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One Minute of Marijuana Secondhand Smoke Exposure Impairs Blood Vessel Function
 
The Journal of the American Heart Association published a study this month that has major implications for all. One of the researchers, Matthew L. Springer, PhD, Division of Cardiology, University of California, San Francisco, explains:
 
“The bottom line is that one minute of moderate levels of secondhand smoke from marijuana was enough to prevent blood vessels from functioning efficiently for more than 90 minutes after the exposure (the effect of tobacco smoke resolves within 30 minutes). The effect occurred even when the marijuana lacked THC and when the marijuana was burned without rolling paper; it is an effect of smoke from burned plant material. There were no seeds or stems or pesticides in the marijuana.
 
“While this is a rat study, rats and humans respond similarly to tobacco smoke exposure, so it's reasonable to expect that rats and humans will respond similarly to marijuana smoke exposure, especially considering that tobacco and marijuana smoke have similar chemical composition. 
 
“The implication of this result is people who avoid secondhand smoke from tobacco should also avoid secondhand smoke from marijuana, and that laws and regulations that protect the public from being exposed to secondhand smoke from tobacco should include marijuana smoke.”
 
The researchers note that 50,000 Americans die each year from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and that 46,000 of those deaths are from cardiovascular disease related to such exposure.
 
An accompanying editorial titled “Secondhand Marijuana Smoke is Not Benign,” notes that the effect occurred even when concentrations were low enough that no marijuana smoke could be seen in the air. It points out that this study raises concerns about the potential of secondhand marijuana smoke not only to harm cardiovascular health in adults but others as well.
 
For example, other studies have demonstrated that tobacco smoke can infiltrate apartments where no one smokes and children living there are more likely to be exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke. This study suggests that the same could be true for secondhand marijuana smoke, which could threaten the cardiovascular health of vulnerable people like the elderly, disabled, children, and those who have heart disease.
 
Tobacco smoking and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke during pregnancy has long-lasting effects on children’s immune system, lung function, and cognitive development. Also, exposure during childhood increases children’s risk for heart attack and stroke in adulthood.
 
The editorial concludes that this study shows us that secondhand marijuana smoke is not benign and vulnerable populations must be protected.
 
Read study abstract here. Read editorial here.
 
Kennedy Group Puts $2 Million into
Fight Against Pot-Legalization Measures
 
The political arm of SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), a national coalition founded by former US Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Kevin Sabet, former drug policy adviser to the Obama administration, has raised $2 million to fight legalization ballot initiatives in five states this year. The states are California, Arizona, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts.  
 
California’s Proposition 64, if passed, would legalize marijuana for recreational use by those age 21 and older. Proponents have raised $6.7 million thus far to support the measure.
 
The opposition’s Coalition for Responsible Drug Policies had raised only about $125,000, primarily from law enforcement groups before this.

Sabet said opponents don’t expect to be able to match proponents’ money because Prop 64’s backers have financial incentives to invest in legalization. “If legalization wins, it creates an environment where a small number of people are going to get rich," he said.
 
Legalization “is putting our children at risk and has exposed children from communities of color to more racial discrimination that before,” added Kennedy who is the son of the late Senator Edward Kennedy and a nephew of the late President John Kennedy.
 
Proponents say legalization will protect children through regulation, a dubious claim at best given that children in Colorado, the first state to legalize pot four years ago, have the highest rates of marijuana use in the nation.
 
Read story here.
 
Greater Use of Alcohol and Marijuana Associated with Worse Functioning in High School for Youth
 
A new RAND study surveyed 6,509 students from 16 middle schools in Southern California from age 11.5 in 2008 to age 17 in 2015. The students were asked about any alcohol and marijuana use in five surveys in middle school and two online surveys in high school. The last survey also assessed school outcomes. The sample was 50% male and 80% nonwhite.
 
Key Findings
  • Greater use of alcohol and marijuana is associated with worse functioning in high school for all youth.
  • Youth who reported higher probability of marijuana use were less prepared for school, engaged in more delinquent behavior, and had poorer mental health.
  • Non-white youth who report a similar likelihood of alcohol and marijuana use as white youth reported worse academic outcomes in high school, and worse health.
 Recommendations
  • Intervention programs need to target both alcohol and marijuana use during this developmental period, particularly among non-white youth, in order to ameliorate disparities in functioning.
Read abstract here.
 
Marijuana Use and Perceived Risk of Harm Varies Within and Across States
 
This map shows the percentage of people age 12 and older who used marijuana in the past month. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in states and substate regions was combined from three annual surveys (2012 to 2014) to produce this map and report.
 
The report also presents the percentage of people age 12 and older who perceive marijuana use to be harmful (not shown here). In general, higher perceptions of harm predict lower levels of use and vice versa.
 
This report contains much useful information. It may be read here.
 
What Is the Biological Basis of Addiction?
 
This week, National Families in Action issues a new infographic that explains how drugs act on the brain to produce addiction. All addictive drugs, including marijuana, produce addiction in this manner. Click here to enlarge.

The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). Subscribe to The Marijuana Report and visit our website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

About National Families in Action (NFIA)
NFIA consists of families, scientists, business leaders, physicians, addiction specialists, policymakers, and others committed to protecting children from addictive drugs. Our vision is:
  • Healthy, drug-free kids
  • Nurturing, addiction-free families
  • Scientifically accurate information and education
  • A nation free of Big Marijuana
  • Smart, safe, FDA-approved medicines developed from the cannabis plant (and other plants) 
  • Expanded access to medicines in FDA clinical trials for children with epilepsy

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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