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Medical Marijuana Laws Do Not Lead To Increases In Teen Use


youth teen young adult marijuana usage medical marijuanaA new Columbia University study published in Lancet Psychiatry shows that teen marijuana use does not increase after the passage of medical marijuana laws. The study, led by Dr. Debra Hasin, looked at past-30-day marijuana use among over one million adolescents over a 24-month period. While rates of use were higher to begin with in medical marijuana states, rates of use did not change after laws went into effect.

This is not the first study to find that medical marijuana laws do not have an impact on teen use – but this study is the most comprehensive and valid, given the large sample size, the long study period and adjusting results for other factors that might contribute to marijuana use, such as gender, age and geographic location. Additionally, the study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has been critical of the impact of medical marijuana laws on teen use.

“Medical marijuana relieves pain and suffering for millions and does not lead to an increase in teen marijuana use,”  said Amanda Reiman, manager of Marijuana Law and Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance and professor at UC Berkeley. “This should end the ‘What About The Kids’ argument used by opponents who try prevent access to marijuana for the sick and dying.”

Almost half of U.S. states allow access to medical marijuana, and a majority of Americans now support broader legalization. Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, DC decisively passed legalization laws in the 2012 and 2014 elections, and other states such as California are likely to follow in years to come. Each of these laws clearly specifies that legalization applies to adults only, contains built-in safeguards that restrict sales to minors and funds prevention efforts.

The evidence, in fact, has long-shown that marijuana reforms are unlikely to lead to an increase in youth marijuana use. Numerous researchers have previously looked at the extent of teen marijuana use in states where medical marijuana is legal – and their findings (published in the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of Adolescent Health) generally show no association between changes in marijuana laws and rates of teenage marijuana use. This has also been the case in California, where marijuana use among teens is less prevalent than before medical marijuana was legalized in 1996. There was also no increase in teen marijuana use following the spate of decriminalization laws in the U.S. in the 1970s, as well as in the Netherlands when marijuana was decriminalized.

Advocates for marijuana law reform have also stressed that marijuana use rates should not be considered the primary metric when evaluating the success of our public policies. Rather, the key measures of effectiveness of marijuana policies should be reduction of problematic marijuana use and reduction of problems associated with marijuana prohibition, such as arresting more than 600,000 people every year for simple marijuana possession.

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation


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Johnny Green


  1. The data is in. This article is bogus. There are 23 medical marijuana states out of a country of 50 states. The top 23 states with the highest rates of marijuana use are all medical marijuana states. I dont know what could be a more clear correlation.

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  3. Well, it should have been legalized long ago. Let’s look at the results of 70+ years of marijuana prohibition:

    *Today marijuana is America’s #1 cash crop.

    *Today American kids can buy marijuana easier than they can buy a beer.

    *Marijuana is stronger and easier to get than ever before, albeit much more expensive than it should be. To smoke casually from the “black market”, it will run you $100/month. This is much more expensive than it needs to be. More expensive than my cell phone ($20/month from Tmobile), car insurance ($25/month from Insurance Panda), netflix ($10/month), and gym ($15/month from PF) COMBINED!!! Would you rather put money into the hands of violent gangs and drug dealers… or into taxes for schools, hospitals, public infrastructure, etc.???

    *Today marijuana is the #1 source of income for violent drug gangs and drug cartels who are richer and more dangerous than ever before.

    *Guns are illegal in Mexico yet Mexican drug cartels are buying machine guns, rocket launchers, grenades, airplanes, armored vehicles, anti-aircraft guns, and even submarines.

    *There are over half a million Americans in jail right now for non-violent drug crimes.

    *The DEA has been having sex parties funded by drug cartels.

    The ATF/DOJ has given thousands of guns to drug cartels.

    I have this stupid thing I do called THINKING, and clearly I can see that marijuana prohibition can never work! America should have learned this simple lesson from alcohol prohibition!

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