Medical Marijuana Legalized By Massachusetts

According to estimates, Massachusetts with a current vote total of 63% in favor and 37% opposed (with 40% of the vote tallied) is all set to become the eighteenth state in the United States of America to allow for the use of marijuana under physician supervision.

The state now joins its fellow Northeastern states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Maine in recognizing and permitting the medical use of cannabis. The law when implemented will eliminate state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients.

A patient, to qualify, must have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition, such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV-positive status or AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, or multiple sclerosis. The law will permit patients to possess a marijuana supply of 60 days for their personal medical use and the amount will be determined by the Department of Public Health.

A personal caregiver may be designated by the patient and he or she must be 21 years old and could assist with the medical use of marijuana for the patients but the caregiver would be prohibited from consuming that marijuana. The patients and caregivers will have to register with the Department of Public Health submitting the physician’s certification. Massachusetts will also allow for the approval of up to 35 non-profit medical marijuana treatment centers to grow, process and provide marijuana to patients or their caregivers.

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Supposed Marijuana ‘Gateway’ Theory Short-Lived

Age and unemployment, and not use of marijuana, are most likely to be associated with the decision of an individual to use so-called ‘hard’ drugs, according to survey data published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

The use patterns of approximately 1,300 young adults who attended south Florida public schools in the 1990s were tracked by investigators at the University of New Hampshire. Researchers tracked the participants from enrollment in the 6th or 7th grade until they reached their late teens or early 20s.

It was reported by the authors that the factors most likely to be associated with progression of the subjects to hard drug use were age, stress, and whether or not they were employed following high school.

“It really didn’t matter if someone used marijuana or not as a teen,” lead investigator Karen Van Gundy told the website Web MD.

Criminalizing marijuana users could inadvertently drive individuals toward more serious illicit drug us, Van Gundy implied. “If we overly criminalize behaviors like marijuana use among teens, this could interfere with opportunities for education and employment later on, which, in turn, could be creating more drug use,” she said.

Reference:
A life-course perspective on the ‘gateway hypothesis-Journal of Health and Social Behavior

More Than One Million Use Medical Marijuana In CA

Over 750,000 people in California (some two percent of the population) use medical marijuana in compliance with state law, according to estimates published by California NORML, the state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
The figure indicates a substantial increase from previous estimates of the organization but is in line with registration rates in other comparable states that enjoy similar wide access to medical cannabis clinics and dispensaries.

In a press release, States California NORML said: “Because patients are not required to register in California, their exact number is uncertain. Under California’s medical marijuana law, … patients need only a physician’s recommendation to be legal. Just a tiny fraction of the state’s medical marijuana population is enlisted in the state’s voluntary ID card program, which issued just 12,659 cards in 2009-10. Therefore, California patient numbers must be estimated from other sources. Among the most salient are medical marijuana registries in Colorado and Montana, which report usage rates of 2.5% and 3.0%, respectively. Because California’s law is older and has more liberal inclusion criteria than other states, usage here is likely to be higher.”

It adds: “Despite this, there is no evidence that liberal access to medical marijuana has spurred overall marijuana use in California. According to U.S. SAMHSA data, the total number of users in the state, including non-medical ones, amounts to 6.7% of the population (2.5 million) within the past month, or 11.3% (4.1 million) within the past year. This places California only slightly above the national average in marijuana use (6.0% monthly and 10.4% yearly), and below several states with tougher marijuana laws. Use of marijuana by California school youth has declined since Prop. 215 passed, according to data from the Attorney General’s Survey of Student Drug Use in California. The increase in medical marijuana use therefore appears to reflect a tendency for existing users to ‘go medical,’ rather than the enlistment of new users.”

It is estimated by California NORML that the total retail value of medical marijuana consumed in California is “between $1.5 and $4.5 billion per year, assuming a market of 2% to 3% of the population, average use of 0.5 to 1 gram per day, and an average cost of $320 per ounce.”

Reference:
California NORML

Marijuana Efficacy As An HIV Self-Care Strategy

According to a new study published in Clinical Nursing Research, published by SAGE, those in the United States living with HIV/AIDS are more likely to use marijuana than those in Kenya, South Africa, or Puerto Rica to alleviate their symptoms.

Individuals who did use marijuana rate it as effective as prescribed or OTC (over-the-counter) medicines for the majority of common symptoms, once again raising the issue that therapeutic marijuana use merits further study and consideration among policy makers. A significant population of HIV/AIDS patients uses marijuana as a symptom management approach for anxiety, depression, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, and peripheral neuropathy.

Symptom management and quality of life experiences among those with HIV/AIDS in the US, Africa, and Puerto Rico were examined by members of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) International HIV/AIDS Nursing Research Network to gain a fuller picture of marijuana’s effectiveness and use in this population.

The researchers with data from a longitudinal, multi-country, multi-site, randomized control clinical trial used four different evaluation tools to survey demographics, self-care management strategies for six common symptoms experienced by those living with HIV/AIDS, quality of life instrument, and reasons for non-adherence to medications. No differences between marijuana users and nonusers in age, race, and education level, income adequacy, having an AIDS diagnosis, taking ARV medications, or years on ARV medications were found by the researchers. Participants making use of marijuana as a management strategy were spread fairly consistent across all six symptoms, ranging from a low of 20 percent for fatigue to a high of 27 percent for nausea. Prescribed medications were used by 45 percent of those with fatigue, ranging down to almost 18 percent of those with neuropathy. It was revealed that marijuana was perceived to be more effective than either prescribed or OTC medications for nausea and neuropathy.

“Given that marijuana may have other pleasant side effects and may be less costly than prescribed or OTC drugs, is there a reason to make it available?” asks study leader Inge Corless. “These are the political ramifications of our findings. Our data indicate that the use of marijuana merits further inquiry.”

Marijuana Effectiveness as an HIV Self-Care Strategy by Inge B. Corless, Teri Lindgren, William Holzemer, Linda Robinson, Shahnaz Moezzi, Kenn Kirksey, Christopher Coleman, Yun-Fang Tsai, Lucille Sanzero Eller, Mary Jane Hamilton, Elizabeth F. Sefcik, Gladys E. Canaval, Marta Rivero Mendez, Jeanne K. Kemppainen, Eli H. Bunch, Patrice K. Nicholas, Kathleen M. Nokes, Pamela Dole and Nancy Reynolds is published in the May 2009 issue of Clinical Nursing Research (Volume 18, No. 2).

Reference:
SAGE

Research Facility Opens In Clio, Focusing On Medical Marijuana

A health and wellness center was formally opened in Clio that would the home of a marijuana research institute keen to change the negative stigma associated with marijuana.

Eric Gunnels, the Co-Founder of All Natural Health & Wellness Center, said marijuana is a drug that has been vastly misunderstood and it has no additive properties. Gunnels further remarked that there has been no recorded death with the use of marijuana in the history of mankind.

All Natural Health and Wellness Center, the first patient care facility in Michigan to allow use of marijuana for gathering drug research, will be emphasizing on educating the general public about the medicinal benefits of marijuana through its non-profit Cannabis Research Institute. Rob Lapeen, the Co-Founder of All Natural Health & Wellness Center, said the center will help public find different ways to use their medicines and get a doctor’s appointment for new patient approval.

The center is expected to bring an end to the marijuana black market and will be providing protection dog training for medical marijuana care-givers who want to guard their homes.

Research Shows Marijuana Has Promise

Marijuana or cannabis has the potential of a promising treatment for specific, pain-related medical conditions, according to California researchers who presented an update of their findings to the California Legislature and also released them to the public.

‘I think the evidence is getting better and better that marijuana, or the constituents of cannabis, are useful at least in the adjunctive treatment of neuropathy,” Igor Grant, MD, executive vice-chairman of the department of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California.

”We don’t know if it’s a front-line treatment. I’m hoping the results of our studies will prompt larger-scale studies that involve a much more varied population.” ”This [report given to the Legislature] sets the stage of larger-scale studies,” he says.

The researchers said in the report that five studies that have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals demonstrate the usefulness of marijuana for pain-related conditions.

•    According to a study appearing in Neuropsychopharmacology, pain in HIV patients can be significantly reduced with smoked cannabis.

•    A study on the similar lines appeared in the journal Neurology and indicated that cannabis offered more benefits than placebo.

•    A study appearing in the Journal of Pain suggested that marijuana was useful for reducing neuropathic pain in people suffering spinal cord injury and other conditions.

•    A study that was published in Anesthesiology suggested that medium doses of marijuana may be effective in minimizing pain perception and it was found that the higher the dose, the greater the pain relief.

•    In a study appearing in the Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, it was revealed that vaporized marijuana can be safe.

All in all, the five studies suggested that the use of marijuana has merit and marijuana could be an effective drug for treating specific, pain-related medical conditions.

50% of the USA favors Marijuana Legalization

According to a survey by Gallup, a record high fifty percent of the United States population says that the use of marijuana should be legalized.

The use of marijuana was favored by 12 percent of the American population in 1969 and 84 percent opposed its legalization. From the late 1970s to the mid 1990s, the support for marijuana legalization remained in the mid-20s but it went to 30 percent in the year 2000 and 40 percent of the US population supported marijuana legalization in the year 2009.

Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2009, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health disclosed that 16.7 million Americans aged 12 or older used marijuana at least once in the month prior to being surveyed to suggest an increase over the rates reported in all years between 2002 and 2008.

Marijuana is the third-most-popular recreational drug in America, behind only alcohol and tobacco, according to claims made by the advocacy group National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. While some states in the United States of America have legalized use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, many officials have made a call to the federal government to legalize marijuana.

The survey also disclosed that the support for legalizing marijuana is directly and inversely proportional to age. While the topic of marijuana legalization was characterized by approval of 62 percent of those 18 to 29 down, the approval rate was 31 percent among those 65 and older. While the Liberals are twice as likely as conservatives for favoring marijuana legalization, Democrats and independents are more likely to be in favor than are Republicans.

How To Use Marijuana?

Marijuana, also known as cannabis and marihuana, is the most used illicit drug in the world that is used for varying purposes such as recreational drug, religious rite, spiritual rite, and medicine. It can be easily seen growing in homes, in the suburbs, farms, and in the city.

The drug is known by many names such as airplane, dank, astro turf, black bart, charge, dagga, Aunt Mary, boom, bud, weed, herb, chunky, endo, ganja, haircut, Mary Jane, Yellow submarine, matchbox, and Zambi. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) is the major psychoactive compound in cannabis while the list of other 400 compounds in the plant includes cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).

Marijuana is one of the most used and sought after drugs in the United States of America and is believed to be smuggled into the country from Mexico, Cambodia and Thailand, among other countries.

The drug can be consumed in several ways and the way in which it is used identifies the amount of chemicals that get transferred into the body.

•    Cigarette: Buds of dried marijuana are rolled into a cigarette before it is used. It is believed that around 10 to 20 percent of THC, the primary ingredient in marijuana, gets transferred into the body when marijuana is used in the form of a cigarette.

•    Pipe: Some users of marijuana prefer to smoke marijuana with a pipe. Nearly 40 to 50 percent of THC gets transferred into the human body when marijuana is used through a pipe.

•    Cigar: Some marijuana users open a cigar and remove the tobacco and put marijuana to use the drug.

Marijuana is also baked into food products like brownies and some users even brew it as tea.

It is worth noting here that the use of marijuana is not limited to a single demographic group but extends of all races and countries. However, the use of marijuana is the highest among younger people.

Marijuana Smoke Healthier Than Tobacco

According to the finding of a recent study published in the January 11, 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, moderate levels of marijuana smoking does not harm the human lungs, but actually enhances lung capacity and airflow rates.

A large national database was analyzed by the research team for comparing the lung function of tobacco and marijuana smokers over an extended period of time. It was found by the researchers that while smoking marijuana increases lung volume, smoking cigarettes or getting exposed through second-hand smoke decreases lung volume.

Stefan Kertesz, M.D., a senior author of the study and associate professor in the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine, stated: “Occasional marijuana use was associated with increases in lung air flow rates and increases in lung capacity. Those increases were not large, but they were statistically significant. And the data showed that even up to moderately high-use levels — one joint a day for seven years — there is no evidence of decreased air-flow rates or lung volumes.”

Kertesz, however, warned against the use of marijuana smoke as a means for improving health of the lungs and said, “It’s not enough of an increase that would make you feel better. Healthy adults can blow out 3 to 4 liters of air in one second. The amount of gain, on average, from marijuana is small, 50 ccs or roughly a fifth of a can of coke. So it’s not something that would be noticeable.”

This study reviewed data acquired by the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (CARDIA) that recruited more than 5,000 subjects, black and white, male and female, from Chicago, Birmingham, Oakland, and Minneapolis. The study analyzed participants’ health factors over the course of twenty years, starting in 1985 when they were ages 18-30.

Dr. Mark Pletcher, lead author of the study and associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, noted “In some ways, marijuana smoking is really a lot like doing a pulmonary function test.”
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Casual Smoking Does Not Do Human Body Harm

According to a recently concluded study, smoking marijuana (cannabis) on an occasional basis is not associated with significant damage to the lungs.
The paper, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, adds to some research in the past that failed to find a link between low or moderate exposure to smoke of marijuana and lung damage.

Mark Pletcher at UC San Francisco led the researchers and studied 5,115 men and women in four cities of the United States of America. The present and lifetime exposure to tobacco and marijuana smoke and their lung function was analyzed by the researchers. Marijuana smoke’s exposure was expressed by joint years, with smoking 365 joints or filled pipe bowls being equal to one “joint year.”

It was revealed in the study that there was a decline in lung function with increased exposure to tobacco smoke but the same pattern was not experienced with marijuana smoke. It was further disclosed that there was no proof of damage to lung function with seven joint years.

The study findings reassured people that advantages of medical marijuana would not be offset by lung damage, according to the researchers, who also said this study didn’t evaluated the effects of heavy marijuana smoking on the lungs.

“Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana for [medical] purposes may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function,” Pletcher said in a news release. “On the other hand, our findings do suggest an accelerated decline in pulmonary function with heavier use — either very frequent use or frequent use over many years — and a resulting need for caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered.”