Furthering the mystery of the cannabis-induced munchies, adults with safe, reliable access to legal recreational-cannabis spend more money on cookies, ice cream, and chips than their counterparts, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University reviewed high-calorie-food sales-data from states that have legalized cannabis, and a correlation was observed.
The retail-data analysis covered more than 2,000 counties over a period of a decade, from 2006 to 2016. Only states that could provide at least 18 months of sales-data for the period after a legalization amendment was enacted were included in the data review. Purchase trends from grocery, convenience, drug, and mass distribution stores were included in the analysis.
Michele Baggio, assistant professor of economics at the University of Connecticut, partnered with Alberto Chong, a professor at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, to conduct the data review. Most of the data was contributed by the Nielsen Retail Scanner database.
The Data Review
Immediately following legalization, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington reported an increase in the purchase of junk foods, specifically those of cookies, ice cream, and chips, according to the study.
Chip purchases increased by 5.3 percent. Cookie sales grew by 4.1 percent, and a 3.1 percent increase was observed in the sale of ice cream. While cookie sales maintained steady growth, there was a slight dip in ice cream and chip sales for a short time after legalization. Ultimately, an increase was observed overall.
“The increase in sales starts at the time the legislation becomes effective,” according to the study published in the Social Science Research Network.
Legalization amendments were approved by voters in Colorado and Washington state in 2012. The legal retail market in Colorado was first to explode, while the Washington market took a little longer to kick off. In 2015, Oregon joined the ranks of Colorado and Washington in the legalization of recreational cannabis.
“These might seem like small numbers, but they’re statistically significant and economically significant as well,” said Baggio.
The brands which saw the most increase in product sales were not reported in the study.
Originally intending to study the effect of legal cannabis on obesity rates, Baggio and Chong focused only on sales trends this time instead. Baggio said he plans to continue searching for links between legalization and obesity as well as other trends correlating with cannabis policy reform.
“I’m just interested in whether there are unintended consequences to the policy,” he said.
Why does cannabis sometimes stimulate a hunger response?
While the source of cannabis-induced munchies remains mostly a mystery, a 2014 study published in Nature Neuroscience suggests that it begins with an enhanced sense of smell.
According to the study, the sensitivity of receptors in the olfactory bulb of rats and humans increases with the administration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most prevalent psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. This increased sensitivity to certain smells may translate into an increased craving for certain foods.
While THC is known to stimulate a hunger response, tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is known to illicit the opposite response. Cannabis strains high in THCV are advertised as the go-to phenotypes for those trying to lose weight or at least avoid the munchies.
Retail sales of legal marijuana have been underway in Washington state for more than four years—and state regulators in charge of quality control still aren’t sure what good cannabis is, or how to test for it.
All product sold in stores is supposed to be tested for mold, pesticides and other contaminants by labs evaluated and accredited by a private company under contract.
That will change sometime soon. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, which regulates marijuana sales, has until January 15 to come up with recommendations for how the state should begin accrediting testing labs.
But in order to do that, regulators—or state lawmakers, or both—have to decide what, exactly, makes good weed. And nobody—not in Washington state, nor elsewhere in the U.S. where marijuana is legal—can seem to agree what that is, according to a draft government report posted online Thursday.
“Current quality standards… are insufficient to support a robust, science-based cannabis laboratory accreditation program,” the Washington Department of Ecology document says.
A “Cannabis Science Workgroup” comprised of experts in chemistry, biology, medicine and other fields to determine minimum standards for cannabis quality should be formed, wrote Sara Sekerak, a senior chemist and project manager at the department.
To reach this determination, researchers with the agency reviewed quality-control standards in four states. They found that “[w]idely accepted quality standards for testing cannabis and cannabis products do not yet exist.”
“Accreditation does not designate product standards or quality standards,” the report adds. “However, these are necessary to support meaningful accreditation.”
Eventually, testing labs in Washington will be accredited by a state agency. Until that happens, quality may remain erratic.
Because of weak or nonexistent state rules, labs “are allowed to design their own levels” of quality control and quality assurance. There are no readily available samples of agreed-upon “quality” cannabis to set a basic standard by, as there is for drinking water and other consumer goods.
Untrained workers collecting samples for testing may taint the samples. And current accreditation standards applied by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) are not sufficient, the report found.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
The movement to restore civil liberties and resolve systemic racial injustices in the criminal justice system scored a major victory on Thursday. And no, this time we’re not talking about ending the war on drugs. Or at least not yet.
Washington became the 20th state to abolish the death penalty, with the state Supreme Court ruling that capital punishment is unconstitutional because “it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.”
If you’re already seeing parallels to arguments for ending drug prohibition, you’re not alone.
Many of the same points the court made in their ruling against the death penalty ring true for the war on drugs, too. For example, the court argued that death sentences have been disproportionately carried out against black defendants, at a rate more than four times higher than it is for white defendants.
There were three main factors the justices cited as justification for abolishing capital punishment.
“There is significant county-by-county variation in decisions to seek or impose the death penalty, and a portion of that variation is a function of the size of the black population but does not stem from differences in population density, political orientation or fiscal capacity of the county.
Case characteristics as documented in the trial reports explain a small portion of variance in decisions to seek or impose the death penalty.
Black defendants were four and a half times more likely to be sentenced to death than similarly situated white defendants.
“The most important consideration is whether the evidence shows that race has a meaningful impact on imposition of the death penalty,” the justices wrote in their opinion. “We make this determination by way of legal analysis, not pure science.”
“Given the evidence before this court and our judicial notice of implicit and overt racial bias against black defendants in this state, we are confident that the association between race and the death penalty is not attributed to random chance. We need not go on a fishing expedition to find evidence external to Beckett’s study as a means of validating the results. Our case law and history of racial discrimination provide ample support.”
Similarly, drug reform advocates have long maintained that prohibition is racially discriminatory given disproportionate rates of enforcement and arrests for drug-related offenses. Black Americans are nearly three times as likely to be arrested for a drug-related crime, compared to white Americans. That’s in spite of the fact that rates of consumption are roughly equal among both groups.
What’s more, a 2012 report from the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that black men serve drug sentences that are about 13 percent longer than those applied to white men.
The Washington court said another factor that contributed to their decision concerned “contemporary standards and experience in other states.”
“We recognize local, national, and international trends that disfavor capital punishment more broadly. When the death penalty is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner, society’s standards of decency are even more offended.”
The parallel here couldn’t be more clear. If such trends demonstrate a need to review and reform an existing law, the same rationale could theoretically apply to drug prohibition. A majority of states have legalized cannabis for medical or adult-use, and national interest in changing federal marijuana laws has steadily grown in recent years. Beyond marijuana, a broader drug reform push has included calls to abolish mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses.
Of course, marijuana is already legal in Washington, and no other states have yet legalized drugs, so this part of the ruling’s applicability to a potential case seeking to strike down broad drug prohibition in the state might not be quite ripe yet.
While it’s unclear whether the constitutionality of prohibition could be reasonably challenged on similar legal grounds, the similarities are striking. The justification for capital punishment was another point of interest for the justices, who noted that the system failed to achieve its “penological goals” of “retribution and deterrence.”
For all intents and purposes, drug prohibition too has failed to achieve similar goals. Decades of drug war have not appreciably deterred consumption. From 2001 to 2013, the rate of marijuana use among American adults almost doubled, for instance.
“Economic thinking illustrates that these failures are not only understandable, but entirely predictable. As a result of prohibition and the changes it induces in the market for drugs, increased disease, death, violence, and cartels are all expectable outcomes. Moreover, economics can help us link together these policies with other issues, such as race relations and police militarization.”
A last note from the Washington Supreme Court justices:
“Under article I, section 14, we hold that Washington’s death penalty is unconstitutional, as administered, because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner,” the justices wrote. “Given the manner in which it is imposed, the death penalty also fails to serve any legitimate penological goals.”
Now swap “death penalty” with “drug prohibition” in that last quote… Fits like a glove.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if the first time Donald Trump said something that was actually true, if he said he'd leave us alone on our marijuana decriminalization?" Watch Gov. @JayInslee on last night's #RTOvertime: 420 Edition. pic.twitter.com/6J9oxEKJEU
This new study of all 50 states shows California is ranked second (behind Hawaii) in life expectancy of its residents. California also has one of the lowest rates of dying young. https://t.co/4yD79OGdCl
And let's not forget: California has Disneyland, Yosemite & amazing cannabis
Cannabis Legalization means police are searching fewer cars. A new study from Stanford University shows that in states where cannabis has been legalized, the number of traffic stops has decreased. The study is as much about the effects of cannabis legalization as it is about the racial profiling that fuels traffic stops, both of which play key roles on opposing sides of the war on drugs.
“Our goal is to help researchers, journalists, and policymakers investigate and improve interactions between police and the public.”
In examining data from Washington and Colorado, there were over 50 percent fewer traffic stops across all ethnicities in both states. But the African American and Hispanic populations are still being pulled over at higher rates, sometimes three times more frequently compared to Caucasian drivers. Statistics were based on traffic stops that did not result in an arrest, and were gathered from state law enforcement agencies, as opposed to local municipal police forces.
In states that had not legalized cannabis, no such drop was seen in the number of traffic stops, but the racial differences were evident in 12 states that the project was able to track.
Traffic stops are one of the most common interactions the public has with law enforcement, but for many it’s a gateway into a system where racism flourishes. Racial profiling is still alive and well in local jurisdictions across the country, which feeds into a judicial system that disproportionately penalizes ethnic minorities for nonviolent drug crimes. The roots of the drug war reflect these statistics, which sought to marginalize groups that were deemed a threat to the political establishment.
While legalizing cannabis for the purposes of reducing traffic stops may be far down on the list of priorities for cannabis advocates and civil rights experts, improving the public’s trust in law enforcement is crucial. The testimony of Officer Jeronimo Yanez last week, who shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop because he smelled “burnt marijuana,” is another signal showing law enforcement is not yet fully equipped to differentiate a violent criminal from a person in possession of cannabis. Castile was shot in his home state of North Carolina, where cannabis has been decriminalized. But his death indicates how law enforcement still treats those in possession of a substance as a threat to their personal safety. While legalization may change the outcome of sentencing and reduce the number of those incarcerated for minor drug crimes, it cannot change police policy nor the sentiment of law enforcement overnight.
Limiting interactions between law enforcement and cannabis users could save lives, in the absence of true reform that would hold law enforcement accountable for racial profiling and unjust killings. As states continue to develop their own policies regarding cannabis, the Stanford project shows that lives could be saved indirectly by ending prohibition. With no help from the Justice Department in regards to federal law enforcement oversight or drug reform, progress will continue state-by-state.