Marijuana News Roundup: Support for California Legalization Falling?

September 13, 2016 by Paul Ausick

When it comes to measuring the success of this year’s efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the yardstick is certain to be California. The country’s most populous state was the first to legalize marijuana for medical use, but a 2010 ballot measure to legalize pot for recreational use was defeated.

A May poll by Pew Research showed that some 60% of the state’s residents supported Proposition 64, the ballot measure to legalize recreational use of marijuana. But a poll released on Monday by San Francisco TV station KPIX and Survey USA shows that the percentage of voters supporting Prop 64 has slipped to 52%, while 40% say they’ll vote against the measure. The rest are undecided.

Prop 64 supporters have raised nearly $18 million in backing, compared with less than $300,000 raised by opponents. Supporters point to the 15% sales tax on marijuana products and a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce of flower and $2.75 per ounce of leaves as major selling points of the measure. Opponents, including the California Republican Party and many police organizations, point to more impaired driving and traffic fatalities and an increase in black market activity as reasons to reject the measure.

Even many of California’s small growers are cool to Prop 64. They see it as a takeover by large drug and perhaps even tobacco companies. There has been some opposition from African American and Latino communities as well.

Daily Marijuana Use Linked to Lower BMI

People who smoke marijuana daily may be slimmer than those who don’t use the drug, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that people in the study who used marijuana daily had about a 3 percent lower BMI (body mass index), on average, than those who did not use marijuana at all.

“There is a popular belief that people who consume marijuana have the munchies, and so [they] are going to eat a lot and gain weight, and we found that it is not necessarily the case,” said lead study author Isabelle C. Beulaygue, a research support specialist in interventional radiology at the University of Miami.

In the study, the researchers looked at more than 13,000 adults ages 18 to 26. The researchers collected body measurements to calculate the participants’ BMIs, and tested the participants for marijuana use. Six years later, when the participants were between ages 24 and 32, the researchers looked again at their marijuana use and BMIs.

Read more at LiveScience.

Federal Data: Marijuana Legalization Doesn’t Entice Kids

Once again, the great national crisis expected from legalizing marijuana to some degree in nearly half the country has not surfaced. Give it more time, critics say, terrible things are bound to come about. I mean, you can’t legalize marijuana without the roof falling in! So, be patient.

Well, meanwhile, the latest federal data shows the slight increase in marijuana use is due to people 26 and older. The kids, the ones we’re most scared for, are not using pot more.

Repeat: Kids 12 to 17 years old are not bombing their brains with pot more than then did back when simple possession could get you a felony and incarcerated everywhere in the country.

Read more in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Leading Legalization Opponent to Sell Medicine That Competes Directly with Marijuana

Insys Therapeutics, the Arizona-based pharmaceutical company that recently became the biggest financial supporter of the campaign against marijuana legalization in that state, makes an oral fentanyl spray that might compete with cannabis as a painkiller. But as Lee Fang notes at The Intercept, Insys has another, more direct financial interest in defeating marijuana legalization: It is about to introduce an oral spray to deliver dronabinol, a synthetic version of THC, marijuana’s main active ingredient, as a treatment for AIDS wasting syndrome and the nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy.

In a 2007 disclosure statement that Insys filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company noted the competitive threat posed by marijuana legalization:

Legalization of marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids in the United States could significantly limit the commercial success of any dronabinol product candidate.…If marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids were legalized in the United States, the market for dronabinol product sales would likely be significantly reduced and our ability to generate revenue and our business prospects would be materially adversely affected.

Read more at Reason.com.

Colorado Pot Shops Post Record-Breaking Sales Figures Topping $122 Million in July 2016

Colorado’s monthly marijuana sales notched an all-time high in July 2016 as shops sold nearly $122.7 million of medical and recreational cannabis — a 27 percent increase from July 2015, according to state revenue data released Monday.

The monthly haul surpasses the previous record notched this past April — a month that includes the annual 4/20 marijuana holiday — when $117.4 million of flower, edibles and concentrates were sold. Medical sales accounted for $40.8 million and recreational sales accounted for roughly $76.6 million of April’s total.

In July, recreational sales shot to $83.8 million, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue report.

The record revenue is most likely attributable to a summertime sales spike, said Adam Orens, a managing director of Denver-based BBC Research & Consulting and founding partner of the Marijuana Policy Group.

Read more at The Cannabist.

Why Medical Marijuana Patients Can’t Buy Guns

An appeals court ruled last week that a federal law prohibiting medical marijuana cardholders from purchasing guns does not violate their Second Amendment rights, because marijuana has been linked to “irrational or unpredictable behavior.”

The ruling came in the case of a Nevada woman who attempted to purchase a handgun in 2011, but was denied when the gun store owner recognized her as a medical marijuana cardholder, according to court documents. S. Rowan Wilson maintained that she didn’t actually use marijuana, but obtained a card to make a political statement in support of liberalizing marijuana law.

Federal law prohibits gun purchases by an “unlawful user and/or an addict of any controlled substance.” In 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms clarified in a letter that the law applies to marijuana users “regardless of whether [their] State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes.” Though a growing number of states are legalizing it for medical or recreational use, marijuana remains illegal for any purpose under federal law, which considers the drug to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

Read more at The Washington Post.

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