Marijuana
The Latest Scientific Findings and Legalization

Summary

THE DR. LAWRENCE H.
AND ROBERTA COHN FORUMS
MARIJUANA: The Latest Scientific Findings and Legalization
Presented jointly with The Huffington Post
Friday, March 24, 2017

California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada became the latest states to legalize recreational marijuana, bringing to 28 the number of states that have okayed the drug for medicinal use, recreational use, or both. Even more states have rules that allow certain kinds of cannabis extracts to be used for medical purposes. At the same time that state legalization is increasing, the Trump administration is signaling that it may ramp up enforcement of federal drug laws, even when they come into conflict with state laws allowing recreational marijuana use. State and local governments may find themselves on uncertain legal ground. Meanwhile, policymakers navigating this new landscape are also working largely without the benefit of a solid foundation of scientific evidence on the drug’s risks and benefits. In fact, a new National Academy of Medicine report describes notable gaps in scientific data on the short- and long-term health effects of marijuana. What do we know about the health impacts of marijuana, and what do we still need to learn? This Forum brought together researchers studying marijuana’s health impacts with policymakers who are working to implement new laws in ways that will benefit and protect public health.

Tweet us @ForumHSPH #marijuanascience

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Presented jointly with The Huffington Post

Background Articles

Image Credit: iStockphoto.com/gaspr13

  • twaflyer1 .

    Money is the goal of most young people today! There seems not to be that deep desire to get involved in socially based issues..or into an exciting scientific career! There will always be a few of course, but patience is wearing thin! Often offering a young person a decent Job, with decent money, may be enough to forego those deeper dreams until a later time…which may never arrive! More than at any other time, in my short lifetime that is, there is a definite need to council young people, notably by someone with authority and experience! There is that need to override those fun and tempting experiences that rattles a youngster’s brain! Kid feel the ever-mounting pressures like never before! Parents and faculty members, take this into serious consideration to Blossom the many latent talents the individual students have!

  • The Forum Moderator

    Thanks for joining us. We will start in just a few minutes.

  • The Forum Moderator

    We have begun. We are so glad you could join us today.

  • The Forum Moderator

    This event is presented jointly with The Huffington Post. Our moderator, Ryan Grim, is their Washington Bureau Chief.

  • The Forum Moderator

    The report that Dr. McCormick described, Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: the Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research, is available at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24625/the-health-effects-of-cannabis-and-cannabinoids-the-current-state

  • The Forum Moderator

    Dr. Gruber has more information about research at her site: drstacigruber.com

  • The Forum Moderator

    We will have a short Q&A at the end of this event. You can post your questions for the panelists here or RSVP them to theforum@hsph.harvard.edu

  • The Forum Moderator

    These PSAs are courtesy of Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, and we thank them for letting us show them.

  • The Forum Moderator

    Post your questions for the panelists here or email them to theforum@hsph.harvard.edu.

  • The Forum Moderator

    This video will be posted online on this site early next week.

  • Paola

    Could you briefly tease out the evidence behind medical inhaled/smoked cannabis vs. oils/edibles/other concentrates? pharmacodinamically very different and yet the syst. reviews and reports “lump” all forms of marijuana under the same efficacy and safety umbrella. Thank you

  • habsolute

    Could Dr. Gruber comment on whether neuroimaging could give clues to who might be vulnerable to the negative effects of marijuana use, i.e., that might exacerbate existing mental disorders or induce latent neuropsychiatric pathologies?

  • Rory O’Connor

    What about the Trump Effect–ie federal crackdown. Might not everything you are talking about be rendered moot soon?

    • xMVince

      Definitely not moot.. It’ll be legalized eventually whether it’s Trump or a future president. Evil will not prevail!

  • The Forum Moderator

    Thanks for all the great questions. We will get to as many as we can.

  • The Forum Moderator

    We are wrapping up. We thank you again. The video will be posted here early next week. It will also be on YouTube and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Forumhsph/)

  • The Forum Moderator

    Join us again this Monday at 12:30pm ET:
    RACE AND POLICING: State and Local Perspectives
    Presented jointly with PRI’S The World & WGBH
    12:30-1:30pm ET
    https://theforum.sph.harvard.edu/events/race-and-policing/

  • Buster Daniels

    Could you ask the panelists what their perspectives are on Portugal’s decriminalization experience? Lessons learned that could be applied in the US?

    • PJ

      Portugal’s decriminalization experience would be of value to just about every country. Each country’s administration should study Portugal’s approach very carefully. It may save spending heavily on law enforcement & save their citizens from a lot of unnecessary suffering.

  • Lisbeth Nook Arbour

    Well done!!!!! The best presentation yet on this important issue from both a medical as well as a social perspective! I am so looking forward to more information on the many medical applications of marijuana, I believe it is a medicine which holds great possibilities and needs to be further understood.

  • EBD

    How much can be done at the town level to regulate marijuana retailers? Have you seen any impact to the black market in CO?

  • Kristen Dweck

    Question sent by email

    How addictive is recreational marijuana and how hard is it on the person to quit?

  • Kristen Dweck

    Question sent by email

    Can you speak at all to positive and negative health effects of cannabis for former or current opioid users? Does use of cannabis reduce or increase rates at which people use opioids? Are there any negative medical interactions between cannabis and opioids, including opioid replacement medications like Suboxone?

  • Kristen Dweck

    Question sent by email

    Would the panel be able to speak to the persistent neurocognitive effects that impact areas of the brain not typically associated with alcohol intoxication (what we like to compare marijuana to) and the safety implications of use “off the job” in various occupations?

    Acute impairment is not the only concern for occupational safety in complex and safety sensitive environments.

    In Canada we are on the brink of legalization and the public is largely uninformed on the lingering effects that will pose serious risks in complex safety sensitive environments.

  • Kristen Dweck

    Question sent by email

    Could Dr. Gruber comment on whether neuroimaging could give clues to who might be vulnerable to the negative effects of marijuana use, i.e., that might exacerbate existing mental disorders or induce latent neuropsychiatric pathologies?

  • Kristen Dweck

    Question sent by email

    What about the Trump Effect–ie federal crackdown. Might not everything you are talking about be rendered moot soon?

  • Kristen Dweck

    Question sent by email

    Edward Redd, MD, Representative in the Utah House of Representatives
    He has several questions, he’s asking if there is any evidence to suggest that CBD may be useful in managing schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. He also asks about CBD and/or THC to treat MS, peripheral neuropathy, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s and a few other disorders.

  • Kristen Dweck

    Question sent by email

    Since the marijuana plant approved for research by NIDA has such a low THC content, is it safe to say we have no idea about the short and long term effects on teens about use-once a week or more of higher THC content plants and concentrates? How are we going to discover these effects?

  • Kristen Dweck

    Question sent by email

    What is your best guess as to precisely what actions the Trump Administration and Jeff Sessions Justice department will take — and when– in terms of enforcement of federal law making marijuana illegal as opposed to state laws making it legal for medical, recreational (or both) use?

  • Kristen Dweck

    Question sent by email

    Why doesn’t the FDA regulate medical marijuana like any other medicine with significant potential adverse effects? Why doesn’t it require that doctors prescribe the medication in a specific dose and for specific indications which it has been shown to be safe and effective by a series of randomized clinical trials? Why doesn¹t the FDA require that pharmacists dispense it like any other prescribed medication. Why are the standards for its approval as medicine different from other medications?

  • Kristen Dweck

    Question sent by email

    Do the cardiometabolic effects of cannabis differ depending on how the substance is delivered– ie smoking/inhaling vs oral and other forms of delivery? And is there information on how cardiometabolic effects differ between THC and CBD compounds?

  • Kristen Dweck

    Question sent by email

    How and where is legal marijuana grown and cultivated, and how do states control that process?

  • Kristen Dweck

    Question sent by email

    Is there any research yet available on whether or not legalization in states like Colorado is increasing use among adolescents? What is the timeframe for studies like these so that we have a sense of the implications on young people? I read somewhere that legalizing medical marijuana actually has been connected with a reduction in teen use.

  • Kristen Dweck

    Question sent by email

    Do states set a limit on the level of THC in pot (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the level of potency? I read somewhere that most states with medical dispensaries set it at 10-15%. How is that regulated?

  • Kristen Dweck

    Question sent by email

    Is there any evidence that marijuana may be useful in managing the effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s?

  • Richard Blumenthal

    Secondhand marijuana smoke has potentially powerful, damaging effects on infants and young children. Unlike alcohol which requires intentional ingestion, drug-rich smoke is ubiquitous in the room/home where it is used and children will undoubtedly inhale it.