Loading

Research

  • by NORML May 28, 2020

    Adults who consume cannabis are no more likely to experience injuries at work than are those employees who abstain from the substance, according to the findings of a new literature review published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse.

    A team of researchers affiliated with the University of British Columbia conducted a systematic review of scientific papers assessing any potential links between cannabis use and occupational accidents.

    Investigators determined that most of the existing literature on the subject suffers from poor research designs. Specifically, few studies “employed research designs that ensured that cannabis use preceded the occupational injury outcome.” Others failed to adequately assess or control for confounding variables, such as the concurrent use of alcohol or other psychoactive substances.

    Due to these limitations, authors concluded, “[T]he current body of evidence does not provide sufficient evidence to support the position that cannabis users are at increased risk of occupational injury.”

    Their finding is consistent with that of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine which conducted its own literature review in 2017 and concluded, “There is no or insufficient evidence to support … a statistical association between cannabis use and … occupational accidents or injuries.”

    The study’s publication comes at a time when many local and state officials are re-examining workplace marijuana testing policies. Commenting on this trend, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Suspicionless marijuana testing never has been an evidence-based policy. Rather, these discriminatory practices are a holdover from the zeitgeist of the 1980s ‘war on drugs.’ But times have changed; attitudes have changed, and in many places, the marijuana laws have changed. It is time for workplace policies to adapt to this new reality.”

    In recent weeks, local lawmakers in several municipalities –- including Rochester, New York and Richmond, Virginia -– have moved to eliminate marijuana screens for certain prospective employees. These moves follow the enactment of similar policy changes in larger cities, such as New York City and Washington, DC.

    Lawmakers in Maine and Nevada have enacted similar, statewide legislation barring certain employers from refusing to hire a worker because he or she tested positive for cannabis on a pre-employment drug screen.

    The abstract of the study, “Systemic review of cannabis use and risk of occupational injury,” appears online here. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Legalization and Impact on the Workplace.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 26, 2020

    Marijuana researchThe delivery of precise doses of THC via an inhaler is associated with pain mitigation in patients with neuropathy and other complex pain conditions, according to clinical trial data published in the European Journal of Pain.

    A team of Israeli researchers conducted a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of a novel, metered-dose cannabis inhaler in 27 patients with chronic pain. Participants inhaled a precise dose containing either THC (at doses of either 0.5mg or 1mg) or placebo.

    They reported: “Both doses, but not the placebo, demonstrated a significant reduction in pain intensity compared with baseline and remained stable for 150-minutes. The 1mg dose showed a significant pain decrease compared to the placebo. Adverse events were mostly mild and resolved spontaneously. There was no evidence of consistent impairments in cognitive performance.”

    Authors concluded: “This feasibility trial demonstrated that a metered-dose cannabis inhaler delivered precise and low THC doses [that] produced a dose-dependent and safe analgesic effect in patients with neuropathic pain/complex-regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Thus, it enables individualization of medical cannabis regimens that can be evaluated pharmacokinetically and pharmacodynamically by accepted pharmaceutical models.”

    Prior clinical trials, such as those here and here, have similarly reported that a metered-dose inhaler can deliver precise therapeutic doses of cannabis to pain patients absent any significant adverse effects.

    Chronic pain is the most commonly reported qualifying condition among medical cannabis patients enrolled in state-specific access programs. A 2017 literature review by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults.”

    An abstract of the study, “Pharmacokinetics, efficacy, and safety of a novel selective-dose cannabis inhaler in patients with chronic pain: A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial,” is online here. Additional information regarding cannabinoids and pain appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 19, 2020

    Legalize MarijuanaThe enactment of adult-use cannabis legalization laws in Colorado and Washington is associated with increased tourism in both states, according to data published in the Journal of Regional Analysis & Policy.

    A team of researchers affiliated with Berry College in Georgia compared rates of hotel occupancy in Colorado and Washington post-legalization as compared to trends in other non-legal states.

    Authors reported a “large increase in hotel rooms rented in Colorado” immediately following legalization. Washington state also experienced an uptick, but it was not as significant. Both states experienced their highest jumps in tourism following the advent of retail cannabis sales.

    “[L]egalization in Colorado is associated with an increase of nearly 51,000 hotel rooms rented per month [and] once commercial sale is permitted, there is an increase of almost 120,000 room rentals per month,” authors determined. In Washington, increases were approximately half that total.

    Authors concluded: “Marijuana legalization led to a larger increase in tourism in Colorado than Washington. One possible explanation is that Colorado is an easier travel destination than Washington. … Another possible explanation is that Colorado may have achieved a first mover advantage over Washington since it legalized commercial sale six months earlier than Washington. A third possible explanation is that Washington is adjacent to British Columbia which has a strong reputation for growing marijuana and a laid-back attitude toward marijuana consumption (though use remains illegal). While marijuana legalization increased tourism, especially in Colorado, the benefit may wane as additional states including California, Michigan, and Illinois, legalize the possession and sale of marijuana.”

    Survey data commissioned by the Colorado Tourism Office has previously reported that nearly half of all tourists who visit the state are motivated do so because of Colorado’s liberal marijuana policies.

    The full text of the study, “The effect of marijuana on hotel occupancy in Colorado and Washington,” is online here. Additional information appears in the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Regulation: Impact on Health, Safety, and Economy.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 30, 2020

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seeking public comments on how Americans with chronic pain are successfully treating their symptoms.

    The call for comments, posted on April 17 at regulations.gov here, states: “Interested persons or organizations are invited to participate by submitting written views, recommendations, and data related to perspectives on and experiences with pain and pain management. CDC invites comments specifically on topics focused on using or prescribing opioid pain medications, non-opioid medications, or non-pharmacological treatments.”

    The CDC’s interest in alternative methods of chronic pain management may be of particular significance to many medical cannabis patients.

    According to state-registry records, “Chronic pain is currently and historically the most common qualifying condition reported by medical cannabis patients (67.5 percent in 2016).” This finding is hardly a surprise, as cannabis is well-established to mitigate pain in clinical models, particularly in patients with neuropathy. Additional clinical trial data indicates that cannabinoids possess synergistic activity with opioids, which “may allow for opioid treatment at lower doses with fewer [patient] side effects.” Among pain patients enrolled in medical cannabis access programs, most subjects report eventually decreasing or even eliminating their use of opiates.

    States the CDC, “Public comment will help CDC’s understanding of stakeholders’ values and preferences regarding pain management and will complement CDC’s ongoing work assessing the need for updating or expanding the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.”

    That said, it cautions that any public comments received “are part of the public record and are subject to public disclosure. Comments will be posted on https://www.regulations.gov. Therefore, do not include any information in your comment or supporting materials that you consider confidential, proprietary, or inappropriate for public disclosure. If you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be on public display.”

    The agency is accepting public comments through June 16, 2020.

  • by NORML April 8, 2020

    The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has formally submitted comments to the US Federal Register opposing the Drug Enforcement Administration’s proposed rule changes governing the federal production and distribution of cannabis for clinical research purposes.

    Under existing regulations, the agency only licenses one facility — the University of Mississippi — to cultivate cannabis for use in FDA-approved clinical trials. Researchers have consistently criticized the poor quality of these plants, which they say fail to accurately reflect the varieties of marijuana commercially available in the United States. As a result, the DEA has been encouraged for over a decade to expand the pool of federally licensed cannabis producers — a move that the agency has largely resisted.

    In 2016, the agency appeared to reconsider its longstanding policy, and publicly stated for the first time that it would consider additional applicants. To date, however, the DEA has failed to either affirm or reject any of the more than 30 applications it has received. Under the proposed rules issued by the DEA on March 23, the agency continues to maintain sole discretion to decide which applicants, if any, will be permitted to grow cannabis for research purposes, and it provides no timeline under which the DEA must act on the numerous applications already before it.

    In its response to the DEA’s proposed changes, NORML writes: “While NORML has long supported facilitating and expanding domestic clinical research efforts, we do not believe that these proposed rules, if enacted, will achieve this outcome. Rather, we believe that the adoption of these rules may further stonewall efforts to advance our scientific understanding of cannabis by unduly expanding the DEA’s authority and control over decisions that ought to be left up to health experts and scientists.”

    Specifically, the newly proposed rules expand the DEA’s authority by declaring it to be the only entity legally permitted to purchase, warehouse, and dispense any cannabis grown under a federal license.

    NORML’s response concludes: “Rather than compelling scientists to access marijuana products of questionable quality manufactured by a limited number of federally licensed producers, NORML believes that federal regulators should allow investigators to access the cannabis that is currently being produced by the multitude of state-sanctioned growers and retailers throughout the country. … Doing so would not only facilitate and expedite clinical cannabis research in the United States, but it would also bring about a long overdue end to decades of DEA stonewalling and interference with respect to the advancement of our scientific understanding of the cannabis plant.”

    An abbreviated version of NORML’s comments appears here.

    ON BACKGROUND: The DEA has consistently discouraged the scientific investigation of cannabis, particularly with respect to its therapeutic properties.

    * In 1988 the agency’s own administrative law judge concluded marijuana to be “one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man,” and demanded the DEA reclassify the plant so that doctors could prescribe it. The agency set aside the decision and refused to act upon the judge’s order.

    * In 2007, the agency lost yet another lawsuit. In this case, the judge ruled that there existed an “inadequate supply of marijuana available for research purposes,” and therefore determined that permitting the privately licensed production of cannabis for research purposes would be “in the public interest.” Once again, the agency set aside the decision and refused to abide by the judge’s ruling.

    * in 2016, the agency enacted a revised set of rules explicitly designed to expand the pool of applicants eligible to cultivate cannabis for use in FDA-approved clinical protocols. Following the issuance of these new rules, dozens of proprietors — including branches of the University of California and the University of Massachusetts — applied to the agency seeking licensure. But to date, the agency has neither accepted nor denied a single applicant.

Page 1 of 612345...Last »