State Marijuana Laws and Youth Marijuana Use
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics examined associations between state recreational marijuana laws and youth marijuana use using national data.
Study findings showed a significant decrease in perceived harmfulness and increase in use among 8th and 10th graders in Washington state compared to states that did not legalize recreational marijuana use. No differences were found on these measures among youth in Colorado.
Likely factors associated with the increases in marijuana use in Washington state are reductions in perceived risk and stigma associated with using marijuana.
The lack of changes in Colorado youth marijuana use may be due to Colorado’s more developed medical marijuana system and advertising prior to recreational legalization.
To be sure, states and nations planning on adopting recreational marijuana laws should increase youth prevention efforts in advance of law enactment to prevent a spike in youth marijuana consumption.
Out of an abundance of caution, states permitting medical marijuana should also deliver increased youth marijuana prevention and education to protect youth from possible changes in perceived harmfulness and stigma that could result from increases in marijuana advertising and availability.
To read the entire research article: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2593707