Sessions Wants to Know the Science on Marijuana
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Sessions Wants to Know the Science on Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on February 28, 2017 at 12:27:41 PT
By Christopher Ingraham
Source: Washington Post
Washington, D.C. -- Speaking this morning before the National Association of Attorneys General, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressed doubt that marijuana could help mitigate the opioid abuse epidemic.“I see a line in The Washington Post today that I remember from the '80s,” Sessions said. "'Marijuana is a cure for opiate abuse.' Give me a break. This is the kind of argument that's been made out there to just — almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even its benefits. I doubt that's true. Maybe science will prove I'm wrong.”
The stakes are pretty high here. After all, opioids killed 33,000 people in 2015, up from around 8,000 in 1999. As the head of the Department of Justice, Attorney General Sessions oversees the Drug Enforcement Administration, which just last year reaffirmed its belief that marijuana has no medical value and hence should remain illegal (which makes it substantially more difficult for researchers to conduct studies).Here's a run-down of where the evidence on marijuana and opiates stands.Marijuana is great at treating chronic pain.This is the big finding, and the one from which all the others spring. Surveying the entire known universe of studies about the medical efficacies of cannabis, the National Academies of Science, Medicine and Engineering found “strong evidence” showing marijuana is effective at dealing with chronic pain in adults, relative to a placebo. The National Academies study is the most thorough review of the literature on marijuana to date, conducted by some of the nation's leading substance use researchers.Across numerous trials and experiments, the report found, people treated for pain with marijuana were “more likely to experience a significant reduction in pain symptoms” compared to a placebo or doing nothing at all.This is huge news, considering the annual opiate overdose numbers cited above. Americans consume roughly 80 percent of the world's opiate painkiller supply. The drugs are often prescribed for long-term treatment of chronic pain, a practice that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now trying to discourage. Prescription painkillers and other opioids are highly addictive, and taking too much of them can easily kill you.Marijuana is habit-forming too, but not nearly as much as opiate drugs like heroin. It also has no known lethal dose — you basically can't consume large enough quantities of marijuana at a fast enough pace for overdose death to become a concern the way it is with say, OxyContin or fentanyl — or alcohol for that matter.There’s been a lot of research done into this question in recent years. Here’s what it says:States with medical marijuana laws see fewer opiate deaths.According to a 2014 study in JAMA Internal Medicine, states with medical marijuana laws between 1999 and 2010 saw, on average, about 25 percent fewer opiate overdose deaths than states without such laws. What's more, the effect of a medical marijuana law appeared to grow over time — more lives were saved each additional year after the laws' implementation, suggesting an effect from more people taking advantage of the programs.This, of course, is just an observational study. It looks at the correlation between medical marijuana uptake and opiate deaths, but it isn't able to say that the former definitively caused the decline in the latter. But these findings were soon borne out by other research.Access to medical marijuana dispensaries is associated with less prescription painkiller abuse, and fewer overdose deaths.A 2015 working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the presence of medical marijuana dispensaries in a state was linked to a 15 to 35 percent decrease in admissions to substance abuse treatment centers, along with a similar decline in overdose deaths.This study was somewhat more rigorous than the previous paper, drawing on a larger data set that stood up to greater statistical scrutiny. As one of the authors told me at the time, “If this is for real, it means that there are other ways that are less dangerous [than prescription painkillers] for people to deal with chronic pain.”Medical marijuana is associated with fewer opiate-induced car crashes.A 2016 Columbia University paper zeroed in on a different facet of the substance abuse problem — auto accidents. The researchers found that after a state passes a medical marijuana law, fewer drivers in those states test positive for opioids after fatal car crashes.The take-home here is pretty simple: “in states with medical marijuana laws, fewer individuals are using opioids,” the authors conclude.Painkiller prescriptions fall sharply after medical marijuana laws are introduced.A novel study conducted last year looked at what happened to Medicare Part D painkiller prescriptions after states passed medical marijuana laws.It found that the typical physician in a medical marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer painkiller doses for Medicare patients in a given year. Why? Some seniors don't need painkillers if they have access to medical pot (related: seniors and people in late middle age are among the fastest growing marijuana use demographics).Among chronic pain patients, marijuana use is associated with less opiate use.A study published last year in the Journal of Pain found chronic pain patients who reported marijuana use were 64 percent less likely to report opiate use, more likely to report good quality of life, and less likely to report negative side effects from their medication.“This study suggests that many chronic pain patients are essentially substituting medical cannabis for opioids and other medications for chronic pain treatment, and finding the benefit and side effect profile of cannabis to be greater than these other classes of medications,” the authors conclude. “More research is needed to validate this finding.”“More research is needed.” Researchers universally say they need to do more studies to tease out the nature of the relationships seen in the studies above. In particular, what's sorely lacking are controlled experiments that allow doctors to treat either chronic pain or opiate dependency with medical marijuana.But as of right now that research is incredibly difficult to do because of how marijuana is classified by the federal government. As a Schedule 1 controlled substance, the government has deemed that marijuana has “no medically accepted use.”Researchers can still work with it, but it requires jumping through an onerous system of legal hoops that can sometimes take years to navigate. It took nearly a decade for one researcher trying to use marijuana to treat PTSD in military veterans to obtain all the approvals necessary.Those roadblocks have a chilling effect on marijuana research, as outlined in a 2015 Brookings Institution report. Meanwhile, while researchers fight red tape, tens of thousands of opiate users are dying.The scientific evidence available so far indicates marijuana holds great promise for mitigating the effects of the opiate epidemic. Researchers desperately want to know more, but as long as the Drug Enforcement Administration considers marijuana a Schedule 1 controlled substance, they'll have a hard time getting more answers.Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: Christopher IngrahamPublished: February 28, 2017Copyright: 2017 Washington Post CompanyContact: letters Website: URL: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #19 posted by John Tyler on March 03, 2017 at 07:45:58 PT
maybe not science, but valid
This plant lightens a person burden, eases their pain, and brings joy to their heart, and opens their mind to peace, love and understanding. Added bonus, if you grow your own, it is FREE.If you are of a religious tradition…For God (or Gods depending on your preferences) so loved the world he gave humankind this plant that lightens a person burden, eases their pain, and brings joy to their heart, and opens their mind to peace, love and understanding.Is there anyone among us that could not appreciate having their life’s burden lightened, their pain eased, or have joy fill their hearts occasionally? And think of all of the people that know that would be better off if their minds were more open to peace, love and understanding.
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Comment #18 posted by John Tyler on March 03, 2017 at 07:26:52 PT
good treatment
I saw an article in my newspaper (the day before yesterday) that reported that cannabis is a useful treatment in treating opioid addiction. I think it was done by Johns Hopkins Medical School or something like that. Good publicity. People have been saying that for years, finally some validation.
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Comment #17 posted by HempWorld on March 02, 2017 at 18:30:48 PT
Jeff Sessions May Be Toast!
That's my reading for now, like him or not. (not)
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Comment #16 posted by Hope on March 02, 2017 at 09:57:57 PT
Astragalus tincture.
Thank you Sam Adams. I was in a huge Asian Market in Dallas Tuesday. If I had known about it, I bet they would have had it. I'm so glad your mom made it through that. I do understand the severity of these crappy germs that can happen, especially in the winter "sickness time". People die. I know that and I try to prevent it. I'm careful about getting a flu shot but this one is getting the people that got shots as well as that didn't.I'm glad your sister made it through that, FoM. She is amazingly resilient and has doctors that want her to live. Mine's respiratory. The coughing feels like I could cough up a lung and the coughing I think has ripped up my throat. I rubbed Vicks on my throat and chest like Mom used to do and it helped amazingly with the pain.I think it was a fever delirium, but I'm still going to look up dream meanings when I get a chance. This Russian thing is something I never expected. I hope it's only about our partnering with them against ISIS.... but I don't know ... it's all so weird.BGreen.... I tried a whisper version of the chorus! 
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on March 02, 2017 at 04:56:38 PT
Russia Stuff
We watched the special on MSNBC last night and it was very enlightening. Now Sessions has talked to Russia. I am so glad Obama made sure all the information was distributed to proper authorities so it wouldn't get lost when he was no longer our President.
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on March 02, 2017 at 04:53:01 PT
Thank you and I am glad your Mom made it too.
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Comment #13 posted by BGreen on March 01, 2017 at 21:54:37 PT
I don't think anybody needs to fight back
We've witnessed the downfall of many very powerful people but it seems to always boil down to them bringing themselves down. Cosby, Ailes and now Trump and his people. All we need to do is sit back, fire up a bowl, eat some popcorn and watch this crazy stuff unfold in front of us like a movie.We've reached the Age of Aquarius and things will never be the same again.Now, let's all sing!Bud
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Comment #12 posted by Sam Adams on March 01, 2017 at 21:11:29 PT
wow....if someone wants to impeach Trump, the door is open with this Russia stuff - it's treason! It makes Watergate seem like child's play. Now there are 2 questions, will the Dems actually try to fight back, and 2) will Pence take over?  
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Comment #11 posted by Sam Adams on March 01, 2017 at 21:09:35 PT
FOM sorry about your sister, I'm glad she recovered. A couple years ago my mother was coughing and getting sicker for over a month and refused to see the doctor.  Only my sister was able to convince her to go, she needed antibiotics and I dont' think she would have lasted much longer without them.  Pretty scary. 
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Comment #10 posted by BGreen on March 01, 2017 at 21:07:11 PT
It looks like Jeff Sessions has a truth problem
We don't have to fight against anybody. They will take themselves down. If Jeff Sessions lied to congress about Russia then he might be going back to Alabama with a banjo on his knee.Washington Post headline: Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose
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Comment #9 posted by Sam Adams on March 01, 2017 at 21:06:36 PT
Sounds like you've got it good, those are fever dreams.  Who knows, it sounds like maybe a door was opened into a past life. Seems like a vivid memory.feel better soon!  I usually get hit with whatever bug is going around in the winter. I take Astragalus tincture.
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on March 01, 2017 at 16:01:24 PT
What a dream! I am so sorry you are sick? Is it respiratory or stomach. My sister almost died in October from the flu that turned to pneumonia. She was in ICU unconscious for 2 weeks. She made it. Take care of yourself. I love you lady!
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on March 01, 2017 at 11:45:19 PT
I've got some kind of bad something flu or cold
thing I got sick with yesterday evening. Last night I watched some Viking stuff and President Trumps speech on TV.I had a horrible night. I kept dreaming even about being sick and I was so sick. I was a Viking, and I was sick, like when I was awake, and I was in some sort of dark cave like room or maybe it was a cave and I was bundled in furs and other Viking type bedding . The air seemed thick and dark and greasy, even.And guess who was there to help me and tend to me in my hour of need? He was hovering and busy this and busy that trying to take care of me, make me comfortable, and make me feel better. He had his suit and tie and white shirt on. He is a pretty big guy and that was a pretty small Viking room. What with his cleaner than the average Viking hair, he nearly glowed in that dark place. I think he was making tea and trying to get me to sip it. He was talking too, but I couldn't hear or understand him. It seemed more like an hallucination them a dream. And it went on all night.I need that emoticon with it's hair standing up and it's eyes big and round.
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Comment #6 posted by Garry Minor on March 01, 2017 at 03:44:38 PT:
HempWorld #1
You said;"In other words, he does not want to know because that would go against his beliefs."That's exactly right! Think about it, nobody likes being proven wrong, especially when they've got so much invested.Same goes for mike pence and many others that also claim to be "Christians."The Good News is .... that there's just too much information regarding the medicinal Wonders of Cannabis for them to continue to ignore. It just has to be presented!That'll be a tough pill for them to swallow!However, imagine how their haughty egos will take learning that in order to be called worthy of the title "Christian," literally "Anointed One," that one must be Anointed with Holy Oil, Chrism containing Kaneh Bosm, Cannabis.Ouch!!!!It's a big old world, but, True is True!I'm from pences hometown, Columbus Indiana, Athens of the Prairie, ..... and the churches, politicians, police, prosecutors, judges, news media, rulers and many others all know it.It's only a matter of time before they publicly acknowledge it.I certainly understand, though!How do you tell people that what they've been taught isn't True, and that the "Christian" churches of the entire world are literally and Biblically, ........ antichrist?1John 2:18-29There is water in water, there is Fire in Chrism.
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Comment #5 posted by The GCW on February 28, 2017 at 21:20:14 PT
Summit County's D.A.
District Attorney Bruce Brown: Marijuana legalization not a threat to public safety
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on February 28, 2017 at 17:54:46 PT
Tonight Will Be Interesting
Getting ready for come what may! LOL!
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Comment #3 posted by MikeEEEEE on February 28, 2017 at 16:30:31 PT
You wrote: "Why on earth do we have this guy as an attorney general of the USA, just when legalization looms large over the US and is to be implemented by Canada, this year!"To do trumps bidding, of course. They likely share the same mindset: prejudices, racism and bigotry. Trump may not be able let go the old idea of a drug war, arresting mostly blacks and hispanics--it may come down to the old prejudices (the ones that originally started the drug war--and may restart it again). If any of you are feeling overwhelmed, well, this trump character is a shit-storm. I would like to see the fallout from tonights speech. ABC said he wants to improve his image, the only way I see that happening is if he becomes a totally different person, predijuces developed at a young age are hard to erase. On another topic: his mental illness may manifest tonight, it may not be obvious to most people. He does have some manic behavior, and could be on a mania high tonight. 
Enjoy the ride, unless you're rich, it may be a hell ride. 
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on February 28, 2017 at 16:05:49 PT
Dissect paragraph to help ignoids
Marijuana is habit-forming too, but not nearly as much as opiate drugs like heroin. (IN FACT IT'S LESS ADDICTIVE THAN COFFEE!) It also has no known lethal dose — you basically can't consume large enough quantities of marijuana at a fast enough pace for overdose death to become a concern the way it is with say, OxyContin or fentanyl — or alcohol for that matter. -OR ANYTHING, It's ZILCH.Republican cannabis prohibitionists are not interested in any form of science regarding the plant.The science has been available for decades. The science is increasing monthly, weekly, daily in all manner making it difficult to avoid or deny.The science would have hit them so hard in the head it would have caused brain damage; AND PERHAPS THAT'S THEIR PROBLEM.These ignorant people in positions of trust must shun science to survive in their brain dead quagmire. &&& all while the majority see the light, they see nothing. Amoeba.
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on February 28, 2017 at 15:36:23 PT
What a nightmare!
If Jeff Sessions doesn't know anything about the science of Cannabis/Marijuana he has been hiding under a rock! In other words, he does not want to know because that would go against his beliefs.His beliefs are formed by prejudice and his upbringing in Alabama.Why on earth do we have this guy as an attorney general of the USA, just when legalization looms large over the US and is to be implemented by Canada, this year!It boggles the mind! Round and round we go.So, in short, Jeff Sessions wants to keep it illegal, thus it will remain popular, use will continue to be high, more abuse, especially by the youth. And entire generations of teenagers will continue to grow up as little marijuana dealers.This is not progress in my book, it is going around and around. Or, doing the same thing, over and over again, expecting a different result, the definition of insanity. Or is he (another) a shill for the pharmaceutical industry?Which one is it, or is it all of them?
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