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media :: news - Tue, 06 Oct 2015 04:20:21 PST
Study: Daily Cannabis Use Is Safe, Effective For Chronic Pain
Montreal, Canada: Chronic pain patients who use herbal cannabis daily for one-year report reduced discomfort and increased quality of life compared to controls, and do not experience an increased risk of serious side effects, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Pain.
Researchers at McGill University in Montreal assessed the long-term health of 216 medicinal cannabis patients with chronic non-cancer pain who consumed a standardized, daily dose (12.5 percent THC) of herbal cannabis compared to 215 controls (chronic pain suffers who did not use cannabis). Subjects in study were approved by Health Canada to legally use medicinal cannabis and consumed, on average, 2.5 grams of herb per day, typically via inhalation or vaporization.
Investigators reported that daily cannabis consumers possessed no greater risk than non-users of experiencing "serious adverse events."
Specifically, researchers identified no significant adverse changes in consumers' cognitive skills, pulmonary function, or blood work following one-year of daily cannabis consumption. Medical cannabis consumers did report elevated risk of experiencing "non-serious adverse events" (e.g., cough, dizziness, paranoia) compared to controls; however, authors classified these effects to be "mild to moderate."
Pain patients who used cannabis reported a reduced sense of pain compared to controls, as well as mitigation of anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
"Quality-controlled herbal cannabis, when used by cannabis-experienced patients as part of a monitored treatment program over one year, appears to have a reasonable safety profile," authors concluded.
The study is one of the first to ever assess the long-term safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis. A prior health review of patients receiving cannabis monthly from the US federal government as part of the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program similarly reported that it possesses therapeutic efficacy and an acceptable side-effect profile.
Full text of the study, "Cannabis for the Management of Pain: Assessment of Safety Study," appears in The Journal of Pain.
Oregon: Retail Marijuana Sales Begin
Salem, OR: Regulations permitting state-licensed medical cannabis dispensaries to also engage in retail recreational sales to those ages 21 or older took effect on Thursday. An estimated 200 facilities are anticipated to initially begin providing cannabis to adults.
Customers will be permitted to purchase up to a quarter ounce of herbal cannabis daily, as well as up to four non-flowering plants, but they will not be allowed to obtain cannabis-infused products until early next year.
Initiated legislation approved by voters in November and enacted on July 1 allows those over the age of 21 to legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis and/or to engage in the non-commercial cultivation of up to four marijuana plants (yielding up to eight ounces of marijuana). Separate provisions in the law license, regulate, and tax retail sales of cannabis beginning next year. However, separate legislation (Senate Bill 460) signed into law in August permits licensed medical dispensaries the option to engage in provisional, tax-free retail recreational sales of cannabis until January 4, 2016.
Colorado and Washington presently permit retail sales of cannabis, while similar regulations are forthcoming in Alaska. (A voter-initiated law in the District of Columbia permits adults to possess and grow marijuana legally, but does not provide for a regulated commercial cannabis market.)
Tax revenue derived from retail cannabis sales in Washington have totaled $90 million in the first 15 months, while taxes derived from sales in Colorado have totaled $70 million in the past year.
FBI: Marijuana Arrests Rise In 2014
Washington, DC: The total number of marijuana-related arrests nationwide rose in 2014, despite the implementation of legalization laws in two states, according to data released this week by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the 2014 Uniform Crime Report, police made 700,993 arrests for marijuana-related offenses, some 7,500 more arrests than were reported in 2013. Of those arrested, 619,808 (over 88 percent) were charged with possession only -- a two percent increase since 2013.
Marijuana arrests comprised nearly half (45 percent) of all drug-related arrests nationwide, at a cost of nearly half a billion dollars.
In the two states (Colorado and Washington) that have legalized marijuana-related activities, cannabis-related arrests plummeted in 2014 -- indicating that other jurisdictions are prioritizing arrests at a time when the majority of the public is opposed to criminalization. (Recent changes in marijuana laws in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, DC are not reflected in the 2014 arrest data, but will be reflected in 2015 data.)
As in previous years, marijuana possession arrests were most likely to occur in the midwest and in the southeastern regions of the United States. Far fewer marijuana arrests were reported in the western region of the United States, where possessing the plant has largely been either legalized or decriminalized.
The total number of marijuana arrests for 2014 are some 20 percent lower than the totals for 2007, when police made an all-time high 872,721 cannabis-related arrests.
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