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Drug Policy Facts Podcast for 08-26-14: Research news plus the future of medical cannabis in WA.

26 Aug

This week: research on the impact of medical cannabis laws on opioid overdose deaths, and part two of our special coverage of Seattle Hempfest. It’s the drug policy facts podcast for August 26, 2014.

Drug Policy Facts Podcast #27 Available For Download

14 May

This week: Hemp seeds are going to Kentucky; the constitutionality of cannabis scheduling is going to federal court; urine testing in the cannabis industry is going nowhere, so far; and the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program goes ahead with dispensaries. It’s the Drug Policy Facts podcast for May 13, 2014.

Drug Policy Facts Podcast #15 Is Online

19 Feb

The new Drug Policy Facts Podcast is online!

This week: Oregon moves closer to putting marijuana on the 2014 ballot; the monitoring the future survey looks at drug use among today’s high school students; and members of Congress leading the efforts to end prohibition and reform U S drug policies. Download/listen/subscribe!

Drug Policy Facts Podcast #13 Is Online!

5 Feb
Let nations rejoice, the new Drug Policy Facts Podcast is online!
This week features audio from a landmark hearing on Capitol Hill on federal marijuana policy, a report on the environmental impact of drug trafficking and transshipment, and a look at the lessons we can learn from the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Download, listen, and subscribe from:
http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/drug-policy-facts-13_10549
#DrugWar #DrugFacts #DrugPolicy #DrugPolicyReform #mmot #HarmReduction

Drug War Facts Podcast #12 Is Online!

28 Jan

The new Drug War Facts Podcast is online! This week we speculate about tonight’s state of the union address, hear from US Attorney General Eric Holder about federal sentencing reform, learn how states are reducing their prison populations, and find out about sexual violence behind bars. Download, listen, and subscribe from:
http://www.podcastgarden.com/podcast/drugwarfacts
The RSS feed to subscribe is
http://www.podcastgarden.com/podcast/podcast-rss.php?id=1642
And the URL to listen to and download the new podcast, Ep #12, is
http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/drug-policy-facts-12_10034

Drug War Facts Podcast #11 Is Online!

22 Jan

The new Drug Policy Facts Podcast is online! Listen, download and subscribe from http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/drug-policy-facts-11_9613

This week’s show: Washington and Colorado reach the Super Bowl; President Obama admits marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol; NIDA’s drug facts week is Jan 27-Feb 2; and more Nixon White House tapes, this week discussing heroin and the creation of the first drug czar’s office, the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention.

Knowledge is power. Get the facts.

Drug War Facts Newsletter – Vol. 4, No. 1, Jan. 2014

8 Jan

What’s New At Drug War Facts – Vol. 4, No. 1, January 2014

Issue In Focus

The new Monitoring the Future Survey results for 2013 were released recently.

In discussing the new data in a video released on YouTube, Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said this: “If we compare the numbers that were, for example, in 2000 regular users, and now in 2013, we have seen increases in those numbers. But in 2000, at the 2000 level of 9 THC was at least half of the levels that we observe now, at least half. So that means that not just were there less kids taking the drug regularly, but even those that were taking it regularly were taking a much less potent drug.”

It almost sounded like she was asserting that THC levels have doubled but that’s not what she said. She did definitely assert that in 2000, cannabis was much less potent.

The short version of this report is, she was wrong. This isn’t just some political hack, or an uninformed blogger. She’s the director of the government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, she’s supposed to be the government’s science person on drugs. That’s not acceptable.

Let’s look at what’s known. These data are available through drugwarfacts.org, in the marijuana section, where you can find a table of average THC levels of seized samples of cannabis as reported by the University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring Project.

These are the only data on this, they’re the same data Nora Volkow has. The Project stopped testing domestic samples a few years ago, the last domestic cannabis data are from 2010. Samples of non-domestic cannabis – imports from Mexico, Jamaica, Canada, and so many other countries – continue to be tested, but only preliminary data for 2012 are currently available.

Average THC potencies are given for two grades of cannabis: low-end commercial grade – what they call simply “marijuana” – and high-end sinsemilla-type cannabis. The overall combined average they report includes a few samples of ditchweed, so we’ll stick with specific data for “marijuana” and “sinsemilla”, and since 2010 is the last year with domestic data, we’ll use it for comparison.

In 2000, non-domestic commercial grade marijuana averaged 5.10% THC. The non-domestic sinsemilla type averaged 12.87%. Domestic commercial grade marijuana averaged 3.96% THC, and domestic sinsemilla type averaged 12.72%.

In 2010, non-domestic commercial grade marijuana averaged 6.69% THC. Non-domestic sinsemilla type averaged 12.81% THC. Domestic commercial grade marijuana averaged 2.79% THC, and domestic sinsemilla type averaged 11.84%.

So only one category shows an increase in average potency from 2000 to 2010 is for non-domestic commercial grade cannabis – an increase of 31%, going from 5.1 to 6.69% THC. The others all show decreases, in fact the average THC of domestic commercial grade dropped by 29.5%.

There are fluctuations: In 2011, the average THC in non-domestic commercial marijuana was down to 5.6%, the average for non-domestic sinsemilla type was 13.47%. They stopped testing domestic samples in 2010, remember, and for what it’s worth those numbers were much lower in 2009, when domestic commercial averaged 2.43% THC and domestic sinsemilla type averaged only 7.37%.

So, Nora Volkow’s statement? Maybe not a flatout lie, but inaccurate and misleading at best. The point is, don’t just trust authority. Always question, always check, and the fact-checker’s best friend is Drug War Facts. Eventually, hopefully, we’ll get complete potency data for 2012, and when that’s available, you’ll find it at drugwarfacts.org.

Help Spread the Word!

Check out the new Drug Policy Facts podcast! You can download and subscribe from
http://www.podcastgarden.com/podcast/drugwarfacts.

Follow us on Twitter! Drug War Facts is @DrugPolicyFacts – follow us for information and breaking news about drugs and drug control policies.

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Put a Drug War Facts banner on your blog or website! DWF banners and graphics are available at
http://drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=banners
More graphics will be available soon, including data tables from the pages of DWF!

Notable New Facts

(Drug Offenders in US Prisons 2012)
Federal: On Dec. 31, 2012, there were 196,574 sentenced prisoners under federal jurisdiction. Of these, 99,426 were serving time for drug offenses, 11,688 for violent offenses, 11,568 for property offenses, and 72,519 for “public order” offenses (of which 23,700 were sentenced for immigration offenses, 30,046 for weapons offenses, and 17,633 for “other”).

State: On Dec. 31, 2011, there were 1,341,797 sentenced prisoners under state jurisdiction. Of these, 222,738 were serving time for drug offenses, of whom 55,013 were merely convicted for possession. There were also 717,861 serving time for violent offenses, 249,574 for property offenses, 142,230 for “public order” offenses (which include weapons, drunk driving, court offenses, commercialized vice, morals and decency offenses, liquor law violations, and other public-order offenses), and 9,392 for “other/unspecified”.
Source: E. Ann Carson and Daniela Golinelli, “Prisoners in 2012: Trends in Admissions and Releases, 1991-2012” (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2013), NCJ243920, Table 5, p. 3, and Appendix Table 10, p. 43.

(US Population Under Community Supervision Declining) “During 2012, the number of adults under community supervision declined for the fourth consecutive year. At yearend 2012, an estimated 4,781,300 adults were under community supervision, down 40,500 offenders from the beginning of the year (figure 1). About 1 in 50 adults in the United States was under community supervision at yearend 2012. The community supervision population includes adults on probation, parole, or any other post-prison supervision. (See BJS definition of probation and parole.)
“The decline in the total number of adults under community supervision is attributed to the drop in the probation population as probationers accounted for the majority (82%) of adults under community supervision. The decline of 38,300 offenders in the probation population (from an estimated 3,981,000 to 3,942,800) accounted for about 95% of the decline in the overall community supervision population. The parole population declined by about 500 offenders during 2012, falling from an estimated 851,700 to 851,200.”
Source: Laura M. Maruschak and Thomas P. Bonczar, “Probation and Parole in the United States, 2012” (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2012), NCJ243826, p. 1.

“Any Illicit Drug. The index of any illicit drug use tends to be driven by marijuana, which is by far the most prevalent of the many illicitly used drugs. In 2013, the proportions of students indicating any use of an illicit drug in the prior 12 months are 15 percent, 32 percent, and 40 percent in grades 8, 10 and 12, respectively—higher than a year ago by 1.5, 1.6 and 0.6 percentage points for the same grades (only the change at 8th grade is statistically significant). For the three grades combined, the rate is up by 1.3 percentage points, also a statistically significant increase. The percentages indicating any use in their lifetime are 20 percent, 39 percent and 50 percent. In other words, half of America’s high school seniors have tried an illicit drug by the time they graduate and four in 10 have used it in just the past year.
“But it should also be noted that fully half of today’s seniors have not tried an illicit drug by the end of high school,” said Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator of the study.
Source: Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (December 18, 2013). “American teens more cautious about using synthetic drugs.” University of Michigan News Service: Ann Arbor, MI, p. 2.

“Originally approved for use in the treatment of opioid dependence by the United States Food and Drug administration (FDA) in 1984, naltrexone is a competitive μ-opioid receptor antagonist with negligible agonist effects, blocking euphoric and physiological effects of opioid agonists.11,12 Naltrexone does not cause the development of dependence or tolerance over time, and dosing cessation does not result in withdrawal.13
“Orally dosed naltrexone is subject to first pass metabolism, where it is converted to active (6-β naltrexol) and inactive metabolites.14 ­First-pass metabolism of orally dosed naltrexone is high, evidenced by the peak dose of naltrexone and its ­metabolites 1 hour after oral dosing.15 Serum ­half-life for chronic oral administration is approximately 10 hours.15 The half-life, when compared to naloxone, another μ-opioid antagonist, is longer, and naltrexone is able to block the agonist effects of other opioids for 48 hours.16 Oral dosing is accomplished by either 50 mg daily dosing or three times weekly dosing with two 100 mg doses and one 150 mg dose.”
Source: Kjome, Kimberly L. and Moeller, F. Gerard, “Long-Acting Injectable Naltrexone for the Management of Patients with Opioid Dependence,” Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment 2011:5 1–9, doi: 10.4137/SART.S5452.

Notable New Sources

E. Ann Carson and Daniela Golinelli, “Prisoners in 2012: Trends in Admissions and Releases, 1991-2012” (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2013), NCJ243920, Table 5, p. 3, and Appendix Table 10, p. 43.

Laura M. Maruschak and Thomas P. Bonczar, “Probation and Parole in the United States, 2012” (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2012), NCJ243826, p. 1.

Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (December 18, 2013). “American teens more cautious about using synthetic drugs.” University of Michigan News Service: Ann Arbor, MI, p. 2.

Kjome, Kimberly L. and Moeller, F. Gerard, “Long-Acting Injectable Naltrexone for the Management of Patients with Opioid Dependence,” Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment 2011:5 1–9, doi: 10.4137/SART.S5452.

Walmsley, Roy, “World Prison Population List (Tenth Edition)” (Kings College, London, England: International Centre for Prison Studies, 2013), p. 1.

Media

Check out the new Drug Policy Facts podcast! You can download and subscribe from
http://www.podcastgarden.com/podcast/drugwarfacts.

Drug Truth Network Radio segments:
Full half-hour news programs:
Century Of Lies, 12/15/13, White House drug policy conference http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/4647
3-minute news segments:
420 News, 12/1/13, Interviews with Ethan Nadelmann and Neill Franklin: http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/4627
420 News, 12/7/13, MDMA, Emergency Room Visits, and Young People: http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/4640
420 News, 12/27/13, New Monitoring the Future survey http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/4662
420 News, 12/30/13, Correcting NIDA Director Nora Volkow http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/4667

Doug McVay is also a regular blogger at CelebStoner dot com.

– See more at: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/3520#sthash.BPHQSUNH.dpuf

Correcting NIDA Director Nora Volkow

29 Dec

The new Monitoring the Future Survey results for 2013 were released recently.

In discussing the new data in a video released on YouTube, Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said this: “If we compare the numbers that were, for example, in 2000 regular users, and now in 2013, we have seen increases in those numbers. But in 2000, at the 2000 level of 9 THC was at least half of the levels that we observe now, at least half. So that means that not just were there less kids taking the drug regularly, but even those that were taking it regularly were taking a much less potent drug.”

It almost sounded like she was asserting that THC levels have doubled but that’s not what she said. She did definitely assert that in 2000, cannabis was much less potent.

The short version of this report is, she was wrong. Way wrong. And this isn’t just some political hack, or an uninformed blogger. She’s the director of the government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, she’s supposed to be the science person on drugs. That’s not acceptable.

Here’s how badly she got it wrong. Let’s look at what’s known. I make these data available through my website at drugwarfacts.org, in the marijuana section, where you can find a table of average THC levels of seized samples of cannabis as reported by the University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring Project.

These are the only data on this, they’re the same data Nora Volkow has. The Project stopped testing domestic samples a few years ago, the last domestic cannabis data are from 2010. Samples of non-domestic cannabis – imports from Mexico, Jamaica, Canada, and so many other countries – continue to be tested, but only preliminary data for 2012 are currently available.

Average THC potencies are given for two grades of cannabis: low-end commercial grade – what they call simply “marijuana” – and high-end sinsemilla-type cannabis. The overall combined average they report includes a few samples of ditchweed, so let’s just stick with specific data for those two types, and since 2010 is the last year with domestic data, let’s use it for comparison.

In 2000, non-domestic commercial grade marijuana averaged 5.10% THC. The non-domestic sinsemilla type averaged 12.87%. Domestic commercial grade marijuana averaged 3.96% THC, and domestic sinsemilla type averaged 12.72%.

In 2010, non-domestic commercial grade marijuana averaged 6.69% THC. Non-domestic sinsemilla type averaged 12.81% THC. Domestic commercial grade marijuana averaged 2.79% THC, and domestic sinsemilla type averaged 11.84%.

So only one category shows an increase in average potency from 2000 to 2010 is for non-domestic commercial grade cannabis – an increase of 31%, going from 5.1 to 6.69% THC. The others all show decreases, in fact the average THC of domestic commercial grade dropped by 29.5%.

Sure, there are fluctuations: In 2011, the average THC in non-domestic commercial marijuana was down to 5.6%, the average for non-domestic sinsemilla type was 13.47%. They stopped testing domestic samples in 2010, remember, and for what it’s worth those numbers were much lower in 2009, when domestic commercial averaged 2.43% THC and domestic sinsemilla type averaged only 7.37%.

So, Nora Volkow’s statement? Maybe not a flatout lie, but inaccurate and misleading at best.

Eventually, hopefully, we’ll get complete data for 2012, and when that’s available, you’ll find it at drugwarfacts.org.

Suicide Over a Minor Pot Possession Charge?

26 Feb

This story comes from the North Wales Weekly News: 50p drugs case youth killed himself.

From the article:

A teenage lacrosse star killed himself after he was summoned to court for possessing cannabis worth 50p, an inquest heard.

Ex-head boy Edward Thornber was found hanged on September 15, 2011, after being caught smoking the drug in Cornwall.

Two days earlier, the 17-year-old from Didsbury , Manchester, had received an order to appear in court – but a law firm acting on behalf of his family say the teenager should have only been given a warning.

A student at Loreto College in Hulme, Edward had been head boy at The Barlow RC High School in Didsbury and was hoping to coach lacrosse in America before going to university. However, he had been caught smoking cannabis with a friend earlier that summer while on holiday in Newquay. It was the second time he had been caught with the drug.

At the town’s police station, he agreed to accept a “final warning”, which he believed would not result in him having a criminal record – or jeopardise his chances of pursuing a lacrosse career in the US.

Read the rest at http://www.northwalesweeklynews.co.uk/conwy-county-news/uk-world-news/2013/02/23/50p-drugs-case-youth-killed-himself-55243-32867563/

Everything You Need To Know About Stoned Driving

25 Feb

My latest piece for CelebStoner has just been posted: <a href=”http://www.celebstoner.com/blogs/doug-mcvay/everything-you-need-to-know-about-stoned-driving.html”>Everything You Need To Know About Stoned Driving</a>.

From the story:

<blockquote>Drugged, or stoned, driving has been an issue of concern for several years. The Drug Czar’s office and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recently joined together to make passage of such laws, including per se limits for blood THC levels, a legislative priority.

The success of marijuana legalization measures in Colorado and Washington has pushed concerns over drugged driving to the forefront for many. Washington’s measure imposes a whole-blood THC limit of 5 nanograms per milliliter. Colorado’s measure did not have such a provision but some legislators in the Mile High State have been working for years to enact such a limit and had already announced plans to reintroduce their bill before November’s vote.
</blockquote>

Read more at: http://www.celebstoner.com/blogs/doug-mcvay/everything-you-need-to-know-about-stoned-driving.html

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