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At least 131 people
with vaping-related lung disease
bought THC cartridges from commercial stores.
New data from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows that among half (809) of patients who reported where they obtained THC vaping materials, 131 bought them only from commercial sources, such as recreational dispensaries, medical dispensaries, or both, as well as vape or smoke shops, stores, and pop-up shops. The marijuana industry has tried to paint contaminated THC vaping products as coming exclusively from the black market.
As of January 7, a total of 2,602 hospitalizations from vaping-related severe lung disease have been reported to CDC from 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with 57 deaths from 27 states and the District of Columbia.
1,979 hospitalized patients had data on substance use:
  • 82 percent used THC-containing products; 37 percent exclusively
  • 57 percent used nicotine-containing products; 13 percent exclusively
  • More than 152 different THC-containing products were used by patients. While Vitamin E Acetate is linked to many cases, the CDC warns that there may be more than one cause of the illness. 
Read Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report article here.
Read CDC weekly update here.

More than half of marijuana medical claims on Twitter were tweeted by bots
Distil Networks defines social media bots as “A type of bot on a social media network used to automatically generate messages, advocate ideas, act as a follower of users, and as a fake account to gain followers itself. It is estimated that 9%-15% of Twitter accounts may be social bots.”
Researchers from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles mined tweets of cannabis conversations on Twitter from May 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018. Using sophisticated software, they were able to distinguish between tweets generated by humans and those generated by bots.
Twitter posts studied discussed “edibles, hemp, legalization, buying products, cannabis’ appeal or abuse liability, and health claims among other issues. Most of these topics were evenly divided between humans and bots, but posts generated by bots that indicated cannabis could allay health concerns outnumbered those generated by humans.
“Unsubstantiated health claims perpetuated by social bots may have offline consequences, such as leaving Twitter users with the impression that cannabis use can allay health problems such as cancer,” the researchers warn.
They note that previous research shows adolescents exposed to messages about marijuana benefits on social media are more likely to use the drug than those not exposed to such messages.
They conclude that “the current study’s findings should be important to the public health community, as repeated exposure to pro-cannabis messaging and cannabis use by others can influence the social norms of those exposed to the content and lead to initiation of the behaviors.”
Read American Journal of Public Health abstract here.
See infographic describing social bots here.   
Visit Distil Networks for more information about social media bots here.

Make It Legal Florida withdraws recreational ballot initiative despite Surterra’s $3.54 million donation in December alone.
As we reported last week, two mega-marijuana companies, Surterra (Parallel) and MedMen, have almost exclusively funded a political committee called Make It Legal Florida, which is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Fox35Orlando reports Surterra gave the committee $3.54 million in December alone, according to newly filed finance reports. The two companies have almost totally funded the political committee, which has raised more than $8.6 million in total.
The committee needs to turn in 766,200 signatures by February 1 but has collected fewer than 300,000. It plans to move its efforts to the 2022 election.
Read Fox35Orlando story here.

This week’s podcast:
Ryan Vandrey, PhD, on marijuana edibles, CBD, and an explanation of synthesis
Key Points 
  • Lay term of marijuana infused into a food stuff
  • Risk that people may eat something but not know it contains marijuana, especially children
  • Route of administration impacts drug effect
  • CBD (Epidiolex) has been shown to be safe for use by children, FDA has issued warning letters against false medical claims for unapproved CBD products.
  • Describes synthesis
  • Pet peeves 
Listen here.
Up Next? Marilyn Huestis, PhD, on Israel’s experience and advice for researchers

New graphics up on The Marijuana Report website show marijuana use
from the new 2017-2018 NSDUH
Pictured above is the graph showing past-month marijuana use among ages 12 and older by state. The new numbers are from the 2017-2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (note, we are correcting the label which is from the previous year’s survey).
Click on the “News by State” box to select your state where you will find past month use by ages 12 and older, as well as past-month use by ages 12-17, 18-25, and 26 and older. All levels of use are compared to the national total.
See graphs here.

Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Holds Hearing on “Cannabis Policies for the New Decade”
Senior policy officers of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse testified before Congress this morning on the issue of marijuana and health.
View the livestreamed hearing here (Click on “View It Later.”)

Heavy marijuana users who started young drive differently – even when not stoned, study says
The Boston Globe reports that a new study finds those who started early and use marijuana heavily drive differently from those who did not start early.
Researchers at McLean Hospital found that heavy marijuana users in a driving simulator hit more pedestrians, missed more stop signs and red lights, drove faster, and left their lane more often than nonusers, even after not using the drug for at least 12 hours.
But rather than proving that early heavy users are functionally impaired on real roads, researchers caution that their findings further demonstrate heavy use during adolescence impairs cognitive performance, including some mental tasks required to drive.
The paper will be published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Read Boston Globe 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. William H. Avery, Director. Partner (Ret.), Alston & Bird, 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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