Cannabis legalisation is linked to a discount in alcohol and cigarette consumption, in addition to pain medication misuse amongst young adults, a recent study has suggested.
The research, published last week within the Journal of Adolescent Health, assessed trends in alcohol, nicotine, and non-prescribed pain reliever use in Washington State following the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use in 2012.
Scientists, including those from the University of Washington, analysed data from six annual waves of surveys from 2014 through 2019, covering 12,500 young adults of ages 18 to 25.
While previous studies have debunked the concept that cannabis is a so-called “gateway drug”, resulting in the consumption of other, potentially more dangerous controlled substances, the brand new research confirms that cannabis legalisation doesn’t result in drastic increases in using alcohol and cigarettes or the misuse of non-prescribed opioids.
It found that the prevalence of past-month alcohol use, heavy episodic drinking (HED), and cigarette use and prevalence of past-year pain reliever misuse decreased among the many cohort.
“Across years and age groups, the prevalence of substance use apart from cannabis was higher amongst occasional and frequent cannabis users in comparison with cannabis non-users,” scientists wrote.
“Contrary to concerns about spillover effects, implementation of legalized nonmedical cannabis coincided with decreases in alcohol and cigarette use and pain reliever misuse,” they added.
Nevertheless, the study found that the prevalence of e-cigarette use among the many cohort rose through the timeframe of the assessment, likely as a consequence of the general growth in consumption of vapes during this era within the US and never necessarily linked to cannabis legalisation.
Previous research has also shown that legalising weed might help people depend less on alcohol and other controlled substances.
A study published earlier this yr found that cannabis legalisation is linked to reduced use of prescription medication for treating anxiety, pain, sleep, in addition to seizures.
One other study in 2019 also found that recreational and medical cannabis access laws reduce morphine use.
While the link between cannabis use and the consumption of other controlled substances needs further research, scientists say the brand new findings point to the increased significance of cannabis-specific prevention and treatment efforts.