Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Large Study Says U.S. Medical Marijuana Laws Don't Foster Teen Use

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Large Study Says U.S. Medical Marijuana Laws Don't Foster Teen Use

Article excerpt

US medical pot laws don't encourage teen use

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TORONTO - Passing a medical marijuana law does not lead to increased use of the drug by teenagers in that jurisdiction, concludes a new study that looked at self-reported use of pot among more than one million adolescents from 48 U.S. states from 1991 to 2014.

The research was applauded by other social scientists for its size and strength. And the authors themselves suggested it is time for the debate over how to keep adolescents from using marijuana at an early age to move on to target on other factors.

"Concerns that increased adolescent marijuana use is an unintended effect of state medical marijuana laws seem unfounded. In view of the potential for harm from early use, other factors influencing wide segments of the population need to be investigated," the authors wrote.

The study is published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry. The work was led by Prof. Deborah Hasin of the Mailman School of Public Health, at New York City's Columbia University.

The researchers analyzed nearly a quarter-century's worth of data from a nationally administered survey American teenagers complete in Grades 8, 10 and 12. Their dataset included information provided by 1,098,270 adolescents.

During the time studied, 21 of the 48 states that administer the survey passed medical marijuana laws.

The researchers compared teen marijuana use in states with and without legislation, but also looked closely at usage rates in states with medical marijuana laws in the periods before and after the legislation went into effect.

The researchers found teen use was higher in the states that adopted medical marijuana laws, but that pattern of higher use existed before the laws came into effect.

Asked if parents or policy makers should feel reassured by the findings, Hasin said she didn't think so.

"Early adolescent marijuana use has many long-term adverse consequences, and the fact remains that teen use of marijuana is up considerably compared to the beginning of the 21st century," she said in an email.

"So, I don't think people should be reassured by our findings particularly because we still need to find out what causes such increases and what can be done to prevent them. …

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