Three quarters of medical cannabis consumers report using it as a substitute for prescription drugs, alcohol, or some other illicit substance, according to survey data published in the journal Addiction Research and Theory.
An international team of investigators from Canada and the United States assessed the subjective impact of marijuana on the use of licit and illicit substances via self-report in a cohort of 404 medical cannabis patients recruited from four dispensaries in British Columbia, Canada.
Researchers reported that subjects frequently substituted cannabis for other substances, including conventional pharmaceuticals. Authors reported:
“Over 41 percent state that they use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol (n=158), 36.1 percent use cannabis as a substitute for illicit substances (n=137), and 67.8 percent use cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs (n=259). The three main reasons cited for cannabis-related substitution are ‘less withdrawal’ (67.7 percent), ‘fewer side-effects’ (60.4 percent), and ‘better symptom management’ suggesting that many patients may have already identified cannabis as an effective and potentially safer adjunct or alternative to their prescription drug regimen.”
Overall, 75.5 percent (n=305) of respondents said that they substitute cannabis for at least one other substance. Men were more likely than women to report substituting cannabis for alcohol or illicit drugs.
Authors concluded: “While some studies have found that a small percentage of the general population that uses cannabis may develop a dependence on this substance, a growing body of research on cannabis-related substitution suggests that for many patients cannabis is not only an effective medicine, but also a potential exit drug to problematic substance use. Given the credible biological, social and psychological mechanisms behind these results, and the associated potential to decrease personal suffering and the personal and social costs associated with addiction, further research appears to be justified on both economic and ethical grounds. Clinical trials with those who have had poor outcomes with conventional psychological or pharmacological addiction therapies could be a good starting point to further our under- standing of cannabis-based substitution effect.”
Previous studies have similarly demonstrated cannabis’ potential efficacy as an exit drug. A 2010 study published in the Harm Reduction Journal reported that cannabis-using adults enrolled in substance abuse treatment programs fared equally or better than nonusers in various outcome categories, including treatment completion. A 2009 study reported that 40 percent of subjects attending a California medical cannabis dispensary reported using marijuana as a substitute for alcohol, and 26 percent used it to replace their former use of more potent illegal drugs. A separate 2009 study published in the American Journal on Addictions reported that moderate cannabis use and improved retention in naltrexone treatment among opiate-dependent subjects in a New York state inpatient detoxification program.
Full text of the study, “Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs: A dispensary-based survey of substitution effect in Canadian medical cannabis patients,” appears online in Addiction Research and Theory. NORML Advisory Board Member Mitch Earleywine is a co-author of this study.
Colorado, and the multi-state effort to legalize marijuana in November needs you now more than ever. In Colorado especially, polls are showing an encouraging growth in support for Amendment 64 among women (from 49% support in September, to 50% support in October), but female support still trails their male counterparts by 5% points. Fact: this election will be decided by the female vote. Marijuana can only be legalized if we have a majority of support among women. It is crucial we do everything we can to support the work of Colorado’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and make history on November 6.
Our friends at Just Say Now have created an online phone bank you can use to make calls from anywhere in the country. This tool includes its own woman-to-woman phone bank that we can use to reach out to women voters in Colorado and inspire them to support Amendment 64. The website makes it extremely easy to jump in, organize and get involved.
The NORML Women’s Alliance is calling on women nationwide, who believe in the controlled regulation of marijuana to host a phone banking party with your like-minded sisters and encourage women to vote “Yes” on CO’s Amendment 64. Organizing a phone banking event to call women voters in CO is the most important contribution you can make in this election (and the cheapest). We need to reach as many women as possible.
Phone Bank House Party – Sign Up
Phone Bank House Party – Host Packet
Phone Bank – Log In (When you log in you’ll have 3 options on the left side. Choose the second option down that says “Call Women Voters for Amendment 64″)
Colorado: Passage Of Marijuana Legalization Measure Would Potentially Yield $60 Million In New Annual Revenue And Savings, Study SaysAugust 20, 2012
The passage and enactment of a statewide marijuana ballot measure this fall could generate as much as $60 million in savings and revenue, according to a just published budgetary analysis prepared by the Colorado Center on Law & Policy.
Amendment 64, The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012, allows for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants by those age 21 and over. Longer-term, the measure seeks to establish regulations governing the commercial production and distribution of marijuana by licensed retail outlets.
Colorado is one of three states (joining Oregon and Washington) where voters this fall will have the opportunity to substantively reform their state’s personal use cannabis laws. Four additional states — Arkansas, Massachusetts, Montana, and North Dakota — may also be voting on medical marijuana proposals in November.
According to the CCLP report, the enactment of Amendment 64 could result in an estimated: $12 million dollars of annual savings in criminal justice costs, $24 million in excise tax revenue; $8.7 million in state sales tax revenue, $14.5 million in local tax revenue, along with the creation of several hundred new jobs.
Their analysis projects that these savings and revenue estimates may double by 2017.
According to an August survey from the firm Public Policy Polling, Coloradoans favor the measure by a margin of 47 percent to 38 percent. Independent voters strongly back the measure (58 percent to 28 percent) and so do Democrats (59 percent to 22 percent). By contrast, on 26 percent of Republican voters said they favored Amendment 64.
A separate Colorado poll by Rasmussen Reports, published in June, found that 61 percent of state voters agree philosophically that cannabis ought to be regulated like alcohol or tobacco.
Full text of the Colorado Center on Law & Policy white paper is available online here. Additional information regarding Amendment 64 and other 2012 statewide ballot initiatives is available at NORML’s ‘Smoke the Vote’ webpage here.
[In response to the AP article “Easing of State Marijuana Laws Poses Challenge for Parents”]
No one can deny that the number one goal of a parent is for his or her children to grow up healthy, and be able to make responsible decisions about everything from their friendships and lifestyle, to their safety. Parents do this by sitting down and having open honest conversations about issues that will inevitably affect them in the future.
Education gives children the tools and understanding to help them cope with the challenges they have already experienced, and will continue to face further down the road. Creating a government regulated system for marijuana legalization, which will include everything from age limits to promotional and advertising restrictions (and obviously impaired driving regulations), will actually help parents address this issue with their kids. Several studies have already shown that states with regulated marijuana programs have not seen an increase in teen use. Some have even seen a decrease in pot use among their youth population.
The prohibition of marijuana sends the message “marijuana is morally wrong” and implies that there is no such thing as a responsible marijuana consumer. This ignorant policy improperly allows the government to interfere in the parent’s job of teaching their kids about moderation and responsibility. Scare tactics and rhetoric are disingenuous and do not help children understand the realities of the world we live in.
It is socially acceptable for parents, alcohol distributors, and even the government to teach children about safe drinking practices (with a full understanding that alcohol is directly responsible for thousands of deaths every year), and the state regulation of marijuana will allow parents and educators do the same for the plant (whose non-lethal and relatively harmless side effects inevitably make the latter substance the safer choice).
We did not have to outlaw cigarettes to reduce the use among minors. A policy of education and regulation (not prohibition) has created an environment in which cigarette usage has fallen to an all time low. The same goes for alcohol. A sustained and concerted effort on responsible drinking practices by the government, alcohol companies and educational institutions have driven teen alcohol use down to a record low as well, according to the 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey. Age restrictions, government regulation and education have proven to be one of the most effective elements in reducing youth access to adult-only recreational substances. None of these controls apply to marijuana.
As it currently stands, marijuana is illegal and sold on the black market to anyone willing to pay for it. Drug dealers don’t ID. Today, young people report that they have easier access to illicit marijuana than to legal beer or cigarettes. This is because the latter is legally limited to adults only.
Children need accurate information to make informed decisions. They need to be educated on how consuming marijuana can effect their body’s development specifically, and how to reduce any harms associated with its use – as well as how to distinguish between use and abuse. Just as it is socially acceptable for parents to speak with their children openly about their use of alcohol, with an emphasis on that fact that it is only appropriate for adults in moderation, the legalization of marijuana will allow parents to openly discuss their (possible) past or current use and be able to objectively and rationally speak to their children about pot. The controlled regulation of marijuana will send a message of moderation and responsible use. It will also undercut the black market, which in turn will reduce teen access. It’s as simple as that, and it’s a win-win for everybody.
The NORML Women’s Alliance has been growing at an unprecedented rate. Women have been organizing around the country, targeting the female demographic and spreading the word of marijuana law reform. The enthusiasm for this NORML Foundation program has crossed the border and gone international. The Women’s Alliance has become the latest sensation for marijuana law reformers in Canada, and is spreading like wildfire across the territories. From Vancouver to Toronto, the NORML Women’s Alliance has brought together an amazing group of strong, empowered, like-minded women.
In early May, the NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada had the honor of serving as one of this year’s Grand Marshals for the Global Marijuana March. Along with Jodie Emery and other well-known Canadian marijuana figures, the women of NORML lead 20,000 people through the streets of Toronto in support of marijuana law reform.They dressed up in 1920s and 1930’s costumes and were followed by a vintage car of the same era, so as to make a clear connection to America’s ill-fated alcohol prohibition, and women’s role in ending that failed policy. The goal was to reenact a similar campaign image put on by the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform, which has since become a staple image for reformers today.
Just last week, our Canadian Sisters were invited to have a presence at the annual Treating Yourself Expo of 2012, a three-day event that brought tens of thousands of people to the Toronto Convention Center. The women were not only given the opportunity to hand out literature, several of them were even invited to speak on a panel about the purpose and significance of the NORML Women’s Alliance. This panel featured an amazing group of leaders including Jodie Emery of Cannabis Culture Magazine, NORML Women’s Alliance Coordinator of Canada, Kelly Coulter, Andrea Matrosovs, Lisa MamaKind Kirkman, Joanne Baker, Loretta Clarck and Sandra Colasanti. Keep up the great work ladies!
Check out the videos below the fold.