Study: Cannabis Exposure Associated With Improved Immunity In HIV Patients
Petersburg, VA: Patients with HIV who test positive for past cannabis exposure possess significantly higher CD4+ and CD8+ counts than do those patients who test negative for the substance, according to data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. CD4+ and CD8+ cells are a subtype of white blood cells that assist in the immune process.
A team of investigators from Virginia State University and the University of Florida Center for AIDS/HIV Research assessed differences in the lymphocyte count among HIV patients whose urinalysis tested negative for THC and those who tested positive for THC.
Authors reported: "After adjusting for demographic and HIV-related covariates, THC-positive patients had significantly higher CD4+ and CD8+ counts than their THC-negative counterparts. ... The current findings are in line with previous research, reporting daily marijuana users have higher CD4+ cell counts and lower viral load than their non-using and infrequent using counterparts."
They concluded: "This preliminary study shows THC positive patients having better HIV-related immune levels than their negative counterparts, despite not being statistically different on various demographic HIV-related covariates. ... The current findings suggest a potentially beneficial role to marijuana, additional to symptom palliation."
Full text of the study, "Confirmed marijuana use and lymphocyte count in black people living with HIV," appears in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Rohrabacher Protections Temporarily Extended
Washington, DC: President Donald Trump reached an agreement late last week with Congressional leadership to enact a three-month continuing resolution that maintains present federal spending levels and priorities through December 8, 2017. The resolution extends medical cannabis patient protections imposed by the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment until that date.
The amendment, which has been in place since 2014, maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from "implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana."
Congressional leadership must reauthorize this language as part of the forthcoming budget in order for the provisions to stay in effect. In July, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) offered identical language before the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved it. However, House Rules Committee Chair Peter Sessions (R-TX) has refused to allow House members to vote on similar language. The provision will now be considered by House and Senate leadership when the two chambers' appropriations bills are reconciled.
Federal Survey: Youth Marijuana Use Continues To Decline
Rockville, MD: Fewer young people today identify as current users of cannabis as compared to 2002, according to national survey data released last week by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report finds that 6.5 percent of respondents between the ages of 12 and 17 report having consumed cannabis within the past 30 days - a decrease of 21 percent since 2002 and the lowest percentage reported by the survey in 20 years. Adolescents' use of alcohol and tobacco also declined significantly during this same period.
The findings are similar to those compiled by the University of Michigan which also reports long-term declines in young people's marijuana use, which have fallen steadily nationwide since 1996.
The new SAMHSA data acknowledges an increase in the percentage of respondents ages 18 or older who report using cannabis, a trend that has similarly been identified in other national surveys. By contrast, rates of alcohol abuse have been steadily declining for over a decade among this same age group. Rates of problematic cannabis use by those over the age of 18 have largely held steady since 2002, and have fallen substantially among adolescents.
Study: Trauma Patients Report That Cannabis Reduces Their Opioid Intake
Boston, MA: Patients who have used medical cannabis following musculoskeletal injury report that it relieves pain symptoms and reduces their level of opioid intake, according to survey data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma.
Harvard Medical School investigators surveyed 500 patients at a pair of orthopedic outpatient clinics. Of those respondents who acknowledged having used cannabis to assist in recuperating from injury over the past six months, 90 percent said that it was effective at reducing their pain. Eighty-one percent said that the use of cannabis reduced their intake of opioids.
"[I]n the subset of patients who used marijuana during their recovery, a majority indicated that it helped alleviate symptoms of pain and reduced their level of opioid intake," authors concluded.
The findings are similar to those of prior studies finding that patients with access to cannabis frequently report mitigating their use of opioid pain relievers and other conventional prescription drugs.
Full text of the study, "Patient perceptions of the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of pain following musculoskeletal trauma: A survey of patients at two trauma centers in Massachusetts," appears in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma.