The year 2016 was quite fruitful for the marijuana industry. It witnessed many legal victories and some major research in the field. Despite the strong opposition of cannabis legalization, numerous studies have shown us that legal co-existence is quite possible. Here are some major studies that turned out to be groundbreaking last year.
In 2016, a crucial study was conducted on the influence of marijuana legalization on workplace absence due to sickness. It showed the decrease of sickness absence in the states with active marijuana laws. The research was based on the monthly Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau. This investigation was inspired by an earlier study that had determined the connection between alcohol consumption and weed legalization. Considering the fact that a huge part of workplace absence is accounted for by heavy drinkers, the situation was bound to change with the legalization of weed. However, there is always a possibility that new easy access will turn people into heavy stoners, and the sickness absence will increase.
The decline in workplace absence is modest but statistically significant. Moreover, the decline is most pronounced among middle-aged males—a group that is most likely to have medical cards. Besides, those states that have “lax” cannabis laws show a greater decrease than those that have strict laws. Alongside the decrease in alcohol consumption, suicides, and traffic fatalities, the findings of this study create a positive image of marijuana's influence on the society.
Another major study of the year showed us that once cannabis was legalized, many prescription drugs were replaced with medical marijuana drops. To investigate what happens to prescription drugs after the implementation of medical marijuana, the researchers used the data provided by the government program Medicare Part D. As the program is focused on the adults aged 65 and older, the research was limited to this demographic group. The data was also broken down by conditions.
As a control analysis, the scientists used the data on those drugs that have no cannabis alternative—the number of prescribed doses remained the same.
Among all conditions, pain showed the largest decrease in the use of prescription drugs. Considering the opioid epidemic raging throughout the states, the results are impressive. Cannabis can be an alternative to some very addictive prescription drugs.
One of the most important findings of the year in terms of cannabis legalization is that contrary to popular opinion, the use of marijuana among teens does not increase with the introduction of marijuana law. Moreover, the same study claims that the use of alcohol and controlled drugs has remained the same or even decreased in some cases.
An annual survey Monitoring the Future studied the data received from 45,000 teenagers. Among 8th and 10th grades, the use of cannabis and alcohol has decreased; 12th grades show steady results. In general, 2016 demonstrated lower numbers of marijuana use in comparison with 2015. So, the major prohibition argument can be considered demolished.
The question whether long-term marijuana use has any impact on teens' cognition is one of the most complex issues of the field. Previously, a few studies had suggested that the long-term use of cannabis that derived from adolescence led to cognitive decline. However, a 2016 study claimed that there was no association between IQ or educational attainment and cannabis use. Besides, teens who use weed are more inclined to the consumption of other drugs and alcohol, as well as have behavioral troubles. All these aspects are correlated with each other, and it is hard to tease apart all the variables. When the researchers controlled for the use of cigarettes and illicit drugs, the negative association of cannabis was diminished.