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Long-Term Pot Smoking Doesn’t Seem to Harm Health: Study

By Mandy Oaklander This story appeared in Time Magazine June 7, 2016

Even after years of heavy use, marijuana doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on the physical health of the body.

So finds a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry, which analyzed data from a group of 1,037 New Zealanders followed from their birth until age 38. The researchers, led by Madeline Meier of Arizona State University, looked at whether cannabis use from age 18 to 38 was linked to several aspects of physical health, which were measured at several points throughout the years of the study through lab tests and self-reports.

The only bad effects pot seemed to have were on the teeth. At age 38, people who used cannabis had worse periodontal health than their peers, and nothing else appeared to be affected. By contrast, tobacco use was connected to all the expected declines: worse lung function, more inflammation and compromised metabolic health. Of course, the results come with a caveat; it’s possible that negative health effects of cannabis could show themselves after the age of 38.

Even more surprisingly, the researchers found that cannabis use over time was linked to a lower BMI, smaller waist circumference and better HDL cholesterol, suggesting that cannabis may be involved in metabolism. But it’s unlikely that this would have a major effect, the study authors note, since pot wasn’t linked to reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.

“There are definitely health risks associated with heavy marijuana use, but there just aren’t as many as we previously thought,” says Dr. Kevin Hill, a marijuana addiction expert and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, whose new commentary on the study is published Tuesday in JAMA.

The same group of researchers discovered some of those health risks in their famous 2012 study. Using data from the same group of New Zealanders, Meier and her team found that heavy marijuana use had effects on the brain on teenagers. Using cannabis regularly was associated with up to an 8 point decline in IQ when people started before age 18. (When adults began using cannabis after age 18—even heavily—they didn’t see this decline.)

“The answers with marijuana aren’t exactly what we would have expected them to be, and this is a great example,” Hill says. “You need to be willing to change your mind on these issues.”

Write to Mandy Oaklander at mandy.oaklander@time.com.

These States Are Most Likely To Legalize Marijuana In 2019

“With the results of last month’s midterm elections—which marijuana basically won—ten states have now legalized cannabis for adults, while 33 allow medical use. Those victories at the ballot box capped a year in which the fight to reform prohibitionist cannabis policies advanced significantly at the state, federal and international levels.

The tally of states that allow the use of marijuana is poised to jump in a big way again in 2019, largely because a slew of pro-legalization candidates for governor also won at the ballot box on Election Day—giving cannabis reform bills a huge boost toward being signed into law sooner rather than later.”

Get the full scoop at Forbes.

‘Marijuana Justice Act’ Would End Weed Prohibition Throughout The Land

The bill introduced by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker would not only legalize cannabis nationally but would seek to reverse the damage to minority and veteran populations.  “The question is no longer ‘should we legalize marijuana?’; it is ‘how do we legalize marijuana?’ We must do so in a way that recognizes that the people who suffered most under prohibition are the same people who should benefit most under legalization,” said Queen Adesuyi, policy associate for Drug Policy Alliance. “From disparate marijuana-related arrests and incarceration rates to deportations and justifications for police brutality – the war on drugs has had disparate harm on low-income communities and communities of color. It’s time to rectify that.”

You can read the full article here in Forbes.

So What Exactly Is the Difference Between THC and CBD?

We found this good, succinct explanation of the difference between THC and CBD on a site called PopSugar.

“If you’re familiar with marijuana, you may already know what we’re about to tell you. But no matter if you’re for or against medical or recreational marijuana, learning about its components is undoubtedly fascinating. Because it’s so complex, there are many different uses for marijuana. Heck, you can even match the right strain of weed to your zodiac sign. Or use weed to spice up your sex life. Or try medical cannabis to boost your workout.

All that brings us to THC. It’s an acronym for its full chemical name: tetrahydrocannabinol. It’s a cannabinoid compound that comes from the resin of the cannabis plant, and most notably, THC is the part of marijuana that’s psychoactive. CBD oil, in contrast, is a different component of cannabis and is like liquid Xanax from Mother Nature, if you ask us. (Studies show CBD and THC each act on the brain in different ways.)

Simply put: THC alters your mood, and you get high. Along with that, you may also feel relaxed, happy, and/or snacky. If you’re having problems with nausea, THC will also help deliver relief. Take too much, though, and you may swing the other way and experience not-so-pleasant side effects like hallucinations, anxiety, or even panic.

Interestingly, levels of THC in marijuana today are nearly three times what they were in the 1990s. Be aware, though, that how you take marijuana affects levels of THC in your bloodstream. If you eat edibles, THC’s effect is delayed by 30 minutes to an hour thanks to your body’s need to digest the food, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Less THC also makes it into your bloodstream with an edible, blunting its effects compared to smoking. That said, it’s all too easy to think you haven’t taken enough, overcompensate, and experience ill side effects, NIDA warns.

All that is to say, whatever decisions you make (and depending on the laws in your state), the most important thing is knowing what’s going into your body. With that info, you can make the best decision for you.”

The Rise and Fall…and Rise of Marijuana in America

The NY Times interviews Emily Dufton,  author of this latest exploration of cannabis in America:

“Only the weather seems to change more frequently than marijuana laws have in recent years. The constant flux around governance of the drug, whether for medical or recreational use, is kept churning by impassioned activism on all sides of the debate. In “Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America,” Emily Dufton tells the story of how those activists have won and lost their battles over the past several decades.”

Read the interview here.

Marijuana As A Sexual Aid? Here’s What The Experts Say

“According to the study, non-users said they had engaged in sexual intercourse between five and six times in the previous month. But daily marijuana smokers reported having intercourse about seven times over that same period. The frequency was somewhere in between for people who smoked marijuana less often, on a weekly or monthly basis. They reported having sex more than abstainers, but less than daily users.

For every group, the more marijuana use that they reported, the more sex they reported as well,” Eisenberg said. “So that … made me think that there could potentially be some biologic explanation here.”

Get the whole story on The Fresh Toast.

Survey: Nearly Half Of People Who Use Cannabidiol Products Stop Taking Traditional Medicines

Evidence in favor of medical cannabis vs traditional pharmaceuticals is growing: “The largest survey on cannabidiol or CBD usage to date found that women were more likely than men to use CBD and once they started using it, were likely to drop their traditional medicine.”

Read more in Forbes.