Many people who are against legalizing medical or recreational marijuana use tend to bring up the, “What about the children!?” argument. However, it appears legalizing medical marijuana doesn’t make kids more likely to smoke.
A new study from Columbia University found people over the age of 25 do tend to be more likely to consume marijuana if their state legalizes medical marijuana, but that increase was not seen for people under the age of 25.
“While the evidence had suggested there is a link between the passage of laws and increases in marijuana use by those 21 and older, it was not clear if all sub-groups of adults were influenced in the same way,” Dr. Silvia Martins, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia, said in a statement. “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. At least for now, we do not see an increase in use among adolescents.”
The study found people who were 26 years and older had an increase in past-month use of marijuana from roughly 6 percent to 7 percent after medical marijuana was legalized in their state. When researchers looked at people between the ages of 12 to 17 and 18 to 25, they found no increase in marijuana usage.
“Understanding how the passage of medical marijuana laws affects different age groups improves our understanding of the effects of marijuana policies and provides information about the types of public health responses that should accompany major policy changes related to marijuana,” said Martins.
The study was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. It was conducted by analyzing surveys done by the National Survey of Drug Use and Health between 2004 and 2013.
Previously studies have shown similar results. Research released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment earlier this year found legalizing recreational marijuana did not increase teen use of the drug in that state.
“The survey shows marijuana use has not increased since legalization, with four of five high school students continuing to say they don’t use marijuana, even occasionally,” the research from Colorado states. “Alcohol use continues to decline, with nearly seven of 10 saying they had not used alcohol in the past 30 days. And nine of 10 Colorado high school youth say they don’t smoke cigarettes, the highest rejection of smoking by high school youth in the past decade.”