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  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director October 12, 2017
    Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) speaking a NORML Conference

    Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) speaking at a NORML Conference

    On Wednesday, October 11th, Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-Chair Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) testified before the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health on how to deal with the opioid crisis in America.

    In his testimony, the Congressman makes the case for medical cannabis as a safer alternative to highly addictive opioids, especially for our veterans—as well as the need to remove barriers to medical cannabis research.

    It is well documented that medical marijuana access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, and opioid-related overdose deaths.

    Watch the video below and click here to send a message to your elected officials in support of the CARERS Act of 2017 in support of medical marijuana and click here to send a message to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Opioid Commission to urge them to include medical marijuana as part of the national strategy to combat the opioid crisis.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 18, 2017

    Marijuana medicineChronic pain patients enrolled in a statewide medical marijuana program are more likely to reduce their use of prescription drugs than are those patients who don’t use cannabis, according to data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

    Investigators from the University of New Mexico compared prescription drug use patterns over a 24-month period in 83 pain patients enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program and 42 non-enrolled patients. Researchers reported that, on average, program registrants significantly reduced their prescription drug intake while non-registrants did not.

    Specifically, 34 percent of registered patients eliminated their use of prescription drugs altogether by the study’s end, while an additional 36 percent of participants used fewer medications by the end of the sample period.

    “Legal access to cannabis may reduce the use of multiple classes of dangerous prescription medications in certain patient populations,” authors concluded. “[A] shift from prescriptions for other scheduled drugs to cannabis may result in less frequent interactions with our conventional healthcare system and potentially improved patient health.”

    A pair of studies published in the journal Health Affairs previously reported that medical cannabis access is associated with lower Medicaid expenditures and reduced spending on Medicare Part D approved prescription medications.

    Separate studies have reported that patients with legal access to medical marijuana reduce their intake of opioidsbenzodiazepinesanti-depressantsmigraine-related medications, and sleep aids, among other substances.

    An abstract of the study, “Effects of legal access to cannabis on Scheduled II–V drug prescriptions,” appears online here.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director August 22, 2017
    Photo Credit: Carlo Allegri

    Photo Credit: Carlo Allegri

    Giving remarks to the Native American Housing Association, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson strayed into the marijuana reform debate. Unfortunately, the doctor did not know his facts.

    Per the Flathead Beacon:

    The HUD secretary briefly strayed from his prepared remarks to note that he believed marijuana use was just as problematic as opiate abuse.

    “I’m not all that enthusiastic about marijuana because there have been numerous studies that show exposing a developing brain to marijuana can lead to lower IQs,” he said. “We already have enough people with a low IQ, and we don’t need anymore.”

    The ongoing stereotype of marijuana consumers may be funny in movies, but it runs counter to evidence based science.

    NORML has reported on three studies over the last year and a half that have come out dispelling this myth.

    In London, United Kingdom, 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.”

    Data published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences led researchers to conclude: “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.”

    Researchers published in the journal Addiction wrote: “[W]e found that youth who used cannabis … had lower IQ at age 18, but there was little evidence that cannabis use was associated with IQ decline from age 12 to 18. Moreover, although cannabis use was associated with lower IQ and poorer executive functions at age 18, these associations were generally not apparent within pairs of twins from the same family, suggesting that family background factors explain why adolescents who use cannabis perform worse on IQ and executive function tests.”

    Investigators concluded, “Short-term cannabis use in adolescence does not appear to cause IQ decline or impair executive functions, even when cannabis use reaches the level of dependence.”

    Their findings are consistent with those of several other studies – including those here, here, and here– finding that cannabis use alone during adolescence does not appear to have a significant, direct adverse effect on intelligence quotient.

    Further, as to Secretary Carson’s remarks in the context of the nations opioid epidemic, it is important to note that medical marijuana access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, and opioid-related overdose deaths.

    Don’t let those who speak in outdated rhetoric fool you. Stay vigilant against those who maintain the systems of prohibitionist oppression.

    Click here to tell your member of Congress to join the newly formed Congressional Cannabis Caucus, to find real policy solutions to reforming our nations marijuana laws in our quest to deschedule the plant. 

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director August 2, 2017

    Per The New York Times:

    WASHINGTON — President Trump’s commission on the opioid crisis asked him Monday to declare a national emergency to deal with the epidemic.

    The members of the bipartisan panel called the request their “first and most urgent recommendation.”

    Mr. Trump created the commission in March, appointing Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to lead it. The panel held its first public meeting last month and was supposed to issue an interim report shortly afterward but delayed doing so until now. A final report is due in October.

    The initial recommendations are completely silent to the fact that medical marijuana access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, and opioid-related overdose deaths.

    Chris Christie, sitting Governor of New Jersey until Jan. 17, 2018

    Chris Christie, sitting Governor of New Jersey until Jan. 17, 2018

    Over the last two months, over 8,000 voters contacted the Office of National Drug Control Policy commission, chaired by marijuana prohibitionist Chris Christie, with their personal stories and the relevant science to encourage the group to support medical marijuana as part of the approach to reduce the tragic effects of the opioid crisis. This effort was undertaken both by NORML and Marijuana Majority.

    “Governor Christie has zero percent credibility on drug policy, or any other policy, for that matter,” Erik Altieri, Executive Director of NORML said to Forbes of Christie at the time of his appointment to head the commission.

    Nonetheless, this administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has continued to express skepticism with regard to the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana. Now, we now know that the President’s opioid commission is not interested in real solutions, but rather more empty rhetoric.

    We have until October until the final report is to be issued.

    Click here to send a message to the ONDCP commission to yet again tell them the facts and if you have one, please share your personal on how marijuana is a safer alternative to opioids. 

     

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 28, 2017

    medical_mj_shelfPain patients report successfully substituting cannabis for opioids and other analgesics, according to data published online in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

    Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and Kent State University in Ohio assessed survey data from a cohort of 2,897 self-identified medical cannabis patients.

    Among those who acknowledged having used opioid-based pain medication within the past six months, 97 percent agreed that they were able to decrease their opiate intake with cannabis. Moreover, 92 percent of respondents said that cannabis possessed fewer adverse side-effects than opioids. Eighty percent of respondents said that the use of medical cannabis alone provided greater symptom management than did their use of opioids.

    Among those respondents who acknowledged having recently taken nonopioid-based pain medications, 96 percent said that having access to cannabis reduced their conventional drug intake. Ninety-two percent of these respondents opined that medical cannabis was more effective at treating their condition than traditional analgesics.

    Authors concluded: “[M]ore people are looking at cannabis as a viable treatment for everyday ailments such as muscle soreness and inflammation. … [T]his study can conclude that medical cannabis patients report successfully using cannabis along with or as a substitute for opioid-based pain medication.”

    The study’s conclusions are similar to those of several others, such as these herehereherehere, and here, finding reduced prescription drug use and spending by those with access to cannabis. Separate studies report an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid-related abuse, hospitalizations, traffic fatalities, and overdose deaths.

    Full text of the study, “Cannabis as substitute for opioid-based pain medication: patient self-report,” appears online here.

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