Costs of substance use disorders from claims data for Medicare recipients from a population-based sample

This is a brief report published in February 2017 issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment by myself and colleagues from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In this paper, we compared the total Medicare costs of eligible recipients based upon their history of substance use disorders (SUD). We found that, in general, those with a SUD history had higher Medicare costs than those without a SUD history. I’ll discuss this finding in a bit more detail below and link to the abstract.

Continue reading Costs of substance use disorders from claims data for Medicare recipients from a population-based sample

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Does Starting to Smoke Cigars Trigger Onset of Cannabis Blunt Smoking?

In our recent paper published in the January 2017 issue of the journal of Nicotine & Tobacco Research, we bring a spotlight on the relationship between cigar smoking and the risk of smoking cannabis blunts (i.e., rolling marijuana inside the hollowed-out shell of a tobacco cigar). In the US, nearly half of cannabis users smoke blunts and this proportion is likely higher among those most at risk for starting to use cannabis (i.e., ages 16-25). This is perhaps the first quantitative study to examine a modifiable, potential cause (i.e., cigar use) in the development of blunt smoking. Our findings show that starting to smoke cigars increases the immediate risk of starting to smoke blunts. However, the potential causes of blunt smoking remain understudied, and this initial finding needs to be replicated by stronger studies (e.g., longitudinal studies that gather data over multiple time points). I’ll discuss the paper and its findings in more detail below, followed by the abstract and link to the article.

Continue reading Does Starting to Smoke Cigars Trigger Onset of Cannabis Blunt Smoking?

Drinking behaviors differ in US adolescent Asian American subgroups

Research on drug and alcohol behaviors often group all Asians Americans together despite considerable differences in ethnic and cultural decent. Our paper examines differences in adolescent alcohol behaviors among different Asian American ethnicities. Read about our new publication that just came out in Addictive Behaviors.

Link to Pubmed

Democratic Party Adds Marijuana Plank to Platform

The Democratic Party added language to its draft 2016 platform concerning marijuana for perhaps the first time (read the draft here). While the language does not go so far as support either medical or recreational marijuana, it does support states’ marijuana decriminalization efforts and acknowledges the racial bias in the enforcement of marijuana laws. Read the wording below. Continue reading Democratic Party Adds Marijuana Plank to Platform

Barriers to Cannabis Research: Press Release Falls Short

Sarah See Stith and Jacob Miguel Vigil, both from the University of New Mexico (Department of Economics and Psychology, respectively), recently penned a letter to Science regarding some of the federal barriers to studying cannabis by researchers.

I first noticed this letter via a post on the website Science Alert, “Scientists claim the US government is still limiting cannabis research“. However, what struck me as problematic was this quote:

“This has created a truly unique and an unnecessary paradox in modern medicine, in which physicians are authorising treatments to patients, and patients are regularly using medication without a scientific basis of knowledge on patient outcomes, forced rather to rely only on scientifically invalid or anecdotal information,” say Sarah Stith and Jacob Vigil from the University of New Mexico.

Continue reading Barriers to Cannabis Research: Press Release Falls Short

Why are nicotine levels higher in marijuana users who don’t smoke cigarettes?

New research seeks to find out if recent cannabis users are exposed to significant levels of unknown levels of nicotine, which could be due to unmeasured blunt smoking or environmental sources. Click on post to download this research poster being presented on Monday, June 13 at the 2016 College on Problems of Drug Dependence in La Quinta, California. Continue reading Why are nicotine levels higher in marijuana users who don’t smoke cigarettes?

Effects of Medical Marijuana Market Growth on Substance Use and Abuse

Medical marijuana markets with loose restrictions increase rates of marijuana use, traffic fatalities, and adverse alcohol outcomes among youth according to new research. Medical marijuana increased rates marijuana use in older adults but outcomes might be better due to alcohol and opioid substitution.

Continue reading Effects of Medical Marijuana Market Growth on Substance Use and Abuse

Watch: Medical Marijuana Quantity and Trends

Presented at the 2016 Society for Prevention Research conference in San Francisco, watch my presentation on trends in medical marijuana across 13 US states and DC. Learn how medical marijuana use has changed over time within the context of the changing policy landscape.

Continue reading Watch: Medical Marijuana Quantity and Trends

New Mexico Medical Cannabis Survey 2013

Findings from the survey of New Mexico medical marijuana users shed new light on their conditions, their frequency of use, and methods of consumption. Continue reading New Mexico Medical Cannabis Survey 2013

Five Marijuana ‘Blunts’ Are Equal One Cigarette

New preliminary findings suggest smoking five marijuana blunts could expose you to the nicotine equivalent of one cigarette. These and other findings related to nicotine exposure via blunts will be presented in June at the 2016 College on Problems of Drug Dependence conference. Continue reading Five Marijuana ‘Blunts’ Are Equal One Cigarette