Poll: Respondents in Adult-Use Marijuana States Say Legalization Has Been Successful
Washington, DC: Most adults living in states where marijuana use is legal say the policy change has been successful, according to state-specific polling data compiled by YouGov.
Respondents in California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, and Washington were asked if they viewed their state's adult-use legalization policy as either a "success or a failure."
A majority of those surveyed in every state but Maine viewed their policies as successful. In five states – Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington – at least two-thirds of respondents said that marijuana legalization has been a success.
"This polling data reaffirms that most voters do not experience 'buyer's remorse' following marijuana legalization," NORML's Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. "In the minds of most Americans, adult-use marijuana regulations are operating as voters intended and in a way that is consistent with their expectations."
Although Maine voters approved adult-use in 2016, lawmakers and regulators have yet to fully implement the state's law.
The poll's findings are consistent with those of prior state-specific surveys, such as those in California and Washington, similarly finding that majorities of voters remain positive about their state's reforms following legalization.
Nationally, 55 percent of US adults say the marijuana legalization has been either fully or mostly successful in those jurisdictions that have implemented it.
Review: Prenatal Cannabis Exposure Not Associated with "Clinically Significant" Cognitive Impairments in Offspring
New York, NY: Longitudinal studies fail to suggest that prenatal cannabis exposure is independently associated with "clinically significant" cognitive impairments in either children or young adults, according to a systemic review published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
Researchers affiliated with Columbia University and with the New York State Psychiatric Institute reviewed 40 studies examining the impact of prenatal cannabis exposure on multiple domains of cognitive functioning in subjects from the ages of zero to 22.
They reported: "In general, the findings of this critical review indicate that prenatal cannabis exposure is associated with few effects on the cognitive functioning of offspring. Overall, we found a total of 1,001 statistical comparisons between groups of participants that were exposed to cannabis prenatally and non-exposed controls. Cognitive performance was statistically different on only 4.3 percent of cognitive measures – worse on 3.4 percent and better in 0.9 percent. Importantly, we found evidence for scores being below the normal range in only 0.3 percent of the total sample. Thus, despite analyzing studies spanning approximately three decades, we conclude the evidence does not support an association between prenatal cannabis exposure and clinically relevant cognitive deficits."
Authors concluded: "The current evidence does not suggest that prenatal cannabis exposure alone is associated with clinically significant cognitive functioning impairments. ... Regardless, we are concerned that a misunderstanding of the relationship between prenatal cannabis exposure and subsequent cognitive functioning leads to an oversimplification of the complex relationships between socioeconomic factors and functioning of the individual whether drug use is involved or not. Misinterpretations of the complex interactions of relevant factors in itself can cause harm to pregnant women and their children by leading to punitive policies and enhancing unwarranted stigma. In some cases, intense stigma has resulted in removal of children from their families, and even in maternal incarceration. The rationale for such policies is, in part, that prenatal cannabis exposure causes persistent deleterious effects, especially on cognitive functioning. Findings from this review suggest that this assumption should be reevaluated to ensure that our assumptions do not do more harm than the drug itself."
Full text of the study, "Totality of the evidence suggested prenatal cannabis exposure does not lead to cognitive impairments: A systematic and critical review," appears in Frontiers in Psychology.
Study: Prescription Opioid Distribution Falls Following Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization
Scranton, PA: The enactment of adult-use marijuana legalization in Colorado is associated with a significant reduction in prescription opioid distribution, according to data published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
A team of researchers affiliated with the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine in Pennsylvania and the University of New England in Maine examined opioid distribution trends in Colorado following legalization as compared to trends in two control states, Utah and Maryland. (Maryland legalized medical cannabis dispensing in 2014.) Investigators assessed dispensing trends for nine prescription opioids used for pain (e.g., fentanyl, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and oxycodone) as well as for methadone and buprenorphine, which are primarily prescribed to treat opioid use disorder (OUD).
Authors reported a greater than 30 percent reduction in opioid dispensing in Colorado between 2007 and 2017. That reduction was significantly larger than what was observed in the control states over the same period of time. However, because the study design was observational in nature, authors could not determine whether legalization was independently responsible for the change.
Researchers concluded: "In this study, we observed dynamic changes in opioid distribution for eleven opioids used for pain and OUD within Colorado, and two carefully selected comparison states, Utah and Maryland, from 2007 to 2017. Colorado, after legalizing recreational marijuana, had a significant decrease in prescription opioids distributed for pain. The findings from this geographically limited study were challenging to interpret because, while analgesic opioid use was unchanged in Utah, Maryland also had a significant decline [though this decline was not as significant as was observed in Colorado.] Other national research more clearly showed that marijuana policies were associated with reductions in analgesic opioid use. This appears to be an empirically informed public policy strategy which may contribute to reversing the US opioid epidemic."
The study's findings are consistent with those of a number of prior observational studies as well as with numerous longitudinal studies reporting that pain patients typically reduce their use of prescription opioids after enrolling in state sanctioned medical cannabis access programs.
Full text of the study, "Prescription opioid distribution after the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado," appears in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Municipalities Moving Away from Marijuana Testing for Employees
New York City, NY: Municipal officials in various cities nationwide are moving away from policies requiring marijuana testing for public employees.
In the city of Rochester, council members recently approved municipal legislation barring pre-employment marijuana testing for non-safety sensitive city employees. The new law took effect immediately upon passage.
Members of the city council for Richmond, Virginia also recently passed a resolution excluding non-safety sensitive employees and job applicants from marijuana testing.
Earlier this month, municipal legislation took effect in New York City making it unlawful "for an employer, labor organization, employment agency, or agent thereof to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols or marijuana in such prospective employee's system as a condition of employment." Exceptions to the new law include those employees seeking certain safety sensitive positions – such as police officers or commercial drivers – or those positions regulated by federal drug testing guidelines.
Washington, DC Mayor Mariel Bowser signed a similar order last fall limiting the ability of District employees or applicants to be drug tested for the presence of cannabis.
Both Maine and Nevada have enacted state-specific legislation barring certain employers from refusing to hire a worker because he or she tested positive for cannabis on a pre-employment drug screen.
Study Suggests Minimum Age of Legal Cannabis Use Should Be 19
Newfoundland, Canada: Jurisdictions that regulate the use of cannabis by adults ought to consider imposing a minimum age requirement of 19, according to data published in the journal BMC Public Health.
A team of researchers affiliated with the Memorial University of Newfoundland assessed life outcomes, such as educational attainment and mental health, associated with the use of cannabis at different ages.
They reported: "In this study, we assumed that setting an MLA (minimum legal age) for cannabis use is necessary ... and sought to determine an 'optimal' MLA. The choice of an MLA represents a trade-off that policymakers face between curtailing illegal economic activity versus safeguarding adolescents' well-being."
Authors concluded: "While the (Canadian) medical community recommended an MLA of 21 or 25 based on neuroscientific evidence about adverse impacts of cannabis on cognitive development, this would lead to a large underground market for cannabis. On the contrary, policymakers have decided on a lower MLA such as 18 or 19 to curb the size of underground market, but this raises concerns about adverse outcomes for adolescents. This study, however, found that later life outcomes associated with first using cannabis at age 19 are better than those associated with first using it at age 18, but not significantly different from those first using between 21 and 25. ... Our results suggest that there is merit in setting 19 as the MLA for non-medical cannabis use."
Both Uruguay and Canada regulate non-medical cannabis use for those ages 18 and older, while all US jurisdictions that permit adult-use possession limit legal cannabis use to those ages 21 or older.
Full text of the study, "Too young for cannabis? Choice of minimum legal age for legalized non-medical cannabis in Canada," appears in BMC Public Health.
Oklahoma City, OK: State lawmakers have approved legislation, House Bill 3228, making several changes to the state's medical cannabis access program. The bill now awaits action from Republic Gov. Kevin Stitt.
Under the proposed measure, operators will be able to engage in the home delivery of medical cannabis products to authorized patients who live within a ten-mile radius of a state-licensed facility. Other provisions in the bill enhance privacy protections for patients and caregivers registered in the program and strengthen parental rights for qualified patients.
Separate language in the measure amends criminal penalties for persons who possess marijuana (up to 42.45 grams) without a state-issued medical card from a maximum penalty of $1,000 and up to one year in jail to a $400 fine and no jail time.
Full text of the enrolled legislation is available online.
Over 280,000 Oklahomans are currently registered in the state's medical cannabis access program. No state has a higher number of patients per capita.
Missouri: Lawmakers Pass Measure Limiting Sales of Edible Cannabis Products, Requiring Criminal Background Checks for Dispensary Employees
Columbia, MO: State lawmakers have approved legislation, House Bill 1896, amending various aspects of the state's nascent medical cannabis access program. It awaits final action from Republican Gov. Mike Parson.
Provisions in the bill require criminal background checks for those working in or affiliated with the medical cannabis industry. It "require all officers, managers, contractors, employees, and other support staff of licensed or certified medical marijuana facilities, and all owners of such medical marijuana facilities who will have access to the facilities or to the facilities' medical marijuana, to submit fingerprints to the Missouri state highway patrol for the purpose of conducting a state and federal fingerprint-based criminal background check."
Separate provisions provide new limits on the types of edible products that may be dispensed. No products shaped in a manner that resembles "a human, animal, or fruit" will be permitted. Edible products in the form of "geometric shapes" are allowed. The language further stipulates that the packaging of edible products containing ten or more milligrams of THC be stamped with the letter "M" and a diamond containing the letters "THC."
Voters in 2018 approved a statewide ballot measure establishing the state's medical cannabis access program. Over 22,000 Missourians are registered with the state to participate in the program, but state-licensed dispensaries are not yet operational.