A Myth Debunked: Legalising Medical Cannabis Does Not Increase Consumption by Minors

  • Researchers at the University of Columbia report that American teenagers are not consuming more marijuana after the legalisation of medical cannabis in 21 states

A total of 23 US states, in addition to the district of Washington D.C. and the independent territory of Guam, have already approved laws permitting the use of medicinal marijuana. One of the most common criticisms levelled by opponents of the legalisation of medical cannabis is that it could lead to an increase in its consumption, especially among the young.

But a study published in “The Lancet Psychiatry” has just refuted this groundless view. Researchers at the University of Columbia Medical Center in New York analysed data on the use of marijuana among a million adolescents in the last 24 years, and concluded that young people ages 13 to 18 are not consuming more cannabis in 21 of the states with these laws since they took effect.

“Our results provide the strongest evidence to date that the consumption of marijuana by adolescents does not increase after a state legalises medical cannabis,” explained Debora Hasin, Professor of Epidemiology and author of the study.

A report by the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) also indicated that the consumption of marijuana in high schools had dropped from 22% in 2011 to 20% in 2013. The data was gathered before the legalisation of recreational marijuana in that state, but proved that medical cannabis, which had been previously legalised, did not affect young people's consumption at all.

“As with tobacco, youth prevention campaigns will help to guarantee that the legalisation of marijuana for adults in Colorado does not affect children's health” in the state, declared the director of the CDPHE. Thus, the data is clear: allowing the use of medical marijuana does not incite young people to engage in irresponsible consumption.


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