Legalization Shows No Increase in Adolescent Cannabis Use

A study in favor of the L.A. dispensary shut down

Increased adolescent use of marijuana is one of the main reasons why L.A. medical marijuana dispensaries are being shut down. Some are too close to schools, others had low criteria when distributing marijuana and several supposedly incited too much violence in the neighborhoods they were located at.

We even have a study that supports the ban as it suggests that 73% of marijuana consumers under the age of 18 acquired the drug via a medical marijuana user. Admittedly, the study was done in Denver on a sample of 164 adolescents at a time when only 41 adolescents in Colorado had a valid medical marijuana license. But still, statistically speaking, that information suggests that most medical marijuana abused by teens came from adult users with medical marijuana licenses. So it wasn’t really about peer pressure here. If we had to make a theory out of it, our best guess would be that several drug dealers happen to be carrying a medical marijuana license and were dealing what they got from the dispensaries.

Legalization and increase in consumption

But, for the purpose of this article, it doesn’t really matter how did kids get a hold of the drug or if marijuana was going to lower their IQ level, but if that number increased over the years; specifically from 1993 – when the drug was legalized in 13 states, including Colorado. A research study that spans over the period of 16 years (1993 – 2009) suggests that there has been no rise in medical marijuana usage over the period of 16 years, regardless of the fact that legalization occurred at the very beginning of that time frame.

3 economics professors from Montana State, Colorado Denver and Oregon University researched the connection between the legalization of medical marijuana and the possible up rise in its usage among teens, coming to a conclusion that there is none. The Institute for the Study of Labor from Bonn, Germany, recently published a research paper out that supports this study and it can be downloaded here.

Just to give you some perspective, another massive study that tries to contradict this one is called “Monitoring the Future National Results on Adolescent Drug Use“, where the Institute for Social Research (University of Michigan) surveyed 46,700 pupils in 8th, 10th and 12th grade. Their research showed an increase in medical marijuana usage amongst teens but failed to prove that this can be attributed to the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries or to legalization of medical marijuana in general. Hence the study by the Study of Labor from Bonn, which is an independent non-profit research institute.

Highly potent but not more available

So, even though it is completely obvious that weed has become bio-engineered, highly potent and damaging for adolescents, it has not become more available to adolescents than it was before medical marijuana became legalized. It would be safe to assume that weed now comes from a trustworthy supplier (the dispensary) and there is no way in hell you will get a highly fertilized toxic bud or a grit-weed when you purchase it at a dispensary. However, there is a downside to that. Even though the number of kids smoking marijuana has not increased, the hazards of adolescent marijuana use have become more evident than ever.


Author Michael Davies

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