Cannabis Use Among Youth not Increased by Medical Marijuana Legalization

Today at the American Public Health Association's (APHA) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Esther Choo, M.D., M.P.H. of Rhode Island Hospital will present findings from a study exploring whether legalizing cannabis for medical use in Rhode  Island increases its recreational use among Rhode Island's youth. While many opponents of medical cannabis claim that medical cannabis programs "send the wrong message to those in our society who are the most impressionable" or increase cannabis's appeal and accessibility for teenagers, the study's findings show that this is in fact not the case. Comparing the self-reporting results of 32,570 students in Rhode Island and Massachusetts between 1997 and 2009, Dr. Choo and her fellow researchers found no significant difference between youth use in the two states and concluded that there have been no "increases in adolescent marijuana use related to Rhode Island's 2006 legalization of medical marijuana."