Long-Term Cannabis Use Associated With Lower BMI

ARIZONA: Lifetime cannabis exposure is associated with lower body mass index (BMI), according to longitudinal data published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

Researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Pittsburgh assessed the association between long-term cannabis exposure and cardiometabolic risk factors in a cohort of 253 men. They reported that greater marijuana exposure was associated with lower BMI as well as lower cholesterol levels and other risk factors.

“Cannabis use is associated with lower BMI and lower BMI is related to lower levels of risk on other cardiometabolic risk factors,” they concluded.

The findings are consistent with those of prior studies concluding that cannabis exposure is associated with lower BMIlower rates of obesity, and fewer incidences of type 2 diabetes.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Associations between cannabis use and cardiometabolic risk factors: A longitudinal study of men,” appears in Psychosomatic Medicine.

 

NIH: Teen Marijuana Use Not Increasing Despite Legalization

MARYLAND: Self-reported marijuana use by adolescents has failed to increase in recent years despite the majority of states legalizing it for either medical or adult use, according to the latest data compiled by the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey, which is commissioned by the US National Institutes on Drug Abuse. NIDA is a part of the US National Institutes of Health.

Summarizing the findings in a press release, the agency acknowledged: “Rates of marijuana use by teens have been of great interest to researchers over the past decade, given major social and legislative shifts around the drug; it is now legal for adult recreational use in 10 states plus the District of Columbia, and it is available medicinally in many more. Fortunately, even as teens’ attitudes toward marijuana’s harms continue to relax, they are not showing corresponding increases in marijuana use.”

Marijuana use prevalence by young people did not change significantly between 2017 and 2018, the survey reported. Between the years 2012 and 2018, both rates of lifetime marijuana use and rates of annual marijuana use by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders have declined. Ten states have enacted laws regulating adult marijuana use during this same period of time, and several others have legalized medical cannabis access.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Further data is available from NORML’s fact-sheet, “Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates.”

 

Study: Long-Term Cannabis Use Not Associated With Changes In Brain Morphology

AUSTRALIA: The use of cannabis, even long-term, is not associated with changes in the cortical surface of the brain, according to data published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.

A team of investigators from Australia and the Netherlands assessed the relationship between cannabis use and brain morphology in a cohort of 261 subjects (141 cannabis users and 120 controls). Researchers reported “no significant effects on cortical surface morphology” that could be attributable to subjects’ cannabis use, dependence, or age of initiation.

Authors concluded, “Our lack of finding in a well-powered study suggests that cortical surface morphology may be less associated with cannabis use than previously assumed.”

The findings are consistent with other recent brain imaging studies – such as those herehere, and here – and are largely inconsistent with those of a well-publicized 2014 study purporting that even causal cannabis exposure was linked to changes in the brain in young people.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Cortical surface morphology in long-term cannabis users: A multi-site MRI study,” appears in European Neuropsychopharmacology. Further information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Exposure and Cognitive Performance.”

Iowa Senator Quashes Floor Debate On Marijuana STATES Act

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) on Tuesday blocked lawmakers from considering an amendment on the floor of the US Senate that sought to permanently remove the threat of federal intervention in states that regulate marijuana sales.

The amendment, offered by Colorado Republican Cory Gardner, was largely identical to Senate Bill 3032: The STATES Act, which creates an exemption under federal law for those jurisdictions that legally regulate marijuana production and retail sales. Senator Gardner has stated that he has the votes to pass the measure on the floor, and that the President would sign the bill into law. To date, however, the measure has yet to receive either a debate or a vote by members of the Senate.

Senator Grassley, who has previously bottled S. 3032 in committee, quashed Sen. Gardner’s effort to attach the language to broader sentencing reform bill, The First Step Act. Senator Grassley called the amendment a “backdoor to legalization,” and said that its intent was “inappropriate to consider in the context of a criminal justice reform bill.”

Senate members eventually passed The First Step Act. House members followed suit on Thursday. The measure now awaits action from the President.

As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Grassley has refused to permit votes on any Senate bills pertaining to marijuana law reform. However, in November, he announced that he would be stepping down as Committee Chair.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

New York: Governor Says Legalizing Marijuana Is Among Administration’s Top Legislative Priorities

NEW YORK: Enacting legislation to permit and regulate the retail sale of cannabis to adults is among the Cuomo administration’s top 2019 legislative priorities, New York’s Governor announced on Monday.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “We must … end the needless and unjust criminal convictions and the debilitating criminal stigma, and let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all.” His comments reaffirm those of a Cuomo spokesperson in November, who said, “The goal of this administration is to create a model program for regulated adult use marijuana.”

Days later, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio also publicly endorsed legalization, stating: “Our mission is clear: We want New York to be the fairest big city in America. If we get legalization right, marijuana can be an important new part of the solution.” A newly-released city task force report estimates that retail sales in New York City could total some $1.7 billion per year.

In July, a Health Department study commissioned by the Governor’s office recommended legalizing adult marijuana use and commerce. It concluded: “A regulated marijuana program enjoys broad support and would have significant health, social justice, and economic benefits. … Regulating marijuana enables public health officials to minimize the potential risks of marijuana use through outreach, education, quantity limits at point of sale, quality control, and consumer protection. … The positive effects of a regulated marijuana market in New York State outweigh the potential negative impacts.”


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

Report: More Banks Providing Services To Cannabis-Specific Businesses

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: A growing number of banks and credit unions are providing financial services to marijuana-related businesses, according to data released by FinCEN (the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) and first publicized by the news portal MarijuanaMoment.net.

The report acknowledged that the number of financial institutions actively banking with marijuana-related businesses rose from 401 in October 2017 to 486 in September 2018.

Although the federal classification of cannabis as a schedule I prohibited substance discourages banks from cooperating with state-licensed cannabis businesses, a 2014 US Treasury Department memo provided guidance to financial institutions wishing to transact with the marijuana industry. However, that memo was rescinded by the Justice Department earlier this year.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

 

Utah: Lawmakers Replace Voter-Initiated Medical Cannabis Law

UTAH: Lawmakers voted in a special legislative session on Monday to replace the state’s voter-initiated medical cannabis access program. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert signed the bill, House Bill 3001, into law that same day. The new law, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, takes immediate effect.

The former law, Proposition 2, was approved by 53 percent of voters on November 6.

Legislators announced in October their intent to rewrite the legislation, prior to its passage, after meetings with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – who opposed the bill – and other groups, including some backers of the original bill. However, other proponents of Proposition 2, including the group TRUCE(Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education), have announced their intent to file a lawsuit in response to lawmakers’ decision to amend the law.

The replacement legislation significantly differs from the language that was approved by the voters. It eliminates patients’ option to home cultivate cannabis, it prohibits the dispensing of either processed flower or edible cannabis products (oils, capsules, or topicals are permitted), it narrows the list of qualifying conditions, and it significantly reduces the total number of permissible state-licensed dispensaries, among other changes.

Members of the House voted 60 to 13 in favor of the new language. Members of the Senate voted 22 to 4. The bill required two-thirds support from both chambers in order to become law.

The vote to rewrite the voter-initiated law broke down largely along party lines, with Republican lawmakers deciding in favor of the change and Democratic members largely voting ‘present.’ An alternative measure backed by members of the Democratic Caucus that sought to make only minor administrative changes to the initiative was defeated.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500, or visit Utah NORML or TRUCE Utah.

 

Reconciled Farm Bill To Include Provisions Lifting Federal Hemp Ban

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  House and Senate lawmakers have agreed in principle to a reconciled version of H.R. 2: The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill), which includes provisions lifting the federal prohibition of industrial hemp.

The hemp-specific provisions – which Senate Majority Speaker Mitch McConnell (R-KY) included in the Senate version of the bill, but were absent from the House version – amend federal regulations to further expand and facilitate state-licensed hemp production, research, and commerce. The language also for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. (See page 1182, Section 12608: ‘Conforming changes to controlled substances act.’) Certain cannabinoid compounds extracted from the hemp plant would also be exempt from the CSA.

House and Senate lawmakers still need to vote on the engrossed version of the Act, which they are expected to do later this month. Passage of the bill would allow state governments, rather than the federal governments, to be the primary regulators of hemp and hempen products.

Senator McConnell previously shepherded hemp-related language (Section 7606) in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill, permitting states to establish hemp research and cultivation programs absent federal approval. A majority of states have now enacted legislation to permit such programs.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.

 

New Jersey: Governor Signs Hemp Cultivation Bill Into Law

NEW JERSEY: Governor Phil Murphy has signed legislation into law permitting the state to establish a pilot program to assess and promote the cultivation of industrial hemp.

Assembly Bill 1330/Senate Bill 3145 authorizes the Department of Agriculture to partner with Rutgers University “to study and promote the cultivation of industrial hemp to the maximum extent permitted by federal law.” Over 40 states have adopted similar legislation.

Federal law permits states to engage in limited hemp production. Pending federal provisions in the Senate-version of H.R. 2: The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill) for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. (See page 1182, Section 12608: ‘Conforming changes to controlled substances act.’).

Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “guaranteed” that the hemp-related provisions would remain in the bill following the reconciliation process.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

 

Study: Marijuana Dispensaries Associated With Localized Reductions In Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths

CALIFORNIA: Counties that permit the operation of medical cannabis dispensaries possess reduced rates of opioid-related mortality, according to the findings of an academic research paper published on the SSRN online network.

Researchers from Claremont McKenna College in California, the University of Georgia, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock assessed the localized impact of dispensary operations on opioid-related mortality.

Authors reported, “[W]ithin MCL (medical cannabis law)-adopting states, counties with dispensaries experience six percent to eight percent fewer opioid-related deaths among non-Hispanic white men, while mortality due to heroin overdose declines by more than ten percent.”

They concluded, “Extrapolating our results implies that, for every 100,000 non-Hispanic white men, 10 fewer opioid-induced fatalities would have occurred between 2009 and 2015 if dispensaries were present and operating in every county within each MCL state.”

Prior studies have consistently identified a relationship between legal cannabis access and reduced levels of opioid-related abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “The effect of medical cannabis dispensaries on opioid and heroin overdose mortality,” appears online. NORML’s fact-sheet, “Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids,” is online.