Prohibition||Research

Study Finds Marijuana Prohibition Ineffective

Another study pointing to the failures of the war on drugs was published yesterday by a group of U.S. and Canadian researchers. The study was funded by the International Centre for Science in Drug PolicyPopOver_icsdp and examined the relative price and potency of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana from 1990 to 2010. Through analysis of existing data from various UN and governmental databases, the study found that, despite an estimated $1 trillion spent by the U.S. alone, the war on drugs has failed. Lead researcher Dr. Evan Wood commented on the results:

These findings add to the growing body of evidence that the war on drugs has failed. We should look to implement policies that place community health and safety at the forefront of our efforts. 

The study showed that although marijuana seizures by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration increased by 465% between 1990 and 2010, the misguided efforts are ineffective. Since 1990, the price of marijuana has decreased by 86%, and its availability remains high.

It is clear that marijuana prohibition is not an effective means to control marijuana use. Instead, it is time to focus on policies that are best for the community and the individual, instead of wasting resources on arrest.

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Research

Study: Marijuana May Achieve Complete Remission of Crohn’s Disease

Using marijuana may cause a “complete remission” of Crohn’s disease, a new study suggests.

Published in the medical journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology,AGA-CGH-pub1 the study examined the effects of regular marijuana consumption on the development of the severely debilitating Crohn’s disease. Researchers at Israel’s Meir Medical Center found that five of the 11 patients (or nearly half) who smoked twice per day for eight weeks achieved complete remission, compared to none of the patients who were given a placebo. Additionally, another five of the test subjects receiving marijuana saw their symptoms cut in half. And, unlike many of the drugs currently prescribed to treat the illness, there were no significant side effects.

The symptoms of severe Crohn’s disease make it a living nightmare for many patients, who can suffer from bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and fevers.

This study is the first placebo-controlled clinical trial to measure the impact of marijuana consumption on Crohn’s disease. While there is no cure for Crohn’s, scientists are working to keep the symptoms in check and prevent further progression of the disease.

The researchers were hesitant to label the findings a total success, but said that they merit further research.

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Research

Farm Bill Passes House, Hemp Amendment Stays Intact

Jul 12, 2013 Kate Zawidzki

amendment, farm bill, hemp, James Comer, Jared Polis, Kentucky, Research

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a revised version of the highly contested Farm Bill yesterday. Although representatives re-crafted the bill to remove provisions for food stamp funding, they left a hemp amendment intact.

The amendment would change federal law to allow for colleges and universities to grow hemp for research purposes in states where hemp cultivation and production is permitted by state law. The bill must still pass the Senate before final approval.

[caption id="attachment_6722" align="alignright" width="173"]James Comer James Comer[/caption]

Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Kentucky expressed their support for the amendment. Comer said, “Without a doubt, this was an historic day for industrial hemp in America.”

The bill narrowly passed on a 216-208 vote.

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Tax and Regulate

Marijuana Use Connection to Mental Illness Is Reefer Madness

On July 2, an article by Dr. Samuel T. Wilkinson was published in the Wall Street Journal positing that marijuana use can drastically increase one’s predisposition towards schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. Dr. Wilkinson cites research stating that teenage and early 20s use of marijuana holds a causal link to later development of schizophrenia. However, this data is simply not a credible argument against making marijuana legal.

Within his own article, Dr. Wilkinson discusses the “cliff of sanity,” a metaphorical line between sanity and mental illness, and he claims that those with a pre-existing tendency towards mental illness may be “pushed over” by marijuana use. However, if marijuana use before the age of 21 is riskier as a result of a developing brain, then legalization and regulation is the solution.

In response to the article, MPP’s Mason Tvert said, “Legalization would involve carefully controlled outlets that would not sell pot to minors, as opposed to the current situation where illegal dealers will sell pot to anyone, including schoolchildren. The net effect would be less exposure to the drug by our young people at a time when they are most vulnerable.”

In Mason’s letter to the editor, he states that a 2009 study from the journal Schizophrenic Research found that “the prevalence of schizophrenia and psychoses has remained stable or declined during periods in which marijuana use increased significantly among the general populace.”

A predisposition to mental illness is a preexisting condition that is not created by marijuana use. In fact, any chemical substance introduced into the body may very well exacerbate the issue, including alcohol. Marijuana does not cause mental illness for users, either occasional or frequent, and making marijuana legal poses the best chance for a safer marijuana market that more effectively limits access to people aged 21 and over.

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Tax and Regulate

National ACLU Report Highlights Racial Disparity in Marijuana Arrests

Jun 04, 2013 Kate Zawidzki

ACLU, law enforcement, marijuana, Research, Tax and Regulate

ACLU Arrest DataDespite the fact that black and white Americans use marijuana in comparable numbers, a new analysis of federal data performed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that blacks were nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in 2010. The report is the most comprehensive national examination of marijuana arrests by race and by county.

According to the ACLU:

"The aggressive enforcement of marijuana possession laws needlessly ensnares hundreds of thousands of people into the criminal justice system and wastes billions of taxpayers’ dollars. What’s more, it is carried out with staggering racial bias. Despite being a priority for police departments nationwide, the War on Marijuana has failed to reduce marijuana use and availability and diverted resources that could be better invested in our communities."

The statistics in Washington, D.C. and Maryland were particularly staggering. The former had the country’s highest arrest rate for marijuana possession arrests – more than three times the national average – and the latter had the fourth highest rate. Blacks accounted for 91% of possession arrests in D.C. and were more than eight times more likely to be arrested than whites. In Maryland, blacks accounted for 58% of possession arrests and were more than three times more likely to be arrested than whites. In Baltimore City, they were more than five-and-half times likely to be arrested than whites.

The disproportionality of marijuana enforcement is just one more pebble on the mountain of evidence that exposes our nation’s marijuana policy for what it is: broken.

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Medical Marijuana||Research||Video

Washington Post Explores Medical Marijuana Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy

In a Washington Post video posted today, two families discuss their search for effective treatments for their children's chronic and debilitating seizures and how they arrived at medical marijuana as the best option. Unfortunately, there is little understanding as to how and why medical marijuana works so well for certain conditions, but more and more researchers are starting to look into it.

These particular cases, and those like them, illustrate the need for greatly expanded research into the potential medical benefits of marijuana. If only the government agencies in charge of authorizing such studies would allow them to proceed...

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Approved by Maryland House of Delegates

Mar 25, 2013 Kate Zawidzki

HB 1101, House of Delegates, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Research

A medical marijuana bill that could allow academic medical centers to provide marijuana to patients whose doctors recommend it took a significant step toward becoming law minutes ago when it was approved by the Maryland House of Delegates. In a sign of just how uncontroversial this bill is, there was no debate and the vote was an overwhelming 108-28! The bill now moves over to the Senate, so you know what to do.

If you live in Maryland, please ask your state senator to support HB 1101.

Unlike medical marijuana programs you’ve heard about in other states, HB 1101 would allow academic medical centers, like Johns Hopkins, to apply to an independent commission for the ability to administer a research-focused program through which participating patients could obtain marijuana without fear of arrest and prosecution. The bill is far from perfect – it could take years to get up and running and would require either federal cooperation or medical centers in Maryland to violate federal law – but it’s a start. The bill could be amended down the road if the current version proves unworkable.

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Medical Marijuana||Prohibition||Research

New Study Adds to Research Showing Marijuana Could Stop Cancer

Breast cancer kills. Even mentioning the term can be a little creepy. However, thanks to slow but steady scientific progress, it’s not the killer it once was. We’re starting to understand that genetics plays a role in a minority of cases. We’ve found clear links to obesity, high-fat diets, and cigarette smoking. Lack of exercise probably plays a role, too. Regular screening seems like a good idea, but, like many ideas in science, it has some controversy. Treatments are markedly better than they once were, but they can be tough.

The cannabis plant could help. We all know that THC improves appetite and nausea for anyone enduring chemotherapy. This relief is quite the feat. I don’t want to upset anyone’s stomach with a description, but nausea is no treat. We’re not talking about the average queasiness here. Chemotherapy often creates the kind of nausea that prevents any kind of concentrated effort, any movement, and just about any pleasant thought. Never mind eating enough to stay strong and healthy during a challenging time. Unfortunately, nausea drugs can be pricey. Most require that a patient swallow them — hardly a delightful thought under the circumstances. The lucky few who can get a pill down still have to wait for digestion before they feel better. Inhaled cannabis can do all that in seconds for a fraction of the cost. Which would you choose for yourself or your loved ones?

But new evidence suggests that cannabis has the potential to combat breast cancer itself, not just battle the side effects of chemotherapy. A few years ago, we saw that THC, one of the 60+ chemicals unique to the cannabis plant, keeps human breast cancer cells from spreading. Last year, researchers at Harvard showed that CBD, another treasure from the plant, essentially makes breast cancer cells kill themselves. Now researchers in Japan have focused on CBDA, CBD’s precursor. They showed that it also keeps breast cancer cells from spreading.

What does this mean for use of the plant in treating breast cancer patients or preventing breast cancer in the first place? Alas, we have no idea. That, in some ways, is the saddest part. Wouldn’t it be great to know if the whole plant, with all these helpful substances combined into one source, could ward off breast cancer in an actual human being? It’s going to be hard to find out given our current laws. Prohibition has made research with the whole plant an unparalleled hassle. Most researchers are stuck trying to use one cannabinoid at a time. They often get synthesized chemicals from labs rather than extracts from the plant. They study cell lines in petri dishes instead of breast cancer in real people.

Are those who use cannabis regularly less likely to get breast cancer? It’d be great to know. Currently though, there’s little research funding for any study that might prove that cannabis is not evil. In addition, under prohibition, those who use cannabis are often frightened to tell doctors or researchers that they do. Any study of this type would need money to be done right. And there’s just not much money out there for this kind of work. A cure for breast cancer might rest in a simple green plant that’s been around for millennia. Why don’t we try to find it?

It looks like the U.S. would rather let people die than admit we made a mistake prohibiting marijuana.

 

Dr. Mitch Earleywine is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University at Albany, State University of New York, where he teaches drugs and human behavior, substance abuse treatment and clinical research methods. He is the author of more than 100 publications on drug use and abuse, including “Understanding Marijuana” and “The Parents’ Guide to Marijuana.” He is the only person to publish with both Oxford University and High Times.

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Medical Marijuana||Prohibition

Past Marijuana User Becomes Greatest Olympian in History

Michael Phelps just swam his way into the history books by winning more Olympic medals than anyone, ever.

Pretty impressive, considering that the same guy was publicly shamed and persecuted just a couple short years ago for choosing to relax with a substance that is demonstrably safer than alcohol.

But should we really be surprised? We’ve all seen the negative effects that alcohol can have on athletic training and performance. And after all, a recent study showed that marijuana has no long-term negative effects on breathing or lung function.

More and more athletes are coming forward about their marijuana use, from a wide variety of sports, citing both medical benefits for treating injuries and the much lesser impact of recreational use compared to alcohol. Unfortunately, many continue to be punished for it.

UFC fighter Nick Diaz was suspended and fined for testing positive for THC metabolites after a February bout in Los Vegas, even though he was not under the influence at the time. Diaz is a licensed medical marijuana patient in his home state of California, and medical marijuana is also legal in Nevada.

More recently, Phelps’ fellow Olympic contender Stephany Lee was kicked off the U.S. wrestling team for a positive marijuana test.

It is time we stop punishing the nation’s greatest athletes for using marijuana. These individuals have the ability and opportunity to smash the negative stereotypes that marijuana users have had to live with for so long but are being cheated out of their shots at personal and national glory by close-minded officials and archaic policies.

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Research

Can Marijuana Component Ward Off Colon Cancer?

Cannabidiol (CBD) Reveals Potential for Prevention of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the most common cancer afflicting the Western world, with over 100,000 new cases and nearly 50,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. Cancers are generally considered a cellular disease, characterized by unlimited cell proliferation, causing tumors and subsequent metastasis (migration from the tumor). In past studies, CBD, a constituent of medical cannabis called cannabidiol, has already shown many potential benefits in the treatment of cancer as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-oxidative and neuroprotective agent. In these cases, CBD seems to protect normal cells while attacking those that are diseased. New research shows that CBD shows potential to be a preventative measure against colon cancer.

A recent article from the Journal of Molecular Medicine showed that CBD administered to mice which are predisposed to developing colon cancer, significantly decreased the formation of pre-cancer (tissue aberrance and polyps) and cancer growths (tumors). Additionally, this study showed that CBD induces cell death and inhibits tumor formation in cultured colon cancer cells through a variety of cellular pathways. By exploiting these disease-dependent pathways together, CBD may create an inescapable means of killing off and prohibiting the growth of cancer cells. This is a truly remarkable task for any single molecule — to attack multiple disease pathways while maintaining function in healthy cells. This study strengthens the evidence for CBD’s anti-tumor effects and provides evidence for CBD as a novel preemptive strike against colon cancer.

 

Brandie M. Cross is a Ph.D. candidate at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Program. She is a recipient of the Thomas J. Kelly Award, specializes in the mechanisms of calcium signaling and transport in the body, and was formerly a professional breakdancer. She is a guest blogger for MPP.

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