Teen Use Has Remained Steady in States with Medical Marijuana Laws

Teen Use Has Remained Steady in States with Medical Marijuana Laws

(Photo: David Sutherland—Getty Images)

A new study published earlier this month in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence shows that teen and adolescent marijuana use has remained steady over the last decade in states that have passed medical cannabis laws.

Comparing usage rates from both before and after the passage of medical marijuana laws in each state showed that 12 to 17 year olds reporting marijuana use in the last month went from 8.6% to 8.8% in 10 years. Comparing rates for those aged 18 to 25 we see that past month usage actually fell slightly from 19% to 18.6%.

As many of our readers know, increased teen use is one of the major fear-mongering talking points of prohibitionists, especially when it comes to medical marijuana where they are losing ground in just about every state. Studies like this one are yet another nail in their coffin.

When looking at use among those aged 26 years and up, however, we see a substantial increase in past month usage, from 5.9% to 7.2%.

"Understanding how the passage of medical marijuana laws affects different age groups improves our understanding of the effects of marijuana policies and provides information about the types of public health responses that should accompany major policy changes related to marijuana," Dr. Silvia Martins, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York City and the lead author of the report, said in a statement.

In other words, the fear-mongering about increased teen use is not helpful since it has proven to not be the case. If you want to discuss medical marijuana laws it’s important to focus on the circumstances that actually evolve out of those laws. People are sick and they have been waiting a long time to be able to choose a safer and less addictive medicine legally, there is no time to deal with issues that are not going to arise.