The frequent use of cannabis is not associated with changes in brain structure, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Addiction.
An international team of scientists from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom assessed the relationship between habitual cannabis exposure and grey matter volumes in seven regions of the brain – including the thalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, and the nucleus accumbens – in two large population-based twin samples.
Researchers reported, “[N]ormal variation in cannabis use is statistically unrelated to individual differences in brain morphology as measured by subcortical volume.”
By contrast, the repeated use of nicotine was positively associated with significantly smaller thalamus volumes in middle-aged males.
Authors concluded: “This is the largest exploratory analysis integrating brain imaging with self-report cannabis and comorbid substance use data. After correcting for multiple testing, there was no effect of cannabis use on the volume at any subcortical region of interest in young adults or middle-aged males. … In the context of expanding medicalization and decriminalization and the concerns surrounding the consequences of increased cannabis availability, our findings suggest that normal variation in cannabis use is statistically unrelated to brain morphology as measured by subcortical volumes in non-clinical samples.”
The findings are consistent with those of prior brain imaging studies reporting that cannabis exposure appears to have little to no significant adverse impact upon brain morphology — particularly when compared to the dramatic effects associated with the alcohol …
Michigan is angling to become the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana. On Apr. 26, the state’s Board of Canvassers ruled that the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMA) had submitted a sufficient number of signatures (250,000 were needed) to get the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The state legislature will have the opportunity to enact it first, but that’s unlikely. The measure would allow adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of pot and grow up to 12 plants at home. The overall tax rate would be 16% (10% excise tax and 6% sales tax) on cannabis products sold in licensed stores.
“The people of Michigan deserved this,” crowed Michigan NORML‘s Rick Thompson. “We’ve faced many trials and tribulations. We’ve had many stop and go signs from the federal government. That’s why states have to take the reins on the issue and really be the crucibles of democracy that they’ve always been intended to be.”
A few weeks ago, at a medical conference for the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids in Toronto, things got heated. And that’s putting it nicely. In attendance were scientists who study cannabis, physicians, pharmacists, and nurses. They were all there to discuss what should happen with medical cannabis policy, when the drug becomes legal for anyone to use. When the Canadian Medical Association started to explain their position, things got ugly. That position…
From cannabinoids to terpenes, a pot novice’s journey to finding the right strain. I’ve never been great at smoking weed. While some lucky smokers can come home, spark up a fatty and enjoy the benefits of ancient plant medicine, there’s always a chance I’ll end up lying awake all night, heart pounding, too out of it to even follow an episode of Bob’s Burgers. When someone offers me a joint at a party, I ask, “Is…
Willie Nelson turns 85 years old on April 29. It’s become a tradition for him to release an album around his birthday; Last Man Standing, his 73rd studio album and eighth since 2012 with Sony’s Legacy Recordings, is a fitting next episode in Nelson’s late-career renaissance.
Teaming up again with producer/songwriter Buddy Cannon, the duo penned 11 new songs for the album. Like on 2017’s God’s Problem Child, Nelson takes inventory of those that departed on Last Man Standing. On the opening title track (watch below), he name-checks Waylon Jennings, Ray Price, Merle Haggard and songwriter Norris Wilson, and wonders “who the next will be.” Despite the sad theme, Nelson’s sunny delivery and clever wordplay make for a fun tune as he jokingly sings, “I don’t want to be the last man standing/On second thought, maybe I do.”
Nelson’s Trump-era bewilderment surfaces on “Me and You” (“It’s like I’m in some moron country/I’ve never seen before”), which suggests circling the wagons with the ones you love (“The world has gone out of its mind/Except for me and you”). Unlike the Nelson favorite “Me and Paul,” there’s no reference to getting busted for weed.
Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!
A lot of action was taken in Congress this week. A bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers has introduced legislation, the Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018, to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials involving cannabis. The act ends the University of Mississippi’s existing monopoly on the growth of cannabis for clinical research purposes, by requiring the licensing of additional manufacturers. And Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has publicly announced her intention of filing legislation to protect lawful medical marijuana users from housing discrimination. The forthcoming measure explicitly permits qualified patients to consume marijuana in federally-assisted housing, including public housing and the Section 8 housing program.
Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced his intention to include the language of the Hemp Farming Act as an amendment to the 2018 version of the federal Farm Bill, which Congress is expected to take action upon in May. Sen McConnell also placed the bill on the Senate calendar using a procedural move that permits the issue to be voted on the Senate floor without going through the committee process first.
At the state level, Michigan election officials have confirmed that proponents of a statewide ballot measure, The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, have gathered enough signatures from registered voters to place it on the ballot this November. The initiative permits those over the age of 21 to grow and possess personal use …
A bipartisan coalition of over two-dozen federal lawmakers, including House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL), are backing newly introduced legislation — The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018 — to facilitate federally-approved clinical trials involving cannabis.
Passage of this act would end the University of Mississippi’s existing monopoly on the growth of cannabis for clinical research purposes by requiring the licensing of additional manufacturers.
Currently, the US National Institute on Drug Abuse designates the University of Mississippi to be the sole provider of marijuana for FDA-approved research. However, many of those familiar with their product have criticized its quality, opining that it possesses subpar potency, is often poorly manicured, and that it does not accurately reflect the wide variety of cannabis products and strains available to consumers.
Previous efforts to break this monopoly have so far been unsuccessful. In 2007, DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner determined that expanding the pool of federally licensed providers would be “in the public interest.” The agency ultimately rejected her decision. More recently, in 2016, the DEA changed its position and amended regulations in a manner to permit additional applicants to apply to federal licensure to grow marijuana. However, the Justice Department and the US Attorney General have thus far failed to take action on any pending applications.
Under this measure, the Justice Department is mandated to act on any application it receives within one calendar year.
Proponents of the voter-initiated measure, The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, submitted more than 360,000 signatures to qualify it for the November 2018 ballot. The initiative permits those over the age of 21 to grow and possess personal use quantities of cannabis and related concentrates, while also licensing activities related to the commercial marijuana production and retail marijuana sales.
Voters in other states will also be deciding on marijuana-related ballot questions later this year. Oklahomans will decide in June on State Question 788, which permits qualified patients to access and cultivate marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Utah voters are also expected to decide on a narrower medicalization measure in November, though officials have yet to officially certify that measure for the ballot. Proponents of a medical marijuana measure in Missouri have surpassed the number of signatures required to place it on the November ballot, well ahead of the state’s May 6 deadline. In South Dakota, officials have confirmed that proponents of a 2018 medical use initiative failed to …
Sixty-three percent of US voters believe that “marijuana should be made legal in the United States,” according to survey data released today by Quinnipiac University. The percentage is the highest support level ever reported in a nationwide Quinnipiac poll.
“Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long failed experiment with marijuana criminalization,” said Justin Strekal, NORML’s Political Director. “As this momentum and public pressure continue to build, now is the time for elected officials to find their way to a political evolution. We are ready to welcome them to the cause of justice, fairness, and individual liberty.”
He added, “In 2018, NORML members and marijuana reform supporters will be attending town halls, knocking on doors, and making political contributions with every intention of defeating candidates who maintain their reefer madness hysteria as a justification to treat cannabis consumers as second-class citizens.”
The poll’s results also revealed overwhelming support for medical marijuana and sweeping opposition to federal intervention in states that have reformed their marijuana laws.
Ninety-three percent of voters support the medical use of marijuana, as authorized by a doctor. This widespread support is in line with the results of prior polls.
Voters oppose the enforcement of federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Political Action Committee (NORML PAC) has announced its formal endorsement of John Fetterman for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania.
“Mr. Fetterman has been an unrelenting champion for reversing Pennsylvania’s failed and draconic policies when it comes to marijuana,” stated NORML PAC Executive Director Erik Altieri, “He understands the absolute devastation prohibition has wrought on families across the state, most acutely in already marginalized communities. Having John Fetterman as Lieutenant Governor would be a huge step forward in advancing civil liberties and racial justice in the Keystone State, we are proud to support his candidacy and call upon voters to cast their vote for him in the upcoming primary and then send him to Harrisburg in November. Together, we can make real progress towards sensible marijuana policy in Pennsylvania.”
Upon receiving the NORML PAC endorsement, Fetterman said, “I will never shy away from the doing the right thing, and fully legalizing marijuana is the right thing for Pennsylvania. We should go full-on Colorado. It’s a simple solution to the devastation I have seen first-hand of the Opioid Crisis, and the disproportionate impact of mass incarceration on communities of color. As Lt. Governor I will be the leading voice on this issue in Harrisburg.”
Jeff Reidy, Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley NORML chapter commented on the National group’s endorsement saying, “Presenting John Fetterman with this National NORML endorsement represents the unanimous support of …
“There’s always the concern that, if there’s not a specific statute or guideline [granting protections], then the risk [of discrimination] remains,” said David Mangone, legislative counsel at Americans for Safe Access, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates for access to medical cannabis. The group recently graded every state’s medical marijuana program and gave Vermont’s a zero out of five for its organ transplant protections.
“There is overwhelming evidence that CBD can be effective for mitigating pain,” says Jahan Marcu, chief science officer with Americans for Safe Access, which works to legalize medical marijuana. “But we haven’t seen the full clinical trials necessary to understand exactly how it works.”
Pennsylvania State Sen. Daylin Leach speaking at right.
The good news is cannabis flower will eventually be available in dispensaries that opened throughout the Keystone State earlier this year. The bad news is it will only be allowed for vaping purposes. According to Dr. Levine, smoking medical-grade marijuana would be a criminal offense. Currently, cannabis is available in Pennsylvania as a concentrated oil or tincture. “I really do think this is the right thing to do,” she stated. The health department has a 90-day comment period before it can effect changes in the program.
Levine also approved the board’s recommendation to add cancer remission therapy to the list of accepted conditions and changed the definition of chronic intractable pain. Leach would like to go further (such as including insomnia as a condition), but said he was “happy about this expansion.”
We are pleased to release our 2018 Gubernatorial Scorecard. This extensive database assigns a letter grade ‘A’ through ‘F’ to states’ governors based upon their comments and voting records specific to matters of marijuana policy.
Twenty-four US governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (14 Democrats, 9 Republicans, and 1 Independent)
Of these, only two US governors, both Democrats, received an ‘A’ grade
Fifteen governors received a ‘B’ grade (9 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent)
Seven governors received a ‘C’ grade (4 Republicans and 3 Democrats)
Nineteen governors received a ‘D’ grade (18 Republicans and 1 Democrat)
Four governors received a failing ‘F’ grade (All Republicans)
Three governors received no grade because of insufficient data
Of the 31 Republican US governors receiving a letter grade, only nine of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (34 percent)
Of the 15 Democratic US governors receiving a letter grade, 14 of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (93 percent)
Commenting on the results, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri stated, “While federal officials tend to receive most of the scrutiny in the fight for marijuana law reform, it is not just members of Congress who deserve our attention. In fact, with the majority of marijuana-related campaigns decided on the state level, it is our nation’s governors who often hold the key to our success or failure.”
In a statement Friday, Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, noted the “tremendous amount of uncertainty from this administration regarding cannabis and how federal laws would be enforced against states that have lawful medical cannabis programs.”
But Sherer continued: “If the President intends to support a federalism-based solution, we are ready and willing to continue our efforts of ensuring that patients can access the medicine they need through robust state programs.”
NORML today hand-delivered over 10,000 written comments from US citizens calling on federal and international agencies to amend the international prohibition of cannabis. The public comments, which were requested earlier this month by the US Food and Drug Administration, will be considered as part of the World Health Organization’s ongoing review of the plant’s international classification.
Under international treaties, the marijuana plant is classified in the most restrictive schedules available for controlled substances. NORML maintains that this scheduling does not accurately reflect the plant’s widespread therapeutic acceptance and relatively low abuse potential.
The United National’s international prohibition of cannabis is a relic from a bygone era. This decision, which was largely a political one made over 50 years ago, does not accurately reflect either the available science or the rapidly changing political and cultural status of cannabis worldwide.
Members of NORML’s Board of Directors also submitted their own written testimony to the FDA, opining: “In general, the safety, dependence, and usage profile of cannabis compares favorably to alcohol, tobacco, and other unscheduled substances. For this reason, NORML believes that cannabis [ultimately] should be withdrawn from the treaty framework entirely.”
As of 1pm EST on April 23rd, there are only 6,566 comments submitted through the federal site. With the comments by NORML members, we will have submitted 61% of all public comments should that number hold.
This week, we submitted comments relating to the efficacy and medical usefulness of cannabis as a medical treatment. In early April, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a notice in the federal register asking for public comments on cannabis and its derivatives. These comments will help inform the response of the United States to the World Health Organization in potentially reclassifying cannabis.