New research has found that once a state legalizes commercial cannabis residents are more likely to begin using the substance. Worryingly this is especially true of young people below 21 years which is the legal age for cannabis use.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Diego. They studied more than 6,900 youths ages 12 to 20, as well as almost 15,000 adults, using a national database. Participants were selected from four states with legal commercial cannabis (California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine); 11 states with medical cannabis; and 17 states that prohibit cannabis.
The researchers found that participants were more likely to begin using cannabis once it was legalized for recreational use.
The findings provide information for policymakers about the consequences of legalizing cannabis.
It’s especially concerning that increased cannabis use occurs among young people because of the detrimental health effects associated with cannabis use at a young age, including impaired respiratory function, cardiovascular disease, and adverse effects on mental health,” said Yuyan Shi, lead researcher of the study, as per Partnership to End Addiction.Yuyan Shi, lead researcher of the study
Harms caused by cannabis use
Movendi International has previously reported on the growing evidence base about cannabis harm.
- One study published on the JAMA Network found that a year after trying cannabis, 10.7% of teens between 12 to 17 years of age were addicted to the substance.
- In the same age group, 11.2% of those who tried prescription opioids got addicted. This shows the cannabis and opioid addictiveness rate is very similar.
- Another study published in the journal Atmospheric Environment: X found cannabis smoke pollutes the air heavily.
- A study showed that adolescents who smoke cannabis as early as 14 years do worse by age 20 on some cognitive tests and drop out of school at a higher rate than non-smokers.
Furthermore, a report on scientific evidence about cannabis smoking by the Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana has found the following key results:
- Cannabis use prior to driving increases the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.
- Furthermore, evidence suggests that in states where cannabis use is legal, there is an increased risk of unintentional cannabis overdose injuries among children.
- Smoking cannabis on a regular basis is associated with more frequent chronic bronchitis episodes and worse respiratory symptoms.
- Cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, other psychoses, social anxiety disorders, and to a lesser extent depression.
- With greater frequency of cannabis use, there is an increased likelihood of developing high-risk cannabis use.
- Initiating cannabis use at a younger age increases the likelihood of developing high-risk cannabis use.
- There is a link between cannabis use and the development of substance dependence and/or a substance use disorder for substances including alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs.
- Learning, memory, and attention are impaired after immediate cannabis use.
- Smoking cannabis during pregnancy is linked to lower birth weight in the offspring.