The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Marijuana Usage in the United States2 min read
|According to a new study published in the Lancet Psychiatry, teenagers who use marijuana on a daily basis before the age of 17 are a whopping 60% less likely to get graduate and receive their high school diploma than those who have never used marijuana.
Conducted by researchers in Australia and New Zealand, the study is a meta-analysis of three pre-existing and long running studies including approximately 4,000 participants.
Researchers evaluated the the links between regular marijuana use and seven developmental outcomes up to age 30. In particular, they evaluated if the teens graduated from high school, went on to receive a college degree, became dependent on marijuana, attempted suicide, received a depression diagnosis, abused other illegal substances and relied on government subsidies in order to support themselves.
The study concluded that adolescents who used cannabis daily were 18 times more likely to develop a dependence on marijuana, seven times more likely make a suicide attempt, and eight times more likely to use other illegal substances in future.
The study found a casual link between depression and welfare dependence, however, heavy marijuana use was found to increase those odds. Researchers also claimed that there was not enough substantial evidence to support a link between marijuana use and suicide. Though they claim those who use cannabis daily are more likely to have poorer outcomes in life, they admit these studies are limited in that they are not able to adequately explain other factors that may be behind these associations.
Mason Tevet, communications director with the Marijuana Policy Project, feels the study doesn’t adequately indicate marijuana use causes any of these problems, but rather calls attention to a link between those who use cannabis and those who suffer from these problems. “Nobody wants teens to use marijuana, but it’s quite clear that it poses far less harm to the consumer and to others than the abuse of alcohol or prescription drugs,” according to Tevert.
This comes at a time when The Washington Post recently published an article citing that states who have enacted medical marijuana laws have experienced a significant decrease — 25% — in deaths related to prescription pain pill overdose. So far, 23 states, including the District of Columbia, have legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
In fact, once regarded as taboo, recreational and medicinal marijuana usage has become somewhat mainstream in the United States. Following the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado, marijuana tourism within the United States has seen exponential growth. Recreational cannabis use in Colorado has become so common that a Denver food truck has began selling sandwiches infused with THC, the main component of marijuana the produces a “high” feeling.
There are several sides to the debate surrounding the use of marijuana, with evidence to support all viewpoints. However, one thing is certain, the issue will continue to be debated for some time.