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FBI Report: Marijuana Arrests Plunge More Than 30 Percent in 2020

Washington, DC: The estimated number of persons arrested in the United States for violating marijuana laws declined precipitously in 2020, according to data released this week by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to the FBI…s Uniform Crime Report, police made an estimated 350,150 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2020. This total is a 36 percent decrease from 2019, when police made an estimated 545,602 marijuana-related arrests. Not since the early 1990s has the FBI reported so few marijuana-related arrests in a single year.

US Marijuana Arrests
Marijuana arrests are down more than 50 percent from their peak in 2008, when police made over 800,000 marijuana-related arrests. Since 2012, 18 states and Washington, DC have enacted laws legalizing the possession of small amounts of cannabis by adults.

“As more states move toward the sensible policy of legalizing and regulating cannabis, we are seeing a decline in the arrest of non-violent marijuana consumers nationwide,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said.

He added: “The fight for legalization is a fight for justice. While these numbers represent a historic decline in arrests, even one person being put into handcuffs for the simple possession of marijuana is too many.”

Of those arrested for cannabis-related activities, some 91 percent (317,793) were arrested for marijuana possession offenses only. Marijuana-related arrests represented 30.3 percent of all drug-related arrests in the United States in 2020.

Marijuana-related arrests were least likely to occur in western states — most of which have legalized the possession of the substance — and were most prevalent in the northeast, where they constituted an estimated 50 percent of all drug arrests. This will likely change going forward, as several northeastern states, including Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York have all legalized their marijuana markets in recent months.

Twin Study: Adolescent Cannabis Exposure Not an Independent Cause of Psychosis in Adulthood

Minneapolis, MN: Cannabis exposure during adolescence is not independently associated with either adult-onset psychosis or signs of schizophrenia, according to longitudinal data published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Researchers affiliated with the University of Minnesota Institute of Child Development assessed the relationship between adolescent cannabis use and adult-onset psychosis in a longitudinal co-twin control analysis. Scientists identified no dose-response relationship in models that compared the greater cannabis using twin to the lesser using co-twin with respect to psychosis-proneness in adulthood. They also reported no differing effects on subjects… levels of cannabis exposure and their later risk of schizophrenia.

Researchers reported: “Epidemiological studies have repeatedly shown that individuals who use cannabis are more likely to develop psychotic disorders than individuals who do not. It has been suggested that these associations represent a causal effect of cannabis use on psychosis, and that psychosis risk may be particularly elevated when use occurs in adolescence. … This study, however, does not support these hypotheses, suggesting instead that observed associations are more likely due to confounding by common vulnerability factors.”

They concluded, “[T]he results suggest this association is likely attributable to familial confounds rather than a causal effect of cannabis exposure. … Our results suggest that the threat of potential harm to adolescents via meaningful increases in risk of long-term psychotic illness may be overstated. … Thus, clinical and public health interventions aimed at decreasing the prevalence and burden of psychotic illnesses may benefit from focusing their attention elsewhere.”

Full text of the study, “Adolescent cannabis use and adult psychoticism: A longitudinal co-twin control analysis using data from two cohorts,” appears in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Study: Enactment of Adult-Use Marijuana Laws Is Not Associated with Increased Odds of Youth Use

New York, NY: The enactment of statewide marijuana legalization policies is not associated with increases in the use of cannabis by those ages 12 to 20 years of age, according to data published in the journal JAMA Open Network.

A team of researchers affiliated with Columbia University…s Department of Epidemiology assessed trends in self-reported past-year and past-month marijuana use in a cohort of over 838,000 people residing in states with adult-use cannabis legalization laws.

Consistent with other studies, authors reported “no increases … in the odds of past-year or past-month cannabis use post-RCL [recreational cannabis laws] enactment among … individuals aged 12 to 20 years for all races and ethnicities.”

Authors did identify an uptick in self-reported use among White adults and Hispanic adults (ages 21 or older), but not among Black adults, following legalization. However, they reported that legalization was “not associated with frequent use or use disorder among cannabis users, including among members of demographic subgroups most affected by criminalization.”

Full text of the study, “Racial and ethnic differences in cannabis use following legalization in US states with medical cannabis laws,” appears in JAMA Open Network.

Use of CBD-Dominant Cannabis Products Is Associated with Decreases in Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms

Baltimore, MD: Patients who consume CBD-dominant varieties of cannabis or cannabis products experience decreased levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms than do similarly matched controls, according to data published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Investigators affiliated with John Hopkins University in Baltimore and the University of South Carolina in Charleston assessed longitudinal trends in self-reported anxiety and depressive symptoms in a cohort of cannabis consumers and non-consumers. The majority of subjects in the study who were aware of the cannabinoid composition of their products said that they primarily consumed CBD-dominant cannabis.

Researchers reported: “Initiation of medicinal cannabis during the follow-up period [of the study] was associated with significantly decreased anxiety and depressive symptoms, an effect that was not observed in controls that never initiated cannabis use. … Adverse effects attributed by participants to cannabis product use were infrequent, were more associated with THC-dominant product use. … It is recommended that this antidepressant effect of CBD be evaluated further in placebo-controlled clinical trials.”

Full text of the study, “Antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of medicinal cannabis use in an observational trial,” appears in Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Survey: Women Increasingly Turning to Cannabis to Mitigate Symptoms of Menopause

Edmonton, Canada: Middle-aged women are frequently acknowledging using cannabis to treat symptoms associated with menopause, according to survey data presented at the annual meeting of The North American Menopause Society.

Investigators with the University of Alberta surveyed nearly 1,500 middle-aged Canadian women about their use of cannabis. Marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational purposes in Canada.

One-third of those surveyed acknowledged having used cannabis products within the past month. Among current users, 75 percent defined their use as medicinal and most said that cannabis successfully mitigated their menopause-related issues, including irritability, muscle and joint aches, and sleep disturbances.

“Our study confirmed that a large percentage of midlife women are using cannabis for symptoms that overlap with menopause, especially those women who reported more symptoms,” the study…s lead author said in a statement. “In addition, many of these women are claiming to get relief for their symptoms through the use of cannabis.”

Data from the United States, presented at last year…s conference, reported similar results. That study reported that some 27 percent of women living in California had experience using cannabis for menopause symptom management.

A press release summarizing the 2021 survey results is available online.

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