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SCIENCE

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 30, 2018

    Long-term exposure to cannabis smoke is not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function, according to clinical data published in the journal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases.

    A team of investigators led by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health assessed the relationship between marijuana use and respiratory function and symptoms in a cohort of 2,300 subjects ages 40 to 80, many of whom also smoked tobacco.

    Authors reported, “Neither current nor former marijuana use was associated with increased risk of cough, wheeze, or chronic bronchitis when compared to never marijuana users after adjusting for covariates. … Current and former marijuana smokers had significantly higher FEV1 (forced expiratory volume) … when compared to never users. … Both current and former marijuana use was associated with significantly less quantitative emphysema … when compared to never users, even after adjusting for age, … current tobacco smoking pack years, and BMI. … In agreement with other published studies, we also did not find that marijuana use was associated with more obstructive lung disease.”

    The long-term combined use of tobacco and cannabis also was not found to be associated with any additive adverse effects on the lungs. Authors concluded, “Among older adults with a history of tobacco use, marijuana use does not appear to increase risk for adverse lung function. … There may be no to little increased risk of marijuana use for a further increase in respiratory symptoms or adverse effects on lung function among those with a history of concomitant tobacco use.”

    Prior longitudinal studies assessing the effects of long-term cannabis smoke exposure on lung function have similarly reported that subjects’ marijuana use history is not positively associated with increased incidences of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, or with other significant detrimental effects on pulmonary function.

    Full text of the study, “Marijuana use associations with pulmonary symptoms and function in tobacco smokers enrolled in the subpopulations and intermediate outcome measures in COPD Study (SPIROMICS),” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 2, 2018

    Legalization in DCNeither the occasional nor the heavy use of marijuana by adolescents is associated with decreased motivation, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the journal Substance Use & Misuse.

    A team of Florida International University researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis use and motivation in 79 adolescent subjects. Participants consisted of both long-term regular consumers and occasional users. Investigators assessed subjects’ motivational tendencies through the use of two validated tools, the Apathy Evaluation Scale and the Motivation and Engagement Scale.

    Authors reported: “After controlling for confounds, no significant differences were observed between regular and light users on any motivation index. Similarly, no associations between motivation and lifetime or past 30-day cannabis use amount were observed.”

    They concluded, “Our findings do not support a link between reduced motivation and CU among adolescents after controlling for relevant confounds.”

    An abstract of the study, “Is cannabis use associated with various indices of motivation among adolescents?”, appears here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 19, 2017

    mj_researchThe daily administration of CBD (cannabidiol) as an adjunctive therapy mitigates psychotic symptoms in patients with schizophrenia, according to clinical trial data published online ahead of print in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

    British researchers assessed the adjunctive use of CBD compared to placebo over a six-week period in a randomized trial of 88 schizophrenic patients. Participants ingested 1000mg of plant-derived CBD per day.

    Subjects in the CBD treatment group “had lower levels of positive psychotic symptoms and were more likely to have been rated as improved and as not severely unwell by the treating clinician” at the conclusion of the trial. CBD administration was also associated with “improvements in cognitive performance and in the level of overall functioning,” although these changes did not reach statistical significance.

    “These findings suggest that CBD has beneficial effects in patients with schizophrenia,” authors concluded. “As CBD’s effects do not appear to depend on dopamine receptor antagonism, this agent may represent a new class of treatment for the disorder.”

    Results of the prior clinical trial published in the journal Translational Psychiatry determined that CBD is superior to amisulpride, a potent anti-psychotic agent, in mitigating psychotic symptoms in schizophrenic patients.

    An abstract of the study, “Cannabidiol (CBD) as an adjunctive therapy in schizophrenia: A multicenter randomized controlled trial,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 11, 2017

    oil_bottlesThe use of the naturally occurring cannabinoid CBD is safe, well tolerated, and is not associated with any significant adverse public health effects, according to the findings of a preliminary report compiled by the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence.

    Authors of the report declare that CBD is “not associated with abuse potential” and that it does not induce physical dependence. “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile,” they conclude.

    Nonetheless, they acknowledge that CBD remains classified as a schedule I controlled substance under US federal law – a classification that defines it as possessing a “high potential for abuse.”

    The WHO report also comments on CBD’s therapeutic efficacy, finding that the substance has “been demonstrated as an effective treatment for epilepsy,” and that there exists “preliminary evidence that CBD may be a useful treatment for a number of other medical conditions,” including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and psychosis.

    While authors acknowledge that the “unsanctioned medical use of CBD” oils and extracts is relatively common, they affirm, “[T]here is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

    The World Health Organization is in the process of considering whether to place CBD within the agency’s international drug scheduling code. In September, NORML submitted written testimony to the US Food and Drug Administration in opposition to the enactment of new international restrictions regarding CBD access. The FDA is one of a number of agencies advising WHO in their final review.

    Full text of the preliminary report appears online here. The full text of NORML’s written testimony appears here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 1, 2017

    personal_cultivationSales of alcoholic beverages decline following the enactment of medical marijuana access laws, according to a working paper authored by a team of researchers from the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University.

    Authors evaluated the relationship between medical marijuana laws and retail alcohol sales for more than 2,000 US counties for the years 2006 to 2015. Alcohol sales trends in medical cannabis states were compared to sales trends in states where cannabis remained illegal. Researchers determined that counties located in medical cannabis states, on average, experienced a reduction in monthly alcohol sales of 15 percent.

    Researchers concluded: “We find that marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes. … States legalizing medical marijuana use experience significant decreases in the aggregate sale of alcohol, beer and wine. Moreover, the effects are not short-lived, with significant reductions observed up to 24 months after the passage of the law.”

    Consumer trend data from California reports that those with legal access to cannabis frequently reduce their alcohol intake. A 2016 analysis of beer sales in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington reported that retail sales “collectively underperformed” in the years following the enactment of adult use marijuana regulation.

    Full text of the study, “Helping settle the marijuana and alcohol debate: Evidence from scanner data,” appears online here.

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