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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Medical Marijuana Does Not Lead to Increased Teenage Use

The legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreation use is a hot button topic in the United States. There are currently 23 states and D.C. which have approved medical marijuana programs, as well four states which have legalized the drug for adult recreational use. It is expected that those numbers will rise after the polls close in 2016.

Marijuana, no matter the purpose for its use, causes euphoria and can lead to addiction. It is for those reasons that many are opposed to states adopting more relaxed views about the drug; and many have concerns that such tolerances will lead to greater adolescent use. However, new research suggests that there is no evidence indicating that medical marijuana legislation leads to increased use among teenagers, Medical News Today reports.

"Our findings provide the strongest evidence to date that marijuana use by teenagers does not increase after a state legalizes medical marijuana," states study author Dr. Deborah Hasin, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

The findings arise from the national Monitoring the Future survey data, which involves more than one million students aged 13-18, and was analyzed by researchers. Between 1991 and 2014, there were 21 of the 48 contiguous states which passed medical marijuana laws, according to the article.

While there were higher rates of marijuana use among adolescents in medical marijuana states, the researchers found no evidence suggesting that the rates change after legislation was passed. This research is important, because of the dangers associated with adolescent marijuana use, which include:
  • Short-Term Impairments in Memory
  • Short Term Co-ordination Loss
  • Risks of Psychiatric Symptoms
  • Cognitive Impairments
  • Substance Abuse
If medical marijuana is not responsible for the increased use among adolescents, the researchers point out that it is important to identify the cause. "Because early adolescent use of marijuana can lead to many long-term harmful outcomes, identifying the factors that actually play a role in adolescent use should be a high research priority," notes Hasin.

The findings were published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

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