Medical marijuana for children with cancer? What providers think

A study published in Pediatrics examined interdisciplinary provider perspectives on legal medical marijuana use in children with cancer. It found that 92 percent of providers were willing to help children with cancer access medical marijuana. However, providers who are legally eligible to certify for medical marijuana were less open to endorsing its use.

While nearly a third of providers received one or more requests for medical marijuana, the lack of standards on formulations, dosing and potency was identified as the greatest barrier to recommending it. These findings reflect survey responses from 288 providers in Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington.

“It is not surprising that providers who are eligible to certify for medical marijuana were more cautious about recommending it, given that their licensure could be jeopardized due to federal prohibition,” said co-author Kelly Michelson, MD, Critical Care physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Institutional policies also may have influenced their attitudes. Lurie Children’s, for example, prohibits pediatric providers from facilitating medical marijuana access in accordance with the federal law, even though it is legal in Illinois.”

Full story at Science Daily

Medical students not trained to prescribe medical marijuana

Although 29 states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana use for medical purposes, few medical students are being trained how to prescribe the drug. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis surveyed medical school deans, residents and fellows, and examined a curriculum database maintained by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), learning that medical marijuana is not being addressed in medical education.

Their findings are available online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

“Medical education needs to catch up to marijuana legislation,” said senior author Laura Jean Bierut, MD, the Alumni Endowed Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University and a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse. “Physicians in training need to know the benefits and drawbacks associated with medical marijuana so they know when or if, and to whom, to prescribe the drug.”

Full story at Science Daily

Marijuana use amongst youth stable, but substance abuse admissions up

While marijuana use amongst youth remains stable, youth admission to substance abuse treatment facilities has increased, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Miesha Marzell, assistant professor of social work at Binghamton University, along with researchers at The University of Iowa, did a secondary analysis of data collected from every nationally funded substance abuse treatment facility in the United States from 2003-2013. The data covered admissions before and after major marijuana policies were enacted nationwide. The team’s analysis showed that while marijuana use amongst youth has remained relatively unchanged, admissions to substance abuse treatment facilities has increased.

“Teens were being admitted to substance abuse treatment centers across the United States, but they were not necessarily indicating that their marijuana use was at a high-risk,” said Marzell.

Full story at Medical Xpress

DEA Will Announce Whether Marijuana Should be Reclassified in First Half of 2016

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said this week it will decide in the first half of 2016 whether marijuana should be reclassified under federal law. The agency gave no indication what its decision will be, according to The Huffington Post.

There are five categories, or schedules, for drugs in the United States. Schedule I drugs are considered by the DEA to have the highest potential for abuse and no current accepted medical use. Marijuana is currently a Schedule I drug, along with heroin and LSD. If marijuana were rescheduled, it still would be illegal under federal law, but the change might ease restrictions on research, and reduce penalties for marijuana-related offenses, the article notes.

The DEA was responding to a letter sent last July by eight Democratic senators, who urged the federal government to facilitate research on the benefits of medical marijuana. The senators said the research is needed because millions of Americans are now eligible by state law to use the drug for medical purposes.

Full story of DEA and marijuana reclassification in 2016 at drugfree.org

Sales of Legal Marijuana Jumped 17 Percent to $5.4 Billion in 2015: Report

Sales of legal marijuana jumped 17 percent to reach $5.4 billion last year, according to a new report. Sales could grow 25 percent this year, to $6.7 billion, according to the marijuana industry investment and research firm ArcView Market Research.

By 2020, sales of legal marijuana could reach $21.8 billion, Fortune reports. “I think that we are going to see in 2016 this next wave of investors, the next wave of business operators, and people who’ve sort of been watching or dipping their toe in, really starting to swing for the fences and take it really seriously,” ArcView CEO Troy Dayton said.

The report includes medical and recreational dispensary sales, as well as cannabis products sold through delivery services and medical marijuana “caregivers” who can legally grow and distribute the drug.

Full story of legal marijuana sales in 2015 at drugfree.org