Dr. Copeland, founding director of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre at University of New South Wales Australia, spoke during our Addiction Speaker Series about the rise and fall of Australia’s cannabis policy responses. We interviewed Dr. Copeland to get some deeper insights into her research and experience regarding cannabis (or marijuana) use and the prevention and treatment of cannabis use disorder.
As more states push for the legalization of marijuana, there is increasing fear that the stores that sell marijuana, commonly known as dispensaries, will have a negative impact on their surrounding communities. Both recreational and medical marijuana are legal in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Maine. However, because of the negative ripple effects of legalizing marijuana, state support doesn’t necessarily translate into local backing.
2016 was a year of change for addiction policy in the U.S., and this was especially true for marijuana regulations. In this “tipping point” year, medical marijuana became legal in over half of the states. And, there are now a total of eight states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.
In the past few years, marijuana has become more widely available and its use more accepted. Twenty-five states and Washington D.C. have now legalized it in some form. Still, concerns remain about marijuana’s effects. One growing but not well-recognized health problem is that marijuana can induce psychosis – particularly when the marijuana ingested is highly potent or when the individual is susceptible to developing psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.
The public view of marijuana is changing rapidly. It seems like every day there are news stories about states moving toward legalization, newfound uses for medical marijuana, how health risks of marijuana may be less than for other drugs and debates regarding whether marijuana is actually addictive. With all this saturation of media coverage and the shifting perspectives on marijuana, there’s an important group we have a tendency to forget: people who use marijuana and are trying to quit.
In recent years, the potency of marijuana has increased considerably, as have the number of people of all ages who perceive marijuana as not particularly harmful or addictive. But just how likely is it that someone who uses marijuana will become addicted to the drug?
CASAColumbia fully supports the use of marijuana-based medications that have undergone the FDA’s comprehensive drug approval process. We also encourage more research on the value of marijuana for medical purposes. But we remain wary of state legalization of medical marijuana, especially in forms that are not medically appropriate and are not properly regulated.
Given what we currently know about marijuana, CASAColumbia does not support its legalization for recreational use. Instead, CASAColumbia supports keeping marijuana illegal but eliminating criminal penalties for personal use.
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