Legalizing Medical and Recreational Cannabis May Decrease Adolescent Use

Association of marijuana laws with teen marijuana use- new estimates from the youth risk behavior surveys

In Summary

Earlier this July a letter was published providing evidence that adolescent cannabis use may actually decrease post-legalization of medical and recreational cannabis. An analysis of Youth Risk Behavioral Surveys from the past two decades revealed that legalizing medical cannabis had little to no effect on cannabis use among adolescents in 8th and 10th grade but that legalization of recreational cannabis actually led to an overall decrease of adolescent cannabis use across the states. The authors hypothesize that the rate of adolescent use may decrease as illegal drug dealers are replaced by legal, regulated dispensaries. This evidence may prove compelling for the possible rescheduling of cannabis under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Adolescent substance use, like that of alcohol, has been found to be detrimental to brain development. There have been varying results regarding the effects of adolescent cannabis use on brain development yet some caretakers are given special permission to administer cannabis-based products to children experiencing rare forms of epilepsy or other seizure disorders. Cannabis-based medications may be a more ethical and far less dangerous substance to administer to children so that they aren’t set up for a substance use disorder at a young age. The research focussed on adolescent cannabis use needs to be conducted for better regulations and to better advise the parents and pediatricians of adolescents who have accidentally consumed cannabis or need a cannabis-based medical intervention.

The study is available for review or download here:


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