Up in Smoke: The Unintended Consequences of Marijuana Legalization in the United States on Public Health and Safety

Colquitt, Claire (2015) Up in Smoke: The Unintended Consequences of Marijuana Legalization in the United States on Public Health and Safety. Undergraduate thesis, under the direction of Carl Jensen from Intelligence and Security Studies, University of Mississippi.

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Abstract

The purpose of this research is to explore the potential public health and safety consequences of the legalization of marijuana in the United States. A review of existing literature on the health effects of marijuana use and marijuana’s impact on public safety was conducted. Researchers are still unclear as to exactly how marijuana use affects brain structure and function, but some studies indicate that long-term chronic use leads to changes in both neurological function and physical brain structure. Researchers have been unable to identify how marijuana use affects respiratory function and physical health. Finally, marijuana’s relationship with psychological health is still unclear. Researchers have found that marijuana use most significantly impacts adolescent psychosocial behavior, but more research is needed to identify exactly how marijuana use relates to mental health. Marijuana’s relationship to public safety is also difficult for researchers to pinpoint. Roadway safety is of major concern because of uncertainties about the impairment curve of the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, THC. Until better methods of identifying impairment due to marijuana use are implemented, laws regarding driving under the influence of marijuana will either be ineffective or too strict. It is also difficult to determine exactly how both the availability and use of marijuana contribute to violent crime in America. The present study conducted structured interviews with five professionals in agencies or organizations that deal with marijuana to identify potential consequences of marijuana legalization. The interviews demonstrated a similar amount of uncertainty as found in existing literature. Law enforcement is still divided on the issue, as well as legislators and lawyers. The majority of participants viewed the legalization of marijuana as a positive step for the United States, with the largest safety concern being roadway safety. These results reflect the changing popular opinion in the United States regarding marijuana and its legalization, and participants noted that the public remains relatively well informed about many of the issues surrounding marijuana.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Creators: Colquitt, Claire
Student's Degree Program(s): B.A. in Psychology
Thesis Advisor: Carl Jensen
Thesis Advisor's Department: Intelligence and Security Studies
Institution: University of Mississippi
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Depositing User: Claire Colquitt
Date Deposited: 06 May 2015 19:34
Last Modified: 06 May 2015 19:34
URI: http://thesis.honors.olemiss.edu/id/eprint/334

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