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A closer look at the facts regarding marijuana use and legalization debate in the us

In October 2015 Canadians elected a federal government that proposes to legalize marijuana for recreational use following in the footsteps of 4 American states Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington and the District of Columbia.

Is this a good idea, and how might we decide? Risks associated with cannabis use As a start, cannabis use can lead to problems.

Among the greatest concerns are that cannabis use increases the risk for car accidents 12 and accelerates the onset of — perhaps even precipitates — schizophrenia.

Thus, the next question is, how big are these risks?

Risks associated with cannabis use

The risk for car accidents is roughly doubled with cannabis use compared with the near 10-fold increase associated with alcohol intoxication. Recent evidence raises the possibility that the reported associations with psychosis reflect, in substantial part, effects of tobacco rather than cannabis. There is evidence that these laws are enforced disproportionately against certain minority groups. There is little evidence of this. In the current environment, youth have ready access to cannabis sellers, no ID required.

Legalization would provide no guarantee that cannabis use will be restricted to adults.

In Debate Over Legalizing Marijuana, Disagreement Over Drug’s Dangers

Indeed, alcohol and tobacco use commonly begin before the legal age limits. Compelling evidence that legalization lowers the age at which cannabis use begins, though, is lacking. The fact that cannabis use has risks does not necessarily mean that it needs to be criminalized.

If it did, we would outlaw alcohol, automobiles, and bathtubs. Given this, how else might we think about the risks? Are they analogous to the dangers of using a poorly designed car or a dangerous activity, such as downhill skiing?

If the former, we tend to be extremely intolerant. Product flaws that raise the risk of death by only a few per million are sufficient to elicit much public outcry e. Perhaps more pointedly, most people dislike risks imposed on them but are more accepting of ones that they have chosen. This raises the possibility that people will sue government-sanctioned sellers if they market a cannabis product with features different from advertised, but not if it is described accurately.

If cannabis products are legalized, the weight of evidence suggests that they should be controlled: The Dutch do not have elevated rates of cannabis use compared with neighbouring European countries.

  1. But, while legalization proponents may declare victory in the war over marijuana today, history shows that the debate is far from settled.
  2. If cannabis products are legalized, the weight of evidence suggests that they should be controlled.
  3. Hall W, Weier M.
  4. Hall W, Weier M.

In Portugal, where use of all drugs has been decriminalized, drug-related harms have diminished, and adolescent drug use has decreased. Acknowledgements The author thanks Sherry Stewart for feedback on an earlier version of this editorial.

Definitions Decrease in the penalties for cannabis use Decriminalization Changing cannabis use from a criminal to a civil offense Legalization Removal of punitive sanctions for cannabis use Tetrahydrocannabinol THC Thought to be the primary psychoactive agent in cannabis Cannabidiol CBD A cannabis compound without psychoactive properties, but it might antagonize THC-induced anxiogenic effects and cognitive distortions.

Legalizing marijuana

The relative ratio of THC to CBD has been proposed to influence the subjective effects of ingesting particular cannabis strains. Leyton declares having received operating funds through his institution from GlaxoSmithKline in 2006—2007 to conduct a study on naltrexone. Cannabis Cohorts Research Consortium. Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: George TP, Vaccarino F. The effects of cannabis use during adolescence. Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse; 2015.

Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. The epidemiology of cannabis dependence.

U.S. States Tried Decriminalizing Pot Before. Here's Why It Didn't Work

Cambridge University Press; 2006. Psychomotor function in chronic daily cannabis smokers during sustained abstinence.

Management of drug and alcohol withdrawal. N Engl J Med. Effects of abstinence from tobacco: Shared predisposition in the association between cannabis use and subcortical brain structure. Effect of long-term cannabis use on axonal fibre connectivity. Dopaminergic function in cannabis users and its relationship to cannabis-induced psychotic symptoms.

Medical marijuana for treatment of chronic pain and other medical and psychiatric problems: What has research over the past two decades revealed about the adverse health effects of recreational cannabis use?


Proportion of patients in south London with first-episode psychosis attributable to use of high potency cannabis: Stronger evidence is needed before accepting that cannabis plays an important role in the aetiology of schizophrenia in the population.

If cannabis caused schizophrenia — How many cannabis users may need to be prevented in order to prevent one case of schizophrenia?

England and Wales calculations. Associations of cannabis and cigarette use with psychotic experiences at age 18: Drug harms in the UK: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. The Canadian war on drugs: Int J Drug Policy. An economic analysis of different cannabis decriminalization scenarios. Support for marijuana legalization steady at more than half. Forum Research [website] 2015. Prevalence of marijuana use disorders in the United States between 2001—2002 and 2012—2013.

Hall W, Weier M. Assessing the public health impacts of legalizing recreational cannabis use in the USA. Wikipedia [website] [accessed 2015 Sept.