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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Concerns About Increased Marijuana Use

marijuana use disorders
The cannabis being used by Americans today is quite different from days of yore. The main psychoactive ingredient that causes marijuana users to feel euphoria is Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9-THC). In the not too distant past, circa 1980’s the THC potency of marijuana was about 4 percent. In 2016, it is not uncommon for cannabis users to smoke strains that have THC levels around 30 percent. It is fair to say that it is an exponential difference, one that can have a serious impact on those who use the drug.

With more than half of Americans in favor of lightening restrictions on cannabis use, significant research is needed to determine the effects that drug can have on consumers. Many Americans, even people who do not smoke “pot,” do not perceive the drug as being harmful. As more and more states get on board with either medical marijuana programs or full legalization for adults, it is logical to think that the number of people using marijuana will only move in one direction—up.

A new study which focused on adult cannabis use, found that 13.3 percent used cannabis during the previous year in 2014, compared to 10.4 percent in 2002, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS) EurekaAlert!. Over the same period of time, daily or near daily cannabis use rose from 1.9 percent to 3.5 percent. The findings were published in The Lancet.

Despite the prevalence of increased marijuana use among adults, the researchers found something about marijuana use disorder that was interesting. Between 2002 and 2014, marijuana use disorders among adults in the general population stayed about the same at 1.5 percent, the AAAS reports. You may find it more interesting to learn that the prevalence of marijuana use disorders among users declined, from 14.8 percent in 2002 to 11 percent in 2014. At the moment, the researchers can only speculate as to the cause for a decrease in marijuana use disorders among users.

"Understanding patterns of marijuana use and dependence, and how these have changed over time is essential for policy makers who continue to consider whether and how to modify laws related to marijuana and for health-care practitioners who care for patients using marijuana. Perceived risk of marijuana use is associated with high frequency of use suggesting the potential value for modifying risk perceptions of marijuana use in adults through effective education and prevention messages," says study author Dr Wilson M. Compton, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, USA.

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