Medical cannabis

Mexico Just Legalized Medical Marijuana

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Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was once opposed to the possibility of legalized cannabis. Along the way, however, he had a change of heart.

In April 2016 he expressed interest in starting the decriminalization process. While he might have personally had reservations, he recognized that his government was losing the war on drugs. He also knew Mexican citizens were growing tired of the legal hassle. As he stated then,

Our country has suffered, as few have, the ill effects of organised crime tied to drug trafficking. Fortunately, a new consensus is gradually emerging worldwide in favour of reforming drug policies. A growing number of countries are strenuously combating criminals, but instead of criminalising consumers, they offer them alternatives and opportunities.

Yesterday that process took a giant leap forward as Peña Nieto legalized medical marijuana as his nation’s Lower House of Congress predominantly shook their heads in agreement—the final vote was 374-7. A previous bill that would have…

Could Legalizing Marijuana Eradicate Violent Crime in South America?

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Witnessing the incredible output of Colombian drug makers is a highlight of the Netflix series Narcos. It boggles the mind trying to fathom how much cocaine Pablo Escobar and rival crews carried across American borders. And when it comes to drugs America has long provided a captive and willing market… be they pharmaceuticals or illicit substances.

Even today, with medical marijuana laws (MML) in twenty-nine states (and DC) and recreational cannabis in eight, the black market is worth $6 billion to our southern neighbors. Mexican growers and exporters are still responsible for a sizable portion of illegal marijuana; regions involved in that trade experience higher crime rates in the quest of getting high. That’s the synopsis of a forthcoming study in The Economic Journal on the effects of medical marijuana on criminal activity. The conclusion? Legalize it, at least medically.

This comes at a time when as recently as May our Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, asked Congress to revoke protections on states that allow medical marijuana. In it he cites the “significant negative health effects,” which include “psychosis,” “IQ loss,” and “addiction,” all of which are either ridiculous or provide scant evidence. Sessions must have missed the data revealing states with opioid usage is going down in MML states.

Sessions has long felt like a throwback to a more ignorant time, especially, in this case, as a cheerleader for Nancy Reagan. This comes through in sentiments such as America being

In the midst of a historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.

Only the opposite is true. The authors—Evelina Gavrilova, Takuma Kamada, and Floris Zoutman—have found that medical marijuana businesses act as a buffer against drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), resulting in lower crime rates:

MMLs allow local production of marijuana within the US and…

Is It Finally Time to Invest in Marijuana Stocks?

Politics aside, there’s a lot of green to be made in the burgeoning legal marijuana market. As more states move toward legalization, the potential to profit grows higher and higher. But in many cases, it’s still just potential.

While the industry is worth watching for investment opportunities, there are also some very real downsides to investing in cannabis right now. Read on for our roundup of the pros and cons of investing in weed.

Cannabis industry growth is soaring

According to cannabis research group ArcView, legal marijuana sales in North America increased by 34 percent to $6.9 billion in 2016. A prediction from investment firm Cowen & Co. puts the U.S. market at $50 billion by 2026. More than half of all U.S. states have already legalized the use of medical marijuana, while eight states and counting have legalized recreational use for adults.

Another triumph is the story of cannabinoid group GW Pharmaceuticals, whose stock has skyrocketed nearly 1,300 percent in value in less than four years. What’s more, a growing percentage of Americans are supportive of marijuana legalization. Public support for legal cannabis has grown to 60 percent, according to a 2016 poll by Gallup. All of this makes for fertile grounds for further cannabis industry growth.

Marijuana could become the next dot-com bubble

When it comes to cannabis stocks, Canada is leading the scene. Unburdened by the depth of opposition that recreational marijuana has raised from the U.S. Attorney General and many in the U.S. Republican party, Horizons Medical Marijuana Life Sciences ETF — one of the first cannabis ETFs in North America — started trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange in April, almost instantly becoming one of the month’s most popular funds. Propelling the marijuana ETF toward further success is a rise in investor enthusiasm sparked by the legislation recently introduced by Prime Minister Justin…

Legalizing pot may confuse teens into thinking it’s safe

marijuana leaf and cannabis plants
marijuana leaf and cannabis plants

A growing number of teens think marijuana is no big deal, a new study finds. And that may encourage many to experiment with its use.

A high school English teacher in New York — let’s call her Ms. McDonald — has lately noticed more kids coming to class high on marijuana. She can tell. When they’re high, they’re spacey and unfocused, she says. Plus, she adds, “They talk pretty openly about it. It’s considered very normal.”

Normal? What gives teens that idea, asks Magdalena Cerdá. She works at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, in Sacramento. As an epidemiologist, she tracks down causes of disease or unhealthy trends.

Marijuana use by kids certainly is not healthy, notes Stephen Wallace. He directs the Center for Adolescent Research and Education in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Some teens who regularly use pot develop mental-health problems, Wallace notes. These could include anxiety, depression and even psychosis (Sy-KOH-sis). That last condition is where people can’t tell what is real and what they are imagining.

Other problems linked to using pot include making working memory worse, he points out. Working memory is a brain function we need to understand language. It also helps us remember — for example — a math formula long enough to use it to do homework. Bad working memory can therefore lead to bad grades.

Yet if adolescents think pot is “no big deal,” Cerda wondered, might they become more likely to use it? In search of answers, she started reading research studies. They showed that compared to 25 years ago, fewer adolescents now think marijuana use is risky.

Cerdá knew that some states were making marijuana legal. Nineteen states allow adults to buy pot with a doctor’s prescription. Seven states have made non-medical use legal. That means adults can buy it as they would alcohol.

These laws only apply to adults. Buying and using pot is still illegal for minors. But Cerdá wondered how the new laws might be affecting teen attitudes and use of the drug. To find out, her team started its own study.

Based on a quarter-million U.S. teens

Her team used a survey called Monitoring the Future. Researchers collect data for it every year. They ask eighth, tenth and twelfth graders in U.S. schools about their use of, and attitudes about, alcohol and other drugs. Cerdá’s team focused on data from 253,902 students in the states of Washington and Colorado. Both of these states legalized non-medical use of marijuana in 2012. The team looked at the years 2010 through 2015. This let them concentrate on use and attitudes before and after pot became legal.

First, Washington: After 2012, a sense that this drug was risky went down among eighth and tenth graders. It fell by an average of 15 percent. In states where pot stayed illegal, the sense that it was risky went down by an average of only 6 percent among students in those grades. After the Washington law changed, the number of teens who used pot in the month before they had been surveyed increased 2 percent among eighth graders. It increased 4.1 percent among tenth graders.

This pattern bucked a trend seen in states where the drug stayed illegal. There, pot use dropped by 1.3 percent among eighth graders. It dropped by almost 1 percent among tenth graders.

There was no change in the drug’s use or attitudes among high-school seniors in Washington. The researchers have a theory about why. Maybe these older teens had already made up their minds about pot.

Cerdá’s team also saw no real change in attitudes on pot among students of any age in Colorado. This could have to do with how Colorado legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2000, Cerdá says. Kids saw posters and TV ads about the issue. This may have given them the idea that pot was normal and beneficial. By the time the drug’s non-medical use was legalized, the kids’ attitudes may already have been shaped by its legal medical use.

The results of Cerdá’s study appear in the February JAMA Pediatrics.

What’s good for adults may not be good for teens

Cerdá hopes states will try not to make pot seem glamorous. “Research shows that non-attractive labels around tobacco were important” to keep kids off cigarettes, she says. “Maybe some of these same lessons should be applied to marijuana.”

Christopher Hammond agrees. He’s a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md. “When Colorado legalized medical marijuana use, they allowed for advertising,” he notes. He now thinks that may have made teens open to trying it. That could have led to them use pot regularly.

Legalizing pot may confuse teens into thinking it’s safe

marijuana leaf and cannabis plants
marijuana leaf and cannabis plants

A growing number of teens think marijuana is no big deal, a new study finds. And that may encourage many to experiment with its use.

A high school English teacher in New York — let’s call her Ms. McDonald — has lately noticed more kids coming to class high on marijuana. She can tell. When they’re high, they’re spacey and unfocused, she says. Plus, she adds, “They talk pretty openly about it. It’s considered very normal.”

Normal? What gives teens that idea, asks Magdalena Cerdá. She works at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, in Sacramento. As an epidemiologist, she tracks down causes of disease or unhealthy trends.

Marijuana use by kids certainly is not healthy, notes Stephen Wallace. He directs the Center for Adolescent Research and Education in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Some teens who regularly use pot develop mental-health problems, Wallace notes. These could include anxiety, depression and even psychosis (Sy-KOH-sis). That last condition is where people can’t tell what is real and what they are imagining.

Other problems linked to using pot include making working memory worse, he points out. Working memory is a brain function we need to understand language. It also helps us remember — for example — a math formula long enough to use it to do homework. Bad working memory can therefore lead to bad grades.

Yet if adolescents think pot is “no big deal,” Cerda wondered, might they become more likely to use it? In search of answers, she started reading research studies. They showed that compared to 25 years ago, fewer adolescents now think marijuana use is risky.

Cerdá knew that some states were making marijuana legal. Nineteen states allow adults to buy pot with a doctor’s prescription. Seven states have made non-medical use legal. That means adults can buy it as they would alcohol.

These laws only apply to adults. Buying and using pot is still illegal for minors. But Cerdá wondered how the new laws might be affecting teen attitudes and use of the drug. To find out, her team started its own study.

Based on a quarter-million U.S. teens

Her team used a survey called Monitoring the Future. Researchers collect data for it every year. They ask eighth, tenth and twelfth graders in U.S. schools about their use of, and attitudes about, alcohol and other drugs. Cerdá’s team focused on data from 253,902 students in the states of Washington and Colorado. Both of these states legalized non-medical use of marijuana in 2012. The team looked at the years 2010 through 2015. This let them concentrate on use and attitudes before and after pot became legal.

First, Washington: After 2012, a sense that this drug was risky went down among eighth and tenth graders. It fell by an average of 15 percent. In states where pot stayed illegal, the sense that it was risky went down by an average of only 6 percent among students in those grades. After the Washington law changed, the number of teens who used pot in the month before they had been surveyed increased 2 percent among eighth graders. It increased 4.1 percent among tenth graders.

This pattern bucked a trend seen in states where the drug stayed illegal. There, pot use dropped by 1.3 percent among eighth graders. It dropped by almost 1 percent among tenth graders.

There was no change in the drug’s use or attitudes among high-school seniors in Washington. The researchers have a theory about why. Maybe these older teens had already made up their minds about pot.

Cerdá’s team also saw no real change in attitudes on pot among students of any age in Colorado. This could have to do with how Colorado legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2000, Cerdá says. Kids saw posters and TV ads about the issue. This may have given them the idea that pot was normal and beneficial. By the time the drug’s non-medical use was legalized, the kids’ attitudes may already have been shaped by its legal medical use.

The results of Cerdá’s study appear in the February JAMA Pediatrics.

What’s good for adults may not be good for teens

Cerdá hopes states will try not to make pot seem glamorous. “Research shows that non-attractive labels around tobacco were important” to keep kids off cigarettes, she says. “Maybe some of these same lessons should be applied to marijuana.”

Christopher Hammond agrees. He’s a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md. “When Colorado legalized medical marijuana use, they allowed for advertising,” he notes. He now thinks that may have made teens open to trying it. That could have led to them use pot regularly.