America’s Invisible Pot Addicts

Public-health experts worry about the increasingly potent options available, and the striking number of constant users. “Cannabis is potentially a real public-health problem,” said Mark A. R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University. “It wasn’t obvious to me 25 years ago, when 9 percent of self-reported cannabis users over the last month reported daily or near-daily use. I always was prepared to say, ‘No, it’s not a very abusable drug. Nine percent of anybody will do something stupid.’ But that number is now [something like] 40 percent.” They argue that state and local governments are setting up legal regimes without sufficient public-health protection, with some even warning that the country is replacing one form of reefer madness with another, careening from treating cannabis as if it were as dangerous as heroin to treating it as if it were as benign as kombucha.

But cannabis is not benign, even if it is relatively benign, compared with alcohol, opiates, and cigarettes, among other substances. Thousands of Americans are finding their own use problematic in a climate where pot products are getting more potent, more socially acceptable to use, and yet easier to come by, not that it was particularly hard before.

Read the entire Atlantic article here.

A new study in the journal Addiction finds that, after legalization, the use of marijuana among students at an Oregon college increased relative to that of students in states where the drug is still illegal. But, in a twist, the rise was mainly seen among those students who had also reported drinking heavily recently. The Oregon students who binge drank were 73 percent more likely to also report using marijuana, compared to binge-drinking students in states that didn’t legalize marijuana.

Interestingly, though, this study does suggest that legal marijuana, at least among college kids, does not seem to have much of a substitution effect. Contrary to the predictions of some legalization enthusiasts, teens don’t seem to be foregoing binge drinking—arguably a more physically harmful practice—in order to smoke weed. Instead, they’re doing both.

Read another Atlantic article on the topic here.

Binge drinking AND smoking pot.  A fine combination.

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