One of the main arguments that critics used in opposing the legalization of marijuana use for medical purposes was that teen use would skyrocket. However, according to a new report, that’s far from being the case.
The article can be found in The Lancet Psychiatry, where a team of Columbia University researchers describe their observations after studying marijuana use of more than a million teenagers.
Participants from 48 states, ranged from grade 8 to 12, proved that over 24 years (1991-2014) legalizing medical marijuana did not have a discernible effect on teen use.
Study author Dr. Deborah Hasin, professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, explained that the study’s findings are the strongest proof to date that states legalizing marijuana for medical purposes does not encourage more teenagers to start using.
Until now, she added, the states that passed medical marijuana laws had already have increased rates of adolescent marijuana use, compared to other states.
Instead of blaming these new laws for the early adolescence use of marijuana, concerned authorities should make it a priority to identify the factors that actually play a role, and prevent the long-term harmful outcomes.
There are, however, slightly higher drug use rats in states which have agreed to legalize marijuana, and teen use is also more common in those states since 2014, when the laws have been passed.
More than 15 percent of teenagers from these states said they used marijuana during the last month, and not for medical purposes. In comparison, there was a slightly lower percentage in the states where the drug is not legalized, where the number stood at 13 percent.
But these numbers seem to have remained the same – prior and after the marijuana legalization – as scientists found out when they got real close to the data they were interpreting. In the 21 states where medical marijuana is now legal, statistics show no increase (or decrease, for that matter) in teen use.
In the month before the law was adopted, 16 percent of teens reported having used marijuana, a figure which hasn’t changed when the same teens were surveyed after the legalizing of the proposal.
Researchers pointed out that this study had strictly focused on how medical marijuana laws affect teens, and recreation use laws were not part of the study’s conclusions. They only meant to assess the outcome of medical marijuana legalization and its influence on teenagers.
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