New studies show that marijuana legalization has not enticed more teens to smoke pot or led to harder drug experimentation. One argument against legalization of marijuana has been concern over whether it would cause many teenagers and young adults to become pot smokers and be a path to dangerous drug use. Thus far, this fear has not become reality.
Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws that permit marijuana use for medical purposes. Between 2004 and 2011, a national survey of the effects of Medical Marijuana Laws (MML) on 12-20 year olds was compared with those 21 years and older. These results were compared to states that did not allow medical marijuana. The study was recently published in the National Bureau of Economic Research.
MMLs had no discernible impact on hard drug use in either age group.
Furthermore, adolescents have not started using pot more than they did in the past 20 years according to a report published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health. There were “no statistically significant differences in marijuana use before and after policy change for any state pairing,“ said Esther Choo, lead author on the report.
There seems to be no effect on marijuana drug use by young people in states that have legalized medical use. Continuing and new studies are supporting these results. Rather, indications show that there is “nearly zero year-to-year change in marijuana use among teens.”
This information should come as a relief to parents and others concerned about marijuana as a “gateway” drug. Marijuana legalization has not caused rampart drug use across America, nor is it likely to be a gateway to hard drug use. This does not mean that pot is safe for the developing mind though, and this is perhaps what education should focus on in the future.