The legalization of marijuana can increase consumption, according to a study by the National Institute of Higher Studies of Security and Justice (Inhesj) and the French Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) presented on Friday.
The Cannalex study examines the cannabis regulation experiments launched in 2012 in the US states of Colorado and Washington, as well as in Uruguay since this summer. These three states have put in place processes for the legalization of cannabis for recreational and personal use, authorizing under certain conditions the possession, but also the production and distribution of cannabis.
In the two North American states studied, “in the younger generations, the legalization of cannabis has not stimulated the consumption of cannabis, which nevertheless remains at a high level”, underlines the study. “On the other hand, there is an increase in the prevalence of cannabis use among adults”, which is particularly pronounced among occasional and regular users over 25 years of age.
“In Uruguay, the epidemiological situation is less nuanced: all indicators of consumption are oriented upwards (experimentation, use in the year and in the last month), including among the youngest,” reveals the study.
This phenomenon leads to new health problems, according to the study, which highlighted “a significant increase in hospitalization cases related to alleged cannabis poisoning in the two North American states”.
There is also a decrease in the perception of risk, with an increase in the number of cases of driving after cannabis use and a decrease in the demand for treatment among the youngest.
From an economic point of view, in both Colorado and Washington, recreational cannabis industry sales are rising steadily, reaching $ 1 billion a year in each state, and the industry has generated several thousand d jobs. Tax revenues related to the legalization of recreational cannabis “exceeded the amount of taxes collected for tobacco,” the study added.
Legalization does not, however, prevent illegal markets from persisting, according to the study. In Uruguay, it is mainly because legal production is far from meeting consumer demand (between 10% and 20% according to estimates). In the United States, if the supply is sufficient, a segment of the black market remains due to the price gap with the licit market.
The study also points out “a new form of delinquency associated with the legalization of cannabis” fueled by “small-scale and large-scale trafficking towards the border states where prohibition still exists”.
But overall, “the legalization of cannabis has made it possible to reorient the activity of law enforcement and magistrates, in a context where offenses for cannabis use accounted for more than half of the arrests for breaches of the legislation on narcotic drugs, “she says.
According to Ivana Obradovic, deputy director of the OFDT and co-author of the study, the latter “does not prejudge the effects of possible legalization within the European Union, and therefore in France, use of cannabis is different, but it provides useful scientific evidence for public debate “.