Alibi V.29 No.35 • Aug 27-Sept 2, 2020 

Baked Goods

Cannabis Tied to Autism

Study authors warn caution

Baked Goods logo (with correct glasses!)

A recent study made headlines that burned across social media like wildfire last week.

The study, published in Nature Medicine earlier this month, found a correlation between cannabis use during pregnancy and the likelihood of giving birth to an autistic child. According to the authors’ conclusion, the incidence of autism spectrum disorder diagnosis was 4 per 1,000 person-years among children who were exposed to cannabis in the womb compared to 2.42 among unexposed children.

Although most media outlets had something to say about the study, general reaction to the news wasn’t as big as I’d expected. In fact, many seemed to either ignore it altogether or tried looking for explanations other than the study’s conclusion. Were the expectant mothers smoking cigarettes, too? Or drinking alcohol, or living near cell phone towers? Were they subjected to ultrasonic weapons developed by the CIA?

While these questions were clearly the ravings of maddened cannabis advocates, desperate for a way to debunk the study, they do have some validity. If pharmaceuticals and alcohol are known to have a measurable effect on fetal development, then it’s possible that exposure to other environmental factors could also have an effect. Unless a study addresses all of the possible influences (a heroic feat, to be sure), it can’t possibly make a final call on which factor mattered most.

That being said, the argument works both ways and has to allow for the high possibility that cannabis is tied up in the whole mess—if not the culprit. It’s one of those eating your cake and having it too problems.

In response to the media attention, senior research associate at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada and lead investigator on the study Daniel Corsi said people need to be careful before interpreting the results. The data was taken from birth record analysis—it wasn’t a controlled study. “This is still a database study, and it’s not going to answer all the questions,” Corsi said. “We don’t have perfect data.”

But it seems like there’s enough concern at the moment to convince pregnant women to stay away from the drug for now. It could be harmless, but it seems risky at the very least. If a mother plans on breastfeeding, she only has to cut out cannabis for a couple of years at the most. I’m sure she’ll be too busy to even worry about smoking reefer.

DEA Revising Hemp Rule

The Drug Enforcement Agency finally released its proposed rules for hemp and CBD last week.

According to Marijuana Moment the proposed interim final rule isn’t any different than the policy that’s been in place since hemp was made legal with the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill.

“This interim final rule merely conforms DEA’s regulations to the statutory amendments to the CSA that have already taken effect, and it does not add additional requirements to the regulations,” says the filing.

DEA is removing hemp from the definition of THC and marijuana extracts under the Controlled Substances Act and removing CBD-based drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration from Schedule V. The proposed interim final rule also removes restrictions on importing and exporting hemp.

Please read that carefully, because CBD has not been legalized yet. We’re still waiting on the FDA to approve over-the-counter CBD products.

The agency is asking for input from the public regarding the proposed rules.

Cannabis Stocks Take Lumps

The North American Marijuana Index fell 3.59 points to 111.40 last week. After a summer of high sales and renewed consumer interest, some leaders in the industry have seen the bottom fall out.

Industry giants MedMen, Canopy Growth and CannTrust are all reportedly seeing losses along with other producers and dispensary chains. Forbes contributor Robert Hoban compares it to the ’90s dot com boom—a lot of money moving toward unproven up-and-coming companies in a short time, out of fear of missing out on an emerging industry.

“That strategy combined a hard-charging mentality with the notion that companies can assemble entire global cannabis supply chains in real-time with unproven assets, within an unclear regulatory framework, and with little idea where these supply chain components would be located,” Hoban writes.

But this isn’t the signal that the industry is failing. It’s just the natural order of emergent markets. Individual companies have to prove that they have long-staying power in an industry that won’t be going away. MedMen executives were reportedly blowing their profits on high executive salaries and lavish peripheral perks. A lawsuit against the founders claimed that they used the company for a “Wolf of Wall Street-inspired personal slush fund, inspired by Steve Jobs and El Chapo.”

Hoban points out that companies like MedMen are supposed to fail in the grander scheme of things, and that the current valley in which cannabis stocks find themselves is a fertile place for new, more deserving companies to scoop up what was lost. “The value lost by prior operations doesn’t necessarily take value away,” he writes, “but rather, puts value in the right place.”

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