Washington, DC: States that have enacted legislation authorizing the use of medical cannabis by qualified patients have not experienced an increase in the drug's use by the general population, according to a report issued this week by the Marijuana Policy Project and co-authored by NORML Advisory Board Member Mitch Earleywine.
Among the twelve states that have legalized the use and cultivation of medical cannabis, all but one (New Mexico) have experienced an overall decline in teen marijuana use since the enactment of their medi-pot laws. (Data was unavailable for New Mexico, which passed its law last year.) In seven of the twelve states, marijuana use among young people declined at rates that exceeded the national average.
"Opponents of medical use of marijuana regularly argue that such laws 'send the wrong message to children,' but there is just no sign of that effect in the data," said Earleywine. "In every state for which there's data, teen marijuana use has gone down since the medical marijuana law was passed, often a much larger decline than nationally."
A previous 2005 review of medical cannabis laws and their impact on use reported similar findings, noting that teen use in California had fallen nearly 50 percent since the passage of that state's medi-pot law in 1996. A 2002 report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) concluded that state medical marijuana laws were operating primarily as voters and legislators had intended and had not led to widespread abuses among the general population.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director,. Full text of the study, "Marijuana use by young people: the impact of state medical marijuana laws,"