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When adolescents give up pot,
their cognition quickly improves
 
When teenagers stop using marijuana, even just for a week, their verbal learning and memory improve, finds a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
 
Randi Schuster, PhD, director of neuropsychology at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Addiction Medicine, and her team of researchers recruited 88 pot-using teens and young adults, ages 16 to 25, who used marijuana at various frequencies, from once a week to daily.
 
The volunteers were randomly assigned into two groups. One group kept using marijuana, but the other group quit for a month. The quitters were motivated by receiving increasing amounts of money the longer they stopped.
 
All volunteers were drug tested weekly and given a variety of tasks testing their attention and verbal memory. After four weeks, there were no notable differences between the two groups in attention scores but the memory scores of the non-users improved compared to the users.
 
Verbal memory is critical for learning because it involves both learning new facts and committing them to long-term memory.
 
Read National Public Radio story here. Read Journal of Clinical Psychiatry here.


Our thanks to Dr. Paula Gordon for sending notice of this article.
 
Marijuana in babies?
Colorado researchers find new evidence
 
When a nursing mother smokes marijuana once, her baby will consume traces of THC, marijuana’s psychoactive element, through her breast milk for up to six weeks, a soon-to-be-released study finds.
 
Researchers and clinicians have long warned women not to use marijuana while pregnant or nursing because THC can change the way their babies’ brains develop. But such warnings fall on increasingly deaf ears with the legalization of marijuana, the growth of its industry, changing attitudes, and resulting widespread use.
 
This study, conducted by neonatologist Erica Wymore, MD, and pediatrician Maya Bunik, MD, at Children’s Hospital Colorado, is the first to show how long THC can persist in breast milk.
 
Other researchers, such as Lauren M. Jansson, MD, director of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Center for Addiction and Pregnancy, have found that prenatal exposure to THC can affect “infant neurobehavior and child development up through the teen years.” Exposure after birth could exacerbate these effects, she notes.
 
The Colorado researchers have noted issues with cognition, executive function, and early depression in children ages 8 to 12 whose mothers reported THC exposure.
 
Read Modern Healthcare article here.

 
Colorado’s anticipated marijuana report
details youth usage, driving,
and crime over the last five years
 
A new report that analyzes the impact of legalizing marijuana in Colorado was issued last week. Key dates:
2000 Colorado legalized marijuana for medical use
2009 Colorado legalized commercial cultivation, processing, and dispensary sales
2012 Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use
 
Findings:
Violent crime increased 20 percent between 2012 and 2017.
 
The number of illegal marijuana plants on public land increased from 46,662 plants in 2012 to 80,926 plants in 2017.
 
Seizures of Colorado-sourced marijuana heading out of state increased from 286 in 2012 to 608 in 2017. In 2012, 10 percent of those seizures involved concentrates and edibles combined. In 2017, 26 percent of seizures involved concentrates; 16 percent involved edibles.
 
Marijuana-related hospitalization rates rose from 803 per 100,000 before Colorado commercialized marijuana to 2,696 per 100,000 after commercialization (January 2014-September 2015).
 
Marijuana-related calls to poison control centers rose from 45 in 2006 to 222 in 2017.
 
The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey shows marijuana use held steady among adolescents (19.7 percent in 2013 to 19.4 percent in 2017). The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows youth marijuana use in Colorado at 9.1%, higher than the national average (6.3 percent).
 
Past 30-day marijuana use increases by grade level. The 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey shows marijuana use among ninth graders is 11 percent, tenth graders 17.1 percent; eleventh graders 23.7 percent, and twelfth graders 25.7 percent.
 
The Washington State version of the Healthy Kids Survey finds more than one-third of adolescents used marijuana but reported they did not use. See next story.
 
Read Impacts of Marijuana Legalization here. Read the Denver Post’s story about this report here.
Read Colorado law requiring this report here.

 
The “real” number of Washington state adolescents using marijuana, and why:
A misclassification analysis
 
Colorado and Washington State both use their own versions of the Healthy Kids Survey, which is patterned after the Healthy Kids Survey conducted every other year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in some but not all states. Colorado and Washington chose to develop their own surveys rather than participate in the national survey.
 
Researchers Sean M. Murphy, PhD, of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and Robert Rosenman, PhD, of Washington State University conducted an analysis of the 2014 Washington State Healthy Kids Survey. They were interested in exploring how many students may have misreported their use or non-use of marijuana in the past 30 days. They used a complicated series of analytical tests to make that determination.
 
They found that less than one percent of 34,122 students surveyed reported that they used marijuana when they did not, but that more than one-third of students who said they didn’t use marijuana actually did use the drug. Approximately 12 percent of students reported marijuana use in the past month, but the researchers say this number is closer to 18 percent.
 
They conclude:
“Failing to control for misclassification considerably underestimates the prevalence of marijuana use among adolescents. Moreover, misreported use biases the importance of various risk and protective factors such as age, family bonds, and other problem behaviors. Our analysis indicates that relatively few students who do not use marijuana report they do, but over one-third of users report they do not. Marijuana users who can confide in their parents are less likely to misreport their use, as are (perhaps somewhat surprisingly) students who smoke or consume other illicit substances. Correcting for potential misclassification in survey responses allows policymakers to better identify at-risk adolescents and informs focused prevention efforts.”
 
Read Substance Use and Abuse Journal abstract here.

 
Scientific quality of health-related articles
in specialty cannabis and general newspapers
in San Francisco
 
Like several other major metropolitan newspapers in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, the San Francisco Chronicle has launched a separate marijuana specialty online newspaper called GreenState, which is dedicated to “news” exclusively about the drug. Such endeavors, like the Denver Post’s The Cannabist, which began publishing shortly after the state legalized marijuana in 2012, often sound like promotional rather than objective accounts of the news.
 
Now Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, and other researchers at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, have analyzed the accuracy of health information about marijuana published by the Chronicle as compared to that published by GreenState.
 
Using the Index of Scientific Quality for Health Related News Reports, the researchers compared 17 articles in GreenState with four articles in the Chronicle. On a 1-5 scale for scientific accuracy, GreenState scored 2.9 compared to the Chronicle, which received a 4.6 rating.

The researchers conclude, “The public, clinicians, and policymakers need to be aware of this pattern and treat information in publications like GreenState with an appropriate level of skepticism until the quality of reporting improves to general journalistic standards.”
 
Read Journal of Health Communication 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 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 e-newsletter.


The Marijuana Report Staff
Executive Editor—Sue Rusche
Editor—Nicole Carter
IT Consultant—Lee Clontz
Social Media Coordinator—Margarita Eberline
 
We are grateful to our Board of Directors and Senior Adviser for their support of National Families in Action, which produces The Marijuana Report website and e-newsletter.
 
National Families in Action
Board of Directors

William F. Carter, Chairman of the Board
Realtor Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Georgia Properties, Atlanta.
Sue Rusche, President and CEO, Atlanta.
Richard L. Brown, Secretary
Attorney (Ret.), Lakewood Ranch, Florida
Founder & Chairman, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association 
Marcie Beskind, Treasurer
Chief Financial Officer/Chief Administrative Officer
Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.
Jeannine F. Adams, Director
President and CEO, J. Addams & Partners, Atlanta.
Jack L. Arbiser, MD, PhD
Thomas J. Lawley Professor of Dermatology
Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta
William H. Avery, Director
Partner (Ret.), Alston & Bird, LLP, Atlanta.
Margarita Eberline, Director
Strategy Director, 360 Marketing Plus, Atlanta.
Robert Margolis, PhD, Director
Founder, Caron Solutions Intensive Outpatient Program, Roswell, Georgia.
Shannon Murphy, MD FAAP
Birmingham, Alabama 
 
Senior Adviser
Kent “Oz” Nelson, Chairman and CEO (Ret.)
United Parcel Service, Atlanta.
 
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