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Relaxation of laws linked to reduction in marijuana use problems among teens: Study

Relaxation of laws linked to reduction in marijuana use problems among teens: Study

07-07 | CDAH Team

Over the years, the legislators in various American states have amended the laws to regularize use of marijuana to legalize its use and sales. According to a recent media survey, a growing number of Americans are now coming forward in support of marijuana legalization.

The survey results were released by the CBS News in April 2016. The proponents of marijuana legalization are in favor of using it for medicinal and other purposes, repudiating the fact that relaxation of the pertaining laws may increase the likelihood of adolescents to experiment with cannabis for recreational use. However, those who are strongly against marijuana legalization or decriminalization believe that giving legal status to cannabis might result in easy availability of marijuana to adults who, in turn, may pass on the drug to teenagers.

It is also believed that pot legalization would not only make adolescents more vulnerable to cannabis smoking, but also undermine the potential risks associated with cannabis abuse. To examine the rates of marijuana use disorders among adolescents, a team of researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk conducted a study titled “Declining Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders Among Adolescents in the United States, 2002 to 2013,” which was published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in June 2016.

Decline in prevalence of marijuana use disorder

As part of the study, the scientists examined details of 216,852 American teenagers who had participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). They analyzed the trends observed in disorders arising from marijuana use and also looked into the associated contributory factors.

“The distinction between experimental use and abuse or dependence is important because there may be many individual-level factors that confer liability to problem use among adolescent marijuana users,” said the scientists.

The researchers investigated the extent of marijuana use by respondents during the previous year and examined those who had admitted consuming the drug for six or more days in the past year, as per the DSM-IV norms. From 2002 to 2013, the scientists observed a 9.85 decrease in the overall incidence of marijuana use or a reduction of 0.9 percent in marijuana use per year. Also, details of current marijuana disorders of the participants were compared with those found in the previous year and a 24 percent decrease in marijuana use disorder was observed, including a decline in their behavioral problems, such as a tendency to fight and steal.

Discussing their findings, the authors said, “The reduction in the prevalence of marijuana use disorders is specific to adolescents with conduct problems; that there has been a decline in the prevalence of marijuana use disorders with comorbid conduct problems, but negligible change in prevalence among those without conduct problems.”

Prior studies suggested a potential link between substance abuse and behavioral problems during childhood. The authors stressed the possibility of an environmental factor to play a role in alleviating disorders arising from marijuana abuse. “Identification of such factors would facilitate more effective prevention strategies for marijuana problems and other aspects of behavioral health,” said the researchers.

Road to recovery

Currently, 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana. An overall decrease in the rate of marijuana use suggested that the fear of marijuana abuse among adolescents, owing to legalization of medical marijuana, are unfounded.

But abuse of anything can cause addiction. As per a recent study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly 2.5 percent of Americans suffer from marijuana use disorder. If you or your loved one is suffering from any substance abuse problem, seek medical treatment immediately. An early diagnosis can help in long-term recovery. The Colorado Drug Addiction Helpline can help you find one of the best addiction rehabilitation centers in Colorado. Chat online or call at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 218-7546 for further information about various drug rehabilitation centers in California.

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