According to the American Chiropractic Association, 80-90% of the population in the United States suffers from back pain. This common condition is just one of many disorders that could benefit from medical marijuana, which has long been touted as an effective treatment for chronic pain. But despite this and other potential advantages, many states are hesitant to legalize the substance for medical or recreational purposes. However, a new poll in Colorado might change a few people’s minds: two years after the Centennial State became the first in the world to legalize the possession and sale of non-medical marijuana, state voters still widely support the decision.
When Colorado Amendment 64 was first passed in 2012, the decision was a close one: 55% of Coloradans supported legalization and 45% disapproved. Now, feelings seem to be evolving in favor of the substance. On Tuesday, April 14, Quinnipiac University released a poll which indicated that 62% of Colorado voters still back the pioneering experiment while only 34% do not. This is a subtle increase from previous surveys, as a similar poll the college conducted in February showed that 58% reported support legalization, while 38% were opposed.
Interestingly, the study also reported that legalization hasn’t caused a surge in usage: only 18% of Colorado voters say they have tried marijuana since it was legalized. Instead, many state residents seem focused on the theraputic aspect of legalization, with 89% of voters supporting medical marijuana and a mere 8% opposing the use.
“Coloradans can see firsthand that the system is working,” Mason Tvert told the Durango Herald. Tvert is a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, who spearheaded the legalization movement in Colorado. “Opponents of legalization like to claim that Colorado voters are experiencing buyer’s remorse, but it appears most of them are satisfied customers.”
However, the decision is not without its controversies, even today. For example, lawmakers are still debating how to regulate cannabis-infused edibles following a string of frightening incidents featuring these products. Last year, a Denver man allegedly shot and killed his wife under the influence of edibles and prescription pain medication, while a college student jumped to his death after consuming marijuana cookies. As a result, the state and several legalization advocacy groups have launched campaigns to encourage caution when using the products. Meanwhile, organizations like Smart Colorado are working to create legislation to keep marijuana away from children.
“Support for legalization of marijuana … can coexist with the recognition that Colorado has a long way to go in protecting our youth from the effects of marijuana legalization and commercialization,” Dianne Carlson, a member of Smart Colorado, told the Durango Herald. “As a state, we have to decide whether we will become a model for how other states can protect children.”
In light of the poll’s results, many Colorado residents and out-of-state observers are likely hoping that these positive implications will encourage similar programs across the country. Likewise, opponents of the program might feel discouraged and concerned about how the prevalence of marijuana might continue to affect their lives, especially when it comes to healthcare. Fortunately, if you aren’t a fan of the substance or live in a state where it is illegal, there are plenty of other effective treatments that can reduce pain and improve function. For example, back pain and neuromusculoskeletal problems can often be treated effectively with affordable chiropractic care. Sadly, few seem to consider this angle when it comes to marketing for chiropractors. As public opinion shifts and legalization grows more popular, perhaps this will change.