The use of marijuana as a medical treatment can be traced back to around 400 AD in what is now Romania. Eventually, the concept of medical marijuana traveled to America, and in 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Marijuana is often used medically to treat chronic pain, nausea, seizures, and other severe conditions such as Alzheimer's. Medical marijuana usually contains more CBD (Cannabidiol) than THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), as CBD has been shown to be a medical remedy for many conditions. Medicinal use is more widely accepted than recreational use; however, the use of marijuana as a treatment for a medical condition has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has approved only two specific cannabinoids, specifically cannabidiol and dronabinol.
The recreational use of marijuana does not require a prescription and is often a source of leisure or relaxation for users. Recreational marijuana tends to contain a higher concentration of THC than CBD. THC is the ingredient in marijuana responsible for feelings of euphoria or "feeling high." Even though recreational marijuana is less popular and accepted than medicinal about 40% of Americans say they have used marijuana recreationally, and two-thirds want recreational marijuana to be federally legal.
The purpose of this section is to advise readers about pending legislation across both medical and recreational features. At present, 39 states (and Washington, D.C.) have legalized the use of marijuana for either medical use only or medical and recreational to varying degrees. In Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, and Georgia, only CBD that contains THC is legal, but the legal THC limits can be as low as 0.5%. Marijuana remains illegal in South Carolina, Kansas, Wyoming, and Idaho.
In the United States, marijuana is the most used illegal drug, with about 18% (about 48.2 million) of Americans reporting having used it at least once in 2019. Furthermore, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported in 2021, up to 18.7% (about 52.2 million) of people aged 12 or older have reported using cannabis in the last year, and 5.8% had cannabis use disorder. In fact, the CDC estimated that 3 in 10 people who have used marijuana actually have marijuana use disorder. However, seeing as marijuana is not federally legal, and only legal in select states, a lot of marijuana use is consumed illegally. Additionally, especially in states where marijuana is still illegal, quality research is not available as there is no government funding or funding in general. Despite the lack of research, public opinion regarding marijuana has improved greatly over the years, but depending on age and party, a large portion of the United States still has a strong negative opinion on marijuana use and its legalization.
The use of medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001, making it one of the first countries to legalize medical marijuana. As of 2018, Canada enacted the Cannabis Act, which legalized the use of marijuana for recreational use nationwide. Now, anyone aged 18 or older can legally purchase marijuana for personal use. Naturally, there are many regulations regarding possession limits, THC limits, or even limits on producing colorful packing that may appear desirable to the youth. Furthermore, provinces and territories were given the ability to add safety measures if wanted, such as increasing the minimum age or restricting cannabis use in public. The Canadian Community Health Survey revealed that in 2020, up to 21% of residents of Canada aged 15 and older had used marijuana in the last year. Additionally, only 4% of these people used marijuana for medicinal purposes exclusively, whereas 13% used marijuana for recreational use exclusively. The largest group of users were adolescents aged 15-19; however, the Canadian government committed almost $46 million to educate the public, especially youth, on the risks of and safe consumption of cannabis.
Ames et al. (2020). Patterns of marijuana use and physical health indicators among Canadian youth. International Journal of Psychology, 55(1), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijop.12549
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