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(Yet Another) Study: Legal Marijuana Doesn’t Lead To Increased Youth Use

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While youth in Pennsylvania are more accepting towards marijuana following its legalization for medical use in the state, they are not consuming it more than before, researchers have found.

A supposed negative impact on children is one of the most common arguments deployed by prohibitionist activists and anti-legalization groups. And it is one for which there is little evidence.

The new study is the latest in a string of reports that have found that marijuana legalization, be it for medical or recreational use, is having a negligible impact on whether juveniles will use the drug.

“While what we found shows that attitudes towards marijuana are becoming more accepting, or normalized, use has not increased,” Philip Massey, an assistant professor at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health and the report’s lead author, said in a press release. “This is important because many people fear that legalizing marijuana will lead to greater use and potential abuse.”

“It doesn’t appear to be affecting youth use.”

Pennsylvania legalized medical cannabis in 2016, and the first dispensaries opened for patients earlier this year.

As in other states and with federal data, most “official” rates of youth drug use are based on surveys in which teens self-report what drugs they use and at what frequency.

Researchers looked at what “youths”—defined as people between the ages of 12 and 17—thought of marijuana based on survey results between 2013 and 2017.

Over that period of time, young people who “had at least one best friend smoke marijuana over the last year grew by only one percentage point, from 30.7 to just 31.9,” according to data released Wednesday from the Pennsylvania State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup.

While use rates have changed only slightly, attitudes have shifted much more significantly.

The percentage of youths who said they “would never try” marijuana decreased over that period of time from 71 percent to 62.2 percent.

And the percentage of youths who said that they “strongly disapprove” of “someone your age using marijuana once a month or more” decreased from 60.7 percent to 53.3 percent.

At least part of this may be attributable to parents. According to Gallup, support for marijuana legalization among adults is at an all-time high. According to Pennsylvania adolescents, the percentage of parents who believe marijuana use is “very wrong” decreased from 81.2 percent to 75.4 percent.

At the same time, this shift in attitudes hasn’t changed the prohibitive atmosphere around the drug—in fact, according to teens, marijuana is harder than ever to get.

In 2013, 53.9 percent of youths said marijuana was “very hard” to access. In 2017, that figure increased to 55 percent.

Restrictions on youth access are baked into nearly every marijuana law in the United States, and providers face stiff penalties for violations.

During a recent sting operation in Oregon, where underage operatives were sent into cannabis dispensaries and liquor stores in an attempt to buy age-restricted products in violation of the law, alcohol sellers proved more likely to sell to youths than marijuana retails did.

Another factor that may be affecting youth attitudes is a shift in criminal-justice system practices. Philadelphia decriminalized marijuana in 2013, and Pittsburgh followed suit in 2016. Juvenile arrest rates decreased from 112.3 per 100,000 in 2013 to 79.6 in 2016.

According to Massey, this “preliminary data tell me that the people who need marijuana for medical purposes are the ones benefiting from this law.”

Neighborhood Marijuana Dispensaries Don’t Increase Teen Use, Study Shows

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.

Chris Roberts is a reporter and writer based in San Francisco. He has covered the cannabis industry since 2009, with bylines in the Guardian, Deadspin, Leafly News, The Observer, The Verge, Curbed, Cannabis Now, SF Weekly and others.

Science & Health

Dogs Treated With Cannabis Oil Experience Less Frequent Seizures, Study Finds

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Dogs with epilepsy experience considerably fewer seizures when treated with CBD oil, a new study published in the journal Pet Behaviour Science found.

The small study—which followed three dogs receiving hemp-derived CBD treatment over the course of two months, indicates that dogs respond to the cannabis compound in a way that’s similar to humans.

The dogs ranged in age and breed. One was a three-year-old Labrador Retriever that suffered seizures spaced out one month apart on average, another was an 11-year-old Papillon that experienced seizures every two to three months and the last was a 10-year-old Chihuahua that has infrequent seizures about twice a year.

For the experiment, each dog was treated with CBD twice a day on an empty stomach. The findings are based on reports from the owners, two out of three of whom said the treatment improved their dog’s condition. The Papillon’s owner said the dog’s condition was unchanged.

“The owner [of the Labrador Retriever] reported that the dog slept longer and barked less in the daytime, even when other dogs were excited, during the first two weeks than in the preceding weeks,” the study authors wrote. “Overall, the owner felt that the dog showed improvement.”

“The owner [of the Chihuahua] felt that seizure-like behavior during the attacks had decreased slightly with treatment,” they wrote. “The owner also reported that the dog showed less aggression toward familiar people, such as the owner’s children.”

While the sample size of the study is particularly small, making it difficult to draw broad conclusions, the researchers said “seizure frequency improved considerably and owners reported a positive impression” of the CBD treatment.

It’s not clear if the same biochemical mechanisms that make CBD an effective treatment for epilepsy in humans produced the effects in the dogs. It’s possible that, because seizures can be triggered by anxiety, the same “anxiolytic effect may attenuate the symptoms of epilepsy in dogs as well as humans.”

“Further research is needed for better understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of CBD treatment,” the researchers wrote.

Last year, a separate study determined that CBD can alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs.

Dogs With Arthritis Benefit From Cannabis Oil, Study Says

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

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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Science & Health

Study Finds Marijuana Motivates People To Exercise, Smashing Lazy Stoner Stereotype

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Most people who use marijuana report that consuming before or after exercising improves the experience and aids in recovery, according to a new study. And those who do use cannabis to elevate their workout tend to get a healthier amount of exercise.

Researchers at the University of Colorado surveyed more than 600 marijuana consumers in states where it is legal to assess how people use cannabis in relation to exercise. Their results, published this month in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, poke yet another hole in the lazy, couch-locked stoner stereotype.

Almost 500 participants said they endorse using marijuana one hour before, or up to four hours after, exercising. And based on data from the questionnaire, those who did use cannabis in that timeframe worked out longer than consumers who didn’t pair the activities. Specifically, those who engaged in co-use worked out an average of 43 minutes longer for aerobic exercise and 30 minutes longer for anaerobic exercise.

What’s behind the trend?

There are a few known barriers to exercise that researchers have identified: a lack of motivation, difficult recovery after working out and low enjoyment of the activity. Cannabis seems to help lift those barriers for some individuals.

Seventy percent of respondents said they agree or strongly agree that “cannabis increases enjoyment of exercise,” 78 percent said that marijuana “enhances recovery from exercise” and just over 50 percent said that it “increases motivation.”

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to survey attitudes and behavior regarding the use of cannabis before and after exercise, and to examine differences between cannabis users who engage in co-use, compared to those who do not,” the study authors wrote. “Given both the spreading legalization of cannabis and the low rates of physical activity in the US, it behooves public health officials to understand the potential effects—both beneficial and harmful—of cannabis use on exercise behaviors.”

While it might seem counterintuitive given how cannabis consumers have typically been portrayed in media, there’s a growing body of research showing that many marijuana enthusiasts engage in active lifestyles and that cannabis is associated with positive health outcomes. For example, another recent study found that people who use marijuana are less likely to be obese compared to non-users.

Marijuana Consumers Gain Less Weight Than Non-Users, Study Confirms

Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

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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Politics

Another Federal Agency Wants You To Stop Calling About A Marijuana-Related Job

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Six days after posting a notice that calls for a contractor to prepare and distribute research drug products like marijuana cigarettes, a federal agency posted an update, emphasizing that private citizens are not being encouraged to apply for a casual joint-rolling job.

Why? Well, it might have something to do with various viral articles reporting on the opening—and readers who then volunteer for the role.

On Monday, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) added an unambiguous message at the top of the notice: “THE FOLLOWING IS A PRE-SOLICITATION NOTICE and is NOT ADVERTISEMENT FOR EMPLOYMENT.

The situation seems similar to another recent example that prompted the Houston division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to ask private citizens to stop calling about a contractor opening to incinerate thousands of pounds of cannabis per hour.

The division wrote last month that “misleading articles” about the position “resulted in an influx of calls from citizens.”

“This solicitation was targeted for a large scale licensed vendor, not private citizens,” they wrote.

But according to NIDA, their problem isn’t quite as severe. In an email to Marijuana Moment, a representative of the agency said it has “only received a few public inquiries.” The spokesperson did not respond to a follow up question about the reasoning behind the update.

For serious candidates, the position isn’t as simple as rolling a massive amount of joints. The contractor must have “the capability to analyze and characterize various drugs of abuse including cannabinoids and other research chemicals” and also “acquire, develop, and produce marijuana and nicotine research cigarettes of varying strengths and specifications.”

NIDA posted several cannabis-related contract notices last year, including for professional joint rollers and bulk marijuana manufacturers.

The DEA Wants You To Stop Calling Them About Getting Paid To Burn Marijuana

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.
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