggest that MMLs induce a $58 to $115 per-person annual reduction in obesity-related medical costs.”</p><p>For those age 35 or older, authors determined that the passage of medical cannabis laws is “associated with an increase in physical wellness and frequent exercise consistent with the hypothesis of some medicinal use of marijuana.” For younger adults, researchers theorized that obesity declines were the result of less alcohol use.</p><p>They concluded, “These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that MMLs may be more likely to induce marijuana use for health-related reasons among older individuals, and cause substitution toward lower-calorie recreational ‘highs’ among younger individuals.”</p><p>The findings are similar to those of other recent observational studies, such as those <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/08/13/study-cannabis-users-less-likely-to-be-obese-possess-lower-diabetes-risk">here</a> and <a href="http://norml.org/news/2011/09/01/frequency-of-marijuana-use-associated-with-lower-prevalence-of-obesity-study-says">here</a>, concluding that cannabis use is associated with reduced body mass index and obesity.</p><p><em>The abstract of the study, “The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Body Weight,” appears online <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hec.3267/abstract">here</a>.</em></p><p> </p> Thu, 03 Dec 2015 05:59:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, NORML 1046703 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health medical marijuana cannabis marijuana legalization obesity Study: Marijuana Consumers Less Likely To Suffer From Metabolic Syndrome http://www.alternet.org/drugs/study-marijuana-consumers-less-suffer-metabolic-syndrome <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1045875'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1045875" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Pot smokers have a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_smoke_0.jpg?itok=nwW84ae9" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Current consumers of cannabis are 50 percent less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome as compared to those who have never used the substance, according to findings published online ahead of print in The American Journal of Medicine. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat, which are linked to increased risk of heart disease and/or type 2 diabetes, among other serious health consequences.</p><p>Investigators from the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine analyzed the association between cannabis use and metabolic syndrome in a cohort of nearly 8,500 subjects aged 20 to 59 who participated in the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Researchers classified subjects as suffering from metabolic syndrome if they possessed more than three of the following symptoms: elevated fasting glucose levels, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, elevated systolic/diastolic blood pressure, and increased waist circumference.</p><p>Among subjects with no history of cannabis use, 19.5 percent met the criteria for metabolic syndrome. By contrast, 17.5 percent of former users and only 13.8 percent of current users met the criteria.</p><p>“Among emerging adults, current marijuana users were 54 percent less likely than never users to present with metabolic syndrome,” investigators reported. Specifically, mean fasting glucose levels were significantly lower among current marijuana users when compared to never users, while waist circumference was significantly lower among males who reported current marijuana use when compared to those with no cannabis use history.</p><p>“These findings have important implications for the nation as marijuana use becomes more accepted and we simultaneously face multiple epidemics of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” authors concluded.</p><p>The findings are consistent with those of previous observational studies showing <a href="http://norml.org/library/item/diabetes-mellitus">an inverse relationship between cannabis use and diabetic markers</a>, and support previous population data showing that those who use cannabis typically possess <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21868374">smaller waist circumference</a> and <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.20973/abstract">lower body mass index</a> than those who do not.</p><p><em>An abstract of the study, “Metabolic Syndrome among Marijuana Users in the United States: An Analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Data,” is online <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26548604">here</a>.</em></p><p>- See more at: <a href="http://blog.norml.org/#sthash.F6ouyOMd.dpuf">http://blog.norml.org/#sthash.F6ouyOMd.dpuf</a></p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1045875'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1045875" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 10:22:00 -0800 Paul Armentano, AlterNet 1045875 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health marijuana metabolic syndrome high blood pressure high blood sugar Super Majorities Now Support Medical Pot in States Across America http://www.alternet.org/drugs/swing-states-super-majorities-endorse-medical-cannabis-access <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">New polls show strong support for marijuana in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania ahead of next year&#039;s national elections. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_21.jpg?itok=S7KDzQ51" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Super-majorities of voters believe that medical cannabis should be legal, and most men additionally support legalizing marijuana for all adults, according to the results of a Quinnipiac University Swing State <a href="http://www.quinnipiac.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/2016-presidential-swing-state-polls/release-detail?ReleaseID=2288">poll</a>.</p><p>Pollsters gauged support for marijuana law reform in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.</p><p>Florida voters backed legalizing cannabis therapy by a margin of 87 percent to 12 percent. A majority of male voters (57 percent) also supported broader legalization, while only 49 percent of women agreed.</p><p>Reform advocates are presently gathering signatures for a pair of potential ballot drives in 2016. The first, backed by <a href="http://www.unitedforcare.org/">United For Care</a>, seeks to permit the physician-authorized use of cannabis. The second effort, sponsored by <a href="http://www.regulateflorida.com/">Regulate Florida</a> and <a href="http://www.normlfl.org/norml/">NORML of Florida</a>, seeks to regulate the plant’s production, consumption, and sales to adults.</p><p>A 2014 amendment that sought to permit cannabis therapy garnered 58 percent of vote — <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2014/11/04/surge-of-young-voters-in-florida-points-to-the-political-power-of-pot/">two percent shy</a> of the threshold necessary for passage in Florida.</p><p>Ninety percent of Ohio voters say that marijuana should be legal for medicinal purposes. Fifty-nine percent of male voters additionally backed legalizing the plant for social use versus only 47 percent of female voters.</p><p>Ohio voters will decide this November on a proposed ballot measure (<a href="http://yeson3ohio.com/about/">Issue 3, the Marijuana Legalization Amendment</a>) to regulate the state-licensed production and sale of cannabis for both medical and retail purposes. The measure also permits adults to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis (up to four plants yielding no more than 8 ounces of usable product at any one time) at home. State lawmakers opposed to the plan have <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/08/20/ohio-measure-to-regulate-retail-cannabis-sales-qualifies-for-november-ballot">placed a competing measure</a>, Issue 2, on the November ballot that seeks to prohibit state regulators from permitting the limited production of “any Schedule I controlled substance.” If voters approved both measures, Issue 2 states that the “entire proposed constitutional [marijuana] amendment shall not take effect.”</p><p>In Pennsylvania, 90 percent of voters back medicalizing marijuana. Fifty-two percent of men also support legalization, versus 43 percent of women voters.</p><p>Senate lawmakers this year <a href="http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15933">approved compromised medical marijuana legislation</a>, but the measure remains stalled in the House. Separate senate legislation, <a href="http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15824">Senate Bill 528</a>, to permit the adult possession and retail sale of marijuana has not yet been heard by lawmakers.</p><p>- See more at: <a href="http://blog.norml.org/#sthash.u0p3LiSG.dpuf">http://blog.norml.org/#sthash.u0p3LiSG.dpuf</a></p><p> </p> Thu, 15 Oct 2015 11:30:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, NORML 1044148 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Activism Drugs News & Politics Personal Health marijuana legalization medical marijuana ohio pennsylvania florida 5 of the Latest Marijuana Studies That Upend Decades of Myths and Fearmongering http://www.alternet.org/drugs/latest-cannabis-science-you-need-know <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Reefer Madness-style propaganda is so last century. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/topstories_cannabisleaf460x276.jpg?itok=FAqi3diw" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Scientific discoveries are published almost daily <a href="http://www.alternet.org/drugs/latest-cannabis-science-need-know">rebuking</a> the federal government’s contention that cannabis is a highly dangerous substance lacking therapeutic efficacy. But most of these findings appear primarily in obscure, peer-reviewed journals and often go unnoticed by the major media and the general public. Here are five new cannabis-centric studies that warrant mainstream attention. </p><p><strong>Early Onset Pot Use Isn’t Associated With Adverse Outcomes in Adulthood</strong></p><p>Kids who experiment with weed are far less likely than non-users to be healthy and successful adults. So says the conventional wisdom. But new science says otherwise. Investigators from the Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Rutgers University <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871615016257">prospectively examined</a> whether male subjects who consumed cannabis between the ages of 15 and 26 differed in terms of socioeconomic, social, and life satisfaction outcomes by their mid-30s as compared to those who were either abstinent or only consumed it sparingly. After controlling for potential confounders, such as the use of alcohol and other illicit substances, researchers reported that pot consuming subjects– including those who used the substance habitually – were generally “not at a heightened risk for maladjustment in adulthood.”</p><p><a href="http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/adb-adb0000103.pdf">A separate evaluation</a> of this same cohort published in August in the journal <em>Psychology of Addictive Behaviors</em> reported that younger pot smokers were no more likely than their non-smoking peers to experience physical or mental health issues later in life. The finding defied researchers’ presumptions, as they acknowledged that their motivation for conducting the study was to "provide empirical evidence regarding the potential adverse consequences of marijuana legalization."</p><p><strong>Providing Medical Cannabis Access Reduces Opioid Abuses</strong></p><p>Is legalized pot a gateway to fewer opioid-related deaths? The data says ‘yes.’ According to <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w21345">findings</a> published in July by the National Bureau of Economic Research – a non-partisan think-tank -- states that permit qualified patients to access medical marijuana via dispensaries possess lower rates of opioid addiction and overdose deaths as compared to those that do not.</p><p>Researchers from the RAND Corporation and the University of California, Irvine assessed the impact of medicinal cannabis laws on problematic opioid use, as measured by treatment admissions for opioid pain reliever addiction and by state-level opioid overdose deaths. They concluded, "[S]tates permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.”</p><p>The findings were not the first time that researchers have reported a relationship between increased medi-pot access and decreased opioid deaths. Research published in the <em>Journal of the American Medical Association</em> in 2014 also <a href="http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1898878">concluded</a>, "States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws." </p><p><strong>Pot Is a Frequent Substitute For Alcohol, Other Drugs</strong></p><p>Legalized pot isn’t just associated with the less frequent use of opiates. Data published this month in the journal <em>Drug and Alcohol Review</em> also reports that most people who consume weed also report reducing their use of alcohol, as well as their consumption of other licit and illicit drugs. “Substituting cannabis for one or more of alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription drugs was reported by 87 percent of respondents” in the cohort, <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dar.12323/abstract">Canadian researchers reported</a>,  “with 80.3 percent reporting substitution for prescription drugs, 51.7 percent for alcohol, and 32.6 percent for illicit substances.” Rates of substitution were highest among respondents between the ages of 18 and 40.</p><p>Authors concluded, “The finding that cannabis was substituted for alcohol and illicit substances suggests that the medical use of cannabis may play a harm reduction role in the context of use of these substances, and could have implications for substance use treatment approaches requiring abstinence from cannabis in the process of reducing the use of other substances.”</p><p><strong>Forget ‘The Munchies’ – Pot Consumers Are Less Likely to Be Obese</strong></p><p>Smoking pot may stimulate appetite, but it isn’t likely to make you fat. That’s the conclusion of a recent study published in journal <em>Obesity</em>.</p><p>Investigators from the Conference of Quebec University Health Centers assessed cannabis use patterns and body mass index (BMI) in a cohort of 786 Inuit (Arctic aboriginal) adults ages 18 to 74. Researchers reported that cannabis users possessed an average BMI of 26.8 compared to an index of 28.6 for non-users, after controlling for age, gender and other factors. Investigators further discovered that pot users possessed fewer diabetic markers than non-users. They concluded: “In this large cross-sectional adult survey with high prevalence of both substance use and obesity, cannabis use in the past year was associated with lower BMI, lower percentage fat mass, lower fasting insulin, and HOMA-IR (insulin resistance). ... [C]annabinoids from cannabis may be viewed as an interesting avenue for research on obesity and associated conditions."</p><p>While these latest findings run counter to stoner stereotypes, they are hardly novel. Observational trial data published in 2012 in the<em> British Medical Journal </em><a href="http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000494.full">reported</a> that marijuana users possessed a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes and possessed a lower risk of contracting the disease than did those with no history of cannabis consumption, even after researchers adjusted for social variables such as subjects' ethnicity, family history, and levels of physical activity. Additionally, cross-sectional data published in 2011 in the <em>American Journal of Epidemiology</em> <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21868374">similarly reported</a> that the prevalence of obesity in the general population is sharply lower among those who consume the herb compared to those who do not.</p><p><strong>Despite Legalization, Teens Aren’t Using More Pot (But They Are Consuming Far Less Alcohol and Tobacco)</strong></p><p>Proponents of pot prohibition repeatedly claim that liberalizing marijuana laws will increase young people’s use of the substance. And when the data refutes their claims – and it has <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150915141045.htm">time</a> after <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanpsy/PIIS2215-0366(15)00217-5.pdf">time</a> – they <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/09/12/leading-anti-marijuana-group-gets-its-facts-wrong/">simply lie</a> about it.</p><p>Nonetheless, the evidence is clear. According to the federal government’s own 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health <a href="http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf">report</a>, current use of marijuana by those between the ages of 12 to 17 has remained largely unchanged over the past decade, while young people's self-reported consumption of alcohol and cigarettes has fallen to record lows.</p><p>Specifically, the percentage of respondents ages 12 to 17 who reported past-month use of marijuana remained steady from 7.6 percent in 2004 to 7.4 percent in 2014. By contrast, teens' use of tobacco, cigarettes, and alcohol fell dramatically during this same period. Over the past ten years, adolescents' use of tobacco fell from 14.4 percent to 7 percent, their use of cigarettes fell from 11.9 percent to 4.9 percent, and their use of alcohol fell from 17.6 percent to 11.5 percent. Binge drinking by young people fell from 11.1 percent in 2004 to 6.1 percent in 2014.</p><p>Separate data published by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.3109/00952990.2015.1049493">further reports</a> that a greater proportion of younger adolescents are now acknowledging “strong disapproval” of marijuana use.</p><p>In short, more teens <em>are</em> not turning to pot. But they are turning away from more dangerous substances like alcohol and tobacco like never before.</p><p> </p> Mon, 21 Sep 2015 11:23:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, NORML 1042764 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health marijuana cannabis diabetes obesity teens smoking alcohol Republican Presidential Candidates Engage In A Serious Discussion About Marijuana Policy — It’s A Start http://www.alternet.org/drugs/republican-presidential-candidates-engage-serious-discussion-marijuana-policy <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">You know that times have changed when the GOP is split on pot. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/cannabis_0.jpg?itok=pn3oGgVR" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The federal government ought not to interfere with state laws legalizing and regulating the use and distribution of marijuana, according to several Republican Presidential candidates <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2015/09/16/reefer-and-republican-debate/">who spoke on the issue</a> during tonight’s Presidential debate.</p><p>Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and business executive Carly Fiorina weighed in the issue. Consistent with previous statements, candidates Bush, Fiorina, and Paul expressed support for allowing states to move forward with marijuana policies that are divergent from federal prohibition — with Sen. Paul speaking most strongly in support of states’ authority to explore legalization alternatives. Senator Paul also spoke of the need for Congress to enact the <a href="http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15905">The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act</a> to strengthen statewide medical marijuana protections and impose various changes to federal law.</p><p>By contrast, Gov. Christie <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/14/chris-christie-marijuana_n_7066636.html">reaffirmed</a> his desire to use the power of the federal government to override state-approved laws legalizing the retail production and sale of cannabis, which he called a “gateway drug.” Governor Christie implied that he would not take such action in states that have regulated the use of medicinal cannabis, such as in his home state of New Jersey.</p><p>Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who <a href="http://www.theweedblog.com/marco-rubio-wants-to-roll-back-marijuana-legalization/">shares</a> Gov. Christie’s position, did not comment.</p><p>The fact that the majority of candidates who spoke on the issue expressed support for the sanctity of state marijuana laws is hardly surprising. According to the most recent Pew <a href="http://www.people-press.org/2015/04/14/in-debate-over-legalizing-marijuana-disagreement-over-drugs-dangers/">poll</a>, an estimated 60 percent of Americans agree that the government “should not enforce federal marijuana laws in states that allow use.” State-specific surveys from early primary states, including <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/08/27/gop-voters-in-early-primary-states-oppose-federal-interference-in-state-marijuana-laws">Iowa</a>, <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/08/27/gop-voters-in-early-primary-states-oppose-federal-interference-in-state-marijuana-laws">New Hampshire</a>, and <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2015/09/10/poll-south-carolina-voters-oppose-federal-interference-in-state-marijuana-laws/">South Carolina</a>, report even greater voter sentiment in favor of this position.</p><p>But while it is encouraging to see some, though not all, Republican candidates deferring to the principles of federalism in regard to the rising tide of public support in favor of marijuana law reform, far too many politicians in both parties continue to deny the reality that public and scientific opinion are in direct conflict with federal marijuana policy. In the 2016 Presidential race, it is inherent that the candidates from both political parties recognize that advocating for marijuana law reform is a political opportunity, not a political liability.</p><p><a href="http://norml.org/library/national-legalization-poll">National polls</a> now consistently show that majorities of voters — particularly male voters, Democrat voters, and younger (Millennial) voters — embrace ending cannabis criminalization altogether, and replacing it with a system of legalization and regulation. Yet, to date, no leading candidate from either political party has embraced this broader position. That is unfortunate. In the past Presidential election, marijuana legalization ballot measures in Colorado and Washington proved to be more popular at the polls than either Presidential candidate. The 2016 Presidential hopefuls ought to be more concerned with positioning themselves to be on the right side of history than on trying to appease a vocal minority that is woefully out of touch with both changing public and scientific opinion.</p> Wed, 16 Sep 2015 22:49:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, NORML 1042526 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics presidential debate gop republicans marijuana marijuana policy Two Major Studies Blast Apart Decades of Lies About Marijuana and Teenage Brains http://www.alternet.org/drugs/two-major-studies-blast-apart-decades-lies-about-marijuana-and-teenage-brains <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Two new JAMA studies largely fail to support past claims about marijuana and brain health.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/teensmokingpot.jpg?itok=54RmRlFJ" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Two new studies published online today in <em>JAMA</em> (Journal of the American Medical Association) <em>Psychiatry</em> <a href="http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/mixed-findings-on-pot-s-effect-on-the-developing-brain-702662.html">provide little support for previous claims</a> that cannabis exposure is significantly harmful to the developing brain.</p><p>The first <a href="http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2429550">study</a>, which assessed the effects of cannabis exposure on brain volume in exposed and unexposed sibling pairs, reported that any identifiable differences “were attributable to common predispositional factors, genetic or environmental in origin.” By contrast, authors found “no evidence for the causal influence of cannabis exposure” on brain morphology.</p><p>The trial is “the largest study to date examining the association between cannabis exposure (ever versus never used) and brain volumes.”</p><p>The study is one of two recent clinical trials to be published in recent months rebutting the claims of a widely publicized <a href="http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2014/04/casual-marijuana-use-linked-to-brain-abnormalities-in-students.html">2014 paper</a> which alleged that even casual marijuana exposure may be linked to brain abnormalities, particularly in the region of the brain known as the amygdala. In January, researchers writing in <em>The Journal of Neuroscience</em> <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/02/19/study-marijuana-use-not-associated-with-previously-reported-changes-in-brain-morphology">reported</a> “no statistically significant differences … between daily [marijuana] users and nonusers on [brain] volume or shape in the regions of interest” after researchers controlled for participants’ use of alcohol. Similarly, today’s <em>JAMA</em> study “casts considerable doubt on hypotheses that cannabis use … causes reductions in amygdala volumes.”</p><p>A second <a href="http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2429551">study</a> appearing today in the journal assessed whether cannabis use during adolescence is associated with brain changes that may be linked to an increased risk of schizophrenia. While researchers reported finding an association among male subjects who possessed a high genetic predisposition toward schizophrenia, authors reported that no such association existed among male subjects who were at low risk for the disease, or among females in either the high risk or low risk categories. The finding is <a href="http://norml.org/component/zoo/category/cannabis-mental-health-and-context-the-case-for-regulation">consistent with the theory</a> that early onset cannabis use may potentially exacerbate symptoms in a minority of subjects predisposed to the disease, but it contradicts <a href="https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/michaela/pages/87/attachments/original/1439387754/ICSDP-charts_1.pdf?1439387754">claims</a> that marijuana exposure is a likely cause of schizophrenia, particularly among those who are not already vulnerable to the disease.<br /><br /><em>Abstracts of both new studies appear online in JAMA Psychiatry <a href="http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2429550">here</a> and <a href="http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2429551">here</a>.</em></p><p> </p><p> </p> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 14:11:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, NORML Stash Blog 1041506 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health marijuana brain jama teens So Much for the Munchies! Everything You Think You Knew About Pot And Weight Might Be Wrong http://www.alternet.org/drugs/so-much-munchies-everything-you-think-you-knew-about-pot-and-weight-might-be-wrong <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">This latest study is not the first to link cannabis use with lower incidences of obesity and diabetes.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/f20615b8edb17f5a18a860dfbf5c6b416d317c97_0.jpg?itok=AisFhXGO" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>So much for the munchies. Recently published data from Canada shows that a steady diet of cannabis is actually associated with smaller waistlines.</p><p>Quebec <a href="http://www.adn.com/article/20150714/study-arctic-canada-finds-cannabis-users-less-obese-and-less-risk-diabetes" target="_blank">researchers assessed</a> body mass indexes in a cohort of 786 Inuit (Arctic aboriginal) adults aged 18 to 74. Over half of the subjects in the sample (57.4 percent) reported having used cannabis within the past year. On average, those adults who consumed cannabis possessed a significantly lower body mass index (BMI: 26.8) as compared to those with no history of pot use (BMI: 28.6). Marijuana users also possessed lower percentages of body fat mass (25 percent) compared to non-users (28 percent).</p><p>In addition, pot smokers possessed lower fasting insulin levels compared to non-users—an indicator that they were at a lower risk for developing diabetes.</p><p>The <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.20973/abstract" target="_blank">researchers’ findings</a> appeared in the journal <em>Obesity</em>.</p><p>The study is not the first to link cannabis use with lower incidences of obesity and diabetes.</p><p>In 2011, French researchers analyzed data from a group of over 50,000 U.S. adults, finding: "The prevalence of <a href="http://norml.org/news/2011/09/01/frequency-of-marijuana-use-associated-with-lower-prevalence-of-obesity-study-says" target="_blank">obesity was significantly lower</a> in cannabis users than in nonusers.” Respondents who reported using the substance most often (three days per week or more) were least likely to be obese compared to those who reported no cannabis use in the past 12 months.</p><p>More recently, <a href="http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000494.full" target="_blank">data</a> published in the <em>British Medical Journal</em> in 2012 reported that adults with a history of marijuana use have a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes and possess a lower risk of contracting the disease than those with no history of consumption. This decreased risk remained present even after investigators adjusted for potentially confounding social variables (ethnicity, level of physical activity, etc.) and despite both users and non-users sharing a similar family history of the disease.</p><p>Researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston similarly determined that subjects who regularly consume pot possess favorable <a href="http://healthland.time.com/2013/05/21/marijuana-the-next-diabetes-drug/" target="_blank">indices related to diabetic control</a> as compared to occasional consumers or non-users of the substance.</p><p><a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130515085208.htm" target="_blank">Investigators reported</a>, "[S]ubjects who reported using marijuana in the past month had lower levels of fasting insulin and HOMA-IR [insulin resistance], as well as smaller waist circumference and higher levels of HDL-C [high-density lipoprotein or 'good' cholesterol]. These associations were not as strong among those who reported using marijuana at least once, but not in the past 30 days—suggesting that the impact of marijuana use on insulin and insulin resistance exists during periods of recent use."</p><p>This association between cannabis use and diabetes was again reaffirmed in a <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/05/21/study-cannabis-use-inversely-associated-with-diabetes">2015 meta-analysis</a> published in the journal <em>Epidemiology</em>, which concluded, “[T]here now is a more stable evidence base for new lines of clinical translational research on a possibly protective...cannabis smoking-diabetes mellitus association suggested in prior research.”</p> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 11:47:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, High Times 1040869 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health pot cannabis marijuana health diabetes obesity You'll Never Believe What Drug a Major Federal Health Official Called 'Safe' with 'No Addictive Effects' http://www.alternet.org/drugs/nida-head-calls-cannabidiol-safe-drug <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Shocking statement by the director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/medical_cannabis_drying.jpg?itok=hAR0u9Op" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Nora Volkow, believes that cannabidiol (CBD) – a nonpsychotropic cannabinoid – is “a safe drug with no addictive effects.” Volkow made the comments in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nora-volkow/cannabidiol_b_7834066.html">an op-ed</a> published by <em>The Huffington Post</em>.<br /><br />Volkow further acknowledged, “[P]reliminary data suggest that it may have therapeutic value for a number of medical conditions.”<br /><br />Preclinical studies have documented CBD to possess <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2008/10/09/is-there-anything-cbd-cant-do-then-why-is-it-illegal">a variety of therapeutic activities</a>, including anti-cancer properties, anti-diabetic properties, and <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/04/02/study-cbd-administration-enhances-skeletal-healing">bone-stimulating activity</a>. Clinical and observational trials have documented the substance to possess <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20829306">anxiolytic</a> , <a href="http://blog.norml.org/2013/12/16/study-cannabidiol-holds-promise-for-treating-psychosis">anti-psychotic</a>, and <a href="http://norml.org/news/2015/05/14/study-parents-report-cbd-extracts-reduce-seizures-in-children">anti-seizure activity in humans</a>. Safety trials have further concluded the substance to be “<a href="http://blog.norml.org/2012/09/05/study-non-psychotropic-cannabinoid-proven-to-be-safe-in-humans">safe and well tolerated</a>” when administered to healthy subjects.<br /><br />To date, <a href="http://norml.org/marijuana/medical">15 states</a> have enacted laws specifically permitting the possession of high-CBD formulated extracts for therapeutic purposes, primarily for the treatment of pediatric epilepsy.<br /><br />In a recent <em><a href="http://time.com/3958768/medical-marijuana-research">Time Magazine op-ed</a></em>, Democrat Sen. Diane Feinstein (CA) and Republican Sen. Charles Grassley (IA) encouraged the Obama administration to “definitively determine if CBD has scientific and medical benefits,” and to “look at expanding compassionate access programs where possible, to benefit as many children as possible.”<br /><br />Under federal law, CBD — like cannabis — is defined as a <a href="http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml">Schedule I  controlled substance</a> with “a high potential for abuse … no currently accepted medical use, … [and] a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug … under medical supervision.”</p><p> </p> Thu, 30 Jul 2015 10:50:00 -0700 Paul Armentano, NORML 1040154 at http://www.alternet.org Drugs Drugs News & Politics Personal Health cannabidiol CBD medical marijuana Dr. Nora Volkow nida