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media :: news - Wed, 23 Apr 2014 04:20:21 PST
Study: Enactment Of Medical Cannabis Laws Associated With Lower Rates Of Violent Crimes
Dallas, TX: The enactment of medicinal cannabis laws is not associated with any rise in statewide criminal activity, but it is associated with reductions in incidences of certain violent crimes, according to data published online in the journal PLoS ONE.
Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas tracked crime rates across all 50 states between the years 1990 and 2006, a time period during which 11 states legalized marijuana for medical use. Authors reviewed FBI data to determine whether there existed any association between the passage of medicinal cannabis laws and varying rates of statewide criminal activity, specifically reported crimes of homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft.
Investigators reported that the passage of medical marijuana laws was not associated with an increase in any of the seven crime types assessed, but that liberalized laws were associated with decreases in certain types of violent crime.
"The central finding gleaned from the present study was that MML (medical marijuana legalization) is not predictive of higher crime rates and may be related to reductions in rates of homicide and assault," authors reported. "Interestingly, robbery and burglary rates were unaffected by medicinal marijuana legislation, which runs counter to the claim that dispensaries and grow houses lead to an increase in victimization due to the opportunity structures linked to the amount of drugs and cash that are present. Although, this is in line with prior research suggesting that medical marijuana dispensaries may actually reduce crime in the immediate vicinity."
Researchers concluded: "Medical marijuana laws were not found to have a crime exacerbating effect on any of the seven crime types. On the contrary, our findings indicated that MML precedes a reduction in homicide and assault. ... In sum, these findings run counter to arguments suggesting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes."
Full text of the study, "The effect of medical marijuana laws on crime: evidence from state panel data, 1990-2006," is available from PLoS ONE.
Maryland: Marijuana Law Reform Measures Signed Into Law
Annapolis, MD: Democrat Gov. Martin O'Malley signed two separate pieces of legislation on Monday reforming the state's marijuana laws.
Senate Bill 364 amends existing penalties for marijuana possession offenses involving ten grams or less from a criminal misdemeanor (presently punishable by arrest, up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, and a criminal record) to a non-arrestable, non-criminal fine-only offense ($100 fine for first-time offenders, $250 for second-time offenders). The new depenalization law takes effect on October 1, 2014.
House Bill 881 provides for the state-licensed production and dispensing of marijuana to qualified patients who possess a written certification from their physician. The new law will take effect on June 1, 2014, at which time the state shall establish a commission to draft rules and regulations overseeing the production and distribution of medical marijuana. However, the licensing program is not anticipated to be up and running until 2015.
Maryland is the 18th state to depenalize minor marijuana possession offenses to a non-arrestable offense. (Colorado and Washington have also enacted regulations allowing for the legal retail production and sale of the plant.) It is the 21st state to allow for the doctor-recommended access to cannabis therapy.
Study: Frequent Cannabis Consumers Less Likely To Engage In Problematic Alcohol Use
Malmo, Sweden: Those who report consuming cannabis two or three times per week are less likely to engage in at risk drinking behavior, according to data published online in The American Journal of Addictions.
Investigators from Sweden's Lund University, Department of Clinical Sciences, analyzed data from a nationwide survey on alcohol and drug use conducted by the National Institute of Public Health. Over 22,000 respondents between the ages of 15 and 64 participated in the survey.
Researchers reported that frequent cannabis consumers (defined as having used cannabis two or three times per week) were less likely to engage in hazardous drinking practices compared to infrequent users (those who reported having consumed cannabis fewer than four times per month).
They concluded: "Among cannabis users, frequent cannabis use is associated with a higher prevalence of other illicit drug use and a lower prevalence of hazardous alcohol use when compared to occasional cannabis use. ... The inverse relationship between the frequency of cannabis use and hazardous drinking has not been reported before to our knowledge. ... This may indicate that cannabis users and alcohol users are different groups, albeit with a high degree of overlap between groups, with different characteristics and clinical needs."
A review paper published in February in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism similarly acknowledged that some cannabis consumers likely substitute the plant for alcohol. It concluded: "While more research and improved study designs are needed to better identify the extent and impact of cannabis substitution on those affected by AUD (alcohol use disorders), cannabis does appear to be a potential substitute for alcohol. Perhaps more importantly, cannabis is both safer and potentially less addictive than benzodiazepines and other pharmaceuticals that have been evaluated as substitutes for alcohol."
Full text of the study, "Alcohol and drug use in groups of cannabis users: Results from a survey on drug use in the Swedish general population," appears in The American Journal on Addictions.
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