A comparison of annual CDC surveys of adolescent drug use by showed that a state's legalization of marijuana for medical use has little impact on the chances that a teen will use marijuana.
Comparing surveys of marijuana use by adolescents conducted annually by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found the probability that a high schooler had used pot in the last 30 days was no more than 0.8 percent higher in legal states compared to states that had not approved medical marijuana.
"Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana among high school students," D. Mark Anderson of Montana State University, Daniel Rees of the University of Colorado and Benjamin Hansen of the University of Oregon wrote.
Marijuana is legal in 21 states for the treatment of a variety of diseases, and is legal in two states for recreational use. Two additional states, Alaska and Oregon, will vote this November about whether to legalize the drug for recreational use.
Approximately one out of every 15 high school seniors reports smoking marijuana on a daily basis, while about a third of high school seniors report smoking marijuana within the past year. A plurality of high school students claim that purchasing marijuana is easier than purchasing a beer, and half of high school students surveyed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration say that marijuana is "easy" or "very easy" to obtain.
This is fantastic news for patients in the 29 states that currently do not allow marijuana for medicinal use that may benefit from the drug. There have been incredible stories of patients who have been helped by medical marijuana, and frankly, the drug should be available to other sick patients regardless of what state they reside. This study shows that states who haven't legalized marijuana for medical use are doing more harm to patients who could benefit from the drug than preventing teens from smoking pot.