STUDY: Legalizing Medical Marijuana Doesn't Make Teens Smoke More

medical marijuana

Photo: Neon Tommy via flickr

Legalizing medical marijuana doesn’t make teens abuse the substance or move on to other drugs, according to a study led by D. Mark Anderson at Montana State University. The new research debunks a key argument of medicinal marijuana opponents — that legalizing pot for medical uses would lead to kids abusing drugs:

Opponents of medical marijuana have employed a number of effective arguments, several of which focus on the use of marijuana by teenagers. For instance, Montana State Senator Jeff Essmann was quoted in 2011 as saying, “The number one goal is to reduce access and availability to the young people of this state that are being sent an incorrect message that this is an acceptable product for them to be using.”

According to data from Monitoring The Future, cited in the study, marijuana use increased sharply nationwide after 2005. Opponents said this was because of the legalization of medical marijuana in states like California.  

However, when researchers analysed information on patients who tested positive for marijuana, the data showed that teens didn’t abuse marijuana more after it was legalized in their home states. In other words, teen marijuana use in California, where it’s legal, didn’t spike higher than in Ohio, where it’s not.

Legalization of medical marijuana is supported by 70 per cent of Americans, yet is only legal in 16 states, according to the study:

Here’s a graph showing past 30-day marijuana consumption by youths from 1993-2009:

marijuana medical

Photo: SSRN

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