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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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Study: Aerosolized Cannabis Significantly Reduces Pain Levels, Improves Quality of Life in Neuropathy Patients

Haifa, Israel: The administration of aerosolized cannabis via a novel inhaler is associated with long-term pain reductions in patients with neuropathy and other chronic conditions, according to data published in the journal Pain Reports.

Israeli investigators assessed the efficacy of cannabis delivered via a novel metered selective dose inhaler (The Syqe Inhaler) in a cohort of chronic pain patients. The mean daily stable dose used by patients in the study was 1.5 mg of aerosolized delta-9-THC.

Use of the inhaler over a period of several months was associated with reduced pain scores and improvements in patients' quality of life. Some patients reported mild side-effects (typically dizziness and sleepiness) at the onset of the study, but few participants continued to report these effects throughout the duration of the trial.

Authors concluded: "Medical cannabis treatment with the Syqe Inhaler demonstrated overall long-term pain reduction[s], quality of life improvement[s], and opioid-sparing effect[s] in a cohort of patients with chronic pain, using just a fraction of the amount of MC [medical cannabis] compared with other modes of delivery by inhalation. These outcomes were accompanied by a lower rate of AEs [adverse events] and almost no AE reports during a long-term steady-state follow-up. Additional follow-up in a larger population is warranted to corroborate our findings."

According to recently compiled survey data, nearly one in three chronic pain patients report using cannabis for treatment management. 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, "Long-term effectiveness and safety of medical cannabis administered through the metered-dose Syqe Inhaler," appears in Pain Reports.

Randomized Controlled Trial: Topical CBD Treatment Provides Relief in Arthritis Patients

Charlottesville, VA: The administration of a topical formula containing hemp-derived CBD is associated with significant improvements in patients with thumb basal joint arthritis, according to randomized clinical trial data published in the Journal of Hand Surgery.

Researchers with the University of Virginia School of Medicine assessed the twice-daily application of 1 ml of topical CBD (6.2 mg/ml) with shea butter versus placebo in 18 patients with symptomatic thumb basal joint arthritis.

Investigators reported, "Cannabidiol treatment resulted in improvements from baseline among patient-reported outcome measures, including Visual Analog Scale pain; Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand; and Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation scores, compared to the control arm during the study period."

They concluded, "In this single-center, randomized controlled trial, topical CBD treatment demonstrated significant improvements in thumb basal joint arthritis-related pain and disability without adverse events."

The results contrast those of a 2021 Danish study reporting that the oral administration of synthetic CBD did not mitigate pain in patients with hand osteoarthritis.

Canadian survey data published earlier this month in the journal Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology reported that one in five patients with arthritis acknowledge using cannabis therapeutically.

Full text of the study, "A randomized controlled trial of topical cannabidiol for the treatment of thumb basal joint arthritis," appears in the Journal of Hand Surgery.

Analysis: Cannabis Use Inversely Associated with Obesity in Hep C Patients

Paris, France: Cannabis use is inversely associated with obesity in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, according to data published in the Journal of Cannabis Research.

A team of French researchers assessed the relationship between lifetime cannabis use and obesity in a cohort of over 6,300 HCV patients.

Authors reported, "[F]ormer and, to a greater extent, current cannabis use were consistently associated with smaller waist circumference, lower BMI, and lower risks of overweight, obesity, and central obesity in patients with chronic HCV infection. … To our knowledge, this is the first time that such associations have been highlighted for HCV-infected patients."

The study's findings are consistent with those of analyses of other cohorts – such as those here, here, and here – reporting that marijuana use is typically associated with lower BMI and with lower rates of obesity.

Full text of the study, "Cannabis use as a factor of lower corpulence in hepatitis C-infected patients: Results from the ANRS C022 Hepather cohort," is available in the Journal of Cannabis Research.

Study: Regular Cannabis Consumers Perform Better Than Occasional Users on Distracted Driving Tasks

Aurora, CO: Those with a history of frequent cannabis use exhibit only minor changes in driving performance shortly following marijuana smoking, according to driving simulator data published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention.

Investigators with the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus and the University of Iowa assessed driving simulated performance in a cohort of frequent and infrequent cannabis consumers. Participants provided their own cannabis, which contained between 15 and 30 percent THC. Following cannabis smoking ad-libitum, subjects completed a series of distracted driving scenarios.

Authors reported: "Those with a pattern of occasional use were significantly more likely to experience a lane departure during distraction periods after acute cannabis use relative to baseline, while those with daily use did not exhibit a similar increase." Consistent with other studies, researchers further acknowledged, "Participants with a pattern of daily use decreased their speed, which may be interpreted as a drug effect or as a compensatory strategy."

Separate studies have previously reported that repeated cannabis exposure is associated with either partial or even full tolerance in particular domains, including cognitive and psychomotor performance.

The study's authors concluded: "The results provide evidence that a pattern of occasional use was associated with performing worse after acute cannabis smoking as it relates to lane departures. Those with a pattern of occasional use also behave differently with respect accelerator position, and there was a trend that those with a pattern of daily use decreased the speed. This would be consistent with the hypothesis of tolerance, with individuals with daily use being somewhat less affected by or better able to mitigate the effects of acute cannabis smoking. This may indicate that those who use daily may perceive a potential adverse impact of acute cannabis use on driving performance and may attempt to compensate by slowing down to have more time to react to changes in the roadway. Further research is needed to understand the effects during longer and more complex secondary tasks."

Though not a primary focus of the study, investigators did assess subjects' baseline THC/blood levels upon their admission to the lab. Consistent with prior research, those subjects who reported daily cannabis use tested positive for THC in their blood (mean THC blood level: 5ng/ml) despite having abstained from marijuana for at least the past 12 hours.

NORML has long advocated against the imposition of THC blood thresholds as predictors of impairment, and per se traffic safety limits in particular, because they are not consistently correlated with changes in subjects' performance and because residual THC levels may linger in blood for several hours or even days post-abstinence. Alternatively, NORML has called for the expanded use of performance-based tests, like DRUID.

Full text of the study, "Influence of cannabis use history on the impact of cannabis smoking on simulated driving performance during a distraction task," appears in Traffic Injury Prevention.

Analysis: Medical Cannabis Access Positively Correlated with Traffic Safety

Philadelphia, PA: The enactment of medical cannabis access laws is associated with reductions in auto insurance premiums and improvements in overall traffic safety, according to data published in the journal Health Economics.

A team of economists associated with Temple University in Philadelphia, the University of Arkansas, Little Rock and Eastern Kentucky University assessed the relationship between legalized medical cannabis access (via licensed dispensaries) and auto insurance premiums between the years 2014 and 2019.

Researchers reported that medical access was associated with a decrease in auto premiums. "We estimate that legalizing medical cannabis reduces annual auto insurance premiums by $22 per household, a reduction of 1.7 percent for the average household," they wrote. "The effect is stronger in areas directly exposed to a dispensary, suggesting increased access to cannabis drives the results. In addition, we find relatively large declines in premiums in areas with relatively high drunk driving rates prior to medical cannabis legalization. This latter result is consistent with substitutability across substances that is argued in the literature."

They concluded: "While this [$22] reduction may be inconsequential to an individual policy-holder, the aggregate effects are economically meaningful. For just the policyholders in our switching states, we estimate a combined annual reduction in premiums of $500 million. Extending our results to other states, we find that medical cannabis legalization has reduced auto insurance premiums by $1.5 billion in all states that have currently legalized, with the potential to reduce premiums by an additional $900 million if the remaining states were to legalize. Because auto insurance premiums are directly tied to property damage and health outcomes, we find evidence of a positive social impact of medical cannabis on auto safety."

The study's findings are consistent with those of prior analyses similarly reporting a decrease in traffic fatalities following the implementation of medical cannabis access, including reductions in motor vehicle accidents involving drivers under the influence of alcohol and opioids.

Full text of the study, "Medical cannabis and automobile accidents: Evidence from auto insurance," appears in Health Economics.

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Study: Long-Term Cannabis Use Associated with Reduced Prescriptions, Improved Symptoms in Cancer Patients

Haifa, Israel: The use of cannabis products over a six-month period is associated with statistical improvements in cancer-related symptoms as well as significant reductions in subjects’ use of prescription painkillers, according to longitudinal data published in the journal Frontiers in Pain Research.

Israeli researchers assessed the long-term use of cannabis in a cohort of several hundred oncology patients.

Consistent with studies of other patient cohorts, cannabis use was associated with symptom mitigation, improved quality of life, and reduced prescription drug use. Among those participants who completed the trial, nearly half ceased their use of analgesics.

Authors concluded: "The main finding of the current study is that most cancer comorbid symptoms improved significantly during six months of MC [medical cannabis] treatment. ... Additionally, we found that MC treatment in cancer patients was well tolerated and safe. ... In conclusion, this prospective, comprehensive and large-scale cohort demonstrated an overall mild to modest long-term statistical improvement of all investigated measures including pain, associated symptoms and, importantly, reduction in opioid (and other analgesics) use."

Full text of the study, "The effectiveness and safety of medical cannabis for treating cancer related symptoms in oncology patients," appears inFrontiers in Pain Research.

Clinical Trial: CBD-Rich Cannabis Extracts Safe and Effective in Pediatric Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder

João Pessoa, Brazil: The administration of CBD-rich cannabis extracts is safe and effective in mitigating symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial data published in the journal Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy.

Brazilian researchers evaluated the use of CBD extracts versus placebo in 60 children (ages 5 to 11) with ASD over a 12-week period.

Compared to the placebo group, subjects receiving CBD extracts experienced significant improvements in their ability to engage in social interactions. They also experienced reduced anxiety and agitation. Only a minority of subjects administered CBD exhibited adverse events, namely dizziness and insomnia.

The study’s findings are consistent with those of other trials similarly reporting improvements in patients’ ASD symptoms following their use of cannabinoid products. Survey data published in October by the publication Autism Parenting Magazine reported that 22 percent of US caregivers or parents have provided CBD to an autistic child. Survey data from the United Kingdom recently reported that autistic adults were nearly four times as likely as controls to report having used CBD within the past year.

Full text of the study, "Evaluation of the efficacy and safety of cannabidiol-rich cannabis extract in children with autism spectrum disorder: Randomized, double-blind and controlled placebo clinical trial," appears inTrends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy.

Survey: One in Five Patients with Arthritis Acknowledge Using Medical Cannabis

Toronto, Ontario: Arthritis patients frequently reported consuming cannabis for symptomatic relief, according to survey data published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology.

A team of Canadian investigators surveyed 799 patients at eight rheumatology clinics in Ontario. (Cannabis is legal in Canada for both medical purposes and for adults.)

Just over 20 percent of those surveyed acknowledged either having consumed cannabis within the past two years or being current users of cannabis products. Compared to non-users, those who consumed cannabis were more likely to be younger and were more likely to report suffering from severe pain.

Cannabis consumers reported using it to treat pain, anxiety, and to promote sleep. Seventy-eight percent of them reported medical cannabis to be "at least somewhat effective" at mitigating their symptoms.

The study’s findings are consistent with French survey data, published in 2021, which reported that "nearly 20 percent of patients suffering from rheumatologic diseases actively consume cannabis."

Longitudinal data published in April reported that osteoarthritis patients decrease their daily opioid intake and experience improvements in their overall quality of life following the initiation of medical cannabis therapy. Authors of the study concluded: "Our findings indicate that providing access to MC [medical cannabis], helps patients with chronic pain due to OA [osteoarthritis] reduce their levels of opioid usage in addition to improving pain and QoL [quality of life]. Furthermore, a majority of patients did not feel intoxicated or high from MC, and of those who did, only a small percentage said it interfered with their daily activities. ... Our findings support the literature in that MC reduces the use of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain."

Full text of the study, "Medical cannabis use by rheumatology patients in routine clinical care: Results from the Ontario Best Practices Research Initiative," appears in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology.

Ninth Circuit Rules on Legal Status of Hemp-Derived Delta-8 THC Products

San Francisco, CA: A three judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected arguments that delta-8 THC products which are chemically synthesized from hemp-derived CBD fall beyond the scope of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Plaintiffs in the case were asking the court to protect trademarks for their proprietary delta-8 THC products. Defendants in the case argued that the company’s trademarks were not protectible because the 2018 Farm Bill was never intended to legalize such products for human consumption.

The three-judge panel was unpersuaded by the defendant’s arguments, opining: "[The defendant] is effectively asking us to recognize the following limitation: that substances legalized by the Farm Act must be somehow suited for an industrial purpose, not for human consumption. ... [But] this limitation appears neither in hemp’s definition, nor in its exemption from the Controlled Substances Act. ... Regardless of the wisdom of legalizing [ingestible] delta-8 THC products, this Court will not substitute its own policy judgment for that of Congress. If [the defendant] is correct, and Congress inadvertently created a loophole legalizing vaping products containing delta-8 THC, then it is for Congress to fix its mistake."

The Court also rejected the argument that delta-8 THC products were outside of the scope of the Act because many such products are the result of a chemical synthesis and are not extracted directly from hemp plants (which contain only nominal amounts of delta-8 THC). Judges opined that the process used to manufacture the end product was irrelevant as long as it was initially sourced from either hemp or hemp-derived CBD. "[T]he source of the product - not the method of manufacture - is the dispositive factor for ascertaining whether a product is synthetic," it ruled.

Provisions of the 2018 Act explicitly legalize the possession of cannabinoids "that are naturally occurring constituents" of hemp, but it "does not impact the control status of synthetically derived" cannabinoids.

NORML has expressed caution regarding the safety of commercially available, hemp-derived delta-8 THC products because neither the products nor their manufacturing processes are regulated. Lab analyses of unregulated delta-8 products have consistently found them to contain lower levels of the compound than advertised on the products’ labels. Some products have also been found to possess heavy metal contaminants and unlabeled cutting agents.

In response to the ruling, attorney Garrett Graff - whose firm specializes in issues related to hemp - told New Frontier Data: "I’m not sure that this opinion will change the cannabinoid landscape all that much. Companies selling hemp-derived cannabinoids such as delta-8 THC were already emboldened to do so, despite the regulatory uncertainties. These companies didn’t necessarily need the court’s opinion to feel emboldened to do so. That said, even with this court’s position under federal law, this opinion does not necessarily change the laws of states which have affirmatively regulated (or prohibited) delta-8 THC and other intoxicating cannabinoids. Those state-level regulations still present potential legality challenges."

While several states have recently moved to prohibit the sale of hemp-derived delta-8-products, several others remain largely silent on the issue.

The case is AK Futures LLC v. Boyd Street Distro, LLC.

Study: High Doses of CBD Do Not Impact Cognitive Function, Simulated Driving Performance

Sydney, Australia: The oral administration of up to 1500 mg of CBD does not induce feelings of intoxication and is not associated with changes in simulated driving performance, according to data published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

A team of Australian researchers assessed the impact of varying dosages of CBD (ranging from 15 mg to 1500) versus placebo in 17 subjects. Study participants engaged in a series of simulated driving tests at approximately one hour and four hours after dosing. Investigators separately assessed subjects’ cognitive performance via their completion of a variety of computerized tasks. Participants were also asked whether they felt either "stoned" or "sedated" at any time during the trial.

Consistent with prior research, authors reported that CBD administration was not associated with either weaving or any other significant changes in simulated driving performance. Participants also failed to show any significant differences in either cognitive function or in their subjective feelings of well-being following CBD dosing.

Authors concluded: "The results of this study suggest that acute, oral CBD treatment at doses up to 1500 mg does not induce feelings of intoxication and is unlikely to impair cognitive function or driving performance. However, further research is required to confirm no effect of CBD on safety-sensitive tasks in the hours immediately post-treatment and with chronic administration."

Full text of the study, "Effects of cannabidiol on simulated driving and cognitive performance: A dose-ranging randomized controlled trial," appears in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

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Survey: Super-Majority of Americans Oppose Federal Marijuana Prohibition

Washington, DC: Only two in ten Americans support the federal criminalization of marijuana, according to nationwide polling data compiled by YouGov.com.

Pollsters asked respondents whether cannabis use ought to be either "legalized nationally, left up to the states, or banned nationally."

Forty-five percent of those surveyed said that it should be legalized nationwide. Twenty-one percent of respondents said the decision to legalize cannabis should be left up to each individual state. Only 20 percent of those surveyed said they supported maintaining federal cannabis prohibition.

Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to support a policy of nationwide legalization.

Several pieces of legislation – including the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act and the States Reform Act – are pending in Congress to repeal federal marijuana prohibition, thereby permitting state governments to decide their own cannabis policies free from undue federal interference.

Study: Young Adults' Consumption of Alcohol, Cigarettes, Other Substances Fell Following Marijuana Legalization

Seattle, WA: Retail cannabis sales are associated with decreases in the use of alcohol, cigarettes, and pain medications by young adults, according to data published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Researchers with the University of Washington assessed trends in alcohol, nicotine, and non-prescribed pain reliever use among a cohort of over 12,500 young adults (ages 18 to 25) in Washington State following adult-use cannabis legalization.

They reported, "Contrary to concerns about spillover effects, implementation of legalized nonmedical cannabis coincided with decreases in alcohol and cigarette use and pain reliever misuse." Researchers did find that the prevalence of past-month e-cigarette use increased post-legalization.

Authors concluded, "Our findings add to evidence that the legalization of nonmedical cannabis has not led to dramatic increases in the use of alcohol, cigarettes, and nonprescribed opioids. … The findings indicate that the most critical public health concerns surrounding cannabis legalization and the evolution of legalized cannabis markets may be specific to cannabis use and related consequences."

Commenting on the study's findings, NORML's Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: "Real-world data from legalization states disputes longstanding claims that cannabis is some sort of 'gateway' substance. In fact, in many instances, cannabis regulation is associated with the decreased use of other substances, including many prescription medications."

Numerous prior studies, including those conducted by The RAND Corporation and the National Academy of Sciences, have disputed the so-called 'gateway theory' - concluding, "[M]arijuana has no causal influence over hard drug initiation."

According to nationwide polling compiled by YouGov.com, a majority of Americans no longer agree with the notion that "the use of marijuana leads to the use of hard drugs."

Full text of the study, "Trends in alcohol, cigarette, e-cigarette, and nonprescribed pain reliever use among young adults in Washington state after legalization of nonmedical cannabis," appears in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Delaware: Lawmakers Advance Legislation Eliminating Marijuana Possession Penalties

Dover, DE: Majorities of lawmakers in the House and Senate have approved legislation, House Bill 371, eliminating penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis by adults.

House members voted 26 to 14 and Senate members voted 13 to 7 to advance the legislation. Virtually all Democrats voted for the measure while the majority of Republicans decided against it.

A spokesperson for Democratic Gov. John Carney said that he will review the bill, but that the Governor remains largely opposed to legalization. Governor Carney has previously expressed concerns that cannabis may act as a so-called 'gateway drug' and has said that he doesn't believe that legalizing it is a "good idea."

However, in recent years, the Governor has nonetheless signed various marijuana reform bills into law – including legislation removing criminal penalties for cannabis possession for minors as well as legislation expanding the pool of health care practitioners eligible to provide medical marijuana authorizations.

NORML's Executive Director Erik Altieri said, "We applaud the Delaware legislature for passing this important legislation. The overwhelming majority of Delaware residents support ending their state's failed prohibition on marijuana, and Governor Carney should respect the will of the people."

Laura Sharer, Executive Director of Delaware NORML added: "The collateral consequences of the thousands of cannabis possession offenses that occur every year in Delaware extend far beyond fines. It's time to right these immense wrongs. We can now work to accept cannabis use as an issue of personal choice, not criminal behavior."

Separate legislation (HB 372) that seeks to legalize and regulate the retail sale of marijuana and marijuana products is still pending before lawmakers. Previous attempts to pass legislation to regulate and tax marijuana sales stalled in the Senate, which requires a three-fifths majority vote to approve any measure that establishes new taxes.

Clinical Trial: Topical CBD Ointment Efficacious for Psoriasis

Bangkok, Thailand: The topical application of an ointment containing 2.5 percent CBD improves symptoms of psoriasis, according to the findings of a randomized, placebo-controlled study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology.

A team of investigators affiliated with King Chulalongkorn University Hospital and Thammasat University Hospital in Thailand assessed the twice daily application of either CBD or placebo over a 12-week period in 51 patients with mild plaque-type psoriasis.

Areas treated with CBD showed significant improvements compared to areas treated with the placebo. Researchers did not identify any adverse effects attributable to the use of CBD.

"Our results indicated a trend of favorable response in the treatment with CBD, which has emerged as a therapeutic option for psoriasis," authors concluded. "These outcomes will pave the way for future studies on [the] therapeutic effects of CBD."

Prior studies have previously shown that CBD may reduce certain types of skin inflammation, including erythema, pruritis, and acne.

Full text of the study, "Topical cannabidiol-based treatment for psoriasis: A dual-centered randomized, placebo-controlled study," appears in theJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology.

Analysis: Reduced Taxes, Fewer Regulatory Burdens Would Promote Better Growth in California's Licensed Cannabis Market

Los Angeles, CA: Regulatory costs, high taxes, and municipal bans on cannabis retailers have significantly inhibited the growth of the licensed marijuana marketplace in California, according to a report issued by the Reason Foundation.

The analysis estimated that California imposes an effective tax rate of as much as $92 per ounce. This amount is higher than the tax burden imposed on retail cannabis transactions in other states.

The report's author also highlighted that California has a "paucity of legal retailers" as compared to other adult-use states. This is because the majority of localities in California prohibit such establishments. While Colorado has "one legal retailer per 13,838 residents" and "Oregon boasts one retailer per 6,145 residents," California has "one legal retailer per 29,282 residents, indicating a dramatic undersupply of legal retailers in the Golden State."

California NORML Director Dale Gieringer, who authored the report's foreword wrote: "California's legal industry has been hard pressed to compete with untaxed, unregulated providers on the underground market. So dire is the current situation that advocates now fear that the cannabis industry in California faces an 'existential crisis' in the absence of meaningful tax reform."

He concluded, "Substantive tax cuts therefore seem to be a feasible strategy for reducing demand for the illicit market, while still retaining reasonable revenues for the state programs funded in Prop. 64."

Following the report's release, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed eliminating the marijuana cultivation tax. Doing so requires support from two-thirds of the state legislature.

Full text of the report, "The Impact of California Cannabis Taxes on Participation Within the Legal Market," is available from the Reason Foundation.

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Survey: Super-Majority of Americans Oppose Federal Marijuana Prohibition

Washington, DC: Only two in ten Americans support the federal criminalization of marijuana, according to nationwide polling data compiled by YouGov.com.

Pollsters asked respondents whether cannabis use ought to be either "legalized nationally, left up to the states, or banned nationally."

Forty-five percent of those surveyed said that it should be legalized nationwide. Twenty-one percent of respondents said the decision to legalize cannabis should be left up to each individual state. Only 20 percent of those surveyed said they supported maintaining federal cannabis prohibition.

Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to support a policy of nationwide legalization.

Several pieces of legislation – including the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act and the States Reform Act – are pending in Congress to repeal federal marijuana prohibition, thereby permitting state governments to decide their own cannabis policies free from undue federal interference.

Study: Young Adults' Consumption of Alcohol, Cigarettes, Other Substances Fell Following Marijuana Legalization

Seattle, WA: Retail cannabis sales are associated with decreases in the use of alcohol, cigarettes, and pain medications by young adults, according to data published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Researchers with the University of Washington assessed trends in alcohol, nicotine, and non-prescribed pain reliever use among a cohort of over 12,500 young adults (ages 18 to 25) in Washington State following adult-use cannabis legalization.

They reported, "Contrary to concerns about spillover effects, implementation of legalized nonmedical cannabis coincided with decreases in alcohol and cigarette use and pain reliever misuse." Researchers did find that the prevalence of past-month e-cigarette use increased post-legalization.

Authors concluded, "Our findings add to evidence that the legalization of nonmedical cannabis has not led to dramatic increases in the use of alcohol, cigarettes, and nonprescribed opioids. … The findings indicate that the most critical public health concerns surrounding cannabis legalization and the evolution of legalized cannabis markets may be specific to cannabis use and related consequences."

Commenting on the study's findings, NORML's Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: "Real-world data from legalization states disputes longstanding claims that cannabis is some sort of 'gateway' substance. In fact, in many instances, cannabis regulation is associated with the decreased use of other substances, including many prescription medications."

Numerous prior studies, including those conducted by The RAND Corporation and the National Academy of Sciences, have disputed the so-called 'gateway theory' - concluding, "[M]arijuana has no causal influence over hard drug initiation."

According to nationwide polling compiled by YouGov.com, a majority of Americans no longer agree with the notion that "the use of marijuana leads to the use of hard drugs."

Full text of the study, "Trends in alcohol, cigarette, e-cigarette, and nonprescribed pain reliever use among young adults in Washington state after legalization of nonmedical cannabis," appears in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Delaware: Lawmakers Advance Legislation Eliminating Marijuana Possession Penalties

Dover, DE: Majorities of lawmakers in the House and Senate have approved legislation, House Bill 371, eliminating penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis by adults.

House members voted 26 to 14 and Senate members voted 13 to 7 to advance the legislation. Virtually all Democrats voted for the measure while the majority of Republicans decided against it.

A spokesperson for Democratic Gov. John Carney said that he will review the bill, but that the Governor remains largely opposed to legalization. Governor Carney has previously expressed concerns that cannabis may act as a so-called 'gateway drug' and has said that he doesn't believe that legalizing it is a "good idea."

However, in recent years, the Governor has nonetheless signed various marijuana reform bills into law – including legislation removing criminal penalties for cannabis possession for minors as well as legislation expanding the pool of health care practitioners eligible to provide medical marijuana authorizations.

NORML's Executive Director Erik Altieri said, "We applaud the Delaware legislature for passing this important legislation. The overwhelming majority of Delaware residents support ending their state's failed prohibition on marijuana, and Governor Carney should respect the will of the people."

Laura Sharer, Executive Director of Delaware NORML added: "The collateral consequences of the thousands of cannabis possession offenses that occur every year in Delaware extend far beyond fines. It's time to right these immense wrongs. We can now work to accept cannabis use as an issue of personal choice, not criminal behavior."

Separate legislation (HB 372) that seeks to legalize and regulate the retail sale of marijuana and marijuana products is still pending before lawmakers. Previous attempts to pass legislation to regulate and tax marijuana sales stalled in the Senate, which requires a three-fifths majority vote to approve any measure that establishes new taxes.

Clinical Trial: Topical CBD Ointment Efficacious for Psoriasis

Bangkok, Thailand: The topical application of an ointment containing 2.5 percent CBD improves symptoms of psoriasis, according to the findings of a randomized, placebo-controlled study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology.

A team of investigators affiliated with King Chulalongkorn University Hospital and Thammasat University Hospital in Thailand assessed the twice daily application of either CBD or placebo over a 12-week period in 51 patients with mild plaque-type psoriasis.

Areas treated with CBD showed significant improvements compared to areas treated with the placebo. Researchers did not identify any adverse effects attributable to the use of CBD.

"Our results indicated a trend of favorable response in the treatment with CBD, which has emerged as a therapeutic option for psoriasis," authors concluded. "These outcomes will pave the way for future studies on [the] therapeutic effects of CBD."

Prior studies have previously shown that CBD may reduce certain types of skin inflammation, including erythema, pruritis, and acne.

Full text of the study, "Topical cannabidiol-based treatment for psoriasis: A dual-centered randomized, placebo-controlled study," appears in theJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology.

Analysis: Reduced Taxes, Fewer Regulatory Burdens Would Promote Better Growth in California's Licensed Cannabis Market

Los Angeles, CA: Regulatory costs, high taxes, and municipal bans on cannabis retailers have significantly inhibited the growth of the licensed marijuana marketplace in California, according to a report issued by the Reason Foundation.

The analysis estimated that California imposes an effective tax rate of as much as $92 per ounce. This amount is higher than the tax burden imposed on retail cannabis transactions in other states.

The report's author also highlighted that California has a "paucity of legal retailers" as compared to other adult-use states. This is because the majority of localities in California prohibit such establishments. While Colorado has "one legal retailer per 13,838 residents" and "Oregon boasts one retailer per 6,145 residents," California has "one legal retailer per 29,282 residents, indicating a dramatic undersupply of legal retailers in the Golden State."

California NORML Director Dale Gieringer, who authored the report's foreword wrote: "California's legal industry has been hard pressed to compete with untaxed, unregulated providers on the underground market. So dire is the current situation that advocates now fear that the cannabis industry in California faces an 'existential crisis' in the absence of meaningful tax reform."

He concluded, "Substantive tax cuts therefore seem to be a feasible strategy for reducing demand for the illicit market, while still retaining reasonable revenues for the state programs funded in Prop. 64."

Following the report's release, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed eliminating the marijuana cultivation tax. Doing so requires support from two-thirds of the state legislature.

Full text of the report, "The Impact of California Cannabis Taxes on Participation Within the Legal Market," is available from the Reason Foundation.

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Study: Patients with Insomnia Report Improvements with Medical Cannabis

Ottawa, Canada: Patients with insomnia and other sleep disorders report subjective improvements following the use of cannabis and a significant percentage of them report being able to either reduce or discontinue their use of prescription medications, according to data published in the Canadian Pharmacists Journal.

Canadian investigators assessed the impact of marijuana on sleep disorders in a cohort of 38 patients authorized to access medical cannabis products. Patients were assessed at baseline and then three months after initiating cannabis.

Investigators reported that 71 percent of patients experienced subjective improvement in their sleep. Thirty-nine percent of the study's subjects were able to either "completely discontinue [their use of] insomnia medications or reduce their use from nightly administration to as-needed administration with the use of medical cannabis."

The study's results are consistent with other observational studies, such as those here and here, finding that patients with sleep disorders typically experience improvements in their symptoms from cannabis.

Authors concluded, "[O]ngoing clinical trials of cannabinoids in patients living with insomnia are integral to ensuring evidence-based decisions on the role of cannabinoid therapies in the treatment of sleep disorders."

Full text of the study, "Cannabis use in patients with insomnia and sleep disorders: Retrospective chart review," appears in theCanadian Pharmacists Journal.

Survey: Use of Medical Cannabis Associated with Sustained Improvements in Anxiety, Depression

Calgary, Canada: Patients with symptoms of anxiety and/or depression report sustained improvements following the use of cannabis, according to survey data published in the journal Psychiatry Research.

Canadian investigators surveyed over 7,000 patients authorized to access medical cannabis products. The average age of subjects in the study was 50 years old. All of the study's subjects belonged to a licensed Canadian medical cannabis clinic.

Authors reported "statistically significant improvements" between subjects' baseline and follow up scores on validated measurements of anxiety and depression. Symptom improvements were sustained for at least one year.

"To our knowledge, this study is the largest completed to date examining the impact of medical cannabis use on anxiety and depression outcomes utilizing longitudinal data and validated questionnaires," they concluded. "It provides evidence on the effectiveness of medical cannabis as a treatment for anxiety and depression that otherwise is not currently available, demonstrating that patients who seek treatment with medical cannabis for anxiety and depression can experience clinically significant improvements. This study offers reasonable justification for the completion of large clinical trials to further the understanding of medical cannabis as a treatment for anxiety and depression."

Full text of the study, "Medical cannabis use in Canada and its impact on anxiety and depression: A retrospective study," appears in Psychiatric Research.

Survey: Parkinson's Disease Patients Report Improved Symptoms, Decreased Prescription Drug Use Following Cannabis Initiation

Aurora, CO: Patients with Parkinson's Disease (PD) report improved symptom management and reduced prescription drug use following the use of cannabis, according to survey data published in the journal Movement Disorders Clinical Practice.

A team of investigators with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus surveyed 1,881 PD patients regarding their use of cannabis products.

Respondents most commonly reported improvements in sleep, pain, anxiety, and agitation following their use of either CBD or whole-plant cannabis products. Those subjects who primarily used high-potency THC products also reported improvements in nausea, appetite, depression and tremor, but were also more likely to report worsening symptoms of bradykinesia (slowness of movement). Consistent with prior studies, many respondents reported either decreasing or discontinuing their use of certain prescription drugs - particularly those prescribed for pain and anxiety.

"These survey results offer a broad overview of real‐world cannabis use patterns and experience among a large group of people living with PD and provide initial results regarding the differential symptomatic effects of higher THC versus higher CBD products," authors concluded. "In summary, people with PD report that cannabis subjectively improves some PD‐related symptoms, with higher THC products conferring more frequent benefits than higher CBD products. ... Next steps should include more rigorous, controlled studies, informed by the results herein, to more objectively study the effects of varying types of cannabis on PD symptoms, as well the impact of the different methods of ingestion and specific doses."

Human trials from Israel and Brazil have documented improvements in PD patients' symptoms and quality of life following their use of either inhaled cannabis or oral CBD extracts.

Full text of the study, "Higher risk, higher reward? Self-reported effects of real-world cannabis use in Parkinson's Disease," appears in Movement Disorders Clinical Practice.

Analysis: 'Hemp Derived Delta-9-THC' Products Seldom Come as Advertised

Tustin, CA: Many commercially available products marketed as 'hemp-derived delta-9-THC' are mislabeled and most are not lab tested for heavy metals or other potential impurities, according to an analysis provided by the consumer research firm CBD Oracle.

Investigators purchased 53 commercially available products and had them independently lab tested.

They reported that nearly two-thirds of the products contained synthetically derived THC, despite many claiming to be 'all natural.' This result is not surprising because hemp typically contains only trace quantities of either delta-9-THC or delta-8-THC. In most cases, unregulated products that are promoted as containing either 'hemp-derived' delta-8-THC or delta-9-THC actually contain THC that has been chemically converted from hemp-derived CBD. Manufacturers engaged in synthesizing THC are not subject to regulatory oversight and often use potentially dangerous household products to facilitate this process.

The study's authors also reported that over half of the products contained THC levels that differed significantly from what was advertised on the product's packaging - a finding that is consistent with other analyses of unregulated, hemp-derived products. Most of the mislabeled products contained far lower percentages of THC than advertised, with some products containing zero percent THC. Authors further noted that most of the products' manufacturers failed to test them for impurities, like pesticides and heavy metals.

In response to the analysis, Erika Stark of the National Hemp Association said: "The FDA needs to create a reasonable framework that accounts for all cannabinoids. New cannabinoids products are going to continue to be developed. ... At this pace, we're all going to die of old age before there's proper regulation in place to address all of these issues."

NORML and other groups have repeatedly urged the US Food and Drug Administration to provide regulatory guidelines overseeing the production, testing, labeling, and marketing of hemp-derived products containing either CBD or THC. Nevertheless, more than three years following the passage of federal legislation legalizing hemp production, the FDA has yet to promulgate rules regulating the marketing and sale of these commercially available products.

Full text of the CBD Oracle report is available online.

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Analysis: Marijuana-Related Tax Revenue Surpasses That of Alcohol

Washington, DC: Legal marijuana states generated more revenue from retail cannabis sales than they did from alcohol sales, according to data provided by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP).

According to ITEP's analysis, legal states in 2021 collected an estimated 20 percent more in taxes from retail marijuana sales than from the sale of alcohol products. In California, cannabis excise taxes brought in more than double the revenue of alcohol-related taxes. In Colorado, cannabis-tax revenues totaled seven times those of alcohol.

"[I]t is remarkable that in the span of just a few years, the narrow ‘sin taxes' that states created to apply to cannabis purchases have managed to surpass the comparable taxes that have long applied to alcohol," authors of the analysis wrote.

According to a separate analysis provided earlier this year by the Marijuana Policy Project, tax revenues derived from the licensed retail sale of state-legal, adult-use cannabis products grew by more than 30 percent between 2020 and 2021, totaling over $3.7 billion last year.

Study: Cannabis Consumers Report Improvements in Insomnia

Ontario, Canada: The use of cannabis products is associated with perceived improvements in insomnia in patients suffering from either anxiety or depression, according to data published in the journal BMC Psychiatry.

A team of Canadian researchers assessed the effectiveness of cannabis in managing insomnia in a cohort of 677 subjects. Study participants suffered from either anxiety, depression, or from both conditions simultaneously. Subjects self-administered cannabis products at home and reported symptom changes in real time on a mobile software application. Investigators analyzed reports from over 8,400 cannabis-use sessions recorded over a three-year period.

Consistent with prior reports, subjects from all three groups reported significant benefits from cannabis. Participants perceived CBD-dominant products to be less effective than others.

"This naturalistic investigation of cannabis use for insomnia suggests that individuals with depression, anxiety, and comorbid depression and anxiety perceive benefits from using cannabis for sleep," authors concluded. "In addition, compared to other cannabis strains, CBD-dominant products may be less helpful for sleep, specifically in individuals with depression. The current study highlights the need for placebo-controlled trials investigating the efficacy and safety of cannabinoids for sleep in individuals with mood and anxiety disorders."

Full text of the study, "An investigation of cannabis use for insomnia in depression and anxiety in a naturalistic sample," appears in BMC Psychiatry.

Uruguay: No Sustained Changes in Young People's Cannabis Use Patterns Following Legalization

New York, NY: The adoption of nationwide regulations governing the retail sale of cannabis to adults is not associated with sustained increases in young people's cannabis consumption, according to data published in the journal Addiction.

An international team of researchers from Chile, the United States, and Uruguay assessed cannabis use trends in Uruguay among those ages 12 to 21 following legalization.

Uruguay initially approved legislation legalizing the use of cannabis by adults in 2013, although retail sales in licensed pharmacies did not begin until 2017. Under the law, cannabis sales are restricted to those age 18 or older who register with the state. Commercially available cannabis products may only be produced by state-licensed entities and sold at specially licensed pharmacies. THC levels are capped by regulators and government price controls are imposed upon flower. Limited home cultivation is allowed in private households.

Consistent with prior studies, researchers reported no significant changes in cannabis use patterns among either adolescents or young adults. Among those under the age of 18, marijuana use fell following legalization. Among those ages 18 to 21, cannabis use initially rose, but then decreased.

Authors concluded, "The legalization of recreational cannabis in Uruguay was not associated with overall increases in either past-year/past-month cannabis use or with multi-year changes in any risky and frequent cannabis use among young people."

Numerous North American studies have similarly failed to identify any significant upticks in cannabis use by young people following the adoption of adult-use legalization in either US states or in Canada.

Full text of the study, "Does recreational cannabis legalization change cannabis use patterns? Evidence from secondary school students in Uruguay," appears in Addiction.

Study: Liberalized Marijuana Laws Not Associated with Clinically Relevant Changes in Birth Outcomes

West Lafayette, IN: Changes in the marijuana's legal status under state law are not associated with increases in adverse clinical birth outcomes, according to data published in the journal Population Research and Policy Review.

Researchers affiliated with Purdue University assessed the relationship between the liberalization of state-level cannabis possession laws and two birth outcomes that are key indicators of child health: birthweight and gestational age.

Authors reported a trend toward reductions in average birthweight and gestational age for some groups of women following the relaxation of state-level marijuana penalties. However, they acknowledged that these changes were not linked to any "increases in clinically meaningful birth indicators associated with adverse child health."

They concluded: "Our findings indicate that cannabis policy liberalization may be contributing to lower average birthweights and reduced average gestational age, but not in a manner that has increased low birthweight (<2500 g) infants or preterm (<37 weeks) births. These results indicate that while cannabis policies have not led to increases in adverse clinical birth outcomes overall, these trends are worth monitoring to ensure that increases in clinically relevant child health outcomes do not emerge as the nationwide trend toward liberalized cannabis policy persists. Additionally, while we may not be witnessing substantial changes in adverse birth outcomes, policymakers should be attentive to the opportunities to strengthen child health by considering policies that may minimize consumption, particularly heavier forms of consumption, by prospective parents." The findings are similar to those reported in a 2021 study which identified either "modest or no adverse effects of marijuana liberalization policies on the array of perinatal outcomes considered." Studies assessing the potential impacts of in utero cannabis exposure on perinatal health are inconsistent. While some observational studies have identified a link between exposure and low birth weight and/or an increased risk of preterm birth, other studies have failed to substantiate these outcomes after adjusting for confounding factors, such as tobacco smoking. Full text of the study, "The liberalization of cannabis possession laws and birth outcomes: A state-level fixed effects analysis, 2003-2019, appears inPopulation Research and Policy Review.

Kentucky: Lawmakers Advance Measure Facilitating State-Sponsored Cannabis Research

Frankfort, KY: State lawmakers have approved legislation, House Bill 604, establishing a cannabis-specific medical research center at the University of Kentucky.

Provisions in the measure define the mission of the new center as follows: "Conduct and fund research, [including clinical trials,] related to cannabis and cannabis derivatives, including pharmaceutical development and the efficacies of cannabis and cannabis derivatives for the treatment of certain medical conditions and diseases; Conduct and fund research related to the health effects, including the potential risks or side effects, of the use of cannabis and cannabis derivatives; (c) Conduct and fund research related to the efficacy and potential health effects of various cannabis delivery methods, including but not limited to vaporizing, ingestibles, topical applications, and combustion; Review current and future cannabis research literature, clinical studies, and clinical trials."

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said that the establishment of the center should not slow down legislative efforts to legalize medical cannabis access for a broad range of patients who could benefit from it. "I think we need to move toward legalization, even as the center gets up and going," Gov. Beshear said last week. "There's a lot of research out there already. It's okay that we want to be a part of future research. But it shouldn't be used as an excuse to stall that momentum."

Legislation to legalize and regulate medical cannabis in the state passed the House of Representatives this spring, but Senate leadership refused to take up the issue. In response to the Senate's inaction, Gov. Beshear has indicated that he may use his office's executive powers to amend the state's marijuana policies. However, he has not yet provided specifics as to what these changes might entail.

Several states - including California, Colorado, Florida, and Pennsylvania - have similarly established state-sponsored institutions to conduct clinical trials and other research specific to the safety and efficacy of cannabis.

Text of HB 604 is available online.

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Meta-Analysis: Youth Cannabis Exposure Not Associated with Changes in Brain Morphology

Canberra, Australia: Cannabis exposure is not associated with significant changes in brain morphology in young adults, according to a meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

A team of Australian researchers reviewed sixteen studies in order to assess whether cannabis exposure is associated with changes in brain volume. The review samples included 830 participants with a mean age of 22.5 years old. Of these, 386 were marijuana users (with cannabis use onset at 15-19 years) and 444 were controls.

Researchers identified no significant differences between youth cannabis users and controls in global and regional brain volumes.

"This meta-analysis of structural MRI findings specific to youth regular cannabis users suggests no volume alterations, and no effect of age and cannabis use level on group differences in volumetry," authors concluded. "Important areas for future work include measuring and embracing the role of cannabis potency, pubertal stage, and personal (and parental) education, to identify which brain maturation stage is most vulnerable to cannabis-related brain and mental health/wellbeing. New knowledge will be necessary to provide clear recommendations for preventive interventions targeting youth at risk and update addiction theory with novel mechanistic insights into neurodevelopment."

Full text of the study, "Brain anatomical alterations in young cannabis users: A meta-analysis of structural neuroimaging studies," appears in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

Study: Marijuana Legalization Laws Are Not Associated with Lax Attitudes Toward Drugged Driving

Research Triangle Park, NC: Adults in states where the use of cannabis is legal are less likely than those in non-legal states to report having driven under the influence of cannabis, according to data published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports.

Investigators affiliated with the research institute RTI International assessed drugged driving attitudes and behaviors in a nationwide cohort of 1,249 current marijuana consumers.

The study's authors reported: "Current cannabis users in recreational and medical only cannabis states were significantly less likely to report driving within three hours of getting high in the past 30 days, compared to current users living in states without legal cannabis. The one exception was frequent cannabis users who lived in medical cannabis states. Their risk of DUIC [driving under the influence of cannabis] did not differ significantly from frequent users living in states without legal cannabis."

Commenting on the study's findings, NORML's Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: "These findings ought to reassure those who feared that legalization might inadvertently be associated with relaxed attitudes toward driving under the influence. These conclusions show that this has not been the case and that, in fact, consumers residing in legal marijuana states are less likely to engage in this behavior than are those residing in states where cannabis possession remains criminalized."

Authors theorized that consumers in legal marijuana states may have greater exposure to messaging highlighting the risks and legal ramifications associated with drugged driving.

"Although all states should educate its citizens about the potential dangers of using cannabis and driving, this analysis suggests that states without legal cannabis are particularly in need of DUIC prevention efforts," they concluded. "States should consider mass media campaigns as a method of reaching all cannabis users, including more frequent users, with information about the dangers of DUIC. Medical states may consider targeting frequent users by disseminating information about DUIC through medical dispensaries. Further research is warranted, particularly given the constantly evolving nature of cannabis legalization and the noted limitations of this analysis."

The study's results are consistent with the findings of a 2021 paper which similarly determined that incidences of self-reported drugged driving behavior do not become more prevalent post-legalization. Rather, authors reported, "[M]arijuana users in states that legalized RM [recreational marijuana] self-reported driving after marijuana use less than their counterparts (who resided in states where adult-use cannabis remained illegal). They were also less likely to find such behavior [driving after ingesting cannabis] acceptable."

Numerous on-road and driving simulator studies have reported that the acute effects of THC inhalation are associated with certain changes in driving behavior, such as an increased likelihood of weaving and a decrease in a drivers' average speed. These and other changes are typically less pronounced in subjects who are more habitual cannabis consumers, but they may be exacerbated when alcohol and marijuana are ingested in combination with one another.

State-level data has failed to show any uptick in motor vehicle accidents attributable to the enactment of medical cannabis laws, while data assessing the potential impact of adult-use legalization has shown less consistent results.

Full text of the study, "Cannabis legalization and driving under the influence of cannabis in a national U.S. sample," appears in Preventive Medicine Reports.

Survey: Over Half of Canadian Patients with MS Report Consuming Cannabis

Edmonton, Canada: Most Canadians diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) report using cannabis to mitigate their symptoms, according to data published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

Researchers affiliated with the University of Alberta, Department of Medicine surveyed MS patients' frequency of cannabis use and their motivations for consuming it. Canadian officials legalized the use of medical cannabis products nearly two decades ago. Adult-use sales were legalized in 2018. An oral spray containing precise ratios of plant-derived THC and CBD (Sativex) has also been available by prescription in Canada for the treatment of MS since 2005.

Authors reported that nearly two-thirds of respondents had consumed cannabis during their lifetimes and that 52 percent identified themselves as current users. Patients most frequently reported consuming cannabis to address symptoms related to sleep (84 percent), pain (80 percent), and spasticity (69 percent). Respondents said that cannabis was "moderately to highly effective" at mitigating their symptoms. The majority of patients acknowledged learning about the therapeutic use of cannabis from "someone other than [their] healthcare provider."

Human trials indicate that the use of both whole-plant cannabis and cannabis extracts can alleviate various symptoms of the disease as well as potentially modulate its progression.

Full text of the study, "Medical cannabis use in Canadians with multiple sclerosis," appears in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

Ohio: Retail Cannabis Sales Would Yield $374 Million in Annual Tax Revenue

Columbus, OH: The establishment of a regulated adult-use cannabis market in Ohio could yield as much as $374 million dollars in annual tax revenue, according to a newly published economic analysis.

A pair of researchers affiliated with Ohio State University estimated the amount of new tax revenue that would be raised by the passage of proposed citizen's ballot initiative. The initiative, if enacted, would impose a ten percent tax on the retail sale of cannabis products.

Researchers projected that licensed retailers could raise between $276 million and $374 million annually by year five of operations. They described their estimates as "conservative."

According to an analysis by the Marijuana Policy Project, tax revenues derived from the licensed retail sale of state-legal, adult-use cannabis products grew by more than 30 percent between 2020 and 2021, totaling over $3.7 billion last year. Adult-use sales generated the greatest amount of revenue in California ($1.3 billion), followed by Washington ($631 million), Illinois ($424 million), and Colorado ($396 million).

In January, advocates with Ohio's Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol turned in the requisite number of signatures from registered voters to place an adult-use legalization proposal before lawmakers. The measure allows for the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or 15 grams of marijuana extract by those age 21 or older. Adult Ohioans could purchase marijuana at retail locations or grow up to 12 plants in a private residence (where at least two adults reside).

Lawmakers thus far have refused to take any action on the measure. If they ultimately fail to do so, advocates can elect to gather additional signatures to place the measure before voters on the November ballot.

Full text of the study, "What tax revenues should Ohioans expect if Ohio legalizes adult-use cannabis," is available online.

Texas: African Americans Disproportionately Comprise Those Arrested Statewide for Marijuana Possession

Austin, TX: African Americans comprise nearly one-third of all Texans arrested for marijuana possession offenses, despite comprising only 13 percent of the state's total population, according to an analysis of state arrest data compiled by Texas NORML.

Since 2017, just over 30 percent of those arrested for possessing cannabis in Texas were Black. By comparison, Whites comprise 41 percent of the state's population, but only 30 percent of possession arrests.

Overall, Texas police made an estimated 219,000 marijuana-related arrests between 2017 and 2021. Ninety-seven percent of those arrested were charged with possession only. Fifty-six percent of those arrested were under 25 years of age.

"Minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it," said Jax James, Executive Director of Texas NORML.

A 2020 analysis of marijuana arrest data by the American Civil Liberties Union, concluded, "Black people are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, notwithstanding comparable usage rates." Authors reported, "In every single state, Black people were more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, and in some states, Black people were up to six, eight, or almost ten times more likely to be arrested. In 31 states, racial disparities were actually larger in 2018 than they were in 2010."

Since 2017, total marijuana possession arrests have decreased in Texas year over year. However, Black people now comprise a greater percentage of those arrested than in the past.

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Study: Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization Associated with Reduction in Medicaid Prescriptions

Ithaca, NY: The enactment of adult-use marijuana legalization laws is associated with reduced demand for certain prescription drugs, according to data published in the journal Health Economics.

A pair of researchers affiliated with Cornell University and Indiana University assessed trends in Medicaid prescriptions in all 50 states during the years 2011 to 2019. They identified "significant reductions in the volume of prescriptions within the drug classes that align with the medical indications for pain, depression, anxiety, sleep, psychosis, and seizures" in those states that had enacted legalization versus those that did not.

"These results have important implications," the study's lead author said. "The reductions in drug utilization that we find could lead to significant cost savings for state Medicaid programs. The results also indicate an opportunity to reduce the harm that can come with the dangerous side effects associated with some prescription drugs."

Prior ecological studies have similarly identified an association between the adoption of medical cannabis access laws and reduced Medicaid prescription drug spending.

"Our results suggest substitution away from prescription drugs and potential cost savings for state Medicaid programs," the study's authors concluded. "This study adds to the growing body of literature surrounding the effects of RCLs [recreational cannabis laws] on pharmaceutical utilization."

Full text of the study, "Recreational cannabis legalization associated with prescription drug utilization among Medicaid enrollees," appears in Health Economics.

Poll: Two-Thirds of Americans Say Marijuana Should Be Legal for Adults

Washington, DC: Two-thirds of Americans say that the adult use of marijuana ought to be legal under federal law as well as under the laws of their home states, according to nationwide survey data compiled by CBS News and YouGov.com.

Support for federal legalization was strongest (73 percent) among those respondents between the ages of 30 and 44; however, majorities in all age groups - including those ages 65 and older - supported a change in federal policy. Democrats (79 percent) and Independents (67 percent) were strong supporters of legalization, but Republicans (49 percent) were not.

Twenty-four percent of respondents acknowledged that they consumed cannabis either regularly or occasionally. Sixty-three percent said that they had never tried marijuana.

Poll: Democrats, Younger Voters Say Federal Lawmakers Should Prioritize Cannabis Legalization

Washington, DC: The majority of Democrats, African Americans, and younger voters believe that federal action on cannabis should be among Congress' "top" or more "important" legislative priorities, according to national polling data providing by Morning Consult and Politico.

When surveyed on the question of what issues ought to be prioritized by Congress, 63 percent of Black voters said that "passing a bill to legalize marijuana" should be either a "top" or "important priority." The majority of voters ages 18 to 34 (53 percent), and Democrats (52 percent) also expressed support for prioritizing legalization.

By contrast, only 29 percent of Republican voters expressed a similar attitude.

Overall, 41 percent of voters said that federal lawmakers ought to prioritize legalizing cannabis.

Legislation (The MORE Act) to remove cannabis from the US Controlled Substances Act and to explicitly permit financial institutions to service state-licensed cannabis businesses (The SAFE Banking Act) have been passed by the Democrat-led House in recent months, but neither effort has ever been advanced in the US Senate. Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has repeatedly promised to introduce his own comprehensive reform legislation, but he has yet to do so.

During his Presidential campaign, Joe Biden repeatedly pledged that he would take steps to end federal marijuana prohibition and that he would move to expunge the records of those with marijuana convictions. However, the White House has yet to take any executive action following through on those campaign promises. According to recent polling compiled by YouGov.com, nearly 60 percent of Americans doubt the President intends to make any effort to advance marijuana-specific issues in 2022.

The Morning Consult/Politico polling data is available online.

Survey: 53 Percent of US Adults Have Tried Cannabis

Washington, DC: Most Americans over 18 years of age acknowledge having consumed cannabis, according to survey data compiled by the analytics firm New Frontier Data.

Fifty-three percent of respondents admitted having tried cannabis - a percentage that is consistent with those reported in prior national surveys.

Sixty percent of active consumers were between 18 and 44 years of age. They were most likely to report consuming cannabis for the purposes of relaxation, reducing anxiety, and managing pain. Consistent with prior surveys, consumers were most likely to indulge in herbal formulations of cannabis.

Detailed survey findings appear in the report, Cannabis Consumers in America: Dynamics Shaping Normalization in 2022, available from New Frontier Data.

Survey: One in Five Medicare Recipients Acknowledge Consuming Cannabis for Symptom Relief

Washington, DC: Twenty-one percent of Medicare recipients report consuming cannabis for therapeutic purposes, according to survey data compiled by the group MedicarePlans.com.

Survey respondents were most likely to report using cannabis products to address symptoms of anxiety, chronic pain, depression, glaucoma, and HIV/AIDS.

Two-thirds of respondents either "strongly agree" or "agree" that Medicare should cover the costs associated with medical cannabis products. Among those who opposed the idea, over a third said that their opposition was based upon concerns that doing so would drive up the cost of cannabis products.

About one-half of seniors consuming medical cannabis said that they spent $200 or less per month on marijuana-related products. Thirty-six percent of respondents reported spending between $200 and $500 per month.

In recent years, self-reported cannabis use among those ages 65 and older has increased significantly, particularly among those residing in legal states. Studies of older populations consistently report that seniors experience improvements in their health-related quality of life after initiating cannabis therapy.

Full results of the survey are online. Additional information is available from NORML's fact sheet, 'Cannabis Use by Older Adult Populations.'

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Analysis: Adult-Use Cannabis Sales Generated Nearly $4 Billion in Tax Revenues in 2021

Washington, DC: Tax revenues derived from the licensed retail sale of state-legal, adult-use cannabis products grew by more than 30 percent between 2020 and 2021, totaling over $3.7 billion last year - according to an analysis provided by the Marijuana Policy Project.

MPP's figures do not include revenues derived from the sales of medical cannabis products and/or the collection of state-imposed regulatory fees.

Toi Hutchinson, president of MPP, said that the data provides "further evidence that ending cannabis prohibition offers tremendous financial benefits for state governments."

Adult-use sales generated the greatest amount of revenue in California ($1.3 billion), followed by Washington, Illinois, and Colorado.

Since 2014, retail sales of adult-use cannabis products have generated $11.2 billion dollars.

Full text of the report, "Cannabis Tax Revenues in States That Regulate Cannabis for Adult Use," is available online.

Study: Pain Patients Dramatically Reduce Opioid Intake Following Use of Various Cannabis Preparations

Potsdam, Germany: Chronic pain patients provided with cannabis-based interventions significantly reduce their daily intake of prescription opioids, according to longitudinal data published in the German medical journal Schmerz.

A team of German investigators assessed opioid use trends in a cohort of 178 chronic pain patients who were provided with either whole-plant cannabis extracts, nabiximols (a cannabis plant-derived oromucosal spray), or dronabinol (synthetic THC capsules) for an average period of 366 days. The majority of participants in the trial (65 percent) were older than 65 years of age.

Consistent with dozens of prior studies, patients significantly reduced their daily opioid intake over the course of the trial.

Investigators failed to identify any significant side effects due to the cannabis-based interventions.

Authors reported: "Patients daily opioid dosages were "significantly reduced in course of time by ... 50 percent. This reduction was independent on CAM [medical cannabinoids] dosage, age and gender."

They concluded: "Patients with chronic pain profit from long-term CAM which safely and significantly lower the consumption of co-medicated opioids, even at low dosages. ... Older patients benefit from CAM, and adverse effects do not limit the (chronic) use and prescription of CAM in the elderly."

Those who consume cannabis medicinally are most likely to report doing so to address chronic pain symptoms. Studies further report that pain patients typically reduce or eliminate their use of opioids following their initiation of cannabis therapy.

Full text of the study, "Cannabinoids reduce opioid use in older patients with pain: A retrospective three-year analysis of data from a general practice," appears in Schmerz.

Poll: Over Half of US Adults Have Tried Cannabis

Washington, DC: More than half of Americans ages 18 and older acknowledge having consumed cannabis, according to nationwide survey data provided by YouGov.com.

Fifty-two percent of respondents admitted having tried marijuana during their lifetimes, including 63 percent of those between the ages of 45 and 64.

By contrast, those respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 years old were among those least likely to report having had prior experience with cannabis (37 percent).

Consistent with prior surveys, smoking was the most common way adults consumed cannabis.

Two-thirds of those with a history of cannabis use said that their experiences were "very or somewhat positive."

The data is consistent with 2021 survey data provided by Gallup reporting that an estimated 50 percent of US adults have consumed cannabis at some point in their lives.

Additional polling information is available from YouGov.com.

Study: Adult-Use Marijuana Laws Associated with Reduction in Foster Care Admissions

Oxford, MS: Adult-use marijuana legalization laws are correlated with a reduction in foster care placements, according to data published in the journal Economic Inquiry.

A pair of economists with the University of Mississippi assessed foster care admission trends in states pre and post-legalization.

Authors reported: "Legalization may impact foster-care admissions directly by changing the welfare of children or indirectly by changing policies and attitudes towards marijuana use in the home. Direct effects may arise because marijuana use itself causes behaviors that affect child welfare, or because it changes the likelihood of using other drugs."

They added, "We also find that placements due to physical abuse, parental neglect, and parental incarceration decrease after legalization, providing evidence that legalization reduces substantive threats to child welfare, although the precise mechanism behind these effects is unclear."

Authors concluded: "We estimate that legalization decreases foster-care placements by at least 10 percent, with larger effects in years after legalization, and for admissions for reasons of parental drug and alcohol abuse, physical abuse, neglect, and parental incarceration. Our findings imply that legalization may have important consequences for child welfare, and that substitution toward marijuana from other substances can be an important part of how legalization affects admissions."

Full text of the study, "Recreational marijuana legalization and admissions to the foster care system," appears in Economic Inquiry.

Survey: Most Oncology Trainees Say They're "Insufficiently Informed" About Cannabis

Boston, MA: The majority of oncologists in training acknowledge knowing little about the use of cannabis in cancer care treatment, according to national survey data published in the journal JCO Oncology Practice.

A team of researchers affiliated with Harvard Medical School surveyed 462 oncology trainees from 25 states. Consistent with prior surveys of health professionals, most respondents (76 percent) said that they had received no "formal training regarding medical cannabis." Most respondents also said that they "considered themselves insufficiently informed to make cannabis-related medical recommendations."

Cancer is a qualifying condition in every state where medical cannabis access is provided, and the use of synthetic THC has been FDA-approved as an anti-nausea agent and as an appetite stimulant for cancer patients for several decades.

Survey data finds that an estimated one-in-eight cancer patients consume cannabis for symptom management and that nearly ten percent of cancer survivors identify as current marijuana users.

Full text of the study, "Oncology fellows' clinical discussions, perceived knowledge, and formal training regarding medical cannabis use: A national survey study," appears in JCO Oncology Practice.

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