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Unregulated cannabis market does not allow helping problematic drug users

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Posted February 10, 2017

There is a lot of controversy surrounding cannabis legalization. There are many people cheering for it, saying that these recreational drugs are not as bad as some already legal alternatives, while other argue that it is a gateway drug to substance abuse. Now a new research from the University of York revealed that legal regulation could actually help drug users to get help.

There is a complex culture around cannabis consumption, which does not allow discussions about possibility of addictions. Image credit: Bogdan via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

The problem is that some people are showing signs of dependence on cannabis. Many people argue that it is not addictive and therefore is not as harmful as other drugs, taking away one of the arguments from people opposing legalization of this recreational drug. However, scientists say that in some cases cannabis users do feel dependent on the drug and can experience some symptoms of addiction. Situation is worse when it is not regulated – research showed that only 14.6 % of people showing signs of cannabis dependence have ever received treatment. Furthermore, even those who do get treatment rarely reduce consumption of the drug.

There is no other way of saying it – cocaine and amphetamine users are more likely than cannabis users to have reduced their consumption after six months of treatment. Dr Ian Hamilton, one of the authors of the study, said: “There are many issues connected to cannabis use, such as anxiety, paranoia, illegal activity and unemployment, but these issues are largely missing in policy dialogue on the regulations of the drug”. Scientists say that some changes must be made so that all people would be getting optimal treatment for their addictions, regardless of how dangerous to be they are perceived.

Scientists argue that better communication is needed, so that services would understand the needs of people struggling with uncontrollable consumption of cannabis. Furthermore, moving towards regulated market could also establish a better dialogue with problematic cannabis users. The ultimate goal should be to provide them with advice on how to battle this problem in their lives. Scientists say that only regulated market can help access cannabis users easier and provide them help if they need it.

Lifting the stigma would be one of the steps towards better understanding of cannabis culture. People have many misconceptions about it and problematic cannabis users are discouraged to ask for help. Regulated market could help solving that problem.

Source: york.ac.uk

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