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12058Fw: [affiliates] FW: Additional talking points in regards to the latest cannabis and brain imaging study

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  • houstonnorml@yahoo.com
    Apr 16, 2014

      Good info. ..

      Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

      From: Paul Armentano <paul@...>;
      To: NORML Affiliates <affiliates@...>;
      Subject: [affiliates] FW: Additional talking points in regards to the latest cannabis and brain imaging study
      Sent: Wed, Apr 16, 2014 7:07:06 PM

      Address messages for this group to 'affiliates@...' ---

      Additional talking points in regards to the latest cannabis and brain imaging study, the full text of which is available online here:

      The sample size of cases in the study was 20. These findings are preliminary at best and should not be extrapolated to the cannabis consuming population at large.

      Dozens of separate studies of far larger sample sizes find no substantial, systematic effect of long-term, regular cannabis consumption on neurocognitive functioning once the users have abstained from the drug e.g:

      “As hypothesized, the meta-analysis conducted on studies evaluating users after at least 25 days of abstention found no residual effects on cognitive performance. ... These results fail to support the idea that heavy cannabis use may result in long-term, persistent effects on neuropsychological functioning.” (Schreiner et al. 2012. Residual effects of cannabis use on neurocognitive performance after prolonged abstinence: a meta-analysis. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22731735

      “The results of our meta-analytic study failed to reveal a substantial, systematic effect of long-term, regular cannabis consumption on the neurocognitive functioning of users who were not acutely intoxicated.” (Grant et al. 2003. Non-acute (residual) neurocognitive effects of cannabis use: A meta-analytic study. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12901774

      Were cannabis to pose significant adverse effects to the brain, we would have real-world evidence of such damage already, gleaned from decades of adolescent cannabis use dating back to the 1960s.

      The authors of this paper note changes in brain imaging, not ‘damage’ per se. In fact, there is no evidence provided by this study that the case subjects possessed any cognitive deficits or other adverse real-world ramifications of their cannabis use compared to non-users. Both groups were recruited from area colleges, undermining the notion that the cases were academically challenged. Authors acknowledged, as per the HealthDay summary, “Psychiatric interviews revealed that the pot smokers did not meet criteria for drug dependence. For example, marijuana use did not interfere with their studies, work or other activities, and they had not needed to increase the amount they used to get the same high.” So, the supposedly ‘brain damaged’ cases were all attending college, were not ‘drug dependent,’ and according to a psychiatric evaluation they were not particularly different than than non-using cases in the work-life or private life. So where is the real world evidence that these folks were ‘damaged’ compared to the non-using controls?

      General comments RE context--

      “Those of us who advocate for a change in cannabis laws do not argue that the use of cannabis is not without potential risks. However, it is apparent that these associated potential risks are not so great as to warrant the continued arrest of some 700,000 Americans annually for possessing the plant, nor do they justify its present status as a schedule I controlled substance – a classification that equates the purported dangers of pot to be equal to those of heroin.”

      “There are numerous documented adverse health consequences associated with alcohol, tobacco, and prescription pharmaceuticals -- all of which are far more dangerous and costlier to society than the responsible adult use of cannabis. It's precisely because of these consequences that these products are legally regulated and their use is restricted to particular consumers and specific settings. Similarly, a pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail adult sale of marijuana but restricts its use among young people -- coupled with a legal environment that fosters open, honest dialogue between parents and children about cannabis' potential harms -- best reduces the risks associated with the plant's consumption or abuse.”

      “The ongoing criminalization of the cannabis plant and the practice of arresting and prosecuting those adults who consume it responsibly is a disproportionate public policy response to what is, at worst, a public health concern, not a criminal justice issue.”

      Paul Armentano
      Deputy Director
      NORML | NORML Foundation
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