While history will likely remember 2016 as a bit of a dumpster fire given the number of global tragedies, deaths of beloved celebrities and the election of a narcissistic, grabby-hands internet troll as the new president of the United States of America, there was at least plenty of good news for cannabists.
Here are three major studies that helped cement the argument that cannabis prohibition is insane and laws need to be changed sooner rather than later:
Fewer people are using addictive opioids for pain
A recent study found that, in U.S. states where medical cannabis is allowed the number of prescriptions for opioids dropped dramatically. Using data on all prescriptions filled for patients enrolled in Medicare Part D, a government program that subsidizes prescription drug costs for Americans aged 65 and older, researchers found that states with legal medical cannabis saw 1,826 fewer daily doses of prescription pain medications filled each year per physician.
Fewer people are calling in sick
Using data provided by the Census Bureau to look at the connection between medical cannabis legalization and workplace absences, researchers found there was a statistically significant decline in people calling in sick. They also found,the decline was largest for middle-aged men, the demographic that is the most likely to have a doctor’s permission to use for cannabis.
States with legal medical cannabis were also divided into those with “lax” laws, which provide easier access to medical cannabis such as California, Colorado and Michigan, and “strict” states with fewer medical card holders and tougher regulations (e.g. New Jersey, Maine, D.C.,). States with lax laws saw a larger decrease in sickness-related absences from work.
Fewer kids are getting intoxicated
The annual Monitoring the Future survey, which surveyed 45,000 American teenagers, found that the use of cannabis, alcohol and other illicit substances either stayed the same or went down in 2016 compared to the previous year. Which pretty much kills the predictions that prohibitionists that legalization will lead to increased consumption among teens.
“We had predicted based on the changes in legalization, culture in the US as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful that [accessibility and use] would go up. But it hasn’t gone up,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse. “I don’t have an explanation. This is somewhat surprising.”
Among 8th-graders, the rate of students who used marijuana in the past 12 months plummeted from 11.8 percent in 2015 to 9.4 percent in 2016, its lowest level since 1993. The number of 8th-graders who light up monthly dropped from 6.5 percent in 2015 to 5.4 percent in 2016.