Implications of marijuana legalization
by Stephanie Nickerson —
Numerous recent studies have been published outlining some serious consequences of marijuana use. A groundbreaking study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that while drinking and driving convictions continue to fall, the use of marijuana and prescription drugs is increasingly prominent on the highways. The number of weekend nighttime drivers with evidence of drugs in their systems has climbed from 16.3 percent in 2007 to 20 percent in 2014.
The number of drivers with marijuana in their systems has grown by nearly 50 percent. In response to the study, NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind said, “The latest roadside survey raises significant questions about drug use and highway safety. The rising prevalence of marijuana and other drugs is a challenge to everyone who is dedicated to saving lives and reducing crashes.”
The Colorado Retail Marijuana Public Health Advisory Committee’s comprehensive report of scientific research on marijuana identified risks, including the following: (1) Heavy marijuana use in adults is associated with impaired memory. (2) Maternal use during pregnancy can result in decreased academic ability, cognitive function and attention deficits in exposed offspring. (3) And use by adolescents and young adults is related to future high-risk use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, marijuana addiction, impaired memory and learning, and math and reading achievement — impairments which increase with more frequent marijuana use.
The Journal of the American Medical Association’s report that examined the health impact of legalization in Colorado found serious unexpected health outcomes. These adverse effects include a substantial increase in marijuana-related burns from the production process; an upsurge in cyclic vomiting syndrome due to frequent use of products with high THC concentrations; and an alarming rise in the number of emergency room visits from marijuana intoxication and the unintentional ingestion of edible THC products by children.
The report, “The Effects of Marijuana Use on Impulsivity and Hostility in Daily Life,” published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, found that marijuana use is associated with changes in impulse control and hostility in daily life.
According to the most recent federal government’s “Monitoring the Future” survey, while marijuana use among teens has slightly declined, the belief that regular marijuana use is harmful continues to fall among youth (Monitoring the Future: Data on Perceived Risk of Marijuana Use).
For more information, visit MarijuanaScienceForum.org. The Forum is a group of concerned academics, public health experts, research scientists and medical professionals committed to ensuring that factually accurate scientific information is disseminated in the ongoing public policy discussion about marijuana usage.
Stephanie Nickerson is executive director of Marijuana Science Forum. email@example.com.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 34, Number 2, April/May 2015.