Analysis: Medical Cannabis Access Not Associated with Increases in Problematic Use by Young People

New York, NY: The implementation of state laws legalizing the medical use of cannabis is not associated with increases in rates of problematic marijuana use by either adolescents or by young adults, according to data published in the Community Mental Health Journal.

A pair of researchers affiliated with the Weill Medical College at Cornell University assessed rates of so-called ‘cannabis use disorder’ among those ages 15 to 24 in states with and without medical cannabis access laws. 

“We found that states that have implemented MML [medical marijuana laws] for more than five years are not significantly associated with smaller or greater 2019 DALYs [disability adjusted life years] for cannabis use disorders in an adolescent and young adult population aged 15 to 19, and 20 to 24 years-old, as compared to states that have not,” they concluded. “Our findings suggest that MML may have a negligible effect (if any) on cannabis use disorders in this population group.”

Their findings are consistent with those of several other studies that have failed to identify any link between medical cannabis legalization and increased marijuana use among young people. 

Full text of the study, “Long-term impact of medical marijuana laws on the burden of cannabis use disorders in US male and female adolescents and young adults,” appears in Community Mental Health Journal. Additional information is available from the NORML fact sheet, “Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates.”