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Cannabis Legalization in California: What Effect on Recovery?

The possibility of legalizing marijuana has been an issue in California for many years, and now that the law has finally passed people are struggling to figure out what it will mean for citizens of the state. Medical marijuana has been legal in California for quite some time but recent changes mean that anyone over the age of 21 will be able to purchase the drug legally. This change will affect everyone but it could have an especially significant impact on the recovery community.

Legalization of Marijuana in California

If marijuana becomes a legal drug that people can freely use recreationally it could change the mindset that people have about it. Marijuana is likely to become more mainstream and the type of self-medicating that occurs with its use will become more socially acceptable. This dramatic change in thinking about the drug could affect people in recovery who may have used it in the past or who had a problem with other drugs but are trying to stay sober.

Legal drugs have the possibility to become abused much more often than illegal drugs as has become the case with legal prescription opioids. When a drug is legal people assume that it is harmless and safe to use on a regular basis. Marijuana could cause more people to become addicted and create more triggers for people in everyday life.

The Changing Perception of Marijuana

Before it became legal, marijuana was one of the most commonly used illegal drugs in the U.S. Even though it is thought of as common party drug there have been many stigmas associated with marijuana use including poor academic performance, underachievement, reduced workplace productivity, driving accidents and increased risk of other kinds of substance abuse. For many years people considered marijuana a “gateway drug” that would inevitably lead to other, heavier kinds of drug use.

Gradually, the attitude toward marijuana as a dangerous drug began to dissipate as people started to recognize that it potentially had medical value. The legalization of medical marijuana gave people the perception that marijuana was not always damaging to a person’s body. People now use marijuana for problems with pain, insomnia, nausea, and many other ailments.

After years of medical use, marijuana has now been legalized in California as many of the stigmas behind the drug have gradually lifted. Although it may be helpful to some people with specific medical problems, it is important for people to remember that it is still a drug that can have addictive qualities as with any other substance.

Recovery and Marijuana

In the recovery community, marijuana is viewed much like any other drug because it is considered a mind-altering substance. For someone who has an addictive nature any substance that acts as a way to self-medicate or escape from problems will be an issue for them. For addicts, anything that alters their state of mind can become addictive and create a cycle of abuse.

Some people who have quit drinking or some other type of drug may feel that it is okay for them to smoke marijuana because it was not their drug of choice. They may feel even more tempted to do so now that it has become legal to use recreationally. The idea that a person in recovery can use marijuana safely is a dangerous myth that could cause problems.

The problem with using any drug in recovery is that it can give the addict the taste of what it feels like to alter their state of mind. Even if they were never addicted to marijuana, using it can make them slip back into using the drug that they were addicted to. In other words, marijuana creates a very serious danger for relapse.

Feeling high in any way causes an addict to chase that feeling as they did when they first started using drugs. It is the chase after that first high that causes substance abuse to escalate for addicts because they develop a tolerance. After a while, marijuana may not seem like enough and they may switch back to their old addiction.

Staying Sober Around Marijuana

It is important for everyone in the California recovery community to realize that even though marijuana is now legal, it is still a drug that can cause problems especially for those with existing addiction issues. It may be harder to deal with the triggers of marijuana being around more often and legal to buy in different types of shops. However, staying sober means abstaining from all mind-altering substances including marijuana.

Like anyone who has been addicted to alcohol or prescription drugs understands, just because a drug is legal does not mean it is harmless. Marijuana can be a threat to people in the recovery community and they must treat it the same way they would any other drug, legal or not.

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