Study: Cannabis Associated with Increased Cessation of IV Opioid Use
Vancouver, Canada: People who inject opioids are more likely to cease their behavior if they regularly consume cannabis, according to data published in the American Journal of Public Health.
A team of Canadian investigators affiliated with the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use observed the relationship between cannabis consumption and IV drug use in a cohort of over 2,000 subjects.
Researchers reported that daily cannabis use was associated with "swifter rates" of opioid injection cessation, and that this use did not increase participants' likelihood of relapse. "In the adjusted analysis, at-least-daily cannabis use was significantly associated with increased rates of injection cessation. ... To our knowledge, this is the first longitudinal study to identify a positive association between cannabis use and cessation of injection drug use," they reported.
While numerous studies have previously identified opioid-sparing effects associated with cannabis use in patients with chronic pain, this is among the first to report this effect in a population of consisting exclusively of intravenous drug consumers. Clinical trial data published last year reported that the administration of oral CBD reduces cue-induced cravings and anxiety in subjects with a history of heroin use.
The study's authors concluded: "These observations are encouraging given the uncertainty surrounding the impact of cannabis legalization policies during the ongoing opioid overdose crisis in many settings in the United States and Canada, particularly among PWID [people who inject drugs] who are at increased risk for drug-related harm. The accumulating evidence from preclinical and epidemiological studies linking cannabis use to opioid use behaviors further supports the evaluation of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and specific cannabinoids (e.g., CBD and THC) for people living with opioid use disorder."
Full text of the study, "Frequent cannabis use and cessation of injection of opioids, Vancouver, Canada, 2005-2018," appears in the American Journal of Public Health. Additional information is available from the NORML fact sheet, "Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids."
Clinical Trial: CBD Administration Increases Blood Flow to the Hippocampus
London, United Kingdom: The administration of 600mgs of oral CBD increases cerebral blood flow to the hippocampus, according to randomized, placebo-controlled data published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
A team of investigators affiliated with London's University College compared the administration of CBD versus placebo in 15 healthy volunteers.
They reported: "We found evidence that acute CBD causes a significant increase in regional CBF [cerebral blood flow] to the hippocampus. ... If replicated, the finding that acute CBD increases CBF in the hippocampus may be relevant for hippocampal disorders, since higher resting hippocampal blood flow is associated with better memory performance."
Authors concluded, "These findings may have implications for the potential use of CBD across a range of disorders associated with hippocampal dysfunction including Alzheimer's disease, PTSD and depression."
Full text of the study, "The effects of acute cannabidiol on cerebral blood flow and its relationship to memory: An arterial spin labelling magnetic resonance imaging study," appears in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
Nationwide Poll: Likely Voters' Support for Legalization Is Bipartisan
Washington, DC: Approximately six-in-ten likely voters say that the federal government should end marijuana prohibition and permit licensed businesses to engage in retail sales to adults, according to nationally representative survey data compiled by the progressive-leaning think-tank Data for Progress.
Fifty-eight percent of respondents - including 69 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of Republicans - agreed that "the federal government should legalize the use and sale of marijuana for adults." Overall support increased to 62 percent when respondents were provided details about the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which is currently pending before Congress and seeks to remove the cannabis plant from the federal Controlled Substances Act.
To date, NORML members have sent over 100,000 messages to Congress in support of the MORE Act. Last November, members of the House Judiciary Committee advanced the bill on a bipartisan vote of 24-10.
Survey respondents overwhelmingly agreed that the federal government should not encroach upon states that have legalized marijuana. Sixty-nine percent of respondents - including 78 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans - agreed that "the federal government should respect the rights of individual states that have already legalized marijuana sales and not pursue legal action against them."
Authors concluded: "Our polling shows bipartisan support for meaningful legislative marijuana reform that would legalize marijuana and begin to address the intergenerational harms wrought by racially disparate and selective enforcement. Voters support legalization - including delisting marijuana in the CSA - and they also support policies to economically empower the communities that the War on Drugs has disproportionately targeted and devastated."
CDC Report: Rates of Lifetime Marijuana Use Among Teens Decline Following Enactment of State-Level Legalization Policies
Atlanta, GA: The enactment of state-level adult-use marijuana legalization laws is associated with declining rates of lifetime marijuana use by high-school students, according to data reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Authors assessed substance use patterns among high-school students nationwide during the years 2009 to 2019. They reported a temporary uptick in the prevalence of self-reported lifetime marijuana use by young people from 2009 to 2013 - prior to the enactment of state-level adult-use legalization laws, followed by a decrease in use during the years 2013 to 2019.
Beginning with Colorado, nearly a dozen US states began allowing retail marijuana sales to adults between 2014 and 2019.
The study's authors called the downward trend in teen marijuana use "encouraging."
The study's findings are consistent with those of several others - such as those here, here, and here - reporting that marijuana use by young people has not been adversely impacted by adult-use legalization policies.
Full text of the study, "Prescription opioid misuse and use of alcohol and other substances among high school students - Youth Behavior Risk Survey, United States," is available from the CDC. Additional information on marijuana legalization and teen use patterns is available from the NORML fact sheet, "Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates."
Study: Daily CBD Dosing Does Not Adversely Impact Cognitive Performance in Patients with Pediatric Epilepsy
Birmingham, AL: The long-term adjunctive use of a proprietary, plant-derived CBD extract (Epidiolex) does not adversely impact cognitive functioning in pediatric patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy, according to clinical data published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham performed cognitive assessments on 38 patients with pediatric epilepsy who had used Epidiolex twice-daily for a one-year period. Investigators reported "no statistically significant changes in cognitive function" among the study's participants.
Authors concluded: "As noted previously, approximately 70 percent of the pediatric participants in the study experienced a meaningful improvement in seizure control after beginning CBD. The current findings indicate that improved seizure control can be obtained without adversely affecting cognitive or adaptive functioning."
In 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex as anticonvulsant for patients with two rare forms of severe epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Earlier this month, FDA regulators expanded the prescription use of Epidiolex for patients with the genetic disorder tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC).
Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved medication containing organically derived cannabinoids.
Full text of the study, "Cognitive function and adaptive skills after a one-year trial of cannabidiol (CBD) in a pediatric sample with treatment resistant epilepsy," appears in Epilepsy & Behavior.
Review: Cannabinoids "Promising" for Treating Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Catania, Italy: The administration of cannabinoids is associated with symptom improvements in patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and show promise as potential treatment option, according to a systematic review of relevant studies published in the journal Brain Sciences.
Italian investigators reviewed data from ten published studies and four ongoing clinical trials. They reported: "In the present systematic review, we found preliminary evidence showing that cannabinoids might exert beneficial effects on some ASD-associated symptoms, such as behavioral problems, hyperactivity, and sleep disorders, with a lower number of metabolic and neurological side effects than [prescription] medications. Importantly, treatment with cannabinoids allowed [patients] to reduce the number of prescribed medication and significantly reduced the frequency of seizures in participants with comorbid epilepsy."
They concluded: "The findings were promising, as cannabinoids appeared to improve some ASD-associated symptoms, such as problem behaviors, sleep problems, and hyperactivity, with limited cardiac and metabolic side effects. ... Future studies investigating the acute effects of cannabinoids in people with ASD on neurotransmitters levels could clarify the mechanisms of action of cannabinoids. Moreover, the comparison with healthy samples might clarify at least some aspects of the etiopathology of ASD and lay the ground for potential treatments for core and associated symptoms."
Full text of the study, "Cannabinoids for people with ASD: A systematic review of published and ongoing studies," appears in Brain Sciences.