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Landmark 4-Year Study Finds Marijuana Use Does Not Reduce or End Opioid Use
Researchers in Australia recruited from community pharmacies across the nation 1514 people using prescription opioids for chronic non-cancer pain. Participants completed baseline interviews and were followed up annually with phone interviews or self-reported questionnaires for four years.
Participants were asked questions about:
  • lifetime and past year chronic pain conditions,
  • duration of chronic non-cancer pain and pain self-efficacy (ability to function despite pain),
  • whether pain was neuropathic (burning or tingling),
  • lifetime and past-year cannabis use,
  • number of days cannabis was used in the past month, and
  • current depression and generalized anxiety disorder. 
Compared with people who did not use marijuana, participants who did had greater pain severity scores, greater pain interference scores, lower pain self-efficacy scores, and greater generalized anxiety disorder severity scores.
The researchers “found no evidence of a temporal [causal] relationship between cannabis use and pain severity or pain interference, and no evidence that cannabis use reduced prescribed opioid use or increased rates of opioid discontinuation.”
Read The Lancet Public Health article here.

Three Infographics from CDC
The CDC has released three infographics about heroin that help us better understand the nature of addiction.
Two important take-aways from this infographic are:
  • Marijuana is not an appropriate substitute for opioids to relieve pain because research shows between 9 and 30 percent of users may develop some degree of marijuana use disorder, making some three times more likely to become addicted to heroin.
  • People addicted to prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to switch to heroin, which is cheaper, to continue their addiction.
Access CDC infographic and data here.

This CDC infographic emphasizes the point. People who became addicted to prescription opioids but switched to heroin experienced a 286% increase in heroin overdose deaths.
Access CDC infographic and data here.

This CDC infographic shows the most effective way to address the nation’s heroin (and opioid) epidemic: treat people with medication-assisted treatment and therapy to help them become free of addiction. Expand naloxone use to reverse overdoses as well.
Access CDC infographic and data here.

Articles in Adweek and 
BMC Springer Nature Coincide

Adweek: How Cannabis Manufacturers Tell a Story
through Their Sophisticated Packaging
“Gone are the days of selling buds and brownies in tiny zipper bags: Cannabis packaging is more sophisticated than ever before,” Adweek wrote recently.
It cites Canndescent, a marijuana business that eschews stoner images to appeal to “higher-end” customers. Canndescent tells stories about how its products will make consumers feel or describes occasions where its strains would be appropriate to use.
“Brands that do it right are creating marketing history while simultaneously changing public opinion with their perfectly packaged creations,” the publication claims.
Read Adweek story here.

Articles in Adweek and
BMC Springer Nature Coincide.
BMC Springer Nature: Marijuana Promotions on Social Media—Adolescents’ Views on Prevention Strategies
Ironically, a medical journal article also published recently finds that adolescents don’t understand why the marijuana industry can promote its products on social media business pages without age restrictions. The alcohol and tobacco industries are prohibited from doing so.
Researchers in Washington state conducted a series of focus groups with teenagers ages 15-20 to learn how they feel about this and what can be done about it. The teenagers came up with two main themes: Restrict access to marijuana business pages by anyone under age 21 and limit the content marijuana companies can put on their business pages.
The teens are particularly exercised about promoting marijuana-infused sweets that teens love, like ice creams, cookies, and candies, and feel companies should not be allowed to do that. Other teens want to see warning labels about the harms of marijuana on every promotion.
Research shows the more alcohol, tobacco, and drug promotions teens see, the more likely they are to use them. Based on the findings of these focus groups, researchers recommend that states develop strict policies to prevent youth access to marijuana business pages on social media and control content to prevent marketing to youth.
The Marijuana Report was under the impression that social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter do not allow marijuana companies to post business pages on their sites. Curious, we searched for Canndescent (see previous story) to see if it has a Facebook business page on which to promote its ingeniously packaged pot products. See above.
Read BMC Springer Nature article 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.

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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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