Marijuana Medical Use Up In Legalization

A recent study revealed that marijuana for medical use is up since 2008. As California issues medical cards for pot smokers who are battling obesity, more states are passing legalization, offering free consultations to marijuana patients.

The number of people using cannabis is growing. Fourteen states have legalized the drug even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved it for any condition or disease. The study found that there are 17.4 million regular users. Marijuana is by far the most commonly used drug.

The national drug-use survey shows 1 in 10 Americans report using illegal drugs regularly, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants or prescription drugs. Nearly 7 percent of Americans aged 12 or older were illicit pot smokers in 2010.

The survey, sponsored by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, collects the data from interviews with 67,500 randomly selected people 12 years or more.

There was a rise of about 3 million users of marijuana then previously reported earlier in the decade. At the same time, meth use has plunged by about half and cocaine use, including crack, is down.

Drug use among young adults 18 to 25 has inched up steadily from 19.6% in 2008 to 21.5% in 2010. Marijuana use in that group rose from 16.5% in 2008 to 18.5% in 2010.

According to Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the rise in marijuana use could be attributed to the fact that more states have legalized it, “People keep calling it medicine, and that’s the wrong message for young people to hear,” Kerlikowske said.

According to the United Nations, cannabis “is the most widely used illicit substance in the world.” Documented instances of cannabis go back as far as the 3rd millennium BC. The survey found that 23 million Americans needed treatment for a substance-abuse problem in 2010, but fewer than three million received it.

The FDA has not approved marijuana largely because good quality scientific evidence for its use from studies is lacking; however, a major barrier to acquiring the necessary evidence is the lack of federal funding for this kind of research.