Lawmakers approve money for marijuana ‘psychosis’ research

Photo of Chuck Grimmett | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

On the last day of the legislative session, lawmakers approved a spending of $ 250,000 to research links between marijuana use and “psychosis,” an idea promoted by a controversial book that scientists have called “junk science.”

The spending, which was attached to a larger bill that allocates funds from the state’s medical marijuana fund for public health, mental health treatment and suicide prevention, was part of the legislation. introduced a year ago who sought to reduce the potency of marijuana sold in Arizona.

House Speaker Rusty Bowers said his 2020 measure stems from his reading Tell Your Kids: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness & Violence, “ a book that has been widely criticized for sorting through the data and presenting correlation as causation.

The old man’s book New York Times Journalist Alex Berenson has been widely condemned by the scientific community – even by those whose studies he has cited as evidence.

Cannabis researcher at UCLA Ziva Cooper took to Twitter to challenge claims made in Berenson’s book, as one of his studies was heavily cited as evidence that marijuana causes violence and psychosis.

Additionally, 100 academics and clinicians signed an open letter denouncing the book as “undesirable science”, claiming that he infers from it causality of correlation.

Marijuana advocates have swept away research plans and questioned whether the spending and the rest of the Senate Bill 1847, passes the constitutional rally because of his ordering the Arizona Department of Health Services to use money from the voter-approved medical marijuana fund.

“We had a name for this bill: it was the Christmas tree of bad ideas about marijuana,” said Julie Gunnigle, director of policy for the Arizona chapter of the National Organization for the Human Rights. reform of marijuana laws.

In addition to the research component, the bill also sets aside $ 2.5 million – half each for ADHS and AHCCS, the state’s Medicaid program – for suicide prevention. Another $ 2 million is earmarked for a student loan repayment plan for rural primary care physicians, while $ 5 million is sent to county public health departments for drug prevention.

Will Humble, who led the Department of Health Services when the state’s medical marijuana system was created, said that despite concerns some might have about marijuana research, the benefits of funding these other programs outweigh the perceived problems.

“If you’re afraid of the results that will come out of it, you can take a cold pill,” Humble said, adding that the $ 250,000 is a “pocket change” and likely won’t generate any new or surprising results.

Humble said the links between violence and marijuana appear to be exaggerated, and he hopes the research will focus more on possible links between marijuana and the early ones. onset of things like schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders in young adults.

But Gunnigle said she was concerned about how the legislature moved away from voters ‘intent on how patients’ money was supposed to be used.

The Voter Protection Act prohibits the legislature from making changes to laws created by voters unless it passes a bill to amend that law with a three-quarters vote and that amendment must also be passed. in accordance with the color and the scope of the law.

The Medical Marijuana Law states that the money collected from the applications must be used to research the safety of the marijuana and help distribute the fund for medical marijuana.

Gunnigle believes the SB1847 does not pass this test.

The bill also resurrects other parts of Bowers’ former UNHCR, including new warning labels that will now be present on marijuana in the state. The labels will state that the use of marijuana can impact the health of a pregnant woman or her unborn child.

It also gives the ADHS the power to enter any dispensary during normal business hours at any time to inspect them unexpectedly.

Despite the bill, which hits old tropes on marijuana users, Gunnigle said she was hopeful about the future of the plant in the state.

“I have high hopes, pun intended, for the state of cannabis in Arizona,” Gunnigle said.

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