Study: Fewer Arizona teens smoking pot since medical marijuana legalization

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, January 3, 2013 11:57 EDT
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A man smokes marijuana in a water pipe. Photo: Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock.com.
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Fewer Arizona teens are trying marijuana since the state legalized the drug for medical uses, a study published recently by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission revealed.

In all, the study (PDF) found that 28.7 percent of students surveyed by the commission admitted to using marijuana at least once. The figure represents a minor drop from 29.9 percent in 2010.

Medical marijuana legalization took effect in Arizona in 2011.

The study goes on to note that about one in nine students who admitted to using the drug said they obtained it from a medical marijuana patient or caregiver who received the drug legally.

The vast majority, however, said they got the drug from friends, at parties or at school. The only category students cited less than medical marijuana card holders was “home” — but teens also cited “home” as the second most common place they obtained dangerous prescription drugs for recreational use.

Although initial media reports billed the study as revealing widespread abuse of the state’s medical marijuana program, it actually seems to substantiate findings in other states that indicate medical marijuana legalization does not have much effect on teens’ appetite for substance abuse.

A study published in June by professors from Montana State University, the University of Oregon and the University of Colorado Denver looked at data from 13 states over the course of 16 years and found that the availability of medical marijuana had no statistically significant impact on teen drug abuse. Interestingly, the study also found that medical marijuana legalization tends to correlate with drops in cocaine use.

“There is anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana is finding its way into the hands of teenagers, but there’s no statistical evidence that legalization increases the probability of use,” Professor Daniel I. Rees explained.

Photo: Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock.com.

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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