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Cannabis use during the pandemic

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Chilled madness hysteria, hallway psychedelic myth, stray stone caricature: while not entirely absent from American society in 2022, it was at least projected on the door. Taking shape into place is a new, more nuanced view of cannabis that recognizes the benefits as well as harms, users of all segments, and the continued failure of ban.

This decade should see a wide-ranging review of the cultural status of cannabis in the United States and many other places around the world, a process that arguably began with the legalization of medicinal cannabis in California in 1996. The regulation of the plant and its compounds is rapidly changing. Patterns of recreational and medical use are changing, and in some ways converging. Attitudes toward those who consume cannabis – how they look, how they act, why they use it – are updated.

The epidemic has played an interesting role in this development. It created an environment in which dispensaries could be considered “essential” while other retail stores were forced to close. I opened the door to sellers Convention on Biological Diversity Products to make unconfirmed health claims about their ability to fight Corona virus disease.1 And as new survey data reveal, it has also led to purposeful and sometimes surprising changes in cannabis use among adults and teens.

In mid-December, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Nida) reported a strikingly titled: “The percentage of adolescents who reported drug use decreased significantly in 2021 as Corona virus disease– 19 pandemic suffered.2

Wasn’t it common knowledge in 2020 – or at least a common joke – that overworked workers and parents turn to drugs and alcohol to help weather such turbulent times? This does not appear to apply to teenagers, for whom such substances remain illegal – and who are likely to be stuck at home during lockdown and less able to visit friends. Passing the joint between the circle of acquaintances has become a non-starter.

Nida Reports show that, according to its annual survey of eighth, tenth and 12th graders, last year’s use of marijuana (as the agency insists), alcohol and vaporized nicotine have fallen sharply across all three age groups. Cannabis use, in particular, decreased by about 5% among 12th graders, 11% among 10th graders, and 4% among 8th graders. More than 32,000 students responded to the survey between February and June 2021, reporting drug use dating back to the same months in 2020.

“We’ve never seen such dramatic declines in teen drug use in just a one-year period,” Nida Director Nora Volkow said in a press release. “This data is unprecedented and highlights one potentially unexpected outcome of Corona virus disease-19 pandemic, which has caused seismic shifts in the daily lives of adolescents.”

While the exact reasons for this trend are uncertain, Volkow notes, they probably include decreased drug availability, increased family involvement, and differences in peer pressure. The agency will have to wait for the results of the 2022 survey to see if teen drug use rebounded in the second half of 2021 as social activities rebounded.

Global adult use increases during the first year of the epidemic

In late December, the magazine Hemp and hemp research3 An article by four researchers from the University of Toronto’s School of Social Work reviewed 76 studies published through February 2, 2021, and concluded that cannabis use in adults actually increased globally during the first year of the epidemic.

With 33 studies comparing the prevalence of cannabis use before and during the pandemic, more users reported an increase in consumption than a decrease, and those with a history of frequent or heavy use reported a greater increase than those with a history of light or occasional use, he writes. authors.

While these trends have in some cases extended to ‘vulnerable’ and homeless youth, the authors also reinforce their findings. Nida Survey by noting that “some young people who lived with their parents during the pandemic reported reduced access to cannabis and fewer opportunities for use due to shelter regulations in place.”

The review identifies several factors that are reported to have contributed to increased adult use during the pandemic. Psychological stressors, such as anxiety and life changes, appeared to be the strongest effects, the authors wrote, but reduced access to other medications and ease of access to cannabis in legal markets in Canada and some. we States (sales at “essential” dispensaries) were a factor as well. The hype around cannabis as a treatment or preventative Corona virus disease, or just Corona virus diseaseAssociated anxiety and stress, are also likely to have a role.

The 76 studies compiled in the University of Toronto review differ widely with regard to study design, population, time frame, location, and data source. To gain insight into the consumption of cannabis specifically among we Adults during a pandemic, we turn to a third, recently completed study covering a nationally representative sample of 1,761 individuals.

Led by researchers from Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, this new study (in the February 2022 issue of International Journal of Drug Policy4) found that among adult cannabis users, consumption was significantly higher in April and May 2020 compared to March 2020, then returned to levels near March from June through November.

Survey participants were sampled from Understanding the study of America, which is a nationally representative, adult Internet committee managed by the University of California. as part of Drones The sub-study “Understanding the Coronavirus in America”, for which full results Publicly available online, respondents were asked to report the number of days they had used cannabis over the past week.

Cross population survey of Johns Hopkins, which excludes Drones Participants who reported not using cannabis, this number at baseline (the week before March 11, 2020) was 2.39 days. It jumped to 2.5 days on April 1, 2.6 days on May 1, and 2.55 days on June 1. The rate then dropped to 2.42 (July 1), 2.41 (August 1), 2.46 (September 1) and 2.43 (October 1). ) and 2.35 (November 11).

It appears that state policy on cannabis has been a major factor affecting cannabis use. In countries with complete bans, use was sharply denied from June through November – possibly due to a lack of convenient access. In states that use medicinal cannabis only, its use recovered slightly in September and October, possibly driven by an increase in prescriptions for anxiety treatment, the authors speculate.

In states that allow both medical and recreational cannabis, use actually increased during the study period, and appeared to be up about 10 percent in November compared to March. This may be a factor of pandemic stress, or it may just be another indication of changing laws and changing minds.

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