On the ballot at the California election on November 8, 2016, was a proposition to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, also known as cannabis, for adults over the age of 21. Marijuana had currently been legal for medical uses since 1996. The measure, known as Proposition 64, was approved by a 56% in favor vote. With these changes, adults over the age of 21 will be allowed to have and use marijuana. They will be allowed to smoke it in their own homes or in businesses so allocated. They will also be able to grow the plant for their own personal benefit but will not be able to sell it without a license. In addition, the passage of Proposition 64 set forth two new taxes on the growth and selling of marijuana that will help to fund medical marijuana research, as well as grants for treatment and safety associated with marijuana addiction particularly in the youth populations.

[su_note note_color=”#F0F0F0″]The concern for the youth of California has long been at the heart of the California Society of Addiction Medicine. In preparation for the eventual legalizing recreation marijuana, CSAM passed several policies on cannabis in 2015. Marijuana can be quite addictive and dangerous, particularly in vulnerable populations. The most vulnerable populations include youth, pregnant women, and individuals suffering from mental health conditions.[/su_note]

Important Changes to Recreational Marijuana Use

CSAM recommends decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana and instead imposing a fine for those under the age of 21 who are found with marijuana. The society believes that high school teaching and counseling on the effects of marijuana are vital and believes that a good portion of the new tax funds should go to Student Assistance Programs.

In addition, CSAM believes that it is important that marijuana never is packaged to look like edible treats, such as candy. This should help decrease the incidence of accidental use and overuse by vulnerable youth populations. All marijuana products should be clearly labeled with their dangers especially for vulnerable populations.

Finally, CSAM has published a recommendation for the minimum insurance benefits for patients with opioid use disorder. Patients should be able to receive ongoing medical care, including recurring evaluations and treatments, without having to worry about lifetime benefits limitations.

Individuals who are concerned that they or a loved one is being affected by marijuana addiction are encouraged to set up an appointment with Dr. Matney at First Step Recovery Center.