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Cannabis is one of the most frequently used illicit substance in the U.S; with a mixed effect on the health of the population. Despite potential benefits, the use of cannabis has been linked with various adverse effects, especially among adolescents (Hall & Lynskey 2016). Classic negative effects include increased risk of using other drugs, diminished life satisfaction, cognitive impairment, and impaired short-term memory. Although the laws and regulations that have been enacted both at the state and federal levels have been to regulate cannabis use, there are waves or movements that seek to decriminalize and legalize the use of cannabis.
Cannabis legalization affects public safety issues. About 79% of U.S residents believe that the legalization of cannabis in the country would increase the number of car accidents caused by cannabis-user drivers (Young, Padwa & Bonar 2019). Public health will also be affected when cannabis is legalized. Various studies have shown that the legalization of cannabis is associated with lower rates of opioid-related overdose, harm, and death. This could significantly improve health for the general population in the present environment of the opioid epidemic. While most Americans opposing the legalization of cannabis maintain that it would lead to individuals using more addictive and stronger drugs, there has not been enough support for this belief.
In several states with legalized cannabis, it has been reported that the use of cannabis among the youth has not changed with respect to the states where the substance is not legalized. Research has not indicated any effect of cannabis legalization on the graduation or dropout rates. In conclusion, so far, research findings have shown that the legalization of cannabis can have several positive social effects, and more would definitely come with additional states considering legalizing cannabis.
Hall, W., & Lynskey, M. (2016). Evaluating the public health impacts of legalizing recreational cannabis use in the United States. Addiction, 111(10), 1764-1773. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.13428
Young, S., Padwa, H., & Bonar, E. (2019). Social Big Data as a Tool for Understanding and Predicting the Impact of Cannabis Legalization. Frontiers in public health, 7, 274. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2019.00274