What Are the Next Big Issues in Health Policy?

Health policies play an essential role in addressing public health problems in the country. Policymakers create such concepts as guidelines for solving identified public health challenges. One of the challenges affecting society today is the upsurge in the use of drugs, such as cannabis. The recent years have witnessed an increase in the use of the substance due to increasing acceptance for medical purposes and legalization in some states, such as Colorado (Parnes, Bravo, Conner, & Pearson, 2018). Although cannabis is increasingly being accepted in the community, the drug poses a threat to public health due to addiction, necessitating an effective policy for its control.

The topic of cannabis use in the United States is one of the most important in policy circles. The country has witnessed a growth in the number of Americans using the drug, and the trend is expected to continue in the next five years unless an effective solution is implemented. For example, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the use of the drug has risen since 2007. The organization states that in 2013, approximately 19.8 million were current users of the drug. The number translates to 7.5% of individuals aged 12 or older, while the number increased by 5.8 from the 14.5 million users in 2007 (NIH, 2015). The high prevalence of cannabis use informs the importance of the topic and the need for an effective policy.

Unless the current trend changes, the use of cannabis will be a significant population health issue in the United States. The increase within the six years, from 2007 to 2013, shows that the drug will create a health crisis unless an effective solution is implemented. The country will contend with a higher percentage of young Americans abusing marijuana. A high proportion of youth will suffer addiction. The affected persons will require treatment and rehabilitation to overcome the negative impact on their health. The country will use more resources than today in the treatment of people addicted to cannabis. Therefore, the problem will increase the cost of population health in the country.

Another challenge will be the potential of increased users of other drugs. Generally, cannabis is an entry drug to other addictive substances, such as cocaine (Viola et al., 2014). Therefore, the country might experience an increase in the number of Americans abusing other drugs, creating a public health crisis. The American health care system will commit resources to the treatment of people abusing drugs at a higher level compared to the current statistics. In the next five years, the government will experience a strain in terms of resources committed to drugs and substance use problems. Besides, health care providers, including nurses, will face an additional burden of caring for the addicted Americans.

The United States requires a functioning policy to address the problem of cannabis use and abuse, as some states continue to legalized the drug. The topic is critical to public health because the system will have to contend with increasing demand for services to treat addicted persons, who are mostly the youth. The recent increase in the use of the drug has augmented the number of users during the previous decade. If the trend remains unchanged, the problem will become worse in the next five years. Therefore, policymakers have a task to deal with the issue through effective policy.

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