Category Archives: Research

research

Study Shows Long-Term Marijuana Does Not Cause Serious Lung Damage

A new study reports that long-term marijuana users have little to worry about in terms of lung damage.

Paul Armentano writes in Alternet:

The inhalation of one marijuana cigarette per day over a 20-year period is not associated with adverse changes in lung health, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Investigators at Emory University in Atlanta assessed lungsmarijuana smoke exposure and lung health in a large representative sample of US adults age 18 to 59. Researchers reported that cannabis exposure was not associated with FEV1 (forced expiratory volume) decline or deleterious change in spirometric values of small airways disease.

Authors further reported that marijuana smoke exposure may even be associated with some protective lung effects among long-term smokers of tobacco. Investigators acknowledged, “[T]he pattern of marijuana’s effects seems to be distinctly different when compared to that of tobacco use.”

Virginia Poll Shows Strong Support for Marijuana Policy Reform

 A strong majority of state voters support reforming Virginia marijuana laws, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday. The poll of 884 registered VirginiaVA seal voters was conducted January 2-4 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3%. The full results are available at http://www.mpp.org/VApoll.

Three out of five Virginians surveyed support removing criminal penalties for possessing up to an ounce of pot and three out of four back medical marijuana use for seriously or terminally ill patients, according to a survey released Tuesday by an advocacy group.

Forty-nine percent polled support legalizing marijuana for adults

“Most voters do not support laws that saddle people with criminal penalties just for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “These antiquated prohibition laws are causing far more problems than they solve.”

The survey by Public Policy Polling found that 60 percent of voters questioned say the criminal penalties for possession of up an an ounce should be replaced with a $100 fine with no possibility of jail time. The offense currently is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

The Virginia Senate this year is to consider making personal possession punishable only by a civil fine of $100.

Seventy-four percent of those polled backed the medical marijuana use for seriously and terminally ill patients. Sixty-four percent said they would be more likely to vote for a legislator who supported the change.

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.