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State Policies Influence Cannabis Dependency Rates in Young People



[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap”]Y[/dropcap]oung people in liberal states are more likely to be cannabis consumers, but they also are less likely to be dependent on it than those residing in conservative states, according to new findings.

The Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health report published in the International Journal of Drug Policy found that the conservative or liberal nature of a state had an impact on the rate of dependency on cannabis in young people.

Rates of cannabis abuse or dependency was lower in states with more liberal policies than in states with conservative ones, regardless of whether or not medical cannabis is already legal in the state.

“The majority of existing work has explored the relationship between medical cannabis laws and cannabis outcomes, whereas our results identified important relationships between the state-level policy context as a whole, and cannabis use outcomes,” said assistant professor of Sociomedical Sciences Dr. Morgan Philbin. “While this research does not suggest that being in a liberal state causes people to use cannabis, or have lower rates of cannabis use disorder, it does highlight how states may differ beyond substance use policies, and how these differences also merit attention.”

States were ranked on their policies based on the 2005 and 2011 State Rank on Policy Liberalism Index. Data from cannabis consumption was pulled from the 2004-2006 and 2010-2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The study notes that fewer people overall were struggling with “cannabis use disorder,” a condition in which consumers have sleep and mood problems when they haven’t partaken in a while. In liberal states, the percentage for 15- to 25-year-olds dropped from 20 percent down to 17 percent reflecting consumers with dependency, and the group of 26-year-olds and older dropped from 11 to 8 percent. In conservative states, those ages 18-25 with cannabis use disorder dropped from 22 to 18 percent and those ages 12-17 from 28 to 25 percent.

“These latest findings could directly inform policymakers and public health practitioners about the degree to which other broader contextual factors also influence cannabis use patterns in the U.S,” Philbin said.

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