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high times
March 17, 2015

Medical marijuana: It's not just for people anymore.

On Tuesday, a Nevada state senator introduced legislation that would allow animal owners to get marijuana from their pet's veterinarian if it could help alleviate pain from an illness, The Associated Press reports. The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Tick Segerblom (D), is part of a bigger bill that would change Nevada's medical marijuana law, making it a requirement for dispensary owners to receive training and removing penalties for drivers caught with pot in their blood.

Not much is known about animals and marijuana, and although Segerblom says he wants to make sure it's safe for pets to consume cannabis, "you don't know until you try." Catherine Garcia

August 26, 2014

The couple that tokes together stays together?

Researchers at the University of Buffalo have found that "couples in which both spouses used marijuana frequently reported the least frequent IPV [intimate partner violence] perpetration." Even when factors like demographic variables, behavioral problems, and alcohol use were controlled, "these findings were robust," The Washington Post reports.

The study's authors looked at data from 634 couples over nine years, beginning in 1996; the pairs were given questionnaires often, asking them about recent drug and alcohol use and physical altercations. Older studies focusing on the connection between marijuana use and domestic violence relied on data from just one point in time, and the findings were inconsistent: some found links between the two, others didn't.

So why do the authors think there's a connection? Theories include that "marijuana may increase positive affect, which in turn could reduce the likelihood of conflict and aggression." Also, "chronic [marijuana] users exhibit blunted emotional reaction to threat stimuli, which may also decrease the likelihood of aggressive behavior."

Since the data is on the older side, researchers would like to see if they would have the same findings today, when marijuana is at least party decriminalized in many areas. They also want to see how marijuana abuse, withdrawal, and dependence could affect how spouses interact. Catherine Garcia

August 12, 2014

Experts may not be able to reach a consensus on whether marijuana use is harmful for adults, but a group of specialists agreed last week that the frequent pot consumption appears to alter the brain development of young people.

During the American Psychological Association's annual convention last week, several presenters discussed pot use among teenagers. Prof. Alan Budney of Dartmouth College said that addiction, car accidents, and chronic bronchitis are just some of the possible consequences of teenage marijuana use. "It can be just as hard to treat cannabis addiction as it is to treat alcohol addiction," he told USA Today.

A recent study found that 6.5 percent of high school seniors smoke pot every day, up from 2.4 percent in 2013, and close to one-third of all teenagers said they smoke at least once a month. These numbers worry psychologists. "It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially for youth," Krista Lisdahl, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, wrote in a study.

Brain imaging studies of people who regularly smoke marijuana have found changes in brain structure, USA Today reports, especially among teenagers. Abnormalities in the brain's gray matter, which is associated with intelligence, have been found in teens between the ages of 16 and 19 who have started smoking more. "The adolescent period is a sensitive period of neurodevelopment," Lisdahl said. Catherine Garcia

July 26, 2014

The nation's most prestigious newspaper has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana, in an editorial posted online Saturday evening by The New York Times:

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana. [The New York Times]

The paper calls for the question of marijuana policy, and any appropriate regulations, to be determined at the state level. (For example, the Times endorses limiting the sale of marijuana only to people over 21 years of age.) The paper also says it will publish more articles in the next days by its editorial board members, to explore such issues, and they additionally ask readers to submit their own ideas. Eric Kleefeld

June 13, 2014

Contrary to popular belief, Jamaica does indeed have marijuana laws. But those laws are about to get as relaxed as the Rastafari.

Jamaican government officials said Thursday that the country is planning to drastically revamp its weed laws by moving to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and allowing possession for scientific, religious, and medicinal uses.

Under the cabinet's proposed changes, the possession of no more than two ounces (57 grams) of pot would become a petty offense resulting in a fine, but not a criminal arrest.

The new rules are a "major victory" for the country's Rastafari, who smoke marijuana as a sacrament, and have always faced the threat of prosecution for doing so.

However, Justice Minister Mark Golding noted that he doesn't want Jamaica to become the next Colorado. "I wish to stress that the proposed changes to the law are not intended to promote or give a stamp of approval to the use of ganja for recreational purposes," he said. "The objective is to provide a more enlightened approach to dealing with possession of small quantities." Jordan Valinsky

May 21, 2014

The FBI is considering changing its long-standing marijuana rules because it can't find qualified employees. The agency's current regulations bar applicants from having smoked pot within the previous three years, but FBI Director James Comey said Monday that those rules may soon be relaxed in order to attract and employ more hackers.

The agency is looking to fill 2,000 open jobs to help fight cyber crimes, and Comey considers this a challenge, since apparently many hackers also love getting high. "I have to hire a great work force to compete with those cyber criminals, and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview," he said.

It's unclear when — or even if — new rules will be decided on. Jordan Valinsky

April 30, 2014

From hotels to vending machines, it appears that Colorado residents aren't done combining everything imaginable with pot. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra announced that it's producing a weed-friendly concert series sponsored by the cannabis industry appropriately called "Classically Cannabis — The High Note Series."

The state relaxed its weed laws this year, and now allows people to light up in private settings. Since this CSO event requires a ticket, it technically qualifies as a private event, so audience members will be permitted to smoke during the show. It's important to note, however, that the symphony isn't supplying the pot, so concert-goers over 21 years old will have to bring their own. Colorado Symphony Orchestra CEO Jerry Kern said the event is a perfect way to inject some much-needed money into the struggling organization.

"It was an interesting way of connecting ourselves to new audiences and new, potential financial support," said a totally chill Kern to KUSA-TV.

Tickets go on sale today for the summer series. Jordan Valinsky

April 15, 2014

The "wake and bake" routine is about to undergo a four-star revamp. A Denver hospitality chain is opening the first "bud and breakfast" hotel as marijuana-friendly accommodations proliferate in the wake of Colorado relaxing its pot laws in January.

The appropriately titled MaryJane Group said it's taking over an old bed and breakfast and relaunching it in May as an all-inclusive property that will be infused with weed-themed attractions, like a "humidor smoking room." Guest lodgings will undergo a themed renovation, too. Although the previous owner allowed pot to be smoked outside, the new owners will let the smoke waft freely inside.

Guests will have access to "unlimited food, drink, and, of course, the best marijuana and marijuana edibles Colorado has to offer," according to a release. There will also be an on-site chef and 24-hour security. The bud-and-breakfast is a market test; if successful, it will expand around the state. Jordan Valinsky

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