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An Important Court Decision,
a New Study about Marijuana Use,
and 43 Marijuana-Related Deaths in Arizona
Top this Week's News

In Unanimous Decision, Colorado Supreme Court Upholds Employers’ Right to Maintain a Drug-Free Workplace 

The Colorado Supreme Court voted 6-0 to uphold the right of employers to maintain a drug-free workplace. The decision upheld similar rulings by lower courts.

The case grew out of a lawsuit brought by Brandon Coats who was fired by Dish Network for failing a random drug test. He told Dish that he would fail the test because he uses marijuana to control leg spasms and showed officials his marijuana card. He said he only used the drug off the job, never at work, and was never stoned at work. Coats maintained he had the right to use marijuana for medical use because it is legal in the state and that a Colorado Legal Off-Duty Activities Statute protected that right.

The state Supreme Court, however, found that the use of marijuana under that statute is not lawful because “lawful” applies to both state law and federal law. The decision sets a precedent for employers throughout the state and the nation as well, given how other states considering legalization look to Colorado for guidance.
 
A major challenge comes from Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, which has advocated for legalization since 1970. Stroup writes in the Denver Post’s marijuana website called The Cannabist that the decision is “unfair,” and that legalization proponents will now have to go back to state legislatures where marijuana has been legalized for medical and/or recreational use to enact “appropriate job protections” for those who use marijuana legally under state law.
 
Read article here. Read full text of Colorado Supreme Court Decision here.


Study Finds Teen Marijuana Use Does Not Increase
When States Legalize Medical Marijuana

A nationwide study finds that marijuana use does not increase among adolescents when a state legalizes marijuana for medical use. Researchers analyzed data from the Monitoring the Future Survey, which has collected information about drug use by 8th, 10th, and 12th grade high-school students annually since 1975. Twenty-four years of data, involving more than one million students, were analyzed from 1991 through 2014. The study’s main finding is that teen marijuana use was already higher in states that legalized marijuana for medical use before such laws were passed and did not increase afterwards.
 
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) commented that this study is notable because it examined 21 states and the authors should be commended for looking at this critical research question. However, it has clear limitations:

  • The study did not look at recreational marijuana use. A Colorado survey released this week shows adult marijuana use is double that of the US.
  • The study only looked at 30-day use, but not heavier use (weekly, daily). Past research (e.g. by researchers Wen and Choi) has found that marijuana abuse and dependence are sensitive to medical marijuana laws.
  • The study did not look at THC content and whether students adjusted use based on high THC levels.

Read summary of study here. Read full text here. Read SAM response here.

More Child Deaths from Marijuana
than Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Opiates, or Firearms in Arizona

A disturbing number of deaths of children under age 18 result from substance abuse, writes Sheila Polk, Yavapai County Attorney and vice chair of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, quoting from a new report from the Arizona Department of Health Services. “A child’s death would be considered associated with substance use if the child or the child’s parent or caretaker or the person responsible for the incident leading to the death abused substances, including illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and/or alcohol.” Substance use was associated with 14 percent of the fatalities (n=121) in 2012.”
 
Child deaths from marijuana (43) were second only to alcohol (56), and marijuana deaths were higher than deaths from methamphetamine (25), cocaine (12), opiates (17) or firearms (32).
 
Read Attorney Polk’s article here
Read Arizona Child Fatality Review Program report here, pages 31-32 (substance abuse) and page 2 (firearms).

To Our Subscribers
 
With this issue, we welcome many new subscribers. We hope you find our e-newsletter will keep you up to date on the marijuana story. Nearly 24,000 readers have clicked through now to read the health report from Colorado featured in the February 4th issue of The Marijuana Report. Many of you shared that issue with others and apparently so did they. More than 11,000 readers have clicked through to the Colorado public safety report featured in our February 11th issue. Thank you for being such effective, committed networkers. For those who missed the Colorado health report, click here (note new link); the public safety report, click here.
National Families in Action and partners, Project SAM and the Treatment Research Institute, welcome our new readers. We hope you enjoy this weekly e-newsletter to keep up-to-date with all aspects of the marijuana story. Visit our website, The Marijuana Report.Org, and subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter The Marijuana Report to learn more.

National Families in Action is a group of families, scientists, business leaders, physicians, addiction specialists, policymakers, and others committed to protecting children from addictive drugs. We advocate for:
  • 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
What is our call to action?
  • Ask your leaders to establish FDA expanded access to Epidiolex® for children with epilepsy.
  • Ask your leaders to find a middle road between incarceration and legalization of addictive drugs.
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