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Analysis: Marijuana Legalization Associated with Improved Clearance Rates for Violent Crimes

Salt Lake City, UT: The legalization of marijuana is associated with improvements in police clearance rates for multiple types of violent crimes, according to data published online ahead of print in The International Journal of Drug Policy.

A pair of researchers affiliated with the University of Utah and the University of China assessed trends in crime clearance rates in Oregon versus control states in the years prior to and immediately following the enactment of adult-use legalization.

Investigators identified "significant increases in the clearance rate for overall violent crimes and for aggravated assault in Oregon counties relative to those in non-legalized states following legalization." They concluded, "The finding largely aligns with the argument made by the proponents of marijuana legalization that legalization would improve police effectiveness in addressing serious crimes, and as a result would increase clearance rates and generate a crime deterrence effect."

Their findings are consistent with those of a prior study documenting improved crime clearance rates in Colorado and Washington following legalization, particularly for violent crimes and property crimes.

Commenting on the study's findings, NORML's Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: "These conclusions reaffirm the notion that states can sensibly regulate the adult use and sale of cannabis in a manner that doesn't adversely impact public safety. Moreover, in some cases, legalization may contribute to an environment that positively affects police officers' performance in solving serious crimes."

Full text of the study, "Effect of recreational marijuana legalization on clearance rates for violent crimes: Evidence from Oregon," appears in The International Journal of Drug Policy.

Clinical Trial: CBD Cigarettes Associated with Reductions in Antipsychotic Medications in Patients with Schizophrenia

Basel, Switzerland: The adjunctive use of CBD is associated with a reduction in patients' use of antipsychotic medicines, according to placebo-controlled trial data published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

An international team of researchers from Canada, Switzerland, and Germany assessed the use of CBD cigarettes versus placebo in a cohort of acutely psychotic patients with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. Patients received either CBD or a placebo daily for 28 days in addition to their standard treatments.

Investigators reported that both CBD and placebo were associated with similar reductions in psychotic symptoms and depression, but that those participants who consumed CBD cigarettes used fewer antipsychotic medication during treatment. Conversely, those in the placebo group increased their use of prescription medications.

They concluded: "The main group effects in the discontinuous multilevel model were higher subjective well-being and less overall antipsychotic medication use throughout the acute therapy for the CBD-group. These results may suggest an antipsychotic medication sparing effect of CBD-cigarettes as adjunctive therapy in acutely psychotic patients. ... However, future studies with more rigorous study designs and larger samples are needed."

CBD administration is established to have anxiolytic and antipsychotic effects in human subjects, and its use is associated with changes in brain activity that may lower some people's risk of a psychotic episode. Previously published clinical trial data indicates that the daily administration of high doses of CBD (1,000mg) reduces psychotic symptoms in patients with schizophrenia in a manner that is superior to the prescription antipsychotic agent amisulpride.

Full text of the study, "Cannabidiol cigarettes as adjunctive treatment for psychotic disorders – A randomized, open-label pilot study," appears in Frontiers in Psychiatry.

South Dakota: State's Supreme Court Strikes Down Adult-Use Marijuana Vote

Pierre, SD: Justices on the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled 4 to 1 last week to strike down a voter-approved initiative (Constitutional Amendment A) legalizing the adult-use possession and sale of cannabis.

"Legalization opponents cannot succeed in the court of public opinion or at the ballot box," NORML's Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. "Thus, they are now petitioning the courts to overturn the will of the people. Whether or not one supports marijuana legalization, Americans should be deeply concerned by this trend and by the outcome of this case."

Fifty-four percent of South Dakota voters decided on Election Day in favor of the ballot measure. However, shortly following the vote, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem facilitated litigation seeking to strike down the law as unconstitutional. In February, Judge Christina Klinger of the state's Sixth Judicial Circuit Court ruled in favor of the challenge - opining that the amendment violated state requirements that ballot measures not encompass more than one topic. Last week, the majority of the Supreme Court affirmed her ruling, opining that the amendment "violated the single subject requirement in the South Dakota Constitution."

The decision marks the second time this year that a state Supreme Court has nullified the result of a statewide vote legalizing the use of cannabis. In May, justices of the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 to nullify Initiative 65, which sought to regulate medical cannabis access in the state. Seventy-three percent of Mississippi voters had approved the measure on Election Day.

Over the past year, political opponents of marijuana law reform have been more frequently turning to the courts in efforts to either repeal cannabis-related votes or to stop them from taking place. In Nebraska, members of the state Supreme Court struck down a 2020 ballot initiative months after it had been approved by the Secretary of State's office. Polling in the state showed that 77 percent of Nebraskans backed the proposal. More recently, Florida's Republican attorney general successfully brought suit to preemptively deny a proposed 2022 legalization initiative from appearing on the ballot.

South Dakota voters last November also decided in favor of a separate ballot measure (Measure 26) regulating medical marijuana access by qualified patients. State lawmakers have not challenged that law from taking effect.

Proponents behind Amendment A have already taken steps to place a new legalization measure before voters in 2022. Some state lawmakers are also recommending that the legislature implement legalization legislation next year.

A summary of the decision is available online from the Supreme Court of South Dakota.

Study: Cannabis Use History Inversely Associated with Common Stomach Infection

Pittsburgh, PA: The use of cannabis is associated with a decreased risk of Helicobacter Pylori infection (HPI) – a bacterial stomach infection that can be associated with abdominal pain, weight loss, and ulcers. HPI is relatively common in adults worldwide, though many people with it do not experience severe symptoms.

A team of investigators from the United States and Canada assessed the relationship between cannabis use and an HPI diagnosis in a nationally representative cohort of 4,556 subjects.

They reported that subjects with no prior use of cannabis were nearly twice as likely to have HPI as compared to subjects with a history of marijuana use, even after authors adjusted for demographic confounders and comorbidities.

They concluded: "Recreational cannabis use is associated with diminished risk of HPI. These observations suggest the need for additional research assessing the effects of medical cannabis formulations on HPI."

Separate studies have shown that cannabis can provide relief to patients with a variety of gastrointestinal disorders, including IBS, Crohn's disease, while preclinical data indicates that cannabinoids can inhibit the development of gastric ulcers.

Full text of the study, "Relationship between recreational cannabis use and Helicobacter pylori infection," appears in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

Study: Maternal Cannabis Use Not Linked to Higher Risk of Autism in Children

Aurora, CO: Mothers with a history of consuming cannabis in the months prior to or during pregnancy do not possess a greater likelihood of having children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to data published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

A team of researchers with the University of Colorado, School of Public Health assessed whether mothers with a self-reported history of maternal cannabis use are more likely to give birth to children with either ASD or development disorders. They reported that mothers with a history of marijuana use were no more likely than non-users to have children with either autism or developmental delays by age five.

Other studies have shown inconsistent results with respect to in utero cannabis exposure and certain neonatal outcomes, including birth weight and certain behavioral outcomes.

Full text of the study, "Per-pregnancy cannabis use and autism spectrum disorder in the offspring: Findings from the study to explore early development," appears in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

FDA: No Regulations on OTC CBD Products Forthcoming

Washington, DC: Nearly three years following the passage of federal legislation legalizing hemp production, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to promulgate rules regulating the marketing and sale of commercial products containing hemp-derived CBD.

Speaking last month at the National Industrial Hemp Business Summit in Washington, DC, FDA representative Gail Sipes said that the agency cannot move forward with regulations without more data on the safety of CBD products. She reiterated the agency's position that companies which market CBD-infused products as either food products or as dietary supplements are violating the Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics Act.

NORML and other groups have urged the FDA to provide regulatory guidelines overseeing the production, testing, labeling, and marketing of hemp-derived CBD products. Analyses conducted by the FDA and others have consistently reported that many over-the-counter (OTC) CBD products are of variable quality and potency, and that they may contain contaminants or elevated levels of heavy metals.

Survey data compiled last year by the National Consumers League reported that more than eight in ten US voters desire greater federal regulatory oversight over the labeling and marketing of commercially available CBD products.

In a report provided by the FDA to Congress in 2020, the agency said that regulating OTC CBD products presents unique challenges because the substance is already available as a FDA-approved medicine (Epidiolex).

Additional information is available from the NORML fact sheet, "FAQs About Cannabidiol (CBD)."

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