In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis with voter approval of Proposition 215. Thus began a tidal wave of more liberal views regarding the most popular illicit drug in the country. Today, medical marijuana programs exist in 33 states, D.C. and almost all U.S. territories.
Medical cannabis effectively opened the door for recreational marijuana use campaigns to gain traction. Many states have decided to go against federal guidelines and legalize adult-use without people requiring a recommendation from a physician. Currently, 11 states and D.C. have passed laws permitting nonmedical cannabis use; California voters approved a ballot measure to legalize recreational cannabis in 2016.
If the trend continues, more states will pass legislation for both medical and recreational “pot” use. In the next decade, we may even see the drug be decriminalized federally. While ending prohibition is probably the best possible route for the country to take, it’s still important to remember that marijuana is not benign.
In recent years, legalization and decriminalization led to more research on the short and long-term effects of cannabis use. However, there is still much that scientists do not know. What is known is that the drug can wreak havoc on developing brains and carries the potential for addiction. Research appearing in The Lancet estimates that 22.1 million people suffer from cannabis dependence worldwide.
The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that 1.8 million Americans 18-25 met the criteria for cannabis use disorder; the survey showed that 1.7 million Americans 26 or older have a marijuana use disorder. Nearly 4 million people had a marijuana use disorder in 2016.
Cannabis Use Disorder Rates are Concerning
Over the past two decades, the United States government has been fixated on reining in the opioid epidemic. The death toll from overdoses, millions of people actively caught in the cycle of an opioid use disorder, generations children removed from their parents; as well as, the fallout out and societal impact of the epidemic is a significant cause for concern.
While efforts to address opioid misuse and addiction must continue, we must not lose sight of the fact that millions of Americans are struggling with cannabis use. Preventing marijuana use initiation is no simple task in light of the fact that many Americans harbor misconceptions about the drug. Young people, especially those residing in permissive states, need to understand that legal doesn’t mean safe.
New research presents some startling figures about the rise of cannabis use disorder in the U.S. A study recently published in JAMA Psychiatry looked into the effect of legalization on marijuana addiction rates. Researchers analyzed survey data from 505,796 respondents; they compared use before and after the legalization of recreational marijuana. The study shows that between 2008 and 2016:
- Cannabis use rose from 2.18% to 2.72% among Americans aged 12 to 17.
- Frequent marijuana use increased from 2.13% to 2.62% among those 26 and older.
- Cannabis use disorder rose from 0.90% to 1.23% among those 26 and older.
Cannabis use prevention efforts are a must. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that those who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a cannabis use disorder than adults.
Cannabis Effects Men and Women Differently
NIDA reports that women who use marijuana frequently develop a use disorder more quickly and are more prone to anxiety disorders. Men, on the other hand, are found to develop more severe cannabis use disorders and are prone to more antisocial personality disorders.
Cannabis use is so ubiquitous in the U.S. that many people are not even aware that they are dealing with addiction. Cannabis use disorder is marked by an inability to stop even though the drug interferes with aspects of his or her life (i.e., problems at work, school, and home).
Those who meet the criteria and attempt to stop on their own experience withdrawal symptoms. The signs of withdrawal usually begin within 24 to 48 hours of not using. The American Psychiatric Association lists the most common symptoms of withdrawal:
- Anger, irritability, and aggressiveness
- Heightened nervousness or anxiety
- Decreased appetite
If you are struggling with marijuana use, and have found cessation challenging, then please reach out for professional assistance. You are not alone; more than 100,000 Americans seek treatment for cannabis use disorder each year.
California Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment for Men
At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in developing individualized treatment plans to meet the unique needs of our clients. If you are an adult male whose life is negatively impacted by marijuana use, then we invite you to reach out to learn more about our gender-specific addiction treatment programs.
Please take the first step by calling or emailing to an admissions counselor. 800-526-1851.