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. gutter butter says:

      But what about the children!?! Prohibitionists are running out of ammo..

    2. Anonymous says:

      you talk to people who still believe prohibition works, and the major argument is kids will have easier access to this evil drug. which we know is bs. i wish they would check there facts, which they probably do so i guess legalization is just not part of there agenda. until they can profit big from it they will keep pretending its in our best interest to keep it illegal, and when they can profit big from it they will all act like they wanted it to be legalized a long time ago, i guess thats just politics they do it on there own time and not the peoples. its really horrible that its like that. one state at a time and it will happen but i dont believe the fed will give up till all 50 states have legalized it. so lets keep getting them on the ballots.

    3. SMJL says:

      I knew it! I kinda thought teen use rates would go down. Maybe when the black market for cannabis is mostly dissolved we’ll see a decrease in teen use.

    4. TheAntiProhibitionist says:

      We’ll, that puts one more Prohibitionist myth to rest! Keep up the great work, we’ll be buying safe cannabis in local stores before we know it!

    5. Murphy says:

      It just Pot so what there teens they most adult. Only age limit I agree if they set it 18. Pot is harmless. Everyone in the world should be right to try pot. In the past our government made a mistake By making it iLlegal weed enterprise got taken over by criminals. By legalizing it Weed enterprise is giving law obey citizens business and jobs and better economy

    6. Walker Richardson says:

      This is another reason for the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes.

      I feel that cannabis legalization is near and it would not have been if not for the hard work of the National Organization for Reformation of Marijuana Laws over the past few decades.

    7. Galileo Galilei says:

      Why would it effect teen use? Teens are among the healthiest people I know. 🙂

    8. mexweed says:

      The “danger to children” scaremongering is based on the tobacco $igarette oligarchs knowing their empire is lost as soon as children are no longer afraid (a) to “experiment” with a different, non-addictive herb instead of tobacco, (b) to possess or use a known moderate-use device such as a flexible drawtube one-hitter) instead of an EASY-TO-HIDE, quickly-used-up hot burning overdose monoxide rolling papers format (“joint”) which teaches children the gestures and psychology of $igarette $moking.

      Thus legalization of cannabis will deal the death blow to the “business as usual” of profiting off 6,000,000 deaths a year.

    9. Dave Evans says:

      Hello Norml, umm… Hasn’t anyone noticed that most people don’t even like marijuana? Kids try it and most don’t like and don’t bother with it again??? It is non-addictive, you know? People who keep using it are the folks that like it; which is always less than half the population maybe 1/10 that actually likes pot enough to use it on a regular basis. This entire argument that kids are going to start using marijuana at epidemic levels is based on pure fantasy!!!!! Most kids and adults don’t even like how marijuana affects them and so they don’t use it. At parties people mention they are going to burn a joint and a couple of folks join them while others just say no thanks. Like any other party favor. When it is a mixed party, maybe 25% will partake.

      Sure there are some people that use a lot of marijuana, but these folks either need it for something medical or they are a Rastafarian who finds marijuana spiritually up lifting. This is not the average person. Smoking marijuana doesn’t make one into a Rasta, it is how you personally feel about marijuana that results in how much you use. The more you like something the more you want it around.

      Like music, you buy music. Some people buy 5 albums a year while others buy 20. Is the person buying 20 albums demonstrating any social pathology because they like music more than the average person? Is the person buying several ounces or a pound of marijuana per year demonstrating any kind of social pathology???

    10. Anonymous says:

      Most of you people are just ignorant to facts your dumb redneck Republicans who don’t know the fucking thing. If you honestly believe that legalizing marijuana will make it more accessible to teenagers you’re wrong. That would mean because we have liquor stores it’s easier accessible to teenagers. Since I’ve moved here I’ve noticed every body does nothing but consume alcohol on a daily basis which is in fact more harmful to the human body than marijuana will ever be.