Opinion: Support for legalizing marijuana is strong, but the push will nonetheless soon stall

The midterm elections could loosen marijuana restrictions in the United States, as four states put ballot initiatives on legalization to a vote.

Voters in Utah and Missouri will choose whether patients should gain access to medical marijuana.

In Michigan and North Dakota, where medical marijuana is already legal, residents will decide whether to allow it for recreational use. If so, they would join nine U.S. states, Washington, D.C., Canada and Uruguay in launching a regulated recreational marijuana market.

Another 22 American states have adopted comprehensive medical marijuana programs since 1996, when California became the first to recognize the medicinal uses of marijuana in easing the symptoms of serious illnesses like HIV, cancer, epilepsy, PTSD and glaucoma. Recently, marijuana’s potential value for treating chronic pain has garnered attention as an alternative to opioids.

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New Evidence Pot May Harm the Teen Brain

Teens who stop smoking pot can think and learn better afterward, even if they are only light users, a new study reports.

Compared to teenagers and young adults who continued using marijuana, those who abstained for a month displayed a “modest but reliable improvement in their ability to learn,” said lead researcher Randi Schuster.

“Most of this improvement surprisingly happens rather quickly, within the first week of abstinence,” added Schuster, director of neuropsychology at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Addiction Medicine.

The results show that kids need to be kept from using pot, Schuster said. This is a growing concern as recreational marijuana becomes legal in more U.S. states, she added.

“As we as a country move toward widespread legalization, we should pay attention to smart prevention programming for children,” Schuster said.

The researchers cited a 2016 survey that found almost 14 percent of middle and high school students had used pot in the prior month. It also showed daily use doubling between eighth and 12th grades.

Maturation of critical parts of the brain occurs in adolescence, and regular pot use in those years may cause more harm than later use, the researchers said in background notes.

Marijuana legalization proponents countered that the new study supports their contention that the effects of pot are temporary.

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Altria Will Pull Its E-Cigarette Pods From the Market

Marlboro maker says move is response to underage use in a market where it has fallen behind upstart Juul

Tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. is pulling its pod-style e-cigarette devices from the market and discontinuing the sale of many e-cigarette flavors to combat underage use—a move that puts pressure on upstart Juul Labs Inc., which has grown rapidly by selling such products.

The Food and Drug Administration has warned of a public-health crisis from widespread use of e-cigarettes by children, and threatened to ban a broad swath of flavored products.

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Pot Is Now Legal In Canada. But Admitting To Using It Can Get You Banned From U.S.

It’s now legal for adults to smoke pot in Canada. But some Canadians have found themselves barred – possibly permanently – if they admit at the U.S. border that they have used marijuana.

Estevan, Saskatchewan, is just 10 miles north of the border with North Dakota. The town’s mayor, Roy Ludwig, told the CBC that residents have been turned away at the border for admitting to marijuana use.

“It is a fairly serious concern,” Ludwig said. “Even people that might have smoked it 20, 30 years ago, they’re being asked, ‘Have you ever smoked cannabis?’ when they get to the U.S. border. We understand some people have said yes, that they have, and have been turned back.”

And the concern is not only that they won’t be able to enter the U.S. once – but that they can be banned permanently.

That’s what happened to Bill Powers, a 57-year-old Canadian who has a medical marijuana license, The Los Angeles Times reported. Border agents asked if Powers had ever smoked pot before getting the license. When he said he had, he was labeled “inadmissible” and barred from entering the U.S.

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What If Jackson Maine Had A Different Disease? – An Addiction Doctor’s Take On ‘A Star Is Born’

A Star Is Born was released several weeks ago, but I didn’t see it right away. Based on the trailer and multiple interviews with both stars, envisioning music icon Lady Gaga as a singer wasn’t a stretch, despite this being her first leading role. I was not convinced, however, that Bradley Cooper – multiple Academy Award nominations notwithstanding – could pull off the singer-songwriter part.

I was wrong.

Cooper’s country rock star persona was completely credible. But I was most impressed with his portrayal of unrelenting, alcohol-induced self-destruction. Credit to his acting acumen, no doubt. But he was also able to draw upon his own experience with – and ultimate recovery from – long-time alcohol use disorder (AUD).

As a director, Cooper accurately depicted what I hope all audience members will appreciate – and that very few Hollywood films acknowledge – which is Jackson Maine’s addiction was a chronic brain disorder. He was a
slave to his disease. He could not function without drinking immediately before and after each show. At the height of his illness – and the event that prompted entry to rehab – Jackson, delirious from alcohol and pills, stumbled on stage during the pinnacle of his wife’s fledgling singing career (her Grammy acceptance speech), stammered incoherently and ultimately urinated himself. Later in rehab, his sobbing face covered by his hands, riddled with guilt, Jackson could barely face his wife.

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Medical marijuana: Ohio’s newest industry has a big problem: What to do with its money.

When Ohio’s medical marijuana dispensaries finally open their doors later this year or early next year, they’re expected to rake in a ton of cash.

But they’re unlikely to head straight to the bank with it.

Most banks and credit unions won’t handle proceeds from marijuana-related businesses because the drug is still considered an illegal controlled substance by the federal government.

Consequently, companies providing financial services to marijuana-related businesses could be subject to prosecution for money laundering and other federal crimes.

Most aren’t willing to take the risk, forfeiting billions of dollars in potential deposits from marijuana growers, processors, retail dispensaries and other related businesses.

Regulated marijuana sales in North American are projected to reach $24 billion by 2021 – more than double the $10 billion in sales forecast for this year, according to research from Arcview and BDS Analytics.

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Upper Arlington extends medical-marijuana ban

More than two years after Ohio legalized medical marijuana and growers and dispensaries throughout the state move closer to offering THC products to recommended patients, Upper Arlington officials remain opposed to allowing related businesses to operate locally.

On Oct. 8, Upper Arlington City Council unanimously passed its third 12-month moratorium on marijuana-related businesses since October 2016.

The latest ordinance, which was passed by emergency vote and became effective immediately, mirrors the city’s previous two bans.

It states Upper Arlington’s city charter and the Ohio Constitution give City Council the power to enact “planning, zoning and business regulation laws that further the health, safety, welfare, comfort and peace of its citizens, including restricting, prohibiting and/or regulating certain businesses.”

Council President Kip Greenhill said during a council conference session Sept. 17 that’s the crux of the city’s ongoing opposition to regulated medical-marijuana operations.

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Schottenstein-backed, Columbus-based cannabis company set to go public in Canada

Schottenstein family’s Green Growth Brands focuses on marijuana retail merchandise in Canada.

The Schottensteins are going to bring their experience running DSW and American Eagle to the marijuana trade.

After failing to receive a marijuana cultivation license in Ohio, the central Ohio family has turned to building a number of brands around cannabis products, including health and beauty items, a chain of dispensaries — the retail spaces where people buy cannabis products — and what the company calls “lifestyle” brands.

The new company, Green Growth Brands, raised $65 million from investors and will soon be listed on the Canadian stock exchange. Canada legalized marijuana this month, making businesses openly focused on growing and selling cannabis less of a risk than in the U.S. where marijuana is still illegal at a federal level.

The company declined to be interviewed for this story, but Green Growth CEO Peter Horvath, a veteran of L Brands and the Schottensteins’ DSW and American Eagle companies, has spoken to Bloomberg News and CNBC.

“We’ve got decades of experience competing for customers,” Horvath told Jim Cramer last week on Cramer’s CNBC show. “We’ve built brands from scratch.”

Horvath told Bloomberg that the company’s experience building brands like Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works should translate into the cannabis space, where major retail players have yet to tread. Cannabis is legal in some form in a number of states, but there isn’t any uniform regulation around the industry yet.

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Signing Opioid Law, Trump Pledges To End ‘Scourge’ Of Drug Addiction

With the nation reeling from an epidemic of drug overdose deaths, President Trump signed legislation Wednesday that is aimed at helping people overcome addiction and preventing addictions before they start.

“Together we are going to end the scourge of drug addiction in America,” Trump said at a White House event celebrating the signing. “We are going to end it or we are going to at least make an extremely big dent in this terrible, terrible problem.”

The opioid legislation was a rarity for this Congress, getting overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers.

The expansive package focuses on improving access to treatment services by lifting certain restrictions on Medicaid and Medicare coverage, as well as backing the creation of comprehensive opioid recovery centers.

It attempts to address over prescription of opioids and authorizes government research into non-addictive drugs that could be used for pain management.

There are also measures that seek to curtail foreign shipments of illegal drugs to the United States.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, spoke to NPR ahead of the bill signing. He was a leading proponent of the legislation in the Senate.

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