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SCIENCE

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 31, 2018

    The use of herbal cannabis is associated with reductions in self-perceived insomnia severity, according to data published in the online, open-access journal Medicines.

    University of New Mexico researchers assessed the influence of marijuana use on self-perceived insomnia severity levels in 409 subjects. Study participants recorded real-time ratings of their symptom severity on a zero to 10-point scale using a mobile software application.

    Authors reported that subjects “experienced a statistically and clinically significant improvement (-4.5 points on a zero to 10-point scale) in perceived insomnia levels. However, products made with C. sativa were associated with less symptom relief and more negative side effects than products made from C. indica or hybrid plant subtypes.” They added, “CBD potency levels were associated with greater symptom relief than were THC levels.”

    Researchers concluded: “[O]ur results show that consumption of cannabis flower is associated with significant improvements in perceived insomnia with differential effectiveness and side effect profiles. The widespread apparent use of cannabis as a sleep aid underscores the importance of further medical research regarding its risk-benefit profile and the effectiveness of cannabis as a substitute for other substances, including alcohol, over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids, and scheduled medications (e.g., opioids and sedatives), many of which are used in part as sleep aids.”

    Full text of the study, “Effectiveness of raw, natural medical cannabis flower for treating insomnia under naturalistic conditions,” is available online here.

  • by NORML July 25, 2018

    Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) led a group of bipartisan lawmakers in introducing The Marijuana Data Collection Act. The act calls upon the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to collect and synthesize relevant data and to generate a formal report to Congress quantifying the impact of statewide marijuana legalization on matters specific to public health, safety, the economy, and criminal justice, among other issues.

    Numerous published peer-reviewed studies have assessed the impact of state-regulated marijuana legalization on these issues, but despite the publication of these reports, a lack of consensus and acceptance of this data continue, particularly amongst members of Congress and the Department of Justice.

    Speaking about the new bill on the House floor, Congresswoman Gabbard stated, “For decades, bad data and misinformation have fueled the failed war on drugs that’s wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, incarcerating Americans for nonviolent marijuana charges. Our outdated marijuana policies have turned  everyday Americans into criminals, strained our criminal justice system, cost taxpayers tremendously and torn families apart.”

    You can watch the press conference announcing the legislation featuring the bill’s lead GOP cosponsor Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), lead Democrat cosponsor Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), we well as former U.S. Attorneys Barry Grissom (KS) and Bill Nettles (SC) below:

    Commenting on the legislation, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said, “This report will ensure that federal discussions and policies specific to this issue are based upon the best and most reliable evidence available. The data collected and compiled by the National Academy of Sciences will help to guide future marijuana legislation at federal, state, and local levels. This is not a marijuana bill, it is an information bill. No member of Congress can intellectually justify opposition to this legislation. Our public policy needs to be based on sound data and science, not gut feelings or fear-mongering. Approving the Marijuana Data Collection Act would provide legislators with reliable and fact-based information to help them decide what direction is most beneficial to society when it comes to marijuana policy.”

    This bill requires data collection and study with regard to the impact of state-regulated marijuana legalization on public health, safety, the economy, and criminal justice, among other issues. Specifically, this bill requires the Secretary of HHS to coordinate with the DOJ, DOL, and States (to the greatest extent possible) and direct the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to publish a biannual study on the health, safety, and economic effects of state legalized marijuana programs. The report would also outline best practices for state-led data collection, as well as recommendations to overcome any barriers preventing data collection and gaps in data.

    Thirty-one states, Washington, DC and the US territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis, while an estimated 63 million Americans now reside in jurisdictions where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. Voters overwhelmingly support these policy changes. According to a 2018 CAP poll, 68 percent of Americans support full marijuana legalization and according to Quinnipiac University, 71 percent believe that states, not the federal government, should set marijuana policy.

    To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safetycrime ratestraffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue. Specifically, a 2017 report estimates that 123,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abusehospitalizations, and mortality.

    CLICK HERE TO QUICKLY AND EASILY WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IN FAVOR OF THIS IMPORTANT LEGISLATION.

  • by Matthew Bratcher, Executive Director, KY NORML July 16, 2018

    There are approximately 700,000 senior citizens in our state. The Kentucky State Data Center at the University of Louisville found people age 65 have grown 23 percent since the 2010 census, while the number of people younger than 65 has declined and they account for over 15 percent of our population and growing.

    In the past few years researchers have been looking into how cannabis therapy is both safe and effective among elderly patients diagnosed with chronic pain, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, “[a]fter six months of treatment, 93.7% of the respondents reported improvement in their condition and the reported pain levelwas reduced from a median of 8 on a scale of 0-10 to a median of 4.”

    Investigators with the Alcohol Research Group assessed trends in marijuana use between the years 1984 and 2015. Authors reported that, compared with older Americans 30 years ago, older respondents today are some 20 times more likely to acknowledge using cannabis. This suggests the stigma of cannabis from drug war propaganda has been eroded and education is reaching seniors.

    “We found that rates of use among older groups increased quite significantly since the 1980s, especially for men in their fifties and sixties,” the study’s lead author stated in a press release. Their finding is consistent with those of other studies reporting upticks in cannabis use by seniors.

    Separate data presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society finds that as many as 65 percent of older adults reduce their use of prescription painkillers after initiating medical cannabis therapy – a finding that is consistent with those of numerous other studies assessing marijuana substitution patterns in various patient populations.

    Seniors, with the benefit of life experience, professional knowledge, and 20/20 hindsight, are potentially our strongest allies in the fight to end Marijuana prohibition. We urge our Commonwealth’s seniors and their loved ones to take action and contact their state representatives by calling 1-800-372-7181 and letting them know they support cannabis reform in Kentucky.

    High Regards,
    Matthew Bratcher
    Executive Director, KY NORML

    To support KY NORML you can DONATE HERE and follow us on Facebook and Twitter! Your donations help pay the bills and allow us to function and continue to make a difference in our state! Can you kick in $5, $10 or $20 to help us keep going?

  • by NORML July 12, 2018

    Republican Gov. Mary Fallin yesterday signed into law emergency regulations amending SQ 788 — the state’s voter-initiated medical marijuana access law.

    The changes, approved Tuesday in a 5 to 4 vote by directors at the Department of Health, seek to severely limit patients’ access to a wide range of cannabis products. Specifically, the new provisions: prohibit the sale of herbal cannabis at licensed dispensaries; require dispensaries to have a licensed pharmacist on staff; impose arbitrary THC potency thresholds on various cannabis-infused products; and mandate that dispensary managers obtain at least four hours of continuing education training each calendar year. Qualified patients will still be permitted to grow their own medical marijuana flowers.

    The Oklahoma State Medical Association, which opposed the passage of SQ 788, lobbied for many of the amendments. Governor Fallin also was a vocal critic of the initiative campaign.

    NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano criticized the changes. “Government officials are not acting in good faith. Not only are they undermining the will of the voters, but they are violating the spirit of the law in a manner that will be detrimental to the very patients this measure was intended to protect.”

    Initiative proponents are considering pursuing legal actions. Activists are also in the process of gathering signatures to place a broader, adult use legalization measure on the 2018 ballot.

    NORML has long argued that patients should not be limited solely to non-inhaled forms of cannabis because these alternative formulations possess delayed onset and their effects are far less predictable than those of herbal cannabis. Further, restricting patients’ access to herbal cannabis limits their exposure to the multitude of synergistically acting therapeutic compounds and terpenes found naturally in the plant, many of which are no longer present in formulations produced following the extraction of individual cannabinoids.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 11, 2018

    The enactment of medical cannabis access laws is associated with significant reductions in prescription opioid use among Medicaid enrollees, according to just-published data in the journal Addiction.

    Investigators with the University of California at San Diego assessed the relationship between medical cannabis legalization and opioid use among Medicaid enrollees over a period of 21 years (1993 to 2014).

    Authors reported, “For Schedule III opioid prescriptions, medical cannabis legalization was associated with a 29.6 percent reduction in number of prescriptions, 29.9 percent reduction in dosage, and 28.8 percent reduction in related Medicaid spending.” This correlation remained after authors controlled for potential confounders, such as the establishment of prescription drug monitoring programs and variations in patients’ income.

    By contrast, authors did not report similar changes in enrollees’ use of Schedule II opioid drugs, like Oxycodone. Authors speculated that this result may be because physicians are more reticent to recommend medical cannabis options to these patients.

    They concluded: “In this study, we found that statewide medical cannabis legalization implemented in 1993-2014 in the US was associated with close to 30 percent reductions in Schedule III opioids received by Medicaid enrollees.. … It was estimated that, if all the states had legalized medical cannabis by 2014, Medicaid annual spending on opioid prescriptions would be reduced by 17.8 million dollars.”

    Their findings are similar to those of numerous other observational studies – such as those here, here, and here – finding that medical marijuana regulation is correlated with reductions in overall opioid-related use, drug spending, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Separate data evaluating prescription drug use trends among individual patients enrolled in state-licensed medical marijuana programs is consistent with this conclusion, finding that many subjects reduce or eliminate their use of opioids following enrollment.

    The abstract of the new study, “Medical cannabis legalization and opioid prescriptions: Evidence of US Medicaid enrollees during 1993-2014,” appears online here.

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