Could marijuana legalization lead to more substance addiction?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Advocates of marijuana legalization have been pointing out the economic and legal benefits, but on the flip side, leaders of addiction programs warn normalizing any mind-altering substance could be dangerous.

With the legalization of marijuana, some addiction specialists at Huther-Doyle, a Substance Abuse Service, are concerned about increased use. 

“I think what’s going to happen is one, you normalize something like this a lot of people are going to partake it in, right, cause they feel they can do it more openly now. And some will be able to handle it, and some won’t,” said Joel Yager, senior director of clinical services Huther-Doyle.

In 2019, the journal of the American Medical Association published a studied that looked at cannabis use disorder. They focused on states with Legalized Recreational Marijuana and from 2008 to 2016 those states saw a slight increase in Marijuana use. 

Among those surveyed aged 12 to 17, they found Cannabis Use Disorder increased from 2.2% to 2.7%. The study says that’s a 25% higher increase than in states that did not enact recreational use laws. There were similar results in those 26 and older-but a slight decreased in those 18-25.

With more use, Yager is worried it could cause addiction challenges down the line. 

“Two things will happen one will not get as many people in treatment for Marijuana, but we later on will get people in treatment for harder drugs,” said Yager.

With all that said, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse; “Although findings do support the idea of marijuana as a “gateway drug,” the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other “harder” drugs.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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