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Legalization has led to more cannabis consumption, but also decreased consumption of these other drugs

Over the past twenty years, we have seen an unprecedented increase in the acceptance of cannabis on a planetary scale. Even in the east, where punishment against drug trafficking and consumption was severe – have we seen cannabis markets emerge.

It’s safe to say that the global “attitude” towards cannabis has shifted quite dramatically and continues to morph within the public eye.

With this continued social redefining of what cannabis means within the public space, a new study suggest that legalization may have increased cannabis consumption by up to 20% according to the paper.

Entitled, “Trends in Alcohol, Cigarette, E-Cigarette, and Nonprescribed Pain Reliever Use Among Young Adults in Washington State After Legalization of Nonmedical Cannabis” – which is pretty self-explanatory and a highly specific title.

The age groups they were discussing were two main groups, which were “18-20” and “21-25”. They utilized data from the State of Washington from 2014 (two years post legalization) until 2019 (right before the world slipped into the seventh layer of hell).

What they found was pretty interesting;

Prevalence of past-month alcohol use, heavy episodic drinking (HED), and cigarette use and prevalence of past-year pain reliever misuse decreased, while the prevalence of past-month e-cigarette use increased since 2016 (the first year assessed). Across years and age groups, the prevalence of substance use other than cannabis was higher among occasional and frequent cannabis users compared to cannabis nonusers. However, associations between both occasional (1–19 days in the prior month) and frequent (20+ days) cannabis use and pain reliever misuse and between frequent cannabis use and HED weakened over time among individuals ages 21–25.

In other words, while there was an increase in cannabis consumption, there was also a decrease in the use of alcohol and “heavy episodic drinking” i.e. binge drinking. There was also a decrease in cigarette use, but an increase in e-cigarette use.

This is an important finding as they mention in their “Discussion”:

Contrary to concerns about spillover effects, implementation of legalized nonmedical cannabis coincided with decreases in alcohol and cigarette use and pain reliever misuse. The weakening association of cannabis use with the use of other substances among individuals ages 21–25 requires further research but may suggest increased importance of cannabis-specific prevention and treatment efforts.

According to this data, it seems that cannabis legalization may be associated with a decline of usage of alcohol, tobacco and prescription drug abuse. All of these elements are incredibly beneficial  to society as a whole.

Of course, the study also suggest …

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