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SCIENCE

  • by NORML September 2, 2017

    Marijuana researchRepresentative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has introduced an amendment to the appropriations bill that, if passed, would not allow the Department of Justice to use funds from the bill to prevent or delay the approval of an application to research medical marijuana. This past year, the DEA moved to create a new procedure to license more facilities to cultivate marijuana for research after hearing concerns about the lack of quality cannabis for trials. However, since this implementation, the DEA has not acted on any of the applications that have been submitted since the creation of this program in an attempt to keep the already outrageous restrictions.

    “Because of marijuana’s draconian schedule 1 status, scientists are hindered in researching its medical potential — and then, because medical research is scarce, its schedule 1 status is upheld. It’s time to break this vicious cycle, and make it easier for researchers to investigate the potential medical uses of cannabis” said Rep. Gaetz. “How many lives throughout the nation could be improved with increased marijuana research — from cancer patients to veterans with PTSD? We do a disservice to them, and to all Americans, by limiting research. The time for change is now.”

    Because marijuana is listed as a schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, the federal government does not see it as having any medicinal benefits. Trying to get the DEA to actually act upon these new applications to expand research is extremely difficult and it will be just as difficult to get the DEA accept them. If Gaetz’s proposed amendment is passed, it will make it harder for the DEA to deny these research applications.

    In a bipartisan letter, Representatives Gaetz, Rohrabacher (R-CA), Polis (D-CO), and Blumenauer (D-OR) ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop standing in the way of increasing research into marijuana’s medical potential. In the letter, the Representatives write “It is worrisome to think that the Department of Justice, the cornerstone of American civil society, would limit new and potentially groundbreaking research simply because it does not want to follow a rule.”

  • by NORML August 30, 2017

    Legalize marijuanaFirst, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of you who responded to NORML’s request to contact the American Automobile Association and urged them to “stop lying about marijuana legalization.”

    But even as public and media pressure grows, AAA affiliates are doubling down on their reefer madness rhetoric.

    At a recent AAA Texas-sponsored event, attendees were falsely told that drivers testing positive possess a 25-fold risk of accident compared to sober drivers. But the actual study cited by AAA concluded nothing of the sort. Rather, the study in question — conducted by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — determined that THC-positive drivers possessed virtually no statistically significant risk of motor vehicle accident compared to drug negative drivers.

    Similarly, AAA Mid-Atlantic is continuing to distort the truth about cannabis. Despite having been provided with peer-reviewed evidence to the contrary, a recent reply by their Director of Public and Government Affairs office shows that the agency is refusing to listen to the facts with regard to cannabis regulation and traffic safety.

    “We are deeply concerned that lawmakers are considering the legalization of recreational marijuana,” the AAA’s response states. “AAA opposes the legalization … of marijuana for recreational use because of its negative traffic safety implications.”

    Yet, recent studies of federal crash data find that changes in the legal status of cannabis are not associated with a rise in traffic fatalities – and, in some instances, regulating cannabis has been associated with a reduction in deadly motor vehicle crashes.

    Send AAA the facts in a message now

    Nonetheless, AAA Mid-Atlantic opines, “The problem of drugged driving … will only get worse if [a] state legalizes it for recreational use.”

    AAA further argues that a 2015 Governors Highway Safety report finds that “drugs were present in … fatally-injured drivers with known test results, appearing more frequently than alcohol.” However, AAA fails to acknowledge that the Governors report was primarily highlighting a rise in the presence of prescription medications and over-the-counter medications in fatally injured drivers. As acknowledged by the paper’s authors: “For this report, a drug is any substance that can impair driving. There are four categories of drugs: illegal drugs, legal non-medical drugs, prescription medications, [and] over-the counter medicines.” The Governors’ report also fails to identify whether the drug-positive drivers identified by the study were either impaired at the time of the crash or even culpable for the accident.

    Further, the Governors’ report has fallen under scathing public criticism from other traffic safety groups, including MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), who publicly repudiated its interpretations. “There is no way you can say that drugs have overtaken alcohol as the biggest killer on the highway,” MADD responded. “The data is not anywhere close to being in a way that would suggest that.”

    They’re correct. Specifically, a 2014 review of US fatal traffic accident data by researchers at the Pacific Research Institute in Maryland reported definitively that alcohol remains a greater contributor to crash risk than all other drugs combined, concluding: “Alcohol was not only found to be an important contributor to fatal crash risk, … it was associated with fatal crash risk levels significantly higher than those for other drugs. … The much higher crash risk of alcohol compared with that of other drugs suggests that in times of limited resources, efforts to curb drugged driving should not reduce our efforts to pass and implement effective alcohol-related laws and policies.”

    If we are going to achieve sane policy solutions in regards to cannabis reform, it is essential that we call out those who seek to deceive the public, even if we appreciate their roadside assistance.

    Take Action:

    Tell AAA to stop spreading disinformation on the impacts of legalization.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director August 29, 2017

    oil_bottlesOn Regulations.Gov, right now, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is soliciting public comments with regard to the therapeutic utility and abuse liability of various controlled substances, including cannabidiol (CBD).

    The agency will consider these comments prior to preparing a formal response to the World Health Organization, which is considering placing the substances within their international drug scheduling code.

    Now, to be frank, it’s a little silly that the FDA is seeking public comment on a topic that would normally be judged based on the merits of evidence-based science and data. But prohibition itself would be considered silly if not for the detrimental effects of a criminal record and lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.

    That being said, cannabidiol is defined by the US Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule I controlled substance, despite:

    • Its therapeutic properties and lack of abuse potential, despite the safety trials which have determined the substance to be non-toxic and well-tolerated in human subjects
    • Seventeen states explicitly recognizing by state-law that CBD as a therapeutic agent
    • The head of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse publically acknowledging that CBD is “a safe drug with no addictive effects” 

    So a request for public comment should never go unfulfilled. So we made it incredibly easy for you to do so.

    CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT FORMAL COMMENTS TO THE FDA NOW

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director August 22, 2017
    Photo Credit: Carlo Allegri

    Photo Credit: Carlo Allegri

    Giving remarks to the Native American Housing Association, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson strayed into the marijuana reform debate. Unfortunately, the doctor did not know his facts.

    Per the Flathead Beacon:

    The HUD secretary briefly strayed from his prepared remarks to note that he believed marijuana use was just as problematic as opiate abuse.

    “I’m not all that enthusiastic about marijuana because there have been numerous studies that show exposing a developing brain to marijuana can lead to lower IQs,” he said. “We already have enough people with a low IQ, and we don’t need anymore.”

    The ongoing stereotype of marijuana consumers may be funny in movies, but it runs counter to evidence based science.

    NORML has reported on three studies over the last year and a half that have come out dispelling this myth.

    In London, United Kingdom, researchers concluded, “In summary, the notion that cannabis use itself is causally related to lower IQ and poorer educational performance was not supported in this large teenage sample.”

    Data published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences led researchers to conclude: “In the largest longitudinal examination of marijuana use and IQ change, … we find little evidence to suggest that adolescent marijuana use has a direct effect on intellectual decline. … [T]he lack of a dose-response relationship, and an absence of meaningful differences between discordant siblings lead us to conclude that the deficits observed in marijuana users are attributable to confounding factors that influence both substance initiation and IQ rather than a neurotoxic effect of marijuana.”

    Researchers published in the journal Addiction wrote: “[W]e found that youth who used cannabis … had lower IQ at age 18, but there was little evidence that cannabis use was associated with IQ decline from age 12 to 18. Moreover, although cannabis use was associated with lower IQ and poorer executive functions at age 18, these associations were generally not apparent within pairs of twins from the same family, suggesting that family background factors explain why adolescents who use cannabis perform worse on IQ and executive function tests.”

    Investigators concluded, “Short-term cannabis use in adolescence does not appear to cause IQ decline or impair executive functions, even when cannabis use reaches the level of dependence.”

    Their findings are consistent with those of several other studies – including those here, here, and here– finding that cannabis use alone during adolescence does not appear to have a significant, direct adverse effect on intelligence quotient.

    Further, as to Secretary Carson’s remarks in the context of the nations opioid epidemic, it is important to note that medical marijuana access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, and opioid-related overdose deaths.

    Don’t let those who speak in outdated rhetoric fool you. Stay vigilant against those who maintain the systems of prohibitionist oppression.

    Click here to tell your member of Congress to join the newly formed Congressional Cannabis Caucus, to find real policy solutions to reforming our nations marijuana laws in our quest to deschedule the plant. 

  • by NORML August 16, 2017

    mj_researchRepresentatives Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD-01), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) introduced H.R. 3391: The Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017.

    This Act amends the federal law to facilitate clinical investigations involving the use of cannabis and cannabis-derived products.

    As you may know, there are many benefits to medical cannabis. Those suffering from PTSD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Parkinson’s Disease, and many other debilitating conditions have found relief because of medical marijuana.  

    But, despite the fact that over 200 million Americans now have legal access to some form of medical marijuana, present regulations make clinical investigations involving cannabis needlessly onerous. Passage of this measure would expedite federal reviews of clinical protocols, provide greater access to scientists who wish to study the drug, and mandate an FDA review of the relevant science.

    Please click HERE to contact your Representative and urge him/her to support this important measure.

     

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