Study: Urine Tests Effectively Adulterated by Household Cleaning Products
Belgrade, Serbia: Urine samples adulterated by various household cleaning products will yield false negative results for cannabinoids and are undetectable by laboratory screening, according to findings published in the journal Archives of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology.
A team of Serbian researchers adulterated drug-positive urine samples with minute amounts of household cleaning products. The addition of several additives -- including vinegar, lemon juice, bleach, and benzalkonium chloride (an antiseptic agent used in hand sanitizer) -- yielded false positive results for cannabinoids on immunochromatographic strips tests. The use of Visine eye drops did not alter the test results.
Urine reagent strips failed to identify the presence of three adulterants: vinegar, lemon juice, and citric acid, However, follow up pH testing did eventually reveal inconsistencies in the samples adulterated with lemon juice and citric acid. By contrast, samples adulterated with vinegar consistently avoided laboratory detection.
Authors concluded: "To the best of our knowledge, until this study of ours, no one has reported research data about household chemicals interfering with urine drug test results. In terms of tampering, our study shows that UDST [urine drug screening tests] for cannabinoids are susceptible to urine adulterants, as [they] yielded six false negative results. The most potent adulterant that barely changed the physiological properties of urine specimens and therefore escaped adulteration detection was vinegar. Our findings raise concern about this issue of preventing urine tampering and call for better control at sampling, privacy concerns notwithstanding, and better sample validity tests."
Full text of the study, "Effect of urine adulterants on commercial drug abuse screening test strip results," appears in Archives of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology. Additional information on drug screens and cannabis is online.
Virginia: Marijuana Decriminalization Law Takes Effect
Richmond, VA: Legislation passed this spring decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses and sealing the records of past convictions took effect on Wednesday, July 1.
"NORML is proud to have worked alongside Senator Ebbin and Delegate Herring, both longtime champions of evidence-based cannabis policy, to bring about these needed changes to Virginia law," said NORML development director, Jenn Michelle Pedini, who also serves as the executive director of the state affiliate, Virginia NORML. "Virginians have long opposed the criminalization of personal marijuana possession, and the enactment of this legislation turns that public opinion into public policy."
Pedini added, however, that additional legislative reforms will continue to be necessary. "While we applaud Governor Northam, his administration, and the legislature for taking this important first step, it's critical the legislature work swiftly to legalize and regulate the responsible use of cannabis by adults. For too long, young people, poor people, and people of color have disproportionately been impacted by cannabis criminalization, and lawmakers must take immediate steps to right these past wrongs and to undo the damage that prohibition has waged upon hundreds of thousands of Virginians."
Under the new law, activities involving the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana are classified as a civil, not criminal offense -- punishable by a $25 fine, no arrest, and no criminal record. Such activities had previously been classified as criminal misdemeanors, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a criminal record, and the possible loss of driving privileges.
In 2018, police made nearly 30,000 marijuana-related arrests in Virginia.
The new law also explicitly seals the criminal records of past marijuana offenders from employers and school administrators, and defines substances previously considered hashish as marijuana.
Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have either legalized or decriminalized the adult possession and use.
Study: Migraine Patients Self-Report Improvement Following Cannabis Initiation
Philadelphia, PA: The initiation of cannabis therapy is associated with self-reported improvements in patients with chronic migraines, according to data presented at the 2020 annual meeting of the American Headache Society.
Researchers affiliated with the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia evaluated the efficacy of marijuana use for patients with migraines. Patients used cannabis as needed over a nine-month period.
Investigators reported that cannabis therapy was associated with a reduction in patients' use of other anti-migraine medications. A majority of patients also reported reductions in anxiety and improvements in sleep. On a scale of one to ten, 20 percent of subjects rated marijuana's efficacy in treating migraine as a ten.
Separate data published in the June edition of the journal Brain Sciences reported that the inhalation of cannabis long-term was associated with reductions in migraine frequency. Another study, published in 2019 in the Journal of Pain, reported that "inhaled cannabis reduces headache and migraine severity ratings by approximately 50 percent."
California: County Officials Dismiss Marijuana-Related Convictions
Santa Cruz, CA: The Office of the District Attorney for Santa Cruz County (population: 273,000) has announced its intent to dismiss over 1,100 low-level marijuana convictions dating back to 1969.
"Our office recognized the undue burden that these prior convictions can have on people's livelihood, both past and present," Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeff Rosell said in a prepared release. "The decision to dismiss these cases provides much-needed relief to the non-violent people caught up in the ‘war on drugs' and level the playing field for people convicted of crimes that are no longer crimes."
The announcement coincided with a similar declaration by the District Attorney's Office for Sonoma County (population: 494,000) indicating that it would be dismissing over 2,000 marijuana convictions.
The counties join Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Santa Clara, and other counties in the state that have reviewed and expunged tens of thousands of past cannabis convictions. A state law signed in 2018 requires officials to review and identify past marijuana convictions that may be eligible for dismissal.
Changes in Traffic Fatality Rates Identified Following Adult-Use Legalization
Cambridge, MA: A pair of studies published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine report a small but significant uptick in motor vehicle crashes in certain jurisdictions following the enactment of adult-use retail marijuana sales.
In one of the studies, investigators affiliated with Harvard University and New York Medical College assessed motor vehicle accident trends in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington as compared to trends in other states that did not liberalize their cannabis laws. Authors reported that law changes were not associated with changes in traffic fatalities in the short-term, but that states experienced changes in the most recent year for which data was available. Their finding is consistent with a 2019 study that similarly reported no attributable changes in traffic fatalities in either Colorado or Washington in the years immediately following legalization, but did identify an uptick five years later.
A second study published in the same journal assessed trends in traffic fatalities in Colorado and Washington over the years 2005 to 2017. The authors of the study reported that the "implementation of recreational cannabis laws was associated with increases in traffic fatalities in Colorado, but not in Washington state." They speculated that the disparate outcomes may be attributable to a variety of factors, including out-of-state tourism, greater use of cannabis among young adults in Colorado, and greater seatbelt adherence among drivers in Washington.
"Findings suggest that adverse unintended effects of recreational cannabis laws can be heterogeneous and may depend on variations in implementation of these laws (e.g., density of recreational cannabis stores)," authors concluded. "These findings suggest the need for policies, public health programs, and enforcement strategies that will prevent unintended consequences of cannabis legalization, such as increased rates of traffic injuries."
By contrast, available data does not show an association between the enactment of medical cannabis access laws and an increase in traffic fatalities, with some studies showing a sustained decrease in fatalities following medicalization.
Full text of the studies, "Changes in traffic fatality rates in the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana" and "Association of recreational cannabis laws in Colorado and Washington state with changes in traffic fatalities, 2005-2017," appears in JAMA Internal Medicine. Additional information on cannabis, driving performance, and accident risk is available online.
Colorado: New Law Expands Governor's Authority to Pardon Those with Marijuana Convictions
Denver, CO: Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation into law on Tuesday providing the Governor's Office with expanded clemency powers for those with marijuana convictions on their records.
Under the new law, the office of the Governor may "grant pardons to a class of defendants who were convicted of the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana without an application and without seeking the comment of the District Attorney and judges for those cases."
While the Governor's office already possessed the authority to issue pardons in certain circumstances, this measure expands those powers so that the Governor can do so unilaterally for persons with minor marijuana convictions.
The Governor can begin unilaterally issuing pardons in 90 days.
Legislation (HB 1266) previously enacted by the state legislature in 2017 permits those with misdemeanor cannabis convictions to petition the courts to have their records sealed.
Other provisions in the legislation (House Bill 1424) remove the prohibition on those with past felony convictions for marijuana-related activities from seeking industry licenses, among other changes to facilitate greater social equity within the retail cannabis space.
"My office in the Marijuana Enforcement Division is making equity a priority in engaging stakeholders around this topic because, for too long, the consequences of not having equity across too many areas of society -- cannabis being one -- are simply too severe," Gov. Polis said.
Iowa: Governor Signs Bill Amending State's Medical CBD Access Program
Des Moines, IA: Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed legislation into law expanding the pool of patients eligible to access medical CBD products and amending the program's rules.
House File 2589 expands the pool of patients eligible for licensed CBD products to include those with post-traumatic stress and chronic pain conditions. It also allows physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and/or podiatrists the ability to issue medical cannabis recommendations.
It replaces the existing three percent THC cap on state-regulated CBD products with new requirements prohibiting dispensaries from dispensing "more than a combined total of four and one-half grams of total THC to a patient in a 90-day period." This threshold will not apply to patients suffering from a terminal illness or to those whose physicians have determined greater quantities of THC are necessary in order to sufficiently treat the patient's debilitating medical condition.
Other provisions in the legislation require licensed dispensaries to "employ a pharmacist or pharmacy technician" on staff "for the purpose of making dosing recommendations" to patients.
Currently, only three of the state's five eligible dispensaries are operational, as is only one of the state's two eligible cannabis manufacturers. Critics of the state's limited access program have called it "the most bureaucratic, expensive, and ineffective program in the country."
Colorado: Law Explicitly Permits Banks to Loan Money to Marijuana Businesses
Denver, CO: Banks and other financial institutions may provide loans to marijuana-related businesses under legislation signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.
House Bill 1217 states, "A state chartered bank or a credit union may loan money to any person licensed for the operation of a licensed medical or retail marijuana business." The law takes effect on September 1, 2020.
Federal laws and regulations strongly discourage banks from entering into relationships with licensed cannabis businesses. According to newly compiled data by the US Department of Treasury, an estimated 700 depository institutions nationwide are actively banking with cannabis-related businesses.
In September, members of the US House of Representatives voted 321 to 103 to advance The SAFE Banking Act, which seeks to amend federal law so that financial institutions can work directly with the marijuana industry. Members of the Senate have yet to take any action on the measure.