The DEA Is Getting Dragged ‘Kicking and Screaming’ Into the New World of Marijuana


A man waves a Colorado flag with a marijuana leaf on it at Denver's annual 4/20 marijuana rally in front of the state capitol building in downtown Denver, April 20, 2015. (photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters)
A man waves a Colorado flag with a marijuana leaf on it at Denver’s annual 4/20 marijuana rally in front of the state capitol building in downtown Denver, April 20, 2015. (photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters)

 

Christopher Woody | International Business Times | Reader Supported News | May 18, 2016

n April, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said it would review marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug, considered the “most dangerous class” of substances.

While the DEA’s announcement is a positive sign, many drug policy experts think it’s unlikely the agency will actually decide to change marijuana’s classification, despite a dramatic shift in public sentiment about the drug.

Marijuana’s position in the top tier of the scheduling system — which organizes drugs by their “acceptable medical use and … abuse or dependency potential” — has endured since the 1970s.

“DEA will carry out its assessment of the FDA recommendation in accordance with the [Controlled Substances Act] … and hopes to release its determination in the first half of 2016,” the DEA said in a letter to a group of Democratic senators, first obtained by the Huffington Post.

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State Department: International Treaties Do Not Demand Monopoly On Marijuana Production


NORML | May 12, 2016

Washington, DC: United States treaty obligations do not mandate the federal government to limit marijuana production to a single licensed facility, according to written statements provided by the State Department to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

The Department’s statements run counter to opinions expressed by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which has long alleged that there can only be one federally licensed cultivator of marijuana for research purposes – the University of Mississippi, as overseen by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2011, the DEA rejected an order from its own administrative law judge calling on the agency to issue additional cultivation licenses. The agency claimed that allowing such activity would be “inconsistent with United States obligations under the Single Convention (treaty).”

But in response to an inquiry from Sen. Gillibrand, representatives from the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement have now denied the DEA’s claim, stating, “If a party to the Single Convention issued multiple licenses for the cultivation of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, that fact alone would not be a sufficient basis to conclude that the party was acting in contravention of the Convention.”

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Why Is Marijuana Banned? The Real Reasons are More Surprising Than You Think


Johann Hari | The Influence | AlterNet | February 12, 2016

Across the world, more and more people are asking: Why is marijuana banned? Why are people still sent to prison for using or selling it?

Most of us assume it’s because someone, somewhere sat down with the scientific evidence, and figured out that cannabis is more harmful than other drugs we use all the time—like alcohol and cigarettes.

Somebody worked it all out, in our best interest.

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Review: Cannabinoids Reasonable Option For Chronic Pain Treatment


NORML |

Montreal, Canada: Cannabinoids are safe and effective in the treatment of chronic pain conditions, according to a review of recent clinical trials published online ahead of print in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia.

Investigators at the University of Montreal, Department of Anesthesiology evaluated the results of 26 clinical trials “of good or excellent quality” involving 1,364 subjects. Trials assessed the use of various types of cannabinoid preparations, including herbal cannabis, liquid and oral cannabis extracts, and synthetic cannabinoid agents, in pain treatment.

Authors reported that cannabinoids were efficacious in alleviating various types of pain, including pain due to neuropathy, musculoskeletal disorders, fibromyalgia, HIV, and other chronic pain conditions.

They concluded, “Overall, the recent literature supports the idea that currently available cannabinoids are modestly effective analgesics that provide a safe, reasonable therapeutic option for managing chronic non-cancer-related pain and possibly cancer-related pain.”

Their conclusion mimics that of a 2015 systematic review published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology that reported, “[C]annabinoids are safe, demonstrate a modest analgesic effect, and provide a reasonable treatment option for treatment of chronic non-cancer pain.”

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Medical cannabis: considerations for the anesthesiologist and pain physician,” appears in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia.

February 11, 2016

 

Study: Marijuana Linked To Better Outcomes In Brain Injury Patients


NORML | February 11, 2016

Rieti, Italy: The recent use of cannabis is associated with improved outcomes in patients hospitalized with intracerebral hemorrhaging (ICH aka bleeding in the brain), according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Cerebrovascular Diseases.

An international team of investigators from Argentina, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States evaluated demographic trends and patient outcomes in a cohort of 725 subjects with spontaneous ICH. Researchers reported that cannabis-positive subjects possessed “milder ICH presentation” upon hospitalization and presented “less disability” at discharge as compared to similarly matched patients who tested negative for cannabinoids.

Preclinical and observation trial data has previously indicated that cannabinoids may possess neuroprotective activity. Specifically, a 2014 UCLA study previously reported that Traumatic Brain Injury patients who tested positive for cannabis upon hospital admission possessed significantly increased survival rates as compared to patients who tested negative for marijuana.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Prior cannabis use is associated with outcome after intracerebral hemorrhage,” appears in Cerebrovascular Disease.

Study: Alcohol, Tobacco Typically Precede Marijuana Use


NORML | January 21, 2016

College Station, TX: Alcohol is typically the first substance consumed by individuals who report polydrug use later in life, according to data published in The Journal of School Health.

Researchers from Texas A&M University and the University of Florida, Gainesville evaluated drug use patterns from a nationally representative sample of 2,835 12th graders.

Youth alcohol use most often preceded the use of tobacco or marijuana. Subjects’ age of alcohol initiation was the strongest predictor of later polydrug use, authors found.

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Twin Study: Marijuana Use Does Not Effect IQ Decline


NORML | January 21, 2016

Los Angeles, CA: The cumulative use of cannabis by adolescents has no direct effect on intelligence decline, according to longitudinal data published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Minnesota evaluated whether marijuana use was associated with changes in intellectual performance in two longitudinal cohorts of adolescent twins. Participants were assessed for intelligence at ages 9 to 12, before marijuana involvement, and again at ages 17 to 20.

Researchers reported no dose-response relationship between cannabis use and IQ decline. They also found no significant differences in performance among marijuana using subjects when compared to their non-using twins.

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Debunking The Myth That Pot Fries Your Brain


Paul Armentano | AlterNet | January 15, 2016

Scare-mongering headlines touting the alleged adverse effects of marijuana’s impact on brain appear in the mainstream media almost daily. But a careful investigation of the relevant science reveals many of these fears to be overblown at best and illegitimate at worst.

Pot Permanently Damages the Brain

“Even occasional marijuana can change your brain.” So claimed the headlines surrounding a highly publicized 2014 study by researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Addiction Medicine. Authors took images of the brains of college-aged cannabis users and non-users and acknowledged differences in the brain morphology of the two groups.

However, because the study was based on a single set of images, researchers had no way to determine whether the differences predated subjects cannabis use or whether they would remain if they ceased using pot. Further, investigators failed to assess either groups’ cognitive or academic performance to ascertain whether these changes were associated with any adverse real-world outcomes. (All of the participants in the study were enrolled in higher education and none of the participants met criteria for drug dependence.) Nonetheless, investigators pronounced that the observed differences were “abnormal” and indicated that such ‘brain alterations’ would likely lead to more serious drug abusing behaviors down the road.

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Study: Cannabis Improves Outcomes In Opioid-Dependent Subjects Undergoing Treatment


New York, NY: Cannabis use is associated with improved outcomes in opioid-dependent subjects undergoing outpatient treatment, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Researchers at Columbia University assessed the use of cannabinoids versus placebo in opioid-dependent subjects undergoing in-patient detoxification and outpatient treatment with naltrexone, an opiate receptor antagonist. Investigators reported that the administration of oral THC (dronabinol) during the detoxification process lowered the severity of subjects’ withdrawal symptoms compared to placebo, but that these effects did not persist over the entire course of treatment. By contrast, patients who consumed herbal cannabis during the outpatient treatment phase were more readily able to sleep, were less anxious, and were more likely to complete their treatment as compared to those subjects who did not.

“One of the interesting study findings was the observed beneficial effect of marijuana smoking on treatment retention,” authors concluded. “Participants who smoked marijuana had less difficulty with sleep and anxiety and were more likely to remain in treatment as compared to those who were not using marijuana, regardless of whether they were taking dronabinol or placebo.”

The findings replicate those of two prior studies, one from 2001 and one from 2009, reporting greater treatment adherence among subjects who consumed cannabis intermittently during outpatient therapy.

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Study: Patients Substitute Cannabis For Booze, Prescription Drugs


Study: Patients Substitute Cannabis For Booze, Prescription DrugsNORML | October 8, 2015

Victoria, Canada: Patients who possess legal access to cannabis frequently substitute it in place of alcohol and prescription drugs, according to survey data published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review.

Investigators from the University of Victoria in British Columbia assessed the influence of medical marijuana access on other drug-taking behaviors in a cohort of 473 Canadian adults licensed to engage in cannabis therapy.

“Substituting cannabis for one or more of alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription drugs was reported by 87 percent of respondents, with 80.3 percent reporting substitution for prescription drugs, 51.7 percent for alcohol, and 32.6 percent for illicit substances,” they reported.

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