Monday, June 23, 2008

NORML news

Drug Czar Responds To NORML's Refutation Of 'Potent Pot' Claim
Washington, DC: NORML's criticism of an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) report alleging that the average strength of cannabis is now at an all-time high has drawn a heated response from the Drug Czar's office.NORML's critique, which appeared in an essay on the as well as in select newspapers, countered the White House's claim that today's marijuana averages 9.6 percent THC (pot's primary psychoactive component) or is particularly dangerous to health.

Armentano wrote, "[B]y the University of Mississippi's (which conducted the study) own admission, the average THC in domestically grown marijuana - which comprises the bulk of the US market - is less than five percent, a figure that's remained unchanged for nearly a decade." He continued, "THC - regardless of potency - is non-toxic and incapable of causing a fatal overdose. Currently, doctors may legally prescribe a FDA-approved pill that contains 100 percent THC, and curiously, nobody at the University of Mississippi or at the Drug Czar's office seems particularly concerned about it." Armentano concluded, "If lawmakers … were really concerned about potential risks posed by potent marijuana, they would support regulating the drug, so that its potency would be known to the consumer."

The Drug Czar's office responded to NORML's criticisms on their Pushing Back website by falsely accusing NORML of seeking to "legalize [all illegal] drugs." The ONDCP also argued, oddly, that the data cited in their report regarding the average potency of domestically seized pot was likely inaccurate.

"Name me another agency that publishes data, but then denies the validity of said data the moment somebody highlights it," Armentano said. "This sort of slipshod research would receive a failing grade on a high-school term paper. It's an embarrassment that the most well-funded drug policy agency in America would engage in such an admitted act of duplicity."

NORML's Deputy Director and Drug Czar John Walters continued their debate on Wednesday on the nationally syndicated Dr. Drew Pinsky radio show.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of NORML's essay, "Don't buy the potent pot hype," is available at:

Teen Pot Use Falling In States With Medical Marijuana Laws
Washington, DC: States that have enacted legislation authorizing the use of medical cannabis by qualified patients have not experienced an increase in the drug's use by the general population, according to a report issued this week by the Marijuana Policy Project and co-authored by NORML Advisory Board Member Mitch Earleywine.

Among the twelve states that have legalized the use and cultivation of medical cannabis, all but one (New Mexico) have experienced an overall decline in teen marijuana use since the enactment of their medi-pot laws. (Data was unavailable for New Mexico, which passed its law last year.) In seven of the twelve states, marijuana use among young people declined at rates that exceeded the national average.

"Opponents of medical use of marijuana regularly argue that such laws 'send the wrong message to children,' but there is just no sign of that effect in the data," said Earleywine. "In every state for which there's data, teen marijuana use has gone down since the medical marijuana law was passed, often a much larger decline than nationally."

A previous 2005 review of medical cannabis laws and their impact on use reported similar findings, noting that teen use in California had fallen nearly 50 percent since the passage of that state's medi-pot law in 1996. A 2002 report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) concluded that state medical marijuana laws were operating primarily as voters and legislators had intended and had not led to widespread abuses among the general population.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, "Marijuana use by young people: the impact of state medical marijuana laws," is available online at:

Medical Pot Use Not Associated With “Serious” Side Effects, Study Says
Montreal, Canada: The medical use of cannabis is not associated serious negative side effects, according to a meta-analysis published this week in the journal of the Canadian Medical Association (CMAJ).

Investigators at McGill University Health Centre and McGill University in Montreal and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver reviewed 23 clinical investigations of medicinal cannabinoid drugs (typically oral THC or liquid cannabis extracts) and eight observational studies conducted between 1966 and 2007. Authors concluded that subjects given medical cannabis experienced a slightly higher risk of experiencing "nonserious adverse events," specifically dizziness, compared to non-using controls.

By contrast, investigators "did not find a higher incidence rate of serious adverse events associated with medical cannabinoid use." Responding to the study, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: "Cannabinoids possess a safety profile that is unmatched by virtually every other available prescription drug or over-the-counter medication, including aspirin. To think that almost no serious adverse side effects have been associated with drug's medicinal use over a 30-year period is remarkable. What other medications can make such a claim?"

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, "Adverse effects of medical cannabinoids: a systematic review," appears in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.


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