Human Rights Watch, an international advocacy organization that focuses on human rights violations worldwide, has revealed that arresting and prosecuting low level marijuana offenders in New York City has little or no long-term impact on law enforcement efforts to reduce violent crime.
It was reported by a study released by Human Rights Watch that criminal records of nearly 30,000 people who had no prior convictions when they were arrested for marijuana possession in public view [NY State Penal Law 221.10] in 2003 and 2004 was tracked.
The researchers reported: “We found that 3.1 percent of [marijuana arrestees] were subsequently convicted of one violent felony offense during the six-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half years that our research covers; 0.4 percent had two or more violent felony convictions. That is, 1,022 persons out of the nearly 30,000 we tracked had subsequent violent felony convictions. Ninety percent (26,315) had no subsequent felony convictions of any kind.”
The study found that the New York City police arrest more people for possessing small amounts of marijuana in public view than for any other offense. Police between 1996 and 2011 made more than half-a-million (586,320) arrests for this misdemeanor, including a total of around 100,000 in just the 2 years of 2010 and 2011.
Investigators concluded: “The rate of felony and violent felony conviction among this group of first-time marijuana arrest’s appear to be lower than the rate of felony conviction’s for the national population, taking into account age, gender, and race. … Neither of our findings nor those of other researchers indicate the arrests are an efficient or fair means for identifying future dangerous felons.”
According to survey data published in the journal Addiction Research and Theory, three quarters of medical cannabis consumers report using it as a substitute for prescription drugs, alcohol, or some other illicit substance.
The subjective impact of marijuana on the use of licit and illicit substances via self-report in a cohort of 404 medical cannabis patients recruited from four dispensaries in British Columbia, Canada was assessed by an international team of investigators from Canada and the United States.
Subjects frequently substituted cannabis for other substances, including conventional pharmaceuticals, researchers reported and added, “Over 41 percent state that they use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol (n=158), 36.1 percent use cannabis as a substitute for illicit substances (n=137), and 67.8 percent use cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs (n=259). The three main reasons cited for cannabis-related substitution are ‘less withdrawal’ (67.7 percent), ‘fewer side-effects’ (60.4 percent), and ‘better symptom management’ suggesting that many patients may have already identified cannabis as an effective and potentially safer adjunct or alternative to their prescription drug regimen.”
The authors concluded: “While some studies have found that a small percentage of the general population that uses cannabis may develop a dependence on this substance, a growing body of research on cannabis-related substitution suggests that for many patients cannabis is not only an effective medicine, but also a potential exit drug to problematic substance use. Given the credible biological, social and psychological mechanisms behind these results, and the associated potential to decrease personal suffering and the personal and social costs associated with addiction, further research appears to be justified on both economic and ethical grounds. Clinical trials with those who have had poor outcomes with conventional psychological or pharmacological addiction therapies could be a good starting point to further our under- standing of cannabis-based substitution effect.”
The study, “Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs: A dispensary-based survey of substitution effect in Canadian medical cannabis patients,” appeared online in Addiction Research and Theory.
Marijuana may be legal for recreational use in Colorado, but it would not be available for purchase in Douglas County, one of the most conservative counties in the state. Commercial marijuana operations have been banned in the conservative county while adults over the age of 21 can still legally possess and use marijuana in Douglas County.
Douglas County has approved a ban on commercial marijuana operations that will go into effect that makes it the first county to ban store and grow operations in the state. Despite the fact that Douglas and other counties will have no ability to stop adults 21 or older from possessing up to an ounce of the drug or using it after the passage of Amendment 64, the new legislation does give the authority to regulate marijuana business operations to counties as they want. Douglas County’s decision to ban the commercial marijuana industry would seem to well-represent a constituency that voted down the amendment with 54 percent of the vote.
The Colorado Department of Revenue is expected to have rules set for the industry by July 1st of next year, while other counties are free to pass legislation on commercial marijuana regulation between now and then.
Weld County may be the next county to ban commercial marijuana sales, according to several reports.
According to one of the largest and longest studies on the health effects of marijuana, smoking a joint once a week or a bit more apparently does not harm the lungs.
The 20-year study that bolsters evidence that marijuana does not the kind of damage tobacco does suggest that using marijuana that often might cause a decline in lung function, but there were not enough heavy users among the 5,000 young adults in the study to draw firm conclusions. The authors still recommended “caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered.”
The study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham was released by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Study co-author Dr. Stefan Kertesz said marijuana users unlike cigarette smokers tend to breathe in deeply when they inhale a joint, which some researchers think might strengthen lung tissue. Kertesz said cigarette users on an average smoked about 9 cigarettes daily, while the average marijuana use was only a joint or two a few times a month.
The study randomly enrolled 5,115 men and women aged 18 through 30 in four cities: Birmingham, Chicago, Oakland, California, and Minneapolis. The study authors analyzed data from participants in a 20-year federally funded health study in young adults that began in 1985. The analysis was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Federal authorities should not target recreational marijuana use in two Western states that voted to make it legal, given limited government resources and growing public acceptance of the controlled substance, says U.S. President Barack Obama.
The first comments of Obama on the issue come weeks after voters in Washington state and Colorado supported legalizing cannabis last month in ballot measures that stand in direct opposition of federal law.
“It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that’s legal,” he said in part of an interview released on Friday. “At this point in Washington and Colorado, you’ve seen the voters speak on this issue. And, as it is, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions,” Obama said.
Under the U.S. federal law, marijuana still remains an illegal drug but Washington and Colorado on November 6 became the first states in the nation to give it a legal status for individuals to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for private use.
Spokeswoman Dawn Dearden said that the “DEA’s focus has always been to disrupt and dismantle large-scale drug trafficking organization – not to arrest individual users,” when asked whether Drug Enforcement Administration agents were arresting people for possessing pot in Colorado and Washington.
Obama called the situation “a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law.” He added that “what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about” how to reconcile federal and state laws and he has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for examining the issue.
Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy said, “In a time of tight budget constraints, I want law enforcement to focus on violent crime,” the Vermont Democrat said in a statement. “But now that we have a gap between federal and state laws on marijuana, we need more information and a wider discussion about where our priorities should be,” and called Obama’s comments Friday “common sense.”
Former President Jimmy Carter, speaking to a CNN panel, has remarked that he is in favor of legalizing marijuana.
Carter, while speaking on the topic of the recently passed initiatives in Washington and Colorado, said the legalization of marijuana was in the best interest of the country for those states to be allowed to proceed with the regulation of cannabis.
I’m in favor of it. I think it’s OK, I don’t think it’s going to happen in Georgia yet, but I think we can watch and see what happens in the state of Washington, for instance around Seattle, and let the American government and let the American people see does it cause a serious problem or not. So I think a few places around the world is good to experiment with and also just a few states in America are good to take the initiative and try something out. That’s the way our country has developed over the last 200 years. It’s about a few states being kind of experiment states. So on that basis I am in favor of it,” said Carter.
He further remarked that the ending of prohibition would lead to a dramatic increase in usage rates and cited the example of Portugal where all drugs were decriminalized a few years ago and the use of drugs has gone down dramatically and nobody has been put in prison.
Former President Bill Clinton recently expressed his own dissatisfaction with the war on drugs, saying the anti-drug effort “hasn’t worked.”
The state of New Hampshire gets a much better chance to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana today than at any time in its history. This is because, for the first time, both major political parties have nominated a candidate – Republican Ovide Lamontagne, of Manchester, and Democrat Maggie Hassan, of Exeter – who endorse the change. In addition to this, three-time Libertarian candidate John Babiarz, of Grafton, likewise has supported the claim of New Hampshire to become the 18th state to make marijuana available to chronically ill patients.
Republican Ovide Lamontagne extended support to medicinal marijuana if it is properly prescribed by a physician for the right reasons and if it is dispensed safely by a pharmacist.
A four-term Democrat, outgoing Gov. John Lynch, recently remarked that conceptually he was not opposed to the idea but he vetoed two attempts by the Legislature to make it happen. The first time was when Democrats were in power in 2009 and when Republicans held the power again in June. The outgoing governor however raised concerns about lack of oversight and risk of proliferation.
The Senate’s 13-10 vote fell shy of the two-thirds majority in late June that was needed to override Lynch’s veto.
Rep. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, said it is pleasing as this would not be a divisive issue in this campaign and there would be a governor who can help us make this happen. To become law, the governor would however have to overcome strong opposition from law enforcement and perhaps from the attorney general.
It was maintained by State Police Maj. Russell Conte that medical marijuana laws in other states of the United States have either failed to restrict who can receive it legally or have led to abuses by unscrupulous residents. Medical marijuana law opponents pointed out that one in 33 residents qualified for an identification card to make them eligible for medical marijuana that would mean about 40,000 residents.
Assistant Attorney General Karin Eckel said most states have failed to keep the recreational use of marijuana out of the medical marijuana equation.
According to clinical trial data published online in The Journal of Psychopharmacology, the administration of the non-psychoactive component of marijuana [cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD)] reduces anxiety in subjects with social anxiety disorder (SAD).
The anti-anxiety activity of oral doses of CBD in ten subjects was assessed by investigators at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil in a double blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Researchers concluded, “CBD reduces anxiety in SAD and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas.”
This study is the first clinical trial to investigate the effects of cannabinoid cannabidiol on human pathological anxiety and its underlying brain mechanisms.
Previous studies in the context of CBD have suggested that the compound possesses anti-inflammatory activity, anti-cancer activity, and neuroprotective effects – among other therapeutic properties.
The study “Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report,” appeared online in The Journal of Psychopharmacology.
The board voted unanimously for placing a moratorium of 180 days on a policy that was enacted by it last month to ban the use, possession, and cultivation of medical marijuana in housing subsidized through its Section 8 program.
Deborah Turcotte, spokeswoman for the housing authority, said the board was addressed by State Rep. Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea, Alysia Melnick, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, and three caregivers who are licensed to grow medical marijuana for patients.
Turcotte remarked that the board approved a moratorium to facilitate working with Sanderson and the ACLU of Maine for getting more clarity from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development about its position on the users of medical marijuana in federally-subsidized housing. Maine Housing wants a document from the federal government that would say it may have a policy for medical marijuana that applies to all current Section 8 voucher recipients and make it clear that the agency does not have to treat tenants on a case-by-case basis else funding would be put at risk.
While the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has said public housing applicants cannot make use of medical marijuana that is illegal under the federal law, the federal agency has left local housing authorities to decide on the fate of users who already get public assistance in the 17 states where medical marijuana is legal.
Donald Capoldo, a commissioner from Bath who made the motion for a moratorium, said he believes the federal government does not want to be the one to kick medical marijuana users out of these housing units either, so they leave it up to us and said then he will side with what his state says.
According to preclinical data published online in the journal Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods, the administration of synthetic cannabinoid agonists minimizes cell viability in human hepacarcinoma cells and could be a potential option for treating liver cancer.
The anti-cancer properties of two synthetic cannabinoids, CB65 (CB2 receptor agonist) and ACEA (CB1 receptor agonist) in human hepacarcinoma cells were assessed by investigators from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Department of Toxicology and Pharmacology.
It was reported by the authors that the cannabinoid administration minimized malignant cell viability and cell invasion in a dose-dependent manner. “These data suggest ACEA and CB65 as an option for novel treatment of hepatocellular cancer,” they concluded.
Studies in the past have demonstrated that tumor cell growth is inhibited by cannabinoids that also inhibit selectively induced apoptosis by different cell signaling pathways in various types of malignant cells, including gliomas (brain cancers) and lymphomas, prostate, breast, lung, skin, and pancreatic cancer cells.
The study “Evaluation of Anti-invasion Effect of Cannabinoids on Human Hepatocarcinoma Cells,” is available in Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods.