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Study: Medical Cannabis Laws Have No Measurable Impact On Teen Use Rates

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 18, 2013

    Another study has once again affirmed that the enactment of statewide medical cannabis laws is not associated with increased rates of adolescent marijuana consumption.

    According to data published this week in the American Journal of Public Health, 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.

    Researchers at the University of Florida College of Medicine evaluated the effects of medical marijuana laws on adolescent marijuana use rates during the years 2003 and 2011. Investigators “found no evidence of intermediate-term effects of passage of state MMLs (medical marijuana laws) on the prevalence or frequency of adolescent nonmedical marijuana use in the states evaluated.” Authors concluded, “Our results suggest that, in the states assessed here, MMLs have not measurably affected adolescent marijuana use.”

    The study’s findings rebut often repeated claims from cannabis prohibitionists that the passage of therapeutic cannabis laws adversely impacts teens’ usage of the substance.

    In fact, numerous published studies have contradicted this claim. A 2012 analysis of statewide cannabis laws and adolescent use patterns of commissioned by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Germany concluded: “Our results suggest that the legalization of medical marijuana was not accompanied by increases in the use of marijuana or other substances such as alcohol and cocaine among high school students. Interestingly, several of our estimates suggest that marijuana use actually declined with the passage of medical marijuana laws.”

    A separate 2012 study by researchers at McGill University in Montreal and published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology reported similar findings, concluding: “[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.”

    Previous investigations by research teams at Brown University in 2011 and Texas A&M in 2007 made similar determinations, concluding, “[C]onsistent with other studies of the liberalization of cannabis laws, medical cannabis laws do not appear to increase use of the drug.”

    Full text of the study, “Effects of State Medical Marijuana Laws on Adolescent Marijuana Use,” appears online in the American Journal of Public Health.

    5 Responses to “Study: Medical Cannabis Laws Have No Measurable Impact On Teen Use Rates”

    1. Paulpot says:

      When I was young my parents said of alcohol “when you’re older”. When I turned 18 my work mates took me to a bar and got me rotten drunk. I never did that again.
      But the point is when you hand over responsibility to parents, they mostly behave responsibly and keep it out of reach of children. And kids mostly wait till the agreed age. Most people are capable of leading responsible lives and it is not at all necessary to force people to be so as these results show.
      I would also like to see similar studies on crime and traffic accidents.
      I am sure it will be a similar story.
      When you let go of the iron grip, society starts to function properly again.

    2. Galileo Galilei says:

      “The study’s findings rebut often repeated claims from cannabis prohibitionists that the passage of therapeutic cannabis laws adversely impacts teens’ usage of the substance.”

      Yeh, folks, but this study is just science. It means nothing to Drug War ideologues.

      “Interestingly, several of our estimates suggest that marijuana use actually declined with the passage of medical marijuana laws.”

      Maybe so, but we’ll keep spending the people’s tax proceeds on maintaining an ineffective, counterproductive policy.

    3. Warren Osborn says:

      Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

      Thomas Paine

    4. Vape Forest says:

      This comes as little surprise, as it’s quite similar to underage alcohol consumption like “Paulpot” pointed out in his comment.

    5. PeacePipe says:

      The laws that are in place do not have the best interest of the nations youth in mind. The government just wont allow you to make money if they can not take a piece (tax). If anything we have found over time that outlawing or banning certain things only helps increase interest in them, especially among the youth.
      Dispensary Supply

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