A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that recreational and medical marijuana legalization does not lead to increased youth consumption. In fact, researchers found that legalization actually leads to lower youth consumption rates.
The study found that in states where recreational marijuana had been legal for two years or more, there was an associated decrease in marijuana use.
According to researchers, “medical marijuana law (MML) adoption was associated with a 6% decrease in the odds of current marijuana use and a 7% decrease in the odds of frequent marijuana use.”
The study further concluded that “estimates of the association between the opening of the first recreational dispensary and marijuana use were qualitatively similar” Meaning, that there’s a clear link between the first marijuana dispensaries opening and a decrease in teen use.
The overall association between legal recreational marijuana and marijuana use among adolescents was “statistically indistinguishable from zero.”
Critics of marijuana legalization often cite concerns about increased youth marijuana use in support of prohibition or more restrictive cannabis laws.
Researchers analyzed data compiled from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 1993 to 2017 in ten medical or adult-use states.
The JAMA results are consistent with other studies on youth marijuana use after legalization. Earlier this year, a federal study by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (CNES) found that states that have legalized adult-use marijuana did not see an increase in either youth marijuana use or availability.
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2019 produced the same findings.
“Consistent with the results of previous researchers, there was no evidence that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages marijuana use among youth. Moreover, the estimates reported…that marijuana use among youth may actually decline after legalization for recreational purposes.”
Additionally, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of adolescents admitted to drug treatment programs for marijuana-related issues has fallen in states with legal adult-use marijuana.