The definition of mindfulness – mind·ful·ness/ˈmīn(d)f(ə)lnəs – the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
An emerging trend in cannabis is using the plant with mindfulness and intention. Now, for some of you this may seem strange, especially when we’ve all been pummeled with fearmongering for decades with propaganda declaring:
“Marijuana will fry your brain!”
“It will make you go insane!”
“It will make you lazy!”
“It will turn you into a deviant!”
When you look at the plant and its chemistry, and what we know about how it works in our bodies, we can clearly see that there’s a real health benefit and it’s truly a miraculous plant. For one, you can’t consume enough to kill you. You can’t say that about other substances like alcohol or even kidney beans!
In Canada, you can get a prescription for cannabis filled at your local Shoppers Drug Mart. That fact alone is proof that cannabis has very real healing properties.
So yes, you can absolutely use cannabis for wellness, but how?
Once I entered the cannabis space I had to educate myself on the cannabis plant. How it’s grown, the properties of the plant, how it’s extracted, how it’s used in products. Once I did my mind was blown, I saw how much this plant can teach us about our own bodies, and this is huge.
I also have to keep up with the science on cannabis and I can tell you that there are countless studies coming out about cannabis now that it’s legal in Canada and scientists are free to study the plant.
However there’s a lot of catching up to do, there’s still so much we don’t know about the plant. What we do know about it, gives us a pretty good view of the potentials for cannabis.
Knowing a bit about how cannabis works in the body and the properties of the plant, will help you in using cannabis for mindfulness
Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s scientists discovered an entire regulatory system in our bodies called the endocannabinoid system. (ECS)
The ECS regulates many functions of our bodies from sleep, hormones, appetite, mood, fertility and more- basically its job is to keep our body in homeostasis.
The ECS has a series of receptors that can be found throughout our brain and bodies. Our body creates its own cannabinoids called endocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids bind to the various receptors found in our bodies which are then broken down by enzymes.
Cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, called phytocannabinoids also bind themselves to the various receptors in our body; basically our bodies were designed to accept the cannabis plant.
So many factors then come into play on how cannabis will feel in your body and why it’s so different for everyone. This depends on many factors, for example-you may have more receptors in your body than me, and I might have more enzymes in my body than you. How the plant works for me will be quite different than how it works for you.
The properties of the plant- cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids
The cannabis plant has many properties that can alter the overall feel and how it works in your body. There’s over 100 cannabinoids found in the plant and they’re discovering more as time goes on. The two most abundant cannabinoids that you’re likely familiar with are THC and CBD.
Other cannabinoids like CBN and CBG are now being extracted for their beneficial properties.
Terpenes are the essential oils of the plant. They play a role in how the plant will smell and taste and how it feels in your body. For example linalool, a terpene also found in lavender- can promote relaxation and ease anxiety.
Flavonoids are also being studied for their effects; flavonoids gives plants their vibrant colour. They also help to ward off pests and protect the plant from disease and UV rays.
“flavonoids also play an important role in providing the distinguishing qualities we use to differentiate between strain varieties. Both odor and flavor are possible in cannabis due to the synergistic qualities that terpenes and flavonoids share with one another.”
All of these compounds work together to give each cannabis cultivar its unique profile and effect. This is called the entourage effect, when all of the plant properties work synergistically so you get the maximum benefits from the plant, you’ll also see this marketed as “full spectrum”.
Knowing this we can see why there’s no one size fits all approach to cannabis. However science has given us some clues and guidelines to follow.
Why it’s important to consume cannabis mindfully and with intention
If you use too much cannabis you run the risk of unwelcome side effects. If you have mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression, you can either find relief with the plant or you can exasperate your symptoms and feel worse.
Science has shown that there’s a fine balance with cannabis, specifically THC. Lower doses of THC with high CBD can help depression and anxiety, too much can make your condition worse over time.
“Washington State University scientists examined how peoples’ self-reported levels of stress, anxiety and depression were affected by smoking different strains and quantities of cannabis at home. Their work, published this month in the Journal of Affective Disorders, suggests smoking cannabis can significantly reduce short-term levels of depression, anxiety, and stress but may contribute to worse overall feelings of depression over time.“
What happens is you build up a tolerance to cannabis when used on a regular basis. This means your dose can increase over time however this can also make your symptoms worse without you even realizing it. This is why mindful cannabis consumption is so important.
Related article: 3 Reasons why you don’t like the way cannabis makes you feel
How to practice mindfulness with cannabis
Using cannabis mindfully means being present while consuming and not scrolling through your Instagram feed, puffing on a joint or vaporizer and not thinking about how much you’re consuming.
It means even though you may want to feel a little more high right now, your body might not. When you’re paying attention to your body, you’ll know its signals. You’ll know when you have the green light to do more, a yellow light to use caution and a red light to say to no, now is not a good time.
Many factors come into play when using cannabis such as hormones like estrogen. Studies have shown that estrogen can make you more sensitive to THC, therefore certain times of the month, when estrogen is higher you may need to use less cannabis.
For me those are the days leading up to ovulation, I have to use very low amounts of THC or I feel jittery and I can trigger anxiety.
Other factors such as how much sleep you’ve had, if you have a virus, if you’re very stressed out, your diet and current mental state- all play a role in how cannabis will feel.
Related article: How to use cannabis to feel proper and not high
Keep a cannabis journal
Hands down using a cannabis journal is the best way to practice mindfulness when consuming cannabis. This allows you to see patterns over time, things you might not be aware of until you keep track. This will enable you to anticipate if today you should use less or if it’s a good time to use more.
It doesn’t matter if you only use cannabis occasionally or daily, using a cannabis journal will give you a good idea of how your body reacts to certain doses and products depending on various factors.
Always use CBD
I harp on this a lot on my blog and that’s because CBD reduces the side effects of THC, it also enhances the positive effects of THC. I recommend at a 2:1 or higher CBD/THC ratio. This will give you a better experience overall.
“A lot of consumers seem to be under the false assumption that more THC is always better,” Cuttler said. “Our study shows that CBD is also a very important ingredient in cannabis and may augment some of the positive effects of THC.“
Questions I ask myself before consuming cannabis
It’s easy to fall into the habit of using cannabis and not thinking about why. This is when we can over consume and feel worse, not better.
Being mindful when I consume cannabis means that I stop and think about whether or not it’s a good time for it. Will cannabis be an enhancement in this moment, or a hinderance?
I mostly use cannabis at night after the kids go to bed. I stop to think about how much cannabis, if any, I should use. I like to use cannabis in the evening to unwind and separate myself from the day. So my intention is to feel calm and at ease.
I tap into how I’m feeling and ask myself questions like:
“Am I feeling too anxious today?“
“Am I having a lot of pain today?”
“Where am I in my menstrual cycle?“
“Did I eat healthy today?”
These questions then guide me on how much cannabis I need to achieve the desired effect – feeling calm and at ease.
Sometimes that will mean I can have an edible topped up with dry herb vaporizing. Sometimes that means just dry herb vaporizing on a low temperature, and sometimes that means just using CBD and hardly any THC.
I’ve learned from being mindful in my approach to cannabis, how much I can use on any given day.
When you feel better, you do better
Cannabis enhances so many things that I do to be productive and also to be mindful. For example- I use low doses of cannabis for mindfulness and meditation in the evening.
Meditation for me can be done in the traditional sense however I also meditate by soaking in a hot bath, listening to good music on my headphones, writing in a journal or going for a walk by myself (a rare occurrence with 2 kids).
Related article: 3 ahhhmazing ways to reduce stress and anxiety with cannabis
I use cannabis in low doses to write for work, it helps me focus on what I’m doing. I use cannabis in higher doses for certain things like sleep, pain and for boosting my creativity for artistic projects.
What cannabis helps me with the most is sex. It reduces the pain and helps me get into the mood, without it I wouldn’t be able to have sex as often and that would have a damaging impact on my marriage.
This is why using cannabis in a mindful way allows you to feel better so you do better.
Related article: Edibles and sex is where it’s at Ladies!
New President of Colombia Wants Legal Marijuana
Elections are always a time for new things, as new entrants come with their own ideas, and push for their own measures. Such is the case in Colombia. After recent elections caused a changeover in government, it looks more and more like the new government and president of Colombia are in favor of legal marijuana.
Colombia has a new government, and it looks to have its sights on legal marijuana. We’re a news platform that specializes in cannabis and psychedelics reporting. Sign up for the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter to access newsworthy updates, and for a range of deals on products like vapes, smoking equipment, and cannabinoid compounds including the ever-popular Delta 8 & HHC. Head to our ‘best of’ lists for more info, and make sure to only buy products you’re fully comfortable using.
Colombia held its elections back on the 22nd of May, with runoff elections taking place on June 19th, as no candidates could win 50% in the first vote. The standing president Ivan Duque was barred from running due to term limitations. The runoff election was close, with Gustavo Petro of the Colombia Humana party winning by a hair. He beat out competitor Rodolfo Hernández of the Independent party 50.42% to 47.35%.
Petro is the first left-wing candidate to make it to the presidency in Colombia, and his running mate, Francia Márquez, is now the first afro-Colombian vice-president, and the second female to have this office. On August 7th, 2022, Petro officially took office. Duque, who he replaced, was of the Democratic Centre Party, a center-right, and much more conservative, party.
The elections came about a year after large protests erupted in response to Duque’s government attempting to increase taxes, and for general corruption. The protests picked up speed April 28th, and tens of thousands of people took to the streets, creating bloody standoffs between civilians and police in big cities. As Duque made statements about revising the tax plan, the protests grew bigger, culminating on May 1st (Worker’s Day in Colombia), and leading Duque to actually withdraw the tax plan.
This didn’t end the protests, and they carried on partly from the police brutality itself. It was reported that by May 21st, over 2,000 instances of police brutality were reported, along with multiple accusations of sexual violence, and the disappearance of about 200 people. These riots continued on for several months. In light of this long-lasting and violent disruption, it’s not shocking that the new voted-in government is essentially politically the opposite.
New government of Colombia favors legal marijuana
New presidencies often bring about change, and this one is no different. How much is just talk, and how much follow-thru there will be, however, remains to be seen. Petro has held to a stance of ending the general war on drugs in the country. In a summit for mayors held on August 10th he began talking about how a legal cannabis market could work in Colombia. He has also made it clear that he wants to institute a policy to release prisoners who are already incarcerated for cannabis crimes.
Referencing places like many US states that have worked to release prisoners, he said “If we are going to legalize cannabis, are we going to keep all those people imprisoned in overcrowded prisons, or has the time come to release many people from prisons simply because they were criminalized for something that is legal in much of the United States.”
Part of the push relates to how it can help the economy, particularly in small towns. He made it sound like this could be done without instituting licensing requirements. He brought up opening an export market, as well, to work with countries legally able to import cannabis. He said, “We’ll see if [cannabis can be] exported and we’ll earn a few dollars because half of humanity [has legalized it].”
Petro on ending the war on drugs
Petro isn’t just looking to make Colombia a legal marijuana country, he also wants a new approach to how drugs are treated in general, in the country, and beyond. In his inaugural address last week upon taking office, Petro spoke about bringing the war on drugs to an end, citing the need for understanding on an international scale that drug criminalization isn’t a working method.
Of this, he said, “Of course, peace is possible if you change, for example, the politics against drugs, for example, seen as a war, for a policy of strong prevention of consumption in developed societies… It is time for a new international convention that accepts that the drug war has failed, which has left a million murdered Latin Americans during these 40 years and that leaves 70,000 Americans dead from drug overdoses each year. The war on drugs strengthened the mafias and weakened the states.”
He continued, “The war on drugs has led states to commit crimes and has evaporated the horizon of democracy. Are we going to expect that another million Latin Americans will be murdered and that the number of deaths from overdoses in the United States will rise to 200,000 every year? Or rather, will we exchange failure for a success that allows Colombia and Latin America to live in peace?”
What was the US reaction to Colombia’s new president trying to find a way around old bad habits that have only resulted in death and destruction? The same day Petro spoke to the summit of mayors, Biden released a memorandum to the defense secretary, which authorized “interdiction of aircraft reasonably suspected to be primarily engaged in illicit drug trafficking in that country’s airspace”, referring to Colombia.
His reasoning? That it’s “necessary because of the extraordinary threat posed by illicit drug trafficking to the national security of that country.” He added on that “Colombia has appropriate procedures in place to protect against innocent loss of life in the air and on the ground in connection with such interdiction, which includes effective means to identify and warn an aircraft before the use of force is directed against the aircraft.” Is he trying to say that Colombia is responsible for all Colombian deaths caused by the US military, because Colombia should just know how to deal with it? Kind of sounds like it… Which is a gross statement no matter how you look at it, as it attempts to relinquish guilt by the US military for the unnecessary killing of innocent Colombian people.
What about the bill and the ruling?
If you follow the news, you know that there have been a couple other happenings related to cannabis legalization in Colombia. First off, there is a bill currently circulating in Colombia’s congress. Sen. Gustavo Bolívar introduced legislation in July to establish a recreational adult-use market in the country. This is similar to an initiative he tried to pass two years ago, which failed. He hopes that now with a more liberal government, the bill has a better shot of going through. As a result of the election, the Colombia Humana party holds the most seats in congress, making the bill that much more likely to pass.
The thing is, three years ago, the Constitutional Court of Colombia made a ruling that knocked down a ban on the public consumption of cannabis. Unlike in other countries where constitutional court rulings have been upheld, and led to subsequent legalization measures, this doesn’t seem to be the case in Colombia. The reason for the case was to combat an overreaching police code, and even pro-legalization officials like Bolívar were not shocked that it was never adopted directly. Even so, it does exist.
In 2019, the Constitutional Court overruled parts of a police ban put in place by former President Duque in 2017, which expressly banned public cannabis consumption, and which the court said was in violation of the rights of citizens. According to the court, the police code violated a 1994 decriminalization (and subsequent 2012 ruling) that allows small amounts of drugs for personal use (up to 20 grams). The police code implemented the ability of law enforcement to search for and confiscate drugs meant for this purpose.
At the time, the court said, “A law can not create general restrictions on freedom; it must be specific regarding time, place and circumstance and subject to reasonableness and proportionality.”
Then-president Duque’s response? To say that though he does accept it and respect it, that it doesn’t really matter, citing the violation of children’s rights as the reason. He stated “The free determination of personality is not above the free determination of drug addiction”.. and that police could keep right on confiscating drugs and imposing penalties on those possessing drugs, even if in personal use quantities. As it stands now, cops are able to search and take drugs, however, no criminal charges apply if under 20 grams.
This is a great example of a constitutional court not working to uphold its ruling, and a government not being respectful of a court ruling. Whether it was an oversight or not, the ruling did establish the ban on public use as unconstitutional. I wonder if this might be revisited in the future in light of the new president and new administration. For now, Colombia maintains cannabis as illegal for recreational use, with a sometimes up-held personal use measure of up to 20 grams. It does, however, seem that change is on the way.
The new government in Colombia is already much more supportive of legal marijuana than the last government. When exactly it will happen, or how, has not been made clear, but with a new bill circulating, a left-leaning government, and a new president who is pro-legalization in office, it certainly looks like Colombia will join the ranks of the legalized, soon enough.
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2022 Cannabis Ballot Measures: Up to Six States Voting for Recreational
They’re not there yet, and they might not get there, but this coming November, at least three states, (and possibly six), are putting it up to voters in yet more cannabis ballot measures for recreational legalizations. Will we get up to 25 legal states by the end of elections?
2022 elections are going to be exciting with up to six states voting on recreational cannabis ballot measures. This could mean that by the end of elections, half the states of the US will be legal! This independent news platform specializes in reporting on the cannabis and psychedelics industries of the US and beyond. Check out the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter for daily updates and access to tons of product promotions, from vapes and edibles to cannabinoid products including the highly popular Delta 8 & HHC. Check out our ‘best of’ lists for details, and only choose the products you’re most comfortable using.
Missouri and Amendment 3
On Tuesday August 9th, the state of Missouri announced that in November elections, it will hold a ballot measure so voters can decide if they want to legalize recreational cannabis. This ballot was not a for-sure thing in the beginning, with activists originally looking like they couldn’t get enough petition signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. By law, at least six out of eight congressional districts need to reach the signature minimum to make it on. As of Tuesday, the petition was certified by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.
The activist group Legal Missouri 2022 was behind the initiative. Said campaign manager John Payne in a press release Tuesday, “Our campaign volunteers collected 100,000 signatures, on top of paid signature collection. That outpouring of grassroots support among Missourians who want to legalize, tax and regulate cannabis made all the difference.”
Should it go through, this Amendment 3 forces a change to the constitution of the state, amending its policy on marijuana so that residents 21 and above can purchase and use the drug. In fact, should it go through, it would go into effect as early as the end of this year. This is an incredibly fast implementation, because the amendment is already written, instead of a measure instructing the legislature to come up with laws.
The new amendment includes the following guidelines for the cannabis industry:
- Drop prohibition laws for purchase, possession, use, manufacture, sale, and transport of the drug for adults 21+
- Require a card for home-growing
- Allow those who are currently incarcerated for certain marijuana crimes, or who have incarceration histories, to petition for release/expungement
- Institute a lottery for licenses and certificates
- Ensure each congressional district gets an equal number of licenses
- Implement a 6% sales tax on cannabis products
The reason for this ballot measure is because Missouri’s republican-led congress has repeatedly killed previous marijuana reform bills. As ballot measures are kind of the new thing in weed legalization, advocates decided it was best to take it to the people. Like many other cannabis bills, this one comes with a provision to erase past cannabis convictions for non-violent marijuana crimes, and for those who didn’t sell to minors, or get arrested for marijuana-related driving infractions.
Explained Legal Missouri 2022’s Alan Zagier, “We’re talking about people who may still be on probation or parole or even had a conviction and did their time and paid their fine but yet it still comes up and is a hindrance in housing or employment.” He said the bill would “Provide a fresh start and wipe the slate clean for really tens of thousands of Missourians who each year find themselves arrested for low level drug offenses.”
South Dakota ballot measure
Missouri isn’t the only state letting the people decide the fate of recreational cannabis in November. Another state is South Dakota, and for this state, it means voting on such a measure for the second time. In the November 2020 elections, South Dakota voters passed two ballot measures to legalize both medicinal and recreational cannabis on the same day, via Measure 26 and Amendment A.
And though the story should have ended there, Governor Kristi Noem proceeded to conspire with law enforcement to bring a case against the win, in order to reverse it on the grounds that Amendment A broke the state’s law of only allowing single-measure ballots.
Noem’s participation was made clear when she made an executive order on February 8th, 2021. When this was appealed, it went to the Supreme Court. As the court is helmed by Noem appointee Christina Klinger, the ruling predictably upheld Noem’s order, ending the recreational legalization, and ostensibly taking away a voted-in win by her own constituents.
Now, the state has a new ballot measure ready to go this November, and considering the last one went through, there’s a pretty good chance this one will too. Initiated Measure 27 would legalize recreational use, as well as allowing the possession and distribution of up to one ounce. Individuals would be allowed to have three plants each, with a max of six plants per household. More than other states, this is an important ballot measure, because it works to offset a horrible injustice done to the people of the state, by their own governor.
The third state with a confirmed ballot measure to legalize recreational cannabis in the upcoming November elections, is Maryland. On November 8th, residents of Maryland can vote on the Maryland Marijuana Legalization Amendment, which would allow residents 21 and above to access recreational cannabis starting in July 2023. The measure orders the State’s legislature to come up with laws to govern this new cannabis industry.
Maryland already has a decriminalization policy in place from 2014, which allows the possession of up to 10 grams or less without criminal sanctions. The state also has a medical program, instituted back in 2013.
The current measure stated as House Bill (HB) 1, and was approved in the House by a vote of 96-34 in February of this year. Less than two months later, the Senate also passed the bill with a vote of 94-39, showing overall mass support in all of the State’s legislature. For whatever reason, instead of simply allowing the bill to pass into law, the legislature decided to pass the vote onto the people; similar to what happened in New Jersey, which subsequently voted in its own recreational bill in 2020. This means, should the measure get a positive vote, it was passed by both the state congress, as well as the people.
More cannabis ballot measures: Arkansas, North Dakota and Oklahoma too?
On August 3rd it was reported that the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners rejected a measure to allow a recreational legalization measure from appearing on the 2022 ballot. The board approval was a second stipulation, as activists already turned in more than enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot. Then, in a turn of events, the State’s supreme court ordered the initiative to be allowed. The case was brought by the group Responsible Growth Arkansas in response to the Board of Election Commissioners refusal to certify the measure.
What’s the new stipulation? The case isn’t over. So though the measure now must be on the ballot, whether the votes get counted remains to be seen until the case is officially settled. The placement on the ballot is because the case was expedited to force the certification from the Board in time for elections, though the Board can still argue its case for merit of its denial. Should the board ultimately win, the vote will be null and void. Responsible Growth Arkansas turned in over 193,000 signatures which is over twice the number of necessary signatures for the ballot.
North Dakota already turned in more signatures than necessary for the North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which would legalize recreational cannabis for adults 21+. The state requires 15,582 signatures, and the group New Approach North Dakota collected 25,762. Currently the signatures are awaiting verification in order for the initiative to get certified. Unless a major issue comes up, it looks like North Dakota will let its people choose the fate of cannabis in the state come November. This is the second time such a vote was put to the people, as a 2018 measure for the same thing, did not pass.
Oklahoma is also trying to get an initiative on the ballot this November. The group Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws collected more than 164,000 signatures, much more than the necessary 94,911. The state is awaiting the verification of these signatures. In the meantime, the attorney general’s office released a revised version of the ballot in order to make it comply with applicable laws. The signature verification was outsourced to third-party company Western Petition Systems, and it looks like, once again, unless something weird comes up, Oklahomans will decide themselves if cannabis should be legalized in November.
Recently, cannabis ballot measures to legalize recreational use have been mainly positive, indicating a strong likelihood that as many as six new states might join the recreational crew come fall elections. If that happens, the number of legalized states increases to 25, officially signaling that 50% of states are going against federal mandate. Though its not often reported this way, this will likely force the federal government to quickly legalize, so as not to look weak compared to its states. This should be a very interesting election when it comes to both state recreational cannabis legalizations, as well as federal government reaction.
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Another Study Says Legalizations Don’t Increase Cannabis Use
The line is old and never made sense in the first place, but politician after politician like to extol the fear that if they legalize cannabis, everyone will become a pothead. As it turns out, study after study say the opposite, that legalizations don’t increase cannabis use, particularly in younger populations. Take a look.
Yet another study now shows that legalizations don’t increase new cannabis use in kids, so why do we keep hearing that it will from politicians? Remember to subscribe to The Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter all the latest news and industry stories, as well as exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other products. Also save big on Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!
The question of whether legalizations do or don’t increase use comes up a lot in debates over legalization measures. A study published a couple weeks ago called Estimating the effects of legalizing recreational cannabis on newly incident cannabis use, investigates the estimated occurrence of new cannabis users in the below 21 years-of-age grouping, versus those 21 and above. The study sought to find estimates representative of all US states, as well as Washington, DC, and used the data of 819,543 US residents (non-institutionalized) from the years 2008-2019.
Information was collected via audio computer-assisted self-interviews, as part of National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) surveys. These surveys were cross‐sectional, and conducted with “multistage area probability sampling to draw state-level representative samples and to over-sample 12-to-17‐year‐olds.”
It should be noted that this entire study draws from information taken from semi-unrelated research, and was not designed and carried out specifically for its purpose. As stated by the investigators in the write-up, “As this research used publicly available and anonymized data, the research was determined as not human subjects research by the Michigan State University Institutional Review Board on 8/26/2021.” This is not an uncommon practice, and though often used to create associations that really don’t exist, in many situations its a perfectly fine way to collect and asses data.
Investigators used DiD event study models (difference-in-difference) to make inferences on policy effects that were implemented in a staggered way over a period of time. These models are regularly used to show treatment effects from before and after treatment sessions, in medicine, and are used similarly here to see the difference in cannabis use, pre and post legalization.
The results of the study indicate “no policy-associated changes in the occurrence of newly incident cannabis onsets for underage persons, but an increased occurrence of newly onset cannabis use among older adults.” So, basically, its saying that legalizations didn’t lead to more underage people starting to smoke, but did lead to more people of legal age starting to smoke.
They go on to stipulate, “These results show consistent evidence of an increase in the occurrence of newly incident cannabis use for adults aged 21 years and older after the removal of prohibitions against cannabis retail sales. For those aged 12-20-years-old, the study estimates support the hypothesis that RCLs did not affect the occurrence of newly incident cannabis use for underage persons.”
And that “We offer a tentative conclusion of public health importance: Legalized cannabis retail sales might be followed by the increased occurrence of cannabis onsets for older adults, but not for underage persons who cannot buy cannabis products in a retail outlet.” As dispensaries are meant for adults to use at will, and are only barred to underagers, this hardly presents a problem, while backing up that legalizations really don’t increase cannabis use among younger residents.
Are new adult smokers a problem?
This study shows that legalizations don’t increase use in kids, and don’t result in every kid running out to start smoking weed. In fact, it maintains that this isn’t a reason for worry at all. What it does point to, is the possibility that more adults 21 and above might start to smoke after legalizations.
I expect this will be enough for some politicians to latch onto in their quest to link legalizations with a pothead culture. But the problem with this, is that a legalization, and legal dispensaries, are meant to allow this very behavior, indicating that its not a dangerous enough behavior to warrant concern. In fact, not only is it not dangerous, but the array of states with medical legalizations might argue that cannabis is beneficial, which makes it not only not a bad thing for more adults to use cannabis, but possibly an overall beneficial one.
Plus, having an issue with adults smoking, is silly at best when considering how many bars there are, and retail locations to buy alcohol, the drug with one of the highest death counts, and overall global rates for death and disability. And one of the only drugs (along with the idea of smoking in general) that regularly hurts those not partaking, in the form of drunk driving incidents. And though legislators like to point at cannabis for causing danger on roadways, this too has been evaluated in studies, which actually found lower incidence rates of driving accidents in states with medical legalizations.
Should we care that a legalization measure meant to make something completely available to adults…is being used by those adults? Even if in higher numbers than before? I mean, that is the purpose of the industry, right? And given how excited everyone is about the tax value of the cannabis market, it kind of seems like increasing adult smokers, was always the goal.
Uruguay study already showed similar results
Though investigators in the study mentioned above say “This cannabis policy evaluation project adds novel evidence on a neglected parameter”, referring to research on how prevalent new underage smokers are post legalization; this is not correct. Other investigations about whether legalizations do or don’t increase use are already published on this topic, including a recent one from Uruguay.
Uruguay was the first country in the world to go against global mandate and legalize the recreational use of cannabis back in 2013. So it easily has the longest running data stream for how a legalization effects smoking onset in different age groups. In May of this year, a study was published, which “measured whether Uruguay’s non-commercial model of recreational cannabis legalization was associated with changes in the prevalence of risky and frequent cannabis use among secondary school students.”
The study used collected cross-sectional surveys filled out by both Uruguayan and Chilean secondary school students (8th, 10th, 12th grades), from 2007-2018, with a total of 204,730 persons for which data was collected. They used a full range of kids in the 12-17 age range, as well as a specific group in that range that mentioned past-month or past-year use, as well as another group of 18-21 year olds.
They particularly looked at changes in frequent or risky cannabis behavior in past-month and past-year models, with special interest in changes just after the legalization kicked in, in 2014. Investigators used the Cannabis Abuse Screening Test for risky cannabis behaviors, and established frequent use as 10+ days in the last month.
Study results found that there was not an increase, but a decrease in both past-month and past-year use directly following the start of the industry, in the 12-17 range. Though there was a slight uptick in the 18-21 range right after the market opened, risky use quickly decreased soon after. In fact, risky use decreased in all the following samples: participants who used in the past-month, who used frequently in the past-year, and those that claimed frequent use from the entire sample.
Not only does this study indicate no issue with raised cannabis use in the underage community after legalization, but it shows a decrease in overall risky use for all groups. Plus, this is the second study of this nature out of Uruguay. In 2020, the study The impact of cannabis legalization in Uruguay on adolescent cannabis use was published, which came to its own conclusion that “We find no evidence of an impact on cannabis use or the perceived risk of use. We find an increase in student perception of cannabis availability (58% observed vs. 51% synthetic control) following legalization.”
This indicates that students are wholly aware of the increased availability of cannabis, yet aren’t running out to go get it. The study sought to “estimate the impact of legalization in Uruguay on adolescent past year and month cannabis use, perceived availability of cannabis and perceived risk of cannabis use.”
How long will we keep hearing the line that we’re all going to be pot junkies if a legalization occurs? And how many more studies must show that legalizations don’t increase cannabis use in younger communities, before the powers that be get the point? As the line sounds like an excuse to begin with, I’d say we’re not even close to that backwards sentiment being wiped off the boards, and it will take time for the logic to fully filter down. Luckily, the process is most definitely underway, thanks to recent research.
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