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Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 21 Feb 2017 04:20:21 PST

Study: Medical Cannabis Patients Reduce Their Use Of Opioids

Victoria, Canada: Patients with legal access to medical cannabis reduce their use of opioids, benzodiazepines, and other prescription drugs, according to data published online ahead of print in The International Journal of Drug Policy.

Researchers at the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia assessed the use of medical cannabis and prescription drugs in a cohort of 277 patients registered in the Canadian government's medical marijuana program. Sixty-three percent of the respondents reported substituting cannabis for prescription medications. Patients were most likely to report using cannabis in lieu of opioids (32 percent). Patients also reported using cannabis in place of benzodiazepines (16 percent) and anti-depressants (12 percent).

Respondents were most likely to reduce their use of prescription medications because they believed that cannabis posed fewer adverse side effects. Respondents also reported that "cannabis is safer" than prescription alternatives and that it provides "better symptom management."

Authors concluded: "The finding that patients using cannabis to treat pain-related conditions have a higher rate of substitution for opioids, and that patients self-reporting mental health issues have a higher rate of substitution for benzodiazepines and antidepressants has significant public health implications. In light of the growing rate of morbidity and mortality associated with these prescription medications, cannabis could play a significant role in reducing the health burden of problematic prescription drug use."

The study's conclusions are consistent with those of prior reports finding that patients with legal access to cannabis spend less money on conventional prescription drugs, and are less likely to use or abuse opioids.

Full text of the study, "Medical cannabis access, use, and substitution for prescription opioids and other substances: A survey of authorized medical cannabis patients," appears in The International Journal of Drug Policy.

The 'Respect State Marijuana Laws Act' Reintroduced In Congress

Washington, DC: United States Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with six other Republicans and six Democrats, has reintroduced bipartisan legislation, 'The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,' to prevent 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.

House Resolution 975 amends the federal Controlled Substances Act to read, ''Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with state laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.''

Passage of this Act would halt federal officials from prosecuting individuals and businesses in the 29 states that permit either the medical or the adult use and distribution of marijuana. According to national polling, 60 percent of Americans believe that state officials ought to possess the authority to "control and decide whether to legalize marijuana" - not the federal government.

"With the recent confirmation of militant marijuana prohibitionist Jeff Sessions to the position of US Attorney General, passage of this Act is a priority to ensure that medical marijuana patients and others are protected from undue federal interference," NORML's Political Director Justin Strekal said.

The bill is one of several pieces of legislation already filed in Congress to amend federal marijuana policy. Other pending measures include HR 715, which seeks to reschedule cannabis under federal law, and HR 331, which halts the federal government from taking civil forfeiture action against properties involved in state-approved, medical marijuana-related conduct.

Guam: Health Officials To Begin Licensing Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

Mangilao, Guam: Health Department officials are accepting applications from those seeking to become licensed medical cannabis cultivators or providers. Voters in the US territory decided in the 2014 general election to establish regulations governing the licensed production and distribution of medicinal cannabis to qualified patients. Lawmakers codified those regulations last December.

Under the law, known as the Joaquin "KC" Concepcion II Compassionate Cannabis Use Act, physicians may recommend cannabis therapy to any patient for whom he or she believes that such treatment may provide therapeutic relief. Patients are anticipated to be able to legally obtain medicinal cannabis products from licensed dispensaries by this summer.

Pending legislation endorsed by Guam's Governor also seeks to legalize, regulate, and tax the use of cannabis by those age 21 or older.

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