Thursday, February 22, 2018

No, Medical Cannabis Legalization Doesn't Make Teens Smoke More Pot

For years, people have debated whether legalizing cannabis could lead to an increase in the use of the drug among teens. But a new study finds that's not the case, at least for laws that legalize medical cannabis.

The study found that teen use of cannabis doesn't seem to change when the drug is legalized for medical purposes.

"For now, there appears to be no basis for the argument that legalizing medical cannabis has increased teens' use of the drug," senior study author Deborah Hasin, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, said in a statement.

However, Hasin said that future research should continue to explore this question, because the situation may change as medical cannabis becomes more commercialized and as more states legalize cannabis for recreational purposes. [Mixing the Pot? 7 Ways Marijuana Interacts with Medicines]

For the new study, the researchers analyzed information from 11 previous studies that looked at teen cannabis use from 1991 to 2014.

The researchers looked at teen pot use in the past month, before and after cannabis laws changed in various states. They then compared that trend with trends in states where the drug wasn't legalized.

Overall, teens' usage of the drug did not change after medical-cannabis laws were passed in their state.

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis, and today, 29 states and the District of Columbia allow medical cannabis.

Although the new study didn't find an increase in overall teen use of cannabis, more research is needed to look at other possible effects of legalization, such as changes in daily use of the drug among those who already use cannabis and the development of cannabis dependence, the researchers said.

The study is published online today (Feb. 22) in the journal Addiction.

Original article on Live Science. By Rachael Rettner