Support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high across party lines, a new poll finds.
Sixty-eight percent of American voters now want to end cannabis prohibition, according to the survey released on Wednesday by leading progressive think tank the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the research firm GBA Strategies.
Breaking down the demographics, here’s who’s now on board with legalizing marijuana:
- 57 percent of Republicans
- 77 percent of Democrats
- 62 percent of independents
- 66 percent of men
- 69 percent of women
- 69 percent of whites
- 72 percent of African Americans
- 64 percent of Latinos
The poll, which surveyed 1,000 registered voters, also found sizable, bipartisan support for measures to seal the criminal records of nonviolent offenders who serve their sentences.
Other recent national surveys examining American sentiment toward cannabis reform have shown similar majority support for legalization: Gallup released a 2017 poll that found 64 percent of Americans support legalization, for example, and a Quinnipiac University survey this April showed 63 percent support.
But the CAP legalization numbers are the highest yet.
While the upward movement in public opinion with respect to legalization has been a consistent trend, especially over the past decade, the bipartisan nature of the new survey results is significant.
“In an era of increasing partisanship, public support for ending cannabis criminalization is an issue that crosses party lines,” Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, said in a press release. “More and more, elected officials—and those who wish to be elected—must acknowledge that advocating in favor of marijuana policy reform is a political opportunity, not a political liability.”
Ed Chung, vice president of criminal justice reform at CAP, told Marijuana Moment that the message is clear: cannabis legalization is the will of the people, and lawmakers should take note.
“[Legalization is] certainly going to be, at least, a bipartisan issue,” Chung said. “I think you’ll see a lot of progressive [elected officials] who are going to be out front about this.”
“Now, I think that there’s a lot of work still to be done about how this plays out in different states and nationally as well, but the first step is getting the concept of this socialized among elected leaders—and oftentimes, unfortunately, elected leaders are not leading on this issues, but following.”
Looking ahead to the 2020 presidential election, Chung said “this is going to be one of those issues that’s going to speed up very quickly.”
“Two and half years from now is a lifetime for this issue and for other social justice-type issues moving forward,” he said. “The support is going to only increase from here—that’s me looking into my crystal ball here—but I don’t see how any candidate, any credible candidate, who wants to capture the majority of the American public is going to look at this issue… I don’t think anybody can keep with supporting current policy.”
The survey also demonstrated widespread support “for states to automatically seal the records of nonviolent criminal offenders, allowing people who have served their time and paid their debts to re-enter society and pursue work, education, and family life,” the survey authors wrote.
A solid 70 percent of respondents agreed that states should “automatically seal the records of individuals convicted of nonviolent felonies or misdemeanors if the person has completed his or her sentence and has not committed another criminal offense.” That includes 75 percent of Democratic voters and 66 percent of Republican voters.
Notably, 58 percent of respondents said that they would be more likely to support a candidate who embraces legislation to give nonviolent offenders a clean slate, compared to just 18 percent who said they would be less likely to support such a candidate, the survey revealed.
The poll also found that 54 percent of marijuana legalization opponents support automatically sealing the records of people convicted of cannabis possession.
Chung said that the results reflected growing bipartisan consensus on issues related to criminal justice reform.
“The American public is showing not only support for changing the way the country has approached issues regarding substance use or substance misuse, but also trying to do something to help people who have been previously dragged through the criminal justice system,” he said. “I think a lot of criminal justice issues have that kind of really strange bedfellows, where you have progressives leading on social justice and the conservatives—libertarians especially—being on the [side of] government should stay out of my business.”
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Support for Marijuana Legalization At Record High, New Survey Shows
A recent analysis of popular marijuana strains revealed widespread “genetic inconsistencies” that raise questions about what consumers are really getting at their local dispensaries.
The study, released last week, looked at 122 samples of 30 common cannabis strains, obtained from dispensaries in multiple cities around the United States. It turns out that strain names don’t appear to be reliable indicators of a given product’s actual genetic profile.
That might strike consumers as surprising, especially considering the fact that commercially available cannabis products are often reproduced through cloning and “stable seed strains.” Even so, the researchers found “evidence of genetic variation…indicating the potential for inconsistent products for medical patients and recreational users.”
While the study’s findings might disappoint recreational users who studied up on a strain’s reported effects on sites like Wikileaf, it poses a particular issue for medical marijuana patients who seek out specific strains to treat various health conditions, the researchers noted.
The factors behind the unreliability
The fundamental problem in cannabis strain inconsistency is that marijuana is federally illegal, limiting research and regulatory opportunities, and there’s currently no industry-wide system “to verify strains,” the study authors wrote. Therefore, “suppliers are unable to provide confirmation of strains.”
“Exclusion from protection, due to the Federal status of Cannabis as a Schedule I drug, has created avenues for error and inconsistencies.”
“Without verification systems in place, there is the potential for misidentification and mislabeling of plants, creating names for plants of unknown origin, and even re-naming or re-labeling plants with prominent names for better sale. Cannabis taxonomy is complex, but given the success of microsatellites to determine varieties in other crops, we suggest the using genetic-based approaches to provide identification information for strains in the medical and recreational marketplace.”
Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, told Marijuana Moment that he agreed with that recommendation.
“We have been calling for an industry wide science-based system for several years,” he said, citing a legislative accomplishment in 2016 that mandated the California Department of Food and Agriculture “establish a process by which licensed cultivators may establish appellations of standards, practices, and varietals applicable to cannabis grown” in the state.
“Having universities finally able to engage in this type of research is one of the most exciting outcomes of legal reform,” Allen said. “This is an important step the multi-year effort to document and catalog the extensive culture of cannabis.”
“We envision a well informed market, where consumers ask questions before making a purchase. How is grown? Where is it grown? What type was grown? The answers to all of these questions hold great promise for humanity.”
In the new study, which was not peer-reviewed, the researchers at the University of Northern Colorado also pointed out that increased cross-breeding on cannabis strains (hybrids) has contributed to genetic inconsistencies.
“The results are clear: strain inconsistency is evident and is not limited to a single source, but rather exists among dispensaries across cities in multiple states.”
It’s not just the strains that showed genetic variation. The study also indicated that the cannabis categories “indica,” “sativa” and “hybrid” may be unreliable.
“If genetic differentiation of the commonly perceived Sativa and Indica types previously existed, it is no longer detectable in the neutral genetic markers [the researchers used],” according to the study. “Extensive hybridization and selection has presumably created a homogenizing effect and erased evidence of potentially divergent historical genotypes.”
The team’s findings are consistent with a 2015 study published in the journal PLOS ONE, which also analyzed the cannabis genetics and determined that “marijuana strain names often do not reflect a meaningful genetic identity.”
How Reddit’s r/trees Helped Scientists Make Marijuana Discoveries
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Marijuana Strain Labeling Likely Misleading, Study Says
New research shows that cannabis can not only treat migraines and cluster headaches, but do so more effectively compared to conventional treatment.
Dr. Nicolodi, the study author explained,
“We were able to demonstrate that cannabinoids are an alternative to established treatments in migraine prevention. That said, they are only suited for use in the acute treatment of cluster headaches in patients with a history of migraine from childhood on.”
Cannabis to Treat Migraine Pain
Participants in the study suffered from either chronic migraines or cluster headaches. Migraines cause all-over headache pain and nausea as well as a sensitivity to light and sound. Cluster headaches typically cause pain in one area, usually within proximity to the eyes.
Researchers needed to determine the actual dosage they would use in the study. Both THC and CBD was used in varying amounts, but it was determined that participants needed a total of at least 100mg before any relief occurred. A dose of 200mg was needed in order to see significant relief. Once the doses were established, one group was giving a cannabinoid treatment while the other was given antidepressant medications or blood pressure medications that are commonly used for migraine and cluster headache treatment. While those suffering from cluster headaches did not experience significant relief, migraine patients experienced a 43.5 percent reduction in pain.
Traditional Migraine Pain Therapies
The drugs of choice doctors look to when treating migraines and cluster headaches are called triptans. Due to a variety of causes, migraines cause pain by enlarging the blood vessels in the brain. The human body uses serotonin to communicate that pain to the brain. Triptans reduce the levels of serotonin, easing the migraine pain and reducing the swelling of blood vessels. They are most effective when taken the moment migraine symptoms begin to show.
But these drugs aren’t perfect. For many migraine sufferers, triptans can lead to flushing and redness, itchiness, nausea, colitis and upset stomach. Those who have chronic migraines and need to take triptans frequently can suffer from triptan withdrawal, which include many of the symptoms of migraines without the relief from medication. The headache experienced during triptan withdrawal is often referred to as a rebound headache.
The study showed that the side effects from a cannabis treatment were lesser in their severity compared to conventional prescription drugs. Lack of focus and lethargy were the most commonly reported symptoms during cannabis treatment.
Other treatments for migraines and cluster headaches include antidepressants, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and opioid painkillers. Because of the numerous causes of migraines, known and unknown, these treatments may work perfectly in some patients and not at all in others. Patients who find relief in opioids are at risk of addiction, since migraines and cluster headaches are often chronic conditions requiring ongoing treatment.
Finding alternative treatments for migraines could help the 37 million people who suffer from them in the United States. Of those patients, between 2 and 3 million have chronic migraines. Established pharmaceutical treatments help many patients, but those suffering from chronic migraines need medication that does not lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. Cannabis could be that alternative.
A new study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research shows that cannabidiol (CBD) has virtually no emotional or behavioral effects on healthy test subjects, even when given emotional stimuli.
The study attempted to determine the validity that CBD can help treat anxiety or “negative mood.” The authors acknowledge that:
“No controlled clinical studies have demonstrated its ability to reduce negative mood or dampen responses to negative emotional stimuli in humans.”
Participants consisted of 38 healthy adults and were divided into three groups and received 300mg, 600mg or 900mg of orally-administered CBD. They were then subjected to an array of psychological tests designed to elicit both positive and negative emotional responses.
Ultimately, there was no significant change in mood when subjected to negative emotional stimuli or social rejection. The group that received 900mg experienced a slight increase in heart rate. The researches concluded that more study is needed in order to understand how CBD would work in a clinical setting.
There are a couple of details about the study that experienced medical cannabis patients and regular cannabis users may criticize.
This study did not use THC in combination with CBD, which is what many medical marijuana products use in order to achieve the “entourage effect,” which enhances the effects of cannabinoids when administered together. Without the scientific and research communities to definitively support the evidence, feedback from medical cannabis patients indicates the effects of CBD alone are minimal at best, and reforms that support CBD-only programs have had little success in providing patients with relief.
Second, the doses of CBD administered in each group were massive. It was unclear how the researchers settled on these particular doses, or if the amount of the doses could have affected the results of the study.
In situations where CBD has been effective, THC has been present. A patient survey conducted by Care By Design in 2015 dispelled the common thinking that “more is better,” and lower ratios that contained at least 25 percent THC were more effective in treating pain, migraines, PTSD and mood disorders.
But this study could be helpful in dispelling the dangers of CBD to those who are skeptical about any sort of cannabinoid treatment. Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder, but only a third actually receive treatment. Acute anxiety disorders like PTSD affect a large number of veterans, with 30 percent of Vietnam veterans suffering from PTSD, 10 percent of veterans from Desert Storm, and 11 percent of Afghanistan veterans afflicted with the condition. Clearly, there is a need for effective anti-anxiety solutions.
Many medications that are used to treat anxiety come from a family of drugs called Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” that have a tranquilizing effect that can be so strong that patients will forego the treatment in response to the negative side effects. For patients with PTSD or acute anxiety disorders, it can become a choice between a zombie-like state and the full-force of their illness. Knowing more about CBD is important for scientists and researchers looking for alternatives that have fewer side effects, even if this particular study did not involve the THC that seems necessary when using a CBD treatment.
Researchers at Columbia University just published a study showing that while cannabis use has increased, the number of people who have been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder has stayed steady.
The peer-reviewed study was published in Addiction and looked closely at states with medical and recreational cannabis legislation. The authors noted that the differences between each state-level cannabis legislation affect enrollment rates, with some programs that allow for many different qualifying conditions and others limiting their programs to a few conditions. They also factored in historical rates of cannabis use.
Current cannabis users were grouped into one of three categories: those who have used cannabis within the last 30 days, or “active,” those who use cannabis more than 300 days per year, or “heavy” users, and those who have been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder.
The data revealed that “active’ cannabis users 26 years-old and older increased by 1.46 percent, and skewed towards heavy use by 2.36 percent after medical cannabis legislation had passed.
The study also shows that there was no increase in overall cannabis use among adults. In other words, the people who were already using cannabis continued to do so, but there was no increase in the number of people who use cannabis.
One of the greatest concerns about cannabis legalization is increased use among children and teens. The study showed that there was no increase in cannabis use in those under 18, no matter how strict or lax the cannabis laws were in various states. The results of this research back up other studies regarding cannabis use among teens. After Colorado legalized recreational cannabis, teen use actually decreased.
Cannabis addiction treatment rate remains steady
In terms of addiction, the study did not see an increase in cannabis use disorder, and other research data suggests the number of people seeking treatment for cannabis addiction is steady. Data from the National Institute of Health (NIH) indicates that about 9 percent of cannabis users become addicted, but the study from Columbia University also shows that the number of users isn’t increasing after legalization. Another survey looked specifically at Oregon, Washington and Colorado and did not see a significant increase in cannabis users, but did note that cannabis use has gradually been increasing since 2000, long before these states had any sort of cannabis legislation.
That gradual increase may have a connection to support for cannabis legalization and/or cannabis reform. Last year, a Gallup poll reported 60 percent of Americans now support cannabis legalization. Gallup was able to chart the increase in cannabis legalization support. In 1969, cannabis legalization was supported by 12 percent, and increased to 31 percent in 2000.
Looking at data that shows no increase in cannabis use after a state has legalized it, combined with a huge increase in support for cannabis legalization, illustrates the difference between those who are in favor of using cannabis legally versus those who support legalizing for the purposes of decriminalizing it. Lawmakers who are in favor of cannabis decriminalization are often labeled as “pro-cannabis” and in support of legalization. This distinction is important as state legislatures and local governments refine and reform their cannabis policies.