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Covid-19 could be severe threat to people with substance use disorders
The US National Institute on Drug Abuse advised the research community last week that COVID-19 could hit some populations with substance use disorders particularly hard:
  • Because COVID-19 attacks the lungs, it could pose a serious threat to people who smoke or vape tobacco and/or marijuana
  • Those with disorders related to opioids and methamphetamine use also may be more vulnerable because of these drugs’ effects on respiratory and pulmonary health.
  • People with a substance abuse disorder are more likely to experience homelessness or incarceration than the general population, posing unique challenges to preventing spread of the virus. 
“We know very little right now about COVID-19 and even less about its intersection with substance use disorders,” the advisory continues. “But we can make educated guesses based on past experience that people with compromised health due to smoking or vaping and people with opioid, methamphetamine, cannabis, and other substance use disorders could find themselves at increased risk of COVID-19 and its more serious complications—for multiple physiological and social/environmental reasons.”
NIDA encourages researchers to request grant supplements to study the risks of COVID-19 in people experiencing substance use disorders.
Read NIDA Advisory here

FDA’s Report to Congress on CBD
As part of its 2020 appropriation to the Food and Drug Administration, Congress asked FDA to prepare a report determining how or whether FDA will regulate CBD products in the future. Since Congress legalized hemp in 2018, thousands of companies have emerged to make and market CBD products. This new industry is pressuring Congress to end regulatory oversight so that CBD can be marketed for an endless array of purposes, including as a medicine and an additive in human and animal foods.
FDA has approved only one product, pharmaceutical CBD, as safe and effective to treat Lennox Gastaut and Dravet syndromes, two rare forms of epilepsy. Safety and efficacy were determined through a series of clinical trials. None of the other CBD products flooding stores and the internet have applied to FDA to test their products for approval, even though they all are marketed as drugs that will cure or relieve any number of conditions or as foods that will enhance health.
FDA says in the report that currently available data show CBD is associated with potential risks. These include liver injury, drowsiness, and the potential for drug interactions. Further, little is known about the impact of long-term use and the effect of the drug on vulnerable populations like children, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly, and unborn children.
Key questions the agency is seeking to address before it engages in any CBD rulemaking include: 
  1. What happens if you use CBD daily for sustained periods of time?
  2. What level of intake triggers the known risks associated with CBD?
  3. How do different methods of exposure affect intake (e.g., oral consumption, topical, smoking or vaping)?
  4. What is the effect of CBD on the developing brain (such as children who take CBD)?
  5. What are the effects of CBD on an unborn child or breastfed newborn?
  6. How does CBD interact with herbs and botanicals?
  7. Does CBD cause male reproductive toxicity in humans, as has been reported in studies of animals?
  8. Are there differing safety concerns for use in certain animal species, breeds, or classes?
  9. Are any residues formed in edible tissues of food producing animals? 
Congress and the CBD industry are pressuring FDA to allow CBD to be marketed as a dietary supplement. Under current law, CBD products cannot be sold as dietary supplements, but FDA has the authority to change that. However, it would lose the ability to regulate CBD as tightly as it regulates pharmaceutical drugs, leaving it up to the public to determine whether a given product is safe and effective.
Read FDA Report here.

Company launches
“Hemp You Can Feel™” Cocktails
Coming on the heels of the FDA Report is a news release by The Marijuana Company of America, which describes itself as “an innovative hemp and cannabis corporation.” It invited reporters to an alcohol-free party at Mama Lion Nightclub and Restaurant in Los Angles to launch its new “Hemp You Can Feel” cocktails last week. The new drinks consist of “all-natural hemp and CBD.”
Says Jesus Quintero, MCOA CEO, “This drink is groundbreaking because of the nanotechnology that allows the body to absorb the ingredients quickly and provide a sense of well-being without the ugly ‘hang-over’ effect . . . You can have fun and simultaneously nourish your body. What could be better?”
Read Marijuana Company of America news release here.

Vaping sales rebound
as fallout from illnesses fades
E-cigarette sales at vape shops in Ohio plummeted from 50% to 70% between July and November 2019 at the height of the EVALI outbreak crisis, according to the Ohio Vapor Trade Association. But they are approaching pre-outbreak levels today as lung injuries decrease.
Vape oil sales at the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries have also risen – from $136,483 the week of September 21, 2019 to $741,347 the week of February 29, 2020, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce records. Vape oils accounted for 16% of all sales in December, second only to sales of plant material.
Read the Columbus Dispatch article here.

State releases list
showing who’s seeking marijuana licenses
Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy released a list of some 300 people who are applying for more that 200 licenses to operate marijuana businesses in the state’s long-awaited recreational market. On the list are names familiar to Mainers: 
  • Robert and Elizabeth Baldacci, brother and sister-in-law of former Maine Governor John Baldacci, are among investors of Coast 2 Coast Extracts, a medical marijuana extraction lab in Portland.
  • Another Coast 2 Coast principal is Ray Payne, whose wife, attorney Hannah King, sits on the Marijuana Advisory Commission, “created to advise Maine lawmakers on marijuana laws.” 
Maine received applications for 81 recreational cultivation sites, 30 bakeries and extraction labs, and 99 retail stores. Many applications listed multiple owners.
Like most other legal states, what guides Maine public officials’ decision-making appears to be personal profit rather than public health.
Read Pressherald story here.
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The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).

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The Marijuana Report Staff
Executive Editor, Sue Rusche. Editor, Nicole Carter. Proofreading, Harry Rusche, Professor Emeritus. IT Consultant, Lee Clontz. Social Media Coordinators, Margarita Eberline, Shannon Murphy, MD, FAAP, and Nicole Carter.
National Families in Action Board of Directors
William F. Carter, Chairman of the Board, Coldwell Banker Atlanta. Sue Rusche, President and CEO, Atlanta. Richard L. Brown, Secretary, Attorney (Ret.), Founder & Chairman, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association, Lakewood Ranch, Florida. Jeannine F. Adams, Director, 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. LLP, Atlanta. Debbie Berndt, Director, Parent Movement 2.0, Walnut Creek, California. Margarita Eberline, Director, Strategy Director, Ultim Marketing, Atlanta. Robert Margolis, PhD, Director, Founder, Caron Solutions Intensive Outpatient Program, Roswell, Georgia. Shannon Murphy, MD, FAAP, Director, Birmingham, Alabama.
Senior Adviser
Kent “Oz” Nelson, Chairman and CEO (Ret.), United Parcel Service, Atlanta.

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