Likely effects of cannabis legalization
- The legalization of recreational marijuana will have an impact on the usual consumption by young people of the substance since its availability pointing to increase.
- The legalization of recreational marijuana is likely to lead to a sharp decline in drug related crimes.
- Authorities have at their disposal tools like taxes and policies which worked in other countries. These could prove pivotal in addressing the apparent increase that may be seen as a result of the legalization of recreational marijuana.
What would cause the increase in use?
Legalization means that the earlier restrictions legal and otherwise that were in place to curb the distribution of marijuana are lifted. An obvious effect of this is that there will be easy access to the drug since it means marijuana will be sold off counters in stores and other available retail set outlets.
Legalization means the market would be free of the bottleneck which is likely to result in a boom in consumption.
FACT: The biggest number of recreational cannabis users are between the ages of 24 -36 according to the Australian drug strategy.
Before cannabis is legalized then, we need to consider how changes to the law might affect this group of relatively young users.
The stringent legal measures that were in place to arrest users of recreational marijuana were not only meant to serve a punitive purpose to the offenders but also to create a deterrent to use.
Legal marijuana offers an alternative to higher risk drugs
The legalization of recreational marijuana puts alternative drugs on the table – some of which are ‘hard’ drugs. Young people are often considered to be at an experimental phase in their lives.
It’s important to consider the health effects that may be experienced in aggregate, within groups of younger users in the country and to compare those health impacts suffered by persons struggling with alcohol or opioid use, for example.
Impacts of increased recreational marijuana use among young people
The use of recreational marijuana like other drugs comes with consequences. In adolescents and young adults, cannabis use impacts on brain development and hampers normal function later in life. Research suggests that it affects young users’ normal cognitive capabilities, learning, and judgment.
There are concerns about the social impacts that the legalization of recreational marijuana may have if it legalized. One key issue is the potential fora rise in crime although the research suggests that’s unlikely to eventuate.
FACT: Crime levels have plummeted in American jurisdictions that legalized recreational marijuana.
Importantly, legalization is likely to eliminate completely one type of crime, those young people prosecuted for either possession or usage of marijuana at a personal level. Legalization then means these activities, previously classified as crimes are removed from the record books.
Classes of Young people expected to be affected
If recreational marijuana is legalized, the class of young people expected to be affected is in the bracket between 17-25 years of age. In many ways, they are particularly susceptible:
- They have reduced life responsibility. Young people have more time at their disposal and often the financial resources with which to sustain a recreational marijuana habit.
- Social set up is also a factor. The young people experience peer influence in school and college, potentially increasing the usage of the substance.
- The background of the young person’s could determine their indulgence or not in the usage of recreational marijuana. If the young people come from religious backgrounds, for example, they are less likely to consume cannabis. Conversely, lower income groups are often more affected.
Checks that may be put in place to control increased usage of recreational marijuana among young people
Countries which have legalized cannabis provide guidance on what well-crafted policies might look like. Canada, for example, is likely to implement a scheme which will involve the governments and state authorities in the production and sales of cannabis. The goal is to curb black market profit incentives and give governments an edge in the control over the prices of the product. Obviously, with the government in charge, there is a great deal of control over the people to whom the drugs sold to. The same sort of scheme has been proposed in Australia by Richard Di-Natalie and could materially contribute to efforts to keep cannabis out of the hands of young people.
Identifying and setting up age limitations as to the categories of persons who qualify to use recreational marijuana is vital. They ensure that vulnerable minorities are not exposed to the dangers that may be brought about by them indulging in the use of marijuana.
Legislators, as well as those who work directly with young people should take initiative in campaigning to educate young people on the impacts increased recreational marijuana use can have on their lives. This will help the young people to make more informed decisions and avoid pitfalls.
Imposition of taxes by the government is also likely to prove to be an effective control mechanism in taming the distribution and eventual intake of recreational marijuana.
Together, these policies could give society an increased level of assurance that their youth population is safe from the detrimental effects of recreational marijuana use