Legalizing Medical Marijuana Doesn't Up Kids' Pot Use

Young people use drug at same rate before, after legalization
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2011 8:49 AM CDT
Legalizing Medical Marijuana Doesn't Up Kids' Pot Use
The legalization of medical marijuana doesn't increase kids' pot use, a study finds.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

Sobering news for those who argue that legalizing medical marijuana will lead to more stoner kids: Researchers reviewed the habits of some 25,000 youths in Massachusetts, where medical pot isn’t legal, and 13,000 in Rhode Island, where it became so in 2006. Studying data from 1997 to 2009, they found that no matter the state or the year, about 30% of the youngsters indulged in the drug, Time reports.

In short, “we found no effect of the policy change,” says a Brown University researcher. A separate 2005 study came to to similar conclusions: In California, the rate of youth pot smoking declined slightly more quickly in the state after medical marijuana was legalized in 1996 than it did nationally during the same 1996-2004 period. Perhaps it’s no surprise, says the Brown scientist: After all, it’s typically older people who use medical marijuana. "Whether they are taking it for pain or for vomiting control or appetite, this is not a group we think of as super-inspiring for young people." (More medical marijuana stories.)

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