Study: Legalized Medical Marijuana Doesn’t Impact Teen Use Rates

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 31, 2014

    The passage of state laws legalizing the physician-recommended possession and consumption of cannabis by qualified patients has not led to an increase in adolescents’ use of the plant, according to a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research – a non-partisan research organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Investigators from the University of Colorado at Denver, the University of Oregon, and Montana State University assessed federal data on youth marijuana use and treatment episodes for the years 1993 to 2011 – a time period when 16 states authorized medical cannabis use.

    Authors reported, “Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana among high school students. In fact, estimates from our preferred specification are small, consistently negative, and are never statistically distinguishable from zero.”

    A separate analysis published in April in the Journal of Adolescent Health similarly determined, “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.”

    Full text of the study, “Medical marijuana laws and teen marijuana use,” is available online here.

    15 Responses to “Study: Legalized Medical Marijuana Doesn’t Impact Teen Use Rates”

    1. Anonymous says:

      I have to agree with Jeff. I am an adult living in Pennsylvania. I have MS and would love to use marijuana to ease some of the symptoms I have, which includes spasticity and nerve pain. I go from work to home and home to work which means my chances are nil that I can find somewhere or someone to purchase from. I wouldn’t have a clue where to start looking. If medical marijuana was legal I would be one of the first to apply for a prescription.

    2. Jeff says:

      it really is bs. cannabis is much easier to score as a high schooler than alcohol. The reverse is true as an adult. I found multiple sources and providers while a teenager. Being a professional engineer, and due to legality and stigma, getting cannabis in an outlawed Midwest state is much more difficult. I have a source, but if I wanted to get it quickly, a high schooler is going to be the best and easiest way to acquire this product currently. The kids are going to have a much harder time once it is legalized.

      government is all about serving lobbyists and groups and not the American public. The whole group needs to stop voting by party lines and vote to represent Americans!

      legalize or I am going to have to go to a local 16 year old kid to get his stash!

    3. Fed-Up says:

      Typical teenager of the future:

      “Its like, omg,look at those old, grey haired people, inhaling that gross,skunky, smelling smoke for their ailments and their arthritic pains….Yuck,i don’t want to be like them”.

      haha,but seriously,

      If the allure of prohibition didn’t exist… and cannabis was treated like any other culinary/medicinal herb.There would be far less need for rebellion,think about it,it just wouldn’t be that appealing.

    4. mexweed says:

      @Dave Evans, hey I just don’t believe all those people don’t like marijuana, rather the problem is someone gave them a hit off a H-ot B-urning O-verdose M-onoxide $igarette alias “JOINT” (i.e. giant) which don’t taste as good as the real thing (hint: @Julian says, “Use a vaporizer at family gatherings).”

    5. Julian says:

      Tell children the truth.

      Young adults respond with violent disobedience and criminal negligence to violent drug enforcement. Conversely, young adults respond peacefully to positive interventions such as extra curricular activities.

      Use a vaporizer at family gatherings and reward a young adult a place in the Circle after they have performed some brave deed like break up a fight at school, or if they pulled weeds in tge garden without being asked to do so… (as long as theyre pulling the right weeds :-) ).

      Then observe the dawn of a new American Green Age of innovation, socioeconomic stability and human coexistence with sustainable, adaptable cannabis resources within our environments.
      Dont believe me? After the scandals of the DOJ in Nicaragua in the 80s, the U.S. pulled foreign aid, the DEA abd the CIA from the country and left Nicaragua to start its Democracy over from scratch. So they did. The Nicaraguan government got rid of the violent national guard and invested in catching troubled youths before they fell to crime and provided them shelter, food and education. Crime plummeted. Today, the murder rate in Nicaragua is 11 in 100,000.(NPR Morning Edition).
      The DOJ, to this day, did not pull out of Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala. Guess which country is currently the safest place to visit?

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