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Five More Deaths Due to the
Drug that Never Killed Anyone
 
On March 14, 2017, a teenage driver was killed along with two other passengers, aged 15 and 20, in his car on a highway just outside Lander, Wyoming. All had marijuana in their systems. The driver’s cannabis by-product levels were 10 times higher than levels that mark impaired driving by the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration and Wyoming law. A fourth person involved in the accident was seriously injured.
 
The Coroner's office reports it is seeing an increase in impaired driving due to marijuana. It says it hopes “awareness of the circumstances in this case will spur friends, families, and the public as a whole to take steps to safeguard against any person driving while impaired, whether by alcohol or any other substance.”
 
In late December 2016, two Massachusetts teenagers were killed when the car one was driving left the roadway and crashed head-on into a tree. The driver and his passenger, both age 17, had THC in their systems.
 
Read stories here and here.
 
Pictured above are Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, and Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, at a news conference promoting the package of bills.
Bipartisan “Path to Marijuana Reform”
Bills Introduced to Decriminalize, Protect, Regulate the Cannabis Industry
 
Last week Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Earl Blumenauer, both Democrats in Congress from Oregon, introduced a package of bills “aimed at protecting and preserving” state marijuana legalization programs and legalizing the drug at the federal level. (Editor’s note: Most such laws aim at protecting public health rather than a commercial industry.)
 
Here are the three bills included in the reform package:
 
The Small Business Tax Equity Act would make an exception to IRS Code 280E to allow marijuana businesses in legal states to deduct business expenses. Current law does not allow business deductions having to do with illicit drugs.
 
Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act would:
  • Remove federal penalties and civil forfeiture for individuals and businesses in legal marijuana states,
  • Ensure access to banking, bankruptcy protection, research, and advertising,
  • Expunge criminal records for marijuana crimes,
  • End the requirement for people to take a marijuana drug test for positions in federal civil service in legal states, and
  • Ease barriers for medical marijuana research.  
The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act would:
  • Legalize marijuana nationwide by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act,
  • Place an excise tax on marijuana products,
  • Permit marijuana businesses, and
  • Regulate marijuana like alcohol.  
Read story here.
 
Pictured above is the masthead of the U.S. National Library of Medicine's PubMed Journals.
Long Lasting Effects of
Chronic Heavy Cannabis Abuse

This study performed a complete psychiatric examination and a psychometric evaluation on each of 48 people who used marijuana only. In addition, hair samples taken from the head of each subject were analyzed and correlated with the psychometric findings.
 
Years of marijuana abuse ranged from one to 35 years. Forty percent of the subjects experienced auditory hallucinations; 54 percent experienced delusions, 85 percent had organic brain dysfunction in tests of visual motor functioning and visual memory, and all (100 percent) had organic brain function in a test of visual memory immediate recall.
 
The researchers say the persistence of symptoms three months after marijuana use stopped is “a remarkable finding.”
 
They conclude, “Chronic and heavy cannabis abuse results in long-lasting brain dysfunction in all users and long-lasting, schizophrenia-like psychotic symptoms in more than half of all users. These findings suggest a reevaluation of the current classification of cannabis as a ‘soft narcotic’ which erroneously, therefore, is typically considered harmless.”
 
Read study abstract here
 
Investigators Find Contaminated Weed in California Medical Marijuana Supply
 
An NBC4 I-Team in Los Angeles found 93 percent of 44 various medical marijuana products from different dispensaries contained pesticides and other contaminants, despite budtenders’ assurances that the products were clean. (A budtender is the marijuana equivalent of a bartender.)
 
California legalized marijuana for medical use in 1996 but until recently did not regulate its sale. Customers assume the medical products they buy are safe, but there is no requirement that medical pot be tested for impurities.
 
California’s recently created Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation plans to change that by the time recreational marijuana will go on sale legally in the state next year – two decades after the state legalized medical pot.
 
Read story here.
 
Proliferation of Marijuana Ads
Alarms Addiction Researchers
 
As more states legalize marijuana, marijuana advertising is becoming more common. Researchers at the University of Washington in St. Louis surveyed 742 young adults ages 18-34 who use marijuana. More than half had been exposed to – or sought out – marijuana advertising in the past month. They saw the ads online and in more traditional forms like billboards and print media.
 
The researchers say advertising can be very powerful and they worry about young people’s exposure to pot ads. It’s also likely that younger adolescents are seeing them as well, they say. Even in states that restrict marijuana advertising, online ads are everywhere, both on websites and in social media.
 
People who seek out marijuana ads are more likely to use novel products such as edibles and concentrates and to be heavy users. People least likely to be exposed to the ads generally smoke the drug and live in states where marijuana use is illegal.
 
About 30 percent of marijuana users have a marijuana use disorder that can be associated with addiction, the researchers say. They warn that limits should be placed on advertising to protect vulnerable young people.
 
Read story here.
 
Tracking the Money That’s Legalizing Marijuana and
Why It Matters
Don’t miss National Families in Action’s eye-opening report that tracks the money three billionaires spent to persuade Americans marijuana is harmless, a medicine, and should be legal. It explains how by bypassing the FDA, the billionaires and the marijuana industry they created threaten the process that has protected Americans from impure, unsafe, and ineffective drugs for more than a century. Download here.

 


The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). Visit our website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.
 
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About National Families in Action (NFIA)
NFIA consists of families, scientists, business leaders, physicians, addiction specialists, policymakers, and others committed to protecting children from addictive drugs. Our vision is:
  • Healthy, drug-free kids
  • Nurturing, addiction-free families
  • Scientifically accurate information and education
  • A nation free of Big Marijuana
  • Smart, safe, FDA-approved medicines developed from the cannabis plant (and other plants) 
  • Expanded access to medicines in FDA clinical trials for children with epilepsy 
About SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)
SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of "incarceration versus legalization" when discussing marijuana use and instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug. SAM supports a treatment, health-first marijuana policy.  SAM has four main goals:
  • To inform public policy with the science of today's marijuana.
  • To reduce the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to arrest.
  • To prevent the establishment of "Big Marijuana" - and a 21st-Century tobacco industry that would market marijuana to children.
  • To promote research of marijuana's medical properties and produce, non-smoked, non-psychoactive pharmacy-attainable medications.
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