Study: Alcohol Use, But Not Cannabis, Associated With Changes In Brain Structure
Boulder, CO: Alcohol consumption is associated with negative changes in gray matter volume and in white matter integrity, while cannabis use is not, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Addiction.
Investigators from the University of Colorado, Boulder and the Oregon Health & Science University evaluated neuroimaging data among adults (ages 18 to 55) and adolescents (ages 14 to 18). Authors identified an association between alcohol use and negative changes in brain structure, but identified no such association with cannabis.
"Alcohol use severity is associated with widespread lower gray matter volume and white matter integrity in adults, and with lower gray matter volume in adolescents," they concluded. By contrast, "No associations were observed between structural measures and past 30-day cannabis use in adults or adolescents."
Researchers acknowledged that their findings were similar to those of prior studies "suggesting that regionally specific differences between cannabis users and non-users are often inconsistent across studies and that some of the observed associations may actually be related to comorbid alcohol use."
A 2015 brain imaging study published in The Journal of Neuroscience similarly reported that cannabis use was not positively associated with adverse changes in the brain, but that alcohol "has been unequivocally associated with deleterious effects on brain morphology and cognition in both adults and adolescents."
Longitudinal data published in June in the British Medical Journal reported, "Alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels, is associated with adverse brain outcomes including hippocampal atrophy."
Full text of the study, "Structural neuroimaging correlates of alcohol and cannabis use in adolescents and adults," appears in Addiction.
Analysis: Cops Less Likely To Search Drivers Following Marijuana Legalization
New York, NY: Police are less likely to initiate searches for drugs or weapons during a traffic stop following the enactment of adult use marijuana laws, according to an analysis conducted by The Marshall Project and the Center for Investigative Reporting.
Researchers analyzed the frequency of traffic stop-related searches conducted by Colorado and Washington state patrols before and after the enactment of cannabis legalization. Authors reported a significant reduction in searches in both jurisdictions following legalization, but cautioned that African Americans and Hispanics are still disproportionately searched compared to whites.
In Colorado, the rate of traffic stop-related searches fell 49 percent for African Americans, 60 percent for Hispanics, and 62 percent for whites following legalization. However, blacks remain more than three-times as likely as whites to be searched.
In Washington, the rate of traffic stop-related searches fell 34 percent for African Americans, 25 percent for Hispanics, and 25 percent for whites post-legalization. Nonetheless, blacks remain approximately twice as likely as whites to be subjected to a search by police.
[R]emoving marijuana possession from the potential list of crimes lowers the chance that a car will be stopped and searched," authors concluded.
Salem, OR: The state's licensed cannabis industry has created over 12,500 new jobs and is generating over $300 million in annual wages, according to a preliminary economic report provided to the legislature's House Committee on Economic Development and Trade.
The report, authored by Whitney Economics, identified over 900 cannabis-related businesses (as of February 21, 2007), with another 1,225 businesses awaiting licensure. The report only identified businesses that work directly with the cannabis plant, and excluded auxiliary industries - such as those involved in consulting, accounting, grow equipment, and paraphernalia sales.
The group is expected to publish a more detailed economic analysis later this year.
An analysis published this past January by the online content provider Leafly.com estimated that nationwide there were 123,000 full-time employees working in the legal cannabis industry.
New Hampshire: Law Expands Qualifying Conditions Eligible For Cannabis Therapy
Concord, NH: Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has signed legislation, House Bill 160, to expand the pool of patients eligible to engage in cannabis therapy.
The new law, which takes effect August 27, 2017, permits physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and/or moderate to severe post-traumatic stress.
The Governor had previously signed legislation enabling patients with moderate to severe chronic pain to legally obtain cannabis.
Over 2,000 patients are registered in the state's medical cannabis program.
Delaware: Lawmakers Establish Marijuana Legalization Task Force
Dover, DE: Lawmakers have approved a concurrent resolution establishing a 23-member task force to study issues specific to the regulation of marijuana and to make recommendations to the legislature.
The Adult Use Cannabis Task Force will begin meeting in September and will issue a report to the General Assembly by January 31, 2018.
Legislation to regulate the adult use of marijuana was approved this session by members of the House Revenue and Finance Committee but failed to gain a floor vote. Polling data compiled by the University of Delaware finds that sixty-one percent of state voters favor legalizing marijuana.