Legal marijuana cuts violence says US study, as medical-use laws see crime fall

Murder and violent crime found to have decreased most in states bordering Mexico as drug cartels lose business to regulation

Legal marijuana cuts violence says US study, as medical-use laws see crime fall

Murder and violent crime found to have decreased most in states bordering Mexico as drug cartels lose business to regulation

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Marissa SafontLegal marijuana cuts violence says US study, as medical-use laws see crime fall
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Lawmaker Says Black People Can’t Handle Marijuana Because Of ‘Genetics’

Put this in your pipe and smoke it: A Kansas lawmaker thinks marijuana should be illegal because he said black people are genetically unable to handle its effects.

State Rep. Steve Alford (R) spoke out on Saturday against legalizing pot using the type of racist “logic” commonly heard when “Reefer Madness” was considered a serious documentary.

“What you really need to do is go back in the ’30s, when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas [and] across the United States,” Alford said, according to the Garden City Telegram. “One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, was that the African-Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst off to those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics and that.”

You can hear Alford make his anti-cannabis comments in the video below: 

Kansas is one of the few states that still hasn’t legalized some form of medical marijuana, according to the Associated Press.

The Telegram pointed out that Alford’s comments appeared to be based on the theories of Harry Anslinger, the founding commissioner of what was then called the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which was behind the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

Some of the very racist and hysterically anti-cannabis quotes attributed to the agency include these whoppers:

  • “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

  • “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”

  • “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”

Although Alford, who represents a district in western Kansas, stood by his remarks when questioned after the meeting, he was unable to cite a specific source for his so-called science to the Telegram. However, he admitted he shouldn’t have singled out African-Americans.

“There are certain groups of people, their genetics, the way their makeup is, the chemicals will affect them differently,” Alford insisted. “What I should have said was drugs affect people differently, instead of being more specific.”

On Monday, Alford denied that his remarks were racist to AP: “To me, that’s neutral. Basically, I got called a racist, which I’m really not, and it’s just the way people — the interpretation of people. To me, I’m trying to look at what’s really the best for Kansas.”

Carl Brewer, a Democratic candidate for governor, said Alford’s comments were inappropriate for a politician in 2018.

“It is hard to believe that in 2018, anyone would support the discredited and racist policies of the Jim Crow-era,” Brewer said in a statement to KSN TV. “No matter one’s feelings on medical marijuana and marijuana legalization, we can all agree that views like those of KS Rep. Alford have no place in our statehouse, in our state or in our country.”

State Rep. Valdenia Winn (D), who represents part of Kansas City, called Alford’s comments “bizarre.”

He needs to apologize to somebody, if nothing else the individuals of color in his own community,” she told the Wichita Eagle. 

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This Pot Company Posts Record Sales as CEO Eyes Deals

Medical-marijuana company Aphria Inc. posted a 39 percent jump in second-quarter revenue to C$8.5 million ($6.8 million), exceeding the most recently reported figures of larger peer Aurora Cannabis Inc. and giving it the second-highest quarterly revenue of pot-specialty companies globally. Aphria remains upbeat, even as the increased legalization of marijuana is called into question after a move by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to revoke policies that allowed its spread and warnings of a possible de-listing. At a conference in Toronto on Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer Vic Neufeld stated plans for several acquisitions that will target expansion in four more states.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

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    Is marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know

    Whats the evidence behind medical cannabis? While many attest to its healing powers, research into the full potential has long been legally restricted

    Is marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know

    Is marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know

    Whats the evidence behind medical cannabis? While many attest to its healing powers, research into the full potential has long been legally restricted

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

    Marissa SafontIs marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know
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    Jeff Sessions to crack down on legalized marijuana, ending Obama-era policy

    Attorney general to end lenient enforcement of federal marijuana laws, days after new legalization measure took effect in California

    The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is rescinding an Obama-era policy that paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country, creating new confusion about enforcement and use just three days after a new legalization law went into effect in California.

    Instead of the previous policy of lenient federal enforcement begun under former attorney general Eric Holder in 2013, Sessions new stance will instead let federal prosecutors where marijuana is legal decide how aggressively to enforce longstanding federal law prohibiting it. Guidance issued on Thursday depicted the change as a return to the rule of law.

    It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission, Sessions said in a statement.

    Sessions plan drew immediate strong objection from the Republican senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, one of eight states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

    Gardner said in a tweet that the justice department has trampled on the will of the voters in Colorado and other states. He said the action would contradict what Sessions had told him before the attorney general was confirmed and that he was prepared to take all steps necessary to fight the step including holding up the confirmation of justice department nominees.

    The move by Trumps attorney general is sure to add to confusion about whether its OK to grow, buy or use marijuana in states where the drug is legal. It comes just after shops opened in California, launching what is expected to become the worlds largest market for legal recreational marijuana.

    This instability will only push consumer dollars away from these state-sanctioned businesses and back into the hands of criminal elements. With nearly two-thirds of Americans, including an outright majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents supporting marijuana legalization, this is not just bad policy, but awful politics and the Trump administration should brace itself for the public backlash it will no doubt generate, said Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

    Altieri also noted that the announcement throws the jobs of more than 150,000 Americans employed in the budding legal marijuana industry into limbo.

    For politicians who purport to believe in small government and states rights, this is a wildly incongruous move, said Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director at the American Civil Liberties Union.

    While Sessions has been mostly been carrying out a justice department agenda that follows Trumps top priorities on such issues as immigration and opioids, the changes to marijuana policy reflect his own long-held concerns. Trumps personal views on marijuana remain largely unknown.

    A budtender assists a customer at the Higher Path medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

    Sessions,though,has assailed marijuana as comparable to heroin and has blamed it for spikes in violence, had been expected to ramp up enforcement. His personal crusade against the substance has been well documented throughout his political career, including his over a decade in the Senate. He once famously quipped that he admired the KKK until he found out they smoked marijuana.

    The Obama administration in 2013 announced it would not stand in the way of states that legalized marijuana, so long as officials acted to keep it from migrating to places where it remained outlawed and keep it out of the hands of criminal gangs and children. Sessions is rescinding that memo, written by the then deputy attorney general, James M Cole, which had cleared up some of the uncertainty about how the federal government would respond as states began allowing sales for recreational and medical purposes.

    The marijuana business has since become a sophisticated, multimillion-dollar industry that helps fund some government programs. Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and Californias sales alone are projected to bring in $1bn annually in tax revenue within several years.

    Sessions and some law enforcement officials in states such as Colorado blame legalization for a number of problems, including drug traffickers who have taken advantage of lax marijuana laws to illegally grow and ship the drug across state lines, where it can sell for much more. The decision was a win for marijuana opponents who had been urging Sessions to take action.

    There is no more safe haven with regard to the federal government and marijuana, but its also the beginning of the story and not the end, said Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, who was among several anti-marijuana advocates who met with Sessions last month. This is a victory. Its going to dry up a lot of the institutional investment that has gone toward marijuana in the last five years.

    Threats of a federal crackdown have united liberals who object to the human costs of a war on pot with conservatives who see it as a states rights issue. Some in law enforcement support a tougher approach, but a bipartisan group of senators in March urged Sessions to uphold existing marijuana policy. Others in Congress have been seeking ways to protect and promote legal pot businesses.

    Marijuana advocates quickly condemned Sessions move as a return to outdated drug-war policies that unduly affected minorities.

    It also cannot go unnoted that this policy will have a disproportionate and disastrous impact on people of color, McCurdy said.

    Although black people and white people use marijuana at similar rates, black people are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.

    The War on Marijuana, like the War on Drugs, has failed by almost every measure with the exception of successfully destroying communities of color, McCurdy added. Todays decision furthers entrenches the country in racially biased, fiscally irresponsible, and morally wrong drug policy.

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

    Marissa SafontJeff Sessions to crack down on legalized marijuana, ending Obama-era policy
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    Why federal cannabis crackdown may be a blessing in disguise for legal weed

    Dont panic, legalization advocates say: Jeff Sessions anti-marijuana policy will have little practical impact and may even hasten the formal end of prohibition

    Now that the dust has settled around attorney general Jeff Sessions promise of harsher federal marijuana enforcement, advocates of legalization have largely exchanged their initial disappointment over the move for one of long-term optimism.

    I think there was a knee-jerk reaction of something approaching panic, but once everyone calmed down, theyve come to realize that practically this is going to have little impact, said Patrick Moen, a former Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent who now works as council to an investment firm in the nascent legal marijuana industry.

    Some, like Moen, even believe the decision could be the best thing for the growing marijuana movement, hastening the formal end of weed prohibition in the US.

    There will probably a short term chilling effect, but this could ultimately be the best thing thats ever happened to accelerate the pace of change, Moen said.

    Play Video
    California’s marijuana muddle video explainer

    The markets have reflected this somewhat counterintuitive sentiment. The United States Marijuana Index, which tracks 15 leading publicly traded legal marijuana-related companies, initially dropped 21% on the heels of the Department of Justice (DoJ) announcement, but it turned out to be a blip. By early this week the index had rebounded to within a few points of its one-year high.

    Sessions announcement formally rescinded guidance, known as the Cole Memo, issued by the Obama-era DoJ that essentially told federal prosecutors to respect state laws with regards to marijuana. Importantly, though, Sessions decision did not direct or incentivize US attorneys to pursue marijuana cases, it just allowed them to if they so choose.

    The Cole Memo guidance was eminently reasonable and was a common sense good policy, Moen said. I think that despite the fact that its been formally rescinded, federal prosecutors will effectively continue to abide by it.

    Donald Trump with attorney general Jeff Sessions. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

    One of the primary reasons concern has been tempered is that Sessions announcement is not actually likely to ensnare individual marijuana users into the criminal justice system.

    Federal prosecutors almost never pursue simple possession charges against recreational users, whether in states where it is legal or not.

    According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, 99% of those serving federal sentences for marijuana-related crimes were convicted of trafficking offenses, which typically relate to quantities far in excess of what individual recreational users would have.

    It is unlikely that this will affect them in any tangible negative way, other than depriving of the ability to buy marijuana legally, said Justin Strekal, Political Director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml).

    The Sessions memo is unlikely to trigger a nationwide dragnet of marijuana users, and is also unlikely to cause wide-scale disruptions to legal cultivators, Moen notes.

    If federal prosecutors decide to go rogue and start charging otherwise compliant state businesses, theres going to be repercussions with regard to their relationships with the local [law enforcement], Moen said.

    Strekal notes, however, that because of civil-forfeiture laws, local law enforcement would have one very good reason to work with federal agents seeking to enforce marijuana laws on legal weed businesses. Although local law enforcement cant bust those businesses on their own they arent breaking any state or local laws by joining with feds to enforce federal law, they get to claim a portion of any assets seized in a potential drug raid.

    The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance protests the Jeff Sessions decision to rescind the Obama-era policy. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

    In an area where you have a prohibitionist minded sheriff or a law enforcement agency, they will look at state-lawful marijuana facilities and see a big pile of money, Strekal said.

    The 4 January move by Sessions was sandwiched by two major wins for legalization advocates. On the first of the month, recreational weed became legal in California, after more than a decade of a quite lax medical marijuana program. Then on 10 January, Vermont became the first US state to legalize the substance with an act of legislation, rather than a popular referendum, as has been the case in states like California, Colorado and Oregon.

    The decision may ultimately precipitate another win, as Moen observed. Within hours of Sessions announcement, a bipartisan group of legislators had come out against the decision and some, including Hawaii senator Brian Schatz, announced that legislation was already being crafted that could overrule Sessions, by changing the extent to which Marijuana is classified as illegal at the federal level.

    Its great that weve had a number of members of Congress over the course of the last six days last week step up and say what the attorney general did is wrong. Now time for every single one of those members of Congress to put their names on the pending legislation, Strekal said.

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

    Marissa SafontWhy federal cannabis crackdown may be a blessing in disguise for legal weed
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    Colorado Senate Dems make a hilariously great case for legal pot.

    Earlier today, real-life “Dukes of Hazzard” villain Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III announced plans to crack down on marijuana in states that have legalized it.

    In a three-paragraph Justice Department memo, Sessions directed U.S. attorneys to disregard past policy about turning a somewhat blind eye to pot when it came to the more than two dozen states that have legalized it for medicinal or recreational use, saying, “Today’s memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.”

    Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

    The official Twitter account for the Colorado state Senate Democrats took aim at Sessions’ push in a thread equal parts informative and amusing.

    Legal weed has been around in Colorado for quite awhile, with voters approving a medical marijuana ballot measure way back in 2000, and giving the thumbs up to recreational use in 2012.

    By most accounts, legal weed in Colorado has been a pretty big hit  — which Colorado’s Senate Democrats laid out in excruciating detail.

    Hearing news about Sessions’ plan to fight the states on this, they kicked off an epic Twitter thread with what’s just a clearly great joke: “We’ll give Jeff Sessions our legal pot when he pries it from our warm, extremely interesting to look at hands.”

    With that one-liner out of the way, they laid out a really strong case for letting states handle this. For one, it’s really, really been great for the economy. “Since legalization, marijuana has generated $617,767,334 in tax revenue,” read one of the tweets. “Instead of going to drug cartels, that money helps fund our schools and addiction treatment programs for more dangerous drugs.”

    They went on to list a number of projects funded by the state’s “Build Excellent Schools Today Act” program, which gets some of its funding from marijuana taxes.

    “Is your school’s roof TOO NICE?” another tweet read. “Jeff Sessions is on the case.”

    They concluded as they started: with a joke. “If only there was some way we could mellow him out,” they pondered.

    Public opinion on marijuana legalization continues to steadily climb, marking Sessions for the political anachronism that he is.

    According to an October poll from Gallup, 64% of Americans think it’s time to legalize pot. The truth is that most people simply don’t care what others decide to do with their body and their free time. By and large, it’s not dangerous — at least no more than alcohol or cigarettes — and its reputation as a “gateway” to harder drugs has been mostly debunked.

    Sessions’ vendetta against marijuana is widely known. He’s said “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and in the 80s remarked, “I thought those guys [the Ku Klux Klan] were OK until I learned they smoked pot,” and as recently as last March, suggested that it’s just as dangerous as heroin. We get it, Jeff. You don’t like pot.

    Even Donald Trump seems to know that public opinion isn’t on the side of regressive Drug War-era enforcement, going so far as to say that his attorney general wouldn’t do what his attorney general is doing right now (Trump lies a lot, guys).

    Even Cory Gardner, Colorado’s Republican senator, understands that beefing up federal enforcement of anti-pot laws isn’t what the country needs right now, threatening to use his power to grind Justice Department nominees to a halt. Gardner votes in line with the Trump’s and Sessions’ agendas nearly 95% of the time, so this type of fierce opposition should send a strong message.

    If there’s one thing we can all learn from this, it’s how hollow the convictions of those who champion “states’ rights” and “small government” can be.

    Whether it’s in fighting states’ abilities to enact their own laws around pot, micromanaging what a woman can do with her uterus, demanding to know what a trans person’s genitals look like, or dictating who has the right to protest for racial justice and how they should do it, “small government” often means complete authoritarian control. Perhaps these politicians should heed a bit of their own rhetoric. “Don’t tread on me,” right?

    Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/

    Marissa SafontColorado Senate Dems make a hilariously great case for legal pot.
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    Jeff Sessions’ marijuana move will backfire

    (CNN)Jeff Sessions announced Thursday that he is rescinding the Cole memo, which reflected the Department of Justice’s relatively passive policy under the Obama administration since August 2013 on enforcement of federal cannabis laws.

    Unlike announcements from the DOJ in past years threatening to ramp up federal enforcement of the cannabis laws, this announcement was met with little more than a yawn by cannabis businesses.
    The harshest reaction came from local and state government officials — in California and in other states — who insisted that they were disappointed, concerned, and surprised by Sessions’ move.
      Now, unlike in prior years, government officials in California and elsewhere are totally aligned with cannabis businesses in resisting the federal government’s threats.
      In fact, the landscape has shifted so dramatically in recent years that some of the harshest critics of Sessions were senators and representatives, many of them prominent Republicans, from states with cannabis programs that generate much-needed medicine and tax revenue. They expressed outrage over this action by Sessions, claiming it belies promises he made to them before being confirmed by the Senate.
      As a result, Sessions has alienated many in Congress, where he can ill afford to lose any friends. Given his recusal — apparently against President Donald Trump’s wishes — from the Russia collusion investigation, he seems to be in a vulnerable spot with the President. Trump has said that he still stands with Sessions. But the attorney general still faces allegations from Democrats, who say that he perjured himself during last year’s confirmation hearings.
      Without protection from Republican allies in the Senate, Sessions’ next appearance on Capitol Hill could be bloody. Cannabis might be the issue that undermines Sessions’ already shaky support.
      Apart from Sessions’ announcement being unpopular, it really doesn’t have any teeth. The medical and legal cannabis industry has grown so big that it would be impossible to make a dent in it — let alone stamp it out through federal enforcement.
      Moreover, Sessions did not actually announce that there would be a crackdown on cannabis businesses, but rather that it would be left to the discretion of the local US attorneys in the various districts to decide how and when to enforce the federal laws. This does not amount to much of a substantive change in policy, which begs the question of why Sessions bothered to make the announcement at all.
      The Obama administration’s policy essentially left it to the individual states to regulate its respective cannabis industries provided those businesses did not engage in activities that threatened federal priorities, like serving as a cover for other illegal activity or violence.

        GOP senator fumes over marijuana memo reversal

      Under the Cole memo, in the past four-plus years, the already robust medical cannabis industry continued to evolve with more than half the states now allowing some form of medical cannabis use and commercial activity, and now eight states including California, Colorado, Washington and Nevada permitting recreational or adult use of recreational cannabis.
      Based on conversations I’ve had with federal prosecutors in Los Angeles, there does not appear to be much of an appetite on the part of federal prosecutors to go after cannabis. And if they do, at the moment their hands are tied, at least when it comes to medical cannabis. Since 2014, the federal budget has prohibited the DOJ from using federal funds to prosecute medical cannabis businesses pursuant to a budget rider championed by US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California, a Republican who considers Sessions a “longtime friend.”
      The Sessions’ announcement was likely timed to create anxiety in California, only days after it began issuing permits for both medical and recreational cannabis businesses. California and its attorney general have been somewhat of a thorn in the side of the Trump administration, filing a number of lawsuits challenging various policies, and perhaps most significantly, allowing so-called “sanctuary cities” for undocumented immigrants.

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      Although the spotlight seems to be on California, Colorado — a swing state — with a population that is dwarfed by California, has raked in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue from its legalization of cannabis.
      It would be wise for Sessions to remember that cannabis businesses exist in red and purple states, too. Its investors include prominent Trump supporters like Todd Mitchem. Any real enforcement efforts would alienate this administration’s base and be a political risk.
      For all of these reasons, there isn’t much bark to Sessions’ bite. And in fact, it could precipitate a legal battle with California and other states — possibly overturning the authority of the federal government to even regulate legal cannabis businesses, an issue that has yet to be decided by the Supreme Court. That would be the ultimate irony to Sessions’ move and an appropriate epitaph on his fight against cannabis.

      Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

      Marissa SafontJeff Sessions’ marijuana move will backfire
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      23 Science-Backed Health Benefits Of Marijuana

      States around the country — 29 of them, plus Washington DC — have legalized medical marijuana. 

      The American public largely supports the legalization of medical marijuana. At least 84% of the public believes the drug should be legal for medical uses, and recreational pot usage is less controversial than ever, with at least 61% of Americans in support.

      Even though some medical benefits of smoking pot may be overstated by advocates of marijuana legalization, recent research has demonstrated that there are legitimate medical uses for marijuana and strong reasons to continue studying the drug’s medicinal uses.

      Even the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse lists medical uses for cannabis.

      There are at least two active chemicals in marijuana that researchers think have medicinal applications. Those are cannabidiol (CBD) — which seems to impact the brain without a high— and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which has pain relieving properties and is largely responsible for the high.

      But scientists say that limitations on marijuana research mean we still have big questions about its medicinal properties. In addition to CBD and THC, there are another 400 or so chemical compounds, more than 60 of which are cannabinoids. Many of these could have medical uses. But without more research, we won’t know how to best make use of those compounds.

      More research would also shed light on the risks of marijuana. Even if there are legitimate uses for medicinal marijuana, that doesn’t mean all use is harmless. Some research indicates that chronic, heavy users may have impaired memory, learning, and processing speed, especially if they started regularly using marijuana before age 16 or 17.

      For some of the following medical benefits, there’s good evidence. For others, there’s reason to continue conducting research.

      Jennifer Welsh contributed to an earlier version of this story.

      The best-supported medicinal use of marijuana is as a treatment for chronic pain.

      A recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said there was definitive evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids (which are found in the marijuana plant) can be an effective treatment for chronic pain.

      The report said that is “by far the most common” reason people request medical marijuana.

      There’s also strong evidence medical cannabis can help with muscle spasms.

      That same report said there’s equally strong evidence marijuana can help with muscle spasms related to multiple sclerosis.

      Other types of muscle spasms respond to marijuana as well. People use medical marijuana to treat diaphragm spasms that are untreatable by other, prescribed medications.

      It doesn’t seem to harm lung capacity, and may even improve it.

      There’s a fair amount of evidence that marijuana does no harm to the lungs, unless you also smoke tobacco. One study published in Journal of the American Medical Association found that not only does marijuana not impair lung function, it may even increase lung capacity.

      Researchers looking for risk factors of heart disease tested the lung function of 5,115 young adults over the course of 20 years. Tobacco smokers lost lung function over time, but pot users actually showed an increase in lung capacity.

      It’s possible that the increased lung capacity may be due to taking a deep breaths while inhaling the drug and not from a therapeutic chemical in the drug.

      The smokers in that study only toked up a few times a month, but a more recent survey of people who smoked pot daily for up to 20 years found no evidence that smoking pot harmed their lungs, either.

      The National Academies report said there are good studies showing marijuana users are not more likely to have cancers associated with smoking.

      It may be of some use in treating glaucoma, or it may be possible to derive a drug from marijuana for this use.

      One of the most common reasons that states allow medical marijuana use is to treat and prevent the eye disease glaucoma, which increases pressure in the eyeball, damaging the optic nerve and causing loss of vision.

      Marijuana decreases the pressure inside the eye, according to the National Eye Institute: “Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma.”

      For now, the medical consensus is that marijuana only lowers IOP for a few hours, meaning there’s not good evidence for it as a long term treatment right now. Researchers hope that perhaps a marijuana-based compound could be developed that lasts longer.

      thematthewknot via Flickr

      It may help control epileptic seizures.

      Some studies have shown that cannabidiol (CBD), another major marijuana compound, seems to help people with treatment-resistant epilepsy.

      A number of individuals have reported that marijuana is the only thing that helps control their or their children’s seizures.

      However, there haven’t been many gold-standard, double-blind studies on the topic, so researchers say more data is needed before we know how effective marijuana is.

      It also decreases the symptoms of a severe seizure disorder known as Dravet’s Syndrome.

      During the research for his documentary “Weed,” Sanjay Gupta interviewed the Figi family, who treated their 5-year-old daughter using a medical marijuana strain high in cannabidiol and low in THC.

      The Figi family’s daughter, Charlotte, has Dravet Syndrome, which causes seizures and severe developmental delays.

      According to the film, the drug decreased her seizures from 300 a week to just one every seven days. Forty other children in the state were using the same strain of marijuana to treat their seizures when the film was made — and it seemed to be working.

      The doctors who recommended this treatment said the cannabidiol in the plant interacts with brain cells to quiet the excessive activity in the brain that causes these seizures.

      Gupta notes, however, that a Florida hospital that specializes in the disorder, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Drug Enforcement agency don’t endorse marijuana as a treatment for Dravet or other seizure disorders.

      A chemical found in marijuana stops cancer from spreading, at least in cell cultures.

      CBD may help prevent cancer from spreading, researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco reported in 2007.

      Other very preliminary studies on aggressive brain tumors in mice or cell cultures have shown that THC and CBD can slow or shrink tumors at the right dose, which is a strong reason to do more research.

      One 2014 study found that marijuana can significantly slow the growth of the type of brain tumor associated with 80% of malignant brain cancer in people.

      Still, these findings in cell cultures and animals don’t necessarily mean the effect will translate to people — far more investigation is needed.

      It may decrease anxiety in low doses.

      Researchers know that many cannabis users consume marijuana to relax, but also that many people say smoking too much can cause anxiety. So scientists conducted a study to find the “Goldilocks” zone: the right amount of marijuana to calm people.

      According to Emma Childs, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an author of the study, “we found that THC at low doses reduced stress, while higher doses had the opposite effect.” 

      A few puffs was enough to help study participants relax, but a few puffs more started to amp up anxiety. However, people may react differently in different situations.


      THC may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease

      Marijuana may be able to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a study led by Kim Janda of the Scripps Research Institute suggests.

      The 2006 study, published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, found that THC (the active chemical in marijuana) slows the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that makes them. These plaques kill brain cells and are associated with Alzheimer’s.

      A synthetic mixture of CBD and THC seems to preserve memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study suggested that a THC-based prescription drug called dronabinol was able to reduce behavioral disturbances in dementia patients.

      All these studies are in very early stages, though, so more research is needed.

      The drug eases the pain of multiple sclerosis.

      Marijuana may ease painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

      Jody Corey-Bloom studied 30 multiple sclerosis patients with painful contractions in their muscles. These patients didn’t respond to other treatments, but after smoking marijuana for a few days, they reported that they were in less pain.

      The THC in marijuana seems to bind to receptors in the nerves and muscles to relieve pain.

      It seems to lessen side effects from treating hepatitis C and increase treatment effectiveness.

      Treatment for hepatitis C infection is harsh: negative side effects include fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and depression. Those side effects can last for months, and lead many people to stop their treatment course early.

      But a 2006 study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that 86% of patients using marijuana successfully completed their Hep C therapy. Only 29% of non-smokers completed their treatment, possibly because the marijuana helps lessen the treatment’s side effects.

      Marijuana also seems to improve the treatment’s effectiveness: 54% of hep C patients smoking marijuana got their viral levels low and kept them low, in comparison to only 8% of nonsmokers.

      Marijuana may help with inflammatory bowel diseases.

      Patients with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis could benefit from marijuana use, studies suggest. 

      University of Nottingham researchers found in 2010 that chemicals in marijuana, including THC and cannabidiol, interact with cells in the body that play an important role in gut function and immune responses. The study was published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

      The body makes THC-like compounds that increase the permeability of the intestines, allowing bacteria in. But the cannabinoids in marijuana block these compounds, making the intestinal cells bond together tighter and become less permeable.

      But the National Academies report said there isn’t enough evidence to be sure whether marijuana really helps with these conditions, so more research is needed.

      It relieves arthritis discomfort.

      Marijuana alleviates pain, reduces inflammation, and promotes sleep, which may help relieve pain and discomfort for people with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers announced in 2011.

      Researchers from rheumatology units at several hospitals gave their patients Sativex, a cannabinoid-based pain-relieving medicine. After a two-week period, people on Sativex had a significant reduction in pain and improved sleep quality compared to placebo users.

      Other studies have found that plant-derived cannabinoids and inhaled marijuana can decrease arthritis pain, according to the National Academies report.

      Marijuana users tend to be less obese and have a better response to eating sugar.

      A study published in the American Journal Of Medicine suggested that pot smokers are skinnier than the average person and have healthier metabolism and reaction to sugars, even though they do end up eating more calories.

      The study analyzed data from more than 4,500 adult Americans — 579 of whom were current marijuana smokers, meaning they had smoked in the last month. About 2,000 people had used marijuana in the past, while another 2,000 had never used the drug.

      The researchers studied how the participants’ bodies responded to eating sugars. They measured blood-sugar levels and the hormone insulin after participants hadn’t eaten in nine hours, and after they’d eaten sugar.

      Not only were pot users thinner, their bodies also had a healthier response to sugar. Of course, the study couldn’t determine whether the marijuana users were like this to begin with or if these characteristics were somehow related to their smoking.

      While not really a health or medical benefit, marijuana could spur creativity.

      Contrary to stoner stereotypes, marijuana usage has actually been shown to have some positive mental effects, particularly in terms of increasing creativity, at least in some contexts. Even though people’s short-term memories tend to function worse when they’re high, they actually get better at tests requiring them to come up with new ideas.

      Researchers have also found that some study participants improve their “verbal fluency,” their ability to come up with different words, while using marijuana.

      Part of this increased creative ability may come from the release of dopamine in the brain, which lowers inhibitions and allows people to feel more relaxed, giving the brain the ability to perceive things differently.

      Cannabis soothes tremors for people with Parkinson’s disease.

      Research from Israel shows that smoking marijuana significantly reduces pain and tremors and improves sleep for Parkinson’s disease patients. Particularly impressive was the improved fine motor skills among patients.

      Medical marijuana is legal in Israel for multiple conditions, and a lot of research into the medical uses of cannabis is done there, supported by the Israeli government.

      Marijuana may help veterans suffering from PTSD.

      In 2014, the Colorado Department of Public Health awarded $2 million to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (one of the biggest proponents of marijuana research) to study marijuana’s potential for people with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

      Naturally occurring cannabinoids, similar to THC, help regulate the system that causes fear and anxiety in the body and brain.

      Marijuana is approved to treat PTSD in some states already — in New Mexico, PTSD is the number one reason for people to get a license for medical marijuana.

      But there are still questions about the safety of using marijuana while suffering from PTSD, which this study — which has taken a while to get off the ground — will hopefully help answer.

      Walter Hickey / BI

      Animal studies suggest that marijuana may protect the brain after a stroke.

      Research from the University of Nottingham shows that marijuana may help protect the brain from damage from a stroke by reducing the size of the area affected by the stroke — at least in rats, mice, and monkeys.

      This isn’t the only research that has shown neuroprotective effects of cannabis. Some research shows that the plant may help protect the brain after other types of brain trauma.

      Marijuana might even protect the brain from concussions and trauma.

      Lester Grinspoon , a professor of psychiatry at Harvard and marijuana advocate, recently wrote an open letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. In it, he said the NFL should stop testing players for marijuana, and that the league should start funding research into the plant’s ability to protect the brain instead.

      “Already, many doctors and researchers believe that marijuana has incredibly powerful neuroprotective properties, an understanding based on both laboratory and clinical data,” Grinspoon wrote.

      Goodell said he’d consider permitting athletes to use marijuana if medical research shows that it’s an effective neuroprotective agent.

      At least one recent study on the topic found that patients who had used marijuana were less likely to die from traumatic brain injuries.

      It can help eliminate nightmares.

      This is a complicated one, because it involves effects that can be both positive and negative. Marijuana disturbs sleep cycles by interrupting the later stages of REM sleep. In the long run, this could be a problem for frequent users.

      However, for people suffering from serious nightmares, especially those associated with PTSD, this can be helpful, perhaps in the short term. Nightmares and other dreams occur during those same stages of sleep. By interrupting REM sleep, many of those dreams may not occur. Research into using a synthetic cannabinoid — similar to THC but not the same — showed a significant decrease in the number of nightmares in patients with PTSD.

      Additionally, even if frequent use can be bad for sleep, marijuana may be a better sleep aid than some other substances that people use. Some of those, including medication and alcohol, may potentially have worse effects on sleep, though more research is needed on the topic.

      Cannabis reduces some of the pain and nausea from chemotherapy and stimulates appetite.

      One of the most well-known medical uses of marijuana is for people going through chemotherapy. There’s good evidence that it’s effective for this, according to the National Academies report.

      Cancer patients being treated with chemo suffer from painful nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. This can cause additional health complications.

      Marijuana can help reduce these side effects, alleviating pain, decreasing nausea, and stimulating the appetite. There are also multiple FDA-approved cannabinoid drugs that use THC, the main active chemical in marijuana, for the same purpose.

      Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

      Marijuana can help people who are trying to cut back on drinking.

      Marijuana is safer than alcohol. That’s not to say it’s risk-free, but cannabis is much less addictive than alcohol and doesn’t cause nearly as much physical damage. 

      Disorders like alcoholism involve disruptions in the endocannabinoid system. Because of that, some people think cannabis might help patients struggling with those disorders.

      Research published in the Harm Reduction Journal found that some people use marijuana as a less harmful substitute for alcohol, prescription drugs, and other illegal drugs. Some of the most common reasons patients make that substitution are that marijuana has less negative side effects and is less likely to cause withdrawal problems.

      Some people do become psychologically dependent on marijuana, and it is not a cure for substance abuse problems. But from a harm-reduction standpoint, it can help.

      Still, it’s worth noting that combining marijuana and alcohol can be dangerous, and some researchers are concerned that this scenario is more likely than one in which users substitute a toke for a drink.

      Medical marijuana legalization seems to reduce opioid overdose deaths.

      While there are a number of factors behind the current opioid epidemic, many experts agree that the use of opioid painkillers to treat chronic pain has played a major role. It’s very risky to take powerful drugs that have a high risk of causing overdose and high addiction rates. Marijuana, which can also treat chronic pain, is far less risky.

      Several studies have shown that states that allow medical marijuana have fewer opioid deaths. This effect seems to grow over time, with states who pass these laws seeing a “20% lower rate of opioid deaths in the laws’ first year, 24% in the third, and 33% in the sixth,” according to Stat News.

      It’s hard to say that deaths went down because of medical marijuana legalization and not other reasons. But because the effect seems to get stronger the longer marijuana remains legal, researchers think marijuana is a likely cause of the decline in opioid deaths.

      Read the original article on Business Insider. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Copyright 2017.

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      Trump administration aims to crack down on legal marijuana

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to announce today that President Donald Trump‘s administration will reverse an Obama-era policy that instructed the federal government to take a hands-off approach with states that decide to legalize marijuana.

      Instead, Sessions is expected to say federal prosecutors will have the ability to decide how to enforce pot laws.

      The decision to flip to a harsher stance on marijuana comes amid a majority of Americans believing cannabis should be legal for recreational use and just days after California allowed shops to sell legal, recreational pot.

      The Associated Press first reported on the administration’s expected decision.

      Several states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana, with some states—such as New Jersey—expected to follow suit. Despite growing momentum from states, pot is still illegal under federal law.

      Recent polls found 94 percent of voters support adults using marijuana legally for medicinal purposes and 64 percent of Americans think pot should be made legal.

      Under the new rules, Sessions is expected to say U.S. attorneys will now have the ability to decide how to enforce marijuana laws and direct said enforcement. The 2013 guidance from the Obama administration protected legalized cannabis from federal intervention as long as it did not interfere with other priorities.

      Sessions has long had an adversarial view on pot. Last summer he asked Congress to give him authority to go after medical marijuana patients and distributors, which was rebuffed by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

      On the campaign, Trump said legal marijuana should be left up to the states.

      Sen. Cory Gardner (D-Colo.) said today that this move by Sessions broke a personal promise to him.

      Gardner is now threatening to hold up judicial nominees if Sessions and the administration do not reverse their stance.

      Read more: http://www.dailydot.com/

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