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Teens who vape or use hookah
are more likely to use marijuana later, study finds

Adolescents who use e-cigarettes (vaping) or hookah (water pipes for flavored tobacco) are 3.6 to 4 times more likely to begin or regularly use marijuana two years later compared to those who do not use these tobacco products. Moreover, vaping or using hookah in early adolescence more than doubles the odds that teens will regularly use both tobacco and marijuana by mid-adolescence.

Researchers surveyed adolescents in 10 Los Angeles high schools when they were age 14 and two years later. They found an association between those who never used marijuana at age 14 (2,668 freshmen) but who vape or used hookah and the initiation or regular use of marijuana by the time students reached age 16.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics. Listen to a video abstract by the lead researcher and access the full text of the study here.
Read CNN report of the study and see an interview with a teen who vapes here.

Risk-taking, antisocial teens
5 times more likely to die young

One in twenty adolescents with serious conduct or substance use problems is five times more likely to die by his or her 30s than their peers without such problems, finds a new study from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The researchers decided to do this study after following up on another one, the Genetics of Antisocial Drug Dependence study that began in 1993. With an average follow-up age of 32.7 years, more than 4 percent of the research subjects had died compared to 1 percent of controls. Their siblings also had higher mortality rates. Deaths were most common from substance use problems, then traffic crashes, suicides, and those resulting from assaults. 

For this study, researchers looked at the death rates of 1,463 teens who had been referred to counseling for substance use problems and/or conduct disorder, 1,399 of their siblings, and 904 teens as controls. Conduct disorder is “a mental health disorder characterized by rule-breaking, aggression toward others, property destruction, and deceitfulness or thievery.”

The researchers were shocked to discover that conduct disorder was an even more potent factor for premature death than substance use disorder.

Read Science Daily account of this study, published in the journal Addiction, here.

Another major beer company
is now part of the marijuana craze

Heineken is the latest beer company to jump into the marijuana market, launching a marijuana beer without alcohol in several California dispensaries in late July. The product comes in two forms, a version containing 10 mg of THC, the marijuana chemical primarily responsible for creating a “high,” and a version with 5 mg of THC combined with 5 mg of cannabidiol (CBD). At $8 a can, the product has been “flying off the shelves.”

Molson Coors and Constellation Brands have also entered the infused marijuana beverage market. 

Read The Motley Fool story here.

Driving stoned: Massachusetts standard needed

Massachusetts public safety officials “see the problem of stoned driving coming at them like a freight train.” The state introduced a public safety campaign to reverse the belief of many that “I drive better when I’m high.” But the undersecretary for Public Safety and Security said at a news conference introducing the campaign, “It you’re high or stoned, you’re not a safe driver.”

Other legalization states have seen increases in traffic fatalities of people driving stoned. In Colorado, for example, fatalities in which drivers tested positive for THC rose from 18 in 2013, before full legalization began, to 77 in 2016. A survey of drivers who reported using marijuana in the past month in Colorado and Washington found that 43.6 percent admitted to driving under the influence. 

A more recent report, conducted by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, finds that 73 percent of some 4,000 drivers charged with driving under the influence tested positive for marijauna; half were over that state’s legal limit of THC in the blood. And 53 percent admitted they smoked pot within two hours of getting behind the wheel, according to SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). 

The Colorado report notes, “Nationally, drug detection in fatally-injured drivers with toxicology results has been steadily increasing, from 27.8 percent in 2005 to 32.8 percent in 2008, to 44.0 percent in 2016.”

A Massachusetts special commission is beginning to grapple with how to deal with the complexities of drugged driving, especially driving under the influence of marijuana. There is no equivalent roadside tool like the breathalyzer for marijuana-impaired driving. Many drivers consume both marijuana and alcohol but once a fatally injured driver tests positive for alcohol, testing for the presence of THC is several times more expensive and often not done. The commission’s report about how to deal with the problem is due in January next year.

Read Boston Globe story here. Read SAM’s summary of the Colorado report here. Read Colorado Division of Public Safety report here.

Cannabis industry grows
as source of campaign funds

The marijuana industry is becoming a rising source of political campaign contributions in New Mexico (and elsewhere, see next story). The industry in New Mexico says its cash—and thus its muscle—is growing. 

“'This year, revenue [for producers of marijuana for medical use] topped $100 million in New Mexico,' said Duke Rodriguez, . . . who now owns UltraHealth — a nonprofit that operates dispensaries in Arizona and New Mexico.” Rodriguez is a former secretary of the state Department of Health.

Agrees Darren White, pictured above, a former Bernalillo County sheriff and former secretary of the state Department of Public Safety who originally opposed legalizing marijuana for medical use. White shocked the state’s political world when he applied for a producer’s license to operate PurLife, a marijuana company that sells marijuana strains, concentrates, and edibles at two dispensaries in Albuquerque.

The industry has contributed $110,000 to New Mexico politicians since 2012. Rodriquez says with full legalization on the horizon, that will rise to $600,000.

Both UltraHealth and PurLife have contributed to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham, of Cumbre Investments, a firm Rodriquez owns. Grisham was secretary of the state Department of Public Health and administered the state’s program that approved marijuana for medical use.

Rodriquez believes full legalization is on its way to New Mexico. “It’s not a question of if, but when,” he says. He was encouraged by a recent meeting of the legislative Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee which discussed legalization.

“That was the first meeting in the Legislature I’ve been to in which the conversation didn’t degenerate into talk about ‘gateway drugs’ and social ills,” he said. “That’s a tremendous step forward.”

To see a list of candidates and PACs to which the marijuana industry has contributed, read this Santa Fe New Mexican story here. Visit PurLife dispensaries here. Visit UltraHealth dispensaries here.

Medical marijuana advocates start their own PAC

Legalization advocates and marijuana czars have formed their first PAC in Florida. The Clarity PAC officially registered last week as a nonprofit corporation and political committee with the state.

Its mission is “To advocate for full legal access to medicinal cannabis and the responsible adult use of cannabis, and to help create and pass legislation supporting that topic.” 

Clarity PAC plans to send “canna-warriors” across the state to interview political candidates via audio and video recordings it will post on the internet. It will rate candidates based on their friendliness towards full legalization.

Backers of the PAC include Tampa strip club mogul Joe Redner who is suing the state to be  allowed to grow his own marijuana and make juice out of it. He says his doctor recommended fresh juice to hold his lung cancer at bay. Also serving on the PAC’s board is Bill Monroe, director of a medical marijuana treatment center, which is what Florida calls dispensaries it licenses to do businesses in the state.

Read Florida Politics story 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.

Subscribe to The Marijuana Report.

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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