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Commercializing marijuana more than
doubles calls to poison control centers,
youth especially vulnerable
For the first time, researchers from the University of California San Diego and the University of Fudan in Shanghai, China have teased out a substantial difference between legalizing marijuana vs commercializing it.
They studied exposures to dry marijuana, which were recorded consistently to the National Poison Data System between 2010 and 2017, the time of the study period. (NPDS did not begin to record exposures to other forms of marijuana, like concentrates and edibles, until 2016.)
“Among cannabis exposure cases, 69.4% reported medical consequences from minor effects to death and 86% were treated or being referred to healthcare facilities,” the article says.
Eight states and the District of Columbia legalized marijuana for recreational use during the study period. Five of them initiated commercialization, that is, they licensed growers, processors, and sales in dispensaries.
The researchers constructed three groups of comparison states:
  1. Comparing treatment states to six states that had legalized marijuana for medical use by 2010 but had not legalized recreational use by 2017
  2. Comparing treatment states to 22 states that had done neither, and
  3. Comparing treatment states to the 42 states that had not legalized marijuana for recreational use. 
They found no significant differences between legalizing marijuana and marijuana exposures in any of the three comparison groups. However, the increase in marijuana exposures following commercialization was significant in all three comparison groups. Moreover, the increase was higher among minors compared to adults, among males compared to females, and among exposures with medical consequences compared to those without medical consequences.
The researchers predicted that had all 50 states commercialized marijuana in 2017, the annual number of marijuana exposures would have increased from 7,976 to 13,053, a rise of more than 60 percent.
While more research is needed before causality can be established, the researchers recommend that continuous surveillance and prevention efforts be conducted now, particularly among minors.
Read Addiction journal abstract here
If you do not have academic access to journal articles, this one can be rented for $8.00.

Just a little marijuana
may change adolescent brain
Marijuana use, even just one or two times, may change the structure of the adolescent brain, according to a recent paper. Researchers from many academic institutions and nations studied the brains of 46 14-year-olds who had used marijuana only once or twice and compared them to the brains of adolescents who never used the drug.
They found that gray matter increased in the marijuana-using teens compared to controls. Gray matter decreases during adolescence as the brain “prunes” unnecessary material to make the brain more efficient.
The areas of the brain where gray matter increased are associated with long-term neurocognitive effects. The researchers note that 35 percent of 10th graders have reported using marijuana. Because many states are changing the legal status of the drug, they call for large scale, prospective studies to learn more about low-level use by adolescents.
Read Journal of Neuroscience article full text here.

Picturing the EVALI epidemic:
Syndromic surveillance for e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury
The New England Journal of Medicine released the full text of an article that analyzes the epidemic called EVALI, one of the most cumbersome acronyms in recent years. EVALI stands for E-cigarette, or Vaping, product use-Associated Lung Injury.
The figures in the Results Section, including Figure 1 pictured above, vividly visualize the findings of this analysis.
Access them here.
An editorial in the same journal adds more to our understanding of how EVALI evolved and is now declining.
Read editorial here.
Because evidence shows the EVALI epidemic is declining, the CDC issued its last weekly update on the epidemic. As of February 18, 2020, 2,897 EVALI cases, including 68 deaths, have been reported to CDC. Laboratory data show that Vitamin E acetate, as additive to some THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products is strongly linked to the outbreak. Evidence is not sufficient to rule out the contribution of other chemicals of concern, including chemicals in either THC or non-THC products, in some of the cases. CDC will continue to work with state health departments and post any updates as needed here

Read full CDC update here.

Arizona introduces bill to cap
medical marijuana THC levels at 2 percent
The marijuana industry is reacting strongly to a bill introduced by 15 members of the Arizona Legislature that would cap THC content of medical marijuana sold in the state’s dispensaries at 2 percent. We can say that because we could find no press coverage of the bill except that published by the marijuana industry press, which must be read with a healthy dose of skepticism, especially about medical issues, considering the source.
Other provisions of the bill include a call for warning labels on all products, based on the Surgeon General’s warnings issued last year that there are no safe levels of marijuana use for pregnant women, nursing mothers, or adolescents.
Read HCR 2045 here.

Rate of US college students
using marijuana at 35-year high
Forty-three percent of college students have used pot in the last year because they see it as less risky, according to the Monitoring the Future Survey. That’s up from 38 percent the previous year.
About 6 percent reported marijuana use on 20 or more days in the past month, while for those the same age who are not enrolled in college the rate is nearly double, at 11 percent.
This age group’s belief that marijuana is risky has fallen from 75 percent in the early 1990s to 22 percent today.
About 11 percent of college students vaped marijuana in the past month, more than double the number from the previous year.
Read MarketWatch story here.
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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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