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Study: Medical Cannabis Laws Not Associated With Increased Use By Adolescents

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 22, 2014

    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.

    9 Responses to “Study: Medical Cannabis Laws Not Associated With Increased Use By Adolescents”

    1. Galileo Galilei says:

      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.”

      Holy smoke! Reproducible scientific results. What do you suppose it means?

    2. Voice of the Resistance says:

      Hey kids, there’s a dirty old man and a cop waiting in the bathroom for you.
      What wrong message are we talking about here?

    3. phrtao says:

      There must be all kinds of things that medical marijuana has not effected. The notion that some one would go to a medical dispensary and pay the price for weed and then sell it on (presumably at a profit) to young people is absurd. If anything the availability of weed on the black market (where underage users buy their drugs) is reduced since more money can be made for less risk by growing for dispensaries.

      The black market trade will move to other states without any legal market for cannabis. It is these states without legal shops or dispensaries that will likely see an increase in underage cannabis use and black market sales. Has a study been done on this notion yet ?

      In the current climate sticking with prohibition will increase your cannabis problems not protect you from them since all the nasty drug dealers will move to your state where criminal sales are thriving and profits are good. But I suppose that is what some people actually want so that they have something to be outraged about !

    4. mexweed says:

      Hypothesis: (A) kids (or anyone) who use a flexible drawtube one-hitter or a vaporizer USE LESS CANNABIS (with healthier result) than those who “roll up a joint”; (B) the main reason for hurry-up hot-burning overdose monoxide joint-smoking has been that it is EASIER TO HIDE your use from your Mom or from a cop, given the fear-atmosphere that prevails under prohibition. Research, anyone?

    5. Mark I says:

      My personal research led me to use the visene eye drops in only one, so I could claim a poke in the eye when it was noticed. Cannabis consumption went from recreational to medicinal…can’t say exactly when, but the goal of getting stoned or blitzed has been replaced with just seeking relief and remaining coherent and productive.

    6. Julian says:

      @Mexweed,
      What correlation do you find between this study and recent prohibitions of e-cigarettes to teenagers? Do you see teenagers already wise to emptying corporately dispensed liquid “tobacco” cartridges and filling them full of home-ground marijuana?

    7. mexweed says:

      @Julian,
      I searched “e-cigarettes teenagers”, read a couple dozen articles, and found no mention of concerns that kids would re-use ((reefer-use) the cartridges. Rather the Gov. and various experts expressed concern that kids would get hooked on nicotine!

      Where possible I left a comment: an estimated 800,000 kids NOW get hooked on combustion $igarettes each year (USA)– with 40% chance of premature death, and $289-Bil. yearly cost to US economy for “smoking-related illness”– would it be a bad trade-off if 100,000 MORE kids got hooked on nicotine each year but 700,000 FEWER got hooked on combustion squares?

      Meanwhile, the ongrowth of commercialized Pen Vapes, the cannabis-vaporizing equivalent to e-cigs, continues, admittedly a few years behind, maybe that’s why a cannabis use doesn’t show up in the e-cig discussion?

      Possibly more important: getting officials and experts who oppose “smoking” to

      (A) support the SUBSTITUTION of (vaporized) cannabis for tobacco or nicotine, including for minors;

      (B) support ADDITIONAL option of cheap hand-made flexible-drawtube one-hitters for millions of cannabis users who don’t think they can afford to switch from joint to a vaporizer or Vape Pen, including spreading the know-how about vaporizing with a one-hitter (which one can do almost as well as with a real electric vape utensil).

      (C) Eliminate “paraphernalia laws”. Millions are afraid to own or carry harm-avoidance equipment such as a flex-1-hit or vaporizer– the law actually promotes using “EASIER TO HIDE” monoxide overdose rolling papers (an outright gift to the $igarette corporations).

      (D) Eliminate the joint (GIANT)– a Gateway Drug– or Trojan Horse– luring youngsters on to experiment with real 700-mg. nicotine $igarettes. (A “blunt” may actually have nicotine in the cigar skin “wrapper”.) Then cannabis gets the blame for health and character damage! Groan-ups follow advice to keep their children ignorant, then when kids get introduced to cannabis via the joint (really a $igarette advertisement) they are at risk to try nicotine too– zap! hooked for life!

    8. Julian says:

      Thanks Mexweed,
      More research needs to be conducted on hemp pen vapes and penal code paraphanalia laws.
      The most difficult to convince of this innovation is one of my sisters who now has 4 children with Chrone’s disease. This hereditary failure to produce the CB2 cannabinoid that stimulates nutritional absorbtion and proper instestinal function usually begins taking effect during teenage years, after growth hormone slows down. Strict law-abiding parents are willing to cut young adults out of a college fund if they dare get caught smoking weed. The education has been painful and conflicting at family gatherings. What I have discovered some people like my sister object to is the whole pot smoking image. They dont want to see their kids smoking even if you explain to them there are non-psychactive varieties or that vapor is technically not smoke. So my sister seems more receptive to cannibutter, or perhaps a balm or alcoholic homeopathic therapy. I said, “Ok, but have you ever tried it? Better add some sugar. And be prepared to pay out or get wrong dosage if whoever makes it doesnt know what theyre doing or who and what theyre treating.” Cannibutter is great for people who need constant dosage, but for instant and less complicated relief, I recommend a hemp pen vaporizer. Something about an e-cigratte vaporizer makes me skeptical there aren’t residual chemicals. I wouldnt trust any product made by a death-for-profit tobacco company.

    9. A great website helping medical marijuana patients.

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