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N.B. study shows cannabis use since legalization up in those dying by suicide or accident

Feb 28, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

New Brunswick has seen the largest increase in self-reported cannabis consumption

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Canadian researchers report cannabis use is higher in New Brunswick since recreational bud was legalized in 2018, but this appears to particularly be the case for young adults and those who have died by suicide or accidental means.

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Investigators out of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia suggest their findings highlight “the need for future research into the impact that legalization has on cannabis use in other jurisdictions.”

In a study to be published in the May 2022 edition of the International Journal of Drug Policy, researchers write that current literature on the impact of legalization in other jurisdictions is conflicting. That being the case, they sought to find what effect, if any, cannabis availability had on post-mortem cannabinoid detection.

  1. Men, emerging adults, Black/African American, Native and sexual minority groups had elevated risk of co-occurring suicidal ideation and CUD. /

    Men, some minorities more at risk of co-occurring suicidality and cannabis use disorder: study

  2. For individuals with depression, suicidality was higher. /

    Cannabis use may be associated with suicidality in young adults

  3. While the findings call “attention to these associations, it is unable to contribute to our understanding of causality or mechanism.” /

    Cannabis use among those as young as 10 associated with higher risk for self-harm and death

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“We wanted to investigate the impact that age, sex and manner of death had on cannabis use,” study authors write.

To shed light on the issue, researchers carried out a retrospective chart review of all adult coroner’s cases with toxicology analysis in New Brunswick — 3,060 in all — from January 2014, more than four years prior the recreational cannabis was legalized, and May 2020, about a year and a half post-legalization.

Based on self-reports, investigators found out that cannabis use in the province rose from 15.1 per cent pre-legalization to 20.3 per cent post-legalization. That hike is the largest for any province across the country, they point out.

For their part, the chart reviews — after controlling for age, sex and manner of death — indicated that subjects who died post-legalization “had higher odds of having cannabis present post-mortem than those that died pre-legalization.”

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As well, authors note, “demographic sub-analysis identified a greater proportion of cannabinoid-positive samples post-legalization in 25- to 44-year-olds and in deaths classified as either suicide or accidental compared to pre-legalization.”

That said, cannabinoids were not the only substances that were shown to be higher. “We also observed a significant increase in the presence of cocaine and amphetamines in post-mortem samples over the study period,” authors add.

A write-up published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in 2017 indicated cannabis use before driving was shown to increase the risk of being involved in a vehicle accident, but it was “unclear whether and how cannabis use is associated with all-cause mortality or with occupational injury.”

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Study results published in 2021 on Jama Network Open indicate that “recreational cannabis legalization appears to be associated with relative increases in rates of claims for self-harm among male health plan beneficiaries younger than 40 years.” Still, study authors emphasized, “there was no association between cannabis legalization and self-harm or assault, for any other age and sex group or for medical cannabis.”

Another study released on Jama Network Open a couple of months later reported that from 2008 to 2019, “suicidal ideation, plan and attempt rose 40 per cent to 60 per cent over increases ascribed to cannabis use and major depressive episode.”

But a preprint study released in October 2021 found that “recreational marijuana access was associated with a 6.29 per cent reduction in suicide rates for males in the 40 to 49 age group. No other mental health outcomes were consistently affected by cannabis liberalization.”

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