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USA: Study finds legalizing medical marijuana does not increase use among youth

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Esther Choo, Rhode Island Hospital physician/researcher presented findings from a study investigating whether legalizing medical marijuana in Rhode Island will increase its use among youths. Choo, an emergency medicine physician with Rhode Island Hospital, and her coauthors explain that the state-level legalization of medical marijuana has raised concerns about increased accessibility and appeal of the drug to youth, who are most vulnerable to public messages about drug use and to the adverse consequences of marijuana.



USA: Study finds legalizing medical marijuana does not increase use among youth.



Their study was performed to assess the impact of medical marijuana legalization in Rhode Island in 2006. The researchers compared trends in adolescent marijuana use between Rhode Island and Massachusetts using a self-report called the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System. In their study, they included surveys completed between 1997 and 2009. Based on their analysis of 32,570 students, they found that while marijuana use was common throughout the study period, there were no statistically significant differences in marijuana use between states in any year.

Choo says, "Our study did not find increases in adolescent marijuana use related to Rhode Island's 2006 legalization of medical marijuana; however, additional research may follow future trends as medical marijuana in Rhode Island and other states becomes more widely used." The study was funded by a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation. Choo's principal affiliation is Rhode Island Hospital, a member hospital of the Lifespan health system in Rhode Island, and direct financial and infrastructure support for this project was received through the Lifespan Office of Research Administration. Choo also holds an academic appointment, assistant professor of emergency medicine, at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.


Canada: Medicinal cannabis


As of 30 September 12,216 people in Canada held authorization to possess cannabis for medical purposes, the Health Ministry (Health Canada) said.


Currently there is a discussion on the proposal by Health Canada to remove itself as the final arbiter in approving or rejecting applications by patients to possess cannabis and to leave the approval process entirely up to the doctors. The Canadian Medical Association said that would put doctors in the position of 
controlling access to a largely untested and unregulated substance that hasn't gone through the normal regulatory drug review process.



USA: White House Rebuffs Marijuana Legalization Petitions


As promised, the White House has responded to the online petition to "Legalize and Regulate Alcohol," and seven other similar pot petitions as well, but the response wasn't favorable. That's not particularly surprising, given that the person chosen to deliver the response, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office) head Gil Kerlikowske, is mandated by law to oppose legalization.

That the administration chose the drug czar to respond sends a strong signal that legalization talk will go nowhere in this administration. That it chose to release its response during the late Friday afternoon "news dump," when it will hopefully vanish over the weekend suggests that it realizes it isn't going to win many political points with its position. "Our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug's effects," Kerlikowske begins before warning that "marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment."

He then wheels out marijuana treatment admissions and emergency room visits, reminds that potency has increased, and concludes that "simply put, it is not a benign drug." "As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem," the drug czar continued. "We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use."


Science: Genetic information of cannabis


Researchers of the University of Toronto, Canada, sequenced the complete genome (genetic information) of two cannabis strains, one producing high THC concentrations (Purple Kush) and the other low THC 
producing fibre hemp (Finola).

The genome consists of 30,000 genes. Comparison of the genome of Purple Kush and Finola revealed that many genes for cannabinoid and precursor pathways are more highly expressed in Purple Kush. Researchers hope that the availability of the genome "will further the development of therapeutic marijuana 
strains with tailored cannabinoid profiles and provide a basis for the breeding of hemp with improved agronomic characteristics."

Science: Cannabis provides additional pain relief in patients already treated with opioids 


A clinical study was conducted at the San Francisco General Hospital, USA, to investigate the effects of inhaled cannabis on 21 patients with chronic pain, on a regimen of twice-daily doses of morphine or oxycodone.

Participants were admitted to hospital for 5 days. They were asked to inhale vaporized cannabis in the evening of day 1, three times a day on days 2-4, and in the morning of day 5. They inhaled 0.9 grams of cannabis (3.56 per cent THC) with a Volcano vaporizer of the company Storz & Bickel.

Blood sampling was performed at 12-h intervals on days 1 to 5. The extent of chronic pain was also assessed daily. Pain was significantly decreased by an average of 27 per cent by cannabis inhalation. On a pain scale from 0 to 100 average pain intensity was 39.6 at baseline and 29.1 on day 5. Researchers concluded "that vaporized cannabis augments the analgesic effects of opioids without significantly altering plasma opioid levels. The combination may allow for opioid treatment at lower doses with fewer side effects."

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November 8th 2011
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