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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Wed, 06 Mar 2019 04:20:21 PST

Studies: Cannabis Exposure Not Associated With Changes In Brain Morphology

Philadelphia, PA: Cannabis exposure is not associated with significant changes in brain morphology in either older or younger subjects, according to a pair of newly published studies.

In the first study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine compared brain scans of occasional (one to two times per week) and frequent (more than three times per week) marijuana consumers versus nonusers. Subjects were between 14 and 22 years of age.

Investigators reported: "There were no significant differences by cannabis group in global or regional brain volumes, cortical thickness, or gray matter density, and no significant group by age interactions were found. Follow-up analyses indicated that values of structural neuroimaging measures by cannabis group were similar across regions, and any differences among groups were likely of a small magnitude."

They concluded, "In sum, structural brain metrics were largely similar among adolescent and young adult cannabis users and non-users."

The findings appear in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

In the second study, researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder compared magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans in 28 cannabis users over the age of 60 versus matched controls. Cannabis consuming participants, on average, had used marijuana weekly for 24 years.

Authors reported that long-term cannabis exposure "does not have a widespread impact on overall cortical volumes while controlling for age, despite over two decades of regular cannabis use on average. This is in contrast to the large, widespread effects of alcohol on cortical volumes that might be expected to negatively impact cognitive performance." Researchers also reported "no significant differences between groups" with regard to cognitive performance.

They concluded: "The current study was able to explore cannabis use in a novel older adult population that has seen recent dramatic increases in cannabis use while controlling for likely confounding variables (e.g., alcohol use). The participants in this study were generally healthy and highly educated, and it is in this context that cannabis use showed limited effects on brain structural measures or cognitive performance."

The findings appear in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.

The studies' conclusions are similar to those of prior trials finding no significant long-term changes in brain structure attributable to cannabis exposure.

Full text of the study, "Cannabis use in youth is associated with limited alterations in brain structure," appears in Neuropsychopharmacology. Full text of the study, "Preliminary results from a pilot study examining brain structure in older adult cannabis users and nonusers," appears in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging. Additional information is available in the NORML fact-sheet, "Marijuana Exposure and Cognitive Performance."

Study: More Lenient Marijuana Laws Not Associated With Higher Odds Of Youth Use

Kent, United Kingdom: Changes in the legal status of marijuana are not associated with an increased likelihood that more adolescents will consume it, according data published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

A University of Kent professor of sociology and social research analyzed three separate waves of global marijuana use data from 38 countries over a period of nine years. The author reported, "[D]ata do not reveal a statistically significant association between policy 'liberalization' and higher odds of increased cannabis use."

The findings are consistent with those of several prior studies finding that changes in marijuana's legal status in jurisdictions in the United States is not associated with upticks in either teens' use of cannabis or access to it.

Full text of the study, "Is policy 'liberalization' associated with higher odds of adolescent cannabis use? A re-analysis of data from 38 countries," appears in the International Journal of Drug Policy. Additional information is available in the NORML fact-sheet, "Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates."

Delaware: Attorney General Calls For Expanding Use Of Civil Penalties For Marijuana Violations

Dover, DE: Delaware prosecutors will no longer be encouraged to pursue criminal charges against those who possess marijuana for personal use, according to guidelines issued last week by the state's new Attorney General, Kathleen Jennings.

In a February 15th memorandum, Jennings called for sweeping changes to help prioritize resources toward the prosecution of violent criminal offenders and away from non-violent defendants. These changes include encouraging prosecutors and "police agencies to expand the use of civil citations [for] marijuana possession in lieu of criminal arrest."

News radio station WHYY reports that the decriminalization policy will apply to possession cases involving up to 175 grams of cannabis.

Under state law, the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis is a civil violation. By contrast, offenses involving the possession of marijuana in greater amounts (between one ounce and six ounces) are classified as criminal misdemeanors -- punishable by up to three months in jail and a criminal record.

The Attorney General's actions to cease criminally prosecuting minor marijuana possession offenses are similar to steps recently taken by municipal law enforcement officials in other states, including Baltimore, St. Louis, and Philadelphia.

San Francisco: District Attorney's Office To Expunge Over 9,000 Past Marijuana Convictions

San Francisco, CA: The Office of the San Francisco District Attorney has announced that it will automatically expunge over 9,000 marijuana-related convictions.

Last February, city officials announced efforts to proactively review and vacate past marijuana-related crimes. To date, the office has sealed several thousand cases and is taking actions to resentence an estimated 5,000 additional felony cases. On Monday, officials said that they have identified a total of 9,362 convictions eligible for expungement.

"It's incumbent that we, as law enforcement leaders, continue to evolve how we advance fairness and public safety in our respective communities," San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said. He added, "It [is] the morally right thing to do."

In October, state lawmakers approved legislation requiring "the Department of Justice, before July 1, 2019, to review the records in the state summary criminal history information database and to identify past convictions that are potentially eligible for recall or dismissal of sentence, dismissal and sealing, or redesignation pursuant to AUMA (the Adult Use Marijuana Act)."

Report: Retail Marijuana Sales In Colorado Surpass $6 Billion

Denver, CO: Over $6 billion of cannabis and cannabis-infused products have been legally sold by licensed retailers in Colorado since 2014, according to data provided by the Colorado Department of Health. Colorado became the first state to permit licensed marijuana sales on January 1, 2014.

In 2018, total retail sales revenues were over $1.5 billion -- a figure that was largely in line with 2017 sales data. It is more than double the amount of revenue reported in 2014. The majority of retail sales were purchased by recreational marijuana consumers.

According to data compiled earlier in the month by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, state and local excise taxes collected on retail adult use cannabis sales nationwide surpassed $1 billion in 2018 -- a 57 percent increase over 2017 levels.

Denver: City Lawmakers Extend Social Use Initiative

Denver, CO: Members of the Denver City Council voted 10 to 1 this week to make permanent an ordinance that permits the licensing of marijuana-specific social use establishments. City voters in 2016 initially passed a municipal initiative permitting social use facilities, but that language was set to expire in 2020.

To date, city regulators have only granted two establishments social use permits, reports the Denver Post. One of those businesses has already closed.

Council members speculated that the program was off to a slow start because prospective businesses were concerned that the policy would end abruptly next year.

Study: Cosmetic Application Of Hemp Seed Oil To Hair Triggers A Positive Drug Test

Poole, United Kingdom: The application of commercially available hemp seed oil products to hair can result in a positive test result for cannabinoids on a hair follicle drug detection test, according to data published in the journal Scientific Reports.

British researchers performed hair follicle drug detection tests on a group of ten volunteers who had applied commercially available hemp seed oil to their hair for a period of six weeks. The product utilized in the study did not contain detectable levels of THC. Prior to participating in the trial, all volunteers declared that they had not ingested cannabis in any form, nor had they been exposed to cannabis (smoke or otherwise) in any form via passive exposure.

Investigators reported, "Application of hemp oil to hair resulted in the incorporation of one or more cannabis constituents in 89 percent of volunteers, and 33 percent of the group tested positive for the three major constituents, THC, CBN [cannabinol] and CBD [cannabidiol]."

They concluded, "It is of concern that cannabinoids have been detected in hair samples following the application of hemp oil as a cosmetic procedure, and at levels in our study relevant to suggest cannabis exposure in some cases. ... We suggest that cosmetic use of hemp oil should be recorded when sampling head hair for analysis, and that the interpretative value of cannabinoid hair measurements from people reporting application of hemp oil is treated with caution in both criminology and public health."

Full text of the study, "Detection of cannabinoids in hair after cosmetic application of hemp oil," appears online in the journal Scientific Reports.

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