Pot Matters: Opioid Deaths Continue to Increase

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reports that deaths from drug overdoses continue to increase, from 16.7 per 100,000 in the third quarter of 2015 to 19.9 in the third quarter of 2016. Roughly 60 percent of these deaths are from opioids (mostly fentanyl and heroin).

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which contains the NCHS, estimates a total of 52,404 fatal overdoses in 2015. Data obtained from state agencies by the New York Times indicates there will be over 59,000 overdose deaths reported for 2016.

The death rate from overdoses had already increased from 12.3 per 100,000 in 2010 to 16.3 per 100,000 in 2015. The Washington Post reported on a study from a University of Virginia professor, suggesting that death rates for 2014 may be 24 percent greater than reported totals, indicating a far worse opioid problem than presented by the CDC data.

Read more at High Times

Pot Matters: The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017

On Friday, July 28, Congressmen James Comer (R-KY), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced legislation to remove industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, which would effectively legalize the cultivation of hemp in the United States. The bill has a total of 15 co-sponsors.

H.R. 3530, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017, would “amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marihuana.” The bill also creates a new category establishing hemp research as a conventional crop at university and state departments of agriculture and allows for increased commercialization of industrial hemp.

Comer explained: “By removing industrial hemp from the definition of a controlled substance, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act will finally allow for responsible, commercial production of industrial hemp without fear of violating federal law.”

Read more at High Times

Pot Matters: Flashback—DEA Responds to Early Medical Marijuana Initiatives

In November 1996, voters in California and Arizona passed historic ballot initiatives to legalize medical marijuana, starting a politically historical era of reform that so far has resulted in a total of 27 states with similar laws and eight with laws legalizing recreational marijuana use.

On December 2, 1996, Thomas Constantine, administrator of the DEA appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the issues surrounding the passage of Proposition 215 in California and Proposition 200 in Arizona. In his prepared remarks Constantine expressed the DEA’s concern over these initiatives with a warning to Congress and the nation. Remarkably, the prohibitionist argument today remains an echo of Constantine’s 1996 testimony.

Constantine expressed concern that “most Americans have not yet grasped the consequences” of what had just happened, and need to know that these initiatives were not “local, grass-root efforts, but part of a well-orchestrated, well-financed national movement… to legalize drugs.” The initiatives were not about showing compassion for patients, they were part of a devious conspiracy launched by billionaire George Soros and others “including representatives from the Progressive [insurance] Corporation, the Mens’ Warehouse and… pro-legalization groups… such as the Drug Policy Foundation.”

Read more at High Times

Pot Matters: Hemp Policy and Legislative Update

Later this week, Congressman James Comer (R-KY) will introduce the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, federal legislation that would “essentially remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, allowing industrial cultivation of the plant,” a key objective of the National Hemp Association (NHA). The bill will also set a THC limit and provide for state regulation of the hemp industry and related companies.

Vote Hemp has also been working with Congress to refine the proposed legislation, successfully advocating for a provision to include Native American tribes and influencing a key compromise allowing research on hemp with an upper limit of 0.6 percent THC. (The designated THC threshold in hemp regulations has an impact on the cost of cultivation and research.)

On his website, Comer is proud of his past support for hemp, recalling that as Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture in 2011, he “promoted rural economic development by spearheading the successful effort to legalize industrial hemp and developed new branding initiatives for Kentucky farmers.”

Read more at High Times

Pot Matters: New Harm Reduction Guidelines for Cannabis and Public Health

The forthcoming legalization of cannabis is Canada has prompted the public health community to develop practical strategies to reduce health risks associated with cannabis use.

An important article in the August 2017 edition of the American Journal of Public Health presents “Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines”(LRCUG) developed by Benedikt Fischer, Cayley Russell and several additional colleagues.

The authors observe that “Prohibition of recreational cannabis use has long been the dominant policy model, yet it has been increasingly recognized as ineffective.” While the public health problems associated with cannabis are “clearly smaller than for alcohol, tobacco and other illicit drugs, it is associated with risks for various adverse health outcomes.”

Read more at High Times

Pot Matters: CBD Comes of Age, Pt. 2

Photo by Chewberto420.

Read Part 1 of CBD Comes of Age, HERE. 

Cannabidiol (CBD) is rapidly becoming, with respect to medical use, “the more interesting cannabinoid” according to a new and comprehensive review of the scientific literature published in the July issue of the journal Pharmacology and Therapeutics by Simona Pisanti, Anna Maria Malfitano and 10 additional colleagues.

Read more at High Times

Pot Matters: CBD Comes of Age, Pt. 1

Cannabidiol is rapidly becoming, with respect to medical use, “the more interesting cannabinoid,” according to a new and comprehensive review of the scientific literature published in the July issue of the journal Pharmacology and Therapeutics by Simona Pisanti, Anna Maria Malfitano and 10 additional colleagues.

The cannabis plant is known to contain over 90 unique chemicals, known as cannabinoids. Delta-9-tetrahydocannabinol (Δ9-THC or THC) is the primary compound and the most well-known; it was discovered and isolated first and is widely recognized as responsible for the psychoactive effects associated with the plant. Other cannabinoids have similar chemical structures but produce different pharmacological effects based on their interaction with the natural endocannabinoid receptor system in the body.

Cannabidiol (or CBD) is now recognized as the second compound of significance.

Read more at High Times

Pot Matters: Growing Support for Legalization in Washington State

There is no buyer’s remorse in the state of Washington over their legalization of marijuana in November 2012.

Since retail stores opened in July 2014, support for legalization has continued to grow, according to a new study published in the June 2017 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Until now, only one study had looked at public support for legalization.

Read more at High Times

Pot Matters: Deadly Drug Policies

The death rate for young Americans has increased by 8 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to a recent analysis by the Washington Post—and the driving force behind this increase is the current opioid epidemic.

From the Post: “Since the beginning of this decade, death rates have risen among people between the ages of 25 and 44 in virtually every racial and ethnic group and almost all states, according to a Washington Post analysis. The death rate among African Americans is up 4 percent, Hispanics 7 percent, whites 12 percent and Native Americans 18 percent. The rate for Asian Americans also has increased, but at a level that is not statistically significant.”

The Post looked at mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  For context, the 10 leading causes of death in 2015 were heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, unintentional injuries, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide. These account for 74.2 percent of all deaths in the United States.

Read more at High Times

Pot Matters: How to Diversify the Legal Marijuana Market

African-Americans are having a hard time getting into the legal marijuana business. It’s wrong, and there is a simple solution to the problem—but it’s a solution that remains impractical in the current political environment.

The marijuana industry is tightly regulated in many states; this has become an absolute requirement to build political support for legalization through either the initiative or legislative process. In many states, market access is controlled though strict limits on the number of licenses that will be granted for cultivation and/or retail dispensaries.

According to the Washington Post, “Many states bar convicted drug felons from the industry, disproportionately hurting minorities because of historically higher conviction rates. Others have set high investment requirements. Some dole out licenses through appointed commissions that industry researchers say reward the politically connected, who by and large are wealthy and white.”

Read more at High Times