Since there are even respected psych researchers proposing decriminalization for recreational use, it’s important to show how decriminalization (such as being done in the U.S.) leads to increased use. We want to highlight two states, Vermont and Maryland.
See Vermont’s data in the table below.
Also, for the Vermont data showing the large increases from 2013 to 2016, it’s important to know that Vermont decriminalized and enacted the law during 2013.
See this report: Health Considerations Vermont Marijuana
In Maryland, NSDUH data showed the 50% increase in use following decriminalization in Maryland occurred in the age 26+ group; the ages 12 to 17 increased use by approx. 20%, and 18 to 25 by 20%.
As youth use of cannabis increases, nationally we are seeing serious mental illness rise. Here is a chart from the new National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2017)
Christine Miller, PhD, the Moms Strong Honorary Advisor notes “This SAMSHA data (www.samsha.gov) was analyzed in a recently released paper showing liberal medical marijuana laws are associated with higher rates of serious mental illness (abstract link below). In many states, decriminalization of recreational use resulted in the abandonment of the Drug Court system which was actually a more enforceable form of de facto decriminalization. Jail time and an arrest record were taken away only if the user went through drug education, drug testing, drug treatment and performed community service. The threat of a criminal penalty made it effective, whereas civil penalties requiring drug education are largely ignored in the U.S. To my knowledge, the only decriminalized law which has maintained a court or tribunal system coupled to enforced drug education and treatment can be found in Portugal, but it was resource intensive and required a firm commitment to make it work.”
Here is the abstract about this report: Medical cannabis legalization and state-level prevalence of serious mental illness – 2018
MomsStrong.org is an educational website with a mission to warn of the mental health risks and harms of marijuana use.