As Maryland residents gear up for the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana, set to take effect in July 2023, there are a lot of questions on people’s minds. What will the regulations be? How will it be taxed? Who can grow it? And most importantly, what implications will this have on public health?
In this blog post, we will explore some of the potential implications of marijuana regulations on public health.
Table of Contents
Impacts on adolescent physical and mental health
In Maryland, the decision to legalize medical and recreational marijuana certainly won’t go unnoticed; indeed, it has sparked heated conversations among adults, let alone adolescents.
While proponents may claim that marijuana can have many positive healing benefits to those suffering from chronic conditions or other illnesses, proponents of stronger regulation often tout the side effects associated with adolescent consumption.
Specifically, studies continue to link the use of marijuana in teenagers to an increased risk of developing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, psychosis and even cognitive decline.
What’s more, a number of research findings have also pointed out physical health risks associated with regular juvenile marijuana use, including changes in brain structure and function along with respiratory problems and increased incidents of coughing in young smokers.
Changes to prevention efforts
The legalization of marijuana in Maryland could potentially have an effect on school-based drug education programs. While there are certain restrictions in place to ensure the safe sale and use of marijuana, there is still potential for more adolescents to gain access to it as availability increases.
This could potentially lead to an increase in the number of young people using marijuana, thus increasing the need for prevention efforts.
School-based drug education programs can provide students with accurate information about marijuana and its potential effects. It is important that these programs emphasize the risks associated with marijuana use as well as strategies for avoiding or reducing its use.
Increased access for medical use
While there are plenty of cautionary markers, the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in Maryland is a cause for celebration. Not only does it mark progress on a national level towards destigmatizing cannabis, but it also effectively makes marijuana more accessible for medical purposes.
This is especially important due to its potential as an effective form of alternative medicine with benefits that range from pain management to anxiety relief.
While this will inevitably lead to more casual use, the primary benefit is that those who need the medicinal effects of marijuana are now able to apply for a Maryland medical marijuana card without running into legal trouble—something which in turn can have an undeniably positive effect on public health.
Potential economic implications due to taxation
In addition to its potential impacts on public health, the legalization of marijuana in Maryland could also have far-reaching economic implications. Specifically, there are discussions about whether or not taxation should be applied for recreational or medical use (or both).
This is an important discussion to have because with any kind of taxation comes decreased consumer affordability—which can have a direct effect on marijuana sales and accessibility to medicine.
On the flip side, taxation can provide revenue for local and state governments, which could be used to fund public health initiatives or other projects of relevance.
Considering how much money is at stake and its implications on local economics, this is a topic that should be carefully examined before any decisions are made.
Impact on the criminal justice system
Finally, the legalization of marijuana in Maryland could potentially have a large impact on the criminal justice system. This is because it would lead to changes in law enforcement practices.
For example, fewer resources will be allocated towards pursuing minor marijuana-related offenses, and sentencing guidelines related to cannabis use and/or possession will change.
This could potentially lead to an overall reduction in the number of people being incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses, creating more opportunities for those individuals to seek gainful employment and educational opportunities.
Overall, the legalization of marijuana in Maryland could have a wide-ranging impact on many aspects of society. From public health to economics and criminal justice, it is clear that there are numerous implications to consider. It will be important for policy makers to carefully examine all potential outcomes before making any decisions related to taxation or other regulatory measures.