Marijuana Dispensaries Save Lives, New Study Shows

The United States has a problem with painkillers. During the past 15 years, America has seen a tremendous growth in both the sales of prescription opiates and the number of people who die each year from abusing them. More than 16,000 people fatally overdosed on prescription painkillers in 2013, accounting for 60% of all overdose deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control. But a new study suggests that some states have already stumbled onto a means of curbing this fatal epidemic: Easily-accessible marijuana.

For the study, researchers from the RAND Corporation and the University of California-Irvine (UCI) examined whether, in the years following legalization, states that legalized marijuana had experienced reductions in fatal overdoses and addiction treatment center admissions relating to opioid abuse. The researchers found that these states experienced significant reductions in both measures of opioid misuse — but only if they had also legalized marijuana dispensaries.

In the six states where doctors are allowed to prescribe marijuana, but where retail dispensaries are prohibited, the study found “no evidence” of “reductions in substance abuse or mortality.” But in those 18 states where medical marijuana shops are allowed, they found a 16% reduction in “opioid-related mortality” and 28% reduction in opioid-abuse treatment admissions.

Critics of marijuana dispensaries often accuse them of fostering an environment of de facto legalization. In some states, once a doctor provides a qualifying card, the patient can purchase marijuana virtually at will. As Vox’s German Lopez writes, “Just about anyone can go to Venice Beach in Los Angeles, pay around $40 for a card, and legally buy and smoke a joint within five minutes.”

 

Laws Make Studying Marijuana Difficult

DELAWARE: The only marijuana available for research in the U.S. is locked down by federal regulators who are more focused on studies to keep people off the drug than helping researchers learn how it might be beneficial.

Marijuana is a trend that “will peak like tobacco then people will see their error,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which serves as the gatekeeper for U.S. marijuana research through its oversight of a pot farm that grows the only plants that can be used in clinical trials.

Meanwhile, marijuana advocates say NIDA’s control over research has made almost impossible their ability to test the drug against ailments such as pain, cancer-related nausea and epilepsy.

The federal researchers aren’t “set up to study potential medical benefits, so it’s inappropriate for NIDA to have a monopoly on supply,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington-based group that lobbies to change marijuana laws.

The DEA: Four Decades Of Impeding And Rejecting Science

This report, co-published by DPA and MAPS, illustrates a decades-long pattern of behavior that demonstrates the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) inability to exercise its responsibilities in a fair and impartial manner or to act in accord with the scientific evidence.

The report’s case studies reveal a number of DEA practices that maintain the existing, scientifically unsupported drug scheduling system and obstruct research that might alter current drug schedules. In addition to marijuana, the report also examines the DEA’s speed in moving to ban MDMA, synthetic cannabinoids, and synthetic stimulants. In contrast to the DEA’s failure to act in a timely fashion when confronted with evidence for scheduling certain drugs less severely, the agency has shown repeatedly that it can move quickly when it wants to prohibit a substance.

The report recommends that responsibility for determining drug classifications and other health determinations should be completely removed from the DEA and transferred to another agency, perhaps even a non-governmental entity such as the National Academy of Sciences. The report also recommends the DEA should be ordered to end the federal government’s unjustifiable monopoly on the supply of research-grade marijuana available for federally approved research. No other drug is available from only a single governmental source for research purposes.

 

DEA To Boost Marijuana Supply For Research

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is approving a massive increase in the amount of marijuana that government researchers can use for studies due to a growing interest in medical marijuana.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) will now have access to 650 kilograms of pot, after the DEA announced Friday in the Federal Register it is raising the production quota from 21 kilograms.

“That’s a lot of marijuana,” DEA spokeswoman Barbara Carreno said. “One kilogram is equivalent to a brick. So 650 kilograms would look like 650 bricks and would probably fill a cargo van.”

The increase comes as efforts to legalize medical marijuana have gained momentum around the country. The move could quiet some critics who say NIDA, a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has been tightfisted with its supply of research-grade pot.

Marijuana Cuts Lung Cancer Tumor Growth In Half, Harvard Study Shows

MASSACHUSETTS: A Harvard study from 2007 which remains the most comprehensive ever released on THC’s potential to combat tumors found that in just three weeks doses of THC were able to cut lung cancer tumor growth in half in mice subjects, and were able to reduce cancer lesions by even more. [Read more…]