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SOCIETY

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 16, 2015

    no_marijuanaSelf-reported marijuana use by teenagers has declined since 2010, according to annual survey data compiled by the University of Michigan and released today.

    Authors state that adolescents’ use of cannabis has fallen slightly since 2010, while respondents’ self-reported use of other drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, are at near-record lows. Young people also reported finding it harder to access cannabis, a trend that has stayed consistent since the late-1990s.

    The conclusions are consistent with other studies — such as those here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here — finding that the enactment of state laws permitting the use of marijuana for medical or social purposes is not associated with overall rises in cannabis use by young people.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 15, 2015

    marijuana_gavelOver half of all people admitted to drug treatment programs for marijuana-related issues over the past decade were referred there by a criminal justice source, according to a report published this month by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

    In the years 2003 through 2013, 52 percent of people in drug treatment for marijuana as their ‘primary substance of abuse’ were referred by the criminal justice system. Of those, almost half (44 percent) entered treatment as a component of their probation or parole.

    Only 18 percent of marijuana treatment admissions were based upon self-referrals. Primary marijuana admissions were less likely than all other drug-related admissions combined to have been self- or individually referred to treatment.

    The data mirrors those of previous federal reports finding that only a small percentage of those entering treatment for marijuana perceive that they are abusing cannabis or have even used the substance recently.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 10, 2015

    legalization_pollNearly one out of two tourists visiting to Colorado acknowledge that their decision is motivated by the state’s permissive attitude toward marijuana, according to the findings of a just-released study commissioned by the Colorado Tourism Office.

    Among Colorado vacationers surveyed, 49 percent said that cannabis’ legal status influenced their decision, with 22 percent of them saying that it was “extremely influential.”

    A record number of tourists visited the state in 2014. Recreational sales of cannabis to adults became legal in Colorado on January 1, 2014.

    The results of a statewide Quinnipiac University poll commissioned this past November reported that 55 percent of Colorado voters support the state’s present marijuana policies, and that 53 percent of respondents believe that the policies have been “good for the state.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 1, 2015

    cbd_trichomesThe enactment of statewide laws permitting the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes is associated with an annual reduction in obesity-related medical costs, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Health Economics.

    Investigators at Cornell University in New York and San Diego State University in California reviewed twelve years of data from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to examine the effects of medical marijuana laws on body weight, physical wellness, and exercise.

    Researchers reported, “[T]he enforcement of MMLs (medical marijuana laws) is associated with a 2% to 6% decline in the probability of obesity. … Our estimates suggest that MMLs induce a $58 to $115 per-person annual reduction in obesity-related medical costs.”

    For those age 35 or older, authors determined that the passage of medical cannabis laws is “associated with an increase in physical wellness and frequent exercise consistent with the hypothesis of some medicinal use of marijuana.” For younger adults, researchers theorized that obesity declines were the result of less alcohol use.

    They concluded, “These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that MMLs may be more likely to induce marijuana use for health-related reasons among older individuals, and cause substitution toward lower-calorie recreational ‘highs’ among younger individuals.”

    The findings are similar to those of other recent observational studies, such as those here and here, concluding that cannabis use is associated with reduced body mass index and obesity.

    The abstract of the study, “The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Body Weight,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 30, 2015

    cannabis_pillsCannabis use is associated with improved outcomes in opioid-dependent subjects undergoing outpatient treatment, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

    Researchers at Columbia University assessed the use of cannabinoids versus placebo in opioid-dependent subjects undergoing in-patient detoxification and outpatient treatment with naltrexone, an opiate receptor antagonist. Investigators reported that the administration of oral THC (dronabinol) during the detoxification process lowered the severity of subjects’ withdrawal symptoms compared to placebo, but that these effects did not persist over the entire course of treatment. By contrast, patients who consumed herbal cannabis during the outpatient treatment phase were more readily able to sleep, were less anxious, and were more likely to complete their treatment as compared to those subjects who did not.

    “One of the interesting study findings was the observed beneficial effect of marijuana smoking on treatment retention,” authors concluded. “Participants who smoked marijuana had less difficulty with sleep and anxiety and were more likely to remain in treatment as compared to those who were not using marijuana, regardless of whether they were taking dronabinol or placebo.”

    The findings replicate those of two prior studies, one from 2001 and another from 2009, reporting greater treatment adherence among subjects who consumed cannabis intermittently during outpatient therapy.

    Population data from states where medicinal cannabis is permitted report lower rates of opioid-abuse and mortality as compared to those states where the plant is prohibited. Clinical data and case reports also indicate that the adjunctive use of cannabis may wean patients from opiates while successfully managing their pain. Survey data of state qualified medical cannabis patients demonstrates that subjects with access to the plant often substitute it for opioids because they perceive it to possess fewer adverse side effects.

    Overdose deaths involving opioids have increased dramatically in recent years. While fewer than 4,100 opiate-induced fatalities were reported for the year 1999, by 2010 this figure rose to over 16,600 according to an analysis by the US Centers for Disease Control.

    An abstract of the study, “The effects of dronabinol during detoxification and the initiation of treatment with extended release naltrexone,” appears online here.

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