A study published in the scientific journal Addiction found that people will be more likely to use cannabis as their states legalize recreational cannabis. It is the first longitudinal cohort study to examine the relationship between recreational cannabis laws and individual consumption behavior among a nationally representative longitudinal cohort. The study found that changes in behavior at the individual level are associated with changes in their state’s cannabis legal status.
Over 21,863 surveys were collected from 6,925 youth and 14,938 adults residing in four states with legalized recreational cannabis (California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine). Surveys were also collected from people living in states that have not yet legalized recreational cannabis. Propensity score matching (PCM) was used to improve the balance in covariates between samples in the recreational cannabis legalization states and comparison states. Which allowed researchers to mimic a randomized controlled trial by reducing any observed differences between the two participant groups.
The analysis also explored differences in cannabis use initiation in both youth and adults. The study provides evidence against the claim that legalization would not increase cannabis use among youth. Principal investigator Dr. Yuyan Shi stated, “Our findings provide useful information to policymakers and public health practitioners interested in understanding the consequences of legalizing recreational cannabis. It’s especially concerning that increased cannabis use occurs among young people because of the detrimental health effects associated with cannabis use at a young age, including impaired respiratory function, cardiovascular disease, and adverse effects on mental health.” The study suggests that raising awareness about risks of cannabis use will be critical as more states legalize cannabis.
Some say the increase in cannabis product diversity is also expanding to meet rising market demand. In states with legal recreational cannabis, they are infusing many products with formulated cannabinoid products to increase effectiveness, quality, and range of routes of cannabis administration. Cannabis product options are expanding as more states legalize cannabis. An increasing number of cannabis companies are introducing beverages, edibles, and topical creams to meet market needs.