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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 30 Mar 2021 04:20:21 PST

Study: "No Evidence" That Medical Cannabis Access Laws Encourage Youth Marijuana Use

Baltimore, MD: Neither the enactment of medical cannabis legalization laws nor the establishment of dispensaries are associated with any upticks in young people's use of marijuana, according to data published in the journal Substance Abuse.

A team of investigators affiliated with John Hopkins University in Baltimore, as well as with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission reviewed cannabis use trends in more than one-million adolescents (grades 9-12) over a nearly 25-year period.

Consistent with prior studies, authors concluded, "This study found no evidence between 1991 and 2015 of increases in adolescents reporting past 30-day marijuana use or heavy marijuana use associated with state MML [medical marijuana law] enactment or operational MML dispensaries."

Authors added: "Our main finding was that adolescents residing in states with MMLs had significantly lower odds of past 30-day ('current') marijuana use compared to adolescents residing in non-MML states (6 percent). In grade stratified analyses, the 9th graders had 9 percent lower odds, whereas there were no differences for other grade levels."

Commenting on the study's findings, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: "These data, gathered from 46 states over more than two decades, show unequivocally that medical cannabis access can be legally regulated in a manner that is safe, effective, and that does not inadvertently impact young people's habits. These findings should reassure politicians and others that states' real-world experience with medical cannabis distribution is a success from both a public health and a public safety perspective."

Full text of the study, "Medical marijuana laws (MMLs) and dispensary provisions not associated with higher odds of adolescent or heavy marijuana use: A 46 state analysis, 1991-2015," appears in Substance Abuse.

Analysis: Tax Revenue from Legal Cannabis Sales Tops $3 Billion in 2020

Washington, DC: Tax revenue from state-legal cannabis sales rose significantly in 2020, according to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Authors reported, "Powered by an expanding legal market and a pandemic-driven boost in cannabis use, excise and sales taxes on cannabis jumped by more than $1 billion in 2020, or 58 percent, compared to a year earlier. In total, these taxes raised more than $3 billion last year, including $1 billion in California alone."

Transactions specific to the commercial market in California were responsible for over one-third of the nation's total cannabis tax growth in 2020. Year-over-year, cannabis tax revenue rose some 40 percent in the state.

Significant growth in revenue also occurred in 2020 in states with more established markets, such as Colorado and Washington.

Overall, the report acknowledged that cannabis-related tax revenues still comprise only a small percentage of states' overall budgets. However, authors emphasized that these tax revenues are among "states' fastest growing revenue sources."

Full text of the ITEP analysis is online. Additional information is available in the NORML fact sheet, "Marijuana Regulation: Impact on Health, Safety, Economy."

Twin Study: Alcohol Use, But Not Cannabis Use, During Young Adulthood Linked with Reductions in Cortical Thickness

Minneapolis, MN: Alcohol consumption, but not the use of cannabis, is associated with changes in brain morphology, according to data published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

Researchers with the University of Minnesota assessed the relationship between alcohol and cannabis exposure during young adulthood on brain morphology in a population-based sample of 436 twins aged 24 years.

Authors reported, "Greater alcohol, but not cannabis, misuse was associated with reduced thickness of prefrontal and frontal medial cortices, as well as [the] temporal lobe, intraparietal sulcus, insula, parietal operculum, precuneus, and parietal medial areas."

Neuroimaging research indicates that human's intellectual ability is related to brain structure, including the thickness of the cerebral cortex.

Investigators concluded: "No significant associations between cannabis use and thickness were observed. The lack of cannabis-specific effects is consistent with literature reviews, large sample studies, and evidence that observed cannabis effects may be accounted for by comorbid alcohol.

"This study provides novel evidence that alcohol-related reductions in cortical thickness of control/salience brain networks likely represent the effects of alcohol exposure and premorbid characteristics of the genetic predisposition to misuse alcohol. The dual effects of these two alcohol-related causal influences have important and complementary implications regarding public health and prevention efforts to curb youth drinking."

The findings are consistent with those of several other studies -- such as this 2017 study and this 2015 study -- indicating that the use of alcohol, but not cannabis, is associated with negative changes in brain morphology. According to the findings of a literature review of 69 studies published in JAMA Psychiatry, "Associations between cannabis use and cognitive functioning in cross-sectional studies of adolescents and young adults are small and may be of questionable clinical importance for most individuals. Furthermore, abstinence of longer than 72 hours diminishes cognitive deficits associated with cannabis use. Results indicate that previous studies of cannabis youth may have overstated the magnitude and persistence of cognitive deficits associated with marijuana use."

Full text of the study, "The effects of alcohol and cannabis use on the cortical thickness of cognitive control and salience brain networks in emerging adulthood: A co-twin control study," appears in Biological Psychiatry.

Study: Adult-Use Legalization Not Associated with Increase in Emergency Department Visits

Hamilton, Ontario: The enactment of adult-use legalization in Canada has not been associated with an overall increase in the total number of patients admitted to emergency departments for acute cannabis intoxication/dysphoria, according to data published in the journal BMC Emergency Medicine.

A team of Canadian researchers assessed cannabis-related ED admission rates at a Hamilton, Ontario facility during the six-months immediately prior to and immediately following the enactment of legalization.

They reported, "There was no difference in the overall rate of ED visits following legalization." However, they did acknowledge an increase following legalization among a subset of patients ages 18 to 29. Most of these visits "consisted only of observation within the ED." Authors speculated that this subset of patients likely consists of "new users ... seeking medical care as a result of unpleasant symptoms, ... which ultimately resolve on their own with time and reassurance."

Authors concluded, "To our knowledge, this study constitutes the most extensive examination of documented acute cannabis intoxication ED visits before and after the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada. Our primary outcome suggests that cannabis legalization was not associated with a change in the rate of ED visits for acute cannabis intoxication."

Full text of the study, "Acute cannabis intoxication in the emergency department: The effect of legalization," appears in BMC Emergency Medicine.

New York: Analyses Find That People of Color Are Far More Likely to Be Arrested for Marijuana-Related Violations

New York, NY: A pair of new analyses of marijuana-related arrests in various cities in New York state finds that people of color are disproportionately arrested for marijuana-related offenses.

The first report, issued by The Legal Aid Society, analyzed marijuana-related arrests in the five boroughs in New York City for the year 2020. Of those arrested, over 93 percent were either Black or Hispanic.

"The data affirm that New Yorkers of color are still overwhelmingly shouldering the brunt of the NYPD's racist marijuana enforcement while other communities get a free pass," said Anthony Posada, Supervising Attorney with the Community Justice Unit at The Legal Aid Society. "To correct the racist origins of the prohibition of marijuana that still very much exists today, Albany must enact the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) immediately to ensure that our clients, those from criminalized communities, will obtain equity, racial justice, and priority access to the benefits that legalization will create."

Another report, published by the Drug Policy Alliance, examined marijuana arrest rates over the past decade in four cities: Buffalo, New York City, New Rochelle, and Syracuse. In Syracuse, Blacks were four times more likely to be arrested for cannabis offenses than were whites. In Buffalo, Blacks were three times as likely to be arrested. In New York City, Blacks and Latinos were eight times more likely to be arrested than were whites. In New Rochelle, authors reported that Blacks comprise 20 percent of the city's population but were 46 percent of those arrested for marijuana violations between 2018 and January 2021.

Authors concluded: "Despite regional differences, New York City, New Rochelle, Syracuse, and Buffalo demonstrate similar trends. In all four cities, people of color are consistently over-represented in marijuana arrests, and areas with the highest marijuana arrest rates also tend to have proportionally larger populations of color."

Similar trends have been documented in other major cities nationwide, including Albany, New York, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. A 2020 analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union concluded, "Black people are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, notwithstanding comparable usage rates." Authors reported, "In every single state, Black people were more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, and in some states, Black people were up to six, eight, or almost ten times more likely to be arrested. In 31 states, racial disparities were actually larger in 2018 than they were in 2010."

Full text of the DPA report, "Inequitable marijuana criminalization, COVID-19, and socioeconomic disparities: The case for community reinvestment in New York," is available online.

California: Task Force Recommends Against Imposition of Per Se Traffic Safety Limits for THC

Sacramento, CA: State lawmakers should reject legislative proposals to impose per se limits prohibiting motorists to operate a vehicle with trace quantities of THC in their blood, according to the recommendations of a state-appointed task force on impaired driving. Such laws criminalize driving a vehicle with trace amounts of THC or other related compounds in one's system, even absent any evidence of impaired driving performance.

In a report to the legislature, the task force stated: "Drugs affect people differently depending on many variables. A per se limit for drugs, other than ethanol, should not be enacted at this time as current scientific research does not support it."

The task force included participants from various agencies and organizations, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the California Highway Patrol, the California Office of Traffic Safety, the American Automobile Association (AAA), and California NORML. Both NHTSA and AAA have previously recommended against the imposition of per se limits for THC -- acknowledging that the presence of THC in blood is not a consistent predictor of either recent cannabis exposure or psychomotor impairment.

NORML has consistently opposed the imposition of THC per se limits, opining that such thresholds are not evidence-based and that they may lead to the criminal prosecution of people who consumed cannabis several days previously but are no longer under its influence.

Six states -- Illinois, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington -- impose various per se limits for the detection of specific amounts of THC in blood while ten states (Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin) impose zero tolerant per se standards. In those states, it is a criminal violation of the traffic safety laws to operate a motor vehicle with detectable levels of THC in blood. Colorado law infers driver impairment in instances where THC is detected in blood at levels of 5ng/ml or higher.

Full text of the task force's report is available online.

Colorado: Governor Signs Bill Facilitating Greater Diversity Within the Cannabis Industry

Denver, CO: Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation, Senate Bill 21, into law to provide grant funding and other incentives to certain marijuana-related businesses.

The law establishes a program within the state's Office of Economic Development and International Trade to provide financial and technical support to cannabis businesses operated by those holding social equity licenses. An initial infusion of $4 million in funding will be provided to the program to be used as either grants or loans to new businesses.

Governor Polis said the establishment of the new program is necessary because "right now the federal Small Business Administration prevents federal resources from going to support and help companies that operate in the legal marijuana industry."

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