Study: Cannabis Retailers Associated with Drop in Localized Crime
Philadelphia, PA: The opening of regulated cannabis retailers is associated with a decrease in localized criminal activity, according to data published in the journal Regional Science and Urban Economics.
A pair of senior economists affiliated with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia assessed the local effects of retail dispensaries on neighborhood crime in Denver, Colorado. They determined, "[A]n additional dispensary in a neighborhood leads to a reduction of 17 crimes per month per 10,000 residents, which corresponds to roughly a 19 percent decline relative to the average crime rate over the sample period." The majority of crime reduction is due to a decrease in non-violent criminal activity.
They concluded: "Overall, our results suggest that dispensaries cause an overall reduction in crime in neighborhoods, with no evidence of spillovers to surrounding neighborhoods. ... Our results are consistent with theories that predict that marijuana legalization will displace illicit criminal organizations and decrease crime through changes in security behaviors or substitution toward more harmful substances. ... Lastly, there is no evidence that increased marijuana use itself results in additional crime."
The authors' findings are consistent with those of prior studies concluding that regulating cannabis sales is not associated with upticks in criminal activity and may even play a role in preventing certain crimes, like larceny.
Full text of the study, "Not in my backyard? Not so fast. The effect of marijuana legalization on neighborhood crime," appears in Regional Science and Urban Economics. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet "Marijuana Regulation and Crime Rates."
POTUS: Feds "Allowing States" to Choose Legalization
Washington, DC: The federal government is not standing in the way of states that decide to legalize and regulate marijuana, President Donald Trump stated on Friday.
In response to a reporter's question regarding whether or not the administration will support a change in federal marijuana policy, President Trump said: "It's a very big subject and right now we are allowing states to make that decision. A lot of states are making that decision, but we're allowing states to make that decision."
During his Presidential campaign, Trump similarly said that he believed issues surrounding cannabis legalization ought to be decided "state by state." However, the administration's first Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, rescinded an Obama-administration memorandum which directed the Justice Department not to interfere in state-sanctioned marijuana-related activities.
"The reiteration of a non-enforcement policy from the President is a clear sign that states should continue to act in defiance of federal marijuana prohibition," NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. "Congress should swiftly move pending legislation forward to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and provide the legal relief needed to those individuals and businesses who are struggling under our nations cruel policy of criminalization."
Study: THCV Reduces Nicotine Cravings in Animal Models
Richmond, VA: The administration of the cannabinoid THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) reduces nicotine cravings and use in rodents, according to data published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.
Team of investigators with Virginia Commonwealth University, the Beijing Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology in China, and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland assessed the influence of delta-8 THCV in seven different rodent models relevant to nicotine dependence.
They reported that the compound "significantly attenuated intravenous nicotine self-administration, and both cue-induced and nicotine-induced relapse to nicotine-seeking behavior in rats [and] also significantly attenuated nicotine-induced conditioned place preference and nicotine withdrawal in mice."
Authors concluded, "Δ8 -THCV may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of nicotine dependence. We also suggest that tetrahydrocannabivarins should be tested for possible anti-addiction efficacy in a broader range of preclinical animal models, against other addictive drugs, and eventually in humans."
The results of a 2013 clinical trial published in the journal Addictive Behaviors identified an association between the administration of the cannabinoid CBD and a reduction in the consumption of tobacco cigarettes.
Full text of the study, "Δ8 – Tetrahydrocannabivarin has potent anti-nicotine effects in multiple models of nicotine dependence," appears in the British Journal of Pharmacology.
Vaping Products Linked with Rising Number of Hospitalizations
Washington, DC: The US Centers for Disease Control has now identified over 200 cases of respiratory distress that may be associated with the use of disposable vapor cartridges used to consume certain e-liquids.
While the initial cases were associated with the use of unregulated vapor cartridges, the CDC states: "The investigation has not identified any specific substance or e-cigarette product that is linked to all cases. Many patients report using e-cigarette products with liquids that contain cannabinoid products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol." That said, the agency adds, "If you do use e-cigarette products, you should not buy these products off the street."
Two fatalities have been linked to the phenomenon – one in Illinois and one in Oregon. While the Oregon fatality occurred in July, the death is just being publicly reported now. Oregon officials say that the individual had recently purchased a vaping product from an area dispensary, but they acknowledge that still "don't know yet the exact cause of these illnesses — whether they're caused by contaminants, ingredients in the liquid or something else, such as the device itself."
An ongoing investigation by Leafly.com identifies some unregulated products that may be linked to the illnesses, and also suggests that specific additives and "cutting agents" may be implicated in the phenomenon. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb similarly speculated, "It's probably something new that has been introduced into the market by an illegal manufacturer, either a new flavor or a new way to emulsify THC that is causing these injuries."
NORML's Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: "These unfortunate incidents reinforce the need for greater regulation, standardization, and oversight of the cannabis market — principles which NORML has consistently called for in the cannabis space. 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."
Clinical studies assessing the safety of vaporizing cannabis plant material using technology that heats marijuana to a point where cannabinoid vapors form, but below the point of combustion, have determined the process to be "an effective and apparently safe vehicle for THC delivery." By contrast, there exists a paucity of clinical study on the health effects of heating liquid cannabinoid formulations, particularly at excessive temperatures.
Kentucky: Jefferson County to No Longer Prosecute Low-Level Marijuana Violations
Louisville, KY: Low-level marijuana possession violations will no longer be prosecuted in Jefferson County (population: 771,000), according to statements made by County Attorney Mike O'Connell.
He cited research identifying racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests as a reason for instituting the change in policy. "For me to truly be a minister of justice, I cannot sit idly by when communities of color are treated differently," he said.
Under the new plan, cases involving the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis will no longer be prosecuted if that is the primary charge against the defendant. The office will continue to prosecute cases involving marijuana trafficking, cultivation, use in public, or drugged driving.
The pronouncement follows the adoption of a Louisville municipal ordinance in June that made the prosecution of low-level marijuana offenses the city's "lowest law enforcement priority."
Jefferson County's new policy is similar to those of adopted recently by municipal prosecutors from several other major cities, including Baltimore, Maryland; St. Louis, Missouri; and Norfolk, Virginia, among others.
California: Lawmakers Advance Measure Permitting Medical Cannabis Use on School Grounds
Sacramento, CA: State lawmakers have moved forward a measure to permit the use of certain medical cannabis preparations by authorized patients while on school grounds.
Members of the Assembly voted last week in favor of the legislation, Senate Bill 223. It now awaits a concurrence vote from the Senate, which approved a prior version of the measure in March by a vote of 29 to 4. Former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed similar legislation last year.
If passed into law, the measure would permit parents to administer non-smoked formulations of cannabis to patients on school campuses. Several other states, such as Delaware, Illinois, and Washington, already authorize similar activities.