This Week from NORML
Recent Action Alerts
“All patients stated that consuming cannabis had a positive effect on their disease activity”
Tel Aviv, Israel: Cannabis use is associated with a reduction in Crohn’s disease (CD) activity and disease-related surgeries, according to the results of a retrospective observational study published in the August issue of the Journal of the Israeli Medical Association.
Investigators at the Meir Medical Center, Institute of Gastroenterology and Hepatology assessed ‘disease activity, use of medication, need for surgery, and hospitalization’ before and after cannabis use in 30 patients with CD.
Authors reported, “All patients stated that consuming cannabis had a positive effect on their disease activity” and documented “significant improvement” in 21 subjects.
Specifically, researchers found that subjects who consumed cannabis “significantly reduced” their need for other medications. Participants in the trial also reported requiring fewer surgeries following their use of cannabis.
“Fifteen of the patients had 19 surgeries during an average period of nine years before cannabis use, but only two required surgery during an average period of three years of cannabis use,” authors reported.
They concluded: “The results indicate that cannabis may have a positive effect on disease activity, as reflected by a reduction in disease activity index and in the need for other drugs and surgery. Prospective placebo-controlled studies are warranted to fully evaluate the efficacy and side effects of cannabis in CD.”
Researchers at the Meir Medical Center are presently evaluating the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis for patients with CD and Ulcerative Colitis in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are inflammatory bowel diseases. According to survey data published earlier this year in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, an estimated one-third of patients with colitis and one-half of subjects with CD acknowledge having used cannabis to mitigate their disease symptoms.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Full text of the study, “Treatment of Crohn’s disease with cannabis: an observational study,” appears in the Journal of the Israeli Medical Association. The study also appears online here: http://www.ima.org.il/imaj/ar11aug-01.pdf.
Berkeley, CA: The proliferation of Dutch ‘coffee-shops,’ which allow for the sale of limited quantities of marijuana to patrons age 18 or older, appears to have had little impact on Dutch cannabis use patterns, according to an analysis published online in the scientific journal Addiction.
University of California at Berkeley researcher Robert MacCoun compared some 40 years of Dutch data on cannabis “prevalence, … patterns of use, treatment, sanctioning, process, and purity” with comparable data from Europe and the United States.
MacCoun concluded: “Dutch citizens use cannabis at more modest rates than some of their [European] neighbors, and they do not appear to be particularly likely to escalate their use relative to their counterparts in Europe and in the United States. Moreover, there are indications that rather than increasing ‘the gateway’ to hard drugs use, separating soft and hard drug markets possibly reduced the gateway.”
Among those ages 15 to 16, only 6.5 percent of Dutch teens acknowledge having used an illicit drug other than cannabis versus 19 percent of American teens. In addition, American adolescents are far more likely than their Dutch peers (72 percent to 46 percent) to say that cannabis is “fairly or very easy to obtain.”
An estimated 700 retail cannabis outlets presently operate in the Netherlands, employing some 3000-4,000 workers.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: email@example.com. Full text of the study, “What can we learn from the Dutch cannabis coffeeshop system,” appears online in Addiction.
Santa Monica, CA: The closing of medical marijuana dispensaries are associated with an increase in the incidents of criminal activity in those locations, according to an assessment of crime statistics published this week by the RAND Corporation.
Researchers analyzed Los Angeles crime data for the ten days prior to and the ten days following June 7, 2010, when the city ordered the closure of more than 70 percent of the city’s 638 medical marijuana dispensaries. Authors limited their analysis to ten days because court challenges prompted some closed dispensaries to reopen.
“Studying crime both before and after a large number of dispensaries were shut down in Los Angeles, researchers found that incidents such as break-ins rose in the neighborhoods of closed dispensaries relative to dispensaries allowed to remain open, at least in the short term,” the RAND Corporation summarized in a press release. “In the blocks with the closed dispensaries, the study observed crime up to 60 percent greater than comparable blocks with open dispensaries, but the effects were not apparent across a wider area.”
Said the study’s lead author: “If medical marijuana dispensaries are causing crime, then there should be a drop in crime when they close. Individual dispensaries may attract crime or create a neighborhood nuisance, but we found no evidence that medical marijuana dispensaries in general cause crime to rise.”
Previous analyses of crime statistics in Denver, Los Angeles, and Colorado Springs also found no data supportive of the notion that the locations of dispensaries are associated with elevated incidences of criminal activity.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Full text of the RAND Corporation study, “Regulating medical marijuana dispensaries: An overview with preliminary evidence of their impact on crime,” is available online at: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/technical_reports/2011/RAND_TR987.pdf.