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Legalizing Pot in California: Users Could Double, Are There Health Risks?

Pot user in San Francisco
Pot user in San Francisco (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

(CBS) While medical marijuana is now legal in 14 states, California may be the first to legalize it for all - and that, says a new study, could have serious health impacts.

The Rand Corporation calculates that pot use could double in California if the Sunshine State decides to legalize the drug in a November ballot.

Why? Radically reduced prices and increased social acceptance, the study estimates.

Studies show that people with HIV, spinal cord injury, and other pain-related disorders can benefit from smoking pot, according to WebMD

And in California, the number of medical marijuana dispensaries has exploded.

But smoking pot can also bring health risks such as increased heart rate and anxiety. Marijuana smoke, like cigarettes, contains carcinogens, although, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana has not been proven to cause lung cancer. And clearly, driving while high on marijuana is dangerous.

How will it end for Californians? We'll have to wait until the smoke clears.

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