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

Advertisements

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?

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

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

Medical Marijuana Policy and Outcomes

At the 2016 Society for Prevention Research (SPR) conference held in San Francisco (May 31-June 3), I’ll be presenting and discussing the latest findings from my recent paper, “Trends in registered medical marijuana participation across 13 US states and District of Columbia“, published this February in the journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Continue reading Medical Marijuana Policy and Outcomes

How much tobacco is in a marijuana blunt?

Since marijuana ‘blunt’ smoking (i.e., rolling marijuana inside a hollowed cigar) is quite popular in the US, my research has been trying to understand the causes and potential health consequences of this mixing of tobacco and marijuana. However, a vexing and unanswered question is the degree to which blunt smokers are even exposed to nicotine. Continue reading How much tobacco is in a marijuana blunt?

Marijuana and Cannabinoids: A Neuroscience Research Summit

Date: March 22-23 @ National Institute of Health Campus, Bethesda, MD

I’ll be attending and presenting at the Marijuana and Cannabinoids: A Neuroscience Research Conference (link) focused on “on the neurological and psychiatric effects of marijuana, other cannabinoids, and the endocannabinoid system. Both the adverse and the potential therapeutic effects of the cannabinoid system will be discussed. The goal of this summit is to ensure evidence-based information is available to inform practice and policy, particularly important at this time given the rapidly shifting landscape regarding the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana.”

I’ll be presenting my poster, “What is the Current and Future Demand for Medical Marijuana?: Trends in Medical Marijuana Use by Selected Qualifying Conditions Compared across Nine U.S. States” Despite medical marijuana first being allowed in California in 1996, there is little data on how many people are using marijuana for certain qualifying conditions, like cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or chronic pain. Using public data from state medical marijuana registries, I’m trying to estimate and compare the prevalence and trends over time in medical marijuana use for selected qualifying medical conditions. By looking at these trends, we might be able to estimate future demand and better prepare allocation of funding resources for research and public health.

Click on the image below to download a copy of my poster:

What is the Current and Future Demand for Medical Marijuana?: Trends in Medical Marijuana Use by Selected Qualifying Conditions Compared Across Nine US States

Screenshot 2016-06-06 12.10.34