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Recreational Marijuana Ballot Initiatives:
What Are Voters Being Asked to Legalize?
 
Plaintiffs asked this question of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court last week in a unique lawsuit challenging a November ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana for recreational use in the state. (See next story.)
 
It’s a fair question. Some 8 percent of Americans are current (past-month) marijuana users. Most are likely familiar with the kinds of marijuana pictured above. But the other 96 percent of Americans likely aren’t.
 
When states legalize marijuana for recreational (and medical) use, few people know that processors extract marijuana concentrates from the plant. Concentrates can reach THC levels that are 40 to 45 times higher than the 2 percent THC found in 1970s marijuana. THC is the marijuana component that produces the “high.”
 
Today’s concentrates like “Honey Oil” (bottom left, above), shatter, and wax are 80 percent to 90 percent THC. One way users consume them is by “dabbing.” A “dab” of shatter or wax is placed in a rig (upper right, above) with a metal chamber, called a nail, that is heated to melt the concentrate so it can be sucked through the rig and inhaled.  
 
Another way is to infuse the concentrates into foods and drinks such as Gummi Bears (upper left, above) and fruit flavored soft drinks (lower right, above).
 
Concentrates that are inhaled reach the brain almost instantly. But concentrates infused into foods and drinks must navigate the digestive system before reaching the brain. It can take 30 minutes or more for the user to feel high. So many users eat or drink more, and more often, and then overdose.
 
Toddlers and preschoolers are eating marijuana-infused foods like Gummi Bears, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies that parents leave within reach and are being rushed to ERs for overdose treatment. Many have to be hospitalized.
 
High Times Magazine has placed a number of how-to videos on its YouTube channel, where you (along every teenager in America) can learn “How to Do a Dab” here
or visit a “High Times Medical Cannabis Cup” here.
 
Voters Sue to Remove Recreational Marijuana Legalization Initiative from Massachusetts Ballot
 
Last week, Attorney John Scheft, representing a group of concerned voters, asked the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to invalidate a recreational marijuana ballot initiative that is headed for the November election.
 
The voters group maintains that the 64,000 signatures collected to date were obtained with a misleading summary by the state’s Attorney General. It says the initiative would legalize marijuana (the leafy green plant) and “marijuana products.” “What people are being ask to legalize,” Mr. Scheft said, “is marijuana, hashish, marijuana concentrates, and also [marijuana-infused] food products.”
 
“Using the term marijuana products is clear and people understand what that means,” the lawyer for the Attorney General responded.
 
But at least one judge disagreed. “Having read your summary I would have no idea that the measure allows the infusion of a hallucinogen into food and drink at all,” he said.
 
Read “Opponents Say Massachusetts Pot Initiative Text is Hazy on Food” here.
View the Supreme Judiciary Court of Massachusetts hearing here.
 
Sales of Colorado Marijuana Concentrates More than Double, Edibles Up 53 Percent in One Year
 
Marijuana Business Daily reports that sales of marijuana concentrates are exploding in Colorado, more than doubling since last year. Edibles sales are also up 53 percent.
 
These two kinds of marijuana made up nearly one-third of all Colorado marijuana sales in the first quarter of 2016.
 
Analysts expect concentrates and edibles soon will surpass sales of plant material in Colorado and nationwide.
 
Read story here.
 
Alcohol and Marijuana Use by Southern California Adolescents Leads to Poor Academic Performance and Health Problems
 
Adolescents who use both alcohol and marijuana in middle school and high school are more likely to have poor academic performance and mental health problems in high school, according to a new RAND study.
 
The effects were more pronounced with marijuana in more areas, including lower academic performance, being less prepared for school, more delinquent behaviors, and poorer mental health.
 
Nonwhite youth experienced poorer functioning than white youth when both drugs were used at the same levels.
 
The study involved more than 6,500 students in middle schools and high schools in Los Angeles, with the first group of surveys conducted when students were in sixth and seventh grade.
 
Many think alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana and therefore think marijuana is safer to use, researchers report. Youth need to understand the harms of marijuana, they conclude.
 
Read a summary of the RAND study here.
Read study abstract here.
The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). Subscribe to The Marijuana Report and visit our website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

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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