Despite what you may expect, the presence of medical marijuana legality is not a factor associated with increased teen marijuana usage according to a study titled “Medical marijuana laws and adolescent marijuana use in the USA from 1991 to 2014: results from annual, repeated cross sectional surveys” by Columbia University that was published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry. The study pulled together data from across twenty four years which showed that teenagers between the ages of thirteen and eighteen were just as likely to partake in marijuana illegally. This shows that legal status is generally not a strong influencing factor in teen cannabis usage, more so it is peer usage and other more diverse factors that play much stronger roles in influencing the decision.
The data for this longitudinal study was drawn from the annual Monitoring Futures studies, specifically sampled from the 8th, 10th, and 12th grade groups in each annual survey. One of the studies more interesting findings is that 8th grade students were less likely to partake in marijuana in the years following medical law changes, a fact attributed to the idea that their perceptions of marijuana may not be locked in as tightly as those of older students.
The study, which was conducted in the United States observed data from each state over the course of twenty years and compared the likelihood of teen usage across multiple thresholds past medical usage law change one year before, two years after, three years after, so on and so forth. The analysis found no statistically significant link between teen marijuana usage. Over the period observed by the study and into today, the United States has seen twenty three states and the District of Columbia pass medical marijuana laws, with more and more states set to join them in addition to the fact that a few states and the District of Columbia have fully legalised it.
Although medical and legal marijuana policies are still illegal at the federal level in the United States, the Justice department had recently released a memo stating that they would not violate state law abiding legal marijuana businesses and medical marijuana establishments provided that they are complying fully to their respective laws. This is a strong indicator of changing national attitude in the United States, and evidence that the federal government cannot maintain its persecution of the fledgling industry in the country regardless if it’s presenting itself in its medical or fully legal format at the state level.
This study should help put to rest the fears of those in US states and other countries that are considering medical marijuana laws. With no indication that teens are increasing their use because of medical marijuana, parents can rest easier knowing that their kids aren’t more likely to try marijuana because of law changes.