This week, two important studies were published that continue to build upon the body of evidence that marijuana legalization and subsequent commercialization is an affront to public health and safety.
The first, a review and meta-analysis with over 23,000 participants conducted by researchers from Queen’s University in Ontario and the University of Calgary and published in the JAMA Network Open, found that 47 percent of regular marijuana users experience symptoms of Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome (CWS) when they cease use of the drug. The study’s authors posited that because “many CWS criteria are depression or anxiety symptoms, regular users may seek cannabis to obtain short-term symptom relief, unaware that this use could perpetuate a longer-term withdrawal problem.”
The second, a review of recent research published in the preeminent journal JAMA Psychiatry, states that in the states that have “legalized” marijuana, prices for the drug have decreased while use and dependence has increased among adults. Furthermore, the review states that the risk of dependence has risen from around 9% in the early 1990s, to nearly 30% today.
The review also draws a comparison between the tactics of Big Tobacco — in how the industry worked to deny or minimize the evidence between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, and Big Marijuana — and how the marijuana industry works to deny or minimize the evidence showing use of the drug increases the risk of psychosis. In closing, the review posits that it seems likely that if governments continue to allow the expansion of marijuana commercialization, we will experience a subsequent rise in incidence of psychosis.
“With each passing day, the science becomes clearer marijuana commercialization is damaging public health,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “Despite the claims of Big Pot’s reckless army of lobbyists and PR gurus, marijuana is an addictive drug and its heavy use leads to more dependence and higher risks of severe mental health harms. As our nation navigates the current pandemic with COVID-19, Americans turn to public health experts for guidance. It’s time we likewise heed the guidance of these same experts when it comes to marijuana.”