Along with legalization comes a change in perspective and a gradual, yet steady removal of the age-old stigmas surrounding cannabis as medicine. With that in mind, it seems inevitable that more American adults will safely use cannabis than ever before. As recreational cannabis is legal for adults in three states and counting, it’s also no shock that users are ingesting the plant more often. A new study from the The Lancet Psychiatry has confirmed just that.
The researchers surveyed 600,000 adults in the U.S. back in 2014. What they found was that 13 percent of adults said they had ingested cannabis in the previous year. This is a jump of about three percent, up from 10 percent in 2002. The study authors estimated that the total number of cannabis users went from 22 million to 32 million in that time period. First time users have reported to increase from 800,000 to 1.4 million.
“This increase has corresponded with the legal and social acceptance of marijuana, and so it is not such a surprise,” lead author Dr. Wilson Compton said in the study.
Compton is the deputy director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Even though they likely have the best of intentions, every one of the authors on this study appear to work for some government organization or another. With this in mind, working under a government that has kept cannabis medicine illegal for almost 80 years, it’s disappointing yet unsurprising that these authors would appear to maintain a prohibitionist mindset and perhaps exaggerate the dangers of cannabis.
“We need to think about how to do appropriate prevention messaging to make sure people aren’t putting themselves at risk for becoming dependent and other problems associated with the drug,” Compton continued.
These harms could include “difficulty with their work performance and with their ability to think clearly and function,” he said.
Just like drinking alcohol, cannabis can certainly impair thinking ability and work performance. Just like you shouldn’t be doing shots on the job, it’s also not advisable to spark up a blunt in your office meeting. These things should probably go without saying.
Among cannabis users, the research shows that the rate of abuse or dependence went down from 15 percent to 11 percent from 2002 to 2014. In 2002, one-third of Americans considered cannabis to be a safe and effective medicine. Now, about half do. This is great news that should only continue to improve as we see more studies and surveys being done. Hopefully these studies can get to a point where they are as unbiased as possible. More and more Americans seem to understand that the continued classification of cannabis as a schedule 1 drug is nonsensical and in many cases, downright criminal.