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5 US States Mulling Making Marijuana Legal

Marijuana legalization is on the ballot in Nevada, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and California, giving voters the chance to decide whether or not weed should be allowed for recreational use.

Under federal law, marijuana is still illegal, allowed only to be used recreationally in Washington state, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska. Medical marijuana, on the other hand, is more widespread, legal for use in half of the states in the country and will be appearing in state ballots in North Dakota, Florida and Montana this year.

Marijuana Use In American Adults

According to a study carried out by the National Institutes of Health, marijuana use has been steadily growing over the past few years, with usage in American adults higher than ever. It's not clear why marijuana use has increased but it may have to do with the increased spotlight on cannabis. It's possible that the more people came to know about marijuana, the more they saw it as less dangerous, making it more attractive to use.

Can Marijuana Be Good?

Research released earlier in September noted that opioid use has dropped in 21- to 40-year-olds, but this was only true for those who lived in states where medical marijuana is legal. More than marijuana acting as an opioid antidote, it could be a tool against opioid abuse by being an alternative for the drug. Pain relief is a common function of marijuana but it can be used for other purposes as well.

Aside from helping alleviate the opioid epidemic, marijuana legalization may also spur economic activity for states. In Colorado for instance, the marijuana industry led to the creation of more than 18,000 full-time jobs in 2015, generating $2.39 billion for the state.

However, legalizing marijuana also led to a number of health consequences, like increased emergency room visits for marijuana-related incidents in both adults and children, who were likelier to be exposed to the drug unintentionally. This is why it's crucial to have regulatory systems in place to guide marijuana use.

Marijuana Safety

The Drug Policy Alliance also offers a few recommendations to make using marijuana safe. Consumers should:

• Request information on fertilizers, pesticides and the like used on flowers as residue may be left after the cultivation process.
• Inquire about dosage and potency on edible products, especially if packages are not clearly labeled.
• Check for cannabinoid profiles on labels to get an idea of a product's cannabinoid content.

According to proponents, legalizing marijuana will make product testing a standard requirement, which will help guarantee that consumers are getting products that are safe for their consumption.

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