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Ed

Medical Marijuana Is Not Regulated as Most Medicines Are

New York Times 8 March 2021
Experts in the many specialties in which medical marijuana is said to be helpful have only rarely been able to demonstrate its purported benefits in well-designed scientific studies. And they caution that what is now being legally sold as medicinal marijuana in dispensaries throughout the country is anything but the safe, pure substance Americans commonly expect when they are treated with licensed medications.

For example, in Oregon, where both recreational and medicinal marijuana can be sold legally, all recreational marijuana must be tested for pesticides and solvents, but such tests are not required for most medical marijuana, an audit by the Secretary of State published in January 2019 showed. The Oregon Health Authority does not require tests for heavy metals and microbes that might sicken users.

Indeed, most of the same health concerns raised decades ago about using marijuana therapeutically are still unresolved, even as the potency of the plant’s intoxicating ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, best known as THC, has increased fivefold. Furthermore, exclusive medical use is uncommon; in a Canadian study of 709 medical users, 80.6 percent also reported using marijuana recreationally.

“People are using a medical excuse for their recreational marijuana habit,” said Dr. Kenneth Finn, a pain management specialist in Colorado Springs and editor of a new, 554-page professional book on the subject, “Cannabis in Medicine: An Evidence-Based Approach.”

Proponents of medical marijuana argue that cannabis is relatively safe and less expensive than licensed pharmaceuticals and is often used for conditions for which effective therapies are lacking or inadequate. Opponents say that what is most lacking are standardized marijuana products and randomized controlled clinical trials that can clearly establish benefits and risks.
READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/08/well/live/medical-marijuana.html

New research shows marijuana THC stays in breast milk for six weeks

Reuters 8 March 2021
In a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers at Children’s Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado) have found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana, stays in breast milk for up to six weeks, further supporting the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine to abstain from marijuana use during pregnancy and while a mother is breastfeeding. This is the first study examining THC in breastmilk and plasma among women with known marijuana use in pregnancy since a 1982 study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“With the increasing utilization of  in society as a whole, we are seeing more mothers who use marijuana during pregnancy,” said Erica Wymore, MD, MPH, primary investigator, neonatologist at Children’s Colorado and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine on the Anschutz Medical Campus. “However, given the lack of scientific data regarding how long THC persists in , it was challenging to provide mothers with a definitive answer regarding the safety of using marijuana while breastfeeding and simply ‘pumping and dumping’ until THC was no longer detectable in their milk. With this study, we aimed to better understand this question by determining the amount and duration of THC excretion in breast milk among  with known prenatal marijuana use.”

The researchers studied women with prenatal marijuana use who delivered their infants at Children’s Colorado and UCHealth’s University of Colorado Hospital between November 1, 2016, and June 30, 2019. Specifically, researchers recruited women who:

  • Had a history of marijuana use during pregnancy/a positive urine test for THC when admitted for delivery
  • Were over the age of 18
  • Had an intention to breastfeed
  • Were willing to abstain from marijuana use for six weeks after delivery
  • Were willing to provide milk, blood and  during those six weeks

Of the 394 women who were screened, 25 enrolled. Seven of these women were ultimately able to abstain from  for the duration of the study. Reasons listed for the others’ inability to abstain included stress, sleep and .

The study found that, while the concentrations of THC varied from woman to woman (likely depending on their level of use, BMI and metabolism), THC was excreted in the breast milk of these seven women for up to six weeks. In fact, all of the women still had detectable levels of THC in their breastmilk at the end of the study.
READ MORE: https://medicalxpress.cohtmlm/news/2021-03-marijuana-thc-breast-weeks.

Canada weighs tighter rules for grow-your-own pot producers

Reuters 9 March 2021
Family First Comment: How’s the legalisation experiment going, Canada?
“Health Canada highlighted recent police raids and arrests at production sites where people were using licenses to “cover and support large-scale illegal production and sale”.”
And the black market still seems to be thriving
“The move comes as Canada tries to fix its ailing pot market, where illegal producers sell more annually than hundreds of licensed cultivators, even over two years after the country became the first major nation to legalise weed in 2018.”

Canada on Monday launched a public consultation seeking to tighten rules for individuals who are allowed to grow their own medical cannabis, in an effort to clamp down on pot seeping into black markets.

In a draft guidance issued for the consultation, Health Canada highlighted recent police raids and arrests at production sites where people were using licenses to “cover and support large-scale illegal production and sale”.

The move comes as Canada tries to fix its ailing pot market, where illegal producers sell more annually than hundreds of licensed cultivators, even over two years after the country became the first major nation to legalize weed in 2018.

Households spent more than C$3.1 billion ($2.45 billion) buying non-medical pot from illicit channels last year versus C$2.9 billion of legal purchases, according to Statistics Canada data.

“Abuse of the medical purposes framework undermines the integrity of the system that many patients and health care practitioners rely on to access cannabis to address their medical needs,” Health Canada said in the draft document.

Reuters first reported the news earlier on Monday.

The draft guidance for the first time sets out factors that the regulator may consider in refusing or revoking a registration for “personal production”. Factors include authorization of unjustified amounts and “criminal activity and/or diversion of cannabis”. (Graphic: Black markets plague Canadian cannabis, )
READ MORE: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-cannabis-exclusive-idUSKBN2B017Q

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Most New Zealanders support decriminalising cannabis, poll suggests

NewsHub 9 March 2021
A new poll suggests most New Zealanders support decriminalising cannabis.

Just over 48 percent of voters supported legalising cannabis in a referendum held last year.

A poll conducted by market research firm UMR for the Helen Clark Foundation found an additional 20 percent voted no but said they think cannabis should be decriminalised. The poll was of 833 people who voted in the referendum; 49 percent were in favour of legalisation – mirroring the actual vote – while 30 percent thought the current law should stay the same or get tougher.

This makes a total of 69 percent who either supported legalisation or would support decriminalisation.

Foundation executive director Kathy Errington said this proved there was a strong public appetite for drug law change.

“The poll really shows how much New Zealand culture has changed in their attitude to drug policy and that we are, as a country, moving away from an approach to drugs that is rooted in criminal law and prohibition.”

She said decriminalising cannabis would achieve many of the health-related outcomes hoped for in the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.

“It depends how you do it and the details will matter a lot but what it gets at is that one of the key injustices that hasn’t been resolved about our cannabis laws, which is the unequal burden of criminalisation, that still very much needs to be addressed.”

Errington said, in particular, the unequal impacts were worn by young people and Māori.
READ MORE: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2021/03/most-new-zealanders-support-decriminalising-cannabis-poll-suggests.html

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Ardern not revealing cannabis stance may have been ‘decisive factor’ in referendum result

Stuff co.nz 8 March 2021
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s decision not to reveal her position on the cannabis debate during election campaigning could have been a “decisive factor” in last year’s referendum, academics believe.

Ardern and her Labour Party did not take a public stance on the legalisation of cannabis during 2020’s election campaign, despite facing repeated questions over it.

Efforts to legalise cannabis were ultimately defeated, with 48.4 per cent of voters in favour and 50.7 per cent against.

“Referendum voting is often more volatile and unpredictable than voting in elections based on party politics,” said researchers Marta Rychert and Chris Wilkins, both of Massey University’s College of Health.

“Adding to this volatility, the governing Labour Party decided the cannabis referendum would be a ‘conscience’ rather than a ‘party’ vote,” they wrote in a research paper.

“The self-imposed neutrality of the centre-left Labour Party and its popular leader may have been a decisive factor in the narrow defeat.”

A spokeswoman for the prime minister declined to comment. Ardern has previously said she wanted New Zealanders to form their own views.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/124461288/ardern-not-revealing-cannabis-stance-may-have-been-decisive-factor-in-referendum-result?cid=app-iPhone

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More whining (and myths) from the pro-cannabis advocates!

Bob McCoskrie
A new article has appeared the The Lancet Regional Health – Western Pacific this week.

Entitled New Zealand’s failed cannabis legalization referendum – implications for cannabis policy reform, it’s by Benedikt Fischer (a long-standing campaigner for legalisation) and Australian Wayne Hall.

In a short analysis, it concludes:

“Governments and lawmakers, rather, will need to develop and move forward reform initiatives in their respective political systems and demonstrate leadership and courage in persuading their citizens that cannabis legalization is a desirable and valid policy direction.”

An atrocious piece. Ignore the people – only MPs should have a say. The public are too dumb. Helen Clark made these same claims. (Ironically she was the one who ‘whipped’ her own MPs to vote for the prostitution law reform when she was PM.)

By the way, this sentence in the article is just fake news

“New Zealand’s current cannabis control approach is prohibition-based. Law enforcement has the discretion to make ‘no-charge’ where a health-based approach is more beneficial but this is not commonly exercised.” 

From the latest Salvation Army Report released just this week…

Prosecutions for cannabis offences declined by 15 percent between June 2020 (5223 offences) and June 2019 (6125 offences). In fact, prosecutions for cannabis have declined by 70 percent since 2010. In 2019/20, 45 percent of those charged with cannabis-related offences were Māori. However, the number of Māori being charged with cannabis offences has consistently declined, dropping by 57 percent between 2010/11 and 2019/20.

And last November, Radio NZ reported

40% reduction in cannabis prosecutions in the last 5 years. Statistics for the three months to September show prosecutions for Māori are down by 17%, and there’s been a 50% increase in warnings to Māori where there are two or more offences. Fewer than 20% of all people caught with cannabis were prosecuted, and 500 people have been referred to health professionals.

 

 

How to reduce cannabis harm in NZ – using the SmokeFree model

Bob McCoskrie
An excellent commentary in The Conversation – “NZ’s smoking rates dropped dramatically thanks to a hard-hitting campaign. Could we do the same to bring emissions down?

Good to see that some researchers at Otago University still aspire for best health outcomes. This article’s headings could be changed to: “NZ’s smoking rates dropped dramatically thanks to hard-hitting campaign. Could we do same to bring *cannabis use* down?”

Yes. Here’s how. From the article….

“One of the key lessons from tobacco control is the need to intervene in multiple levels to reshape the entire system. This includes:

  • interventions at the policy level (taxation on tobacco products, advertising and sponsorship bans)
  • creating environments that support being smoke-free (no smoking in public places such as bars, playgrounds, workplaces; plain packaging)
  • community action (community-based tobacco control programmes such as Aukati Kaipaipa)
  • helping individual smokers to quit
  • reorienting health services to promote tobacco control by requiring health providers to collect and report on smoking status.
  • Combined, these interventions have reduced smoking rates from 36% in 1976 to 13% in 2020. We moved from a society where smoking was ubiquitous (remember smoking in planes, bars, restaurants and workplaces?) to one where smoking is no longer seen as a “normal” activity.
  • Importantly, tobacco control interventions now enjoy a high level of support, including often from smokers. These wide-ranging environmental interventions created behavioural change and support for further interventions.

Making it easier for people to change

  • Evidence from public health shows policy interventions that go hand in hand with supportive environments are likely to make the biggest difference in behaviour changes.”

Don’t tell the Drug Foundation though. It will wreck their funding model.

 

Kate Hawkesby: Study shows cannabis legalisation leads to increase youth use

NewsTalk ZB 18 February 2021
Family First Comment: Go Kate 🙂
“Will we see this reported here in NZ? No of course not, it doesn’t fit the pro-cannabis agenda so prevalent here in mainstream media. Which is a shame, because when facts are presented as data, they deserve to be reported, not ignored.”

Imagine my surprise when (a) a new study published by the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found cannabis legalisation leads to increased youth use, and (b) that the media didn’t report it. It’s justification that NZ made the right decision in voting No. It also flies in the face of what the Yes camp were saying – which was that legalising cannabis would not lead to any increase in use.

This new study looked at more than 3 million High Schoolers aged between 12 to 16.. and ‘found significant increases in lifetime and past-month marijuana use among almost all demographics’. “Of concern was relatively greater increases in the prevalence of cannabis use among younger adolescents…” the study said.

So the age old theory of you are what you are surrounded by, rings true here doesn’t it? Isn’t environment everything? Don’t kids born into the normalisation of drugs and alcohol usually grow up going the same way? So why then would pro- cannabis legalisation advocates think that by normalising marijuana use, we do anything other than make it more available, attractive and normal?

Researchers in this study warned that… ‘the greater increases in these normally low-risk groups may be attributed to marijuana use becoming more normative due to legalisation.’ Not only that, mental health stats worsened. Which is exactly what the vote No proponents said would happen. US data from a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, found ‘significant increases in youth cannabis use in recently legalised marijuana states’.. and that at the same time, ‘mental illness indicators worsened across the country, while alcohol, cocaine, and tobacco use dropped.’

Staunch advocates of the no-vote to the legalisation referendum here say this data.. ‘should put to rest the wild claims by drug advocates in New Zealand that somehow – and miraculously – youth use of drugs is going to decline if we legalise cannabis. It is evident to everyone with both eyes open that New Zealand dodged a bullet by voting no in the recent referendum,’ that’s according to Family First’s Bob McCoskrie.

Will we see this reported here in NZ? No of course not, it doesn’t fit the pro-cannabis agenda so prevalent here in mainstream media. Which is a shame, because when facts are presented as data, they deserve to be reported, not ignored.

The good news – and there is good news for us given we haven’t gone down the legalisation track… is that here in New Zealand, ‘teen use (of cannabis) is dropping. In 2019, only 23 per cent of high school students reported having ever used marijuana in their lifetime, dropping from 38 per cent in 2001.’ That’s according to the Youth19 Rangatahi Smart Survey Substances report. So we did the right thing by our young people, even if the media choose to ignore the facts on that.
https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/early-edition/opinion/kate-hawkesby-study-shows-cannabis-legalisation-leads-to-increase-youth-use/

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Teens May Be More Likely to Use Marijuana After Legalization for Adult Recreational Use

PR NewsWire 15 February 2021
Family First Comment: NEW STUDY JUST RELEASED:
“Adolescents who live in California may be more likely to use marijuana since adult recreational marijuana use was legalized in 2016, according to a new report in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs… There were greater increases in marijuana use prevalence after recreational marijuana legalization among youth in ‘low-risk’ groups, which is concerning.. the greater increases in these normally low-risk groups may be attributed to marijuana use becoming more normative due to legalization…”
Who would have thought?!!

Adolescents who live in California may be more likely to use marijuana since adult recreational marijuana use was legalized in 2016, according to a new report in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

“The apparent increase in marijuana use among California adolescents after recreational marijuana legalization for adult use in 2016 is surprising given the steady downward trend in marijuana use during years before legalization,” says lead researcher Mallie J. Paschall, Ph.D., senior research scientist at the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Berkeley, Calif.

Paschall and colleagues analyzed data from over three million 7th, 9th, and 11th graders who participated in the California Healthy Kids Survey from 2010-2011 through 2018-2019 school years. The adolescents provided information on their grade, sex, ethnicity, race and lifetime and past-30-day marijuana use.

The researchers observed significant increases in the prevalence of lifetime and past-30-day marijuana use among nearly all demographic groups from 2017-2018 to 2018-2019 school years, after legalization of adult recreational use: an 18% increase in the likelihood of lifetime use and a 23% increase in past-30-day use. These numbers may reflect greater use of vaping products, and the overall increase was even more likely among those in demographic groups with historically lower rates of marijuana use.

“I was somewhat surprised to see relatively greater increases in the prevalence of marijuana use among younger adolescents (7th graders) relative to 9th and 11th graders, among females versus males, among non-Hispanic versus Hispanic youth, and among Whites versus youth in other racial groups,” says Paschall. “In other words, there were greater increases in marijuana use prevalence after recreational marijuana legalization among youth in ‘low-risk’ groups, which is concerning.”

Paschall says he can only speculate as to the reason, but that the greater increases in these normally low-risk groups may be attributed to marijuana use becoming more normative due to legalization, along with relatively greater overall declines in marijuana use among youth in historically ‘high-risk’ groups during the study period.

The study also indicated greater increases in the frequency of past-30-day marijuana use among older adolescents, males, African American and Asian youth who were regular users. There were notable increases in marijuana use frequency among adolescents in 2018-2019, which may reflect national increases in the use of vaping products.

The researchers suggest that recreational marijuana legalization may present increased opportunities for adolescents to obtain marijuana and that the increasing availability of non-smoking products such as edibles may prove appealing as well.

Paschall and his colleagues also write that states and communities that have legalized adult recreational marijuana use and sales could benefit from implementing both stricter controls on the availability of marijuana to adolescents and evidence-based prevention programs.
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/teens-may-be-more-likely-to-use-marijuana-after-legalization-for-adult-recreational-use-301227489.html
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California’s Cannabis Legalisation Leads To Increase In Youth Use

Media Release 17 February 2021
A new study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs has found that youth who live in California may be more likely to use cannabis since the drug was legalised in 2016. The study looked at data from more than three million 7th, 9th, and 11th graders (years 8, 10 and 12 respectively in New Zealand) and found significant increases in lifetime and past-month marijuana use among almost all demographics.

Of concern was relatively greater increases in the prevalence of cannabis use among younger adolescents (7th graders) relative to 9th and 11th graders, among females versus males, among non-Hispanic versus Hispanic youth, and among Whites versus youth in other racial groups. According to the researchers, there were greater increases in marijuana use prevalence among youth in ‘low-risk’ groups, which is concerning.

The researchers warn that the greater increases in these normally low-risk groups may be attributed to marijuana use becoming more normative due to legalisation, and that recreational marijuana legalisation may present increased opportunities for adolescents to obtain marijuana and that the increasing availability of non-smoking products such as edibles may prove appealing as well.

In December, US state-level data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the most authoritative study on drug use conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), found significant increases in youth cannabis use in several recently legalised marijuana states versus last year. At the same time, mental illness indicators worsened across the country while alcohol, cocaine, and tobacco use dropped, especially among young people.

And earlier in September, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released the 2019 Annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the most comprehensive survey on drug use. One of the disturbing findings was that some 699,000 youth aged 12-17 have an addiction to marijuana in 2019 – representing 187,000 new youth with a Cannabis Use Disorder in 2019 versus 2018. Overall, more than 4.8 million people aged 12 or older reported Marijuana Use Disorder in 2019, up from 4.4 million in 2018.

“This data should put to rest the wild claims by drug advocates in New Zealand that somehow – and miraculously – youth use of drugs is going to decline if we legalise cannabis. It is evident to everyone with both eyes open that New Zealand dodged a bullet by voting no in the recent referendum,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

The good news is that in New Zealand, teen use is dropping. In 2019, only 23% of high school students reported having ever using marijuana in their lifetime, dropping from 38% in 2001.
ENDS