Science Policy For All

Because science policy affects everyone.

Science Policy Around the Web – December 16, 2014

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By: Lani S. Chun

Marijuana Policy

Congress takes first step to federally decriminalize cannabis programs in states where they are legal

Despite its status as a Schedule I drug (defined as a substance with “no currently accepted medical use”), compounds derived from cannabis have been shown to have potential medical uses (e.g. PTSD, epilepsy, pain, spasticity, movement disorders, and urinary dysfunction). In addition, there has been increasing support from the public to legalize marijuana, which has resulted in the legalization of marijuana for various uses in 26 states. Responding to public sentiment and the conflict between state and federal laws, the Congress passed a spending bill that prevents prosecution by the Department of Justice for state-legal marijuana activities. How this bill affects future marijuana policy is yet to be seen, but it has the potential to further free up resources to study the compounds present in marijuana and is undoubtedly recognition of the need for better drug regulation and enforcement. (Matt Ferner, Huffington Post; Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Washington Post; Barbara Koppel, et al., Neurology; Denise Lu, Ted Mellnik, and Niraj Chokshi, Washington Post;


Environmental Health Policy

ICCM to meet this week on the regulation of hazardous chemicals which may persist in the environment

From Dec. 15-17, the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) will have its fourth annual meeting to discuss the implementation of a set of policies adopted in 2006 called the Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management (SAICM). The goal of the SAICM is to ensure that “by the year 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on the environment and human health.” Funding for the SAICM is provided by a mix of countries and inter-governmental agencies, and provides for the development and application of policies enacted under the SAICM. Policy discussions at the conference in Geneva will include subjects such as lead paint, nanotechnologies/nanomaterials, endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC), and a new proposed issue: environmentally persistent pharmaceutical pollutants. These subjects are of particular interest because of the real-world effects seen in both human and non-human populations such as the progressively younger onset of puberty in girls, lead paint poisoning, colony collapse disorder, and EDC-linked cancer. (;; Megan Allison, Boston; Eric Mack, Forbes; Damian Carrington, Guardian)


Environmental Policy – Conservation

Scientists attempt to forecast species extinction rate, warning a sixth mass extinction may be imminent

While the debate on climate change and what to do about it rages on, there is no doubt that human activity is leading to the accelerated rate of species extinction. Current estimates now put the possible occurrence of mass extinction (defined as a >75% species loss) anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years from now. The top causes of extinction include exploitation, habitat degradation/loss, climate change, invasive species, pollution, and disease, with climate change expected to take up a bigger part of the pie as time goes on. Scientists are calling for the development of better computer models to better detect and understand current and future threats to species survival. This will aid conservation efforts by giving scientists the ability to stave off possible causes of extinction and rebuild endangered populations. (David Shukman and Matt McGrath, BBC News; Richard Monastersky, Nature; Robin McKie, Guardian)


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Written by sciencepolicyforall

December 16, 2014 at 9:00 am

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