Gallup Poll: Americans’ Support for Marijuana Legalization Holds at Record High
United States: The percentage of Americans who believe that “the use of marijuana should be legal,” remains at a record high, according to nationwide polling data reported today by Gallup.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents endorse legalization – the same level of support reported by Gallup last year. That ties the highest percentage of support ever reported in a national Gallup poll. “As was the case in 2020, solid majorities of U.S. adults in all major subgroups by gender, age, income and education support legalizing marijuana,” Gallup pollsters determined.
Gallup Marijuana Poll
“There is no buyer’s remorse on the part of the American people. In the era of state-level legalization, voters’ support for this issue has grown rapidly – an indication that these policy changes have been successful and are comporting with voters’ desires and expectations.” NORML’s Executive Director Erik Altieri said. “Today, voters of every age and in virtually every region of the country agree that marijuana should be legal. We have a mandate from the American people and we intend to make sure that elected officials abide by it.”
In 1969, when Gallup first began surveying the question, only twelve percent of Americans backed marijuana legalization. In 1996, when California voters became the first state in the nation to legalize cannabis for medical use, 25 percent of Americans said that marijuana should be legal for those ages 21 and older. Since 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize marijuana for adults, public support for legalization has risen nationally some 20 percentage points. Legalization has enjoyed majority support among Americans since 2013.
Consistent with previous polls, Gallup reported that most Democrats (83 percent) and political independents (71 percent) support marijuana legalization. By contrast, Republicans are nearly evenly split on the question (50 percent in favor; 49 percent opposed).
Analysis: ‘Government-Grade’ Marijuana More Closely Resembles Hemp, Has Little in Common with Commercially Available Cannabis
Greeley, CO: Marijuana provided by the University of Mississippi for clinical research purposes is genetically dissimilar to the types of cannabis products commercially available at retail markets in legal states, according to an analysis published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science. Since 1968, the University of Mississippi’s farm, which is governed by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, has been the only legal source of cultivated cannabis for use in FDA-approved research.
A team of researchers affiliated with the University of Northern California performed genetic analyses on NIDA-provided “research-grade marijuana” samples and then compared them to samples of commercially available cannabis.
Consistent with prior assessments, authors reported: “Our results clearly demonstrate that NIDA cannabis samples are substantially genetically different from most commercially available drug-type strains and share a genetic affinity with hemp samples in several of the analyses. We do not claim that NIDA is supplying hemp for cannabis research, rather we are confident that our analyses show that the ‘research grade marijuana’ supplied by NIDA is genetically different from the retail drug-type samples analyzed in this study.”
They added, “Given both this genetic and previous chemotypic investigations have concluded that NIDA is supplying product that does not align with what is available for consumers, our hope is that the NIH and NIDA will support the cultivation of cannabis that is representative of what medical and recreational consumers are using. Medical practitioners, researchers and patients deserve access to cannabis products that are comparable to products available on the legal market.”
Scientists wishing to conduct FDA-approved clinical trials on cannabis have long complained that federally-provided samples are of poor quality. According to NIDA’s marijuana menu, no available samples contain more than seven percent THC and all samples contain less than one percent CBD.
In May, the US Drug Enforcement Administration announced for the first time its intent to license additional entities to cultivate marijuana for FDA-approved research purposes. The move came some five years after the agency had initially announced plans to expand the supply of cannabis available to federally-approved researchers.
NORML has long argued that scientists ought to be permitted to bypass NIDA’s exclusive marijuana supply and instead utilize cannabis products manufactured by state-licensed producers. Last month, a bipartisan group of lawmakers reintroduced legislation, The Medical Marijuana Research Act, in the US House of Representatives to permit FDA-approved scientists to access state-legal cannabis products in clinical research trials. House lawmakers passed the same measure last year, but the language was never taken up in the Senate.
Full text of the study, “Comparative genetic structure of cannabis sativa – including federally produced, wild collected, and cultivated samples,” appears in Frontiers in Plant Science.
Federal Survey Identifies Marked Decline in Youth Marijuana Use
Rockville, MD: Federal data compiled annually by the US National Institutes of Health and released last week reports a significant decline in the percentage of young people using cannabis nationwide.
Data provided by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health finds that marijuana use fell significantly year-over-year among those ages 12 to 17. Specifically, it reports that past-year use of marijuana by teens fell from 13.2 percent in 2019 to 10.1 percent in 2020 – a decline of some 25 percent. Past-month marijuana use fell some 20 percent among those in the same age group – declining from 7.4 percent nationwide to 5.9 percent.
Among those ages 18 to 25, marijuana use rates (past month and past year) remained largely unchanged. Among those ages 26 and older, self-reported cannabis use (over either the past month or over the past year) increased, a finding that is consistent with other surveys showing an uptick in marijuana use by adults post-legalization, but no parallel rise in underage consumption.
Self-reported use of other controlled substances by young people remained largely unchanged between 2019 and 2020.
Commenting on the data, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “These findings ought to reassure lawmakers that cannabis access for adults can be legally regulated in a manner that is safe, effective, and that does not inadvertently impact young people’s habits.”
Data published in September in the journal JAMA Open Network 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” in a cohort of over 838,000 people residing in states with adult-use cannabis legalization laws. Separate data published in JAMA Pediatrics reports that the establishment of adult-use marijuana laws is associated with decreased rates of marijuana use among young people.
Full text of the 2020 SAMHSA report is available.
Analysis: Steel Heating Mechanisms of Some THC Vape Cartridges May Result in Exposure to Heavy Metals
Fife, WA: The use of certain portable THC vape cartridges may be associated with inadvertent exposure to various heavy metals, according to data published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.
Investigators affiliated with a Washington state analytical laboratory analyzed aerosol mixtures produced from 13 commercially available electronic cannabis cartridges. Researchers identified the presence of heavy metals, including copper and nickel, in both vapor and in the oil itself. The authors identified various parts of the cartridges – including heating coils, wicks, metal cores, and mouthpieces – as the sources of the elemental emissions. A higher prevalence of metal contaminants was identified following the use of the cartridges’ heating mechanisms. Researchers identified an inverse relationship between metal contamination and terpene content, but they did not offer any definitive explanation for this phenomenon.
Investigators reported: “[T]his study … has … shown that commercially available electronic cannabis devices (ECD) are a potential source for inhalation exposure to metals. … [C]hromium, copper, nickel, as well as smaller amounts of lead, manganese, and tin migrate into the cannabis oil and inhaled vapor phase, resulting in a possible acute intake of an amount of inhaled metals above the regulatory standard of multiple governmental bodies. … It was shown that leaching after periods of time at ambient or elevated temperatures was responsible for the migration of metals from the ECD into the liquid. … The metal content of vaping aerosols decreased with the addition of terpenes to the cartridge liquid. At this time, the mechanism by which the addition of terpenes reduces these metal emissions is unknown, but future research is being undertaken to establish if this is a phenomenon unique to terpenes or if it is a general trait of less viscous liquids.”
Prior analyses of unregulated vapor pen products containing THC have similarly identified the presence of heavy metals and other adulterants. Separate analyses of the aerosol produced by nicotine-filled e-cigarette devices have also detected metal emissions. Metal exposure over time has been linked to a variety of serious health concerns, including lung disease, brain damage, and cardiovascular disease
Full text of the study, “Metals in cannabis vaporizer aerosols: Sources, possible mechanisms, and exposure profiles,” appears in Chemical Research in Toxicology.
Study: Patients Report Improvements in Their Insomnia Following Cannabis Use
Hamilton, Canada: The use of cannabis prior to bedtime is associated with reduced symptoms of insomnia, according to data published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
Canadian investigators with McMaster University in Ontario assessed cannabis use trends in 991 subjects with self-reported insomnia. Study participants self-administered cannabis products at home and reported symptom changes in real time on a mobile software application. Investigators analyzed reports from over 24,000 cannabis-use sessions recorded over a three-year period (February 2017 through February 2020).
Researchers reported: “Results from this large naturalistic sample of medicinal cannabis users who tracked their insomnia symptoms before and after cannabis use suggest significant improvements in insomnia symptoms. … Although all strains were reported to be beneficial for the management of insomnia, predominant indica and indica hybrid strains were found to be more efficacious than [were] CBD and predominant sativa strains.”
They concluded: “This general perceived improvement in insomnia symptoms highlights the potential for cannabis to be used as a treatment option for sleep disorders. Future research should investigate the benefits and harms of cannabinoids for insomnia through rigorous randomized placebo-controlled trials.”
The findings are consistent with those of a 2018 study reporting that subjects who used herbal cannabis before bedtime “experienced a statistically and clinically significant improvement (4.5 points on a zero to 10-point scale) in perceived insomnia levels.”
In a recently published placebo-controlled trial, patients who consumed sublingual cannabis-plant extracts over a two week period showed significantly reduced symptoms of insomnia and experienced improved sleep quality.
Full text of the study, “The use of cannabinoids for insomnia in daily life: Naturalistic study,” appears in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
Survey: Women with Pelvic Pain Frequently Substitute CBD in Place of Other Analgesic Medications
Ann Arbor, MI: Women suffering from chronic pelvic pain (CPP) are frequently consuming CBD to mitigate their symptoms, and they are also using it in lieu of other prescription medications, according to data published in the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology.
Researchers affiliated with the University of Michigan, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology assessed prevalence and patterns of CBD consumption in a cohort of 1,382 women with fibromyalgia and CPP.
Over one-third of respondents identified as current consumers of CBD. Among these consumers, 81 percent said that the use of CBD products “improved their pain.” Seventy-six percent of users reported substituting CBD for other medications, including opioids, NSAIDS, gabapentinoids, and benzodiazepines. Patients also reported perceived benefits in their sleep, anxiety, depression, and in their overall health after initiating the use of CBD products.
The results are consistent with those of prior studies similarly finding that a growing percentage of women are using cannabis and similar products to effectively mitigate chronic pelvic pain and to reduce their reliance on prescription opioids.
Full text of the study, “Cannabidiol use, substitution for medications, and perceptions of effectiveness in women with chronic pelvic pain,” appears in the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology