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Week in Review: Cannabis Replaces Sleep Aids for Majority of Users

cannabis as sleep aid
PHOTO Andrea Piacquadio

Current Events

Week in Review: Cannabis Replaces Sleep Aids for Majority of Users

ICYMI: Catch up on the week’s latest news from across the cannabis spectrum.

In this week’s cannabis news round-up, cannabis replaces sleep aids for the majority of users; cannabis use among Massachusetts high schoolers unchanged after legalization; and New Hampshire governor interrupts adult-use cannabis legalization plan.

PHOTO Pixabay

Study: Cannabis Replaces Sleep Aids for Majority of Users

A Washington State University study has explored the use of cannabis as a sleep aid, finding that most cannabis users who reported getting a good night’s sleep have discontinued using prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids.

The study, published in the journal Exploration of Medicine, surveyed 1,225 cannabis users and found that more than 80% no longer use sleep aids such as melatonin and benzodiazepines. Researchers also found that cannabis users have a strong preference for inhaling high-THC cannabis by smoking joints or vaporizing flower, methods that have been shown to help people with sleep difficulties.

Approximately half of the study’s participants reported using cannabis strains with CBD and myrcene, a terpene found in plants such as hops and basil. Lead author Carrie Cuttler, an associate professor of psychology at WSU, expressed surprise at the finding, noting that some scientific evidence supports myrcene’s potential sleep-promoting effects.

The study analyzed self-reported data on participants’ cannabis and sleep aid use. Participants reported feeling refreshed, focused and better able to function in the morning after using cannabis, along with experiencing fewer headaches and less nausea compared to when they were using traditional sleep aids. However, some participants reported feeling more tired and anxious in the morning compared to how they felt while using other sleep aids. Dry mouth and red eyes were also common side effects reported by cannabis users.

Overall, participants perceived cannabis as more advantageous for sleep-related issues than over-the-counter medications or prescription sleep aids. Unlike long-acting sedatives and alcohol, cannabis was not associated with a hangover effect, although some lingering effects, such as sleepiness and mood changes, were reported.

According to the study, more than 60% of participants reported getting the recommended six to eight hours of sleep when using cannabis, while less than 20% of participants reported getting enough sleep while using prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids or cannabis combined with a sleep aid.

The study also found that 33.8% of participants used cannabis edibles to help them sleep, while some 14% used capsules with THC. WSU notes that these methods have longer-lasting effects but may have been less prevalent during the study due to the need for quicker relief when falling asleep.

PHOTO Stanley Morales

Study: Cannabis Use Among Massachusetts High Schoolers Unchanged After Legalization

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has revealed that high school students in The Bay State aren’t more likely to use cannabis following its legalization in the state. However, the study did find that adolescents are more likely to use cannabis if they perceive that their family or friends use it themselves.

Lead author of the study, Faith English, a doctoral candidate in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences stated in a press release, “It’s not news that peers influence youth,” but emphasized that their paper is the first to examine these specific roles within an individual’s social network and assess changes from pre- to post-legalization.

English further emphasized the importance of delaying cannabis use until after the age of 26, stating, “One of the million-dollar questions as cannabis policies are being implemented across the country is whether youth use increases after legalization. There’s a lot of concern that underage folks will start using cannabis with greater frequency. The brain isn’t done developing until about age 26, so the messaging really is to delay use until after that age.”

The study analyzed two datasets collected by a local substance use coalition, surveying students at two eastern Massachusetts high schools. Comparing data from 2016, before the state’s broad cannabis legalization and 2018, after legalization but before retail cannabis stores opened, the researchers found no statistically significant differences in the prevalence of past 30-day cannabis use among adolescents.

It found an increase in the proportion of adolescents who reported perceiving that their parents used cannabis after legalization, even before retail stores opened. Additionally, the study revealed that perceived cannabis use by a best friend had the strongest association with cannabis use by adolescents compared to perceived use by a parent or sibling.

The authors acknowledge that “the impact of availability of retail cannabis for adult use could affect the associations observed in this study,” but note that this was beyond the scope of their investigation.

Governor Chris Sununu
Governor Chris Sununu. PHOTO Office of the Governor

New Hampshire Governor Interrupts Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Plan

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu has disrupted lawmakers’ efforts to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state by issuing a set of last-minute demands. 

Sununu has instructed the Legislature to develop a consensus plan for regulating and taxing cannabis sales, but he has now outlined several specific requirements that any legalization bill must meet. These requirements include limiting retail sales to 15 franchised outlets state-wide and prohibiting lobbying or political contributions from state licensees.

The governor’s intervention has surprised many lawmakers, who were working to finalize a legalization bill that had been under development for months. Sununu’s office has said that the governor will veto any bill that doesn’t meet his outlined framework. This has led to concerns that Sununu is simply trying to stall or derail the legalization effort.

Sununu has said that he’s generally opposed to adult-use cannabis, but he has also acknowledged that legalization is “inevitable.” He has previously called for sales to be limited to state-run retail stores, which would be a first in the country. However, the state commission tasked with developing a legalization plan hasn’t reached a consensus on this issue.

Instead of producing a concrete recommendation, the commission will issue a report discussing the state-run sales model. This is unlikely to satisfy Sununu, who has said he’ll only support a bill meeting his specific requirements. It’s possible that New Hampshire will not legalize adult-use cannabis anytime soon.

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