Friends of NIDA to host briefing on marijuana use disorders

Speakers include Nora Volkow, Director of NIDA, and Alan Budney, professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Center for Addiction Research

On March 8 the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in conjunction with the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, will host a Capitol Hill briefing titled “Marijuana Use Disorders: Dependence and Treatment Research.” APA’s Science Government Relations Office is organizing the briefing, co-sponsored by 25 organizations. Speakers include Nora Volkow, Director of the NIDA, who will provide an overview of NIDA’s current and planned portfolio on marijuana research, and Alan Budney, professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Center for Addiction Research, who will discuss marijuana use disorder topics including treatment of dependence and withdrawal. 

In 2009, 4.3 million of Americans classified with dependence on or abuse of illicit drugs were dependent on or abused marijuana, and current trends show a decline in perceived risk of marijuana use among American teens.  Behavioral interventions for marijuana use and addiction have shown similar efficacy as treatments used for other drugs of abuse.  While no medications are currently available, recent discoveries about the cannabinoid system offer promise for the development of medications to ease withdrawal, block the intoxicating effects of marijuana, and prevent relapse.

The briefing topic is particularly timely in conjunction with recent news that an independent scientific analysis of the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s “Above the Influence” (ATI) National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign found the campaign to be effective in reducing marijuana use. The study, supported by a NIDA grant and published in Prevention Science, assessed the impacts of this continuing national television, radio, and print campaign in 20 communities across the U.S. Principal investigator Michael Slater observed that teens seemed to pick up on the message the campaign promoted, that marijuana undermines teens’ autonomy and independence.