Marijuana use is on the rise in the U.S.
Laws surrounding marijuana are often a topic of discussion and have been changing throughout the years. Twenty-three states now have legislation for medical marijuana practice, and four have legalized marijuana for recreational use.
As legislation passes across the country, fewer Americans view marijuana as a risk. However, health officials caution that the relaxed laws surrounding marijuana shouldn’t overshadow the risks involved with smoking or ingesting the drug.
Dr. Bridget F. Grant, of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said in a news release that marijuana use has jumped from 4.1 percent to 9.5 percent from 2001 to 2013, with the highest increase of use among middle-aged Americans.
A marijuana disorder, described as either abuse or dependence in the study, increased from 1.5 percent to 2.9 percent among Americans. Approximately 6.8 million Americans experience abuse or dependency to marijuana.
The significant increase in the prevalence of marijuana use and abuse during this period is more likely due to the changing American attitude towards marijuana than due to changing laws, says Dr. Chandragupta Vedak, psychiatrist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill.
“While the general perception may seem that marijuana is harmless, in reality, it appears that marijuana is not harmless,” says Dr. Vedak. “Studies continue to indicate that the legalization of marijuana should not be without worry. For example, drivers should not drive while impaired as this could increase the risk of fatal motor vehicle accidents.”
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