Restorations Therapy Blog

Marijuana Legalization’s Impact on Addiction

by on Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

Over the past decade, multiple states have legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational use. These changes to the law have had an impact on addiction in these states among different age groups. The legalization of marijuana leads to both negative and positive results. However, its impact on addiction must be taken into account as states change their laws.

Studies conducted in these states that have legalized the drug show that there are higher percentages of marijuana use amongst the population. More individuals in those states are more open to trying marijuana, and becoming dependent is more common.

Signs of Marijuana Dependency

  • Inability to quit
  • Cravings
  • Loss of control
  • Risky behavior
  • Social isolation
  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawals

Studies Conducted

Journal of The American Medical Association (JAMA)

JAMA conducted an internal medicine report and found states with medical marijuana laws had 25% fewer fatal opioid overdose deaths than those without the laws. This could be due to the fact that marijuana is prescribed in place of opioids, which are painkillers, causing more people to opt for marijuana. This means fewer opioids are prescribed, and therefore fewer overdoses occur.

National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)

NSDUH’s study focused on the four states that first legalized marijuana, including Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington. The results were divided into three categories:

  1. Adolescents (12-17)
  2. Young Adults (18-25)
  3. Older Adults (26+)

Results found that use, frequent use, and cannabis use disorder were higher in the older adults in these states than states with no legalized marijuana. There were no results that found an increase in use, frequent use, or cannabis use disorder in young adults in the legalized states.

Other Studies

A study conducted in California in 2018 found that legalizing the drug caused a significant increase in users, but not a dramatic increase. The study demonstrated that 29% of adults are active consumers, which is an increase from 23% in 2017.

In Colorado, a study was done analyzing the prescriptions for opioids between 2012 to 2017. Results found that the number of prescriptions decreased by 31.5% as marijuana laws became more relaxed.

Marijuana use has increased slightly in states that have legalized the drug for medicinal and recreational use. There are positive results because of this, such as a drop in opioid prescriptions and related deaths. However, there has been a rise in marijuana users in legalized states, especially in the older adult populations (26+). As time goes on and more states change their laws concerning marijuana possession and consumption, these results may be different. Knowing the signs of marijuana dependency is especially important. If you or someone you know is struggling with a cannabis use disorder, Restorations Therapy is here to help. Contact the center at (720) 446-6585 for more information.

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