A rise in marijuana use among U.S. teens over the past 20
years has no significant tie to the legalisation of marijuana
for medical use in many states, according to a new research
Comparing surveys of marijuana use by adolescents conducted
annually by the federal Centres for Disease Control and
Prevention, researchers found the probability that a high
schooler had used pot in the last 30 days was no more than
0.8 percent higher in legal states compared to states that
had not approved medical marijuana.
"Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the
legalisation of medical marijuana caused an increase in the
use of marijuana among high school students," D. Mark
Anderson of Montana State University, Daniel Rees of the
University of Colorado and Benjamin Hansen of the University
of Oregon wrote.
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have legalized
the use of marijuana for medical purposes, while two states,
Colorado and Washington, now allow recreational use. Alaska
and Oregon are set to vote on legalisation for recreational
use in November, while supporters of full legalisation in the
nation's capital say they have enough signatures to put the
measure on the ballot.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Some opponents of legalisation are concerned it will increase
use among teens. According to Monitoring the Future, an
organisation funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse
that has surveyed drug use among teens since 1975, 36 percent
of high school seniors surveyed in 2013 said they used pot in
the last year, while 6.5 percent said they used it almost
Use among twelfth graders peaked in 1979 at 51 percent and
fell to a low of 22 percent in 1992. Use slowly increased
after 1992, but it has leveled since 2011.
A study published in the Annals of Epidemiology in 2011 found
use among adolescents in medical marijuana states had risen,
but concluded more research was needed to draw a causal
conclusion. Further, it found that between 2002 and 2008, use
among teens was highest in states where the drug was legal,
but it was also already high in those states prior to