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Last Week, We Covered What the
National Academies of Sciences Report 
Says About Oral Cannabinoids
This Week We Cover
What It Says About Marijuana

The report evaluates the harmful and potential therapeutic effects of marijuana from the perspective of five kinds of evidence, as defined below:

Conclusive Evidence
Based on randomized controlled trials, a firm conclusion can be made and limitations such as chance, bias, and confounding factors can be ruled out.
 
Substantial Evidence
Based on several supportive findings from good-quality studies, a firm conclusion can be made but chance, bias, and confounding factors cannot be ruled out.
 
Moderate Evidence
Based on supportive findings from good- to fair-quality studies, a general conclusion can be made but chance, bias, and confounding factors cannot be ruled out.
 
Limited Evidence
Based on supportive findings from fair-quality studies or mixed findings, a conclusion can be made but there is significant uncertainty due to chance, bias, and confounding factors.
 
No or Insufficient Evidence
Based on mixed findings, a single poor study, or health endpoint that has not been studied at all, no conclusion can be made.
Within this framework of evidence, the National Academies of Sciences scientific committee finds the following:

Conclusive Evidence
  • There is as yet no conclusive evidence of marijuana's health harms. The committee called for more research to remedy the lack of conclusive evidence about the drug's effects on health.
 
Substantial Evidence
  • Use before driving increases the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.
  • Greater frequency of use or initiating use at a younger age increases the likelihood of developing addiction.
  • Smoking marijuana during pregnancy lowers babies’ birth weights.
  • Use increases the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.
  • Long-term use is associated with worse respiratory symptoms and chronic bronchitis.
Moderate Evidence
  • Quitting marijuana use reduces respiratory symptoms.
  • In states where it is legal, unintentional overdose injuries are occurring among children.
  • Marijuana use increases the risk for addiction to other drugs.
  • For those with bipolar disorders, near daily use may be linked to greater symptoms of bipolar disorder than non-users.
  • Heavy users are more likely to report thoughts of suicide than non-users.
  • Regular use can increase the risk for developing social anxiety disorder.
Limited Evidence
  • For adolescents, the drug impairs subsequent academic achievement and education, employment and income, and social relationships and social roles.
  • Use is associated with an increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Impaired learning, memory, and attention may continue even after people stop using marijuana.
  • Maternal use may result in pregnancy problems.
  • Their babies are more likely to require admission to neonatal care.
  • Use may make symptoms of PTSD more severe.
  • Use is associated with one sub-type of testicular cancer.
No or Insufficient Evidence
  • We do not yet know if there is an association between marijuana use and other kinds of cancer.
  • We do not yet know if there is an association between chronic marijuana use and an increased risk of acute myocardial infarction. 
  • We do not yet know if there is an association between marijuana use and hospital admissions for COPD or the development or exacerbation of asthma.
  • We do not yet know if marijuana impacts the immune system.
  • We do not yet know if there is an association between marijuana use and mortality, occupational accidents or injuries, or overdose deaths.
  • We do not yet know if there is an association between marijuana use and later problems in infants and children whose mothers used marijuana during pregnancy.
  • We do not yet know if there is an association between marijuana use and an increase in depressive disorder symptoms or the development of PTSD.
Read a one-page summary of the report here. Read a two-page summary of how the report was conducted and the committee's research recommendations for the future here. Read the full report here.
 
Cops Can’t Be Forced to
Return Marijuana in Failed Drug Cases,
Colorado Supreme Court Says

In a landmark decision, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned the state Court of Appeals this week in a case that affirms the supremacy of federal law over state law. The 4-3 decision held that police officers cannot be forced to return marijuana to a defendant who has won a court case without "distributing" the drug and therefore violating federal law. 

The case stems from 2011, when police seized 55 marijuana plants and 2.9 kilograms of marijuana and charged Robert Crouse with illegally growing more than 30 plants, the limit in Colorado's medical marijuana amendment that voters passed in 2000. Crouse was later acquitted, and asked the court to order officers to return his plants, as the Colorado amendment stipulates. 

But that provision conflicts with the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) which classifies marijuana as illegal.

“The two (laws) [the CSA and Colorado's amendment] cannot consistently stand together,” the Colorado Supreme Court ruling says. “This court has held that an act is ‘lawful’ only if it complies with both state and federal law."

"[District Attorney Daniel] May said the decision could set a precedent for 20 states that have legalized marijuana in some form or another. It shows that federal law is supreme in this narrow application," notes the Denver Post.

Read story here.
 
Correction: Last week in "What Are Oral Cannabinoids?" we referred in the ninth paragraph to the National Academies of Medicine. The correct name is the National Academies of Sciences.

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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