More than 265 participants from 65 countries explored the adverse health effects of marijuana and related policy issues during the opening plenary session of the 19th Annual NIDA International Forum. The meeting, which was held June 13–16, 2014, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, also focused on new psychoactive substances and the 25th anniversary of the NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellowships. NIDA International Program Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., chaired the meeting, which was cosponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). A joint College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD)/NIDA International Forum poster session featured presentations on international research by 130 scientists from the United States and 40 other countries.
NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D., opened the plenary session by exploring gaps in the scientific evidence on adverse health effects of marijuana. Susan Weiss, Ph.D., NIDA associate director, chaired a panel discussion on marijuana policy, research, and knowledge gaps that provided global perspectives from Asia and Oceania, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Paul Griffiths, M.Sc., scientific director of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, chaired a plenary session panel discussion on new psychoactive substances (NPS) and discussed recent European findings on the synthetic drugs. Other speakers addressed the Italian National Action Plan to prevent NPS use; a joint United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime/Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission project to monitor, analyze, and report on regional NPS trends; and the U.S. situation.
NIDA International Program Associate Director Dale S. Weiss and J. Randy Koch, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University, co-chaired the international networking session, where Forum participants joined current and former officials and fellows to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellowships. The networking session also featured presentations by NIDA Associate Director Susan Weiss, Ph.D., who described the Institute’s National Drug Facts Week, and Joni Rutter, Ph.D., director of the NIDA Division of Basic Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, who described opportunities for international cooperation through U.S. National Institutes of Health programs. Four other breakout sessions focused on addiction research in Canada, vaccinations for addiction and AIDS, secondary analyses using the Clinical Trials Network Datashare, and advances in treatment for marijuana dependence.