Federal Study: Passage Of Medical Marijuana Laws Not Responsible For Increased Marijuana Use

Thursday, 18 June 2015

New York, NY: The enactment of state laws legalizing the use and distribution of cannabis for medical purposes has not caused an increase in marijuana use by adolescents, according to the results of a federally funded study published this week in Lancet Psychiatry.

Investigators at Columbia University in New York and the University of Michigan assessed the relationship between state medical marijuana laws and rates of self-reported adolescent marijuana use over a 24-year period in a sampling of over one million adolescents in 48 states. Researchers reported no increase in teens' overall use of the plant that could be attributable to changes in law, and acknowledged a "robust" decrease in use among 8th graders.

They concluded: "[T]he results of this study showed no evidence for an increase in adolescent marijuana use after the passage of state laws permitting use of marijuana for medical purposes. ... [C]oncerns that increased marijuana use is an unintended effect of state marijuana laws seem unfounded."

The study's results are consistent with those of previous assessments, including an analysis published last year by the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Assessment.

Commenting on the study, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, "Claims that legalizing marijuana as medicine increases teen use are not evidence-based and they should not be seriously entertained in the ongoing national discussion about how best to reform America's cannabis policies."

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.