Higher Illicit Pot Use in States That OK Medical Marijuana

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Although adults 21 or older can purchase and possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado, allowing those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder access to the state's medical marijuana program is beneficial for several reasons, including significantly lower taxes on medical marijuana versus recreational marijuana.

In states with medical marijuana laws, illegal marijuana use increased by 3.6 percent compared to a 2.2 percent increase in states without medical marijuana.

Study co-author Deborah Hasin, Ph.D., of the Mailman School of Public Health and the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in NY, and colleagues say that their findings suggest that changing state marijuana laws may have serious consequences for public health. Marijuana may, for example, help cancer patients with pain and nausea.

And while a few studies have tried to determine how these laws affect illegal marijuana use, this new study is the first to use data collected prior to any medical marijuana laws to track changes in illegal use rates. Almost 120,000 people in 39 states were included in these surveys, according to the study.

Yes, especially with other states enacting their own versions of legal medical marijuana.

Twenty-nine states now have medical marijuana laws, and eight states - Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington - have legalized both medical and recreational cannabis use.

In other words, the rates of illegal marijuana use increased more quickly in states with medical marijuana laws, the researchers said.

It also includes research published in January that concluded there was no relationship between adolescent use of marijuana and state laws legalizing the drug's use for adults.

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Increases in rates of marijuana use disorders between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013 followed a similar pattern. The 2011 study suggests more research.

Researchers found that illegal use of marijuana and rates of cannabis use disorder rose to a greater extent in USA states that adopted laws legalizing marijuana for medical purposes than in states that didn't adopt such laws.

For their study, Hasin and team investigated whether MMLs might be contributing to illicit use of the drug and marijuana use disorders.

Those studies include one conducted in Colorado before and after that state passed its medical marijuana law.

Nonetheless, the question still remains as to why marijuana laws seem to have no impact on teens but do encourage increased use by adults.

"In 1991-1992, no Americans lived in MML states; in 2001, 18.9 percent lived in MML states, and in 2012, more than one third (34.3 percent) lived in MML states", the authors note. With so many states invested in the marijuana industry, it's unclear whether or not these threats will amount to anything but the fact that marijuana is still technically illegal on a federal level, has made lawmakers uneasy about triggering a crackdown.

Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, agreed that differences in state laws matter, including how many dispensaries are allowed under the law and how tightly they are regulated.

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