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Does Legalization Increase Likelihood Of Teen Use? New Study Might Surprise You

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By Jelena Martinovic

Michigan State University researchers found that marijuana legalization does not lead to more young people trying the substance. By contrast, that’s not the case with adult users, as the number of those deciding to try marijuana for the first time has increased in states where recreational marijuana is legal.

Among those aged 12 to 20 who are not allowed to purchase or use recreational marijuana as it is considered unlawful, the study found no evidence of an increase.

Photo by Eliott Reyna via Unsplash

“We offer a tentative conclusion of public health importance,” wrote the authors of the peer-reviewed research article, published in the journal PLOS One last month. “Legalized cannabis retail sales might be followed by the increased occurrence of cannabis onsets for older adults, but not for underage persons who cannot buy cannabis products in a retail outlet.”

The authors, who used public data from more than 800,000 respondents to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, emphasized that their goal was to examine the incidence of use or when people initially consume cannabis following the adult-use legalization.

“[T]here has been no policy influence on cannabis incidence in the underage adolescent population after adults have been allowed to buy cannabis in retail shops,” they wrote.

Contradictory Results

Meanwhile, recent government-funded studies also showed a decline in young people’s use of marijuana and other controlled substances.

After Michigan’s annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey showed an unprecedented year-over-year decline in 8th-graders, 10th-graders and 12th-graders, Coloradans followed suit.

RELATED: Cannabis Vaping Among Teens Higher Than Ever, Especially Among High School Seniors

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) Healthy Kids Colorado Survey’s results showed that in 2021 young people were 35% less likely to use marijuana than in prior years.

Still, studies like UC San Diego New Center’s observational survey, which showed contradictory results, continue to warn that cannabis use by youth is a vital issue.

RELATED: Cannabis Use Among Teens Drastically Declined, Confirms Government-Funded Study

After all, adolescents who use marijuana are three times more prone to develop cannabis use disorder than adult users, according to UCL and King’s College London experts.

“Cannabis addiction is a real issue that teenagers should be aware of, as they appear to be much more vulnerable to it than adults,” said Dr. Will Lawn, lead author of a recent study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. “There is a lot of concern about how the developing teenage brain might be more vulnerable to the long-term effects of cannabis, but we did not find evidence to support this general claim.”

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.

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