Study: Marijuana Legalization Not Associated with Changes in Marijuana Use Among High-Risk Youth

Toronto, Canada: The enactment of adult-use marijuana legalization in Canada is not associated with changes in either cannabis use or perceived access among high-risk youth, according to data published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

A pair of researchers affiliated with the University of Toronto assessed cannabis use patterns immediately prior to and following legalization in a cohort of young people who had been enrolled in a substance abuse treatment program. All of the 269 participants in the study had a history of marijuana use. 

Investigators determined: “[A]s a whole, cannabis use patterns did not change with legalization across a range of cannabis use and polysubstance use behaviors, nor did the perception of ease of access or safety of the source of cannabis.” Authors also reported “no change in mental health symptomatology or substance use dependence” following legalization. 

They concluded, “Cannabis use does not appear to have changed substantially in the short-term following legalization among youth seeking services for substance use disorders, whether or not the youth have reached the age of majority.”

Full text of the study, “Legalization of cannabis use in Canada: Impacts on the cannabis use profiles of youth seeking services for substance use,” appears in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. Additional information on youth use patterns following marijuana legalization is available from the NORML fact sheet “Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates.”