Adults Often Substitute Cannabis for Prescription Medications

NEW YORK, NY — Adults who purchase retail cannabis typically report using it to mitigate pain and to improve sleep, and often use it in place of conventional medications, according to data published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

A team of investigators from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and the University of Miami assessed marijuana use trends among 1,000 adult use customers in Colorado.

Seventy-four percent of those surveyed said that they consumed cannabis to promote sleep, while 65 percent reported using cannabis to alleviate pain.

Among those respondents with a history of taking prescription sleep aids, 83 percent reported either reducing or ceasing their use of those medicines. Among those respondents with a history of consuming prescription opioids, 88 percent reported mitigating or stopping their use.

“Our findings suggest that de facto medical use may be highly prevalent among adult use customers, and that access to an adult use cannabis market may influence individuals’ use of other medications,” authors concluded. “Our findings … suggest that adult use customers may be similar to medical cannabis patients in their use of cannabis as a substitute for prescription analgesics and sleep aids. … While adult use laws are frequently called ‘recreational,’ … our findings suggest that many customers use cannabis for symptom relief.”

Longitudinal studies assessing the use of prescription drugs following patients’ enrollment in state-sanctioned medical cannabis access programs frequently report a decline in the use of conventional medicines, specifically opioidsanti-anxiety drugs, and sleep aids.

Full text of the study, “Use of cannabis to relieve pain and promote sleep by customers at an adult use dispensary,” appears in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

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Check Out These 7/10 Sales On Dab Rigs, Heady Glass, Vaporizers and More!

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Offer valid at Grenco Science from Tuesday, July 09, 2019 through Wednesday, July 17, 2019.

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Rochester District Attorney to Cease Prosecuting Low Level Marijuana Offenses

ROCHESTER, NY — The District Attorney for Monroe County (population 748,000), Sandra Doorley, has announced her intent to no longer prosecute minor marijuana possession offenses. Her decision follows meetings with representatives of NORML’s Rochester affiliate.

“A marijuana arrest and prosecution is a barrier for those trying to access public assistance, employment and education opportunities, when dealing with child protective services, and other life opportunities,” Mary Kruger, Executive Director of Roc NORML, said. “This policy change is a step in the right direction and we are grateful that the District Attorney’s office has decided to take this action.”

The District Attorney’s decision follows similar actions taken by municipal prosecutors from several other major cities, including Baltimore, Maryland; St. Louis, Missouri; and Norfolk, Virginia, among others.

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Adult-Use Cannabis Regulations Associated With Self-Reported Declines in Youth Use

The enactment of laws regulating the use of cannabis by adults is associated with short-term declines in self-reported marijuana use by young people, according to findings published today in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

“Ensuring the safety of our kids is always a top priority,” said NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf. “And the best way to do that is to regulate cannabis, bring products behind a counter, and phase out the illicit market.”

A team of researchers from Montana State University, the University of Oregon, the University of Colorado, and San Diego State University assessed teen marijuana use rates, as reported by the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, in states that had legalized either the medical or the recreational use of cannabis.

After adjusting for individual- and state-level covariates, authors reported that states with “recreational marijuana laws were associated with an eight percent decrease in the odds of marijuana use and a nine percent decrease in the odds of frequent marijuana use.” By contrast, states with medical cannabis laws only were not associated with any statistical changes in youth use.

They concluded: “Consistent with the results of previous researchers, there was no evidence that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages marijuana use among youth. Moreover, the estimates reported … showed that marijuana use among youth may actually decline after legalization for recreational purposes. This latter result is consistent … with the argument that it is more difficult for teenagers to obtain marijuana as drug dealers are replaced by licensed dispensaries that require proof of age.”

An abstract of the study, “Association of marijuana laws with teen marijuana use,” appears online here. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates,” here.

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Lawmakers Advance Marijuana Bill Reducing Penalties for Juvenile Offenders

DOVER, DE — Lawmakers in Delaware have advanced legislation amending criminal penalties for juveniles who violate the state’s marijuana possession laws.

The bill now awaits action from Democratic Gov. John Carney.

Senate Bill 45 eliminates criminal penalties for low-level marijuana possession offenses (up to one ounce) for those under the age of 21. Instead, juvenile offenders will face a fine-only civil penalty.

Those with past criminal convictions for juvenile offenses will be eligible for the mandatory expungement of their records.

Under current law, marijuana possession offenses are decriminalized for those ages 21 and older, but remains criminalized for those under the age of 18. Those between the ages of 18 and 21 may be eligible for civil sanctions, depending on their past criminal history.

If signed into law, the new measure will take immediate effect.

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Congress to Hear Testimony Tomorrow Challenging Marijuana Criminalization

WASHINGTON, DC — On Wednesday, July 10th at 10am, members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security will hear expert testimony challenging the federal government’s failed policy of cannabis prohibition. The hearing, entitled “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform,” will discuss alternative policy options — including ending cannabis’ longstanding Schedule I criminal status under federal law.

The hearing is indicative of the growing support in Congress for marijuana policy reform and is reflective of the fact that over 60 percent of Americans — including majorities of self-identified Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — now believe that the adult use of cannabis ought to be legal and that the federal government ought not to interfere in legal marijuana states.

“For the first time in a generation there will be a candid conversation in the House Judiciary Committee that acknowledges the failures of marijuana prohibition in the United States, how this policy has adversely impacted tens of millions of Americans, and how it must be reformed at the federal level,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “The ongoing classification under federal law of cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance — a categorization that treats it in the same manner as heroin — is intellectually dishonest and has been scientifically debunked. It is high time that Congress address this Flat Earth policy and move forward with a plan that appropriately reflects marijuana’s rapidly changing cultural status in America.”

Hearing Details
Title: Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform
Time: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 – 10:00am
Place: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515

Today, NORML and other leading national criminal and public policy reform groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, The Immigrants Legal Resource Center, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Center for American Progress, released a joint Statement of Principals highlighting a legislative path forward.

“Since the scheduling of marijuana as a Controlled Substance in 1970, over 20 million Americans have been unjustly arrested or incarcerated,” continued Strekal. “Entire communities have lost generations of citizens to cyclical poverty and incarceration that resulted from the collateral consequences of having a cannabis-related conviction on their record.”

“The ongoing federal prohibition of cannabis is a disproportionate public policy response to personal behavior that is, at worst, a public health matter — not a criminal justice concern,” concluded Strekal.

You can see NORML’s one-pager on the need to remove marijuana from the CSA HERE.

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Could marijuana be an effective pain alternative to prescription medications? — ScienceDaily

A new study has shown how cannabis could be an effective treatment option for both pain relief and insomnia, for those looking to avoid prescription and over the counter pain and sleep medications — including opioids.

The study, published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, which looked at 1,000 people taking legalized marijuana in an American state found that among the 65% of people taking cannabis for pain, 80% found it was very or extremely helpful.

This led to 82% of these people being able to reduce, or stop taking over the counter pain medications, and 88% being able to stop taking opioid painkillers.

74% of the 1,000 interviewees bought it to help them sleep — 84% of whom said the marijuana had helped them, and over 83% said that they had since reduced or stopped taking over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids.

The study suggests that cannabis could lower opioid use. However, the researchers caution that more needs to be done to understand the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis.

“Approximately 20% of American adults suffer from chronic pain, and one in three adults do not get enough sleep,” says Dr Gwen Wurm, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Traditional over the counter medications and painkillers can help, however they may have serious side effects. Opioids depress the respiratory system, meaning that overdoses may be fatal.

“People develop tolerance to opioids, which means that they require higher doses to achieve the same effect,” says Dr. Julia Arnsten, Professor of Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “This means that chronic pain patients often increase their dose of opioid medications over time, which in turn increases their risk of overdose.”

Although less common, sleeping pills can lead to dependence, and can also cause grogginess the next day, interfering with people’s work and social lives.

As a consequence, some people are looking to marijuana to help with their symptoms.

To find out more about these users, Wurm and her colleagues used survey data from people who purchased cannabis from two retail stores in Colorado, US, where it is legal for both medical and recreational use — meaning any adult over 21 with a valid government ID may purchase product.

“In states where adult use of cannabis is legal, our research suggests that many individuals bypass the medical cannabis route (which requires registering with the state) and are instead opting for the privacy of a legal adult use dispensary,” says Wurm.

Although the survey was conducted among customers willing to participate — meaning the results may not reflect the overall population of dispensary customers — other national survey data, and data from medical patients at medical cannabis dispensaries, also demonstrate that people who use cannabis to treat symptoms both decrease and stop their use of prescription medications.

The study adds weight to the theory that widening access to medical cannabis could lower the use of prescription painkillers, allowing more people to manage and treat their pain without relying on opioid prescription drugs that have dangerous side effects.

This is backed up with other research that shows that states with medical cannabis laws have a 6.38% lower rate of opioid prescribing, and that Colorado’s adult-use cannabis law is associated with a relative reduction in opioid overdose death rate from 1999 to 2010.

Wurm adds: “Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen cause GI bleeding or kidney damage with chronic use. Paracetemol (Acetaminophen) toxicity is the second most common cause of liver transplantation worldwide, and is responsible for 56,000 ER visits, 2600 hospitalizations, and 500 deaths per year in the U.S.”

However, the researchers caution that more research is needed to understand the health benefits and side effects of cannabis.

“The challenge is that health providers are far behind in knowing which cannabis products work and which do not. Until there is more research into which cannabis products work for which symptoms, patients will do their own “trial and error,” experiments, getting advice from friends, social media and dispensary employees,” says Wurm.

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