Commonly known as the gateway drug, the legalization of recreational marijuana has been given a lot of unfair press as a new study suggests. Conducted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Harvard University, and Western Carolina University, the study suggests that the legalization of the drug has had little impact on the use of marijuana and other substances, alcohol abuse, as well as crime rates as many who oppose its legalization like to claim.
Astonishing to the many naysayers of the legalization of the drug, the study shows a positive future for the full legalization of marijuana across the nation and its association with substance abuse. The last thing needed among victims of drug and alcohol abuse is to have the temptation of a legalized drug available that could lead to further abuse or relapse.
Although 8 states have already legalized recreational use of marijuana and relaxed their laws surrounding the use of the drug, the study still suggests that it is unlikely that further legalization will have a great impact, whether it is positive or negative.
The positive impact that the legalization of marijuana has had in accordance to the study is a decrease in the number of teens who use cocaine and heroin, as well as make salvia and other narcotics more of a risk. Researchers also found that the behavior of teens in schools has been altered revealing less missed days of school due to illness as well as less fighting. These results were found in states where relaxed marijuana laws were already in place.
In relation to substance abuse and alcoholism, these behavioral changes and negative views of hard drugs from teens could be an upswing in the movement to end the opioid epidemic. With younger generations staying in school, fighting less, and opting to stay away from drugs like cocaine and heroin, their future of opioid abuse and alcohol abuse seems much brighter.
However, in light of the positive impact legalized marijuana has had the study also found a few negative impacts as well. These include an increase in petty crimes like shoplifting, and an increase in the ease of obtaining other drugs including psychedelics, amphetamines, and barbiturates. In addition outside studies have also found other negative effects such as higher traffic fatalities and hospitalizations due to drivers driving under the influence of marijuana.
Overall, the relaxation of marijuana laws and the legalization of recreational marijuana isn’t necessarily a bad or good thing. What remains is that it is still a drug. And as such those who oppose its use and those that condone its use must be conscious of its pros and cons to avoid abuse.