Study: Legalized Medical Marijuana Doesn’t Impact Teen Use Rates

The passage of state laws legalizing the physician-recommended possession and consumption of cannabis by qualified patients has not led to an increase in adolescents’ use of the plant, according to a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research – a non-partisan research organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Investigators from the University of Colorado at Denver, the University of Oregon, and Montana State University assessed federal data on youth marijuana use and treatment episodes for the years 1993 to 2011 – a time period when 16 states authorized medical cannabis use.

Authors reported, “Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana among high school students. In fact, estimates from our preferred specification are small, consistently negative, and are never statistically distinguishable from zero.”

A separate analysis published in April in the Journal of Adolescent Health similarly determined, “This study did not find increases in adolescent marijuana use related to legalization of medical marijuana. … This suggests that concerns about ‘sending the wrong message’ may have been overblown.”

Full text of the study, “Medical marijuana laws and teen marijuana use,” is available online here.

15 thoughts

  1. you talk to people who still believe prohibition works, and the major argument is kids will have easier access to this evil drug. which we know is bs. i wish they would check there facts, which they probably do so i guess legalization is just not part of there agenda. until they can profit big from it they will keep pretending its in our best interest to keep it illegal, and when they can profit big from it they will all act like they wanted it to be legalized a long time ago, i guess thats just politics they do it on there own time and not the peoples. its really horrible that its like that. one state at a time and it will happen but i dont believe the fed will give up till all 50 states have legalized it. so lets keep getting them on the ballots.

  2. I knew it! I kinda thought teen use rates would go down. Maybe when the black market for cannabis is mostly dissolved we’ll see a decrease in teen use.

  3. We’ll, that puts one more Prohibitionist myth to rest! Keep up the great work, we’ll be buying safe cannabis in local stores before we know it!

  4. It just Pot so what there teens they most adult. Only age limit I agree if they set it 18. Pot is harmless. Everyone in the world should be right to try pot. In the past our government made a mistake By making it iLlegal weed enterprise got taken over by criminals. By legalizing it Weed enterprise is giving law obey citizens business and jobs and better economy

  5. This is another reason for the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes.

    I feel that cannabis legalization is near and it would not have been if not for the hard work of the National Organization for Reformation of Marijuana Laws over the past few decades.

  6. The “danger to children” scaremongering is based on the tobacco $igarette oligarchs knowing their empire is lost as soon as children are no longer afraid (a) to “experiment” with a different, non-addictive herb instead of tobacco, (b) to possess or use a known moderate-use device such as a flexible drawtube one-hitter) instead of an EASY-TO-HIDE, quickly-used-up hot burning overdose monoxide rolling papers format (“joint”) which teaches children the gestures and psychology of $igarette $moking.

    Thus legalization of cannabis will deal the death blow to the “business as usual” of profiting off 6,000,000 deaths a year.

  7. Hello Norml, umm… Hasn’t anyone noticed that most people don’t even like marijuana? Kids try it and most don’t like and don’t bother with it again??? It is non-addictive, you know? People who keep using it are the folks that like it; which is always less than half the population maybe 1/10 that actually likes pot enough to use it on a regular basis. This entire argument that kids are going to start using marijuana at epidemic levels is based on pure fantasy!!!!! Most kids and adults don’t even like how marijuana affects them and so they don’t use it. At parties people mention they are going to burn a joint and a couple of folks join them while others just say no thanks. Like any other party favor. When it is a mixed party, maybe 25% will partake.

    Sure there are some people that use a lot of marijuana, but these folks either need it for something medical or they are a Rastafarian who finds marijuana spiritually up lifting. This is not the average person. Smoking marijuana doesn’t make one into a Rasta, it is how you personally feel about marijuana that results in how much you use. The more you like something the more you want it around.

    Like music, you buy music. Some people buy 5 albums a year while others buy 20. Is the person buying 20 albums demonstrating any social pathology because they like music more than the average person? Is the person buying several ounces or a pound of marijuana per year demonstrating any kind of social pathology???

  8. Most of you people are just ignorant to facts your dumb redneck Republicans who don’t know the fucking thing. If you honestly believe that legalizing marijuana will make it more accessible to teenagers you’re wrong. That would mean because we have liquor stores it’s easier accessible to teenagers. Since I’ve moved here I’ve noticed every body does nothing but consume alcohol on a daily basis which is in fact more harmful to the human body than marijuana will ever be.

  9. Tell children the truth.

    Young adults respond with violent disobedience and criminal negligence to violent drug enforcement. Conversely, young adults respond peacefully to positive interventions such as extra curricular activities.

    Use a vaporizer at family gatherings and reward a young adult a place in the Circle after they have performed some brave deed like break up a fight at school, or if they pulled weeds in tge garden without being asked to do so… (as long as theyre pulling the right weeds 🙂 ).

    Then observe the dawn of a new American Green Age of innovation, socioeconomic stability and human coexistence with sustainable, adaptable cannabis resources within our environments.
    Dont believe me? After the scandals of the DOJ in Nicaragua in the 80s, the U.S. pulled foreign aid, the DEA abd the CIA from the country and left Nicaragua to start its Democracy over from scratch. So they did. The Nicaraguan government got rid of the violent national guard and invested in catching troubled youths before they fell to crime and provided them shelter, food and education. Crime plummeted. Today, the murder rate in Nicaragua is 11 in 100,000.(NPR Morning Edition).
    The DOJ, to this day, did not pull out of Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala. Guess which country is currently the safest place to visit?

  10. @Dave Evans, hey I just don’t believe all those people don’t like marijuana, rather the problem is someone gave them a hit off a H-ot B-urning O-verdose M-onoxide $igarette alias “JOINT” (i.e. giant) which don’t taste as good as the real thing (hint: @Julian says, “Use a vaporizer at family gatherings).”

  11. Typical teenager of the future:

    “Its like, omg,look at those old, grey haired people, inhaling that gross,skunky, smelling smoke for their ailments and their arthritic pains….Yuck,i don’t want to be like them”.

    haha,but seriously,

    If the allure of prohibition didn’t exist… and cannabis was treated like any other culinary/medicinal herb.There would be far less need for rebellion,think about it,it just wouldn’t be that appealing.

  12. it really is bs. cannabis is much easier to score as a high schooler than alcohol. The reverse is true as an adult. I found multiple sources and providers while a teenager. Being a professional engineer, and due to legality and stigma, getting cannabis in an outlawed Midwest state is much more difficult. I have a source, but if I wanted to get it quickly, a high schooler is going to be the best and easiest way to acquire this product currently. The kids are going to have a much harder time once it is legalized.

    government is all about serving lobbyists and groups and not the American public. The whole group needs to stop voting by party lines and vote to represent Americans!

    legalize or I am going to have to go to a local 16 year old kid to get his stash!

  13. I have to agree with Jeff. I am an adult living in Pennsylvania. I have MS and would love to use marijuana to ease some of the symptoms I have, which includes spasticity and nerve pain. I go from work to home and home to work which means my chances are nil that I can find somewhere or someone to purchase from. I wouldn’t have a clue where to start looking. If medical marijuana was legal I would be one of the first to apply for a prescription.

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