For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Cannabis Legalization Not Linked to Increases in Cannabis Use Among High School Students

September 15, 2021

A recent analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) explored whether the policy change of legalizing cannabis resulted in increased adolescent cannabis consumption. The study, which utilized data from 10 states with medical or adult-use cannabis laws, concluded that adult-use cannabis legalization “was not associated with current marijuana use or frequent marijuana use.”

The researchers used data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 1993-2017 and found that adult-use legalization was associated with an 8% reduction in the odds of cannabis use amongst high school students (Anderson et. al., 2021).

This is an important study since the findings challenge the long-held view that legalizing cannabis would increase cannabis use among adolescents, and has implications for cannabis policy at the local, state, and federal level. For instance, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Dr. Nora Volkow acknowledged in a recent interview with Drug Policy Alliance founder Ethan Nadelmann that she expected the use of cannabis to increase among adolescents given recent legalization efforts but that it had not (Jaeger, 2021).

Ultimately, the study demonstrates that researching significant policy changes can help to advance public health.

Links to relevant articles can be found below:

Anderson, D. M., Rees, D. I., Sabia, J. J., & Safford, S. (2021). Association of marijuana legalization with marijuana use among US high school students, 1993-2019. JAMA Network Open, 4(9).

Jaeger, K. (2021, August 26). Top federal Drug official Admits Legalizers were 'right' about Teen marijuana use and Touts Psychedelics' therapeutic potential. Marijuana Moment. Retrieved September 10, 2021.