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SOCIETY

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 25, 2017

    Cannabis PenaltiesTabulations calculating the percentage of annual marijuana arrests nationwide are absent from the 2017 edition of the FBI Uniform Crime Report, which the agency released today.

    The table,’Arrests for Drug Abuse Violations: Percent Distribution by Region,’ had for decades appeared in the section of the FBI report entitled ‘Persons Arrested.’ It was one of over 50 tables eliminated from this year’s edition of the Crime report. NORML had relied on the table in order to extrapolate and publicize annual marijuana arrest data, which it has tracked since 1965.

    According to the latest FBI report, police made 1,572,579 arrests for illicit drug offenses in 2016. This total represents nearly a six percent increase in arrests since 2015.

    Although data with regard to what percentage of these drug arrests were marijuana-related was absent from this year’s report, the FBI did provide percentages by request to Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell, who summarized the data in a column for Forbes.com.

    The unpublished data estimates that police made 653,249 arrests for cannabis-related violations in 2016. Of these, 587,516 arrests (90 percent of all marijuana arrests) were for possession-related offenses.
    U.S. Annual Marijuana Arrests 1965-2016

    The arrest total is an increase from 2015 figures and marks the first year-to-year uptick in nationwide marijuana arrests in nearly a decade. The uptick comes at a time when eight states have enacted laws to regulate the adult use of cannabis and when public support for legalizing the plant is at a record high.

    “The recent uptick in the number of marijuana arrests is unprecedented in recent years, especially given the rate of state-level reform we have seen. This combined with the FBI’s disturbing change of protocol and lack of transparency in the publishing of arrest records only further demonstrates the need for state lawmakers to respect the will of the majority of their constituents and end the practice of marijuana prohibition once and for all,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director September 22, 2017

    yesIn their second formal assessment on the impact of legalization in the wake of the implementation of I-502, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) issued the next regularly scheduled report – and suffice to say, the news was very positive, unless you are still relying on tired and debunked prohibitionist talking points.

    Key takeaways from the WSIPP report:

    – Found no evidence that greater levels of legal cannabis sales caused increases in overall adult cannabis use
    – Found no impact on hard drug use in adolescents or adults
    – Found no evidence that state medical marijuana laws caused an increase in property and violent crimes reported by the FBI but did find evidence of decreased homicide and assault associated with medical legalization
    – Found evidence that nonmedical legalization in Washington and Oregon may have led to a drop in rape and murder rates
    – Found that among respondents under age 21, those living in counties with higher sales were significantly less likely to report use of cannabis in the past 30 days
    – Found no evidence of effects of the amount of legal cannabis sales on indicators of youth cannabis use in grades 8, 10, and 12

    As Kevin Oliver, the head of Washington NORML, always tells me: Legally High Regards.

    You can read the full WSIPP report by clicking HERE or read further analysis of the report by NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano HERE.

     

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 21, 2017

    joint_budThe percentage of young people who believe that they can readily access marijuana has fallen significantly since 2002, according to data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

    A team of investigators from Boston University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of North Carolina, and St. Louis University examined trends in perceived cannabis access among adolescents for the years 2002 to 2015.

    Authors reported: “[W]e observed a 27 percent overall reduction in the relative proportion of adolescents ages 12 to 17 and a 42 percent reduction among those ages 12 to 14 reporting that it would be ‘very easy’ to obtain marijuana. This pattern was uniformly observed among youth in all sociodemographic subgroups.”

    They concluded, “Despite the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in some states, our findings suggest that … perceptions that marijuana would be very easy to obtain are on the decline among American youth.”

    The new data is consistent with figures published last year by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported, “From 2002 to 2014, … perceived availability [of marijuana] decreased by 13 percent among persons aged 12–17 years and by three percent among persons aged 18?25 years [old].”

    An abstract of the study, “Trends in perceived access to marijuana among adolescents in the United States: 2002-2015,” is online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 18, 2017

    Marijuana medicineChronic pain patients enrolled in a statewide medical marijuana program are more likely to reduce their use of prescription drugs than are those patients who don’t use cannabis, according to data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

    Investigators from the University of New Mexico compared prescription drug use patterns over a 24-month period in 83 pain patients enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program and 42 non-enrolled patients. Researchers reported that, on average, program registrants significantly reduced their prescription drug intake while non-registrants did not.

    Specifically, 34 percent of registered patients eliminated their use of prescription drugs altogether by the study’s end, while an additional 36 percent of participants used fewer medications by the end of the sample period.

    “Legal access to cannabis may reduce the use of multiple classes of dangerous prescription medications in certain patient populations,” authors concluded. “[A] shift from prescriptions for other scheduled drugs to cannabis may result in less frequent interactions with our conventional healthcare system and potentially improved patient health.”

    A pair of studies published in the journal Health Affairs previously reported that medical cannabis access is associated with lower Medicaid expenditures and reduced spending on Medicare Part D approved prescription medications.

    Separate studies have reported that patients with legal access to medical marijuana reduce their intake of opioidsbenzodiazepinesanti-depressantsmigraine-related medications, and sleep aids, among other substances.

    An abstract of the study, “Effects of legal access to cannabis on Scheduled II–V drug prescriptions,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 7, 2017

    no_marijuanaFewer young people today identify as current users of cannabis as compared to 2002, according to national survey data released today by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report finds that 6.5 percent of respondents between the ages of 12 and 17 report having consumed cannabis within the past 30 days – a decrease of 21 percent since 2002 and the lowest percentage reported by the survey in 20 years. Adolescents’ use of alcohol and tobacco also declined significantly during this same period.

    The findings are similar to those compiled by the University of Michigan which also reports long-term declines in young people’s marijuana use, which have fallen steadily nationwide since 1996.

    The new SAMHSA data acknowledges an increase in the percentage of respondents ages 18 or older who report using cannabis, a trend that has similarly been identified in other national surveys. By contrast, rates of alcohol abuse have been steadily declining for over a decade among this same age group. Rates of problematic cannabis use by those over the age of 18 have largely held steady since 2002, and have fallen substantially among adolescents.

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