September Open Meeting News
Studies and Reports:
Brookings Institution has issued a report entitled ‘Colorado’s Rollout of Legal Marijuana is Succeeding’, analyzing the first six months of Colorado’s legalized cannabis commerce and taxation policies, which voters approved by ballot initiative in November 2012. Author John Hudak calls the implementation of the new Colorado law “a resounding success.” He continues, “My research shows that regardless of the merits of the policy itself, Colorado has created a smart regulatory system that balances safety and security with access to legal marijuana.” The report’s conclusion: “Among the many successful pieces of Colorado’s regulatory system are effective seed-to-sale product tracking, a vertically integrated market, and strict limits on purchase quantity”. Despite a largely successful rollout of the policy, however, the report details a few trouble spots that the author thinks lie ahead for the new system, including “homegrown” plants and the different tax rates between retail and medical marijuana.
The administration of a single dose of whole-plant cannabis via a thermal-metered inhaler is effective and well tolerated among patients suffering from neuropathy (nerve pain), according to clinical trial data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy. Israeli investigators assessed the efficacy of a novel, portable metered-dose cannabis inhaler in eight subjects diagnosed with chronic neuropathic pain. Researchers reported that the vaporizing device administered an efficient, consistent, and therapeutically effective dosage of cannabinoids to all participants. They concluded, “This trial suggests the potential use of the Syqe Inhaler device as a smokeless delivery system of medicinal cannabis, producing a delta-9-THC pharmacokinetic profile with low inter-individual variation of (maximum drug/plasma concentrations), achieving pharmaceutical standards for inhaled drugs.”
Marijuana use by newly married couples is predictive of less frequent incidences of intimate partner violence perpetration, according to longitudinal data published online ahead of print in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
Investigators at Yale University, Rutgers, and the University of Buffalo assessed over 600 couples to determine whether husbands’ and wives’ cannabis use was predictive of domestic abuse at any time during the first nine years of marriage. Researchers reported: “In this community sample of newly married couples, more frequent marijuana use generally predicted less frequent IPV perpetration, for both men and women, over the first 9 years of marriage. Moderation analyses provided evidence that couples in which both spouses used marijuana frequently were at the lowest risk for IPV perpetration, regardless of the perpetrator’s gender.”
The enactment of medicinal marijuana laws is associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates, according to data published online today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine. A team of investigators from the University of Pennsylvania, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore conducted a time-series analysis of medical cannabis laws and state-level death certificate data in the United States from 1999 to 2010 — a period during which 13 states instituted laws allowing for cannabis therapy.
Researchers reported, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.” Specifically, overdose deaths from opioids decreased by an average of 20 percent one year after the law’s implementation, 25 percent by two years, and up to 33 percent by years five and six.
They concluded, “In an analysis of death certificate data from 1999 to 2010, we found that states with medical cannabis laws had lower mean opioid analgesic overdose mortality rates compared with states without such laws. This finding persisted when excluding intentional overdose deaths (ie, suicide), suggesting that medical cannabis laws are associated with lower opioid analgesic overdose mortality among individuals using opioid analgesics for medical indications. Similarly, the association between medical cannabis laws and lower opioid analgesic overdose mortality rates persisted when including all deaths related to heroin, even if no opioid analgesic was present, indicating that lower rates of opioid analgesic overdose mortality were not offset by higher rates of heroin overdose mortality. Although the exact mechanism is unclear, our results suggest a link between medical cannabis laws and lower opioid analgesic overdose mortality.”
In a written statement to Reuters Health, lead author Dr. Marcus Bachhuber said: “Most of the discussion on medical marijuana has been about its effect on individuals in terms of reducing pain or other symptoms. The unique contribution of our study is the finding that medical marijuana laws and policies may have a broader impact on public health.” Added co-author Colleen L. Barry in USA Today: “[The study’s findings] suggest the potential for many lives to be saved. … We can speculate … that people are completely switching or perhaps supplementing, which allows them to lower the dosage of their prescription opioid.” Nationwide, overdose deaths involving opioid analgesics have increased dramatically over the past decade. While fewer than 4,100 opiate-induced fatalities were reported for the year 1999, by 2010 this figure rose to over 16,600 according to an analysis by the US Centers for Disease Control
Denver, CO: The percentage of high-school students consuming marijuana has fallen in the years since Colorado legalized the personal use of cannabis to adults. State survey data released last week by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment found that fewer high-school students self-reported using cannabis in 2013 as compared to 2011. Colorado voters approved language in November 2011 permitting adults to legally grow and consume limited quantities of cannabis. The law change went into effect in 2012 although retail sales of cannabis to adults did not begin until January 1, 2014. According to the survey, the percentage of high schoolers who reported consuming marijuana within the past 30 days fell from 22 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2013. High school students’ lifetime use of cannabis declined from 39 percent to 37 percent during the same two years. Overall, Colorado teens’ use of marijuana has fallen steadily since the mid-1990s. In addition, separate data assessing the prevalence of statewide traffic fatalities during the first seven-months of 2014 compared to the first seven-months of 2013 also indicates that roadway fatalities have fallen following the allowance of retail cannabis sales. According to The Washington Post: “[R]oadway fatalities this year [in Colorado] are down from last year, and down from the 13-year average. Of the seven months so far this year, five months saw a lower fatality figure this year than last, two months saw a slightly higher figure this year, and in one month the two figures were equal.”
Washington, DC: Sixty-six percent of Americans believe that an adult ought to legally be able to consume cannabis in the privacy of one’s own home, according to results of a newly released nationwide HuffingtonPost/YouGov survey.
Florida: Sixty-Four Percent Of Florida Voters Back Constitutional Amendment To Legalize Medical Marijuana. They will have the opportunity to vote on a medical bill in November
Harrisburg, PA: Nearly seven out of ten Pennsylvania voters believe that marijuana should be legal for either medicinal or recreational purposes, according to the results of a statewide survey released by Keystone Analytics.
Washington, DC: Members of the DC City Council and Mayor Vincent Gray have approved legislation amending the District’s medical marijuana program to expand physicians’ authority to recommend cannabis therapy. Under the city’s existing regulations, enacted in 2010, physicians may only recommend cannabis therapy to patients diagnosed with one of a limited number of qualifying conditions, such as cancer and HIV/AIDS. As amended, DC-licensed doctors will be able to recommend cannabis therapy for any debilitating condition for which he or she believes the plant may offer therapeutic benefits. The new measure also expands the number of marijuana plants a licensed cultivator may grow from 95 plants to 500 plants. The measure will become effective following a 30-day Congressional review period. However, as enacted the changes to DC’s medical marijuana program are only temporary and will need to be renewed by the Council later this fall.
Washington, D.C.: This week the DC Cannabis Committee qualified a voter ballot initiative question to legalize marijuana by gathering 57,000 signatures–more than twice the needed amount. If passed this November by Washington, DC voters, two ounces of cannabis and the cultivation of six plants will be lawful for adults over 21 years of age. The initiative would also permit adults to give (but not sell) up to one ounce of marijuana to other adults. No retail sales are allowed under this proposed change of law.Recently, the DC City Council passed and implemented a cannabis decriminalization measure that now fines private adult possession of cannabis at $25, and public possession or use at $400.
Washington, DC joins legalization ballot initiative efforts this fall in Alaska and Oregon; and a medical cannabis access ballot measure in Florida
Illinois: In February, federal lawmakers approved language in the omnibus federal Farm Bill authorizing states to sponsor hemp research absent federal reclassification of the plant. Illinois Democrat Governor Pat Quinn has signed legislation, House Bill 5085, authorizing state universities to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes.
The new law takes effect in January.
Illinois joins more than a dozen states that have enacted legislation redefining hemp as an agricultural commodity and authorizing state-sponsored research and/or cultivation of the crop.
Harrisburg, PA: House and Senate legislation (HB 1181/SB 1182) seeking to authorize cannabis therapy to qualified patients remains pending in the state. A Senate floor vote on the measure is expected to occur after state lawmakers return from their summer recess.
Seattle, WA: Washington state-licensed marijuana retailers sold an estimated $3.8 million in cannabis products in July, the first month during which such sales were allowed under state law. The sales are estimated to have generated about $1 million in tax revenue. To date, the state’s Liquor Control Board has issued marijuana retail licenses to some 40 facilities. However, only 16 of these stores reported sales in the month of July, according to the Associated Press. Under state regulations, the Board may issue a total of 334 licenses to retail facilities statewide.
Voters in both states in 2012 approved ballot measures regulating the commercial production, retail sale, and adult use of cannabis.
Santa Fe, NM: City voters this November will likely decide on a proposed municipal measure to reduce local penalties for adults found to be in the possession of small amounts of marijuana for non-medical purposes.
The Santa Fe City Clerk’s office announced this week that the measure’s proponents gathered more than twice the number of signatures from city voters to qualify the measure for the fall ballot. If enacted, the measure will impose a civil fine of no more than $25 for offenses involving the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and/or the possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia.
Earlier this month, voters in a pair of Michigan cities – Hazel Park and Oak Park – decided in favor of local ordinances to depenalize marijuana possession for those age 21 or older. Voters in nine other Michigan cities, including Detroit, have enacted similar municipal ordinances in recent years.
Voters in more than a dozen additional Michigan cities will decide on similar measures in November.