Many opponents of medical marijuana believe that legalizing marijuana for medicinal use sends a message to youths that marijuana use is okay, and ultimately encourages them to experiment with it or harder drugs.
Well, a new study conducted by Columbia University in New York says they’re wrong. The study included 21 states with medical marijuana laws and found there was no sign of significant increase in use.
“Our findings provide the strongest evidence to date that marijuana use by teenagers does not increase after a state legalizes medical marijuana,” said Deborah Hasin, lead author of the study.
The study was based on an ongoing government-funded survey of 8th, 10th and 12th graders, which asked about marijuana use in the previous month. The researchers reviewed responses from more than 1 million students in 48 states, from 1991 through 2014. They found that marijuana use tended to already be higher in states that went on to adopt medical marijuana laws, but they did not see an additional spike after the law was passed.
The researchers actually saw a decline in marijuana use by 8th graders in those states.
The study shows why it’s important to use rigorous research to check out theories — even those that seem reasonable, wrote a substance abuse expert.
The study’s results were published on the journal Lancet Psychiatry and were also presented at a medical conference in Phoenix.