Oregon: Governor Signs Law Authorizing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Salem, OR: Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber has signed legislation, House Bill 3460, into law establishing regulations for the creation of state-licensed medical cannabis facilities.
The law tasks the Oregon Health Authority with crafting rules and regulations over the following months to govern the new statewide distribution system.
Oregon voters initially approved a statewide initiative in 1998 mandating state lawmakers to allow for physicians to authorize qualified patients to consume and grow cannabis. However, that law did not explicitly provide legal protections for outlets that wished to dispense the substance to authorized patients.
Presently, an estimated 200 unlicensed cannabis dispensing facilities are operating throughout the state. An estimated 57,000 Oregonians are registered with the state to consume cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, DC now have licensed medical cannabis dispensaries up and running. (California dispensaries are not licensed by the state.) Similar dispensary outlets are in the process of opening in Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada and New Hampshire.
Oregon is the fourth state this year to enact legislation allowing for the state-sponsored production and distribution of medical cannabis.
Study: Passage of Medical Marijuana Laws Associated With Reduced Incidences Of Alcohol-Related Traffic Fatalities
Bozeman, MT: The passage of medical cannabis laws is associated with a reduction in the public's overall consumption of alcohol and with fewer incidences of alcohol-related traffic fatalities, according to data published in the Journal of Law and Economics.
Investigators at Montana State University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Colorado assessed data regarding both alcohol consumption and traffic fatality rates for the years 1990 to 2010.
Authors wrote: "Using individual-level data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) ..., we find that MMLs (medical marijuana laws) are associated with decreases in the probability of [an individual] having consumed alcohol in the past month, binge drinking, and the number of drinks consumed."
Researchers further acknowledged that this general decline in the public's use of alcohol was likely responsible for a parallel decline in the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
They wrote: "Using data from FARS (federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System) for the period 1990-2010, we find that traffic fatalities fall by 8-11 percent the first full year after legalization. ... Why does legalizing medical marijuana reduce traffic fatalities? Alcohol consumption appears to play a key role. The legalization of medical marijuana is associated with a 7.2 percent decrease in traffic fatalities in which there was no reported alcohol involvement, but this estimate is not statistically significant at conventional levels. In comparison, the legalization of medical marijuana is associated with a 13.2 percent decrease in fatalities in which at least one driver involved had a positive BAC level. The negative relationship between the legalization of medical marijuana and traffic fatalities involving alcohol lends support to the hypothesis that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes."
Authors concluded, "We conclude that alcohol is the likely mechanism through which the legalization of medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities. However, this conclusion does not necessarily imply that driving under the influence of marijuana is safer than driving under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol is often consumed in restaurants and bars, while many states prohibit the use of medical marijuana in public. If marijuana consumption typically takes place at home or other private locations, then legalization could reduce traffic fatalities simply because marijuana users are less likely to drive while impaired."
Gallup: Self-Reported Marijuana Use Falling Dramatically Among Young Adults
Princeton, NJ: Self-reported use of marijuana by young adults has fallen dramatically in recent decades despite the liberalization of state marijuana laws, according to survey data published this week by Gallup.
According to the survey, 36 percent of Americans between the age of 18 and 29 have tried cannabis. That percentage is a marked decline from previous decades. In 1977, 56 percent of those between the ages of 18 to 29 reported consuming cannabis. A similar percentage reported using the plant in 1985, during the height of the Nancy Reagan 'Just Say No' era. In 1999, 46 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 reported using pot.
Since 1996, 20 states have enacted laws allowing for the physician-authorized use of medical marijuana. Two states have legalized the plant's broader use by adults. Several other states, including California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, have decriminalized marijuana possession offenses in recent years.
While self-reported marijuana use by young adults has declined, consumption by older Americans has increased. Among those Americans age 65 and older, self-reported use of cannabis rose from three percent in 1999 to 17 percent today. Among those aged 50 to 64, self-reported cannabis use doubled from 22 percent in 1999 to 44 percent today.
Overall, Gallup reports that 38 percent of Americans 18 and older have now used marijuana, up from 34 percent in 1999.
Illinois Becomes 20th State To Sanction Therapeutic Cannabis Use
Springfield, IL: Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation into law last week making Illinois the twentieth state to authorize the physician-recommended use and distribution of cannabis to qualified patients.
The new law establishes a statewide, four-year pilot program regulating the production, distribution, and possession of medical cannabis. The program creates up to 22 state-licensed cannabis cultivation centers and up to 60 state-licensed dispensaries. Qualified patients participating in the program must have a preexisting relationship with their physician prior to receiving a recommendation for cannabis therapy. Patients diagnosed with one of approximately 40 qualifying conditions - including cancer, hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and Crohn's disease - will be permitted to legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis per 14-day period. Under the law, patients must obtain cannabis only from a state-licensed facility.
The law takes effect on January 1, 2014. State regulators have 120-days following the bill's enactment to file program rules and regulations with the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.
Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, DC now have licensed medical cannabis dispensaries up and running. (California dispensaries are not licensed by the state.) Similar dispensary outlets are in the process of opening in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Nevada and New Hampshire. Legislation in Oregon to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries awaits action from the governor.
Study: Marijuana Consumers More Knowledgeable About Substance's Health Effects Than Non-Users
Zurich, Switzerland: People who consume cannabis are more likely to be knowledgeable about the substance's health effects than are those who abstain from it, according to survey data reported online in the International Journal of Public Health Policy.
Researchers at the University of Zurich in Switzerland assessed the health literacy of some 12,000 male subjects. Investigators reported that those subjects who consumed cannabis, alcohol, and tobacco "searched for information about substances significantly more often via the Internet than abstainers." These subjects also "reported better knowledge of risks associated with substance use and a marginally better ability to understand health information than abstainers," the authors found.
In particular, subjects who reported consuming cannabis at least once per week were four times more likely to search for health-related information as compared those who abstained, the study found.
Researchers concluded, "Substance users appear to be more informed and knowledgeable about the risks of substance use than non-users."