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Legal, policy changes can lead to shifts in use of medical marijuana

Published On: 03-04-2016 in Category: Addiction, Drug dependence, marijuana, substance abuse

Legal policy changes can lead to shifts in use of medical marijuana

Numerous researches suggest that marijuana can be a remedy to various complications, including pain relief, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma and so on. Considering this fact, 23 American states, as well as District of Columbia and Guam, have given their consent for comprehensive public medical marijuana programs. But a new study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has revealed that several law and policy changes since 2001 have been invariably responsible for adverse health effects on people who continue to consume the drug despite its illegal status.

The study, published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence in 2016, included the analysis of only 13 states – Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont – and the District of Columbia.

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Later, 22 other states and the District of Columbia also approved its use. However, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act at the federal level. Under the Act, Schedule I substances are considered to have a high potential for dependency and no accepted medical use.

According to the researchers, subsequent changes in the federal policy led to a significant rise in the number of medical marijuana dispensaries.

“At one point, it seemed like there were more dispensaries than Starbucks in some cities,” says Brian Fairman, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Bloomberg School, and an author of the study. “Then when the number of dispensaries dropped, so did the number of registrants. Interestingly, after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use, the rates of medical marijuana participation held steady, perhaps because sales taxes are lower for medical marijuana, so it’s more affordable,” he said.

Other findings

Researchers also revealed the following facts linked with the use of medical marijuana:

  • Since June 2013 the number of minor patients in Colorado has increased significantly, possibly due to patients moving to the state to take advantage of the state’s dispensary market – medical marijuana patients under the age of 18 make up less than 1 percent of medical marijuana patients.
  • Medical marijuana use is most common among people in their 50s, which is consistent with the “baby boomer” generation which exhibited a high marijuana use during the mid-1970s.
  • Men are more likely than women to register for medical marijuana.

According to researchers, not much has been done to establish the benefits of medical marijuana as the research is complicated and requires approval by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Path to recovery

A habitual marijuana use may produce noticeable behavioral or personality changes, including irritability, restlessness and anxiety. The body of an addict builds a tolerance to the increased levels of dopamine, causing long-term changes in the brain’s reward system. Drug dependence can have far-reaching impacts, affecting almost every organ in the human body. It may interfere with an individual’s ability to make decisions and can lead to frequent cravings. This is when a person needs professional help to get rid of this devastating habit and lead a normal life.

If you or a loved one needs specialized drug treatment facility, you may call the Pasadena Drug Treatment and Rehab Center at 626-788-9844 for more information on necessary therapeutic interventions and services.

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