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Medical Marijuana Laws Not Associated With Increased Use By Adolescents


cherry pie og marijuana strainBy Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

The enactment of state laws legalizing the physician-recommended use of cannabis therapy is not associated with increased levels of marijuana use by young people, according to data published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University assessed the impact of medical cannabis laws by examining trends in reported drug use by high-schoolers in a cohort of states before and after legalization. Researchers compared these trends to geographically matched states that had not adopted medical marijuana laws.

Authors reported overall “no statistically significant differences in marijuana use before and after policy change for any state pairing,” and acknowledged that some states that had adopted medical cannabis laws experienced a decrease in adolescent’s self-reported use of the plant. “In the regression analysis, we did not find an overall increased probability of marijuana use related to the policy change,” they stated.

Investigators concluded, “This study did not find increases in adolescent marijuana use related to legalization of medical marijuana. … This suggests that concerns about ‘sending the wrong message’ may have been overblown. … Our study … may provide some reassurance to policy makers who wish to balance compassion for individuals who have been unable to find relief from conventional medical therapies with the safety and well-being of youth.”

A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Public Health similarly concluded that the passage of medical marijuana laws in various states has had no “statistically significant … effect on the prevalence of either lifetime or 30-day marijuana use” by adolescents residing in those states.

A 2012 study by researchers at McGill University in Montreal reported: “[P]assing MMLs (medical marijuana laws) decreased past-month use among adolescents … and had no discernible effect on the perceived riskiness of monthly use. … [These] estimates suggest that reported adolescent marijuana use may actually decrease following the passing of medical marijuana laws.”

Read the abstract of this latest study, “The Impact of State Medical Marijuana Legislation on Adolescent Marijuana Use,” online here.

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Johnny Green

1 Comment

  1. Like that makes a difference with the law makers at the state and federal levels. Of course there will be no significant changes in use by adolescents with the adoption of liberalizing marijuana laws.
    It is obvious they, the law makers, don’t give a hoot about what the populace desires because the money for them and their respective campaigns comes from the business sectors. The business sectors such and pharmaceutical, law enforcement and corrections industry, alcohol and petroleum industries and others do not want this plant to ever be legal. If it actually became legal it would greatly impact their bottom lines because it is a safe and effective substitute for their products. The truth is that in the areas where the laws were relaxed there has been a reduction in traffic deaths, violent crime and drug overdoses from other substances. As for the kids the use of marijuana is often acting out behavior because it is illegal. I think if you showed on television older adults using marijuana as frequently as say drinking booze or smoking cigarettes you would get a further reduction in underage use because it loses the romantic edge of showing us how cool they are with pot. I mean what kid wants to be like them, right?

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