A new, large study of more than 800,000 high school students in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse has shown that, in states with legal medical cannabis, there are less teenage cannabis users, ScienceDaily reports.
The study administered an anonymous survey to high schoolers in 45 states. Researchers controlled for variables like alcohol and tobacco policies in each state and demographics.
“We found that for every group of 100 adolescents, one fewer will be a current user of marijuana following the enactment of medical marijuana laws. When we looked at particular subgroups of adolescents, this reduction became even more pronounced. For example 3.9% less Black and 2.7% less Hispanic youths now use marijuana in states with [medical cannabis legalization].” — Dr Rebekah Levine Coley, study lead, via ScienceDaily
The survey was circulated over 16 years. That length of time allowed researchers to see the change in states as medical cannabis was legalized. Researchers discovered that the longer medical cannabis laws had been enacted, the more adolescent use of cannabis declined.
“Some people have argued that decriminalizing or legalizing medical marijuana could increase cannabis use amongst young people, either by making it easier for them to access, or by making it seem less harmful. However, we saw the opposite effect,” said Dr. Coley.
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