Marijuana Abuse is More Evident in States with Medical Marijuana Laws
Some studies have indicated that the number of Americans who admit to using marijuana in a recreational sense has increased substantially over the last few years. Additionally, about three out of every ten people who admit to using marijuana would fit the classification of a true addict. Some professionals see this trend toward an increase of marijuana use as being indicative of an attitude of acceptance surrounding the use of the drug. Some of this acceptance could indeed stem from the increased legalization of marijuana and the use of the drug in a medicinal sense in an increasing number of states.
What is Medical Marijuana Used For?
Proponents for the legalization of marijuana promote the drug as an effective treatment for pain, seizures, PTSD, depression, and even the effects of cancer. With some positive effects noticed, an increasing number of states have now approved marijuana for the treatment of a wide variety of medical issues. While most people can use it with little risk, marijuana does pose the potential danger of possible psychosis and other issues. Aside from the minor risk of physical issues, marijuana abuse could become a huge problem around the globe.
How Legalization Affects Marijuana Abuse
Recent studies indicate that those who live in states where medical marijuana laws approve of the drug being used medicinally are actually more likely to end up abusing the drug. On the other hand, people who reside in states where marijuana is completely illegal are at a much lower risk of using or abusing it. With the growing number of states who have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, this means that as many as 64% of Americans now reside in areas where medical marijuana laws allow for the use of the drug. Since over 200 million Americans can now potentially seek medical approval from a doctor for the use of marijuana, this can signify a huge increase in the number of those who end up abusing the drug at some point.
Teens and Marijuana Use
Aside from growing concerns about abuse of the drug, we have no way to know how the trend of legalization will affect the younger generations growing up around an accepting attitude regarding marijuana usage. While current studies seem to show no increased risk of teen marijuana use in areas where the drug is legally approved for medical use, we don't know how long this trend will continue.
Is Current Research Reliable?
One other issue we currently see is the doubt surrounding whether or not our current research on marijuana usage is accurate. In most surveys used to gather the existing data we have, individuals are asked about their marijuana usage in a face to face setting rather than an anonymous setting. The question here is are people going to be comfortable enough in a face to face setting to be absolutely honest about their marijuana usage, especially if they are in an area where it is not legal? There is no real way to be sure, but more accurate data may be obtained from studies and surveys that use an anonymous approach to the collection of this type of sensitive data.
We also have to ask ourselves if the way the individual questions on these surveys are worded is truly giving us access to the number of actual marijuana abusers that exist. For example, many people in opposition to the current research methods being used have expressed concern over the appropriateness of the questions. In some surveys, opponents suggest that the questions are worded in such a way that they would rank almost any occasional user as being an abuser, and we know this is not the case.
With the growing trend toward acceptance of marijuana usage, both recreationally and medicinally, we have to wonder if marijuana abuse is becoming more common due in part to legalization practices. Current statistics seem to suggest this is the case, and more research is needed if we want to address this issue early on.