There is a great deal of concern that the legalization of marijuana will send a message to teens that using marijuana is now being endorsed. A study out of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health attempted to find detailed data either supporting or debunking the assumption that teenage marijuana use is increasing due to legalization legitimizing cannabis consumption.
Research focused on the specific legalization of medical marijuana since it is more widespread, now legal in 29 states plus the District of Columbia. The study found that teenage marijuana use is absolutely not going up after states have legalized medical marijuana.
For the new study, the researchers analyzed information from 11 previous studies that looked at teen marijuana use from 1991 to 2014.
The researchers looked at teen pot use in the past month, before and after marijuana laws changed in various states. They then compared that trend with trends in states where the drug wasn’t legalized.
Overall, teens’ usage of the drug did not change after medical-marijuana laws were passed in their state.
Although the new study didn’t find an increase in overall teen use of marijuana, more research is needed to look at other possible effects of legalization, such as changes in daily use of the drug among those who already use marijuana and the development of marijuana dependence, the researchers said.
There has been some evidence that suggests that marijuana use at a young age, including teenagers, can create problems in brain development. It seems the same tired story is told over and over again that there still is just not enough research to truly verify any of the findings of nearly any study that has been conducted on cannabis and its social impacts. Whether there are any true health issues that are derived from marijuana consumption or whether it is entirely harmless, rescheduling marijuana will be the only way to truly open the door to rigorous research.