The legalization of marijuana is a hot-button topic right now. The issue can be fairly polarizing because both proponents and opponents feel very strongly about their particular stance. This is rightly so, considering the conclusions each side tends to make.
The supporters of legalization feel very strongly that an individual should have the right to choose what they put into their body, which is especially important for those who use medical marijuana to treat whatever symptoms or disease they might be afflicted with.
The advocates against legalization tend to feel that without appropriate law enforcement, usage will become widespread and the effects of weed could be disastrous. This is especially sensitive when it comes to children and their access to these kinds of substances.
But if you legalize weed, would rates of usage really go up? For many, it seems that common sense would allude to the notion that when something is legal that access and usage go up. However, a recent study indicates that legalization does not actually have a noticeable effect on rates of consumption in youth.
Kids Already Have Access, Legalization Doesn’t Change That
The research conducted by Rhode Island Hospital and led by Esther Choo, MD, worked to find a correlation between the legalization of medical marijuana and changes in adolescent consumption. Concerns were prevalent regarding the belief that when marijuana was legalized at the state level that access, and therefore marijuana usage, would go up.
The research team followed over 30,000 students for over a decade to find trends in overall marijuana use. It included information gathered across several states besides Rhode Island. After putting together all this data, they found no discernible difference in marijuana usage when it became legalized.
Why would legalization have no difference? Well, one of the assumptions of opponents is that when you legalize weed then access goes up. But I think it is relatively clear that it is not hard for a teen to get their hands on weed. It is literally everywhere all over the US, and legalization would have little effect on that.
Legalizing the Right to Choose for Yourself
I hope in the near future that legalization of marijuana, especially when used for medicinal purposes, becomes the norm for states all over the US. Though there may be potential dangers with such a move, this research tells us some adversity may be due to emotional reactions rather than founded complaints. With wise planning and effective local programs, legalization could be a widespread positive for those who use and society in general.
If you are a parent or young user, feel free to comment and share your point of view on the subject. With lively debate comes understanding and progress. Also, if you enjoyed this and want to support us, please sign up for The Effect of Weed Network mailing list or make sure you know the process to vaporize weed.