“There is anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana is finding its way into the hands of teenagers, but there’s no statistical evidence that legalization increases the probability of use.” So said Daniel I. Rees, an economics professor at the University of Colorado Denver after completing a study on cannabis use by teens.
Now, another, even more comprehensive study has come to the same findings. A nationwide research study published by The Lancet medical journal looked at 24 years of data and found that no, making legal medical cannabis in a state does not lead to more kids smoking the reefer.
All that is not to say that states with legal medical marijuana don’t have more pothead teens. Actually, research points in the opposite direction. Of the 21 states that have implemented an MMJ program since 1991, most have more regular tokers among their adolescnent population. In California, Michigan and Oregon, teens are found to be 27% more likely to smoke on the reg than their counterparts in non-medicated states.
However, the study shows that medical legalization had virtually no effect on those rates. They were stoner states before they got prescription weed, and they’re stoner states after they got prescription weed. Being stoner states might have something to do with them legalizing medical marijuana in the first place, instead of the other way around.
Ideally, these statistics will be used to the aid of pro-MMJ legalization movements in various states across the union. Fellow smart guy Kevin Hill, in a commentary on the study also published in The Lancet, echoed that statement. In a rather long sentence, Hill wrote, “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.”