ACLU Report: Racial Disparities Persist in Marijuana Possession Arrests
New York, NY: African Americans are nearly four-times as likely as Caucasians to be arrested in the United States for marijuana-possession offenses, according to an analysis published by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
According to the ACLU's report, Blacks are 3.64 times more likely than Whites to face arrest, despite both groups acknowledging consuming cannabis at nearly similar rates.
Authors wrote, "In every single state, Black people were more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, and in some states, Black people were up to six, eight, or almost ten times more likely to be arrested. In 31 states, racial disparities were actually larger in 2018 than they were in 2010."
In two states, Montana and Kentucky, African Americans were arrested for marijuana possession violations at more than nine times the rate of Caucasians – the highest disparity in the country. Colorado and Alaska, which legalized adult-use marijuana sales in 2012 and 2014 respectively, possessed the lowest disparity in marijuana possession arrest rates.
Authors reported that per capita marijuana possession arrests rose from 2010 to 2018 in states where possession offenses remain criminalized. By contrast, marijuana possession arrests fell significantly in jurisdictions that decriminalized cannabis offenses, and fell even more so in states that had legalized it.
Nonetheless, even in jurisdictions with more liberalized cannabis laws, racial disparities still existed among those arrested for marijuana crimes. However, the ACLU acknowledged, "On average, states that have legalized marijuana possession had lower racial disparities in possession arrests in 2018 compared both to states that have only decriminalized and states where marijuana remains illegal."
Commenting on the report, NORML's Political Director Justin Strekal said, "While we are pleased to see the overall number of possession arrests dramatically decline in legal states, the persistent racial disparity among those who are arrested for violating marijuana laws speaks to a larger underlying problem with the way in which law enforcement often interacts with certain communities, especially those largely consisting of people of color."
He added: "The legalization of marijuana is not a panacea to solve the structural problems of systemic racism that persist in America. Nevertheless, legalizing and regulating cannabis reduces the total volume of marijuana arrests as well as one of the primary reasons for police interactions with the public -- interactions that have been historically used by police against people of color."
The full text of the study, "A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform," is online. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, 'Racial Disparity in Marijuana Arrests.'
Poll: Majority of Americans Say Adult-Use Legalization Policies Have Been a "Success"
Washington, DC: A majority of Americans say that adult-use marijuana legalization has been a success in those states that have implemented it, according to nationwide polling.
Fifty-five percent of respondents said that statewide laws allowing recreational marijuana use have been either fully or mostly successful. Nineteen percent of respondents said that the laws have been largely unsuccessful. Twenty-six percent voiced no opinion.
Support was strongest among self-identified Democrats, 67 percent of whom praised legalization laws. Fifty-four percent of Independents described legalization as successful, but only 41 percent of Republicans shared this view.
State-specific polling data shows similar support. For example, survey data compiled last year by the University of California at Berkeley reported that 68 percent of California voters believe that legalizing marijuana in the state has been a "good thing." Survey data from Washington state found that 78 percent of respondents acknowledged supporting marijuana legalization following the enactment of laws regulating the plant's commercial production and retail sale.
A prior poll, released in March, reported that a majority of Americans agree with states' decisions to classify licensed medical cannabis facilities as 'essential services' during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Additional polling data is available from NORML.
Review: Cannabis Smoke Exposure Is "Distinct from Tobacco," Not Associated with COPD or Lung Cancer
Dunedin, New Zealand: Cannabis exposure does not negatively impact the lungs in a manner consistent with tobacco, nor is it similarly linked to elevated rates of either COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or lung cancer, according a literature review published in the journal Addiction.
A team of New Zealand researchers reviewed clinical trial data assessing the impact of cannabis smoke exposure on the lungs. They report that "the effects of smoking cannabis on the lungs are distinct from tobacco."
Specifically, they write: "[I]t has been pragmatic to assume that cannabis and tobacco would have similar respiratory effects. ... The research that has been done, however, offers a different story. The most common serious respiratory consequences from smoking tobacco are Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and lung cancer. Epidemiological evidence that smoking cannabis causes either of these is scant."
By contrast, authors reported that cannabis smoke exposure is associated with higher rates of cough, sputum production, and chronic bronchitis.
They reported "little epidemiological evidence of an association between cannabis and emphysema," and found conflicting evidence with respect to whether marijuana smoke exposure is associated with an increased risk of pneumonia.
Their findings are consistent with those of other literature reviews, such as those here and here.
Full text of the study, "Cannabis use disorder and the lungs," appears in Addiction. Additional information is available in the NORML fact-sheet, 'Cannabis Exposure and Lung Health."
Study: Regular Cannabis Use Associated with Increased Testosterone Levels
Chicago, IL: Men who report having consumed cannabis in the past year possess elevated levels of testosterone as compared to non-users, according to data published in the World Journal of Urology.
A team of investigators from the University of Chicago, the University of Miami, and John Hopkins University in Baltimore assessed the relationship between past-year cannabis use and testosterone levels in a cohort of self-reported cannabis consumers.
Authors reported, "[M]en who reported smoking THC in the last year on average had a higher T (testosterone level) compared to those who did not report using THC." Those subjects who reported using cannabis at least two or three times per month possessed the greatest differences compared to non-users. Differences in testosterone levels persisted even after researchers adjusted for potential confounders, including age, comorbidities, tobacco use, alcohol use, body mass index (BMI), exercise level, and race.
They concluded: "[This] analysis of a nationally representative cohort suggests that there is a dose-dependent effect of THC on T levels. ... Future prospective work using specific doses of THC and studies elucidating the mechanism of the association is required to corroborate these findings."
Full text of the study, "The effect of tetrahydrocannabinol on testosterone among men in the United States: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey," appears in the World Journal of Urology.
Case Report: 88-Year-Old Patient Reports Cannabis Improves Symptoms of Anxiety, Vertigo
Sydney, Australia: The daily administration of whole-plant cannabis oil is associated with a significant improvement in symptoms of anxiety and vertigo, according to a case study published in the journal Discoveries.
An Australian investigator reported on the successful use of cannabis oil for symptom management in an 88-year-old female patient with generalized anxiety disorder and debilitating vertigo.
The patient reported "significant improvements in her quality of life" following four weeks of daily cannabis use (2 ml of THC-dominant oil). The subject reported that her nausea, dizziness, and limited mobility returned shortly after she stopped taking cannabis oil. Symptoms ceased when she once again reintegrated cannabis oil into her daily treatment regimen.
The report's author concluded: "[T]his case demonstrates how the patient was able to significantly benefit from the introduction of medical cannabis into her mental health intervention for the treatment of vertigo and a generalized anxiety disorder. In this case, the benefits for the 88-year-old patient using medical cannabis as a treatment in the both the short term and longer-term far outweighed the potential risks that may require consideration for children or adolescents."
Full text of the study, "A case study for the use of medical cannabis in generalized anxiety disorder," appears in Discoveries.