Los Angeles, CA: The forced closure of medical cannabis retail facilities is associated with an uptick in crime, according to data published in the Journal of Urban Economics.
University of Southern California researchers assessed the impact of dispensary closures on crime rates in the city of Los Angeles. Investigators analyzed crime data in the days immediately prior to and then immediately after the city ordered several hundred operators to be closed.
Researchers identified an immediate increase in criminal activity - particularly property crime, larceny, and auto break ins - in the areas where dispensary operations were forced to close as compared to crime rates in those neighborhoods where marijuana retailers remained open for business. "[W]e find no evidence that closures decreased crime," they reported. "Instead, we find a significant relative increase in crime around closed dispensaries."
"Open dispensaries provide over $30,000 per year in social benefit in terms of larcenies prevented," authors concluded.
The findings are consistent with those of prior studies determining that dispensary operations are not associated with 'spillover effects' in local communities, such as increased teen marijuana use or an uptick in property crimes.
Full text of the study, "Going to pot? The impact of dispensary closures on crime," appears in the Journal of Urban Economics.
Case Reports: Cannabis Smoking Associated With Spontaneous Remission Of Restless Legs Syndrome
Bordeaux, France: Cannabis inhalation alleviates symptoms in patients with restless legs syndrome (RLS), according to a series of case reports published in the journal Sleep Medicine. Up to ten percent of the US population is estimated to suffer from RLS.
French researchers reported on the experience of six patients with treatment-resistant RLS following cannabis inhalation. All patients reported "total relief of RLS symptoms as well as complete improvement of sleep quality" following their use of marijuana.
"To our knowledge, this is the first report on the efficacy of cannabis in RLS," investigators concluded. "Robust clinical trials are required to test the adequate profile of the effectiveness and safety of cannabinoids in RLS."
Full text of the study, "Cannabis for restless legs syndrome: A report of six patients," appears in Sleep Medicine.
Study: Cannabinoids Reduce Migraine Frequency
Amsterdam, the Netherlands: The prolonged daily administration of cannabinoids is associated with a reduction in migraine headache frequency, according to clinical trial data presented at the 3rd Congress of the European Academy of Neurology.
Italian researchers compared the efficacy of oral cannabinoid treatments versus amitriptyline - an anti-depressant commonly prescribed for migraines - in 79 chronic migraine patients over a period of three months. Subjects treated daily with a 200mg dose of a combination of THC and CBD achieved a 40 percent reduction in migraine frequency - a result that was similar to the efficacy of amitriptyline therapy.
Subjects also reported that cannabinoid therapy significantly reduced acute migraine pain, but only when taken at doses above 100mg. Oral cannabinoid treatment was less effective among patients suffering from cluster headaches.
"We were able to demonstrate that cannabinoids are an alternative to established treatments in migraine prevention," researchers concluded.
Some five million Americans are estimated to experience at least one migraine attack per month, and the condition is the 19th leading cause of disability worldwide.
According to retrospective data published last year in the journal Pharmacotherapy, medical cannabis consumption is often associated with a significant decrease in migraine frequency, and may even abort migraine onset in some patients.
A just published literature review in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research concludes: "[I]t appears likely that cannabis will emerge as a potential treatment for some headache sufferers."
An abstract of the study, "Cannabinoids suitable for migraine prevention," appears online.
Florida: Lawsuit Challenges Medical Marijuana Smoking Ban
Tallahassee, FL: Florida for Care representatives took legal action last week challenging a statewide ban on the smoking of medicinal cannabis. The suit was filed just days after lawmakers approved legislation, Senate Bill 8A, amending Amendment 2 - a voter initiated constitutional amendment permitting the use and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. Seventy-one percent of Florida voters approved the initiative in November.
Senate Bill 8A, which was signed into law on June 23, prohibits the possession of marijuana "in a form for smoking" and bars the use of herbal cannabis except in instances where it is contained "in a sealed tamper-proof receptacle for vaping."
Florida for Care's lawsuit argues, "Inhalation is a medically effective and efficient way to deliver tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and other cannabinoids, to the bloodstream. ... By redefining the constitutionally defined term 'medical use' to exclude smoking, the Legislature substitutes its medical judgment for that of 'a licensed Florida physician' and is in direct conflict with the specifically articulated Constitutional process."
NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or restrict patients' access to whole plant herbal cannabis. Many patients seeking rapid relief from symptoms do not benefit from cannabis-infused pills, tinctures, or edibles because they possess delayed onset compared to inhaled cannabis and are far more variable in their effects.
If the court invalidates SB 8A, the task of writing the rules for implementing the initiative - which must be operational by October - will fall to the Florida Department of Health.
New York City: Minorities Still Arrested Disproportionately For Marijuana Violations
New York, NY: Eighty-seven percent of low level marijuana arrestees in New York City are either African Americans or Latinos, according to an analysis compiled by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and published this week by the Drug Policy Alliance.
Researchers reported that New York City police officers made more than 60,000 arrests for minor marijuana violations during the first three years of Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration (2014-2016) - even though he had previously called the practice "unjust and wrong." Of those arrested during this period, 49 percent were black, 38 percent were Latino, nine percent were white, and four percent were classified as either Asian or 'other.' Similar racial disparities among low level marijuana arrests existed under the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations.
Authors concluded, "In 2016, and for the last 30 years, the NYPD has had two very different patterns or systems of enforcement by race and ethnicity for the criminal offense of possessing small amounts of marijuana - separate, unequal, and unjust."
Recent reviews of marijuana possession arrest data from New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia have identified similar trends. A 2013 American Civil Liberties Union study found that nationwide blacks are approximately four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, even though both ethnicities consume the substance at approximately similar rates.
Although New York state law classifies minor marijuana possession offenses as a non-criminal offense, separate penal law (NY State Penal Law 221.10) defines marijuana possession in a manner that is 'open to public view' as an arrestable offense.
Full text of the report, "Unjust and Unconstitutional: 60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio's New York," is available online.