Although a majority of Americans support medical cannabis, a small segment of the population still opposes its legalization for fear that it will lead to an increase in adolescent cannabis use; however, according to a new study published in the journal Addiction, that fear may be unfounded.
To come to these conclusions, researchers systematically screened a total of 2,999 scientific papers from 17 literature sources. Ultimately, 11 studies from four ongoing large national surveys dating back as far as 1991 were meta-analyzed.
Researchers did not find any significant differences in adolescent cannabis use in states with medical cannabis laws, both pre- and post-passage, compared to states without medical cannabis laws.
Four of the 11 studies compared medical cannabis states with non-medical cannabis states based on pre-legalization statistics. Researchers found that medical cannabis states actually had higher adolescent cannabis use before passing medical cannabis laws.
“Although we found no significant effect on adolescent marijuana use, we may find that the situation changes as commercialized markets for medical marijuana develop and expand, and as states legalize recreational marijuana use,” said senior author Professor Deborah Hasin in a statement. “However, for now, there appears to be no basis for the argument that legalising medical marijuana increases teens’ use of the drug.”