Study: Passage of Medical Marijuana Laws Associated With Reduced Incidences of Alcohol-Related Traffic FatalitiesAugust 13, 2013
The passage of medical cannabis laws is associated with a reduction in the public’s consumption of alcohol and with fewer incidences of alcohol-related traffic fatalities, according to data published in the Journal of Law and Economics.
Investigators at Montana State University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Colorado assessed data regarding both alcohol consumption and traffic fatality rates for the years 1990 to 2010.
Authors wrote: “Using individual-level data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) …, we find that MMLs (medical marijuana laws) are associated with decreases in the probability of [an individual] having consumed alcohol in the past month, binge drinking, and the number of drinks consumed.”
Researchers further acknowledged that this general decline in the public’s use of alcohol was likely responsible for a parallel decline in the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
“Using data from FARS (federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System) for the period 1990–2010, we find that traffic fatalities fall by 8–11 percent the first full year after legalization. … Why does legalizing medical marijuana reduce traffic fatalities? Alcohol consumption appears to play a key role. The legalization of medical marijuana is associated with a 7.2 percent decrease in traffic fatalities in which there was no reported alcohol involvement, but this estimate is not statistically significant at conventional levels. In comparison, the legalization of medical marijuana is associated with a 13.2 percent decrease in fatalities in which at least one driver involved had a positive BAC level. The negative relationship between the legalization of medical marijuana and traffic fatalities involving alcohol lends support to the hypothesis that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes.”
Authors determined, “We conclude that alcohol is the likely mechanism through which the legalization of medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities. However, this conclusion does not necessarily imply that driving under the influence of marijuana is safer than driving under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol is often consumed in restaurants and bars, while many states prohibit the use of medical marijuana in public. If marijuana consumption typically takes place at home or other private locations, then legalization could reduce traffic fatalities simply because marijuana users are less likely to drive while impaired.”
The abstract of the study, “Medical marijuana laws, traffic fatalities, and alcohol consumption,” is available free online here. NORML has several additional papers specific to the issue of cannabis and psychomotor performance available online here.
CNN’s Sanjay Gupta: Apologizes for Past Opposition, Delivers Full Throated Defense of Medical MarijuanaAugust 8, 2013
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has reversed his previous opposition to marijuana law reform and delivered a full throated defense of cannabis’ medical applications in an editorial published this week on CNN.
In his own words:
Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called “Weed.” The title “Weed” may sound cavalier, but the content is not.
I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.
Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.”
Well, I am here to apologize.
Click here to read the full article.
Dr. Gupta, a neurosurgeon and CNN’s chief medical correspondent, explains how he mistakenly bought into certain government propaganda surrounding cannabis, but through continued research and his experiences filming his upcoming documentary “Weed” (which airs on CNN on Sunday at 8pm ET and PT) completely changed his mind on the plant and its efficacy.
I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.”
They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works.
NORML applauds Dr. Gupta for openly apologizing for his role in how Americans have been “terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States” on the issue of marijuana and his recent advocacy in favor of marijuana law reforms, something we can only hope will continue. Sanjay appeared on Piers Morgan Live last night to promote his new documentary, this segment alone demands some attention for his ability to explain the medical applications of cannabis and the hypocrisy of our current laws in an intelligent and articulate manner.
If current momentum sustains itself, Sanjay Gupta (who was named Forbes #8 Most Influential Celebrity in 2011) is just one more of what will become a long line of prominent and respected media and medical professionals who will speak up against our failed cannabis prohibition. His advocacy can have nothing but a net positive effect on the current dialogue going on in mainstream America surrounding marijuana and help continue to push public opinion in our favor.
Sanjay Gupta’s “Weed” airs this Sunday on CNN at 8pm ET and PT
People who consume cannabis are more likely to be knowledgeable about the substance’s health effects than are those who abstain from it, according to survey data reported online in the International Journal of Public Health Policy.
Researchers at the University of Zurich in Switzerland assessed the health literacy of some 12,000 male subjects. Investigators reported that those subjects who consumed cannabis, alcohol, and tobacco “searched for information about substances significantly more often via the Internet than abstainers.” These subjects also “reported better knowledge of risks associated with substance use and a marginally better ability to understand health information than abstainers,” the authors found.
In particular, subjects who reported consuming cannabis weekly were four times more likely to search for health-related information as compared those who abstained, the study found.
Researchers concluded, “Substance users appear to be more informed and knowledgeable about the risks of substance use than non-users.”
Read the abstract of the study, “Health literacy and substance use in young Swiss men,” here.
Over the last year or so I’ve read about and on occasion met with the newly minted ‘cannabis CEOs’ in America (men and women who’re at the vanguard of creating a sustainable cannabis industry in America post prohibition). Most of them talk in couched terms regarding what they ‘hope’ to see happen with a legal cannabis market in the US or issue over-the-top and breathless press releases that seek to attract investor attention.
However, Vice Magazine has produced a very fascinating and revealing short documentary featuring a real life cannabis industry CEO who walks the walk when it comes to not only taking substantive legal chances to further his businesses, but one who lives his life as-a-always-interested-stakeholder in the future of humans being able to access high quality cannabis products.
Having met Amsterdam’s Arjan Roskom of the famed Green House coffeeshops and seed company on a number of occasions previously, I was hardly surprised when Vice contacted me to review their documentary that Arjan was featured and had provided them an insider’s view of what it is like to be a genuine cannabis industry maverick.
The Vice documentary focuses on Arjan and his lead cultivator traveling to the deep jungles of Colombia to re-locate three famed sativa strains of cannabis historically cultivated in this region of South America.
Cannabis kudos to Vice and Arjan!
Marijuana smoking is not associated with the promotion of liver disease in subjects coinfected with both hepatitis C and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to data published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Investigators at McGill University in Montreal and the University of Toronto assessed the impact of marijuana smoking on liver disease progression longitudinally in a cohort of nearly 700 subjects with HIV and the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Study participants at baseline reported having previously used cannabis, on average, some seven times per week, with 40 percent of subjects acknowledging having consumed cannabis daily. Participants were monitored over a median period of 32 months.
Investigators reported, “In this prospective analysis we found no evidence for an association between marijuana smoking and significant liver fibrosis progression in HIV/HCV coinfection.” Authors speculated that previously reported positive associations between cannabis smoking and liver disease progression were likely the result of “reverse causation due to self-medication.”
Researchers concluded: “[I]n this first prospective evaluation of liver disease progression among HIV-HCV infected persons, we could not demonstrate any important effect of marijuana on liver disease outcomes. A causal association is unlikely: hazard ratios were weak and … there was no dose-response relationship. It is likely that previous studies have been biased by reverse causality as patients use more marijuana to relieve symptoms as liver disease progresses.”
Subjects diagnosed with HIV and/or hepatitis C frequently report using cannabis to treat disease symptoms as well as the plethora of adverse side effects, such as nausea and appetite loss, associated with conventional drug therapies.
Full text of the study, “Marijuana Smoking Does Not Accelerate Progression of Liver Disease in HIV–Hepatitis C Coinfection: A Longitudinal Cohort Analysis,” appears online in Clinical Infectious Diseases. The study abstract appears online here.