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Cannabis Legalization Did Not Increase ‘Abuse’: Study

Marijuana has become legal for more American adults, but despite that ease of access, Cannabis “abuse” hasn't increased

San Antonio Recovery Center

Marijuana has become legal for more American adults. But despite that ease of access, Cannabis abuse hasn’t increased, a study released on Monday found.

An article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found there was no increase in marijuana abuse among the general population or among previous users after their states legalized Cannabis.

Researchers surveyed about 830,000 Americans over age 12 on their reported marijuana use. Users responded both before and after adult-use Cannabis legalization in their state. The study looked at data between 2008 and 2017.

Across all racial and ethnic — as well as age — groups, reported daily use of Cannabis didn’t substantially increase even after adult use legalization, reports UPI.

Washington state and Colorado became the first states to legalize adult-use Cannabis in 2012. Afterwards, marijuana use saw a slight increase among Hispanic and white participants, researchers said.

No Changes In ‘Cannabis Use Disorder’

The study also found no changes in abuse or so-called “cannabis use disorder” in individuals 12 to 20 after legalization.

Less than 2% of respondents living in legalization states had been diagnosed with “marijuana use disorder.” Meanwhile, just over 1% of those living in states in which the drug remains illegal did so, the data showed.

“[T]here were virtually no increases in cannabis use frequency and cannabis use disorder,” said study co-author Silvia S. Martins. Martins directs the Substance Use Epidemiology Unit at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

“We have not seen significant increases in frequent cannabis use and cannabis use disorders post-adult cannabis use legalization across most demographic subgroups, but we see, as expected increases in use in some demographic subgroups,” Martins said.

As of Sept. 27, 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized Cannabis use for adults 21 and older. In 2021 alone, four states, New York, New Mexico, Virginia and Connecticut, legalized the herb.