#NORML #News Source: @norml @WeedConnection Posted By: email@example.com media :: news - Wed, 01 Mar 2017 04:20:21 PST
Study: No Increased Crime In Medical Marijuana States
Wellington, New Zealand: The enactment of US laws regulating the sale and use of cannabis for medical purposes is not associated with any uptick in the rate of violent crime or property crime, according to data compiled by researchers at the University of Victoria and the Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Institute in New Zealand.
Investigators analyzed FBI crime data from the years 1988 to 2013 to assess the potential impact of medical marijuana legalization schemes on rates of murder, forcible rape, aggravated assault, burglary, and larceny. Researchers reported that neither the establishment of dispensaries or an increase in adult marijuana use was associated with adverse outcomes on crime.
"We do not find evidence that medical marijuana laws consistently affect violent and property crime," authors concluded. "Our results suggest that liberalization of marijuana laws is unlikely to result in the substantial social cost that some politicians clearly fear."
The findings are similar to previous reviews. For example, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs reported that the proliferation of medical cannabis dispensaries was not associated with any demonstrable increase in violent crime or property crime. A 2014 study published in the journal PLoS One reported that the legalization of medical marijuana was associated with a decrease in incidences of certain types of violent crime, such as homicide and assault.
Full text of the study, "Joint culpability: The effects of medical marijuana laws on crime," appears online.
Study: Cannabis Use History Not Associated With Increased Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease
Bethesda, MD: Those who consume cannabis long-term suffer no greater likelihood of cardiovascular disease by middle age than do those with no history of use, according to longitudinal data published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Public Health.
An international team of researchers from the United States and Switzerland assessed cumulative cannabis use and cardiovascular risk in a cohort of over 5,000 subjects over a period of more than two decades. Authors reported, "Compared with no marijuana use, cumulative lifetime and recent marijuana use showed no association with incident CVD (cardiovascular disease), stroke or transient ischemic attacks, coronary heart disease, or CVD mortality."
They concluded, "In this community-based cohort of young adults followed for more than 25 years, we found no evidence to suggest that cumulative lifetime or recent marijuana use, at levels typical of most recreational, occasional users of marijuana in the United States, affects risk of future CVD events through middle age."
The findings are consistent with those of other studies, such as those here, here, here, and here, which also report that the use of cannabis alone is not an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease at mid-life.
Full text of the study, "Cumulative lifetime marijuana use and incident of cardiovascular disease in middle age: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study," appears in the American Journal of Public Health.
Houston: District Attorney To Expand Policy Shielding Minor Marijuana Offenders From Jail, Criminal Records
Houston, TX: Houston County District Attorney Kim Ogg has announced plans to expand a countywide program shielding marijuana possession offenders from criminal records. The county is the third largest in the nation.
Under current policy, first-time offenders found in the possession of two ounces or less of marijuana may participate in a pre-trial diversion program. Those who complete the program do not have criminal charges filed against them and do not receive a criminal record.
Under the new policy, which is anticipated to begin March 1, those defendants who possess up to four ounces of cannabis will be eligible for the program, which consists of completing a four-hour class. Defendants have 90 days to complete the course. Those who do not finish the program face arrest and criminal charges.
Harris County spends some $26 million annually prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana offenders, Ogg said. Prosecuting these cases takes up an estimated ten percent of the county court dockets, she added.
Under state law, the possession of up to four ounces of cannabis is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Legislation (House Bill 81) is pending in the Texas legislature to reduce the penalties associated with the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis to a civil violation punishable by a fine only - no arrest, no jail, and no criminal record.
Polling: Voters Support Marijuana Law Reform By Record Numbers
Washington, DC: Record numbers of voters support regulating the marijuana market and oppose federal efforts to interfere or undermine state laws permitting the plant's use or sale, according to nationwide polling data released today by Quinnipiac University.
Ninety-three percent of voters — including 96 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of Republicans — support "allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes," the highest total ever reported in a national poll. Among those respondents older than 65 years of age, 92 percent endorsed legalizing medical marijuana.
"Seniors' use and acceptance of medical marijuana is rapidly rising," NORML's Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. "This is likely because these older Americans realize that cannabis therapy can mitigate many of their aches and pains, as well as other symptoms of disease, and that it can do so with fewer adverse side effects than many of the conventional drug cocktails so often prescribed to older Americans."
Fifty-nine percent of voters similarly support making the adult use of marijuana legal in the United States. That total is in line with recent polling data compiled by Gallup in 2016 which reported that 60 percent of US adults support legalization — a historic high. Respondents who identified as Democrats (72 percent) were most likely to support legalization. Fifty-eight percent of Independents also expressed support, but only 35 percent of Republicans did so. Among the various age groups polled, only those over the age of 65 failed to express majority support for legalization.
"Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation's nearly century-long experiment with marijuana prohibition and replacing it with regulation," NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said. "Despite more than 70 years of federal marijuana prohibition, Americans' consumption of and demand for cannabis is here to stay. It is time for federal lawmakers to acknowledge this reality and to amend federal law in a manner that comports with public opinion and the plant's rapidly changing legal and cultural status."
Finally, 71 percent of respondents say that they "oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana." This percentage is the highest level of support ever reported with regard to limiting the federal government from interfering in states' marijuana policies.
The rising support may provide a boost for pending federal legislation, HR 975: The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, which prevents the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana. NORML strongly supports the passage of HR 975, stating: "Voters are increasingly demanding regulatory alternatives to marijuana criminalization, and states are moving ahead with these policies. They should be free to do so without federal interference or fear of prosecution."
The Quinnipiac University poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points.
NORML Responds: White House Threatens To Crack Down On Legal Marijuana
Trump and Sessions seek to undermine the will of the American People in regards to marijuana policy
Washington, DC: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that the Trump administration will step up enforcement of federal laws against recreational marijuana. “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement,” Spicer said, and added that the exact policy is “a question for the Department of Justice.”
The Department of Justice is lead by Jeff Sessions, a renowned ardent marijuana prohibitionist.
"If the Trump administration goes through with a crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana they will be taking billions of dollars away from state sanctioned businesses and putting that money back into the hands of drug cartels. This action will lead to swift backlash from the 71% of Americans that think marijuana policy should be dictated by the states and is a foolish and reckless direction to take our country. Sad." said Erik Altieri, Executive Director of NORML.
The Press Secretary’s comments are similar to those made by Sen. Sessions during his vetting process when he made clear that any use of marijuana remains against federal law and that “it is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.”
"Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions both hold views that are out of step with mainstream America and they are in conflict with the laws regarding marijuana in over half of the states in this country," said Justin Strekal, Political Director of NORML. "The fact that President Trump would allow his Attorney General to pursue a path that is so politically unpopular and contrary to will of numerous states is absurd."
Ultimately, patients and others in legal jurisdictions will only truly be safe from federal prosecution when and if members of Congress elect to amend federal marijuana laws in a manner that comports with majority public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status. Congressional passage of HR 975, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ which NORML supports and/or re-authorization of the Rohrabacher-Farr (now to be introduced as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer) amendment would be steps in the right direction to protect patients and others in legal states from undue federal interference.
If federal politicians were truly listening to the will of the electorate, they would move forward to enact these changes, which are strongly in line with voters’ sentiments. According to national polling data released today, 71 percent of voters — including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans -- say that they “oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”
In short, undermining voters’ wishes and state laws in this regard not only defies common sense, it is also bad politics — particularly for an administration that is defining itself as populist in nature.
NORML Responds to Sessions' Comments on Marijuana at The Department of Justice
Attorney General Jeff Sessions Continues to Demonstrate Ignorance and Malice in Regards to Marijuana Reform
Washington, DC: Speaking to the press at the Department of Justice, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions stated, "Most of you probably know I don't think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages and particularly young people start smoking pot," and "Experts are telling me there's more violence around marijuana than one would think and there's big money involved."
Unfortunately, Mr. Sessions has his facts wrong.
"Attorney General Sessions' latest comments are completely fictitious, they describe a reality that only exists in the world of alternative facts. Marijuana legalization has not lead to increased violence, but rather has lead to lowered youth use rates, increased tax revenue, and fewer arrests of otherwise law abiding American citizens. The truth is that legalization is working and the views recently espoused by Attorney General Sessions are reckless, irresponsible, and outright false," responded Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director.