Has Legalizing Marijuana Made Other Drug Problems Worse? A New Colorado Marijuana Legalization Study Answers The Question!

Has Legalizing Marijuana Made Other Drug Problems Worse? A New Colorado Marijuana Legalization Study Answers The Question!

Long-term twin data is used in a study by scientists at the Universities of Colorado and Minnesota to evaluate the effects of cannabis legalization. Research published the previous year suggested that Colorado’s legalization of marijuana had probably led to an increase in the state’s adult cannabis users. The study was possibly the finest response to yet on one of the legalization’s biggest effects because of the innovative methodology the researchers employed to investigate the question.

It did not, however, address a more important query: Is it undesirable that more people are using marijuana or doing so more frequently? The same team of researchers has now determined the answer in a follow-up study using the same techniques: It doesn’t seem to be. We really didn’t discover that the policies (on cannabis legalization) have a lot of negative influence, which I believe is crucial, according to Stephanie Zellers, one of the researchers.

Although Zellers started her Ph.D. studies at the University of Colorado before transferring to the University of Minnesota when her thesis adviser changed employment, she just earned a Ph.D. in psychology from the latter institution.

Although she had initially been interested in neuroscience research, the requirement that live lab animals be used for the experiment turned her off. Additionally, she discovered a wealth of information on the Colorado-to-Minnesota relationship that could be applied in novel ways.

The Power of Twins

The information comes from twin longitudinal studies conducted in Minnesota or Colorado. Long-term studies were conducted on the twins by researchers in both states to gather data on their activities, including cannabis use.

In light of the survey results, the following scenario is excellent for study: It is detailed, including built-in controls for elements like socioeconomic position and educational attainment, and also does a better job than others of accounting for genetic variances.

The data also offer a perfect opportunity to examine how a policy change made in Colorado a decade ago has affected people’s behavior ever since because Colorado has legalized marijuana while Minnesota hasn’t (at least not yet) and because some twins born in Minnesota moved to Colorado as adults and vice versa.

Has Legalizing Marijuana Made Other Drug Problems Worse? A New Colorado Marijuana Legalization Study Answers The Question!

According to Zellers, “that twin-component really helps us to rule out a lot of plausible options — maybe there were just cultural, familial, or other variances.” While conducting postdoctoral research in Finland, Zellers chatted with The Sun via videoconference. (She is, in fact, missing the sun at this time of year.)

Homing in On the Big Question

The initial study, which was released last October, just examined whether twins who reside in places where marijuana is legal to consume the drug more frequently than those who do not. And the research indicates that the answer is really yes—about 20% more. Though fascinating, Zellers claimed that the response wasn’t really what the research team was looking for.

Is legalization harmful? is really what people are interested in, she claimed. The researchers developed 23 measures of what they refer to as “psychological dysfunction” in order to address that topic. Substance use disorders are one example, but there are other problems with money, mental health, community involvement, and relationships.

The researchers examined data on more than 4,000 individuals, 40% of whom reside in states where marijuana is legal. According to Zellers, the researchers essentially found nothing, which was surprising. It is somewhat surprising, she noted, that although cannabis use has increased, cannabis use disorder has not. “We didn’t really notice any changes in the amount of alcohol or tobacco use among people.

There aren’t any significant personality, workplace, or IQ differences. People who live in states where drugs are legal did not report taking them more frequently. Additionally, no connection between marijuana legalization and psychotic behavior was discovered by researchers. However, they did discover one distinction.

People who live in states where marijuana use is prohibited for recreational purposes reported higher rates of alcohol use disorder and, more precisely, a symptom of the illness: They were more likely to report using alcohol in hazardous or harmful settings, such as driving drunk.

Flagging Limitations

The study offers important evidence for the continuing discussion over whether legalizing cannabis is a smart idea, according to Zellers and other researchers. However, it’s not the last word. The study’s co-author, John Hewitt, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Colorado University, said in a statement: “No drug is risk-free, but our study suggests that we need not be excessively concerned about everyday adult use in a legal setting.”

To ignore the hazards associated with higher doses of a medication that is generally safe in small levels would be a mistake. This draws attention to a significant flaw in the study. The majority of the twin’s data subjects, according to Zellers, consume cannabis infrequently. The sample size is small for heavy users. This means that the study is unable to determine whether the legalization of cannabis will harm heavy users.

Additionally, it is impossible to say whether legalization harms those who may already be prone to substance abuse more than others. In their study, which was just released this month in the journal Psychological Medicine, the researchers state that their sample is an adult community sample that is generally characterized by modest levels of substance use and psychosocial disorder.

This restricts our capacity to generalize about links between legality, results, and risk factors for those most at risk. It is therefore unlikely to end the discussion on whether cannabis is a “gateway drug.” Although taking marijuana at some point in your life is not a guarantee that you will later use more dangerous substances, earlier studies have shown that many people who go on to develop significant drug-use disorders first experimented with alcohol or cannabis.

According to Zellers, she and her colleagues hope to publish a second research using their data; however, this one won’t be as concerned with the effects of marijuana legalization as a matter of policy. Instead, it will attempt to determine a person’s lifetime cannabis consumption and compare that to the same measures of psychological dysfunction “to see if, not the policy, but the actual substance itself has an effect,” according to Zellers. She remarked, “We know how people live in general in each state, but that doesn’t inform us about specific people.

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