Legalizing Medical Marijuana Does Not Increase Use Among Youth

  • The study findings on whether legalizing medical marijuana in Rhode Island would be increasing its use among youths were presented by a Rhode Island Hospital physician/researcher.

    Lead author Esther Choo, M.D., M.P.H., presented the findings of the study at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Exposition on November 2.

    The state-level legalization of medical marijuana has raised concerns about increased accessibility and appeal of the drug to youth, who are most vulnerable to public messages about drug use and to the adverse consequences of marijuana, Choo, an emergency medicine physician with Rhode Island Hospital, and her coauthors explained. Their study was performed for assessing the impact of medical marijuana legalization in Rhode Island in 2006.

    Trends in adolescent marijuana use between Rhode Island and Massachusetts, using a self-report called the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System, were compared by researchers. In their study, they included surveys completed between 1997 and 2009.
    It was found by the researchers based on their analysis of 32,570 students that while marijuana use was common throughout the study period, there were no statistically significant differences in marijuana use between states in any year.

    Choo says, “Our study did not find increases in adolescent marijuana use related to Rhode Island’s 2006 legalization of medical marijuana; however, additional research may follow future trends as medical marijuana in Rhode Island and other states becomes more widely used.”

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