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First-Year Results of Legalization in Colorado?
State's Teens' Marijuana Use Highest in Nation

Colorado voters passed a ballot initiative that legalized marijuana for recreational use in November 2012. State officials spent 2013 drafting rules to regulate the production, processing, and retail sale of the drug. Implementation began in January 2014. That year, marijuana use among the state’s adolescents (aged 12-17) soared past adolescents’ marijuana use in any other state, reaching 13 percent, nearly double the rate (7 percent) of teens nationwide.

Historically, teens’ perception of great risk from smoking marijuana once a month has had an inverse relationship to their marijuana use. The more teens who perceive great risk, the fewer use the drug; the fewer who perceive great risk, the more use it. Colorado teens’ perception of risk at 17 percent is one of the lowest in all 50 states. The national average is 24 percent.

Legalization and incarceration are polar extremes between which lie many policy alternatives that can protect young people and prevent the increase of marijuana use and subsequent health and safety problems.

Read State Estimates of Adolescent Marijuana Use and Perceptions of Risk of Harm from Marijuana Use: 2013 and 2014 here.
 
An Observational Study of Epidiolex Shows
Hope for Children with Intractable Epilepsy
 
A study published in the December issue of Lancet Neurology finds that most children and adults with treatment-resistant epilepsy can be helped with a new pharmaceutical version of CBD. Most patients in this observational, year-long expanded access program benefited from the drug, Epidiolex. Epidiolex was shown to be safe and well-tolerated for most patients and their seizures dropped significantly.
 
The trial was conducted at 11 epilepsy centers across the nation with Dr. Orrin Devinsky, director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at NYU Langone Medical Center, in the lead. He warns that while encouraging, these results must be duplicated in ongoing controlled clinical trials whose results will be available in early 2016 before Epidiolex can be recommended as a treatment to patients with intractable seizures.
 
GW Pharmaceuticals developed Epidiolex, which is currently in Phase III clinical trials seeking FDA approval. The drug is 98 percent CBD and contains less than two-tenths of one percent THC. GW extracts CBD from marijuana it grows without pesticides and then purifies the CBD so that it contains no contaminants.
 
“I empathize with parents who are looking for answers and will try anything to help their children suffering the devastating effects of intractable epilepsy. But we must let the science, and not anecdotal success stories and high media interest, lead this national discussion,” cautions Dr. Devinsky. “Taking CBD in a controlled medical setting is vastly different from going to a state where medical marijuana is legal and experimenting with dosing and CBD strains.”
 
While results have been presented recently at medical meetings, this is the first time they have appeared in a peer-reviewed journal.
 
Read NYU Langone Medical Center press release here. Read Lancet Neurology abstract here.
 
Minnesota Medical Marijuana Patients Star
in Effort to Counter Pot Stigma

The Minnesota Medical Association continues to oppose the state’s legalization of marijuana for medical use, launched six months ago. Thus far, fewer than 850 patients have enrolled in the state’s system.

Doctors are reluctant to recommend a drug that has known harms but unknown benefits due to a lack of research. The two legal entities licensed by the state to produce and sell marijuana for medical use are determined to change that and are enlisting patients to help them persuade doctors of marijuana’s benefits.

“It’s hard to ignore so many patients and so many stories,” says Laura Bultman, chief medical officer at Minnesota Medical Solutions, one of the state’s two marijuana producers.

But doctors are not likely to be persuaded without hard evidence from scientific studies. They are especially concerned about the decision to add intractable pain to the list of qualifying conditions, which will go into effect next summer and which is expected to expand the list of patients from hundreds to thousands.

This is particularly worrisome to physicians because states that include pain as a qualifying condition find that between 90 and 95 percent of patients who buy marijuana for medical use list pain as their reason for doing so. Some say including pain is tantamount to recreational legalization.
 
Read Medical Marijuana Patients Star in Effort to Counter Pot Stigma here.
 
The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter produced 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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