Illegal pot use increased MORE in states with medical laws

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Now Nevada plans to step it up a notch by being the first state to openly allow businesses to host public marijuana use.

The researchers also concluded that in states without marijuana legalization laws, the rate of marijuana use disorders went from 1.3 percent to 2.3 percent during the time period studied.

These laws "seem to send a message that use of this drug is safe and acceptable in some way", said lead researcher Deborah Hasin of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

In states that have passed MMLs, doctors may prescribe the drug to help treat a number of conditions, including pain, chemotherapy-related nausea, seizure disorders, and poor appetite and weight loss due to chronic illness. The study concluded that "the most likely of several possible explanations for higher adolescent marijuana use and lower perceptions of risk in MML (medical marijuana law) states can not be determined".

They used data from national surveys of drug use among adults (ages ≥18) conducted at three time points: before the enactment of medical marijuana laws (1991-1992); just after the laws were enacted in a few states (2001-2002); and after wide enactment of the laws (2012-2013), when more than one-third of people in the US lived in states with MMLs. Almost 120,000 people in 39 states were included in these surveys, according to the study.

Legalization of marijuana for medical use and recreational use clearly sends a message to youth that marijuana is not unsafe and increases youth access to marijuana.

"Future studies are needed to investigate mechanisms by which increased cannabis use is associated with medical marijuana laws, including increased perceived safety, availability, and generally permissive attitudes", said Hasin.

There are simply too many questions and variables surrounding the issue of medical marijuana for the state of Texas to consider such a law - at least for right now.

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Eight of those states plus the district have also legalized the drug for recreational use.

Federal drug enforcement policy regarding the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of marijuana should be applied consistently across the nation to maintain respect for the rule of law.

Colorado is also considering a measure to allow marijuana growers to reclassify recreational pot as medical pot, a gambit to avoid federal seizure of recreational pot plants.

The findings from the new study reinforce the reality that cannabis use increases with legalization, wrote NIDA Director Nora Volkow, Deputy Director Wilson Compton and epidemiology chief Marsha Lopez.

He notes that the first time period in the study was 1991 when marijuana use in the United States was at an all-time low.

The Colorado Board of Health, which oversees the state medical marijuana program, has not added any new qualifying conditions since the program began in 2001.

It should also be noted that requirements for a cannabis use disorder-a condition far less risky and prevalent than other kinds of drug and alcohol abuse-have changed since the three surveys were conducted.

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