Study Finds ‘Serious’ Problems With Marijuana Legalization In US

There is a growing use of marijuana in the U.S. This comes amid the increasing number of states allowing its recreational or medical use, or both. 

Marijuana is used to treat various conditions. It promises to help treat chronic pain, fix appetite and eating disorders, and reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, cancer and Crohn's disease, among others. 

Many people enjoyed the marijuana legalization in the U.S. because of better access to the drug. However, it has also been causing a major problem. 

Eleven states and Washington, D.C., have now legalized marijuana for recreational use. Meanwhile, there are 33 states allowing the sale of medical marijuana.

A new study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, found that many Americans have been developing marijuana addiction or cannabis use disorder, particularly adults, aged 26 and older. Researchers said the potential consequences could be serious. 

“Although occasional marijuana use is not associated with substantial problems, long-term, heavy use is linked to psychological and physical health concerns, lower educational attainment, decline in social class, unemployment and motor vehicle crashes,” researchers said in the study. 

The findings come from the analysis of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Researchers looked into how marijuana legalization in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska caused changes in how people used the drug in the past month, Vox reported Wednesday

The team found that marijuana use, frequent use and cannabis use disorder significantly increased in the states following the legalization. More adolescents also developed cannabis use disorder in those states compared to non-legalization states.

Researchers noted that the study only aims to guide the use of the drug in the U.S. and not to condemn its legalization. Governments should work on campaigns to prevent the problematic marijuana use and addiction. 

“This study is in no way meant to suggest that legalization shouldn’t take place,” Magdalena Cerdá, lead study author and a drug policy expert at New York University, said. “It’s a separate issue altogether.”

She aims to continue the study to further see how younger Americans are affected by the marijuana legalization. 

“We need to really track changes among adolescents over a longer period of time and across other states that are legalizing to see if that’s really a robust finding or it’s actually due to some other third factor,” Cerdá added. 

Marijuana A photograph of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) in Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. Researchers found that the daily use of marijuana or smoking a high-potency weed could lead to a psychotic disorder. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons