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As Congress Debates Legalization Of Marijuana, Youth Use On The Rise


WASHINGTON – As Congressional Democrats push for federal legalization of marijuana and more states continue to legalize it, a growing number of college-aged adults in the United States are abandoning marijuana stores. alcohol and heading to dispensaries, a new study shows.

About 44% of college students used marijuana in 2020, up from 38% in 2015, according to a July survey conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan and sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes. of Health.

The survey, which has tracked alcohol and drug use among Americans aged 19 to 60 since 1980, interviewed nearly 1,600 young adults aged 19 to 22 from March to November 2020. This age group showed the biggest changes in cannabis and alcohol use of all. the groups studied.

In contrast, among those aged 45 to 60, 10 to 12% reported using marijuana in 2020, a decrease from 12-15% in 2015.

“There may be several reasons for these results, including increased social acceptance of marijuana use and decreased criminal justice-related treatment admissions,” Nora Volkow, director of NIDA, told Capital News Service. “More research is needed to build an evidence base and unravel the multiple factors that affect the outcome of cannabis use. “

The increase in marijuana use among young Americans has coincided with a decrease in alcohol use. Fifty-six percent of study subjects reported drinking alcohol in 2020, up from 62% the year before.

Likewise, binge drinking hit an all-time high in the most recent study, dropping eight points in one year to 24%.

“While binge drinking has gradually declined among college students over the past few decades, this is a new all-time low,” said Dr. John Schulenberg, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and one of the study’s authors, in a statement.

The trend of increasing marijuana use comes as drug legalization accelerates among states: Voters in Arizona, Montana, South Dakota and New Jersey have approved measures of marijuana legalization in the 2020 election. A total of 33 states – including Maryland – as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. A total of 19 states and the District of Columbia have also legalized recreational marijuana.

At the federal level, three Democratic senators want to legalize cannabis nationally. Majority Leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, and the senses. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Cory Booker of New Jersey co-sponsored a bill they introduced in July to do just that.

“Cannabis prohibition, a key pillar in the failure of the drug war, has caused substantial damage to our communities and small businesses, and in particular to communities of color,” Wyden said in a statement. “It’s that simple: Senators Booker, Schumer and I want to bring common sense to the federal government, end the ban and restore the lives of those most injured and prepare them to seize the opportunity.

Legislators’ bill, called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and give states the right to regulate drugs as they currently regulate alcohol.

“Not only will this legislation remove cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances,” Schumer said in a statement. “But it will also help fix our criminal justice system, deliver restorative justice, protect public health, and implement responsible taxes and regulations.”

The House passed legislation decriminalizing marijuana in December, but the measure died in the Senate. Representative Jerry Nadler, D-New York, and five other House Democrats reintroduced the bill in May. Nadler is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Highlighting state legalization efforts, Nadler said, “Our federal laws must keep pace.”

But opponents insist that cannabis use should not be encouraged by the government.

“Drug use is an epidemic in this country,” Scott Chipman, vice president of Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana, told CNS. “We need to ask ourselves why and tackle the underlying causes. Certainly, the normalization of drug use and the commercialization of marijuana are exacerbating the drug use epidemic. “

The University of Michigan survey found that cannabis use was highest in the western and northeastern states. Fourteen of the 20 states in these two regions have legalized recreational drugs.

“Often as human beings we want to do things that we perceive as normative – so that our actions are seen as positive and normal within our social groups and our society,” Volkow said. “So since drugs like marijuana… are advertised as having potential therapeutic effects and are seen as socially acceptable, it can make people want to take them. “

The nation’s attitude towards marijuana, the drug, has become more favorable in recent years.

November 2020 Gallup poll showed that 68% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, including almost half of Republicans.

“For decades our federal government has waged a war on drugs that has had an unfair impact on low-income communities and communities of color,” Booker said in a statement. “As red and blue states across the country continue to legalize marijuana, the federal government continues to lag woefully behind. It’s time for Congress to end the federal marijuana ban and reinvest in communities hardest hit by the failed war on drugs.

This article was originally published on CNSMaryland.org on Friday, October 1, 2021.

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