Study: Maternal Marijuana Use Not Independently Associated With Adverse Effects In Newborns
St. Louis, MO: The moderate use of cannabis during pregnancy is not an independent risk factor for adverse neonatal outcomes such as low birth weight, according to a literature review published online ahead of print in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Investigators at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reviewed outcomes from more than two-dozen relevant case-control studies published between 1982 and 2015. Authors reported: "[M]aternal marijuana use during pregnancy is not an independent risk factor for low birth weight or preterm delivery after adjusting for factors such as tobacco use. There also does not appear to be an increased risk for other adverse neonatal outcomes such as SGA (small for gestational age) and placental abruption once we account for other influencing factors."
They concluded: "[T]he results of this systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that the increased risk for adverse neonatal outcomes reported in women using marijuana in pregnancy is likely the result of coexisting use of tobacco and other cofounding factors and not attributable to marijuana use itself. Although these data do not imply that marijuana use during pregnancy should be encouraged or condoned, the lack of a significant association with adverse neonatal outcomes suggests that attention should be focused on aiding pregnant women with cessation of substances known to have adverse effects on the pregnancy such as tobacco."
The paper's findings are similar to those of a 2010 US Centers for Disease Control-sponsored population-based study that determined, "Reported cannabis use does not seem to be associated with low birth weight or preterm birth."
Full text of the study, "Maternal marijuana use and neonatal outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis," appears in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Study: Opioid Prevalence Falls Following Medical Cannabis Legalization
New York, NY: The implementation of medical marijuana programs is associated with a decrease in the prevalence of opioids detected among fatally injured drivers, according to data published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Public Health.
Researchers at Columbia University in New York and the University of California at Davis performed a between-state comparison of opioid positivity rates in fatal car accidents in 18 states. Authors reported that drivers between the ages of 21 and 40 who resided in states that permitted medical marijuana use were significantly less likely to test positive for opioids than were similar drivers in jurisdictions that did not have such programs in place.
They concluded, "Operational MMLs (medical marijuana laws) are associated with reductions in opioid positivity among 21 to 40-year-old fatally injured drivers and may reduce opioid use and overdose."
Prior studies have determined that medical cannabis access is associated with lower rates of opioid use, abuse, and mortality. Most recently, a 2016 study published in the journal Health Affairs reported a significant decrease in the use of prescription medications following the implementation of medical marijuana programs.
Full text of the study, "State medical marijuana laws and the prevalence of opioids detected among fatally injured drivers," appears in the American Journal of Public Health.
Veterans Groups Call For Medical Marijuana Reform
Washington, DC: Two prominent military veterans groups are demanding federal officials take steps to increase medicinal cannabis access.
At their annual convention, members of the American Legion called on Congress to remove cannabis from its schedule I classification and to promote federal research into the plant's use as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. With nearly 2.5 million members, the American Legion is the largest veterans advocacy organization in the United States.
A second military veterans group, American Veterans (AMVETS), resolved at its mid-August annual meeting to "support a veteran's right to use medical cannabis therapeutically and responsibly, in states where it is legal, if prescribed by a board certified medical professional." The group has some 250,000 members.
Under federal law, VA doctors are not permitted to recommend cannabis therapy to veterans, even if they reside in states that permit medical marijuana. In May, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include language in the 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill to permit VA doctors to recommend cannabis therapy. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee decided in June to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote. At present, the fiscal year 2017 funding bill still remains pending before Congress.
Clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of cannabis in the treatment of PTSD are ongoing in both the United States and in Canada.
New Jersey: Governor Signs Law Permitting Cannabis Therapy For PTSD
Trenton, NJ: Governor Chris Christie has signed legislation (A 457) into law adding post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition for cannabis therapy.
In order to qualify for cannabis, patients must first establish that conventional treatments have failed to mitigate their PTSD symptoms.
Although the law takes immediate effect, physicians wishing to recommend cannabis for PTSD must still wait for Health Department officials to finalize regulations governing the practice.