Prohibition, Research

Alabama Lawmakers Considering Unscientific Marijuana DUID Bill

May 15th, 2015 2 Comments » Morgan Fox
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Sen. Arthur Orr (Photo: John Godbey/Decatur Daily)

In April, SB 162, introduced by Sen. Arthur Orr, passed the Alabama Senate. It now awaits action in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. This bill would declare anyone with five nanograms of THC per milliliter in their blood guilty of driving under the influence — regardless of whether the person was actually impaired!

Although intoxicated driving should not be tolerated, knee jerk ideas like per se limits for THC are unethical, unscientific, and unnecessary. Alabama already criminalizes impaired driving. This bill would unfairly target medical marijuana patients who could have higher levels of THC in their blood without being impaired.

Recent peer-reviewed studies have concluded that low levels of active THC can remain in a person’s system long after the intoxicating effects of THC have worn off — sometimes for several days. THC levels can even increase in a person’s bloodstream days after consuming marijuana, but without the person being impaired. SB 162 would therefore result in individuals who are not impaired to be found guilty of DUI-D.

If you are an Alabama resident, please email your representative and ask him or her to oppose this bill.

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Research

Guide to American Academy of Pediatrics Decriminalization Study

April 3rd, 2015 1 Comment » Morgan Fox

Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatricsaap_logo-1 published an article called The Impact of Marijuana Policies on Youth: Clinical, Research, and Legal Update. While the report failed to recognize the benefits of regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol, it did  support decriminalizing marijuana because of the harms caused by arrests and their aftermath.

We put together this handy guide to highlight the most important points. Please share it with anyone who still thinks arresting and prosecuting marijuana consumers is good for young people.

The AAP also recently published a study suggesting that random drug testing and zero tolerance policies in schools can actually harm teens.

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Research

Vermont Poll Shows Majority Support Making Marijuana Legal

March 18th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

A new poll released by the Castleton Polling InstituteScreen Shot 2015-03-18 at 4.46.33 PM shows that a majority of Vermont residents want to make marijuana legal and regulated for adults.

VTDigger.org reports:

Respondents in the recent poll were asked: “Two states — Washington and Colorado — have legalized and regulated marijuana for recreational use. Do you support or oppose passing a similar law in Vermont to legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational use?”

Of those surveyed, 54 percent supported the idea with 40 percent opposed. Six percent had no opinion.

Support was particularly strong among young people with 70 percent of respondents age 18-44 (or 161 people) in favor. The results were about opposite for those 65 and older, who opposed legalization 61 percent to 30 percent.

“Clearly, the opposition remains most substantial among voters who are 65-plus and Republicans,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project. “I guess some people remain nostalgic for a simpler time when you could ‘Just Say No’ and be done with the issue, but any realistic person realizes that those days are long gone — that marijuana is here to stay whether we like it or not, and we have to figure out how best to deal with it.”

Vermont lawmakers are currently considering a bill which would tax and regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol.

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Research

National Poll Shows Majority Support for Making Marijuana Legal

March 4th, 2015 5 Comments » Morgan Fox

More than half of Americans want to make marijuana legal, according to the highly regarded General Social Survey.

The Washington Post reports:

In interviews conducted between March and October of last year — when the legal marijuana markets in Colorado and Washington were ramping up — researchers asked 1,687 respondents the following question: “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal or not?”imrs.php

Fifty-two percent said pot should be legalized, 42 percent opposed it, and another 7 percent were undecided. Support is up 9 percentage points from 2012, the last time the survey was conducted.

The survey reiterates similar results in other major national polls, including Pew and Gallup.

The strong numbers in the latest General Social Survey indicate that the issue isn’t losing salience with the public. At the national level, support for legal marijuana remains robust — and doesn’t show signs of wavering any time soon.

 

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Research, Tax and Regulate

Majority of Coloradans Want to Keep Marijuana Legal

February 25th, 2015 2 Comments » Morgan Fox

Echoing results from last September, a new poll shows that an even greater percentage of Coloradans are happy with their marijuana laws.

From Denver Post:

More than 13 months after recreational pot sales first started in Colorado, residents of the state still support marijuana legalization by a definitive margin, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday.

When asked, “Do you still support or oppose this law?” 58 percent of respondents said they support the pot-legalizing Amendment 64 while 38 percent said they oppose it. Men support legalization (63 percent) more than women (53 percent). And among the 18-34 age demographic, of course, there was more support of legal pot (82 percent) than among voters 55 and older (50 percent against).

The new numbers show a certain kind of progress for legal marijuana in Colorado. In the 2012 election, Amendment 64 passed 54.8 percent to 45.1 percent, and a December 2014 poll by The Denver Post found that more than 90 percent of the respondents who voted in the 2012 election said they would vote the same way today.

 

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Research

Study Shows Marijuana 114 Times Less Deadly Than Alcohol

February 25th, 2015 19 Comments » Morgan Fox

A study recently published in Scientific ReportsSCReports compared the risk of death associated with a number of drugs, including marijuana. The results added even more evidence proving that marijuana is far safer than legal alcohol.

The Washington Post reports:

Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly-used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.

And all the way at the bottom of the list? Weed — roughly 114 times less deadly than booze, according to the authors, who ran calculations that compared lethal doses of a given substance with the amount that a typical person uses. Marijuana is also the only drug studied that posed low mortality risk to its users.

These findings reinforce drug safety rankings developed 10 years ago under a slightly different methodology. So in that respect, the study is more of a reaffirmation of previous findings than anything else. But given the current national and international debates over the legal status of marijuana and the risks associated with its use, the study arrives at a good time.

Given the relative risks associated with marijuana and alcohol, the authors recommend “risk management prioritization towards alcohol and tobacco rather than illicit drugs.” And they say that when it comes to marijuana, the low amounts of risk associated with the drug “suggest a strict legal regulatory approach rather than the current prohibition approach.”

In other words, individuals and organizations up in arms over marijuana legalization could have a greater impact on the health and well-being of this country by shifting their attention to alcohol and cigarettes. It takes extraordinary chutzpah to rail against the dangers of marijuana use by day and then go home to unwind with a glass of far more lethal stuff in the evening.

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Research

Federal Study Shows Marijuana Use Does Not Lead to Higher Risk of Crash

February 10th, 2015 7 Comments » Morgan Fox

A new study conducted by the federal government shows that marijuana use may not have a serious impact on road safety.

According to the Detroit News:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration220px-US-NHTSA-Logo said a 20-month survey of drivers in 2013 and 2014 found that while drinking dramatically raises the chance of a crash, there was no evidence that marijuana use is statistically significant in boosting wreck rates.

Marijuana users were about 25 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use. But that’s because other factors — especially that more younger men are involved in crashes, NHTSA said — rather than marijuana use itself.

By comparing marijuana use among those in crashes and those who weren’t, the safety agency said “other factors, such as age and gender, appear to account for the increased crash risk among marijuana users.”

While this suggests that making marijuana legal for adults will not lead to more dangerous roads, as opponents to reform frequently claim, MPP’s Mason Tvert maintains that driving under the influence must be avoided:

“Nobody should drive while impaired by any substance, and that’s why there are laws on the books to address it. While the research is pretty clear that marijuana use is not remotely as problematic as alcohol when it comes to driving, it can cause impairment. We need to have laws that are grounded in science and punish only drivers who were actually impaired. It’s worth noting that there is also research that has shown people who have used marijuana are more likely to recognize if they are impaired than those who have used alcohol,” he said.

But he said police often go too far.

“Arresting hundreds of thousands of people for simply possessing marijuana will not do anything to prevent people who make the mistake of driving under the influence. We would never approach the problem of drunk driving by making it illegal for adults to drink responsibly. It’s just as foolish to do that when it comes to adults who use marijuana responsibly,” he said.

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Research

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

January 21st, 2015 20 Comments » Morgan Fox

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.”

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Research

Virginia Poll Shows Strong Support for Marijuana Policy Reform

January 6th, 2015 3 Comments » Morgan Fox
 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.

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Research

Study Shows Decline In Teen Marijuana Use

December 17th, 2014 4 Comments » Morgan Fox

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.

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