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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 24 Oct 2017 04:20:21 PST

Study: Retail Cannabis Sales Associated With Fewer Opioid Deaths

Fort Worth, TX: Retail cannabis distribution in Colorado is associated with a reduction in opioid-related mortality, according to data published online ahead of print in The American Journal of Public Health.

A team of investigators from the University of North Texas School of Public Health, the University of Florida, and Emory University compared changes in the prevalence of monthly opioid-related deaths before and after Colorado retailers began selling cannabis to adults. Researchers compared Colorado's data with trends in neighboring states (that had not implemented any change in marijuana's legal status), and also sought to control for recent changes in the state's prescription drug monitoring program.

Authors reported a 6.5 percent decrease in monthly opioid deaths following retail cannabis sales. They wrote: "Colorado's legalization of recreational cannabis sales and use resulted in a 0.7 deaths per month reduction in opioid-related deaths. This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado."

Authors concluded, "Legalization of cannabis in Colorado was associated with short-term reductions in opioid-related deaths."

Their data is consistent with prior studies finding that cannabis access is associated with reductions in prescription drug spending, opioid-related hospitalizations, and opioid-related fatalities. Full text of the study, "Recreational cannabis legalization and opioid-related deaths in Colorado, 2000-2015," appears in The American Journal of Public Health.

ACLU Pennsylvania: Blacks Eight Times More Likely Than Whites To Be Arrested For Marijuana Possession

Philadelphia, PA: African Americans in Pennsylvania are eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession offenses than are Caucasians, according to an analysis of statewide arrest data by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU Pennsylvania report reviewed arrest data for all 67 counties from 2010 to 2016. Excluding Philadelphia, which decriminalized cannabis possession offenses in 2014, adult marijuana possession arrests increased 33 percent during this time period - at a cost of $225.3 million to taxpayers. Black adults were 8.2 times more likely than their white counterparts to be arrested for possessing marijuana. In 2010, African Americans in Pennsylvania were 6.5 percent times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession crimes.

Recent analyses from other states, such as New Jersey and Virginia, have similarly identified racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests. Nationwide, African Americans are approximately four times more likely than whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana, despite members of both ethnicities using the substance at similar rates.

"Pennsylvania's insistence in continuing to fight the war on marijuana, is at the root of the problematic data presented in this report," the ACLU of Pennsylvania concluded. "Law enforcement has not only continued its business-as-usual arresting policies in enforcement of cannabis prohibition, it has ramped up enforcement as marijuana use has become more accepted throughout the commonwealth and the nation. If laws don't change, this pattern will likely continue; law enforcement could become even more heavy handed until policymakers are clear that it is time to end this approach. The clearest way to send that message is to end prohibition altogether."

Full text of the report is available from the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

Research Report: Medical Marijuana Programs Associated With Reductions In Violent Crimes

Haverford, PA: Medical cannabis regulatory programs are associated with reductions in the prevalence of certain types of violent crimes, according to a thesis paper published online on the International Scholar website.

The paper evaluates the relationship between state-sanctioned medical cannabis programs and violent crime rates over a two-decade period. It finds that cannabis medicalization laws are associated with decreases in murder and robbery. States with the largest populations of registered patients were associated with the greatest reductions in violent criminal activity.

"[A] one percent increase in medical marijuana registration rates decreases murder and robbery rates by 0.03 percent and 0.02 percent, respectively, and has no significant effect on other types of crime," the author concludes. "These results show that increasing the legal availability of marijuana through medicalization could decrease murder and robbery rates, two crimes highly associated with the illegal drug trade."

The results are similar to those of a 2014 University of Texas study which determined that the enactment of medical cannabis laws was associated with reductions in rates of homicide and assault.

A recent analysis of violent crime rates in Washington state both before and following the enactment of adult use marijuana regulations also reports that per capita incidences of violent offenses have fallen since legalization.

The abstract of the paper, "The effect of medical marijuana on crime rates," is available online at: https://scholarship.tricolib.brynmawr.edu/handle/10066/19270

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