[Editor’s Note: Many people believe that cannabis is an aphrodisiac. Maybe it’s true. Maybe…]
It could be seen as a sign of marijuana legalization’s stunning, worldview-smashing success that cannabis has acquired its own version of climate-change deniers, a loud minority who choose to ignore the prevailing findings accepted by mainstream science and medicine. Medical cannabis appears to be good for chronic pain, good for AIDS and cancer patients and very likely good for other things including, according to more recent research, making babies.
U.S. states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes “can expect a moderate increase in birth rates,” according to researchers from the University of Connecticut, where medical cannabis is legal, released earlier this week.
Mom, Dad, Where Do Higher Birth Rates Come From?
For their working paper titled “Sex, Drugs, and Baby Booms: Can Behavior Overcome Biology?”, economics professors Michele Baggio and David Simon perused data from all 50 states, including birth certificates, “purchase trends of condoms” and health patterns for parents and youth.
They looked at states that legalized marijuana between 2004 and 2011, specifically at data from people in their 20s and 30s, who are generally the most likely to use cannabis, according to most use studies. In doing so, they found that states with medical marijuana saw an increase of four births per 10,000 women of childbearing age, according to a news release from the university.
The study follows prior research that shows where marijuana is legal, more people tend to use marijuana. Or, at least, they’re more honest and open about their marijuana use to researchers and survey-takers. It also accepts, as we do, the reams of anecdotal evidence that suggests cannabis is a mood enhancer for many people.
The right cannabis product applied in the right amount “heightens sensory perception, increases relaxation, and reduces stress and anxiety,” the researchers note in the study. In this context, they extrapolate that “attitudes and perceptions toward sexual activity may be affected as well.” That is, marijuana users may engage in what some social scientists may deem “risk-taking behavior”— increased sexual activity, increased frequency of sexual activity and both without birth control measures like condoms.
Well, When a Man and a Woman Love Each Other (and Legalization) Very Much…
Researchers weren’t sure if marijuana makes users friskier and thus more likely to engage in sex or simply less likely to bother with using a condom during normal patterns of sexual activity. All they know is that in places where cannabis is legal, “we just see more people having more sex and more kids,” said Simon, who with his colleagues called for more research into cannabis’s effects on human biology.
Simply put, they saw birth rates increase in places were weed is legal and aren’t sure if it’s the weed or something else, but there’s enough of a correlation for it to be noteworthy.
From a sociological lens, it’s important to note the cultural divide here. Fringe movements often point to decreased birth rates in places like Europe, where most citizens enjoy things like government-provided housing and healthcare and workplace protections, as a sign of some kind of moral decay brought on by “liberalism.”
It would also be particularly interesting to examine birth rates from places like Arkansas, Ohio, North Dakota and Oklahoma, red states with less economic activity and growth than traditional legalization hotbeds l ike Colorado, California, Washington and Nevada, all of which have fast-growing metro areas drawing new residents from all over the world — most of whom don’t smoke marijuana.
But maybe there’s something to be said for “aphrodisiac” marijuana strains like Sexpot. Maybe, lurking somewhere, just waiting to be found, there is science.
The post Study Shows States With Medical Marijuana Have a Higher Birth Rate appeared first on Cannabis Now.
Study Shows States With Medical Marijuana Have a Higher Birth Rate was posted on Cannabis Now.
[Editor’s Note: More cannabis research is being completed and the reports are starting to come in. Will research debunk common stoner myths? Or support them?]
Is there any conclusive data about whether marijuana really makes you forgetful, or is that just another pop culture construct?
Though the idea of the dumb, unproductive stoner is still steadily phasing itself out of the cannabis conversation, unfortunately, there is still a lot of conflicting information when it comes to cannabis and memory.
The average person with a working knowledge of how weed works is often led to believe that consuming it can lower your IQ and deplete your memory, regardless of how much or how often you partake. But there is evidence that shows that there is much more to consider, including the strain of weed you’re smoking, whether or not it’s THC– or CBD-dominant and the amount of time you have been consistently smoking — and that’s just for starters.
It’s also important to consider that there are different kinds of memory. For the purpose of research, most studies focus on short-term memory (also known as working memory) and long-term memory, which includes implicit (unconscious) and explicit (conscious) memory. THC, the most well-known cannabinoid in cannabis, is what can have an impact on both long-term and short-term memory.
THC vs. CBD
Most studies, like this one from JAMA Internal Medicine, offer research confirming that “long-term heavy cannabis users show impairments in memory and attention that endure beyond the period of intoxication and worsen with increasing years of regular cannabis use.” But there are others, like this one from a medical journal called the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, that suggest that “acute exposure” to cannabis can actually help enhance working memory performance.
In another study published in a journal called Addict Biology, researchers examined the relationship between memory function and cannabis consumption and found that “that sustained moderate to heavy levels of cannabis… do not change working-memory network functionality.”
Conversely, CBD has been shown to be a neuroprotectant that has the potential to prevent the onset of conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, illnesses have forgetfulness and a decline in memory as a common symptom.
In fact, a recent study found that “CBD was able to reverse the deficits in both objection recognition memory as well as social recognition memory without impacting the body’s anxiety parameters.” The research also showed that CBD could reduce cognitive deficits.
In Conclusion? It’s Inconclusive
If it all seems like a confusing jumble of contrary data to you, you’re not alone. The truth is that there is still a lot of research that needs to be conducted in order to paint a clear and distinct picture of how cannabis truly affects memory.
In most studies, participants (including the rats) are not even allowed to smoke cannabis. Instead, they consume concentrated or even synthetic versions of THC — which absolutely affects the outcome. Because cannabis is still federally illegal, researchers are continuously facing hurdles that prevent them from having access to cannabis for testing and studies that would help provide a wider picture.
So, what’s the verdict? For now, it seems clear that there is a link between cannabis and memory, though there are various factors to take into consideration, including method of consumption. Is there a difference when it’s smoked (inhaled) versus when it’s eaten (ingested) or absorbed as when using tinctures or transdermal patches? No one knows yet.
But, if you start to notice a change or decline in your memory that you suspect is related to cannabis, there’s good news. Some research shows that just one month of abstaining from cannabis — a move that’s sometimes referred to as a “tolerance break” — can have a noticeable improvement on memory function. If you’re concerned or want to see if there’s a difference, try taking a break for a few weeks and observe yourself to see if there are any changes.
Cannabis & Memory: The Evidence Behind Marijuana’s Impact on Forgetfulness was posted on Cannabis Now.
[Editor’s Note: It’s exciting to witness the evolution of cannabis to an accepted & integral part of modern medicine. These studies are supporting and fine tuning the wonderful medical aspects of cannabis.]
Medical cannabis gained substantial scientific validation in 2018. Studies have furthered our understanding of the beneficial effects of cannabis on a range of conditions including pain, depression, anxiety, healthy aging, and neuroprotection.
Pharmaceutical companies and beverage behemoths are hedging on cannabis’ widespread appeal and therapeutic benefits, and bipartisan support of the Agricultural Farm Bill highlights a shift in acceptance even among the federal government. The cannabis research momentum carried into the final quarter of 2018.
Here are the top five research stories to close out the year.
Studies at a glance:
THC Boosts Traditional Neuropathic Pain Medication
Many are turning to cannabis as an alternative to prescription medications—or as a strategy for finding relief when all else fails.
There are different types of pain, and each type comes with its own treatment strategy and its own challenges. Neuropathic pain is a common type of chronic pain that can greatly impair one’s quality of life. It’s caused by the constriction of nerve fibers (e.g., sciatica), causing persistent pain signals to bombard the brain. Some of the current first-line treatment strategies involve medications, such as gabapentin, that can have harmful side effects.
The combination of gabapentin and THC also expanded the therapeutic window in which the drugs could be effectively used with limited side effects.
While cannabis is emerging as a scientifically-validated strategy for pain relief, THC on its own, and THC-rich cannabis, is not always well-tolerated by everyone. Side effects such as sedation, motor impairment, anxiety, and paranoia prevent the widespread use of THC-rich cannabis as a primary treatment strategy. Identifying treatment strategies that work together to enhance pain relief may open up new and effective opportunities for integrating cannabis-based therapies in neuropathic pain relief.
Australian scientists assessed the pain-relieving potential of combining the common neuropathic pain medication, gabapentin, with THC in a mouse model of neuropathic pain. To test this, scientists constricted a bundle of nerve cells in mice, mimicking sciatica-like nerve pain in humans. As expected, this procedure caused long-lasting hypersensitivity to pain-inducing stimuli. They then tested the pain-relieving effects of gabapentin and THC alone, or in combination. Interestingly, the combination of the two reduced pain more than would have been predicted by simply their additive effects, suggesting that the two interact synergistically to greatly reduce neuropathic pain.
The combination of gabapentin and THC also expanded the therapeutic window in which the drugs could be effectively used with limited side effects. This study adds to others conducted in 2018 that highlight the utility of integrating cannabis-based medicines with current treatment approaches to achieve safer and more effective therapeutic results. Hopefully, these studies will spawn human clinical trials for combination therapies in the coming year.
CBD Blocks Toxin’s Ability to Cause Schizophrenia-like Symptoms
Exposure to certain toxins while the brain is developing can lead to the expression of schizophrenia symptoms later in life. Reducing the impact that these toxins have on brain development could be a promising interventional strategy to prevent the onset of schizophrenia down the road. These strategies aren’t currently available.
One of the more hotly debated topics is cannabis’ role in the development of schizophrenia. One side of the debate claims that THC exposure (i.e., an environmental “toxin”), when the brain is still developing, interacts with genetic and environmental factors to increase risk for developing psychosis. While the role of cannabis is controversial, some of the focus has recently shifted from its potential harm to its potential good.
These findings suggest that CBD treatment may be a protective strategy in high-schizophrenia risk cases that result from elevated environmental toxin exposure.
CBD is emerging as a promising anti-psychotic treatment strategy in many cases of schizophrenia. However, it’s unknown whether CBD can protect against some of the damaging environmental factors that promote risk for psychosis in the first place. In a collaborative effort involving scientists across Europe, researchers investigated whether CBD could protect against the schizophrenia-like symptoms caused by developmental toxin exposure in a mouse model of schizophrenia.
In this set of experiments, the scientists exposed mice to a neurotoxin during the mouse equivalent of adolescence, which caused the adult mice to exhibit schizophrenia-like brain alterations along with cognitive and social deficits. However, in one group of mice, the scientists administered CBD for 20 days following the toxin exposure. These mice given CBD were protected against the developmental consequences of toxin exposure and didn’t exhibit the schizophrenia-like symptoms shown by their peers.
These findings suggest that CBD treatment may be a protective strategy in high-schizophrenia risk cases that result from elevated environmental toxin exposure. However, these findings are limited to the cognitive and social deficit symptoms of schizophrenia. It will be intriguing to see if CBD can protect against some of the positive symptoms of schizophrenia (e.g., delusions and hallucinations) and whether CBD can also be used to protect against the inheritable risk for schizophrenia.
Expect to hear more about the promising benefits of CBD in treating schizophrenia in 2019.
Cannabis Protects Against Alcohol’s Damaging Effects on the Stomach
Cannabis has well-established anti-inflammatory effects, while alcohol is pro-inflammatory. Alcohol’s inflammatory effects underlie many of the long-term damaging effects of alcohol use such as liver cirrhosis and alcoholic gastritis, which is the erosive disease of the stomach. Alcoholics who also frequently use cannabis appear to be protected against the risk for developing a cirrhotic liver, but cannabis’ impact on the development of alcoholic gastritis was unknown.
Cannabis-using patients had a 25% lower propensity for developing alcoholic gastritis than non-cannabis users.
To address cannabis’ impact on gastritis, researchers assessed the hospital discharge records from over 60,000 alcohol-abusing patients across the United States and separated groups based on whether or not they used cannabis. Their comparisons revealed that cannabis-using patients had a 25% lower propensity for developing alcoholic gastritis than non-cannabis users.
These findings highlight how cannabis’ anti-inflammatory benefits serve to protect against the damaging effects of other risky behaviors. They also add to a growing body of evidence supporting the protective benefits of cannabinoids against long-term consequences of trauma, cardiovascular events, and neurodegenerative disease.
A Balanced Cannabis Approach Treats Spasticity in ALS
Cannabis has already been approved for treating muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis. To assess its ability to treat muscle spasms across additional conditions, a Phase II clinical trial was conducted across Italy to determine if naboximols, an oromucosal spray of a 1:1 THC:CBD cannabis (GW Pharmaceuticals), could treat muscle spasms associated with motor neuron disease (i.e., amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS], also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Patients treated with the balanced THC:CBD extract showed a small improvement in spasticity symptoms, while muscle spasms among those in the placebo group got worse.
59 participants across four treatment centers completed the study which measured spasticity scores over the course of a 6-week treatment period. The power of this clinical study came from its randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded nature that inherently limits bias and is strongly valued by the medical community.
The trial was a success. Patients treated with the balanced THC:CBD extract showed a small improvement in spasticity symptoms, while muscle spasms among those in the placebo group got worse. None of the participants had to be removed due to adverse side effects, supporting a strong safety profile that bolsters its potential for clinical integration.
This study was one of several clinical trials of cannabis-based medicines to be published in 2018. A lack of supportive clinical trials is frequently cited as a primary source of hesitation among physicians considering integrating cannabis in the clinic. Hopefully, with this study among others, the momentum is shifting as we enter 2019.
Cannabis Smoke Improves Working Memory in Underperformers
Cannabis is generally regarded as a detriment to working memory. For years, laboratory studies of mice and rats injected with THC perform worse on working memory tests. Turns out, however, most people aren’t injecting themselves with THC, so concern over the validity of those studies seems valid. Questions regarding the importance of additional cannabinoids and terpenes, along with the route of administration, in cannabis’ effects on memory and cognition have shadowed these pre-clinical studies for decades.
These studies cast doubt over the validity of previous studies employing injections of individual cannabinoids.
Scientists from the University of Florida (which is emerging as a hotbed for cannabis research in the United States) sought to overcome this interpretational challenge by exposing rats to smoke from either cannabis or placebo cigarettes and measuring performance on a working memory test. As in any test, across the 31 subjects, some performed better than others. Cannabis smoke did not appear to have any impairing effects, but interestingly, it improved performance in the “underachievers” of the group.
The scientists then carried out follow-up experiments where they injected the rats with either THC or a blocker of the CB1 receptor by which THC carries out many of its effects. Both of these conditions impaired working memory performance, which was the opposite effect as observed with smoke inhalation. These results are consistent with previous studies demonstrating THC’s alarming impairment to working memory function.
These studies cast doubt over the validity of previous studies employing injections of individual cannabinoids. Further, they highlight the importance of delivery method—along with additional cannabinoids and terpenes—in cannabis’ effects on memory. The exciting finding that smoking cannabis may actually elevate performance under some conditions is enticing and warrants further investigation into the factors that may facilitate these improvements.
Original Post: Leafly: The Latest in Medical Cannabis Research: Winter 2018
[Editor’s Note: Cannabis researchers take note! It’s about time the Feds put out calls for research applicants. This is a start, but the amounts requested won’t get very much real research done.]
The federal government plans to award $1.5 million in grants during the 2019 fiscal year to researchers who study how components of marijuana other than THC affect pain.
In a notice about the funding opportunity published on Thursday, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) said that it was seeking applications from researchers to conduct studies on “minor cannabinoids and terpenes.” The aim of the grants will be to learn how these components work—separately and when combined—as potential pain-relieving agents.
The research is especially important given the widespread use of addictive opioid-based painkillers for pain management, NCCIH said. While THC has known analgesic properties, very little is known about the hundreds of other constituents in cannabis, which could represent viable alternatives to popular painkillers.
“Early clinical data suggest that cannabis may enhance the potency of opioids in relieving pain; and the synergy from using these products together may result in more effective pain relief with lower doses of opioids,” the agency wrote. “Yet, it is unclear which components of cannabis may have these properties. In particular, few studies have examined whether and which cannabinoids and/or terpenes interact with the opioid pain pathways.”
NCCIH, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, said that of particular interest are studies looking at cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC), nyrcene, β-caryophyllene, Limonene, α-terpineol, linalool, α-phellandrene, α-pinene, β-pinene, γ-terpinene and α-humulene.
“A growing body of literature suggests that the cannabis plant may have analgesic properties; however, research into cannabis’s potential analgesic properties has been slow,” the funding opportunity says. “One key mechanism to investigate is whether potential analgesic properties of cannabis can be separated from its psychoactive properties. To address this question, more research is needed into the basic biological activity of the plant’s diverse phytochemicals, specifically minor cannabinoids and terpenes.”
NCCIH listed 11 areas of interest for prospective applicants:
* To investigate the potential analgesic properties and adverse effects of minor cannabinoids, alone or in combination with each other or terpenes;
* To investigate the mechanisms by which minor cannabinoids and terpenes may affect pain pathways, including ascending and/or descending neural pathways, cellular and molecular signaling pathways, neuroimmune interactions, or other innovative regulatory pathways related to pain;
* To explore the impact of sex, age and ethnicity on potential analgesic properties of minor cannabinoids and terpenes;
* To explore analgesic potential of minor cannabinoids and terpenes for different pain types (e.g., acute pain, chronic pain, inflammatory pain, neuropathic pain);
* To investigate the pharmacology (pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles) of minor cannabinoids and terpenes;
* To explore binding affinities of minor cannabinoids and terpenes to cannabinoid and opioid and other pain-related receptors;
* To investigate the impact of dose and/or route of administration on potential analgesic effects of minor cannabinoids and terpenes;
* To characterize if/how specific terpenes may influence potential analgesic properties of cannabinoids;
* To explore potential opioid sparing effects of minor cannabinoids and terpenes;
* To explore the interaction between the microbiome and minor cannabinoids or terpenes;
* To improve methods to quantify systemic levels of minor cannabinoids and terpenes
Applicants are encouraged to submit letters of intent about their research proposals 30 days before the March 15 application deadline. The $1.5 million will be distributed among four grant recipients.
The agency first announced its intent to launch the funding opportunity in November.
“The mechanisms and processes underlying potential contribution of minor cannabinoids and terpenes to pain relief and functional restoration in patients with different pain conditions may be very broad,” NCCIH said. “This initiative encourages interdisciplinary collaborations by experts from multiple fields—pharmacologists, chemists, physicists, physiologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, endocrinologists, immunologists, geneticists, behavioral scientists, clinicians, and others in relevant fields of inquiry.”
The research opportunity is one of several marijuana-related projects the federal government has recently promoted. For example, NCCIH has four other grants available to researchers to study “natural products” such as cannabis, the National Institute on Drug Abuse is calling for bulk marijuana cultivators to supply research-grade cannabis and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has asked the public to send them information about marijuana and Alzheimer’s disease.
Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.
Feds To Spend $1.5 Million On Research Into Marijuana’s Lesser Known Components was posted on Marijuana Moment.
[Editor’s Note: More research is coming out of Israel supporting cannabis as an anti-inflammatory agent. Terpenoids may be useful for acute conditions, while CBD may be good for chronic conditions.]
Marijuana’s anti-inflammatory effects could be bolstered by non-cannabinoid compounds in the plant called terpenoids, according to a recent study published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
While most studies have focused on how THC and CBD affect inflammation, terpenoids seem to share that anti-inflammatory property. The compounds are generally associated with the fragrance of cannabis, but little is known about their therapeutic potential.
In the new study, researchers in Israel extracted oils rich in terpenoids from three marijuana varieties and tested them on cells and in mice. The first experiment showed that the compounds partly suppress the production of free radicals associated with inflammation. And the second, in mice, revealed “moderate anti-inflammatory activities.”
That said, the terpenoids did not seem to be as effective as purified CBD when the researchers compared them. CBD works longer, making it a more appropriate choice for individuals suffering from chronic pain.
Curiously, the terpenoids seemed to mitigate inflammation through a different mechanism than cannabinoids.
“Different chemotypes of cannabis have a distinctive composition of terpenoids,” the researchers wrote. “These essential oils do have anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activities that vary according to their composition, but they had no effect on TNFa titers [antibodies].”
“We suggest that terpenoids may be used to diminute acute inflammation effect, whereas the cannabinoids to inhibit chronic inflammation symptoms,” they concluded.
Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.
Terpenoids In Marijuana Also Help Reduce Inflammation, New Study Finds was posted on Marijuana Moment.
[Editor’s Note: While more studies are needed for conclusive, empirical evidence, we intuitively know cannabis reduces the need for opioids for a lot of folks in need.]
Recent studies on the relationship between marijuana laws and opioid use have generally reached a consistent conclusion: when people have legal access to medical cannabis, they use opioids less often.
But a new meta-analysis of 25 separate ecological and epidemiological studies on the subject also reveals a need to conduct rigorous clinical trials on humans to verify and further understand this effect.
The purpose of the review was to “assess how convincing” the evidence reported in previous studies—that legal cannabis laws are associated with lower rates of opioid use and overdose—really is. The researchers behind the new paper, published this month in the International Journal of Psychiatry, focused exclusively on ecological and epidemiological studies and excluded many others from their analysis due to various limitations such as concurrent cannabinoid and opioid administration.
Both kinds of research turned up “mixed support for pre-clinical evidence that the use of cannabis for medical purposes may reduce opioid use.” Ecological studies in particular have shown that people die from opioid overdoses at a slower rate in legalized states.
“In ecological studies, states that allow medical cannabis laws have reported a slower rate of increase in opioid overdose deaths compared with states without such laws,” the review found. “These differences have increased over time and persisted after controlling for state sociodemographic characteristics and use of prescription monitoring programmes.”
The researchers made a series of recommendations for future studies to bolster evidence derived from pre-clinical studies. Studies should look at chronic pain patients who use opioids to explore whether access to cannabis leads them to reduce their dose of painkillers or other substances. Similar data should be collected on people who misuse opioids. Also, researchers should broadly study chronic pain patients who use medical cannabis for pain management.
“If cannabis use reduced overdose deaths in pain patients or people who use opioids non-medically, this would represent a public health gain, albeit by different mechanisms with very different policy implications,” the study authors wrote.
“In conclusion, both ecological and epidemiological evidence suggest that the availability and use of cannabis for medical purposes may be associated with reduced opioid use and related harms. At this point the findings are not conclusive, and clear evidence of causality is lacking… Well-conducted clinical studies are needed to measure any opioid-sparing effects of cannabis, and to assess the prevalence of any adverse or unintended effects of using cannabinoids.”
While a relatively small number of studies ultimately fell within the parameters of this analysis, research on cannabis and opioids has rapidly expanded in recent years—due in no small part to the explosion of the opioid crisis—and the evidence has widely supported the idea that cannabis can reduce the harms of the drug problem.
Photo courtesy of M a n u e l.
New Analysis Explores Relationship Between Medical Marijuana And Opioid Overdoses was posted on Marijuana Moment.
[Editor’s Note: Pain relief without opioid use is top of everyone’s list. Studies are starting to be released showing the beneficial medical aspects of marijuana.]
Chronic pain patients suffering from fibromyalgia stand to benefit from marijuana, a recent study found. But the pain relieving effects of cannabis differed depending on the concentration of THC and CBD.
Researchers in the Netherlands investigated how three varieties of marijuana—one high in THC and low in CBD, one with nearly equal parts THC and CBD and one with high CBD and low THC—affected chronic pain when vaporized.
After vaporizing one of the products, 20 participants were subject to a series of pain tests, including an experiment that involved gradually applying pressure between the index finger and thumb and another that involved electrical stimulation on the leg. Participants also filled out questionnaires about their experience following the procedure.
The results, published in the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain, showed a significant increase in pain tolerance among patients who vaporized the two varieties high in THC. The researchers found that the high CBD strain was “devoid of analgesic activity in any of the spontaneous or evoked pain models.”
What’s more, CBD increased the concentration of THC in blood plasma, but it also seemed to counter the pain relieving effects of THC, which indicates that the compound has a synergistic but antagonistic relationship with THC.
“The most important observation is that when simultaneously inhaled, THC and CBD interact in complex fashions with synergistic pharmacokinetic but antagonistic pharmacodynamic interactions,” the researchers wrote. “The analgesic efficacy of active treatment was limited to varieties that contained THC and was observed exclusively in the evoked pressure pain model.”
The team said that additional studies are needed “to asses efficacy and safety (including addictive behavior) in clinical trials with prolonged treatment periods and explore the role of psychotropic effects in the development of analgesia.”
Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.
Study Reveals How Marijuana Components THC And CBD Affect Chronic Pain was posted on Marijuana Moment.
[Editor’s Note: The original article was published in JAMA Pediatrics, a peer reviewed magazine. Studies are starting to come out from real life data. While this report is positive, we all need to be concerned about teen use. More good research please!]
The authors of a new study on teen marijuana use say legalization in Washington has not caused rates to go up — they appear to be in decline
Cannabis legalization for adults 21 and over in Washington has not led to increased teen use of the drug, according to an authoritative, new non-partisan study.
The research team, which included public health researchers at the RAND Drug Policy Research Center, found that the prevalence of marijuana use generally fell among Washington teens amid the commercial sales launch of 2014 to 2016, as compared to the period 2010 to 2012.
The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, also found that:
- Among eighth graders, cannabis use declined from 9.8% to 7.3%.
- Among tenth graders, cannabis consumption dropped from 19.8% to 17.8%.
- No changes were reported among 12th graders.
Amid a fierce, fact-limited national debate, the research letter gives a better snapshot of what’s going on in Washington teens’ lives.
Teens have had relatively easy access to marijuana since the ‘70s, surveys have shown. Both legalization supporters and opponents have long-argued that ‘anyone who wants marijuana can get it.’
In 2012, Washingtonians chose to tax, regulate, and control cannabis like alcohol or tobacco. Deterring teen use was one of the goals of that initiative.
In 2014, Washington retail cannabis stores opened for ID-card carrying adults 21 and over.
Valid, epidemiological data is scant. A major study published in JAMA in 2017 found slight increases in Washington teen use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. RAND fact-checked those findings using better data, which they published last week.
Look for Actual Data, Not Guesswork
The study’s lead authors, Dr. Julia A. Dilley, and Susan M. Richardson of the Oregon Public Health Division, said consumers must vet survey methods to make sure claims are generalizable. In this case, amajor 2017 study used national survey results to make state-level conclusions. That proved incorrect.
Dilley and Richardson—along with Beau Kilmer of RAND, Mary B. Segawa of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, and Magdalena Cerdá of New York University—obtained better, state-level data from the Washington Healthy Youth Survey. That survey came from a random sample of Washington public schools every two years. When you look at actual Washington student survey results instead of national models, use rates went down, not up.
Sky Not Falling: Surveys of actual Washington teens show cannabis use going down (green lines). Inaccurate models of national data show use going up (yellow lines). (JAMA Pediatrics)
“The [national, Monitoring the Future survey] includes some Washington kids. But it really isn’t built to generalize to the state,” Dilley told Leafly.
“The effect of legalization on youth marijuana use is an important public health question that needs to be revisited using a multitude of data sets,” said Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, co-author of the study and co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. “This work underscores the importance of understanding who is being captured in each data set so we can better understand how representative the sample is when trying to draw policy conclusions from the analysis.”
RAND is non-partisan, and the analysis offers some of our best, most current information on Washington as a laboratory of democracy with regard to cannabis law reform. It’s a better source than guesses from both the pro and anti-legalization side. Dilley said to look for neutral sources when judging legalization, not someone’s biased personal experience.
“A lot of public health researchers are trying to understand what’s happening, and do it within the framework of the decisions voters have made,” Dilley explained.
Why Teens Might Pass on Grass
The paper does not guess at why prevalence might decline amid taxing and regulating cannabis. It could simply be an overall trend in the teen cohort. Millennials seem to use less drugs and have less sex than Gen Xers or Boomers.
Dilley said the facts on the ground continue to change with regard to adult-use cannabis’ price, availability, public messaging, and advertising.
“I think it’s going to be a long time before we know why,” she said. “I’m still at ‘What’s happening?’ rather than ‘Why it’s happening.’”
Reformers think the lower teen use rates might be due to better messaging and control of the adult trade.
Teens’ historically high access to cannabis makes it “little surprise that legalization appears to be having little effect on teen usage rates,” said Mason Tvert, Marijuana Policy Project spokesperson. “It is still illegal for teens in those states, and there are still plenty of consequences that are likely deterring use. More research is needed to know what impact legalization is having, if any, but it’s clear that it does not result in an immediate or significant increase in teen use, as opponents have long predicted.”
Tobacco use has collapsed among modern teens—a result of heavy public messaging paid for by high tobacco taxes and lawsuit settlement funds. That paradigm is coming to cannabis.
“Smart regulations, combined with evidence-based messaging, are far preferable to criminalization. These findings further make the case for removing cannabis from the black market, and should assuage the concerns of those who feared that doing so would inadvertently promote use among young people. Such concerns, fortunately, have not come to fruition,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML.
More Fodder For Debate
Researchers say that the results are an “encouraging trend”, but they don’t predict the future. Clusters of stores or intense advertising blitzes could one day drive more teens to weed, but researchers don’t know.
“These findings do not provide a final answer about how legalization ultimately may influence youth marijuana usage,” Pacula said. “A variety of factors may influence the behavior of adolescents and those factors are likely to influence behaviors in different ways over time.”
“Kids don’t care about what happens in the state capitol, they care about what happens in their own neighborhoods,” Pacula said. “Commercialization in local neighborhoods is likely to be more important than changes in the law.”
Original Post: Leafly: Washington Teens Smoked Less Pot Amid Legalization, Study Concludes