A study published earlier this week found that cannabis abuse hasn’t risen in states that have enacted laws to legalize recreational cannabis. The study assessed the impact of recreational cannabis laws on the use of cannabis across ethnic and racial groups, tracking trends in usage between 2008 and 2020. For the study, the researchers analyzed data collected from more than 80,000 individuals.
Researchers discovered that less than 2% of individuals living in states that have enacted enabling laws for the recreational use of cannabis have been given a cannabis use disorder diagnosis. This is in contrast to the number of people living in states that are yet to legalize the plant that have a cannabis use disorder diagnosis.
The researchers also found that legalization laws did have an effect on cannabis use among people from different ethnic and racial groups, with their findings showing that Hispanics were 30-plus% more likely to indicate past-year use of cannabis following legalization. Likewise, Caucasians living in states that have legalized the recreational use of cannabis were roughly 20% more likely to report past-year use. This is in comparison with their likelihood of doing so when the use of cannabis hadn’t been legalized. However, the researchers saw little to no change in the behaviors of Blacks after laws allowing for recreational cannabis use were enacted.
The study also found that the daily use of cannabis across all age, ethnic and racial groups didn’t significantly increase even after cannabis was legalized for recreational use. This proposes that there wasn’t an increase in cannabis use disorder in these states.
The director of the Substance Use Epidemiology Unit at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, Silvia S. Martins stated that the use of marijuana only rose in specific demographic subgroups in the initial few years after adult-use marijuana was legalized for recreational use. Martins, who is the co-author of the study, explained that the group observed no increase in marijuana use disorder and in the frequency of marijuana use. In addition to this, the researchers observed no increases in the use of cannabis among teens aged between 12 and 20.
Thus far, 18 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. The states of Washington and Colorado were the first to legalize the recreational use of cannabis in 2012.
Before marijuana was legalized in various states in the country, people of color were four times as likely to face criminal charges for use and possession of cannabis, in comparison with white people.
Opponents of marijuana legalization have often said ending prohibition would trigger a spike in cannabis use disorder cases, so industry players such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC) may be glad that such misconceptions are being debunked.
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