Vol. 6, Number 9
September 2014
cheryl riley, James Freire,
Dr. David Bearman,
Gradi Jordan, Ed Glick,
Paul Armentano,
Sunil K Aggarwal,
Al Byrne, Amanda Reiman,
Jim Greig, Joan Bello,
Arthur Livermore
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JAMA: Medical Cannabis States Possess Lower Rates Of Opiate-Induced Fatalities - Paul Armentano

The enactment of medicinal marijuana laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates, according to data published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A team of investigators from the University of Pennsylvania, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore conducted a time-series analysis of medical cannabis laws and state-level death certificate data in the United States from 1999 to 2010 — a period during which 13 states instituted laws allowing for cannabis therapy.

Researchers reported, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.” Specifically, overdose deaths from opioids decreased by an average of 20 percent one year after the law’s implementation, 25 percent by two years, and up to 33 percent by years five and six.

They concluded, “In an analysis of death certificate data from 1999 to 2010, we found that states with medical cannabis laws had lower mean opioid analgesic overdose mortality rates compared with states without such laws. This finding persisted when excluding intentional overdose deaths (ie, suicide), suggesting that medical cannabis laws are associated with lower opioid analgesic overdose mortality among individuals using opioid analgesics for medical indications. Similarly, the association between medical cannabis laws and lower opioid analgesic overdose mortality rates persisted when including all deaths related to heroin, even if no opioid analgesic was present, indicating that lower rates of opioid analgesic overdose mortality were not offset by higher rates of heroin overdose mortality. Although the exact mechanism is unclear, our results suggest a link between medical cannabis laws and lower opioid analgesic overdose mortality.”

In a written statement to Reuters Health, lead author Dr. Marcus Bachhuber said: “Most of the discussion on medical marijuana has been about its effect on individuals in terms of reducing pain or other symptoms. The unique contribution of our study is the finding that medical marijuana laws and policies may have a broader impact on public health.”

Nationwide, overdose deaths involving opioid analgesics have increased dramatically over the past decade. While fewer than 4,100 opiate-induced fatalities were reported for the year 1999, by 2010 this figure rose to over 16,600 according to an analysis by the US Centers for Disease Control.

An abstract of the JAMA study, “Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010,” appears online here.

Original Article

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.

Drug Policy Reform: The Civil Rights Issue of the 21st Century - Dr Malik Burnett

The year 2014 has seen several significant drug policy reform milestones. And today marks a major historical anniversary in the nation’s efforts toward eliminating discriminatory practices from government policy, and bringing hope to communities of color nationwide.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the implementation of the Civil Rights Act. The embodiment of this hope was captured with the release of the critically acclaimed Sam Cooke single, “A Change is Gonna Come.”

Collectively, as we reflect on the efforts of the last 50 years, it is clear that efforts to eliminate discrimination have come a long way. It also is clear that in spite of the progress made, there are areas where more work needs to be done. The United States Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder, which effectively eliminates the pre-clearance requirement for changes to voting rules in states which have a history of discriminatory voting practices, is probably the most prominent example in the public consciousness.

However, there exists a more insidious and systematic affront to the virtues of civil rights which results in millions of Americans being denied the right to vote, to serve on juries, and to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing,  access to education and public benefits.  Such is the nature of the system of mass incarceration in American society today.

An opportunity to eliminate some of the inputs to this system is emerging through the implementation of various drug reform policies nationwide, and nowhere is that picture clearer than in the case of marijuana policy. Consider for a moment the results of an ACLU report, “The War on Marijuana in Black and White,” which reveals that in America, Blacks are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession despite equal usage across race.

In Washington, DC, widely considered to be progressive in its public policy, it is even worse with Blacks being eight times more likely to be arrested. Earlier this year the D.C. Council made history passing the most sweeping decriminalization legislation in the nation, set to take effect in two weeks, barring significant federal intervention. This law will hopefully begin eliminating the aforementioned disparities, however when examining other major American cities like New York and Chicago, which have had decriminalization legislation on the books for years, tremendous disparities in arrests of people in communities of color still persist. This is part of the rationale for the broader legalization efforts in Washington, DC, such as the proposed Initiative 71 and a tax and regulate bill, which is being considered the City Council.

In the face of such staggering examples of unequal treatment, it is clear how current drug policy, and particularly marijuana policy, serves as a major input to the system of mass incarceration. Moreover, arrest rates in the previously mentioned major cities should be juxtaposed to the dramatic decline is arrest rates seen in Colorado and Washington which have gone beyond decriminalization to outright legalization of marijuana. By any rational measure of analysis, marijuana use is less problematic than alcohol, while its prohibition has caused untold harm to otherwise productive nonviolent citizens and their families.

What is clear is that drug policy reform is a major civil rights issue in the 21st Century. Overall, what is perhaps most satisfying is the iconic chorus, “It’s been a long, long time coming, but I know change gon’ come,” remains as relevant today, as it was when it first stirred the heart of a nation.

Dr. Malik Burnett is a policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance.

Original Article

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What's New

Alabama: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HB642 - The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act of Alabama

Arkansas: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Florida: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.

Idaho: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Indiana: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Iowa: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Kansas: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.
   Marijuana Bill Reaches House
   Cannabis Compassion and Care Act

Minnesota: Passed a restrictive medical marijuana law.

Missouri: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HOUSE BILL NO. 1670 - An Act relating to the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes
   Cottleville Mayor Don Yarber hopes Missouri legislature passes medical marijuana law

North Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act

Ohio: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HB 214

Pennsylvania: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HB 1393

South Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.

South Dakota: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.

Tennessee: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Texas: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Wisconsin: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act

Featured Recipe - Zucchini Paradise by Jay R. Cavanaugh, PhD

(Or how to love long green veggies)

Sometimes the best recipes come from just goofing around and following ones instincts. This is the case in the development of Zucchini Paradise.

Now most of you don’t happen to have 12 inch Zucchini lying around (well, maybe some you do but won’t admit it) but my good Nancy Wife and I are up to our cannabis chef hats in giant zucchini fresh from our garden. My 420 friends are so fond of describing the wonderful varieties of bud they grow. I’ve got news for them. Plant veggies if you really want to trip. Growing veggies is cheap and fun. Home veggies cook and taste better than anything you’ll ever get at the market at any price.

Yes, summertime and monster zucchini have come to our kitchen. What to do? Well, here’s what we did with these tasty veggies that could not have been fresher.


One Monster Zucchini
One Louisiana Brand Hot sausage link
1\2 Cup herb seasoned croutons
1 medium sized fresh Bermuda Red onion
1\3 Cup red wine
4 tablespoons bud butter
1\3 Cup crumbled goat cheese (hey it’s good, really!)
1-tablespoon basil (or crushed powdered bud if you have it)
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1-tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pecarrino Romano Cheese


Stuffing: Combine the sausage (diced fine) with crushed croutons, spices, goat cheese, chopped onion, and olive oil (you can do this in advance). Refrigerate stuffing for 30 minutes for flavors to blend.

Zucchini: Lop the ends off of your monster and slice him down the middle into two halves. With a small sharp knife (careful now my baked buddies) remove the centers of the zucchini creating a long deep trough.

Cooking: Fill the troughs with your stuffing mixture. Line a large baking tray with aluminum foil leaving enough on the sides to make a “tent”. Pour the red wine into the aluminum tray and add “pats” of bud butter. Place the stuffed monsters in the tray and gently close the “tent”. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. DO NOT OVER COOK the monsters because mushy zucchini is a bummer. Remove from the oven; open the tent and sprinkle with freshly grated Pecorinno Romano cheese. Place under the broiler until cheese begins to brown. Slice your stuffed monster into serving size and plate. Pour red wine bud butter sauce over the stuffed monster and enjoy.

Recommended wine: Italian Chianti chilled

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