More weeds, more problems? As in, if you smoked all day, every day, your life would probably be a mess and no hope of redemption? According to recent research from CU Boulder, the answer to “more weed, more problems” is no.
According to the researchers, legalization recreational hemp At the state level it does not lead to an increase in substance use disorders. Or even the increased use of illegal drugs among adults. In fact, it may even reduce problems with alcohol use.
A study of more than 4,000 twins from Colorado and Minnesota found no relationship between cannabis legislation and any increase in cognitive, psychological, social, relationship, or financial problems.
“We haven’t really found any support for a lot of the harms that people worry about through legalization,” said the lead author Stephanie Zellers. “From a public health perspective, these results are reassuring.”
The study published in PsychiatryIt was conducted by researchers from the University of Minnesota, CU Boulder, and CU Anschutz Medical Campus. The study used data from two of the nation’s most comprehensive and longest-running twin studies: one located at the IBG and the other at the Minnesota Twin Family Research Center.
What are twin studies?
Can twin studies prove that more weed doesn’t mean more problems? Well, what are twin studies?
Twin studies are research designs that compare identical (monozygous) and fraternal (dizygotic) twins. The idea is that identical twins share all of their genes, while fraternal twins only share half of their genes.
So any differences between the two types of twins can help researchers determine which traits or conditions are likely to be affected by heredity and which are likely to be affected by the environment. Researchers can use twin studies to study a wide range of topics, including genetics, development, and health.
IBG stands for Institute for Behavioral Genetics, a research center at the University of Colorado Boulder. Minnesota Center for Twin Family Research located at the University of Minnesota.
Both centers conduct dual studies and collect data over the years. Both centers are among the most prominent and longest running twin studies in the country. They provide researchers with a wealth of data about genetic and environmental factors related to human behavior and development.
Of course, twin studies are not without their critics.
- Assuming equal environments: Twin studies sometimes assume that identical and fraternal twins were raised in similar environments, but this may not always be the case. For example, identical twins may be treated more similarly than fraternal twins, which may affect outcomes.
- Limited generalizability: Researchers often conduct twin studies on small, specific samples, such as twins from a particular country or region. This limits the generalizability of the results to other populations.
- Missing Inheritance: Twin studies estimate the proportion of variance in a trait or condition due to genes. But it does not take into account all genetic differences that may affect the trait or condition.
- The complexity of human behavior: Many complex human behaviors and conditions, such as mental disorders or intelligence, are likely to result from multiple genes and environmental factors. Twin studies may not fully capture these interactions.
- Selection bias: Twins who volunteer for studies may differ from twins who do not, which may bias the results.
Twin studies disprove more weeds, more problems?
The researchers in this study compared the “more weed, more problems” among 40% of twins who reside in states where recreational cannabis is legal to those who live in states where it is still illegal to understand the overall impact of the legalization.
The researchers had been tracking the participants, who now ranged in age from 24 to 49, from adolescence. They collected information about their alcohol use, tobaccocannabis and many other illegal drugs, as well as assessing their general well-being.
By specifically comparing twins in 240 pairs, where one lives in a state with legal cannabis and the other where it is not, the researchers aimed to identify any changes caused by the legalization of cannabis.
Researchers have previously found that identical twins who reside in states where recreational cannabis is legal are about 20% more likely to use it than their twins who live in states where it is still illegal.
So does that mean more weed, more problems?
To answer this question, the team compared the results of a survey that examined 23 indicators of “psychosocial distress.” Including the use of alcohol and illegal drugs such as Cocaine heroin, psychological distress, financial difficulties, cognitive issues, unemployment, and relationship issues both at home and at work.
“We included all of our data with the goal of getting a comprehensive view of the effects on the whole person,” Zellers said. “The big picture, there isn’t much.”
No, more weed does not mean more problems
So has the “more weed, more problems” debunked?
Researchers have not found any relationship between legal cannabis and an increased risk of “cannabis use disorder” or dependency.
For years, critics have called cannabis a “gateway” to harder substances like cocaine and heroin. The researchers found no changes after legalization.
“For low-level cannabis use, which was the majority of users, in adults, legalization does not appear to increase the risk of substance use disorders,” said co-author Dr. Christian Hubfer.
Not only does this study question the “more weed, more problems” narrative, but it also shows the benefit of legal cannabis. People in legal states are less likely to have alcohol dependence problems, including drunk driving.
“Our study suggests that we shouldn’t worry too much about daily use by adults in a legal setting. No drug is without risk,” said John Hewitt, MD, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder.
While the study found no harmful effects on the daily lives of adults who consume cannabis, the study also found no evidence that legal cannabis benefited people’s cognitive, psychological, social, relationship, or financial status.
Overall, the study seems to indicate the same thing we have before. The material is neutral. It is the person who can choose to use or abuse them. But the drugs themselves have no innate power to control.