[Editor's note: This post is excerpted from this week's forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML's news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]
The legalization of cannabis for therapeutic purposes is not associated with increases in the use of marijuana or other illicit substances among adolescents, according to discussion paper commissioned by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Germany.
Economists from Montana State University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Colorado, Denver examined the relationship between state medical cannabis laws and marijuana consumption among high school students. Authors analyzed data from the national and state Youth Risky Behavior Surveys (YRBS) for the years 1993 through 2009 – during which time 13 states enacted law allowing for the production and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
The national YRBS is conducted biennially by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school students.
Authors reported that the survey data provides no evidence that the enactment of medical cannabis legalization adversely impacted adolescents’ drug consumption. They concluded: “Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana and other substances among high school students. … 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 2012 study by researchers at McGill University in Montreal and published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology previously 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.”
The findings of these studies contradict public statements made by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske and other medical cannabis opponents, who in recent years have repeatedly alleged that the passage of medical cannabis laws is directly responsible for higher levels of self-reported marijuana consumption among US teenagers.
Full text of the study, “Medical Marijuana Laws and Teen Marijuana Use,” is available online at: http://ftp.iza.org/dp6592.pdf.
[In response to the AP article “Easing of State Marijuana Laws Poses Challenge for Parents”]
No one can deny that the number one goal of a parent is for his or her children to grow up healthy, and be able to make responsible decisions about everything from their friendships and lifestyle, to their safety. Parents do this by sitting down and having open honest conversations about issues that will inevitably affect them in the future.
Education gives children the tools and understanding to help them cope with the challenges they have already experienced, and will continue to face further down the road. Creating a government regulated system for marijuana legalization, which will include everything from age limits to promotional and advertising restrictions (and obviously impaired driving regulations), will actually help parents address this issue with their kids. Several studies have already shown that states with regulated marijuana programs have not seen an increase in teen use. Some have even seen a decrease in pot use among their youth population.
The prohibition of marijuana sends the message “marijuana is morally wrong” and implies that there is no such thing as a responsible marijuana consumer. This ignorant policy improperly allows the government to interfere in the parent’s job of teaching their kids about moderation and responsibility. Scare tactics and rhetoric are disingenuous and do not help children understand the realities of the world we live in.
It is socially acceptable for parents, alcohol distributors, and even the government to teach children about safe drinking practices (with a full understanding that alcohol is directly responsible for thousands of deaths every year), and the state regulation of marijuana will allow parents and educators do the same for the plant (whose non-lethal and relatively harmless side effects inevitably make the latter substance the safer choice).
We did not have to outlaw cigarettes to reduce the use among minors. A policy of education and regulation (not prohibition) has created an environment in which cigarette usage has fallen to an all time low. The same goes for alcohol. A sustained and concerted effort on responsible drinking practices by the government, alcohol companies and educational institutions have driven teen alcohol use down to a record low as well, according to the 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey. Age restrictions, government regulation and education have proven to be one of the most effective elements in reducing youth access to adult-only recreational substances. None of these controls apply to marijuana.
As it currently stands, marijuana is illegal and sold on the black market to anyone willing to pay for it. Drug dealers don’t ID. Today, young people report that they have easier access to illicit marijuana than to legal beer or cigarettes. This is because the latter is legally limited to adults only.
Children need accurate information to make informed decisions. They need to be educated on how consuming marijuana can effect their body’s development specifically, and how to reduce any harms associated with its use – as well as how to distinguish between use and abuse. Just as it is socially acceptable for parents to speak with their children openly about their use of alcohol, with an emphasis on that fact that it is only appropriate for adults in moderation, the legalization of marijuana will allow parents to openly discuss their (possible) past or current use and be able to objectively and rationally speak to their children about pot. The controlled regulation of marijuana will send a message of moderation and responsible use. It will also undercut the black market, which in turn will reduce teen access. It’s as simple as that, and it’s a win-win for everybody.
The NORML Women’s Alliance has been growing at an unprecedented rate. Women have been organizing around the country, targeting the female demographic and spreading the word of marijuana law reform. The enthusiasm for this NORML Foundation program has crossed the border and gone international. The Women’s Alliance has become the latest sensation for marijuana law reformers in Canada, and is spreading like wildfire across the territories. From Vancouver to Toronto, the NORML Women’s Alliance has brought together an amazing group of strong, empowered, like-minded women.
In early May, the NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada had the honor of serving as one of this year’s Grand Marshals for the Global Marijuana March. Along with Jodie Emery and other well-known Canadian marijuana figures, the women of NORML lead 20,000 people through the streets of Toronto in support of marijuana law reform.They dressed up in 1920s and 1930’s costumes and were followed by a vintage car of the same era, so as to make a clear connection to America’s ill-fated alcohol prohibition, and women’s role in ending that failed policy. The goal was to reenact a similar campaign image put on by the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform, which has since become a staple image for reformers today.
Just last week, our Canadian Sisters were invited to have a presence at the annual Treating Yourself Expo of 2012, a three-day event that brought tens of thousands of people to the Toronto Convention Center. The women were not only given the opportunity to hand out literature, several of them were even invited to speak on a panel about the purpose and significance of the NORML Women’s Alliance. This panel featured an amazing group of leaders including Jodie Emery of Cannabis Culture Magazine, NORML Women’s Alliance Coordinator of Canada, Kelly Coulter, Andrea Matrosovs, Lisa MamaKind Kirkman, Joanne Baker, Loretta Clarck and Sandra Colasanti. Keep up the great work ladies!
Check out the videos below the fold.
Over the last five years there have been numerous media reports about the anecdotal use of cannabis to help autistic children. Two brave women, one on the east coast the other the west, have been at the forefront of this effort to help scientifically explain why cannabis appears to be so helpful. Marie Myung-Ok Lee wrote about her experience in Rhode Island, a state with medical cannabis laws, in 2009. Soon after, inspired by Marie’s writings, Mieko Perez Hester and her son had a similarly positive experience with treating his autism in California. Mieko, soon after going public about their experience, was invited onto ABC’s Good Morning America.
The reply from parents around the country to these charter members of the NORML Women Alliance experience as parents using cannabis as a therapy for their autistic children has been overwhelming and inspired the need to perform proper scientific research to possibly develop cannabinoid-based treatments for autism in both children and adults.
To help accomplish this Mieko established The Unconventional Foundation for Autism (UF4A), which is asking the NORML community of hundreds of thousands of cannabis consumers and patients to help with a scientific survey today.
The NORML community has joined UF4A in this remarkable journey and fight, and has offered to help solicit feedback through the survey.
Target: Persons on the autism spectrum currently using or interested in using cannabis as a safe and effective medication to treat autism.
With more than 1 in 88 children affected, autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States. Currently, there is no medical detection or cure for autism; however, there are pharmaceutical and therapeutic treatments that have proven to be effective in treating the condition. Among the safest and most remarkable is the therapeutic use of medical cannabis.
Amidst a highly controversial setting, one California mother is sharing her autistic son’s triumphant and life-saving journey with the world. Single mother of three, Mieko Hester Perez was watching her young son, Joey, succumb to various combinations of 13 different prescription drugs that ravaged his body and internal organs. Joey weighed only 46 pounds, and was in a battle for his life.
Read more: www.uf4a.org
In 2009, The Unconventional Foundation for Autism (UF4A) was formed. UF4A is lighting a path in hopes that others may benefit from alternative therapies that may be available to other families on the Autism Spectrum. Mieko helped create a survey to help solidify and amplify her results and the level of help the Foundation can provide.
At UF4A, we believe providing the most accurate information to medical professionals for research purposes will pave the way for clinical trials for unconventional treatments.
We seek to solidify and further the fundamental understanding we have in regards to the effectiveness of cannabis alleviating symptoms along the Autism Spectrum. The information collected in the survey will be used to further guide families, new patients, doctors and lawmakers in making informed and proper decisions for themselves and our community.
If this survey applicable to you or a loved one, we invite you or them to fill out the form UF4A Treatment of Persons on the Spectrum with Cannabis. To fill out the survey, click here.