Feb 052015

The Russ Belville Show #537 420RADIO News – Regular Marijuana Use Does Not Shrink the Brain [2015-02-05 Thu]

Daily marijuana use is not associated with brain shrinkage when controlling for the effects of alcohol consumption on those who both drink and toke up, a new study has found.  Kent Hutchison, a clinical neuroscientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the senior author of the study, examined a paper released last year by researchers at Northwestern University that identified changes to regions of the brain that are key to regulating emotion and motivation, in marijuana users who smoke one to seven joints a week.  Hutchison’s team said they tried to replicate those results by recruiting dozens of adults and adolescents and conducting brain imaging on them, and comparing daily pot users to non-users. But Hutchison said they took a different approach to rule out the effects of alcohol.  “We found no evidence of differences… between daily versus non-users, in adults or adolescents,” Hutchison’s paper said.

Parents of children with debilitating and terminal medical conditions shared emotional testimony Wednesday in support of legislation that would make North Dakota the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana.  But North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said House Bill 1430 raises numerous concerns about regulation and public safety and is “far from ready for enactment.”  Rep. Pamela Anderson, D-Fargo, who introduced the bill, offered amendments Wednesday that would reduce the cannabis possession limit from 2½ ounces to 2 ounces, clarify that smoking pot is a non-medical use and delay the law’s effective date to June 30, 2016.  People who have obtained a recommendation for medical marijuana also would be allowed to cultivate up to six marijuana plants, allowing for three or fewer mature plants.  “The effect of the passage of this bill … is going to send us in the opposite direction [from combatting impaired driving], and people will die because of it,” Said Stenehjem.

Pro-pot group ResponsibleOhio spent nearly $1.3 million on its campaign to legalize marijuana in the Buckeye State before it announced any details of its November 2015 ballot initiative, state campaign finance records show.  Much of that — $857,300 — went to a Columbus consulting firm the Strategy Network, headed by the campaign’s executive director Ian James, according to the group’s January filing with the Ohio secretary of state’s office. ResponsibleOhio reported spending $156,000 on polling and $115,000 on consulting from 270 Strategies, a national firm founded by former Obama campaign staffers.  That level of spending is typical of Ohio ballot-initiative campaigns once they’re collecting the hundreds of thousands of signatures required — not before they’ve even submitted ballot language for initial approval.  The group’s plan would limit production to 10 specific sites owned and operated by investors in the campaign.  ResponsibleOhio pushed back against critics saying the amendment would grant a constitutional monopoly on growing marijuana in Ohio.

The German federal government wants to make cannabis more accessible to sick Germans as a means for pain relief, according to the country’s drug representative.  “It is our goal that in the future more people in Germany will be able to receive cannabis as medicine than has been the case until now,” Marlene Mortler, the federal government’s drug representative said on Tuesday, adding that plans were in the making for legislation that would see insurance companies cover the costs.  The case until now has been that only very few receive cannabis as part of medical treatments. At present, less than 300 Germans are authorized to purchase marijuana in pharmacies, almost exclusively those suffering from terminal cancer, according to the federal health ministry.  For critically ill patients allowed to purchase cannabis in pharmacies, a gram officially costs between 15 and 18 euros, according to Germany’s Federal Chamber of Pharmacists.  For ordinary citizens, German law currently forbids the possession, cultivation and sale of marijuana, though the drug can be consumed legally.

Elisha Figueroa, director of the Idaho Office of Drug Policy, told the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Tuesday that her office is opposed to legalizing a non-intoxicating marijuana derivative for medical uses.  According to some studies, the compound, called cannabidiol or CBD, may be effective in treating epilepsy in some patients who do not respond to other treatments, Figueroa said.  Some Idaho parents whose children suffer from the epilepsy already are traveling to states where marijuana is legal, she said, to purchase CBD oil. Right now, that’s a crime.  But Figueroa does not think Idaho should follow course.  CBD remains a Schedule I narcotic under federal drug law, she told the committee.  “How can states pass a law in clear violation of federal drug laws?” she said, apparently unaware that two-thirds of the United States have already done so.