How Marijuana Legalization could make users less likely to abuse it
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 10/29/2015 in Medical Marijuana Trends
I’m sure that you have read the headlines which touts the fallacy that “marijuana consumption doubled over the past decade along with associated risks”. If you haven’t, I’m sure you’ll stumble across these articles as it has been reported by most major news networks.
Essentially the study concludes that marijuana use increased among adults because of more relaxed laws on marijuana and as a result have also seen a greater increase in “marijuana use disorders” which isn’t entirely true.
What constitutes marijuana use disorder?
The DSM-5 categorized “marijuana use disorder” under four main premises;
1. Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home;
2. Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous;
3. Recurrent substance-related legal problems; or
4. Continued substance use despite persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance.
A large portion of the people who classified for this condition were classified as such due to the legal status of cannabis. Many people being fired at work or getting arrested would tick off one of these conditions and even if for instance, you spouse was not on board with your cannabis smoking, it would also be ticking off a “symptom”.
Thus the mere illegality or social stigma of cannabis would already get you closer to being classified as a “marijuana dependent” even though you might not have any physical dependency on cannabis whatsoever.
Why would legalization decrease abuse?
There’s a couple of factors that plays into this conclusion. The first being that many of the “social constructs” of the DSM-5 would no longer be valid under legalization. Not getting fired or being ostracized for consumption would go a long way to ensure that people aren’t classified as “abusers” when in reality they are consuming at normal rates.
Secondly, statistically speaking, in the very study that they mentioned the “increase of use”, they also noted a decrease in abuse on a statistical level. Could this be because of a larger sample group shedding a light on the “true figures” behind actual abuse?
For the most part people who smoke marijuana are less likely to become addicted, at a much lower rate than with alcohol. We must understand that “perceiving it as lower risk” is not the same as “no risk at all”. Americans are opening up to the idea that cannabis is “safer than alcohol and tobacco” however they never said that cannabis had “no risk at all”. Important distinction to make.