September 21, 2023
Legalizing Marijuana Would not Elevate Drug, Alcohol Abuse: Research

By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter

Legalizing Marijuana Would not Elevate Drug, Alcohol Abuse: Research


MONDAY, Jan. 30, 2023 (HealthDay Information) — Dwelling in a U.S. state the place leisure weed is authorized doesn’t seem to extend the typical grownup’s threat of succumbing to “reefer insanity,” a brand new research of twins has decided.

An grownup dwelling in a “authorized” state is just not extra prone to develop any type of substance abuse dysfunction than their twin residing in a state the place marijuana stays outlawed, researchers discovered.

In addition they aren’t extra prone to break the regulation or have issues with their psychological well being, relationships, work, funds, friendships or standing in the neighborhood, based on the report printed lately within the journal Psychological Drugs.

“We discovered principally loads of nothing, which I believe is personally fascinating,” mentioned lead researcher Stephanie Zellers, a postdoctoral researcher with the College of Helsinki in Finland. “I believe this can be a case the place we do not discover a lot is definitely extra fascinating possibly than discovering a bunch of outcomes.”

For the research, Zellers and her colleagues analyzed knowledge on greater than 4,000 twins who’ve been collaborating in long-term research performed by analysis groups on the College of Minnesota and the College of Colorado.

They discovered 240 twin pairs the place one twin lives in a state with authorized weed and the opposite lives in a state the place it’s nonetheless banned. There are 21 U.S. states which have legalized leisure hashish, the researchers mentioned in background notes.

Twin research are priceless as a result of they share the identical upbringing and — within the case of equivalent twins — the identical genes, mentioned Zellers, who started the analysis as a graduate pupil on the College of Colorado Boulder.

“There’s plenty of issues that would clarify why one particular person is behaving a method or why folks of 1 state behave a method in comparison with one other,” Zellers mentioned. “However with twins, we have been capable of rule out so lots of these options — not every part, however loads of them.”

Not surprisingly, researchers first discovered that an grownup twin dwelling in a authorized state was extra prone to partake in weed than their sibling in a state the place toking can get them busted.

“That was form of apparent,” Zellers mentioned. “Sure, folks can legally purchase a drug, they are going to use it extra.”

Nevertheless, a twin in a authorized state was barely much less prone to develop a consuming downside, Zellers mentioned. That’s probably because of the “substitution impact” – they use weed as an alternative of alcohol to unwind.

A twin in a state with authorized weed additionally was much less prone to “drink in conditions that may very well be bodily hazardous,” equivalent to consuming and driving, Zellers mentioned.

“You are combining consuming with one thing that may very well be bodily unsafe,” Zellers mentioned. “The residents of authorized states try this much less, which is fascinating and possibly one thing a little bit sudden.”

Marijuana has lengthy been thought-about a “gateway” drug to extra addictive substances, however the researchers discovered no proof of that.

“We requested within the final 12 months have you ever tried or used heroin, prescription opiates, cocaine, methamphetamine, hallucinogens — form of the entire 11 or 12 classes of illicit medicine,” Zellers mentioned. “And there is no distinction there. Folks dwelling in a state with authorized hashish, they’re not essentially transitioning on to extra illicit medicine.”

Additional, twins in states with authorized weed aren’t extra vulnerable to psychological or emotional issues, monetary woes, unemployment or relationship issues, the research reviews.

“I wish to see this be a reassuring outcome for public coverage, at the very least with respect to psychological well-being,” Zellers mentioned. “Legalization actually isn’t inflicting nice psychological harms.”

Linda Richter, vp of prevention analysis and evaluation for the Partnership to Finish Habit, stays skeptical concerning the security of leisure marijuana, though “the analyses have been rigorous and the descriptions of the outcomes throughout the journal article have been measured and applicable,” she mentioned.

That’s as a result of this research centered on adults moderately than teenagers, Richter mentioned.

“The issues surrounding marijuana legalization from a lot of the general public well being neighborhood primarily heart on younger folks — adolescents and early adults — who’re extra susceptible to substance use and its penalties, since they’re nonetheless present process vital mind improvement and are extremely vulnerable to elevated normalization of and entry to addictive substances that include legalization and commercialization of hashish,” Richter mentioned.

“In youth samples, a rising physique of analysis is pointing to a broad vary of detrimental results of legalization on youth, together with larger charges of hashish use, hashish use dysfunction, driving below the affect, different substance use and psychological well being issues,” Richter mentioned.

Zellers agreed that “stopping adolescent use is one thing that’s fairly necessary going ahead, and could be addressed with insurance policies round authorized buying.”

Zellers additionally acknowledged that her research doesn’t think about how authorized marijuana would possibly affect higher-risk individuals who use weed extra incessantly. The grownup twins on this report tended to make use of “possibly a couple of instances a month at most,” she mentioned.

“I believe in case you are approaching legalization from the query of substance abuse, for the typical low-using particular person, we’re not seeing harms,” Zeller mentioned. “I believe that’s necessary to know.”

The U.S. Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse has extra about marijuana.

SOURCES: Stephanie Zellers, PhD, postdoctoral researcher, College of Helsinki, Finland; Linda Richter, PhD, vp, prevention analysis and evaluation, Partnership to Finish Habit; Psychological Drugs, Jan. 5, 2023

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