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cannabis use disorder

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 20, 2020

    The enactment of adult-use cannabis legalization laws is not associated with an increase in marijuana-related youth drug treatment admissions, according to data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

    A pair of researchers from Temple University assessed annual drug treatments admissions among youth for the years 2008 to 2017.

    Investigators reported: “Over all states in the analysis, the rate of adolescent treatment admissions for marijuana use declined significantly over the study period, with the mean rate falling nearly in half. The decline in admissions rate was greater in Colorado and Washington compared to non-RML (recreational marijuana law) states” following the enactment of adult-use legalization policies.

    Authors speculated that a variety of factors could have influenced the decrease in admissions, including potential changes in youth use patterns and/or shifts in cultural attitudes toward marijuana consumption in general.

    They concluded: “To our knowledge, this is the first study examining the effect of recreational legalization of marijuana in the US on adolescent treatment admissions for marijuana use. Our results indicate that RML in Colorado and Washington was not associated with an increase in treatment admissions. Rather, we observe a substantial decline in admissions rates across US states, with evidence suggesting a greater decline in Colorado/Washington following RML as compared to non-RML states. … While we are encouraged that rates of new treatment admissions for marijuana use among adolescents exhibited a general decline in the states we examined, it is unclear whether this finding reflects trends in the prevalence of CUD (cannabis use disorder) or, rather, changes in treatment seeking behaviors due to changing perceptions of risk and public attitudes towards marijuana use.”

    Separate studies have reported a dramatic and consistent decline in the prevalence of so-called cannabis use disorder over the better part of the past two decades. Self-reported use of marijuana by young people has also been in decline both nationally and in legal marijuana states.

    Historically, nearly half of all young people admitted to drug treatment for marijuana were referred there by the criminal justice system.

    The abstract of the study, “Adolescent treatment admissions for marijuana following recreational legalization in Colorado and Washington,” is online here. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, ‘Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 17, 2017

    arrestedOver half of all young people entered into drug treatment for marijuana are placed there by the criminal justice system and this percentage is increasing, according to data published online in the journal Substance Use & Misuse.

    A team of researchers from Binghamton University in New York and the University of Iowa reviewed youth marijuana treatment admission data (TEDS-A) during the years 1995 to 2012.

    Investigators reported that youth admissions for cannabis rose 65 percent during the study period – from 52,894 annual admissions in 1995 to 87,528 in 2012. Admissions rose most precipitously among Latinos (an increase of 256 percent since 1995) and African American youth (an increase of 86 percent). Criminal justice system referrals rose 70 percent during this same period, and now account for 54 percent of all substance abuse admissions by young people.

    Among those in treatment, half exhibited little if any evidence of suffering from marijuana dependence. Specifically, 30 percent of all young people admitted into marijuana treatment since 2008 had no record of having consumed cannabis in the 30 days prior to their admittance. Another 20 percent of those entered into treatment had use cannabis three times or fewer in the month prior to their admission. Prior evaluations of TEDS data among adults have yielded similar results.

    “Our findings indicate that the severity of drug use involved in those admissions has decreased,” authors concluded. “This study highlights the importance of identifying youth in actual need of treatment services.”

    Since the late 1990s, both youth use of marijuana and the prevalence of so-called ‘cannabis use disorder’ by young people have declined significantly.

    An abstract of the study, “Trends in youth marijuana treatment admissions: Increasing admissions contrasted with decreasing drug involvement,” is online here. My commentary about the data, “Blowing the lid off the marijuana treatment racket,” appears on Alternet.org here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 13, 2017

    no_marijuanaThe enactment of medical marijuana laws is not associated with increased rates of problematic cannabis use, according to data published online in the journal Addiction.

    Columbia University investigators assessed cannabis use trends in states in the years following the passage of medicalization. They reported “no significant change in the prevalence of past-month marijuana use among adolescents or young adults (those ages 18 to 25)” following legalization. They also found no evidence of increased cannabis abuse or dependence by either young people or adults. States with largely unregulated medical programs were associated with increased self-reported use by adults age 26 and older, but states with stricter programs were not.

    The study’s findings are consistent with those of numerous other papers reporting no uptick in youth marijuana use or abuse following medical marijuana regulation, including those here, here, here, here, here, and here. The findings contradict those of a recent, widely publicized paper in JAMA Psychiatry which speculated that medical marijuana laws may increase the prevalence of cannabis use disorder among adults.

    An abstract of the study, “Loose regulation of medical marijuana programs associated with higher rates of adult marijuana use but not cannabis use disorder,” is online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 16, 2016

    joint_budA report published last fall claiming that an estimated three in ten consumers of cannabis suffer from a ‘use disorder’ has been dismissed in a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

    Investigators at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis assessed trends in marijuana use and the prevalence of marijuana use disorders during the years 2002 to 2013. Researchers determined that the self-reported use of cannabis by adults increased an estimated 19 percent, but that reports of cannabis-related problems actually declined during this same period.

    “We’re certainly seeing some increases in marijuana use,” the lead researcher of the new study said. “But our survey didn’t notice any increase in marijuana-related problems. Certainly, some people are having problems so we should remain vigilant, but the sky is not falling.”

    Separate evaluations of self-reported marijuana use by young people have determined that rates of cannabis use by high-school students is significantly lower today than it was 15 years ago.

    Full text of the study, “Recent Trends in the Prevalence of Marijuana Use and Associated Disorders in the United States,” appears online in JAMA Psychiatry here.