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Breaking . . .
As we go to press, a new study by RTI International is released that finds “medical cannabis legalization is associated with a higher prevalence of serious mental illness.” Read study, published in the International Review of Psychiatry, here.
 
Marijuana Used by 91% of Juveniles
in San Diego Arrestee Survey
 
This eye-opening report from SANDAG, a collaboration of the mayors and city councilpersons of San Diego’s 18 cities as well county government leaders, shows that youth who get in trouble with the law use drugs at a rate far above national averages.
 
In a series of self-report interviews and urinalyses involving 110 youth in the San Diego region’s criminal justice system, 92 percent had tried at least one drug while 86 percent had used in the past month. The drugs most used were the gateway drugs of marijuana (91 percent), alcohol (90 percent), and tobacco (74 percent); nearly all drugs were used by some (see graph below).
 
The report cites several takeaways from the data collected from the young people:
  • “Almost all youths interviewed at Juvenile Hall reported prior experimentation with illicit substances, most had used one of these substances in the last 30 days, and the average number tried was 3.9.”
  • “The majority of youths . . . were more likely to report first use occurred around the age of 12. Marijuana was the most common first substance used in 2017.”
In addition to easy drug availability, other risk factors youth reported include:
  • “a history of truancy (83%),
  • “a parent with justice system contact (48%),
  • “parental abuse of alcohol and/or other drugs (39%),
  • “their family having contact with Child Protective Services (32%),
  • “not living with a parent (23%), and
  • “suicidal thoughts (19%).” 
“Around one in three (31%) reported they had ever brought a weapon to school and 25 percent said they had ever obtained a gun.”
 
“Despite the fact that many of these youths had early drug use histories, only two in five had previously received treatment, with about three-quarters of it court-ordered. Few of those interviewed reported needing treatment for current substance use.”
Read the Times of San Diego story here. Access the report here.
 
Evolving Opioid Epidemic
Poses Challenge for Public Health Officials
 
Illicit drugs such as cocaine and marijuana are increasingly being laced with illicit fentanyl, making the opioid epidemic even more dangerous.
 
“Many of the overdoses are due to multiple drugs,” says Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Right now we are addressing the problem of opioids, but we need to address the problem of drugs.”
 
CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat notes that fentanyl analogues are being developed so rapidly it is difficult to get out ahead of the problem.
 
Panel members agree that the possibility drug dealers may be spiking nonopioid drugs with fentanyl to expand their business is frightening.
 
Read Politico story and view video here.

 
Perinatal Marijuana Use
and the Developing Child
 
Thanks to JAMA Network, more full text articles and viewpoints appearing in journals published by the American Medical Association are available for public access.
 
This viewpoint by pediatricians at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a researcher at the National Institute on Drug Abuse calls upon physicians to warn pregnant and lactating mothers to abstain from marijuana use to protect their fetuses and newborns from adverse effects marijuana can produce. While more research is critically needed to confirm early findings, the authors say enough is known to merit such warnings.
 
Levels of THC, marijuana’s primary psychoactive component, are increasing with legalization. THC, which easily crosses the placental barrier, can negatively affect fetal growth as well as structural and functional brain development, leading to later problems in childhood and adolescence such as disturbed sleep, memory impairment, aggression, and other developmental and behavioral concerns. Further, preliminary evidence suggests that these adverse effects can transfer from THC-exposed people to future generations of their children.
 
The authors note that while the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists firmly recommend against marijuana use during lactation, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine changed guidelines to allow It, “citing ‘data . . . not strong enough to recommend not breastfeeding with any marijuana use’ despite urging caution due to ‘possible long-term neurobehavioral effects.’”
 
Read JAMA Viewpoint article here.

 
Oklahoma: Recreational Supporters Believe They Can Get enough Signatures This Weekend
 
It’s been a busy July in Oklahoma. Voters passed a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for medical use June 26. The new law has no list of qualifying conditions; MDs and DOs may recommend marijuana to patients for any reason.
 
Patients may possess up to three ounces of marijuana on them and eight ounces at home, including six mature plants and six seedlings, and an unspecified amount of edibles
 
The measure was vigorously opposed by doctors, pharmacists, and public health officials, as well as Governor Mary Fallin, who instructed the Oklahoma Department of Health to promulgate emergency rules governing the production, distribution and sale of the drug for medical use once the initiative passed.
 
The health department board offered two amendments to the emergency rules, outlawing the sale of smokable marijuana and requiring that pharmacists be present in dispensaries during business hours. The governor signed the rules and amendments into law July 10.
 
An agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration explained that any pharmacist who worked in a dispensary would risk losing his or her DEA license to dispense scheduled drugs.
 
Just days after the governor signed the emergency rules, a lawsuit was filed by marijuana advocates against the state of Oklahoma, Governor Fallin, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, and five of its members. A second suit was filed against the state and the health department by marijuana industry interests.
 
At the same time, proponents began collecting signatures for two new ballot initiative petitions. One would overturn the amendment disallowing smokable marijuana. The other would legalize marijuana for recreational use.
 
No state has gone from medical to recreational marijuana in such a short time. Authorities doubt the recreational petition will make it to the ballot.
 
Read press reports here, and here, and here, and here.
The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).

Visit National Families in Action's website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

Subscribe to The Marijuana Report.

Our mission is to protect children from addictive drugs
by shining light on the science that underlies their effects.

 
Addictive drugs harm children, families, and communities.
Legalizing them creates commercial industries that make drugs more available,
increase use, and expand harms.

Science shows that addiction begins in childhood.
It is a pediatric disease that is preventable.
 
We work to prevent the emergence of commercial
addictive drug industries that will target children.

We support FDA approved medicines.

We support the assessment, treatment, and/or social and educational services
for users and low-level dealers as alternatives to incarceration.

 
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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