GAINESVILLE, FL — The legalization of marijuana for medical purposes does not lead to an increase in teen marijuana use, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainseville.
The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, used data collected from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey for the states of Montana, Rhode Island, Michigan, and Delaware compiled over an eight year period.
“Our results suggest that, in the states assessed here, MMLs [medical marijuana laws] have not measurably affected adolescent marijuana use in the first few years after their enactment,” researchers wrote in their conclusion. “Longer-term results, after MMLs are more fully implemented, might be different.”
The study confirms the results of a similar studies conducted in years past, while contradicting public statements made by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske and other medical marijuana opponents, who repeatedly allege that the passage of medical marijuana laws is directly responsible for higher levels of self-reported marijuana consumption among U.S. teenagers.
A study conducted last year by researchers from Montana State University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Colorado, Denver examined the relationship between state medical marijuana laws and marijuana consumption among high school students. Authors in that study analyzed data from the national and state Youth Risky Behavior Surveys for the years 1993 through 2009 – during which time 13 states enacted laws allowing for the production and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Authors found no evidence that the enactment of medical cannabis legalization adversely impacted adolescents’ drug consumption.
They concluded: “Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana and other substances among high school students. … Our results suggest that the legalization of medical marijuana was not accompanied by increases in the use of marijuana or other substances such as alcohol and cocaine among high school students. Interestingly, several of our estimates suggest that marijuana use actually declined with the passage of medical marijuana laws.”
A 2012 study by researchers at McGill University in Montreal and published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology previously reported similar findings, concluding: “[P]assing MMLs (medical marijuana laws) decreased past-month use among adolescents … and had no discernible effect on the perceived riskiness of monthly use. … [These] estimates suggest that reported adolescent marijuana use may actually decrease following the passing of medical marijuana laws.”
Previous investigations by research teams at Brown University in 2011 and Texas A&M in 2007 made similar determinations, concluding, “[C]onsistent with other studies of the liberalization of cannabis laws, medical cannabis laws do not appear to increase use of the drug.”