NORML's Weekly News Bulletin - June 4, 2008

NORML's Weekly News Bulletin - June 4, 2008
Posted by CN Staff on June 05, 2008 at 08:54:11 PT
Weekly Press Release
Source: NORML
  Pot Prohibition Linked To More Potent Marijuana Use, Study Says  June 4, 2008 - Santa Cruz, CA, United StatesSanta Cruz, CA: Adults who live in areas where marijuana is criminally prohibited are more likely to report a preference for stronger strains of pot as compared to adults who live in areas where the sale of the drug is legally regulated, according to survey data to be published in the forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Drug Policy.
An investigator at the University of California at Santa Cruz randomly surveyed the marijuana use patterns of more than 400 experienced cannabis consumers in San Francisco and Amsterdam. The survey reported that respondents in Amsterdam, where the sale of small quantities of cannabis is regulated in retail stores, were significantly more likely than those in San Francisco to prefer "mild" and "moderate" cannabis over "strong" or "very strong" varieties."[B]ecause the cannabis markets in San Francisco remain illicit, users are more apt to feel they can never be certain of potency and so are more likely to choose stronger strains," the study reported. By contrast, "In Amsterdam three decades of de facto decriminalization have fostered a stable and translucent retail cannabis market in which users are reliably able to buy cannabis of the potency they prefer." Over two-thirds of respondents in both cities reported that they moderated their use of cannabis depending its potency  typically consuming lesser quantities of stronger pot. Survey respondents in both Amsterdam and San Francisco said that the price of cannabis had little impact on their use, suggesting that "policies designed to reduce aggressive demand for cannabis  by increasing its price are unlikely to have a large impact." Respondents in both cities also reported that they perceived their risk of being arrested for using marijuana to be "very unlikely." Respondents in both cities reported that they could obtain cannabis within "a few hours," though those who lived in San Francisco were far more likely to report that they obtained their marijuana from "friends." Age of onset, age at first regular use, and age at the start of periods of maximum use were "nearly identical" in both cities. By contrast, marijuana users in Amsterdam were far less likely than users in San Francisco to have experimented with other illicit drugs, including cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and opiates. "The differences in response patterns between samples of experienced users in different legal-policy milieux suggest that various aspects of drug policy interact in complex ways with both user cultures and the broader cultures in which they are situated," the study concluded. "But the fact that we found more similarities than differences across the contrasting drug control regimes provides further support for the view that cannabis use is a deeply embedded cultural practice that is not easily reached by drug policy."For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul norml.orgFull text of the study, "Cannabis policies and user practices: Markey separation, price, potency, and accessibility in Amsterdam and San Francisco," will appear in the International Journal of Drug Policy.DL: NORML Responds To Latest Marijuana And Brain Damage Fears  June 4, 2008 - Washington, DC, USWashington, DC: The results of a recent study reporting hippocampal volume reductions in long-term, heavy users of cannabis are based on only 15 cases, and are inconsistent with previously published research, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said today. The widely reported study, published this week in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, found that chronic cannabis smokers (who averaged at least five joints per day for a period of 20 years) experience a measurable (via structural magnetic resonance imaging) reduction in the hippocampus and amygdala compared to non-users. Commenting on the new study, Armentano said that although the exceptionally heavy use of cannabis may pose unique yet subtle health hazards, these potential risks are likely irrelevant to the overwhelming majority of cannabis consumers who use the drug in moderation. "While these preliminary results are a cause of concern, they must be replicated in a much larger sample size before we can begin making any determinations regarding whether there may exist a cause-and-effect relationship, or whether these results may hold any significance for the millions of Americans who consume cannabis on a far more limited basis," he said. Armentano added that a previous assessment of long-term cannabis use on hippocampal volume found no adverse effects associated with marijuana use. Numerous studies of cannabis use on neurocognitive abilities have also failed to indicate that marijuana use has residual adverse impacts on cognition. Armentano concluded: "While we have known for decades that chronic alcohol use is toxic to the brain, this fact is not a justification for arresting and incarcerating the millions of Americans who enjoy a glass of wine or beer with dinner. As is the case with alcohol, the findings of this study  even if we are to take them at face value  are an argument in favor of legalization, education, and moderation  not criminal prohibition."For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul norml.orgDL:  California: Mendocino County Voters Restrict Pot Possession Rules June 4, 2008 - Ukiah, CA, USAUkiah, CA: Voters in Northern California's Mendocino County voted 55 to 45 on Tuesday to repeal an eight-year-old county law that legalized the possession of up to 25 marijuana plants.Passage of the new county law seeks to cap the number of plants adults may legally possess at six. However, activists are expected to challenge the validity of the law in court, arguing that a recent state District Court of Appeals decision prohibits municipalities from imposing limits on the quantity of marijuana patients may possess under state law.For more information, please contact Dale Gieringer, California NORML Coordinator, at (415) 563-5858.DL: NORML Foundation (DC)Published: June 4, 2008Copyright: 2008 NORML Contact: norml Website: NORML Archives 
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Comment #11 posted by paulpeterson on June 10, 2008 at 09:03:10 PT
E_Johnson-good posts about causal nexus
I am also very tired of the false scientific "conclusions" where a group of subjects with decreased hippocampus volume were opined to be "damaged" from medical use of a substance that is neuroprotective.Yes, PTSD increases stress hormones to the point where they can damage the brain-Chronic long distance flyers with distruptions in sleep patterns have reduced hippocampus volume as well-from loss of "reset" and removal of stress hormones, etc.And where HU-210 was found NOT to kill brain cells, but PRODUCE new brain cells, I doubt that cannabis, even in heavy doses, kills this center which apparently is stimulated from cannabinoid triggering.Also, slightly off-topic, it is logical that regulation and taxation improves the consistency of products, and more steady strengths are encouraged, from rational responses to this rational drug use issue.I've also talked to two long-time researchers in the Midwest, Herriot DeWitt (University of Chicago) & Mike Block (University of Iowa), who have studied cannabis usage since before 911-they both indicated that cannabis does not cause any long term detriment, outside of drug war damage. Herriot was researching "safety in an unregulated public" and found no socio-economic detriment, while Block had been PETscanning brains, and found 1) no structural changes in the brain, at all, 2) increase in blood flow in the ventral & cerebellum areas, 3) no "stimulus-reward" center changes, like with strong dopamine surgers (and yes, increased blood flow in ventral areas increases emotional thought production, which helps people traumatized, etc.).Just thought you should hear some positive response to your communications, that's all. PAUL PETERSON
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Comment #10 posted by rchandar on June 06, 2008 at 10:13:34 PT:
High Potency
High potency pot is not harmful at all, once you are aware of its psychiatric effects and teach yourself how to live with them. No medicine is perfect, and pot is not a substitute for living your life. Still, knowing what I know, any kind of pot is still benign compared with cocaine, heroin, or speed. Plus, why do we argue about any of this? It's a product, right? And as things go, you want to market the best possible product, right?Now, "schwag" is not good for you because it's rotten dope with lots of germs, dirt, bacteria running around in it. There's no such thing as "clean" schwag: you're taking dirt into your body. I wish these researchers thought about the implications of what they're saying before they talk. We aren't protesting outside the doors of Bacardi for selling high-potency rum, are we? We haven't banged down the doors of the company that sells Everclear, right?Well, eventually the sellers were going to get the users a better product! I'd say, look at some of the other pages--the people who invented "hydroponic" weed were very skilled, and thought about how to come up with an ideal herb which would have good effects. Could we criticize hash in the same way? After all, most hash is mixed with things like soap, incense, goat dung, henna--these are not things that are useful for your brain, no? So you can't really say that it's "natural" while hydro is "chemical".   
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Comment #9 posted by Storm Crow on June 06, 2008 at 06:28:39 PT
E, check these out...
I put these together for folks who need to find medical studies.... might want to send a copy to your doctors, too. Nothing like hundreds of medical studies and articles to open a doctor's eyes. 
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Comment #8 posted by afterburner on June 05, 2008 at 21:32:02 PT
Honest Scientists - Check with E_Johnson for ...
your next research hypothesis. The most likely place, so far, to get this kind of honest research is Israel. Thanks, E_J.
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Comment #7 posted by The GCW on June 05, 2008 at 17:37:26 PT
Thanks for that valuable insight and analogy.
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Comment #6 posted by mykeyb420 on June 05, 2008 at 11:27:59 PT
In holland they are called coffeeSHOPS. A coffeeHOUSE is something different. But I knew what you meant.
 a shop sells coffee and pot, and a house sells coffee and food.
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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on June 05, 2008 at 11:09:41 PT
what I meant to say about Holland is that it's no surprise people don't want super-potent weed there. With the huge joints the Dutch roll, they need something medium-potent or they'd never find their way home from the coffeehouse!
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on June 05, 2008 at 11:08:30 PT
EJ I'm glad to hear that the cannabis is helping you!I think your theory is spot-on. My reaction is to immediately laugh off a study like the "shrinking brain" scare. Anyone that's followed the literature for the last 20-30 years knows that cannabis has been proven totally non-toxic repeatedly. That multitude of studies is real science. In any other field one or two bizarre study results would get no attention at all.The real question is, why the continual focus on studies that are actually laughable, and, even if they find something, so what? It's not going to help anyone. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of un-solved medical mysteries that cause many people suffering and dying from every day.I think at some point mis-allocation of wealth become criminal neglect. We are really good at this. People don't realize our enormous wealth in the USA. We could solve any problem if we wanted to. If we'd been spending on energy research like we have the military for the last 8 years we'd have cold fusion by now. I'm serious. Bush/Cheney has given 400-500 billion MORE dollars to the military complex per years since they came in. That is probably the research budget of every bio-tech company in the world combined, or more. It's probably 100 times the amount of money the govt. spends on alternative energy research.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on June 05, 2008 at 09:57:46 PT
EJ Thank You
I think you are right. So many soldiers that were in Vietnam smoked marijuana and it helped them cope. It's almost like a stabilizer for lack of any other word to use.
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Comment #2 posted by E_Johnson on June 05, 2008 at 09:53:36 PT
Actually this is personal for me, I must confess
I'll make a confession. I think this applies to me. There are several problems I have that cannabis treats -- fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis and severe chronic PTSD, from growing up around felony-scale domestic violence.I believe that my chronic PTSD was caused by the extreme stress chemical exposure my hippocampus had to endure when I was a child living in domestic violence hell.Cannabis has successfully treated those problems.If someone measured my hippocampal volume today, they might claim it is smaller than normal and therefore has been reduced by pot.But that's not how it happened. I've done a lot of research into PTSD and I can say with a fair amount of confidence that my hippocampal volume was reduced by witnessing the violence my father inflicted upon my mother.For all I know, cannabis is building it back up again, and that's why I don't suffer from PTSD any more.We need better research, because this is really an important topic.
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Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on June 05, 2008 at 09:39:16 PT
A couple of facts we've failed to link together
One of the illnesses cannabis has been reputed to treat is PTSD.The cause of PTSD is now thought to be damage to a CB1 receptor system in the hippocampus.People suffering from chronic severe PTSD have been shown to have damage to the hippocampus that shrinks the hippocampus.People who were severely abused as children, for example, show reduced hippocampal volume on brain scans.Scientists believe it's the trauma of abuse that causes this damage.People suffering from severe chronic PTSD have often throughout history chosen to treat their PTSD by using cannabis every day.In other words, maybe these cases of reduced hippocampal volume are men using cannabis to treat a brain that was previously damaged by severe trauma.So this study could be the equivalent of finding 15 people who take a lot of aspirin, discovering they have arthritis, and then claiming to the public that long term heavy aspirin use causes arthritis.The basic problem here is that nobody wants to admit that PTSD is caused by damage to the CB1 system and cannabis can treat that damage.That's the whole game right there and we're failing to hit that ball!!!We're on the defensive when we should be on the offensive.
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