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Marijuana Legalization Isn't Causing More Pot Use, But Vice Versa

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 12:53
Click here for reuse options! Changing attitudes toward pot are driving both legalization and use rates.

Marijuana legalization is not the cause of increased marijuana use nationwide, a new study finds. Instead, it's the other way around: Marijuana legalization reflects increased acceptance of marijuana.

In the study, published this month in the journal Addiction, researchers from the Public Health Institute's Alcohol Research Group examined 30 years' worth of data from National Alcohol Surveys, which also include questions on marijuana use, and compared that data to changes in state laws.

What they found is not that pot policy drives behavior, but vice versa.

"Medical and recreational marijuana policies did not have any significant association with increased marijuana use," the authors concluded. "Marijuana policy liberalization over the past 20 years has certainly been associated with increased marijuana use; however, policy changes appear to have occurred in response to changing attitudes within states and to have effects on attitudes and behaviors more generally in the U.S."

Increasing marijuana use is "primarily explained by period effects," or social factors that impact populations across age and generational groups, and not by policy changes, the authors insist.

"The steep rise in marijuana use in the United States since 2005 occurred across the population and is attributable to general period effects not specifically linked to the liberalization of marijuana policies in some states," the paper concluded.

Those effects could include declining disapproval of marijuana among the overall population caused by increasing familiarity with the plant, as well as a tendency in surveys from earlier years for respondents to understate their actual marijuana usage.

The notion that policy does not drive drug use levels is not new. Academic researchers Peter Cohen and Craig Reinarman reported similar findings back in 2004. But the implications of such research are important: If drug policy has little impact on drug use levels, why have punitive drug policies?

 

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Marijuana Legalization Isn't Causing More Pot Use, But Vice Versa

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 12:53
Click here for reuse options! Changing attitudes toward pot are driving both legalization and use rates.

Marijuana legalization is not the cause of increased marijuana use nationwide, a new study finds. Instead, it's the other way around: Marijuana legalization reflects increased acceptance of marijuana.

In the study, published this month in the journal Addiction, researchers from the Public Health Institute's Alcohol Research Group examined 30 years' worth of data from National Alcohol Surveys, which also include questions on marijuana use, and compared that data to changes in state laws.

What they found is not that pot policy drives behavior, but vice versa.

"Medical and recreational marijuana policies did not have any significant association with increased marijuana use," the authors concluded. "Marijuana policy liberalization over the past 20 years has certainly been associated with increased marijuana use; however, policy changes appear to have occurred in response to changing attitudes within states and to have effects on attitudes and behaviors more generally in the U.S."

Increasing marijuana use is "primarily explained by period effects," or social factors that impact populations across age and generational groups, and not by policy changes, the authors insist.

"The steep rise in marijuana use in the United States since 2005 occurred across the population and is attributable to general period effects not specifically linked to the liberalization of marijuana policies in some states," the paper concluded.

Those effects could include declining disapproval of marijuana among the overall population caused by increasing familiarity with the plant, as well as a tendency in surveys from earlier years for respondents to understate their actual marijuana usage.

The notion that policy does not drive drug use levels is not new. Academic researchers Peter Cohen and Craig Reinarman reported similar findings back in 2004. But the implications of such research are important: If drug policy has little impact on drug use levels, why have punitive drug policies?

 

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I Moved to Colorado for Much More Than Marijuana

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 11:35
After a health crisis, what I did was legal — but it still wasn’t acceptable to my hosts

This feature is part of Salon’s Young Americans initiative, showcasing emerging journalists reporting from America’s red states. Read more Young Americans stories.

I remember why I chose to move to Colorado. It was early 2016, I was 23 and I was going through a breakup with my toxic birth family back in Nebraska. I’d decided to cut contact for my own health. My friend, let’s call her Renee, loved the idea of me starting fresh with her family’s help and was aflutter with sparkling, idealized images about her parents adopting me and us being sisters. So when her parents, let’s call them Carol and Rob, asked me to live with them, I thought I’d gained a new family and a nest where I could heal. I could be near my best friend and live in one of the most vibrant cities in America: Denver.

Of course I moved. Besides, I’d always felt like my soul belonged in Colorado. I’d visited several times as a child and never stopped being in awe of the landscape. I fell in love with the powerful, protective aura of the mountains and how their shadows zigzagged across the horizon like nature’s skyscrapers. I loved the beauty of it, how the sun dipped behind the mountains and cast the whole valley in swaths of pink and gold and purple. And I loved Denver, a city buzzing with 2.5 million more people than in my hometown and each of those new people singing promises of bright new possibilities. I went to Colorado for healing, for change, for the mountains’ beauty, the hope of a new family and a new future.

  

I moved to Colorado for so much more than the marijuana.

But the marijuana was a perk. In 2012, I had been diagnosed with a rare nerve disorder. Surgery and cannabis were the only known treatments. I’d had the surgery to get it corrected, but some problems remained. My Nebraskan surgeon quietly suggested cannabis and told me to try it if I had the chance. Naturally, I was ecstatic to finally move to a place where getting marijuana treatment was legal and safe.

I assumed Carol and Rob would understand. They were the picture of parenthood to Renee, and magnanimously offered that same relationship to me by dubbing me their “fourth child.” They offered to take care of me and let me live with them free of charge until I could get my feet on the ground. They made me feel at home, like I’d finally been granted a foster family to love me and help me heal. I saw no reason to keep my cannabis use a secret.

One evening I asked Carol if I could use her back porch to smoke.

It was immediate: the sharp hitch of silence, her frozen expression. In a second of panic I realized I’d said too much.

“Sure,” she said stiffly. And that was all.

I see now that was the moment I became a stoner in her eyes, and absolutely nothing more.

Our relationship ended there. Carol began stonewalling me, sending her husband Rob to deliver messages. I’d catch her saying I’d moved to Colorado “for the marijuana,” and this reflected in her attitude toward me. I tried everything to appease her and earn my keep by doing housework. It didn’t work. One afternoon she finally admitted to disliking me, citing our “different values” about drug use. I was heartbroken. I felt like I'd lost my mother all over again. Renee’s vision of me becoming her adopted sister had all but shattered. On the eve of Thanksgiving 2016, I was given four hours to move out and find a place to live elsewhere. Rob, once again speaking for Carol, insisted that I’d smoked indoors the previous night. I hadn’t. Still, I slept in my car for the next three days.

Growing up, I’d been warned there was a cost to smoking marijuana. The cost, I was told, would be brain damage, not being successful, or becoming a thug. But now I realize the cost of marijuana can be a social one, a label that separates you from your family and your friends by branding you a stereotype. Last year, the stigma separated me from Renee’s family and robbed me of the relationship I’d wanted with them. Now, in 2017, it robs me of my peace of mind when I’m meeting a new person, applying for jobs or choosing a roommate. Now I’m constantly examining myself and monitoring what I say. I have to think closely about those around me: Will my new roommate accept how I smoke in the evenings to ease my pain, or will I have to move out? Will my employer be compassionate about my cannabis treatment, or will I be subjected to mandatory drug tests? I live every day knowing that my choice of treatment may cost me my next job, my next friendship or even my next family member.

While I eventually recovered from being evicted last Thanksgiving and found shelter, I was left reeling with the bitter realization that prejudice could again put me on the street. I was forced to accept that whether in Colorado or not, the stereotype that marijuana users are social deviants lives on. And the social cost of using cannabis can remain steep, even where it’s legal.

 

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I Moved to Colorado for Much More Than Marijuana

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 11:35
After a health crisis, what I did was legal — but it still wasn’t acceptable to my hosts

This feature is part of Salon’s Young Americans initiative, showcasing emerging journalists reporting from America’s red states. Read more Young Americans stories.

I remember why I chose to move to Colorado. It was early 2016, I was 23 and I was going through a breakup with my toxic birth family back in Nebraska. I’d decided to cut contact for my own health. My friend, let’s call her Renee, loved the idea of me starting fresh with her family’s help and was aflutter with sparkling, idealized images about her parents adopting me and us being sisters. So when her parents, let’s call them Carol and Rob, asked me to live with them, I thought I’d gained a new family and a nest where I could heal. I could be near my best friend and live in one of the most vibrant cities in America: Denver.

Of course I moved. Besides, I’d always felt like my soul belonged in Colorado. I’d visited several times as a child and never stopped being in awe of the landscape. I fell in love with the powerful, protective aura of the mountains and how their shadows zigzagged across the horizon like nature’s skyscrapers. I loved the beauty of it, how the sun dipped behind the mountains and cast the whole valley in swaths of pink and gold and purple. And I loved Denver, a city buzzing with 2.5 million more people than in my hometown and each of those new people singing promises of bright new possibilities. I went to Colorado for healing, for change, for the mountains’ beauty, the hope of a new family and a new future.

  

I moved to Colorado for so much more than the marijuana.

But the marijuana was a perk. In 2012, I had been diagnosed with a rare nerve disorder. Surgery and cannabis were the only known treatments. I’d had the surgery to get it corrected, but some problems remained. My Nebraskan surgeon quietly suggested cannabis and told me to try it if I had the chance. Naturally, I was ecstatic to finally move to a place where getting marijuana treatment was legal and safe.

I assumed Carol and Rob would understand. They were the picture of parenthood to Renee, and magnanimously offered that same relationship to me by dubbing me their “fourth child.” They offered to take care of me and let me live with them free of charge until I could get my feet on the ground. They made me feel at home, like I’d finally been granted a foster family to love me and help me heal. I saw no reason to keep my cannabis use a secret.

One evening I asked Carol if I could use her back porch to smoke.

It was immediate: the sharp hitch of silence, her frozen expression. In a second of panic I realized I’d said too much.

“Sure,” she said stiffly. And that was all.

I see now that was the moment I became a stoner in her eyes, and absolutely nothing more.

Our relationship ended there. Carol began stonewalling me, sending her husband Rob to deliver messages. I’d catch her saying I’d moved to Colorado “for the marijuana,” and this reflected in her attitude toward me. I tried everything to appease her and earn my keep by doing housework. It didn’t work. One afternoon she finally admitted to disliking me, citing our “different values” about drug use. I was heartbroken. I felt like I'd lost my mother all over again. Renee’s vision of me becoming her adopted sister had all but shattered. On the eve of Thanksgiving 2016, I was given four hours to move out and find a place to live elsewhere. Rob, once again speaking for Carol, insisted that I’d smoked indoors the previous night. I hadn’t. Still, I slept in my car for the next three days.

Growing up, I’d been warned there was a cost to smoking marijuana. The cost, I was told, would be brain damage, not being successful, or becoming a thug. But now I realize the cost of marijuana can be a social one, a label that separates you from your family and your friends by branding you a stereotype. Last year, the stigma separated me from Renee’s family and robbed me of the relationship I’d wanted with them. Now, in 2017, it robs me of my peace of mind when I’m meeting a new person, applying for jobs or choosing a roommate. Now I’m constantly examining myself and monitoring what I say. I have to think closely about those around me: Will my new roommate accept how I smoke in the evenings to ease my pain, or will I have to move out? Will my employer be compassionate about my cannabis treatment, or will I be subjected to mandatory drug tests? I live every day knowing that my choice of treatment may cost me my next job, my next friendship or even my next family member.

While I eventually recovered from being evicted last Thanksgiving and found shelter, I was left reeling with the bitter realization that prejudice could again put me on the street. I was forced to accept that whether in Colorado or not, the stereotype that marijuana users are social deviants lives on. And the social cost of using cannabis can remain steep, even where it’s legal.

 

 Related Stories
Categories: News Feeds

An Ethical Dilemma for Doctors: When Is It Okay to Prescribe Opioids?

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 11:09
Pressure is on to scale back the prescribing of opioids. How do we balance that with not harming pain patients?

America’s opioid crisis is getting worse. The role of prescription opioids has both the medical establishment and the government justifiably worried.

In response, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine released an official report on the crisis earlier this year. And, on September 21, the National Academy of Medicine released a special publication calling clinicians to help combat the crisis.

As a bioethicist working on the ethical and policy issues regarding prescription opioids, I am grateful to the National Academy of Medicine for inviting me to serve on this publication’s authorship team, and for taking seriously the ethical component of the prescription opioid crisis. The opioid epidemic is shot through with ethical challenges.

There are many discussions we could have, but I will here focus on just one of them: the issue of morally responsible prescribing. Should prescription opioids be used at all? And if so, how? The question is obviously important for clinicians, but the rest of us – patients – should understand what our doctors and nurses owe us regarding our care.

Two public health crises

One of the central challenges of the opioid epidemic is figuring out how to respond without harming pain patients.

If opioids prevent significant suffering from pain, then the solution to the prescription opioid problem cannot simply be to stop using them. To do so would be to trade one crisis (an opioid crisis) for another (a pain crisis).

The data suggest, however, that pain patients’ interests will not always run counter to the goal of curbing the opioid crisis. The evidence favoring opioid therapy for chronic, noncancer pain is very weak, and there’s some evidence that opioid therapy can actually increase one’s sensitivity to pain.

Opioid therapy also comes with significant costs – the risk of addiction and the potential for drowsiness, constipation, nausea and other side effects.

As a result, more of the medical community is realizing that opioids are simply not good medications for chronic, noncancer pain. Getting patients off long-term opioid therapy may well improve their lives.

Should we use opioids at all?

It would be nice if we could simply stop using opioids. But the situation is rather more complicated than that.

Even if opioid therapy shouldn’t be first-line (or even second-line) treatment for chronic pain, that doesn’t mean that it won’t work for anyone. Patients are individuals, not data points, and risks of opioid therapy – as well as the risks of not providing pain relief – are not the same for everyone.

This is important because debilitating chronic pain can lead to a life that seems not worth living, and sometimes even to suicide. In the face of life-destroying pain, if we run out of other options, it’s not clear that we should avoid using a third-line treatment in the hopes of saving a life.

Those who have been on high doses of opioids for years or decades pose another serious challenge. Many of these patients are concerned about the backlash against opioids. Some believe that the opioids are saving their lives. Others may be terrified of going into withdrawal if their medication is taken away.

If we move away from opioid therapy too abruptly, physicians may abandon these patients or force them to taper before they are ready. Tapering, under the best of circumstances, is a long, uncomfortable process. If it’s badly managed, it can be hell. The health care system created these patients, and we don’t get to turn our backs on them now.

Finally, opioids are important medications for acute, surgical and post-traumatic pain. Such pain can require long-term treatment when a series of surgeries stretches out for months, or when a traumatic injury requires a long, painful recovery. In these cases, opioids often make life manageable.

Although calls to limit opioid prescriptions generally don’t target these patients, we might reasonably worry about shifting attitudes. If medical culture becomes too opioid-phobic, who will prescribe for these patients?

Responsible prescribing

Fighting the epidemic with nuance will require constant vigilance. In the new National Academy of Medicine publication, we suggest a number of ways that clinicians can work toward responsible prescribing and management of opioids.

In short, clinicians must prescribe opioids only when appropriate, employing nonopioid pain management strategies when indicated. Evidence supports the use of acetaminophen and ibuprofen, as well as physical therapy, exercise, acupuncture, meditation and yoga.

Clinicians must also be willing to manage any prescriptions they do write over the long term. And, at every stage, prescribers should collaborate with others as needed to ensure that patients receive the necessary care.

Although clinicians shouldn’t be “anti-opioid,” they should be justifiably wary of prescribing for chronic, noncancer pain. And when a prescription is appropriate, the clinician should not write for more than is needed.

Patients should go into opioid therapy with a rich understanding of the risks and benefits. They should also have a plan of care, including an “exit strategy” for getting off the medication.

A role for nonclinicians?

The suggestions above may seem straightforward, and perhaps even obvious. So it’s important to point out that this work is time-consuming and sometimes – as in the case of high-risk patients – challenging. Counseling, advising and trying to avoid unnecessary opioid use is much more difficult than writing a quick prescription.

Although this difficult work is still the clinician’s responsibility, the rest of us can make it easier for them to do their job well. After all, no one likes to experience unnecessary pain. Our expectation of powerful pain relief is part of the cultural backdrop of the epidemic.

That expectation is going to have to change. Moderate acute pain from injury, dental procedures or whatever may have yielded a prescription for Percocet or Vicodin in the past. And when we are the ones in pain, we might still prefer that doctors hand out such medication like candy. But the opioid epidemic is teaching us that we don’t, in fact, want that to be clinicians’ standard practice. We shouldn’t demand exceptions for ourselves.

 

 Related Stories
Categories: News Feeds

An Ethical Dilemma for Doctors: When Is It Okay to Prescribe Opioids?

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 11:09
Pressure is on to scale back the prescribing of opioids. How do we balance that with not harming pain patients?

America’s opioid crisis is getting worse. The role of prescription opioids has both the medical establishment and the government justifiably worried.

In response, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine released an official report on the crisis earlier this year. And, on September 21, the National Academy of Medicine released a special publication calling clinicians to help combat the crisis.

As a bioethicist working on the ethical and policy issues regarding prescription opioids, I am grateful to the National Academy of Medicine for inviting me to serve on this publication’s authorship team, and for taking seriously the ethical component of the prescription opioid crisis. The opioid epidemic is shot through with ethical challenges.

There are many discussions we could have, but I will here focus on just one of them: the issue of morally responsible prescribing. Should prescription opioids be used at all? And if so, how? The question is obviously important for clinicians, but the rest of us – patients – should understand what our doctors and nurses owe us regarding our care.

Two public health crises

One of the central challenges of the opioid epidemic is figuring out how to respond without harming pain patients.

If opioids prevent significant suffering from pain, then the solution to the prescription opioid problem cannot simply be to stop using them. To do so would be to trade one crisis (an opioid crisis) for another (a pain crisis).

The data suggest, however, that pain patients’ interests will not always run counter to the goal of curbing the opioid crisis. The evidence favoring opioid therapy for chronic, noncancer pain is very weak, and there’s some evidence that opioid therapy can actually increase one’s sensitivity to pain.

Opioid therapy also comes with significant costs – the risk of addiction and the potential for drowsiness, constipation, nausea and other side effects.

As a result, more of the medical community is realizing that opioids are simply not good medications for chronic, noncancer pain. Getting patients off long-term opioid therapy may well improve their lives.

Should we use opioids at all?

It would be nice if we could simply stop using opioids. But the situation is rather more complicated than that.

Even if opioid therapy shouldn’t be first-line (or even second-line) treatment for chronic pain, that doesn’t mean that it won’t work for anyone. Patients are individuals, not data points, and risks of opioid therapy – as well as the risks of not providing pain relief – are not the same for everyone.

This is important because debilitating chronic pain can lead to a life that seems not worth living, and sometimes even to suicide. In the face of life-destroying pain, if we run out of other options, it’s not clear that we should avoid using a third-line treatment in the hopes of saving a life.

Those who have been on high doses of opioids for years or decades pose another serious challenge. Many of these patients are concerned about the backlash against opioids. Some believe that the opioids are saving their lives. Others may be terrified of going into withdrawal if their medication is taken away.

If we move away from opioid therapy too abruptly, physicians may abandon these patients or force them to taper before they are ready. Tapering, under the best of circumstances, is a long, uncomfortable process. If it’s badly managed, it can be hell. The health care system created these patients, and we don’t get to turn our backs on them now.

Finally, opioids are important medications for acute, surgical and post-traumatic pain. Such pain can require long-term treatment when a series of surgeries stretches out for months, or when a traumatic injury requires a long, painful recovery. In these cases, opioids often make life manageable.

Although calls to limit opioid prescriptions generally don’t target these patients, we might reasonably worry about shifting attitudes. If medical culture becomes too opioid-phobic, who will prescribe for these patients?

Responsible prescribing

Fighting the epidemic with nuance will require constant vigilance. In the new National Academy of Medicine publication, we suggest a number of ways that clinicians can work toward responsible prescribing and management of opioids.

In short, clinicians must prescribe opioids only when appropriate, employing nonopioid pain management strategies when indicated. Evidence supports the use of acetaminophen and ibuprofen, as well as physical therapy, exercise, acupuncture, meditation and yoga.

Clinicians must also be willing to manage any prescriptions they do write over the long term. And, at every stage, prescribers should collaborate with others as needed to ensure that patients receive the necessary care.

Although clinicians shouldn’t be “anti-opioid,” they should be justifiably wary of prescribing for chronic, noncancer pain. And when a prescription is appropriate, the clinician should not write for more than is needed.

Patients should go into opioid therapy with a rich understanding of the risks and benefits. They should also have a plan of care, including an “exit strategy” for getting off the medication.

A role for nonclinicians?

The suggestions above may seem straightforward, and perhaps even obvious. So it’s important to point out that this work is time-consuming and sometimes – as in the case of high-risk patients – challenging. Counseling, advising and trying to avoid unnecessary opioid use is much more difficult than writing a quick prescription.

Although this difficult work is still the clinician’s responsibility, the rest of us can make it easier for them to do their job well. After all, no one likes to experience unnecessary pain. Our expectation of powerful pain relief is part of the cultural backdrop of the epidemic.

That expectation is going to have to change. Moderate acute pain from injury, dental procedures or whatever may have yielded a prescription for Percocet or Vicodin in the past. And when we are the ones in pain, we might still prefer that doctors hand out such medication like candy. But the opioid epidemic is teaching us that we don’t, in fact, want that to be clinicians’ standard practice. We shouldn’t demand exceptions for ourselves.

 

 Related Stories
Categories: News Feeds

A Marijuana Drive-Through Could Be Coming to a Corner Near You

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 12:27
Click here for reuse options! If you live in Maine, that is.

Voters in Maine narrowly approved marijuana legalization last November, and since then, the state legislature has been busily trying to come up with rules and regulations for the legal weed market. Now, they are envisioning something of a rarity: allowing customers to buy their weed at drive-up windows.

Of the five states that currently allow legal adult marijuana sales—Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington—only Oregon and Colorado allow for drive-through sales. California, where sales are set to begin January 1, had drive-through sales written into draft regulations, but those proposed regs have had to be pulled and rewritten to comply with a state law merging the recreational and medical markets. Still, drive-through sales may survive the regulatory process there. Massachusetts hasn't directly addressed the issue, leaving it up to its Cannabis Control Commission to figure out before the state begins sales next summer.

For a measure whose mantra was "treat marijuana like alcohol," allowing drive-through pot sales seems like a no-brainer.

“If Maine allows it for alcohol, we see no reason why it shouldn’t be allowed for marijuana, the safer substance, so long as Maine puts in place reasonable regulations to protect public safety and the consumer,” David Boyer, director of the Maine chapter of the Marijuana Policy Project told the Portland Press Herald. “The voters want it regulated and taxed like alcohol. The rules should be the same.”

But it's not a done deal yet. The legislature's Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation is still considering the draft bill, and the coming week will be crucial. The bill gets a public hearing Tuesday and legislative debate is set for Wednesday and Thursday. If the committee approves it, it goes before the full legislature next month.

Drive-through sales is one of a subset of non-storefront sales possibilities facing legal pot regulators. Sales by delivery services and online sales are additional bones of contention. The proposed Maine legislation would allow both of those, too, but not all the other legal states do.

It is a sign of significant progress, or course, that the debate has shifted from how hard to punish pot smokers and dealers to how best to accommodate and regulate legal marijuana. But legal marijuana still has a ways to go before we can say it is treated like alcohol. 

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A Marijuana Drive-Through Could Be Coming to a Corner Near You

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 12:27
Click here for reuse options! If you live in Maine, that is.

Voters in Maine narrowly approved marijuana legalization last November, and since then, the state legislature has been busily trying to come up with rules and regulations for the legal weed market. Now, they are envisioning something of a rarity: allowing customers to buy their weed at drive-up windows.

Of the five states that currently allow legal adult marijuana sales—Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington—only Oregon and Colorado allow for drive-through sales. California, where sales are set to begin January 1, had drive-through sales written into draft regulations, but those proposed regs have had to be pulled and rewritten to comply with a state law merging the recreational and medical markets. Still, drive-through sales may survive the regulatory process there. Massachusetts hasn't directly addressed the issue, leaving it up to its Cannabis Control Commission to figure out before the state begins sales next summer.

For a measure whose mantra was "treat marijuana like alcohol," allowing drive-through pot sales seems like a no-brainer.

“If Maine allows it for alcohol, we see no reason why it shouldn’t be allowed for marijuana, the safer substance, so long as Maine puts in place reasonable regulations to protect public safety and the consumer,” David Boyer, director of the Maine chapter of the Marijuana Policy Project told the Portland Press Herald. “The voters want it regulated and taxed like alcohol. The rules should be the same.”

But it's not a done deal yet. The legislature's Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation is still considering the draft bill, and the coming week will be crucial. The bill gets a public hearing Tuesday and legislative debate is set for Wednesday and Thursday. If the committee approves it, it goes before the full legislature next month.

Drive-through sales is one of a subset of non-storefront sales possibilities facing legal pot regulators. Sales by delivery services and online sales are additional bones of contention. The proposed Maine legislation would allow both of those, too, but not all the other legal states do.

It is a sign of significant progress, or course, that the debate has shifted from how hard to punish pot smokers and dealers to how best to accommodate and regulate legal marijuana. But legal marijuana still has a ways to go before we can say it is treated like alcohol. 

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The 7 Worst States In The Union To Get Caught With Cannabis

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 10:52
Which “dry” states have the most severe penalties for getting caught with the herb?

Sure, it’s easy enough to find out which states aren’t cannabis legal, even for medical, but which of these “dry” states have the most severe penalties for getting caught with the herb? Here’s the breakdown:

1. South Dakotais the worst state to get caught even buzzed in. The tiniest bit of pot will land one in jail for a year and cost $2,000 in fines. Wait though, if you have hash or concentrates? Then you’re looking at closer to five years in prison and fines up to $10,000. And possession what? Even if you test positive for marijuana, you face the same penalties.

2. Louisiana is known for its strict rules regarding possession, but it also has some of the most severe consequences for growing the plant. ANY cultivation under 60 pounds, including ONE plant, will lead to five to 30 years in prison plus or instead a $50,000 fine.

3. Indiana is almost as over the top as Louisiana when it comes to crime and punishment. One joint carries a $1,000 fine and a year in prison. Imagine what an ounce might entail…

4. Idaho’s a tricky one, because possession of up to three ounces is considered a misdemeanor that carries a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison. That only covers possession though. Paraphernalia has the same penalties and public intoxication will get you another six months in prison. Hmm, a misdemeanor huh?

5. Iowa is harsh when it comes to first time offenders. If it’s your first time getting caught with a joint or a little cannabis, it’s punishable with up to six months in jail and $1,000 fine. The ACLU calls Iowa’s policy one of the harshest in the country for first timers.

6. Georgia has lax laws on small amounts, but do not get caught with over two ounces. Two ounces is the sweet spot for law enforcement and will earn you a prison term of up to ten years.

7. Arizona legalized medical marijuana, but if you don’t have a prescription, watch out. Even the smallest amount of pot, any amount at all, is a felony and one could face anywhere from four months to two years in jail for a joint.

Happy road tripping and/or simply living to all our friends out there, just keep in mind when to carry and when to lay low… Your freedom will thank you.

 

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The 7 Worst States In The Union To Get Caught With Cannabis

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 10:52
Which “dry” states have the most severe penalties for getting caught with the herb?

Sure, it’s easy enough to find out which states aren’t cannabis legal, even for medical, but which of these “dry” states have the most severe penalties for getting caught with the herb? Here’s the breakdown:

1. South Dakotais the worst state to get caught even buzzed in. The tiniest bit of pot will land one in jail for a year and cost $2,000 in fines. Wait though, if you have hash or concentrates? Then you’re looking at closer to five years in prison and fines up to $10,000. And possession what? Even if you test positive for marijuana, you face the same penalties.

2. Louisiana is known for its strict rules regarding possession, but it also has some of the most severe consequences for growing the plant. ANY cultivation under 60 pounds, including ONE plant, will lead to five to 30 years in prison plus or instead a $50,000 fine.

3. Indiana is almost as over the top as Louisiana when it comes to crime and punishment. One joint carries a $1,000 fine and a year in prison. Imagine what an ounce might entail…

4. Idaho’s a tricky one, because possession of up to three ounces is considered a misdemeanor that carries a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison. That only covers possession though. Paraphernalia has the same penalties and public intoxication will get you another six months in prison. Hmm, a misdemeanor huh?

5. Iowa is harsh when it comes to first time offenders. If it’s your first time getting caught with a joint or a little cannabis, it’s punishable with up to six months in jail and $1,000 fine. The ACLU calls Iowa’s policy one of the harshest in the country for first timers.

6. Georgia has lax laws on small amounts, but do not get caught with over two ounces. Two ounces is the sweet spot for law enforcement and will earn you a prison term of up to ten years.

7. Arizona legalized medical marijuana, but if you don’t have a prescription, watch out. Even the smallest amount of pot, any amount at all, is a felony and one could face anywhere from four months to two years in jail for a joint.

Happy road tripping and/or simply living to all our friends out there, just keep in mind when to carry and when to lay low… Your freedom will thank you.

 

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Thousands of Cases Tainted in New Massachusetts Drug Lab Scandal

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 09:17
More than 20,000 drug cases were dismissed after an earlier state drug lab scandal. Now we're likely to see thousands more thrown out.

BOSTON (CN) – On the heels of a sweeping order that dismissed 20,000 Massachusetts drug convictions tainted by evidence tampering, the state’s highest court now faces a call to do the same for thousands more cases handled by another disgraced chemist.

“The Amherst drug lab crisis represents a complete collapse of the criminal justice system,” the Sept. 20 petition filed by attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union states. 

Joined by the Committee for Public Counsel Services and the law firm Fick & Marx, the ACLU accuses the commonwealth of shirking its duty to identify and notify defendants who were convicted based on evidence handled by Sonja Farak, a former state chemist who pleaded guilty in 2014 to stealing cocaine she was supposed to be testing.

“The timing and scope of Farak’s misconduct was extensive,” the ACLU’s petition states. “On an almost daily basis from August 2004 until January 18, 2013, while working at the Amherst lab, Farak was under the influence of methamphetamine, amphetamine, phentermine, ketamine, MDMA, MDEA, LSD, cocaine, or other narcotics (or suffering withdrawal from those substances).”

The ACLU calls it undisputed “that by tampering with evidence, stealing samples, and abusing drugs while working in the Amherst lab, Farak impaired her ability to analyze samples, maintain the lab’s equipment, and testify in court.”

“Nor is there now any dispute that Farak tainted the evidence in all cases in which she served as the chemist,” the petition continues. “But following Farak’s arrest, the timing and scope of Farak’s misconduct was in dispute, and the AGO deliberately suppressed the evidence that would have exposed its true breadth.”

One 2017 order by the Hampden County Superior Court quoted in the petition says the interference by prosecutors in a Farak evidentiary hearing “constitutes a fraud upon the court.”

“This level of prosecutorial misconduct is unprecedented,” the petition states. “To leave ‘no doubt that such conduct will not be tolerated in our criminal justice system,’ this court should dismiss with prejudice the wrongful convictions of all Farak defendants.”

While the misconduct at issue is allegedly unprecedented, the ACLU notes that the relief it seeks is not.

Indeed the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court helped overturn 21,839 drug convictions earlier this year based on the misconduct by chemist Annie Dookhan at the Hinton State Laboratory.

“Far worse than the Hinton scandal, the Amherst scandal combines a lab crisis with prosecutorial misconduct of unparalleled scope and irremediable consequence,” the petition states. “This latest systemic lapse in the justice system demands a most emphatic response.

Disputing that the state can chalk up the misdeeds to one “bad apple,” the ACLU wants all Farak cases vacated and dismissed with prejudice.

“If the court does not deliver this strong remedy, a scandal that began with mistaken notions about one bad apple could end with a justice system that is rotten to its core,” the petition states.
Two women convicted of drug crimes based on evidence that intersected with Farak at the Amherst lab are also petitioners in the case. They claim they were never notified that Farak committed abuses that affected their cases, depriving them of the opportunity for post-conviction relief.

“Massachusetts’ ‘war on drugs’ has produced two of the largest drug lab scandals the country has ever seen,” Carol Rose, executive director of ACLU of Massachusetts, said in a statement. “The only sensible next step is for all of the victims of the Amherst lab scandal to have their convictions vacated and their tainted drug charges dismissed. Doing right by the victims of the drug lab scandal is critical to restoring the integrity of the criminal justice system and an important step toward addressing the criminalization of substance abuse.”

Another co-petitioner is the Hampden County Lawyers for Justice. “Every single case affected by Sonja Farak and the Amherst lab scandal should be dismissed – and prosecutors should be held accountable for identifying and notifying defendants with potentially tainted convictions, both in this scandal and others,” that group’s president, David Hoose, said in a statement.

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Is My Drinking Normal, or Could I Be an Alcoholic?

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:30
Alcoholism rose 49 percent in the last decade.

 

 

Is my drinking normal, or could I be an alcoholic?

Alcoholism rose 49 percent in the last decade. Nearly every group of people in the United States right now is drinking more than they did a decade ago. Deposit Photos The trouble with alcohol is that it’s everywhere. We don’t treat any other drug the way we treat alcohol, marijuana included, and in part that’s because…

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Glaucoma And Medical Marijuana: 5 Informative Facts

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:17
And one other cool thing, too.

What’s Glaucoma? Glaucoma is a gradual loss of vision cased by damage to the optic nerve. It comes in several varieties, but essentially the culprit is increased interocular pressure (IOP) caused by a build up of fluid in the eye. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60.

 

What Is Medical Marijuana Glaucoma Treatment? The discovery of cannabis’s glaucoma-fighting power was happy accident in the War on Drugs. In the early 1970a, a group of UCLA researchers, led by Drs. Robert Hepler and Thomas Ungerleider, began studying the telltale marijuana “red eye” and pupil dilation in hopes of somehow using the phenomena to help the DEA to narc out stoners. The real takeaway, however, was something not at all expected: Cannabis—particularly the THC in cannabis—reduced eye pressure by 25 to 30 percent. That result was as good as any produced by an FDA approved glaucoma medication. (In fact, it still is today.)

What’s the Catch? Unfortunately, the effect cannabis on IOP lasts only about three hours, and THC, the element most responsible for pressure relief, is also the most psychoactively potent. To be completely treated, you’d need to smoke six or seven joints a day. In other words, you’d be high all the time. (On the other hand, you might not be very high: THC’s depressurizing effect is not dose dependent, so weak bud is as effective in this case as the stoniest in your arsenal.)

What Do the Pros Say? Neither the American Association of OphthalmologyAmerican GlaucomaSociety, nor the Glaucoma Research Foundation endorses medical marijuana glaucoma treatment. This is partially because they view riding a perpetual pot high as a less-than-optimal way of being in the world (squares!), but they also have a medical reason: Lowered blood flow can damage the optic nerve, and one of the side effects of cannabis is to lower blood pressure. Ironically, then, pot can both ease glaucoma and make it worse.

What’s Next? A topical treatment could be a way of sidestepping the intoxicating side effects of smoked or ingested cannabis. THC eyedrops have been tested, but there are serious there are practical hurdles to clear: THC dissolves best in alcohol or oil—neither of which is something you want to put in your eye. Saline-based THC eye drops, at least at the moment, can’t deliver a powerful enough does. More troubling, topical THC can damage the surface of the eye. But this doesn’t mean that THC therapy is at an impasse, just that more research and testing is needed.

Bonus, Non-Glaucoma Factoid: Dr. Hepler’s team also found that cannabis suppresses tear production. While that’s bad news for wearers of contact lenses, one canny housewife reported that toking up was a prophylactic against that well known culinary malady: chopped-onion induced lachrymosity.

 

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Teens Thinking Fake Weed is Safer Than Real Weed Are Making a Big Mistake

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 11:07
Synthetic cannabinoids such as Spice or K2 are popular with some high schoolers. They need to understand the real dangers.

Three percent of high school seniors in a recent study reported current use of synthetic cannabinoids, and nearly half of those users said they used the drugs more than three times in the past month.

Synthetic cannabinoids (SCs), commonly marketed as “Spice” and “K2,” are potent new psychoactive compounds with a high risk of adverse health outcomes.

Some compounds found in SCs resemble those in marijuana and are often marketed as being similar. In reality, SCs have been found to have a potency ranging from 2 to 100 times stronger than marijuana, making adverse health outcomes of SC use exponentially greater than marijuana use.

Daily drug use

To counter the shortage of research in this area of high school drug use, Joseph Palamar of New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research and his team conducted the first nationally representative study, published in the journal Pediatrics, to examine current (past 30-day) use of SCs.

“This finding is important because it implies that half of current users are using SCs more than once or twice, which may suggest more than just mere experimentation,” says Palamar, also an assistant professor of population health at NYU Langone Medical Center. “In fact, 20 percent of current users reported use on 20 to 30 days in the past month, suggesting daily or almost-daily use.”

“The fact that one-fifth of current adolescent SC users report using these drugs in a daily or almost daily basis is of concern,” notes Silvia Martins, senior author of the study and an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University. “This is particularly notable due to all possible adverse effects associated with SC use.”

The article draws data from Monitoring the Future, a nationwide ongoing annual study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American secondary school students. The survey takes place in approximately 130 public and private schools throughout 48 states in the US. Roughly 15,000 high school seniors participate annually.

“Males, African Americans, and users of various other drugs were found to be at particular risk for frequent SC use,” says coauthor Monica J. Barratt of the Drug Policy Modelling Program, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia.

It’s legal (for now)

SC use is closely tied to marijuana use, as 8 out of 10 current SC users also reported current marijuana use. Therefore, the authors compared current SC users who were also current marijuana users to the “marijuana-only” users who did not report current SC use.

Findings from the study revealed that compared to marijuana-only users, fewer SC users perceived that SC experimentation and occasional use placed themselves at great risk of harm. SC users were more likely than marijuana-only users to report high perception of risk of using marijuana occasionally. Implications of this finding show a potential for lack of knowledge about health risks of SC among its youngest users.

“If there are students using synthetic cannabinoids because they genuinely believe they are less risky than marijuana, this misconception must be addressed through better education stressing the greater danger posed by synthetic cannabinoids,” says Palamar.

In addition, pointing to the fact that many SCs are not (yet) illegal, Palamar notes “some students may deem real marijuana as a riskier substance because it is illegal to possess. While arrest should in fact be a concern for marijuana users, these new synthetic compounds are becoming too dangerous and are in no way a safe alternative to marijuana.”

Current SC users also tend to be current users of other drugs.

“Concurrent use of other drugs such as alcohol can make adverse outcomes more likely,” stresses Palamar. “Our findings help allow clinicians and public health experts to determine who is at risk for SC use and possibly poisoning from SC use, so appropriate directed intervention education measures can be deployed.”

Breeding cannabis for the ‘high’ cuts this protective compound

“Evolving generations of SC compounds are increasingly harmful and poisonous to overall health, making effective prevention efforts more important than ever,” explains Barratt.

Although previous studies have revealed that marijuana users are at high risk for SC use, this study further revealed risk factors among current marijuana users that increase risk of current use and higher-frequency use of SCs.

“Our research calls for future prevention focused primarily on marijuana users, especially male and/or African-American marijuana users who appear to be at greatest risk for frequent use,” says Palamar. “Marijuana users who use other drugs are at highest risk for currently using SCs, so particular focus must be paid to these individuals to prevent increasingly dangerous and severe health outcomes among young users.”

Source: New York University

Original Study DOI: 10.1542/peds.2017-1330

 

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What Are the Physical Effects of Marijuana Withdrawal?

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 10:57
It does exist and it can be unpleasant, but it isn't going to hurt you.

So, is cannabis withdrawal an urban myth? Something that a lot of people discuss, but not a phenomenon experienced by all marijuana users?

Like with most things related to weed, withdrawal varies greatly from person to person. Still, cannabis withdrawal is a legitimate concern for some people, and it can include a variety of symptoms that suck. The good news is that this type of withdrawal is never fatal and, even in the most extreme cases, it won’t last for more than a few days. 

Marijuana withdrawal includes various symptoms that can have varying levels of intensity like, having trouble sleeping, experiencing vivid dreams and nightmares, headaches, sweating, fatigue, brain fog, changes in appetite and anxiety. This batch of symptoms, although uncomfortable and annoying, are by far easier to manage than the symptoms that other types of drugs and substances induce, such as alcohol and opioids.

While taking a break from marijuana may make you feel off and uncomfortable, there has never been a death associated with it, which is something that sadly can’t be said for most addictive substances.

People who experience marijuana withdrawals make up around 10% of marijuana users. This number is probably greater due to the fact that people are only recently becoming more open about their cannabis experiences. Cannabis withdrawal is still something that’s rarely discussed, so don’t feel bad if you feel alone or weird for experiencing it. It’s important for users to know that these symptoms exist, that they’re manageable, and that there are ways for people to keep on using marijuana without feeling bad afterwards.

 

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AlterNet Is Leading the Fight for Drug Reform: Please Help

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 09:44
Click here for reuse options! It's a battle on multiple fronts.

As a subscriber to AlterNet's drugs newsletter, you know that independent media is a key ingredient for social change when it comes to reform. Whether the issue is legalization or ending mass incarceration, the journey starts with educating people, changing minds, inspiring people to become activists, and breaking through social taboos, racist mind-sets and powerful government agencies and business interests that stand in the way of progress. And media needs to be there every step of the way as reforms and changes begin to happen. 

AlterNet has been a media leader for almost two decades on drug reform issues. Can you make a generous contribution to support our work?

Every day, we push back against the massive onslaught of corporate propaganda that dominates the airwaves. With unique, original reporting, in-depth analysis and editorials, and a curated mix of the best content from select publishers and grassroots organizations around the globe, AlterNet is recognized as one of the best on this issue. 

We are a great bang for your buck. But we simply can't do it without your supportCan you help?

In solidarity,

Phil Smith, AlterNet Drugs Editor

 

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The 10 Biggest Companies That Spare Their Employees the Humiliation of Drug Testing

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 15:01
Click here for reuse options! These companies care about the quality of one's work, not the state of one's urine.

For the past 35 or so years, millions of American workers have had to submit to a humiliating, privacy-invading procedure to get or keep a job: the urine sample drug test. As hard as it may be to imagine, it wasn't always like that—and it isn't like that in the rest of the world.

We can thank the Gipper. Mass worker drug testing is yet another dark legacy of the Reagan era. The practice began taking off as a drug war adjunct after Reagan required it for federal employees in 1986 and Congress passed the Drug-Free Workplace Act the same year. That law required any business receiving federal dollars to implement a drug testing program.

According to the American Management Association, 21 percent of employers required drug tests in 1987, but as the drug war broadened under Reagan and his 1990s successors, that figure jumped to 81 percent by 1996.

Thanks to that drug war impetus, we have seen the growth of a "drug testing industrial complex" consisting of "drug test manufacturers, consulting and law firms specializing in the development of work-place drug testing policies and practices, and laboratories that carry out the testing," as SUNY Buffalo researcher Michael Frone explained in his book Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use in the Workforce and Workplace.

It's now a global industry with annual revenue somewhere around $3 billion this year, but employee drug testing remains overwhelmingly an American phenomenon, with the U.S. market accounting for about three-quarters of those revenues. Somehow, the industrial bases of the European Union, Japan, and other major economic powers survive without resorting to such invasive worker surveillance techniques.

But even here in the land of the free, employee drug testing looks to be on the decline, mainly because there is very little evidence that it actually improves either workplace safety or productivity. And at an average cost of $50 per drug test, employers end up paying an awful lot of money to catch a very small number of working drug users. As a result, the percentage of employers now requiring drug testing has declined to 57 percent, covering 40 percent of the American work force, according to a recent poll by the Society for Human Resource Management.

As pre-employment and random, suspicionless drug testing of workers hopefully goes the way of the dodo bird, here, thanks to the good folks at InsiderMonkey, are the 10 biggest companies that do not engage in workplace drug testing.

1. Apple

The world's largest company based on market capitalization does not drug test its workers. The tech giant has no known drug testing policy and its website says nothing on the issue, which is in line with the company's penchant for secrecy and silence. Silicon Valley firms in general are not big fans of drug testing because they'd rather have the best and the brightest than the straightest.

2. Google

Officially known as Alphabet Inc., the country's second-largest multinational is just as keen on drug testing as Apple, and for largely the same reasons. Both are headquartered in pot-friendly California, and both seek tech workers who tend to range politically from liberal to libertarian.

3. Microsoft

Another legal-pot-state-based tech giant that does not drug test employees. It doesn't explicitly say there is no drug testing, but there isn't.

4. Facebook

Another tech giant, another Silicon Valley company that does not drug test its employees.

5. Starbucks

The company makes its fortune on legal stimulants, is located in a legal pot state and tends to hire a lot of young people. It provides good benefits packages and doesn't bother to drug test.

6. QUALCOMM

This semiconductor and telecommunications behemoth vets its potential employees carefully, requiring at least two technical interviews before hiring, but it doesn't test people for drugs.

7. Chipotle

The fast-growing burrito chain operates more than 2,300 restaurants worldwide and does most of its pre-interview procedures online. It doesn't drug test its employees. 

8. Whole Foods Market

This organic foods leader has 462 stores in the U.S., UK and Canada, and it doesn't subject its employees to pre-employment drug testing. However, some employees hired to work with heavy equipment may face drug tests.

9. Twitter

The news and social networking website has great benefits packages for workers, but doesn't drug test employees. It is in San Francisco, after all.

10. Gap

Gap had one store in 1971. Now it has more than 400 franchise stores, and another 3,300 stores worldwide carry its iconic brands, such as Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta. The company doesn't mention employee drug testing on its policy or career pages and apparently does not test them, either.

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‘Wow’: Dr. Oz Leaves Fox & Friends Gobsmacked by Springing Pro-Marijuana Spiel as Segment Ends

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 10:17
Co-host Steve Doocy, who thinks marijuana makes people get "all potted up," was left amazed and bemused.

ehmet Cengiz Öz, better known as TV host Dr. Oz, sat down with Fox & Friendsto talk about an upcoming interview with Ivanka Trump — but it was his unprompted support of medical marijuana that stole the show.

Fox News invited Oz on Tuesday to speak about how Ivanka Trump revealed on his show that she suffered from postpartum depression.

As the interview ended, Fox host Ainsley Earhardt asked the doctor if the anger over Donald Trump’s presidency was bad for the country.

Dr. Oz agreed with Earhardt but then veered into a discussion about the opioid epidemic.

“Can I just say something,” Oz asked as co-host Brian Kilmeade attempted to toss to commercial.

“The real story is the hypocrisy around medical marijuana,” Oz said as the Fox & Friends hosts appeared stunned. “People say marijuana is a gateway drug to narcotics; it may be the exit drug to get us out of the narcotic epidemic.”

“Wow!” exclaimed co-host Steve Doocy, who is known for mocking marijuana users with the phrase “all potted up.”

“We’re not allowed to study it because it’s a Schedule I drug,” Oz added. “And I personally believe it could help.”

“I hadn’t heard that before,” Doocy gasped as he quickly ended the segment.

Watch the video below from Fox News:

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What Is Marijuana Doing to Your Penis?

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 10:10
All about erections, sperm count, orgasms and other issues.

Since marijuana is one of the most popular recreational drugs on the planet, scientists have been interested to know what all that consumption may be doing to the sexual experience. When it comes to men, that typically breaks down into a few subjects: sperm count, erections, orgasms and sex drive. Let’s explore what we think we know now.

Sperm Count

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, boys were painfully aware of two widely traveled stories: 1)  Mountain Dew, specifically yellow #5, shrinks your penis and 2) marijuana reduced your sperm count. Although it probably hurt sales among teen boys, the Mountain Dew story was completely false.

On the other hand, a percentage of men who heavily use marijuana have been shown to have lower sperm count and reduced quality of sperm composition. This may impact 29% of heavy users. That number increases when additional drugs are used as well. 

But science doesn’t always provide an easy out. In some cases, the opposite is true and contradictory information is discovered. In one study, CBD, a non psychoactive cannabis compound,  has shown to actually be an activator of sperm creation. Additional research will determine if this may be great news to men suffering from fertility issues.

Erections

Want to sell a product? Tell men that it will give them a bigger penis or more robust and dependable erections. It is surefire. The erectile dysfunction pharma business is worth between 3 and 4 $Billion annually.

So what does weed do to affect erections? Once again, the results are mixed. Some animal and in vitro studies have shown a negative correlation between cannabis and the function of erectile tissue.

 

However, others have pointed to the ability of the herb to relax the user, reduce blood pressure and improve blood circulation as positive contributions towards healthy erections. Erectile dysfunction is not yet approved in any state as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.

Orgasms

Information here is currently limited. One Australian survey found that in males aged 16-64 males who were daily users vs. non users was associated with an increase in reporting of difficulty having an orgasm. The same did not hold true for women.

Sex Drive

The Indian Hemp Commission Report of 1894 claimed that the drug had “no aphrodisiac   power whatsoever.” Many users would dispute that finding.

A Canadian study of a small group of participants found roughly 50% of respondents said cannabis increased their sex drive, touch sensitivity and enhanced the experience of sex.

A similar study of Kansas City residents found that, “over two-thirds reported increased sexual pleasure and satisfaction with marijuana use.” An older study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs revealed that 75 percent of male respondents said that cannabis enhanced their sex lives.

Like so much regarding cannabis science, we need to know more. There are inherent challenges with the existing data regarding age of the studies, limited sample size and a need for standard double blind, placebo control research. So guys, when that researcher calls you or invites you to participate in a reputable study about marijuana and sex, sign up. They need to speak to more men with experience of mixing their sexual adventure with a bit of top shelf bud and what better way to contribute to the field of science.

 

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When Will Our Govt Stop Ignoring That Marijuana Is a Major Regulation Success Story?

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 08:03
Click here for reuse options! Polls find greater levels of support among voters today for legalization than ever before.

Speaking recently at the Heritage Foundation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that the Justice Department is "reviewing" an Obama administration memorandum that calls for the agency to take a largely "hands-off’ approach to states that are regulating adult marijuana use.

“We are reviewing that policy. We haven't changed it, but we are reviewing it,” Rosenstein said. “We're looking at the states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, trying to evaluate what the impact is. And I think there is some pretty significant evidence that marijuana turns out to be more harmful than a lot of people anticipated, and it's more difficult to regulate than I think was contemplated ideally by some of those states.”

But a review of the available health and safety data clearly says otherwise.

Contrary to the fears of some, reforms to states’ marijuana laws are not adversely associated with changes in teen use rates, traffic safety, workplace performance, or overall crime.

State-specific data from Colorado, Oregon and Washington finds that adolescents’ use of marijuana has generally declined in the years following legalization. These statewide trends mimic national trends. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the percentage of teens currently using cannabis has fallen 21 percent since 2002. Perceived marijuana access among teens, as well as the percentage of adolescents seeking treatment for cannabis abuse, has also fallen dramatically in recent years.

Recent studies also find no ill effects on traffic safety. According to a 2016 study, medical cannabis legalization is associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities, particularly among those between the ages of 25 and 44. A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Public Health similarly reported “no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle fatality rates in the first three years after recreational marijuana legalization.… “[W]e also found no association between recreational marijuana legalization and total crash rates when analyzing available state-reported nonfatal crash statistics.”

In the workplace, studies report reduced absenteeism and greater workforce participation following changes in states’ marijuana laws. A review of FBI crime data also concluded that changes to cannabis’ legal status “precedes a reduction” in violent criminal activity. A 2017 study reports that licensed cannabis retailers provide “over $30,000 per year in social benefit in terms of larcenies prevented.”

Regulated cannabis access is also associated with lower rates of opioid-related hospitalizations and mortality. Further, tax revenue from regulated production and sales is well beyond initial expectations. In Colorado, for instance, revenues from legal adult use cannabis sales have surpassed half a billion dollars since 2014. Tax revenue from legal cannabis sales in Oregon and Washington have also greatly exceeded regulators’ expectations. Economic data compiled by Leafly.com identifies some 150,000 fulltime jobs specific to the legal cannabis industry

As a result, polls find greater levels of support among voters today for legalization than ever before. In Washington, which initially regulated the adult use of marijuana in 2012, 78 percent of adults are now in favor of the law—a far greater percentage than when it was passed. Nationwide, a record 61 percent of voters "think that the use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States," according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll, while 75 percent "oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana." This latter percentage includes majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.

There exists neither a rational basis nor a political upside for the Justice Department to undermine the will of the voters in this arena. Rather than decrying the effects of state-sponsored marijuana regulation, federal politicians and bureaucrats ought to embrace the fact that a growing number of states are experimenting with alternatives to America’s longstanding, failed policy of prohibition. In particular, GOP leadership ought to take seriously the tenets of federalism and heed the words of former Supreme Court Justice Brandeis to famously opine, “[A] state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

Public sentiment and common sense are driving necessary and long overdue changes in state-level marijuana policies—changes that are rapidly proving to be preferable to criminalization. America’s longstanding federalist principles demand that Trump administration allows these policies to continue to evolve and flourish free from federal interference.

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