A new study of 32,570 students in Rhode Island and Massachusetts found there was no connection between legalization of medical marijuana and increased use of pot among teenagers.
Critics of medical marijuana programs often claim legalization of pot for patients with serious chronic illnesses such as cancer sends the “wrong message” to young people.
The study by Rhode Island Hospital researcher Esther Choo didn’t find anything to back up such claims.
“Our study did not find increases in adolescent marijuana use related to Rhode Island’s 2006 legalization of medical marijuana,” Choo said. That state legalized medical pot in 2006, and Choo’s study covered the years 1997 through 2009.
Students in Massachusetts, which hasn’t yet legalized medical marijuana, were included in the survey to compare their marijuana use with that of Rhode Island student pot heads. Massachusetts lawmakers, like those in Connecticut, are considering medical marijuana proposals.
The Rhode Island study used information from a “self-reporting” program called the “Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System.” Choo’s research showed that marijuana use was common throughout the period in both states and she found no significant statistical differences between the two states in any given year.
Both Connecticut and Massachusetts have decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot and marijuana advocates say there’s no indication those legal changes have triggered any jump in pot smoking.
Choo’s study was presented to the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting earlier this month.
New RI study: no link between medical pot laws and increased pot smoking by students
Dr. Esther Choo