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Proximity to Marijuana Retailers Doesn’t Influence Young People’s Intention to Use Cannabis

Santa Monica, CA: Young adults who live near state-licensed marijuana retailers are no more likely to express an intention to use either cannabis or tobacco than those who do not, according to data published in The Journal of Cannabis Research.

Researchers with the RAND Corporation and with the University of Southern California assessed the relationship between the density of marijuana retailers and subjects’ intentions to use either cannabis or tobacco in a cohort of young adults (ages 18 to 23) living in Los Angeles county.

Authors reported, “Living near more outlets of any type was not significantly associated with intentions to use in the full sample, adjusting for individual- and neighborhood-level characteristics.”

They concluded: “This is the first study to simultaneously examine the density of both MCDs [medical cannabis dispensaries] and RCRs [recreational cannabis retailers] around young adults’ homes and associations with future intentions to use cannabis, including the co-use of cannabis with tobacco/nicotine. Our results suggest that young adults who lived in an area with a greater density of any type of outlet were not significantly more likely to report stronger intentions to use cannabis, e-cigarettes, or cannabis mixed with tobacco/nicotine in the future.”

Their findings are consistent with those of prior studies similarly concluding that the prevalence of cannabis retailers is not positively associated with increases in either marijuana use or access among younger people.

Full text of the study, “Density of medical and recreational cannabis outlets: racial/ethnic differences in the association with young adult intentions to use cannabis, e-cigarettes, and cannabis mixed with tobacco/nicotine,” appears in The Journal of Cannabis Research.

Canada: No Uptick in Trauma Patients Testing Positive for Cannabis Post-Legalization

London, Canada: The enactment of adult-use marijuana legalization is not associated with any immediate uptick in the percentage of trauma patients testing positive for past cannabis exposure, according to data published in the Canadian Journal of Surgery.

A team of researchers with Western University in London, Ontario evaluated adults admitted into a leading Canadian trauma center in the three months immediately prior to and immediately following legalization. Subjects were screened for the presence of cannabis metabolites upon admission. Most patients were admitted to the trauma unit following motor vehicle collisions.

Investigators reported: “We found that the rate of positive cannabinoid screen results among patients with trauma referred directly to our trauma service was similar in the 3 months before and [in] the 3 months after the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada. … In the subgroup of patients whose mechanism of trauma was a motor vehicle collision, there was no difference in the rate of positive toxicology screen results or positive cannabinoid screen results between the two periods.”

They concluded, “These preliminary single-center data showing no increased rates of cannabis use in patients with trauma after legalization are reassuring.”

The data is consistent with prior studies showing no significant changes in traffic safety in the months immediately following the enactment of adult-use legalization. However, separate assessments evaluating longer-term trends in traffic safety following legalization have yielded mixed results.

Full text of the study, “Drug use in Canadian patients with trauma after cannabis legalization,” appears in the Canadian Journal of Surgery.

Daily Cannabis Use Associated with Reduced Neuroinflammation in HIV Patients

San Diego, CA: HIV+ patients who consume cannabis on a daily basis possess lower levels of neuroinflammation as compared to non-users, according to data published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

Investigators with the University of California, San Diego evaluated the relationship between cannabis use and CNS (central nervous system) inflammation in a cohort of patients with and without HIV.

Researchers reported that HIV+ subjects who consumed cannabis daily possessed lower levels of chronic inflammation than did HIV+ subjects who abstained from marijuana. Further, users’ results were similar to those of HIV- subjects with no history of cannabis use.

Daily consumers also achieved better on measurements of cognitive performance than did those HIV+ patients with no history of regular use โ€“ a finding that is consistent with prior analyses of HIV+ patients.

Authors concluded, “Taken together, findings are consistent with the notion that cannabinoids may modulate inflammatory processes in PWH [patients with HIV], specifically in the CNS, and suggest a link between lower CNS inflammation and better neurocognitive function. … Future studies in PWH are needed to investigate potential distinct effects of specific cannabinoids, and adult medicinal use, on brain structure and function.”

Full text of the study, “Daily cannabis use is associated with lower CNS inflammation in people with HIV,” appears in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

Study: Cannabis Use Not Linked to Motivation Loss

Miami, FL: Marijuana use by teens is not independently associated with an increased risk of so-called โ€˜Amotivational syndrome,” according to longitudinal data published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

A team of researchers affiliated with Florida International University assessed the association between cannabis use and motivation in a cohort of 401 adolescents (ages 14 to 17) over two years.

Authors reported that adolescents’ cannabis use was not associated with any significant changes in motivation, apathy, or engagement after investigators controlled for subjects’ use of alcohol and tobacco, among other potential confounders (such as age, sex, and depression).

They reported, “[D]espite significant increases in levels of cannabis use in our sample, change in cannabis use did not predict changes in motivation, which suggests that cannabis use may not lead to reductions in motivation over time.”

The study’s authors concluded: “Our findings do not support a relationship between cannabis use and reductions in motivation over time in a sample of adolescents at risk for escalation in cannabis use. … The current study contributes to the extant literature by examining these associations longitudinally in a large sample of adolescent cannabis users while controlling for important and often overlooked confounds, including sex and depression. … Future studies should continue to examine these associations longitudinally to determine whether heavier levels of cannabis use lead to reductions in motivation, and whether these reductions may be responsible for poorer educational and later life outcomes.”

Full text of the study, “Evidence lacking for cannabis users slacking: A longitudinal analysis of escalating cannabis use and motivation among adolescents,” appears in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

Analysis: Tax Increases on Cigarettes Don’t Influence Youth Marijuana Use

Bozeman, MT: Tax measures enacted to increase the costs of cigarettes do not inadvertently influence more young people to switch to marijuana, according to data published in the National Tax Journal.

A trio of economists assessed whether increased taxes on cigarettes influenced young adults to gravitate toward marijuana instead.

They reported, “The spillover effect of cigarette taxes on youth marijuana use has been the subject of intense public debate. Opponents of cigarette taxes warn that tax hikes will cause youths to substitute toward marijuana. … We find little evidence to suggest that teen marijuana use is sensitive to changes in the state cigarette tax.”

Authors also analyzed the effect of medical and recreational marijuana legalization laws upon youth cigarette and cannabis use. Consistent with prior studies, they reported, “We find that both state MMLs [medical marijuana laws] and RMLs [recreational marijuana laws] are associated with decreases in teen marijuana consumption, consistent with the hypothesis that selling to minors becomes a relatively risky proposition for licensed marijuana dispensaries.”

Full text of the study, “Cigarette taxes and teen marijuana use,” is available from the National Tax Journal.

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