Is Marijuana Linked To Abnormalities In Key Brain Region?
Category: Culture | Posted on Mon, November, 17th 2014 by THCFinder
There are celebrities, like Cheech and Chong, that have been smoking weed for years. Nothing terrible seems to have happened to them. While other famous people have overdosed on other drugs like heroin and cocaine, the stoner duo remains standing. Along with many others, Cheech and Chong are somewhat of living proof that weed doesn’t cause issues if you’ve been smoking it for years. But a new study from the University of Texas at Dallas is saying that heavy, long term marijuana use is linked to smaller volume in the orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain where decision making takes place. This part of the mind also deals with addiction.
The research shows that when an individual starts using marijuana earlier on in life, the more pronounced the brain abnormalities. Additionally though, the same research shows that the brains of heavy marijuana users have greater connectivity in this part of the brain as compared to those who don’t use pot. But even with the enhanced connectivity, the research says that this key part of the brain loses this ability over time. The abnormalities aren’t known to cause any mental illness of emotional deficits yet.
Dr. Francesca Filbey was the leader of the study. She is the director of the university’s Center for BrainHealth and an associate professor in the university’s School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. The study consisted of 48 adults who smoked marijuana three times a day for ten years, on average and 62 users who didn’t consume cannabis. Filbey and her team used MRI scanners to compare the brains of the two group. Their findings, while provocative, are acknowledged even by them, aren’t concrete evidence of cannabis contributing directly to the brain changes. Dr. Asaf Keller, a professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine wasn’t involved with the study but was asked by the Huffington Post to comment on the new data.
“As this is a retrospective study - not a prospective one - it is impossible to determine whether individual differences in brain anatomy are related to genetic or environmental factors other than marijuana use. In sum, there is not indication that the anatomical difference in the brains of marijuana users are caused by marijuana use,” Dr. Keller told HuffPost Science. These results will have to be duplicated in similar studies for the data to be concrete. For now, cannabis users can still rest easy in thinking that cannabis has absolutely no negative long term effects.
Marijuana Taxes Used To Hire More School Nurses In Colorado
Category: Culture | Posted on Mon, November, 17th 2014 by THCFinder
Public schools are underfunded across America. That is a well known fact. So when schools get an infusion of new revenue to hire more staff, it’s a big deal. In Colorado, tax revenues that were generated by legal marijuana sales are being used to hire more school nurses. Per the Huffington Post:
The state awarded nearly a million dollars’ worth of grants to schools throughout the state this week, reports The Denver Post. The grant money will be used by schools to hire health professionals such as nurses, psychologists and counselors and it’s composed of funds from marijuana tax revenue.
The more than $975,000 of grants handed out this week is part of a larger fund of $2.5 million created by the state legislature for schools to hire health professionals, says the outlet. The window for schools to apply for the rest of the funds closed last week.
Overall, a great deal of tax revenue generated by marijuana sales will help public schools in the state. In August, Education Week reported that more than $1 million of pot revenue is being used to help schools fund construction projects.
I would love to hear a marijuana opponent’s reasoning as to how this is a bad thing. I doubt they will ever take on the story head on, and instead will keep focusing on their tired, unfounded arguments about the harms of marijuana and how it’s a plague on our society. In Colorado, that couldn’t be further from the case. Marijuana is helping the public school system in Colorado, not hurting it, proven by every new person that is hired into the public school system as a result of marijuana tax revenues. I can’t wait until this starts happening in Oregon, where marijuana taxes will go to schools, law enforcement, and substance abuse treatment programs. Why isn’t every state doing this?
Why Is Cannabis Support Shrinking?
Although past studies have shown that Americans are in favor of straight up legalizing cannabis, more recent studies have been a little more disappointing. A Gallup poll that was released recently still shows that Americans support legalizing but the number has gone down drastically in just a years time. According to the new poll, only 51% of American’s support legalizing the plant. This number is down 7% from the 58% that the polling company found a year ago when the same question was asking. This new number is actually a step back, showing results closer to the polls done in 2011 and 2012.
Liberals had the highest support of the legalization of cannabis, around 73%, while moderates were at about 58%. Conservatives, however, came in at only 31%. Looking at the numbers regionally, the east and west coasts (primarily liberal), were the most supporting states, while the south and midwest (primarily conservative) weren’t feeling it. This makes sense, as most people know that the midwest is a rough place for those who are artistically inclined or a bit more open minded (in my experience, the midwest is my least favorite place to travel, solely based on my physical appearance, let alone my cannabis use).
So what’s causing the drop? Simple answer; scare tactics. If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you’ll know that Colorado has been in the spotlight for some negative backlash regarding cannabis. More specifically, the edibles. Since Halloween just passed, many news stations were broadcasting the “be aware that some stoners might poison your kids with weed!” or perhaps you’ve read the stories about people losing control of themselves, committing suicide or even harming others. Even though some of these concerns are just, the alleged danger is less than what people are portraying it to be.
Even though the Gallup poll numbers have fallen, marijuana advocates haven’t lost faith. Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said, “While most observers would agree there was solid majority support in 2013, many thought 58% was questionably high. Rarely, if ever, do you see a public opinion on a controversial social issue jump as much as seven points in the course of one year. Needless to say, things are moving in one direction when it comes to the tangible products of public opinion. I would take passage of laws in two states and our nation’s capital over some jumpy poll results any day. If Gallup finds 49% support in 2016 after five more states vote to end marijuana prohibition, I could live with that.
Washington State To Hold First Ever Marijuana Auction
There are auctions for cars. There are auctions for antiques. There are auctions for livestock. Now, in Washington State, there are also auctions for marijuana. As far as I know, there has never been a state sanctioned auction for marijuana. Usually growers just bring it into a store or dispensary and sell it. But, it appears that the State of Washington is taking a new approach, at least in this instance. Per Oregon Live:
Hundreds of pounds of Blue Dream, Blueberry Purple Kush, One Armed Bandit and other popular pot strains will be sold this weekend in Washington’s first state-sanctioned marijuana auction.
Randy Williams, the owner of Fireweed Farms in Prosser, said he hopes to auction off about 500 pounds of pot Saturday from his 450-plant outdoor farm in Eastern Washington. It will be sold in lots ranging from 5 pounds to 100 pounds.
Would you attend a marijuana auction if you had the chance? Obviously, the marijuana has to be sold to store owners since it’s in Washington and the amounts far exceed personal possession limits. I wonder if Oregon will ever take this approach, since outdoor cultivation will be very popular in my home state. I wonder what quality the marijuana will be? If I hear more about the auction results, I’ll make sure to post them.
Is NY Safe For Smokers?
New York has had many issues with cannabis since the 1990s and it doesn’t seem like they’ll be getting better with the recent report that the NYPD won’t be arresting people for small possession of the plant. Even though the cops are saying that they will no longer arrest people for having small amounts of the plant on them, people are skeptical. This isn’t the first time the police have made this statement, the first time being in 1977. Legislature in New York passed a law stipulating that small amounts of pot ket hidden from public view could not trigger an arrest. But as said above, since the 90s, the NYPD has targeted marijuana possession much more adamantly, issuing misdemeanors rather than tickets. There are tens of thousands of New Yorkers that are arrested every year for possession of marijuana, most of which don’t have a prior record.
New York especially has been the subject of the idea of extreme racial profiling when it comes to marijuana arrests. Within the first eight months of this year, 86% of those arrested for cannabis possession in New York were black or Latino. In a 2010 census, they made up just over 60% of the population in New York. Not only that but with such high arrest rates in the city, most of the people arrested for cannabis have no prior record and have their names tarnished by a ridiculous arrest charge for having a plant.
Joanna Naughton, a former NYPD officer and a member of the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition says that this won’t be decriminalization. “People will be summoned into criminal court to answer criminal charges,” she said. If the people summoned to court don’t appear, then warrants can be issued for their arrests. The idea of a court summons without an arrest would also cause issues, says Kenneth P. Thompson, the Brooklyn District Attorney. A summons without an arrest warrant doesn’t get prosecutorial review and those who need to appear in court may not automatically be appointed a lawyer. “These cases will move forward even when due process violations might have occurred,” Thompson stated.
So if you’re a current resident of New York, it’s a good idea to keep that bud hidden. With such a problem between the laws and what the police enforce, plus the discrimination aspect, it’s easy to see that the road to full cannabis acceptance is a rocky one. While New York may be making small steps, they definitely aren’t big enough for such a tough journey.
United States of Cannabis
Category: Culture | Posted on Thu, November, 13th 2014 by THCFinder
November is election month in the United States and the polls have since closed on a number of issues that Americans had the chance to vote on. While some states like Florida (it’s full of retired people, guys, did we really think cannabis would pass here?) shot down the cannabis measure, others have successfully passed measures to allow the use of cannabis. 2014 was supposed to be a big year for cannabis and it seems like that’s exactly the result from these last few polls/votes. It’s exciting to see people uniting around this plant. Here’s what to expect from the states that have now legalized cannabis for recreational use, following the precedent set by Colorado and Washington.
Oregon voters approved of the recreational use of cannabis on November 4th, 2014. Measure 91 has officially passed and the people are pretty amped about it. “We have ended a painful, discriminatory, harmful policy that has terrible consequences for our state,” Anthony Johnson, a long time legalization advocate, said at the Yes on 91 victory party. “We replaced it with a policy that is smarter, more humane… It’s a policy whose time has come.” the Yes on 91 campaign managed to collected $4 million in support of the measure, while the No on 91 scraped up a mere $200,000. It’s clear that Oregon is a green state and the people there are excited to join Colorado and Washington. The measure will take effect on July 1, 2015 and will allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis in public and up to eight ounces at home. “Marijuana was very low on the priority list in Oregon,” Clastop County District Attorney Josh Marquis stated of the measure passing. “And now it will essentially be crossed off.”
There are many things to be concerned with in the cold state of Alaska, one of which includes drunk people freezing to death in snowbanks after leaving bars. But after November 4, 2014, Alaskans will be allowed to ingest cannabis legally. Measure 2 allows adults 21 years or older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants in their homes, with no more than three being mature, for personal use. The measure will also allow the manufacture, sale, and possession of cannabis paraphernalia, such as glass pieces for smoking or storage containers. Alaska has voted on recreational cannabis two times before, in 2000 and again in 2004. The state has had medical marijuana since 1998. Alaska joins the legal states of Colorado and Washington, standing to make over $800 million in combined revenue before 2020, all thanks to the sale of the plant.
Last but not least, the residents of Washington DC voted to legalize the use of cannabis. Initiative 71 allows adult marijuana use, possession of up to two ounces and home cultivation of up to six plants. The measure states, however, that the sale of cannabis remains illegal but the Council of the District of Columbia is considering making a separate bill that will allow the regulation and taxation of cannabis, much like Colorado and Washington. Since DC is the capitol of the nation, this step is huge for marijuana supporters. This is the federal governments home turf and now, cannabis is legal there. DC has had issues with arrest rates regarding the plant, with nine out of ten people arrested in DC were black, even though blacks make up just slightly more than half of the city’s population. Additionally, government surveys show that blacks are no more likely to smoke cannabis than whites. By passing this measure, DC hopes to end racially biased marijuana prohibition, as well as decrease arrest rates in general. Soon, they hope to join the ever expanding profit pool that legal sates are basking in.
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