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Study Finds More Americans Using Pot Daily Than Booze, LA House Approves Making Abortion Drugs Controlled Substances, More... (5/23/24)

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A Massachusetts bill to create a study group on therapeutic psychedelics for veterans advances, a Colorado city kills its needle exchange program, and more.

More than 17 million Americans are toking up on a daily or near-daily basis--more than are drinking alcohol regularly. (IRIN)
Marijuana Policy

More Americans Use Marijuana Daily Than Alcohol, Data Shows. Research utilizing data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health published Wednesday in the journal Addiction shows that more Americans are now regularly using marijuana than alcohol.

The number of people using marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis is estimated at 17.7 million, while the number of daily or near-daily drinkers is estimated at 14.7 million.

That is quite a change from times past. In 1992, for instance, fewer than one million people reported daily marijuana use, while about nine million tippled daily. In 1992, marijuana was legal nowhere in the US; now it is legal in 24 states comprising a majority of the population.

Now, nearly half (42 percent) of past-month marijuana users say they use on a daily or near-daily basis, while 11 percent of alcohol drinkers say they use daily or near-daily.

About 20 percent of the US population aged 12 and over, or about 62 million people, say they have used marijuana at least once in the past year.


Massachusetts House Approves Veterans' Bill with Therapeutic Psychedelic Provisions. The House has approved a bill for veterans that includes a provision creating a psychedelics working group to study and make recommendations about how to take advantage of the potential therapeutic benefits of substances such as MDMA and psilocybin, House Bill 4172.

Also known as the Honoring, Empowering, and Recognizing our Servicemembers and Veterans (HEROES) Act, the bill was filed months ago by Gov. Maura Healey (D). It passed the House with unanimous support.

The chamber passed the legislation, an earlier version of which was introduced by Gov. Maura Healey (D) in November, in a 156-0 vote on Wednesday.

The psychedelic provision of the bill would require the Executive Office of Veterans' Services to create a working group to study "alternative therapies for mental health treatments for veterans" and explore "whether psychedelic therapy is associated with improved outcomes among veterans with diagnosed mental health disorders."

The panel would need to "evaluate literature, research trials, and expert opinions to determine if psychedelic therapy is associated with improved outcomes regarding mental health treatment for veterans." And it would be required to issue recommendations "regarding the provision of psychedelic therapy to treat veterans with mental health disorders in Massachusetts."

The bill limits the psychedelics to be studied to to psilocybin, MDMA, and ketamine. It also now includes an amendment from Rep. Alyson Sullivan (R) that would create a pilot program to study the potential of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids for veterans.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Drug Policy

Louisiana House Approves Bill Making Abortion Drug a Dangerous Controlled Substance. The House on Tuesday approved a bill that would make it a criminal offense to possess two abortion drugs without a prescription, Senate Bill 276, a first-in-the-nation step that doctors say could prevent them from treating their patients in a timely manner.

The two drugs are mifepristone and misoprostol, often used together to terminate a pregnancy, but also used for other medical reasons. The bill would criminalize their possession without a prescription by adding them to the state's list of "controlled dangerous substances."

Supporters said the bill was necessary to prevent someone from dosing a woman with the pills without her knowledge, and at least two members of the legislature claimed it had happened to someone they knew.

But more than 200 doctors signed a letter to lawmakers saying the measure could produce a "barrier to physicians’ ease of prescribing appropriate treatment" and cause unnecessary fear and confusion among both patients and doctors.

Because the bill was amended in the House, it must now go back to the Senate for final concurrence.

Harm Reduction

Pueblo, Colorado, City Council Kills Needle Exchange Program. A newly-elected conservative city council voted last week to kill the city's needle exchange program -- even though 38 of 44 residents who spoke at the meeting opposed the ban.

The means of execution was an ordinance that makes it a "nuisance" to operate, administer, or participate in a needle exchange, the harm reduction intervention that seeks to reduce the transmission of blood-borne diseases and act as a mechanism for connecting drug users with treatment and other services.

Creating a "nuisance" is a Class 2 municipal offense punishable by up to a year in jail on a second offense.

Council opponents cited "syringe litter" as a pretext for killing the program: "The City is experiencing an increase in the number of dirty hypodermic needles, syringes, and other drug paraphernalia being discarded in the City’s public places… presenting a threat to the health, property, safety, and welfare of the public in the City of Pueblo," read a statement submitted to the record by Councilor Roger Gomez, who supported the ban.

But Counciler Dennis Flores, one of two members to vote against the proposal, scoffed: "The only thing that changed in our community was the people elected to City Council with this particular Council zeroing in on the issue of reducing the amount of needles that are out in the community. There's no clear evidence that the harm reduction people increased the amount of dirty needles that are strewn around."

Flores also noted that the city's program, which had operated for more than a decade, had worked hard to clean up used needles. "They're being blamed now for dirty needles, which is ironic."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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