Detractors of relaxing marijuana laws certainly jump on this bandwagon – “you can’t legalize pot, everyone will be walking around high as a kite all the time.”
But with full legalization in 4 states now, and medical access in 23, we can start getting a better picture of how easier access translates into addiction and other issues. Of course, alcohol and tobacco have remained legal and accessible throughout the years, two drugs that are highly addictive.
It’s certainly legitimate to ask what effects marijuana legalization will have on issues like addiction, lower IQ’s and other negative effects of using marijuana.
A recent analysis by J. Wesley Boyd, an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School sheds light on this very real question.
Boyd does say that marijuana addiction is possible, and explains the younger someone is, the more likely they will become addicted to the drug. However, addiction doesn’t mean physical dependence and physiological effects from withdrawal – that alone doesn’t constitute addiction. In the academic sense, addiction is in fact compulsive behaviors that are partially out of control or worse. These behaviors typically escalate.
Explains Dr. Boyd:
Despite these legitimate concerns, thus far there are no compelling data to suggest that drug use has increased in Colorado where recreational cannabis is currently legal.
Dr. Boyd cites different studies, including one that shows teen use continuing to decline in Colorado despite legalization.
Also, Portugal decriminalized drug use in 2001 and witnessed a 50% reduction in drug abuse. Teen use of marijuana dropped 7% in the first 5 years.
So to answer the question title – probably not…
Anything, be it legal or not, can be abused. The best thing to do in this situation is to get the person some help…