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Young adults who live near medical marijuana dispensaries use marijuana more often and have more positive views of the drug
College-age young adults who live in neighborhoods with more medical marijuana dispensaries use marijuana more frequently than their peers and have more positive views of the drug, finds a new RAND study. Most of those studied were students in college or trade schools.
Researchers surveyed 1,887 people ages 18-22 who live in Los Angeles County and are part of a long-term study examining multiple factors about alcohol, marijuana, and other drug use. Some 85 percent of those studied lived within 4 miles of 10 or more medical marijuana dispensaries.
Living near more dispensaries was associated with use on more days in the past month and more positive expectations about the drug. If dispensaries had storefront signage, the association was even stronger – by a factor of four to six.
Researchers say stores selling recreational marijuana, which California legalized in 2016, must be studied as well because marijuana use is most prevalent in this age group and is associated with increased risk for multiple substance use disorders such as mental and physical health problems, school drop-out, relationship problems, and motor vehicle accidents.
Read RAND press release here. Read Addiction abstract here.

American teens and adults more likely
to begin use of an illegal drug in the summer
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows that more than 3 million people tried LSD, marijuana, cocaine, or ecstasy for the first time in 2017. In an analysis of data from that survey over seven years, researchers from NYU School of Medicine and Columbia University find that 34 percent of LSD use, 30 percent of marijuana use, 30 percent of ecstasy use, and 28 percent of cocaine use began in the summer.
The study used NSDUH data from 2011 to 2017, involving 394,415 people ages 12 and older. New users were asked the month and year they began use.
Lead investigator Joseph J. Palamar, MPH, PhD, at NYU medical school’s department of public health, says, "Parents and educators who are concerned about their kids need to educate them year-round about potential risks associated with drug use, but special emphasis appears to be needed before or during summer months when rates of initiation increase,"
Read Science Daily summary here
Read Journal of General Internal Medicine abstract here.

Frequent marijuana use the year before
and during pregnancy increasing
among pregnant women in California
Researchers from Kaiser Permanente and the University of California, San Francisco, surveyed 276,991 women who sought standard care in the Kaiser Permanente system for 367,403 pregnancies in Northern California between 2009 and 2017. Data came from those who completed a self-administered questionnaire on marijuana use.
The adjusted prevalence of marijuana use in the year before pregnancy nearly doubled (from 6.80 percent in 2009 to 12.50 percent in 2017) and almost doubled during pregnancy (from 1.95 percent to 3.38 percent). All levels of use increased, with daily use increasing fastest.
The increases occurred in recent years and are “potentially associated with increasing acceptance of marijuana use and decreasing perceptions of marijuana-associated harms,” say the researchers.
Read JAMA study here.

Is increasing frequency of marijuana use
during pregnancy a cause for alarm?
Doctors invited to comment on the study above say yes. A recent meta-analysis found no association between marijuana use and low birth weight or preterm birth but did find that risks for both occurred with weekly or more frequent use compared to women who did not use the drug.
Frequency of use also has been associated with long-term effects on fetal neurological development.
With this knowledge, say the doctors, there is cause for alarm.
“As clinicians, we must remind reproductive-aged women that there are no known benefits of marijuana use in pregnancy and that there are associated harms.”
Read JAMA letter here.

FDA sends warning letter to Curaleaf
The same week Curaleaf announced that for $875 million it had acquired Chicago’s GR companies, doing business as Grassroots, it received a warning letter from FDA telling it to stop making false medical claims about its CBD products.
The acquisition, expected to close in 2020, means Curaleaf will hold 131 dispensary licenses (68 are currently operating), 26 processing facilities, and 20 cultivation licenses in 19 states. The company currently operates marijuana businesses in 12 states and was one of several pot businesses to successfully lobby Georgia legislators earlier this year to legalize marijuana cultivation, despite vigorous protests from the drug-prevention community.
The warning letter illustrates why preventionists, who say “medical marijuana” is about making money at the expense of public health, are so concerned. The letter states that Curaleaf illegally sells online unapproved CBD products with “unsubstantiated claims that the products treat cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, opioid withdrawal, pain, and pet anxiety, among other conditions or diseases.”
In a press release about the warning letter, FDA lists some of the false claims Curaleaf makes on its website. Among several cited, these include: 
  • “CBD has been demonstrated to have properties that counteract the growth of [and/or] spread of cancer.” 
  • “CBD was effective in killing human breast cancer cells.” 
  • “CBD has also been shown to be effective in treating Parkinson’s disease.” 
  • “CBD has been linked to the effective treatment of Alzheimer’s disease ….” 
  • “CBD is being adopted more and more as a natural alternative to pharmaceutical-grade treatments for depression and anxiety.” 
  • “What are the benefits of CBD oil? …. Some of the most researched and well-supported hemp oil uses include …. Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders, and even schizophrenia …. Chronic pain from fibromyalgia, slipped spinal discs . . . Eating disorders and addiction . . ..” 
  • “[V]ets will prescribe puppy Xanax to pet owners which can help in certain instances but is not necessarily a desirable medication to give your dog continually. Whereas CBD oil is natural and offers similar results without the use of chemicals.” 
Curaleaf has 15 days to correct these and other violations. Failure to act promptly “may result in legal action, including product seizure and injunction,” the FDA letter warns.
“There are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, effectiveness and quality of unapproved products containing CBD,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D. “Today’s action demonstrates that the agency stands firm in its commitment to continue monitoring the marketplace and protecting the public health. . . . Consumers should beware of purchasing or using any such products.”
Read FDA press release here. Read FDA letter to Curaleaf here.
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The Marijuana Report Staff
Executive Editor
Sue Rusche
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IT Consultant
Lee Clontz
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Margarita Eberline
We are grateful to our Board of Directors and Senior Adviser for their support of National Families in Action, which produces The Marijuana Report website and e-newsletter.
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Realtor Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Georgia Properties, Atlanta.

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Attorney (Ret.), Lakewood Ranch, Florida
Founder & Chairman, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association 

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President and CEO, J. Addams & Partners, Atlanta.

Jack L. Arbiser, MD, PhD, Director
Thomas J. Lawley Professor of Dermatology
Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta

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Founder, Caron Solutions Intensive Outpatient Program, Roswell, Georgia.

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Birmingham, Alabama 
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Kent “Oz” Nelson, Chairman and CEO (Ret.)
United Parcel Service, Atlanta.
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