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Study finds medical marijuana has no impact on teen drug abuse

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, June 18, 2012 14:56 EDT
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Medical marijuana via Andre Blais / Shutterstock
 
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A working paper published Monday (PDF) claims that, despite the insistence of numerous U.S. officials, legalizing medical marijuana had no distinguishable effect on teen drug abuse rates in the surrounding communities.

Drawing upon data from 13 states from 1993 – 2009, professors from Montana State University, the University of Oregon and the University of Colorado Denver found that medical marijuana actually had a negative impact on the consumption of cocaine, the use of which declined 1.9 percent in areas that had legalized medical marijuana. It had no statistically significant impact on teen marijuana use.

Data used in the study was collected from the Center for Disease Control’s annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which is often cited by the nation’s top law enforcement officials and lawmakers when discussing drug policy. The most recent YRBS found that more U.S. teens are smoking marijuana than cigarettes, attributing public education campaigns and regulatory controls for the reduction in tobacco use.

The study quotes Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, who recently claimed that medical marijuana sends the “wrong message” to high school students, potentially influencing their decision to engage in drug abuse. It also cites U.S. Attorney John Walsh, who’s taken to crusading against Colorado medical marijuana dispensaries located within 1,000 feet of schools, ostensibly because they drive up youth drug abuse.

“Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana and other substances among high school students,” the researchers concluded.

The study, currently in draft form, was published Monday by the Bonn, Germany-based Institute for the Study of Labor.

Medical marijuana is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia.
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Andre Blais / Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.

(H/T: Medical Xpress)

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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