Study: Medical marijuana does not increase teen use

By Oscar Pascual |

Say goodbye to yet another misconception about medical marijuana legalization.

Prohibitionists contending that the availability of medical marijuana only leads to underage use have been proven wrong. A Lancet Psychiatry report published on Monday found no evidence of an increase in adolescent pot use in states where medical marijuana laws have been passed.

Researchers scoured a 24-year time period for nation-wide data on teenage pot use, surveying more than one million adolescents in 48 states. They found that while marijuana use among all ages was more prevalent in states with medical marijuana laws, there was no significant difference in the risk of teen use than before the laws were passed.

A Lancet comment on their findings advises future lawmakers to take science into consideration over old preconceptions:

An easy assumption to make would be that medical marijuana laws would increase access to marijuana, and therefore use among adolescents would increase, especially in view of the aforementioned trends in use and perceptions of risk. However, the growing body of research that includes this study suggests that medical marijuana laws do not increase adolescent use, and future decisions that states make about whether or not to enact medical marijuana laws should be at least partly guided by this evidence. The framework of using the scientific method to challenge what might be ideological beliefs must remain an important driver of future research on marijuana policy.

Dr. Kevin Hill, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard and author of the book “Marijuana: The Unbiased Truth About the World’s Most Popular Weed,” told the New York Times that this study was about as definitive as could be expected.

“We have a war going on over marijuana, and I think both sides have been guilty at times of spinning the data,” said Hill in an interview with the Times. “It’s nice to have a scientifically rigorous study to guide policy.”

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