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U.S.: Federal Numbers Show Marijuana Smuggling Plummets After States Legalize

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal marijuana trafficking offenses are on a steep decline nationwide as more states legalize recreational cannabis.

According to the latest drug trafficking statistics from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), such offenses have fallen sharply since 2012, the year that Colorado and Washington residents decided at the ballot box to legalize weed, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

The decline continues through 2015, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

"The number of marijuana traffickers rose slightly over time until a sharp decline in fiscal year 2013 and the number continues to decrease," according to the report. This, mind you, while trafficking in other drugs -- particularly meth and heroin -- appears to be on the rise.

The USSC's numbers show that at the federal level, marijuana trafficking is becoming less of a problem. Legalization could be reducing demand for black market sales, state prosecutors could have changed how they charge defendants, or there could be another explanation altogether. The data doesn't provide enough details to draw a conclusion, according to researchers.

U.S.: Advocacy Group Launches 'The Truth About Marijuana' Educational Series

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New Campaign Aims to Deepen Public Knowledge about Medical Marijuana

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Wednesday launched "The Truth About Medical Marijuana" educational website and accompanying event series. The Truth About Medical Marijuana will focus on emerging issues in the area of medical marijuana, including understanding the research behind the medicine, emerging policies issues surrounding cannabidiol (CBD) and consumer safety issues.

During each of the next three months, event hosts will focus on these issues and prepare attendees to share that information with politicians and key decision makers, as well as providing tools to counter misinformation in the media.

“With the majority of Americans living in states that allow at least some kind of medical marijuana it’s time to move beyond rhetoric and headlines and foster a genuine understanding of this too often misunderstood medicine,” said Steph Sherer, ASA executive director. “With the Truth About Medical Marijuana, we’re filling a void by giving people straightforward explanations of the science behind medical marijuana and explaining how medical marijuana relates to them and their families.”

Medical marijuana policy has recently undergone a significant series of developments with the passage of several new state laws in a short period of time. In total, 40 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the District of Columbia allow some legal medical use of marijuana.

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Helping To Overcome Painkiller Abuse, Reduce Deaths

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

States with medical marijuana have seen the number of admissions to drug rehab facilities for pain medication and opioid overdoses decrease by 15 percent and 16 percent respectively, according to a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. "Our findings suggest that providing broader access to medical marijuana may have the potential benefit of reducing abuse of highly addictive painkillers," the researchers concluded.

Other studies have examined the relationship between legal cannabis use and opioid overdose rates, but this is the first study to track addiction to opioids, as well, reports Katherine Ellen Foley at Quartz.

The paper builds on previous work showing that "states with medical marijuana laws on the books saw 24.8 percent fewer deaths from painkiller overdoses compared to states that didn't have such laws," reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. But the new paper's findings are even more compelling -- it uses more data, and the authors drew on a broader range of statistical methods to test the validity of their data.

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