Effective as of August 1, 2023, Minnesota will be among twenty-three states (as well as Washington D.C. and Guam) that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. However, the possession and use of marijuana remains illegal under federal law (marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substance Act alongside heroin, LSD and ecstasy, among others). Federal enforcement has been left largely to the discretion of local US Attorneys. Attorney General Merrick Garland is working on an official policy, which will likely be similar to an Obama-era policy of non-interference with state cannabis laws.
LCL takes no official position for or against the legalization of recreational marijuana. LCL is monitoring the data and trends around use and any resulting increase in those seeking treatment for marijuana use disorders and other mental and physical health conditions.
The legalization of recreational cannabis use at the state level might lead some to conclude that all cannabis use is safe. But here are some facts regarding cannabis:
- THC is the psychoactive component in cannabis. The average potency of the marijuana flower was 3.75% THC in 1995 and 15.80% THC in 2018, a 4-fold increase.
- The potency of cannabis consumed varies by delivery modality – concentrates and edibles can contain an average of up to 55.7% THC. Some products approach 99% THC.
- The perception of risk has decreased as states have legalized recreational use.
- In those states that have legalized marijuana, use has increased, especially in the 19-30 age group.
- Contrary to popular belief, cannabis is addictive. Some estimates suggest that around 30% of cannabis users suffer from marijuana use disorder. Frequent use of cannabis can alter the structure of the brain’s reward system in similar ways to alcohol and other addictive substances and behaviors.
Like alcohol, the occasional use of recreational cannabis may not be problematic for the majority of users. However, the increased potency of cannabis on the market and the increased frequency of consumption, along with a lack of robust regulation around the strength and quality of available products, raise potentially serious concerns. If you are concerned about yourself or someone else because of cannabis use, LCL is here to help and is ready to provide resources and referrals to support you.