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Study: Medical Marijuana Does Not Increase Number Of Teens Smoking Pot

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File photo of a patient smoking medical marijuana. (credit: Getty Images)

File photo of a patient smoking medical marijuana. (credit: Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Teens are still getting high on marijuana, but a group of economists say that medical marijuana is not to blame for the seven-year uptick in pot usage amongst teens.

New research during a 17-year period indicates that there’s no evidence suggesting that medical marijuana can be linked to spikes in hard or soft drug usage among high school students, according to a recent study from three college economics professors. The Institute for the Study of Labor’s “Medical Marijuana Laws and Teen Marijuana Use” examined data from the Youth Risky Behavior Survey between 1993 and 2009 – a time period in which 13 states allowed for medical marijuana usage. The data indicated that statistical evidence of the link between teens and medical marijuana usage was lacking, even as marijuana use, as a whole, for teens has increased since 2005.

“There is anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana is finding its way into the hands of teenagers, but there’s no statistical evidence that legalization increases the probability of use,” said Daniel I. Rees, University of Colorado Denver economist and study author, in a statement.

Last month’s study from Rees, along with University of Oregon economics professor Benjamin Hansen and Montana State University economics professor D. Mark Anderson, comes as medical marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and playgrounds are being targeted by federal officials.

“This result is important given that the federal government has recently intensified its efforts to close medical marijuana dispensaries,” Hansen said in a statement. “In fact, the data often showed a negative relationship between legalization and marijuana use.”

The research also comes at a time when more state legislatures nationwide are weighing whether to introduce bills to allow the practice and consumption of medical marijuana. The federal government, however, continues to contend that prescription pot is a catalyst for encouraging teens to get high. Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.

“We are confident that marijuana use by teenagers does not increase when a state legalizes medical marijuana,” Anderson said in a statement.

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