Research

National Survey Shows Teen Use Dropping, Possible Substitution for Alcohol in Adults

September 7th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health released Thursday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that teen marijuana use rates decreased nationally in 2016. Past-month use rates among adults increased slightly, but alcohol use rates among all age groups decreased, indicating the possibility that adults are substituting marijuana for alcohol.

Past-month use rates for the 12-17 age group decreased by 0.5% from 2015 to 6.5% nationally in 2016. This is the lowest level of marijuana use in this age group since 2002. The data also shows a steady decrease since 2014, when the first states to make marijuana legal for adults began allowing regulated retail sales. The full report is available here.

“Critics of legalization worry about the message being sent to youth by marijuana policy reform efforts, but the real message is that marijuana should only be used by responsible adults, and it seems to be sinking in. Regulating marijuana for adults reinforces that message and creates effective mechanisms for making it more difficult for teens to obtain marijuana,” said Morgan Fox, senior communications manager for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and regulation gives adults the legal option to choose the safer substance.”

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Research, Tax and Regulate

Teen Use Down in Washington Since Legalization

September 2nd, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Yet another study was released this week showing that teen marijuana use did not increase after legalization, this time from Washington.

Seattle Times reports:

Youth use of pot and cannabis-abuse treatment admissions have not increased in Washington since marijuana was legalized, according to a new analysis by the state Legislature’s think tank.

Under Initiative 502, the state’s legal-pot law, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) is required to conduct periodic cost-benefit analyses of legalization on issues ranging from drugged-driving to prenatal use of marijuana.

The think tank’s findings on youth use were not surprising as they were based on a biannual survey by the state Department of Health of students in the sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades released earlier this year.

Pot use by students in all four grade levels was stable or has fallen slightly since I-502 was enacted, the WSIPP report said.

For instance, 17 percent of the 10,835 high-school sophomores surveyed last year said they consumed pot in the previous month. The level was 18 percent in 2006 and 20 percent in 2010.

Legalization was approved by Washington voters in November 2012. Legal sales began in July 2014.

The study also found that admissions to public treatment centers for cannabis abuse had fallen since legalization took effect, and that the cannabis industry had created more than six thousand full-time jobs.

 

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Prohibition, Research

Virginia Crime Commission Taking Public Comments on Marijuana Policy

August 3rd, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly empowered the state’s Crime Commission to consider whether Virginia should decriminalize marijuana possession. Now, the commission wants to hear from residents.

Between now and Friday, August 25 at 5 p.m., Virginia residents can send written comments to [email protected] or mail them to:

1111 East Broad Street, Ste. B036
Richmond, VA 23219

Then, on October 5 at 10:00 a.m., the Crime Commission will hold a meeting open to the public where you will have the opportunity to make your voice heard in person. The meeting will take place in Richmond, but the exact location will not be announced until the fall.

Nearly eight in 10 Virginians support replacing marijuana criminal convictions with a fine (decriminalization), and 62% favor ending cannabis prohibition altogether.

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Research

Delaware Legislature Enacts Cannabis Regulation Task Force

July 7th, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

Early Saturday morning, as the 2017 Legislative session came to a close, the Delaware General Assembly passed a resolution establishing a task force to discuss how to tax and regulate cannabis in the First State. While we’d hoped to end marijuana prohibition outright this year in Delaware, this is an important step forward.

The task force will be composed of agency heads, lawmakers, advocates, and other stakeholders. Sen. Margaret Rose Henry and Rep. Helene Keeley, sponsors of the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, will co-chair the committee.

This task force is good news for Delawareans who have worked tirelessly for years on this issue, and success is closer than ever. This fall, policymakers will take a serious look at what a post-prohibition Delaware will look like. The task force will issue a report to the Legislature in January 2018. This leaves plenty of time for lawmakers to vote on replacing marijuana prohibition with sensible regulation.

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Prohibition, Research

MPP’s Virginia Primary Election Guide

May 22nd, 2017 No Comments Maggie Ellinger-Locke

Virginia’s gubernatorial primary is less than one month away, and MPP has put together a guide on where the candidates stand on marijuana policy issues. Please check out our voter guide so you can be informed on this critical topic before heading to the polls.

We put together a candidate survey and asked each campaign for governor to give us their thoughts on three issues:

1) marijuana decriminalization;
2) medical marijuana; and
3) taxing and regulating cannabis for adults age 21 and over.

Based on their responses to our survey, along with any public statements they have made, we assigned each candidate a letter grade, which you can check out here.

In addition to the governor’s race, each of Virginia’s 100 seats in the House of Delegates will be on the ballot this year. Please consider asking the candidates from your district where they stand on these issues before casting your vote. Let us know if you get any responses.

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Research, Tax and Regulate

Vermont Senate Passes Another Marijuana Bill

May 5th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

On Friday, for the second time this year, the Vermont Senate voted to legalize marijuana for adults’ use! The Senate voted 20-9 to attach the legalization language from H. 170 to an unrelated bill, S. 22, and added a study commission to consider regulation and taxation. It will now be up to the House whether or not to concur with the Senate’s offer of amendment.

This move represents an attempt by the Senate to compromise with the House, which voted for the first time in its history to legalize marijuana earlier this week. H. 170, which would eliminate penalties for adults’ possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, two or fewer mature plants, and four or fewer immature plants, passed the House in a 75-71 vote. The Senate prefers a regulated market approach, but today’s vote shows that senators are willing to accept H. 170 as long as it includes a pathway to sensible regulation.

Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Projectreleased the following statement in a press release:

“You have to give the Senate credit for standing up for Vermont voters, who strongly support making marijuana legal for adults. We hope the House will do the same and concur with S. 22 as amended by the Senate. This is not just a reasonable compromise, but an important step forward for supporters of both home cultivation and regulation. The bill would eliminate penalties for adult possession and cultivation, as the House sought to do with H. 170, and create a commission to explore regulating and taxing marijuana, which the Senate clearly supports. This bill proposes a very thoughtful and deliberate approach to replacing prohibition with a more sensible marijuana policy.”

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Research

Annual Colorado Government Report on Marijuana-related Health Concerns Highlights Several ‘Encouraging Trends’

February 6th, 2017 3 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment highlighted several “encouraging trends” in its latest annual report on marijuana-related health concerns.

According to the report:

•    “For adults and adolescents, past-month marijuana use has not changed since legalization either in terms of the number of people using or the frequency of use among users.”

•    “Based on the most comprehensive data available, past-month marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is nearly identical to the national average.”

•    “Daily or near-daily marijuana use among adults is much lower than daily or near-daily alcohol or tobacco use. Among adolescents, past month marijuana use is lower than past month alcohol use.”

•    “Marijuana exposure calls to the poison center appear to be decreasing since 2015, including unintentional exposures in children ages 0-8 years.”

•    “The overall rate of emergency department visits with marijuana-related billing codes dropped 27 percent from 2014 to 2015 (2016 data is not available yet).”

•    The estimated percentage of women in Colorado who used marijuana during pregnancy is “not statistically different” from the national average.  

Once again, Colorado continues to demonstrate that regulating marijuana works.

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Research

National Academies of Sciences Confirms Marijuana’s Benefits, Dispels Myths

January 12th, 2017 6 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The National Academies of Sciences released a report on the health impacts of marijuana Thursday, confirming the existence of medical benefits and dispelling some long-held myths about the substance.

The review of more than 10,000 scientific abstracts found, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective” for the treatment of chronic pain in adults, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis spasticity.

The report also dispels several myths about the health impacts of marijuana. It found no links between smoking marijuana and the development of lung, head, or neck cancers, nor did it establish a link between marijuana use and asthma or other respiratory diseases. The respiratory problems that it did link to smoking marijuana, such as bronchitis, appear to improve after the consumer ceases their use.

According to the report, “There is no or insufficient evidence” linking marijuana use to all-cause mortality (death), deaths from overdose, or occupational accidents or injuries. It also found no substantial evidence of a link between the use of marijuana and the use of other illegal drugs. The report also does not appear to make any links between marijuana use and violent or aggressive behavior. Several of these findings were also included in the National Academies of Sciences’ previous report on marijuana, which was released in 1999.

 

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Research

Survey Shows Majority of Police Support Marijuana Policy Reform

January 12th, 2017 2 Comments Morgan Fox

In a survey released this week, Pew Research Center showed that 69% of police officers polled support allowing marijuana for medical or adult use, despite frequent opposition to sensible reforms from law enforcement organizations.

Washington Post reports:

The nationally representative survey of law enforcement, one of the largest of its kind, found that 32 percent of police officers said marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use, while 37 percent said it should be legal for medical use only. An additional 30 percent said that marijuana should not be legal at all.

Police are more conservative than the general public on the issue. Among all Americans, Pew found that 49 percent supported recreational marijuana, 35 percent supported medical marijuana only, and 15 percent said the drug should not be legal.

Pew also found a generational divide among cops on the marijuana issue, although not as large as the one that exists among the general public. Officers under age 35 were more likely to support recreational marijuana (37 percent) than those between the ages of 50 and 60 (27 percent). Among the general public, those numbers stand at 67 percent and 45 percent, respectively.

Law enforcement groups have often been among the staunchest opponents of marijuana legalization measures. In 2016, such groups made small but significant contributions to oppose legalization measures in California and Arizona, citing concerns over issues such as underage use and intoxicated driving.

This trend is good news for marijuana policy reformers, as support for legalization increases among the people tasked with enforcing prohibition, and as younger cops move into leadership positions.

It should be noted that a Pew survey released in October showed that 57% of the general public supports making marijuana legal for adults, but that study had different sample sizes and methodology than the study just released.

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Research

Federal Survey Finds Teen Marijuana Use Remains Unchanged Following Legalization

January 3rd, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

The federal government quietly published new national survey data in December that shows rates of teen marijuana use in Colorado and Washington — the first two states to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use — decreased more than the national average in 2014-2015. Fewer teens in the two states are reportedly using marijuana than in 2012-2013, just prior to the commencement of legal adult marijuana sales.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the results of the 2014-2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) on Tuesday along with a press release that did not include any mention of marijuana.

According to the NSDUH:

–    In Colorado, the rate of 12-17-year-olds who used marijuana in the past month dropped 1.43 percentage points from 12.56% in 2013-2014 to 11.13% in 2014-2015, compared to 11.16% in 2012-2013. The rate of past-year use dropped 2.46 percentage points from 20.81% in 2013-2014 to 18.35% in 2014-2015, compared to 18.76% in 2012-2013.

–    In Washington, the rate of 12-17-year-olds who used marijuana in the past month dropped 0.89 percentage points from 10.06% in 2013-2014 to 9.17% in 2014-2015, compared to 9.81% in 2012-2013. The rate of past-year use dropped 1.92 percentage points from 17.53% in 2013-2014 to 15.61% in 2014-2015, compared to 16.48% in 2012-2013.

–    Nationwide, the rate of past-month marijuana use among 12-17-year-olds dropped 0.02 percentage points from 7.22% in 2013-2014 to 7.2% in 2014-2015, and the rate of past-year use dropped 0.42 percentage points from 13.28% to 12.86%.

The overall findings of the NSDUH are in line with those of the annual Monitoring the Future survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which were released last week and found little change in rates of teen marijuana use.

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