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No, marijuana is not more harmful than tobacco

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Another questionable study is being used to stoke Reefer Madness 2.0. Here’s what that study really found, and why it’s being used to mislead the public.


Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal published a health article titled “Marijuana May Hurt Smokers More Than Cigarettes Alone,” attempting to raise concerns that smoking cannabis may be more harmful than smoking cigarettes.

The article was based on a new study from Canada, which compared the lung health of cigarette smokers, and cigarette smokers who also smoke cannabis. But many outlets are spinning the data before washing it in context for readers.

That Wall Street Journal headline? It’s just wrong.

Here’s what that study really found, plus answers as to why cannabis users are being bombarded with misleading info about the plant from seemingly reputable sources.

No marijuana-only smokers were actually studied

(Adobe Stock)

Rule number one about newly-released studies: Read the findings yourself. Unless the source of information is clearly linked, be skeptical of whatever conclusions are made about new research until you review it yourself.

In this case, a simple look at the study in question—“Chest CT Findings in Marijuana Smokers,” published on Nov. 15 in the journal Radiology—reveals a major issue.

It’s contained in the article title itself. The CT findings in the study weren’t from marijuana smokers. They were from tobacco smokers who also smoked cannabis. No cannabis-only smokers were included in the study.

How the study was set up

(AdobeStock)

The study’s lead author, a diagnostic radiologist at Ottawa Hospital in Ontario, Canada, wrote: “The purpose of this study was to use chest CT to investigate the effects of marijuana smoking on the lung. We sought to determine if there were identifiable sequelae on chest CT images, including emphysema and signs of airway inflammation.”

To create test groups, researchers reviewed the medical charts of patients seen between 2005 and 2020. The study states: “Thirty-three tobacco-only smokers were identified with chest CT performed between April and June 2019.”

“If marijuana use was identified, the patient was excluded” from the tobacco-only group, “added to the group of marijuana smokers, and a new patient was selected.”

In other words, the study didn’t compare tobacco smokers to marijuana smokers. Instead, the researchers compared tobacco-only smokers to tobacco smokers who also smoked marijuana. (And a third group of patients who did not smoke anything at all.) There was no group of patients who smoked marijuana but no tobacco.

Probably not a good idea to smoke cigarettes and marijuana

Marlboro
(Olivia de Salve Villedieu/Wikimedia)

So the study, in fact, did not find that “Marijuana May Hurt Smokers More Than Cigarettes Alone,” as the Wall Street Journal headline claimed. But that’s the takeaway that will circle the media globe, and in fact has already been picked up by numerous other news outlets, including CNN and USA Today.

In actually useful news, the study’s authors found that it’s not a healthy thing to smoke both tobacco and cannabis. “The study authors found bronchial thickening in 64% of marijuana smokers versus 42% of tobacco-only smokers and a condition that leads to excess mucus buildup in 23% of marijuana smokers versus 6% of tobacco-only smokers,” reported The Street, accurately.

It’s not clear if that applies more to those who smoke cigarettes and cannabis separately, or those who mix tobacco with their cannabis.

What have previous studies found?

(ilbusca/iStock)

A study from 2007 found a connection between emphysema and other lung issues in cannabis smokers versus non-smokers, but tobacco or cigarettes were not part of the research.

A separate 2012 study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, found “Marijuana smoke (is) not as damaging to lungs as cigarette smoke,” with a far larger sample size and more rigorous methodology to boot.

The UAB study found: “At levels of marijuana exposure commonly seen in Americans, occasional marijuana use was associated with increases in lung air flow rates and increases in lung capacity,” the study’s lead researcher said. “Those increases were not large, but they were statistically significant. And the data showed that even up to moderately high-use levels — one joint a day for seven years — there is no evidence of decreased air-flow rates or lung volumes.”

That study acknowledged that lifetime exposure to smoke can still be harmful, but that longtime, heavy cannabis users are not easy to find for studies, given the plant’s sticky legal status.

The UAB study was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, is a long-term research project involving more than 5,000 black and white men and women from Birmingham, Chicago, Minneapolis and Oakland, designed to examine the development and determinants of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors. Participants were recruited when they were ages 18-30 and followed them from 1985 to 2006.

Consider the source

In the age of misinformation, even verified, check-marked sources can be peddling fake news. That’s why it’s so important to double-check the validity of news stories before believing them or sharing them with others.

As for the phony headlines using the tobacco and marijuana study to bait clicks and stoke Reefer Madness 2.0, shut that noise down at the door. When your relatives start quoting that bogus headline over Thanksgiving dinner this year, come armed with facts.



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CBD did not help people who got too high, study finds

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CBD news and products keep coming at us all hot and heavy, Leafly Nation. 

In the last 30 days, scientists found a common CBD claim didn’t hold up, but cannabidiol did help with opioid withdrawal. 

CBD’s mainstreaming also continued with a major sports deal. Plus, we found some new gummies, capsules, and tinctures we like—even one from Travis frickin’ Barker.

Leafly rounds up everything from the last month that’s fit to post about America’s second favorite pot molecule (after THC). Get up to speed with this essential rundown below.

Top CBD news of November

CBd did not lessen the impact of THC in this study series. (Courtesy Neuropsychopharmacology)
CBD did not lessen the impact of THC in this study series. (Courtesy Neuropsychopharmacology)

‘CBD Does Not Reduce Negative Effects of THC in Cannabis.’ “Overall, our advice to people wanting to avoid the negative effects of THC is to use less of it,” said Philip McGuire, the study’s senior author.” [Laboratory Equipment]

Anxiety went down, down, down on CBD in this study.
Anxiety went down, down, down on CBD in this study.

Clinical Trial: CBD Dosing Reduces Anxiety, Improves Cognitive Performance [NORML]

Cannabis, menopause, and the endocannabinoid system. “I’ve seen patients throughout most of the hormonal transitions. And I have seen cannabis be very, very helpful,” said Dr. Genester Wilson-King. [Project CBD]

Review: Data Suggests Role for CBD in Managing Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms. “Growing evidence suggests that CBD may have the potential to reduce anxiety, pain, and insomnia with also some signals for reducing craving, nausea, vomiting, muscle spasms, and blood pressure.” [NORML]

America's favorite pastime—baseball, and CBD marketing. (Courtesy Charlotte's Web)
America’s favorite pastime—baseball, and CBD marketing. (Courtesy Charlotte’s Web)

Major League Baseball became the first major sports league to ink a sponsorship deal with a CBD company last month. On October 12, Charlotte’s Web became “The Official CBD of Major League Baseball.” The partnership coincides with the launch of the CBD company’s Charlotte’s Web SPORT- Daily Edge tincture, a broad-spectrum product (meaning that the extract contains a range of cannabinoids from the hemp plant, but no THC).

“The CEO of edibles company Wana Brands is ponying up $3 million to further cannabis and psychedelic research at Johns Hopkins University (JHU).” [TheGrowthOp]

Legendary goth-metal band Type O Negative has jumped on the CBD train. #SureWhyNot. Their signature Blackberry No. 1 tincture—a cute reference to their spooky scary 1993 single “Black No. 1”—dropped last week, in collaboration with Texas-based Whole Organix

Ever find yourself jonesing for CBD-infused, booze-free wine? You’re also in luck. This summer, Health Advance Group launched its collection of 66° wines. Last week, the company announced its intent to expand rapidly across this grand land of ours. Soon, no connoisseur of CBD-infused, booze-free wine will go unsatiated.

Cannabidiol (CBD) infused beverages are worth $2.83B in 2021 [Digital Journal]

How do you know if your CBD is legit? [Forbes]

What are the health benefits of CBD coffee? [Medical News Today]

CBD Statistics: How Many People Uses It, Demographics, & More (2022 Data Update). “26% of Americans are using CBD in 2022; 64% of CBD users use CBD for pain.” [CFAH]

Cannabidiol (CBD) in Food [Alabama Public Health]

CBD products Leafly loved this month

Barker Organic Gummies

Travis Barker has a gummy for stage fright. (Courtesy Barker)
Travis Barker has a gummy for stage fright. (Courtesy Barker)

I’m feeling this! Lord knows that celebrities have overrun the CBD market with branded gummies, tinctures, and more. But we gotta hand it to Travis Barker, the generously-tattooed drummer of the (recently-reunited) Blink-182: His broad-spectrum gummies rise above much of the competition. While the citrus-y “Recovery” variety imparted a mildly plastic-y aftertaste, both the Green Apple Matcha “Maintenance” gummy (10 mg CBD and 10 mg CBG) and the effective “Sleep” (10 mg CBD and 10 mg CBN) gummy boasted a full-bodied taste, and a pleasantly dense chewiness.

Infinite Focus capsules

Sometimes we want to take our CBD in capsule form: No sugar, no flavors, no mess. I recently came across this exciting line of products from Colorado’s Infinite CBD. The Focus products—also available in gummy and tincture forms—contain 18mg of CBD isolate (meaning the extract does not contain any other cannabinoids and 2mg of CBG). Most notably, the Focus products also contain 25 mg each of 5-HTP, a compound that research suggests may boost serotonin levels and in turn help individuals suffering from depression or anxiety. 

R+R Medicinals tinctures

Get some rest and relaxation, soldier. R&R tincture.  (Courtesy R&R)
Get some rest and relaxation, soldier. R&R tincture. (Courtesy R&R)

The good folks at my local dispensary turned me on to this excellent Colorado brand. Their tinctures—made from a proprietary, certified organic strain of hemp—pack quite a punch: 2500 milligrams of CBD per one ounce bottle. That’s over 40 mg per dropper. (R+R offers lower-strength tinctures as well.) Bonus points: The R+R sweeties even throw in free shipping in the US. R+R sells their tinctures in both full-spectrum (up to 0.3% THC) and broad-spectrum varieties.

America’s best edibles for the holidays 2022

$45 / 200 mg CBD. Sold in CA and online nationwide. (Courtesy Rose LA)
$45 / 200 mg CBD. Sold in CA and online nationwide. (Courtesy Rose LA)

Our Leafly Danksgiving roundup tosses in some CBD edibles picks.

Other CBD reviews around the web

‘25 best CBD pills [Discover Magazine]

‘My favorite CBD products go on sale for Black Friday’ [Refinery29]

Related

What’s the difference between CBD and THC?

Better late than never, Congress just sent President Biden a cannabis research bill that’ll make it slightly easier to research THC and CBD. There’s tons of caveats, though. For example, scientists cannot study products actually in stores.

On November 1, Idaho will begin enforcing a ban of CBD and hemp products for pets. The policy has infuriated Idahoans, who, you know, want their pets to lead healthy, happy lives. I guess this is what they meant by “limited government?”

On October 21, Hong Kong officially outlawed CBD, putting it in the same category as heroin cocaine. In Hong Kong, that means up to seven years in prison. The policy will take effect in December.

CBD press releases and sponsored content

  • Rare Cannabinoid Company launches new delta-9 THC+CBC mood gummies [Leafly]
  • Take a dip in the Canna River [Leafly
  • These single-source CBD extracts let the plant shine [Leafly]
  • CBD for Weight Loss: Does It Really Work? 8 Brands We Recommend [Woman’s World]
  • 15 best CBD gummies for sex. [LA Weekly]

And that’s it for Leafly’s monthly novel CBD news roundup. It’s busy out there. We’ll keep an eye on the topic and see you next month for more.

Did CBD ever help you with being too high? Leave a comment below.

Max Savage Levenson's Bio Image

Max Savage Levenson

Max Savage Levenson likely has the lowest cannabis tolerance of any writer on the cannabis beat. He also writes about music for Pitchfork, Bandcamp and other bespectacled folk. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. His dream interview is Tyler the Creator.

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Who Is Smoking Weed in the US? Insights From Gallup & Government

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Well before legalizations I was smoking weed, and so was a very large part of the population I came into contact with; though its illegal status meant less admitting to this. In fact, it’s been the most popular drug for so long, it’s funny to see research talking about it like a new trend. People have always been smoking weed, but now that its more socially acceptable, its okay to talk about it. So, to give an idea of who is smoking weed in the US (now that people are being more open), here’s some info to provide new insights, from both Gallup and the government.

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Where is this data coming from?

Before getting into the numbers, let’s first examine where the following information is coming from. It’s great to know that a lot of people smoke, but when it comes to informational breakdowns, it requires a lot of information collection. One of the biggest organizations to collect and publish data on consumer opinions, is the company Gallup.

You’ve probably heard the term ‘Gallup poll’, because they’re used for all kinds of data collection, and get published frequently to help shed light on a subject for the general public. Gallup polls are conducted through the US analytics company Gallup, Inc., which hails out of Washington, DC. Gallup conducts all sorts of opinion polls, both in the US, and abroad.

The polls are all carried out via telephone interviews. The numbers called create random samples, and any number with a working exchange can be used, including unlisted numbers. As with any poll, its hard to imagine they’ll ever be 100% right on, but have through the years provided a level of consistency in accuracy that makes them useful tools for gauging public opinion.

Survey - Who is smoking weed in US
Survey – Who is smoking weed in US

It should be remembered, however, that its easy to hang up on a person calling for a poll, and many people will simply never take part in one, while others relish the opportunity. Plus, plenty of people don’t answer calls they’re unfamiliar with; and some populations, like the homeless, are less likely to have a number at all. These surveys are useful, but only as good as who picks up and feels like responding.

However, Gallup polls are interesting because they’re not based on governments looking for information, and have more of an independent appeal. This can mean less slant in the outcome, and more reason for impartiality. Having said that, other organizations, including government organizations, also provide compiled data on topics like drug use.

Which is expected to provide a better answer? It’s hard to say. A lot of recent information comes from the Monitoring the Future panel study, which was conducted via the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, and which received its funding through the National Institutes of Health’s NIDA, making it a government study. How does non-government Gallup data compare to the government version? Read on to find out.

Current Gallup data on who is smoking weed in the US

It’s easy to say, ‘everyone is doing it’, but that’s not true. And sometimes its nice to see an actual breakdown of exactly who is, and who isn’t (or, at least, as exact as possible). The first thing to know, is that the first time Gallup ever asked this question in the US, it was back in 1969, and at that time, only 4% admitted to having used marijuana. Now, this represents a possible limitation, in that at a time when there was a strong social stigma against it, it might have been harder to get people to be honest…even if it was anonymous polls.

What’re the most recent Gallup numbers? As of 2021, up to 49% of respondants said they’d used cannabis. Says director of U.S. social research for the company, Lydia Saad, “In the next few years, we should see that crossing 50 percent.”

What else has Gallup found about marijuana usage among Americans? Well for one thing, apparently if you’ve got a Masters degree, you’re only a third as likely to smoke marijuana a those who only have a standard college degree or less. And as it might seem obvious just by which states were the first to adopt recreational policies, democrats have shown to be twice as likely to toke up as republicans. In the same vein, those who see themselves as liberals, apparently use marijuana almost 4X as much as those who see themselves as conservatives.

Weed polling data
Weed polling data

Gallup polls also indicate that men have been more likely to use than women throughout the years. How much more? At apparently a nearly 2:1 ratio. However, this gap has steadily been closing in more recent years, and in the young adult category, it almost doesn’t exist at all anymore.

Gallup polls have shown another interesting point. While they look at opinion, they tend to also look at who has that opinion. What its polling shows, is that though some people (as much as 50%) still have a negative view on cannabis, that negative view comes primarily from those who don’t, and have often never, used it. Those who do use it see it as beneficial for both individuals and society (70% and 66% respectively).

Those who never used it, see it as beneficial on both those levels at only 35% and 27% respectively, with much higher numbers in the not-beneficial category (62% and 72% respectively). This says quite a bit about knowing the thing you’re making a judgment about, and how not knowing about something, can easily lead to fear of it.

Current Monitoring the Future Panel study info on who is smoking weed in the US

So we saw a little bit of what Gallup had to say, now what about what the government compiled? According to this data, about 2/5 of young adults say they use cannabis at least sometimes. Remember how it used to be mainly men smoking? Well, part of the rise, is the catching up of the female population. The young adult category is comprised of those 19-30, and the comparison comes from looking at 2021 data, next to data from both five and 10 years ago.

The data also points to a another interesting factor.Take Vermont, for example. When it comes to young adult users, you actually now have a greater number than non-users. As in, for the 19-30 category, more people in that location now use cannabis, than don’t use it. This is getting close to the case in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, DC as well.

In terms of past-year, past-month and daily cannabis use (20+ occasions in past month), 2021 had the highest levels since the question began being looked into in 1988. Past month usage reached as high as 29%. Five years ago it was 21%, and 10 years ago it was 17%. In terms of daily use? 11% met the standard for 2021, whereas only 8% did five years ago, and 6% 10 years ago.

Weed legalization in the US
Weed legalization in the US

Another interesting factor? While alcohol continues to be the #1 drug of choice, it has steadily been going down in usage. This was seen in past-year, past-month, and daily drinking trends, which have all gone down in the last decade. This isn’t as clear cut as it sounds however, as high intensity drinking (10+ drinks in a row), has gone up. Does this indicate that party drinking is still a thing, while non-party drinking is growing less popular? Hard to say exactly. Just like its hard to say if this is directly correlated to rising cannabis use.

And another growing trend according to this data? The use of hallucinogens. According to the data, these numbers have also grown quite a bit in the last decade. The 2021 numbers show 8% for this category, up from 5% five years ago, and 3% 10 years ago. Should we expect these numbers to skyrocket up as well in the next few years, as more states legalize hallucinogenic drugs? Certainly seems like it with an Oregon legalization of magic mushrooms, access to MDMA and psilocybin in Connecticut, and a pre-emptive MDMA legalization in Colorado, along with a ballot measure for legal use of entheogenic plants.

Conclusion

Who is smoking weed in the US? Well, according to both Gallup and government data, a large and growing section of the population, particularly in the young adult category. Which is more accurate? It kind of doesn’t matter. The trend shows the same through both sets of data, with a general upward trajectory in overall usage. Imagine what these numbers will look like in another few years, especially considering five more states are up for legalizations this election season, including southern states which were previously holdouts.

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DEA wants to boost production of cannabis and psychedelics research in 2023

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This article was written by Nina Zdinjak and originally published on Benzinga.


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is proposing a significant increase in the amount of research cannabis allowed to be cultivated in 2023.

According to a notice scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, the agency is also looking to boost the aggregate production quota of certain psychedelics like LSD, psilocin, and mescaline, first reported Marijuana Moment.

For 2023, the DEA is proposing that 6.7 million grams (14,770 pounds) of marijuana be grown for research, more than double the amount suggested for 2022 (3.2 million grams). In January this year, the DEA ended a 5-decade federal monopoly on research cannabis production by approving two companies, Groff North America Hemplex and Biopharmaceutical Research Company (BRC), to cultivate marijuana for research purposes.

Related

The top cannabis research studies of 2021

This was a major milestone in the cannabis research sphere in that a farm functioning as part of the University of Mississippi was the only legal source of federal research cannabis since 1968, despite lawsuits and years of complaints that Ole Miss’s product was not high enough quality to suffice for important research.

With more cultivators gaining DEA authorization for cultivation, increasing the amount needed for research is achievable.

What’s more, the DEA also raised the quota for “all other THC” to 15,000 grams from previously 2,000 grams, indicating the popularity and, therefore, the need, for research into cannabinoids like delta-8 THC, and delta-10.

Psychedelics are also in the mix

magic mushrooms Psilocybe Cubensis
(Adobe Stock)

The agency has been raising production quotas for psychedelics over the last couple of years. 

For example, last December, it increased its quota for psilocybin (also known as magic mushrooms), MDMA, and DMT for 2022. This move came amid an increase in demand and interest within the scientific community to research the effectiveness of these psychedelic drugs in treatments for mental health disorders.

Related

Types of psychedelics

This time, the DEA proposed to keep the same quote for psilocybin as in 2022, 8,000 grams, but it is suggesting to double the production of other important components of magic mushrooms, such as psilocin, from 4,000 to 8,000 grams. 

As for LSD, the proposed quota for 2023 is 1,200 grams, compared to 500 grams in 2022. The agency also suggested the production of 6,000 grams of 5-MeO-DMT, compared to 2,550 grams this year.

Mescaline manufacturing should go up notably from 100 to 1,200 grams.

Close-up photo of a San Pedro Huachuma cactus - a plant containing psychoactive mescaline.
Close-up photo of a San Pedro Huachuma cactus – a plant containing psychoactive mescaline. (Adobe Stock)

“There has been a significant increase in the use of Schedule I hallucinogenic controlled substances for research and clinical trial purposes. DEA has received and subsequently approved new registration applications for schedule I researchers and new applications for registration from manufacturers to grow, synthesize, extract, and prepare dosage forms containing specific schedule I hallucinogenic substances for clinical trial purposes,” the agency stated.

Related

What are peyote and mescaline?

“These proposed 2023 quotas reflect the quantities that DEA believes are necessary to meet the estimated medical, scientific, research, and industrial needs of the United States, including any increase in demand for certain controlled substances used to treat patients with COVID-19; lawful export requirements; and the establishment and maintenance of reserve stocks.”

At the same time, the DEA proposed keeping the same quotas as this year for psilocybin, MDMA, DMT, MDA, and cannabis extract. 



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