No Evidence That Medical Marijuana Leads To Increased Teen Use Says Study
Using the government’s own Youth Risky Behavior Survey (YRBS) for the years 1993 through 2009, the study saw no correlation between states legalizing medical marijuana and teens using the plant.
"There is anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana is finding its way into the hands of teenagers, but there's no statistical evidence that legalization increases the probability of use," said Daniel I. Rees, a professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver, who co-authored the study along with Benjamin Hansen, assistant professor of economics at the University of Oregon and D. Mark Anderson, assistant professor of economics at Montana State University.
While many studies show that marijuana use is on the rise among teens, there are many things more likely to attribute to that than taking some marijuana out of the hands of drug dealers and into the hands of registered businesses and caregivers. In fact, even in states where medical marijuana is legal, a large black market still thrives because most marijuana users don’t qualify medically.
Common sense tells you that the more you regulate a product, the less likely teens are to get it. Alcohol and tobacco are prime examples. The government has no control over the black market - as much as they like to pretend they do – and drug dealers have no incentive to check I.D. because they are already breaking the law. But a liquor store will check I.D. because they want to keep their liquor license and keep making money legally.
Another contributing factor to a rise in teen use could be education about how much safer marijuana is than any other recreational substance. Maybe teens have more information because anything can be looked up on the internet.
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Medical Marijuana Patient-Tracking Program against Colorado Constitution?
Medical marijuana advocates are crying foul over a proposed plan in Colorado to track patients and share the information with law enforcement, and also over the way discussions about the plan have been kept from the public.
The firestorm kicked off when William Breathes from Denver Westword reported on a closed-door meeting on the issue. "The departments are not helping us," said medical marijuana advocate Kathleen Chippi. "We've talked to people at every department that was involved in the meeting," which focused on collaboration between the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, "and we got responses like, 'Well, we can't answer that,' or something to that effect. They're not giving us a clear and concise answer. But the bottom line is, we know the meeting wasn't posted publicly, and we know from William's article that the public was asked not to come."
According to William Breathes, CDPHE spokesman Mark Salley confirmed that the meeting was not open to the public, which Chippi says violates Colorado Sunshine laws. Furthermore Chippi says the proposed system itself violates Colorado’s Amendment 20, the state’s medical marijuana law. In particular the passage that states, “Authorized employees of state or local law enforcement agencies shall be granted access to the information contained within the state health agency's confidential registry only for the purpose of verifying that an individual who has presented a registry identification card to a state or local law enforcement official is lawfully in possession of such card.”
No mention of tracking and sharing info with law enforcement. "For twelve years, our constitutional amendment has said something, and patients thought they were protected," Chippi said. "And for ten years, the health department has said the registry would never be put online at all. It was supposed to be one modem at the department of health. And now they're sharing information with law enforcement."
Chippi is backing a ballot initiative known as Amendment 70, which would make marijuana legalization a constitutional right in the state and would also stop Colorado resources from being used by the feds in medical marijuana crackdowns. Supporters of Amendment 70 are currently gathering signatures.
Michigan Supreme Court Says States MMJ Law Shields Patients from Prosecution
On Thursday the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the state’s medical cannabis law shields patients from prosecution by state authorities.
The court said that the law showed voters’ "intent to permit both registered and unregistered patients to assert medical reasons for using marijuana as a defense to any prosecution involving marijuana."
"That's the way we wrote it," said Karen O'Keefe, an attorney with The Marijuana Policy Project, the group that spearheaded Michigan’s medical marijuana maw in 2008.
The ruling basically states that anyone with a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana before their arrest on marijuana-related offenses can use medical marijuana as a defense, even if they are not registered with the state.
Those of you who live in Michigan or have followed the progress of their medical marijuana laws knows that a lot of patients are being helped but that oftentimes the relationship between medical cannabis providers and state law enforcement has been contentious at best.
This new ruling may only be a small distinction to some, but if you have a doctor’s recommendation in Michigan it can be a very big deal. The essence of medical marijuana laws are their function as a shield for medical marijuana patients from regular cannabis laws. While this does nothing to change federal law, medical marijuana patients will come into contact with state and local law enforcement much more often than they will see a DEA agent.
And in the end all positive steps in marijuana law reform should be celebrated. Some will say that the pace of change is slow, but so to was the pace of prohibition. Marijuana became nationally illegal in the 1930’s but it took a few decades before law enforcement started cracking heads over it.
The road back to legality will be long, but as long as progress is always made the success of the ultimate goal is inevitable.
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