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SOCIETY

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 28, 2016

    ballot_box_leafMore than three out of five New Mexicans believe that state law ought to be amended to permit retails sales of marijuana to adults, according to statewide polling data provided by Research & Polling Inc. and commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance.

    Sixty-one percent of respondents said that they supported legislation to regulate and tax retail sales of marijuana to those age 21 and over. Respondents’ support rose to 69 percent when pollsters indicated that sales taxes would be used to fund health-related programs.

    Majority support for regulating the adult use of cannabis have previously been reported in a number of other state and national surveys.

    Legislation to allow for the retail sale and adult use of cannabis, House Bill 75 and Senate Joint Resolution 5, is presently pending in the New Mexico legislature. Similar legislation is pending in over a dozen other states, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Vermont.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 19, 2016

    oil_bottlesThe administration of liquid cannabis extracts containing THC is associated with the mitigation of various symptoms of Alzheimer’s-related agitation and dementia, according to observational trial data published online ahead of print in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

    Israeli investigators assessed the use of cannabis oil as an adjunct pharmacotherapy treatment in ten Alzheimer’s disease patients over a period of several weeks. Researchers reported that drug administration was associated with a significant reduction in patients’ symptom severity scores. Specifically, cannabis oil ingestion corresponded with decreased levels of aggression, irritability, apathy, and delusions.

    Investigators concluded, “Adding medical cannabis oil to Alzheimer’s disease patients pharmacotherapy is safe and a promising treatment option.”

    The administration of dronabinol (oral synthetic THC in pill form) has previously been reported to reduce Alzheimer’s-induced agitation and improve weight gain, while preclinical studies have theorized that cannabinoids may be neuroprotective against the onset of the disease.

    An abstract of the study, “Safety and efficacy of medical cannabis oil for behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia: An open label, add-on, pilot study,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 18, 2016

    personal_cultivationThe cumulative use of cannabis by adolescents has no direct effect on intelligence decline, according to longitudinal data published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Minnesota evaluated whether marijuana use was associated with changes in intellectual performance in two longitudinal cohorts of adolescent twins. Participants were assessed for intelligence at ages 9 to 12, before marijuana involvement, and again at ages 17 to 20.

    Researchers reported no dose-response relationship between cannabis use and IQ decline. They also found no significant differences in performance among marijuana using subjects when compared to their non-using twins.

    Investigators concluded: “In the largest longitudinal examination of marijuana use and IQ change, … we find little evidence to suggest that adolescent marijuana use has a direct effect on intellectual decline. … [T]he lack of a dose–response relationship, and an absence of meaningful differences between discordant siblings lead us to conclude that the deficits observed in marijuana users are attributable to confounding factors that influence both substance initiation and IQ rather than a neurotoxic effect of marijuana.”

    The findings follow the publication of a separate longitudinal study in the Journal of Pharmacology which concluded that cumulative adolescent marijuana use is not associated with lower IQ or poorer educational performance once adjustments are made for potential confounders, specifically cigarette smoking.

    An abstract of the study, “Impact of adolescent marijuana use on intelligence: Results from two longitudinal twin studies,” is online here.

  • 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.

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