There are a couple states that have fully legalized marijuana. These include the states of Washington and Colorado. Alaska and Oregon area filling suit with California as well. The medicinal use of cannabis is legalized in a total of 29 states. It seems as though the future of cannabis in the United States is becoming more and more legal and the consumers will be able to obtain cannabis easier than ever before. However, there is one main question that plenty of people are wondering: if cannabis is legalized, won’t people just smoke more? The answer to this can be simple, or, the more in-depth you go, it can become quite tricky.
There are many who are certain that the use of marijuana will reach new heights in the population and addiction rates will go higher than ever before. However, not only is this opinion, simply an opinion, but it is a fear mongering, outdated and misinformed opinion.
The age-old debate: is marijuana addictive?
There are two schools of opposing thought that are debating whether or not the addiction rate will go through the roof. One side pouting that marijuana is addictive and the other side stating that addiction rates will not rise simply because marijuana is not addictive.
There are no scientific studies on humans that have been performed to validate the truth of either of these statements.
The current evidence used for both sides of the argument is purely anecdotal. What is the addiction? Addiction is more than just a dependency of the physical variety and going through physiological effects after the substance has ceased to be administered to the system. Addictive behaviors can also refer to someone that goes to extreme methods and exhibits extreme behaviors in order to obtain the substance. These behaviors are also categorized as being compulsive and intense. There are many behaviors that people can be addicted to, these include seemingly positive things as well, not just obvious negative associations.
Bear in mind as well that sometimes it is not the substance itself, but the behavior that the person could be addicted to.
There are some estimates that say that 9% of cannabis consumers are dependent on the substance, 32% of tobacco users are dependent while 10-15% of alcohol users are dependent on the substance.
How then will legalization effect addiction levels?
The concern here is valid, there have been years of misinformation about marijuana and this is the fuel to the fire that marijuana is a substance to be feared. However, that is not to say that it shouldn’t be used responsibly. Absolutely anything can become a source of addiction for people, whether it is a certain harmful behavior (there are those who are addicted to arguing) or a certain physical activity (and then there are also those who are addicted to exercise). There has been no evidence that has emerged out of states that have legalized cannabis to suggest an increase in addiction. Colorado, for example, has legal recreational marijuana for longer than most other states and there has been no significant data that paints the picture of marijuana increasing addiction.
There also studies that have been done that declare the rates of teenage use in the states that have legalized cannabis did not increase. This data, however, is not all that reliable since teenage use itself is illegal and there is no real telling how teenagers do use cannabis. However, there are those teenagers who are drawn to the substance precisely because it is illegal, and now that it is legal it is possible that there will less of a pull for cannabis.
And to come to the more literal question of whether not more people will actually smoke marijuana as it becomes legal. Even in the states where cannabis is legal for recreational use, the smoking of cannabis in many public places is still strictly regulated. Smoking cannabis is mainly allowed, and each state will have their own specific regulations, within the individuals own private property. The smoking itself of cannabis could also potentially see a decrease as with the market begins to bloom, a magnitude of different marijuana products are streaming in, all promoting the use of cannabis with different methods, there than smoking.