Recreational marijuana legalization: Do more youth use or do youth use more?

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What impact may legalization of recreational marijuana in Oregon have on teen marijuana use? Recent results from an Oregon Research Institute (ORI) study indicate that the influence of legalization on youth may depend on whether they were already using at the time of legalization. Following legalization of recreational marijuana, no significant changes in the numbers of youth who used marijuana occurred, yet increases in the frequency of use by youth who were already using marijuana were found. For teenagers who had tried marijuana by 8th grade, the frequency of use during the following year increased 26% more for those who were in 9th grade after marijuana was legalized compared to those who were in 9th grade prior to legalization. The research results are published online in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Source: Science Daily and Oregon Research Institute
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Sessions Allows More Aggressive Enforcement of Federal Laws Against Marijuana

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded a policy that discouraged prosecutors from enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have decriminalized the drug, The New York Times reports. In a statement, Sessions said that his memo to United States attorneys directs them “to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.” While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the drug has been at least partly legalized—including for medicinal use—in 29 states and the District of Columbia. California began allowing the sale of recreational marijuana on January 1. Sessions’ move is likely to increase the confusion about whether it is legal to buy, sell or possess marijuana in states where federal and state law conflict, the article notes.
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Monitoring the Future Survey Results Issued

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NIH’s 2017 Monitoring the Future survey shows both vaping and marijuana are more popular than traditional cigarettes or pain reliever misuse.  Almost one-third of high school seniors report using some kind of vaping device in the past year. Some teens use the devices for nicotine or marijuana, while others use them for flavoring. “We are especially concerned because the survey shows that some of the teens using these devices are first-time nicotine users,” Nora D. Volkow, MD, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a news release. “Recent research suggests that some of them could move on to regular cigarette smoking, so it is critical that we intervene with evidence-based efforts to prevent youth from using these products.” Use of hookahs and regular cigarettes declined among high school seniors, the annual survey found. Marijuana use among high school seniors increased from 35.6 percent in 2016 to 37.1...
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Some Experts Question Opioid Commission’s Marijuana Warning

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The chair of President Trump’s Opioid Commission warned about the dangers of marijuana, in a letter accompanying the release of the commission’s final report. Some experts are questioning the commission’s view that marijuana could further fuel the opioid crisis. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the chair of the commission, warned against legalizing marijuana in the midst of the opioid epidemic. One researcher, Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, a professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told CNN she is surprised to see negative language about marijuana in the opioid report. “Research that examines pain and marijuana shows that marijuana use significantly reduces pain,” she said. “In addition, the majority of studies examining marijuana and opioids show that marijuana use is associated with less opioid use and less opioid-related deaths.” Dr. Cunningham is conducting the first long-term study to test whether medical marijuana reduces opioid use among adults with chronic...
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Teens Dependent on Marijuana and Alcohol Struggle with Success Later in Life

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Teens who are dependent on marijuana and alcohol struggle to achieve hallmarks of adult success, such as graduating from college, getting married, having a full-time job and earning a good salary, a new study finds. Researchers at the University of Connecticut tracked 1,165 study participants, starting at age 12. They checked in on them at two-year intervals, until they were between 25 and 34 years old, HealthDay reports. Most of the participants had a grandparent, parent, aunt or uncle with an alcohol problem. Marijuana and alcohol dependence appeared to have a more severe effect on young men. “Parents should try to delay their children’s onset of use as much as possible,” said researcher Victor Hesselbrock. “If you can push regular use back well into adolescence, the kids do a lot better.” The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.  
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Smoking Marijuana and Driving

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A new study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) found that a third of all teens surveyed think it is legal to drive under the influence of marijuana in states where it has been legalized for recreational use. In the same study, 27 percent of parents surveyed believe it to be legal as well. The study found that while 93 percent of parents think driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous, only 76 percent feel that driving under the influence of marijuana is dangerous. The results indicate that teens are receiving mixed messages about the dangers of marijuana use and driving. This thinking puts themselves and fellow drivers at risk, particularly with 22 percent of teens admitting that driving under the influence of marijuana is common around their friends. However, marijuana use has a direct impact on your body, similar to alcohol. According to...
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Marijuana Use Triples Risk of Death from Hypertension

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The risk of death from hypertension is three times greater in adults who use marijuana, compared with nonusers, based on data from a retrospective study of 1,213 adults. According to an article in Cardiology News , the recent changes in the legalization of marijuana may promote increased recreational use, but data on the long-term effects of marijuana use on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular mortality are limited, wrote Barbara A. Yankey, PhD, of Georgia State University, Atlanta, and her colleagues. The researchers collected data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from adults aged 20 years and older who were asked between 2005 and 2006 whether they had ever used marijuana, and those who answered “yes” were defined as users. Data on 686 users and 527 nonusers were combined with the 2011 mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Overall, marijuana users had a 3.42 times greater risk of...
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Legislators From States With Legalized Marijuana Push Back on Federal Crackdown

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Legislators from states that have legalized marijuana are pushing back against a federal crackdown on the drug, led by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. House and Senate members from states with legalized marijuana are trying to provide protections for the multibillion-dollar marijuana industry, The New York Times reports. Sessions has asked Senate leaders to roll back rules that bar the Justice Department from sidestepping state laws in order to enforce a federal ban on medical marijuana. He also appointed a task force to review links between violent crimes and marijuana. Last month, a bipartisan group of senators reintroduced a bill that would allow patients to access medical marijuana in states where it is legal, without fear of federal prosecution. “Federal marijuana policy has long overstepped the boundaries of common sense, fiscal prudence, and compassion,” Senator Cory Booker said in a statement about the bill, known as The Compassionate Access, Research...
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Teen Marijuana-Related Visits to Colorado ER Rose Rapidly After Legalization

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A Colorado children’s hospital reports visits by teens to its emergency department and satellite urgent care centers more than quadrupled after the state legalized marijuana, a new study finds. Researchers examined the hospital’s records for 13- to 21-year-olds between 2005 and 2015. Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2010 and recreational marijuana in 2014. The annual number of visits related to marijuana or involving a positive marijuana urine drug screen more than quadrupled, from 146 in 2005 to 639 in 2014, the researchers found. They will present their research at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco. “The state-level effect of marijuana legalization on adolescent use has only begun to be evaluated,” lead author George Sam Wang, MD said in a news release. “As our results suggest, targeted marijuana education and prevention strategies are necessary to reduce the significant public health impact of the drug can have on adolescent...
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Marijuana Dispensaries and Disadvantaged Neighborhoods

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As more states push for the legalization of marijuana, there is increasing fear that the stores that sell marijuana, commonly known as dispensaries, will have a negative impact on their surrounding communities. Both recreational and medical marijuana are legal in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Maine. However, because of the negative ripple effects of legalizing marijuana, state support doesn’t necessarily translate into local backing. The many concerns surrounding dispensaries Areas with dispensaries fear that there will be increased marijuana use. Some residents complain of odor. Community leaders worry that neighborhoods significantly impacted by drugs and the war on drugs are now being asked to shoulder the burden and risk of having dispensaries on their streets. Some see the location of these stores as a way to circumvent resistance to placing dispensaries in wealthier areas. These fears are well-founded. While a wide range of individuals from many different...
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