Sunday, September 24, 2017

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Nothing is guaranteed in politics, but it looks increasingly likely Hillary Clinton will annihilate Donald Trump on Election Day.

That could be great news for stoners: Clinton has openly called for rescheduling marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, a Nixon-era law that designates drugs controlled by the federal government. Cannabis appears on schedule 1, the category reserved for heroin, molly, and other drugs outlawed for any use.

Marijuana policy reformers say moving pot to a lower schedule would mark a critical first step toward legalization at the federal level. But some observers worry the idea might not work out so well in real life. If the DEA or Congress reschedules, these advocates say, medical cannabis patients could actually find it harder to get their medicine.

Would Clinton reschedule cannabis?

It’s not clear how fast a Clinton administration might move to reschedule weed. Clinton has said she supports the idea and wants to let states chart their own course on legalization, though she has ruled out federal legalization in the immediate future. But she has promised to keep an “open mind” on the subject.

There is wisdom in the idea that rescheduling marijuana could speed the journey toward legalization. If the drug is moved to schedule 2, doctors would eventually be able to prescribe it under DEA licenses, though its legal uses would be tightly restricted.

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton

But before physicians could start writing federally approved prescriptions, the FDA would have to complete multi-phase clinical trials, a process that could take years. In the meantime, what happens to medical pot laws? Would the drug be re-criminalized because the federal government forbids doctors from prescribing it while it is under FDA review?

Theoretically at least, the FDA and DEA could team up to crack down on medicinal cannabis once the FDA starts trials. That would be exactly the opposite of the result reformers want.

Yet in practical terms, none of these outcomes is likely. Medical pot is already legal under the statutes of 25 states and the District of Columbia, with another 16 states allowing a non-intoxicating form of the drug for children with epilepsy. Cannabis is widely available to patients in most of these places, making it practically impossible for the DEA to enforce an FDA ban.

Patients’ access to medicine is secure

medical marijuana in bottleMedical pot smokers, in other words, aren’t in grave danger of losing access to their medicine in states that allow it. But other problems loom.

For example, the FDA imposes a host of expensive regulations on other medications. These include rules on cultivation, processing, marketing, potency, packaging, labeling, and efficacy, among other aspects of drug production. Pot would become part of Big Pharma, and the rules applied to that industry would also apply to marijuana.

But while moving marijuana to a lower schedule could have unintended consequences, the benefits would outweigh the risk. The whole point of legalization is to remove barriers to adult use of a popular drug. It wouldn’t make much sense for Clinton and her administration to let that happen – especially if she wants the pothead vote in 2020.

Let us know what you think: Would rescheduling marijuana make life better for stoners – or worse? Drop us a comment below.

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Marijuana activists are crying foul over emails tied to the Democratic Party that show the alcohol industry trying to undermine cannabis legalization. But the controversy may be little more than a tempest in a teapot.

The revelations came in a dump of emails by WikiLeaks earlier this year. Among the messages was evidence of efforts to tilt the Democratic primaries toward former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who ultimately beat Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The embarrassing disclosure led Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chair of the Democratic National Committee, to resign that job.

But the dump also included scattered emails discussing policy toward marijuana legalization. The Democrats officially support the idea and added it to their platform in July. The leaked emails do not suggest party officials are undercutting that agenda.

Proof: Alcohol industry attempts to stem growth of MJ

But they do include proof the alcohol industry wants to undermine cannabis legalization – sort of. While somewhat troubling, the disclosure is hardly shocking. Big Booze has a vested interest in limiting access to other popular intoxicants, and the alcohol industry was unlikely ever to support cannabis reform to any great extent.

Julian Assange
WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

Legalization advocates point to a digital ad in Huddle, an e-newsletter regularly sent to political operators, including DNC insiders. A May 24 edition of the newsletter includes an ad from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) describing the alleged dangers of cannabis. The ad reads:

“While neutral on the issue of legalization, WSWA believes states that legalize marijuana need to ensure appropriate and effective regulations are enacted to protect the public from the dangers associated with the abuse and misuse of marijuana.

“Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medicinal marijuana while Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and D.C. have legalized possession and recreational use. In the years since the state legalized medicinal use, Colorado law enforcement officials have documented a significant increase in traffic fatalities in which drivers tested positive for marijuana.

“Congress should fully fund Section 4008 of the FAST Act (PL 114-94) in the FY 2017 Appropriations process to document the prevalence of marijuana-impaired driving, outline impairment standards and determine driving impairment detection methods.”

Exposed email ads were misleading

The ad is moderately misleading but not nearly as blatant as most anti-drug efforts. It’s true that pot-related highway deaths have increased in Colorado, as they have in Washington State, but these fatalities typically also involve alcohol. More importantly, states where pot is legal have seen a drop in fatal crashes overall, suggesting many alcohol users may be turning to cannabis instead, even as others increasingly mix the two drugs before driving.

Marijuana Leaves

Driving under the influence of both is much riskier than driving while impaired by either alone. In fact, high driving is no more than twice as dangerous as driving sober, while drunk driving is 13 times as deadly.

Tom Angell of the Marijuana Majority acknowledged the ad wasn’t as devious as the emails exposing Democratic chicanery, but said it raises concerns about the role Big Booze seeks to play in marijuana politics. Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project agreed, saying drunk drivers are a more serious problem than those who smoke cannabis.

“Given that driving under the influence of marijuana is already illegal and that the existing research shows marijuana’s effect on driving ability is significantly less than alcohol, it is difficult to see a legitimate reason for the alcohol industry to be taking up this issue,” Fox said. “They would do better to fund research on how to decrease drunk driving.”

Tell us: Is WikiLeaks helping the cause of legalization by making these emails public? What if the information leads to a Trump victory in November? Leave a comment.

No one could blame you if you’ve spent the last year with your head jammed inside the chamber of your favorite bong. Every election season is exhausting, but 2016 will have a special place in the history of dispiriting politics.

american flag marijuanaStill, if you care about the pot you smoke, your legal right to use it, and the amount of money you spend on it, you should pay attention this year. There’s a lot on the line in November, even for potheads who really couldn’t care less about the electoral process. Here’s why.

Five States Will Vote on Legalization

Voters in five states will decide whether they want to legalize marijuana for recreational use. They include Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

California

The Golden State is the prize to beat all prizes. If legalization passes here – as is widely expected – another 39 million people would have access to recreational cannabis. The drug is already legal for medical use, and almost any adult can get it with minimal hassle, but full legalization would encourage a more regulated marijuana industry and generate huge tax revenue for state coffers.

Prop. 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, would make it legal for adults aged 21 or older to buy, possess, and use up to 1 ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants on private property. Proponents have raised far more money than opponents, and public support for the idea is strong.

Arizona

Arizona’s Prop. 205 would legalize possession of an ounce of pot and home grows of up to six plants. As in California, Arizona law would impose a special sales tax on the drug to fund school construction and other public projects.

The Arizona initiative was formally cleared for the November ballot earlier this year, but a group of opponents has sued to block the petition. They say the initiative failed to include full details about how legalization would work. Advocates reject that claim and say they followed the rules.

Maine

Known as Question 1, Maine’s legalization proposal would likewise allow adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow as many as six plants at home. Activists got their petition cleared for the ballot in April, but not before the state pulled a legal stunt in a failed attempt to stop them.

Elections officials announced in March that they had invalidated tens of thousands of signatures over the credentials of a single notary public. A court overturned the decision, and reformers succeeded in getting legalization in front of voters on Election Day.

Massachusetts

ballot legalizeIn Massachusetts, which borders Maine to the south, Question 4 would legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in public and up to 10 ounces at home. Adults aged 21 or older could also grow up to six plants.

As in Maine, opponents used legal maneuvers to block the initiative, claiming it misled voters by failing to tell them the bill could allow edibles and hash oil. But a judge ruled for proponents of the initiative, guaranteeing a spot on the ballot.

Nevada

If voters approve Question 2 in Nevada, adults could carry up to an ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to six plants on private land – but only if the property is located at least 25 miles from a retail pot shop. Nevada is one of the most sparsely populated states in the country.

The legalization question cleared the ballot here in 2014, long before activists reached that goal elsewhere. The proposal came about in part as a means to enforce more effective regulations on the state’s medical marijuana market, which has had a sometimes rocky road since it was created in 16 years ago.

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There’s more good news for medical marijuana patients in Canada: The government has lifted rules that barred users from growing their own cannabis plants at home.

Under the new policy, announced in August, patients will be allowed to grow up to two plants outdoors or five inside. Outdoor grows typically produce bigger yields than indoor gardens.

The previous ban never stopped many tokers, whether legitimate patients or recreational users, from cultivating their own plants, but it did put them in a bind. Because they were obtaining their cannabis illegally by growing it, they weren’t allowed to submit it for quality testing at government-regulated labs.

Political leaders considered that a critical problem, since marijuana is medicine in all of Canada and legally subject to quality and safety rules. If users can’t test their supply, they have no way of knowing whether it contains toxic mold, pesticides, or other contaminants. The new rules let patients cultivate cannabis on private property but also open public access to labs.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The decision removes both legal and practical barriers to safe, effective medical marijuana. Medicinal use of the drug has been legal in Canada since a Supreme Court ruling in 2000, but the former government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried repeatedly to prevent it.

Full legalization planned for 2017

Harper and his rightist majority were swept out of power last fall by the Liberal Party, and incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to legalize cannabis as a recreational drug next year. It would make Canada the second and largest nation to allow pot for any adult use; Uruguay, a much smaller country, legalized the drug in 2013, but it is not yet widely available.

A government official said in August that the decision to allow home marijuana cultivation was made in part because of the proliferation of cannabis dispensaries that police consider illegal. These shops are growing especially common in Toronto and Vancouver, driven by impending legalization. Without access to testing, patients have no way to judge whether the products sold by these storefronts are safe or effective.

“In recognition of the health and safety value of testing, the department is currently working to enable registered persons to access testing services for their own dried or fresh marijuana or cannabis oil,” Health Canada spokesman Eric Morrissette told The Globe and Mail by email. “This would enable individuals to have more information about the potency of the strains they are producing (i.e. THC and CBD levels), as well as information about any contaminants (e.g. heavy metals, microbial) or residues in their product.”

Enhanced testing for medical patients

Patients were allowed to grow at home in the aftermath of the 2000 court ruling, but Harper’s government later banned the practice and forced patients to buy their medicine through a handful of government-approved producers. This cannabis is often weak, noxious, and of limited medical value.

Illegal dispensaries are supplied mostly by home cultivators whose plants remain legal under licenses awarded before Harper’s policy. Officially permitting private gardens ensures more of this supply will be tested before it reaches dispensary customers.

The government’s decision to again allow home grows stemmed from a 2014 lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Harper’s rules. Lawyer Kirk Tousaw, who won the case against the government, called Trudeau’s actions a “robust response.”

“I am very pleased that my well-earned pessimism and cynicism about the government’s medical cannabis actions have proven to be wrong with the new Liberal government,” Tousaw said.

Let us know: Would you rather smoke pot you grow at home or buy in a dispensary? Why? Leave a comment for us below.

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It’s common knowledge the federal government and its law enforcement agencies officially oppose marijuana legalization, which makes it all the more ironic that the same government has a financial interest in MMJ.

As it turns out, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services holds a patent, No. 6630607, covering the use of cannabinoids in treating a long list of health problems. It’s one of only a few patents on medicinal pot, and it has been on the record, mostly unnoticed, for 13 years.

The DEA, the FDA, and other federal agencies continue to insist cannabis has no proven medical use. Voluminous scientific evidence contradicts this, leading all but nine states to legalize at least limited forms of medical marijuana. This makes it especially ironic that the government has a patent on certain uses of the drug.

Contradicting the Controlled Substances Act

The patent, awarded in 2003, is titled “cannaibinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.” It was filed four years earlier by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an anti-drug agency that controls cannabis-related research in the United States. NIDA has historically prevented scientists from studying the drug’s potential benefits, although the Obama administration recently loosened that policy.
Chem Dawg Strain

Patent No. 6630507 grants the government exclusive control over the use of cannabinoids in treating neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and strokes, as well as disorders caused by oxidative stress, such as Crohn’s disease, diabetes, arthritis, and heart attacks.

At the same time, the DEA includes marijuana in schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, a category that includes heroin, LSD, and peyote – drugs banned for any use. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN, noted that contradiction in a series of broadcasts between 2013 and 2015.

“The United States government owns a patent on marijuana as a medical application,” Gupta said. “So we have a patent through our Department of HHS on marijuana as a therapeutic and we also schedule it as a schedule 1.”

Patent limited to CBD preparations

The pot patent protects only a limited number of uses for specific cannabinoids, leaving many options available to medical cannabis providers. And it hasn’t prevented cannabis smokers from using the drug in states that have legalized it for recreation, let alone those who shop on the black market.

The government’s patent provides “a new class of antioxidant drugs that have particular application as neuroprotectants.” Antioxidants are chemicals that prevent rogue molecules from damaging the body’s cells. Neuroprotectants protect nerve cells in the brain.

Inventors discovered “a previously unanticipated antioxidant property of the cannabinoids in general (and cannabidiol in particular),” the patent says. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical found in marijuana that is widely used to treat epilepsy and other diseases.

CBD oil
CBD oil

Critically, the patent doesn’t prevent other uses of marijuana. That means legal growers can cultivate pot with cannabinoids that bind to receptor cells in the brain. This binding triggers the drug’s physical and mental effects.

“This newfound property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation-associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases,” the patent states. “The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”

Patent No. 6630607 protects CBD preparations but not THC, the chemical that gets cannabis smokers high. Government lawyers claim in the patent that high doses of CBD are superior to THC in treating disease, a conclusion that is not supported by empirical studies.

“Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses,” the patent says.

What do you think? Why would the government patent medical marijuana applications when it opposes legalizing the drug? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Nineteen California residents were hospitalized with marijuana overdoses after eating THC-laced gummy candiesg, authorities said.

The victims, both adults and children, were poisoned when they unwittingly ate the pot candies at a ‘quinceañera’ party Aug. 6 in San Francisco. A quinceañera is a coming-of-age celebration for 15-year-old girls in Latin culture, especially the Mexican American community.

All of the 19 people were treated at local hospitals for rapid heart beat, dilated pupils, hypertension, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and confusion. These are all common symptoms of marijuana overdose, according to officials at the city’s Department of Public Health.

Marijuana use is never fatal

Cannabis does not cause serious or permanent health problems, even when consumed in excess. It is possible to overdose on the drug, and even to require hospitalization, but a pot OD is never fatal or life-threatening. All the San Francisco victims recovered within a matter of hours and were released two days after the party.

Marijuana gummy candies
Marijuana gummy candies

Most of them were children, authorities said, with ages ranging between 6 and 18 years old. The other six victims are adults, officials said.

“If these candies are confirmed as edible marijuana, then this event is a strong warning about the dangers of edibles, which can be very potent and hard to control dosage in the best circumstances,” said Dr. Tomas Aragon, a health officer for San Francisco. “A situation like this, where they were consumed by unsuspecting people, and many children, is greatly concerning.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how the victims came to eat the candies, though it’s unlikely they all knew the gummies were infused with THC. Health officials have long complained that certain cannabis edibles, especially gummies and other candies, pose a threat to kids who can’t distinguish them from real sweets.

Investigation is underway

All the overdose patients were attending the girl’s party in the Mission District, the Los Angeles Times reported. They ate the candies at some time Saturday evening, authorities said. Officials at the Alameda County Department of Public Health announced they would investigate the Oakland business that catered the quinceañera. The company was cooperating in an effort to trace the source of the gummies, the health department said.

Authorities determined the overdoses were caused by marijuana after testing 12 of the victims for the presence of THC; each test returned positive results. Final results confirmed that finding.

“This could have been a much worse situation than it was, and I’m glad that all the children that ingested the candy have recovered,” said Mayor Ed Lee.

Lawmakers in states with legal marijuana have complained about the risk of THC gummies in recent months. Colorado has adopted rules that require tight packaging and labeling and could soon move to outlaw weed gummies outright.

Leave a comment below: Do you think states should crack down on marijuana gummy candies? What can authorities do to prevent overdoses?

Football took a toll on Leonard Marshall over the years. Marshall, who helped bring the Giants to two Super Bowls in the 1980s and ’90s, was diagnosed in 2013 with the apparent onset of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated concussions and head injuries.

Now Marshall coaches a team at Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey, and every afternoon, once his players have hit the showers, he sits on a campus bench and takes his medicine. It comes in the form of a vape pen with a cartridge full of CBD oil, and he uses it to treat the chronic pain that goes along with CTE.

CTE caused by collisions experienced by NFL players

The disease is the legacy of 11 seasons with the NFL. Doctors are increasingly convinced a career’s worth of tackles, head butts, and fumble piles can lead to CTE, and players’ groups have been pushing the league to respond to the problem. As part of that campaign, Marshall and other players who rely on medical marijuana want league officials to lift the ban on medicinal use of the drug.

CBD oil is a form of non-intoxicating cannabis used to treat pain, epilepsy, and several other serious health problems. It is made by extracting the chemical cannabidiol (CBD) from marijuana bud and can be smoked, vaped, or ingested. Marshall takes his first morning dose with a small dropper and then uses the vape pen through the day.

Leonard-Marshall
Former NFL defensive lineman Leonard Marshall

Because CBD doesn’t get users high, Marshall can function throughout the day – drive, teach his players, coach.

“The headaches, the migraine headaches, is what CBD has really affected big time,” he told the New York Daily News in July. “I won’t say the relief was immediate, but I would say from minutes to hours from usage, I could tell the difference.”

Increasing pressure on the NFL

Emerging information about CTE has put heavy pressure on the NFL to protect its players’ safety and health. The league may start to lose profitable players to fears of permanent disability and early death. CTE cannot be diagnosed in a living patient, but it has been found in the brains of numerous retired pro football players after they died.

The disease causes progressive cognitive and physical decline, possibly leading to dementia and other serious mental decay. It poses a threat not only to players but to the NFL, which stands to lose billions of dollars if the CTE backlash reaches crisis levels as players quit.

Harsh penalties for players

In the meantime, Marshall and his fellow marijuana advocates want the NFL to remove penalties on medical cannabis use. The league currently bans any use of the drug and imposes harsh penalties, including costly multi-game penalties. Sick retired players like Marshall hope access to MMJ could improve life for those at risk of developing CTE.

Among other benefits, pot could help players avoid the use of dangerous, addictive opioid painkillers. And it could at least provide comfort to players and retired players who are already experiencing the effects of CTE. Several stars with the condition have killed themselves in recent years, including Junior Seau and Dave Duerson.

“What I’m asking for is research,” said Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan. “We play a violent game. The injury rate is 100%. The more options we have for our health the better.”

Comment below: When do you think the NFL will finally lift its ban on medical marijuana use by players?

Authorities in Germany briefly detained famed daytime talk-show host Montel Williams in July after they found him carrying medical marijuana.

Williams was stopped at the Frankfurt Airport, his representatives announced after the incident July 30. The stop was relatively brief, they said, and he does not face any criminal charges or fines. German airport police released him within less than an hour after confirming his U.S. prescription is legitimate.

“This morning while traveling through the Frankfurt Airport, Montel was briefly held in German customs while they verified the validity of one of his MS prescriptions,” his representative Jon Franks said in a statement. “Once it was verified, he was promptly released.”

Williams uses cannabis to treat multiple sclerosis

Williams, 60, was walking through the customs lines at the airport when an agent discovered less than a gram of cannabis in his suitcase. He told the agent he accidentally left the droppings before leaving the United States. He said he uses the pot to relieve symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

The longtime TV personality was able to obtain paperwork from his American doctor confirming his claim and was released less than an hour after he was stopped.

Montel Williams
Montel Williams

Germany prohibits recreational cannabis use and allows the drug for only very limited medical problems, including terminal illness, cancer, and severe chronic pain. Foreigners are not allowed to use the drug as medicine while traveling in the country, just as German patients would not be allowed to use it in the United States.

Williams used the incident as an opportunity to remind viewers and Facebook followers why he supports better access to medicinal cannabis and legalization of the drug for recreational use.

Advocating for sensible medical marijuana policy

“Unfortunately this is the reality faced by medical marijuana patients every day all over the world,” the statement said. “Today, Montel reaffirms his commitment to fighting for sensible medical marijuana policies across the world and to fighting the stigma he and so many other seriously ill Americans face every day for simply following the advice of their doctor — in Montel’s case a world-class Multiple Sclerosis specialist.”

But Franks noted that customs agents treated Williams respectfully and never accused him of committing a crime. He was only asked to produce evidence of his American marijuana prescription.

“He has asked that we relay to the German government, via their embassy, his appreciation and gratitude for the respect with which he was treated by German officials,” Franks sold Page Six at the New York Post.

Williams frequently speaks out in support of cannabis reform, especially medical marijuana issues, and is considered one of the most credible mainstream advocates of legalization.

Comment below: Do you watch Montel? Is he an effective advocate for marijuana reform?

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A new study suggests that states where medical marijuana is legal put less strain on Medicare and see less use of prescription medications.

medical marijuana prescriptionIn a nation with an epidemic of prescription drug abuse, that could be a very positive sign. It’s also good news for government regulators and lawmakers, who continue to look for ways to preserve Medicare funding in coming decades.

The study found that the District of Columbia and 17 states where full medical marijuana is legal saved roughly $165 million in Medicare spending in 2013. Conducted by scientists at the University of Georgia, the report was published in July in the journal Health Affairs.

“The results suggest that if all states had implemented medical marijuana, the overall savings to Medicare would have been around $468 million,” the research team said in a press statement.

The researchers examined the quantity of medical prescriptions for treatment of various conditions, including chronic pain. Specifically, they studied prescriptions filled through Medicare’s Prescription Drug Plan, also known as Part D, between 2010 and 2013.

They then focused on prescriptions that could be replaced by medicinal cannabis in states where the drug is legal for that use. In addition to pain, the diseases they studied include anxiety, depression, nausea, glaucoma, psychosis, insomnia, seizures, and spastic disorders such as multiple sclerosis.

MMJ reduced opioid prescriptions

The survey concluded that doctors in MMJ states wrote fewer prescriptions for most of these disorders. Opioid painkiller prescriptions, for one, dropped by 1,800 doses each day, while prescriptions for antidepressants declined by 265 daily doses.

Researchers paid special attention to glaucoma, a serious eye condition that can be effectively treated with cannabis. Glaucoma is extremely painful and can end in blindness, but regular marijuana use has been proven to decrease ocular pressure by 25 percent.

“It turns out that glaucoma is one of the most Googled searches linked to marijuana, right after pain,” said Dr. David Bradford of the university’s School of Public and International Affairs.

But unlike some of the other diseases, the symptoms of glaucoma return rapidly after using, and it would be unrealistic to expect patients to smoke often enough to prevent those relapses. That means the number of prescriptions for this condition shouldn’t drop – just as the study found.

Glaucoma prescriptions have increased

Instead, the numbers have increased for glaucoma while dropping for the other diseases. That sharp difference led the researchers to conclude the drug is truly effective in treating many conditions even while it is less effective in treating others.

In other words, medical cannabis patients use the drug because it works, not because they feel like getting high for the fun of it.

“The results suggest people are really using marijuana as medicine and not just using it for recreational purposes,” said the study’s lead author, Ashley Bradford, who added that she hoped “this research will influence and reform policy making.”

The report focused mostly on the financial savings of medical pot to the government and taxpayers, but there are other benefits as well. Less reliance on prescription drugs could help reduce the wave of opioid overdose deaths sweeping the United States.

“We now know that overdoses from prescription opioid pain relievers are a driving factor in the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report.”

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Tobacco kills – we all know that. And it’s probably common knowledge that a large percentage of marijuana users also smoke tobacco. That, as it turns out, is an especially bad idea.

A new study out of the United Kingdom reports that mixing tobacco with cannabis, as many stoners do, increases the risk they’ll become addicted to either drug, or both.

“Cannabis dependence and tobacco dependence manifest in similar ways, so it is often difficult to separate these out in people who use both drugs,” said lead author Chandni Hindocha, a Ph.D candidate at University College London. “Cannabis is less addictive than tobacco, but we show here that mixing tobacco with cannabis lowers the motivation to quit using these drugs.”

Tobacco and pot are among the most popular recreational drugs in the world: Nearly 200 million people use marijuana while roughly 1 billion smoke or chew tobacco products. In many countries it’s common for cannabis users to mix the drug with tobacco, for at least two reasons.

Why people like to mix

For one, mixing is cheaper than smoking weed and cigarettes separately, since it delivers both drugs while satisfying psychological cravings for nicotine. For another, tobacco may heighten marijuana potency, as it increases the efficiency of smoke inhalation.

The consequences of longtime tobacco use can be severe. Cigarettes kill nearly half a million Americans each year, more than any other intoxicating or addictive drug. Pot smoking can also lead to addiction, thought it’s typically much less damaging and easier to break.

Mixing cannabis and tobacco has be highly addictive
Spliffs are the consumption method of choice in Europe, but not as popular in the Americas.

Heavy cannabis use can lead to memory and cognitive problems, though they are strictly temporary and lift when marijuana is no longer used. The drug’s only serious long-term effect is chronic bronchitis, a condition that often amounts to a persistent but mild cough.

The new study was published by scientists working with Hindocha, as well as researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia, King’s College London, and the National Health Service. The team examined responses from a 2014 survey of 34,000 subjects from 18 countries.

Study compared consumption methods

The study is the first of its kind to explore how many people around the world use various methods of consuming marijuana. The results showed these methods vary widely between countries, with spliffs – joints or blunts containing both cannabis and tobacco – most popular in Europe and least popular in the Americas.

For example, just 4.4 percent of U.S. residents use spliffs, along with 6.9 percent of Mexicans and 16 percent of Canadians. Spliffs are also rare in South and Central America. Vaporizers, on the other hand, are most popular in the Americas and less prominent elsewhere.

But the study’s central finding suggests a combination of marijuana and tobacco in the same joint, blunt, or bowl raises the risk of addiction to both, even more than using both drugs separately. What’s more, scientists learned that smokers who mix are less likely to seek professional help for addiction: Those who don’t mix were 62 percent more likely to want help for cannabis dependence and 81 percent more likely to want help for tobacco addiction.

“Our results highlight the importance of routes of administration when considering the health effects of cannabis and show that the co-administration of tobacco and cannabis is associated with decreased motivation to cease tobacco use, and to seek help for ceasing the use of tobacco and cannabis,” said Michael Lynskey, professor of addictions at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London. “Given a changing legislative environment surrounding access to cannabis in many jurisdictions, increased research focus should be given to reducing the use of routes of administration that involve the co-administration of tobacco.”

In other words, spliff aficionados may want to reconsider.

Tell us: Do you smoke spliffs? Does the study make it any more likely you’ll quit smoking tobacco?

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