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  • Writer's pictureBonnie Lenyard

High Stakes: Navigating the Green Wave - Unveiling Cannabis Trends, Risks, and Societal Impact

As cannabis usage continues to rise in our community, it is crucial to stay informed about the latest research on its statistics and effects. As of January 1, 2024, the United States boasts 12,156 marijuana dispensaries, with Oklahoma leading at 2,387 and Texas lagging at 3. Arizona, where recreational use commenced in 2021, has 292 dispensaries, and while sales peaked in 2022, 2023 witnessed a decline according to statistics from AZ Mirror.


Arizona takes a zero-tolerance stance on driving under the influence of THC, equating a DUI to a violent crime. National Center for Drug Abuse data reveals that around 78 million Americans, half the population, have tried marijuana, with 35 million using it monthly and 55 million within the past year. Notably, this surpasses the 36.5 million tobacco smokers. The majority perceive marijuana as less harmful than alcohol, tobacco, and prescription painkillers, contributing to its perceived social acceptability.


Despite a recent decline in marijuana use among 8th graders, concerns persist. About 40% of high school students have experimented with marijuana, and those starting before age 12 face a higher risk of mental illness. Daily marijuana use among teens has exceeded cigarette use since 2017.


Research indicates a link between cannabis use disorder and schizophrenia, particularly among young men. Long-term marijuana use adversely affects the brain, contributing to learning deficits, depression, and suicidal tendencies. Dispelling the myth of non-dependency, up to 30% of cannabis users can become dependent, and adolescents starting before 18 are at a heightened risk.


Driving under the influence of drugs, including marijuana, has become a growing concern. While alcohol-related incidents have declined, drug-related impairments, including marijuana, have risen. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) emphasizes the risks through campaigns like "If You Feel Different, You Drive Different."


As cannabis gains popularity, understanding its societal impact and addressing associated risks becomes imperative for informed decision-making and public safety.

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