NEW YORK POST:
Over the past six years, nine states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for recreational use. By year’s end, four more are set to make smoking a joint as innocent as drinking a glass of bourbon.
Here in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio just called for ceasing marijuana arrests, and there’s a push for Albany to make it completely legal on the state level. Across the country, roughly six in 10 Americans (61 percent) say the use of marijuana should be legalized, according to a Pew Research Center survey in January.
But even as the country seems poised to turn into one giant pot party, there are signs that commercialized mainstreaming of weed is not all peace, love and good vibes. While marijuana has shown to be helpful in getting addicts off opioids, staving off side effects of chemotherapy and treating insomnia, among other medical benefits, there are also health, legal and societal issues popping up as governments become more permissive. The long-term effects of legalization are unknown — and potentially dangerous.
“It’s a giant experiment,” says Christian Hopfer, a professor of psychiatry at University of Colorado School of Medicine. He is co-leading a $5.5 million study of 5,000 sets of twins funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) on the impact that legalization has on mental health and substance use. It’s a much-needed examination since rigorous, large-scale research has been limited.
“Smoke a couple times a day and marijuana will knock off your memory. That is pretty certain,” Hopfer says. “And there is no question that legalization has a normalizing effect on something that used to be against the law.”