Marijuana Legalization Has Had Big Impact On Use In Colorado [Study]

Marijuana legalization continues to be a hot topic of debate throughout the country, but no matter which side of the issue you find yourself supporting, one thing is undeniable: In Colorado and Washington, two states with voter-supported laws, it has led to an increase in the amount of frequent users.

According to the Associated Press, Colorado now boasts the second highest percentage in the nation behind Rhode Island.

Looking at the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Denver Post found that around 1.02 out of 8 residents older than 12 had used marijuana in the last month.

This translates to approximately 12.7 percent, who are now using per the 2012-2013 study compared to 2011-2012’s finding of 10.4 percent. It also does not factor in the number of individuals using since recreational marijuana facilities have opened.

Switching to Washington state, monthly pot use has shot up to 12.3 percent (around 20 percent from the 2011-2012 data).

“I don’t think this tells us about the long-term impacts of legalization,” said University of California, Los Angeles, professor Mark Kleiman, who studies policy related to marijuana legalization.

In comments to the Post, he said the “number of medical marijuana patients in Colorado rose over the same time period, so the results are not surprising,” and that “researchers will have a better idea about pot use in the first state to legalize recreational sales of the drug once they can focus on data showing how many people use pot daily.”

“The fraction of people who are monthly users who are in fact daily users has gone way, way up,” he said.

While the efforts to expand medical marijuana use have certainly been successful, the recreational use in 2014 will be a big teller on how much it is affecting the everyday population.

Whether any of this is good or bad will be up to scientists to determine, as more in-depth studies can be conducted on how marijuana use affects the brain.

People are already calling it the “new Big Tobacco” and citing studies that people who frequently use have lower IQs than those who don’t use at all as “evidence” that the country should rethink its love affair with the drug.

But what do you think, readers? Should society be more concerned about increases in pot use as a result of marijuana legalization? Should recreational legalization be avoided while keeping medical marijuana as an option to chronically ill patients? Sound off in our comments section.

[Image via ShutterStock]