A recent study that appeared in The Lancet Psychiatry journal debunks the widespread notion that the approval and legalization of marijuana for medical and/or recreational purposes will increase teen consumption of the drug. The study, led by Dr. Deborah Hasin, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center examined data collected from surveys dating between 1991 and 2014, inquiring from a million teens about their marijuana use. The study concludes that there is no correlation between teen marijuana usage and the legalization of marijuana. Data showed that marijuana use did not increase in the twenty one of the states where marijuana use is approved for medical purposes after such laws were passed.
“Our findings provide the strongest evidence to date that marijuana use by teenagers does not increase after a state legalizes medical marijuana,” lead researcher Hasin said in a statement. “Because early adolescent use of marijuana can lead to many long-term harmful outcomes, identifying the factors that actually play a role in adolescent use should be a high research priority.”
The said research was funded by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. It focused on teenagers’ use of marijuana for recreational purposes in states were marijuana was legalized for strictly medical use. Data was collected using grades 8, 10 and 12 students’ responses to an annual confidential questionnaire called “Monitoring the Future”.
Researchers opine that the environment’s attitude and tolerance if not acceptance of marijuana use may have an influence on adolescent marijuana use. This attitude may have also prompted the change in the specific states’ laws.
According to Dr. Christian Hopfer, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at University of Colorado at Denver Medical School, and researcher and authority on managing programs on adolescent substance abuse : “There’s a lot of evidence that states that have passed these medical marijuana laws already have a population that’s more…inclined to use it.”
Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington are the only US states that have legalized the use of marijuana for both medical reasons and for particular recreational use. Washington D.C. and nineteen other states on the other hand have medical marijuana laws. It can be recalled that a nationwide medical marijuana bill was proposed but failed to receive the stamp of approval from Congress.