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  [wysija_form id="3"]   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 Çuğun 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.  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"]

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.  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.  [wysija_form id="1"]

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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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 of edibles. 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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