Marijuana abuse has decreased even though marijuana use increased
With marijuana becoming legalized in more states across the US, more people are beginning to use marijuana. Many would assume that this would lead to an increase in marijuana abuse. Opponents of legalization have even used this as an argument against legalization. However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recently released results that reveal marijuana abuse and dependency is at an all-time low over the past decade and a half. The report was released on Thursday by both the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report showed 1.6% percent of Americans aged 12 and over were considered to be abusing marijuana or suffering from marijuana dependency in 2014. In 2002 1.8% of Americans aged 12 and over were found to be abusing marijuana or dependent on it.
Another argument made by opponents of marijuana legalization is that teen usage would increase. However the results from the CDC’s reports would beg to differ. The largest decrease in marijuana abuse and dependency was seen in teenagers. 37% less teenagers were abusing marijuana in 2014 than they were in 2002. Young adults also saw an 18% decrease in abuse over the same period. The number of adults aged 26 and older did not see a big change in the number of adults abusing marijuana since 2002. This may be due to a former lack of information and education on marijuana. Marijuana is being introduced to people as medicine and legalization allows for education and regulation, which may lead to a decrease in marijuana abuse.
It’s safe to say the results represent a national sample. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a massive annual federal survey of American substance use, received 900,000 responses. Respondents were considered dependent if they claimed to have “health and emotional problems associated with [marijuana] use, unsuccessful attempts to reduce use, tolerance, withdrawal, reducing other activities to use [marijuana], spending a lot of time engaging in activities related to [marijuana] use, or using [marijuana] in greater quantities or for a longer time than intended,” said the CDC.
Respondents were considered to be abusers of marijuana if they reported “problems at work, home, and school; problems with family or friends; physical danger; and trouble with the law because of [marijuana] use.” This could mean a respondent who only smokes once a week and got into trouble with the law could be considered an abuser as well. Despite this, the number of abusers is still going down.
The study found that abuse and dependency when it came to marijuana was rare. Only about 12 percent of people who used marijuana in the past year fit into either of those categories. This number was 16.7 percent in 2002 which is a 30 percent decrease in the 12 year marijuana’s accessibility has increased.
According to the data, marijuana accessibility is helping more than it is hurting the country. Informing people about a drug while regulating it seems to decrease abuse more than full on prohibition. With more evidence on the benefits of legalization we hope to see most if not all of the nine states voting on marijuana legalization this November to go legal and reap the benefits.
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