Legalizing medical marijuana doesn’t make more teens into stoners, researchers say. Though more people over 25 were likely to ingest marijuana if their home states approved it for medical purposes, there was no effect on anyone younger.
The study, which was published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, found that people over 25 were slightly more likely to have used marijuana in the past month after their state legalized it for medical purposes. That number grew to 7.15 percent from 5.87 percent of that group.
This is the first study that looks at how medical marijuana laws have affected actual use. Columbia University researchers used annual survey data from people who responded to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health between 2004 and 2013. This includes data from over 50,000 people each year, in all 50 states, and asks if someone has done marijuana in the past month. (It doesn’t ask whether it was for recreational or medical purposes.)
But people ages 12 to 25 didn’t smoke more pot more after laws changed. In general, legalizing medical marijuana didn’t make teens think the drug was more readily available. “Before medical marijuana laws changed there was a concern that this type of legislation could potentially increase recreational marijuana use in adolescents and adult populations,” said study co-author Silvia Martins, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia, in a university statement. “At least for now, we do not see an increase in use among adolescents.”