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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 08 Oct 2019 04:20:21 PST

FBI: Marijuana Arrests Rise for Third Year in a Row, Outpace Arrests for All Violent Crimes

Washington, DC: The total number of persons arrested in the United States for violating marijuana laws rose for the third consecutive year, according to data released by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, police made 663,367 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2018. That is more than 21 percent higher than the total number of persons arrested for the commission of violent crimes (521,103). Of those arrested for cannabis-related activities, some 90 percent (608,776) were arrested for marijuana possession offenses only.

"Police across America make a marijuana-related arrest every 48 seconds," NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said. "At a time when the overwhelming majority of Americans want cannabis to be legal and regulated, it is an outrage that many police departments across the country continue to waste tax dollars and limited law enforcement resources on arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens for simple marijuana possession."

The year-over-year increase in marijuana arrests comes at the same time that several states, including California, have legalized the adult use of cannabis — leading to a significant decline in marijuana-related arrests in those jurisdictions. It also marks the reversal of a trend of declining arrests that began following the year 2007, when police made a record 872,721 total marijuana-related arrests in the United States.

Marijuana-related arrests were least likely to occur in western states — most of which have legalized the substance — and were more prevalent in the northeast, where they constituted 53 percent of all drug arrests.

Report: Unregulated THC Vapor Cartridges Often Contain Dangerous Additive

Los Angeles, CA: Unregulated THC vapor cartridges often contain vitamin E oil, according to a recent investigation by NBC News.

The inhalation of vitamin E oil, which is sometimes added to unregulated e-liquid products in an effort to thicken their consistency and to mask dilution, has previously been linked with incidences of lipoid pneumonia. An advisory issued last month by New York State health officials identified "very high levels of vitamin E acetate in nearly all cannabis-containing [vapor cartridge] samples analyzed."

The NBC News investigation reported that 87 percent of the unregulated THC cartridges they analyzed tested positive for the presence of vitamin E oil. Many of the products also tested positive for the presence of pesticides. By contrast, "Of the three purchased from legal dispensaries in California, the CannaSafe testing company found no heavy metals, pesticides or residual solvents like vitamin E."

Updated data released on Friday by the US Centers for Disease Controls reported over 800 cases of acute respiratory distress linked to the use of portable vapor cartridges used to consume e-liquids. Of the products tested thus far by the US Food and Drug Administration, about half have identified the presence of vitamin E acetate. Most of the products linked to lung illnesses have been traced to the unregulated, "informal" market, the agency reported.

These findings reaffirm the variance in the safety and the quality of cannabis-related products available on the unregulated market versus those on the state-regulated retail market, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. "Consumers must also be aware that not all products are created equal; quality control testing is critical and only exists in the legally regulated marketplace."

In recent days, lawmakers in Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington have moved to impose bans on the sale of flavored vaping and/or e-cigarette products, while the Governor of Massachusetts has enacted a temporary ban on the retail sale of all vaping products, including the sale of state-regulated products at licensed cannabis dispensaries. Oregon's Governor is considering implementing a similar emergency ban.

Additional information is available from the CDC. An advisory issued by California NORML is online. An investigation by reporters at Leafly examining the unregulated, underground vapor cartridge market is online.

Study: THC+ Urine Samples Associated with Lower Opioid Concentrations In Pain Patients

St. Paul, MN: The presence of THC metabolites in the urine of patients undergoing pain management is associated with lower levels of opioids, according to data published in the journal Pain Management.

Investigators affiliated with MedTox Laboratories in Minnesota analyzed approximately 800,000 urine drug test results collected from pain management patients between the years 2016 and 2018.

Authors reported: "For each of the eight opioids monitored, lower mean concentrations were observed when THC-COOH [the primary metabolite of THC] was also present in the sample. The differences in opioid concentrations between the THC positive and THC negative groups were statistically significant ... The largest shift was seen in codeine positive samples, followed by morphine, and fentanyl. ... The buprenorphine positive group had the highest percentage of samples containing THC (20.8 percent), and hydrocodone had the lowest THC positive rate, 9.2 percent."

While researchers acknowledged that the findings were "consistent with data from self-report surveys of medical cannabis patients" in which subjects frequently report substituting cannabis for opioids, they cautioned that the observational design of the study precluded them from "assigning causation" to their results.

They concluded: "Further studies will hopefully elucidate if cannabis can or should play a role in pain management through the anti-nociceptive properties of THC and any potential interaction with opioids. From the perspective of opioid addiction treatment, it is interesting that the highest rate of THC use was seen in buprenorphine-positive samples as buprenorphine is frequently utilized as a component of medication assisted treatment for opioid dependency. Further studies are also needed to determine if THC/cannabis use alone or in combination with other medical treatments may help combat OUD (opioid use disorder)."

Full text of the study, "Reduced opioid levels from pain management patients associated with marijuana use," appears in Pain Management. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, "Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids."

Pennsylvania: Expedited Pardon Process Now Available for Those with Low-Level Cannabis Convictions

Harrisburg, PA: Those with low-level marijuana convictions are being encouraged to seek pardons from state officials.

The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons has created an expedited process to review and grant pardon applications for those with marijuana-related records. There is no fee associated with filing an application.

Those who receive pardons are then encouraged to apply with county officials to have their criminal records expunged from the public domain.

"[O]ne thing we can do right now is alleviate the burden of small-amount, nonviolent convictions that scar the lives of otherwise productive citizens," Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman said. "These people have done no harm to anyone else. They shouldn't continue to suffer with employment and housing issues because they were convicted of doing something that most Pennsylvanians don't even think should be illegal."

Last week, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro both publicly endorsed plans to legalize the adult use of cannabis in the state and to expunge criminal records. Wolf's announcement marks a change in his prior position, and came shortly after the conclusion of a county-by-county listening tour during which members of the public were asked to share their views on the subject of marijuana policy.

"We now know the majority of Pennsylvanians are in favor of legalization, and that includes me," Gov. Wolf said in a prepared statement. Based upon public feedback, officials estimated that between 65 and 70 percent of Pennsylvanians endorse legalizing marijuana.

Attorney General Shapiro added, "Continuing to criminalize adult personal marijuana use is a waste of limited law enforcement resources, it disproportionately impacts our minority communities and it does not make us safer."

In response to the announcement, Republican leaders in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives issued a statement expressing "disappointment" and "frustration" with the Governor. "We do not believe [that] easing regulations on illegal drugs is the right move," they said.

Under state law, minor marijuana possession offenses are classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a criminal record.

Indiana: Marion County Prosecutor Will No Longer Move Forward With Low-Level Marijuana Violations

Indianapolis, IN: The Acting Prosecutor for Marion County (population 900,000) announced on Monday that his office will immediately cease prosecuting cases involving the possession of less than one ounce of cannabis. The county, which includes Indianapolis, is the 55th most populated county in the United States.

"Too often, an arrest for marijuana possession puts individuals into the system who otherwise would not be. That is not a win for our community," Prosecutor Ryan Mears said in a prepared statement. "The enforcement of marijuana policy has disproportionately impacted people of color, and this is a first step to addressing that."

His office acknowledged that the new policy "does not apply" to cases related to marijuana trafficking, sales, public use, or driving under the influence, or to offenses involving defendants under 18 years of age.

Some 390 marijuana-related cases are currently under review. The Office will dismiss those cases that meet the new policy's criteria.

Indiana NORML Chairman Neal Smith praised the policy change. "For many years Indiana NORML has worked diligently to address the severe racial disparities in arrests and prosecutions for simple possession of cannabis and to advance civil liberties," Smith said. Indiana NORML Board Member Bill Groth added: "These efforts have included face-to-face meetings with several elected officials, including representatives of the Marion County Prosecutor's office, the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys' Council, and numerous state and local officials over the last several months. We are most pleased that our efforts have finally resulted in a sound, compassionate, and permanent reassessment of law enforcement priorities as they relate to possession of cannabis."

Under state law, minor marijuana possession offenses are classified as criminal misdemeanors, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a criminal record.

Marion County's new policy is similar to those recently instituted in several other cities and counties around the country, including Jefferson County, Kentucky; Baltimore, Maryland; St. Louis, Missouri; and Norfolk, Virginia, among others.

California: Most Voters Say Legalizing Marijuana Was a "Good Thing"

Berkeley, CA: Nearly seven out of ten registered voters in California believe that the passage of Proposition 64, which legalized the adult use and retail sale of cannabis, was a "good thing," according to polling data compiled by the University of California at Berkeley's Institute for Governmental Studies.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents endorsed the law, while only 30 percent said that it was a "bad thing." Those respondents between the ages of 30 and 39 (81 percent), between the ages of 18 and 29 (79 percent), and self-identified Democrats (78 percent) expressed the greatest degree of support for the law. By contrast, 50 percent of Republicans defined the law as a "bad thing."

Proposition 64 was passed by voters in 2016 by a vote of 56 percent to 44 percent.

Sixty-three percent of respondents also said that they favored allowing retail marijuana stores to operate in their community. That result is largely in contrast with local laws, as the majority of California's cities and counties prohibit commercial marijuana activities.

Pollsters surveyed over 4,500 registered voters. The poll possesses a margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Kansas City: New Mayor Promises to Uphold Pledge to Pardon Those with Low-Level Cannabis Convictions

Kansas City, MO: Newly sworn-in mayor Quinton Lucas says that he intends to move forward with plans to pardon several thousand Kansas City residents who possess marijuana possession convictions.

An estimated 5,000 local residents have received criminal convictions for marijuana possession since 2008. In 2017, voters approved a municipal ballot measure decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses involving 35 grams or less.

Mayor Lucas said that those with minor marijuana violations in their past should not have to "live with that stigma."

"I think it's ridiculous, and I look forward to making that change soon," he said.

In recent months, numerous states and municipalities have enacted plans to either expunge or pardon those with low-level cannabis convictions.

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