Colorado and Washington have seen a significant decrease in adolescent treatment admissions for cannabis addiction since the drug’s legalisation.
Drug legalisation has been one of the most controversial debates of the 21st century and one of the major arguments against legalisation was the supposed increase in drug use and addiction.
This month, figures from Washington and Colorado – two US states that have legalised cannabis – revealed that adolescent treatment admissions for cannabis addictions fell dramatically since its legalisation.
Examining the data collected by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration between 2008 and 2017, the study’s lead author Jeremy Mennis explained that “the growth of marijuana legalisation represents a dramatic change in drug policy from previous decades” and “the decreasing level of social stigma associated with marijuana use may make it more socially acceptable to seek treatment, it may also make users less likely to hide their use from friends and family.”
The researchers also found that in comparison to other states, Colorado and Washington had the biggest decrease in admissions among adolescents, and the only major difference between those two and other states were that these had legalised the use of cannabis.
The study also explained that the “decline in the rate of Cannabis Use Disorder among youth who regularly use marijuana would be consistent with observations among adults.” This means that the early figures are pointing to a decrease in drug use and drug addiction in states that have legalised cannabis, which could pave the way for more governments to look into the legalisation of drugs.
Their only concern was that “while we are encouraged that rates of new treatment admissions for marijuana use among adolescents exhibited a general decline in the states we examined, it is unclear whether this finding reflects trends in the prevalence of CUD or, rather, changes in treatment seeking behaviours due to changing perceptions of risk and public attitudes towards marijuana use.”
This information can help shape the future of drug policy, but there will no doubt be more research conducted in order to completely assess the effects of cannabis legalisation.