Less Restrictive Marijuana Laws Linked To Reduced Opioid Prescriptions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC

Marijuana plant

Hefei Wen, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Health Management & Policy
University of Kentucky College of Public Health 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Marijuana is one of the potential, non-opioid alternatives that can relieve pain at a relatively lower risk of addiction and virtually no risk of overdose. Medical and adult-use marijuana laws, has made marijuana available to more Americans. Yet no study to date has focused on the effect of medical and adult-use marijuana laws on opioid prescribing in particular.

Our study provides some of the first empirical evidence that the implementation of medical and adult-use marijuana laws between 2011 and 2016 was associated with lower opioid prescribing rates and spending among Medicaid enrollees.   Continue reading

States with Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Had Bigger Drop in Opioid Prescriptions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with

“Cannabis sativa” by Manuel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

David Bradford, Ph.D.
Busbee Chair in Public Policy
Department of Public Administration and Policy
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: To give you some background, in 2016, part of our research team (Bradford and Bradford) published the first study to directly examine the impact that medical cannabis laws (MCLs) may be having on prescription use. We used yearly physician-level Medicare Part D data, looked at nearly all prescription drugs used to treat 9 broad categories of illness/diagnoses, and found substantial reductions in prescriptions. We published a follow-up study in 2017, this time using data from Medicaid Fee-for-Service.

Again, we found significant substitution away from prescription medications. In both of these studies, pain was included in the list of conditions for which cannabis may be used in patients, and in both studies, pain prescriptions fell. One of the unanswered questions from both of those studies, though, was what *type* of pain medications were being reduced.  From a public health standpoint, when we’re worried about opioid overdose, it matters whether the substitution away from pain medications is coming from substitutions away from things like NSAIDs or whether there is substitution away from opioids.

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Teen Marijuana Use Did Not Increase After Passage of Medical Marijuana Laws

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“medical marijuana : strains and varieties” by torbakhopper is licensed under CC BY 2.0Professor Deborah Hasin PhD
Department of Epidemiology in Psychiatry
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: We began to think about this study after we published an earlier report (Hasin et al., The Lancet Psychiatry 2015) showing that after state medical marijuana laws (MML) were passed, U.S. teen marijuana use did not increase compared to the period before the laws were passed and to overall national trends. However, people continued to question whether MML led to teen increases in marijuana use. Therefore, in the present study, we combined findings from 11 large-scale national studies of teens to provide a more definite answer.

The findings were clear that teen marijuana use did not increase after passage of medical marijuana laws.  Continue reading

More Car Crashes on 4/20 Marijuana Celebration Day

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. John A Staples, MD, FRCPC, MPH Scientist, Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences Clinical Assistant Professor University of British ColumbiaDr. John A Staples
MD, FRCPC, MPH
Scientist, Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences
Clinical Assistant Professor
University of British Columbia

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Around 64 million Americans live in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Many policymakers are trying to figure out what that means for traffic safety.

On April 20th, some Americans participate in an annual “4/20” counterculture holiday that celebrates and promotes the use of cannabis. Some 4/20 events such as those in Denver and San Francisco involve thousands of participants. Much like celebrations at midnight on New Year’s eve, public 4/20 events sometimes mark 4:20 p.m. by a countdown followed by synchronized mass consumption of cannabis. We thought this was a perfect natural experiment to evaluate the influence that cannabis intoxication has on the risk of motor vehicle crash.

To examine this question, we analyzed 25 years of data on all fatal traffic crashes in the United States. We compared the number of drivers in crashes between 4:20 p.m. and midnight on April 20th to the number of drivers in crashes during the same time interval on control days one week earlier and one week later.

We found that the risk of crash involvement was 12% higher on April 20th than on control days. In the subgroups of drivers younger than 21 years of age, the risk of crash involvement was 38% higher on April 20th than on control days.

Assuming fewer than 12% of Americans celebrate 4/20, our results suggest that substance use at April 20th celebrations more than doubles the risk of fatal crash.

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Marijuana Dispensaries Have Ability To Reduce Opioid Overdoses and Substance Abuse

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David Powell  PhD Economist; Core Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School RAND, Santa Monica     MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?   Response: There has been some research suggesting that the adoption of state medical marijuana laws leads to reductions in prescriptions for opioid analgesics among certain populations and opioid-related overdoses overall.  However, medical marijuana laws are very different across states and they have changed over time as well.  We wanted to understand what components of a medical marijuana law could potentially lead to reductions in overdoses and substance abuse.  We focused specifically on the role of dispensaries, given their importance in providing access to medical marijuana, and tested for different effects in states with and without legally-protected and operational dispensaries.  We found that dispensaries are critical to reduce opioid-related overdoses and substance abuse.  We also found evidence that more recently-adopting states have experienced smaller reductions in overdoses and opioid substance abuse, potentially because the more recent adopters tend to enforce more stringent guidelines for dispensaries than the early adopters.   MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?  Response: We find that the introduction of medical marijuana dispensaries has the potential to reduce opioid-related harms quite significantly.  More broadly, it also suggests that, when we think about the opioid crisis, improving access to pain management alternatives may be a useful mechanism for reducing dependence on opioids.        MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?  Response: During most of the time period that we studied, prescription opioids were driving the opioid crisis, but it has recently transitioned to the point where heroin and illicit synthetic opioids are playing more prominent roles.  We are hesitant to suggest that medical marijuana access will have the same scope in a climate in which synthetic opioids and heroin are the primary substances of abuse.  Future work could do more to explore the potential of different types of medical marijuana laws to reduce overdoses related to these substances.        Citations: Do medical marijuana laws reduce addictions and deaths related to pain killers? ☆ •David Powella, , ,  •	Rosalie Liccardo Paculaa, b,  Mireille Jacobsonb  RAND, Santa Monica, United States  NBER Cambridge, MA, United StatesUniversity of California, Irvine, United States Received 14 November 2015, Revised 15 August 2017, Accepted 30 December 2017, Available online 3 February 2018  Journal of Health Economics Volume 58, March 2018, Pages 29–42  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhealeco.2017.12.007     The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.

Dr. Powell

David Powell  PhD
Economist; Core Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School
RAND, Santa Monica 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There has been some research suggesting that the adoption of state medical marijuana laws leads to reductions in prescriptions for opioid analgesics among certain populations and opioid-related overdoses overall.  However, medical marijuana laws are very different across states and they have changed over time as well.  We wanted to understand what components of a medical marijuana law could potentially lead to reductions in overdoses and substance abuse.  We focused specifically on the role of dispensaries, given their importance in providing access to medical marijuana, and tested for different effects in states with and without legally-protected and operational dispensaries.

We found that dispensaries are critical to reduce opioid-related overdoses and substance abuse.  We also found evidence that more recently-adopting states have experienced smaller reductions in overdoses and opioid substance abuse, potentially because the more recent adopters tend to enforce more stringent guidelines for dispensaries than the early adopters.   Continue reading

Insufficient Evidence To Determine Cardiovascular Risks of Marijuana

Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC

Marijuana plant (Cannabis sativa)

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Divya Ravi, MD, MPH

The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education
Scranton, PA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There is evidence to suggest that Marijuana can bring about changes at the tissue level and has the ability to potentiate vascular disease, in ways similar to tobacco.  With change in legalization and increase usage trends, we conducted this review to examine the known effects of marijuana on cardiovascular outcomes and risk factors, given that cardiovascular disease remains the greatest cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.

Our review found insufficient evidence to draw meaningful conclusions that marijuana use is associated with cardiovascular risk factors and outcomes. The few studies that suggested a possible benefit from marijuana use, were cross-sectional, and were contradicted by more robust longitudinal studies that reported potential harmful effects.

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Fewer Cigarettes But More Vaping Among Today’s Adolescents

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Checking your phone and vaping as you do” by Alper Çu?un is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Richard Allen Miech, PhD
Research Professor, Survey Research Center
Institute for Social Research
University of Michigan

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Monitoring the Future conducts annual, nationally-representative surveys of ~45,000 adolescents every year to assess trends in substance use. We track which drugs are gaining traction among adolescents and which are falling out of favor. The survey draws separate, nationally-representative samples of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students from about 400 total schools every year. Once a recruited school agrees to participate, a field interviewer travels to the school to administer the paper-and-pencil survey, typically in classrooms. The project is funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and is carried out by the University of Michigan. More details on the project’s survey design and survey procedures can be found in chapter 3 here: http://monitoringthefutu re.org/pubs/monographs/mtf- vol1_2016.pdf

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Local Politics Determine How Cannabis Is Distributed and Marketed By Dispensaries

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Greta Hsu PhD Graduate School of Business Stanford University, Graduate School of Business   MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response:  My co-authors, Ozgecan Kocak at Emory University and Balazs Kovacs at Yale University, and I became interested in the cannabis industry in early 2014, when Colorado and Washington states were in the early stages of licensing recreational cannabis operations.  As organizational researchers, we were interested in how the emergence of the new legalized recreational-use dispensary stores would impact existing medical cannabis dispensaries that had already been in existence for years in both states.  For decades, activists and many dispensaries had framed cannabis as medicine that relieves pain for patients suffering from a wide variety of illnesses.

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As recreational-use legalization took hold, would medical dispensaries emphasize their identities as medical providers or downplay their medical orientation to compete directly for potential customers? We found that some clusters of dispensaries were more conservative in their marketing, continuing and even accentuating an organizational identity focused on therapy and patients. This was reflected in statements like: “We aim to educate our patients about cannabis treatments and other alternative health approaches to supplement their medicine.” Counties where the majority of voters voted against legalizing recreational marijuana tended to encourage this increasing focus on therapy. Dispensaries that embraced the new recreational market took more risk by advertising to a broader, emerging consumer class, which has been bolstered by a growing tourism industry. These dispensaries de-emphasized their medical orientation and focused more on themes such as product variety and prices. Dispensaries with this more recreational-oriented marketing tended to be in counties that voted in favor of legalizing recreational use. Overall, our research suggests local communities hold a great deal of power in affecting how dispensaries present themselves both to consumers and the broader population. MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Response: In states that have legalized cannabis for adult recreational-use and sales, the law often gives local municipalities flexibility in deciding how easily dispensaries can operate within their boundaries. Many counties have chosen to ban cannabis-related businesses. Others are carefully regulating sales and businesses through zoning and taxes. Our research suggests that dispensaries are responsive to the level of concern raised by local community members about recreational-use cannabis. How dispensaries choose to market and present themselves will be shaped by their need to project a positive organizational identity and be accepted as legitimate members of the local community. MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study? Response: Many national polls indicate strong support for legalizing the use of cannabis for medical and, to a somewhat lesser degree, recreational uses. The progression of state-level legalization has been fast and is likely to continue in the coming years. The overall landscape in the United States is incredibly complex. Different states has enacted different types of state-level regulations, and different localities within each of these states also differ widely in the types of regulations enacted. Future research studying dynamics in different states is needed to better understand how this fast-growing industry will continue to evolve. MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community. Citation: Co-opt or co-exist? A study of medical cannabis dispensaries’ identity-based responses to recreational-use legalization in Colorado and Washington Greta Hsu* University of California, Davis Özgecan Koçak Emory University Balázs Kovács Yale University https://gsm.ucdavis.edu/sites/main/files/file-attachments/cannabis_os_final.pdf Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions. [wysija_form id="1"]” width=”200″ height=”200″ /> Dr. Hsu

Greta Hsu PhD
Graduate School of Business
Stanford University, Graduate School of Business

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: My co-authors, Ozgecan Kocak at Emory University and Balazs Kovacs at Yale University, and I became interested in the cannabis industry in early 2014, when Colorado and Washington states were in the early stages of licensing recreational cannabis operations. As organizational researchers, we were interested in how the emergence of the new legalized recreational-use dispensary stores would impact existing medical cannabis dispensaries that had already been in existence for years in both states.

For decades, activists and many dispensaries had framed cannabis as medicine that relieves pain for patients suffering from a wide variety of illnesses. People who use marijuana for medical purposes do not always live near a dispensary, so accessing this product may be quite difficult for some than it would be for others. In and around where you live, you may be able to look into a local dispensary who would be able to administer the products you would need. For example, living in Florida, you’d look into something like florida dispensary to help you find your nearest dispensary. As long as you find a place that works for you, then that’s all that matters. As recreational-use legalization took hold, would medical dispensaries emphasize their identities as medical providers or downplay their medical orientation to compete directly for potential customers?

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What Impact Have State-Level Laws Had on Marijuana Use?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Christine Mauro PhD Assistant Professor Biostatistics Columbia University Medical Center   MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response:  As of November 2016, 28 states have legalized medical marijuana. Several previous studies have found an increase in use for adults after legalization, but not for adolescents.  We wanted to examine whether these age-specific findings varied by gender.  Consistent with past findings, we found past-month marijuana use did not increase after enactment of medical marijuana laws in men or women ages 12-25. Among people 26+, past-month marijuana use increased for men from 7.0% before to 8.7% after enactment (+1.7%, p<0.001) and for women from 3.1% before to 4.3% after enactment (+1.1%, p=0.013). Daily marijuana use also increased after enactment in this age group for both genders (men: 16.3% to 19.1%, +2.8 %, p=0.014; women: 9.2% to 12.7%, +3.4%, p=0.003). There were no statistically significant increases in past-year Marijuana Use Disorder prevalence for any age or gender group after medical marijuana law enactment.    MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Response:  The readers should take away several things.  First, despite men being more likely to use marijuana than women are in all age groups, there were relatively few gender differences in terms of the impact of medical marijuana on marijuana use. Second, we found no evidence of an effect of medical marijuana law enactment in any marijuana use outcome for both men and women aged 12-17.  Lastly, we did see an increase in both past-month use and daily use among past-year users in both men and women aged 26+ after enactment, but no changes in past year marijuana used disorder.    MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?  Response: Because most states in our sample more recently passed medical marijuana laws, it is possible that not enough time has elapsed to observe meaningful and significant changes in Marijuana Use Disorder. Given the impact Marijuana Use Disorder may have on individuals, families, and society, the prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorder should continue to be monitored regularly.   Second, there is considerable variation across provisions included in different states’ medical marijuana laws; some aspects, such as allowances on home cultivation or dispensaries, might have a role in changes in several health outcome indicators.  In addition, eight states have now legalized recreational marijuana, which may also have an impact on marijuana use outcomes over time. Future analyses should account for this variability in marijuana related policies.   MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Response: As marijuana use becomes more prevalent, monitoring state-wide trends in marijuana use by age and gender is important for public health planning. In particular, efforts to prevent and limit injury that may be associated with specific activities, such as driving, may be needed as daily marijuana use increases among adults. Downstream effects, either positive or negative, of a growing proportion of the adult population reporting daily marijuana use in states with medical marijuana laws warrants further attention. Disclosure: This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse (grant R01 DA037866 to S. S. Martins).   MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.  Citation: Christine M. Mauro, Paul Newswanger, Julian Santaella-Tenorio, Pia M. Mauro, Hannah Carliner, Silvia S. Martins. Impact of Medical Marijuana Laws on State-Level Marijuana Use by Age and Gender, 2004–2013. Prevention Science, 2017; DOI: 10.1007/s11121-017-0848-3   Note:  Content is Not intended as medical advice.  Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

Dr. Mauro

Christine Mauro PhD
Assistant Professor Biostatistics
Columbia University Medical Center 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: As of November 2016, 28 states have legalized medical marijuana. Several previous studies have found an increase in use for adults after legalization, but not for adolescents.

We wanted to examine whether these age-specific findings varied by gender.  Consistent with past findings, we found past-month marijuana use did not increase after enactment of medical marijuana laws in men or women ages 12-25. Among people 26+, past-month marijuana use increased for men from 7.0% before to 8.7% after enactment (+1.7%, p<0.001) and for women from 3.1% before to 4.3% after enactment (+1.1%, p=0.013). Daily marijuana use also increased after enactment in this age group for both genders (men: 16.3% to 19.1%, +2.8 %, p=0.014; women: 9.2% to 12.7%, +3.4%, p=0.003).

There were no statistically significant increases in past-year Marijuana Use Disorder prevalence for any age or gender group after medical marijuana law enactment.

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Labels of Majority of Online Cannabidiol Extracts Contain Inaccuracies

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC

Marijuana plant (Cannabis sativa)

Marcel Bonn-Miller, PhD
Adjunct assistant professor
Department of Psychiatry
Leader of the Substance Abuse and Anxiety Program
U.S. Veterans Affairs Department 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: A 2015 study found that edible cannabis products (e.g., brownies, cookies, drinks) are often mislabeled.  The FDA has also sent warning letters to a handful of companies selling cannabidiol extracts because of inaccurate labeling of content. This led us to conduct a systematic evaluation of the label accuracy of all cannabidiol extracts sold online.  We tested 84 products from 31 different companies.

The primary take-home of this study is that nearly 70 percent of all cannabidiol extracts sold online had over 10% more or less cannabidiol than advertised; 26% of products were over-labeled (less cannabidiol than indicated) and 42% of products were under-labeled (more cannabidiol than indicated).

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Medical Tetrahydrocannabinol May Be Beneficial For Seizures and Chemotherapy Side Effects

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Wong

Dr. Wong

Shane Shucheng Wong, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Medical cannabis is now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, and in those areas with active programs, children and adolescents can legally access medical cannabis with certification from their doctor and consent from a parent. This means that doctors and families need to understand what we know and what we don’t yet know about medical cannabis in order to make the best decision for the health of the individual child. Two synthetic cannabinoids – compounds that act on specific receptors in the brain – have been approved for medical use in the U.S., both of which mimic a form of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound responsible for the “high” of recreational cannabis use. Dronabinol (Marinol) is approved to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in both children and adults, while the pediatric use of nabilone (Cesamet) carries a caution. A third cannabinoid, cannabidiol, is currently in phase 3 trials for treatment of seizures.

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Marijuana Use Linked To Cognitive Impairment In HIV Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, DFASAM Department of Community Health Sciences Boston University School of Public Health Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicin Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center Boston , Massachusetts

Dr. Saitz

Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, DFASAM
Department of Community Health Sciences
Boston University School of Public Health
Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit
Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicin
Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center
Boston , Massachusetts

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Many people living with HIV infection use alcohol and other drugs including marijuana. People with HIV infection are also susceptible to cognitive dysfunction from many causes from HIV infection itself to aging.

The main findings were that among people with HIV and substance use disorder, lifetime marijuana and alcohol use were not associated with cognitive dysfunction, likely due to competing risks.  But current marijuana use was associated with cognitive dysfunction.

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Edible Marijuana Preferred By Consumers Due To Lack of Smoke and Convenience

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sheryl Cates RTI International

Sheryl Cates

Sheryl Cates
RTI International
Durham, NC

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The goal of this research was to provide a better understanding of consumer perceptions of edible marijuana products, including why users prefer edibles relative to other forms of marijuana such as smoking and vaping and concerns regarding the consumption and questions related to, how long do edibles last? And many more! This is important as more states legalize the use of recreational marijuana products. With the increasing popularity of edibles, concerns exist that do not exist with other methods of using marijuana, such as smoking or vaping. These concerns include delayed activation time; accidental ingestion, particularly by children and older adults; and dose titration.

The study team conducted eight focus groups (four groups in Denver, Colorado, and four groups in Seattle, Washington) with users of edibles. Most participants preferred edibles to smoking marijuana because there is no smell from smoke and no secondhand smoke. Other reasons participants like edibles included convenience, discreetness, longer-lasting highs, less intense highs, and edibles’ ability to aid in relaxation, reduce anxiety, and alleviate pain more so than smoking marijuana. Concerns and dislikes about edibles included delayed effects, unexpected highs, the unpredictability of the high, and inconsistency of distribution of marijuana in the product. No participants in either location mentioned harmful health effects from consuming edibles as a concern. Although focus group findings are not generalizable, the findings are useful for helping inform policy makers and regulators as they establish regulations regarding the manufacture, labeling, and sale of edibles.

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Vaporizing Cannabis May Lead To Release Of Benzene Carcinogens

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC

Marijuana plant (Cannabis sativa)

Jiries Meehan-Atrash
Department of Chemistry, Portland State University
Portland, Oregon 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The need for this study stems from the rising popularity of cannabis, and specifically the fact that many consumers are under the belief that vaporizing extracts thereof is safer than smoking. While this may in fact have some truth to it, it is clear that we must assess the safety of vaporization a route of administration.

The main findings are that vaporizing terpenes under dabbing conditions generates some levels of methacrolein (a noxious irritant) at all temperatures that are hot enough to vaporize cannabinoids, but significant levels arise at higher temperatures that are more commonly used.

At the highest temperature used by consumers, significant levels of benzene arise, a compound that is a potent carcinogen and should be avoided at all costs.

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Washington-Oregon Study Shows Frequent Inter-State Diversion of Recreational Marijuana

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Benjamin Hansen, Keaton Miller, Caroline Weber

A dried Cannabis bud, typical of what is sold for drug use- Wikipedia image

A dried Cannabis bud, typical of what is sold for drug use- Wikipedia image

Department of Economics
University of Oregon

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Recreational marijuana is now, or will soon be, legally available to 21%
of the United States population after they follow in Canada’s path. All around Canada people can buy marijuana on an online dispensary canada legally with no repercussions but a major concern among policy makers at
all levels of government in the US is the trafficking or “diversion” of marijuana
from states where it is legal to other states. Though significant
measures are in place to prevent large scale drug trafficking by
licensed producers, consumers may easily purchase in one state and
travel to a different state for consumption or re-sale. Though this
policy concern has existed since medical marijuana became available in
the 1990s, the extent of this diversion by consumers has been unknown.

We take advantage of a unique natural experiment in the Pacific
Northwest: Oregon opened a recreational market on October 1, 2015, well
after Washington’s market opened on July 8, 2014. By examining the sales
of Washington retailers along the Washington-Oregon border in the months
before and after Oregon’s market opened, we can measure the extent to
which consumers from Oregon crossed state lines to purchase marijuana in
Washington.

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Heavy Marijuana Use May Harm Kidneys, But More Study Needed

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Julie H. Ishida MD Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine San Francisco and San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center University of California

Dr. Ishida

Dr. Julie H. Ishida MD
Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine
San Francisco and San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center
University of California

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Marijuana is becoming increasingly accepted in the United States, and animal studies suggest that marijuana could affect kidney function. However, data in humans are limited to case reports of acute kidney injury related to synthetic cannabinoid use and small cohort studies of relatively short duration.

Among 3,765 participants with normal kidney function in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults or CARDIA study, my colleagues and I found that higher marijuana use was associated with lower kidney function at the start of the our study. However, we did not find that marijuana was associated with change in kidney function or albuminuria, which is a sign of kidney damage, over long-term follow-up.

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Chronic Cannabis Users Have Blunted Response To Stress

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Carrie Cuttler, Ph.D. Clinical Assistant Professor Washington State University Department of Psychology Pullman, WA, 99164-4820

Dr. Cuttler

Carrie Cuttler, Ph.D.
Clinical Assistant Professor
Washington State University
Department of Psychology
Pullman, WA, 99164-4820

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: One of the most common reasons cannabis users report using cannabis is to cope with stress. In support of this, previous research has shown that acute administration of THC or cannabis dampens affective responses and subjective stress ratings. However, our study is the first to compare the stress response of sober cannabis users to non-users. More specifically, we randomly assigned 42 non-cannabis users and 40 cannabis users (who abstained from using cannabis for at least 12 hours prior to the study) to either a stress or no stress condition. Participants in the stress condition were required to perform multiple trials of placing their hand in ice water and counting backwards from 2043 by 17s. Each time they made an error they were given negative feedback and told to start again. Further, they were being video recorded and their image was displayed in front of them. Participants who were assigned to the no stress condition were simply required to perform multiple trials of placing their hand in lukewarm water and counting from 1 to 25. They were not given feedback or recorded. Participants were asked to rate their level of stress and to provide a saliva sample, from which the stress hormone cortisol was measured.

The results showed that, as expected, non-users in the stress condition had higher cortisol levels and higher self-reported stress than non-users in the no stress condition. In contrast, cannabis users in the stress condition demonstrated the same levels of cortisol as cannabis users in the no stress condition and their increase in self-reported stress was smaller than that of the non-users.

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College Binge Drinkers Also Smoking More Pot In States Where Marijuana Legal

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

David Kerr PhD Associate professor in the School of Psychological Science College of Liberal Arts Ohio State University 

Dr. Kerr

David Kerr PhD
Associate professor in the School of Psychological Science
College of Liberal Arts
Ohio State University 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Oregon legalized sale and use of marijuana for recreational purposes and the part of the law (regarding use) took effect in July 2015. However, there have been no controlled studies of which we’re aware of the possible effects of the Oregon law that take into account the trends toward increased marijuana use across the country and differences in use rates between states that predated the law.

We used survey data on college students in Oregon and in 6 states without recreational legalization to examine the issue.

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Pot Plus Alcohol Raises Fatal Traffic Accident Risk Over 500%

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Guohua Li DrPH, MD Professor and Director Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention Department of Epidemiology Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University

Dr. Li

Guohua Li DrPH, MD
Professor and Director
Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention
Department of Epidemiology
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Drugged driving has become a serious problem in the United States in the recent years due to increased consumption of marijuana and opioids. About 20% of fatally injured drivers used two or more substances, with alcohol-marijuana being the most commonly detected polydrug combination.

Our study of over 14000 fatal 2-car crashes indicates that drivers testing positive for alcohol, marijuana, or both are significantly more likely to be responsible for initiating these crashes than those using neither of the substances. Specifically, compared to drivers not using alcohol and marijuana, the risk of being responsible for initiating fatal crashes increases 62% for those testing positive for marijuana and negative for alcohol, 437% for those testing positive for alcohol and negative for marijuana, and 539% for those testing positive for both alcohol and marijuana. These results suggest that when used in combination, alcohol and marijuana have a positive interaction on the risk of fatal crash initiation.

The most common driver error leading to fatal 2-car crashes is failure to keep in proper lane, followed by failure to yield right of way and speeding.

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Regular Adolescent Cannabis Users More Likely To Have Later Problems with Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Michelle Taylor PhD
Senior Research Associate in Epidemiology
MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU)
School of Social and Community Medicine
University of Bristol
Bristol UK

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Many previous studies have looked at adolescent cannabis use, however most of these look at use at a single time point, for example whether an individual has ever used cannabis at age 16 years, or how regularly a person uses cannabis at age 18. However, as young people do not initiate use at the same time or follow the same pattern of use, using measures at a single time point does not always tell the whole story.
We used a form of statistical modelling using data taken over the course of adolescence to try and characterise underlying patterns of cannabis use across adolescence. We used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children which had information on cannabis use at six time points between the ages of 13 and 18 years.

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Roadside Oral Fluid Testing for Marijuana Intoxication

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mitchell L. Doucette, MS PhD Candidate The William Haddon Jr Fellowship in Injury Prevention 2017 Co-Fellow Center for Injury Research and Policy Department of Health Management and Policy Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Baltimore, MD 21205

Mitchell Doucette

Mitchell L. Doucette, MS
PhD Candidate
The William Haddon Jr Fellowship in Injury Prevention 2017 Co-Fellow
Center for Injury Research and Policy
Department of Health Management and Policy
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Baltimore, MD 21205

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Currently in the U.S., 8 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and an additional 28 states permit marijuana for medical use. Some states have instituted a legal driving limit for marijuana intoxication, 5 ng/mL, and for Colorado specifically, research indicates the average time from law enforcement dispatch to blood sample collection was 2.32 hours—a period of time outside the window of legal sample collection under state law and peak THC detectability. Countries with similar marijuana driving limits perform roadside oral fluid testing for establishing intoxication at point of arrest.

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Frequent Marijuana Use Linked To Increased Risk of Severe Periodontal Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jaffer A Shariff DDS MPH cert.DPH Periodontal Resident | Research Scientist Division of Periodontics, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine New York

Dr. Shariff

Jaffer A Shariff DDS MPH cert.DPH
Periodontal Resident | Research Scientist
Division of Periodontics,
Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
New York

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Marijuana use for both medical and recreational purposes has become increasingly common in recent years; it is the most commonly used recreational drug in the United States. Subsequent increase in its legalization among countries including the United States for recreational purposes, poses an emergent oral and periodontal health concerns.

Our study revealed that frequent recreational marijuana users exhibited deeper periodontal probing depths, clinical attachment loss and higher odds of having severe periodontal disease than the non-frequent users, even after controlling for other risk factors linked to gum disease, such as cigarette smoking.

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New Marijuana Laws Associated With Increase in Cannabis-Related Health Problems

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Deborah S. Hasin, Ph.D. Professor of Epidemiology Columbia University New York, New York 10032

Dr. Hasin

Deborah S. Hasin, Ph.D.
Professor of Epidemiology
Columbia University
New York, New York 10032

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Among adults, the prevalence of cannabis use and cannabis use disorders has increased in recent years. Concerns have been raised that for various reasons, medical marijuana laws would promote use of cannabis and consequently, cannabis-related consequences.

Many studies show that this didn’t happen among adolescents, but very little was known about the relationship between medical marijuana laws and adults. Using data from three surveys spanning the years 1991-2013, the study findings suggested that medical marijuana laws did play a role in increasing rates of cannabis use and cannabis use disorders.

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Cannabis Exacerbates Schizophrenia Symptoms and Prolongs Recovery

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ian Hamilton

Department of Health Sciences
University of York
York, UK 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This review looked back over 40 years of research on the links between cannabis and psychosis to examine how knowledge has developed on this issue.

The review found that there is sufficient evidence to suggest a dose response relationship exists in the risk for developing a psychosis that would not have happened if the individual had not been exposed to cannabis. Also for people with schizophrenia cannabis exacerbates their symptoms and prolongs recovery.

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Topical Cannabinoids May Fight Itch and Inflammatory Skin Diseases

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jessica S. Mounessa, BS

University of Colorado School of Medicine
Aurora, Colorado and
Robert Dellavalle, MD, PhD, MSPH
Professor of Dermatology and Public Health
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Colorado School of Public Health
Chief, Dermatology Service
US Department of Veterans Affairs
Eastern Colorado Health Care System
Denver, CO 80220 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: One in 10 adult cannabis users in the U.S. use it for medicinal purposes. Medicinal cannabis is well studied for its uses in chronic pain, anorexia, and nausea. Numerous recent studies have highlighted other medicinal uses for cannabinoids and related compounds.

We conducted a comprehensive review of the literature on the potential role of cannabinoids in conditions affecting the skin.

Our study reveals the potential benefit of topically prepared cannabinoid compounds, especially for pruritus and eczema.  For example, creams containing Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), which enhances cannabinoid-receptor binding, have been successful in relieving itch both in the literature, and anecdotally in our clinics.

Though not strictly considered an endocannabinoid, as it does not directly bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors, PEA works by enhancing endocannabinoid binding to these receptors.** Furthermore, the majority of the cannabinoid compounds we studied did not contain psychoactive effects.

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