A new study published in The Lancet Psychiatry, and funded by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, shows no significant difference in adolescent cannabis use in the states that have legalized medical use of the substance.
This comprehensive study examined 24 years of data from over a million teenagers in 48 states, and found absolutely no evidence that legalized medical cannabis has led to teenagers using cannabis at higher rates.
“Our findings provide the strongest evidence to date that marijuana use by teenagers does not increase after a state legalizes medical marijuana”, says Deborah Hasin, Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, who reviewed data on teenagers between the ages of 13-18, during the years 1991-2014. “Rather, up to now, in the states that passed medical marijuana laws, adolescent marijuana use was already higher than in other states. Because early adolescent use of marijuana can lead to many long term harmful outcomes, identifying the factors that actually play a role in adolescent use should be a high priority”.
This study supports a 2013 report from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment that found that high school cannabis use actually decreased from in 2011 (22%) compared to 2013 (20%).
The report speculates that legalizing medical marijuana may send the message to teens that the substance isn’t dangerous and probably won’t be very harmful, potentially leading to less “rebellious teenagers” wanting to use the substance.
The full study can be found by clicking here.