Detox Centers Chime in on Dangers of Medical Marijuana Legalization
The legalization of medical marijuana seems to be sweeping the country as state after state takes a second look at this drug’s medicinal effects. That being so, these developments can’t change the facts surrounding marijuana’s addictive properties and potential for abuse.
Much like most every “illegal” drug on today’s market, marijuana potency levels have greatly increased compared to just a decade ago. The numbers of detox treatment admissions for marijuana addiction have also seen considerable increases over the years.
In spite of marijuana’s medicinal properties, legalization may very well make regulating this most precarious of substances all the more difficult. Medical marijuana legalization has sparked a whole new industry of commercial enterprise that may ultimately leave those most vulnerable wide open to the drug’s addictive potential.
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Marijuana Addiction Rates
Marijuana addiction rates continue to run the gamut as the most commonly abused drug in the United States. Here are just a few marijuana addiction statistics from the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration –
- Out of 22.5 million reported illicit drug users in 2011, 18.1 million considered marijuana their drug of choice
- Out of 6.5 million persons classified as drug dependent, 4.2 million were dependent on marijuana
- As of 2010, 18 percent of all drug treatment admissions in the U. S. resulted from marijuana addictions
- Marijuana treatment admission rates rose from 14 to 18 percent between the years 2000 and 2008
Increased Potency Effects
Marijuana potency levels have increased substantially over the past two decades. Marijuana potency levels have to do with the drug’s THC concentration, the active component responsible for marijuana’s “high” effects. As with any drug, the stronger the batch the more addictive it becomes.
THC concentrations have increased from four percent in 1983 to as high as 25 percent in today’s marijuana batches. In alcohol terms, this increase in THC concentration is comparable to drinking a beer versus drinking multiple vodka shots in succession
Increases in Marijuana Detox Treatment Rates
While marijuana legalization may seem more like a safety control rather than an opportunity for abuse, the ongoing increase in “legal” prescription pain medications paints a different picture. In effect, the legalization of marijuana directly affects the drug’s availability.
The drug’s increased availability no doubt contributes to the ongoing increase in marijuana addiction treatment rates. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, detox admission rates went from 52 for every 100,000 people in 1998 to 113 for every 100,000 people in 2008.
Commercial Enterprise Incentives
Once legalized, marijuana becomes a marketable commodity. The advent of commercial enterprises involving growers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers will put a whole new spin on any intended medicinal properties the drug may hold.
As with any commercial industry, profit incentives will become the driving force behind marijuana sales. From this standpoint, those most vulnerable to the drug’s addictive potential become the industry’s target market. With the mechanisms of supply and demand at work, the more people who use, the lower the price goes, the more accessible the drug becomes.
Within the coming years, detox centers may well have their hands full as this influx of new users contends with marijuana’s addictive effects.