Contentions that scientists have failed to conduct sufficient research on the health and societal effects of cannabis are unfounded. A keyword search on the National Library of Medicine database reveals over 23,000 peer-reviewed papers http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gquery/?term=marijuana specific to the marijuana plant, and new scientific discoveries are published almost daily debunking the federal government’s claims that the herb is a highly dangerous substance lacking therapeutic efficacy. Here are five new cannabis-centric studies that challenge longstanding marijuana myths.
Marijuana abuse is on the decline
Contrary to what you may have heard http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/853145 , the percentage of Americans reporting having experienced pot-related problems is declining. That’s according to the results of a newly published study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
Investigators at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis assessed trends in marijuana use and in the prevalence of marijuana use disorders during the years 2002 to 2013. Researchers found that the self-reported use of cannabis by adults increased an estimated 19 percent, but that reports of cannabis-related problems actually declined during this period.
“We’re certainly seeing some increases in marijuana use,” the lead researcher of the study said http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-02-marijuana-high-previously.htm. “But our survey didn’t notice any increase in marijuana-related problems. Certainly, some people are having problems so we should remain vigilant, but the sky is not falling.”
Separate evaluations of self-reported marijuana use by young people have determined that rates of cannabis use by high-school students are significantly lower today http://norml.org/news/2015/10/08/studies-fewer-teens-using-marijuana-younger-adolescents-more-likely-to-voice-disapproval than they were 15 years ago.
The study’s findings contradict those of a widely publicized 2015 paper http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-10-marijuana-disorders.html which alleged that the use of marijuana had doubled over the past decade and that an estimated one-third of those who consumed cannabis did so problematically. Predictably, while the 2015 study received widespread coverage, only a handful of media outlets have published follow up stories highlighting the revised data.
Pot is associated with compensatory driving behavior; booze is not
Stoned drivers are slower drivers. That is the finding of a just published federal study http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jat.3295/abstract in the Journal of Applied Toxicology. Its conclusions mimic those reported in a series of on-road driving studies http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/25000/25800/25867/DOT-HS-808-078.pdf performed by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the 1990s.
Investigators affiliated with the US National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Iowa assessed the effects of vaporized cannabis on simulated driving performance. Researchers report that cannabis-positive subjects decreased their speed and increased the distance between their vehicle and the car in front of them, while alcohol-positive participants did the opposite.
“The compensatory behavior exhibited by cannabis-influenced drivers distinctly contrasts with an alcohol-induced higher risk behavior,” authors concluded.
While some studies have reported that THC-positive drivers possess a nearly two-fold risk http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e536 of motor vehicle accident compared to drug-free drivers, other reviews have reported comparatively less risk http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.13347/abstract?campaign=wolacceptedarticle and, in some cases, no elevated risk http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/nation/2015/02/06/us-evidence-marijuana-leads-higher-crash-risk/23004549/ after adjusting for confounding variables such as age and gender. By contrast, driving with legal amounts of booze in one’s system is associated with a four-fold increased crash risk http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nti/pdf/812117-Drug_and_Alcohol_Crash_Risk.pdf , while operating a motor vehicle with two or more passengers more than doubles one’s risk http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000145750700036X of a motor vehicle crash.
Smoking pot won’t make you depressed, but some depressed people smoke pot
Longstanding claims http://adai.uw.edu/marijuana/factsheets/mentalhealth.htm that smoking pot leads to depression have been rejected in a new longitudinal study http://www.jad-journal.com/article/S0165-0327(15)31030-2/abstract published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
A team of Swedish investigators conducted a three-year prospective study in a cohort of 8,600 men between the ages of 20 and 64 to assess whether cannabis use was associated with increased incidences of depression later in life. After scientists adjusted for potentially confounding variables, such as other illicit drug use and family tension, they reported no link between pot use and symptoms of clinical depression or anxiety.
Investigators did find that subjects who reported suffering from depression during their baseline interviews were more likely to be pot smokers at follow up. However, these respondents were also more likely to consume other illicit drugs as well.
Pot mitigates chronic pain, reduces patients’ need for opioids
When New York lawmakers signed off on legislation in 2014 authorizing the use of medical marijuana, they refused to permit chronic pain patients the opportunity to utilize cannabis therapy. Their decision, which is now codified in New York state law, flies in the face of compassion and science. That’s because the daily use of cannabis provides pain relief and reduces opioid use in patients with treatment-resistant chronic pain conditions, according to clinical trial data http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26889611 reported online ahead of print in The Clinical Journal of Pain.
Investigators with Hebrew University in Israel evaluated the use of cannabis on pain in a cohort of 176 patients, each of whom had been previously unresponsive to all conventional pain medications. Subjects inhaled THC-dominant cannabis daily (up to 20 grams per month) for a period of at least six months.
A majority of the study’s participants (66 percent) experienced improvement in their pain symptom scores after cannabis therapy, and most reported “robust” improvements in their quality of life. Subjects’ overall consumption of opioid drugs declined 44 percent by the end of the trial, and a significant percentage of participants discontinued opioid therapy altogether over the course of the study.
The Israeli results are similar to those reported in a 2015 Canadian trial http://norml.org/news/2015/10/01/study-daily-cannabis-use-is-safe-effective-for-chronic-pain which concluded that chronic pain patients who use herbal cannabis daily for one-year experienced reduced discomfort and increased quality of life compared to controls, and did not possess an increased risk of serious side effects.
Separate data http://norml.org/news/2014/08/28/study-state-medical-marijuana-laws-associated-with-lower-rates-of-opiate-induced-fatalities published in 2014 in The Journal of the American Medical Association determined that states with medical marijuana laws experience far fewer opiate-related deaths than do states that prohibit the plant. Investigators from the RAND Corporation reported similar findings http://norml.org/news/2015/07/16/study-medical-cannabis-access-associated-with-reduced-opioid-abuse in 2015, concluding, “States permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.”
One more time, with conviction: passing medical pot laws doesn’t increase marijuana use by teens
Repeated claims http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865649041/My-view-Marijuana-is-not-a-medicine.html?pg=all that the enactment of medical cannabis laws is associated with spikes in youth marijuana use are categorically false. Want proof? According to a new review http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26895950 of US federal drug use data from the years 2002 to 2011, “here is no evidence of a differential increase in past-month marijuana use in youth that can be attributed to state MML (medical marijuana laws).”
While the study’s authors acknowledged that many medical marijuana states have higher rates of cannabis use compared to non-medical states, they affirmed that these jurisdictions already possessed elevated use rates prior to any change in law and that the enactments of laws did not causally contribute to this change. They are hardly alone in their assessment.
In 2015, investigators at Columbia University in New York and the University of Michigan assessed the relationship between state medical marijuana laws and rates of self-reported adolescent marijuana use over a 24-year period in a sampling of over one million adolescents in 48 states. Researchers reported no increase in teens’ overall pot use that could be attributable to changes in law, and acknowledged a “robust” decrease in use among 8th graders. They concluded http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(15)00217-5/fulltext : “he results of this study showed no evidence for an increase in adolescent marijuana use after the passage of state laws permitting use of marijuana for medical purposes. … oncerns that increased marijuana use is an unintended effect of state marijuana laws seem unfounded.”
And they weren’t alone either. In fact, their conclusions were consistent with the findings of nearly a dozen similar studies — such as those available here http://www.nber.org/papers/w20332 , here http://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X%2814%2900107-4/abstract ,here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4007871/ , here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22285867 , and here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17689362
February 24 to 26, 2016
CBC TV, CTV News Channel, CBC Radio, Vancouver Sun and The Globe and Mail
(Ottawa, Ontario – February 23, 2016) — The federal government should instruct police forces and Crown Prosecutors across Canada immediately to halt all criminal investigations, charges and prosecutions related to simple possession of marijuana while it proceeds with its initiative to legalize the plant, according to Canada’s oldest advocate for the reform of cannabis laws.
“Since everyone agrees that is well past time to end the criminalization of cannabis,” Dr. Craig Jones, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Canada (NORML Canada) said, “and the only point of discussion left is how to do it, it seems cruel to continue criminalizing more Canadians.”
“It is like refusing to fix a leaking faucet because you intend to renovate the bathroom … one day soon. It just doesn’t make sense.”
According to Dr. Jones, the government has identified several “stumbling blocks” to immediate legalization — which formed a major plank in its policy platform in its 2015 election campaign and an important promise in its Speech from the Throne — and claims it must resolve these issues before it can proceed with legalization.
These so-called stumbling blocks were identified in the Liberal Party’s January 2013 discussion paper, “Legalization of Marijuana – Answering Questions and Developing a Framework” (https://bc.liberal.ca/files/2013/01/DRAFT-Marijuana-Policy-Paper-Jan-13.pdf), which also provided practical ways to overcome obstacles such as those related to international conventions to which Canada is signatory.
“I urge all Canadians with an interest in stopping the further criminalization of Canadians for using cannabis – and particularly those in the Senate who will be meeting tomorrow to discuss this topic — to read the Liberal Party’s policy paper on legalizing marijuana,” Dr. Jones said. “It answers most, if not all, the questions that have been raised about how best to proceed. Once it stops needlessly criminalizing Canadians, the Government can then take the time it needs to work out the details and enact legislation.”
“Why not take the millions of dollars it takes to investigate, prosecute and incarcerate people for a crime no one thinks should exist and invest that money on government programs and services that actually help people?”
This is at least the third time that a political party/government has promised to stop criminalizing Canadians for cannabis use (1979 Progressive Conservative Party election platform; the Liberal Government Throne Speech; the 2015 Liberal Party election platform / 2015 Liberal Government Throne Speech), according to Dr. Jones.
“What Canadians need is for the government to declare an immediate moratorium and get on with it,” Dr. Jones said. “What we don’t need is more study leading to a concept for a proposal for a framework for a green paper leading to a white paper leading to …”
Dr. Jones will be attending the Senate Open Caucus on Marijuana Legalization on Wednesday 24 February and will be available for interviews following the meeting.
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For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
We have just been notified that Mr. Justice Phelan of the Federal Court Trial Division will be rendering his decision in the Allard case on Wednesday morning at 9 AM
February 19, 2016
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Canada (hereafter NORML Canada) is this country’s oldest NGO advocating for drug policy reform – reform that brings drug policy into compliance with scientific evidence and best practices. NORML Canada worked hard to elect the Trudeau Liberals on the basis of the government’s […]
Our discussion is not only open to all parliamentarians, but also to the public, who are welcome to attend in person or follow along and contribute via social media at @LibSenate on Twitter.
If you would like to attend, please contact Mike Delaney at Michael.Delaney@sen.parl.gc.ca
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Canada (NORML Canada) is a non-profit, public interest, volunteer operated, publicly funded organization, chartered at the federal level in Canada since 1978.
NORML Canada seeks through government lobbying, public education, and member mobilization to end the criminal prohibition on cannabis use and cannabis growing. NORML Canada believes that the criminal prohibition on cannabis has been harmful, expensive, ineffective and unjust.
The current Conservative party interim leader until 2017 Rona Ambrose has been talking up ridiculous reefer madness for several years now. In 2015 the Conservatives spent 7 million on anti marijuana legalization advertising campaign, using Health Canada in an attempt to legitimize their reefer madness nonsense. They went so far as to accuse Justin Trudeau of wanting to make cannabis easily available to children, by selling it in corner stores near schools.
Canadian doctors at the College of Family Physicians and Surgeons, the Canadian Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada refused to endorse the Conservative reefer madness advertising campaign stating the messaging was clearly political.
So it did come as a surprise when the media headline published by Civilized Life on January 21 was “Surprise! Rona Ambrose Changes Her Mind On Legalization”. The comment by Rona Ambrose in an interview by Simi Sara of Vancouver’s CKNW on Jan. 20 was “I hope that the faster they move on this (legalization), the better because the proliferation of pot dispensaries is quite large. So it’s moved now not just in Vancouver but across the country. And they’re unregulated. So the sooner they can move on that the better to protect kids.” Ambrose claimed the Conservative 7 million spent on the anti marijuana legalization (reefer madness nonsense) advertising campaign was the evidence she could provide..
Now to be fair to Civilized Life and other media reports many people did find some of the Ambrose’s comments during the interview confusing. Add Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s principal secretary wrote on Twitter with the hashtag “#chutzpah.” “Health minister who spent millions of your $ on misleading ads against pot wants us to legalize faster,”.
April 20 annual 420 celebrations – http://420erb.ca/
May 2 annual Global Marijuana March
June 11 Supreme Court of Canada decision R v. Smith http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?mthd=tp&crtr.page=1&nid=997359&crtr.tp1D=980
July 1 annual Canada day celebrations (cannabis day)
Sept. 15 Alberta girl denied marijuana for epilepsy gets help in St. Catharines – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/alberta-girl-denied-marijuana-for-epilepsy-gets-help-in-st-catharines-1.3228520
Sept. 26 annual NORML Canada National Conference http://norml.ca/norml-canada-national-conference-2015/ & post http://norml.ca/post-national-conference/
October 16 The Karma Cup – http://thekarmacup.com/
Oct 19 Liberal Party of Canada wins majority government winning 184 seats in Canadian Parliament.
Dec. 4 throne speech included legalize cannabis a priority to move forward.
Several medical cannabis dispensaries raided by law enforcement across Canada, Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, N.S., Ontario and Saskatchewan.
December 20, 2015
James Wood – Calgary Herald
Premier Rachel Notley says she has mixed feelings about the Trudeau government’s pledge to legalize marijuana even as a federal Liberal cabinet minister says action is coming soon on the campaign promise.
Rachel Notley is a intelligent woman but her politician part is still fearful of publicly supporting drug policy reforms. That being said I was not surprised politician Kent Hehr being a intelligent man is comfortable with following what the history, evidence and science have very clearly shown. All history of failed criminalize and punishment drug prohibition policies (1923 for cannabis) and then increasing to a drug war with zero tolerance and mandatory minimum prison sentences drug policies has clearly shown it has only created vastly more harms to our communities and our families then all illegal drugs.
Legalizing cannabis will not only greatly reduce harm to all our families and communities but will allow for a much safer way to actually control with regulations. Continuing to allow the controlled by the most violent criminal prohibition type policies will continue to fail miserably as history has shown us. Legalize and regulate policies will not only free up expensive police resources it will make our communities safer. Add the savings in justice system costs. The savings could be used for a huge boost of funds for education, health care and other social services. Some of the costs saved could even reduce the heavy burden of taxes we all are force to pay. Which has been used to help fund the Stephen Harper type reefer madness insanity. Educate with scientific evidence only is the really responsible thing to do.
August 12, 2015 International Centre for Science in Drug Policy. Scientists speak out against false cannabis claims and Using Evidence to Talk About Cannabis.
Leading international scientific body reviews thirteen oft-repeated claims on cannabis use and regulation, finds that none are strongly supported by scientific evidence
October 2014 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) released yet a another evidence based study called Cannabis Framework Policy. The CAMH study like so many other past evidence based drug policy studies conclusions lead to prohibition of cannabis is a seriously flawed drug control policy.
September 2002 Senate Report on Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy. Page 617. A Regulatory Approach to Cannabis
“We believe, however, that the continued prohibition of cannabis jeopardizes the health and well-being of Canadians much more than the regulated marketing of the substance. In addition, we believe that the continued criminalization of cannabis undermines the fundamental values set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and borne out by the history of a country based on diversity and tolerance.