#NORML #News Source: @norml @WeedConnection Posted By: email@example.com media :: news - Tue, 08 May 2018 04:20:21 PST
Study: Frequent Cannabis Use Unrelated To Brain Morphology
Richmond, VA: The frequent use of cannabis is not associated with changes in brain structure, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Addiction.
An international team of scientists from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States assessed the relationship between habitual cannabis exposure and grey matter volumes in seven regions of the brain - including the thalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, and the nucleus accumbens - in two large population-based twin samples.
Researchers reported, "[N]ormal variation in cannabis use is statistically unrelated to individual differences in brain morphology as measured by subcortical volume."
By contrast, the repeated use of nicotine was positively associated with significantly smaller thalamus volumes in middle-aged males.
Authors wrote: "This is the largest exploratory analysis integrating brain imaging with self-report cannabis and comorbid substance use data. After correcting for multiple testing, there was no effect of cannabis use on the volume at any subcortical region of interest in young adults or middle-aged males."
They concluded, "In the context of expanding medicalization and decriminalization and the concerns surrounding the consequences of increased cannabis availability, our findings suggest that normal variation in cannabis use is statistically unrelated to brain morphology as measured by subcortical volumes in non-clinical samples."
The findings are consistent with those of prior brain imaging studies reporting that cannabis exposure appears to have little-to-no significant adverse impact upon brain morphology- particularly when compared to the dramatic effects associated with alcohol exposure.
The study's findings fail to replicate those of a well-publicized 2014 paper which alleged that even casual marijuana exposure may be linked to brain abnormalities, particularly in the amygdala.
A meta-analysis published last week of 69 separate studies reported that cannabis exposure in adolescents and young adults is not associated with any significant, residual detrimental effects on cognitive performance. The results from a pair of recently published longitudinal twin studies similarly report that cannabis use is not independently associated with any residual change in intelligence quotient or executive function.
Full text of the study, "Testing associations between cannabis use and subcortical volumes in two large population-based samples," appears in Addiction. NORML's online fact-sheet, "Marijuana Exposure and Cognitive Performance," is available online.
More Seniors Using Cannabis, Substituting It For Prescription Painkillers
Emeryville, CA: Adults age 50 and older are far more likely to consume cannabis today than they were decades ago, according to population use data published in the journal Addiction.
Investigators with the Alcohol Research Group assessed trends in marijuana use between the years 1984 and 2015. Authors reported that, compared with older Americans 30 years ago, older respondents today are some 20 times more likely to acknowledge using cannabis.
"We found that rates of use among older groups increased quite significantly since the 1980s, especially for men in their fifties and sixties," the study's lead author stated in a press release. Their finding is consistent with those of other studies reporting upticks in cannabis use by seniors.
By contrast, respondents between the ages of 18 to 49 reported using cannabis at rates that are similar to those in the 1980s.
Separate data presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society finds that as many as 65 percent of older adults reduce their use of prescription painkillers after initiating medical cannabis therapy - a finding that is consistent with those of numerous other studies assessing marijuana substitution patterns in various patient populations.
Augusta, ME: Lawmakers on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to override Republican Gov. Paul LePage's veto of LD 1719; the enactment of the legislation establishes a framework for the retail sale of marijuana to adults, but also amends numerous provisions of a 2016 voter-approved measure - including those specific to home grow limits and taxation.
Specifically, LD 1719 limits the number of mature plants an adult may cultivate at home from six to three. The measure also repeals language permitting the establishment of social-use facilities, and increases the excise tax rates on the sale of wholesale marijuana products. It also makes it easier for communities that wish to enact local moratoriums prohibiting the establishment of adult use retail facilities the ability to do so.
However, the measure also permits state regulators for the first time to move forward with the establishment of rules permitting the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults. Legislators anticipate that it will be until 2019 before these facilities are operational.
Governor LePage, an ardent opponent of the 2016 initiative, vetoed LD 1719 last week, opining that he, "in good conscience cannot support a law that, on its face, violates federal law." The Governor had previously vetoed a less conservative implementation bill last November. That bill did not amend home cultivation limits and did not outright ban social use establishments.
NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano expressed mixed emotions about the law's passage. "On the one hand, we are grateful that regulators can now - after months of undue delay - finally begin moving forward with the process of licensing adult use marijuana sales and regulating this retail market. On the other hand, it is unfortunate that lawmakers felt it necessary to amend and repeal other important provisions of Question 1, the Marijuana Legalization Act, in what ultimately was a futile effort to curry favor with the Governor," he said. "At the end of the day, this measure is far from consistent with the language that the majority of voters approved at the ballot box."
Court Rejects Challenge To DEA's Classification Of Marijuana Extracts
San Francisco, CA: A three judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a petition filed by the Hemp Industries Association challenging the DEA's authority to establish a new administrative drug code specifically for marijuana extracts. The DEA first announced the proposed rule change in 2011, but did not enact the new policy until January 13, 2017.
In a decision filed on April 30, the Court rejected petitioners' arguments - opining the DEA's classification of marijuana extracts does not conflict with the provisions of either the Agricultural Act of 2014 (aka the 'Farm Bill') or the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which limits the Justice Department from spending federal dollars to intervene in state-sanctioned activities involving marijuana or industrial hemp. The Court also dismissed petitioners' argument that the rule substantively amended the federal Controlled Substances Act. Justices opined that such extract products, including those containing primarily CBD, were already classified under federal law as schedule I controlled substances.
The DEA has long contended that it possesses broad regulatory authority over "all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L.," including "the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin." The agency includes among this definition products containing cannabidiol or any other non-THC cannabinoids derived from the marijuana plant. It further states, "[T]he Agricultural Act of 2014 does not permit entities [who are not registered with the DEA] ... to produce non-FDA-approved drug products made from cannabis."
Over a dozen states have enacted legislation in recent years exempting certain persons who possess extracts high in cannabidiol from criminal prosecution. Legislation to approve the retail sale of CBD extracts to adults in Kansas is awaiting gubernatorial action. Indiana lawmakers approved a similar law in April. Several pieces of legislation seeking to exclude CBD from the federal definition of marijuana are pending in Congress. In 2015, Nora Volkow, the Director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, publicly acknowledged that CBD is "a safe drug with no addictive effects."
Petitioners say that they intend to appeal the ruling.
New Mexico: Court Strikes Down Governor's Veto Of Hemp Production Act
Santa Fe, NM: Justices on the state Supreme Court have upheld a lower court's decision to strike down Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's vetoes of a pair of hemp production bills. The ruling allows the laws to take immediate effect.
In 2017, Gov. Martinez vetoed House Bill 144 and Senate Bill 6 without explanation. The measures permit the Department of Agriculture to license the cultivation of industrial hemp for research and development purposes in compliance with federal provisions (Section 7606) of the 2014 Farm Act. Over 35 states have enacted similar laws.
Members of the Court determined that the Governor acted unconstitutionally by failing to provide any written explanation for her vetoes. Absent such an explanation, lawmakers lacked the ability to revise the legislation in a manner that would ultimately gain the Governor's approval.
Governor Martinez has long been an outspoken opponent of marijuana law reform. She is one of only four US governors to receive an 'F' grade from NORML in its 2018 Gubernatorial Scorecard.