Does the idea of cannabis legalization in the Western world make you worry that teens will start smoking it more? Those fears can be laid to rest because previous medical marijuana legalization did not increase teen recreational use.
Legalizing medical marijuana has not increased recreational use of the substance among U.S. adolescents, according to a new study conducted at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The findings are published online in the journal Addiction.
Deborah Hasin, PhD, professor of Epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School and senior author of the study said:
For now, there appears to be no basis for the argument that legalizing medical marijuana has increased teens’ use of the drug.
However, we may find that the situation changes as commercialized markets for medical marijuana develop and expand, and as states legalize recreational marijuana use.
Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health reports:
The researchers analyzed the results of eleven separate studies dating back to 1991 using data from four large-scale U.S. surveys: Monitoring the Future; National Longitudinal Survey of Youth; National Survey on Drug Use and Health; and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. No significant changes, increases or decreases, occurred in adolescent recreational use following enactment of medical marijuana laws.
In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to legalize marijuana use for medical purposes. Medical marijuana is now legal in 29 states. Opponents of medical marijuana have argued that such laws increase recreational marijuana use among adolescents.
Far fewer studies have examined the effects of medical marijuana laws among adults, according to Hasin, who is also a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.
Although we found no significant effect on adolescent marijuana use, existing evidence suggests that adult recreational use may increase after medical marijuana laws are passed.
The $8 billion cannabis industry anticipates tripling by 2025. Obtaining a solid evidence base about harmful as well as beneficial effects of medical and recreational marijuana laws on adults is crucial given the intense economic pressures to expand cannabis markets.
Hasin things the intensity of marijuana use in teens hasn’t been explored thoroughly and warrants more consideration, “especially with the decreasing national trend of risk perception among adolescents and as the current perception gives rise to more medical marijuana stores and commercial opportunities,” she said.
In an unrelated, recent study, alcohol was shown to harm the brains of adults and teens but marijuana use left both adult and teen brains unharmed.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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