|NORML's Weekly News Bulletin - October 19, 2006|
Posted by CN Staff on October 19, 2006 at 09:34:11 PT|
Weekly Press Release
Infrequent Pot Use Often Goes Undetected On Hair Strand Tests
October 19, 2006 - Baltimore, MD, USA
Baltimore, MD: Drug testing technology that detects the residual presence of cannabinoids and/or their metabolites in the hair typically fails to identify occasional marijuana users, according to trial data published online (ahead of print) by the journal Forensic Science International.
Thirty-eight males with a documented history of marijuana use participated in the trial. Among those participants who used marijuana daily, 85 percent tested positive for either THC or THC metabolites in the hair. By contrast, among those participants who smoked cannabis occasionally (defined as one to five marijuana cigarettes per week), only 52 percent tested positive for pot.
Investigators also reported that subjects administered oral THC during the course of the trial did not test positive for cannabinoid metabolites in the hair.
Authors reported no difference in cannabis detection rates between Caucasian and African American subjects. Previous studies of hair testing technology have suggested that certain drug concentrations, particularly cocaine, are more detectable in darker hair colors.
Hair strand testing typically detects the presence of drug metabolites that have passively diffused from the blood stream to the base of the hair follicle. Proponents of the testing technology argue that it allows for a longer window of drug detection than saliva testing or urinalysis.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, "Cannabinoid concentrations in hair from documented cannabis users," appears online on the Forensic Science International website.
Britain: Pot Use Down Dramatically Following Cannabis Reclassification
October 19, 2006 - London, United Kingdom
London, United Kingdom: Self-reported cannabis use among Britons has declined dramatically following a 2004 Home Office decision to downgrade cannabis possession to a non-arrestable offense, according to statistics published this week in the UK government's 2005-2006 British Crime Survey.
The report finds that the use of cannabis by the general population is now at its lowest level in ten years, and that much of this decline has taken place since 2003. Among young people age 16 to 24 years old, self-reported cannabis use has also declined dramatically since the late 1990s.
Approximately 21 percent of British young adults reported having used cannabis in the past year, the survey found. By contrast, 28 percent of Americans age 18 to 25 have used pot in the past year, according to statistics published in 2006 by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Commenting on the British report, Martin Barnes, executive director of the British think-tank DrugScope, said: "The fact that cannabis use has continued to fall to its lowest level in nearly 10 years is further evidence that the decision to reclassify the drug to class C was sound. Some warned that the change would lead to an increase in cannabis use yet the reverse has happened, possibly because there is more awareness of the possible harms."
Under the 2004 reclassification scheme, Britons found in possession of "personal use" amounts of marijuana are typically cautioned by police, but not arrested.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500.
MS Patients Report Subjective Relief From Cannabis, Survey Data Shows
October 19, 2006 - London, United Kingdom
London, United Kingdom: Nearly half of British patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) have used cannabis and nearly one in eight are currently using it to alleviate symptoms of the disease, according to survey data that will appear in the forthcoming issue of the journal Multiple Sclerosis.
More than 250 Multiple Sclerosis patients responded to the survey. Among the respondents, 43 percent answered that they had used cannabis -- with over half saying that they began using it after being diagnosed with MS.
Twelve percent of respondents said that they were using cannabis at the time of the survey to treat symptoms of the disease. Among these respondents, more than 80 percent reported that cannabis was efficacious in treating MS-associated spasticity, sleep disorders, and dizziness.
Previous surveys of MS patients have reported that between 14 and 16 percent of patients use cannabis therapeutically.
A separate study to appear in Multiple Sclerosis on the long-term use of Sativex reports that the cannabis-based spray alleviates MS-associated pain, spasms, spasticity, and bladder incontinence in MS patients for up to 80 weeks. Volunteers who participated in the extended trial maintained therapeutic relief from the drug without developing tolerance or experiencing intoxication, investigators found.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of both studies, "Cannabis use in patients with multiple sclerosis" and "Long-term use of a cannabis-based medicine in the treatment of spasticity and other symptoms of multiple sclerosis," will appear in the forthcoming issue of Multiple Sclerosis.
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