Numerous studies show that cannabis use disorder (CUD) treatment has not risen in the US despite the spread of legalization, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report investigating the effect cannabis laws have had on teen admission rates for CUD.
When looking at 12- to 17-year-old admission rates at publicly funded substance abuse treatment centers in the U.S. between 2008 and 2017, researchers found that in states with legal adult-use cannabis — although they had higher admission rates overall — the total number of admissions for cannabis fell sharply. During the study period, the mean admission rate fell from nearly 60 per 10,000 to 31 per 10,000, a reduction of nearly half. Seven of the eight states that had adult-use cannabis during the study period also saw the largest decline in admissions.
“To our knowledge, this map is the first to illustrate state-level trends in adolescent treatment admissions for marijuana, and the trends depicted can inform public health responses to changing marijuana laws. Possible causes for the overall decline, and variations among states, in admissions trends include changes in attitudes toward marijuana, as well as differences among states in marijuana use and incidence of CUD, as well as in socioeconomic status, treatment availability, and health insurance.” — Jeremy Mennis, PhD, author of the CDC report
Due to the perceived lack of harm, greater societal acceptance of cannabis, and increased adult use — which all intersect with lower rates of cannabis substance abuse admissions — Mennis believes such trends highlight the need to “stay vigilant” in the prevention of teen cannabis use disorder.
According to the study, medical cannabis legalization appears to have no impact on teen admission rates for CUD.