Statistics of teens using marijuana have been climbing for years now -- in recent years it has become more popular for teens to smoke marijuana verses cigarettes. However, a new study shows that the legalization of medical marijuana won’t increase the usage among teens, nor lead them to use other drugs.
"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," Daniel I. Rees, an economics professor at the University of Colorado Denver who worked on the study, said in a written statement.
Rees and his team examined representative data on our nation’s high school students from 1993 through 2009 – the duration or time that medical marijuana was legalized up to the time of it being legal in 13 states --and found that there was no correlation between legalization and usage among high schoolers. On the contrary, Benjamine Hansen, assistant professor of economics at the University of Oregon and co-author of this study, says the data showed the opposite – the relationship between legalization and marijuana use was often a lesser amount. The study also found no evidence that the legalization of medical marijuana would increase the usage of alcohol or cocaine.
"This result is important given that the federal government has recently intensified its efforts to close medical marijuana dispensaries," Hansen said in the statement.
These results add another layer to be considered in the unending dispute on the legalization of marijuana in more state. To date, medical marijuana is legal in 17 states, with Connecticut recently joining the ranks. Just last month, a cancer-suffering judge wrote a New York Times op-ed favoring the legalization of medical marijuana in the state of New York. The judge himself admitted to smoking marijuana to assuage the side-affects his illness and the meds used to treat it cause.
This past December, a study in Rhode Island yields results that legalizing marijuana for medical usage did not increase illegal use among teens.
Alternatively, there is also the argument that the attitude towards the usage of marijuana has become too lax of a subject, even among parents, which has increased the usage among teens.
Despite the above studies, R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, stated as recently as this past December "we know that any substance that is legally available is more widely used," Kerlikowske declares the direct relationship between the increase in teen marijuana use to the legalization of medical marijuana (Los Angeles Times).