Study: Cannabis Use Associated With Reduced Risk Of Alcohol-Induced Pancreatitis

MASSACHUSETTS: Habitual alcohol consumers who also use cannabis are at less risk for either acute or chronic pancreatitis as compared to those who do not use the substance, according to clinical data published in the journal Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research.

A team of investigators from the United States and Canada assessed the prevalence of alcohol-induced pancreatitis in a nationwide sample of heavy alcohol users. They reported that those subjects who concomitantly used cannabis possessed a significantly lower risk of pancreatitis as compared to those who did not.

“Our findings suggest a reduced incidence of only alcohol-associated pancreatitis with cannabis use,” authors concluded.

Separate research by the team previously reported that “risky alcohol drinking combined with cannabis use is associated with reduced prevalence of alcohol-associated gastritis in patients.” Alcoholic gastritis refers to inflammation or erosion of the stomach lining that is caused by excessive alcohol consumption.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Reduced risk of alcohol-induced pancreatitis with cannabis use,” appears in Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research.

 

Review Paper: Marijuana’s Driving Impact Less Than That Of Alcohol

CALIFORNIA: Cannabis’ impact on driving performance is generally less pronounced than that of alcohol, according to a review paper published by a pair of New York University researchers and BOTEC Analysis, LLC.

Authors reported that the use of cannabis, absent the simultaneous use of other drugs or alcohol, creates “only a fraction of the risks associated with driving at the legal 0.08 BAC threshold, let alone the much higher risks associated with higher levels of alcohol.” By contrast, they report that “the simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis is linked to higher levels of driver impairment than either alone” – a finding that is consistent with much of the available literature.

They conclude, “The maximum risk for cannabis intoxication alone, unmixed with alcohol or other drugs, appears to be more comparable to risks such as talking on a hands-free cellphone (legal in all states) than to driving with a BAC above 0.08.” As a result, they suggest that as a matter of policy, “stoned driving alone (not involving alcohol or other drugs), should be treated as a traffic infraction rather than as a crime, unless aggravated by recklessness, aggressiveness, or high speed.”

In virtually all instances, cannabis-influenced driving is classified as a criminal rather than an administrative offense.

Investigators also argued against the imposition of per se limits which criminalize the act of operating a vehicle with trace levels of either THC or THC metabolites in one’s blood or urine. They determined: “Blood THC is not a good proxy either for recency of use or for impairment, and the dose-effect curve for fatality risk remains a matter of sharp controversy. … Moreover, the lipid-solubility of THC means that a frequent cannabis user will always have measurable THC in his or her blood, even when that person has not used recently and is neither subjectively intoxicated nor objectively impaired.”

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Automobile Association(AAA) take a similar stance against the use of blood/THC concentrations as per se evidence of psychomotor impairment. NORML has long articulated similar opposition, stating, “Per se limits and zero tolerant per se thresholds … are not based upon scientific evidence or consensus. … [T]he enforcement of these strict liability standards risks inappropriately convicting unimpaired subjects of traffic safety violations, including those persons who are consuming cannabis legally in accordance with other state statutes.”


Full text of the paper, “Driving While Stoned: Issues and Policy Options,” is available online. NORML’s fact-sheet, “Marijuana and Psychomotor Performance,” is online.

Legalization of Cannabis Will Not Blunt Wine and Liquor Purchases, New TABS Analytics Report Reveals

CONNECTICUT: As legalized, recreational cannabis becomes available in more states, it is not expected to have a significant impact on the purchasing of wine and liquor, according to the TABS Analytics 2018 Wine and Liquor Study. Similarly, consumers are not strongly influenced by brand, outlet and price when it comes to their making purchasing decisions. Even though nearly two-thirds of consumers make wine or alcohol purchases, the study shows a highly fragmented, immature market in which 27 percent or fewer of survey respondents noted they were familiar with liquor brands and only 19 percent for wine. In comparison, brand engagement for other consumer packaged goods (CPG) categories typically exceeds 40 percent to 50 percent, with customers shopping more frequently at specific outlets, while seeking discounts and other deals.

“The wine and liquor markets are quite unlike any of the other CPG categories TABS tracks. Both categories are intensely fragmented, and consumers are not as heavily engaged in purchasing, which results in weaker brand power than we see in categories like cosmetics, vitamins or grocery,” said Dr. Kurt Jetta, president and founder of TABS Analytics. “Additionally, we don’t see the traditional deal-seeking behavior consumers typically exhibit when it comes to the beverage alcohol market. Even though outlets like Costco, Walmart and Trader Joes – which offer lower costs products – are among the top retailers, prohibitions on discounting liquors and other state-specific regulatory limitations to where these products can be sold result in pricing being less of a driver.”

TABS Analytics’ inaugural Wine and Liquor survey was conducted in June 2018 by SSI Research to examine key consumer, product and channel trends across 11 types of red and white wines and eight types of liquor, as well as attitudes toward use of cannabis. The survey included 1,900 geographically and demographically dispersed consumers, ages 21 and older.

Other key findings from the study include:

    • Legalization of cannabis to have minimal impact on beverage alcohol sales – Only 5 percent of regular wine purchasers and 9 percent of regular liquor purchasers indicated strongly that they would drink less if cannabis was legalized. Further, there does not appear to be a strong constituency against the legalization of cannabis, with less than 20 percent of wine and liquor drinkers saying they strongly opposed legalization.
    • Higher Education and Income Drive Wine and Liquor Purchases – Education has a high correlation with wine purchasing, growing from 29 percent for high school graduates or less to 60 percent for those with post-graduate degrees. Liquor purchases follow a similar trajectory, peaking at 40 percent with college graduates. Income appears to be a stronger predictor than education, however, for wine purchase levels, with 68 percent of consumers with incomes of $250,000 or more saying they regularly purchase wine. Liquor also shows upward momentum at higher income levels but is only regularly purchased by 42 percent in the highest income bracket. The survey also showed definite skews in ethnicity, with white consumers purchasing wine more frequently, black consumers purchasing liquor more frequently, and Hispanic and Asian purchasers at equally high levels for wine and liquor.
    • Geographic Wine and Alcohol Preferences Defy Conventional Wisdom – With the popularity of wine destinations of Napa and Sonoma in California, one would expect the West to dominate in wine purchasing. However, looking at regional preferences, the Northeast is the region where the largest percentage of people (53 percent) reported purchasing wine at least once during the past year, with the state of New Jersey outpacing the other top 13 states by a wide margin. Interestingly, the West region ranks lowest at 41 percent. Liquor purchasing is steady, around 35 percent in all regions overall. A closer look at census regions shows that only in the mid-South is liquor and wine purchasing equal at 41 percent.
    • Types of Wine and Liquor Purchased Highly Fragmented – Merlot (44 percent), Chardonnay and Cabernet (tied at 38 percent) are the top three types of wine purchased, while the remaining eight types are being purchased by 33 percent or fewer of consumers. At 61 percent, vodka is the most popular alcohol, with whiskey (45 percent), rum (36 percent) and tequila (35 percent) rounding out the top four types.
  • Walmart leads in wine, specialty retailers in liquor – Walmart accounts for 29 percent of wine purchases, followed by Costco (21 percent) and specialty retailers (19 percent). For liquor, specialty retailers rank at the top with 27 percent, followed by Walmart (20 percent), Costco (16 percent) and ABC stores (16 percent). The rest of the market for both wine and liquor is highly fragmented, with most other types of outlets accounting for less than 10 percent, including eComm, which has an estimated share of 5 percent

“Based on our survey, the wine and liquor industry appear immature, from the standpoint of market structure and consumer attitude, at present time,” Jetta said. “The combination of these factors create a fertile landscape for targeted marketing and investment spending to drive greater brand awareness. Since preferences and popularity of types of wines or liquors can change on a whim with a little catalyst, visibility at retailers – either through promotions at point of purchase or greater share of shelf – becomes disproportionate for wine and alcohol brands.”

Throughout 2018, TABS Analytics is conducting five studies across the consumer-packaged goods industry including: baby care, vitamins, wine and liquor, food and beverage, and cosmetics. The next webinar, on the food and beverage industry, will take place on September 12, 2018.

Is It Time To Take Cannabis Cocktails Seriously?

CALIFORNIA:  Alcohol has always been my drug of choice, since my very first White Russian. From guilty-pleasure drinks to perfectly crisp martinis, something about the ritual of making and sipping a cocktail had me sold early on.

I never gave marijuana much love, and even in college I always chose watery beer over those fat, clumsy joints. But now that bartenders across the country are experimenting with weed-spiked cocktails, I’m paying attention—and so should you. The “Julia Child of Weed” has already been anointed, and I believe it’s only a matter of time before we discover the “Charles H. Baker of Marijuana.”

As a growing number of states take steps to legalize and decriminalize marijuana, bartenders and bud-tenders are coming together, much the way chefs have begun experimenting with high-end, gourmet edibles spiked with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the potent part of the herb). Mixologists are trying out two kinds of potables: cocktails spiked with THC (where legal), and cocktails designed to mimic the actual green, skunky flavors of marijuana.

Compared to edibles, where oil- or butter-based extractions are favored, tinctures (herbal essences that are extracted by alcohol) are the preferred vehicle for drinks. Bartenders use Everclear or another high-proof alcohol to draw THC from the plant, which is a process similar to that used to make bitters. The most popular seems to involve grinding and then baking the bud at a low temperature (a process called “decarboxylation”) before steeping it in alcohol for a stretch of hours to days. The liquid then is strained and stored, often in a container with an eyedropper or dasher attachment. I’m coining the term “cannabitters” right here and now.