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Medical Marijuana Does Not Increase Underage Use: Study

Children living in states that allow medical marijuana are not more likely to use it, according to a new study out of Columbia University.

The groundbreaking study did find, however, that rates of use go up for adults 26 and older.

For years, opponents of medical marijuana programs have trotted out the canard that kids will be enticed to smoke weed if the message is that it is a medicine. This research appears to have debunked this talking point.

“Before medical marijuana laws changed, there was a concern that this type of legislation could potentially increase recreational marijuana use in adolescents and adult populations,” said Dr. Silvia Martins, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the lead author of the report. “At least for now, we do not see an increase in use among adolescents,” Martins added.


The authors of the study reviewed annual national survey results between 2004 and 2013. The surveys included more than 53,800 people. The researchers were looking to see how cannabis use changed in the states that passed laws allowing the medical use of marijuana from 2005-2013.

Medical Marijuana States Included:

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Rhode Island

According to the study, consumption of the herb did not change among people younger than 26 after the laws were passed, the study found.

Older Americans in medical states reported very slight increases:

  • Use among 26- to 39-year olds increased from 9 percent to 10 percent
  • Use among 40- to 64-year olds increased from 4.5 percent to 6 percent
  • Use among those 65 and older increased from less than one half of a percent to 1 percent

“It’s harder for (young people) to access it for recreational purposes and most of the medical indications of marijuana are for ailments that typically affect a larger proportion of older adults,” Martins said.


Highway is an essential source for cannabis science, how-to stories and demystifying marijuana. Want to read more? Thy these posts: One Man’s Journey In Pursuit Of The Truth Behind Marijuana ProhibitionMarijuana Myth Busting: Does Holding In Smoke Get You Higher? and A Drag Queen’s Visit To The Cannabis Store.



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