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Study: Marijuana Doesn't Affect Physical Health, Except For Gums

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Chronic marijuana use has about the same impact on health as not flossing, according to an extensive new study.

A research team led by Madeline H. Meier of Arizona State University tracked the cannabis habits of 1,037 New Zealanders all the way from birth to middle age, to see exactly what effects marijuana has on common measures of physical health, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. Those measures included lung function, systemic inflammation, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body weight, blood sugar, and dental health.

After controlling for other factors known to affect health -- especially tobacco use and socioeconomic status -- cannabis use had no negative effect on any measure of health, except for dental health. People who smoked more marijuana had a higher incidence of gum disease.

Even after controlling for dental hygiene, such as likelihood to brush and floss, the relationship between marijuana use and poor dental health persisted.

Washington: Study Says Licensed Grows Can Meet Recreational, Medical Marijuana Needs

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new study released on Thursday performed for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board by the University of Washington supposedly shows that the amount of marijuana allowed to be grown by state-licensed I-502 producers in the state "is enough to satisfy both the medical and recreational marijuana markets," while ignoring the challenges of price, pesticides, and access which I-502 stores present for patients.

The study, "Estimating Canopy Size for the Washington Medical Marijuana Market," seems tailor-made to be used as political ammunition in the fight led by many I-502 recreational cannabis merchants to finish the shutting-down of Washington's medical marijuana community, which is already slated for extinction, at least as we know it, on July 1. After that date, any medical marijuana dispensaries which don't have an I-502 license will be required to shut down under penalty of law.

Study: Medical Marijuana Compares Favorably To Conventional PTSD Treatments

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Medical marijuana compares favorably with conventional treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Care By Design, a California-based medical marijuana company which recently completed a survey of 300 patients with PTSD. The survey asked what medications (including cannabis) patients had used for PTSD-related symptoms, and then asked patients to assess each medication in terms of its impact on the hallmark symptoms of PTSD, including anger and irritability, anxiety, depression, pain, and sleep disorders.

Among the key findings of the study, according to Care By Design:

• Survey respondents reported taking numerous medications for PTSD. In order of prevalence: Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, cannabis, sleeping medication, mood stabilizers, narcotic pain medication, non-narcotic pain medication, anti-psychotics, beta-blockers, tranquilizers, and anti-convulsants.
• Half of respondents had taken at least 5 medications for PTSD, and 7.5 percent had taken as many as 11.
• Survey respondents reported that cannabis was the most likely to improve PTSD symptoms—albeit to an unknown degree—and the least likely to make symptoms worse.

Study: Smoking Marijuana Does Not Make You Anxious Or Depressed

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Using marijuana as an adult is not associated with mood and anxiety disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder, according to a new study published on Thursday.

The research, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, challenges some previous studies which claimed an association between marijuana use and both depression and anxiety, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

Scientists examined the records of nearly 35,000 American adults who participated in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. They looked at the prevalence of cannabis use among study participants in 2001 and 2002, then checked on their rates of mental health problems three years later, in 2004 and 2005.

After controlling for confounding factors such as socioeconomic differences, family history, environment, and past and present psychiatric disorders, researchers found that "cannabis use was not associated with increased risk for developing mood or anxiety disorders."

Lead author Mark Olfson of Columbia University and his colleagues think that some prior evidence of supposed links between marijuana and psychiatric disorders could be due more to confounding factors than any actual connection.

U.S.: Survey Of Teens Finds No Change In Marijuana Usage Rates For Past 5 Years

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The results of an annual survey of U.S. middle and high school students released Wednesday refute claims that reforming marijuana laws and debating legalization will lead to increased marijuana use among teens.

According to the Monitoring the Future Survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

· Rates of daily marijuana use by 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders, as well as monthly use by 12th-graders, did not change from 2014 to 2015 and have remained unchanged since 2010.

· The rate of monthly marijuana use by 8th-graders did not change in the past year, but has dropped significantly since 2010.

· The rate of monthly marijuana use by 10th-graders appears to have dropped significantly from 2014 (and 2010) to 2015.

The survey also found a decline in the number of teens who perceive "great risk" in marijuana use, negating the theory that softening perceptions of harm will result in more teens using marijuana.

“Many young people recognize that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and other drugs," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "But they also understand that it is not okay for them to use it.

"For decades, teens had an artificially high perception of risk that stemmed from exaggerations and scare tactics," Tvert said. "Now that there is more information out there and it's not limited to horror stories and propaganda, they are developing a more realistic view.

Study: Marijuana Is Safe and Effective For Pain Treatment

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Cannabinoid preparations including herbal marijuana, liquid and oral cannabis extracts, and nabilone (a synthetic analog of THC) are effective in the treatment of chronic pain, according to the results of a systematic review of randomized, controlled trials published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.

Investigators from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and McGill University in Montreal evaluated the results of 11 placebo-controlled trials conducted between 2010 and 2014, reports Paul Armentano at NORML. Trials assessed the use of herbal cannabis, liquid and oral extracts, and synthetic THC.

Cannabinoids possess "significant analgesic effects" and were "well tolerated" in the majority of studies reviewed.

"The current systematic review provides further support that cannabinoids are safe, demonstrate a modest analgesic effect and provide a reasonable treatment option for treatment chronic non-cancer pain,” the authors concluded.

According to a 2011 review of 18 separate randomized trials evaluating the safety and effectiveness of cannabinoids for pain management, "[C]annabinoids are a modestly effective and safe treatment option for chronic non-cancer (predominantly neuropathic) pain."

Study: Patients Replace Prescription Drugs With Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Patients with legal access to medical marijuana use less conventional pharmaceuticals, according to a demographic review of patient characteristics published online in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

Investigators with the Medical Marijuana Research Institute in Mesa, Arizona, looked at responses from 367 state-qualified medicinal cannabis patients recruited from four Arizona dispensaries, reports the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Respondents were most likely to be male, in their mid-40s, and daily users of cannabis.

Respondents most often reported using marijuana for pain, muscle spasms, nausea, anxiety, depression, arthritis, headaches, insomnia, and stress. They typically said cannabis provides "a lot of relief" or "almost complete relief" of their symptoms, and that it is more effective than conventional pharmaceuticals.

Patients also understandably, therefore, reported reducing their use of pharmaceuticals. More than 70 percent of those responding said they used other medications "a little less frequently" or "much less frequently" for 24 of the 42 conditions specified. More than 90 percent of those who used marijuana for nausea, headache, muscle spasms, fibromyalgia, bowel discomfort, and chronic pain said they used pharmaceuticals less frequently once they started cannabis therapy.

U.S.: Daily Marijuana Use Exceeds Daily Cigarette Use Among College Students

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Daily marijuana use among college students in the United States is at an all-time high, with college students now more likely to smoke cannabis on a daily basis than cigarettes, according to the results of a nationwide survey released on Tuesday.

The long-term study, performed by researchers at the University of Michigan, shows that the number of students who smoke marijuana daily is at its highest level since 1980, when such data was first compiled, reports Ben Kesling at The Wall Street Journal.

"There's no question marijuana use has risen considerably," said principal investigator Lloyd Johnston of the Monitoring the Future study. "In December, we released results on secondary-school students, and we're seeing a rise in daily marijuana use there as well."

Nearly 6 percent of college students in 2014 reporting smoking cannabis on a daily or near-daily basis, up from 3.5 percent in 2007. Fewer students see marijuana as a health threat, with just 35 percent of high school graduates surveyed in 2014 saying regular cannabis use is dangerous, down from 55 percent in 2006.

About one of every 17 high school students uses cannabis on a daily or near-daily basis, according to findings released last December by the university.

Study: Nicotine Changes The Way Marijuana Affects The Brain

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Nicotine changes the way marijuana affects the brain, according to a new study from scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas.

When marijuana and tobacco are combined, according to the study, which was published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research, memory gets stronger as the hippocampus, an area of the brain which affects learning ability and memory, gets smaller, reports Sean Martin at the International Business Times. The more cigarettes smoked per day, the smaller the size of the hippocampus, and the greater the memory performance, according to the research.

The team concluded that the effects of marijuana on the brain aren't usually analyzed with tobacco taken into consideration. The research team was led by Francesca Filbey, director of cognitive neuroscience of addictive behaviors at the Center for BrainHealth.

"Approximately 70 percent of individuals who use marijuana also use tobacco," Filbey said (although I'd question that number). "Our findings exemplify why the effects of marijuana on the brain may not generalize to the vast majority of the marijuana using population, because most studies do not account for tobacco use. This study is one of the first to tease apart the unique effects of each substance on the brain as well as their combined effects.

Study: Medical Marijuana Laws Do Not Lead To Increases In Teen Use

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Lancet Study Dismantles Main Argument of Opponents of Medical Marijuana

A new Columbia University study published in Lancet Psychiatry shows that teen marijuana use does not increase after the passage of medical marijuana laws. The study, led by Dr. Debra Hasin, looked at past-30-day marijuana use among over one million adolescents over a 24-month period.

While rates of use were higher to begin with in medical marijuana states, rates of use did not change after laws went into effect.

This is not the first study to find that medical marijuana laws do not have an impact on teen use – but this study is the most comprehensive and valid, given the large sample size, the long study period and adjusting results for other factors that might contribute to marijuana use, such as gender, age and geographic location. Additionally, the study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has been critical of the impact of medical marijuana laws on teen use.

“Medical marijuana relieves pain and suffering for millions and does not lead to an increase in teen marijuana use,” said Amanda Reiman, manager of Marijuana Law and Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and professor at UC Berkeley. “This should end the ‘What About The Kids’ argument used by opponents who try prevent access to marijuana for the sick and dying.”

Study: Daily Marijuana Use Doesn't Change Brains Of Teens Or Adults

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's a repeating pattern. Last year, the mainstream press gave lots of attention to a study suggesting that daily marijuana use could cause abnormalities in the brain. But now that new research, using better techniques, indicates that claim simply isn't true, it doesn't get nearly as much coverage.

The authors of the new study, "Daily Marijuana Use Is Not Associated with Brain Morphometric Measures in Adolescents or Adults," which was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, suggest that alcohol use was actually responsible for the brain changes found in previous studies, reports Ray Stern at Phoenix New Times.

An abstract of the study describes how scientists could not replicate recent research that claimed cannabis use "is associated with volumetric and shape differences in subcortical structures."

The MRI brain-scan reports of 29 adults and 50 adolescents who use cannabis daily were compared with MRI scans of the same numbers of adult and teen non-users of cannabis.

Study: Marijuana Use -- Even Heavy Use -- Doesn't Lower IQ

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new study from the University College of London of 2,612 children in the United Kingdom examined children's IQ scores at age 8 and again at age 15, and found "no relationship between cannabis use and lower IQ at age 15. Even heavy cannabis use had no associated with reduced IQ scores.

But alcohol was a different story. "In particular alcohol use was found to be strongly associated with IQ decline," the study's author's wrote, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. "No other factors were found to be predictive of IQ change."

"This is a potentially important public health message -- the belief that cannabis is particularly harmful may detract focus from and awareness of other potentially harmful behaviors," noted the study's lead author, Claire Mokrysz.

"The current focus on the alleged harms of cannabis may be obscuring the fact that its use is often correlated with that of even more freely available drugs and possibly lifestyle factors," agreed reviewer Guy Goodwin of Oxford University. "These may be as or more important than cannabis itself."

A 2012 Duke University study of just 38 subjects had made world headlines when it claimed to find a link between heavy marijuana use and IQ decline among teens. Columbia University's Carl Hart noted the very small sample of heavy users in the study led him to question how relevant were the results.

U.S.: Study Shows Marijuana Legalization Has Not Led To More Use

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A nationwide survey released on Thursday found that legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado hasn't led to more young people smoking pot there.

"The actual attitudes towards its use are really in line with other states," said Dr. Leslie Adair, reports MPR News. "What this survey has done is posed questions for further research in understanding why that is."

The survey was commissioned by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, which operates drug and alcohol treatment centers in several states. It included interviews with more than 1,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

The study also found that about one in 10 young adults reported being high every day at school, at work or while driving.

"What we certainly know is that marijuana use affects memory, it affects concentration, it affects attention," Adair said. "It affects a lot of the cognitive processes required to drive."

But most marijuana users disagreed, according to the study, which found about 60 percent of pot smokers said they don't think it has a negative impact on the brain, reports Ashley Michels at Fox 31 Denver.

The survey also found that 72 percent of young adults whose parents had used marijuana also used it themselves.

Study: Marijuana Doesn't Cause Schizophrenia

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Claims of a causal link between marijuana use and the development of schizophrenia have been some of the (literal) Reefer Madness claims hardest to extinguish, partly because of insistent coverage in the British tabloid press which actually led to the Brits re-criminalizing cannabis after briefly relaxing the laws. But yet another study, this one from Harvard Medical School, has found no association between smoking cannabis and going crazy.

Harvard researchers compared families with a history of schizophrenia to those without, reports John M. Grohol at PsychCentral.

"The results of the current study suggest that having an increased familial morbid risk for schizophrenia may be the underlying basis for schizophrenia in cannabis users and not cannabis use by itself," the researchers found.

According to the researchers, the new study is the first that "examines both non-psychotic cannabis users and non-cannabis user controls as two additional independent samples, enabling the examination of whether the risk for schizophrenia is increased in family members of cannabis users who develop schizophrenia compared with cannabis users who do not and also whether that morbid risk is similar or different from that in family members of schizophrenia patients who never used cannabis."

Study: We're #1! Marijuana is the Top 'Illegal Drug' Used Worldwide

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

We're Number One! Marijuana is the most popular "illegal drug" in the world, according to the first-ever global survey of illicit drug use, but widely used opioid painkillers such as Vicodin, Oxycontin and codeine kill the most people. (Cannabis, of course, has never killed anyone in history.)

In addition to cannabis and opioids, researchers looked at abuse of cocaine and amphetamines in 2010, based largely on previous studies, reports the Associated Press. Ecstasy and psychedelic drugs weren't included, due to lack of data.

The scientists found that for all drugs studied, men in the 20s had the highest rates of "abuse." The countries where drug use was most prevalent were Australia, the United Kingdom, Russia and the United States. Results of the study were published online Thursday in the scientific journal The Lancet.

There were few solid numbers upon which to rely, according to the researchers, who came up with modeling techniques to reach estimates.

"Even if it is not very solid data, we can say definitely that there are drug problems in most parts of the world," said Theo Vos of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, the study's senior author.

Study: Cannabis Is The 'Least Risky Drug' For Driving

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new study from Denmark confirms what cannabis advocates have said for years -- marijuana is much safer than other substances when it comes to driving impairment. When it comes to driving under the influence, alcohol is still the most deadly drug.

The results were published online in the scientific journal Accident Analysis & Prevention. They show that with a blood alcohol level of 1.2 g/L (0.12 percent BAC) or higher are 30 times more likely to get in a serious accident than drivers with any amount of cannabis in their system.

The results, of course, call into question the wisdom and justice of per-se marijuana DUI laws such as those instituted in Washington state by "legalization" measure Initiative 502. Until the per-se limit of five nanograms per milliliter (5 ng/ml) was made law by I-502, police had to prove actual impairment in contested DUI court cases.

After examining data from almost 2,500 serious car crashes in six European countries, the authors found that marijuana poses little threat of driving impairment.

While strict, and sometimes zero-tolerance, cannabis driving laws have been adopted in many places around the world, science continues to show that these laws exaggerate the risks of driving stoned, reports TruthOnPot.com.

Study: Smoking Lots of Marijuana Lowers Risk for Bladder Cancer

(Photo: Patient Advocacy Network)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Researchers have announced that the conclusion of an 11-year study has found a strong association between frequent marijuana use and significantly reduced risk of bladder cancer. The more pot you smoke, the lower your risk, according to the study.

The new study compared the risk of bladder cancer in more than 83,000 men who smoked cigarettes only, marijuana only, or both substances, reports Kathleen Doheny at USA Today.

The investigators found that men who smoked only cannabis were the least likely to develop bladder cancer over the course of the 11-year study.

"Cannabis use only was associated with a 45 percent reduction in bladder cancer incidence, and tobacco use only was associated with a 52 percent increase in bladder cancer," said Dr. Anil A. Thomas, study author and a fellow in urology at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Smoking both tobacco and cannabis raised the risk of bladder cancer, but not as much as for those who smoked only tobacco, Thomas said. He presented the findings on Monday at the American Urological Association's annual meeting in San Diego.

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