All posts by Jordan Linley

Middle-aged parents now more likely to be using marijuana than their teen kids


Is that weed I smell, Mom? CDC report shows regular marijuana use among Americans age 35-44 has surpassed that of teens for first time since at least 2002

Smoking weed is often seen as an indulgence reserved for the young and the reckless: kids get high, in the popular imagination, but by and large their parents don’t.

But new federal data show a stunning reversal of that age-old stereotype. Middle-aged Americans are now slightly more likely to use marijuana than their teenage children.

The research, released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that only 7.4 percent of Americans aged 12 to 17 years old smoked marijuana regularly in 2014, a 10 percent decline since 2002. But 8 percent of 35 to 44 year olds used marijuana regularly in 2014, surpassing use among teens for the first time since at least 2002. (Survey data prior to that year aren’t directly comparable, as the methodology changed.)

And it’s not just middle-aged folks who are indulging more often. Since 2002, regular marijuana use among Americans age 45 to 54 has jumped by nearly 50 percent. Among those ages 55 to 64, it’s jumped by a whopping 455 percent (no, that’s not a typo).

And among seniors, age 65+, monthly marijuana use is up 333 percent since 2002.

“During the last 13 years, marijuana use (i.e., past-month marijuana use) has steadily increased in the United States, particularly among people aged 26 years or older,” said report author Alejandro Azofeifa in an email. “Older groups had a significant increase of marijuana use in the past month.”

To put it another way: If trends continue like this, marijuana use among 50- and even 60-somethings could be higher than use among teens in a few years.


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The Difficulty Of Enforcing Laws Against Driving While High

SEP 6, 2016

This story starts with a stay-at-home-mom from the Denver suburbs.

Her name is Abby McLean. She’s 30 and lives in Northglenn, Colo. She was driving home from a late dinner with a friend two years ago when she came upon a DUI roadside checkpoint.
“I hadn’t drank or smoked anything, so I was like, ‘Let’s go through the checkpoint,’ ” she recalls.

McLean is a regular marijuana user but she insists she never drives while high.

Still, the cop at the checkpoint tells her he smells marijuana and that her eyes are bloodshot. Eventually he whips out handcuffs and McClean freaks.

“Like, massive panic attack. And, ‘Oh, my God, I have babies at home. I need to get home. I can’t go to jail!’ ”

She didn’t go to jail that night, but she got home hours late. A blood test later revealed McClean had 5 times the legal limit of THC, the mind-altering compound in marijuana.

Colorado’s marijuana DUI law is modeled on the one for alcohol, which sets a number to determine when someone is too intoxicated to drive. For pot, that number is five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Anything above that and the law says you shouldn’t be driving.

It may sound like an open and shut case that could have resulted in any number of penalties. But McLean’s attorney, Nadav Aschner, had a field day in court with Colorado’s marijuana intoxication limit.

“Even the state’s experts will say that number alone is something, but generally not enough, and we really hammered that home,” he says.

Aschner got a hung jury and McLean pleaded to a lesser offense.

Still, McLean’s trip through the criminal justice system is emblematic of numbers that suggest a sharp increase in marijuana DUI arrests in Colorado. So far this year, State Patrol data show that total DUI citations this year rose to 398 through early July, compared with 316 in for the same period 2015.

More states may come up with their own marijuana DUI guidelines. Voters in five states from California to Maine are deciding this November whether to legalize recreational marijuana. They’re weighing the good, the bad and the still unknown. Issues like driving while stoned are still in the “unknown” category.

It turns out, measuring a person’s THC is actually a poor indicator of intoxication. Unlike alcohol, THC gets stored in your fat cells, and isn’t water-soluble like alcohol, says Thomas Marcotte, co-director of The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego.

“Unlike alcohol, which has a generally linear relationship between the amount of alcohol you consume, your breath alcohol content and driving performance, the THC route of metabolism is very different,” he explains.

That’s why adapting drunk driving laws to marijuana makes for bad policy, says Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University. “You can be positive for THC a week after the last time you used cannabis,” he says. “Not subjectively impaired at all, not impaired at all by any objective measure, but still positive.”

Still, Colorado and five other states have such laws on the books because pretty much everyone agrees that driving stoned can be dangerous, especially when combined with alcohol.

What cops really need is a simple roadside sobriety test. Scientists at UCSD are among researchers working on several apps that could measure how impaired one is behind the wheel. One has a person follow a square moving around a tablet screen with a finger, which measures something called “critical tracking.” Another app measures time distortion, because things can slow way down when a person is high.

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Amarilloan supports cannabis as medicine

September 3, 2016 – 6:02pm

By Creede Newton

Bill Wright, 54, is an independent medical marijuana advocate who suffers from roughly 28 ailments, many of which are genetic.

His heart has only two working valves and is kept beating by a defibrillator. He also suffers from Crohn’s disease, an incurable bowel condition.

“I do have reason to be doing this,” he said. For the Amarillo resident, cannabis is “the only effective manner that I’ve found to control Crohn’s disease. It makes your brain think ‘Everything’s cool, everything’s normal.’”

While some people might view medical marijuana advocates as “tree-hugging hippies,” that’s not the case with Wright. He’s been a Republican his entire life. He voted for Ronald Reagan, he proudly said, going on to explain that “environmentalists” drove him out of his California home in Fortuna when they shut down logging operations around the Redwoods and he lost his job.

Although Wright has used cannabis to treat various illnesses since the 1980s, he didn’t start his advocacy efforts until 2014. Today, he has a small group of like-minded individuals with whom he networks via social media and telephone.

“When we want to speak to our group, we create an event on Facebook. Then people can go there, and it’s got all the information about the topic. We don’t gather in a room. It’s mainly for people who are sick and can’t get out of the house.”

This sort of grassroots marijuana advocacy focuses primarily on state representatives. As opposed to states like California where voters can decide on issues like medical marijuana through the ballot box, the only way a law can be made in Texas is through the legislature.

“There are only three people in Amarillo who are important to us,” Wright continued, referring to state Rep. John Smithee, state Rep. Four Price, and state Sen. Kel Seliger.

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CDC Study: Marijuana Legalization Decreases Access For Kids


Even the CDC now recognizes that access to marijuana among teenagers has declined precipitously since the reform movement took root in the mid-90s.

Cultivating further evidence that legalizing weed keeps it from falling into the hands of children via the black market, a new report authored by the Center for Disease Control indicates that access to marijuana among teens fell dramatically between 2002 and 2014.

In addition, despite increased perceptions of no risk from smoking marijuana, obtaining marijuana nationally remains more difficult for persons aged 12−17 years than for those aged ≥18, which could explain the lower prevalence of marijuana use and initiation in this age group. In fact, since 2002 the perceived availability (i.e., fairly easy or very easy to obtain marijuana) among persons aged 12–17 and 18–25 years has decreased.

Not just good for kids, this recent CDC study also showed a significant decrease in abuse and dependence among adults since the germination of legalization.

Although NSDUH data suggest increases in daily and almost daily use among adults (both in the overall population and among adult marijuana users), they also suggest steady decreases in the prevalence of marijuana dependence and abuse among adult marijuana users since 2002.

Coming to the same conclusion as a study published in the Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,science has spoken; while legalized marijuana might not be every American’s cup of tea … it certainly doesn’t lead to increased access for America’s teens.

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Larger number of marijuana offenses dismissed in Texas

– Associated Press – Sunday, September 4, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Prosecutors in the most populated areas of Texas have in recent years dismissed a significantly larger number of marijuana offenses involving smaller amounts of the drug, according to a newspaper analysis.

In the five most populous counties – Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Travis – the rate of dismissals has risen since 2011, according to the review by the Austin American-Statesman ( ).

Data kept by the Texas Office of Court Administration shows dismissals are increasing fastest in North Texas. Just 9 percent of cases were dismissed in Tarrant County five years ago, but last year about a quarter of them were dropped. In Dallas County, the percentage of dismissals rose from 18 percent to 41 percent over the same period.

Statistics show there appears to be a similar trend occurring statewide.

But that trend doesn’t necessarily reflect an easing of enforcement measures; the number of new misdemeanor marijuana cases filed statewide has stayed largely the same.

Authorities in Travis County say they’ve decided to prioritize more serious crimes instead of using resources to

“Jurors would look at us like we are crazy,” Travis County prosecutor Dan Hamre told the newspaper. “‘You are spending your time, our time and the court’s time on a small amount of personal marijuana?’ “

Officials in various parts of the state say a reason for the rising number of dismissals are programs similar to one in Harris County where cases are resolved without prosecution if defendants complete anti-drug classes.

“Nobody goes through three years of law school and becomes prosecutors so they can rap the knuckles of someone for smoking a joint,” said Shannon Edmonds, who’s in charge of governmental relations at the Texas District and County Attorney’s Association. “It’s not what draws them to the profession or gets them excited about doing justice.”

The change in approach appears to have drawn few critics. Lawmakers agree that authorities must decide how to manage caseloads.

“Whatever kind of case we are talking about, we expect law enforcement and prosecutors to use discretion and put the resources in the best place,” Republican state Rep. Bryan Hughes said.

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Low-Level THC Oil Sales Boost Texas Business

By Staff |

Published 09/02 2016 08:19PM

Updated 09/02 2016 11:05PM

More than a year has passed since Texas approved the state’s limited marijuana law and public safety officials are still working to establish rules to outline where it will be dispensed and to whom.

The implementation of the 2015 law is scheduled to take two years and while the timeline is on schedule, the wait has some Texans in search of an alternative.

“I feel a sense of calm, my body is just re relaxed—I’m not high,” says B. Taylor Allbaugh. She uses cannabidiol, commonly called CBD, to self-medicate the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and severe panic attacks she says she suffers from.

“My hands cramp up, my head shakes and my body, I just can’t control,” Allbaugh says the regular use of CBD oil has cut the number of panic attacks she experiences in half.

“I’m not a doctor and I cannot give out any kind of medical advice,” Kemal White says that’s what he tells anyone who asks about CBD.

White is not a doctor or a lawyer but as the owner of the Austin Vape and Smoke stores, he researched the state’s Compassionate Use Act.

In order to get around the law, White went under the legal limit—with THC levels below 0.02% the CBD products on his shelves comply with the law.

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the mind-altering ingredient found in cannabis. At less than .02% the amount is so minute, it’s incapable of getting a person high—neither does the more potent form of CBD that’s allowed under the state law.

“Since we started selling CBD we’ve experienced a drastic increase,” White says of his sales.

He just opened up his third store in Austin and CBD sales are the highest at the location that’s a stone’s throw from a hospital.

“Some doctors do send their patients directly to us, they are never very upfront about it,” White says some customers tell him doctors sent them to the shop.

Many of his customers are veterans or elderly—people who suffer from chronic pain, anxiety and epilepsy buy the bulk of the CBD products at the vape and smoke stores.

The items are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the label says the products are “not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any diseases”

White recommends anyone interested in CBD consult with their doctor first, he just wants people to know there is a legal alternative, it’s just not as effective as medicinal marijuana.

Allbaugh says, “I don’t care about the background noise on marijuana, I just know this is what works for me personally.”

Texas’ low-THC law allows patients with uncontrollable epilepsy access to CBD oil. The state’s Department of Public Safety has to license three dispensing organizations by Sept. 1, 2017.

Last week, DPS commissioners put off discussions on establishing rules for the law until the members meet back up in October.

Governor Greg Abbott vowed he would not push his pen any further after he signed the 2015 law. At that time he said he would not legalize marijuana for medicinal or relational use as long as he’s in office.

Texas has some of the most stringent marijuana laws in the country, something Allbaugh hopes with change during the 2017 legislative session.

Allbaugh says, “It would help a lot of individuals that are really suffering right now and there’s quite a few bit that come through that are suffering.”

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Are big Texas cities going easier on pot?

By Tony Plohetski – American-Statesman Staff, KVUE News
Posted: 2:46 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016
(As state lawmakers wrestle with possible de-criminalization of small amounts of marijuana possession, prosecutors around the state are increasingly dismissing misdemeanor cases, an American-Statesman analysis has found.)

Around 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 6, 2012, John Myers was returning home from visiting a friend when a Lakeway officer pulled him over along RM 620 for a broken tail light on his Ford pickup.

After questioning, Myers, then 42, confessed to hiding marijuana under his seat and stashing a pipe in the center console.

Within minutes, the decades-long recreational pot-smoker — who had been arrested for pot possession twice previously — was on his way to jail, charged with a Class A misdemeanor for 3.9 ounces of marijuana, police said.

But when his file reached Travis County prosecutors’ desks three months later, they dismissed it after Myers, who says he now uses cannabis to ease multiple sclerosis symptoms, agreed to 20 hours of community service.

“I never appeared in court, I never talked to a judge, I never talked to a prosecutor,” said Myers, who did spend a night in jail and $2,500 on a lawyer. “I thought it was a fair way to treat the case. I was pleased, really happy.”

Myers’ case marks a shift in how prosecutors now handle low-level marijuana cases in every major county in Texas. As lawmakers have wrestled in recent years with easing restrictions on marijuana use – an issue they likely will confront again when they convene in January – prosecutors in the state’s most populated areas are relaxing their pursuit of cases that involve recreational amounts of the drug.

An American-Statesman analysis shows those practices are resulting in a spike of marijuana dismissals in Harris, Dallas, Bexar, Travis and Tarrant counties. In each of the five counties, the rate of dismissal has risen since 2011, dramatically in some places. The trend also appears to be playing out statewide, where 23 percent of all misdemeanor marijuana cases were dismissed in 2011. In 2015, nearly a third were.

Yet that doesn’t mean Texas is witnessing de facto legalization: the number of new misdemeanor pot cases filed by police has stayed relatively constant.

The rate of dismissals is increasing fastest in North Texas. According to data kept by the Texas Office of Court Administration, Tarrant County prosecutors went from dismissing just 9 percent of cases five years ago to 24.3 percent last year. In Dallas County, the dismissal rate more than doubled, from 18 percent in 2011 to 41 percent last year.

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Commentary: Legalize marijuana, stop synthetic cannabinoid overdoses

By Russell Jones – Special to the American-Statesman

Posted: 9:00 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016

(An empty package of Klimax K2, green package at left, is in a bush outside the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless during an outbreak of K2 overdoses on Thursday August 25, 2016. ATCEMS District Commander Mark Karonika said dozens of people have been overdosed at K2 at the ARCH since Wednesday. An incident command post was set up on 7th Street to handle all of the emergencies. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The 16 synthetic cannabinoid overdoses in Hermann Park at the end of June are enough evidence that punitive policies aimed at creating a drug-free world have utterly backfired. Instead of ushering in a utopian society without drugs, the War on Drugs has incentivized the creation of new psychoactive substances (NPS) purported to mimic the effects of “classic” drugs like marijuana.

However, these newly emerging drugs are widely misunderstood. Synthetic cannabinoids, often referred to as “fake marijuana” or “synthetic marijuana” have a different chemical structure and produce profoundly different effects in their users than marijuana.

Rather than being a safer alternative to marijuana, several studies have found that synthetic cannabinoids produce a wide range of dangerous side effects, such as nausea, convulsions, hallucinations, and psychosis. All too often these common misconceptions result in tragedy, perhaps best demonstrated by the 229 percent increase in NPS-related poison center calls between 2014 and 2015.

A mounting body of evidence suggests repressive drug policies play a large role in driving people to use “legal highs” as replacement drugs. This may explain why states with harsh marijuana laws, like Alabama andMississippi, experience more severe outbreaks of synthetic cannabinoid emergencies. Legality, however, is not the only barrier people face when acquiring their drug of choice.

For many, marijuana is accessible so long as one has the money to purchase it. As noted in the 2016 Global Drug Survey, the unique challenges posed bypoverty mean synthetic cannabinoids “might find their long-term relationships with those already marginalized in our society.” It should come as no surprise, then, that many of the 16 people who overdosed on synthetic cannabinoids last week were reported to be “homeless people who hang out at the park.”

Instead of continuing to play a game of cat-and-mouse with drugs like synthetic cannabinoids, society must acknowledge the abject failure of prohibition and immediately work toward legalizing, regulating, and controlling marijuana. Though the Texas Legislature banned 1,000 unique chemical combinations used to make synthetic cannabinoids last September, the nature of NPS means new chemicals are likely to be synthesized at a rate that far outpaces these new laws.

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Marijuana: The Key to Reviving the Texas Economy?


DALLAS – States that depend on energy revenue never predicted oil prices would go so low, or worse, stay there. Several states like Alaska and Louisiana have even seen credit ratings downgraded.

Texas, another major oil producer, has been able to balance its budget, thanks to a more diverse economy. However, experts say a state like Texas can only weather this economic storm for so long.

One burgeoning industry is taking notice of this problem and is offering a solution.

Marijuana the Solution?

“Creating a new marijuana industry in Texas brings more revenue and taxes with it. Whether it’s cultivation, or manufacturing, or production, there’s a lot of opportunity for money to be spent and for the government to collect it and the good thing is that this industry knows its going to be taxed and they welcome it,” Phillip Martin, with Progress Texas, said.

Texas lawmakers have fended off attempts to legalize marijuana for years, but last year they passed a state law allowing for very limited uses of cannabis oil, or marijuana, for patients suffering from seizures or epilepsy. Now advocates for legalizing marijuana say it’s only a matter of time before more legislation gets through.

“I think we have tremendous opportunity to improve our economy, improve our safety, and to make a healthier Texas and all kinds of healthier marijuana policy reforms will help us get there,” Martin said.

According to the Marijuana Business Fact Book, the legalized weed industry could pump as much as $44 billion a year into the economy by the end of 2020.

“We’re eager to see that opportunity seized in this state. We just have to study it, we have to understand it a little bit better and then go show lawmakers that this is the real opportunity that we have,” Martin said.

A majority of conservative lawmakers aren’t quite as optimistic. Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas won’t legalize marijuana as long as he’s in office, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick opposes it as well.


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Patients’ Voices Must Be Heard In Cannabis Legalization Debate


Co-founder and COO, Lift Resource Centre




A quick survey of recent headlines around the legalization discussion, even the federal task force’s press conference, reveals a conspicuous absence: medical cannabis and the patients who rely on it.

The current debate and coverage focuses on legalization and regulation combining the interests of everyone from recreational users to growers to government. Without the interests of patients represented in this debate, we run the risk of establishing a future framework that is set up to fail and will require further modification.

The debate about cannabis legalization is complex and encompasses many different aspects from distribution models, to the rights of medical patients, from Canadian’s right to freedom of choice, to large-scale commercialization. When the legalization conversation does include medical issues, much of the focus is on medical cannabis users and dispensaries and, more to the point, the quality of medicine available at dispensaries. Fundamental to this discussion are the interests of the 450,000 Canadians who use medical cannabis and how best to monitor medical cannabis to safely and effectively treat them.

To understand medical cannabis, it helps to understand the path to choosing it. Medical cannabis can be a last line of treatment for those who have unsuccessfully tried pharmaceuticals. When pharmaceuticals are successful, the side-effects of treatments — for more than a dozen diseases classified by Health Canada eligible for medical cannabis — can be especially intense and unbearable causing patients to either seek other options, or incorporate cannabis into their regimen to ease these symptoms.

For example, a person living with multiple sclerosis (MS) may change treatments three or more times because the side-effects are excruciating, including reoccurring hot flashes, tissue degradation, digestive problems or hair loss. On the other hand, patients may eschew pharmaceutical treatments altogether, opting for a more “natural” option — as is their choice.

The medical industry works hard to ensure treatments are safe and effective, but sometimes the results are not optimal and another option is prescribed. Throughout the process, physicians look after patients’ best interests.

We need to define a model for medical cannabis that puts patients first as well, and allows their physicians to provide the same level of care with cannabis as they do with other medications.

Prohibition has largely denied the medical community the chance to study the effects this plant has on the human body so we have quite a bit of catch up to do. Canada has a system in place called Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) that has created a starting point to treat patients.

The logical next step is enhancing patient care and improving the collaboration between clinics, doctors, licensed producers and Health Canada. Access is a great start, but it’s not enough. Patients need more trained nurses and health professionals with the ability to guide patients in the right direction, to sup-port them on their journey to wellness with medical cannabis.

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