Adults increased marijuana use since legalization

Experts fear a rise in marijuana abuse as figures show an increase in the number of adults using the drug in states where laws on its use are lax.

A new report found adults aged 26 and older had the highest increase of marijuana use, jumping more than two percent in a month-span after recreational laws were passed in eight states.

Researchers from Columbia University also found there was a rise in heavy use of the drug and are concerned this prevalence could lead to higher abuse figures.

Studies claim that dependency on the drug could lead to a weakened memory and have negative effects on behavior. 

As legalization of marijuana becomes more widespread throughout the US, experts are quickly trying to gauge the drug's impact on society.

Adults aged 26 and older had the highest increase of marijuana use since eight states legalized recreational use, a new Columbia University study reports

The study was conducted by researchers at Columbia University's public health and medical center departments. 

Experts used data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health from 2004-2013 to track marijuana trends over time with particular emphasis on different age groups.

These groups included teens, young adults and adults.

Researchers determined the prevalence of marijuana use outcomes by looking at states that legalized marijuana for medical use or recreational use.

Both medical and recreational use of marijuana are legal in Massachusetts, Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, California and Maine.

Restricted for medical use only are: Montana, North Dakota, Arizona, New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, District of Columbia, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware and Hawaii. 

Researchers concluded there was little change in rates among adolescents or young adults (aged 18 to 25) but adults over the age of 26 increased from four percent to 6.59 percent.

They also found there was an annual increase in near-daily users of 2.36 percent.

California would set standards for organic marijuana, allow pot samples at county fairs and permit home deliveries under legislation that was considered by lawmakers on June 15. 

Lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown's administration are working to merge California's new voter-approved recreational pot law with the state's longstanding medical marijuana program.

They have settled on an array of regulations to protect consumers and public safety while ensuring taxes are collected.

By 2018, state officials must have crafted regulations and rules governing the emerging legal marijuana market with an estimated annual sales value of $7 billion - ranging from where and how plants can be grown to setting guidelines to track the buds from fields to stores.

Full legal sales are expected to roll out later in the year.

In general, the state will treat cannabis like alcohol, allowing people 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow six marijuana plants at home.

The budget agreement includes $118 million to pay for startup costs for the newly regulated industry, including technology and staff to work on regulations and issue licenses. 

Study author Silvia Martins said: 'In addition to the increase in rates of marijuana use among this age group, we found that the magnitude of impact on rates of marijuana use was greatest among heavy users.'

Dr Martins along with co-author Arthur Robin Williams said these rising rates could lead to more adults becoming dependent on the drug.

Williams added: 'States with non-medical or lax programs may bear the brunt of this increase, especially among adults over age 25.' 

However, both acknowledge that more research is needed to determine that this increase will correspond to cannabis use disorder down the road.

As states are rapidly legalizing marijuana, experts are quickly trying to understand the health benefits, dangers and social implications the drug can lead to.

Colorado, the 'cannabis ground zero' state, legalized marijuana for medical use in 2010.

Since then, a record number of teens have been hospitalized for marijuana-related illnesses, with rates quadrupling in number.  

There was a surge in cases in 2014, when state lawmakers agreed to legalize marijuana for recreational use as well.

Another study found more than 36 million Americans could be allergic to marijuana - even if they passively inhale it.

According to a report on the nation's allergies, 73 percent of the 50 million people who react to pollen also have issues with cannabis - and the figure is rising.

Scientists warn reactions even occur in people who are merely exposed to marijuana smoke, rather than consuming the drug themselves.

Researchers found in some cases exposure to marijuana pollen or cannabis smoke provoked symptoms of allergic rhinitis, caused by inflammation of the nasal passages, causing sneezing, congestion, itching and a runny nose.

While the benefits and drawbacks of cannabis are still being frequently been discussed, the former Surgeon General to Obama weighed in on the topic and admitted it can be helpful but research isn't fully up to speed.      

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June 16, 2017

Sources:` Daily Mail

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