Research published in JAMA Pediatrics found that teens who live in states where medical and recreational marijuana have been legalized did not have an increased likelihood of using the drug. Alternatively, recreational marijuana laws were associated with decreased use in this population.
“Policymakers are particularly concerned that legalization for either medicinal or recreational purposes will encourage marijuana use among youth,” D. Mark Anderson, PhD, an associate professor in the department of agricultural economics at Montana State University, and colleagues wrote. “Repeated marijuana use during adolescence may lead to long-lasting changes in brain function that adversely affect educational, professional and social outcomes.”
Anderson and colleagues assessed data collected from national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys conducted between 1993 and 2017. During the study period, about 1.4 million high school students in grades 9 through 12 participated in the survey.
The researchers wrote that medical marijuana laws were not statistically associated with marijuana use or frequent marijuana use among teenagers. However, recreational marijuana laws were associated with an 8% decrease in the likelihood of marijuana use (OR = 0.92; 95% CI, 0.87-0.96) and a 9% decrease in the odds of frequent marijuana use (OR = 0.91; 95% CI, 0.84-0.98) among teenagers.
“Consistent with the results of previous researchers, there was no evidence that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages use among youth,” the researchers wrote. They speculated that it may be more challenging for teenagers to get marijuana because drug dealers are being replaced by dispensaries that require proof of age. – by Katherine Bortz
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.