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Marijuana References In Popular Music Are On the Rise, Study Finds

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The number of hit songs that feature lyrics referencing marijuana has increased dramatically over the last 30 years, according to a new study. And researchers believe that growing public acceptance of cannabis is fueling a trend that has resulted in more than three out of four top 40 songs in the U.S. now containing shout-outs to weed.

The study, published last week in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, sought to identify a link between popular music and drug trends in the U.S., with a main focus on opioids. Researchers at the University of Minnesota and Wayne State University examined the lyrics of Billboard’s top 40 songs for each year from 1986 to 2016, filtering for songs that reference marijuana, alcohol, opioids and tobacco.

During the time period under review, references for all categories except tobacco increased.

The first mentions of cannabis appeared in 1989, for example, with fewer than five references in that year’s top 40 chart, as ranked by Billboard. But by 2016, there were more than 30 marijuana references, more than for any other substance tracked in study.

Via the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Public acceptance of marijuana use for medical or recreational purposes also grew demonstrably over that time span, which may have “influenced the acceptability of mentioning marijuana in Top 40’s music,” the researchers wrote.

“If this demonstrated ‘acceptability’ trend is mirrored through a similar rise in the mention of opioid narcotics in Top 40’s music, America’s epidemic of overdose fatality may continue to escalate.”

References to opioids, including heroin and prescription painkillers, weren’t featured until the late 1990s, according to the analysis. That same decade marked the beginning of a larger push on the part of pharmaceutical companies to promote opioid-based painkillers.

“Over 50 percent of current Top 40’s hit references discuss narcotic prescription or synthetic medication use, with the most common references including codeine, Percocet, and even remifentanil, among others,” the study found.

Those results should be instructive to public health officials, the researchers argued. Because “if reference to opioid medications continues to become ‘casual or trendy,’ as exemplified in the prose of many popularly aired lyrics, a more targeted public awareness campaign may be warranted to combat this growing national public health concern.”

While a larger share of today’s popular song lyrics contain drug and alcohol references overall, one notable exception is tobacco. As rates of tobacco use and public acceptance of tobacco has fallen, so too has the prevalence of tobacco references in top 40 songs. In fact, there were no references to tobacco in top 40 songs in 2016.

“Although marijuana use has become increasing acceptable among American consumers, tobacco has become increasingly unpopular and stigmatized.”

“Further inquiry may be warranted to evaluate the societal impact and persuasive abilities of popular culture, including Top 40’s music, on American drug and alcohol use,” the researchers concluded. 

South By Southwest Fans Choose From Dozens Of Marijuana-Themed Panels For 2019

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

Culture

‘I Can’t Breathe’: Video Shows Grandmother With Arthritis Arrested For CBD At Disney World

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Police released body camera footage of a 69-year-old woman being arrested at a Florida amusement park for possessing CBD oil without a state medical cannabis card on Tuesday.

Hester Burkhalter, a grandmother who suffers from arthritis, was arrested after an off duty sheriff’s deputy discovered the oil in her purse at a checkpoint at Disney’s Magic Kingdom last month in a case that made headlines around the world.

The newly released video shows Burkhalter being handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car, where she began to feel claustrophobic and said, “I can’t breathe. I feel like I’m going to pass out.” One deputy said that she threw up, according to News 6.

Burkhalter, who says her doctor in Tennessee recommended CBD, later spent 12 hours in custody and was released on a $2,000 bond.

Burkhalter requested to be transported to the jail alone, as opposed to being transported along with another individual who was arrested for possession of a cannabis vaporizer, and a deputy made a call to accommodate her. She was allowed to be taken to the facility in the front seat of a separate patrol car.

“The older female said she gets claustrophobic, and feels like she’s going to pass out, and wants somebody else so she can go by herself,” the deputy said on a call.

Once she was in the front seat with air conditioning on, she said she felt better and thanked the deputy.

“I couldn’t breathe back there,” she reiterated.

When the arrest was first reported, reform advocates condemned the park and sheriff’s department for subjecting an older woman to an arrest on a family vacation for simple possession of a non-intoxicating compound that is known to treat pain and inflammation.

CBD is legal for medical purposes in Florida, but individuals must be registered to possess medical cannabis in the state. Hemp-derived CBD was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet developed regulatory guidelines allowing for its lawful marketing as a food item or supplement.

Prosecutors dropped the charges against Burkhalter earlier this month, finding her case unsuitable for prosecution. She’s since announced plans to file a lawsuit against Disney and the sheriff’s department.

“Horrific treatment that they placed upon this church-going, law-abiding grandmother,” her lawyer said at a press conference.

In a similarly confounding recent case, a 72-year-old woman was arrested at a Texas airport after security discovered CBD oil. She was charged with a felony that carried a maximum sentence of 20 years, and she stayed in custody for two days.

“To be honest, I did not even think about the possibility of my CBD being illegal or being challenged,” Lena Bartula, who was going to visit family in Oregon, said. “It is such an integral part of my wellness that it got thrown into my bag along with Vitamin C and oregano oil.”

“Had I thought about it, I would have remembered that I could buy it in Portland,” she said.

The charges in that case were also dropped about two months after the arrest.

In other recent cannabis enforcement action called out as excessive by reform advocates, Missouri police officers searched through the belongings of a man with stage-four pancreatic cancer in March after a security guarded reported the smell of marijuana.

The officers found nothing, but video of the search sparked public outrage over the harassing behavior of the officers toward a sick man who said he does benefit from medical cannabis.

Video: Missouri Police Search Cancer Patient’s Bags For Marijuana In Hospital Room

Photo courtesy of YouTube.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Presidential Candidate Jokes About Why Denver Decriminalized Psychedelic Mushrooms

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Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) joked on Thursday that Denver voters approved a measure to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms because they thought the state of Colorado was running low on marijuana.

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate made the remark during an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers. The host asked Bennet if it was “true that magic mushrooms are going to be legal in Colorado.”

(The measure actually simply decriminalizes psilocybin mushrooms for adults, and only in the city of Denver.)

Bennet slapped his knee and quipped, “I think that our voters just voted to get Denver to do that, and I think they might’ve thought that we were out of marijuana all of a sudden.”

“And by the way, we’re not out of marijuana in Colorado,” he said.

“That’s what it says on the state flag now, right?” Meyers said.

“Yeah, exactly,” Bennet replied.

The senator, who previously served as the superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, has cosponsored several wide-ranging cannabis bills in Congress, including legislation to federally deschedule marijuana and penalize states that enforce cannabis laws in a discriminatory way.

But before his state voted to legalize marijuana in 2012, Bennet stood opposed.

It’s not clear how he voted on Denver’s historic psilocybin initiative.

At least Bennet is aware of the measure and was willing to joke about it, though. Several of his colleagues who have worked on cannabis issues declined to weigh in on decriminalizing psychedelics when asked by Marijuana Moment recently.

Congressional Lawmakers Have Little To Say About Decriminalizing Psychedelics Following Denver Victory

Photo courtesy of YouTube/Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Culture

Horses Should Lay Off CBD, Equestrian Sports Regulator Says

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Hay is for horses, but CBD isn’t.

That’s according to the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF), which set the rules for most horse-related sports in the country, including dressage, jumping and endurance riding.

In a press release on Tuesday, the organization clarified that just because the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp and its derivatives such as CBD, that doesn’t mean that horses competing in various equestrian events are allowed to partake.

“From time to time, new products appear on the equine supplement market claiming to enhance a horse’s performance,” USEF, which does not regulate thoroughbred horse racing, wrote. “Over the last several years, cannabinoids have gained increased attention and have become nearly mainstream.”

CBD, both synthetic and natural, “are likely to effect the performance of a horse due to its reported anxiolytic effects” and the products are therefore “no different than legitimate therapeutics that effect mentation and behavior in horses.”

“It is for these reasons that USEF prohibits CBD and all related cannabinoids,” USEF explained. “Horses competing under USEF rules who test positive for natural cannabinoids, synthetic cannabinoids and other cannabimimetics will be considered in violation of GR4 beginning September 1, 2019.”

It’s unclear whether USEF has already developed technology capable of testing for CBD metabolites, as standard cannabis testing instruments are generally only designed to detect for metabolites of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

However, USEF said that, in fact, “analytical methods are being implemented to detect CBD and similar cannabinoids.”

What about the human athletes involved in the horse sports? USEF referred anyone curious about that policy to the World Anti-Doping Code, which does allow the use of CBD while maintaining a ban on THC.

Professional golfers are also being warned about using CBD products. Last month, the PGA Tour published a newsletter urging caution when using CBD, as some products may contain trace amounts of THC that could turn up in a drug test.

As in equestrian sporting, golfers are also barred from using marijuana.

PGA Issues Warning To Golfers Using CBD Products

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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