Yet Another Study Finds That Cannabis Use Is Not Independently Linked With IQ Decline

Marijuana researchCannabis use by teens is not independently linked with adverse changes in intelligence quotient or executive functioning, according to longitudinal data published online ahead of print in the journal Addiction.

A team of investigators from the United States and the United Kingdom evaluated whether marijuana use is directly associated with changes over time in neuropsychological performance in a nationally representative cohort of adolescent twins. Authors reported that “family background factors,” but not the use of cannabis negatively impacted adolescents’ cognitive performance.

They wrote: “[W]e found that youth who used cannabis … had lower IQ at age 18, but there was little evidence that cannabis use was associated with IQ decline from age 12 to 18. Moreover, although cannabis use was associated with lower IQ and poorer executive functions at age 18, these associations were generally not apparent within pairs of twins from the same family, suggesting that family background factors explain why adolescents who use cannabis perform worse on IQ and executive function tests.”

Investigators concluded, “Short-term cannabis use in adolescence does not appear to cause IQ decline or impair executive functions, even when cannabis use reaches the level of dependence.”

Their findings are consistent with those of several other studies – including those here, here, here, and here – finding that cannabis use alone during adolescence does not appear to have a significant, direct adverse effect on intelligence quotient.

widely publicized and still often cited New Zealand study published in 2012 in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that the persistent use of cannabis from adolescence to adulthood was associated with slightly lower IQ by age 38. However, a follow up review of the data published later in the same journal suggested that the observed changes were likely due to socioeconomic differences, not the subjects’ use of cannabis. A later study by the initial paper’s lead investigator further reported that the effects of persistent adolescent cannabis use on academic performance are “non-significant after controlling for persistent alcohol and tobacco use.”

Sativex (pharmaceutical marijuana) approved in ten more European countries

What medical marijuana of the future looks like

You want medical marijuana?  Big Pharma is more than willing to sell it to you

International expansion of UK firm GW Pharma’s cannabis-based spray Sativex is well underway after a further 10 European countries recommended approval of the drug for multiple sclerosis patients.

Health Authorities in Belgium, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia have now given the go-ahead for Sativex (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol), completing its Mutual Recognition Procedure in Europe.

This means that Sativex can be marketed in these countries as an add-on therapy for the treatment of moderate to severe spasticity due to MS in patients who have not responded adequately to other medication, and launches are expected from the end of this year onwards.

Sativex has already been approved in the UK, Spain, and Germany and other European countries:

GW says marketing partner Almirall expects to introduce the drug in the German market in July and before the end of 2011 in Denmark and Sweden. Sativex is scheduled to be launched in Italy, Czech Republic and Austria in 2012.

In case you don’t know, Sativex is a whole-plant extract of cannabis.  So it’s not like Marinol, the synthetic THC-only pill that many cancer and MS patients dislike because of extreme psychoactivity and difficulty in dosing (it’s hard to swallow a pill when you’re wretching from chemo and it takes 45 minutes of digestion before you know if you took the right amount.)

Nope, this is the real thing, the whole plant, with all the THC, CBD, terpenoids, flavinoids, reduced to an spray.  It goes under the tongue, where your mucous membranes absorb the cannabis medicine quickly, almost like smoking or vaporizing plant cannabis, so there are no issues with swallowing difficulty or delayed effect like Marinol.  It comes in guaranteed dosage, potency, and purity.  It may be more expensive than growing pot, but insurance companies will likely cover the cost of the drug for cancer and MS patients.

And it’s coming to a medical marijuana state near you:

(CBS/AP) A marijuana-based mouth spray may get FDA approval as soon as 2013 – at least that’s what British manufactuer GW Pharma hopes. The company is in advanced clinical trials on the world’s first pharmaceutical developed from raw marijuana plants.

Other marijuana-based drugs currently on the market use synthetic equivalents of pot, but this stuff’s made from the real deal. Its makers want to market the drug in the U.S. as a treatment for cancer pain.

The spray, called Sativex, contains marijuana’s two best known components – delta 9-THC and cannabidiol. The medication has already been approved in Canada, New Zealand and eight European countries for relieving muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis.

This is nothing new.  A decade ago, US firms were investigating an inhaler delivery device to combat the swallowing/delayed-effect issue with Marinol:

The makers of the synthetic THC capsule Marinol – the only legal cannabinoid drug available in the United States – are developing a metered dose inhaler so that patients may consume the drug in ways other than oral administration, according to a Business Wire report released this week. Many doctors and patients criticize the effectiveness of Marinol because the drug doesn’t take effect until two to four hours after administration. Patients also complain that they have difficulty self-regulating Marinol and that the drug’s psychoactivity is enhanced when it is swallowed.

Now I have nothing against Sativex or other cannabinoid pharmaceuticals.  For the truly sick and disabled, any advance that makes the medicine more reliable, easier to use, and more effective gets a thumbs up from me.

But if your strategy to legalize the use of plant cannabis by all people for any reason is to preach “All use is medical/wellness”, cannabinoid pharmaceuticals is where you’ll end up.  There exists a paradigm for the medical / wellness use of substances, and it lies in the realm of doctors and pharmacists and prescriptions and manufactured drugs.  However, there also exists a paradigm for the recreational use of substances, and it lies in the realm of taverns and bartenders and DUI laws and ID checks and home brewing.

In which paradigm do you think marijuana fits better?

NORML SHOW LIVE #878 – Shafer Commission Report at 40

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Australians Consume the Most Marijuana Globally

Click here for more coverage of AustraliaA study was published today by a British Medical Journal that looked at global trends of illegal drugs and the effect on the public health. The prestigious journal, The Lancet, had findings that point to Australia and the neighboring country of New Zealand as the countries that use more marijuana and amphetamines than the rest of the world per capita.

The study also showed that marijuana and amphetamine use is rapidly growing around the world. The study showed that as much as 15  percent of the population “down under” that are between the ages of  and  had used marijuana in 2009 – the last year that all the data was available for them to use in the study. For comparison, the same study found that North Americans use was at about 11 percent.

The lowest use would be the birthplace of cannabis, the place where it is indigenous. Asia had the lowest marijuana use reported at 2.5 percent, but the study does caution that obtaining data in some of these regions of less developed countries was difficult and may attribute to the very low reported usage rates.

One of the study’s authors, Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland, said that Australia’s marijuana usage rates have actually been steadily declining in the last decade. But Hall says that availability of marijuana in rural areas of Austraila and New Zealand make it difficult to police, and culturally the acceptance of using intoxicants in general are more accepted in those countries and even at the center of social life downunder.

The global data study found that marijuana was by far the world’s most consumed illicit drug. Estimated at anywhere from 125 million users to 203 million users of marijuana, it far outpaces other illicit substances. The second on the list of most used illicit substances was amphetamines, used by an estimated 14 million to 56 million, and cocaine has an estimated usage by 12 million to 21 million users. But even with wide spread usage of illicit drugs by power users, Australians, just 1 percent of the deaths there can be attributed to illegal drugs. In Australia, tobacco use attributes to 12 percent of deaths there.

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Synthetic Cannabis Back on the Market in New Zealand

Amsterdam Cafe synthetic cannabis is back in shops. (Photo: Richard Robinson)Amsterdam Cafe synthetic cannabis is back in shops. (Photo: Richard Robinson)A synthetic cannabis product is back on the market – and others are on the way – less than three months after the so-called “legal highs” were banned.

Auckland-based Enjoi Products released a repackaged and modified version of its Amsterdam Cafe synthetic cannabis product to convenience stores across Auckland on Saturday.

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