DEA Increasingly Scrutinized as States Legalize Marijuana and Public Opinion Turns Against Failed Drug War
A senior F.B.I. official and former U.S. Attorney, Chuck Rosenberg, has been selected by President Obama as interim director of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Rosenberg has served as the chief of staff to the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, for the past 18 months.
Outgoing DEA head Michele Leonhart announced her retirement last month in the wake of numerous scandals. She came under intense criticism for opposing the Obama Administration’s efforts to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and for opposing the administration’s hands-off approach in the four states that have approved legal regulation of marijuana.
The DEA has existed for more than 40 years but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities, the surveillance state, and other Drug War problems. Congress has rarely scrutinized the agency, its actions or its budget, instead showing remarkable deference to the DEA’s administrators.
Dr. Hart Will Take Questions from Listeners
Dr. Carl Hart, Columbia University professor and the best-selling, award-winning author of High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society will join the Drug Policy Alliance’s asha bandele on Thursday, May 14, from 1 – 2 p.m., EDT for a discussion on how our current approaches to teaching our children about drugs fail – and actually make them more vulnerable to the harms of drug use.
Hart is also expected to explore the impact of drugs on the developing adolescent brain, as well as the myths and prejudices at the roots of drug prohibition.
Dr. Hart has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, Jon Stewart’s "The Daily Show," and other national media outlets. He is a dedicated scientist, activist and educator who has spent his career researching drugs and their impact on human beings.
His work addresses the rampant misinformation about drugs and their perceived harms, dispelling the prevailing myths that link crime, drugs and poor people of color.
Dr. Hart’s talk is the fifth in a series of quarterly telephone town halls sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance. The conversations seek to bring some of the most learned and influential people working in the field of drug policy before the general public so that together we can create an ever-more informed and shared understanding about drugs and society.
By Monica Pupo,
Hemp News Correspondent
Published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, a recent study showed that the use of marijuana to relieve chronic pain is very common. Plus, patients reported greater relief with cannabis use than when using only opioid drugs.
The research included 1,514 people who live in Australia and received opioid prescription for treatment of non-malignant chronic pain. According to scientists, "Associations between demographics, pain, personal characteristics of each patient and the use of cannabis for pain."
The results showed that one in six - or 16% - had used cannabis for pain relief, and 6% in the previous month. Almost half (43%) of the sample had also used cannabis for recreational purposes.
A quarter of participants reported that would use marijuana for pain relief if he had access. Those who already use cannabis for pain on average are younger, reported higher pain intensity and greater pain interference in their daily lives.
The conclusion of the study shows that "cannabis use in order to relieve the pain seems common among people living with non-malignant chronic pain - and users report greater pain relief with the combination with opioids, than when the opioids are used alone."
To read Monica Pupos blog, please visit http://maryjuana.com.br
By Steve Elliott
It's a repeating pattern. Last year, the mainstream press gave lots of attention to a study suggesting that daily marijuana use could cause abnormalities in the brain. But now that new research, using better techniques, indicates that claim simply isn't true, it doesn't get nearly as much coverage.
The authors of the new study, "Daily Marijuana Use Is Not Associated with Brain Morphometric Measures in Adolescents or Adults," which was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, suggest that alcohol use was actually responsible for the brain changes found in previous studies, reports Ray Stern at Phoenix New Times.
An abstract of the study describes how scientists could not replicate recent research that claimed cannabis use "is associated with volumetric and shape differences in subcortical structures."
The MRI brain-scan reports of 29 adults and 50 adolescents who use cannabis daily were compared with MRI scans of the same numbers of adult and teen non-users of cannabis.
By Steve Elliott
A new study from the University College of London of 2,612 children in the United Kingdom examined children's IQ scores at age 8 and again at age 15, and found "no relationship between cannabis use and lower IQ at age 15. Even heavy cannabis use had no associated with reduced IQ scores.
But alcohol was a different story. "In particular alcohol use was found to be strongly associated with IQ decline," the study's author's wrote, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. "No other factors were found to be predictive of IQ change."
"This is a potentially important public health message -- the belief that cannabis is particularly harmful may detract focus from and awareness of other potentially harmful behaviors," noted the study's lead author, Claire Mokrysz.
"The current focus on the alleged harms of cannabis may be obscuring the fact that its use is often correlated with that of even more freely available drugs and possibly lifestyle factors," agreed reviewer Guy Goodwin of Oxford University. "These may be as or more important than cannabis itself."
A 2012 Duke University study of just 38 subjects had made world headlines when it claimed to find a link between heavy marijuana use and IQ decline among teens. Columbia University's Carl Hart noted the very small sample of heavy users in the study led him to question how relevant were the results.
Groups Come Together to End Marijuana Prohibition, Increase Cannabis Research and Promote a Compassionate Health Care Response to Drug Use and Addiction
Moms, Cops, Nurses & Docs Present a Panel Discussion at the Marijuana for Medical Professionals Conference in Denver, Colorado on Sept. 11
Moms United to End the War on Drugs is bringing together a coalition of family members, health care professionals and criminal justice professionals to end cannabis prohibition that has been so destructive to our families and communities.
Moms, Cops, Nurses & Docs will be holding a panel discussion at the Sherman Street Event Center in Denver, Colorado (1770 Sherman Street) on Thursday, September 11, at the Exhibit Hall Stage at 12:30 pm. Speakers include Mary Lynn Mathre from American Cannabis Nurses Association; Dr. Jeff Hergenrather from the Society of Cannabis Clinicians; Theresa Daniello from Moms United to End the War on Drugs; and Leonard Frieling from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
In 1937, laws were put into place prohibiting the use of cannabis in the United States. In the past decade, more than six million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges. For several decades, people who use drugs and people with addictive illness have been banished to the criminal justice system.
Nearly half of all prisoners in state prisons are locked up for a non-violent offense. Every year 750,000 people are arrested for marijuana, wasting law enforcement resources and throwing non-violent offenders into the criminal justice system.
By Steve Elliott
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on Monday said it needs hundreds of pounds of marijuana for research this year, more than 30 times the amount of cannabis it originally ordered for 2014.
The DEA accordingly adjusted its annual production quota of marijuana for the U.S. government, which is grown on The University of Mississippi's campus at Oxford, reports Pete Kasperowicz at The Blaze.
Ole Miss pot is used exclusively by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to conduct research on marijuana, but don't expect any studies on the medicinal benefits of cannabis. The NIDA, by definition, refuses to fund any studies looking for medical uses, but instead will only authorize studies which look for the harms of marijuana.
Despite what The Blaze reported -- that the NIDA pot was for "medical marijuana research" -- the agency "does not fund research focused on the potential medical benefits of marijuana," an NIDA spokesperson told The New York Times in 2010. "As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use," NIDA spokeswoman told the Times.
By Steve Elliott
One common refrain from those opposed to medical marijuana is that its legalization would increase use among adolescents, but a new study indicates that's just not true.
According to the study from Rhode Island Hospital, which compared 20 years of data from states with and without medical marijuana laws, legalizing cannabis for medicinal use did not lead to any increased use among adolescents, reports ScienceDaily. The study is published online and will be in the upcoming print issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.
"Any time a state considers legalizing medical marijuana, there are concerns from the public about an increase in drug use among teens," said Esther Choo, M.D., attending physician in the department of emergency medicine at Rhode Island Hospital. "In this study, we examined 20 years' worth of data, comparing trends in self-reported adolescent marijuana use between states with medical marijuana laws and neighboring states without the laws, and found no increase in marijuana use that could be attributed to the law."
"This adds to a growing body of literature published over the past three years that is remarkably consistent in demonstrating that state medical marijuana policies do not have a downstream effect on adolescent drug use, and we feared they might," Choo said.
By Steve Elliott
Students who smoke only marijuana do better at school than classmates who smoke only tobacco, or who smoke both tobacco and marijuana, according to a new study which tracked substance use among teens over a 30-year period.
Scientists at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health looked at data from a survey given to nearly 39,000 Ontario students between 1981 and 2011, reports Andrea Janus at CTV News. Students in Grades 7, 9 and 11 were asked by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health about their tobacco and marijuana use, and about their academic performance.
Cannabis-only users did better at school than their peers who smoked only tobacco or who smoked both tobacco and cannabis. The findings reflect the fact that fewer students smoke tobacco now than was the case 30 years ago, and those who do make up a "marginalized, vulnerable" population, according to the study's lead author, Michael Chaiton, assistant professor of epidemiology and public health policy.
Almost all the tobacco users -- 92 percent -- also use cannabis, according to the study. However, only one in four marijuana smokers (25 percent) also used tobacco.
"It's better relatively," Chaiton said of marijuana smokers' academic performance. However, marijuana users didn't outperform non-users, Chaiton said -- but neither did non-users outperform marijuana users.
By Steve Elliott
Inhaling whole-plant marijuana provides relief from the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, according to observational trial data published in the March/April 2014 issue of the scientific journal Clinical Neuropharmacology.
Scientists at Tel Aviv University's Department of Neurology looked at Parkinson's symptoms in 22 patients at baseline, and again 30 minutes after inhaling cannabis, reports NORML.
The researchers reported that inhaled marijuana resulted in "significant improvement after treatment in tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia (slowness of movement). There was also significant improvement of sleep and pain scores," the Israeli researchers noted. "No significant adverse effects of the drug were observed."
"[T]his observational study is the first to report an amelioration of both motor and non-motor symptoms in patients with PD treated with cannabis," the researchers reported. "The study opens new venues for treatment strategies in PD especially in patients refractory to current medications."
Israel has allowed the licensed production, distribution and medical use of cannabis since 2011.
Heavy and prolonged use of marijuana changes the way the brain functions and can lead to poor memory, according to a new study -- but the study only used 10 healthy people with a history of cannabis use (it also tested 15 young people with a history of cannabis use and schizophrenia). Even the lead researcher admits that the changes seen could have resulted in marijuana use, rather than the other way around.
The study is being played up heavily in the mainstream press, with many of the news accounts not mentioning that only 10 non-schizophrenic marijuana users were studied. With future policy debates likely to reference this study as a reason not to relax the laws around cannabis, the credulous acceptance and lack of critical coverage of the study is quite unfortunate.
The study, based on data obtained from teens and young adults, was conducted by researchers at Northwestern Medicine, reports Nature World News. Researchers said they found chronic cannabis use led to poor growth of the brain region associated with memories.
By Steve Elliott
Claims of a causal link between marijuana use and the development of schizophrenia have been some of the (literal) Reefer Madness claims hardest to extinguish, partly because of insistent coverage in the British tabloid press which actually led to the Brits re-criminalizing cannabis after briefly relaxing the laws. But yet another study, this one from Harvard Medical School, has found no association between smoking cannabis and going crazy.
Harvard researchers compared families with a history of schizophrenia to those without, reports John M. Grohol at PsychCentral.
"The results of the current study suggest that having an increased familial morbid risk for schizophrenia may be the underlying basis for schizophrenia in cannabis users and not cannabis use by itself," the researchers found.
According to the researchers, the new study is the first that "examines both non-psychotic cannabis users and non-cannabis user controls as two additional independent samples, enabling the examination of whether the risk for schizophrenia is increased in family members of cannabis users who develop schizophrenia compared with cannabis users who do not and also whether that morbid risk is similar or different from that in family members of schizophrenia patients who never used cannabis."
By Steve Elliott
Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods on Wednesday announced that its facility, located in Winnipeg, "aced" the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standards Recertification. According to Manitoba Harvest, it is the world's largest hemp food manufacturer, growing, making and selling their own hemp foods.
The company improved a full "grade" from their first certification last year, according to chief executive officer and cofounder Mike Fata. "Improving our BRC Certification standing to 'A-Grade' showcases our commitment to continuous improvement -- especially when it comes to food safety and quality," Fata said.
"If a school had a hemp production program we'd already have our Ph.D.," Fata said. "Receiving a top grade in our recertification validates our team's commitment to quality."
BRC Certification is considered the world's leading food safety and quality certification program, and is used by suppliers in more than 100 countries.
To receive BRC Certification, Manitoba Harvest underwent a voluntary audit by a third-party certification body that ensures the production, packaging, storage and distribution of safe food and consumer products. The annual certification is meant to reassure retailers and consumers of the capability and competence of Manitoba Harvest's facility, and therefore the integrity of its products.
Celebrating their 15th year in business, Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods offers products like hemp hearts (raw shelled hemp seeds) and Hemp Pro 70 (hemp protein concentrate).
By Steve Elliott
With more and more older people being affected by neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's, a link has been found between excess levels of iron in the brain and neurodegeneration. Researchers in Brazil looked at how the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) can help those suffering from such conditions.
The researchers, from Pontifical Catholic University, focused on the mitochondria, which are found in most cells and housed inside a membrane, reports Drake Dorm at MedicalJane.com. Mitochondria generate most of a cell's energy; they are often called the "cellular power plant." They control cell processes including apoptosis (programmed cell death).
It had already been found in previous studies that CBD is able to treat some symptoms of neurodegenerative disease, stopping immune cells from attacking the insulating covers of the nerve cells (myelin sheaths) in the spinal cord.
One problem associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's is less energy at the brain's synapses, where neurons pass signals to each other. Excess iron seems to disrupt the dynamics of the mitochondria, causing them to initiate more cell death than usual.
By Steve Elliott
A scientist at the University of London's St. George School of Medicine has found that cannabinoids from marijuana can kill cancerous cells found in people with leukemia, a form of cancer which kills 24,000 people each year in the United States.
"Cannabinoids have a complex action; it hits a number of important processes that cancers need to survive," said study author Dr. Wai Liu, an oncologist, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. "For that reason, it has really good potential over other drugs that only have one function.
"I am impressed by its activity profile, and feel it has a great future, especially if used with standard chemotherapies," Dr. Liu said.
The study was recently published in the journal Anticancer Research. It was funded by GW Pharmaceuticals, which makes a marijuana-derived nasal spray, Sativex, that is used to treat spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis.
The study examined six different non-psychoactive cannabinoids, which unlike THC, don't get you high. The cannabinoids were examined alone and in combination; they displayed "a diverse range of therapeutic qualities" that "target and switch off" pathways, preventing cancer from growing, according to U.S. News and World Report.