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Politicians, law enforcement officials, and other people whose careers are entangled with cannabis prohibition have long warned that legalization would result in rising rates of use. Well, it turns out they were right.
A recent study has shown that thanks to cannabis legalization, roughly one in seven adults in the United States used cannabis in 2017. More significantly, the survey showed that there was a significant discrepancy between the number of people using cannabis in states with recreational legalization and in states where cannabis remains fully illegal.
Only 12% of the population in prohibition states confirmed to survey takers that they had used cannabis in the last year. Roughly 14% confirmed cannabis use in medical cannabis states. However, in states where cannabis is legal for recreational adult use, 20% of the people surveyed admitted to using cannabis in the last year.
Interestingly enough, there haven’t been major social breakdowns in the states where cannabis is legal. Even more importantly, there hasn’t been a sudden explosion of mental health issues, a major increase in fatal traffic accidents, or any other of the often-predicted social ills that people trot out in opposition to cannabis legalization. In other words, more people may be using cannabis, but society isn’t the one picking up the bill for that new habit. In fact, we may all benefit from a reduction in alcohol consumption and lower suicide rates associated with cannabis legalization.
Legalization might actually be helping people reduce any potential health issues related to cannabis use. The biggest concern among many medical practitioners about cannabis is the fact that people combust cannabis and inhale the smoke. More people are starting to move toward vaporization, edibles, and topical cannabis products as they have legal access to these options. While purity and quality control will always be a concern, it’s obviously best for people’s overall health when they aren’t inhaling smoke. Legalization makes it easier for people to choose less harm options for consuming cannabis.
The so-called concerns of law enforcement officials and politicians regarding cannabis legalization have proven thus far to be nothing more than fear-mongering based on prejudiced assumptions and not on science. Of course, a study that shows that cannabis use is on the rise could help some prohibitionists garner support for their cause. However, the lack of notable social and medical consequences for increased use thus far will likely diffuse any arguments made about the risks of increased cannabis consumption across the United States.
The legal landscape both in the United States and abroad regarding cannabis is shifting rapidly. Both politicians and law enforcement officials ought to start taking steps to adjust to the new reality, rather than fighting for the status quo.
Anyone with basic access to the internet or even television news can see that California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Nevada have not yet exploded, slipped off the map, or otherwise destroyed themselves due to cannabis legalization. As more states inevitably join the growing ranks of legal cannabis States, evidence as to the relatively low risk and low harm of cannabis can only mount. Here’s hoping that voters and policymakers alike will adjust their perspectives accordingly.
For previous Ladybud articles about legalization, click here.