One of the biggest arguments made by prohibitionists opposed to the concept of marijuana legalization is that it will lead to an increase in youth consumption rates. However, we’re finding out that this is not necessarily the case.
A recent meta-analysis from the journal Current Addiction Reports, which examined fifty-five scientific studies on the subject, finds statewide legalization does not increase cannabis use in adolescents.
This is not the first time that researchers have concluded that the problem of youth consumption should not be a deterrent for legalization. The latest exploration into this topic suggests “that passage of [medical marijuana laws] has not increased cannabis use among teenagers during the periods after their passage that has been studied to date,” researchers said.
Cannabis advocates have said for years that establishing a taxed and regulated system is the best method for preventing marijuana from falling into the hands of teens.
Yet, marijuana consumption rates have increased in some age ranges. When it comes to adult use, researchers found that more people in this demographic are using marijuana since legalization. But this increased use is considered legit. The report shows that the majority of this growth was associated with people who were permitted by a physician to participate in their state medical marijuana program.
Perhaps the next most popular argument given by those opposing forces trying to prevent marijuana from going legal is that it will lead to more addiction. This is a sensitive subject considering that the United States is presently in the grips of one of the largest drug epidemics in history.
But researchers found that marijuana wasn’t contributing to the problem.
Although it might seem logical that more people would suffer from cannabis use disorder considering elevated adult consumption rates, the study shows this should not be a concern.
“Despite the increase in the prevalence of adult cannabis use, the prevalence of cannabis use disorders among adults in the past year did not change (remaining at 1.5 percent [from 2002 to 2004]),” researchers wrote. “More surprisingly still, the prevalence of [cannabis use disorder] among adults who used cannabis in the past year declined from 14.8 percent in 2002 to 11.0 percent in 2014.”
The reason behind this phenomenon lies in the decline of adolescent use rates, researchers explained. Since this demographic is typically more susceptible to cannabis use disorder than its older counterparts, fewer are getting caught up in this behavior.
Overall, the meta-study shows the two primary fears perpetuated by prohibitionists do not have any validity. Researchers concluded that while other studies may not present accurate results from state to state, the meta-analysis has a way of cutting through the discrepancies and turning out consistent data.