Legalizing medical marijuana doesn’t increase use among adolescents, study says

Parents and physicians concerned about an increase in adolescents’ marijuana use following the legalization of medical marijuana can breathe a sigh of relief. According to a new study at Rhode Island Hospital which compared 20 years worth of data from states with and without medical marijuana laws, legalizing the drug did not lead to increased use among adolescents. The study is published online in advance of print in theJournal of Adolescent Health.

“Any time a state considers legalizing medical marijuana, there are concerns from the public about an increase in drug use among teens,” said principal investigator Esther Choo, M.D., an attending physician in the department of emergency medicine at Rhode Island Hospital. “In this study, we examined 20 years worth of data, comparing trends in self-reported adolescent marijuana use between states with medical marijuana laws and neighboring states without the laws, and found no increase in marijuana use that could be attributed to the law.”

Choo continued, “This adds to a growing body of literature published over the past three years that is remarkably consistent in demonstrating that state medical marijuana policies do not have a downstream effect on adolescent drug use, as we feared they might.”

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

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