Worldwide marijuana use has decreased, but a very different trend is unfolding in the United States, where usage as well as the drug’s potency have actually increased, according to a new report from the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime.
According to the “World Drug Report 2014,” marijuana use has increased in the U.S. due to “the lower perceived risk of cannabis use.”
“Global cannabis use seems to have decreased, essentially reflecting a decrease in cannabis use estimates reported by a number of countries in Western and Central Europe,” the report reads.
It continues: “However, in the United States, the lower perceived risk of cannabis use has led to an increase in its use. At the same time, more people using cannabis are seeking treatment each year.”
U.S. government data shows that changing perspectives on the drug have led to a 56 percent increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits between 2006 and 2010 — and a 14 percent increase in the use of drug-treatment programs during that same time frame, according to NPR.
While those on both sides of the marijuana legalization debate hope to glean information that will bolster their perspective using data from Washington and Colorado — where recreational use is now legal —the U.N. report claims that it will take years before the full impact of legalization will be evident.
“It is too early to understand the impact of these changes on recreational and problematic use of cannabis and in the broad range of areas that they may affect, including health, criminal justice, and public revenues and expenditures,” it continued. “It will take years of careful monitoring to understand the broader effects of those novel regulatory frameworks in order to inform future policy decisions.”