A recent study found that teens and adolescents don’t end up using more marijuana in states where medical marijuana is legal. In conjunction with Rhode Island Hospital, Brown University found that physician prescribed medical marijuana saw no increased usage in younger people. The results of this study were recently published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The university and the hospital teamed up examining teen drug abuse over two decades. They looked at data before and after medical marijuana had been legalized, then compared their results to states that had or had not legalized medical marijuana. According to the authors, “no statistically significant differences in marijuana use before and after policy change for any state pairing.” Some states that legalized cannabis therapy actually saw a decrease in recreational marijuana use.
The authors also stated that, “In the regression analysis, we did not find an overall increased probability of marijuana use related to the policy change.” This flies in the face against the argument not to legalize medical marijuana, as many lawmakers say it sends the wrong message to young people. According to these researchers, “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.”
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Other studies have concluded similair results. One appearing in the American Journal of Public Health found that even though a medical marijuana law had passed, they discovered “a statistically significant effect on the prevalence of either lifetime or 30-day marijuana use” among youth. A McGill University Montreal study in 2012 found that not only did adolescent youth usage not increase as a result of a passage of the marijuana law, but found in some cases that it actually decreased.
Adolescent usage is important as recent research has found that marijuana use during the teen years can change the still developing brain, though scientists still aren’t sure why, how or what they even means. Medical marijuana has been politicized by both the Left and Right, but research has found no increase in marijuana use when compared to whether or not their state had legalized it for therapeutic purposes. Ultimately, this may remove a road block from allowing people who are chronically ill another avenue to explore for easing their suffering or help them eat and sleep.