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SOCIETY

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 15, 2016

    legalization_pollA majority of Americans, including two-thirds of Democrats, believe that marijuana should be legal for adults, according to nationwide survey data compiled by YouGov.com.

    Fifty-two percent of respondents said, “[T]he use of marijuana should be legalized.” Only 34 percent of respondents opposed the idea.

    Support for legalization was strongest among self-identified Democrats (66 percent), those with a household income of $100,000 or more (62 percent), and African Americans (59 percent). Support was weakest among Hispanics (39 percent), those over 65 years of age (39 percent), and self-identified Republicans (36 percent).

    Sixty-six percent of respondents agreed, “[G]overnment efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth,” while 62 percent said that the government should no longer enforce federal law in states that have legalized and regulated the plant’s use.

    Fifty-three percent of those surveyed, including 68 percent of respondents between the ages of 45 and 64, acknowledged having tried cannabis.

    The YouGov.com poll is the latest in a series of national surveys showing majority support among Americans for regulating the adult use of cannabis.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

    whha-souzaAlcohol is typically the first substance consumed by individuals who report polydrug use later in life, according to data published this month in The Journal of School Health.

    Researchers from Texas A&M University and the University of Florida, Gainesville evaluated drug use patterns from a nationally representative sample of 2,835 12th graders.

    Authors found that youth use of alcohol most often preceded the use of tobacco or marijuana. They also reported subjects’ age of alcohol initiation is the strongest predictor of later polydrug use.

    “Alcohol is the most commonly used substance, and the majority of polysubstance using respondents consumed alcohol prior to tobacco or marijuana initiation,” they reported. “Respondents initiating alcohol use in sixth grade reported significantly greater lifetime illicit substance use and more frequent illicit substance use than those initiating alcohol use in ninth grade or later.”

    They concluded, “Our results … assert that the earlier one initiates alcohol use, the more likely that they will engage in future illicit substance use.”

    The findings are inconsistent with recent claims made by several prominent lawmakers that cannabis is a ‘gateway’ to later substance abuse.

    Studies conducted by the RAND Corporation and others have previously dismissed any alleged causal role of marijuana as a gateway to subsequent illicit drug abuse, finding, “There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other drugs.”

    An abstract of the study, “Prioritizing Alcohol Prevention: Establishing Alcohol as the Gateway Drug and Linking Age of First Drink With Illicit Drug Use,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 12, 2016

    cropsMarijuana use by adolescents is not associated with lower IQ or poorer educational performance once adjustments are made for potential confounders, specifically cigarette smoking, according to longitudinal data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

    British investigators assessed the relationship between cumulative cannabis use and IQ at the age of 15 and educational performance at the age of 16 in a cohort of 2,235 adolescents.

    After researchers adjusted for potentially confounding variables, such as childhood depression and cigarette use, they reported, “[T]hose who had used cannabis [greater than or equal to] 50 times did not differ from never-users on either IQ or educational performance.”

    By contrast, teen cigarette smoking was associated with poorer educational outcomes even after researchers adjusted for other confounding variables.

    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.”

    A widely publicized New Zealand study published in 2012 in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that frequent use of cannabis by those under the age of 18 was associated with lower IQ by age 38. However, a separate review of the data published later in the same journal suggested that the changes were likely the result of socioeconomic differences, not cannabis use.

    More recently, the results of a 2015 study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence reported that the effects of persistent adolescent cannabis use on academic performance “became non-significant after controlling for persistent alcohol and tobacco use.”

    Full text of the study, “Are IQ and educational outcomes in teenagers related to their cannabis use? A prospective cohort study,” appears online here.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director January 11, 2016

    Update: The entire show can be watched here.

    Premiering tonight on The History Channel at 9PM (eastern) is the new documentary ‘The Marijuana Revolution‘, which looks at the history of cannabis use in America, the forty-five year effort to reform prohibition laws, the dramatic increase in public support recently to finally re-legalize the herbal drug and the hundreds of companies already cultivating, infusing, testing, marketing and selling cannabis-related products.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 4, 2016

    personal_cultivationMarijuana consumers do not typically use cannabis and alcohol in combination with one another, regardless of whether they are consuming cannabis for medicinal or social purposes, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Addiction.

    Investigators with the RAND Drug Policy Research Center and the University of California, Irvine surveyed marijuana use patterns among participants between the ages of 18 and 91 in four states: Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. (The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is legal in New Mexico, while laws in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington permit adults to possess and purchase cannabis for both medicinal and/or recreational purposes.)

    Authors reported, ”Individuals who use cannabis do not commonly use it with alcohol, irrespective of whether they are consuming cannabis recreationally or medically.” They concluded, “Fewer than one in five recreational users report simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis most or all of the time and less than three percent of medicinal users report frequent simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis.”

    Although some studies indicate that cannabis can be a potential substitute for the use of alcohol, others have implied that the two substances may be complementary.

    An abstract of the study, “A baseline view of cannabis use among legalizing states and their neighbors,” appears online here.

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