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NORML Blog

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

    GovChristieDespite the growing body of scientific evidence showing that cannabis access is associated with reductions in opioid use and mortality, the Chairman of the White House’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis today called upon the President to reject any efforts to acknowledge marijuana’s promising role in mitigating opioid abuse and dependency.

    In a letter sent today to President Donald Trump by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Chairman of the Committee, he writes:

    “The Commission acknowledges that there is an active movement to promote the use of
    marijuana as an alternative medication for chronic pain and as a treatment for opioid addiction. … There is a lack of sophisticated outcome data on dose, potency, and abuse potential for marijuana. This mirrors the lack of data in the 1990’s and early 2000’s when opioid prescribing multiplied across health care settings and led to the current
    epidemic of abuse, misuse and addiction. The Commission urges that the same mistake is not made with the uninformed rush to put another drug legally on the market in the midst of an overdose epidemic.”

    President Trump established the Commission in May via an executive order. Members of the Commission issued their policy recommendations today.

    In recent months, dozens of peer-reviewed studies have concluded that legal cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use, spending, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Summaries and links to these studies are available here.

    Despite over 10,000 advocates communicating this information to the Commission, members of the committee have chosen to disregard it. Moreover, Gov. Christie opines in today’s letter that cannabis exposure increases the likelihood that one will become opioid dependent — an allegation that was recently rejected by the National Academy of Sciences, which, in a January 2017 review of some 10,000 peer-reviewed studies, failed to identify even one “good or fair-quality systematic review that reported on the association between cannabis use and the initiation of use of opioids.”

    NORML thanks the thousands of you who took the time to try to inform and educate this Commission and regrets that its members continue to place political ideology above the health and safety of American lives.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 31, 2017

    Domestic hemp production increased dramatically from 2016 to 2017, according to data compiled by the advocacy organization Vote Hemp.

    The group calculates that US farmers cultivated over 23,000 acres of hemp in 2017, up from fewer than 10,000 acres in 2016.

    Under a 2014 federal law, states may license hemp cultivation as part of a university sponsored pilot program. Thirty-two universities in nineteen states – including Colorado, Kentucky, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, and Tennessee – have participated in hemp cultivation projects this year.

    “The majority of states have implemented hemp farming laws, in clear support of this crop and its role in diversifying and making more sustainable our agricultural economy,” Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra said in a prepared statement. “It’s imperative that we pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act in Congress, so that we can grant farmers full federally legal rights to commercially cultivate hemp to supply the growing global market for hemp products.”

    House Bill 3530: The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017 excludes cannabis strains under 0.3 percent THC from the federal definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. The bill is assigned before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director

    Cannabis PenaltiesOn Monday, October 30th, I took a short trip down to Richmond, Virginia to testify alongside Virginia NORML regarding proposals to decriminalize the personal possession of marijuana, in order for those who are stopped by law enforcement to no longer face jail time or a criminal charge.

    Among the policy proposals are options that are line with those of numerous other states, including Nebraska and Mississippi. Such a change will save taxpayers money and allow police and the courts to re-prioritize their resources toward addressing more serious crimes.

    Minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.

    Watch the testimony of Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director of Virginia NORML below. You can support their work by clicking here. 

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 30, 2017

    medical_mj_shelfMembers of the US House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs are demanding the Department of Veterans Affairs facilitate protocols to assess the efficacy of medical cannabis in veterans suffering from chronic pain and post-traumatic stress.

    Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz, along with nine other Democrat members of the Committee, authored an October 26, 2017 letter to VA Secretary David Shulkin stating: “[The] VA is uniquely situated to pursue research on the impact of medical marijuana on veterans suffering from chronic pain and PTSD given its access to world class researchers, the population it serves, and its history of overseeing and producing research resulting in cutting-edge medical treatments. … VA’s pursuit of research into the impact of medical marijuana on the treatment of veterans diagnosed with PTSD who are also experiencing chronic pain is integral to the advancement of health care for veterans and the nation. We ask VA to respond … with a commitment to the development of VHA-led research into this issue.”

    In September, representatives from The American Legion addressed a separate letter to VA Secretary Shulkin encouraging the VA assist in an ongoing, FDA-approved clinical trial assessing the safety and efficacy of various strains of cannabis in veterans with PTSD. To date, the VA has refused to assist in patient recruitment for the trial. The VA has yet to publicly respond to the Legion’s letter.

    Survey data finds that military veterans report using cannabis therapeutically at rates far higher than the do those in the general population, and that many are already using it as an alternative to conventional medications in the treatment of pain and post-traumatic stress.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 26, 2017

    Legalization in DCContrary to the claims of many marijuana prohibitionists, regulating the adult use of cannabis in Colorado has not been associated with any significant adverse effects on public safety. So affirmed Colorado’s top doctor, Larry Wolk, Chief Medical Officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health, in an interview Tuesday with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

    Specifically, Dr. Wolk said that legalization has not negatively impacted teen use or traffic safety. He also expresses skepticism at the suggestion that legalization may stimulate the greater use of other controlled substances.

    Here is a sample of his comments:

    TEEN USE

    CBC: What have you seen since recreational cannabis has been legal in Colorado?
    Dr. Larry Wolk: “The short answer is we have not seen much. We have not experienced any significant issue as a result of legalization. … I think the concern was that by legalizing marijuana, we should certainly see an increase in adult use, and maybe that would leak into our youth. [There was also a concern that] youth would somehow gain greater access, and/or feel entitled to go ahead and use in greater numbers. We just haven’t seen that pan out.”

    DRUGGED DRIVING

    What about drugged driving?
    “We have actually seen an overall decrease in DUI’s since legalization. So, the short answer is: There has been no increase since the legalization of marijuana here.”

    MARIJUANA AS A SUPPOSED GATEWAY

    Do we know if cannabis legalization is leading to higher uses of hard drugs?
    “We are not seeing those kinds of increases. … I think we have yet to answer the question of whether or not legalizing marijuana helps reduce the consumption of those harder, more addictive drugs, or acts as a gateway. The jury is still out.”

    NORML has recently posted a number of fact-sheets online here summarizing the relevant peer-reviewed science specific to these and other public policy issues, including: cannabis and traffic safety, marijuana regulation and teen use patterns, legalization and crime rates, the relationship between legal cannabis access and opioid abuse, the gateway theory fallacy, and the economics of statewide legalization policies.

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