Cannabis is an illegal controlled substance within the United States; however, individual states, at least 19 of them as well as Washington D.C., have taken the law into their own hands to legalize the sale of recreational cannabis for over 141 million Americans. Every year, there are new states joining the side of recreational cannabis, and every week, there are other states amending their laws to beat their way around the bush to regulate cannabis without fully legalizing it. Nonetheless, the tide is approaching its critical point to shift the nation’s politics on cannabis.

A recent study points out that people use cannabis products at least 20% more often in states where marijuana is legal and recreational. This study was published last Thursday in the journal Addiction, and has gathered data from across the United States.

Comparing Cannabis Use Between States

In 2014, Colorado was the first state in the U.S. to legalize recreational cannabis consumption. Since then, researchers have been heavily focused on discovering any statistically significant data between states that have legalized cannabis, and those that have not. For instance, The University of Minnesota, which resides in a state where marijuana is only legal for medical purposes, has conducted a study comparing the frequency of cannabis consumption between the people living in Colorado and Minnesota. Their data was gathered from surveys taken from the Colorado Boulder Center for Antisocial Drug Dependence, in which 3,500 participants reported their usage between the years of 2018 and 2021. From the data, it was found that people in Colorado use cannabis products 24% more often than Minnesota. That is an incredible amount considering the difference between the two states is just recreational legal status.

From the same study, identical twins living in separate states where cannabis laws differ, was also tested for statistical significance. This data was gathered from the Minnesota Center for Twin Family Research, which studied more than 100 sets of identical twins living in Colorado and Minnesota. By studying identical twins, the research was able to control for external variables that may distort the data for cannabis consumption by isolating family settings and shared genes. Consistent to the information taken from the Colorado Boulder Center, the twin living in Colorado used cannabis 20% more than their sibling in Minnesota.

We Consume More Cannabis Than Ever Before

As recreational laws take into effect, more adults are known to have consumed marijuana. Research from the National Institutes from Health also suggests that knowing if cannabis consumption would increase with recreational laws can be found within any state. Beyond comparing two states, surveys taken from every state show that the legalization of cannabis would increase its use among consumers who already enjoy cannabis. Adults ranging from age 19 to 30 have increased their cannabis use from 34% to 43% in the past five years.

Cannabis Use Grows While Health Concerns Sprout

Despite proponents of recreational cannabis argue that the plant does not pose significant health risks, recent studies suggest that people are at much greater odds of being hospitalized or taking a trip to the emergency room when consuming cannabis. In one study in Canada, children under 10 faced a tremendous increase in cannabis poisoning hospitalizations due to the increased accessibility to edible cannabis products in the form of candy. Another study conducted by BMJ Open Respiratory Research suggest that people who use cannabis are 22% more likely to visit the emergency room commonly due to acute trauma, gastrointestinal issues, and respiratory problems.

Although the publishing failed to mention if the health related issues where directly associated with cannabis use, it is arguable that prolonged regular use, or high doses of cannabis may result in these health conflicts. In fact, one such long term cannabis use health issue does exist. Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is a rare gastrointestinal issue that causes severe vomiting when using cannabis. However, has only been diagnosed to patients with a long term history of cannabis consumption, and what exactly within cannabis is causing these problems is still unknown.

Further Research for Cannabis is Necessary

We understand from the numbers that recreational cannabis use is only going to grow, however, we have a lot of catching up to do in finding the numbers to back medical cannabis use. Case studies with patients seeking a solution in cannabis have been taken into account, and have opened up a discussion to testing whether or not cannabis is helpful beyond the individuals studied in each case. More cases must be documented to reinforce CBD and THC as being considerable treatments for chronic pain, sleep loss, eating disorders, and Parkinson’s disease.

Federal Prohibition of Cannabis is Still on The Table

The overwhelming amount of research necessary for cannabis, let alone the amount of people who advocate for cannabis, is still not enough to change national sentiment on the law. Last April, the House of Representatives had passed a bill to fully legalize cannabis on a federal level for the second time, but was shot down by the Senate. The federal legalization for cannabis is within our horizon.

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