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Analysis: Cannabis Consumers Less Likely to Be Diagnosed with Liver Cancer

Cleveland, OH: Adults with a recent history of cannabis use are twice less likely to be diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma (the most common type of liver cancer) than are those with no history of use, according to data published in the scientific journal Cureus.

A team of researchers affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic and with Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC assessed the relationship between cannabis consumption and HCC in a cohort of over one million subjects.

Investigators reported that those who reported current cannabis use were "55 percent less likely to have HCC compared to non-cannabis users."

Authors concluded: "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first and largest population-based cross-sectional study of hospitalized patients to explore the association between cannabis use and HCC. ... Due to the cross-sectional structure of our study, we are unable to draw direct causation effects. Hence, we suggest prospective clinical studies to further understand the mechanism by which various active ingredients, particularly CBD in cannabis, may possibly regulate hepatocellular carcinoma development."

Cannabinoids possess anti-cancer activity in cellular models and a limited number of case reports have documented antineoplastic activity in patients. Observational data has also shown an association between cannabis use and a reduced risk of head and neck cancers.

Numerous human studies have also shown an inverse relationship between cannabis consumption and various types of liver diseases.

Full text of the study, "Lower rates of hepatocellular carcinoma observed among cannabis users: A population-based study," appears in Cureus.

SCOTUS: Justices Decline to Weigh in on Whether Medical Cannabis Costs Can Be Reimbursed by Employers

Washington, DC: Justices on the US Supreme Court have declined to weigh in on the issue of whether employees can be reimbursed for their medical marijuana-related costs through their workers' compensation insurance plans.

Litigants sought the Court's intervention following divergent opinions from several state supreme courts. Empire State NORML and two other groups – the New York City Cannabis Industry Association and the Hudson Valley Cannabis Industry – had filed a friend-of-the-court (amicus) brief urging justices to take the case and to use it as an opportunity to settle broader conflicts between state and federal marijuana laws.

The denial of certiorari indicates that most justices did not believe that the lower court decisions merited review by the high court.

David C. Holland, Esq, the Executive and Legal Director of Empire State NORML and the author of the brief said: "By failing to take up the case, SCOTUS only further exacerbated the split between the highest state courts as it continues to evade the fundamental question with regard to cannabis' medical validity, a key factor in the Schedule I designation. Empire State NORML and the New York and Hudson Valley Cannabis Industry Associations will continue to advocate for those cases that will eventually bring resolution to the issue once and for all."

In 2021, courts in three separate states upheld employees' ability to be financially reimbursed for their use of medical cannabis, while the court in another state ruled against the issue.

Currently, five states - Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York – explicitly allow for employees to have their medical cannabis expenses reimbursed. By contrast, seven states expressly prohibit workers' compensation insurance from reimbursing medical marijuana-related costs: Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio, and Washington.

In all other jurisdictions, the law is either silent on the issue or states that insurers are "not required" to reimburse employees who are injured on the job for the costs related to their use of medical cannabis.

Survey: Over 80 Percent of Americans Support Uniform Quality Controls for Cannabis Products

Washington, DC: More than eight in ten Americans believe that there should be uniform standards in place regulating the manufacturing of commercially available cannabis products, according to national polling data commissioned on behalf of the regulatory compliance group SIPCA and the Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards (FOCUS).

Most respondents (72 percent) said that cannabis products should be grown and produced using "consistent product safety standards (regardless of which state they are legally purchased in)," and 84 percent support the notion of the "federal government setting standards for product safety and quality that must be met for any cannabis products produced or sold in the United States."

Because cannabis remains classified as a Schedule I illicit substance under federal law, regulations governing the manufacturing and testing of marijuana products vary from state to state.

Separate polling has similarly shown that a majority of Americans desire greater regulatory authority over the safety and quality of hemp-derived CBD products, most of which are currently subject to little or no federal or state regulatory oversight.

"The U.S. has a plethora of consumer protection laws and organizations, at both the federal and state level, that regulate consumer affairs. So, it is understandable that Americans expect these same consumer protections in cannabis, like they do for everything they purchase," said Lezli Engelking, President & Founder of FOCUS. "The lack of protections for cannabis consumers is simply one more example of the extreme risks to public health and safety Americans are exposed to [because of] the lack of action around cannabis at the federal level."

Consistent with other national polls, a super-majority of respondents (78 percent) to the SIPCA/FOCUS poll agreed that marijuana should be legalized under federal law.

More information on the SIPCA/FOCUS polling data is available online.

Review: Cannabis Provides Benefits for Migraine Sufferers

Tucson, AZ: Cannabis preparations likely provide for the prophylactic and abortive treatment of migraines, according to a review of the relevant literature published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology.

A team of investigators with the University of Arizona reviewed the findings of 12 previously published studies involving 1,980 participants.

Authors reported evidence of plant cannabinoids' ability to reduce migraine frequency and to abort the onset of migraine headaches. The use of various preparations of cannabis was also associated with significant reductions in migraine-induced vomiting, pain, and nausea.

They concluded: "[T]here is some evidence for MC's [medical cannabis'] beneficial effect on treating migraine in adults. However, further research is needed to assess effective dosing and safety critically. Mindful of the upsurge of interest in MC use to treat migraines, there is an urgent need to implement well-designed studies to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of medical marijuana for treating adults with migraines."

The results of a prior literature review, which assessed 34 scientific papers on cannabis and migraine, similarly identified "encouraging data on medicinal cannabis' therapeutic effects on alleviating migraines in all of the studies reviewed."

Numerous surveys of patients report that those suffering from migraines often turn to cannabis for symptomatic relief, and many patients say that it is more effective than prescription medications.

Full text of the study, "Cannabis for the treatment of migraine in adults: A Review of the evidence," appears in Frontiers in Neurology.

Colorado: Youth Marijuana Use Declines Sharply Among Teens

Denver, CO: The percentage of young people who acknowledge consuming cannabis and having ready access to it declined sharply between 2020 and 2021, according to statewide data provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDHPE).

Researchers reported a 35 percent year-over-year decline in the percentage of teens who admitted having consumed cannabis products within the past 30 days. They also reported a 22 percent drop in the percentage of teens who said that they could easily access cannabis. There was a 50 percent drop in the percentage of teens who admitted having driven after using cannabis.

"These data are consistent with other surveys showing that marijuana regulation policies can be implemented in a manner that provides access for adults while simultaneously limiting youth access and misuse," NORML's Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. "These findings ought to reassure lawmakers and others that cannabis access for adults can be regulated in ways that do not inadvertently impact young people's habits."

Nationwide, there was a 38 percent year-over-year reduction in self-reported marijuana use among eighth graders, a 38 percent decline among 10th graders, and a 13 percent decrease among 12th graders, according to data provided by the University of Michigan's annual Monitoring the Future survey.

Since Coloradoans legalized adult-use marijuana sales, lifetime cannabis use has fallen an estimated 30 percent among high-schoolers and an estimated 40 percent among middle-schoolers. Adult-use legalization in other states has also failed to overlap with any significant uptick in either young people's use of cannabis or access to marijuana products.

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