The Surprising Impact of Cannabis Legalisation on Young Adults

Recent research published in the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open found some startling data concerning cannabis usage among young individuals in Canada following legalisation. 

Contrary to common opinion, the study revealed that legalisation resulted in “significant reductions in use and consequences” among frequent users. 

The study included young individuals aged 19.5 to 23 who reported two or more “heavy episodic drinking episodes,” with the goal of focusing on a cohort at high risk for negative repercussions from alcohol use.

It also discovered that, while there was a minor rise in cannabis usage among people who had never used it before legalisation, there was no substantial increase in cannabis-related effects. 

This contradicts common fears that legalisation would result in a harmful increase in young cannabis use due to greater availability, social acceptance, and a decrease in the perception of harm. 

Anybody with a teenage son or daughter knows, activities that are illegal are much more appealing to them and their peers. So this research actually makes a lot of sense!

The Methodology and Demographics

The researchers questioned 619 young individuals to reach these results. In terms of gender and educational background, the participants were diversified, with 55.9% being female and 53.3% holding a bachelor’s degree or above. 

Individuals having present or previous psychotic episodes were excluded from the research. Participants were polled on their cannabis usage and “related consequences” both before and after cannabis legalisation was implemented in Canada.

The B-MACQ, a condensed version of the Marijuana outcomes Questionnaire, was utilised in the study to assess cannabis-related outcomes. 

The questionnaire contained statements about mental sharpness, abandonment of duties, and weight difficulties caused by cannabis usage. According to the research, 32% of individuals who used cannabis just sometimes moved to no usage at all after legalisation, whereas 23% converted to daily use. Only 40% remained infrequent users.

The Implications and Future Research

The study concedes that it’s unclear if the legislative change caused the outcomes or if similar trends would have persisted regardless of legalisation. 

The findings, however, are basically consistent with drug usage patterns that may be predicted among this age group in the absence of any policy change. The study finds that “further longitudinal surveillance is critical to evaluate the consequences of cannabis legalisation empirically and promote evidence-informed public policy.”

A Canadian study also aligns with research from the U.S., which has also largely found that legalisation has not drastically altered consumption patterns among youth and young adults. 

The researchers suggest that this could be because cannabis use in Canada was already quite normalized pre-legalisation, making any changes in access or social acceptability fairly inconsequential on individual use patterns in this age group.

Recent data from Colorado also suggests that in their state they experienced a drop in cannabis usage by the young following legalisation.

A New Perspective on Cannabis Policy

The study’s findings provide new light on the debate over cannabis legalisation, notably its influence on young adults. It contradicts widespread worries and beliefs, implying that legalisation may not always result in poor results for young people. 

This might be a game changer in terms of defining future cannabis legislation and removing the unscientific and frankly disgusting stigma connected with the use of cannabis.

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