Category Archives: Research

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Study Shows Decline In Teen Marijuana Use

A national survey released Tuesday found teen marijuana usage rates decreased from 2013 to 2014 — a period marked by heightened national debate regarding marijuana policy and implementation of the nation’s first marijuana legalization laws.

According to the annual Monitoring the Future Survey,mtflogo sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), rates of annual, monthly, and daily marijuana use dropped among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders. More details are available in the researchers’ press release.

Teens’ perception of ‘great risk’ in marijuana use also decreased among students in all three grades, contradicting the often-heard claim that public dialogue about the benefits of ending marijuana prohibition — including discussion of the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol and other substances — will result in more teens using marijuana.

In August, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that rates of current and lifetime marijuana use among the state’s high school students has dropped since marijuana became legal for adults. More information is available here.

There has been more public dialogue about marijuana over the past year than any 12-month period in history. States around the country are making marijuana legal for adults, establishing medical marijuana programs, and decriminalizing marijuana possession, and the sky is not falling. The debate is not resulting in more marijuana use among young people, but it is resulting in more sensible marijuana laws.

Majority of Wyoming Residents Support Medical Marijuana

A significant majority of Wyoming’s residents approve of making medical marijuana legal.

According to The Washington Post:

A University of Wyoming poll, which included 768 residents statewide, found 72 percent of the respondents to support marijuana use if it is recommended by a physician, while only 25 percent oppose it.

However, only 35 percent of the survey respondents favor legal, recreational use of the substance, while 60 percent are opposed to it.

KBZK.com reported:

Survey responses concerning recreational marijuana show a modest increase supporting adult marijuana use and consistency on the issue of medical marijuana use, said Jim King, University of Wyoming professor of political science and co-director of the survey.

“Our 2000 poll showed 23 percent approving legalization of marijuana in general, so, there has been a bit of a shift in public opinion on this aspect of the marijuana debate,” King stated. “On the other hand, the 2000 and 2014 surveys have the same proportion of Wyoming residents, 72 percent, accepting medical marijuana use.”

Although Wyoming residents do not support legalization of marijuana for personal use, they accept reduced penalties for those apprehended in possession of marijuana. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed, 62 percent, believe the penalty for marijuana possession should not include time in jail; 32 percent support jail sentences.

At the very least, a large portion of survey respondents have demonstrated their support for making medical marijuana legal, as well as reducing the criminal penalties associated with the possession of marijuana. As more and more states continue to adopt sensible marijuana policies, it seems likely that public opinion will continue to shift in a direction towards increased support for the adult use of marijuana.

Marijuana Legalization Could Improve Drug Education

In a recent article in Alternet, Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum of the Drug Policy Alliance suggested that not only will making marijuana legal for adults likely not lead to increased teen use, but could improve the methods and resources we use to educate them about drugs.

Many worry that legalization might “send the wrong message,” leading to an escalation in teenage use.

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Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum

As a federally funded researcher, I regularly check survey data and am reassured by the annual Monitoring the Future survey of high school students’ drug use, which found recently that a majority of teens say that even if marijuana was legal, they would not try it. Preliminary data from the post-legalization 2013 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey revealed that high school marijuana use in Colorado had actually decreased.

This has also been the case in states where medical marijuana is legal. Research published in prestigious journals such as the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of Adolescent Health generally show no association between medical marijuana laws and rates of teenage marijuana use. In California, where such laws have been in place for 18 years and are perhaps most lenient, marijuana use among teens is less prevalent now than before medical marijuana was legalized, according to the recent California Student Survey.

Even if legalization for adults does not affect teenage use, it does present an opportunity to re-think our approach to drug abuse prevention and education – both in school and at home.

It’s time to get realistic – to devise innovative, pragmatic strategies for dealing with teens, marijuana, alcohol, and other drug use in this new era.

You can find out more about Rosenbaum’s innovative approach to drug education here. 

Report Shows Arizona Could Gain $48 Million In Taxes Annually From Regulating Marijuana

According to a report acquired by the Phoenix New Times, Arizona stands to gain $48 million in tax revenue annually by regulating marijuana like alcohol:

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee produced a report in September on the estimated impact of legal marijuana, but didn’t release the data publicly. New Times obtained a copy of the report this morning.Arizona

Prepared in response to a legalization bill proposed earlier this year by a group of Democrats, the JLBC report shows that Arizona could enjoy a large boost in revenue for schools, health care and other services simply by taxing people who already use marijuana.

The Democrats’ bill would have made marijuana legal for adults 21 and older, and would have allowed the plant to be sold in retail shops with an added $50-per-ounce tax.

The bill died in committee back in April, but a similar measure could be revived when the legislature reconvenes in January. Whether or not lawmakers do anything, Arizona voters are likely to see a legalization initiative on the ballot in 2016. Coordinated by the Marijuana Policy Project, the initiative is still in the drafting stage but will almost certainly include a tax-collection scheme.

To learn more about MPP’s efforts in Arizona, make sure to sign up for email alerts.

Iowa Board of Pharmacy Delays Decision on the Reclassification of Medical Marijuana

After some members expressed reservations, the Iowa Pharmacy Board decided on Wednesday to delay its decision on marijuana’s drug classification until January.

A board subcommittee initially recommended that the entire board consider reclassifying the substance from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug. The recommendation was based on marijuana’s use for medical purposes, bolstered by a new law in Iowa that made the use of CBD oil, which is derived from the marijuana plant, legal for the treatment of children with epilepsy.

An Iowa Pharmacy Board member and pharmacist from Monona, Edward Maier, read the subcommittee’s recommendation:

“While the board believes that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, in 2014 the Iowa General Assembly passed the Medical Cannabinoid Act. The act permits the use of cannanbidiol for patients suffering from intractable epilepsy. The passage of this act is an affirmative recognition by the Iowa General Assembly that there is a medical use for marijuana. Continued placement for marijuana in Schedule I is not consistent with that act,” Maier said, reading directly from the recommendation.

Maier also emphasized that even if the Iowa Pharmacy Board decided to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II substance, the decision would not necessarily mean the de facto implementation of a medical marijuana law in Iowa. The move would also necessitate legislative and regulatory action.

In the end, however, the entire board voted unanimously to delay the decision until they are scheduled to meet again the first week of January.