In the UK, cannabis was designated as a medicine on November 1, 2018, largely due to patient advocacy, including high-profile media campaigns for children with intractable epilepsy, such as the case of Alfie Dingley (HSCC 2019). Despite this change, by March 2020, the medicine remained out of reach for most patients. This situation underscores the complexity of integrating medical cannabis into mainstream healthcare following legalization.
Health implications of medical marijuana legalization have shown mixed outcomes. In several U.S. states that legalized medical marijuana, significant increases in cardiac mortality rates were observed, along with reductions in opioid prescribing, especially where cannabis dispensaries were available. Notably, these states also saw a rise in tobacco sales. These findings suggest that while there may be therapeutic benefits to medical marijuana, there are also potential public health concerns.
The adverse effects of cannabis, such as the risk of dependency and its association with violence, are well-documented. Studies indicate that the daily use of cannabis can lead to dependency, which is a significant reason for seeking addiction treatment. Moreover, marijuana intoxication can result in panic and paranoia, symptoms often linked to violent behavior.
Global trends show that cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug, with use typically starting during adolescence. Heavy use during this developmental period is associated with serious negative consequences, such as increased risk of school dropout and truancy. It’s important to note that marijuana is a mind-altering psychoactive drug composed of a dry, shredded mix of the flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves of the cannabis sativa plant, with THC being the primary psychoactive component.
The presence of legal cannabis options has significantly influenced the consumption and elasticity of illegal cannabis, indicating that consumers may prefer legal alternatives when available. This preference has implications for both public health and illicit market dynamics.
As marijuana legalization continues to spread across various states, considerable debate persists regarding its impact on public health and the ethical considerations surrounding its use. While evidence for the medical use of marijuana or cannabinoids is limited to a few indications, the shift towards liberalization of marijuana policies continues to evolve.
For further detailed information, please refer to the studies and reports provided by the following sources:
- PMCInternational Perspectives on the Implications of Cannabis Legalization
- The costs and benefits of cannabis control policies – PMC
- A Review of Cases of Marijuana and Violence – PMC
- Cannabis legalization in the US: Where do we go from here?
- Marijuana – DEA.gov
- Price elasticity of illegal versus legal cannabis: a behavioral economic analysis
- Marijuana Legalization: Impact on Physicians and Public Health
- Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, And Implications for the Therapeutic Use
- Medical Marijuana and Marijuana Legalization – PMC