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Study links medical marijuana laws to increases in youth use

July 16, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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A study based on National Survey on Drug Use and Health data has concluded that youth marijuana use rates increase after a state's passage of a law permitting medical use of marijuana.

Published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, the study of use rates in all 50 states found that the percentage of juveniles ages 12 to 17 who reported recreational marijuana use increased substantially after passage of a medical marijuana law. The study controlled for other possible contributing factors.

Florida International University professor and study co-author Lisa Stolzenberg offered this possible explanation for the phenomenon seen in the study: “Medical marijuana laws act to diminish the social stigma frequently associated with the recreational use of marijuana. By affiliating with medical marijuana users either directly or vicariously, people are themselves freed from the existing societal constraints against marijuana use.”

She added, “The fear among youth that a negative health outcome may result from their recreational use of marijuana is probably mollified to some degree following the passage of a medical marijuana law.”

According to the study, states that did not pass a medical marijuana law had lower rates of youth use than states that had passed a law or that eventually would adopt one.

 

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