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Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Legalization Does Not Increase Marijuana Use
 
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), conducted annually since the early 1970s, released its 2014-2015 data a few weeks ago. This graph shows past-month marijuana use among the population ages 12 and older for each state in the nation.
 
Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2000; cultivation, processing, and dispensaries in 2009, and recreational legalization in 2012. The state’s first recreational pot shops opened in 2014.
 
Note that Colorado’s rate of use is four times greater than Iowa’s and two times greater than the states that have not legalized any form of the drug, with the exception of New Jersey whose governor delayed implementation of the state’s medical marijuana law.
 
See NSDUH data here.
 
Mysterious Marijuana-Related Illness Popping Up in Emergency Rooms
 
States that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use are experiencing an uptick in cyclic vomiting. The problem is called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS.
 
A study published in Academic Emergency Medicine found that the number of such cases doubled in Colorado between November 1, 2008 and May 31, 2011. The number of state-issued marijuana cultivation, processing, and sales licenses rose during that time from 5,051 to 118,895 as the result of the liberalization of its medical marijuana law.  
 
Other states that loosened marijuana laws are facing the same phenomenon. Symptoms include cyclic vomiting, abdominal pain, and excessive showering in hot water which seems to alleviate the symptoms.
 
Researchers suspect the intensification of THC levels in marijuana products may be causing the problem.
 
See Huffington Post article here. Read study here.
 
States with Medical Marijuana Laws Have Fewer Traffic Fatalities, But Why Isn’t Clear
 
Kudos to Forbes contributor David DiSalvo for reporting the whole story, instead of just part, about a new study in the American Journal of Public Health. Even his headline differs from typical reports, which generally end where his comma is.
 
The study finds that states that legalized medical marijuana have 26 percent fewer traffic fatalities overall, benefiting those most at-risk for alcohol-related traffic fatalities, people ages 25 to 44 and 15 to 24.
 
Seven states were so impacted: California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona. However, two states, Rhode Island and Connecticut, saw increases in fatality rates and California and New Mexico experienced initial reductions that then began to increase over time.
 
The researchers note that they were unable to measure auto fatalities linked to marijuana impairment because the data studied indicate only a limited number of states test 80% or more of their fatally injured drivers. They conclude that other factors such as stronger enforcement and programs designed to reduce drugged driving may also be factors contributing to the decline.
 
Read Forbes article here. Read study abstract here.
 
Association of State Recreational Marijuana Laws with Adolescent Marijuana Use
 
A new study in JAMA Pediatrics looks at data from 253,902 students in grades 8, 10, and 12 from the Monitoring the Future Study. It finds that in Washington, one of the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2012, perceived harmfulness declined by 14.2 percent among grade 8 students and by 16.1 percent among grade 10 students while use increased among those two groups by 2 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively. These changes occurred from 2010-2012 to 2013-2015.
 
In contrast, in states that did not legalize recreational marijuana, perceived harmfulness decreased by 4.9 percent and 7.2 percent among students in grades 8 and 10, while use decreased by 1.3 percent and 0.9 percent over the same time.
 
No changes were noted among  students in grade 12 in Washington or among all three age groups in Colorado.
 
The researchers suggest their study indicates a need for evidence-based prevention programs in states that legalize pot.
 
Read Science Digest article here. Read abstract here.

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