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Analysis: Adult-Use Legalization Laws Not Linked to Increases in Violent Crime, Problematic Substance Abuse

Cambridge, MA: The enactment of state-level, adult-use marijuana legalization laws is not associated with increases in either drug treatment admissions, violent crime, or overdose deaths, according to a comprehensive analysis published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

A team of economists reviewed nationally representative data across all 50 states and the District of Columbia to “comprehensively explore the broader impacts of RMLs [recreational marijuana laws], providing some of the first evidence on how marijuana legalization is affecting illicit drug use, heavy alcohol use, arrests for drug and non-drug offenses, and objectively-measured adverse drug-related events including drug-related overdose deaths and admissions into substance abuse treatment services.”

They determined: “We find little compelling evidence to suggest that RMLs result in increases in illicit drug use, arrests for part I [violent] offenses, drug-involved overdoses, or drug-related treatment admissions for addiction. … Our findings provide key evidence evaluating the ongoing, occasionally contentious, political debate on legalizing marijuana use, and inform whether recreational marijuana use is a โ€˜gateway’ to addiction to harder drugs and criminal behavior.”

The study’s findings are consistent with those others – such as those here and here – which have similarly reported that changes in the state-legal status of cannabis are not associated with any significant adverse effects on overall health and safety.

Full text of the study – “Is recreational marijuana a gateway to harder drug use and crime?” – is available from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Cannabis Use Not Independently Linked to Increased Risk of Ischemic Stroke in Young Adults

Baltimore, MD: Those with a history of cannabis use do not possess an increased risk of early-onset ischemic stroke, according to the findings of a population-based case-control study published in the journal Stroke.

Researchers with the University of Maryland School of Medicine assessed the relationship between cannabis and stroke risk in a cohort of 1,564 subjects between the ages of 15 to 49. Investigators said that their study was “the largest case-control study to date” evaluating the association between marijuana and ischemic stroke risk.

They reported, “After adjusting for other risk factors, including the amount of current tobacco smoking, marijuana use was not associated with ischemic stroke, regardless of the timing of use in relationship to the stroke, including ever use, use within 30 days, and use within 24 hours.”

Authors concluded, “These analyses do not demonstrate an association between marijuana use and an increased risk of early-onset ischemic stroke.”

Results of a 2020 study published in the journal Neurology: Clinical Practice similarly reported that recent exposure to cannabis was not associated with an increased risk of hospitalization due to acute ischemic stroke.

Other studies have yielded inconsistent results with respect to the degree with which a history of cannabis use may play a role in the risk of ischemic stroke. NORML has cautioned that those patients with a history of cardiovascular disorders may be at an elevated risk of suffering from adverse events due to the use of cannabis.

Full text of the study, “Marijuana use and the risk of early ischemic stroke: The stroke prevention in young adults study,” appears in Stroke.

Medical Cannabis Patients Show Sustained Improvements in Cognitive Performance

Belmont, MA: The use of cannabis products, particularly CBD-dominant products, is associated with sustained improvements in cognitive performance, according to longitudinal data published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

A team of Harvard investigators assessed executive function in a cohort of medical cannabis patients prior to their use of marijuana and then again at three months, six months, and at twelve months. Patients enrolled in the study possessed little-to-no prior experience with cannabis.

Researchers reported that subjects showed improved cognitive performance within three months of treatment and that these improvements were sustained throughout the 12-month trial period. Improvements in executive function were correlated with clinical improvements in patients’ mood, anxiety, and sleep. The use of CBD-dominant products was most closely associated with participants’ changes in mood and anxiety.

Authors concluded: “In a 12-month longitudinal, observational study, patients using MC [medical cannabis] for various medical conditions exhibited improved executive function and stable verbal learning and memory within the context of improvements on measures of mood, anxiety, and sleep relative to baseline. [I]mprovement of clinical state over time was significantly associated with increased CBD exposure. … Future investigations examining the impact of individual cannabinoids and age of onset of use are warranted to clarify the implications of MC use. Ultimately, for MC patients, it is imperative to understand the relationship between these variables in order to maximize the therapeutic potential of cannabis while minimizing potential risk and harms.”

A 2020 study published in the journal AIDS Care also reported that HIV patients with a history of cannabis use exhibited better neurocognitive performance than similarly matched patients with no history of consumption.

Full text of the study, “An observational, longitudinal study of cognition in medical cannabis patients over the course of 12-months of treatment: Preliminary results,” appears in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

Enactment of Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization Associated with Immediate, But Temporary Reductions in Opioid-Related Emergency Room Visits

Boston, MA: The enactment of adult-use marijuana legalization laws is associated with immediate reductions in opioid-related emergency department (ED) visitation rates among men, according to data published in the journal Health Economics.

A team of investigators from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and the University of Pittsburgh assessed the relationship between marijuana legalization and opioid-related ED visitation rates in 29 states over a six-year period (2011-2017). Four of those states enacted adult-use access during the study period, and researchers compared trends in these legal states with trends in the remaining 25 states.

Authors reported that ED visit rates fell nearly eight percent among males (ages 24 to 44) during the first six-months following the enactment of legalization laws. However, these reductions dissipated in the months that followed and were no longer significant within one year.

“Our results indicate that RCLs [recreational marijuana laws] may only affect a temporary reduction in opioid-related ED visits,” they concluded. “While cannabis liberalization may offer some help in curbing the opioid crisis, our results suggest that it is not a panacea.”

The study’s lead investigators added: “We can’t definitively conclude from the data why these laws are associated with a temporary downturn in opioid-related emergency department visits but, based on our findings and previous literature, we suspect that people who use opioids for pain relief are substituting with cannabis, at least temporarily. … [T]his is good news for state policymakers. States can fight the opioid epidemic by expanding access to opioid use disorder treatment and by decreasing opioid use with recreational cannabis laws. These policies aren’t mutually exclusive; rather, they’re both a step in the right direction.”

Full text of the study, “Recreational cannabis laws and opioid-related emergency department visit rates,” appears in Health Economics.

Study: Experienced Cannabis Consumers Self-Titrate Higher Potency Products

Pullman, WA: Subjects consuming high-potency cannabis concentrates perform similarly on measurements of cognitive performance as do those inhaling lower-potency cannabis flowers, according to data published in the journal Scientific Reports.

A team of investigators affiliated with Washington State University assessed the impact of high-potency concentrates (above 60 percent THC) and lower potency flower (around 20 percent THC) on cognitive performance in a group of experienced marijuana consumers. Users’ performance was measured against that of 20 sober participants.

Researchers reported that cannabis consumers scored similar to controls on a number of measurements, including on tasks involving decision-making and prospective memory.

Cannabis users did not perform as well as controls on tests involving verbal recall and false memories. However, subjects consuming high-potency THC products performed no worse on those tests than did those subjects who ingested less potent products. Researchers attributed this latter result to the fact that those participants who consumed concentrates ingested significantly lesser quantities – thereby achieving similar levels of intoxication as did those who consumed lower potency flower.

Authors concluded: “[P]articipants randomly assigned to use a cannabis concentrate self-titrated after significantly fewer puffs yet reported comparable levels of intoxication and demonstrated equivalent levels of impairment as those who inhaled the flower products. [While] there has been concern and speculation that extremely high-potency cannabis concentrates will magnify harms, … [these] results failed to support our hypothesis that concentrates would exacerbate cognitive impairments.”

The authors’ conclusions are consistent with those of prior experimental studies showing that subjects exposed to higher-potency cannabis tend to self-titrate their intake accordingly.

The study’s findings come at a time when some state lawmakers are calling for the imposition of arbitrary caps on the percentage of THC available in certain retail cannabis products. Those opining in favor of these restrictions have claimed that there are greater adverse effects associated with the use of higher potency products. NORML has pushed back against the imposition of THC caps – arguing that proponents’ concerns are not evidence-based and that banning the sale of more potent products will only serve to expand the growth of the illicit marijuana market.

Full text of the study, “Acute effects of high-potency cannabis flower and cannabis concentrates on everyday life memory and decision making,” appears in Scientific Reports.

Animal Data: CBD Administration Mitigates Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal

San Diego, CA: The administration of cannabidiol reduces nicotine withdrawal symptoms in animals, according to preclinical data published in the journal Psychopharmacology.

Researchers with the University of California, San Diego assessed the use of CBD or placebo in nicotine-dependent rats during periods of acute and protracted abstinence.

Investigators reported that CBD dosing “prevented” rats from exhibiting various signs of nicotine withdrawal. These findings “suggest that using CBD as a strategy to alleviate withdrawal symptoms upon nicotine cessation may be beneficial,” they concluded.

Separate animal models have demonstrated the ability of CBD to reduce cravings for alcohol and cocaine, while human studies have reported associations between CBD intake and reduced desires for alcohol, cocaine, heroin, tobacco, and cannabis.

Full text of the study, “Cannabidiol reduces withdrawal symptoms in nicotine-dependent rats,” appears in Psychopharmacology.

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Senate Leader Unveils Long-Awaited Marijuana Descheduling Plan

Washington, DC: United States Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) unveiled draft legislation repealing the federal prohibition of marijuana at a press conference on Wednesday.

The draft legislation, titled the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, makes numerous changes to federal marijuana laws while providing deference to states' cannabis policies.

Upon introducing the legislation, Sen. Schumer said: "This is monumental because at long last we are taking steps in the Senate to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs. ... I will use my clout as Majority Leader to make this [legislation] a priority in the Senate. ... It makes eminent sense to legalize marijuana."

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said: "The days of federal prohibition are numbered. These actions by Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Senators Booker and Wyden reflect the fact that the supermajority of Americans is demanding that Congress take action to end the cruel and senseless policy of federal prohibition. It is time for legislators to comport federal law with the laws of the growing number of states that have legalized the plant, and it is time for lawmakers to facilitate a federal structure that allows for cannabis commerce so that responsible consumers can obtain high-quality, low-cost cannabis grown right here in America without fear of arrest and incarceration."

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal added: "Our main priority is to ensure that Americans who choose to responsibly consume cannabis are no longer discriminated against under the law. "With one in eight Americans choosing to consume on a semi-regular basis, including nearly one in four veterans, we must end the practice of arresting over 500,000 Americans every year and denying countless others employment, housing, and other civic rights if we are truly to be the โ€˜Land of the Free'. The federal government can take great strides toward rectifying this situation by advancing the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act through the legislative process."

Specifically, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act directs the US Attorney General to remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act -- thereby allowing states to either maintain or establish their own cannabis regulatory policies free from undue federal interference. Under this scheme, state governments - if they choose to do so - can continue to impose criminal penalties for marijuana possession offenses. However, states would not be permitted to prohibit the interstate commerce of legal cannabis products transported through their borders.

The proposal also mandates for the expungement of the records of anyone convicted of a federal, non-violent marijuana offense. The expungements must take place within one year of the law's enactment.

The Act also forbids federal officials from taking discriminatory actions against those who legally use cannabis. It prohibits "individuals from being denied any federal public benefit ... on the basis of [the] use or possession of cannabis." It also, for the first time, permits physicians associated with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to make recommendations to their patients to access medical cannabis.

The proposal transfers primary agency jurisdiction over cannabis regulation from the US Drug Enforcement Administration to the Food and Drug Administration and to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in manner similar to the ways in which these agencies already oversee alcohol and tobacco products. A federal excise tax of 10 percent would be imposed within the first year of the law's enactment. Medical cannabis access programs, which are operational in the majority of US states, would not be disrupted under this federal plan.

Pending language in the US House of Representatives, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2021, similarly removes (deschedules) cannabis from the CSA and facilitates the expungement of past federal marijuana-related crimes. House lawmakers passed a previous version of the MORE Act in December by a vote of 228 to 164, marking the first time that a chamber of Congress ever advanced legislation to end the federal prohibition of cannabis. Senate lawmakers, however, failed to take up the bill.

Senators are seeking feedback on the draft legislation through September 1. Public comments may be provided to Cannabis_Reform@finance.senate.gov. In an interview with the publication Politico in April, Sen. Schumer pledged that he would hold a floor vote on the bill "sooner or later" this term. The Senate has never held a floor vote on legislation pertaining to descheduling cannabis.

Study: Youth Cannabis Exposure Not Associated with Residual Cognitive Deficits

Berlin, Germany: Adolescents with moderate exposure to cannabis show no decline in neurocognitive skills compared to controls, according to longitudinal data published in the journal Cognitive Development.

An international team of investigators from Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, and the United States examined the relationship between adolescent marijuana use at age 14 and cognitive performance at age 19. Researchers reported that those subjects with light-to-moderate cannabis use after age 15 demonstrated little difference in neurocognitive performance compared to non-users.

Authors determined: "Our data suggests that decision-making is not impaired when cannabis is used in moderation, and onset of use occurs after the age of 15. ... [A]fter controlling for confounders, we found no evidence of effects of cannabis on the remaining neurocognitive variables such as attention, working memory, short-term memory and risk-taking."

They concluded, "In summary, we find no evidence to support the presumption that cannabis consumption leads to a decline in neurocognitive ability."

Full text of the study, "Residual effects of cannabis use on neuropsychological functioning," appears in Cognitive Decline. Additional information is available from NORML's fact sheet, "Marijuana Exposure and Cognitive Performance."

Study: Adolescent Cannabis Use Not Independently Predictive of Depression, Suicidal Ideation

Quebec, Canada: Cannabis use by adolescents is not independently predictive of either depression or suicidal ideation, according to longitudinal data published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

A team of Canadian investigators examined the relationship between cannabis use at age 15 and the likelihood of depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation at age 20 in a cohort of over 1,600 adolescents.

Researchers reported that cannabis use was not independently associated with a greater risk of suicidal thoughts at young adulthood after investigators controlled for subjects' use of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances. In addition, researchers reported that adolescents who suffered from depression were more likely to use cannabis later in life, not vice-versa.

Authors concluded: "This population-based study is the first, to our knowledge, to examine the temporal relation between cannabis use, depression and suicidal ideation simultaneously over five years during adolescence. Depression (but not suicidal ideation) predicted weekly cannabis use throughout adolescence. Weekly cannabis use predicted suicidal ideation (but not depression), but this association was no longer significant after taking into account other substance use including alcohol, tobacco and other drugs consumption. ... These findings highlight the importance of targeting depressive symptoms during this sensitive developmental period in an attempt to offset the potential increased use of cannabis over time."

In June, NIH researchers published data in the Journal of the American Medical Association highlighting an association between frequent cannabis use and elevated levels of suicidal ideation in young adults. However, authors of the study neither controlled for the use of other drugs, nor did they assess whether the relationship was bidirectional.

Full text of the study, "Cannabis use, depression and suicidal ideation in adolescence: Direction of associations in a population-based cohort," appears in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Trends in Alcohol Purchases Mixed Following States' Enactment of Marijuana Legalization

Minneapolis, MN: Trends in alcohol sales are inconsistent following the enactment of statewide marijuana legalization laws, according to data published in the Journal of Cannabis Research.

A pair of researchers affiliated with the University of Minnesota assessed trends in households' alcohol purchases in marijuana legalization states (Colorado, Oregon, and Washington) compared to control states.

In two states - Colorado and Oregon - alcohol purchased decreased compared to control states. In Washington, sales of spirits increased compared to control states.

"Results suggest that alcohol and cannabis are not clearly substitutes nor complements to one-another," authors concluded. They added: "Alcohol may substitute or complement cannabis depending on subgroup characteristics, including any history of substance abuse or age. ... As cannabis becomes legalized and more widely available across the USA, there is a greater need to understand any unintentional consequences these policy changes may have for alcohol-related harms and public health problems more broadly."

Numerous studies have sought to resolve whether cannabis and alcohol are more likely to act as substitutes or as complements. A 2020 review of the relevant literature identified 30 studies finding that cannabis acted as a substitute for alcohol and 17 studies finding that the two substances act as complements. Authors of the study concluded, "We identified stronger support for substitution than complementarity, though evidence indicates different effects in different populations and to some extent across different study designs."

Most recently, data published in January in the journal Addiction reported that heavy drinkers significantly reduced their alcohol intake on days when they used cannabis.

Full text of the study, "Recreational cannabis legalization and alcohol purchasing: A difference-in-difference analysis," appears in the Journal of Cannabis Research.

Clinical Trial: Cannabis Extracts Effective for Refractory Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea

Sydney, Australia: The adjunctive use of cannabis extracts significantly reduces symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant chemotherapy-induced nausea, according to clinical trial data published in the journal Annals of Oncology.

Australian researchers compared cannabis extracts (oral capsules containing 2.5mg of THC and 2.5mg of CBD) versus placebo in a cohort of 72 patients with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV).

Researchers reported that the adjunctive use of cannabis extracts was associated with reductions in patients' nausea and vomiting, and also with improvements in subjects' overall quality of life. Although the majority of patients did report side-effects, these effects were largely limited to non-serious events such as sedation and dizziness.

They concluded: "The oral THC:CBD cannabis extract was active and tolerable in preventing CINV, when combined with guideline-consistent antiemetic prophylaxis for a study population with refractory CINV. ... Further research is necessary to determine the significance and durability of improvements observed in specific AQOL-8D [quality of life] dimensions."

Cannabis extracts containing equal ratios of THC and CBD are already available in many countries by prescription under the brand name Sativex. The substance is not legally available in the United States. By contrast, oral synthetic THC, marketed under the brand name Marinol, is FDA-approved in the US for the treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy.

Full text of the study, "Oral THC;CBD cannabis extract for refractory chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: A randomized, placebo-controlled, phase II crossover trial," appears in Annals of Oncology.

Survey: Medical Cannabis Frequently Used as a Substitute for Prescription Medicines

Aarhus, Denmark: Europeans who consume cannabis for medical purposes frequently report using it to replace prescription medications, according to survey data published in The Harm Reduction Journal.

A team of Dutch researchers surveyed over 2,800 medical cannabis consumers. Over half of respondents (56 percent) reported using cannabis "for the purpose of replacing a prescribed drug."

Those who reported engaging in drug substitution were most likely to do so for pain medications, specifically opioids, as well as for anti-depressants, and arthritis medications.

Forty-six percent of respondents said that their use of medical cannabis led them to "substantially decrease" their use of prescription medications, while 38 percent reported ceasing their use of at least one prescription medicine. Sixty-six percent of respondents perceived cannabis to be "much more effective" than prescription drugs and 86 percent said that it possessed a more favorable side-effect profile.

Numerous studies of North American patients have reported similar findings.

Authors concluded: "Findings from our sample show that most substitution users find CaM [cannabis as medicine] more effective in managing their condition(s) compared to prescription drugs, and that an overwhelming majority found CaM to have a better side effect profile compared to the prescription drugs that they had been prescribed for their condition(s). ... Findings from our study add to the growing body of research indicating that from a user perspective, CaM has a substantial substitution effect for a variety of prescription drugs, most notably opioids."

Full text of the study, "Exploring the use of cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs in a convenience sample," appears in the Harm Reduction Journal.

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Feds: Marijuana Trafficking Convictions Have Fallen Dramatically Following Statewide Legalization

Washington, DC: The federal government is prosecuting and convicting fewer people for violating marijuana trafficking laws, according to data provided by the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC).

According to a new fact sheet issued by the Commission, just over 1,000 people were sentenced federally in 2020 for violating marijuana trafficking laws. That’s down 67 percent since 2016, and over 80 percent since 2012 โ€“ when Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize and regulate the adult-use marijuana market.

“These trends illustrate the fact that state-legal domestic cannabis production has supplanted the foreign market and that marijuana law enforcement is becoming less of a federal priority in an age where the majority of Americans believe that cannabis ought to be legal,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “It is vital that Congress take action to amend federal law in a manner that comports with this reality.”

Overall, fewer than seven percent of all federal drug trafficking cases in 2020 involved marijuana, the USSC reported. Eighty-eight percent of marijuana trafficking prosecutions resulted in a prison sentence.

Additional information is available on the USSC.gov website.

Study: Marijuana Legalization Not Associated with Changes in Marijuana Use Among High-Risk Youth

Toronto, Canada: The enactment of adult-use marijuana legalization in Canada is not associated with changes in either cannabis use or perceived access among high-risk youth, according to data published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

A pair of researchers affiliated with the University of Toronto assessed cannabis use patterns immediately prior to and following legalization in a cohort of young people who had been enrolled in a substance abuse treatment program. All of the 269 participants in the study had a history of marijuana use.

Investigators determined: “[A]s a whole, cannabis use patterns did not change with legalization across a range of cannabis use and polysubstance use behaviors, nor did the perception of ease of access or safety of the source of cannabis.” Authors also reported “no change in mental health symptomatology or substance use dependence” following legalization.

They concluded, “Cannabis use does not appear to have changed substantially in the short-term following legalization among youth seeking services for substance use disorders, whether or not the youth have reached the age of majority.”

Full text of the study, “Legalization of cannabis use in Canada: Impacts on the cannabis use profiles of youth seeking services for substance use,” appears in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

Clinical Trial: Single Dose of CBDV Modulates Atypical Brain Circuitry in Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder

London, United Kingdom: The administration of the phytocannabinoid CBDV (cannabidivarin) modulates brain chemistry in autistic patients in a manner that is typically associated with better patient outcomes, according to clinical data published in the journal Molecular Autism.

An international team of investigators from Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom assessed the administration of CBDV versus placebo in a cohort of male patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Researchers reported that CBDV dosing led to brain changes in the striatum that are typically associated with the mitigation of ASD symptoms.

Authors concluded: “A single dose of CBDV was sufficient to shift atypical striatal FC [functional connectivity] in the mature autistic brain towards the profile found at baseline in neurotypicals. … Future studies are required to determine whether modulation of striatal FC is associated with a change in ASD symptoms.”

Several observational trials have documented behavioral improvements in ASD patients administered whole-plant cannabis extracts. Most recently, a 2021 review of the relevant literature summarized: “Cannabis products [have been demonstrated to] reduce the number and/or intensity of different symptoms, including hyperactivity, attacks of self-mutilation and anger, sleep problems, anxiety, restlessness, psychomotor agitation, irritability, aggressiveness perseverance, and depression. Moreover, they [are associated with an] improvement in cognition, sensory sensitivity, attention, social interaction, and language.”

Authors of the review concluded, “Cannabis and cannabinoids may have promising effects in the treatment of symptoms related to ASD and can be used as a therapeutic alternative in the relief of those symptoms.”

Full text of the study, “Modulation of striatal functioning connectivity differences in adults with and without autism spectrum disorder in a single-dose randomized trial of cannabidivarin,” appears in Molecular Autism.

Study: Legal Marijuana Farms Are Not a Drain on Water Resources

Berkeley, CA: Licensed outdoor marijuana farms in northern California do not put undue strain on limited water resources, according to data published in the Journal of Environmental Management.

A team of researchers affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley and with the State of California, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board assessed irrigation patterns among licensed cannabis farms.

Authors stated that cannabis farming isn’t “particularly thirsty relative to other crops.” They estimated that “legal outdoor [cannabis] production uses about the same amount of water as a crop like tomatoes” and about 33 times less water than almonds.

The study’s findings run counter to previous claims that cannabis farming placed undue strain on the state’s limited water supply.

Because the University study only assessed water use among legally licensed farms, the authors cautioned that their findings may not be applicable to illicit growing practices. A prior study, published by New Frontier Data in partnership with the Resource Innovation Institute and the University of California, Berkeley similarly concluded that cannabis is among the most “water-economical” of California’s top revenue crops.

Full text of the study, “Water storage and irrigation practices for cannabis drive seasonal patterns of water extraction and use in northern California,” appears in the Journal of Environmental Management.

Clinical Trial: Oral CBD Dosing Doesn’t Consistently Mitigate Experimental Pain in Healthy Volunteers

New York, NY: The administration of oral CBD is not consistently associated with analgesia in healthy volunteers exposed to experimentally-induced pain, according to clinical data published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

Researchers affiliated with Columbia University assessed the administration of various doses of purified CBD (200, 400, or 800mg) versus placebo in subjects exposed to experimental pain conditions.

Investigators reported that CBD “failed to consistently affect pain threshold and tolerance … relative to placebo.” In some cases, CBD dosing was associated with increases in subjects’ perceptions of pain.

Authors concluded: “CBD did not elicit consistent dose-dependent analgesia and in fact increased pain on some measures. Future studies exploring CBD-induced pain relief should consider using a more extensive pain assessment paradigm in different participant populations.”

Other studies have documented the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, which may be useful in the treatment of chronic pain in certain pain populations. Moreover, the inhalation of whole-plant cannabis is well-established as an analgesic agent in various populations, particularly those suffering from neuropathy.

Full text of the study, “The dose-dependent analgesic effects, abuse liability, safety and tolerability of oral cannabidiol in healthy humans,” appears in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

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Study: Marijuana Use Not Associated with Deleterious Effects on Male Sexual Function

* Note @WeedConnection Does Not Need A Study To Confidently State The Headline iS Correct
** Based On Personal Experience; Interviewing & Witnessesing Old Stoners Pop Out Babies iN Old Age

Winnipeg, Canada: Cannabis use does not appear to have any significant adverse effects on either male reproductive health or sexual function, according to longitudinal data published in the Canadian Urological Association Journal.

A team of Canadian investigators assessed male reproductive health in a cohort of nearly 8,000 subjects over a ten-year period.

Authors reported that subjects with a history of cannabis use “had a higher mean Sexual Health Inventory for Men (SHIM) score and mean total testosterone than non-users.”

They concluded, “[T]he present study provides compelling evidence against significant deleterious effects of cannabis use on male sexual function. Further studies, particularly large randomized controlled trials, are needed to establish causation of cannabis use on levels of testosterone and other reproductive hormones, semen parameters, sexual function, and fertility.”

Full text of the study, “The impact of cannabis use on male sexual function: A 10-year single-center experience,” appears in the Canadian Urological Association Journal.

Supreme Court Justice Questions Whether Federal Marijuana Ban Should Remain in Place

Washington, DC: United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has called into question the US government’s authority to impose federal prohibitions on the state-licensed production and sale of cannabis.

In a written opinion issued on Monday, Thomas wrote, “The Federal Government’s current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana.” Specifically, Thomas referred to legislation passed by Congress every year since 2015 prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering in states’ medical cannabis access programs. “This contradictory and unstable state of affairs strains the basic principle of federalism,” he wrote.

Thomas further acknowledged that times have changed significantly since 2005, when the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 (in Gonzalez v Raich) that federal law prohibited any state-sanctioned use of marijuana as a medicine – even in instances where there was no interstate commerce. Thomas was among the judges who dissented in that case.

He wrote: “Whatever the merits of Raich [were] when it was decided, federal policies of the past 16 years have greatly undermined its reasoning. … Suffice it to say, the Federal Government’s current approach to marijuana bears little resemblance to the watertight nationwide prohibition that a closely divided Court found necessary to justify the Government’s blanket prohibition in Raich. If the Government is now content to allow States to act โ€˜as laboratories’ โ€˜and try novel social and economic experiments,’ then it might no longer have authority to intrude on โ€˜[t]he States’ core police powers . . . to define criminal law and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens.’ A prohibition on intrastate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the Federal Government’s piecemeal approach.”

Thomas issued his comments while presiding over the appeal of a case (Standing Akimbo LLC et al v United States) challenging the federal ban on tax deductions for state-licensed cannabis businesses.

In response to Justice Thomas’ comments, NORML’s Executive Director Erik Altieri said: “Justice Thomas’ comments reflect what has been obvious to the vast majority of Americans for some time now. With nearly half of all Americans residing in a state where the use of marijuana by adults is completely legal, it is both absurd and problematic for the federal government to continue to define cannabis as a prohibited Schedule I controlled substance. This intellectually dishonest position is in conflict with the available science and the current cultural landscape, and it complicates the ability of states to successfully regulate and oversee state-legal marijuana businesses.”

Altieri concluded, “It is time for Congress to end this untenable situation by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act so that states can make their own decisions with regard to marijuana and marijuana commerce free from undue federal interference.”

Mexico: Court Moves to Abolish Laws Prohibiting Personal Use of Marijuana

Mexico City, Mexico: Justices on Mexico’s highest court moved this week to permit adults to possess and cultivate small quantities of marijuana without penalty.

In 2018, members of the Supreme Court of Justice determined that the sections of the federal law criminalizing the private use and cultivation of cannabis by adults were unconstitutional. At that time, the majority opined, “The effects caused by marijuana do not create an absolute prohibition on its consumption.”

Justices gave Mexican lawmakers until April 30, 2021 to enact legislation regulating the use of cannabis by adults. However, House and Senate lawmakers did not agree on a plan prior to the deadline.

On Monday, a majority of the Court mandated that officials with Mexico’s Health Department begin issuing permits to members of the public ages 18 and older who wish to either possess or grow personal use quantities of cannabis. Activities involving commercial activities remain illegal.

“With these actions by the Court, the United States has become an island of federal marijuana prohibition in North America,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said.

Canada legalized its marijuana market in 2018. Mexican lawmakers in 2009 decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis (5 grams or less) and other substances.

Additional information is available from the Court.

Marijuana Use Not Associated with Increased Risk of Atherosclerosis

Bern, Switzerland: The cumulative use of cannabis over a 20-year period is not independently associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), according to longitudinal data published in The American Journal of Medicine.

An international team of investigators from Switzerland and the United States assessed the relationship between the use of tobacco and/or cannabis and the risk of subclinical atherosclerosis in a cohort of 3,257 subjects.

Authors reported that lifetime exposure to tobacco over a 20-year period was “strongly associated” with subclinical atherosclerosis, whereas the cumulative use of cannabis alone was not – a finding that is consistent with prior research.

They concluded, “This study adds to the growing body of evidence that there might be no association between the average population level of marijuana use and subclinical atherosclerosis.”

Previous research published by several of the same investigators reports that the cumulative use of cannabis is not associated with an increased risk of either cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease in middle-age subjects.

Other analyses of nationally representative samples of recreational marijuana consumers have reported inconsistent results regarding the relationship between cannabis and adverse cardiovascular events. A 2021 study of 57,000 US adults concluded, “After controlling for several confounding variables, we found that there was a decrease in the prevalence of cardiovascular events with marijuana use (Odds Ratio: 0.74).” By contrast, a 2020 review of nearly 134,000 US adults reported, “Frequent marijuana smoking is associated with significantly higher odds of stroke and myocardial infarction or coronary artery disease, with a possible role in premature cardiovascular disease.” More recently, the results of a 2021 literature review of 67 studies published in The American Journal of Medicine concluded, “[M]arijuana itself does not appear to be independently associated with excessive cardiovascular risk factors.” Authors did caution, however, that “it can be associated with other unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol use and tobacco smoking that can be detrimental” to cardiovascular health.

Full text of the study, “Cumulative marijuana use and carotid intima-media thickness at middle age: the CARDIA study,” appears in The American Journal of Medicine.

Clinical Trial: Cannabis Extracts Improve Quality of Life in Glioma Patients

Sydney, Australia: The daily administration of plant-derived cannabis extracts is well-tolerated and improves the overall quality of life in patients with glioma (brain cancer), according to clinical trial data published in the journal Frontiers in Oncology.

A team of Australian researchers assessed the daily administration of cannabis extracts containing either a 1 to 1 ratio of THC and CBD or a 4 to 1 ratio of THC and CBD in 83 patients with glioma. Subjects in the trial consumed the extracts for a period of at least four weeks.

Investigators reported that subjects responded most favorably to extracts containing equal ratios of THC and CBD.

They concluded: “This study provides robust evidence that medicinal cannabis administered to this patient population is safe, well tolerated, and can provide symptomatic relief to these patients. … [It] suggests that cannabis, especially a 1:1 CBD/THC mixture can be helpful for many of the symptoms impacting QoL [quality of life] in this patient population, especially sleep disturbance. As such, MC [medical cannabis] may be a valuable potential therapy for maintaining the best QoL and daily function for this poor prognosis population, [while] also assisting patients during anticancer and potential life extending therapies.”

Full text of the study, “A phase II randomized clinical trial assessing the tolerability of two different ratios of medicinal cannabis in patients with high grade gliomas,” appears in Frontiers in Oncology.

Study: CBD-Rich Cannabis Products Associated with Improvements in Pain, Anxiety, and Depression in Patients with More Severe Symptoms

Montreal, Canada: The long-term use of CBD-rich cannabis products is associated with overall improvements in patients with moderate to severe anxiety, pain, and depression, according to data published in the Journal of Cannabis Research.

A team of Canadian researchers assessed the use of lab-tested, CBD-rich products over a six-month period in a cohort of 279 subjects with mild to severe symptoms. Patients with more severe symptoms exhibited clinical benefits following the use of CBD, whereas those subjects with mild symptoms experienced little overall change in their symptoms.

“This study on CBD-rich products demonstrates the potential of RWE (real-world evidence) for the advancement of medical cannabis research and practice guidelines, especially in a world where CBD use is exponentially increasing but scientific data are limited. It revealed that CBD-rich treatments have a beneficial impact on patients with self-reported moderate or severe symptoms of pain, anxiety, or depression and overall wellbeing but not in patients with mild symptoms. … The results of this study contribute to address the myths and misinformation about CBD treatment and demand further investigation.”

Full text of the study, “Cannabidiol use and effectiveness: Real-world evidence from a Canadian medical cannabis clinic,” appears in the Journal of Cannabis Research.

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