NORML Delivers Over 10,000 Public Comments To FDA Regarding International Classification Of Cannabis

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: NORML staffers on Wednesday hand-delivered over 10,000 public comments to the US Food and Drug Administration calling on the agency to recommend amending the substance’s illicit status under international treaties. The agency had requested public comments so that they could be “considered in preparing a response from the United States to the World Health Organization regarding the abuse liability and diversion” of marijuana and certain other substances.

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It is the second time this year the FDA has sought the public’s feedback with regard to cannabis scheduling. In April, NORML staffers also delivered over 10,000 written comments to the agency from members of the public.

Writing to the FDA on NORML’s behalf, Deputy Director Paul Armentano opined “that cannabis be removed from the international drug conventions so that nations that wish to do so may further expand their regulations governing cannabis’ use, possession, production, and dispensing for either recreational or medical use.”


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

 

Cannabis Use Associated With Improved Outcomes In Bipolar Patients

MASSACHUSETTS: Cannabis use is associated with an alleviation of clinical symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder, and does not negatively impact cognitive performance, according to clinical trial data published in the journal PLoS One.

Investigators with Harvard Medical School, Tufts University, and McLean Hospital in Massachusetts assessed the impact of marijuana use on mood symptomology and cognitive function in patients with bipolar disorder.

Authors reported that marijuana use was associated with lower scores of anger, tension, and depression, as well as higher levels of vigor in BPD patients. Subjects who used marijuana also showed no significant differences in cognitive performance compared to BPD subjects who abstained from the plant. The study is the first clinical trial to assess the impact of cannabis on both mood and neuropsychological performance in BPD patients.

Researchers concluded, “The current study highlights preliminary evidence that patients with BPD who regularly smoked marijuana reported at least short-term clinical symptom alleviation following marijuana use, indicating potential mood-stabilizing properties of marijuana in at least a subset of patients with BPD.”


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “A pilot investigation of the impact of bipolar disorder and marijuana use on cognitive function and mood,” appears in PLoS One.

Canada: Far Fewer Young People Using Cannabis

CANADA:  Cannabis use among Canadian adolescents has declined significantly in recent years, and fewer teens say that it is easy to obtain, according to data published in the journal Preventive Medicine.

Investigators at the University of Waterloo in Ontario assessed teen marijuana use trends for the years 2004 to 2015. Researchers reported that adolescent use fell nearly 50 percent between the years 2008/2009 and 2014/2015. The percentage of teens who acknowledged that accessing cannabis “would be easy” fell nearly 40 percent between 2006/2007 and 2014/2015.

“Overall, cannabis use among Canadian youth appears to have peaked around 2008/09, with substantial declines over the past decade,” they concluded.

Adolescent marijuana use rates in the United States have followed a similar decline over the better part of the past two decades.

The researchers published separate data in January finding that few Canadians who consume cannabis meet criteria for problematic use.

Earlier this month, Canada legalized the use and sale of cannabis to those age 18 and older.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Trends in cannabis use over time among Canadian youth: 2004-2014,” appears in Preventive Medicine. NORML’s fact-sheet, “Marijuana regulation and teens use rates,” appears online.

 

Thousands Of Peer-Reviewed Studies Specific To Medical Cannabis Have Been Published Over Past Decade

ISRAEL: The total number of peer-reviewed scientific papers dedicated to cannabis, and the therapeutic use of cannabis in particular, has increased exponentially in recent years, according to data published the journal Population Health Management.

Israeli researchers assessed trends in the number of scientific publications specific to cannabis as compared to all scientific publications during the years 2000 to 2017. They reported: “The overall annual number of scientific publications … increased 2.5 times between 2000–2017 from 531,664 to 1,282,229. In contrast, the corresponding number for publications on cannabis increased 4.5 times … and increased 9-fold for publications on medical cannabis.”

Overall, authors identified just over 29,000 cannabis-centric scientific papers published during the study period, with over 3,300 of those dedicated to the subject of medical marijuana. Papers specific to medical cannabis were most likely to address its use in the treatment of HIV, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, nausea, or epilepsy.

Over 60 percent of the papers were classified as “original research,” and 66 percent of all scientific papers originated from authors in the United States.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Trends in publications in medical cannabis from the year 2000,” appears in Population Health Management.

Gallup: Two In Three Americans Endorse Marijuana Legalization

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Sixty-six percent of Americans believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” according to nationwide polling data compiled by Gallup. The total marks an increase in support of almost 30 percent since 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize adult marijuana use, and is the highest level of support ever reported by the polling firm.

Majorities of Republicans (53 percent), Independents (71 percent) and Democrats (75 percent) back legalization. Among those age 18 to 34, 78 percent support legalizing marijuana. Fifty–nine percent of those over the age of 55 similarly back legalization – more than three-times the level of support expressed by older Americans in the year 2000.

The Gallup poll comes just days after a new Pew Research Center survey reported 62 percent nationwide support for legalization – the highest total ever recorded by that firm.

“It is time for lawmakers of both parties to acknowledge the data-driven and political realities of legalization,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said in a press release. “It is time to stop ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises and implement common-sense, evidence-based regulations governing cannabis’ personal use and licensed production by responsible adults.”


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

 

Study: Marijuana Use Associated With Lower Diabetes Risk

CANADA: The past use of cannabis is significantly associated with lower odds of diabetes in adults, according to data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review.

Investigators with the University of Toronto assessed the association between cannabis use and diabetes in a nationally representative sample, while accounting for a range of potential confounders – including lifestyle behaviors, socio-demographics, and mental health disorders.

Compared to non-users, subjects with a history of cannabis use possessed an approximately 20 percent decreased likelihood of diabetes. Those subjects with past-year marijuana use possessed an approximately 50 percent decreased risk.

“In sum, a decreased likelihood of diabetes for both lifetime and 12-month cannabis users versus non-users was found after accounting for a range of potential confounders, including mental health disorders,” authors concluded.

Although authors cautioned that “additional epidemiological studies … are needed before protective effects of cannabis can be suggested,” the study is one of several population studies identifying a positive association between lifetime cannabis consumption and a reduced risk for diabetes.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “The relationship between cannabis use and diabetes: Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions III,” appears in Drug and Alcohol Review. Additional information on the association between cannabis and diabetes is available online from NORML.

 

FDA Calls for Public Comments Regarding International Classification Of Cannabis

MARYLAND: The US Food and Drug Administration is seeking public comments specific to whether changes ought to be recommended regarding the international classification of cannabis as a controlled substance. Members of the public have until October 31, 2018 to submit their comments to the FDA for consideration.

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The FDA says that the comments “will be considered in preparing a response from the United States to the World Health Organization regarding the abuse liability and diversion” of marijuana and certain other substances.

In April, in response to a similar FDA request, NORML collected and hand-delivered over 10,000 comments to the agency calling on it to recommend a lifting of international restrictions criminalizing the plant.

In NORML’s latest comments to the FDA, it opines that “cannabis be removed from the international drug conventions so that nations that wish to do so may further expand their regulations governing cannabis’ use, possession, production, and dispensing for either recreational or medical use.”

SUBMIT A COMMENT


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

Guam: Governor Signs Home Grow Legislation Into Law

GUAM: The Governor for the US territory of Guam has signed legislation permitting qualified medical cannabis patients and their caregivers the ability to grow personal use amounts of cannabis at home.

Under the new law, applicants can apply to the Department of Health and Social Services to receive a home cultivation permit. Approved applicants may grow up to six mature plants and/or 12 immature plants.

Voters in 2014 approved a ballot measure establishing a medical cannabis program. Under the program, patients with cancer, PTSD, epilepsy, and other qualifying conditions are eligible to obtain cannabis from licensed dispensaries. However, to date, no such facilities are up and running.

Lawmakers say that allowing patients the option to grow marijuana at home is an “interim solution” to address the government’s failure to move the program forward in an expeditious manner.


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

Activists To Celebrate 4 Years Of Philadelphia Marijuana Decriminalization At City Hall

PENNSYLVANIA: Cannabis consumers will gather at Philadelphia City Hall on Saturday, October 20, 2018 to participate in a Pop Up Weed Garden to celebrate a bit more liberty for the plant.

Four years ago, Philadelphia Police (PPD) began issuing civil fine tickets in lieu of a criminal arrest for small amounts of marijuana.  Jeanine Campbell with South Philly NORML said, “We’re celebrating because this day marked the beginning of a new era of cannabis reform in Philadelphia.”

The bill was championed by Jim Kenney, who at this time was the at-large City Councilor, and passed with a super-majority. Mayor Michael Nutter signed the bill on October 1, 2014,  and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey implemented the new procedure on October 20, 2014.

Instead of handcuffs and prosecution, those found in possession of less than 30 grams of cannabis or 8 grams of hash/concentrates are written a $25 Code Violation Notice (CVN). Smoking in public gets a $100 CVN fine.

Arrests of cannabis consumers immediately plummeted from more than 5,000 per year to less than 600. This means there have been nearly 20,000 fewer people bought into the criminal justice system over small amounts of weed. Budget savings are estimated at more than $16 million since the ordinance went into effect.

This year, newly elected District Attorney Larry Krasner announced his office would no longer charge anyone with a crime – even if they are still arrested – over a decriminalized amount of cannabis. Activists have marked the shift from the first day when U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran and legalization advocate Mike Whiter met with a PPD officer at City Hall to receive the first ticket.

Two years later, on October 20, 2016, a “Pop Up Weed Garden” was staged in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Eakins’ Oval. Hundreds of cannabis consumers celebrated the plant, and a hint of newfound freedom.

This year,  advocates who worked on the effort, including Chris Goldstein, will gather at City Hall on Saturday, October 20th to mark the occasion with local consumers at 4:20 PM. Goldstein said, “It’s time for Philadelphia to begin charting the path forward for full legalization. There are hundreds of thousands of cannabis consumers here in Philly,” said Goldstein, “It’s time to begin offering safe marijuana products at a low price, and allowing home cultivation.”

Philadelphia’s 2014 decriminalization shift inspired other cities to downgrade possession fines and penalties. Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, York, Bethlehem, Allentown, Erie, State College, and Lancaster have passed ordinances. The PA House Judiciary recently approved HB928 to consider the move statewide.

Meanwhile, reports from the Philadelphia Inquirer and Newark Star-Ledger have shown a recent spike in marijuana possession arrests in communities that maintain criminal prohibition.

Advocates remain hopeful that a full legalization effort, spearheaded by Rep. Jake Wheatley (D- Allegheny), will gain momentum in 2019.


CONTACT: Chris Goldstein (267) 702 3731

 

Survey: Cannabis Use Becoming Common Among Older Adults

COLORADO: The use of cannabis is relatively common among those over the age of 65 who reside in a legal marijuana state, according to data published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Investigators from the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus anonymously surveyed older adults at a pair of ambulatory geriatric primary care clinics in Colorado.

Thirty-two percent of respondents reported having used cannabis following legalization, and 16 percent reported that they were current users. Subjects were most likely to report using cannabis to mitigate symptoms of pain, anxiety, and depression, or to stimulate appetite.

Authors concluded: “[O]ur survey of ambulatory older adults from Colorado demonstrated that marijuana use in this population was common. Respondents reported using recreational marijuana to target a variety of medical symptoms and conditions with few reported adverse effects. Thus, it is prudent for primary care providers of older adults to inquire specifically about marijuana use before considering prescription changes or additions.”

Separate studies find that self-reported cannabis usage among older Americans is rising dramatically, and that many seniors reduce their use of prescription medications, particularly opioids, following their marijuana use. According to clinical data assessing seniors’ long-term use of cannabis, consumption is safe and is associated with a “significant improvement” in subjects’ “overall quality of life.”


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Characteristics and patterns of marijuana use in community-dwelling older adults,” appears in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.