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Analysis: Patients with a History of Cannabis Use Less Likely to Have Medical Complications Following Spinal Fusion Surgery

New York, NY: Patients with a history of cannabis use are less likely than non-users to experience adverse medical outcomes following thoracolumbar (lower back) spinal fusion (TLF) surgery, according to data published in The Iowa Orthopedic Journal.

A team of orthopedic specialists affiliated with the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Health Sciences University in Brooklyn assessed the relationship between cannabis use and surgical outcomes in a cohort of 704 patients undergoing TLF surgery for adult spinal deformity (ASD). Half of the subjects in the sample identified as cannabis consumers and half did not.

Compared to non-users, cannabis consumers experienced significantly lower rates of medical complications during the 90-day period immediately after surgery. Those with a history of cannabis use were no more likely than non-users to seek post-operative readmissions.

"Compared to patients with ASD who underwent TLF without baseline cannabis use, patients with isolated baseline cannabis use were found to have no increase in odds of incurring 90-day surgical complications or readmissions or revisions two years postoperatively, though reduced odds of experiencing 90-day medical complications were observed," authors concluded. "Future prospective, randomized-controlled studies could help further characterize the impact of isolated cannabis use on the postoperative course of surgical patients undergoing complex procedures such as thoracolumbar fusion for adult spinal deformity."

Prior observational studies have similarly reported that marijuana use is associated with a decreased risk of in-hospital mortality among patients suffering from congestive heart failure, cancer, COPD, pancreatitis, HIV, burn-related injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and various other types of severe trauma.

Full text of the study, "The impact of isolated baseline cannabis use on outcomes following thoracolumbar spinal fusion: A propensity score-matched analysis," appears in The Iowa Orthopedic Journal.

Poll: Plurality of Americans Favor Federal Marijuana Legalization Mandate

New York, NY: By a margin of more than 2 to 1, Americans favor a federal mandate legalizing the adult use of marijuana nationwide, according to polling data compiled by The Economist and YouGov.com.

Forty-five percent of respondents say that the federal government should legalize the adult use of marijuana nationally. That's higher than the percentage of Americans who favor a national mandate permitting abortion (41 percent) or physician-assisted suicide (32 percent).

Twenty-one percent of respondents said that the decision whether or not to legalize marijuana should be left primarily up to the individual states. Several pieces of marijuana reform legislation currently pending in Congress, such as The MORE Act and The States Reform Act, seek to deschedule marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act – thereby providing state governments the ability to either legalize or criminalize marijuana absent federal interference.

Only 20 percent of those surveyed agree that cannabis should be "banned nationally."

Commenting on the polling data, NORML's Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: "While a plurality of Americans favors the idea of the federal government mandating the states to adopt marijuana legalization, such an outcome remains entirely unlikely in our federalist system. Rather, issues pertaining to marijuana legalization have historically been decided, and continue to be decided, on a state-by-state basis and the best — and most practical way the federal government can respond — is to take steps to undo the past harms of federal prohibition while leaving states free to adopt their own policy alternatives."

Study: CBD Administration Associated with Reduced Cannabis/Tobacco Intake

Paris, France: Vaporizing a liquid formulation of CBD is associated with reduced cannabis/tobacco intake, according to data published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

A team of French investigators assessed the impact of vaporized CBD on daily cannabis consumption patterns in a cohort of 20 daily consumers. Nearly all of the subjects in the study smoked cannabis mixed with tobacco in joints. Prior studies have previously demonstrated that CBD administration mitigates smoker's desire for tobacco cigarettes.

Of the nine patients who completed the 12-week trial, six of them reduced their daily consumption of cannabis/tobacco joints by 50 percent.

Authors concluded: "This research provides evidence in favor of the use of CBD in CUD [patients with cannabis use disorder] â€Ļ and illustrates the interest of proposing an addictological intervention targeting at the same time tobacco and cannabis dependence in users who are co-consumers. â€Ļ A double-blind, randomized, multi-center, placebo-controlled clinical trial is still needed to assess the efficacy of inhaled CBD in CUD."

CBD consumption has previously been associated with reductions in alcohol intake as well as reductions in cue-induced cravings and anxiety in subjects with a history of heroin use.

Full text of the study, "Efficacy of inhaled cannabidiol in cannabis use disorder: the pilot study Cannavap," appears inFrontiers in Psychiatry.

Survey: Cannabis Is a "Common Treatment" for Those Living with Chronic Pain

Quebec, Canada: Nearly one-third of patients living with chronic pain conditions acknowledge using cannabis for pain management, according to data published in the Canadian Journal of Pain.

Canadian investigators assessed cannabis use trends in a cohort of 1,935 chronic pain patients residing in Quebec. (Cannabis products are legal for both medical purposes and for adult use in Canada.)

Just over 30 percent of patients in the sample said that they used cannabis explicitly for purposes of pain management.

Authors identified greater cannabis prevalence among younger patients, but they reported no significant differences between men and women with respect to how likely they were to consume the substance.

"Cannabis is thus a common treatment reported in people living with CP [chronic pain]," they concluded. "Our study re-emphasizes the importance of rapidly generating evidence on the safety and effectiveness of cannabis, in addition to age-tailored education and awareness efforts among people living with CP."

Among patients in US states where medical cannabis access is permitted, over 60 percent are qualified to use it to treat pain.

Full text of the study, "Prevalence of cannabis use for pain management in Quebec: A post-legalization estimate among generations living with chronic pain," appears in the Canadian Journal of Pain.

Colorado: Executive Order Prevents Denial of Professional Licensure to Those with Past Cannabis Convictions

Denver, CO: Those with prior in-state or out-of-state marijuana-related convictions will no longer be denied professional licensure in Colorado, under an executive order signed by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.

The new order (Executive Order 34: Protecting Colorado's Workforce and Expanding Licensing Opportunities) states: "No one who lawfully consumes, possesses, cultivates or processes marijuana pursuant to Colorado law should be subject to professional sanctions or denied a professional license in Colorado. This includes individuals who consume, possess, cultivate or process marijuana in another state in a manner that would be legal in Colorado.

It directs the state Department of Regulatory Affairs, which oversees professional licensing for close to 1 million Coloradans in at least 50 different sectors, to "promulgate and issue rules as necessary to ensure that no person shall be subject to disciplinary action against a professional license or disqualified from professional licensure for any civil or criminal judgment, discipline or other sanction threatened or imposed under the laws of another state regarding consumption, possession, cultivation or processing of marijuana so long as the actions are lawful and consistent with professional conduct and standards of care within the state of Colorado."

The Governor said that the order was necessary in order to stimulate job growth in the state. "There is a workforce shortage in Colorado," he wrote. "Employers are having difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified employees, many of whom need professional licenses. The exclusion of people from the workforce because of marijuana-related activities that are lawful in Colorado, but illegal in other states, hinders our economy and our state."

Full text of the executive order is online.

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