A new study, ”Medical Marijuana Laws and Teen Marijuana Use,” has been released by three University-based economists. The study shows there is no statistical evidence that the availability of medical marijuana increases the probability of teens using the drug. The researchers initially hypothesized that the legalization of medical marijuana would lead to an increase in use among teens, but their results contradicted their original expectations.
Many of the recent federal raids on marijuana dispensaries have been done under the guise of protecting children from over-exposure to marijuana. Efforts include attempts to close all dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a school or public park. However, these efforts all might be for naught. This study shows that although marijuana may have a greater presence in the lives of teenagers in medical marijuana states, that does not indicate that the teens are more likely to be marijuana users.
The study was co-authored by Daniel I. Rees, a professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver, D. Mark Anderson, assistant professor of economics at Montana State University, and Benjamin Hansen, assistant professor of economics at the University of Oregon. The three professors decided to look at the relationship between medical marijuana legalization and marijuana consumption among teens, based on results released from the government Youth Risky Behavior Survey.
For the study, researchers examined the teen marijuana usage information gathered between 1993 and 2009. During that time period, 13 states had legalized medical marijuana.
Hansen explained of the study, “This result is important given that the federal government has recently intensified its efforts to close medical marijuana dispensaries. In fact, the data often showed a negative relationship between legalization and marijuana use.” This means that some states showed a decrease in marijuana use among teens after the drug was legalized for medical purposes.
The study looked at the connection between the legalization of medical marijuana and a number of other factors including marijuana use at school, whether students were offered drugs on school property, and use of other drugs. The results showed no evidence that legalizing marijuana led to an increase in any of these instances.
Anderson stated, “We are confident that marijuana use by teenagers does not increase when a state legalizes medical marijuana.”