Cannabis use during the pandemic


The hysteria of refrigerator madness, the drug myth of the front door, the nonsensical stoner caricature: while not exactly absent from American society in 2022, at least they have been taught the door. Taking shape instead is a new and more nuanced view of cannabis that recognizes the benefits and harms, users of all stripes, and the constant failures of the ban.

This decade should see a large-scale review of the cultural position of cannabis in the United States and many other parts of the world, a process that probably began with the legalization of medical cannabis in California in 1996. its compounds are changing rapidly. Patterns for recreational and medical use are changing and somehow converging. Attitudes toward cannabis users (how they are, how they act, why they use it) are being updated.

The pandemic has played an interesting role in this evolution. It created an environment in which dispensaries could be considered “essential” while other businesses were forced to close. He opened the door to the vendors CBD products to make unjustified health claims about their ability to fight COVID.1 And, according to new survey data, it also led to significant, sometimes surprising, changes in cannabis use among both adults and teens.

Youth use a WE Decrease during the pandemic

In mid-December, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) published a report with an attractive headline: “The percentage of teens who reported drug use decreased significantly in 2021 as COVID-19 endured pandemic. “2

Wasn’t it common knowledge in 2020, or at least a popular joke, that stressed workers and parents turn to drugs and alcohol to help cope with such tumultuous times? This does not seem to apply to teenagers, for whom, after all, these substances are still illegal and during confinement they were probably trapped at home and less likely to visit them with friends. Passing a meeting among a circle of acquaintances became a non-initiator.

NIDA reports that according to its annual survey of 8th, 10th and 12th grade students, marijuana use during the past year (as the agency insists on naming it), alcohol and vaporized nicotine dropped from hastily in all three age groups. Cannabis use, in particular, decreased by approximately 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 on drug use dating back to the same months in 2020.

“We’ve never seen such dramatic declines in drug use among teens in just one year.” NIDA said director Nora Volkow in a press release. “These data are unprecedented and highlight an unexpected potential consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused seismic changes in the daily lives of adolescents. “

While the exact causes of this trend are not true, Volkow notes, they probably include a reduction in drug availability, increased family involvement, and differences in peer pressure. The agency will have to wait for the results of the 2022 survey to find out whether substance use in adolescents recovered during the second half of 2021 as social activities tended to return to normal.

Adult use increases worldwide during the first year of the pandemic

In late December, the newspaper Research on cannabis and cannabinoids3 published an article by four researchers from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work, which reviewed 76 studies published as of February 2, 2021, and concluded that, in general terms, adult cannabis use increased worldwide during the first year of the pandemic.

In 33 studies comparing the prevalence of cannabis use before and during the pandemic, more users reported an increase in consumption than a reduction, and those with a history of frequent or heavy use reported a more pronounced increase. than those with a history of light or occasional use. , write the authors.

Although in some cases these trends extended to “vulnerable” and homeless youth, the authors also reinforce the findings of the NIDA The poll noted that “some young people who lived with their parents during the pandemic reported a lack of access to cannabis and fewer opportunities for use due to shelter regulations at the site.”

The review identifies several factors that are said to have contributed to increased adult use during the pandemic. Psychological stressors such as anxiety and life changes appeared to be the strongest influences, the authors write, but decreased access to other drugs and easy access to cannabis in the legal markets of Canada and some. WE states (sales increased at “essential” dispensaries) was also a factor. The hype surrounding cannabis as a treatment or prophylactic for COVIDor simply for COVID-Anxiety and related stress probably also played a role.

Adult use a WE Spikes, then back to normal

The 76 studies summarized in the University of Toronto review vary widely in terms of study design, population, time period, location, and data source. For more information on cannabis use specifically enter WE adults during the pandemic, we move on to a third recently completed study that covers a nationally representative sample of 1,761 individuals.

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

Survey participants were sampled from Study of understanding of America, a nationally representative panel of Internet adults maintained by the University of California. As part of the UAS “Understanding the Coronavirus in America” ​​Substudy, for which complete results are available to the public online, respondents were asked to report how many days they had used cannabis in the last week.

To the entire population of the Johns Hopkins survey, which excludes UAS participants who did not report cannabis use, this figure at baseline (the week before March 11, 2020) was 2.39 days. It increased to 2.5 days on April 1, 2.6 days on May 1 and 2.55 days on June 1. After that, the rate dropped to 2.42 (July 1), 2.41 (August 1), 2.46 (September 1), 2.43 (October 1). ), and 2.35 (November 11).

State cannabis policy appeared to be an important factor influencing cannabis use. In states with a total ban, use declined sharply from June to November, perhaps due to a lack of convenient access. In states with only medical cannabis, consumption rebounded somewhat in September and October, possibly driven by an increase in prescriptions to treat anxiety, the authors speculate.

In states that allow both medical and recreational cannabis, consumption increased during the study period, appearing to be about 10 percent higher in November than in March. This could be a factor in pandemic stress, or maybe it’s just another indicator of a change in the law and a change in opinion.

Nate Seltenrich, a freelance science journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area, covers a wide range of topics such as environmental health, neuroscience, and pharmacology. Copyright, Project CBD. Cannot reprint without permission.

Source link