General, Prohibition, Research

Marijuana Rescheduling No-Decision Met With Challenge From Congress

July 1st, 2016 7 Comments Ľ Rory McPeak

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Earlier this year, the DEA had announced that they hope to have a decision regarding the rescheduling of marijuana within the first half of 2016. That time has now come and gone with the DEA failing to deliver.

A bipartisan coalition of Senators and Representatives has signed a letter to head of the DEA, Chuck Rosenberg, urging the federal agency to remove marijuana and THC from Schedule I, its current status under the Controlled Substances Act.  Schedule I is the most restrictive drug classification that, according to the DEA, is reserved for substances that have a high potential for abuse and no known medical benefits.

‚ÄúWe ask that you clarify this policy immediately, and issue a public statement informing the research community that the DEA, in compliance with international obligations, will accept new applications to bulk manufacture cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, to be approved on merit-based criteria,‚ÄĚ the lawmakers wrote.

The letter, drafted by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), also calls for the DEA to loosen restrictions surrounding medical marijuana research and to grant more licenses for the production of research-grade marijuana.  Currently, the only federally approved source of marijuana is the University of Mississippi, whose supply is notoriously difficult for researchers to obtain and frequently alleged to be of sub-research grade quality.

The letter was signed by Sen. Gillibrand as well as Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR); and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

Read here for more information.

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Research

Study Shows No Increase in Colorado Teen Use After Legalization

June 20th, 2016 3 Comments Ľ Morgan Fox

Rates of marijuana use among Colorado teens have NOT increased since the state made marijuana legal for adults, according to results of a statewide survey released Monday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Rates of current and lifetime marijuana use among Colorado teens also continue to be lower than the national average.HKCSB1

‚ÄúThe survey shows marijuana use has not increased¬†since legalization,‚ÄĚ according to a CDPHE¬†press release.

The biannual Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS) found that¬†21.2% of high school students in Colorado reported using marijuana within the¬†past 30 days in 2015, down slightly from 22% in 2011, the year before Amendment¬†64 was approved and enacted,¬†and 24.8% in 2009, the year hundreds¬†of medical marijuana stores began opening throughout the state. The¬†HKCS also found that the rate of lifetime use among Colorado high school¬†students dropped from 42.6% in 2009 to 38% in 2015. The decreases do¬†not¬†represent statistically significant changes, and the state agencies that¬†support the survey have reported, ‚ÄúThe trend for current and lifetime marijuana¬†use has remained stable since 2005.‚ÄĚ Read the rest of this entry »

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Research

Another Study Shows Marijuana Health Harms Exaggerated

June 8th, 2016 8 Comments Ľ Morgan Fox

A study released this week from the Journal of the American Medical Association PsychiatryJAMA-Psychiatry-Logo suggests that the harms associated with long-term marijuana use are much less than previously claimed.

Time reports:

Even after years of heavy use, marijuana doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on the physical health of the body.

So finds a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry, which analyzed data from a group of 1,037 New Zealanders followed from their birth until age 38. The researchers, led by Madeline Meier of Arizona State University, looked at whether cannabis use from age 18 to 38 was linked to several aspects of physical health, which were measured at several points throughout the years of the study through lab tests and self-reports.

The only bad effects pot seemed to have were on the teeth. At age 38, people who used cannabis had worse periodontal health than their peers, and nothing else appeared to be affected. By contrast, tobacco use was connected to all the expected declines: worse lung function, more inflammation and compromised metabolic health. Of course, the results come with a caveat; it’s possible that negative health effects of cannabis could show themselves after the age of 38.

Even more surprisingly, the researchers found that cannabis use over time was linked to a lower BMI, smaller waist circumference and better HDL cholesterol, suggesting that cannabis may be involved in metabolism. But it’s unlikely that this would have a major effect, the study authors note, since pot wasn’t linked to reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.

‚ÄúThere are definitely health risks associated with heavy marijuana use, but there just aren‚Äôt as many as we previously thought,‚ÄĚ says Dr. Kevin Hill, a marijuana addiction expert and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, whose new commentary on the study is published Tuesday in JAMA.

Compared to the increasingly disproven claims made by prohibitionists about the severe negative health outcomes of marijuana consumption, bad teeth isn’t all that bad. It is certainly not a sufficient¬†reason to continue arresting adults for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol.

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Research, Tax and Regulate

Maine Marijuana Initiative Officially Approved for November Ballot

April 28th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

State officials announced Wednesday that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine has officially qualified for the November ballot.

After a court-ordered review of petitions it had previously invalidated, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office determined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted more than the 61,123 signatures that were needed to qualify.ME Release Header - NEW

Last month, the secretary of state informed the campaign that the initiative had been disqualified because only 51,543 valid signatures had been submitted. The campaign filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, and a Kennebec County Superior Court judge ruled in their favor earlier this month after learning state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions ‚ÄĒwhich included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks ‚ÄĒ without actually reviewing every petition in question. The petition was then remanded to the Secretary of State‚Äôs Office to review all of the disputed petitions and determine whether enough valid signatures were collected.

According to a new poll released this week by the Maine People’s Resource Center, nearly 54% of likely voters would approve the initiative if the election were held today. Only about 42% said they would oppose it. The full results are available at here.

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Medical Marijuana, Research

DEA Approves Study on Treating PTSD With Marijuana

April 22nd, 2016 7 Comments Ľ Morgan Fox

On Thursday, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) announced in a press release that they had received approval to study the effects of marijuana on treating PTSD in veterans.q4g89gcyl385qpt0vmeo

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has formally approved the first-ever randomized controlled trial of whole plant medical marijuana (cannabis) as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in U.S. veterans. The DEA’s approval marks the first time a clinical trial intended to develop smoked botanical marijuana into a legal prescription drug has received full approval from U.S. regulatory agencies, including the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study will test the safety and efficacy of botanical marijuana in 76 U.S. military veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD. The study is funded by a $2.156 million grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to the California-based non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is sponsoring the research.

The trial will gather safety and efficacy data on four potencies of smoked marijuana with varying ratios of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). By exploring the effectiveness of a variety of marijuana strains, the study seeks to generate naturalistic data comparable to how many veterans in medical marijuana states currently use marijuana. Results will provide vital information on marijuana dosing, composition, side effects, and areas of benefit to clinicians and legislators considering marijuana as a treatment for PTSD.

Congratulations and thanks go to Dr. Sue Sisley, who has long been the foremost champion of studying the effects of marijuana on PTSD, and the rest of the staff at MAPS for working so diligently in this area.

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Prohibition, Research

Prominent Doctors Launch Group to End Marijuana Prohibition

April 15th, 2016 11 Comments Ľ Marijuana Policy Project

Some of the country’s most prominent physicians have teamed up to launch the nation’s first organization of doctors formed to advocate for the legalization and regulation of cannabis for adult use.DRCR-LOGO-WEB-colors-small

Washington Post reports:

The group ‚ÄĒ which is announcing its formation Monday, under the name Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) ‚ÄĒ is¬†endorsing the legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use, a break from¬†the position of the American Medical Association, the largest organization of doctors in the country. DFCR argues that the prohibition and criminalization of marijuana use¬†does more harm to the public than good. Citing hundreds of thousands of annual marijuana arrests, racial and economic disparities in marijuana enforcement, and the role of prohibition in keeping marijuana prices high and lucrative to violent drug dealers, the physicians say that creating a legal and regulated marijuana market is the best way to ensure public safety, combat the illicit drug trade and roll back the negative consequences of strict enforcement policies on disadvantaged communities.

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Research

Survey Shows Record Support for Making Marijuana Legal

March 25th, 2016 8 Comments Ľ Marijuana Policy Project

On Friday, even more evidence that most Americans no longer support marijuana prohibition was released.

Washington Post reports:

A new survey released today by the the Associated Press800px-Associated_Press_logo.svg and the University of Chicago finds that a record-high percentage of Americans — 61 percent — say they support marijuana legalization.

The survey uses the same question wording (“Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?”) on marijuana as previous Gallup surveys, which had shown a previous high of 58 percent support for legalization last October.

The survey comes at a potential tipping point for drug reform. Next month, the United Nations will hold a special session in New York to re-evaluate the state of international drug laws. Many researchers and public health experts have been encouraging the UN to take a less-punitive approach to drug policy. Yesterday, a group of medical and public health experts urged governments to decriminalize all drug use and experiment with regulated drug markets in some cases.

 

 

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Prohibition, Research

Postal Marijuana Seizures Decrease as Retail Stores Open

March 17th, 2016 1 Comment Ľ Marijuana Policy Project

New information from the Postal ServiceUnited_States_Postal_Service_(emblem) reveals that inspectors are finding less marijuana moving through the system as retail marijuana stores are opening in states that have made it legal.

U.S. News reports:

Statistics provided to U.S. News by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service show that marijuana package intercepts declined again in fiscal year 2015, the first annual period that wholly encompasses state-regulated recreational marijuana sales in Colorado and Washington state.

Inspectors seized 7,783 marijuana-containing parcels during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, a 2.6 percent drop. The collective weight of the contraband was 34,305 pounds, down 12.7 percent from the previous year.

It’s a second year in a row of such declines. In fiscal year 2014, which featured nine months of Colorado sales and three months of Washington retail operations, intercepted packages fell by 12.2 percent and their collective weight dropped by 12.7 percent.

Marijuana is the most common illegal drug seized by postal inspectors, often after reports of a suspicious odor. Though the Obama administration tolerates state-regulated medical and recreational marijuana markets, possession of the drug for any reason outside limited research remains a federal crime, as does shipping it through the mail system, even within state-legal jurisdictions.

As the numbers trend downward, pro-legalization policy advocates sense validation for their claims that black-market illegality can be crushed and drug cartels put out of business by treating the drug like alcohol.

“It’s clear the system is working as intended,” says Marijuana Policy Project spokesman¬†Mason¬†Tvert, a leader of Colorado’s 2012 legalization campaign. “What we’re seeing is adults are purchasing marijuana, but there haven’t been significant efforts to get it to other states¬†through the mail, as some feared. People want to follow the law.”

 

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Research

New Hampshire Poll Shows 62% Support for Legalization

March 2nd, 2016 1 Comment Ľ Morgan Fox

A WMUR Granite State Poll released Tuesday found that a majority of New Hampshire residents support making marijuana legal for adults:

New Hampshire legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 2013, but bills to legalize marijuana for recreational use have not passed the legislature. However, a majority of Granite Statersgspfinal2 support legalizing recreational marijuana in New Hampshire and have for several years. Currently, 62% support legalizing marijuana for recreational use (41% strongly and 21% somewhat), 30% oppose (19% strongly and 11% somewhat) and 8% are neutral or unsure.
If marijuana were legalized in the Granite State, a majority of New Hampshire residents (72%) approve of selling it at licensed retail outlets and taxing it, similar to how alcohol is sold (52% strongly and 20% somewhat), only 24% disapprove of this idea (18% strongly and 6% somewhat), 1% are neutral and 3% are unsure.
The full poll can be found here.
In 2015, a bill that would have significantly reduced penalties for marijuana possession passed the House by a huge 297-67 margin. Unfortunately, the bill was tabled at the end of the legislative session. Supporters are hoping that a similar bill can be passed this year after the House killed legislation that would have regulated marijuana like alcohol in February.

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Research

Study: Marijuana Use Does Not Cause Anxiety or Depression

February 18th, 2016 4 Comments Ľ Marijuana Policy Project

Yet another study has been released that counters long-held beliefs about the dangers associated with marijuana use.

Washington Post reports:

New research published today in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that using marijuana as an adult is not associated with a variety of mood and anxiety disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder.

This is a challenge to some previous research which has shown that marijuana use is associated with depression and anxiety.

The researchers examined the records of nearly 35,000 U.S. adults who participated in the¬†National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol¬†and Related Conditions. They examined the prevalence of marijuana use among the study participants in 2001 and 2002, then checked on the participants’ rates of mental-health problems three years later in 2004 and 2005.

After controlling for a variety of confounding factors, such as socio-demographic characteristics, family history and environment, and past and present psychiatric disorders, the study found that “cannabis use was not associated with increased risk¬†for developing mood or anxiety disorders.”

The new study adds to prior research discrediting the connection between marijuana and common mental-health disorders. And it’s important, because much of the federal government’s¬†current literature on marijuana includes claims about links between marijuana and depression that are inaccurate in light of the latest findings.

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