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Research Finds Marijuana Legalization Does Not Lead To Rising Use By Teenagers

A new study finds that there has not been an increase in cannabis use among teenagers as a result of adult-use marijuana legalization or retail cannabis sales.

Marijuana Moment reported the results of the study, which was published by the American Medical Association in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

The researchers, associated with Boston College, reviewed data from nearly 900,000 teenagers in 47 states.  The team was studying links between the legalization of marijuana and adolescents’ use of cannabis, tobacco, and alcohol from 2011 to 2021.

They found that the legalization of adult-use marijuana was not associated with adolescents’ likelihood or frequency of cannabis use and in fact was linked to modest decreases in the use of alcohol and e-cigarettes by teenagers.

“Together, results found no net increases in cannabis or, through spillover effects, alcohol or tobacco use among adolescents in response to the rapid rise of RCL [recreational cannabis legalization] and RCR [recreational cannabis retail sales].”. the study authors said. “Results suggest that legalization and greater control over cannabis markets have not facilitated adolescents’ entry into substance use.”

The research found that adult-use marijuana legalization led to lower odds of any cannabis use. “Each additional year of RCL was associated with 8% higher odds of zero cannabis use (lower likelihood of any use), with non-significant total estimates”, the study said.

The opening of retail markets, meanwhile, was associated with 28% higher odds of zero cannabis use, with each additional year of RCR exposure associated with 8 percent higher odds of zero cannabis use.

The researchers said their results align with prior studies which also indicated that marijuana legalization did not lead to increased use by teens.

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