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U.N. Agency Reports: More Americans are Using Cannabis

Update Date: Jun 26, 2014 10:11 AM EDT

With medicinal and recreational marijuana becoming legalized in several states throughout the United States, researchers have been studying the effects of legalization on usage. In a new report conducted by the United Nations' Drug and Crime agency, researchers found that cannabis use has increased in Americans while their thoughts on health risks have declined. Based on the findings, the researchers believe that legalization could result in higher cannabis use in the younger population.

"In the United States, the lower perceived risk of cannabis use has led to an increase in its use," UNODC said reported by Reuters.

In the UNODC's World Drugs Report, the researchers found that from 2006 to 2010, there was a 56 percent increase in the number of emergency-room visits tied to cannabis use. There was also a 14 percent increase in the number of people who were admitted to treatment centers for drug abuse. From 2008 to 2012, cannabis use specifically for people aged 12 or older increased from 10 percent to 12 percent.

Even though the researchers do not know what exactly is responsible for the increase in cannabis-related hospitalizations, they reasoned that higher potency could play a factor. The researchers explained that in some areas of the world, the marijuana products contain higher potency, which could make the product more dangerous to smoke.

"In some parts of the world we have seen that the content of the main psychotic substance, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has increased, and this in a way makes the cannabis more harmful," UNODC research branch chief Angela Me told BBC News.

The researchers stated more research still needs to be done in order to understand the relationship between legalization of marijuana and marijuana use. The World Drugs Report can be found here.

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