Marijuana is the most used illicit substance globally, with roughly 90 million individuals in Europe alone having used the drug once in their lifetime. Recently, scientists from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm conducted a study to determine whether changes in marijuana laws led to an increase in the recreational use of the herb by young adults and adolescents.
They found no evidence to support the claim that the legalization of marijuana causes an increase in the use of marijuana in individuals aged 15 to 34. Critics of marijuana legalization often argue that allowing the legal and free access of the drug will make it more attractive to young adults and teenagers, which they believe will automatically result in increased usage.
The researchers’ objective was to address concerns around social harm that stem from marijuana legalization changes, especially since changes in cannabis legislation in Europe have been initiated in countries such as Czech Republic, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Italy, Malta, Spain, Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. Prior studies conducted on the impact of changes in marijuana laws on the prevalence of use have yielded inconclusive results.
The researchers, all from the Department of Global Public Health, conducted an analysis of data collected by the EMCDDA from 11 countries in Europe. The data contained rates of self-reported marijuana use in 15- to 34-year-olds in the period between 1994 and 2017, as well as information on the marijuana policy changes implemented by the countries included in the study. These changes were classified as less lenient or more lenient.
The researchers used a time-series linear model to evaluate the changes in nation-specific trends over the particular period, in relation to policy changes. They discovered that the use of marijuana was, on average, stable or rising weakly in countries that hadn’t changed their legislations. This increase was also observed in countries where laws were changed to the extremes.
By contrast, the average use of cannabis declined after changes in laws, regardless of whether the change was classified as more lenient or less lenient. It should be noted that the researchers took into account inconsistencies in drug legislations that different European nations enforced as well as the challenges in collecting the data.
In their report, the researchers explained that their discoveries aligned with prior research that didn’t find any clear link between marijuana policy and the use of the herb. In their conclusion, the team of researchers noted that their findings did not support any substantial impact of marijuana legislation on the prevalence of recreational marijuana use among young adults and youth in Europe.
As more studies clear the air about the unfounded fears that cannabis legalization will lead to an explosion of teen marijuana use, more jurisdictions around the world are likely to open up to this herb and companies such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC) are likely to have a broader international market to satisfy.
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