Ten years after Colorado made the brave move to legalize recreational cannabis, there are a number of take-home points. While it is important to note that there is still so much that is not known, considerable progress has been made in some areas. Read on as we speak on what we have learnt so far and the impact cannabis has had on the economy, health, and public safety.
Cannabis has long been a major talking point in the U.S. long before the wave of acceptance began. Prohibition had been the order of the day for so long that it led to the development of stereotypes around the users of natural product. Years later when decriminalization and acceptance began, different waves of claims and promises around the medicinal benefits of cannabis filled the air. Unfortunately, most of these claims are yet to be substantiated and 10 years after the legalization of recreational cannabis in Colorado, there is still so much we don’t know.
Colorado’s CPR News reporter Claire Cleveland noted the situation of cannabis in Colorado so far as the cart coming before the horse. Thus was the product of her interaction with Professor Brian Keegan and Professor Angela Bryan both of the University of Colorado Boulder. Both professors were commenting on the lag between legislation and research as it was obvious that substantive research was not done before legislation. They also commented on common myths and what is now known about cannabis.
Common knowledge since the era of the war on drugs has always suggested that all cannabis users are stoners. Many started to think of cannabis users as stone-heads waiting in an alley to find someone who can get them a quick fix. Fortunately, there has been a quick drift from that mode of thinking as cannabis users have now spread across all spheres of users. Different people use cannabis for different reasons. From stay-at-home wives who want to relieve stress, to active workers looking to relax and enjoy a calm sleep and medical patients seeking relief from pain. Ten years after the legalization of legal recreational cannabis, segregation is slowly becoming a thing of the past.
Data also confirms the thought that cannabis users are not stoners or pot heads and the professors gave their two cents on the subject too, a report has shown that cannabis users are more likely to meet up with exercise recommendations and habits than non-users. Professor Bryan noted that this can be due to the fact that some cannabis users use it for recovery after strenuous exercise. Others are also known to use cannabis to help with concentration during exercises. The product of this is lower rates of type two diabetes and better insulin function in cannabis users.
The body of knowledge on cannabis subspecies has always been around indica or sativa strains. Indica has always been known to promote relaxation while sativa stimulates and helps to open the mind for creativity. However, ten after the legalization of recreational cannabis in Colorado, it seems to like its hybrids that are the talk of the town now. Over 90,000 cannabis product samples were analyzed by Keegan and his collaborators across six states. The results from the analysis show that most of the products in the markets are hybrids of both species. The interpretation of this is that cannabis users are now enjoying the benefits of both the stimulating and relaxing effects of both subspecies depending on proportion. There is a need for more research to fully understand the scope of hybrids and how they affect the mind and bodies of users.
Research has concluded that the two major cannabinoids in cannabis play a huge role in its effect on pain relief. The synergy between THC and CBD like other cannabinoids is known as the entourage effect and its one of the major use of cannabis. CBD is particularly noted for its anti-inflammatory properties which make it useful in alleviating pain. This has also gained much attraction that warranted the approval of Epidiolex by the FDA for seizures in children. Brian noted that this is one of the major talking points in favor of cannabis over the past 10 years since its legalization in Colorado. It is expected that this sector will increase with more research and cannabis can help remove the issue of opioid dependence for pain relief.
Keegan spoke on some of the issues the cannabis industry is facing and one that stood out is the issue with contaminants. The presence of these foreign matter like pesticides, mould, and fungicides can lead to the development of negative side effects. Colorado since the legislation of its legal cannabis markets has established limits to test for mould and pesticides. These chemicals are strong public health risks and can be detrimental to general body health so much has to be done to effect their exclusion.
There were fears that the legalization of cannabis will increase the rate of DUIs. It’s good to know that ten years later, those fears are yet to be validated. It is a very bad idea to drive under the influence of cannabis even in states where cannabis use is legal. Thankfully so far in Colorado, alcohol remains the major driver of DUIs and not cannabis as once feared.
Teenage use of cannabis was also a major talking point that sparked fears before the legalization of recreational marijuana use. Ten years after legalization, data shows that the percentage of minors using cannabis has risen by 4% during that period. While this is not the ideal desire, it’s still positive as there were fears that the increase will be astronomical. It is now left for regulatory agencies and the government to find ways alongside the cannabis companies to help bring a decrease in such statistics.
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